April 19, 2024

Message from the County Executive Marc Elrich



Dear Friends,

A potential incident of school violence in our community was thwarted by law enforcement this week thanks to the great work and collaboration between the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD), Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). You can watch Friday’s update on the investigation through MCPD’s Facebook page. This investigation occurred following a tip from an unnamed source, who should be considered a hero because they “saw something and said something”—and potentially saved numerous lives.

This is a troubling incident for many people with and without ties to MCPS, but also an opportunity to talk about the importance of being aware of what is happening in the community. Although violence was avoided, we know that this news may cause anxiety within our school communities. In the short term, MCPD has increased its presence at Wootton High School in Rockville and will do so at other schools as warranted. Families in need of assistance coping with the trauma this incident may cause can access help through the County’s Crisis Center Hotline at 240-777-4000.

This incident is also a sad reminder that we must continue to focus on the mental health of our youth and young adults. We will continue our investments, partnerships and collaborations with MCPS, Department of Health and Human Services behavioral health teams and crisis response experts. We are working to expand our communications and engagement efforts to students, parents, teachers and families of young adults throughout the County to ensure they know where and how to get help when needed.

I hope one of the things that comes out of this is a look back at how early did we know that this young person was expressing suicidal or homicidal warning signs? When did we begin intervening? When could we have known? It is sobering to realize that this could be an example of the state of mental health in this country. There are not enough facilities or practitioners to deal with the mental health issues that exist in our community.

I want to thank all the investigators who did swift work in this case. MCPD, MCPS and the Office of the State’s Attorney, working with Federal law enforcement offices, will continue investigating this case.

Friday afternoon, I talked about this investigation and other topics during The Politics Hour on WAMU radio. You can hear that interview here. I want to highlight that the suspect had written that lack of access to a firearm was a key factor preventing this event. Maryland gun laws provide an important barrier against individuals with a significant history of mental illness and violent ideations from obtaining firearms. We need more states and the federal government to enact common-sense gun laws.

Saturday, April 20, is the 25th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. We potentially avoided a similar disaster because people were vigilant. I appreciate that our local police took this very seriously and acted quickly.

I hope more people have the courage to come forward with information if or when they see someone they know going down a dark path. The idea is not to get them in trouble, but to help them. If you are worried about someone you think is having a mental health crisis and you fear for their safety, share with them the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

White’s Ferry Progress

There was some good news this week about White's Ferry in Poolesville, bringing us closer to resolving the dispute that forced the ferry to close in 2020. The dispute arose due to disagreements between two private parties and led to the unfortunate closure of the ferry.

Chuck and Stacy Kuhn, who purchased the Poolesville property in 2021, have offered to donate the White’s Ferry operations to the County. We greatly appreciate their generous donation.

While the offer to donate the ferry is a major step forward, we still need to restore public use of the ferry landing in Virginia so it can operate. The County Department of Transportation, in cooperation with the Maryland Department of Transportation, is continuing conversations with the Virginia landowner, with Loudoun County and with the Virginia Department of Transportation to find a solution that will allow ferry service to resume. This will also include the need to find an operator for the ferry.

Before shutting down four years ago, White’s Ferry was the last operational ferry of the 100 that used to operate on the Potomac River. The ferry's history dates back to the 1700s. Before it closed, it provided an important link between the two states, carrying about 600 vehicles daily on the four-minute trip.

I want to thank County Department of Transportation Director Chris Conklin and Dale Tibbitts of the County Government for their dedicated work to help bring us closer to a resolution. I am optimistic that we will resolve the remaining issues and reopen the ferry.

Montgomery County Energy Summit


At the County’s 11th Energy Summit this week in Silver Spring, we delved into various important topics. As you can see in the photo above, I wore one of my favorite t-shirts to this event. It reads: “Science is Not a Liberal Conspiracy.” It is a not-so-subtle reminder that we still have many people throughout our nation who do not believe that climate change is real, let alone needs urgent addressing.

Our focus was on climate goals and the crucial role of government-business partnerships in promoting sustainability. We believe that involving the private sector in our climate action plans is key to fostering a shared responsibility for reducing pollution.

The two-day conference offered information on the latest trends in green buildings, energy efficiency, renewable energy and related topics. Involving the private sector in our climate action plans is not just important—it is crucial. Their participation can help us accelerate our efforts, bring in innovative solutions and create a more sustainable future. I was encouraged by the large crowd and appreciate businesses understanding their role in reducing pollution.

Maryland Secretary of the Environment Serena McIlwain delivered the keynote speech on prioritizing programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The State is on track to meet some significant metrics. These include a 60-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2031, carbon-neutral emissions by 2045 and a 100 percent clean grid in place by 2035. You can read Maryland’s Climate Pollution Reduction Plan here.

The State is committed to transitioning away from coal-fired power plants and scaling up renewable alternatives like solar, wind and battery power. Like Montgomery County, it also will look to retrofit existing buildings so that electric heat pumps and water heaters replace gas ones. You can read about our climate action plan here.

 

I hope to see robust crowds later this month when we hold GreenFest in Germantown from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, April 27. To learn more and plan your day, visit the GreenFest website.

Earth Day is April 22


Monday, April 22, is Earth Day. The first Earth Day was recognized in 1970, but it was Montgomery County’s own Rachel Carson who wrote the New York Times bestseller “Silent Spring” in 1962 that sparked the modern environmental movement. The book sold more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries as it raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and the inextricable links between pollution and public health.

