Hogan says I-270 funding remains on track

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In July of last year, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) held a news conference next to I-270 in Potomac to promise he would rebuild the “most congested, plagued corridor in all of Maryland.”

On April 19, Hogan came back to the County to announce the $100 million project that Hogan said would reduce commutes up to 30 minutes.

“We are committed to finding the best ideas that offer real solutions, and I am excited to see innovation in action when it comes to solving the problems of congestion here on I-270,” Hogan said.”Moving forward on critical priority infrastructure is important to Montgomery County, to all of our local jurisdictions, and to economic development statewide, and we are very pleased to be able to announce that all of these important projects are being started.”


DeVos visits county correctional facility

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Betsy DeVosU.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos    FILE PHOTO



U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Boyds Wednesday and spoke to inmates as well as staff from county public libraries and Montgomery College about education available to the inmates.

Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education member Rebecca Smondrowski (District 1) attended DeVos’ panel meeting with county staff and officials, which was closed to the press. Smondrowski said she and others told DeVos about education and job training available to MCCF inmates.

“We just explained to her the educational and workforce programs and supports that Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College, Workforce Montgomery, and different organizations throughout the County partner (together), in an effort to support inmates and reduce recidivism,” Smondrowski said.


Council gets its turn to comment on budget

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ROCKVILLE – Last week the County Council heard from the residents. Now it has its chance to craft a budget.

After County Executive Ike Leggett released his $5.4 billion proposed budget in March, the Council took comments from the community in a series of public hearings before it deliberates during the next month or so to craft a budget.

Unlike last year in Leggett’s proposed budget, this fiscal year’s does not contain any considerable tax increase, and Council President Roger Berliner (D-1) said a tax increase over the County charter limit is not on the table this year.

Many of the people who showed up last week to testify asked the County to fund their particular interests, whether they are Montgomery College or one of the County’s nonprofit partners such as Manna Food Center.


Muslim center celebrates 40 years in the county

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SILVER SPRING – While anti-Islamic hate crimes have risen nationally in recent years, the members of the Muslim Community Center on New Hampshire Avenue say they feel as welcome in Montgomery County as they have since the center opened in 1976.

The center was the brainchild of several Montgomery County residents who, at the time, attended the Islamic Center of Washington on Embassy Row in Washington, D.C., and were interested in starting a community center to service the county. Sajjad Durrani, a founder of the center who still serves on its board of trustees, recalls that the center received support from the community during its construction. 

“When we applied for a permit, there was a public hearing with the County, of course,” Durrani said. “Many people around here came to the hearing to support us, which made a big impression on us. During construction, the church next door allowed us to use their power and brought water over to us.”


Despite the loss to the U.S.A. All-Stars, local athletes do well in Cap Classic

  • Published in Sports

WASHINGTON – Montgomery County was well represented in Saturday’s 44th Annual Hoop Culture Capital Classic at Verizon Center.

Despite suffering a 113-101 loss to the United States All-Stars, Seneca Valley senior guard Brandon Simpson was able to bask in the limelight one last time before graduation.

“It was cool,” said Simpson, who is still undecided about his college plans. “It was a good experience.”


Hundreds attend services for firefighter found dead

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MD-Montgomery-COunty-firefighter-Gentilcore-5MCFRS firefighter Charles “Rick” Gentilcore has died after being found unconscious in a local fire station.   COURTESY PHOTOA Montgomery County firefighter died last week after being found unconscious at the Burtonsville Volunteer Fire Department, Fire Station 15.

MCFRS Spokesperson Pete Piringer said Charles “Rick” Gentilcore, 52, sat down and was later found unresponsive in a chair at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Friday, April 7 according to witnesses.

Immediate medical treatment was initiated. Gentilcore was then transported in critical condition to Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring and died later that day.


Medical marijuana registration begins today

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Medical Marijuana

People interested in using marijuana for medical purposes can register online as of April 10 at 9 a.m. with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.

