April 26, 2024

Message from the County Executive Marc Elrich


Dear Friends,

Almost six years ago, when Montgomery County lost its bid for Amazon’s second headquarters, I realized that the winning bidders won in large part because of several key factors: access to a talented workforce and training opportunities, graduate-level research and transportation infrastructure. We outbid our neighbors, but Amazon wanted more than money. 

Upon taking office, and despite the distraction of the pandemic, we have maintained the focus on the need for graduate-level research, workforce training, more lab space and better transportation. Below I address progress in each of these areas.

Montgomery College Is Officially in the East County

Doors opened at the new Montgomery College (MC) East County Education Center in White Oak on April 1. Last week, we celebrated with a grand opening celebration. It was particularly exciting for me because this is another of the projects I was determined to get done from Day One as County Executive. You can listen to my comments here. It had been long discussed, but in 2018, when I first came into office, there were no plans to move it forward. My team and I have been committed to a campus in East County, and this is a significant milestone toward having a permanent campus that serves a great need. 

We were committed to this because we knew residents in East County needed more accessible access to college and workforce training. High school students who live in or around East County will now have much easier access. The other MC campuses in Germantown, Rockville and Takoma Park are more difficult to access from East County. 

Opening this branch is an essential part of our workforce development training and helping connect students to employers who need their talents. For example, I toured their health training classroom, which Washington Adventist supports, around the corner from this new center. The hospital is one of many in our region needing more well-trained staff.    

Here is a list of the programs supported at the East County Education Center and information about the credit and noncredit classes offered there.

This project is one more example of the work we are doing and have done in East County. Projects include breathing new life into Burtonsville Crossing, White Oak Town Center improvements, the Hillandale Gateway project and expanding Flash bus service on Route 29. All three of these commercial projects were stalled when I came into office, but after getting personally involved in finding solutions, all of them are moving forward. 

VIVA White Oak has a new partner that is driving development and I am optimistic that visible progress will soon become apparent. We are working on plans to turn US 29 Flash service into a real Bus Rapid Transit line with its own dedicated lane. It is great to see this part of the County getting the attention it has long deserved. 

University of Maryland Institute for Health Computing Update  

Since first becoming County Executive, I have been working on bringing together the right collaborators for the University of Maryland - Institute for Health Computing (UMD-IHC). Through multiple conversations and research, we have facilitated the next step in the program, which is a partnership between the County and UMD.

I visited their offices this week and (as you can see from this picture above) was able to receive a demonstration of their augmented reality technology.  

Montgomery County is the heart of the third-largest bio and life science industry cluster in the nation, just behind the California Bay Area and Boston. However, we were the only top-ranked area without a graduate-level research facility serving the needs of our local companies—until now. The UMD-IHC leverages our strengths and promises to offer an amazing opportunity for research and collaboration with the private sector. 

Just a few weeks ago, the Maryland General Assembly ended its 2024 session with significant funding for the UMD-IHC. I want to thank the Montgomery County State delegation for obtaining $6 million in annual operating costs and $3 million in capital costs from the General Assembly. You can read my full statement following the end of session here.  

Montgomery County has already committed to an initial investment of $40 million in the Institute, and the Federal government has also invested $3 million.  

This great partnership with UMD will lead to healthcare innovations and sustain investment in life sciences here. We are aiming to become the “Silicon Valley of Health Computing.” 

This week, I joined program leaders at Bisnow’s Mid-Atlantic Life Sciences Biotech Summit in Rockville to discuss the future of UMD-IHC, and later that day. I was very pleased to have Dr. Brad Maron, a co-director of the UMD-IHC, join me for my weekly media briefing this week. You can follow this link to hear directly from him about why he and many others are excited about what is to come.

Our progress with the UMD-IHC is one of the main topics I discuss when I am on economic missions in Asia. The people we are meeting with are leaders in life sciences, and many already understand the value of IHC. We have reached several agreements with companies to locate in Montgomery County for their U.S. base of operations. In a few weeks, I will be headed to Korea and China and will be asked about it there, too.

MCDOT and WMATA Work to Ease Congestion During Summer Red Line Shut Down 

I want to thank WMATA (Metro) leaders for being responsive to our concerns about this summer’s Red Line closures and allowing me to be a part of this week’s update on the project.