Throughout April, Montgomery County has been celebrating Earth Month under the theme, “Act Now,” with numerous events and activities, and we are not done yet. From composting and recycling workshops to community cleanups and education initiatives, there is a lot to choose from. Whether you are an avid environmentalist or consider yourself a novice, even the smallest actions make a considerable impact. One challenge we are asking residents to consider is to try and leaving your car at home.

A recent study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles shows that every car on the road releases about a pound of carbon dioxide emissions. The average car emits nearly five metric tons of carbon dioxide yearly. Public transportation saves the U.S. an estimated 37 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

In Montgomery County, 42 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector, mostly from privately owned cars. When more people take public transit and leave their cars at home, it is better it is for air quality and our climate goals.

Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation (MCDOT) currently operates 14 electric buses and has a contract to purchase 100 more over the next three years. MCDOT is working toward the County’s goal of a zero-emissions bus fleet by 2035. Nearly 400 County buses will be zero-emissions by then, providing a quiet, clean ride.

Montgomery County’s solar-powered microgrid bus depot is one of the largest in the nation. The facility in Silver Spring can charge up to 70 buses at a time. Additionally, MCDOT recently received a Federal grant to purchase its first 13 hydrogen buses and a fueling station that will break ground next year. This project will be supported by the County’s second, and even larger, solar-powered microgrid at the Gaithersburg Bus Depot. Our Department of General Services will manage the microgrid construction in Upcounty, which will begin this spring.

If you decide to try transit, you can plan your route here. You can also use the free app to help navigate more than 80 routes and incorporate transit partners like Metro and Bikeshare into your commute. The app gives estimated travel times and costs. All County buses have a $1 fare, offer free Wi-Fi and allow bikes to be mounted onboard or on bike racks in front of the bus.

Swapping a car commute for a bus, walk or bike ride, even occasionally, can reduce harmful pollution and lessen traffic congestion.

We can all do our part. “Act Now” to make everyday ‘Earth Day’ here in Montgomery County.

Operating Budget Update

I would like to address the issue of budgets and the so-called “structural deficit” in my proposed Fiscal Year 2025 Operating Budget. The term structural deficit implies some sort of major long-term problem, but that is not what we have.

Every year, I have to recommend a budget that is balanced and accounted for. We spend many months reviewing programs and policies and asking difficult questions. This year, we made a decision to continue funding some of the programs we began during the COVID-19 pandemic because we have seen that, while the emergency phase of the pandemic is over, the need is still great. We are continuing to provide support for food distribution and continuing to support the hubs that did not exist before.

At the same time, my whole team and I know we cannot spend what we do not have. I meet with the three rating agencies every year so they can review our finances and plans, and we continue to get AAA ratings each year. We have received praise for our fiscal stewardship.

When I became County Executive, we had never hit the target of 10 percent reserves. We hit that target two years early—in my second year of office, during the pandemic, and the reserves have only continued to grow. In the current fiscal year, we have reserves of about 15 percent—5 percent over the targeted 10 percent—and the recommended budget that I recently sent to the County Council maintains some of that surplus. That surplus spending is recommended for essential programs like food distribution. The budget still leaves reserves about 11.5 percent.

The Council staff has written that there is a $115 million structural deficit. It arrived at this number based on future revenue forecasts, but the forecasts are not based on complete and up-to-date information. Over the past five years, the projections from Council staff have been wrong. In the first year of the pandemic, it predicted a huge deficit, which did not materialize. Last year, it projected a $145 million structural deficit and instead we have a surplus. If the Council’s estimates had been accurate, we would not have the 15 percent reserve we have today.

This focus on a so-called structural deficit obscures the questions we need to be asking: are we providing the resources we need to provide to our residents, to our schools and students, to our families, to our businesses? Each year, we make decisions about what to fund and whether a tax increase is appropriate. Last year, we knew we needed to increase funding for our schools, which lost funding (in inflation-adjusted dollars) just as the needs in the school body have been growing dramatically. This year, we were able to use surplus reserves.

We have to continue investing in our County. We have a great County, but we need to keep making sure that we take steps as needed. This week, our food security community kicked off efforts to end childhood hunger and expand workforce training—initiatives supported by Councilmembers. These plans require financial support from our operating budget. This budget is balanced, responsible and moves us in a good direction. I look forward to working with the Council and hope they approves this budget.

Checking In with the Maryland Cannabis Administration


Adult use of cannabis has been legal for almost a year now, and Montgomery County leads the State with 18 open dispensaries, followed by Baltimore and Prince George’s County.

The first stores opened 10 months ago. Maryland says there are nearly 100 dispensaries, and sales have grown each month, with March bringing in more than $500 million in revenue.

As I mentioned last year, I remain concerned about dispensaries advertising products, prices or effects. We have to be very careful not to allow advertising aimed at children, and it is not reasonable to expect young people to discern whether the advertising is aimed at them or adults.

We also need to continue to remind people that recreational cannabis is not legal for those under 21, and it is not allowed in public spaces. We do not want people walking down the street or attending a public assembly smoking cannabis—that remains prohibited. The same restrictions that we apply to alcohol use are present for adult use cannabis.