To obtain medical marijuana under the law enacted in 2013 by the state legislature, patients must register online with the commission on its website, Only patients whose last names begin with “A” through “L” may register the week of April 10 through April 16. Only those with last names starting with “M” through “Z” may register the week of April 17 through 23. Instructions on how to register will be on the homepage.

Starting April 24, patients may register regardless of last name.

So far, MMCC has licensed 15 growers, 102 dispensaries or stores and 15 processors. Growers are now building their indoor “farms” and will start growing plants, which have a three-month growing cycle, said Phil Goldberg, CEO of Green Leaf Medical LLC, one of the licensed growers. Green Leaf’s building is in Frederick, while its business offices are in Gaithersburg and Germantown.

Green Leaf, which is almost done raising $4 million from investors, expects its building to be done in late May and to have product ready to sell to stores in late September or early October, Goldberg said. Also on the Green Leaf team, he added, is Spencer Karson, a Maryland native who spent the last eight years in Colorado growing medical marijuana.

The commission website indicates that the first wave of growers and dispensaries is on a similar schedule and tells patients to expect September openings for the first stores. Registering now, the website says, “will allow patients time to establish a bona fide doctor-patient relationship months before any medicine is available.”

Physicians also must register with MMCC to prescribe medical marijuana in Maryland, under the law establishing the commission. Their normal prescribing privileges and registrations with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency are not sufficient. The MMCC online physician registry is open, and the commission urges physicians to sign up.

Goldberg, president-elect of the Maryland Cannabis Industry Association, said the legislature assured there would be dispensaries throughout the state by directing MMCC to license two stores per legislative district. In addition, he noted, licensed growers can choose to have one dispensary in the county of their choice. Of the 15 licensed growers, 10 will run dispensaries as well (not Green Leaf).

Montgomery County will have 20 dispensaries. While the stores’ precise locations are not available yet, the licensed dispensaries and their legislative districts (“LD”) are listed here.

LD 14: B1 Earthgroup Inc.; Herbiculture, Inc.

LD 15: Cannabus LLC; Mikran, LLC.

LD 16: Budding Rose LLC; Chesapeake Alternatives LLC; Harvest of Maryland.

LD 17: HMS Health LLC; Maryland Compassionate Care & Wellness LLC; Peake ReLeaf LLC; Sugarloaf Enterprises.

LD 18: Columbia Care LLC; Holistic Industries LLC; PharmaCann LLC.

LD 19: Maryland Alternative Relief Inc.; Premium Medicine of Maryland LLC.

LD 20: GTI Maryland LLC; Maryland Medical Cannabis Co. LLC (M2C2 HerbaFi).

LD 39: Maryleaf LLC; MI Dispensary.




Local bee population continues to decline as problems with mites mount

  • Published in Local


During April, the Bee Informed Partnership, of which the University of Maryland is a major participant, conducts a national survey on the state of the bee population and the number of bee colonies lost during the prior year.

In the 2014-2015 survey, about 44 percent of bee colonies were lost, and once again the data showed that the bees died in the summer as well as the winter. While it’s normal to lose bees in the colder months, it should not be happening during the summer, said University of Maryland Assistant Professor Dennis van Engelsdorp.

Results of the current survey are expected to be released mid-May.

“Locally, here in Montgomery County and the D.C. area, bee hive losses are pretty high, 40 to 50 percent,” said Jim Frazier, owner of the Maryland Honey Company in Gaithersburg.


Immigrants long for role models as they adjust to life in their new home country

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This is an ongoing series devoted to the stories of Montgomery County’s immigrant population.

In 2005, Claudia Paiva, then 15 years old, boarded a plane with her family from Peru to the United States, attracted by the prospect of university scholarships for Paiva and her older brother.

“It’s very expensive for a middle-class family to send a kid to college in Peru, and there aren’t as many scholarship opportunities as there are here,” Paiva said. 

Paiva and her family came to the U.S. on a six-month tourist visa and remained in the country without papers after it expired, living as undocumented immigrants for several years.

“Peru is a very traditional, very religious country,” Paiva said. “When we got here, my parents became very protective and repressive, and I resented them for that for a long time.”

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