January 31, 2024

‘The Making of a Pearl: The Life of Quince Orchard Resident Ida Pearl Green’ to be Presented Online on Tuesday, Feb. 6

Through daily weekday breakfasts with her grandmother, Ida Pearl Green, Kisha Davis learned stories of family and an African American community in Quince Orchard which went much deeper than the name of her school or a road named Quince Orchard. At 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 6, Montgomery History will host a free online presentation about how Ms. Green’s life reflects the evolving Quince Orchard community.

At 105 years young, Mrs. Green is a lifelong resident of Montgomery County. Through her family’s history from slavery through integration of both schools and churches, her granddaughter—who now serves as the County health officer—shares the complex history of race relations in the County. It is a testament to resilience and turning adversity into something beautiful.

To register to view the presentation, go to Webinar Registration - Zoom.

Improbable Comedy's SPRUNG! Comedy Festival Will Fill Silver Spring with Laughs Feb. 7-11

Improbable Comedy's SPRUNG! Comedy Festival Will Fill Silver Spring with Laughs Feb. 7-11

Improbable Comedy will fill Downtown Silver Spring with laughs with its SPRUNG! Comedy Festival from Thursday, Feb. 7, through Sunday, Feb. 11, at the Silver Spring Black Box Theatre.

The Silver Spring Black Box Theatre is located at 8641 Colesville Rd. in Silver Spring. The festival is presented by Silver Spring Town Center, Inc. Tickets, show information and all access passes can be found at www.improbablecomedy.com/sprung

The SPRUNG! Comedy Festival will have six shows over five nights featuring national headliners and favorite local comedians in a diverse set of themed comedy shows.

Performer highlights include Dylan Adler (Comedy Central), Lucie Pohl (Overwatch), Adrianne Chalepah (Netflix) and Usama Siddique (JFL).

The festival lineup will include:
A limited number of free pairs of tickets for the Mother of All Comedy Show opening night at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 7. Send an email to lisa@silverspringtowncenter.com to request tickets.

County Energy Summit Will Be from April 15-16 in Silver Spring; Registration Now Open for Innovation Alley

The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will hold its 11th annual Montgomery County Energy Summit on Monday, April 15, and Tuesday, April 16, at the Silver Spring Civic Building. The summit is an opportunity for the commercial building community to prepare for compliance with energy benchmarking, building energy performance standards and emerging building codes.

The Silver Spring Civic Building is located at 1 Veterans Pl. in Silver Spring, near the Silver Spring Metro Station. Event registration will open in mid-February.

Montgomery County prioritizes sustainable initiatives, implementing policies and programs to drive the building sector toward an energy-efficient, low-carbon future, in alignment with the County’s climate action goals. The summit will explore requirements and provide hands-on learning opportunities and case studies from commercial and multifamily buildings.

"I am proud to announce the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection Energy Summit 2024 will host commercial building leaders to shape sustainable policy and industry,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Together, we aim to foster a collective commitment to enhancing the quality of life in our community by addressing vital energy priorities. The summit promises to be a platform for dialogue and collaboration towards a sustainable future."

Energy Summit Agenda:
  • Monday, April 15: Introductory sessions for newcomers, providing fundamental insights into energy efficiency and sustainable practices in the building sector.
  • Tuesday, April 16: Geared toward industry professionals, offering in-depth discussions on new developments, evolving requirements and emerging opportunities in the environmental field.
"Montgomery County continues to lead on energy efficiency, and this summit marks an important opportunity for collaboration and positive impact.” said DEP Director Jon Monger. “This year's energy summit will bring together both newcomers and veteran leaders in the commercial building sector to advance our energy efficiency priorities and address important topics like energy efficiency, sustainable practices, changing requirements and new opportunities to continue enhancing our community's quality of life.”

The summit will include "Innovation Alley" dedicated to showcasing cutting-edge products and services aimed at helping building owners improve energy performance, expand renewable energy use or reduce impact on the environment. We invite vendors to participate in this initiative, providing a unique opportunity to connect with industry leaders, potential clients and collaborators. DEP is actively recruiting vendors for the Innovation Alley. Companies that offer innovative solutions in energy efficiency, sustainable technologies or related services are encouraged to be part of this dynamic showcase. Interested vendors can apply here by Feb. 16 to be considered.

“Montgomery County is home to innovative and green businesses that lead the way on climate solutions. The Montgomery County Energy Summit presents an excellent opportunity to exchange insights on climate-friendly strategies and technologies,” said Sarah Kogel-Smucker, the climate change officer for Montgomery County. "I look forward to engaging with our area’s commercial building community as we work toward reaching our climate goals equitably while increasing economic prosperity.”

To enhance the participant experience, the summit will launch its new website providing detailed event information, speaker profiles, registration details and updates on the Innovation Alley vendors.

For more information about the event, email energy@montgomerycountymd.gov.

For more information about Montgomery County DEP, visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dep/

Rockville Little Theatre Presenting ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ Feb 2-4

The Rockville Little Theatre is presenting the quintessential American story of hope and survival, “The Grapes of Wrath,” with performances Feb. 2-4 at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre in Rockville Civic Center Park.

The F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre is located at 603 Edmonston Dr. in Rockville.

The schedule of remaining performances is Friday, Feb. 2 (8 p.m.), Saturday, Feb. 3 (8 p.m.) and Sunday, Feb. 4 (2 p.m.). Tickets are $22, with discounted tickets of $20 for seniors and students.

The play, which was adapted by Frank Galati from the novel by John Steinbeck, follows the Joad family’s epic journey from the dust bowl of Oklahoma to the promised land of California. The Grapes of Wrath provides the perfect canvas for an examination of a nation in search of itself. It illustrates the need for cooperative rather than individualistic ideals during hard times.

The Rockville Little Theatre production is directed by John Bartkowiak and Pauline Griller-Mitchell.

Buy tickets online here or contact the theatre box office by calling 240-314-8690 or via email at boxoffice@rockvillemd.gov.

