June 28, 2024

Message from the County Executive Marc Elrich

Dear Friends,

Starting Monday, July 1, a new minimum wage takes effect, impacting medium and large companies. For large employers with 51 or more employees, the minimum wage will rise to $17.15 per hour. Mid-sized employers with 11-50 employees will see the minimum wage increase to $15.50 per hour. The minimum wage for companies with 10 or fewer employees remains at $15 per hour.

The minimum wage law I was proud to sponsor when I was a council member is indexed annually for inflation. If the federal minimum wage had been indexed for inflation when it was amended about 50 years ago, we likely would not have had to act. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

This increase represents our commitment to ensuring that workers in this County are paid fairly for their hard work. As the cost of living rises, wages must keep pace with inflation to help families cover their basic needs.

A higher minimum wage, adjusted to reflect the 2.8 percent change in the consumer price index for the Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria area, will provide workers approximately $18 to $20 more for every 40 hours worked, amounting to an additional $1,000 over a year.

That extra income will help families. For instance, it could help cover the cost of a month's rent, several weeks' worth of groceries or a significant portion of monthly transportation expenses. No one working full-time should struggle to put a roof over their head or pay for food. These are fundamental necessities and ensuring that our residents can afford them is one of the most important responsibilities of our government. The increase in the minimum wage is a crucial step toward achieving economic justice and fairness for all workers in our County.

When workers have more money in their pockets, they can afford to spend more on goods and services. Higher take-home pay is only part of the equation; you must also consider the multiplier effect, which boosts the local economy and can help offset some of the increased costs faced by the County.

Raising the minimum wage is significant given the economic challenges many of our residents dealt with because of the pandemic. Many families were on the verge of eviction because the wages lost during the pandemic were never recovered, putting them behind in rent or putting other undue stresses on the family budget.

I want to highlight one of the challenges lower-wage workers are facing. The County’s minimum wage law allows rent increases of inflation plus three percent, so if landlords take their fully allowable rent increases, the rent increases will be close to double what the wage increases will be—and this is for households who are already paying half or more of their wages for rent.

Gov. Wes Moore understands the situation too many of our families are in. I applaud his efforts to raise the State’s minimum wage to $15, which the legislature enacted. This was a critical and overdue step, especially considering former Gov. Larry Hogan's inaction on this issue.

Critics of raising the minimum wage have warned for years that the sky would fall. Instead, we have helped individuals and families and strengthened our local economy. Higher wages increase spending in local businesses, supporting economic growth and job creation.

Research consistently shows that higher wages lead to better health outcomes, improved educational performance for children and reduced reliance on public assistance programs. By ensuring that workers earn a living wage, we are investing in our community's long-term well-being and prosperity.

I want to thank all who have supported these efforts, from community advocates, unions and business leaders and recognized the importance of fair wages. For more information, including how this change impacts tipped employees, visit the County’s Office of Human Rights website.

New Police Chief Taking Over MCPD

We are on the verge of the next chapter for the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD). I want to welcome and congratulate Marc Yamada on being confirmed as the next chief of the Montgomery County Police Department. Assistant Chief Yamada has had a distinguished career within MCPD and brings a wealth of experience, including as a commander in Wheaton, where he grew up. Assistant Chief Yamada has a deep understanding of our community and its needs. His background, dedication and vision make him the right person to lead the department at this critical time.

I want to thank Chief Marcus Jones for his leadership over the last five years and nearly four decades of dedicated service to MCPD, which the Council and I honored this week with a proclamation. Chief Jones has guided our police department through numerous challenges, such as COVID-19, the protests and calls for police reforms following the murder of George Floyd, MCPD’s participation in the response to the January 6 insurrection and the shooting at Magruder High School. He has led us through these trials while addressing deficits in police staffing and recruitment.

I wish him well with his new responsibilities as head of security and compliance for Montgomery County Public Schools and I am looking forward to continuing our collaboration on school safety.

Both men joined me for this week’s media briefing, which you can watch here.

Montgomery County’s SelectUSA Investment Summit Activities

This week I participated in the SelectUSA Investment Summit, held at National Harbor in Prince George’s County. The SelectUSA Investment Summit is an event designed to facilitate business investment by connecting thousands of investors, companies, economic development organizations (EDOs) and industry experts to make deals happen.

Hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Investment Summit is a one-stop shop for companies considering expanding to the United States and provides jurisdictions like Montgomery County an opportunity to meet directly with international companies.

Since its inception, SelectUSA Investment Summits have attracted thousands of international companies and economic development representatives, generating over $110 billion in new investment projects supporting over 85,000 jobs across the United States and its territories. This year’s SelectUSA Investment Summit saw record-breaking numbers with more than 5,000 participants, including EDO representatives from all 56 U.S. states and territories and more than 2,500 business investors from 96 international markets.

Montgomery County is a leader in innovation, technology and biosciences. The SelectUSA Summit offers a platform to showcase our strengths and attract new investments to drive our economy forward. On our recent visits to Korea, China, India, Vietnam and Taiwan, we have worked to build strong international relationships. Those connections are now ripe for further development through summits like this. We also met with new prospects from other countries.

Last month, we renewed our Sister City agreement with the City of Daejeon, Korea expanding it to include economic development activities. Their visit to the County this week is another step in fostering collaboration that will grow our respective economies.

We partnered with the Montgomery County Economic Development Corportation and co-hosted a meeting for leaders from Daejeon that was attended by Maryland’s Secretary of State Susan Lee. We have a lot in common with Daejeon, which has a reputation for being home to many technology companies and a robust research sector for the life sciences industry.

Pictures from that meeting can be found here.

