June 14, 2024

Message from the County Executive

Dear Friends,

This week in my video, I interview LaTisha Gasaway-Paul who is a fifth generation resident of the historic Scotland community, which was founded by people who were formerly enslaved. While the community has faced tremendous adversity since it began in 1880, it is thriving today and boasts some remarkable members, including Ms. Gasaway-Paul. More information is below, and last week’s newsletter.

Funding for Our Schools

Our Montgomery County public schools are some of the best in the nation and an important reason why people want to live here. Funding for the schools is about half of the County’s operating budget (and a big portion of the County’s capital budget). The recently approved budget for the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has been raising questions and concerns.

I am concerned by the school board's decision to fix its budgeting shortfall by increasing class sizes. My staff and I are in conversations with MCPS staff and County Councilmembers about possible solutions.  At least part of the issue is tied to the escalating cost of health care for MCPS employees and retirees. When I finalized my recommended budget in March, this was not forecasted to be an issue. However, by the time the County Council passed the budget in May, there was a $22 million hole in Fiscal Year 2024 and a $22 million hole for FY25, and there may be more as well.

So, what caused this? From conversations with school district leaders, I understand that inaccurate financial forecasting and inflationary costs for health care coverage are a big part of it. Actuaries looking at MCPS finances did not anticipate the amount being spent currently and what will need to be spent. We are working with MCPS staff to improve their cost projections for the coming years. In the meantime, these are real costs that must be paid – these are health care costs for current employees and retirees.  That is why I will be advocating that we shift some of our “pre-funding” dollars that are currently allocated for a fund for future retiree health care costs to pay for current healthcare costs. I explain this more in my newsletterfrom a few weeks ago.

This is a solution that would help close the cost gap without jeopardizing health care funding for current employees or current or future retirees.

We have known that when Federal funds ran out, we would face the same demands without the additional resources we need. That is why I had proposed a property tax increase last year that was targeted solely for education funding. While I appreciated the County Council supporting some tax increase, it supported an amount too low and instead directed the school system to use the last of one-time Federal funds to meet ongoing needs.  The Council and I knew then that we would be facing this problem this year, and we will continue to face it going forward.

I am cognizant of minimizing tax burdens on our residents. Still, there is room to expand how much we collect from households with the means to pay more and from companies contributing a lower share of taxes compared to what they pay in neighboring jurisdictions. Efforts to pass fair share tax legislation failed at the State legislature earlier this year,  and was not supported by the Council. However, we will renew those efforts for the next session.

Other measures I support would help increase revenue in every Maryland county. We are long overdue for having the authority to generate meaningful revenue for our desperately needed transportation projects as has been done successfully in Northern Virginia. They have authority to create a different tax rate for commercial property versus residential property so the commercial tax rates can be increased to support transit investments. The commercial property owners want the  increased investment because they know the funds will be used to support transportation infrastructure (such as the Silver Line in Northern Virginia is supported by taxes there), and that infrastructure makes their projects more desirable. A similar system here would free up taxpayer dollars for other projects, including for schools. You can read more about this idea in my newsletter from March 1.

Look around us and you will see neighboring jurisdictions in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia are in the process of raising taxes to offset higher operating costs. We have avoided that this budget cycle, but we need to be sure that we continue to invest in our County.

Our school system has a stellar reputation, and it has been struggling to maintain its high quality of education since the last recession, when we had to reset the spending. We have not yet reinvested in the same way we did before. If we want to maintain the quality of our schools, we must invest in our schools, students and teachers.

Larger classes, as explained in an MCPS video from 2017, are a way to spend less money, but they place a burden on educators. The pandemic has created some new problems and highlighted older ones. We need to support our teaching staff. 

The school district is a poster child for what happens because of inflation. Costs are rising beyond expectations, and we must react to that in real time. If this is the new normal regarding health care costs, we will have to adjust our thinking regarding how we fund the schools. The consequences of not addressing those costs will inevitably impact education in the County.  Additionally, investing in our school district helps our home values and the quality of life for everyone.  We cannot adopt an approach of compensating for increasing health care costs by cutting investments in our classrooms.

You can listen to my discussion of this issue during this week’s media briefing at https://youtu.be/n2OewFAcqz8?si=xa3qR8GuIIjg_mUS&t=1179.

Talking About Transit Regionally: ‘DMV Moves’

I am pleased to join the “DMV Moves” task force, which had its first meeting on Monday. This initiative, launched by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA, or Metro) in collaboration with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), seeks to address one of the area’s most critical challenges. Public transit funding in the DMV region has not been supported to the level it needs to be reliable and efficient. Now we have a chance to change that and make other improvements.

