May 31, 2024

Message from County Executive Marc Elrich


Dear Friends,

I introduced my choice this week for the next chief of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS), Corey Smedley. You can hear from him and other County leaders about why he is the right person to lead MCFRS through a livestream we did on my X account and on the County’s Facebook page. Chief Smedley is a 29-year fire service veteran. He served as the fire chief for the City of Alexandria for four and a half years and led the department through the COVID-19 pandemic. His career also included more than 20 years with the Prince George’s Fire/EMS Department, most recently serving as deputy fire chief before accepting the position to serve as our fire chief.

His leadership style is marked by his attentive listening and respectful treatment of others. These qualities are crucial as MCFRS strives to develop a modern operation that prioritizes efficient resource allocation. Chief Smedley is committed to continuing our excellent fire and public health prevention efforts and fostering inclusive fire station environments.

Chief Smedley’s leadership skills are well-established. Under his guidance, the City of Alexandria became the first fire department in Virginia to successfully negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with its career members. His diverse career includes roles as a fire marshal, emergency manager, duty chief and even a stint in a County Executive’s office.

Although he is new to MCFRS and Montgomery County, he is familiar with our system. He has worked in large and small departments, and in departments that rely on career and volunteer firefighters and EMTs. We are getting someone who is going to hit the ground running and be an asset to our community.

It has been nearly a year since Chief Scott Goldstein retired. I want to thank Chiefs John Kinsley and Gary Cooper for their stewardship of the department over that time. You would not have known MCFRS was operating without a permanent chief for that long. Both did an exceptional job maintaining a high-performing organization.

I want Montgomery County to be a safe place to live, work and play for everyone. MCFRS plays a key role in improving our quality of life and keeping us safe. Visit the MCFRS website to learn about the many ways its members look out for our safety ahead of a disaster. I look forward to seeing Chief Smedley serve our community once he is confirmed by the County Council.

Climate Action Report

Congressman Jamie Raskin and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse earlier this week formally submitted a report to the Department of Justice (DOJ) asking DOJ to review the findings of a report they had released. I want to thank Congressman Raskin and Senator Whitehouse for highlighting the campaign of deception and denial that made climate change seem confusing and complicated. Their report, Denial, Disinformation, and Doublespeak: Big Oil’s Evolving Efforts to Avoid Accountability for Climate Change, unveiled new documents exposing the fossil fuel industry’s role in spreading climate disinformation and preventing action on climate change.

Key findings of the report include:
  • Internal documents obtained by this investigation demonstrate, for the first time, that fossil fuel companies do not dispute that they have known for more than 60 years that burning fossil fuels causes climate change—yet have worked for decades to undermine public understanding and to deny the underlying science. In the fall of 2015, blockbuster reporting by Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times revealed that Big Oil companies, such as ExxonMobil Corporation (Exxon), knew that burning fossil fuels was a major contributor to climate change. Companies publicly rejected the reporting at the time—an early draft of Exxon’s response accused reporters of “journalistic malpractice”—but new documents show that fossil fuel companies internally did not dispute the findings.
  • Big Oil’s deception campaign evolved from explicit denial of the basic science underlying climate change to deception, disinformation and doublespeak. The fossil fuel industry relies on trade associations to spread confusing and misleading narratives and to lobby against climate action. The fossil fuel industry evolved from denying climate science to spreading disinformation and perpetuating doublespeak about the safety of natural gas and the industry’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Decades of lies put forward by respected leaders, backed by lots of money and effective, but false, advertising left too many people believing that climate change was a hoax, liberal conspiracy or the natural rhythm of climate. It is not easy to just say to people that everything people have told you for the last almost 70 years is a lie, so change how you think.

Exposing the deception is extremely important because we need to convince the skeptics that there is a problem and that it is a problem we can solve by working together.

In Montgomery County, we are mobilizing resources, engaging with the community and leveraging technology and innovation to meet our targets. We are aggressively seeking Federal and State funds for these actions, but we also need to invest County resources.

The recently released annual Climate Action Report shows that the County has started on 77 of the 86 actions set forth in the plan and made significant progress on, or completed, 49 actions. From energy-efficient projects and clean energy investments to electric vehicle adoption and enhanced flood response, we have made strides in reducing our climate impact and increasing our resilience.

Visit the Climate Portal to read the annual report in full and review the eight topics and specific actions underway.

A recently announced county grant award that will allow community partners to use $1.5 million to help low and moderate-income households go green. Building Change, Inc., Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland, Interfaith Works, Inc. and Vietnamese American Services, Inc. will use money from the County’s Office of Grants Management to test new strategies that help income-eligible residents ensure their homes are energy efficient, provide a healthy indoor environment, are resilient to climate change and make the switch to all-electric appliances.

The idea of this inaugural grant is to address racial equity and social justice shortfalls by preserving and protecting housing for vulnerable residents. These projects will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate impacts in the community while improving quality of life through better indoor air quality and energy savings.

For more information about energy efficiency and energy assistance programs available to County residents, visit the website for the Healthy, Efficient, Electrified, Climate-Adapted Pilot Homes Grants Program, call 301-7-ENERGY or email

Why Economic Missions Are So Important to Montgomery County

I recently spent two weeks in China and Korea, including attending the BIO Korea conference. Our team also hosted six roundtable discussions throughout South Korea and China that allowed us to reach out to business leaders interested in basing their U.S. operations in Montgomery County.

We also used the trip to tour innovative medical practices and factories, taking advantage of emerging technologies like using robots to help care for an aging Chinese population. Our trip allowed our partners (business leaders who accompanied us) to help promote their companies and share personal testimonials with our hosts about doing business in Montgomery County. This is a win-win situation for our local business leaders and potential future neighbors. You can listen here to a discussion about the trip.

Next week, I will be travelling again, heading to San Diego for another opportunity to meet with business leaders and share our County’s successes—like the launch of the University of Maryland Institute for Health Computing and the expansion of United Therapeutics and Astrazeneca in Montgomery County.

Besides my recent trip to South Korea and China, over the past 14 months, the County’s Special Projects Manager for Business, Innovation and Economic Development, Judy Costello, has planned two prior trips to Taiwan and visits to India and Vietnam.

Why are we working so hard to attract international and nationwide companies? Our region is the third-largest bio and life science cluster in the nation – behind California’s Bay Area and Boston. Our community is home to some of the most innovative companies and research institutions, including the National Institutes of Health, which is the world’s largest medical research organization. Our institutions are better known than our bio cluster, so part of what we are doing is working to boost the recognition of everything the County has—not only biotech, but in other specialties and advanced technologies. We are trying to grow our local economy by adding to our strengths.

The Bio International Convention is one of the largest gatherings of its kind, bringing together industry leaders, researchers and policymakers from around the globe. By participating, we can learn about the latest advancements in biotechnology, gain insights into emerging trends and forge valuable connections that can lead to new partnerships and collaborations.

Moreover, our presence at this conference demonstrates our commitment to supporting and growing the biotech industry in Montgomery County. It is a chance to highlight our strategic advantages, such as our highly educated workforce, robust infrastructure and our ongoing efforts to create a business friendly environment. These elements are crucial in attracting new companies and ensuring that existing ones continue to thrive.

Attending the conference also allows us to advocate for our local businesses on a national and international stage. It is a platform to drive innovation and economic growth. This kind of engagement is essential for maintaining our competitive edge and ensuring that Montgomery County remains at the forefront of the biotech industry.

