No matter the age, chasing the baseball dream gets stuck in your system

  • Published in Sports

In Montgomery County, the dream of being involved in baseball lives on for umpires Chazz Smith, 68, and Steve Murfin, 62, of the Ponce de Leon Baseball League.

Ponce de Leon Baseball is a recreational league for fast-pitch baseball for men and women over 30 years of age who play in Montgomery County and Northern Virginia. Some of their fields are Wheaton Regional Park, Blair High School and Martin Luther King Park. Registration for the league is open for spring, summer and fall seasons.

But what about the umpires?


Rockville Rays beat Bethesda Barracudas at local swim meet

  • Published in Sports

BETHESDA – The Rockville Rays swim club beat the Bethesda Barracudas, 471.5-320.5, in the Montgomery County Swim League Upper Division meet at the Bethesda Pool Saturday. 

The Rays Men beat the Barracudas, 265-13, while the Rays Women won, 206.5-189.5, over the Barracudas.

The Rays dominated both men’s and women’s events, including intriguing swimmers from both teams and exciting matchups throughout the meet. 

Of highlight, Rays swimmer Jason Tang won all five events on his day. Tang, who is committed to swim for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall, led the Rays men’s squad.  

Of note was the matchup between Rays swimmer Chris Ma and Barracudas swimmer Kyle Lawson. Ma won three of the four matches. However, Lawson showed his grittiness by picking up a win and giving Ma a run for his money at each event.

In the Women’s division, a key matchup through the meet involved fellow teammates, Barracuda swimmers Hannah Kannan and Amanda Liu. They competed against each other in four events. Kannan and Liu are teammates at Montgomery Blair High School. On the day, Liu won one event over Kannan. Kannan took the other three events. Overall, Kannan had a strong day for a women’s squad that put up in a fight against the Rays. 

Kris Lawson, Kyle’s 12-year-old younger brother, excelled in the pool, taking four events. Lawson set a Bethesda Pool record in the Boys 11-12 50 SC Meter Freestyle with a time of 27.32.   

Others who competed well were two Rays youngsters, 8-year-old Anabel Sha and 10-year-old Adriano Arioti.

@MarcLandemarc1  @Markpoetker 


New liquor ID policy changed

  • Published in Local

MoCo LogoThe newly-appointed director of the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control said he never thought a policy he set two months on checking ID’s would get so much attention.

In May, Liquor Control Department Director Robert Dorfman changed a County liquor store policy to require store clerks to check all customers’ IDs before they purchase alcohol, no matter how old they appear to be. Dorfman said the DLC received many complaints, mainly from members of the County’s senior population who said the policy needlessly burdened them with ID checks.

“There has been a lot of push back on the part of very elderly people,” Dorfman said of the County new, stricter ID checking policy.


Remembering Judge Barry A. Hamilton

gavel2 1 The Montgomery County legal community, and his family and many friends, suffered a great loss last week with the passing of Judge Barry A. Hamilton. Judge Hamilton was a judge on Maryland’s District Court since 1996, and perhaps more importantly showed all of us who were his friends and colleagues how to serve the public through the law and live a full personal life as well.


County unanimous in support of climate accords

  • Published in Local

MoCo LogoROCKVILLE – After President Donald J. Trump announced his decision June 1 to withdraw the United States from an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Montgomery County refuses to follow suit.

On Tuesday the Montgomery County Council unanimously supported a resolution that was introduced to affirm a commitment to the Paris Climate Accords, an international agreement that 195 nations signed in order to reduce levels of carbon dioxide emissions to stem the rise of climate change.

Montgomery County joins large cities nationwide such as Pittsburgh, Seattle, Atlanta and Philadelphia, which have made similar pledges to follow the Paris Climate Accords’ promise to reduce greenhouse gases.


County sets sights on ending homelessness

  • Published in Local

Montgomery County has set what it considers a very doable goal of providing housing for its 242 chronic homeless people and is committed to ending chronic homelessness within its borders by the end of this year.

In a community memorial service held outdoors in the Circuit Court Plaza on June 7, the new initiative called Inside, Not Outside, was announced.

County Administrative Officer Chuck Short explained that since the County’s homeless veterans have now been placed, it is time to focus on the chronically homeless, people who have been homeless for at least one year or have had at least four episodes of homelessness during the previous three years and have some problem or disability that needs a specific intervention, such as drug or alcohol addiction or illness.

Those who aren’t considered the chronic homeless have a specific, short-term, problem that forced them into the streets for a few months, including job loss or high medical bills.

Even if the County does provide housing — not just space in a shelter — there always will be new people ending up on the street or in a car, said Council member George Leventhal.

“We have to keep working on it every year,” he said. “People’s situations change all the time.”


"We Are Still In"

  • Published in Local

County defies the President and vows to adhere to Paris Climate Accords


ROCKVILLE - “We are still in” the Paris Climate Accord despite the president’s decision to withdraw, declared County Executive Leggett, along with more than 1,000 local, state-level and business leaders around the country this week.