On June 1, Metrorail stations at Glenmont, Wheaton, Forest Glen, Takoma and Silver Spring will temporarily close. Takoma will reopen after one month, but the other stations will remain closed until Sept. 1 while work is being done—mostly related to Purple Line construction.  

To allow the temporary shuttle buses that will be used while the rail stations are closed to move more quickly on the roads, the State Highway Administration will allow 7½ miles of bus-only lanes and adjust some of the signal timing in the area. The Maryland Transit Administration will offer reduced fares on certain MARC trains and commuter bus services to help address the station closures.  

Last month, the County Council and I wrote to WMATA and the State asking for these types of adjustments, and we are very appreciative of their response. I am hopeful that these changes will help residents impacted by the closures and demonstrate how bus-only lanes can successfully improve challenges on our roads.

You can find information about travel alternatives or learn more about how the closures will impact MCDOT here. 

Earth Day 2024

As “Earth Month” comes to an end, I urge you to consider your daily habits and be more climate conscious. One of the actions taken by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) on Earth Day this past Monday was to waive the normal $1 fare and provide free bus service. We did this to offer residents a chance to try our transit.

Transportation is the greatest contributor to the County’s greenhouse gas emissions with 42 percent coming from this sector alone. Private cars also contribute a great deal as they emit an average of five metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. By choosing public transportation, you can reduce your carbon footprint. It allows you to be able to read or relax and let someone else worry about driving. 

Recognizing the urgency of the climate crisis, MCDOT is committed to a zero-emission future, pledging to a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035. Presently, the County has 14 electric buses with plans to procure an additional 100 electric vehicles over the next three years.   

Montgomery County is considered a pioneer for its green charging infrastructure following the launch of one of the nation’s largest solar-powered microgrids for electric bus charging (Brookville Bus Depot in Silver Spring), with a second microgrid set to launch in Gaithersburg early this summer that will dually power electric and hydrogen buses. 

The initiative was made possible via a Federal grant that will pay for 13 hydrogen buses and the necessary construction for clean hydrogen fueling.

MCDOT offers the Ride On Trip Planner app to facilitate seamless trip planning and access to transit resources throughout the County. The app provides commuters with real-time information and cost-effective travel options. Our County Ride On and Flash buses only cost $1 per ride. Specialized SmarTrip cards are available for seniors, persons with disabilities and kids to allow them to ride for free.  

The collective impact of even small changes in behavior is pivotal in mitigating pollution and alleviating traffic congestion. With the inaugural Flash corridor already operational along US 29 between Downtown Silver Spring and Burtonsville, MCDOT is making the commuter experience modern, easier and faster.

I have been involved in climate action and protests for a very long time, since before the first Earth Day 54 years ago. Warnings about the impacts of greenhouse gas have been around since the 1950s, but we are in this mess today because our leaders did not listen.

The County’s Climate Action Plan of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2027 and 100 percent by 2035 is years ahead of recent benchmarks set by other governments.

When we started, we did not know how we would get there, but we knew that the science was changing. What was possible in 2017 was not going to define what was possible in the future. One thing that is certain is that public support for achieving our goals is essential. We need buy-in and action from the public to help improve our environment.

I do not know how people can say we cannot afford to fight climate change because we sure cannot afford to not deal with climate change. 

It is time to commit to making the changes—biking, public transit, electric vehicles, electric appliances, reducing waste and green energy—that can help us reduce our carbon footprint. We owe it to our children and their children to not ignore the problem, but to tackle it.

Please visit mygreenmontgomery.org to learn how to live a greener lifestyle. Join us for GreenFest on Saturday, April 27. It is the largest annual environmental festival in Montgomery County.

Emphasis on the Environment in Operational Budget Proposal

One of the many challenges we faced when putting together an operating budget for Montgomery County was climate change, which is a threat to our very existence. My recommended 2025 Fiscal Year operating budget includes record funding of $365 million for environmental initiatives and measures to address climate change, including $9 million in new spending.

The money will pay for transit upgrades, increases in renewable energy, improvements in building efficiency and nature-based solutions. For the upcoming year, $19.1 million is recommended for the Montgomery County Green Bank, an increase of half-a-million dollars over the previous budget.