My attendance at next week’s bio conference is about more than just being there. It is about actively promoting our County, building relationships and bringing back opportunities that can benefit all of us.

As I mentioned last week, we have already signed an agreement with Rapigen, a South Korean diagnostics company. Rapigen will be developing its U.S. base out of the Germantown Innovative Center, which gives us a good opportunity to benefit from its expansion once the FDA clears its products.

On our trips, we have learned that many companies are motivated to enter the U.S. market and be close to lawmakers in Washington. We are making Montgomery County the doorway to that market.

Swimming Safety

The swim season is underway and will kick into high gear once school is out, which is a good reminder to review some safety measures.

This past holiday weekend, one young man died when he and another person chose to swim across the Potomac River from Virginia. That is illegal and remains dangerous for several reasons. It is always a good idea to follow the directions of any posted sign and avoid swimming if that is what is recommended or if it is restricted.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1 to 4 years old with 4,000 people dying each year from drowning in the United States. For children younger than 5, 87 percent of drowning fatalities happen in home pools and spas.

Research from the National Safe Kids Campaign shows that nearly nine out of 10 children ages 14 and under who drowned were under supervision when they died. MCFRS encourages always having a designated “water watcher,” almost like a designated driver. Drownings often occur when one person incorrectly assumes that another is watching. Also, ditch the distractions when you are on “lifeguard duty” and you are the designated water watcher. Be engaged and watch at all times.

Many drowning deaths occur when children are not expected to be swimming or when they have unanticipated access to water. Toddlers are naturally curious, which is why it is critical to implement multiple safety strategies such as pool fencing, pool alarms and door locks.

Drowning is also a silent killer. When people think about drowning, they picture flailing arms and calls for help. What usually happens is that people take the biggest breath they can and go down — and do not come back up again. They cannot flail, they cannot yell and water in their airway quickly inhibits their ability to breathe.

Drownings can happen with seasoned swimmers and those just learning how to swim. Make sure you know how to tread water, float on your back and get to the edge of the pool and hang on. Even the most experienced swimmers can become tired or get muscle cramps which might make it difficult to get out of the water safely.

You can use our seven outdoor County pools or indoor aquatic centers to teach your child to swim, or you can sign them up for swimming classes. You can also help save lives by signing up for CPR instruction here, through Montgomery College or the American Red Cross.

Maryland’s Service Year Option Program Application Deadline Approaching

High school graduations are underway, and I want to congratulate everyone who earned a diploma this year. As a former teacher, I recognize that this is an exciting time of year for many area families with a lot to be proud of.

I also want to remind all high school graduates and recent grads to consider applying for the Service Year Option Program established by Governor Wes Moore last year. The next opportunity will begin this September, but applications will only be accepted through June 15.

Applicants from the classes of 2024, 2023, 2022 and 2021 will be considered. Benefits of the program include:
  • Nine months of pay making at least $15 per hour.
  • $6,000 award upon completion of the program.
  • Real world experience with an employer in field of interest.
  • On the job training, mentoring and professional development.
  • Exposure to employers and colleges across Maryland.
  • Opportunity to enroll in a Federally recognized and registered apprenticeship pathway.
Anyone accepted into the program will be expected to commit to working at least 30 hours per week. The program is flexible and meant for both young adults with higher education aspirations and those without.

Program partnerships with Maryland’s Historically Black colleges and universities and community colleges are available to provide collaboration and support for interested participants. The program can also focus on aligning skilled trades and apprenticeship programs to help participants go from Service Year participants directly into the workforce.

Contact with any requests and questions or visit Maryland’s Service and Civic Innovation website.

Taste of Wheaton Returns on Sunday, June 2

Before ending this week’s newsletter message, I want to encourage everyone with a sweet tooth or a foodie’s palate to visit Wheaton Sunday, June 2, for the annual Taste of Wheaton food and music festival.

The Wheaton Urban District is bringing back the food, music and arts festival after a one-year absence. Marian Fryer Town Plaza in Downtown Wheaton will host the event rain or shine from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In the past, the Taste of Wheaton has drawn crowds of more than 10,000 people. One reason is that it is a wonderful opportunity to sample great food at modest prices.

Here is another good reason to visit is my favorite band, The Nighthawks. They get the music started at 11 a.m. Enjoy the festival and the flavor that only Wheaton can offer. Not to date myself, but I have been following The Nighthawks since about 1972. I explained in this video from my time on the County Council why I love their music so much.

It is awesome that they continue to play so many local shows. Enjoy the weather, the food and the music if you get a chance.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich
County Executive

May 29, 2024

Nominations Due by Saturday, June 1, for African American Living Legends Awards to be Presented During Juneteenth Celebration

Nominations Due by Saturday, June 1, for African American Living Legends Awards to be Presented During 27th Annual Juneteenth Celebration

Montgomery County is seeking nominations for its African American Living Legends Awards that honor individuals who are 75 or older and have dedicated their lives to service, advocacy and selfless acts of kindness. The awards ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 14, at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich will host the awards presentation. Nominations must be submitted by Saturday, June 1.

The awards ceremony will be part of the County’s 27th Annual Juneteenth Celebration, themed “Celebrating Freedom at the Rock: Forever Unshackled.” The community celebration will be from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 15, also at the BlackRock Center, which is located at 12901 Town Commons Drive in Germantown.

“Recognizing living legends within our County is more than just honoring individuals. It is about celebrating the resilience, achievements and contributions of those who have helped shape the cultural heritage of the African American community,” said County Executive Elrich. “These distinguished figures serve as beacons of inspiration, reminding us of our shared history and the ongoing journey toward equity, justice and progress. By acknowledging their impact, we honor their African American legacy and reaffirm our commitment to fostering a community where everyone’s story is valued and uplifted.”

To nominate an individual, submit a two-page or less narrative explaining why the nominee should be honored. Include a list of their contributions to the community. Nominations will be evaluated, and the County Executive will determine the final selections.

Nominations can be emailed to or mailed to Montgomery County Office of Human Rights, African American Living Legend Nomination, 21 Maryland Ave., Suite 330, Rockville, MD 20850.

For more information, visit the Office of Human Rights website.

Past honorees of the African American Living Legends Awards include:
  • 2023: Henry Hailstock, Theresa Henderson, Pauline Johnson, Shelia Ogilvie, Vernon Ricks, Lt. Colonel Shelton Ware.
  • 2022: Ida Pearl Green, Rosalyn Cain King, Anita Neal, Ambassador Curtis Ward, Alma Lewis Williams.
  • 2021: Elwood Rafael Gray, Sterling King Jr., Willie Mackey King, John Macklin, Hercules Pinkney.
  • 2020: No Event.
  • 2019: Winston A. Anderson, Irene Coleman, Warren Crutchfield, Arva M. Jackson, The Reverend Ruby Reese Moone, Arthur L. Williams.
  • 2018: Sol Graham, Samuel C. Hamilton. Arthur Holmes, Jr., Harvey Ziegler.
  • 2017: Christine Clarke, Wilma K. Holmes, Ruby A. Rubens, Odessa M. Shannon.
  • 2016: Delores Lincoln-Willis.
  • 2015: Irma Ramsey CuĂ©llar, Marilyn Hughes Gaston, Lorena Elizabeth Mosby.