During my weekly media briefing, Will Tilburg, executive director of the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA), discussed implementing the new law in the State. He announced that, last month, through a license lottery, nine additional dispensary awards were granted to Montgomery County business owners. The MCA expects those dispensaries to be operational within one or two years. No locations have been established yet, but as the business owners begin working through the local approval process, County leaders will work with the MCA to understand what to expect moving forward.

Educating the public is a critical element of the MCA. You will notice a new ad campaign focusing on safe use. The “Be Cannabis Smart” campaign began this week. TV, radio and other mediums will share messages warning against drunk driving, where it is legal to smoke and provide details on safe storage of cannibus so it is not accessed by children.

Marijuana use is for adults only. Stores face penalties if they sell to children. The legal personal use amount to possess is up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis, and up to two cannabis plants can be grown per residence. For more information about the Maryland Cabbanis Administration and to look through its data dashboard, visit cannabis.maryland.gov.

ABS Hiring Young Adults for Compliance Checks

Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS) is looking for part-time employees aged 18-20 to help make sure businesses do not sell or serve alcohol to people under 21. This is a great opportunity for young people interested in careers in public health or law enforcement.

Team members work with ABS and the Montgomery County Police Department to attempt to purchase alcohol with their real vertical IDs. They do not try to conceal their age.

A business that sells to an under-21 buyer can be fined, and the individual seller/server can be charged criminally. The goal is to get 100 percent compliance with the law from all businesses that sell alcohol.

ABS regulates more than 1,000 licensed establishments. These businesses are important in reducing the availability of alcohol to youth under 21. To help with this responsibility, ABS collaborates with businesses and provides training and educational materials free of charge.

If you know anyone interested in applying for the positions, please understand that the work can be sporadic, with compliance checks sometimes happening months apart. The job will pay $16.70 per hour.

You can apply at work4mcg.com and look for the County Government Aide position.

Business Center Focused on Helping

A story in The Washington Post this week (which you can read here) detailed Amazon's struggles hitting its employment targets in Northern Virginia. Rather than expanding as promised, last year the workforce there shrank.

I point this out just to give you an example of how hard it can be for a business to grow. Since I became County Executive, I have made it a priority to help our business community so we can repair the reputation that our area has endured for years of being a difficult place to do business.

One of the ways we are helping business owners is through the County's Business Center. This proactive team allows us to respond to needs and address issues as quickly as possible.

Last year, we added staff to expand our efforts to reach more businesses. We were able to connect with almost 900 businesses through door-to-door outreach.


Every month or so, I take a tour of a few businesses with members of the Business Center team. Last month, for Women's History Month, I met with two businesses that are owned and operated by women.

The Peredo family, consisting of two sisters, their brother and mom, own the Kantutas Restaurant in Wheaton. One of the sisters, Maria Peredo takes the lead in the management and operation of the restaurant which opened in 2008. Kantutas is known for its authentic Bolivian and Central American cuisine. It provides a great example of how we are making the right hires and working around language barriers, so no businesses are excluded.

Based on feedback from our Hispanic community, we have held procurement sessions in Spanish so that more businesses can apply for County contracts. It is about making sure more people have access to procurement opportunities.


Another March visit was to Budget Blinds. I met Rosyln Ashford, who is a Montgomery County native and Montgomery County Public Schools graduate. She has owned her franchise for 11 years, but just opened her first showroom for shades, shutters and blinds. Business owners consistently tell me that they have been able to rely on the Business Center for direct assistance. Starting a business can be difficult for a number of reasons, so having this resource gives entrepreneurs a better chance. Visit the Business Center and see how it can help with ideas for your business.

Finally, Passover begins at sundown on Monday, April 22. I wish all who observe a meaningful seder and Passover.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,



Marc Elrich
County Executive

April 17, 2024

Gun Buyback to be held in Germantown on Saturday, April 20


The D.C. Area Interfaith Gun Violence Prevention Network (Interfaith GVP Network), in partnership with the Montgomery County Sheriff and the Office of the State’s Attorney, will host a gun buyback event from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, April 20 in the parking lot of the United Church of Christ of Seneca Valley in Germantown. Community members will be able anonymously and voluntarily turn in their firearms and receive a food store gift card in return.

The United Church of Christ of Seneca Valley is located at 13421 Clopper Road in Germantown. The event will be held rain or shine.

This will be the first faith-based, “up-county” gun buyback in a section of Montgomery County, which in recent years has seen an uptick in gun violence. The buyback follows successful gun buybacks held since summer 2023 in Baltimore, Rockville and Upper Marlboro.

Community members will be able anonymously and voluntarily to turn in their firearms and receive a $100 food store gift card for functioning handguns, rifles and shotguns and a $200 food store gift card for functioning military assault-style weapons and privately manufactured firearms (“ghost guns”). All firearms will be accepted with no identification requested and a no-questions-asked policy by law enforcement. The Sheriff’s Office will inspect all firearms prior to the Interfaith GVP Network deciding the eligibility for gift cards and providing gun safety information.

The Interfaith GVP Network is seeking financial support from businesses, members of the Interfaith GVP Network, other faith groups, foundations, County offices and the public to help fund the buyback. The network hopes to raise a minimum of $30,000, enabling it to collect at least 300 guns at an average of $100 per gun. All donations will be 100 percent tax deductible.