Our strategic location, highly educated and diverse workforce and supportive business environment make Montgomery County ideal for companies looking to expand or relocate. We also compare well to other areas seen as attractive landing areas for life sciences companies when sizing up personnel, residential and commercial lab and office costs.

The attribute I consistently hear that is most attractive about Montgomery County is our diversity. It makes a big difference to companies interested in relocating when we can say we have already become home to so many people from all over the world. Quality of life matters and it is an area where we stand out.

The SelectUSA Investment Summit is more than just a conference; it allows us to connect with potential investors, understand global market trends and position Montgomery County as a key player on the international stage. The relationships we build during this annual event can lead to new business ventures, job creation and economic prosperity.

Fight for Women’s Rights Continues Two Years Later

This week marks the second year since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which took away federal abortion protections established fifty years ago (1973) by Roe v. Wade The Dobbs decision is one of the worst rulings in the history of the highest court and has opened the door to crazy and draconian laws that limit women’s right to choose and to have autonomy over their bodies.

In Montgomery County, we stand firmly in support of reproductive freedom. We will continue to fight against any efforts to undermine these rights and ensure that all women have access to the healthcare they need. Our commitment to justice, equality and personal autonomy must remain unwavering.

We can join Maryland voters this November and affirm our beliefs at the ballot box. The Maryland Right to Reproductive Freedom Amendment, if approved, would add a new article to the Maryland Constitution’s Declaration of Rights, establishing the ability to make and effectuate decisions to prevent, continue or end one’s own pregnancy. This statewide ballot measure is supported by Gov. Wes Moore and his administration. It also has the backing of many State lawmakers because it took a super majority of 60 percent to get this question on the ballot. Ballotpedia has more information on the amendment that you can read here.

Measures like this are critical in the aftermath of the Dobbs decision. It was a devastating blow to women's rights and reproductive freedom but something we have seen many people fight against since. That fight protects a woman's right to choose and ensures access to safe and legal abortion services. This is about fundamental human rights and the ability of women to make decisions about their own bodies and futures.

Fourth of July Celebrations

With the Fourth of July fast approaching, I want to remind everyone that fireworks, including sparklers are illegal in Montgomery County. They remain a dangerous activity that could seriously harm anyone around lit fireworks or cause a fire if not handled properly.

The County will host two free Independence Day fireworks shows. The first will be on Thursday, July 4, at South Germantown Recreation Park. Festivities begin around 7 p.m. Free parking will be available onsite.

On Saturday, July 6, another community celebration is planned at Albert Einstein High School in Kensington starting around 6 p.m. Parking will be limited with most people expected to park at the mall in Wheaton on Veirs Mill Road and take a shuttle to the school campus.

In both cases, fireworks will begin around 9:15 p.m. For more information, call 311, 240-777-0311 or visit the Montgomery County Recreation website. You can also follow Montgomery County Recreation on Facebook, Instagram and X.

I hope you have a fun and safe Fourth of July. If you are going to celebrate with alcohol, make every effort to find a safe ride home. Besides finding a bus, rideshare and taxis are great options for planning ahead or getting last-minute help. Visit this website for contact information.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich
County Executive

June 26, 2024

Individuals and Organizations for Exceptional Volunteer Service at 13th ‘Montgomery Serves Awards’

Montgomery County Executive Mark Elrich and the Montgomery County Volunteer Center on June 25 recognized individuals and organizations with the County’s highest honor for service and volunteerism at the 13th “Montgomery Serves Awards”. The awards were presented at a ceremony at the Rosborough Theater in Gaithersburg.  

This year’s honorees represent volunteers dedicated to programs such as social justice and educational advocacy, safety-net healthcare services and outreach to vulnerable populations. 

“The Montgomery Serves Awards are the County’s highest honor for service and volunteerism,” said County Executive Elrich. “I congratulate this year’s winners and thank them for their dedication to volunteerism and the County. Their selfless work not only inspires others but exemplifies the true spirit of community and highlights the profound impact individuals can have when they give of themselves. These remarkable individuals and organizations prove that one person or one group can make a difference. I thank them for their commitment to helping make Montgomery County a better place for all." 

This 2024 Montgomery Serves Awards recognized volunteers in the following categories: 

Designated by the County Executive, theRoscoe R. Nix Distinguished Community Leadership Awards honor community leaders, change agents and role models who have made extraordinary contributions to the County throughout the course of their lives.  

This year’s awards were presented to: 

  • Catherine Leggett, an attorney and former first lady of the County has dedicated her career and volunteer work to supporting several causes. Ms. Leggett has been instrumental in promoting the arts and humanities and helping organizations actualize their mission to serve underrepresented communities. 
  • Joyce Seigel, a community leader and activist, has made a commitment to volunteer service in the County with a focus on equal rights and fair housing. She founded the West Fernwood Civic Association and played a significant role in revitalizing the County's Scotland Community. Ms. Seigel worked to improve living conditions and access to affordable housing for the historically poor Scotland community.  
  • Greg Wims is a current member of the Maryland House of Delegates. He is the former Upcounty Regional Services Center director and a sixth-generation County resident. Mr. Wims has served as a voice for the community through his work and volunteer service. He founded the Victims' Rights Foundation, an organization focused on providing volunteer support services for victims of violent crimes. 

The Inez Zeigler McAbee and William Harvey Zeigler Humanitarian Award honors those who unite and bring about positive change for all people. This year’s award was presented to: 

  • Warren Fleming, president of the Damascus Connection Committee, is recognized as a Human Rights champion. He provides a voice for the Upcounty and has led efforts to increase awareness of the resources available to community members in need and preserve the rich history of African American contributions in the County. 