‘Around the World Bazaar’ Will Be a Carnival of Entertainment in Silver Spring on Friday, Feb. 9

Around the World Bazaar

Eight acts with international flavor will help celebrate the upcoming arrival of spring as part of the free “Around the World Bazaar” at the Silver Spring Civic Building from 5-10 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9. The broad array of entertainment will include the Latin and Brazilian Carnival Dance Party and Orfeia, a women’s vocal ensemble dedicated to preserving and sharing traditional music from Bulgaria and Eastern Europe.

The Silver Spring Civic Building is located at 1 Veterans Pl. in Downtown Silver Spring, near the Silver Spring Metrorail Station. The bazaar is presented by Silver Spring Town Center, Inc.

All attendees are invited to participate in the International Potluck dinner from 6-8 p.m. Diners should bring a dish to share as they have a chance to enjoy dishes from around the world.

The Latin & Brazilian Carnival Dance Party in the Civic Building’s Great Hall from 8-10 p.m. will highlight the evening. The party will be orchestrated by DJ Bachata Larry and Sambista Katie Kirkpatrick. The carnival will be a celebration of dancing Salsa, Bachata and Samba.

Orfeia will be performing from 6-7 p.m. Orfeia’s repertoire spans the rich and diverse musical heritage of Eastern Europe, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Russia and their neighbors. Based in Montgomery County, Orfeia has performed throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region

Free Fitness Passes for Recreation Centers Will Continue in 2024 for County Residents

Free Fitness Passes for Recreation Centers Will Continue in 2024 for County Residents

Montgomery County Recreation’s RecFit passes will be free for Montgomery County residents again in 2024. The free RecFit pass provides access to fully equipped fitness rooms, open gym (drop-in) activities and game rooms at community recreation centers during regularly scheduled hours.

In 2023, the first year RecFit passes were provided for free to residents, more than 100,000 passes were issued, a significant increase from years past. In 2022, 26,065 passes were issued.

Residents who signed up for a free pass in 2023 do not need to get a new pass for 2024. The 2023 pass will remain valid.

 "I encourage all residents to plan ahead for the summer with Montgomery County Recreation’s variety of exciting camps," said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. "Some of the best memories, experiences, and education come from summer camp activities. Many of our camps fill up quickly and we don’t want anyone to miss out. Recreation camps prioritize affordability, inclusivity, convenience and safety. There is something available for everyone, so make sure to take advantage of what the County has to offer right in your own backyard." 

The passes allow residents to work out with equipment in the fitness rooms, enjoy table tennis in the game rooms and play drop-in pickleball, volleyball, basketball and more.

Residents can sign up for the pass in-person at any County community recreation center during regular business hours. The pass can then be used at any of the recreation centers. Proof of residency (a valid photo ID with an address or a photo ID with a current utility bill) must be provided by County residents to receive the free pass.

Non-County residents can purchase a pass for $20 for one month, $80 for six months and $150 for one year. Visit the website for more information.

Check out the RecFit playlist on YouTube to hear directly from residents across the County who used the free pass in 2023.

The free RecFit pass does not include access to Recreation’s aquatic centers. For aquatic center pass information and prices, visit the website.

‘New Year, But Will There Be a New You?’ County’s Health Officer Gives Advice for Keeping Health and Wellness Resolutions on Latest ‘What’s Happening MoCo’ Podcast

‘New Year, But Will There Be a New You?’ County’s Health Officer Gives Advice for Keeping Health and Wellness Resolutions on Latest ‘What’s Happening MoCo’ Podcast

It is a new year, but will there be a new and improved you? Are you staying true to your new year’s resolutions? Montgomery County’s health officer, Kisha Davis, joins the latest episode of the “What’s Happening MoCo” podcast to help residents keep their physical and mental health resolutions. Armed with a “top five” list of tips for residents, Dr. Davis participates in a lively and educational conversation with podcast host Derrick Kenny.

To access Dr. Davis’ tips, listen to the What’s Happening MoCo podcast via a podcast platform including Apple Podcasts at https://bit.ly/whats-happening-moco, Spotify, Amazon Music (ask Alexa to play the What’s Happening MoCo podcast), iHeartRadio, TuneIn and others. The video version of the podcast can be viewed on the What’s Happening MoCo Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WhatsHappeningMoCoPodcast or on County Cable Montgomery, Xfinity channel 996, RCN 1056 or Verizon 30.

Dr. Davis joined the County as its health officer in November of 2022. Her role includes leading the County’s public health agenda. She is a County resident and a trained family health physician.

“As the County’s health officer, I think of the County’s residents as my patients . . . and what I’m responsible for is making sure that this County… remains the healthiest in the state,” said Dr. Davis.

As the County’s physician, she was generous with her advice as she shared her top five tips on achieving mental and physical health goals.

Residents and others interested in asking a question or suggesting a topic to be addressed in a future episode are encouraged to engage via the Facebook page, group or via e-mail at derrick.kenny@montgomerycountymd.gov.

In past episodes, podcast host Derrick Kenny has addressed a wide variety of subjects. The show’s guests have included elected officials, Montgomery employees who specialize in specific aspects of government, business leaders and entertainers who live in the County. New podcasts are released twice a month.

The What’s Happening MoCo podcast episode archives can be accessed by visiting the podcast’s webpage at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/CCM/whats-happening-moco-podcast.html.

Black Veterans to be Honored in Tributes by Commission on Veterans Affairs During Black History Month

The Montgomery County Commission on Veterans Affairs will honor Black County veterans with detailed virtual tributes displayed on the County’s website as it recognizes February as Black History Month. The tributes to County veterans will feature photos, background information and details of accomplishments during their military careers and afterward.

During Black History Month, in addition to individual veterans, the County Commission on Veterans Affairs will recognize the service and sacrifices of Black veterans who served in such heroic units as the Buffalo Soldiers, the Harlem Hellfighters and the Tuskegee Airmen. Montgomery County also will honor the County’s Black men and women veterans who continue to serve the nation with honor and distinction.

