Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Holiday Schedule for Labor Day

Montgomery County government will observe the following holiday schedule for Labor Day on Monday, September 5:

~County Offices -- closed

~Libraries -- closed

~County liquor stores – open 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., with the exception of the following store which will be closed: Diamond Square

~Ride On – Sunday schedule

~Metrobus – Sunday schedule

~Metrorail – Sunday schedule

~TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed

~Refuse/recycling pickup – no collection*

~Transfer Station – closed

~Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free

~MCPS Administrative Offices – closed

~State offices & courts – closed

* All collections scheduled on or after the holiday will be made one day later that week.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene to Affect Montgomery County This Weekend

Hurricane Irene may impact the region in the days ahead, and officials remind residents that they should prepare for the possibility of high winds, power outages and flooding. The hurricane season traditionally runs through November. Currently, Irene is a category 2 hurricane.

Anyone who has not already signed up for the County’s Alert Montgomery notification system is encouraged to do so by going to and selecting the types of emergency alerts they are interested in receiving regarding weather, severe traffic, schools, park and government facilities, athletic fields and public events; along with the devices they would like the messages sent to (cell phones, text pagers, wireless PDAs, home and work emails).

During severe weather and all other times, residents are reminded to call 9-1-1 only in emergencies that threaten life or property, which includes any type of fire or serious medical condition, when there is fear for personal safety or the safety of others, or during a crime in progress. Calling 9-1-1 for the wrong reason or calling the number inadvertently may keep someone else from getting the help they need. DO NOT call 9-1-1 to ask for directions; check on power, phone, or cable outages; inquire about road or weather conditions; check on the status of school closings; for information about public services; or to report situations that are not emergencies. If you do call by mistake, please stay on the line until the call taker can confirm that you do not require emergency assistance.

Whenever a hurricane threatens a region, within 24-36 hours a hurricane watch will be issued. A hurricane warning will be issued if hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours or less. Hurricane conditions include winds of 74 miles per hour (64 knots) or greater, and/or dangerously high tides and waves. Actions to protect life and property should begin whenever a warning is issued.

Below are some more preparedness tips for hurricanes and other storms:

Before a Storm

Put copies of important documents in a safe place, preferably a waterproof container. Important documents can include passports, birth certificates, insurance policies or anything else that might be needed immediately or cannot be easily replaced.
Have enough cash for a few days – ATM’s may not work during power outages and stores might not be able to take debit and credit cards.
Make sure vehicle gas tanks are full.
Secure or bring inside exterior items that might become windborne, such as lawn furniture, toys and garden tools.
Fill prescriptions that might be needed and stock up on any necessary medical supplies.
Keep flashlights and battery-powered radios with extra batteries on hand, along with a basic first aid kit, emergency food and water, and a non-electric can opener. Have enough non-perishable food and water for at least 72 hours.
Listen to the radio or television for hurricane progress reports.
Clean out gutters.
Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting in anticipation of a power outage. Open the doors only when necessary and close quickly.
Refrain from putting out trash cans the night before the regular pickup.

During a Storm

Avoid using candles for lighting. Use a battery-powered flashlight.
Never use a candle when fueling equipment such as a kerosene heater or lantern, since the candle flame can ignite fumes from the fuel.
Try to stay in an interior room or away from windows.
Stay calm and do not call 911 unless it is an emergency.
If flooding occurs, turn off electricity at the main breaker.
During a power outage, turn off major appliances. This will minimize losing power again through a power surge and protect the equipment when power returns.
Do not go outside. Flying debris from high winds is a danger. As the eye of the storm passes, there will be a short period of calm followed by rapid wind speed increases to hurricane force that will come from the opposite direction.

After a Storm

Do not touch fallen or low-hanging wires of any kind under any circumstances. Stay away from puddles with wires in or near them. Do not touch trees or other objects in contact with power lines.
USE PHONES ONLY FOR EMERGENCIES. Call 911 only for life-threatening situations.
Call police or your utility companies immediately to report hazards such as downed power lines, broken gas or water mains or overturned gas tanks.
Avoid areas subject to flooding, including low spots, canals and streams. Do not attempt to drive on a flooded road –you can be stranded or trapped. The depth of the water and the condition of the road is not always obvious.
Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers, downed wires and other hazards.
For downed trees on public property, call 3-1-1 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays (or 240-777-0311 from outside the County or from a cell phone) or go to at any time to report the problem. If live wires are involved, the tree is blocking a roadway, the tree is on a structure, or if persons are trapped under the fallen tree, call 9-1-1.
Trees that have fallen on private property are the responsibility of the property owner. The County’s Office of Consumer Protection advises homeowners to deal with established businesses only, and to call Consumer Protection first to check a business’ complaint record. Consumer Protection can be reached at 240-777-3636.
For non-emergency police assistance, call the police non-emergency number, 301-279-8000.
If case of a power outage, residents are urged to take steps to ensure that food left in the refrigerator and freezer is safe. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service, meat, poultry, fish and eggs should be refrigerated at 40° F and frozen food at or below 0° F, which may be difficult with a prolonged power outage. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. A refrigerator will only keep food safely cold for about four hours if it is unopened. Food such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, soft cheeses, butter and leftover cooked meats, casseroles and pizza should be thrown out if they have been held above 40° F for over two hours. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. To be sure a particular food is cold enough; take its temperature with a food thermometer. Never taste food to determine its safety.
Do not operate charcoal grills, propane camping stoves or generators indoors.

