Creatures of scary habits

Plane OverheadSomewhere in Potomac tonight there is a family sitting in a home that cost more than $1 million, upset with the noise coming from commercial aircraft flying into Reagan National Airport and they’ve convinced the county to spend $150,000 to an aviation expert in order to come up with alternative flight plans into Reagan.
Putting aside that it is still hard for me to swallow that there is an airport named after the president who took a giant squat on air traffic controllers, I’ll happily sign up to take the money from the county because I can tell you there can be little if no change in the traffic pattern at National.
That’s not something those people living in multi-million dollar homes want to hear, but it’s something that’s going to be said.


WFL gala honors Montgomery County sports heroes

  • Published in Sports

WFL Gala logoROCKVILLE — Bowie State quarterback Amir Hall was among the honorees Saturday during the Washington Football Legends Scholarship Gala at Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center.

The 10th annual event also featured appearances by members of the Washington Redskins 1988 Super Bowl team including Doug Williams, Ricky Sanders, Dexter Manley, Darrell Green and Gary Clark.

Rick “Doc” Walker, a former Redskins tight end, and Silver Spring native Larry Michael, who serves as the “Voice of the Redskins,” were Masters of Ceremonies during the evening.

This year marked the 30th anniversary of Washington’s 42-10 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII, a historic win for Williams, who became the first African-American quarterback to lead a team to a Super Bowl victory.

“He was the face and the quarterback of that team and he got a lot of visibility,” said Green, a cornerback who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008. “He is what you call a real hero and we’re real proud of him as a person. I have great respect for him beyond his arm strength. I have a great respect for him as a man and a friend.”


MoCo residents celebrate Easter in Silver Spring

  • Published in Local

Children prepare to take part in a sack race as part of the Easter celebration in Downtown Silver Spring on Saturday.  PHOTO BY ABBY CRUZChildren prepare to take part in a sack race as part of the Easter celebration in Downtown Silver Spring on Saturday. PHOTO BY ABBY CRUZ  SILVER SPRING — Although Peter Cottontail did not make an appearance, Easter in Montgomery County was still full of surprises this weekend as residents enjoyed a variety of events in Silver Spring.

Children of all ages got a chance to enjoy an Easter egg hunt, sack race, egg spoon race, and scavenger hunt at the Civic Building in Downtown Silver Spring Saturday morning. The event hosted by Jesus House DC, a church also located in Silver Spring, was made to bring the community together and celebrate the holiday with one another.

“We are really do this to give hope to the community, to encourage people [to come to the event] especially since Easter is tomorrow we just wanted to reach out,” said Joel Olujide, 17, a volunteer during the Easter celebration.

Olujide’s mother Chinyere Olujide, an associate pastor at Jesus House who organized the Easter event, said over 700 people registered online to participate. Olujide also said the prizes given at the event included gift cards donated by Chick-fil-A, Dave & Busters, Cooper Canyon Grill, 50 free quarter legs from Nando’s Perri Perri, and tickets to the nearby ice skating ring.


County has lowest rates of most common cancers

  • Published in Local

Dr. Chunfu Liu, Dr. Brandi Page, and Dr. Clifford Mitchell participated in a panel on cancer rates in Montgomery County. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAKDr. Chunfu Liu, Dr. Brandi Page, and Dr. Clifford Mitchell participated in a panel on cancer rates in Montgomery County. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAK  Incidences of the five most common forms of cancer are lower in Montgomery County than they are in the rest of the state and throughout the United States.

According to Dr. Chunfu Liu, chief epidemiologist for the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, “Montgomery County rates are consistently lower” in cancers of the lung, colon and rectum, breast, prostate and skin, he said, adding, “Cancer is the leading cause of mortality in Montgomery County,” accounting for 24 percent of deaths.

There are more than 100 types of cancers, he told those attending a March 28 public conversation on cancer in the community at the Silver Spring Civic Building, but he only focused on cancers with the highest mortality rates.

Liu did not state a reason for the County’s lower rates, explaining that there are too many risk factors to be able to come up with a specific reason. Smoking, obesity, excessive drinking, an unhealthy diet and a lack of activity increase a person’s chances of receiving a diagnosis of cancer, said Liu.


Montgomery County residents participate in national March For Our Lives

  • Published in Local

Local students and teachers were among the thousands of people participating in the March For Our Lives demonstration in Washington, D.C.  PHOTO BY ABBY CRUZMontgomery County students and teachers were among the thousands of people participating in the March For Our Lives demonstration in Washington, D.C. PHOTO BY ABBY CRUZ  WASHINGTON, D.C. — Parents, children, students, and teachers from all over Montgomery County rallied at the nation’s capital for the countrywide March For Our Lives demonstration in response to the increasing outbreaks of gun violence across the United States and calling for more attention to current gun control issues.

“I am marching today to proclaim that the culture of violence must be over and that assault weapons need to be banned. I want my daughter and their whole generation [to know] no matter what race you are, what class you are, our society deserves safety,” said Kolya Braun-Greiner, a 62-year-old Takoma Park resident, whose daughter currently attends The Siena School in Silver Spring. Braun-Greiner wants kids “to be able to walk the streets, to be able to go to school, to study with the freedom that they are not going to be shot down. All of this needs to stop, we have to put an end to the gun violence.”