The Black History Month tribute will be displayed online at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/HHS-Program/ADS/VETERANS/BlackHistoryMonth.html.

Detailed tributes also will be displayed throughout February at Buffalo Soldiers Great Hall at the Silver Spring Civic Building at One Veterans Plaza in Downtown Silver Spring. The Black History Month display is free to view any time the Civic Building is open to the public.

The main room of the building was dedicated in 2018 as Buffalo Soldiers Great Hall to honor the Buffalo Soldiers unit that was formed by Congressional legislation in the 1860s to allow African Americans to enlist in the United States military.

Michael Theard, president of the 9th and 10th (HORSE) Cavalry Association Greater Washington, D.C. chapter, has loaned several items about Buffalo Soldiers for the Veterans Black History display cases. The Buffalo Soldiers Great Hall was dedicated in honor of the heroic courage and sacrifice of the 92nd Infantry Buffalo Soldiers—African American soldiers who mainly served on the Western frontier following the American Civil War.

In 1866, six all-Black cavalry and infantry regiments were created after Congress passed the Army Organization Act. Their main tasks were to help control the Native Americans of the Plains, capture cattle rustlers and thieves and protect settlers, stagecoaches, wagon trains and railroad crews along the Western Frontier. To learn more about Buffalo Soldiers, visit www.buffalosoldiers-washington.com.

“Every veteran who has served in the history of the U.S. military has their own unique story,” said Wayne Miller, chair of the County’s Commission on Veterans Affairs. “It is the intent of our commission to allow residents to learn more about these remarkable people. The veterans we are honoring during Black History Month all have stories that the people of this County should know.”

A veteran can share their story, or someone can share the story of a friend or family member, by filling out the Commission’s Google form or filling out its PDF form. Questions can be directed to MCCVA@montgomerycountymd.gov.

The following information is needed on the forms:
  • Veteran's name.
  • Name of person submitting information and relationship to the individual.
  • Branch of service and rank.
  • Years of service.
  • Era served (WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Global War on Terror or peacetime/other).
  • Brief narrative of their service.
  • Must have been issued a Department of Defense DD-214 Veteran status.
  • City in Montgomery County the Veteran lives or lived. If the Veteran attended high school here, where did they graduate from?
  • Photos (preferably one during their service and one present day).
By sending an email to be included, the sender agrees to have the information shared on the County's website and in the Commission on Veterans Affairs social media.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich’s thoughts on helping veterans can be found at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/veterans.

To learn more about the Montgomery Commission on Veterans Affairs, go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov/cva.

Gaithersburg Book Festival to Welcome Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins for Feb. 9 Free Reading and Book Signing

In celebration of its 15th year, the Gaithersburg Book Festival will host former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins for a special free event from 7-9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9, at the Asbury Methodist Village Rosborough Cultural Arts Center in Gaithersburg. Mr. Collins will share his new book, “Musical Tables,” followed by a book signing and reception.

Dubbed “the most popular poet in America” by Bruce Weber in The New York Times, Mr. Collins is “famous for conversational, witty poems that welcome readers with humor but often slip into quirky, tender, or profound observations on the everyday, reading and writing, and poetry itself.”

The Asbury Methodist Village Rosborough Cultural Arts Center is located at 409 Russell Ave. in Gaithersburg.

Tickets are required for the free event. Tickets will be released at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 9, via Eventbrite. There is a limit of two tickets per email address. Look for the ticket link on the GBF website at that time.

“What a way to kick off our 15th year, hosting one of America’s most beloved poets,” said Jud Ashman, Festival founder and chair, who also serves as Mayor of the City of Gaithersburg. “It is a real honor to bring the great Billy Collins to Gaithersburg and give our community a chance to get to know our former U.S. Poet Laureate and a real master in the poetry space.”

Mr. Collins served two terms as the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001-03, was New York State Poet Laureate from 2004-06 and is a regular guest on National Public Radio programs. In 2002, Mr. Collins was asked to write a poem commemorating the first anniversary of the fall of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

Collins is the author of 12 collections of poetry including “Whale Day,” “The Rain in Portugal,” “Aimless Love,” “Horoscopes for the Dead,” “Ballistics,” “The Trouble with Poetry,” “Nine Horses,” “Sailing Alone Around the Room,” “Questions About Angels,” “The Art of Drowning” and “Picnic, Lightning.” He is also the editor of “Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry,” “180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day” and “Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds.”

Mr. Collins’ books will be available to purchase onsite, courtesy of GBF bookseller partner Politics & Prose.

Mahogany L. Browne, Inaugural Poet-in-Residence at Lincoln Center, to Join MCPL’s ‘Contemporary Conversations’ Series on Feb. 27, in Honor of Black History Month

Renowned writer Mahogany L. Browne, Lincoln Center’s inaugural poet-in-residence, will be the featured speaker at the Montgomery County Public Libraries’ (MCPL) “Contemporary Conversations” series in celebration of Black History Month. The free event, titled “Chlorine Skies and Chrome Valleys: The Work of Mahogany L. Browne,” will take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at the Marilyn J. Praisner Library in Burtonsville.

The Marilyn J. Praisner Library is located at 14910 Old Columbia Pike in Burtonsville. Advance registration is required to attend. For more information, visit https://mcpl.libnet.info/event/9968618.

Ms. Browne is a playwright, community organizer, arts event curator and literary educator who has received fellowships from Arts for Justice, Air Serenbe, Cave Canem, Poets House, Mellon Research, and Rauschenberg. She is the author of Vinyl Moon, Chlorine Sky, Chrome Valley, Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby and Black Girl Magic. Ms. Browne is the executive director of JustMedia, a media literacy initiative designed to support the groundwork of criminal justice leaders and community members.

“Since 2017, the Contemporary Conversations series has brought many experienced authors and journalists to discuss cultural and current issues with our community members,” said MCPL Director Anita Vassallo. “The Montgomery County Public Libraries is delighted to bring a young adult author of the category of Mahogany L. Browne to the series to continue having meaningful conversations in this community forum.”

