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Rockville political differences rise to the surface in routine commission appointment

Rockville SealROCKVILLE – In most jurisdictions, board and commission appointments are usually toward the bottom of the list in terms of public interest and controversy -- but not in Rockville.

For many municipalities, mayoral appointments are a formality often given rubberstamped approval by the city council, but in Rockville what may have seemed like a harmless appointee to the City’s Historic District Commission turned into a heated debate highlighting the City’s main political division.

Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton called the City Council’s rejection of her pick for Historic District Commission – former three-term Rockville Mayor Larry Giammo – political.

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Rockville finalizes Chestnut Lodge deal

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ROCKVILLE – A deal to transfer the land at Chestnut Lodge to the City of Rockville is almost finally done after the City Council unanimously voted to give the go-ahead to the City manager to execute the final contract.

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"It's Time..."

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Rockville votes to take a stand against President Trump and federal immigration policy

Rockville SealROCKVILLE – Rockville City Council members called the debate over the proposed ordinance to prohibit city officials from enforcing immigration law, one of the most contentious issues they have dealt with.

On Monday, the Rockville City Council and Mayor voted to pass the Fostering Community Trust Ordinance 3-2, which will ban City officials from assisting in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Council members Virginia D. Onley, Julie Palakovich Carr and Mark Pierzchala voted in favor of the ordinance while Council member Beryl L. Feinberg and Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton voted against it.

“When it comes to this jurisdiction, I think it’s time for the City of Rockville to take a stand,” Pierzchala said.

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Interfaith Works opening

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The daily shoulder-to-shoulder throngs of people waiting for Interfaith Works Clothing Center in Rockville to open its doors each morning is finally a thing of the past. With Monday’s ribbon-cutting, the nonprofit that provides low-income families with free clothing, linen and other items now operates out of a larger and much cheerier, sunlit space.

The center will continue to operate in the former Edward W. Broome Junior High School, which still has the dank look and smell of a high school gym. However, everything has moved upstairs, where there is more space and even windows.

There, director Monica Barberis-Young along with the center’s small staff and 1,000 volunteers take the mounds of donated clothes, shoes and household items and sort them.

Everyone who qualifies, mostly due to low-income levels, is welcome to fill a large blue bag of items and carry out one large item once a month.

The clothing center that helped 13,500 people last year also is adding to its services and now will also offer its clients help with their legal, medical, housing and educational needs.

“In as rich a county as this,” there often are 50 or 60 families waiting for the center to open its doors Tuesdays through Saturdays, Barberis-Young said.

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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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Rockville bans smoking for outdoor dining areas

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cigarette with smokeROCKVILLE – Rockville passed another ordinance telling smokers to butt out.

On Monday, the Rockville City Council and Mayor voted 4-1 to ban smoking at the outdoor seating and patio areas for restaurants and bars. The new ordinance includes vaping or electronic cigarettes, which release water vapor instead of tobacco smoke.

“It’s really exciting. It’s a great day for this City. As a resident and a dad, I’m thrilled to live in a place that prioritizes the health of kids and families,” said Adam Zimmerman, a Rockville resident who lobbied the City for months to pass the ban.

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Rockville promotes diversity with flag display

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Rockville Flags 21aFlags from countries around the world are being installed across Rockville. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER Diversity is what the City of Rockville wanted to portray when officials decided to hang flags of the world on its light poles, but initial reaction to the flags created a diversity of another sort.

When shoppers mulling around Rockville Town Square recently were asked what they thought of the international display, a few said they hadn’t even noticed, and others thought the flags were regularly put up each year for Memorial Day. Only a few connected it with cultural diversity.

The City of Rockville currently is installing a total of 193 flags – the number of sovereign states in the United Nations – to show its commitment to diversity and inclusion. More than 150 are already decorating Rockville.

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Controversial statue defaced for second time

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20170509 190318The controversial Civil War statue in Rockville was hidden behind a gray wooden box, after vandals painted it. Now they got the box. PHOTO BY KATHLEEN STUBBS  ROCKVILLE – A wooden box encasing the Confederate statue located outside the Red Brick Courthouse did not deter someone from writing a second message related to the memorial.

By 7 p.m. Tuesday, someone had written the word “SAD!” in neon orange spray paint across the front of the box.

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Rockville considers relocating KID Museum

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ROCKVILLE – The Rockville City Council held a budget work session during its meeting Monday night, focusing mostly on proposed funds directed toward the KID Museum.

On Monday, the Rockville City Council discussed dedicating funds in the FY18 budget to possibly relocate the KID Museum, an interactive children’s museum currently located at the Davis Library in Bethesda.

The proposed plan would move the KID Museum to 255 Rockville Pike, near Rockville Town Square, where the County has several offices.

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17-year-old accused in Rockville rape awaits trial

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ROCKVILLE – Prosecutors will have until May 5 to decide whether to go forward with rape and sexual assault charges against Jose O. Montano, a Rockville High School student accused of raping a fellow student.

Montano, 17, along with Henry E. Sanchez, 18, was charged with first-degree rape and two first-degree sexual offense charges after police said the two Rockville High School students raped a 14-year-old girl during school hours.

District Court Judge Eugene Wolfe set Montano’s trial date for May 5, which means the state’s attorney will have until then to either proceed or drop the charges against Montano.

“Hopefully, they’ll make the right decision and realize Mr. Montano was arrested hastily without an investigation,” said Montano’s attorney, David Wooten.

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