Developing a cohesive plan is essential for creating a sustainable, efficient, and user-friendly public transit system that meets the needs of Montgomery County and our growing metropolitan area. By focusing on shared objectives, the task force can ensure that improvements in public transit serve the collective interests of all communities within the DMV area. 

We must analyze public transportation and treat it as an asset. Right now, we hear complaints about inconsistent and inadequate services. A robust funding model is necessary to support public transit options' long-term viability and expansion.

According to Metro leaders, 88 percent of commuters surveyed in the region have access to public transit, but only five percent currently use it. This stark discrepancy indicates significant barriers to public transit usage that must be addressed. The DMV Moves initiative aims to significantly boost public transit utilization by improving service quality and reliability and offering compelling incentives. 

Enhancing the frequency, seamlessness and reliability of public transit will make it a more attractive option for daily commuters, increasing ridership and reducing dependence on private vehicles. We have to make transit more attractive to more people so that people will choose to leave their cars behind.

The DMV Moves initiative is a timely and necessary effort to overhaul and improve public transit options regionwide. I am encouraged by the rounded discussions on our ideas on Monday, and I look forward to being part of this process moving forward.

Recognizing Our LGBTQ+ Community

I joined the County Council and area leaders this week in raising the Progress Pride flag in Rockville to mark Montgomery County's sixth annual Pride celebration. You can watch that ceremony here. It is essential to recognize the significance of flying the flag in our County and understand the past, present and future of our LGBTQ+ community.

We have worked hard for decades to make Montgomery County an inclusive place for everyone. Forty-one years ago, I was on the City Council of Takoma Park that passed a domestic partnership law allowing same gender partners at the hospital with them because, at the time, family members could still block that from happening. Since that time, many other legislators and community members have successfully advocated for more improvements, including the historic legislation authorizing the freedom to marry for same gender couples.

One of the leaders in that effort in the state legislature was Rich Madaleno, who now holds the top administrative position in Montgomery County Government. As a State senator, Rich was a champion for legal protections for the LGBTQ+ community, and it is great to have him now serving the County.

While we have come a long way and have much to celebrate, there are still threats today that could undermine what we have accomplished.

A 2023 report on bias incidents investigated by the Montgomery County Police Department showed a 200 percent rise in reported bias incidents from 2022. Police determined approximately 10 percent of those incidents were based on sexual orientation and another 2 percent were based on gender identity.

I have been around long enough to see lots of examples of harassment, sometimes to members of my family. Over time, that receded, but now it seems like it is coming back with increased bullying, racist graffiti and other forms of hate. We need to retire some of the antiquated thinking that persists and is passed on from generation to generation.

Our future depends on acceptance. I want to thank the County’s LGBTQ+ Liaison, Amena Johnson, for her great work and also want to thank Montgomery County Pride and Live In Your Truth for helping and advocating for the community.

I am glad we live in a County where so many businesses proudly support Pride. Look for the stickers in store windows that show the LGBTQ+ community is accepted and supported. Here is a link to learn more about the decals design and how to get one. I like where we stand and where we are going, and I am glad to lead a County filled with so many people who find these issues just as important as I do.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

I joined the County Council on Tuesday to recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and later joined an event at the Holiday Park Senior Center. We are trying to raise awareness about elder abuse, an important topic that impacts countless families.

Education is critical to preventing elder abuse, which can take many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual and financial. Financial scams are ever-present, targeting some of our society's most vulnerable members. Our Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) keeps an eye out for new scams and shares that information through newsletters and other means of communication. If you feel like you have been targeted by a scammer, report it by emailing consumerprotection@montgomerycountymd.gov or to the OCP's Anonymous Tip Line at 240-777-3681.

According to the National Council on Aging, the annual loss by victims of financial abuse is estimated to be more than $36.5 billion. This is a staggering figure that underscores the urgency of our efforts. Financial abuse can leave individuals broke at a time when they are no longer working, compounding the challenges they face.

To combat this, we must help everyone identify the signs of trouble. One study suggests that only one in 24 cases of abuse are reported to authorities.

Signs of elder abuse include:

  • A senior who seems depressed, confused or withdrawn
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Unexplained bruises, burns or scars
  • Appears dirty, underfed, dehydrated, over- or under-medicated or not receiving needed care for medical problems
  • Bed sores or other preventable conditions
  • Recent changes in banking or spending patterns

If you are concerned, please reach out to someone who may be able to help. The Aging and Disability Resource Unit can be reached at 240-777-3000 or 1-800-91-PREVENT. This 24-hour reporting line ensures that help is always available.