Ms. Browne’s presentation will be followed by a questions and answers session and a book signing reception featuring complimentary light fare. Books will be available at the event for purchase from the Friends of the Library Montgomery County (FOLMC) or by visiting https://bookshop.org/shop/folmc.

The Contemporary Conversations series is sponsored by FOLMC and Classroom 2 Community (C2C).

Previous speakers in the Contemporary Conversations series have included Kojo Nnamdi, David Ignatius, Charles Lane, Hena Khan, Michelle Singletary, Dinaw Mengestu, Joshua Johnson, Elizabeth Kolbert, Haben Girma, Jarret Krosoczka, Michael W. Twitty, Sheree Renée Thomas, Tyehimba Jess, Karen Washington, Jabira S. Walker, Emanuel Xavier, Regie Cabico, Dr. DJ Kuttin KandyBBoy, Danny Nguyen and Tony Medina.

For more information about previous speakers, visit the website

January 26, 2024

Message from the County Executive

Dear Friends,

Montgomery County this week recognized January as “Human Trafficking Awareness Month.” Human trafficking is the face of modern-day slavery, and it must be eliminated from our society.

Human traffickers often take advantage of people, including minors, who are vulnerable. Traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to entrap people into trafficking. Youth who are trafficked are often manipulated into traumatizing situations. 

Sadly, many incidents of human trafficking are not reported. We only learn of victims when they ask for help. Since 2007, the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) has received more than 400,000 tips and helped more than 30,000 victims and survivors. Over the past few years, calls to hotline have increased.  

Montgomery County has a Human Trafficking Prevention Committee. It began as a task force in 2014 and has evolved into an important tool bringing together law enforcement, partner agencies and dedicated advocates looking to help victims and shut down the brutal networks that benefit from human trafficking. 

The committee hopes to be able to uncover more labor trafficking while continuing to focus on sex trafficking. Trafficking in Montgomery County may occur in a variety of venues, including hotels, homes and illegal establishments that appear to be professional massage or body works businesses.   

Over the next several months you will see the committee’s educational outreach in ads across our County, raising awareness about human trafficking. We have also worked to train small groups of people, like Montgomery County Public Schools employees, on warning signs so they can help identify situations when authorities may need to investigate. 

I am proud that Montgomery County is working to improve access to comprehensive services for human trafficking survivors, increase the prosecution of traffickers and is working toward preventing human trafficking. Do not get the false sense that this is only a crime that happens to immigrants. It can happen to anyone who is vulnerable.

If you witness or suspect human trafficking in Montgomery County, call the Victim Assistance and Sexual Assault Program on the 24-hour crisis line at 240-777-4357.

Women’s Legislative Briefing

The Montgomery County Commission for Women will hold its 44th annual Women’s Legislative Briefing on Sunday, Jan. 28, at the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville. A resource fair opens at 11:30 a.m. with the first session beginning at 12:30 p.m.

This year’s theme will focus on the collaborative effort it takes to work for justice and equality. Breakout sessions will focus on topics like sexual assault, domestic violence prevention, women’s health, economic justice, women in technology, women in the workplace and human trafficking prevention.  

Every year this is a valuable forum that helps empower women in our County. I look forward to attending, listening and learning as we continue to improve Montgomery County. 

Walk up registration is allowed, but if you want to sign up ahead of the event, visit 2024wlb.eventbrite.com. Tickets are $50, with $10 tickets for students.

Protecting Reproductive Rights and the Mifepristone Challenge 

The battle over abortion rights and women's health care will be back before the Supreme Court in a new way this year. Anti-abortion groups have sued to disallow the FDA authorization of mifepristone, one of two drugs most commonly used for medication abortion. Lower courts have issued a ruling, which is currently on hold, that would threaten access to the drug across the country. In December, the Supreme Court said it will review the case with a ruling expected before the court recesses this summer.  

The Center for Reproductive Rights points out that the Supreme Court has never invalidated a long-standing FDA approval like they are being asked to do in this case. The drug has been used by nearly 5 million patients across the country since it was cleared in 2000. That is why Montgomery County will stand with other municipalities to fight this move by anti-abortion activists. Our County Attorney is joining the Public Rights Project’s Amicus Brief to be filed in the Supreme Court to challenge the abortion medication ban. It is anticipated that nearly 100 local governments will be a part of that effort. Montgomery County joined the Public Rights Project’s Amicus Brief that was filed this past summer in the same case pending before the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. 

In Maryland this fall, women's reproductive rights will be on the ballot. This week, Maryland First Lady Dawn Moore led the charge to get voters to codify protections in the Maryland State constitution. That rally happened on what would have been the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Governor Wes Moore has given State health leaders permission to stockpile mifepristone in case it is pulled from the market. He has also vowed to expand access to reproductive health care.  

It is as important today as it ever was for Maryland and Montgomery County to be a safe haven for abortion access and women's health. There are too many places across the nation where women now have no local options or face prosecution over health choices. They should retain control over their bodies without government interference. These efforts will help support that.

Winter Safety: The Importance of Indoor Air Quality


As we find ourselves in the midst of peak winter months, it is not just the dropping temperatures that Montgomery County residents should be mindful of. They should also be aware of their energy consumption and indoor air quality. With climate change becoming an ever-more pressing concern, taking steps to winterize your homes in a climate-conscious way is a great step in doing your part. Equally as important is maintaining a healthy indoor environment for you and your family. 

I have discussed prepping your home for energy-efficient winterization before and you can read about those plans by following this link.

The air we breathe inside our homes, offices and public spaces plays a crucial role in our overall health and well-being. This importance is further amplified when we factor in the use of gas for cooking and heating, along with the necessity of proper ventilation. Switching to energy-efficient appliances is not only a climate-conscious choice, it saves you money and is the healthiest decision you can make for you and your family. 

Indoor air quality refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Poor indoor air quality can lead to a variety of health issues, ranging from short-term effects like headaches and dizziness to long-term impacts like respiratory diseases and even heart problems. Pollutants can come from various sources, including gas stoves and heating systems, making it crucial to understand and mitigate these risks.  