To donate by credit or debit card, go to https://bit.ly/gunbb. To donate by check, make it payable to “Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore” and specify in the check’s memo line: “Up-County Gun Buyback.” Mail checks to Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore, c/o Kurt Hansen, 6621 Struttmann Lane, Rockville, MD 20852.

33rd Annual Rockville Science Day on Sunday, April 21, Will Feature Rockets, Robotics, Astronomy and Electric Vehicles

The 33rd Annual Rockville Science Day on Sunday, April 21, will continue its tradition of mixing the forefront of scientific advancements and historical looks on the scientific developments. The free event, from noon-5 p.m. at the Rockville campus of Montgomery College, will include demonstrations and the ability to talk with experts in fields including rockets, robotics, astronomy and electric vehicles.

The Rockville campus of Montgomery College is located at 51 Mannakee St. in Rockville. Parking is free. Exhibitors and volunteers are still being sought for the event. Science Day has exhibits that will fascinate all ages.

The 2023 Rockville Science Day was attended by more than 3,500 visitors and featured about 100 exhibitors. More are expected for the 2024 event.

Among the exhibitors for this year’s show will be National Capital Astronomers, NARHAMS Model Rocket Club, NASA, Croyden Creek Nature Center, the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, the National Capital Radio & Television Museum, MoCo Makers, Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, Echoes of Nature, Montgomery Amateur Radio Club, US Pharmacopeia, Chemical Society of Washington, National Human Genome Research Institute, the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, Maryland Science Center, the Button Farm Living History Center, Maryland Bluebird Society, the Robotics Clubs & Teams and Pepco.

After more than three decades of growth and evolution, Rockville Science Day continues to pursue its original missions to:
  • Increase science literacy in the general public
  • Encourage young people to develop and maintain their natural interest in science
  • Help people understand the scientific principles underlying environmental concerns, technological development and global systems
The creators of Science Day also were determined to establish a science center on the Montgomery College campus. The center serves as an educational resource for the public.

To learn more about Rockville Science Day, go to https://www.rockvillesciencecenter.org/.

Specific Communities Can Get Updates on Purple Line Through Virtual Meetings in May

 

The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration will hold seven Purple Line Community Advisory Team (CAT) meetings in May. The virtual meetings will be targeted for specific neighborhoods and will include member-driven teams of representatives appointed by neighborhoods, community residents, civic and business associations and local governments.

The Maryland Transit Administration is one of the largest multi-modal transit systems in the United States. The Purple Line will be a 16-mile, 21-station light rail line that will extend from New Carrollton in Prince George’s County to Bethesda in Montgomery County. It will directly connect to the Metro’s Red, Green and Orange lines at Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park and New Carrollton. The Purple Line also will connect to MARC, Amtrak and local bus services.

Update meetings could most impact the Montgomery communities of Silver Spring (May 7), University Boulevard (May 9), Bethesda-Chevy Chase (May 14), Greater Lyttonsivlle-Woodside (May 21) and Long Branch (May 23).

“Progress of the Purple Line has reached an exciting period, and our team looks forward to sharing this progress with the public,” said Purple Line Senior Project Director Ray Biggs II. “Our spring CAT meetings will show future Purple Line stations taking shape, miles of installed track and completed neighborhood improvements such as the Talbot Avenue Bridge.”

The Purple Line project team will include representatives from the concessionaire, Purple Line Transit Partners, and Maryland Transit Solutions, the design-builder. They will provide area-specific updates in addition to overall project information. Each meeting will incorporate dedicated time for CAT members and residents to ask questions.

The virtual meetings will be held via Microsoft Teams, offering captioning services in multiple languages. Instructions on how to enable live captioning are posted on the project website, purplelinemd.com. Questions on the CAT meetings can be directed to the outreach team at outreach@purplelinemd.com.

All meetings will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. The schedule for specific neighborhoods is as follows:
  • Thursday, May 2. Riverdale Park – New Carrollton
  • Tuesday, May 7. Silver Spring
  • Thursday, May 9. University Boulevard
  • Tuesday, May 14. Bethesda-Chevy Chase
  • Thursday, May 16. College Park
  • Tuesday, May 21. Greater Lyttonsville-Woodside
  • Thursday, May 23. Long Branch
To learn more, visit purplelinemd.com, check us out on Facebook and Instagram, and follow us on X.

Archaeology Tours, Sunday Serenades and Plant Sale Among April Special Events to be Hosted by Montgomery Parks

Archaeology Tours, ‘Acoustics and Ales’ and Sunday Serenades Among April Special Events to be Hosted by Montgomery Parks

Archaeology tours, a plant sale at Brookside Gardens and Sunday serenades are among the many special events that will be presented by Montgomery Parks in April. The schedule of programs also will include tours at Kingsley Schoolhouse and Oakley Cabin and several offerings for people ages 55-and-over.