‘Truck Day’ Event Rescheduled for Saturday, June 1

‘Truck Day’ Event Rescheduled for Saturday, June 1

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has rescheduled its free, family friendly “Truck Day” event for from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, June 1, in Rockville.

The event was originally scheduled for Saturday, May 18, but was postponed due to weather concerns on the original date.

The rescheduled event will be held at the MCDOT Truck Depot and Salt Barn at 17000 Crabbs Branch Way in Rockville. Truck Day invites members of the community to touch, climb and explore the many first-response, construction and transportation vehicles that keep the County running.

Truck Day will offer the opportunity for a hands-on experience with MCDOT vehicles including a bucket truck, tractor, semi-truck and bus. The event also will feature first responder vehicles and a fire engine, with the chance to meet the essential workers who operate them. MCDOT Highway Services employees will be available to answer questions and share how their vehicles work and the role their vehicles serve.

“Truck Day is great way to introduce residents, and especially children, to local public works professionals and the important work they do to keep our community safe and improve the quality of life for all who live, work and visit Montgomery County,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “This free, outdoor event is a lot of fun. MCDOT does an excellent job setting up interactive activities and kids love climbing into the trucks.”

As part of the event, MCDOT will showcase entries in the annual “Paint the Plow” contest. A total of 16 Montgomery County public middle schools will participate in a competition to name and decorate a snowplow. Attendees at Truck Day will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite snowplow name and design. First-, second- and third-place winners will receive cash prizes for their schools. The popular snowplows are deployed across the region during snowstorms in the winter months.

Truck Day is a major part of the celebration of “Public Works Week,” which is a nationally recognized week in May to honor essential workers. The American Public Works Association selected "Advancing Quality of Life for All” as the theme for the 2024 National Public Works Week. The theme emphasizes that public works professionals contribute to and enhance the quality of life in all the communities they proudly serve.

In addition to the Truck Day event, MCDOT will run a social media campaign to highlight MCDOT Division of Highway Services employees and the essential work they do. The campaign will spotlight employees through video content to highlight their contributions.

“MCDOT employees work around the clock to ensure public safety,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “They are often unseen, but they provide critical services during emergencies such as adverse weather such as snow, flooding, downed electrical lines and trees, and ensure essential workers can reach their destinations safely.”

To learn more about the “Paint the Plow” contest or other MCDOT-sponsored activities during “Public Works Week,” visit the Paint the Plow website.

‘Taste of Wheaton’ Will Have a Full Day of Entertainment Including Legendary ‘The Nighthawks’ on Sunday, June 2

‘Taste of Wheaton’ Will Have a Full Day of Entertainment Including the Legendary Band ‘The Nighthawks’ on Sunday, June 2, in Downtown Wheaton

Wheaton’s signature event, “Taste of Wheaton,” from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 2, at Marian Fryer Town Plaza in downtown Wheaton, will kick off with an electrifying entertainment lineup featuring the locally formed blues and roots rock band “The Nighthawks.” The event is free to attend and samples of food and drinks from many Wheaton-area restaurants will be available for purchase.

The event will take place rain or shine at 2424 Reedie Drive in Wheaton. The Nighthawks will start the all-day entertainment lineup when they take the stage from 11 a.m.-noon.

Adults and children can enjoy delicious cuisine, live music and dance entertainment from local performers. They also can shop at an artisan market curated by the regional arts organization, FAsMarketplace. The event also will feature kids' rides and an arts and crafts area run by the Wheaton crafts shop Tru2Hue. Wheaton’s local food pantry, Mid-County United Ministries, will host the beer and wine garden, with 100 percent of the proceeds donated to this organization. People are encouraged to bring shelf-stable foods to support the food pantry.

“The Taste of Wheaton festival is a wonderful opportunity to experience our vibrant community, celebrate our diverse cultures and enjoy the amazing array of ethnic food and live entertainment by local performers,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Come experience the best of Wheaton and support our local businesses during a day filled with fun activities for all ages.”

Entertainment Lineup
Participating Restaurants
Visit the Wheaton Urban District website for more information, including transportation and parking recommendations.

Woodlawn Manor House Reopens for Tours After Historic Sandy Spring Home Was Closed for Four Years for Repairs

Woodlawn Manor House Reopens for Tours After Historic Sandy Spring Home Was Closed for Four Years for Repairs

The historic Woodlawn Manor House at Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park in Sandy Spring is now open for public tours following the completion of four years of much-needed repairs by Montgomery Parks. The manor dates to the early 1800s and served as the home of the Palmer family, who owned and managed the farm for more than 100 years.

The Federal-style brick home was constructed in the early 1800s and was once home to William Palmer, a prominent Quaker physician whose family owned the property until 1919. In the late 1970s, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission purchased the property from the McKeever family and established Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park. Today, the Woodlawn Manor House and historic outbuildings reflect its previous owners and provide a glimpse of Montgomery County’s agricultural and complex 19th Century history.

Guided tours of the manor house take approximately 45 minutes and will be offered through November at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturdays and at 1 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $5 per person. Tickets can be purchased at the Visitor Center on the day of the visit.

“Visitors will learn about Montgomery County’s agricultural history through the lives of the Palmer family, as well as the complex story of slavery intertwined with the family’s personal faith and connection to the community,” said Jennifer Legates, historic site manager and senior history specialist.

Groups of 15 or more can schedule private guided tours Tuesday-Saturday with at least two weeks advance reservations. Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park offers several guided group tour options which include the Woodlawn Manor House, the Woodlawn Museum (located inside the historic stone barn) and the Underground Railroad Experience Trail.

For more information, visit, call 301-929-5989 or send an email to

Winners of 25th County ‘Recycling Achievement Awards’ Honored

Winners of 25th Annual County ‘Recycling Achievement Awards’ Honored

Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on May 22 honored the winners of the County’s 25th Annual “Recycling Achievement Awards” for outstanding achievements in waste reduction, reuse and recycling.

DEP Director Jon Monger led the ceremonies at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. Awards recognized individuals, teams, multi-family properties, schools, places of worship, businesses, organizations and government facilities.

The awards were presented during the County’s celebration of Recycling Awareness Week. Recipients were recognized for their efforts to help the County reach its goals of reducing waste and recycling more, aiming for Zero Waste.

"Montgomery County has been celebrating its Recycling Awareness Week since 1999, shining a spotlight on the hard work and dedication of our businesses, government agencies, multi-family properties, and individuals," said County Executive Marc Elrich. "Every year, the list of awardees grows to include more recipients who understand the importance of waste reduction and recycling. I appreciate the awardees for taking action to help us reach our goals as we strive for Zero Waste."

DEP Director Monger said the award recipients demonstrate how all community members can contribute in many ways. 

"This week, we recognize the outstanding efforts of individuals, businesses and organizations who are not only talking about recycling, but also taking action," said DEP Director Monger. "I congratulate each of our award recipients and thank all of them for dedicating their time and efforts to Montgomery County’s recycling program. Their contributions are helping us work toward our ambitious goal of reduced waste and increased recycling as we strive for zero waste."

The awardees were honored for their efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle right. Each recipient is a model for all residents, multi-family properties and businesses to follow and replicate.