We have built an age-friendly Montgomery County and managed the COVID-19 pandemic through collaboration. Our disability and aging services work daily to address immediate needs and focus on helping seniors with preventive care. We appreciate the tireless efforts of all who look out for seniors, including the elder/vulnerable adult task force, police officers and firefighters.

Let us remain vigilant in protecting our seniors and ensure that our community is a safe and supportive environment for all.

Juneteenth Celebrations: Scotland Juneteenth Heritage Festival and Celebration at BlackRock

 

The second annual Scotland Juneteenth Heritage Festival begins  Saturday, June 15, with an opening night celebration at the Bethesda Theater, starting at 5 p.m.

Festivities include:

  • An interfaith breakfast Sunday, June 16, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., which aims to foster dialogue around shared values and hospitality.
  • Free sports clinics for children on Monday, June 17, and Tuesday, June 18.
  • A variety of activities on Wednesday, Juneteenth, beginning with a 5K race and 1-mile walk at 8 a.m., a parade at Cabin John Park at 1:30 p.m. and concluding with a “Fireworks Extravaganza” at 9:45 p.m.at Shirley Povich Field in Bethesda.

More information and details about the activities are here.

Wednesday as Juneteenth is a County holiday, so check out the juneteenthscotland.org website for a complete schedule and to learn more about the holiday's history.

We will also celebrate Juneteenth tomorrow, Saturday, June 15, at the Montgomery County Juneteenth Freedom at the Rock at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown. It is the 27th time the community has come together for this free and vibrant celebration. Starting at noon, you can enjoy live concerts and performances and browse the work of festival artists.

Remembering Unhoused People Who Have Died

This week, we recognized the 62 people in our unhoused community who died since the start of 2023. The annual ceremony is a way to remember that there remain too many people fighting homelessness. Sadly, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments point in time count, there are 1,104 people experiencing homelessness across the County, more this year than in 2023. Our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones.

In Recognition

This week, we recognized Women Veterans Day. It is celebrated on June 12 annually to commemorate the anniversary of the Women's Armed Services Integration Act of 1948. Women in the military face unique challenges. There is no better way to explain it than learning directly from them. Montgomery County’s Commission on Veterans Affairs has set up this online gallery that allows you to read about some of the vets honored this week. Right now, we have 26 veteran tributes on that site and welcome more. For more information about having a friend or loved one honored in the future, call 240-777-1252 or email MCCVA@montgomerycountymd.gov.

I also got to help honor Caribbean American Heritage Month. We welcome the many Caribbean Americans who share their culture with all of us every year. Montgomery County is home to nearly one-third of the Caribbean Americans who live in Maryland. They have provided leadership in our community across government, sports, entertainment, the arts and many other fields. This year’s African + Caribbean Music Festival will be held in Downtown Silver Spring on Sunday, Aug. 25.

The Silver Spring Blues Festival Concludes

I hope you can make it to Veterans Plaza in Downtown Silver on Saturday, June 15, for the Silver Spring Blues Festival. The 15th annual jam will feature at least 10 artists throughout the day beginning at 10 a.m. The free event wraps up at 10 p.m.

As always, my appreciation for all of you, 

Marc Elrich
County Executive

June 12, 2024

15th Annual ‘Silver Spring Blues Week’ Will Conclude with Free All-Day Festival on Saturday, June 15


The 15th Annual “Silver Spring Blues Week” will conclude with the free all-day festival from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Saturday, June 15, on the stage on Ellsworth Drive.

The festival on June 15 will be at 920 Ellsworth Drive, between Fenton Street and Georgia Avenue.

A highlight of the festival will be at 5 p.m. when Memphis Gold with the Scrap Iron Band will dedicate their performance as a special tribute to Phil Wiggins, who passed away recently. He was scheduled to play with Memphis Gold in this week's festival. For the tribute, Memphis Gold will be joined by Charlie Sayles and Mark Wenner of The Nighthawks.

The lineup for the festival is scheduled to include:
  • The Nighthawks
  • The Teeny Tucker Band
  • The Gabe Stillman Band
  • Memphis Gold and the Scrap Iron Band
  • The Deanna Bogart Band
  • The School of Rock Doin’ the Blues
  • Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Ensemble
  • Rick Franklin
  • Stormi and the Blue Skies
  • Eleanor Ellis
  • Stingy Brim Geoff Seals

The festival will feature an array of arts and craft exhibitors from 3 to 10 p.m. along Ellsworth Drive. It will finish with the traditional all-star jam of performers starting at approximately 9 p.m. 