Neal Potter Path of Achievement Awards are presented to residents 60 or older for lifetime volunteer service. This year’s awards were presented to: 

  • Bruce Adams, former County Councilmember and former director of the Office of Community Partnerships, has served the community for more than five decades. Inspired by public servants Neal Potter and John Gardener, he has strived to make a difference by volunteering on several government advisory boards and commissions, nonprofit boards and special committees. As an advocate for positive youth development and leadership, Mr. Adams taught leadership to students at County high schools and co-founded the Bethesda Community Base Ball Club to improve youth fields.  
  • Mary Canapary has dedicated a lifetime of extraordinary service as the volunteer director of The Lord's Table in Gaithersburg. As the longest-serving volunteer, Ms. Canapary has served more than 500,000 hot meals and led a team of specialized volunteers to provide individualized and targeted resources for housing, addiction counseling and access to health care. She also has recruited and managed approximately 400 volunteers. 

Volunteer of the Year Awards recognize outstanding volunteer service performed during the previous calendar year. The winners in the three categories of the awards: 

  • Volunteer of the Year: Wendy Kent has been actively involved with improving access to food and other essential items in the Greater Takoma Park and Silver Spring community for more than 10 years. She co-founded Tommy's Pantry to help alleviate food security by providing shelf-stable food items along with health, hygiene and household cleaning products not covered by SNAP-EBT benefits. Tommy's Pantry initially served an average of 20 families per month and grew to serve more than 400 families a month during the COVID-19 public health crisis.  
  • Youth Volunteer of the Year: Tejusvi Vijay is a junior in the Science, Math and Computer Science Magnet Program at Montgomery Blair High School. Tejusvi has committed to promoting diversity and inclusivity in STEM through her volunteer service. She has served as a volunteer coach and a mentor for girls and launched the Lego Club for English Language Learners at Blair High School. Tejusvi also serves on Councilmember Laurie Sayles’s youth advisory council. 
  • Volunteer Business of the Year: The Monitor Group, a Rockville-based, family-operated financial services business, maintains a quarterly volunteer campaign supporting local nonprofits such as the Personal Care Foundation, So What Else? and the County Family Justice Center Foundation. The staff at The Monitor Group is dedicated to contributing to a positive and transformative impact. Their volunteer service has provided support to survivors of domestic abuse, backpacks for students and encouraged collaborative partnerships to strengthen nonprofits' community reach and impact. 
  • Volunteer Group of the Year: The AARP Tax-Aide program of Montgomery County has offered free tax preparation services to County residents for more than five decades. The program is fully volunteer-led and operated. In 2023, volunteers prepared 3,780 returns resulting in a total of $3,530,262 in refunds. 

The Montgomery County Volunteer Center organizes the annual awards and helps individuals and groups find volunteer opportunities year-round.  

Learn more about the Volunteer Center, its annual awards and past award recipients at www.montgomeryserves.org


Installation of Utilities Will Impact Traffic on River Road Through Fall

The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration this week began assisting Washington Gas with utility work installation on MD 190 (River Road). Motorists can expect single-lane and ramp closures along MD 190 between Wilson Lane and Western Avenue. The project is expected to be complete by fall, weather permitting.

Crews will be working7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. During these hours, Washington Gas will be installing a remote-control valve on a natural gas transmission line in the median of MD 190.

While work is taking place, motorists can expect closures at the following locations:
  • Intersection of MD 190 between Wilson Lane and Winston Drive: Southbound left lane closed.
  • Intersection of MD 190 and MD 614 (Goldsboro Road): Closed will be northbound (straight) right lane; eastbound (straight) right lane, shoulder and ramp; and westbound shoulder and ramp. There also will be sidewalk and temporary bus stop closures on the northwest and southwest sides of intersection.
  • MD 190 (River Road) and Western Avenue: Closed will be southbound (straight) right lane and the sidewalk on the southwest side of intersection.
Detours for trucks will also be in place:
  • Southbound trucks approaching intersection of River Rd (MD 190) and Goldsboro Road (MD 614) from southwest will be detoured straight along Goldsboro Road (MD 614), right onto Bradley Boulevard (MD 191), right onto Wisconsin Ave NW (MD 355), right onto Western Avenue and straight back to River Rd (MD 190).
  • Northbound trucks approaching intersection of River Road (MD 190) and Goldsboro Road (MD 614) from northeast will be detoured straight along Goldsboro Road (MD 614), left onto Massachusetts Avenue (MD 396), left onto Western Avenue and straight back to River Road (MD 190)
For more information on this project, contact Craig McKennon at cmckennon@washgas.com or 571-419-0816 or Daminique Branch at community@washgas.com.

Fire and Rescue Service to Hold On-Site Application Event on Saturday, June 29, in Gaithersburg

The Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service (MCFRS) application process is now open for those interested in a career as a Firefighter/Rescuer I. The online application process will close on July 10. However, applicants can attend a special On-Site Application Event from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 29, in Gaithersburg.

The event will be held at the County’s Public Safety Training Academy, which is located at 8751 Snouffer School Road in Gaithersburg.

The on-site event will have information available about becoming a Firefighter/Rescuer I and will provide an overview of the hiring process. It also will have a demonstration of the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT). MCFRS representatives will be present to answer questions and help with filling out applications.

Those interested in attending are encouraged to pre-register at https://mcfrs.jotform.com/241686550671967. Walk-ins also will be welcome.

For more information, visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/mcfrs-recruiting/ or e-mail mcfrs.recruiter@montgomerycountymd.gov

‘SummerFest’ at Gaithersburg’s Bohrer Park on Saturday, June 29, Will Be Evening of Free Music and Activities Including Fireworks

The City of Gaithersburg will get an early start celebrating Independence Day with a full evening of music and free activities from 6-11 p.m. on Saturday, June 29, with a spectacular fireworks display highlighting the event.