The Green Bank has provided energy savings to 2,500 households and financed projects generating $985,000 in annual savings while also creating nearly 500 jobs. Notably, more than 61 percent of the Green Bank's portfolio is invested in low-and-moderate income and Equity Emphasis Area communities.

More money will be devoted to helping nonprofits and small businesses comply with the County’s forthcoming Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) regulations. I urge the Council to review and approve the new regulations so building owners have ample time to work toward compliance and realize energy savings in their properties.

BEPS will be essential to reduce the carbon footprint of commercial buildings, one of the major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions today.

This budget also will help the County build out our electric vehicle charging infrastructure and accelerate the County’s purchase of zero-emission vehicles. Montgomery County is setting the pace for electric vehicle ownership in Maryland, and businesses and local businesses are helping them. More than 20 car dealers now offer EV incentives, which you can find here.

To bolster our resilience to a rapidly changing climate, we have installed 35 flood sensors, inspected 16,000 stormwater facilities and planted more than 11,000 trees through the Tree Montgomery program. We are improving our waste reduction and recycling with the expansion of materials accepted for reuse and recycling, collection of more than 800,000 pounds of food scraps and engagement of 1,500 homes in our residential food scraps recycling program. These efforts are pivotal as we strive toward our goal of zero waste.

We have made a lot of progress in a short time. We cannot solve the problem of climate change, but we can be a model for our residents, children and other municipalities. “We” means all of us. Government alone cannot solve it. We can clean up our buildings and electrify our fleets, but without your efforts at home, we will not achieve our goals. We can and will help people make the transition, but we need everyone to step up and do their part. Let’s continue moving forward and building on our achievements.

And finally, next Thursday evening, I will give my "State of the County" address in Rockville. You can find more information here.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich
County Executive

April 24, 2024

GreenFest Returns at BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown on Saturday, April 27

GreenFest Returns at BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown on Saturday, April 27

Montgomery County's free Earth Month celebration, GreenFest, returns on Saturday, April 27, at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown. GreenFest, the County’s largest annual environmental festival now in its ninth year, is organized by a coalition of public and nonprofit partners and will feature more than 50 eco-conscious vendors including green businesses and environmental nonprofits available for demonstrations.

The BlackRock Center for the Arts is located at 12901 Town Commons Dr. in Germantown The festival will take place from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

This year’s event, held on the lawn of BlackRock, will be located near the Germantown Transit Center at the corner of Aircraft Driveand Century Boulevard, a short walk away. Walking, biking or taking the bus to the event is encouraged. For a map and schedule of Ride On buses, visit the Ride On website. For Metro buses and Metro schedules, visit the WMATA website.

Activities for all ages at Greenfest will include a Latin American Folkloric dance performance, community Zumba, music, exhibits, scavenger hunt, face painting, nature walks, games and plenty of giveaways. Attendees can also peruse locally made products at the arts and crafts fair while discovering the latest in electric vehicle technology at the electric vehicle showcase.

"Montgomery County is committed to building a culture of environmental responsibility, and GreenFest plays a vital role in engaging residents of all ages and backgrounds," said County Executive Marc Elrich. "Change begins with knowledge and events like these offers a wealth of activities, demonstrations and resources to inspire and educate for generations to come. I extend my gratitude to our Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Transportation, Montgomery Parks, the Latino Health Initiative, BlackRock Center for the Arts, local nonprofits like One Montgomery Green, Bethesda Green, Poolesville Green, and all of our community for their ongoing efforts in organizing this event. I encourage everyone to join us."

GreenFest in Germantown will happen near many attractions and restaurants. Food trucks will not be available at Greenfest this year.

"GreenFest stands as a testament to the commitment of our community to protect our environment, improve quality of life, and take action on climate change,” said DEP Director Jon Monger. “I am thrilled that we are not only able to make environmental progress year after year, but that our residents join us in celebrating and reinforcing our collective efforts.”

Visit the GreenFest website for more information or visit or follow #MCGreenFest via social media.

County Executive Marc Elrich to Deliver ‘State of the County’ Address in Rockville on Thursday, May 2

County Executive Marc Elrich to Deliver ‘State of the County’ Address in Rockville on Thursday, May 2

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich will deliver his “State of the County” address at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 2, at the Executive Office Building in Rockville.

The Executive Office Building is located at 101 Monroe Street in Rockville. The event, which will be in the building’s terrace level, is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served before the event.