When gas-powered heaters and stoves operate, they release combustion byproducts such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. Carbon monoxide, an odorless and colorless gas, can be deadly at high concentrations. Nitrogen dioxide can irritate the airways, and particulate matter can penetrate deep into the lungs, causing various respiratory issues.

Proper ventilation is important for mitigating the risks associated with gas appliances. Ventilation helps to dilute and remove pollutants from indoor spaces, bringing in fresh outdoor air and expelling stale indoor air.  

Making smart environmental choices involves a holistic approach to building design and lifestyle habits. Here are some strategies: 
  • Consider Your Home’s Energy Efficiency: Choose appliances that are rated high for energy efficiency. These appliances reduce the environmental impact and often emit fewer pollutants. It is a great way to ensure the health and safety of your family.  
  • Electrification is the process of moving from fossil-fuel appliances to electric counterparts, .  
  • Consider Alternative Heating and Cooking Options: Consider alternatives to gas appliances, such as electric or induction cooktops and heating systems, which do not produce combustion byproducts. Use your gas stove less by using an electric tea kettle and plug in cooking appliances like a slow cooker or air fryer. Montgomery County currently offers rebates through programs like Electrify MC for energy-efficient electric upgrades to appliances, making it a cost-effective long-term investment. 
If you have to remain a gas-use home, consider: 
  • Regular Maintenance and Inspection: Inspect and maintain gas appliances to ensure they are operating correctly and safely. This includes checking for leaks and ensuring proper combustion. 
  • Enhance Ventilation: Small steps—like opening a window when cooking—can have a significant effect.  
The importance of indoor air quality and safety, particularly concerning gas appliances and proper ventilation, is an integral part of making smart climate choices. By understanding the risks and implementing strategies to mitigate them, we can ensure healthier indoor environments. This is not just a personal health issue. It is a crucial aspect of our collective response to the challenges posed by climate change. As we continue to strive for a sustainable future, remember that the air we breathe indoors is just as important as the air outside. 

Keep up to date with all climate news and review our Climate Action Plan by following this link.

East County is ‘Sprout-ing’  

We have just seen the completion of a very important project—a new Sprouts Farmers Market is now open at the Burtonsville Crossing Shopping Center in East County.

The new store is the product of a lot of hard work over many years. It is one of a series of improvements for East County in which many people had a hand. When I was on the County Council, this and many other East County projects were stuck. My team and I worked with developers and the community to iron out many of the issues that were blocking progress on these projects. Together, we helped develop a plan for the kind of revitalization that benefits everyone in East County. 

Today we have a nationally touted grocer in Sprouts anchoring a development that will soon include a locally owned gym and several national stores. Together, they will draw shoppers from across our region via I-95, Route 198, and Route 29. More development is coming to Town Center on 29 and Gateway on New Hampshire Avenue. We have also worked with Montgomery College to get an East County Education Center started. Keep up with those developments at East County Education Center | Montgomery College, Maryland. In the future, we will see a full campus in East County.  

East County has been neglected for too long. It is a growing community that has desperately wanted to see revitalization. There is more in the works, including a Flash expansion that would add Burtonsville to our planned Bus Rapid Transit Network.  

These new developments are going to be a big boost for this region. They lead to local jobs and more choices as consumers. Sprouts is a special kind of grocery store, and this is the company’s first Maryland store in the Washington region. I hope it is also a sign to investors that we are serious about economic development across our County, including in East County. 

I want to thank our State lawmakers for helping fund these improvements. I also must mention the community. It deserves the most thanks for participation, persistence and input that made this possible. If you would like to see pictures from the grand opening, follow this link and if you would like to watch the speeches that preceded the ribbon cutting, you can do that here.

Sgt. Kepp Honored at Baltimore Ravens Game 

You may have caught an update this week on Sgt. Patrick Kepp, the Montgomery County police officer severely injured when he was targeted by an aggressive driver on I-270 last fall. Sgt. Kepp lost both of his lower legs. He has been going through physical therapy at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda.  

On Saturday, Sgt. Kepp was recognized by the Baltimore Ravens during their playoff game against the Houston Texans. Sgt. Kepp is a longtime Ravens fan whose service to our community was applauded by fans at the game and on Governor Moore’s social media.

We wish him the best in his recovery. Next week I plan to share progress on the efforts we are making at the State level to ensure that dangerous driving on our roads is met with harsher penalties in the future to keep our officers and community safe.

Health Update 

COVID-19 is still with us. I just tested negative after a six-day bout with it and was fortunate that my experience was mild. I was prepared because I received my booster months ago. I am grateful that Paxlovid was available to help treat my illness.

We continue to see in the County and State a confluence of COVID , RSV and the flu. COVID continues to be the most lethal of this trio. Elderly and people who are immune compromised are the most vulnerable.

Hospital stays tied to respiratory issues are declining locally and across the State. We hope that is a sign that the worst of it is behind us.

Take care of yourself and get your immunizations if you have not already. 

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich
County Executive

January 24, 2024

Commission for Women to Host 44th Annual Women's Legislative Briefing on Sunday, Jan. 28, with Theme of ‘Collaborating for Justice and Equality’

The Montgomery County Commission for Women will host its 44th annual Women’s Legislative Briefing (WLB) at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 28, at The Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville. The theme will be “From Proposal to Passage: Collaborating for Justice and Equality.”

The Universities at Shady Grove are located at 9630 Gudelsky Drive in Rockville.

The keynote address will take place in the style of a “fireside chat” with Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater. Montgomery County Council Vice President Kate Stewart will moderate the discussion. It will be an exciting opportunity to hear from three female leaders in Maryland and learn about their unique experiences and perspective on issues affecting women and girls. Maryland Comptroller Brooke Lierman will also provide greetings.

“For over four decades, the Montgomery County Commission for Women has provided this valuable forum in order to more effectively educate, advocate, and empower women in our County,” said County Executive Elrich. “This conference is a very important gathering for our community. I appreciate all the hard work and planning that goes into making this event successful year after year. I look forward to attending, listening, and learning about how we continue to transform Montgomery County into a place that provides opportunities and support for women, and justice and equity as well. I encourage you to join us on Jan. 28.”

Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of breakout sessions addressing timely topics such as sexual assault and domestic violence prevention, women’s health, economic justice, women in technology, human trafficking prevention and women in the workplace. Session participants will hear from members of the Maryland General Assembly, County Councilmembers, community leaders who influence policy making and representatives from local and state organizations that advance the status of women and girls.

 Additionally, the WLB will feature sessions for students in grades 6-12 to participate in interactive workshops focusing on civic engagement and planning for the future.

This year, the commission will offer free childcare services for children ages 2-10. A link to reserve childcare will be sent after the purchase of a ticket. Only 20 spots are available, so participants are encouraged to sign up early.

 The WLB is co-sponsored by more than 50 women’s and community organizations, with the support of major sponsors such as Kaiser Permanente, AARP Maryland and The Universities at Shady Grove.

 All residents are invited to attend. To pre-register, visit https://2024wlb.eventbrite.com. Early Bird tickets are $40 until 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 26. After that time, ticket prices will increase to $50. Student tickets are $10. On-site registration will also be available for $50.

Sponsorships are still available. More information is available at https://2024wlbsponsorships.eventbrite.com.

 For additional information, call 240-777-8300, email cfwinfo@montgomerycountymd.gov or visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/cfw/wlb.html

Burtonsville Celebrates Grand Opening of Sprouts Farmers Market

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, County Councilmembers Evan Glass and Kristin Mink and Sprouts Farmers Market representatives joined community members on Jan. 19 at the formal ribbon cutting to mark the grand opening of Sprouts Farmers Market in Burtonsville. The project has been in the making since 2018 when County Executive Elrich engaged with community members as part of the "Build a Better Burtonsville" initiative.

Also attending the ceremonies were Victor Vasquez, Sprouts 921 Store Manager; David Germakian, EDENS managing director; and Ken Flemmer, East County Citizens Advisory Board.

Sprouts Farmers Market is located at 15793 Old Columbia Pike in Burtonsville.

Participants gathered at the store entrance to celebrate the opening, which has been a long-awaited project for Burtonsville.

"Montgomery County welcomes Sprouts to the Burtonsville Shopping Center,” said Marc Elrich. “For the past 10 years, the absence of a major retailer in Burtonsville Crossing has been felt strongly, and I am pleased that Sprouts has chosen our community for its newest location, emphasizing our commitment on redevelopment and improving residents' quality of life. This will be the first Sprouts in the Metro Washington area, making it a destination for shoppers along I-95, Route 198 and Route 29, with the potential to draw people from far and wide. Sprouts has a great reputation for providing fresh and healthy grocery offerings with impeccable customer service. They are a strong anchor for the Burtonsville Crossing Shopping Center and an important addition to our East County community.”

The White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan was approved and adopted in 2014, ending a more than 20-year moratorium on development and creating opportunities for significant developments and transformations in the East County. Plans also are in the works to expand transportation options and increase affordable senior housing.

While progress on those broader goals continues, the opening of Sprouts was a significant step.

The State Board of Public Works played a pivotal role in supporting the redevelopment, providing $3.5 million in funding dedicated to the Burtonsville Crossing Shopping Center.

State Senator Craig Zucker and Delegates Anne Kaiser, Bernice Mireku-North and Pamela Queen, the District 14 legislative delegation, actively advocated for the funding.

“We are very excited to see this grand opening and the positive transformation of this shopping center,” said State Senator Zucker. “We are happy that the State money we helped secure is being invested to benefit the community.”

Along with County Executive Elrich, the County Council has strongly supported economic development in the East County.

"I'm thrilled that Sprouts has recognized Burtonsville as the perfect location for their newest market,” said Councilmember Mink. “This community-oriented company is bringing jobs and healthy food options to our residents. I've already met with Sprouts leadership, who look forward to partnering with local farmers, as well as schools and community-based organizations in District 5, and I'm looking forward to launching those efforts together." 

The arrival of Sprouts will create a new phase in Burtonsville's transformation. The County also thanks EDENS, a major real estate company, for helping Sprouts come to the area.

“We are excited to see the next chapter of Burtonsville Crossing unfold. ‘Sprouts’ grand opening marks the beginning of a new era for this shopping center, as we continue to welcome a diverse mix of national, local and community-focused businesses,” said Mr. Germakian. “Through this revitalization, we are delivering a welcoming destination with robust offerings where the community can gather and engage.”

Through Sprouts’ Food Rescue program, the store will donate groceries that are no longer fit for sale, but remain edible and nutrient rich, to Capital Area Food Bank, a local food bank that provides wholesome food to families and individuals at risk of hunger.

The store will be open daily from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. For more information and to sign up to win a pre-opening gift card, visit https://www.sprouts.com/store/md/burtonsville/old-columbia-pike/.

Sprouts, headquartered in Phoenix, is one of the largest and fastest-growing specialty retailers of fresh, natural and organic food in the United States, Sprouts employs approximately 31,000 team members and operates more than 400 stores in 23 states nationwide.

Wheaton Arts Parade and Public Libraries to Host Free Art Making Workshop at Wheaton Library on Sunday, Jan. 28

The Wheaton Arts Parade arts organization and Montgomery County Public Libraries have entered into a partnership that will bring free art workshops to the Wheaton Public Library once each month. Each month will have a new theme or new kind of art-making experience. The first workshop will be from 1-2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 28.

The Wheaton Library is located at 11701 Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring. The workshop will be held in the multi-purpose room.

The winter-themed art making workshop will enable participants to create unique winter art with the help of stencils, embossed paper and colored pencils. It is open to all ages. The workshop will be a mindful exploration of art pattern, design and texture techniques. All supplies will be provided.

More details on the workshops are available at https://mcpl.libnet.info/event9832096.