Bohrer Park at Summit Hall Farm is located at 506 South Frederick Ave. in Gaithersburg. The evening will include live music, food trucks and local breweries, and family-friendly activities, leading up to the fireworks display and SummerGlo After Party.

The City will not have fireworks on July 4.

SummerFest kicks off at 6 p.m. with The District, an elite party band. Food and local craft beverage vendors on-site will include Lone Oak Farm Brewing Company, Saint’s Row Brewing, Two Story Chimney Ciderworks, and Waredaca Brewing Company.

The air-conditioned activity center will serve as a comfort station with indoor bathrooms and space to relax up until 9 p.m. At approximately 9:20 p.m., a spectacular fireworks display will light up the night. Bohrer Park is the best place to watch them, but there are several viewing options in surrounding locations. A map identifying best viewing spots is available here.

Fireworks will not end the night. Those who want to wait out the exiting traffic can stay for the SummerGlo After Party. The District will give an encore performance while LED hoopers, jugglers and stilt walkers entertaining the crowd. The playground will be fully lit.

Attendees can bring their own food and blankets to enjoy a picnic during the event or purchase a meal and treats from onsite vendors and food trucks. Coolers are allowed, but, for safety reasons, personal grills, outside alcoholic beverages, glass containers, weapons (real or facsimile) and fireworks of any kind (including sparklers) are strictly prohibited.

It is recommended not to bring pets due to crowd and noise issues. If brought, guests must leash pets.

During the event, skateboards, scooters, rollerblades and bikes will be limited to the skate park.

Limited parking is available onsite. Additional parking is recommended at nearby Olde Towne, Gaithersburg, where there is free parking in a variety of lots and in the parking garage. A parking map is available here.

The Gaithersburg Police Department is planning lane reductions along Route 355 adjacent to Bohrer Park and there will be a change in traffic patterns during the event. Cars will not be allowed to cross over or turn left onto Route 355 between Cedar and Central avenues.

Annual ‘Pride in the Plaza’ in Silver Spring on Sunday, June 30, Will Celebrate Diverse LGBTQIA+ Communities

Montgomery County's annual free “Pride in the Plaza” event from noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 30, in Downtown Silver Spring will celebrate diverse LGBTQIA+ communities. The day of fun and festivities at Veterans Plaza will place an emphasis on living their most authentic selves.

Veterans Plaza is located at Veterans Plaza: 1 Veterans Pl. in Silver Spring, adjacent to the Silver Spring Civic Building. Public parking is available in garages near the plaza.

The event will feature queer-owned businesses, artists and nonprofits who serve the LGBTQIA+ community to showcase their work.

New to this year’s Pride In The Plaza celebration will be the Community Stage. It will feature youth and community performances as the event expands onto nearby Ellsworth Avenue.

More information about the event is available at https://liveinyourtruth.org/pride-in-the-plaza.

25th Annual Free ‘Heritage Days’ on Saturday-Sunday, June 29-30, Will Showcase County’s History, Culture and Farms

Heritage Montgomery’s 25th annual free “Heritage Days” celebration from noon-4 p.m. on Saturday-Sunday, June 29-30, will make available venues and activities that highlight Montgomery County’s historic, cultural and outdoor recreation sites. There will be special programs, exhibits, demonstrations, live music and activities for children at sites around the County. Many of the small sites are not regularly open to the public, except during Heritage Days.

In addition to Civil War and agricultural history, Heritage Days will open up stories of local railroads and trolleys, African American communities, life along the C&O Canal, astronomy and much more.

Heritage Days also highlights local arts and culture and outdoor recreation including biking, hiking, and walking tours. Many venues offer musical entertainment, activities, crafts for children and refreshments.

More information about Heritage Days, including details about the open sites and maps on how to get there is available at https://www.heritagemontgomery.org/things-to-do/heritage-days/.

Many farms will be open during Heritage Days, selling their products directly to visitors. Details on the open markets can be found at https://heritagemontgomery.org/places-to-go/farms-farm-markets/.

Heritage Montgomery is one of 13 certified heritage areas in Maryland. It is dedicated to the mission of promoting local history, culture and natural areas and fostering stewardship and connection to the County’s heritage.

Heritage Days at Woodlawn Manor and Sunset Yoga Among the Montgomery Parks Special Events and Programs in June

The annual Heritage Days at Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park in Sandy Spring and Sunset Yoga on Tuesdays are among the special events that will be hosted by Montgomery Parks in June.

The schedule of special events will include:
  • Heritage Days. Saturday-Sunday, June 29-30. 10 a.m. –4 p.m. Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park, 16501 Norwood Road, Sandy Spring. Heritage Days is a County-wide festival highlighting historic, cultural and outdoor recreation sites. Woodlawn Museum is offering free admission during the 25th annual event. All ages.
  • Breath and Movement Flow Yoga. Saturday, June 29. 10–11 a.m. Clarksburg Neighborhood Park, 22501 Wims Road, Clarksburg. Ages 16 and older. Five weekly classes-$50 per person. Registration is required; no walk-ins.
  • Sunset Yoga. Tuesdays through July 30. 7–8 p.m. Quince Orchard Valley Neighborhood Park, 12015 Suffolk Terrace, Gaithersburg. Ages 14 and older. Eight weekly classes-$80 per person. Registration is required; no walk-ins.
  • Toddler and You Yoga. Thursdays through Aug. 1. 10:30–11:15 a.m. Kensington Cabin Local Park, 10000 Kensington Parkway, Kensington. Ages 2-5 (plus an adult). Eight weekly classes-$96 per pair. Registration is required; no walk-ins.
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 Summer 2024 Montgomery Parks Program Guide.