A summary of the 2024 Recycling Achievement Award winners:

Multi-Family Property – Excellence in Janitorial Crew Performance. Awarded to a multi-family janitorial crew member who has consistently gone the extra mile to keep trash and recycling areas in excellent condition to encourage residents to recycle more in a safe and welcoming environment.
  • Manuela Moya, Aurora Condominium. Manuela Moya ensures the 22 trash rooms and the hallways at Aurora Condominium are spotless. Residents consistently express appreciation for the high standard of cleanliness and organization in these areas through online reviews, contributing to an overall pleasant living environment. Furthermore, Manuela has played a pivotal role in the establishment and implementation of the food scraps recycling program at Aurora Condominium.
Multi-Family Property – Outstanding Efforts in Waste Reduction and Recycling. Awarded to multi-family properties that have adopted exemplary efforts to develop, expand or enhance their waste reduction, reuse and recycling programs aiming for Zero Waste.
  • Fairchild Apartments. Property Manager Weston Henry and his team are dedicated to keeping residents informed and promoting proper recycling. The trash and recycling area at Fairchild Apartments is well-maintained, tidy, and clearly labeled. Weston is proactive about providing ample recycling bins and materials to residents as they move in. Fairchild Apartments achieved an impressive recycling rate of 80.6 percent in 2023.
  • Georgetown Village Condominium. Georgetown Village Condominium has been using plastic bag recycling collection boxes in each trash and recycling room for more than two years. This initiative has significantly reduced plastic bag contamination in mixed paper and commingled recycling containers. To prevent fire hazards caused by improper battery disposal, the property has added a battery recycling collection container in each trash and recycling room.
  • Hampden Square Condominium. Led by Facility Lead Engineer Russell Hoes Sr., the community has embraced proactive recycling. Russell's initiative in recycling batteries, key fobs and old cell phones showcases responsible recycling. Additionally, resident Pam Shroeder's dedication to setting up plastic bag recycling and transporting them to a local grocery store demonstrates the impact of individual efforts. The property's annual paper shredding event recycled 700 pounds of paper in 2023.
  • Old Georgetown Village Condominium. The management and residents collaborate with the TRRAC Program to run a successful recycling program. They recently surveyed interest in a food scraps recycling program and are planning an educational campaign to promote recycling.
  • Triangle Towers. Triangle Towers has implemented initiatives to minimize its ecological footprint, including installing a Planet Aid bin for clothes and shoes donation, shuttling books from the onsite library for reuse and achieving tangible recycling milestones. This includes the responsible recycling of 200 pounds of carpet, 75 pounds of batteries and eight pounds of toner cartridges and printer ink cartridges.
  • University Gardens I and II. University Gardens I and II has recycled 3,200 pounds of construction materials, 85 pounds of toner cartridges and printer ink cartridges, five pounds of batteries and 40 boxes of incandescent light bulbs, all replaced with energy-efficient alternatives like LED bulbs.
  • Wheaton House Apartments. The dedicated team at Wheaton House Apartments is committed to ensuring the proper execution of recycling measures while also prioritizing dissemination of accurate recycling information to all residents. In the interest of enhancing accessibility, the property consistently procures bilingual recycling materials to facilitate dissemination of recycling information in residents' native languages.
Multi-Family Property – Outstanding Efforts in Waste Reduction and Recycling Management. Awarded to property managers or staff at multi-family properties that have gone above and beyond to develop, expand or enhance waste reduction, reuse and recycling programs aiming for Zero Waste. These individuals help maintain the quality of life in their multi-family communities, working diligently to engage others to actively participate in their waste reduction, reuse and recycling efforts.
  • Property Manager: Lourdes Benavides, The Palisades of Bethesda. Lourdes Benavides was honored for her exceptional leadership in recycling and donation initiatives. Instead of allowing usable items such as food, clothes, shoes, toys, rugs and dishes to go to waste, Lourdes ensures they are redirected to her church, where they serve new purposes. In 2023, The Palisades of Bethesda achieved an impressive recycling rate of 64.0 percent.
  • Property Manager: Reena Vohra, Americana Centre Condominium. Property Manager Vohra regularly communicates with residents about recycling best practices through weekly emails. These emails include information about battery hazards, recycling articles and a recycling quiz. Reena has also expanded the recycling program to include battery, printer ink cartridge and light bulb recycling at two locations on the property.
Business – Outstanding Efforts in Waste Reduction and Recycling. Awarded to businesses that have undertaken exemplary efforts to develop, expand or enhance their waste reduction, reuse and recycling programs, striving to reduce waste and recycle more while aiming for Zero Waste.
  • Brookfield Properties. Brookfield Properties has significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and electricity usage over the past eight years. In Montgomery County, it is working toward a zero-waste goal by providing food scraps recycling services to all tenants and organizing annual electronics recycling events. There is collaboration with Waste Reduction and Recycling staff to integrate zero waste programs into their daily operations.
  • DAVIS Construction. At DAVIS Construction, environmental consciousness is evident in its Rockville headquarters. It has introduced food scrap composting and replaced disposable items with certified compostable products. During the office remodel, it recycled various materials, diverting tons of waste.
Grace Episcopal Day School. The staff and students have cultivated a thriving green community. Each classroom has dedicated students who are experts in recycling, leading their peers to reduce waste and recycle properly. The school has a successful composting program, and students use the compost to fertilize the campus garden. Evidence of reuse projects and community cleanups can be seen throughout the school.
  • JLG-RICA Rockville, John L. Gildner Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents. The facility serves young people with severe emotional and behavioral challenges. Despite these daily challenges the faculty, staff and students actively recycle electronics, toner cartridges, pallets and batteries. The facility also collects clothing donations through the Cash for Clothes program to earn points for educational items. Students participate in a Garden Program to learn about recycling, gardening, and composting.
  • Montgomery College, Takoma Park Campus. Recycling is a fundamental part of the institution's culture. Staff members regularly assess materials for recycling potential, resulting in more than 60 percent waste diversion. In 2023, the college diverted more than two tons of food scraps to a composting facility in its first year of participating in a food scrap composting program.
  • Our Lady of Good Counsel High School. The Olney school excels in waste reduction and recycling efforts. In addition to mandatory recycling, it voluntarily recycles batteries, wood pallets, motor oil and ink cartridges. It has implemented a food scraps recycling program to minimize waste. The commitment positions the school as an exemplary proponent of zero waste initiatives.
  • Pass with Purpose. The nonprofit organization founded in 2022 by sisters Sydney and Ashley Mednik is affiliated with the Bethesda Soccer Club. The organization collects gently used soccer uniforms from club families and distributes them to children in remote villages in Zambia through the Peace Corps. It has sent five shipments containing approximately 1,000 jerseys, shorts, socks, warm-ups, sweatshirts and backpacks to children in Zambia and Saint Maarten, providing high-quality uniforms and preventing textile waste.
Business – Waste Reduction and Recycling Champions. Awarded to individuals who made a positive difference in their workplace to keep land, air, and water clean. These individuals go above and beyond to maintain a healthy environment in their workplace, working diligently to engage others to actively participate in their waste reduction, reuse and recycling efforts.
  • Lauren Dworkin, Bender JCC of Greater Washington. She was recognized as a Montgomery County Recycling Champion for her efforts to increase waste diversion at the Bender Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington. She ensures staff are trained on recycling regulations and strategically places bins for easy waste diversion. Lauren is always looking for new ways to increase the waste diversion rate for the Bender JCC.
  • Mary C. Schirf, Sheppard Pratt. At the Rockville school, she is highly regarded for encouraging peers and students to engage in daily recycling practices. Her commitment is evidenced by efforts to overhaul the recycling program through the introduction of centralized collection bins and the addition of desk-side bins. Kent Zhang, Thomas S.Wootton High School. A sophomore at the Rockville school, he has led efforts to expand tennis ball recycling in Montgomery County. Partnering with RecycleBalls, he established 13 collection sites, involving 80 volunteers and recycling more than 60,000 tennis balls. Kent's initiative has been instrumental in promoting environmental awareness and waste reduction .
Commercial Recycling Partnerships. Awarded to commercial food scraps recycling partners who have significantly increased their recycling achievement by separating pre-consumer food scraps from the waste stream and recycling them through participation in the Commercial Food Scraps Recycling Partnership Program.
  • Clarksburg Premium Outlets
  • Congregation Har Shalom
  • Montgomery College, Takoma Park Campus
Recycling Volunteers. Awarded to volunteers who have dedicated substantial time and effort to support the County’s waste reduction, reuse and recycling initiatives by actively participating in recycling education programs, outreach events and behind the scenes work necessary to promote recycling in the community. These individuals share their enthusiasm and commitment to recycling by promoting and inspiring their peers to recycle more and recycle right and contribute to a cleaner and healthier environment.