While plenty of adults were present, young people attended the march in vast numbers. Students from various Montgomery County high schools participated in events including attendance of a pre-rally by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), and speaking at the march.

“Montgomery County kids have definitely been a huge part of this,” said Elana Tobb, 17, a senior at Sherwood High School. “This is the first time that I think our county has really been involved in a [leadership] position with something like this.”


Second Day of Spring?

  • Published in Local

MoCo sees largest snowstorm in the last two years on the second day of Spring

Snow finally comes to Montgomery County as, with schools closed, Paige Smith and Nicole Clark and her dogs enjoy this final blast of winter. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARKSnow finally comes to Montgomery County as, with schools closed, Paige Smith and Nicole Clark and her dogs enjoy this final blast of winter on the second day of spring.                PHOTO BY MIKE CLARK  Dangerous road conditions arose from a nor’easter that began dropping snow on Montgomery County late Tuesday, leading to a Wednesday morning traffic nightmare.

It was the most significant snowfall in the region since a blizzard in early 2016.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Public Information Officer Pete Piringer said a large percentage of drivers who took to the roads Wednesday morning – the second day of spring - became involved in crashes, many of them single-vehicle accidents due to the weather conditions. One such incident, county officials said, stopped traffic in both directions on U.S. Route 29 – known as Columbia Pike – between Greencastle Road and Sandy Spring Road (Maryland Route 198).

As a result of the early-spring snowstorm, Montgomery County closed all non-public-safety government offices Wednesday, county officials said in a statement.

Josh Faust, public outreach manager for county highways, said County trucks mobilized with materials Tuesday as road conditions deteriorated in many parts of the County.

“Because this is probably the biggest snowstorm we will see this year we will be calling in contractor support,” he added, noting that Montgomery County road crews were now preparing for a greater snowfall than residents saw mid-December, which Faust said was between 3.5 inches and 4 inches.


Leggett proposes modest spending increase

  • Published in Local

County Executive Ike Leggett.  FILE PHOTOCounty Executive Ike Leggett.      FILE PHOTO  Calling it a prudent attempt to guide Montgomery County through fiscal uncertainty, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) released the final budget proposal of his last term as county executive Thursday, putting forward a $5.56 billion operating budget – increasing spending by 2 percent – for Fiscal Year 2019, with most of the increase directed to Montgomery County Public Schools.

“This budget continues my commitment to prudent fiscal policies critical to sound fiscal management,” Leggett said. “I have increased our reserve levels to cushion the taxpayers against any future unanticipated economic setbacks and included the required level of funding for retiree health benefits."

Leggett had stressed caution in the weeks leading up to the budget announcement, promising that it would not include a property tax increase, with the caveat that it was unlikely that he would propose drastic spending increases in most areas thanks to the current budget’s $120 million shortfall.


County hammered for Montrose Pkwy decision

  • Published in Local

MoCo LogoWith two votes against and one in favor, the Montgomery County Council Transportation and Energy Committee voted down a proposal meant to alleviate traffic congestion in North Bethesda near White Flint.

The 2-1 vote at last Thursday’s hearing means the committee will defer approval of Montrose Parkway East, a proposed four-lane highway that would connect the Rockville Pike and the Montrose Road interchange to Veirs Mill Road. The debate over the project proved contentious, as some committee members see the project as a potential infrastructure upgrade that could help lure Amazon to build their new headquarters in the County.

“Now it may happen, it may not happen, we don’t know,” said Council member Nancy Floreen (D-At Large), the lone vote for the project on the committee. “I don’t fault my colleagues for trying to solve other community-based problems, but until we know the results of what’s going on the economic development front, I would suggest we and move we table this conversation until we know the answer.”


County ponders ballot problems

  • Published in Local

MoCo LogoWhile the process of arranging candidates’ names on a ballot is normally straightforward, the unprecedented number of candidates running for the four County Council at-large seats this year could lead to controversy as state election officials attempt to cram a whopping 35 primary candidates onto this year’s primary ballot in a way that is fair to all those running.

“I think it’s very fair to say that this particular office [County Council at-large] will be a challenge for us to determine the proper arrangement of the ballot,” said Donna Duncan, assistant deputy administrator for the Maryland State Board of Elections, which is currently in the process of crafting the myriad ballots for the primary.

While there is a committee that will have some input into the process, MSBOE Project Manager Natasha Walker will bear most of the responsibility for the final look of ballots for the June 26 primary, which the Board must certify by May 2. Voters won’t have to wait that long, however, as Duncan predicted that the Board would post preliminary versions for each of the state’s various elections by the end of March.

Although Duncan said that in the past she has seen ballots for local party central committee elections boast more than 20 candidates, this year’s Democratic at-large primary field is the largest she can remember seeing for any particular race.


County throws support behind local union

  • Published in Local

countysealROCKVILLE — Local union leaders, members of the County Council and the County Executive gathered in solidarity last week before the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could do significant harm to labor unions, and in the process, cut off a major source of funds to Democrats across the country. 

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The case will determine whether public sector unions can legally require employees who are not union members – but still reap the benefits of a collectively-bargained contract – to pay the union so-called “fair share” fees. 22 states allow public-sector unions require employees who are not members to pay such fees – which are generally 20-30 percent less than full union dues – if the union negotiates their employment contract.

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