Local Performing Arts Companies Will Combine to Present ‘Love Is Love Is Love’ Pride Month Musical Revue in Gaithersburg on June 29-30

Local Performing Arts Companies Will Combine to Present ‘Love Is Love Is Love’ Pride Month Musical Revue in Gaithersburg on June 29-30

The TAPP Consortium of local performing arts companies including the Kentlands Community Players, Rockville Little Theatre, Rockville Musical Theatre and Victorian Lyric Opera Company will combine their talents to present the Pride Month musical revue Love Is Love Is Love on June 29 and 30 in Gaithersburg.

The performances will start at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 29, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 30, at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn. The Arts Barn is located at 311 Kent Square Road in Gaithersburg. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased at the Arts Barn ticket office or online (up to two hours before performances) at Love Is Love Is Love | Gaithersburg, MD (gaithersburgmd.gov).

Love Is Love Is Love will celebrate June as Pride Month with Broadway songs. A musical review with a twist, “Love is Love is Love” travels across many moments in relationships. It ranges from young love-at-first-glance to dating, first kiss, rejection, envy, starting over and letting go. The revue is recommended for ages 15 and up.

Funds raised will support MoCo Pride and the Arts Barn Theatre Seat Fund.

The company for the performance will include Kate Amburgey, John Bartkowiak, Kenneth Derby, Jennifer Georgia, Rebecca Goldberg, Chuck McCarter, Jeff McDermott, Erin McNerney Smith, Jay Thaiyod, Giuliana Weiss and Danny Zheng.

Love Is Love Is Love was conceived and directed by Noel Schoonover. The musical director is Arielle Bayer. Choreography is designed by Katherine and Jacklyn Rogers.

Public Libraries Launch New Digital Library Card Registration System

Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) now offers an online application system for obtaining full-service digital library cards, eliminating the need for in-person visits to County library branches to apply for a card. This new system provides a more convenient and efficient way to access MCPL’s extensive collection of digital resources, including e-books, audiobooks and online databases and programs.

“Widespread access to the materials and services our public libraries provide is critical,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Implementing this new online application and digital library card is a significant step in ensuring connection to these resources for more residents.”

Montgomery County residents age 18 and older and adult residents of the District of Columbia and Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun or Prince William Counties in Northern Virginia can now verify their identity using MCPL’s online registration form, which aligns with the MCPL Library Card Policy.

These digitally validated accounts will follow the same policies and procedures as accounts issued in person.

Children under 18, nonresidents and customers who qualify for a card because they work or attend school in Montgomery County, but do not live in one of the partnering jurisdictions, will still need to apply for a library card in person. This process can be found on the MCPL website under the “In-Person Application” section. Particular card types, such as educator and business/institution, will continue to follow the existing application policies and procedures.

New and existing customers now have the option to add their library card to a smartphone digital wallet. This feature allows cardholders to access their library card without carrying a physical card. New customers who sign up with the updated online registration form will receive a link to do so in their confirmation email. Current cardholders can click here and log-in to their account to add their existing library card to their smartphone wallet.

Visit the MCPL website to view MCPL’s extensive resources.

‘The Washington Trolley Story’ Will Be Online Presentation of Montgomery History Starting Monday, July 1

“The Washington Trolley Story” about the history of streetcars in the Washington metropolitan area will be a free online presentation of Montgomery History starting Monday, July 1. The presentation, led by Larry Velte of the National Capital Trolley Museum, will be available through July 8.

The talk will address the trolley network, the evolution of streetcar technology and engineering and the social and economic impact of the streetcar on public life.

Information also will be discussed about the National Capital Trolley Museum, which is located at 1313 Bonifant Rd. in Colesville. The museum allows this history to be experienced firsthand.

To view the presentation July 1-8, go to History Conversations (montgomeryhistory.org).

“The Washington Trolley Story” originally aired in 2020.

June 21, 2024

Message from County Executive Marc Elrich


Dear Friends,

I want to express my thanks to the County Council for confirming Marc Yamada as the next chief of the Montgomery County Police Department. I appreciate the Council’s support and look forward to working with him following Chief Marcus Jones's retirement on June 30.

Chief Yamada has had a great career with MCPD, which you can read more about here. You can also watch his interviews with Fox 5 and WUSA 9. Chief Yamada’s career has been marked by dedication, courage and unwavering commitment to the safety and well-being of our community.

He will be the first Japanese American leader of our police department. He is the first person in his family who was born in the United States, and he grew up in Wheaton. I think his background fits well with the kind of inclusive and diverse community Montgomery County has become.

Our police department has made significant strides over the last few years. I am proud to say that we have one of the best law enforcement institutions in the nation, and we will continue to work to improve it.

Under Chief Yamada’s leadership, the department will enhance the good work that has already been done.

A New MCPS Superintendent Has Been Announced

I want to welcome Dr. Thomas W. Taylor as the new superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). His selection was announced Monday, and the school board will officially vote on his appointment next week on June 25.

Our schools are a key reason people choose to live in Montgomery County and why businesses relocate or stay here. Maintaining MCPS’s quality of education, academic rigor, commitment to inclusion and reputation as some of the nation’s best schools is essential.

We welcome Dr. Taylor’s energy and engagement, and I think we all understand the urgency of the situation that MCPS currently faces in terms of budget, staffing, class size and providing the appropriate resources to our students, teachers, staff and families. I look forward to working with him to address the issues and challenges and continue to support our school staff, students and families.

Governor Moore Pardons Marylanders with Cannabis Convictions

I want to thank Governor Wes Moore for issuing pardons this week to 175,000 Maryland residents convicted of misdemeanor cannabis offenses. This equity action helps communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by past cannabis laws. You can read more here.