Adult Volunteer:
  • Bernice Addo
Youth Volunteers:
  • Jared Addo
  • Ashley Wan
  • Ella Wan
  • Sophia Wan
Outstanding Waste Reduction and Recycling Champion

Awarded to an individual who embodies the constant mission to enhance and improve Montgomery County’s initiatives to reduce waste, encourage reuse and increase recycling, working to preserve valuable natural resources and keep the County’s land, air and water clean and green.
  • Alan Pultyniewicz. In a career dedicated to integrated waste management, he has made numerous contributions to waste reduction, reuse and recycling over the last 24 years. He works to expand collection services and recycling initiatives on behalf of the residents of single-family homes in Montgomery County.
A complete listing of the awardees and details about their recycling efforts can be found on the Montgomery County Recycling Achievement Recognition Awards webpage.

Open Houses on Veirs Mill Road Flash Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project to be Held on June 4 and June 5

Open Houses on Veirs Mill Road Flash Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project to be Held on June 4 and June 5

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) will hold two open houses to explain details, and seek input, on the planned Veirs Mill Road Flash Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project. The meeting on Tuesday, June 4, will be held in Silver Spring The meeting on Wednesday, June 5, will be virtual.

The Veirs Mill Road Flash BRT will be a seven-mile, limited-stop, branded bus service with 12 stations planned along Veirs Mill Road and MD 355. The project is geared toward enhancing mobility, connectivity and accessibility along the Veirs Mill Road corridor. By implementing a rapid bus transit system, the project seeks to enhance transportation options, reduce travel times and create a more efficient and sustainable transit network. The project team is committed to engaging with the community and incorporating public input to ensure that the final design meets the needs and preferences of residents, commuters and businesses in the area.

The meeting from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on June 4 will be held at Newport Mill Middle School, which is located at 11311 Newport Mill Rd. in Silver Spring. At that meeting, residents can review informational display boards, explore mapping resources and interact with knowledgeable staff members.

The virtual meeting from 7-8 p.m. on June 5 will be conducted virtually via Zoom. It will have a concise presentation followed by interactive breakout rooms, allowing residents to engage with knowledgeable staff members.

The Veirs Mill Road Flash BRT stretches from the Wheaton Metrorail Station to the Montgomery College—Rockville campus. The project will enhance bus services and prioritizes pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. This will include the implementation of new side paths, sidewalks, intersection signals, signing, pavement marking and lighting systems, all aimed at bolstering connectivity and safety for all road users.

The upcoming open houses will offer an opportunity for community members to learn more about the project and its current status, engage with project leaders and experts and provide valuable input that will help shape the future of transportation in the region. Information presented at the open house will include details about the proposed roadway and traffic signal modifications, transit service using articulated BRT vehicles, BRT stations with level boarding and off-board fare collection and pedestrian/bike safety improvements. Participants will have the chance to ask questions, share concerns and offer suggestions.

"We are excited to engage with the community and gather their input on the Veirs Mill Road Flash BRT project," said Zouli Bereddad, the project manager. "Public feedback is crucial in helping us design a transit system that meets the needs of residents, improves connectivity and enhances overall quality of life. We encourage everyone to participate in an open house and be a part of this important conversation."

The Veirs Mill Road Flash BRT project represents a significant investment in the future of transportation infrastructure, with the potential to deliver lasting benefits to the community and beyond. By prioritizing sustainable and efficient transit solutions, the project aligns with broader efforts to address congestion, reduce emissions, and create more vibrant, livable communities.

To learn more about the Veirs Mill Road Flash BRT project and to stay updated on future developments, visit

Spanish and Chinese translators will be available. For project inquiries, contact Mr. Bereddad at

New Version of Historic Talbot Avenue Bridge Opened in Silver Spring After Six-Year Closure Due to Purple Line-Related Construction

New Version of Historic Talbot Avenue Bridge Opened in Silver Spring After Six-Year Closure Due to Purple Line-Related Construction

The new version of the historic Talbot Avenue Bridge in Silver Spring was reopened for pedestrians and vehicles on May 24 after it was closed for six years due to construction-related issues making way for the future Purple Line. The new bridge revives the connection of the Silver Spring communities of Lyttonsville and North Woodside.

The newly designed and constructed bridge is a milestone for Maryland Transit Administration’s (MTA) Purple Line project. Among those attending dedication ceremonies were Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, officials from Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) and community members.

Patricia Tyson, a lifelong resident of Lyttonsville and a community leader, made the first ceremonial drive across Talbot Avenue Bridge, complete with the breaking of a purple ribbon.

The Purple Line will be a 16-mile, 21-station light rail line from New Carrollton in Prince George’s County to Bethesda in Montgomery County. The Purple Line will directly connect to the Metrorail's Red, Green and Orange Lines at Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park and New Carrollton. It also will connect to MARC, Amtrak and local bus services.

To learn more about the Purple Line, visit

Open House for Job Seekers Will Be Held on Wednesday, June 5, in Rockville as County Seeks to Fill More Than 475 Positions

Open House for Job Seekers Will Be Held on Wednesday, June 5, in Rockville as County Seeks to Fill More Than 475 Positions

Montgomery County will hold an open house for job seekers age 18-and-over from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5, in the County’s Executive Office Building lobby-level auditorium. The County is searching for candidates to fill more than 475 full-time and part-time jobs across a wide variety of fields.

The Executive Office Building is located at 101 Monroe St. in Rockville. The building is a one-block walk from the Rockville Metrorail Station. Pre-registration is not required to attend the job fair.

County staff will be available throughout the day to meet one-on-one with job seekers. The event will offer a convenient way to explore a potential career in local government, discuss current job openings in the County and learn how to apply for a position.

The County has many available career paths in public service including in the fields of:
  • Health and social services
  • Management/administrative
  • Transportation/bus drivers/truck drivers
  • Information technology
  • Public safety
Bilingual Spanish-speaking recruiters will be available.

To view available positions, visit the County’s career website in advance of the event at

Climate Action Report That Highlights Progress Toward Climate Goals Shows Action Has Been Started on 77 of 86 Goals

Climate Action Report That Highlights Montgomery’s Progress Toward Climate Goals Shows Action Has Been Started on 77 of 86 Goals

County Executive Marc Elrich announced that the Fiscal Year 2023 annual report on the Montgomery County Climate Action Plan shows that the County has made significant progress toward its climate goals. The report showcases the Fiscal Year 2023 accomplishments of the “County as a whole” in reducing climate change pollution and increasing resilience to a changing climate and provides a work plan for Fiscal Year 2024.