MCPS ‘Summer Rise’ Registration Now Open; Seminar for Potential Host Employers to be Held Tuesday, Jan. 30


Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) rising juniors and seniors will have an opportunity to gain career-based learning experiences this summer through the “Summer Rise” program. The school system is hoping to have more than 1,000 students in this year’s program that will have hosts in all career fields. A seminar for potential host employers will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 30.

Student applications to participate in the program must be submitted by March 15. Registration is open now.

The MCPS Department of Partnerships will be hosting its first-ever Host Summit from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. on Jan. 30. The office is inviting previous hosts and prospective hosts to learn about Summer RISE, best practices and how to work with MCPS students and programs beyond Summer RISE. There are many hosts who have created amazing experiences for MCPS students in past summers.

More information for potential hosts is available at Summer RISE Host Summit and Information Sessions.

This year, Summer RISE (Reimagining an Innovative Student Experience) will be programs of 50 hours with in-person, virtual or hybrid options, and will take place over five weeks from June 24-July 26.

The goals of the Summer Rise program are to provide opportunities for:
  • Organizational structures and how an organization functions as a whole.
  • Employer expectations in a typical workplace environment.
  • Career options, starting salaries, degrees, certifications or experiences required in a specific field.
  • Professional and transferable technical skills determined by the business community.
  • Technical and professional transferable skills that apply to any job.
More information about Summer Rise is available at SUMMER RISE | Montgomery County Public Schools | Rockville, MD (montgomeryschoolsmd.org).

Maryland Businesses Looking to Expand Overseas Partnerships Can Apply for ExportMD Grants by Feb. 1

Maryland businesses looking to grow through partnerships with organizations overseas can seek supporting customers, suppliers, manufacturers, or academic partners through a Maryland Department of Commerce for an ExportMD Grant. The program, which can provide reimbursement for up to $5,000, is accepting applications through Feb. 1.

Traditionally, many companies use the grants to offset travel expenses related to international marketing. However, the funds can be applied for other marketing initiatives including website development, registration costs for virtual trade shows and missions.

Montgomery County is organizing a delegation of business, academic and government leaders traveling to Taiwan to attend the 2024 Smart Cities Conference. Delegation members will meet with potential business prospects and other potential partners. To join this group and apply for an ExportMD grant, applications must be submitted by Feb. 1.

For more information or to receive a copy of the application, email the Maryland Department of Commerce Regional Manager for East Asia, Hui-Min Tzeng, at hui-min.tzeng@maryland.gov.

The Maryland Department of Commerce also will provide up to 20 hours of market research to help businesses identify customers, suppliers, manufacturers or academic partners in Taiwan. To take advantage of these opportunities, submit a Work Order Form by Feb, 1. For more information or to receive a copy of the application, email Hui-Min Tzeng at hui-min.tzeng@maryland.gov.

‘Her Home, Our Landmark: Designating the Cottage Home of Dr. Frieda Fromm-Reichmann’ Will Be Online Presentation Starting Monday, Jan. 29

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior in January 2021 designated a small cottage in Rockville, locally known as “Frieda’s Cottage,” as a national historic landmark. It earned this remarkable national recognition for its association with Frieda Fromm-Reichmann and her significant contributions to the field of medicine as a psychoanalyst. For a one-week period starting Monday, Jan. 29, Montgomery History will make available a free online presentation on Dr. Fromm-Reichmann and the history of the cottage.

Nancy Pickard leads the presentation following an introduction from Ellen Prentiss Campbell. To view the presentation, register at History Conversations (montgomeryhistory.org).

National historic landmarks are historic properties that illustrate the heritage of the United States. Each landmark represents an outstanding aspect of American history and culture.

Dr. Fromm-Reichmann was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany who found a new life at Rockville’s Chestnut Lodge. She became internationally renowned for her pioneering contributions to the treatment of schizophrenia and her dynamic understanding of her patients.

Dr. Fromm-Reichmann was a gifted and compassionate therapist whose work is significant in medical history and remains relevant in the field today. Learn about the doctor and how Peerless Rockville acquired and restored her cottage. The local historic preservation organization then advocated for national historic landmark recognition.

The presentation was originated at the 2023 Montgomery County History Conference.

Montgomery Companies Had Strong Year of Investment in 2023

Montgomery County companies had a strong year of investment in 2023, with more than $2.2 billion generated through more than 100 deals. Companies in a wide range of industries, from life sciences and technology to manufacturing and real estate, brought in substantial investments, showcasing a positive economic direction going into 2024.

Life sciences companies in Montgomery County continue to be a powerful driver of investment, with more than $500 million generated in 2023. Montgomery County anchors the thriving Biohealth Capital Region, which rose from No. 4 to No. 3 in the top 10 of U.S. biopharma clusters.

“By many measures, 2023 was a very good year for the Montgomery County economy and I applaud the successful efforts of the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “We are expanding our economy by building on our strengths as well as opening our doors to new opportunities. We are better equipped to address challenging issues, and we are making progress. This was reinforced during our economic development trips to Taiwan, India, and Vietnam last year. People, around this nation and throughout this world, know Montgomery County, Md., as a welcoming and diverse place with a wealth of talent and plenty of possibilities. I am looking forward to more economic success in 2024.”

Recent highlights for Montgomery County’s ongoing life sciences success include:
  • Deka Biosciences closed $60 million to continue developing drugs for patients suffering from cancer and autoimmune diseases.
  • Welcoming Amgen through a $28 billion acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics, which is now building its North American technical center in Rockville.
  • The impact of two life science leaders and soon-to-be neighboring companies: MilliporeSigma and Horizon Therapeutics, Together, they represent more than $500 million invested in new facilities.
  • Selecta Biosciences merging with Cartesian Therapeutics, which included a $60.25 million private financing deal for Cartesian.
“Deka Biosciences has grown exponentially as part of Montgomery County’s Business Innovation Network,” said Deka president and CEO John Mumm. “We wouldn’t be where we are without them. They have completely enabled us to grow faster than I’ve ever grown a company before,” he explained about the incubator facility.