For more information about the festival is available here.


‘Juneteenth’ Will Be Recognized in Many Ways and With Numerous Celebrations, Most on the Official Holiday Wednesday, June 19

Montgomery County will again celebrate “Juneteenth” in a big way, with many events. The Federal and County governments recognize Wednesday, June 19, as the official holiday. However, the County celebration will include events on Friday, June 14, and Saturday, June 15, in Germantown. The holiday honors June 19, 1865—the day Union soldiers arrived to take control of Texas and enforce the emancipation of slaves in the state.

Juneteenth has been a Federal holiday in the U.S. since 2021. However, the day's official status and how it is celebrated differs from state to state.

Slavery in the U.S. can be traced back to the 16th Century when Spanish explorers brought African slaves with them to the New World. The Emancipation Proclamation, which came into effect on Jan. 1, 1863, declared slavery to be over in states in rebellion with the U.S. On that date, Texas was largely controlled by forces fighting for the Confederate States, which opposed the abolition of slavery.

On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived to take control of Texas and enforce the emancipation of slaves in the state. In Galveston, Tx., the newly freed slaves held large public celebrations and so laid the base for future Juneteenth activities. The word “Juneteenth” resulted from the words 'June Nineteenth' being combined together in speech.

Maryland outlawed slavery in 1864. The 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery in the U.S. It was passed in 1865. 

The Montgomery County events celebrating Juneteenth will include:
  • African American “Living Legend Awards.” Friday, June 14. 7 p.m. BlackRock Center for the Arts. 12901 Town Commons Drive, Germantown. Montgomery County will present “Living Legend Awards” to six African American community leaders. County Executive Marc Elrich will host the awards ceremony, which will be part of the County’s 27th Annual Juneteenth celebration, which this year has a theme of “Celebrating Freedom at the Rock: Forever Unshackled.” The 2024 award recipients, all 75 or older, are being honored for their lifelong dedication to service, advocacy and selfless acts of kindness. The public is invited to the awards ceremony. The event is free to attend. The honorees are Dr. Judith Docca, Edgar E. Dove, Sr., Janice Freeman, Roy Priest, Charles G. Thomas, Jr.. and Henry L. Williams, Sr.
  • Montgomery County’s 27th Juneteenth Celebration: Freedom at the Rock. Saturday, June 15. Noon-10 p.m. BlackRock Center for the Arts. 12901 Town Commons Drive, Germantown. Celebration will include concerts and performances, a bustling artisans market showcasing unique handmade goods and food from local vendors. Parking near the BlackRock Center is limited. Offsite parking: Shuttle buses will be traveling regularly from Kingsview Middle School, located at 18909 Kingsview Middle Road in Germantown, from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. (NOTE: Towing will be enforced in the Safeway parking lot.). Event is free, but there are costs for purchasing food and beverages.
  • Scotland Juneteenth Heritage Festival Opening Night Celebration. Saturday, June 15. 5 -10 p.m. Bethesda Theater, 7719 Wisconsin Avenue Bethesda. Celebrate the VIP kickoff of the County’s premiere Black cultural event. The show kicks off with America’s Got Talent sensation Kelvin Dukes, followed by Daryl Davis’ second-annual tribute to the Du-Drop Inn of Emory Grove, featuring blues icon Jenny Langer on lead vocals. Festivities will include a dance contest, a best-dressed contest and then dancing to the sounds of the Chuck Brown Band. Doors open at 5 p.m. Showtime is 7-10 p.m. Table seats $100. Theater Seats $60. Tickets do not include food and beverage. More information is available at Scotland Juneteenth Heritage Festival Opening Night Celebration Tickets, Sat, Jun 15, 2024 at 5:00 PM | Eventbrite.
  • Kensington’s Third Annual Juneteenth Celebration. Saturday, June 15. Noon-4 p.m. St. Paul Park, 10564 St. Paul St., Kensington. A family friendly event with activities for all ages will bring together a multiracial coalition of organizers, historians, re-enactors, civic and faith leaders, local and Black-owned businesses and musicians. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. More information available at https://tok.md.gov/event/kensingtons-3rd-annual-juneteenth-celebration/. Free.
  • The Annual Scotland Juneteenth Heritage Festival and Children's Carnival. Wednesday, June 19. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. festival. Cabin John Regional Park, 7400 Tuckerman Lane, Bethesda. Cabin John Regional Park will be alive with a children’s carnival, food court, Juneteenth parade and petting zoo. Montgomery Parks co-sponsors the event. More details are available at Juneteenth Scotland. Admission $5.
  • Scotland Juneteenth Heritage Festival 5K Road Race and Family 1-Mile Run. Wednesday, June 19. 8 a.m. Staged at Bells Mill Elementary, 8225 Bells Mill Road
  • Potomac. Road race will traverse the historic Black neighborhood of Scotland, including the 100-year-old Scotland AME Zion Church on Seven Locks Road in Potomac. Road race entry fee $38. Family 1-Mile Walk fee is $20. More information, including registration, can be found at Scotland Juneteenth 5K (runsignup.com).
  • Scotland Heritage Festival Fireworks. Shirley Povich Field at Cabin John Regional Park, 10600 Westlake Drive, Bethesda. 9:45 p.m. This will be the first time in County history that there will be fireworks as part of the Juneteenth celebration.
  • Josiah Henson Museum and Park Family Day. 11410 Old Georgetown Road, North Bethesda. Wednesday, June 19. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Parking available at nearby Wall Local Park, 5900 Executive Blvd., North Bethesda. Celebrate Juneteenth by visiting the museum dedicated to abolitionist Josiah Henson. Henson was born into slavery in Maryland and eventually escaped to freedom in Canada. Once free, he served as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, helping others to freedom. The Josiah Henson Museum and Park is on the site of a plantation where Henson was once held in bondage. Self-guided tours and hands-on displays help visitors experience Henson’s story in his own words. Adult admission: $5. Seniors (55-and-over) and children (ages 6-17): $4. Tickets are available onsite.
  • Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park. 16501 Norwood Road, Sandy Spring. Wednesday, June 19. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Visit the Woodlawn Museum to learn about Montgomery County’s agricultural history, enslaved and free Black communities and the Quaker experience. The museum, located in a historic stone barn, features three floors of self-guided tours. The Underground Railroad Experience Trail will be available for self-guided walking tours. Adult admission: $5. Seniors (55-and-over) and children (6-17): $4. (Woodlawn Manor House will be closed). Tickets available onsite.
  • Bethesda Big Train Third Annual Clarence “Pint” Isreal Juneteenth Classic. Wednesday, June 19. 7 p.m. (Gates open at 6 p.m.) Shirley Povich Field Cabin John Regional Park, 10600 Westlake Drive, Bethesda. Big Train baseball of college-age players hosts the Gaithersburg. Pint Isreal baseball cards will be distributed to first 500 fans. Game honors the man who played for Newark Eagles and Homestead Grays in Negro League baseball between 1940 and 1947. He died in Rockville in 1987. Memorabilia will be on display from the Hubert V. Simmons Museum of Negro Leagues Baseball. Register in advance for 4 p.m. youth baseball and softball clinic at Field No. 2. Tickets $5 for bleacher seats and standing room. More information is available at https://www.bigtrain.org/home.