A criminal record can be a substantial barrier to employment, housing and other opportunities. These pardons offer a chance for a fresh start. It is an essential step toward justice and equity, particularly for communities of color.

We are also working to adjust regulations regarding cannabis use not that it is legal in Maryland for adults. Currently, because of State regulations, we cannot hire police officers who admit to prior cannabis use within the previous year. We are working with the State to change this regulation and I am hopeful that we will be able to update the regulations soon to help us increase applicants and recruits.

Governor Moore’s leadership on this issue is commendable. His order (detailed here) shows compassion and it pardons those charged and convicted of misdemeanor possession of cannabis or misdemeanor use or possession with intent to use prior to Jan. 1, 2023, when possession of a personal use amount of cannabis was legalized. The pardon also forgives misdemeanor use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia charges if they were the only criminal charges incurred.

Governor Moore’s executive order also directs the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to develop a process to indicate on an individual’s criminal record that the conviction was pardoned. This process is expected to take approximately 10 months to complete.

This executive order is a meaningful step toward rectifying the inequities in our legal system. I look forward to continuing to work with the governor to support initiatives that address disparities and promote the well-being of all our residents.

Rent Stabilization Regulations Now Before Council

The County Council is now considering new regulations, developed with the help of public feedback, to implement rent stabilization. Preventing enormous rent increases could impact many lives and allow families to remain living in their homes. About 35 percent of Montgomery County residents are renters.

The Council passed and I signed into law rent stabilization legislation, which caps annual rent increases at the inflation measure (CPI) plus 3 percent and no higher than 6 percent. This legislation was a compromise from what I originally supported, but it is definitely an important step forward and a critical step in protecting our residents from predatory price gouging. So many people talk about the housing affordability crisis, and rent stabilization is an important part of addressing that crisis.

These regulations and policies are designed to provide the framework to help renters struggling to keep up with rapidly increasing housing costs that threaten their ability to remain in their homes. Tens of thousands of families in our County devote too much of their take-home pay to rent and live paycheck to paycheck. Research done by Montgomery Planning found that almost 50 percent of Montgomery County renters are cost-burdened. They spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

The law required and the regulations provide the process to ensure that property owners can maintain and invest in their properties. They can apply for exceptions that, for example, consider major projects to improve the buildings. This ensures that property owners can continue to make necessary improvements while also maintaining the viability of their properties. A “Fair Return” policy aims to balance landlord profitability with tenant affordability.

These regulations have been carefully crafted to implement the law as passed last year. Developing the regulations took about six months and then they were put out for public comment. Staff then reviewed the hundreds of pages of comments and incorporated them as appropriate. I am looking forward to the Council approving the regulations so that we can stop unfair rent increases that can destabilize families and community.

This week, I invited Department of Housing and Community Affairs Director Scott Bruton to my weekly media briefing. You can watch that here or on the County’s YouTube page.

Here is the link to our rent stabilization FAQ page. We will update it as we move forward. 

The Importance of Juneteenth Celebrations

The Juneteenth holiday honors June 19, 1865—the day the last enslaved people in Galveston, Tx., learned that they were free. There was so much going on around our region and within Montgomery County for Juneteenth.

The second Annual Scotland Juneteenth Heritage Festival to help benefit the 2nd Century Project and rebuild the community’s historic church drew big crowds to Cabin John Park.

Some of the highlights included a parade through the park, bands, dancers and performers honoring their cultural history, a baseball game that harkened back to the days of Negro League baseball games in Montgomery County and much more. For the first time, the Juneteenth celebration ended with fireworks, a fitting tribute because, as LaTisha Gasaway-Paul told me when we talked last week, this feels to many in the Black community as their Independence Day. You can watch our discussion here.

Over the past week, our County has seen an enormous outpouring of support for Juneteenth commemoration. We kicked it off by honoring our community’s African American Living Legends. There also were celebrations in Germantown, Kensington, North Bethesda and Sandy Spring. On Saturday, I was in Germantown to help welcome everyone to the County’s annual Juneteenth celebration at BlackRock.

At the celebrations I talked about the real significance of the holiday for our Black community. Landmark events in U.S. history, like the Fourth of July and the Declaration of Independence, rang hollow for enslaved people and women who endured living without basic human rights for more than 100 years. Even the Black soldiers who fought in our wars to preserve our democracy were effectively blocked from participating in that democracy. Just think about it for a minute—it helps to understand why we still struggle with the racial underpinning of the inequalities that persist into the present.

Juneteenth is a holiday that we should have been recognizing and celebrating going back decades—or centuries. I am glad it is finally getting the needed recognition.

Largest in Nation: Renewable Energy Powered Zero-Emissions Bus Depot Groundbreaking

We have reached another significant milestone in our sustainability efforts. The County recently broke ground on a new resiliency hub project and our second transit microgrid project. This one will be built at the Equipment Maintenance Transit Operations Center in the Derwood area, near Rockville. The center is critical to our Ride On bus system and will help eventually run zero-emission buses.

Once completed, the center will become the nation’s largest renewable energy-powered bus depot. The facility’s microgrid will generate electricity for our buses, including clean hydrogen. It will also have on-site battery storage.

By 2035, the depot will house about 200 zero-emissions buses, most of which will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Buses fueled by hydrogen have a longer range and can refuel faster than battery-electric models.

We partnered with AlphaStruxure for this project. This video created by AlphaStruxure explains the County’s previous collaboration on the bus depot in Brookville. The Maryland Energy Administration has shown its support for this innovative approach to zero-emissions public transit. This project has received $9 million in Federal and State support for hydrogen production, $4.3 million for fuel cell buses and $1 million for workforce development.