In his address, County Executive Elrich will reflect on the County’s accomplishments and the challenges and opportunities ahead.

The Executive Office Building is two blocks from the Rockville Metrorail Station on the Red Line. Parking is available in the lot at the corner of Monroe and East Jefferson streets and in the Council Office Building garage.

The address will be carried live on County Cable Montgomery (CCM) and streamed live on the County’s X account, Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Long-Awaited Montgomery College East County Education Center Opens in Silver Spring

Long-Awaited Montgomery College East County Education Center Opens in Silver Spring

Montgomery College on April 20 dedicated its East County Education Center in Silver Spring. It will be an important part of the County's commitment to providing accessible education and career opportunities to all residents.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and County Council President Andrew Friedson, Montgomery College President Jermaine Williams, chair of the Montgomery College Board of Trustees Michael Brintnall were key speakers at the ceremonies, which were attended by State and County elected officials, community leaders and residents. Among those attending were County Councilmembers Will Jawando and Kristin Mink and Maryland State Delegates Bernice Mireku-North, Pamela Queen and Jheanelle Wilkins.

The ceenter is located at Westech Corner (2221 Broadbirch Drive) in Silver Spring, near U.S. Rt. 29 in an area that is an economic anchor for East County and it will assist the County’s workforce development efforts, provide easier access to education and training to East County residents and help spur more economic development throughout this region.

"The East County Education Center is evidence of our unwavering dedication to uplift our community," said County Executive Elrich. “Since taking office, I have been pushing this effort, and I am happy we are now able to expand East County's educational opportunities. I would like to thank Montgomery College and our dedicated partnerships for their commitment to improving East County.”

The East County Center will serve about 1,000 students in its first year. The three other campuses are in Germantown, Rockville and Takoma Park/Silver Spring. The college also has Workforce Development and Continuing Education Centers in Gaithersburg and Wheaton.

“The new East County Educational Center enables greater access to higher education and career-readiness training for talented students in the area," said Council President Friedson. "This strategic investment represents an important step toward enhanced economic mobility and expanded opportunities to live, learn, work and raise a family in East County and across Montgomery County."

County Executive Elrich has included more than $60 million in recommended funding in the County’s Fiscal Years 2025-30 Capital Improvement Program to begin planning a full-service East County campus. The Council has tentatively approved these funds.

“Montgomery College is thrilled to be opening this new center, filled with expanded opportunities for education and training in the East County," said College President Williams. "Residents can now study and train closer to home, for skilled jobs in the region. This innovative partnership is the result of tireless efforts by County Executive Marc Elrich, the County Council, the State of Maryland and local employers to create an ecosystem of equitable opportunity and success for residents in this region. Creating pathways to jobs with family-sustaining wages is part Montgomery College’s focus and this new center is just the beginning.”

The East County Education Center is a 55,000-square-foot building that consists of:
  • 11 classrooms
  • 10 labs (six allied health labs, three computer labs and one career training education lab)
  • Raptor Center (a one-stop shop for admissions, enrollment and visitor services)
  • Community Engagement Center
  • Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Center
  • Learning Center
  • Library
  • Event spaces
  • Worksource Montgomery
  • Student Wellness Center
  • Study rooms and lounges
“The new East County Education Center is a significant milestone that shows our commitment to providing the high quality, affordable education our residents deserve,” said Councilmember Jawando. “This expansion is an investment not only in our students, but also in the economic development and overall well-being of the entire East County. I firmly believe in the potential of every individual, and I know that this expansion will provide the necessary tools and support for our students to achieve that potential. Today, let's celebrate this big step toward building a stronger, more inclusive and more prosperous Montgomery County.”

In addition to the East County Education Center, the County recently celebrated other investments including the opening of Sprouts Farmers Market in the newly renovated Burtonsville Crossing Shopping Center.

"East County residents have long advocated for expanded access to higher education and workforce training on our side of the County,” said Councilmember Mink. "I'm grateful that Montgomery College, as well as my colleagues on the Council and in the State Legislature, recognize that need, and we are taking action. Thanks to this beautiful new facility, populated with top-tier instructors and programming, residents of East County are already registering for classes and entering the pipeline into careers in nursing, cybersecurity, criminal justice, and other in-demand fields."