The April schedule of special events will include:
  • Brookside Gardens Plant Sale. Saturday, April 20. 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton. Choose from a wide selection of plants, including native varieties of perennials, shrubs and small trees grown at Montgomery Parks’ Pope Farm Nursery. Also get advice from staff horticulturists for the best plants for your garden.
  • Electric Landscape Equipment Exhibit. Saturday, April 20. 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton. Learn the latest in eco-friendly landscaping tools, including electric mowers, trimmers, and blowers and Montgomery Parks’ efforts to replace gas-powered equipment with electric. Engage with Brookside Gardens’ staff during hands-on demonstrations. All ages. Free.
  • The Lodge at Little Seneca Creek: Spring Open House. Sunday, April 21. 11 a.m.–2 p.m. 14500-A Clopper Road, Boyds. Nestled on 26 acres of wooded parkland, The Lodge at Little Seneca Creek is ideal for special events of all occasions. Meet with venue staff and professional area vendors including caterers, event planners and designers, hair stylists, makeup artists, DJ’s and more. No registration required (guests may RSVP using the form on the event page). Free.
Programs for residents 55-and over:
Attractions opening for the season in April include:
Go to Montgomery Parks event calendar for a complete list of special events and programming and to learn how to sign up using ActiveMontgomery. Visit the Spring 2024 Montgomery Parks Program Guide.

Department of Environmental Protection Is Celebrating April as ‘Earth Month’ with Countywide Activities and Events


The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is celebrating April as “Earth Month” with activities and events aimed at taking action and fostering environmental awareness and stewardship across our community.

Throughout April, residents can participate in activities to promote sustainability, conservation and eco-conscious living. From educational workshops to community clean-up events, DEP is working with the community to make a positive impact on the local environment. Earth Month will cap off on April 27 with “GreenFest,” the largest annual environmental festival in the County.

"I encourage everyone in our community to act now and join us in celebrating Earth Month and as we renew our commitment to protecting the environment," said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Take a composting class, join a neighborhood cleanup and come to GreenFest. By engaging in these meaningful activities and promoting sustainable practices, we can make a difference in our County today and for generations to come."

Earth Month activities will include:
  • Earth Month Clean-Up Events: Join DEP staff and community members for neighborhood cleanup efforts at various county locations. The events will provide an opportunity to take an active role in preserving the natural beauty of the surroundings.
  • Composting and Recycling Workshops: DEP will host a series of workshops covering topics such as composting, energy efficiency and sustainable gardening. These sessions will empower participants with practical knowledge and tips for reducing their environmental footprint.
  • Food Waste Prevention Week Education: As part of the effort to reduce food waste in the County, DEP will have information about food waste prevention at grocery stores throughout the County during April.
  • Illumination Stations: Shine a light on energy savings and keep more money in your pockets. DEP is hosting a series of events where people can apply for energy assistance and exchange old incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs for new energy-efficient LED light bulbs.
  • GreenFest 2024: DEP and a coalition of public and nonprofit partners will host this annual event from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, at the Blackrock Center for the Arts in Germantown.
“Simply put, Earth Month is about individuals, communities, schools and other partner organizations taking action to help our environment,” said DEP Director Jon Monger. “I hope you will join in community cleanups, Earth Day fairs, composting workshops and other events and ways to learn more about how we can individually and collectively take action as stewards of our planet.”

For a full calendar of Earth Month events, visit the Montgomery County DEP website.

Antique Cars and Trucks, Live Farm Animals and Hay Wagon Rides Will Be Featured at Annual Gas and Steam Engine Show at Agricultural History Farm Park on April 27-28

Tractors of all types, antique cars and trucks, live animals, pony rides and hay wagon rides will be among the many activities on Saturday and Sunday, April 27-28, when the annual free Gas and Steam Engine Show returns to the Montgomery County Agricultural History Farm Park in Derwood.

The Agricultural History Farm Park is located at 18400 Muncaster Road in Derwood. In addition to free admission, there is no charge for parking. The show will operate from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on April 27 and from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on April 28. The event is hosted by Friends of the Agricultural History Farm Park.

Activities on both days will include a craft show, hay wagon rides, pony rides (there will be a fee for the pony rides), a kiddie tractor pull, wood carving and old-time saw-mill demonstrations and a chance to see live animals up close. Chickens and goats will be among the animals at the show. There will be food for sale on-site. Music will be present in the afternoon on April 27.

The show will be held rain or shine. Pets on leashes are welcome.

The Agricultural History Farm Park is a scenic 455-acre park that features rolling hills, open fields, an apple orchard and a variety of farm animals. It offers a unique perspective on the County’s rich farming heritage. The park has barns, historic buildings, a modern farming activity center and other facilities.

For more information about the Agricultural History Farm Park, go to https://montgomeryparks.org/parks-and-trails/agricultural-history-farm-park/.

Commission on Aging to Host Presentations About County Resources for Older Adults

Volunteers with the Montgomery County Commission on Aging’s (COA) Ambassador Program will host several presentations in April and May to share information on the various resources available for older adults.

The events will serve as an information-sharing platform and an opportunity for older adults to voice their needs and interests.

“I appreciate our ambassadors helping us inform residents about vital County resources and also ensure their voices are heard," said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. "I thank the Commission on Aging for hosting these events, and I hope residents will attend these sessions as we work together to support and empower our older adult residents."