The officials and business leaders released the statement June 5 after President Donald J. Trump announced that the United States would leave the greenhouse gas reduction effort four days earlier.

Leggett cited the county’s Fiscal Year 2016 sustainability report, showing that it is well ahead of its own goals for “reducing greenhouse gas emissions from government operations” and installing solar energy atop government buildings. The county recently bought more electric vehicles for its fleets and has seed-funded a new Green Bank helping to finance energy-efficient retrofits in private buildings.

Area businesses and consumers appeared to remain on track for planned energy improvements. Joe Inglisa, who heads sales for Bowie-based SemaConnect, a manufacturer and seller of electric vehicle charging stations, said Trump’s announcement had “no impact” and that the “Trump announcement might even motivate buyers to do their own thing.”

Charging stations are usually installed in office and apartment buildings and parking lots.

Inglisa said, “Our momentum is picking up for several reasons. Many states and cities have their own environmental standards, and there is no sign they are changing anything. Maryland still has strong incentives, and I do not see this changing.”

In fact, unless tax laws are changed, there remain substantial federal tax benefits for both electric vehicles and solar installations.

Inglisa added that electric vehicles’ reputation among consumers “is getting stronger as time goes on, and prices are coming down.” Inglisa’s market area includes Maryland, D.C., Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio.

“Consumers, especially in our area of higher-educated people, are motivated to do their part in contributing to a cleaner environment,” he noted.

Amelia Chasse, deputy communications director in Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) office, noted that Hogan “signed the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act into law in 2016, adopting some of the most aggressive air quality goals in the country — significantly more aggressive than those in the Paris accord.”

Hogan’s 2017 legislative program included programs to “encourage the use of EVs [and added] incentives for renewable energy,” Chasse said. He “remains committed to preserving Maryland’s natural resources for future generations, and Maryland will continue to lead by example,” she added.

Kaymie Owen, communications manager for the Maryland Energy Administration, said that statewide in 2016, the solar industry employed 5,429. As of the end of May, the state had 9,300 electric vehicles, or EVs.

Maryland has 1,260 energy and sustainability businesses, she said. It ranked seventh among the states last year in the square footage per capita of LEED-certified commercial and institutional green buildings. LEED certification is the nation’s primary designation for energy-efficient buildings.

Mark Bryan, communications director for D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council, the main advocate for LEED standards, told the Sentinel, “We do not expect that the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the Paris Accords will have any immediate effect on LEED or green construction in the D.C. metro area, as local standards and regulations are strongly supportive of building and operating sustainably. Building owners and developers in Montgomery County and other partners in Maryland have been working with local lawmakers to ensure that new construction meets or exceeds some of the strongest standards in the country, and investors are increasingly demanding green building practices before they commit to financing. None of the administration's recent decisions are going to change that.”

One potential cause of a future slowdown in the building efficiency realm, Bryan said, would be action taken by the Trump administration to have the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency cease developing new standards, benchmarking and research. Bryan concluded: “While we're all disappointed by the administration's decisions, the momentum toward building sustainably is unlikely to slow for one simple reason: It's good for business.”

Maryland ranked near the top among states in a scorecard compiled last year by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy for “combined heat and power policy,” Owen added. The scorecard includes requirements that electric companies give solar consumers credit for power they put back into the electric power “grid.”

Practically all the Maryland delegation in Congress responded to Trump’s June 1 decision immediately after his announcement. The response was along party lines, with the lone Republican, Rep. Andy Harris (R-1), saying that former President Barack Obama “made a bad deal” for the U.S. in the Paris accords. He said any new agreement should be run through the Senate as a formal treaty.




County settles on Silver Spring Transit Center

  • Published in Local

County Executive Ike Leggett praised a $25 million settlement between the County and developers of the Paul S. Sarbanes Silver Spring Transit Center last week.

Months after the County sued the transit center’s contractor Foulger-Pratt, its designer Parsons Brinckerhoff and the construction inspector Robert Balter, they settled May 30. The County claimed the developers and designers of the Silver Spring Transit Center were negligent and breached the contractor when they designed, built and inspected the transit center, but settled before the matter was decided by a jury.

"I am pleased that the County has settled the lawsuit we brought to recover taxpayer costs associated with the repair and remediation of the Silver Spring Transit Center,” Leggett said in statement after the settlement. “This is very much in the public interest. The $25 million payment to the County will cover 90 percent of the hard costs we incurred to deliver a safe and durable Silver Spring Transit Center.”


Hometown Holidays carries on in the rain

Hometown Holidays Rolling ThunderA local Rockville family lines up to watch “Rolling Thunder” coming up I-270 for Memorial Day. PHOTO BY JACQUI SOUTHROCKVILLE – Neither rain, nor rain or more rain could keep local residents from enjoying the local party.

Rockville celebrated its 29th annual Hometown Holidays this Memorial Day weekend with live music, a parade and food from a variety of Rockville restaurants.

Weekend rain kept the crowds smaller than previous years, but thousands still showed up to celebrate.

“I thought it was another opportunity that kind of really showed how warm and welcoming we are as a community,” said Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton.

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