The White Oak area in East County also will be seeing improvements. The County announced revitalization efforts for storefront facades and sidewalk improvements in the commercial area along Lockwood Drive.

A facade improvement project was recently completed in Hillandale, near the Hillandale Gateway currently under development. The County operates a Flash Bus Rapid Transit line on U.S. Rt. 29 (Colesville Road/Columbia Pike). Plans are also underway to increase the availability of affordable senior and mixed-income housing in East County.

"I am happy to celebrate the opening of the East County Education Center,” said Jewru Bandeh, East County regional director. “This is a testament to our collective efforts to bring positive change to the area.”

Subscribe to the East County Regional Services Center newsletter to stay updated on what’s happening in the area.

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/.

Great Adventures Await Close to Home Throughout May by Exploring the Many Sides of the County

Great Adventures Await Close to Home Throughout May by Exploring the Many Sides of the County

Visit Montgomery is encouraging visitors and residents alike to start spring by discovering many adventures that are close to home throughout the County. May will be “Go MoCo Month” and each week local shops, restaurants, hotels and attractions will offer special deals and events.

May in Montgomery will include MoCo Eats Week with special dining deals at many restaurants, discount packages for at hotels for a quick night or two away from home, tickets for 25 percent off for the Olney Theatre Center’s presentation of “Long Way Down” (May 24-June 2), live music at numerous venues and great ideas for gifts (especially for Mother’s Day).

Check-in at participating locations each week, using the Visit MoCo app, for a chance to win the Ultimate Go MoCo Giveaway, valued at $1,000. Search @visitmoco in the app store for a free download.

Find deals and events at www.visitmontgomery.com/go-moco

Residents Offered Opportunity to Go Solar with Capital Area Solar Switch

Residents Offered Opportunity to Go Solar with Capital Area Solar Switch

The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is promoting another round of the Capital Area Solar Switch program, a program dedicated to helping people switch to clean energy and save money on their electricity bills in an easy and transparent manner.

This is in collaboration with Solar United Neighbors, iChoosr and other Capital Area governments including the cities of Rockville, Takoma Park and Bowie. The program's first iteration, which ran from May to August of 2023 in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia, was a resounding success with almost 2,000 sign-ups.

Homeowners can register for free without any obligation to purchase solar panels. As part of the program, they will have the opportunity to get solar panels installed at a reduced cost. For more details and to register, go to SolarSwitch.com/CapitalArea.

“Montgomery County continues to pursue climate solutions for a greener future, but it is imperative to have the help of our residents as well,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Through important initiatives like the Capital Area Solar Switch, energy efficient actions are more attainable than ever. Through the power of group buying, the opportunity to install solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations at home is now more affordable.”

Since its inception in 2007 in Washington D.C., nonprofit organization Solar United Neighbors has been instrumental in organizing solar co-ops for residents who want to go solar. The initiative's impact has been felt not only in the Capital Area, but also in states like Illinois and Colorado. More than 20,000 people have signed up for Solar Switch programs in their respective communities, indicating a broad base growing interest in renewable energy sources.

Residents interested in participating in the program should register before May 8, as Solar Switch will host an auction for vetted solar installers on that date. The more people who sign up by the auction date, the more competitive the installer bids will be. 

Once the auction has concluded, recommendations tailored to each household will be emailed to all participants by July 24. The Solar Switch program aims to have all installations completed by the end of January 2025. During the most recent program, participating households saved an average of $4,115 on a typical-sized solar installation. Available state and federal incentives can further reduce system costs. 

Montgomery County has set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2027 and by 100 percent by 2035. Combined with the new Inflation Reduction Act's clean energy incentives, implementing this program will be significant toward helping Montgomery County reach those goals.

"We are thrilled to see the positive impact of the Capital Area Solar Switch Program on our community,” said DEP Director Jon Monger. “This initiative not only empowers residents to embrace sustainable energy solutions, but also plays a crucial role in our efforts to protect our environment and combat climate change. By working together with Solar United Neighbors, we are making it easier and more affordable for our residents to transition to clean energy sources like rooftop solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations. This program is a key component of our strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly by 2027 and ultimately achieve our goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2035. Through the Capital Area Solar Switch Program, we are paving the way for a greener, more sustainable future for all."