Topics will include:
  • Volunteer programs seeking community involvement.
  • ARC Respite Coordination Program, which offers up to 40 hours per month of free respite care for eligible individuals caring for loved ones at home.
  • Accessing free, durable medical equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs, and shower chairs.
  • Life transition programs and free transportation services tailored for County residents 60 and older.
Event time and locations:
  • Tuesday, April 23. 10-11 a.m. White Oak Senior Center, 1700 Apple Lane, Silver Spring.
  • Wednesday, April 24. 1-2 p.m. East County Village Seniors, East County Community Center, 3310 Gateshead Manor Way Silver Spring.
  • Tuesday, April 30. 10-11 a.m. Leisure World, 2901 N Leisure World Blvd., Silver Spring.
  • Monday, May 6. 12:30-–3 p.m. White Oak Library, 11701 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring.
  • Tuesday, May 7. 2-3 p.m. Courts of Clarksburg, 21922 Boneset Way, Germantown.
For more information on the events or the Commission on Aging, call the Aging and Disability Resource Unit at 240-777-3000.

Free Electric Scooter Training for Those 18-and-Older to be Held in April, May and June


Residents 18-and-older interested in electric scooter lessons will have the opportunity to attend any of four free clinics being held in April, May and June sponsored by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation.

Participants can take a test ride, learn safety tips and get information on basic scooter laws. Participants must have a valid driver’s license or ID. No registration is required to attend. Participants can stop in any time during the two-hour clinic. Electric scooters will be provided at each site.

Schedule of classes:
  • Sunday, April 21. 1-3 p.m. Upper County Recreation Center. 8201 Emory Grove Rd., Gaithersburg. (rain date: April 28)
  • Sunday, May 5. Noon-2 p.m. Westfield Montgomery Mall (former Sear’s parking lot) 7101 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda. (rain date: May 12)
  • Saturday, May 18. 1-3 p.m. Montgomery College. 850 Hungerford Dr., Rockville. (Parking Lot 13). (rain date: May 25)
  • Saturday, June 23. Noon-2 p.m. Wheaton Ice Arena Parking Lot. 11717 Orebaugh Dr., Wheaton. (rain date: June 30)
For more information about the e-scooter clinics, visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dot-dir/commuter/index.html or call 240-777-8380.

Third Annual ‘Rockville Skate Jam’ on Saturday, April 20, Will Include Competitions and Demonstrations

Third Annual ‘Rockville Skate Jam’ on Saturday, April 20, Will Include Competitions and Demonstrations

The Third Annual “Rockville Skate Jam” on Saturday, April 20, at the new Rockville Skate Park will include a day of activities for many members of the family. The fun activities will include morning yoga, skateboard competitions and skateboard demonstrations. The event is free.

Activities will begin at 9 a.m. and continue through 5 p.m. at the Rockville Skate Park, which is located at 355 Martins Lane in Rockville. Food and drinks will be available for purchase during the event. A DJ will provide music.

The day’s schedule of activities will include:
  • 9-10 a.m. Yoga
  • 10-11 a.m. Skate competition check-in and practice
  • 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Skate competition
  • 1-2 p.m. Skate demonstrations
  • 2-5 p.m. Skate competition continues
The skating competition will consist of three heats. Skaters will compete to see who has the best run. The competition is free to enter and participants will be grouped by skill level. Sign up here.

Check here for the skate competition outline.

Check here for the skate competition schedule.

Check the weather hotline for updates on the day of the event at 240-314-5026. If postponed by inclement weather, the Skate Jam will be held on April 27.

58 Drop Boxes for Mail-in Ballots for May Maryland Primary Now in Place


The Montgomery County Board of Elections has established 58 ballot drop boxes for voters to submit completed mail-in ballots for the 2024 Presidential primary election. The ballot drop boxes will remain open until 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, May 14.

Applications to receive a mail-in ballot via USPS must be received by May 7, and the deadline to request a print-at-home mail-in ballot delivered via the Internet is Friday, May 10.

Those choosing to return their mail-in ballots by using ballot drop boxes must do it by the final collection time for their ballot to count. If returning mail-in ballots via USPS, mail-in ballot returning envelope must be postmarked no later than Tuesday, May 14. Post offices generally close by 5 p.m.

To identify the nearest ballot drop box or post office, text BOX plus zip code (example: BOX 20879) to 77788 or visit 777vote.org. To request a mail-in ballot, text VBM to 77788 or visit 777vote.org.

