Friday, February 28, 2014

Golden Shovel Awards

Did someone you know make your neighborhood safer? Nominate them for a Golden Shovel.
I started the Golden Shovel awards in 2003 to honor residents who lace up their boots to help neighbors shovel out after a snowfall. I'm bringing the awards back this year after a four-year hiatus due to a lack of snow. The awards recognize individuals who go above and beyond in helping clear ice and snow from County sidewalks.

Our seniors, school children, people with disabilities and those who walk to work or use mass transit depend on snow-free sidewalks. This goes beyond convenience--it is a matter of public safety. I certainly hope that residents will nominate for a Golden Shovel those individuals who put the Golden Rule to work. Get the nomination form online or in The Gazette.

Local Nonprofit Leader Named CNN Hero

Congratulations to Mark Bergel from A Wider Circle for being named a 2014 CNN Hero! More than 10,000 individuals from around the world were nominated this year, so for A Wider Circle's work to be honored in this way is absolutely incredible--and well deserved. You may remember Mark and A Wider Circle from the award-winning documentary The Unseen Montgomery, which highlighted the hidden poverty in Montgomery County.

The CNN piece will air several times over the next few days on various CNN networks. You can also watch the video and read the article online.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

New Animal Services and Adoption Center Opens Sunday

The new Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center opens to the public for business on Sunday, March 2, at noon. The Center will be operational for walk-in business and animals will be available for viewing and adoption.

The state-of-the-art facility is operated by the Montgomery County Police Department’s Animal Services Division and serves as the County’s only open-admissions animal shelter.
Programs and services offered at the new Center will include: adoptions, lost and found, pet licensing, field services, pet-owner and adopter support and foster and volunteer opportunities – with the anticipation of more program development to come.

Information about the Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center:

• Address: 7315 Muncaster Mill Rd., Derwood, MD 20855
• Phone Number: 240.773.5900
• Call 9-1-1 to report an animal emergency
• Call 301-279-8000 to report an animal-related non-emergency
• Hours of Operation:
  Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday……………....12 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  Wednesday………………………………………. Closed
  Saturday & Sunday…………………………......... 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  After hours call 301-279-8000
• Animal Services and Adoption Center Website: Coming Soon. Please visit for more information.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Report Potholes Online or by Phone

Recent fluctuations in temperature mean more potholes on our roadways. The Department of Transportation repairs potholes every day of the year except during rain and snow, and you can help MCDOT locate them. Report potholes online or call the MC311 Call Center at 311 or 240-777-0311, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

MCDOT fills potholes on 5,000 lane miles of County-maintained roads. The Maryland State Highway Administration (MSHA) fills potholes, plows snow and maintains numbered routes in the County, such as Maryland routes 355 or 97. MSHA can be reached at 301-513-7300. In addition, municipalities, such as the cities of Rockville or Gaithersburg, handle their own repairs.

Monday, February 24, 2014

County's Unemployment Rate Drops

Montgomery County's unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in December 2013, according to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. This is the lowest it has been in five years, when in 2008 it was also 4.1 percent. That's below the Maryland rate of 5.7 percent and is the second lowest in the state after Howard County.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tomorrow's Public Safety Committee Meeting Postponed

The meeting of the Montgomery County Council’s Public Safety Committee scheduled for Thursday, February 13, has been postponed due to predictions of a severe winter storm approaching the Washington area.

The committee was scheduled to begin its reviews of the Capital Improvements Program requests of the County’s Police Department, the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation and the Fire and Rescue Service. Those worksessions have been rescheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Friday, February 28.

County's Winter Weather Tips

Winter weather is expected, with predictions of heavy snowfall beginning Wednesday night and continuing through Thursday. The best way for residents to receive timely severe weather and emergency notifications directly to cell phones and/or email addresses is from Alert Montgomery.

Montgomery County officials offer residents the following tips for preparing for and dealing with severe weather:

Preparing for the Storm

Emergency preparations should include having enough food, water, medication (if needed) and batteries to last two to three days. Make sure portable radios, smoke detectors and flashlights are working properly. Keep a fresh supply of extra batteries on hand, along with a basic first aid kit and a non-electric can opener.

Check with neighbors who may require special assistance to see if they need help in stocking up on supplies or medications, and call them during the storm.

If possible, park vehicles in driveways or off the street. When parking on-street, pull close to the curb on the even numbered side of the street to clear the way for snowplows.