Solar Switch makes it easy for homeowners and small businesses to learn about rooftop solar, battery storage and installation. This program takes advantage of group-buying power and Solar United Neighbors' expertise to ensure participants receive a quality system at a lower price. Solar Switch carefully screens qualified installers to compete for the group and manages a reverse auction to secure a competitively priced, turnkey solar package for potential solar customers.

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 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.

15th Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 18 to Offer Workshops for Aspiring Writers, Poets and Illustrators

15th Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 18 to Offer Workshops for Aspiring Writers, Poets and Illustrators

The 15th Gaithersburg Book Festival, which has become one of the region’s most prestigious book festivals by annually bringing more than 100 authors to Montgomery County to talk about their works and adventures, on Saturday, May 18, will continue its tradition of offering free workshops to aspiring writers, poets and illustrators.

Those interested in writing thrillers, finding the inspiration to finish their first novel, looking to develop their own comics or graphic novels and even people who just hope to see their byline in the media are likely to find a workshop that will help.

The Gaithersburg Book Festival is a free, all-day celebration of books, writers and literary excellence. It will be held at Bohrer Park at Summit Hall Farm at 506 S. Frederick Ave. in Gaithersburg.

In addition to the writing workshops, activities at the book festival will include author appearances; discussions and book signings; a Children’s Village; onsite sales of new and used books; literary exhibitors and vendors selling food, drinks and ice cream.

Parking is limited on the site, but there will be free shuttles from the Shady Grove Metrorail Station and from the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Gaithersburg.

The workshops, which are 55 minutes long, will be held during the festival in the Adult and Teen Workshops Tent. No pre-registration is required for the workshops.

The schedule of writer/illustrator workshops on May 18 will include the following:
  • Getting Out of Your Own Way to Forge Your Best Writing Life. 10 a.m. In this interactive workshop, presenter Amy L. Bernstein will explore psychological and emotional factors that hold you back from committing to your writing craft fully and authentically. Identify and confront the “tape loops,” values and cultural tropes that prevent you from finding time to write, taking your writing seriously and/or pursuing publication. Participants will take away fresh insights into their identity and behavior as writers along with basic techniques for turning their red light green.
  • Memoir as Haiku. 11 a.m. Presenter Nancy Arbuthnot will talk about the classic Japanese haiku. You will leave with the poetic techniques of imagery, alliteration, assonance and consonance, and be able to create vignettes of significant life moments.
  • Comics and Graphic Novels for Grown Ups. Noon. Whether through comics, manga, graphic novels, webtoons or beyond, words and pictures combine to tell dynamic stories that draw in readers of all ages. This workshop, led by Dave Roman, will explore how you can put your ideas on paper to tell creative, visual stories.
  • How to Submit to Magazines and Newspapers. 1 p.m. Many writers dream of seeing their work published in newspapers and magazines, but are unsure how to achieve their goal.. Learn the tips of the trade from Laura Sturza, who will talk about how to prepare work for publication, researching prospective magazines and newspapers, writing a compelling pitch, learning best practices for keeping track of submissions and celebrating the successes and heartaches that come with the process.
  • Creating Memorable Characters. 2 p.m. Learn how to create characters that pop off the page in this prompt-filled workshop designed to create distinctive and memorable characters. This workshop, led by Caroline Bock, will provide fast and fun exercises on description and dialogue.
  • How to Write a Thriller. 3 p.m. Learn how to write a thriller with John DeDakis. This workshop offers an overview that demystifies and deconstructs how it is done—from the germ of an idea, through the creative process, with an eye on getting a finished book into the hands of potential fans. Discover the necessary components that make up a thriller and look at how to tap into your subconscious and life experiences to transform them into a book-length project.
  • Finish Your Novel. 4 p.m. Have you been working and reworking the beginning of your novel but cannot seem to push past a certain point? This workshop, led by Eva Langston, will discuss common writer roadblocks and practical tips for overcoming them. It will talk about making a plan for finishing your novel, setting deadlines and learning ways to hold yourself accountable to your goals. This workshop is for anyone who is ready to finally type “the end.”
For the workshop schedule and more information about instructors, visit the Adult & Teen Workshops page of the festival website. There also will be Children’s Workshops geared to young writers, ages elementary school through high school.

More information about the book festival is available at gaithersburgbookfestival.org.