 



Holiday Schedule for Juneteenth on Wednesday, June 19

The Montgomery County Government, and programs that impact County residents, will have holiday schedule and program changes for the observance of Juneteenth on Wednesday, June 19.

Schedule changes for the holiday celebrating Juneteenth on Wednesday, June 19:
  • County offices—Closed.
  • MC 311— Closed.
  • State offices and courts—Closed.
  • State Motor Vehicle Administration offices and Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program stations—Closed.
  • Libraries— Closed.
  • Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS)—All stores open 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Department of Permitting Services—Closed.
  • Ride On, Ride On Flex and Ride On extRa—Will operate on holiday schedule.
  • Flash—Will operate on holiday schedule for the Orange Route. The Blue Route will not be in service.
  • MARC Train—R" schedule on all three lines. Penn Line Trains 455 (8:45 p.m. departure from Penn Station) and 454 (10:05 p.m. departure from Washington) will operate. Brunswick Line will be the “R,” not the “R+” schedule. EPTA connecting bus service to West Virginia stations will be available from Train 875 at Brunswick.
  • TRiPS Silver Spring commuter store—Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • TRiPS mobile commuter store—Closed.
  • Metrorail—Will operate on a Saturday Holiday schedule with trains running from 7 a.m.-midnight.
  • Metrobus—Will operate on a Saturday Supplemental schedule.
  • Public parking garages, lots, curbside meters—Free.
  • County-provided trash and recycling collections—No collections on Wednesday, June 19. Collections for the remainder of the week will slide one day, with the final collections on Saturday, June 22.
  • Shady Grove Transfer Station and Recycling Center— Entire facility is closed.
  • Outdoor Pools— Open.
  • Recreation, Senior and Indoor Aquatic Centers—Closed.
  • For Montgomery Parks information, visit www.MontgomeryParks.org.
Additional information for Montgomery Parks facilities:
  • Montgomery Parks Headquarters and Permits Offices—Closed.
  • Montgomery Parks Customer Service Office—Closed.
  • All camps and classes—Not scheduled.
  • Brookside Nature Center--Closed.