Important Utility Numbers:

Pepco: 1-877-737-2662
BG&E: 1-877-778-2222 or 1-800-685-0123
Potomac Edison (Allegheny Power): 1-800-255-3443
Washington Gas: 800-752-7520
WSSC: 1-800-828-4002

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Public Hearing on Two Council Redistricting Maps

Share your views at the Montgomery County Redistricting Commission's public hearing at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 1, in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building. The Commission, which has previously held five public meetings, is working on the once-in-a-decade task of redistricting the five County Council districts.

You can speak at the hearing without signing up in advance. However, those who sign up in advance will be permitted to speak earliest. To sign up, call 240-777-7803.

Commission members Henry Kahwaty and Don Spence have each proposed new maps that will be the focus of the public hearing. The 2010 Census showed significant gains in population in the Germantown and Clarksburg areas in the northern part of the County, both of which are now in District 2. New maps will apportion the County into five districts--each with approximately 194,000 residents. Each of the proposed new maps differ significantly from the current district divisions.

The mission of the Commission (as required by the County Charter) is to recommend five Council district boundaries based upon information provided in the 2010 Census.

The proposals by Commission member Kahwaty (a Republican) and Commission member Spence (a Democrat) each seek to place municipalities in single districts and communities such as Olney, Wheaton and Four Corners in single district. However, each plan takes significantly different approaches on how to achieve balanced districts.

Appointed by the County Council in January 2011, the Commission was tasked to present a redistricting plan and report to the County Council by October 3. Within 30 days after receiving the plan, the Council must hold a public hearing on it. If within 90 days after presentation of the Commission’s plan no other law reestablishing the boundaries of the Council districts has been enacted, then the plan, as submitted, will become law.

The County Charter requires districts to be substantially equal in population, compact, and contiguous. The new districts will be in effect for the 2014 Council election.

For more information and to view the proposed maps, click here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sharing my Story, the Final Cut

Check out this month’s Council in Brief on County Cable Montgomery (channel 6). The 15-minute program encompasses the three earlier short segments entitled Nancy Floreen—The Next Chapter, in which I discuss my experiences with breast cancer. This longer program also includes information on the County’s Women’s Cancer Control Program which provides mammograms and cervical cancer screening for low-income women.

September 11 Community Remembrance

Join us for the September 11 Community Remembrance ceremony on Friday, September 9 at 12:30 p.m. in Courthouse Square Park in Rockville. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and the ceremony is planned as a time for remembrance and tribute to the victims, their families, emergency responders and members of the military.

The program will include remarks by a family member of one of the Montgomery County victims, and musical selections by the Montgomery County Police Gospel Choir will complete the program. Members of Montgomery County’s Fire and Rescue Services (MCFRS) and the Montgomery County and City of Rockville Police will also participate. The MCFRS Pipe and Drum Corps will perform.

The “Memorial to the Events of 9/11/01” park designed by Gene and Susan Flores of Plainfield, MA, consists of 11 benches, each dedicated to one of the lost Montgomery County residents. Each bench is engraved with lines from a poem, song or thought selected by family members, and the victim’s signature is inscribed in stainless steel on the end of their bench. At one corner of the park, a pavilion stands housing a plaque bearing the names of the 11 victims who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks. Each year on September 11, from approximately 9:15 to 10:50 a.m., sunlight passes through a lens in the roof of the structure to highlight each of the 11 names.

An interfaith prayer service will be held on Sunday, September 11 at 3 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockville, located at 100 Welsh Park Drive. The service is open to the public and to all faith groups, churches, mosques, synagogues and temples, as well as secular groups. For more information about the interfaith prayer service, call Rev. Lynn Strauss at 301-762-7666.

For more information about the memorial park or the ceremony, call Judy Stiles in the Department of Recreation, at 240-777-6875.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Maryland 511 Travel Information

Call 511 or visit to “know before you go.” Maryland’s new 511 program provides travel information for major events, cross-state travel and daily commutes. You can even customize the information for your regular trips on the My Maryland 511 Web site.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Maryland Tax Holiday

Get your shopping list ready for Shop Maryland Week, August 14-20. Qualifying apparel and footwear $100 or less will be exempt from the Maryland six percent sales tax. Accessories are not included. To learn more, visit the Comptroller of Maryland’s Web site.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cedar Lane Bridge to Open Friday

The Cedar Lane in Bethesda that carries traffic over Rock Creek which was closed for rehabilitation will reopen to traffic Friday, August 5, three weeks ahead of schedule. The bridge was closed to traffic on June 16 to refurbish concrete beams and piers that were in poor condition.

When the bridge reopens, Ride On bus route 34, which was detoured during the bridge’s closure, will return to its normal routing.

The Cedar Lane Bridge was originally built in 1959 and the superstructure and pier caps were replaced. A shared-use pedestrian and bicycle path was added between Rock Creek Trail and Elmhirst Trail.

The construction is related to transportation improvements in progress to address increased traffic expected as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) changes at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Foreclosure Prevention Workshop

Do you know someone who has lost income due to unemployment or medical problems and has fallen behind on mortgage payments? The Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development will co-host a free workshop on Monday, August 8 from 3 to 8 p.m., to assist those faced with possible mortgage foreclosures. The workshop will take place at the Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place, Silver Spring. Register now at and click on “Attend the Montgomery County EMA Workshop,” or call 410-514-7324.