‘The Great Road: Route 355 from Georgetown to Frederick’ Wil Be Focus of Montgomery History Online Presentation Starting Monday, April 29

‘The Great Road: Route 355 from Georgetown to Frederick’ Wil Be Focus of Montgomery History Online Presentation Starting Monday, April 29

The story of the development of Route 355 is the focus of a free online presentation from Montgomery History that will be made available online for free for a one-week period starting Monday, April 29.

The show was part of a series on Montgomery County’s cable channel County Cable Montgomery (CCM). “The Great Road: 355 from Georgetown to Frederick” was one of the shows in the outstanding series known as "Paths to the Present."

The show explores the development of the Rockville Pike, also known as Route 355 and nicknamed “The Great Road.” It is the most heavily traveled road in Montgomery County and a centuries-old landmark, originally a footpath used by the native people. The sites along the Pike from Georgetown to Frederick reveal the extremes of urban, suburban and rural landscapes existing in multiple stages of transformation.

To view the show on demand from April 29-May 5, go to History Conversations REWIND: “The Great Road”: Route 355 from Georgetown to Frederick (montgomeryhistory.org).

Commission for Women Offering Free Five-Part Career Series

Commission for Women Offering Free Five-Part Career Series

The Montgomery County Commission for Women will offer five free career seminars this spring to help individuals strengthen their personal brand and place them on the path to finding a wonderful career. The sessions are geared to assist women but are open to all. Participants can choose to attend one or more seminars.

The classes will be presented on Zoom and take place from 7-8:30 p.m. Registration is required. The Zoom link will be sent after registration. The first class on interviewing skills will be on Monday, April 29.

The sessions will be led by career professionals Donna Rojas, Sylvia Henderson and Jacquelyn Williams.

The class schedule for the career seminar series:
  • Monday, April 29: Interviewing Skills. Participants will learn the art of making lasting impressions and showcasing individual strengths effectively. Individuals will also gain insights into handling tricky questions with confidence and leaving a lasting impact on potential employers.
  • Monday, May 6: Networking and Elevator Pitch. Learn how to make meaningful connections effortlessly. Participants will learn how to widen their professional circles and open doors to new opportunities.
  • Monday, May 13: Resume Writing. This class will help individuals discover the elements of a standout resume that captures recruiters' attention. Learn how to highlight your achievements effectively.
  • Monday, May 20: Entrepreneurship: Building Your Brand. Dive into the essentials of building a strong personal and business brand. Participants will learn how to define their unique values, create a brand story and unlock the keys to standing out in a competitive market.
  • Monday, June 3: Wage Negotiation. This class will focus on mastering the art of wage negotiation to ensure individuals are compensated fairly for their skills and experience.
Register for classes and learn more about the series here.

For more information or any questions, call 240-777-8300 or email cfwinfo@montgomerycountymd.gov

Archaeology Tour and Sunday Serenade Among 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

An archaeology tour and a Sunday serenade are among the special events that will be presented by Montgomery Parks this weekend.

The schedule of special events will include:
  • Archaeology Tour. Saturday, April 27. 11–11:30 a.m. Josiah Henson Museum and Park, 11410 Old Georgetown Road, North Bethesda. Learn about the features and artifacts that inform our understanding of the Rev. Josiah Henson’s life at Riley Plantation. Ages 6 and older. Tickets available at the front desk on the day of the tour. $3 per person (fee does not include museum admission).
  • Sunday Serenade. Sunday, April 28. 10–11:30 a.m. Cabin John Regional Park, 7400 Tuckerman Lane, Bethesda. The amphitheater will host a different live music performance each Sunday. Bring seating or a blanket. Pastries will be available for purchase. Eric Scott Band (April 7. R&B/Funk); Zachary Smith and the Mardi Gras Kings (April 14. Louisiana/New Orleans styles); Geno Marriott (April 21. Smooth Jazz); ZADIA and Jeremiah Miles (April 28, Neo-Soul). 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.

All Nine MCG Golf Courses in Montgomery County Now Have ‘Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary’ Status, Placing Them in Exclusive Company Worldwide

All Nine MCG Golf Courses in Montgomery County Now Have ‘Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary’ Status, Placing Them in Exclusive Company Worldwide

All nine MCG golf courses in Montgomery County have now achieved "Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary" status through the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP), placing them among an exclusive group of only 750 golf courses worldwide. The most recent courses to be certified were Falls Road in Potomac, Hampshire Greens in Ashton, Rattlewood in Mount Airy and Sligo Creek in Silver Spring.