 


Six African American Community Leaders Will Be Honored with ‘Living Legend Awards’ During 27th Juneteenth Celebration, Friday, June 14, and Saturday, June 15

Montgomery County will present “Living Legend Awards” to six African American community leaders at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 14, at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown. County Executive Marc Elrich will host the awards ceremony, part of the County’s 27th Annual Juneteenth celebration, which this year has a theme of “Celebrating Freedom at the Rock: Forever Unshackled.”

The 2024 award recipients, all 75 or older, are being honored for their lifelong dedication to service, advocacy and selfless acts of kindness. The public is invited to the award ceremony. The event is free to attend.

The honorees are Dr. Judith Docca, Eddie Dove, Janice Freeman, Roy Priest, Charles “Charlie Buck” Thomas, Jr., and Henry Williams, Sr.

The Juneteenth celebration, which includes various cultural and community events, continues 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.

“Each of the six honorees has made service and advocacy an integral part of their lives, enriching and preserving the cultural heritage of the African American Community in Montgomery County,” said County Executive Elrich. “Their contributions have profoundly benefited our community, leaving an indelible mark on our shared history and future.”

Details about the award recipients:
  • Dr. Judith Docca. She has dedicated her career to advocating for education and civil rights, spending 38 years with Montgomery County Public Schools in roles ranging from teacher to principal. Elected to four terms on the Montgomery County Board of Education, she chaired the communications and public engagement committee and served on the special populations committee. Dr. Docca has been active in the Montgomery County NAACP, the Lincoln Park Historical Foundation and numerous educational associations. She was pivotal in saving Montgomery County's Head Start program and has been inducted into the County Human and Civil Rights Hall of Fame. Recently, she was appointed to the Montgomery College Board of Trustees by Maryland Governor Wes Moore.
  • Eddie Dove. Born in 1935 in the Scotland Community of Potomac, he has spent his life preserving and advocating for his birthplace. His leadership in the "Save Our Scotland" campaign in the 1960s was crucial in protecting the community from eradication. Beyond activism, he was a celebrated third baseman for the Scotland Eagles, embodying resilience and camaraderie. As a Montgomery County Public School bus driver for over four decades, his dedication to safety and well-being endeared him to the community.
  • Janice Freeman. Deeply involved in civil rights, business, housing and community nonprofits, she has worked at the local, State and Federal levels. Growing up in a segregated community in Greensboro, N.C., she participated in pivotal civil rights protests, including the Woolworth sit-ins. In Maryland, she worked with the Black-owned OAO Corporation and co-founded a successful computer engineering company. As a minority business leader, she founded JM Freeman Enterprise, a real estate brokerage, and co-founded Montgomery County’s first African American Chamber of Commerce. She has served on numerous boards and remains an active community advocate.
  • Roy Priest. The chair of the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County, he has dedicated five decades to advocating for affordable housing and enhancing community services. He was executive director and CEO of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority, leading significant housing redevelopment projects and community programs. His career includes leadership roles at the National Congress for Community Economic Development and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he administered critical economic development programs.
  • Charles “Charlie Buck” Thomas, Jr. Born June 5, 1945, he is a sixth-generation Sandy Spring resident and the son of one of Montgomery County’s first African American entrepreneurs. Inspired by his father's perseverance, Charlie Buck took over and successfully ran Charles Thomas Refuse for 56 years, employing and mentoring many local residents. He has led the Male Mentoring Program at Hopkins United Methodist Church and actively helps maintain the historic African American Mutual Memorial Cemetery. An avid sports fan and former athlete, he played a significant role in fostering racial relations during the integration of Sherwood High School in Sandy Spring.
  • Henry Williams, Sr. An active participant in several community groups, he served as chair and co-chair of the African American Advisory Group to former County Executive Doug Duncan, addressing the needs and concerns of the African American community. He is a past president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) Montgomery County Chapter (14 years) and the National Pan Hellenic Council of Montgomery County, representing more than 200,000 residents. He is a member of the Montgomery County chapter of the NAACP and a lifetime member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. For more than 40 years, he has been a dedicated member of the Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, where he is currently active in the Usher Board and Seasoned Saints Ministries.
Visit the Office of Human Rights website to view the list of past African American Living Legends Award recipients.