Nine companies in the manufacturing sector received funding in 2023, including MasPanadas, a home-grown success story. With a recent influx of investment, MasPanadas is in the process of building a space that will triple its square footage to 18,000, while adding another 70 employees.

“Our company continues to thrive here with exceptional growth in annual sales and our client base including having our products in national grocery chains,” said Margarita Womack, founder of MasPanadas. “Montgomery County has been a great partner providing connections to programs, tax credit assistance and funding. We are excited about our growth and expansion plans.”

Another highlight in the manufacturing arena is Eat the Change, which received a $14 million venture capital investment. Co-owner Seth Goldman, who is also co-founder of PLNT Burger and Honest Tea, said: “Downtown Bethesda may not be Silicon Valley or Route 128, but with its active startup community and experienced workforce, it has served us well as the perfect location to launch and scale a mission-driven tea brand . . . twice! Our success with Honest Tea helped us launch Just Ice Tea in 90 days, and then close our Series A $14 million financing in just 60 days. Just Ice Tea, a product of mission-based Eat the Change, is now the nation’s top-selling organic tea brand and we look forward to continued expansion into mainstream channels.”

Technology leaders continue to thrive in Montgomery County, with close to 50 companies receiving funding. Companies include Quantum Xchange, GivHero, and Aledade. Rockville-based N5 Sensors received $2.5 million in funding for its proprietary cloud-connected ecosystem of smart sensors to keep people safe from environmental hazards. N5 Sensors’ CEO Abhishek Motayed said the company has grown from seven people to more than 25 in its three years in Montgomery County.

Montgomery County is a welcoming home to businesses with a diverse economy, top talent pools, access to funding and anchored by major federal agencies including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

“The robust investment in Montgomery County companies is a testament to our pioneering spirit, diversity, and exceptional climate for business growth,” said Bill Tompkins, president and CEO of Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation. “While the country as a whole has experienced a downturn in funding, investments in Montgomery County businesses, especially in life sciences, continues to be strong.”

To learn more about doing business in Montgomery County, go to thinkmoco.com or the Montgomery County Business Center. See the full list of 2023 investments in Montgomery County companies here.

Eighth Annual MCPL MoComCon Rescheduled to Saturday, March 2, Due to Winter Storm

The eighth annual Montgomery County Public Libraries free comic convention, MoComCon, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 20, in Germantown, has been rescheduled for 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, March 2. One of the largest free comic conventions in the Mid-Atlantic area, it will take place at the Germantown Library and at the BlackRock Center for the Arts.

The original date was postponed due to a winter storm.

The Germantown Library is located at19840 Century Blvd. in Germantown, and the BlackRock Center for the Arts is nearby at 12901 Town Commons Drive in Germantown.

MoComCon is an extraordinary all-day celebration geared for all ages interested in pop culture, fandoms, comics, graphic novels and libraries. The schedule of events includes workshops, story times, panel discussions, card trading, trivia, dance parties, book sales, button making, crafts for kids, retro gaming, anime viewing, a cosplay parade and a cosplay contest.

“MoComCon has evolved into a popular event within the Libraries’ annual calendar,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “It is a great experience that actively engages the community in diverse activities while fostering connections among residents of all ages and backgrounds.”

Breaking new ground this year, MoComCon, in collaboration with Classroom 2 Community and the Maryland State Library Agency, will introduce “Blerdtino@MoComCon!” (BAM!).* Combining the words Black, Latino and Nerd, “BAM!” captures the essence of diverse communities celebrating fandoms through a unique multicultural lens. The “BAM!” celebration will feature a stellar lineup of artists and performers from the Black and Latino nerd/fandom culture community during various sessions held that day. Highlights include:
  • David “D-Stroy” Melendez From Sirius XM and Host of “Showoff Your Gems (Blerdtino Edition).” Join D-Stroy in a live library broadcast featuring Black and Latino Nerd collectibles. D-Stroy will interview guests/audience members eager to showcase their Black and Latino Fandom, Anime, Pop and Hip-Hop culture collectibles.
  • DJs Virak, TrickSet and Phenomenon from the Mid-Atlantic Scratch League (MASL). MASL Invades MoComCon: Experience MASL live, spinning music throughout MoComCon, including Cartoon theme songs and live mixing of Anime videos throughout the day.
  • Bomani Armah Presents a Kids Songwriting Workshop Called “Baba Got Bars!” Dive into the “Baba Got Bars!” songwriting and sing-along for this baby nerds workshop.
  • Maki Roll Presents Cosplay for Black and Latino Creatives. Enjoy a presentation of costumes and insights into the life of a professional cosplayer.
  • Orlando Caicedo Presents “Undeniable Movement (Rise of Blerdtino Creatives).” Meet Orlando Caicedo, winner of “Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment/LINE Webtoon Superhero Comics Contest.” Orlando's published work includes the critically acclaimed graphic novel “Colin Kaepernick: Change the Game.” Get an insider’s perspective on his journey from animation to comics on hit shows like “Archer” on the FX network and “Frisky Dingo” on the Adult Swim cartoon channel.
  • Thomas E. Delfi, Founder of Nerdtino Presents “And I Got Away With It Too! A Supervillain's Guide to the Creative Arts Industry.” He will discuss the evolution of Nerdtino and Latino Comic Cons. Explore marketing and cultural items from Thomas' collection and learn how he created one of the largest Latino Comic Cons.
“This year’s MoComCon is going to be bigger and more diverse than ever,” said MCPL Director Anita Vassallo. “Building on the success of our 2023 ‘Just for the Record: A Vinyl Day,’ MCPL is again teaming up with the Mid-Atlantic Scratch League to provide live DJ sets throughout the MoComCon event. It should be a great time for all ages.”

MoComCon and BAM! sponsors and collaborators are Friends of the Library Montgomery County, Inc.; Maryland State Library Agency; BlackRock Center for the Arts; and Classroom 2 Community.

*The “Blerdtino@MoComCon” portion of the MoComCon event is made possible by grant funding from the Maryland State Library Agency.

For more information about MoComCon and BAM!, click here.