Be sure your vehicle is ready to drive after the storm by filling the gas tank; checking tires to make sure they have an adequate tread and are fully inflated; checking oil, antifreeze and windshield washer fluid levels; and ensuring windshield wipers, lights, flashing hazard lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes and defroster are all working properly. Keep a windshield scraper and small broom in the car for ice and snow removal, and a small sack of sand or kitty litter to improve wheel traction.

If driving during the storm is unavoidable, put together a separate disaster supply kit for the trunk of the car that includes:

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Flares
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Dry clothing, mittens, socks, and a wool cap
  • Newspapers for insulation
  • Plastic bags
  • Canned fruit, nuts or high energy “munchies”
  • Bottles of water
  • A small shovel, a pocket knife, and small tools --pliers, a wrench and screwdriver
  • Jumper cables
  • First aid kit and necessary medications
  • Brightly colored cloth to tie to the vehicle antenna.
During the Storm

During the storm, residents are urged to travel only if absolutely necessary and to stay indoors. If traveling is hazardous, residents should be prepared to shelter in place.

Residents concerned about the safety and well-being of children, elderly individuals or adults with disabilities should call the County’s Crisis Center at 240-777-4000.

In the event of a power outage, avoid using candles or outdoor grills indoors, to prevent the risk of a fire.

For downed trees on public property, residents should call 3-1-1 (or 240-777-0311 from a cell phone). To report trees that have fallen on utility lines, contact local utility companies. Contact information is available on the County's website. “Hot” or sparking wires, especially those across roadways, should be reported by calling 9-1-1.

After the Storm

In the event of power outages, treat intersections with non-working traffic signals as four-way stops. If your home is without power, contact your utility company: PEPCO, 877-737-2662; BG&E, 877-778-2222; or FirstEnergy/Potomac Edison, 1-800-255-3443.

Exercise caution when shoveling snow. Try to shovel snow into the yard rather than into the street. Cold weather puts an extra strain on the body. Individuals with heart disease or high blood pressure should follow their doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold. Avoid overexertion. Heart attacks from shoveling heavy snow are a leading cause of deaths during winter.

When going outdoors, dress warmly and stay dry. Adults and children should wear a hat, scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth; sleeves that are snug at the wrists, mittens (warmer than gloves), a water-resistant coat and boots, and several layers of loose-fitting clothes.

Serious health problems such as hypothermia and frostbite can result from prolonged exposure to the cold. Watch for loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes and the tip of the nose. Signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. Residents should get medical attention immediately if symptoms are present.

Do not attempt to drive if you are not comfortable driving on icy or snowy roads. When preparing to drive, be sure to thoroughly clear the snow from the entire car – including roofs, windshields, trunks and hoods – to ensure visibility and prevent snow from blowing onto surrounding cars. When driving, do not speed and be sure to leave plenty of space between your car and the one in front of you. Avoid pulling out in front of other vehicles, and do not slow down before going up a hill.

For timely severe weather and emergency notifications, go to and sign up for Alert Montgomery. Warnings and emergency updates will be sent directly to your cell phone and/or email address. The service is free, but text charges may apply, so check with your cell phone carrier before selecting text alerts. Information is also available on the County’s website at

Monday, February 10, 2014

Holiday Schedule for Presidents' Day

Here's our holiday schedule for Presidents' Day, Monday, February 17:

  • County Offices – closed
  • Libraries – closed
  • County liquor stores – closed
  • Recreation – aquatics programs will meet as scheduled; aquatic facilities and community centers open; all other classes and programs cancelled; administrative offices and senior centers closed
  • Montgomery Parks – for operating schedules, including Brookside Gardens, ice rinks, tennis centers, trains and carousels, visit
  • Ride On – Special modified holiday schedule (check schedules at
  • Metrobus – Saturday schedule with supplemental service
  • Metrorail – Saturday Holiday schedule
  • TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed
  • Refuse/recycling pickup – no collection*
  • Transfer Station – open
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
  • MCPS Administrative Offices – closed
  • State offices & courts – closed
*Collection provided one day later for remainder of week (last collection day is Saturday).

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Town Hall Meeting in Clarksburg

Let us know what matters most to you at our Town Hall Meeting for the Clarksburg area on Wednesday, February 26. The meeting will be held at the Rocky Hill Middle School (22401 Brick Haven Way in Clarksburg, just off Route 355) beginning at 8 p.m. with a pre-meeting reception at 7:30. You can voice your opinions on specific issues and ask questions of us in an organized, but informal, setting. I hope to see you there.

The meeting will be taped for later broadcast on County Cable Montgomery (CCM—cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). For more information about the Town Hall Meeting or about the broadcast times, call 240-777-7931.