This exciting project is an important part of our climate plan and sustainability efforts and will be a model for the entire country. These green energy microgrids reduce our dependence on traditional fuel and also can provide power independently of the grid during a power outage. You can read more about the project here. We have said that we want to be a model for the nation on how to tackle climate change, and this project is an important one for our efforts.

As always, my appreciation for all of you, 

Marc Elrich
County Executive

June 20, 2024

Animal Services and Adoption Center Reopens for Adoptions

Animal Services and Adoption Center Reopens for Adoptions

The Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center (MCASAC) in Derwood has reopened for onsite adoptions of all animals. The shelter has been closed to the public since May 2 due to an outbreak of Canine Influenza Virus (CIV).

The center is located at 7315 Muncaster Mill Road in Derwood. The building is not fully clear of CIV, so the center remains closed for all but essential intakes and adoptions.

Essential intakes include:
  • Sick and injured animals.
  • Dogs that pose a threat to public safety.
Residents who find a lost pet are asked not to bring the animal to the shelter. Tips on locating the owner of lost pets can be found on the Center’s Found a Pet (montgomerycountymd.gov) page. MCASAC will provide finders of lost pets who are willing to foster with the necessary supplies to care for the animal until the owner can be located or other placement options are determined.

All dogs who contracted CIV have since recovered. They remained in isolation for 28 days, as dogs can shed CIV for as long as four weeks.

In addition to dogs, the shelter has cats, turtles and hamsters available for adoption.

Available animals can be viewed on the website here. Adoption fees are waived for all animals.

Adoptions are on a first-come, first-served basis. Information on how to adopt an animal and the adoption questionnaire can be found here. Potential adopters should come prepared to take their new pet home by bringing a leash and collar for dogs or a carrier for cats and small animals.

Department of Permitting Services Launches ‘eSolar’ to Streamline the Permitting Process for Installing Residential Rooftop Solar

Department of Permitting Services Launches ‘eSolar’ to Streamline the Permitting Process for Installing Residential Rooftop Solar

Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services (DPS) has launched “eSolar,” an automated permitting application to speed up and streamline the permitting process for residential rooftop solar systems by approved installers. Montgomery County is the first County in Maryland to utilize a third party to accelerate the permitting process for residential rooftop solar.

eSolar expedites code compliance review times to save time and money for installation of solar panel systems. The new program integrates app approved third-party certified documents, including Solar APP+ (Solar Automated Permit Processing Plus), for residential rooftop solar systems through DPS’ electronic plan review system (ePlans).

“Montgomery County is committed to reducing our carbon footprint and encourages everyone to invest in renewable and sustainable energy sources,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “eSolar is a win for Montgomery County homeowners who plan to add solar panels to their residential rooftops. Instead of applications sitting in a queue waiting for approval, this automated permitting tool will expedite reviews, reducing delays and streamlining the permitting process. This will save time, and less waiting leads to more solar on rooftops and a greener Montgomery County.”

Licensed contractors are eligible for the eSolar program, which is designed for residential rooftops only. Contractors must have a valid Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC) license and projects must conform with the eligibility checklist that is posted on the DPS website. Townhouses four stories above grade are considered commercial structures (not eligible for eSolar) and require a commercial solar permit.

There are two permits required for residential rooftops: the building permit for the attachment of the solar panels and an electrical permit for the connection to the home’s electrical service. These permits are issued in real time once the fees are paid online. DPS stamped approved APP certified documents serve as approved plans. This process replaces the department’s building and electrical reviews for these applications. Inspections are scheduled online as normal and require the online documents to be on site. Permitting fees are posted online.

“We are excited to launch eSolar after a successful pilot program with three companies,” said DPS Director Rabbiah Sabbakhan. “During the pilot program, DPS issued eSolar permits to participating companies and created tracking records for monitoring eSolar permits. eSolar streamlines and helps incentivize the process for permits for residential rooftop solar by running a compliance evaluation to facilitate building permit approval. During the last five years, DPS has issued more than 5,600 solar permits for residential rooftops. Those numbers are expected to increase dramatically now that we have officially launched eSolar with faster permit review and issuance. This highlights DPS implementing another significant permitting streamlining effort.”

In July 2021, County leaders announced the development of a solar automated permitting processing program (SolarAPP+) a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The DPS pilot program officially began in 2023.

For more information about eSolar, visit the DPS website at MontgomeryCountyMD.gov/dps or stop by the department’s customer service lobby at 2425 Reedie Drive, seventh floor, in Wheaton. DPS offices are open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and appointments are not needed. More information also is available by calling MC 311 or 240-777-0311.

Seven County Outdoor Pools Now Open on Full Summer Schedule

Seven County Outdoor Pools Now Open on Full Summer Schedule

Seven outdoor swimming pools are conveniently located in communities around Montgomery County for easy access to summer fun and fitness. The outdoor pools are kid-friendly, and they also offer adults the opportunity to swim laps.

Pools are open from 1-8 p.m. Monday through Friday. They are open noon-8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The full summer schedule is in effect through Aug. 11. The pool schedule is more limited from Aug. 12 through Sept. 2. All pools will be closed Aug. 26-30.

Pool passes are available for purchase. See details at Aquatic Passes - Department of Recreation - Montgomery County, Maryland (montgomerycountymd.gov).

More information about the County’s outdoor pools is available here.

Arts Organizations of Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District Offering Summer Camps and Programming, with Space Still Available

Arts Organizations of Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District Offering Summer Camps and Programming, with Space Still Available

Arts organizations in Montgomery County’s Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District are offering arts programming for children this summer, with spaces still available for last-minute planners. Parents looking for opportunities for their children, pre-kindergarten to 16 years old, still have creative and expressive arts activity options.

The various camps offer a wide range of creative activities to inspire imagination, including artistic projects, filmmaking, studio theatre, ballet, robotics and visual art and music.