The annual report shows that the County has started 77 of the 86 actions set forth in the plan and made significant progress on or completed 49 actions.

“The progress outlined in our Climate Action Plan Annual Report showcases the dedication and hard work of the entire Montgomery County community,” said County Executive Elrich. “From energy-efficient projects and clean energy investments to electric vehicle adoption and enhanced flood response, we've made significant strides in reducing our climate impact and increasing our resilience. These achievements are a testament to what we can accomplish when we work together towards a sustainable future. Our Climate Action Plan is not just a policy document; it's a blueprint for a healthier, more resilient Montgomery County. As we move forward, we will continue to build on this momentum, ensuring that we leave a positive legacy for future generations."

Some of the key actions highlighted in the 2023 annual report include:
  • The County completed 36 energy-efficient projects for County-owned properties. The total cost of $2.12 million was offset by $1.27 million in State grant funding and utility incentives. These projects are estimated to deliver $1.57 million in annual energy savings and 7,829 (MTOC2e) in annual greenhouse gas emission savings, the equivalent of taking 1,863 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles off the road annually.
  • The Montgomery County Green Bank catalyzed 12 clean energy projects in FY23 with a total investment value of $13 million. These projects consisted of distributed solar projects in the residential, commercial, condo, affordable rental and faith-based sectors. The projects totaled almost three megawatts of clean energy.
  • By the end of FY23, the County’s Electric Vehicle Purchasing Co-Op had collected more than 1,100 pledges from residents to make their next vehicle electric. Collectively, nearly one-third of Maryland's electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are registered within Montgomery County.
  • In FY23, the County made 2,800 individual, direct contacts with employers and employees about commuting programs that can benefit both employers and employees.
  • FY23 was the first full year the Parks Department instituted a preventative tree maintenance program on a three-year rotation to help retain more trees by increasing the health of landscaped trees in parks, addressing preventative maintenance on an additional 1,127 trees in 53 different parks.
A total of 35 flood sensors were installed at the County's frequently flooded sites, providing real-time data to various agencies and jurisdictions and enhancing flood response and management.

The County departments, in partnership with numerous County agencies and offices, collectively planned, reported and acted based on eight topics to address the environmental consequences and risks of climate change. The topics are:
  • Building
  • Carbon Sequestration
  • Clean Energy
  • Climate Adaptation
  • Governance
  • Partnerships and Education with Racial Equity and Social Justice
  • Public Engagement
  • Transportation
These topics are woven throughout both the Climate Action Plan and the Fiscal Year 2023 Annual Report. The report covers the timeframe between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023.

“The Climate Action Plan has proven its success in paving the way for the impressive work Montgomery County has both completed and continues to implement,” said Sarah Kogel-Smucker, the County’s climate change officer. “I am honored to release this FY23 Annual Report showcasing our collective efforts to combat climate change. We are transforming our buildings, transit systems, and green spaces and creating green jobs. We are building a legacy of justice, progress and possibility for generations to come."

Visit the Climate Portal to read the Annual Report in full and review the eight topics and specific actions underway.

Rockville High School Art Teacher Caryn Chavarria Selected as Winner of 2024 Wheaton Arts Parade and Festival Poster Contest

Rockville High School Art Teacher Caryn Chavarria Selected as Winner of 2024 Wheaton Arts Parade and Festival Poster Contest

The poster for the eighth annual Wheaton Arts Parade and Festival will be based on a design submitted by Caryn Chavarria, a Latina artist and Rockville resident who specializes in painting, digital art and photography. Her design will be used to promote and artfully represent this year’s event, which is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 29, in Downtown Wheaton.

Ms. Chavarria teaches digital art, photography and ceramics at Rockville High School. As the winner of poster contest, she will receive a cash prize of $500 donated jointly by IHOP Wheaton and the Los Chorros Restaurant in Wheaton.

The poster contest was open to all residents of Montgomery County. After Ms. Chavarria’s artwork was selected, she worked with Wheaton Arts Parade designer Josue Martinez of Corinto Gallery to incorporate her artwork into the design for the poster and the event’s T-shirt. It will be featured in all promotional materials leading up to the parade.

The annual Wheaton Arts Parade and Festival will take place from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sept. 29 in the Wheaton Triangle and on the Marian Fryer Plaza, which is adjacent to the entrance of the Wheaton Metro Station. The Wheaton Arts Parade and Festival is a day for residents, artists, businesses and civic organizations to celebrate art and Wheaton’s diverse cultures. The art parade kicks off the day and the community then gathers at a festival of performances, art exhibits and food. 

“My design aims to encapsulate the essence of the parade and festival,” said Ms. Chavarria, “which includes an appreciation for arts, music, food and decor. Additionally, through the use of one-line drawings, I wanted to capture the diversity of Wheaton, as well as the community’s interconnectedness. I also wanted to pay homage to the triangular and pyramid motif of Wheaton Arts Parade. The color scheme was chosen to show the vibrancy of the community and of the festival as well as the movement that encapsulates Wheaton.”

As part of the prize, an additional $100 will be donated to Rockville High School for art supplies in Ms. Chavarria’s honor.

“As a life-long resident of Wheaton and local business owner, I appreciate what Wheaton Arts Parade has done to celebrate our community and activate the arts district,” said IHOP owner and prize sponsor William Moore.” I am honored to sponsor the annual poster contest and to reward the creative efforts of local artists like Caryn.”

Los Chorros owner and prize sponsor Omar Lazo said: “The artwork is truly remarkable and captures the vibrant spirit of our community. We are proud to join Wheaton Arts Parade in celebrating the power of art and its ability to bring people together."

More than 50 festival spaces are available in the 2024 festival for artists to rent to exhibit and sell their original artwork and for arts organizations and community organizations to promote their activities. The day is inspired by the parade and the closure of roads so that people can pull giant floats and show off their art, play music and dance.

Schools and community organizations are encouraged to make floats for the arts parade and artists of all kinds are invited to push, pull, carry, wear or perform their art in the parade. There are no motor vehicles. It is free to enter. Registration is open now for parade participants, art vendors, performers, exhibitors and food vendors. Funds are available for individuals and groups to help in creating their floats and parade art.

To register or learn more about the parade and festival, go to More information also is available by emailing

‘Uncovering Montgomery History’s Collections Gems’ Will Tell Stories of County’s Past in Online Presentation on Tuesday, June 4

‘Uncovering Montgomery History’s Collections Gems’ Will Tell Stories of County’s Past in Online Presentation on Tuesday, June 4

Montgomery History—the County’s Rockville-based historical society—has been serving residents and the region through its research library, adult programs, educational activities, publications, exhibits and conferences since the organization was founded in 1944. At 2 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4, the only organization addressing the entire scope of County history will reveal a bit about its work—and the County’s past—in the free online presentation “Uncovering Montgomery History’s Collections Gems.”

Sammie Hatton, Montgomery History’s collections manager, will lead the virtual look at some of the more than 10,000 objects within the organization’s collection. The items range from textiles and portraits to ceramics and medical devices.