The County Executive’s African American Advisory Group and the Office of Human Rights sponsor the Living Legends Awards ceremony.

Rockville’s ‘Suds and Soles’ 5K Evening Run Hits the Streets on Saturday, June 15


The annual Rockville “Suds and Soles” 5K run will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, June, 15, in Rockville Town Center. The race is presented through a partnership of the Montgomery County Road Runners Club (MCRRC) and the City of Rockville. The 5K run is open to all ages and will be followed by a post race party. Adults will be able to sample beverages from local breweries.

The race staging area will be at North Washington Street and Middle Lane. The Suds and Soles 5K is one of the few evening road races in the Washington area.

Proceeds from the race will benefit the Rockville Recreation and Parks Foundation, Youth and Beginning Running Programs of MCRRC and other charitable needs of the community.

The adult advance registration will feature tiered pricing. The tiers include:
  • Tier 1 – 50 Slots – $37
  • Tier 2 – 100 Slots – $39.50
  • Tier 3 – 150 Slots – $42
  • Tier 4 – 200 Slots – $44.50
  • Tier 5 – 150 Slots – $47
  • Tier 6 – 100 Slots – $49.50
  • Tier 7 – $52
Race Day registration begins at noon if slots are still available. Race day registration will be $57.

Suds & Soles is a USATF certified 5K course beginning and ending in Rockville Town Center. The course will run through Downtown Rockville and through neighborhood roads before returning to Town Center. Participants who maintain a pace that is greater than 20 minutes per mile may be directed to the sidewalk and from that point on will be required to follow normal pedestrian rules.

The 5K race will be scored with the IPICO Bib Chip that will be attached to the bib each runner receives at packet pick up registration. Results will be posted at www.mcrrc.org approximately 24 hours after the race. Both “net” and “gun” times will be displayed.

Awards will be presented to the top male and female finishers in the open and masters divisions. There also will be age group prizes.

For more information, contact sudsandsoles@mcrrc.org

Virtual Community Meeting About Plans for Future Bethesda Market Park Development to be Held on Tuesday, June 18


A virtual community meeting about the future of the Bethesda Market Park will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18. The future park site is adjacent to the Montgomery Farm Women’s Cooperative Market in Downtown Bethesda.

When completed, Bethesda Market Park will become one of the signature urban parks in Montgomery County. It will fulfill the vision of the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan, which was approved and adopted in 2017. It also will meet the social, active and environmental stewardship goals of Montgomery Parks addressed in the 2022 Park Recreation and Open Space (PROS) Plan.

The two existing parking lots near the market will be repurposed into a large urban green space, suitable for social gatherings and planned activities for people of all ages.

Montgomery Parks will host the meeting via Zoom at Mocoparks.org/BMPZoom.
Participants may register here for the meeting. Registration is recommended but not required.

During the online meeting, park designers will share a recommended concept plan based on input from community meetings and an online survey during spring 2023.

“We received a lot of great suggestions from the community about amenities for this park—including a stage, open spaces, a dog park, game area and water features,” said Miti Figueredo, director of Montgomery Parks. “We’re excited about creating an engaging, beautiful and active urban park that serves the Bethesda and Chevy Chase communities and park visitors from across the County.”

The Bethesda Market Park development is a public/private partnership between Montgomery Parks, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation, the Town of Chevy Chase and Wisconsin Columbia Venture LLC., owners of the Bethesda Market project. That project is being co-developed by Bernstein Development Corporation and EYA Multifamily.

Rockville Town Square Summer Concert Series Will Feature Free Events Most Fridays Through Sept. 20


Free summer concerts will be happening in Rockville Town Square from 6-9 p.m. most Friday nights through Sept. 20. The series will feature a variety of performers. On Friday, June 21, the night will be headlined by Josh Christina Band and its R and B and piano rock sounds.

The Rockville Town Square summer concert lineup will include:
  • June 21. Josh Christina Band (R and B, piano rock)
  • June 28. Moonshine Society (blues)
  • July 12. Liquid A (pop rock)
  • July 19. Natty Beaux (swing)
  • July 26. Shelby Blondell duo (acoustic rock)
  • Aug. 2. Don’t Back Down (rock)
  • Aug. 9. Ocho de Bastos (Latin pop)
  • Aug. 16. Unity Reggae Band (reggae)
  • Aug. 23. The Rockets (pop rock)
  • Sept. 6. Midnight Elixir (classic rock)
  • Sept. 13. Joe Falero Band (Latin)
  • Sept. 20. The National Bohemians (classic rock)

Summer Twilight Concerts, ‘Feed the Soul’ Friday and Heritage Days Among the Montgomery Parks Special Events and Programs in June

A Summer Twilight Concert Series on Tuesday nights in Wheaton, Foodie Fridays and the annual Heritage Days are among the special events that will be hosted by Montgomery Parks in June.