“Keeping children active and engaged during the summer is crucial,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “The Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District programs enrich children’s lives by providing a fun learning environment while supporting our local arts community.”

Arts organizations with trained and trusted teaching artists offer licensed summer camps, creative programming, classes or summer job training.
  • Arts on the Block. The Youth Arts Movement (YAM) summer program is tailored for middle school-aged young creatives. The eight-week program features a variety of engaging art activities to inspire and ignite the imagination. Led by experienced instructors, each week focuses on a different art form, providing hands-on learning and plenty of opportunities for students to discover a new medium to unleash their creativity.
  • Create Arts Center. Summer art camps offer one-week visual arts programs for students ages 5-13 and counselor-in-training sessions for teens up to age 16. At the end of the week, each child will have a portfolio filled with original artwork. Project types include pottery, sculpture, drawing, painting, cartooning, collage and mixed media.
  • Docs in Progress. Teen summer filmmaking workshops in week-long sessions. The program will guide students through the filmmaking process, from script writing and concept development to post-production.,
  • Lumina Studio Theatre. Summerstock camps for children ages 6 through teenagers on topics including theater magic, folk tales and music, with one-week programs to more intensive productions.
  • Maryland Youth Ballet. Summer ballet classes for ages 2-10. The classes span from movement-based classes to learning level-appropriate choreography from a featured ballet. Classes are not full day, thereby providing flexibility for parents.
  • Montgomery College Silver Spring/Takoma Park. Youth summer programs with online and in-person offerings ranging from robotics to music to theater and visual arts.
  • Round House Theatre Education Center. Summer camp with various theater, games and creative summer programs for kindergarten students through grade 12. Camp caters to interests from animals to Greek myths and princesses to theater and musicals.
  • School of Rock. Music camps for ages 8 and over are suitable for musicians of any skill level who want to play guitar, bass, drums, keyboard or vocals and enjoy rehearsing and performing.
The Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District also offers spur-of-the-moment fun for children of all ages, including multiple parks and playgrounds. The district includes the Silver Spring Recreation and Aquatic Center, Dave and Buster’s, Big Escape Room, the AFI and Majestic movie theaters. It also is home to festivals and farmers markets every weekend.

Fire and Rescue Service to Hold On-Site Application Event on Saturday, June 29, in Gaithersburg

Fire and Rescue Service to Hold On-Site Application Event on Saturday, June 29, in Gaithersburg

The Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service (MCFRS) application process is now open for those interested in career as a Firefighter/Rescuer I. The online application process will close on July 10. However; applicants can attend a special On-Site Application Event from 9 a.m.-noon on Saturday, June 29, in Gaithersburg.

The event will be held at the County’s Public Safety Training Academy, which is located at 8751 Snouffer School Road in Gaithersburg.

The on-site event will have information available about becoming a Firefighter/Rescuer I and will provide an overview of the hiring process. It also will have a demonstration of the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT). MCFRS representatives will be present to answer questions and help with filling out applications.

Those interested in attending are encouraged to pre-register at https://mcfrs.jotform.com/241686550671967. Walkins also will be welcome.

For more information, visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/mcfrs-recruiting/ or e-mail mcfrs.recruiter@montgomerycountymd.gov

Permitting Services Newest Podcast Focuses on Vendor Licenses

Permitting Services Newest Podcast Focuses on Vendor Licenses

The summer months are a busy time of the year for vending activity in Montgomery County, and “Vendor Licenses” are the focus of the 16th episode of the Department of Permitting Services (DPS) podcast series. The podcast addresses specific licenses that apply to door-to-door, regular route, pushcarts/sidewalk and site-specific vendors. The new episode is now available.

“Vending is a hot topic at this time of year, and it is important to know that DPS licenses four types of vending activity," said DPS Customer Support and Outreach Division Chief Gail Lucas, who hosts the podcast. “We encourage vendors and residents to listen to the podcast and to visit the DPS website to learn about what is and what is not allowed when it comes to vending activity in Montgomery County.”

Joining Division Chief Lucas for the discussion is DPS Code Compliance Section Manager Greg Nichols and DPS Permitting Technician Jorge Rueda. Their conversation details the application process for vendor licenses, including other departments that are involved such as the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as provides information about picture identification cards, inspections, regulations, safety guidelines and zoning issues.

“We encourage vendors to plan early and come talk to us before filing an application,” said Division Chief Lucas. “If there is one take away from the podcast, we hope vendors will understand the importance of getting a license and that they contact us early on to ensure they understand the process from beginning to end. We want vendors to know we are here to help.”

This episode of the Permitting Services Podcast is now available on the DPS website and various podcast platforms including Amazon, Apple and Spotify. It also is available at https://permittingservicespodcast.buzzsprout.com/. Subscribe to the podcast by tapping the “plus” or “follow” sign on the podcast provider’s platform. This episode is also available on video to watch on-demand on the County’s YouTube channel.

Previous podcast episodes have covered accessory dwelling units, building safety, deck permits, the Design for Life program, home improvements, use and occupancy certificates, fences, fire code compliance, GIS maps, the public right-of-way, septic systems, urban farming and zoning. Listeners are encouraged to send questions and ideas for future podcast episodes to dps.podcast@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Earlier this month, the Permitting Services Podcast was recognized with a 2024 achievement award from the National Association of Counties (NACo). 
The Department of Permitting Services is located at 2425 Reedie Drive, Seventh Floor, in Wheaton. The customer service lobby is open from 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Friday. An appointment is not necessary to get in-person assistance. Customers may also reach out to DPS staff by calling MC 311 or 240-777-0311. For more information about the permitting process, visit the DPS website at montgomerycountymd.gov/dps.