MCG courses are a division of the Montgomery County Revenue Authority. The other courses operated by Montgomery County Golf are Needwood in Derwood, Laytonsville, Little Bennett in Clarksburg, Northwest in Silver Spring and The Crossvines in Poolesville.

The certification announcement comes as MCG is joining Montgomery County in recognizing Monday, April 22, as “Earth Day 2024.”

To receive certification, a course must demonstrate that it maintains a high degree of environmental quality in several areas, including environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, outreach and education, chemical use reduction and safety, water conservation and water quality management.

The four courses recently certified were qualified for providing wildlife habitats, protecting water features with vegetative buffers, utilizing low-maintenance grasses, conducting water-quality testing and educating golfers and the community regarding sustainability.

The Little Bennett course was the first MCG course to achieve certification, earning that status in 2000. Needwood is marking its 10th year as a certified sanctuary course.

“This certification is not just an award, but a demonstration of our unwavering dedication to environmental preservation and sustainable practices,” said Keith Miller, the chief executive officer for the Revenue Authority. “Our team's commitment to maintaining and enhancing the natural beauty and biodiversity of our courses ensures a lasting legacy of sustainability.”

The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for golf courses is endorsed by the U.S. Golf Association. In addition to courses in the U.S., courses that have received the status include those in Africa, Australia, Canada, Central America, Europe, New Zealand and Southeast Asia.

Audubon International is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit based in Troy, N.Y. In addition to golf courses, it provides programs for business, schools, communities and new developments with a goal of delivering high-quality environmental education and facilitating the management of sustainable management of natural resources.

Jon Lobenstine, director of agronomy for MCG, and the superintendents of the nine MCG courses led the efforts to have the courses certified.

"I'm proud of our teams for all achieving ACSP certification,” said Mr. Lobenstine. “It is a testament to the good work they have been doing for many years. The net benefit for the County is having green space that serves not only as an important recreational outlet for our residents, but also an environmental habitat for the many creatures that share our neighborhoods."

For more information about MCG, go to https://www.mcggolf.com/.

‘Pride in the Plaza’ Organizers Searching for Artists to Design Festival T-Shirt

‘Pride in the Plaza’ Organizers Searching for Artists to Design Festival T-Shirt

Organizers of “Pride in the Plaza,” Montgomery County’s annual festival celebrating diverse LGBTQIA+ communities, is seeking creative designs to highlight the t-shirts for the event that will be held in June. The designer of the winning entry will receive a $1,000 VISA gift card.

Pride in the Plaza will be held from noon-8 p.m. on Sunday, June 30, at Veterans Plaza in Downtown Silver Spring.

“This is a chance to use your artistic skills to help promote a great event in a creative way,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Put your imagination to work and submit a design for the official event t-shirt.”

Design submissions are due by Wednesday, May 15. A contest winner will be chosen by June 1. In addition to a $1,000 VISA gift card to the winning designer, the first 20 submitters will each receive $25 gift cards.

For more information about the contest and to submit a design, visit https://bitly.ws/3huqF

Artists must be Montgomery County residents at the time of submission and be willing to be publicly recognized for their work. Submissions must adhere to the following rules to be considered for judgment:
  • Designs must contain the words “Montgomery County Pride in the Plaza 2024.”
  • Designs must feasibly fit onto the front of a t-shirt.
  • Designs may not contain trademarked or licensed images prohibited from public use.
Submissions will be judged by the committee based on the criteria outlined below.
  • Originality: Is it unique and original?
  • Artistry: Is it an eye-catching and beautiful piece of artwork?
  • Reproducibility: Is it simple enough to reproduce on a large number of t-shirts in a variety of colors?
  • Vision: Does the design creatively reflect Pride in the Plaza's values of trans inclusion, accessibility and intersectionality?
For more information about the contest, contact Emily Brown at 240-773-1172 or Emily.Brown@MontgomeryCountyMD.gov.

More information about Pride in the Plaza is available at LiveInYourTruth.org. To learn more about services, including HIV and STI testing, visit DoItForYouMC.org.

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