The wide variety of items helps tell the story of life in Montgomery County throughout time. During her talk, Ms. Hatton, a former volunteer turned staff member, also will address her training and experience and help viewers understand what her work entails. She also will discuss a few of her favorite objects in the collection, some of which are on display and some others that remain protected in storage.

Montgomery History states it “is where the stories of who we are, rooted in where we have been, are collected, preserved and shared.”

To view the presentation via Zoom, register at

May 24, 2024

Message from the County Executive Marc Elrich


Dear Friends,

This week, I announced Assistant Chief Marc Yamada as my nominee to be the next Montgomery County Police Department Chief of Police. The news was met with positive reactions for this potentially history-making appointment.

If confirmed by the County Council, Assistant Chief Yamada would serve as the first Japanese-American to lead MCPD.

Marc understands that the foundation of a successful department resides in maintaining and expanding the trust of the people within and outside of MCPD.  

He knows that effective policing requires building strong relationships with community members, listening to their concerns and working together to find solutions.  

His leadership style is collaborative and inclusive, which is why I felt comfortable stopping our search for a new police chief without expanding it to a national search. 

With a changing national climate toward policing, our senior department leaders have endured a lot over the last five years, and seeing their responses to our challenges gave me confidence that I could find someone within the department to take over. 

Marc will not have to learn about Montgomery County because he has lived here his whole life. Here is a video of Marc, as Fourth District Commander, presenting donations on behalf of police to a cancer care kit organization called “Kits to Heart.” There is also a link to this week’s announcement on the County’s YouTube page. If you would like to learn more about his history within MCPD, follow this link.

The nomination goes to the County Council for confirmation. It will interview him on June 11. I am optimistic that the process will move expeditiously and that there will be a smooth transition as Chief Marcus Jones's tenure comes to an end on June 30.

Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Approved by County Council 

The County Council this week approved the Fiscal Year 2025 Operating Budget and Fiscal Year 2025-30 Capital Improvements Program.

I want to thank the Montgomery County Council for their work and for approving 99.5 percent of my recommended budget.

Our budget process was informed by residents and community groups, many of whom participated in our 10 public discussions over the last year on the budget.

The $7.1 billion operating budget includes additional funding for a variety of important initiatives including expanding our successful drone program in the police department, sustaining and expanding our mobile crisis teams, workforce training at the correctional facility supporting the Great Seneca Transit network and support for tenants.

  • Record funding for education
    • $3.3 billion for MCPS, $157 million above last year.
    • Second highest increase in funding for MCPS
    • Funds 99.2 percent of MCPS Board of Education’s budget request
    • Fully funds the negotiated compensation agreements for teachers and other MCPS employees to retain and recruit outstanding educators and other essential school staff
    • Fully funds Montgomery College’s request
    • $45.7 million in funding for school health services in the Department of Health and Human Services
    • $Almost $20million for the Early Care and Education Initiative (ECEI)
  • Enhances Public Safety:
    • Expands MCPD’s successful “Drone as First Responder” program to Germantown/Gaithersburg and Bethesda and extends hours of established programs in Silver Spring and Wheaton
    • Invests in expanding police recruiting and retention efforts
    • Funds two additional Mobile Crisis Teams – for a total of seven teams
    • Funds year-round operation of the Pre-Release Center, which is a national model
  • Invests in Transportation:
    • Funds for the launch of the Great Seneca Transit Network that will provide frequent transit service and improve mobility and access to jobs in Rockville, Gaithersburg and Shady Grove areas.
    • Provides funding for repairs and accessibility improvements for bus stops and bus shelters
    • Adds funds for residential road resurfacing.
    • Additional funding to help us achieve our Vision Zero goal, including an increase to the Safe Routes to School program
    • Provides funding to implement Veirs Mill Road Bus Rapid Transit with service to launch in FY27.
    • Provides funding to implement MD 355 Bus Rapid Transit Central phase, with service to launch in FY29.
  • Provides record funding to combat climate change including:
    • $364 million in total to fight climate change through transit, increased renewable energy, improved building efficiency, and nature-based solutions
    • $19.1 million for the Montgomery County Green Bank – an increase of almost $500,000 over FY24 budget
    • Adds $8 million in new spending to further the County’s efforts to fight climate change
    • Adds funds to support climate change solutions in the transportation sector, clean energy efforts, and zero waste efforts
    • Adds $40 million in new capital funding to enhance energy conservation in County-owned facilities and to support implementation of the new Building Energy Performance Standards
  • Allocates record funding to produce, preserve, and protect affordable housing supply:
    • $169.4 million to expand the preservation and production of affordable housing to our most economically burdened residents
    • $56.2 million in the Housing Initiative Fund
    • $22.9 million for the Rental Assistance Program (RAP) to continue providing rental assistance and supportive services to help the County’s most vulnerable residents
    • $113.2 million in CIP budget
    • $65 million in new capital funding for the Affordable Housing Acquisition and Preservation project
  • Supports growing Montgomery County’s Economy:
    • $26.2 million to support growing the County’s economy, an increase of 13.1 percent from the FY24 Approved Operating Budget
    • Funding for “BioHub Maryland at Montgomery County” to train our workforce at a state-of-the-art multifunctional facility equipped with cutting-edge industrial bioprocessing equipment
    • New capital investments to refresh our existing incubators into innovation centers
    • $2.3 million to WorkSource Montgomery – a 12.9 percent increase over the prior fiscal year that includes support for the Summer RISE youth program and programming at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility to support successful reentry opportunities
  • Improves government services by investing in employees and programs while maintaining over 10 percent in reserves:
    • Preserves vital services for County residents without any tax increases
    • Includes reserve balance of 10.8 percent or $707.1 million in FY25.
    • Recognizes work of nonprofit partners with a 3 percent inflationary adjustment to these organizations who receive funds from the County
    • Funds to modernize and foster transparency and equity in our classification and compensation structures
    • Eliminates 60 positions and repurposes 40 positions, the vast majority of which have been vacant for longer than one year
  • Ensures equity, resources, and services for all:
    • All decisions in the FY25 recommended budget were reviewed and analyzed by the Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice
    • Over $17 million to address food insecurity – including $3 million in HHS and $14.2 million in the Office of Food Systems Resilience
    • Funds expansion of Excel Beyond the Bell to two new sites: Eastern and Benjamin Banneker Middle Schools
    • $2.9 million to increase homeless shelter capacity and provide overflow sheltering in the winter months
I want to thank everyone who participated in this budget process. I received numerous letters and emails and held meetings with community members regarding service needs. The feedback from these conversations has been invaluable and informed my funding recommendations for FY25. I also want to acknowledge the incredible work of our community partners.

County Government cannot reach everyone who needs assistance. Through our partnerships with nonprofit organizations and faith communities, we are able to connect more deeply with our residents and deliver much-needed services.

As County Executive and as a former at-large Councilmember, I am very mindful of the difficult nature of budget decisions. We will always have more worthy programs and practices than we can fund.

Last year, the Council directed the school system to use $33 million in one-time Federal dollars for ongoing needs instead of increasing the tax designated for education. This decision has made it even more challenging to balance the budget without raising taxes.

During this budget season, the school system faced an unexpected increase in health care costs. My staff and I recommended a solution that would not have cut services, raised taxes, or touched the reserves.

The solution was to reduce the amount of funds going into the Combined Retiree Health Benefits Trust (CRHBT) and instead use them to pay current health care costs of current retirees. (This trust fund is often referred to as the "OPEB" fund. OPEB stands for Other Post Employment Benefits.). Each year, the budget includes contributions to the trust fund, which is designated for paying future medical bills for future retirees.