The Montgomery County Board of Elections has the following drop boxes available now:
  • Activity Center at Bohrer Park, 506 South Frederick Avenue, Gaithersburg
  • Albert Einstein High School, 11135 Newport Mill Road, Kensington
  • Asbury Methodist Village, 201 Russell Avenue, Gaithersburg (limited access)
  • Bauer Drive Community Rec Center, 14625 Bauer Drive, Rockville
  • Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, 4301 East-West Highway, Bethesda
  • Bette Carol Thompson Scotland Neighborhood Recreation Center, 7700 Scotland Drive, Potomac
  • Clarksburg High School, 22500 Wims Road, Clarksburg
  • Col. Zadok Magruder High School, 5939 Muncaster Mill Road, Rockville
  • Damascus Community Rec Center, 25520 Oak Drive, Damascus
  • Damascus High School, 25921 Ridge Road, Damascus
  • East County Community Rec Center, 3310 Gateshead Manor Way, Silver Spring
  • Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe Street, Rockville
  • Friendship Heights Village Center, 4433 South Park Avenue, Chevy Chase
  • Gaithersburg High School, 101 Education Boulevard, Gaithersburg
  • Germantown Community Recreation Center, 18905 Kingsview Road, Germantown
  • Gwendolyn E. Coffield Community Recreation Center, 2450 Lyttonsville Road, Silver Spring
  • James Hubert Blake High School, 300 Norwood Road, Silver Spring
  • Jane E. Lawton Community Recreation Center, 4301 Willow Lane, Chevy Chase
  • John F. Kennedy High School, 1901 Randolph Road, Silver Spring
  • Leisure World of Maryland, 3701 Rossmoor Blvd., Silver Spring (limited access)
  • Longwood Community Recreation Center, 19300 Georgia Avenue, Brookeville
  • Margaret Schweinhaut Senior Ctr, 1000 Forest Glen Road, Silver Spring
  • Marilyn J. Praisner Community Recreation Center, 14906 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville
  • Mid-County Community Recreation Center, 2004 Queensguard Road, Silver Spring
  • Montgomery Blair High School, 51 University Boulevard East, Silver Spring
  • Montgomery College - Germantown Bioscience Education Center, 20200 Observation Drive, Germantown
  • Montgomery College - Rockville Long Nguyen and Kimmy Duong Student Services Center, 51 Mannakee Street, Rockville
  • Montgomery College - Takoma Park Charlene Nunley Student Services Center, 7625 Fenton Street, Takoma Park
  • Montgomery County Board of Elections, 18753 North Frederick Avenue, Gaithersburg (Drive-up Box)
  • Montgomery County Conference Center Marriott Bethesda North, 5967 Executive Boulevard, North Bethesda
  • Nancy H. Dacek N. Potomac Community Recreation Center, 13850 Travilah Road, Rockville
  • Northwest High School, 13501 Richter Farm Road, Germantown
  • Northwood High School, 919 University Boulevard West, Silver Spring
  • Paint Branch High School, 14121 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville
  • Poolesville High School, 17501 West Willard Road, Poolesville
  • Potomac Community Rec Center, 11315 Falls Road Potomac
  • Quince Orchard High School, 15800 Quince Orchard Road, Gaithersburg
  • Richard Montgomery High School, 250 Richard Montgomery Drive, Rockville
  • Riderwood Senior Living, 3140 Gracefield Road, Silver Spring (limited access)
  • Robertson Park Youth Center, 801 Rabbitt Road, Gaithersburg
  • Rockville City Hall, 111 Maryland Avenue, Rockville
  • Rockville High School, 2100 Baltimore Road, Rockville
  • Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Dept., 17921 Brooke Road, Sandy Spring
  • Seneca Valley High School, 19401 Crystal Rock Drive, Germantown
  • Sherwood High School, 300 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Sandy Spring
  • Silver Spring Civic Building, 1 Veterans Place, Silver Spring
  • Springbrook High School, 201 Valley Brook Drive, Silver Spring
  • Takoma Park Community Center, 7500 Maple Avenue, Takoma Park
  • Thomas S. Wootton High School, 2100 Wootton Parkway, Rockville
  • Upper County Comm. Rec Center, 8201 Emory Grove Road, Gaithersburg
  • Walt Whitman High School, 7100 Whittier Boulevard, Bethesda
  • Walter Johnson High School, 6400 Rock Spring Drive, Bethesda
  • Watkins Mill High School, 10301 Apple Ridge Road, Gaithersburg
  • Wheaton High School, 12401 Dalewood Drive, Silver Spring
  • Wheaton Library & Community Recreation Center, 11701 Georgia Avenue, Wheaton
  • White Oak Community Rec Center, 1700 April Lane, Silver Spring
  • Wilson Wims Elementary School, 12520 Blue Sky Drive, Clarksburg
  • Winston Churchill High School, 11300 Gainsborough Road, Potomac
For election related information, call 240-777-8500 or visit www.777vote.org or the Maryland State Board of Elections’ website at https://elections.maryland.gov.

‘Montgomery County’s Gift to D.C.: The Washington Aqueduct’ Will Be Focus of Montgomery History Presentation on Tuesday, April 23


The Washington Aqueduct, carrying drinking water to the nation’s capital, but running mostly through Montgomery County from Great Falls, was a technological marvel when completed 160 years ago in 1864. After all that time of continuous service, it is currently undergoing a major rehabilitation. That miraculous project will be the subject of a free, online presentation from Montgomery History at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23.

Through current and historical photos, Ralph Buglass, a Montgomery County native and avid history buff, will relate the fascinating history of this structure, now a National Landmark, and look at its equally fascinating chief engineer, Montgomery Meigs, who was also quartermaster general of the U.S. Army during the Civil War. In charge of all the troop logistics, Meigs has been described as “second only to General Ulysses Grant” in winning the war for the Union.

“Montgomery County’s ‘Gift’ to D.C.: The Washington Aqueduct” can be viewed via Zoom at Webinar Registration - Zoom.

Mr. Buglass has taught at lifelong learning institutes associated with Johns Hopkins and American universities and Montgomery College. He speaks frequently to community groups, businesses and other organizations and national conferences. In 2020, with Peerless Rockville, he co-authored Images of America: Rockville, a pictorial history of the city’s 250 years.

Newest Episode of ‘Make a Difference,’ Which Looks at Volunteer Opportunities of Many Types, Goes In-Depth on How to Help in the 2024 Elections


“Make A Difference,” the County Cable Montgomery show about how volunteers can have a positive impact on programs and other residents in Montgomery County, in its newest episode explores how volunteers can help the 2024 elections operate smoothly. The show can now be viewed on cable or online via the County's YouTube channel.

