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MoCo makes bid for Amazon

Amazon.com logo1Just two weeks since Amazon asked states and counties to bid for its second headquarters—a project that could mean 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment to the winning locality—Montgomery County and competitors all around the country were busy putting their proposals together.

Seattle-based Amazon asked for bids on Sept. 7, and gave just six weeks for initial proposals due Oct. 19. From those, Amazon will select finalists to compete for the prize with fully-specified bids.

According to the Seattle Times, more than 100 cities/counties and states/provinces in the U.S. and Canada are putting together proposals. Amazon spokesperson Drew Herdener said at this early stage in the process, “Every city is on an equal playing field.” He indicated the company will choose finalists from the initial applicants, and will select a winner next year.

Even within the state of Maryland and the D.C. area, Montgomery County faces substantial competition. On Sept. 13, Gov. Larry Hogan threw his support to a bid to bring the Amazon project to Port Covington in Baltimore, a site owned by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and investment firm Goldman Sachs. Hogan said he would personally lobby Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on behalf of the Baltimore bid.

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Prosecutors consider additional charges in Wallen murder

wallenLaura Elizabeth Wallen   FILE PHOTO  

Prosecutors in the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office are determining whether a 33-year-old Damascus man charged with killing his girlfriend Labor Day weekend can also be charged with killing the woman’s unborn child.

Olney resident Laura Elizabeth Wallen, 31, was four months pregnant when she was killed, family members said.   The Damascus man accused of her murder, Tyler Tessier, 33, is believed to be the father.

Montgomery County Police charged Tessier Sept. 13 with the first-degree murder of Wallen. If Tessier is found guilty, he could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. However, the Montgomery County state prosecutor's office has not ruled out requesting a sentence that would allow for consideration of parole. 

"We have not made that decision yet," Korionoff said. 

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Country inn zoning hearing

Nearby residents of Old Angler’s Inn on MacArthur Boulevard in Potomac packed the County Council hearing room Sept. 12 to speak out on a proposal to construct a banquet hall and four guest rooms in their neighborhood.

Maryland Catering Company, which owns Old Angler’s Inn, has requested conditional use approval at a seven-acre lot that is up the hill from the Inn.

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Takoma Park City Council debates bikes on sidewalks

TAKOMA PARK – The Takoma Park City Council discussed amending the city’s laws to allow bicyclists to ride on sidewalks Wednesday.

“I’m not a bicyclist myself, but there’s a few things I understand, bicycling in a city or urban area, is understood to be inherently dangerous,” said Council member Fred Schultz (Ward 6). “But when you’re walking, walking is not supposed to be a dangerous endeavor,” he added.

The city’s current laws do not allow the riding bicycles on sidewalks within the city limits but the law remains unenforced. Earlier this year, the council decided to explore a proposal to change the city’s laws to grant bicyclists the same privileges afforded to pedestrians when using sidewalks.

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MCPS officials offer recommendations on school safety

MCPS logoLocal school officials say there is much to be done to insure greater school safety in the county.

Officials with Montgomery County Public Schools recently published an interim report on school safety and security in its 25 high schools. Superintendent Jack Smith commissioned this report last spring after an alleged rape case — which prosecutors later dropped — involving Rockville High School students in aschool bathroom garnered national attention.

The MCPS Department of School Safety and Security collaborated with school administrators and the Office School Support and Improvement along with two outside consulting experts to develop this report.

The study’s 30 recommendations are divided into seven key priority areas, which include systemwide prevention and early intervention programs and collaboration with law enforcement and other partner agencies. The recommendations themselves range from more intensive screening for hiring security personnel, to regular staff meetings on monitoring and responding to critical incidents.

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Judge strikes sex abuse conviction of former MCPS teacher

 

A former Montgomery County Public Schools teacher who was convicted in 2014 of sexual abuse of a minor will no longer have to answer "Yes" when asked if he has ever been convicted of a crime. 

Circuit Court Judge David A. Boynton granted Richard Shemer, a former Albert Einstein High School social studies teacher, a "Probation Before Judgment" status last week when he appeared for a reconsideration case. 

Shemer's new legal disposition effectively strikes the sex abuse conviction from his records and opens the door for consideration of full exoneration, should he make the request.

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“I’m no threat to anyone…”

Local woman afraid with loss of DACA she'll be deported

MPI CASA 0023 1DACA recipient Karina Velasco expresses her concern over the possible end of the program. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER  Lately, Karina Velasco thinks about her two-year-old daughter more than ever. If Velasco is deported to Mexico – a country she barely remembers and where she has no family – she wants her daughter with her.

But her husband, who, like their child is a United States citizen, wants the little girl to remain with him and grow up in America.

“The one person who drives me to fight is my daughter. I wouldn’t want her to live without her mother. I want her to be strong and grow up to be a person who is compassionate and willing to help others.”

When Velasco’s parents left Mexico with her and her brother, she was 14 years old and hadn’t seen her parents in six years as they strove for a new life for the family. Then, one day, she found herself in America, thanks to the family reunification program for unaccompanied minors.

“It was not our decision to leave,” she said of herself and her brother.

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Concussion fears reduce numbers of students turning out to play football

Football helmets on fieldFewer students are coming out for football in many County public schools due to a changing population that often prefers soccer, the need for many students to have jobs after school — and the increasing fear of concussions that may result in lifelong medical problems.

While many of the coaches who spoke with the Sentinel agreed that blows to the head can be dangerous, they all stressed how much safer football is now as compared with when they played the game.

At Seneca Valley High School in Germantown, participation in football is “way down. The last three years, the numbers have shrunk significantly,” said Seneca Valley head coach Fred Kim.

He blamed decreased enrollment at the high school as well as what he termed “the war against football” in the news and on social media.

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Local Organizations Respond to DACA Announcement

The night Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, George Escobar knew DACA was doomed. Candidate Trump had pledged to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and President Trump would surely deliver.

“We knew [ending the DACA program] was imminent as soon as the election results were handed out,” Escobar, senior director of CASA de Maryland, said.

So, when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration would phase out the DACA program in six months, Escobar was ready. He and over 1,000 other activists with CASA and other local groups marched from the White House, past Trump International Hotel and the Department of Justice and ended at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters.

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