Currently, the CRHBT is extremely well-funded with $800 million, and its balance is growing due to our prudent investment practices. This is not the fund that pays current retiree health care costs. The CRHBT funds may sit for 15-20 years, accruing value.

I would rather use the funds to meet current serious needs in our schools rather than setting aside those dollars in a fund that is sufficiently funded. Meeting our school needs now is an investment in the future. Furthermore, this action does not affect the County’s ability to pay the future health care costs of future retirees.

Additionally, transferring a portion of the CRHBT contribution to pay current retiree costs has been an ongoing practice supported by this and previous Councils. In fact, on May 10, the Council approved transferring the amount of funding by $10 million for FY24 CRHBT contributions to pay current retirees’ health care costs. Similarly, a transfer of the FY25 contribution could also be approved.

I did not include this transfer in my recommended budget because I did not learn of the schools’ shortfall in time do so. However, my staff and I immediately began conversations with Councilmembers and staff to suggest redirecting those funds, which were available in the budget that I sent over.

I am hoping that as the next budget cycle begins, Council leadership will collaborate with my administration on tax structure reform to increase revenues, boost our economy, and create jobs.

Montgomery County has the lowest commercial tax rate in the region. If we modernize our tax system and adopt a differentiated property tax method similar to Northern Virginia’s approach, we can raise more revenue from the commercial sector while still maintaining a competitive rate. This approach would fund critical transportation projects and meet other needs without increasing the burden on our residents. It would also remove transportation projects from our capital budget, freeing up funds for school construction and renovation and other community needs.

Earlier this year, we had the opportunity to work with the state legislature to achieve progressivity in our income tax rate and better target our property tax rates. Unfortunately, the Council declined to collaborate on these goals. Moving forward, we must work together to create a fairer and more progressive tax system.

I believe a transparent process leads to better outcomes because we work with the public as we make difficult choices. I look forward to working with the Council and the public to improve our budget process, ensuring that critically important needs are funded in a timely manner. Together, we can make our tax system more equitable and improve public confidence in our decision-making.

The budget process is incredibly important to the residents and businesses of Montgomery County. It shapes how we provide essential services, support our schools, and build a thriving economy. I want to express my deep appreciation to the County employees and County Council staff who worked tirelessly on the FY25 budget. Their dedication and hard work ensure that we continue to serve our community effectively.

Montgomery County is a remarkable place, home to one of the most diverse populations in the world. We have an outstanding education system, great economic opportunities, and a community culture rooted in compassion, inclusion, and support for those most in need.

As we move forward, let’s continue to work together to make our county even stronger, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to succeed and thrive.

Economic Development Mission to South Korea and China

It’s good to be back stateside after spending the last two weeks in South Korea and China.

Similar to our previous trips to Taiwan, India and Vietnam, we received a warm reception and a lot of interest from businesses and academic institutions in establishing a relationship.

In South Korea, there was serious interest from bio and life science companies. We were recruiting business prospects at the BIO Korea conference and in separate meetings in Osong and Daejeon. 

We signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the CEO of Rapigen, a Korea diagnostics company with an office at the County’s Rockville Innovation Center.  

The MOU covers Rapigen’s pending expansion to lab and more office space in the Germantown Innovation Center. It also covers a commitment to manufacture the diagnostic tests it is working on getting through the FDA process while in Germantown. I also signed a partnership renewal agreement strengthening cultural and economic ties with our Sister City, Daejeon. The emphasis on expanding economic ties met both our and their objectives. 

Daejeon became a sister city in 2017 during a visit from then-County Executive Ike Leggett and a Montgomery County delegation. Our County followed up last year by sending Chief Administrative Officer Rich Madaleno and then-County Council President Evan Glass to the Global Innopolis Forum to advance economic prosperity and global partnership.

In China, we met with companies in the bio and manufacturing space.  There is an interest in setting up some manufacturing here and I emphasized the proximity of Baltimore, the port and the rail lines, as a real advantage that we have over other places in the country.  That was of interest to several of the companies we sell to.  We spend a lot of time promoting our strengths in the life sciences, but our transportation assets also have value.

We traveled to three cities in China—Xi’an, Shanghai and Shenzhen.  In the first two, we renewed partnership agreements with an emphasis on trade, as well as cultural and academic exchange. Xi’an is also one of our sister cities. In Shanghai, we signed a MOU with ShareonHealth, which focuses on supporting family- and community health-related innovation activities in Montgomery County and Shanghai.  

As we continue to follow up with the people and companies we met overseas, I look forward to updating you on the potential deals that are forthcoming from this trip.  

Awards Highlight Recycling Awareness Week

Every week it is important to recognize the importance of reducing waste, reusing and recycling in Montgomery County. On May 22, the County’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) presented awards to recognizing special efforts in recycling.

This week marked the 25th anniversary of Montgomery County’s Achievement Recognition ceremonies. This event brought together community members, businesses and government to honor those who have made exceptional contributions to waste reduction, reuse and recycling. 

This year's ceremony, led by DEP Director Jon Monger, showcased the community's achievements in moving toward a zero-waste future. 

We have compiled a list and information about each of this year’s winners on the DEP website. Each winner has a unique story highlighting the impact of recycling. These include businesses implementing comprehensive waste management systems and individuals leading grassroots recycling campaigns, such as young award recipients from Grace Episcopal Day School (Riley Merriott, Taylor Conley), Pass with Purpose (Sydney Mednik, Ashley Mednik) and Ball Back (Kent Zhang). All are pictured above at the awards ceremony. By sharing these achievements, Montgomery County hopes to inspire greater recycling achievement in the years to come. 

Recycling is more than just a process. It is a vital part of sustainability. It helps reduce the amount of waste sent to disposal facilities, conserves natural resources, saves energy and decreases greenhouse gas emissions. You may be interested in the Save as You Throw feasibility assessment and implementation plan that was completed for the County last summer. 

Montgomery County has been a leader in innovative recycling programs and continues to expand initiatives. Through the Montgomery County Shady Grove Transfer Station and Recycling Center, residents are able to dispose of the basics: mixed paper, bottles, cans and containers, scrap metal items and yard trim. Now they can also recycle mattresses, more types of electronics and durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs for refurbishing and reuse. We are proud to share the following results from these efforts from the last year alone:  
For information on recycling at home or work or on getting your business into our food scrap recycling program, visit the Waste Reduction, Reuse and Recycling page.

May is Jewish American Heritage Month

In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, Montgomery County Public Libraries will partner with the American Jewish Committee to host a special talk by Michael Sokolove at the Connie Morella Library in Bethesda at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 30.

The author of Drama High: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town and the Magic of Theater will talk about his career and how his Jewish background influences his writing and the subjects he chooses to tackle. Mr. Sokolove has worked with celebrities like LeBron James and Darryl Strawberry to bring another one of his books to life in a new television series. He has also written on a wide range of subjects for the New York Times.

Mr. Sokolove is one of many artists we hope you discover or celebrate. Jewish American Heritage Month highlights the history, culture, accomplishments and diversity of the American Jewish community. More than 100,000 Jewish Americans call Montgomery County home.

By celebrating heritage months, we learn about one another, we honor the richness of our diverse nation and we strengthen the fabric of American society.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich
County Executive