Sandy Smith is the long-time host of “Make a Difference,” which is produced by Montgomery County Volunteer Center in collaboration with the County’s Office of Public Information. Each month, residents can find a new episode via County Cable Montgomery on Xfinity (channels 6 and HD 996), RCN (channels 6 and HD 1056) and Verizon (channel 30). Residents also can watch the program on-demand via https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/ccm/makeadifference.html or on YouTube at https://youtu.be/izNe2UUYZ48.

Montgomery County’s cable station produces numerous shows that can help residents or that better explain how County Government is using the funds in its budget.

In this episode of Make a Difference, Ms. Smith talks with Gilberto Zelaya, the community engagement/public relations officer from the County Board of Elections. They talk about volunteer opportunities that could be available as the Board of Elections prepares for the Maryland primaries in May and the Presidential election in November.

Mr. Zelaya addresses that it will take more than 4,000 volunteers to assist with the 2024 elections. Volunteers will undergo training and then be assigned to positions. Volunteers will have some input on the types of positions in which they serve. The show also provides general information about the voting process.

Cable viewers can see Make a Difference on CCM at the following times: Sundays (2:30 and 6:30 p.m.); Mondays (10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.); Tuesdays (2:45 and 11:15 a.m.) and Saturdays (5:15 p.m.).

More information about volunteer opportunities with the Board of Elections is available http://www.777vote.org.

For more information about other types of volunteer opportunities in the County, go to http://www.montgomeryserves.org.

Nature Center Programs in April Will Include Family Puzzle Palooza, Full Moon Friday and Butterfly Gardening for Beginners

A Family Puzzle Palooza, a celebration of a full moon on a Friday and butterfly gardening for beginners are among the special events that Montgomery Parks will host to make April special in its nature centers.

April nature center programs will include:
  • Adaptive Recreation–Birding 101 Series. Through May 15. 4–6 p.m. Locust Grove Nature Center, 7777 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda. Curious about birding, but not sure where to begin? This series is for you. All skills levels welcome. Ages 18 and older. Registration required (registration will close 48 hours prior to the start of each individual class). $45 per person for entire series; $15 per person per class.
  • Online Native Plant Sale. April 8–22 (Plant pickup, April 27). | 9:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. (Pickup). Maydale Nature Classroom, 1638 Maydale Drive, Colesville. Growing native plants encourages beneficial insects, birds and wildlife. Support your backyard ecosystem and Maydale Nature Classroom with this fundraising event. Online sales only. For more information, visit Maydale Online Native Plant Sale.
  • Family Puzzle Palooza. Saturday, April 20. 10 a.m.–noon. Brookside Nature Center, 1400 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton. Cozy around a campfire while completing a 520-piece original Brookside Nature Center puzzle. Puzzlers encouraged to bring snacks. Ages 8 and older. Registration required. $40 (one registered attendee may bring up to five other puzzlers).
  • Butterfly Gardening for Beginners. Saturday, April 20. Noon–1 p.m. Meadowside Nature Center, 5100 Meadowside Lane, Rockville. Learn the types of plants to attract butterfly species, how to choose the best plants for your garden and tips to get your butterfly garden started at this beginner-friendly gardening program. Ages 16 and older. Registration required. $7 per person.
  • Nature Night In. Saturday, April 20. 5:30–8:30 p.m. Locust Grove Nature Center, 7777 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda. A fun night of nature-based games, crafts, a picnic dinner and hike, weather permitting. Children must be potty-trained and dressed appropriately for the weather. Pack a nut-free dinner, snack and water. Registration required. Ages 4-10. $20 per person.
  • Seed Bombs. Monday, April 22. 2–3 p.m. Meadowside Nature Center, 5100 Meadowside Lane, Rockville. Celebrate “Earth Day” by making tiny “green grenades” of native herb, flower and vegetable seeds to create pockets of beauty and habitats for pollinators in your garden. Ages 4 and older. Registration required. $7 per person.
  • Nature Center Pop-up. April 26 and 28. 4–6 p.m. 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Friday, April 26, 4-6 p.m. Long Branch Arliss Neighborhood Park, 8810 Garland Avenue, Silver Spring. Sunday, April 28, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Rock Creek Regional Park, 15700 Needwood Lake Circle, Rockville. Visit the Nature on Wheels vehicle and meet a naturalist to learn about the park, explore some natural objects, ask questions and do biology-themed activities. Registration optional. All ages. Free.
  • Full Moon Fridays. Friday, April 26. 6:30–8 p.m. Locust Grove Nature Center, 7777 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda. Enjoy the full moon for a hike and campfire. Registration required. Ages 10 and older. $8 per person.
  • Ready, Set, Go! Friday, April 26. 6:30–8:30 p.m. Brookside Nature Center, 1400 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton. A family friendly, nature-themed scavenger hunt adventure on the trails of Wheaton Regional Park. The hunt will be facilitated using the GooseChase smartphone app. Ages 8 and older. Registration required. $15 per person.
Go to Montgomery Parks event calendar for a complete list of special events and programming and to learn how to sign up using ActiveMontgomery. Visit the Spring 2024 Montgomery Parks Program Guide.