The schedule of special events will include:
  • Summer Twilight Concert Series. Tuesdays, June 18 and 25. 6:30–8 p.m. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton. Series of free musical performances set in the beauty of the gardens. Bring friends and family, chairs, blankets and picnics (allowed in the gardens on concert evenings only). Food will be available for purchase at each event. All ages. Free Schedule: June 18: Kurlou Reggae All-Stars (reggae); June 25, King Teddy (swing/rockabilly).
  • Father’s Day Skate. Sunday, June 16. 12:30–2:30 p.m. (Cabin John); 2–5 p.m. (Wheaton). Cabin John Ice Rink, 10610 Westlake Drive, Bethesda. Wheaton Ice Arena, 11717 Orebaugh Avenue, Wheaton. Free admission (and skates) for Dad with a paid skating partner.
  • Foodie Fridays: Feed the Soul. Friday, June 28. 6:30 –8:30 p.m. Josiah Henson Museum and Park, 11410 Old Georgetown Road, North Bethesda. Discover the relationship between food, nutrition, eating behaviors and mental health with neuropsychologist Nicole Salman from Snapdragon Wellness. Registration fee includes light refreshments, one alcoholic beverage (21 and older) and a ticket to Josiah Henson Museum (redeemable during regular museum hours). Ages 18 and older. Registration required. $15 per person.
  • 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.
  • Parks Academy Series classes. Breath and Movement Flow Yoga. Saturdays June 15, 22 and 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.
  • Nordic Walking. Tuesdays June 18 and 25. 6–7 p.m. Ovid Hazen Wells Recreational Park, 12121 Skylark Drive, Clarksburg. Ages 18 and older. 4 weekly classes-$40 per person. Registration required; no walk-ins.
  • Sunset Yoga. Tuesday 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.
Programs for 55-and-over:
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

‘Backyard Food Scraps Compost Bin Sale’ Now in Progress


Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Recycling and Resource Management Division has launched its “Backyard Food Scraps Compost Bin Bulk Discount Sale” with pickup dates on Saturday, June 22, and Sunday, June 23. Through the bulk discount sale, residents can purchase the Earth Machine and HotFrog Dual Chamber Tumbler at a reduced cost.

The Earth Machine Compost Bin has an 80-gallon capacity, four anchor pegs to secure the unit to the ground and a locking lid. The HotFrog Dual Chamber Tumbler, with a total volume of 37 gallons, has two chambers for dual batch composting, allowing for the filling of one side while the other side cures.

Both compost bins are approved for food scraps composting, to deter rodents and to aid in the decomposition process. Additionally, both are made from recycled plastic and are simple to use via the provided how-to-guides.

Over the last two years, DEP, with the help of 1,000 volunteers, evaluated the compost bins available for purchase. Both are approved for composting food scraps, to deter rodents and to aid in the decomposition process. Additionally, both are made from recycled plastic and are simple to use via the provided how-to guides.

Compost bins must be purchased online prior to pick up and will not be offered for sale at pickup locations.

After making the online purchases, residents can pick up their bins from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 22, at Paint Branch High School, 14121 Old Columbia Pike in Burtonsville, or from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 23, at Walt Whitman High School, 7100 Whittier Blvd in Bethesda.

“Montgomery County is improving our recycling, reduction and waste prevention, which are key objectives of the County's Climate Action Plan,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Our efforts are making a difference, but we still have a lot of work to do. This program helps residents find vetted products to facilitate backyard composting, which is an ideal way to compost. Individual actions like composting are an essential component towards achieving our County goal of zero waste.”

It is estimated that 97,000 tons of food scraps are thrown away in Montgomery County every year and 45,000 tons of that amount is tossed in the trash by residents in single-family homes. With residents managing food scraps and yard trim at home, the County gets closer to achieving its zero-waste goal and to the ambitious Climate Action Plan goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2027 and 100 percent by 2035.

“Increasing composting and reducing food waste are critical components of our sustainability efforts,” said DEP Director, Jon Monger. “By providing residents with affordable composting bins and information on the benefits of backyard composting, we are empowering the community to take action and contribute to a healthier environment.”

To learn more about the County’s Backyard Food Scraps Compost Bin Bulk Discount Sale and DEP Recycling programs, visit MontgomeryCountyMD.gov/FoodScraps.