Spanish terrorism felt locally

Terrorists on Aug. 17 drove a van into a crowd of pedestrians on Las Ramblas, the principal thoroughfare of Barcelona, killing 15 people and wounding at least 130.

The attacks provoked revulsion and sympathy throughout the world.

Several area residents with ties to the Catalan region were particularly shaken by the news.

Elisenda Sola-Sole, a Spanish native, has for a dozen years recreated Las Ramblas on Howard Avenue in Kensington.

Sola-Sole is the proprietor of the Kensington Row bookshop and founder of the Day of the Book Festival, which is held every year on April 23, the International Day of the Book, or on the Sunday closest to that date. Like the Spanish Dia de Libre festival held annually on Las Ramblas, upon which it is based, the Day of the Book Festival provides a venue for authors to read from and sell their works.

“My family is from Barcelona, we were just there in July for my daughter's wedding, and the whole family went,” Sola-Sole said. “We have a family apartment there where my mother lives in the summer and winter, and I usually go once a year. Besides my daughter and her new husband, we have so much family right in Barcelona. My mother is the oldest of 15, so you can imagine how many aunts, uncles, and cousins I have there. I did notice on this trip that there was more police presence. I think there has been a sense for a while now that something could happen.”


Firm admits mistakes in minimum wage study

MoCo LogoThe County-hired consulting firm that conducted a study on raising the minimum wage in Montgomery County said it made a mistake when calculating the results.

“Obviously we take full responsibility for the error in our study,” said Dean Kaplan, managing director of PFM Consulting, the Philadelphia-based firm that conducted the study.

Back when PFM Consulting originally published its study, for which the County paid $149, 600, Leggett said the numbers were sobering. He said the projected job loss results were significant for the County, adding that even half the projected number would be a lot.

“The numbers are so staggering that if you were to still cut it in half, you still have a pretty substantial number,” Leggett said after the study was first released.


Metro officials struggle with falsified reports claims

metro logoMetro’s Office of Inspector General knew in 2015 that structure inspectors had been falsifying reports, according to an OIG report, but that was not made public until recently when a newspaper acquired the report through a written request.

Months after Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld fired nearly half of the track inspection department for falsifying inspection reports, an old Office of Inspector General report was found to indicate the interim general manager knew structure inspectors falsified reports, too – as early as two years ago.

In a recently released 2015 Metro OIG report, then-Inspector General Helen Lew told interim General Manager Jack Requa and then-Deputy General Manager Rob Troup an investigation revealed inspectors violated Metro protocol when they falsified reports and recycled old photos of problem areas over several years. The investigation also revealed that the maintenance department didn’t repair some of the more serious concerns.


Gaithersburg HS alum among missing sailors in Navy ship crash

navy bushellGaithersburg High School alum Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26, is among the missing sailors after the collision of the USS John S. McCain. COURTESY PHOTO  A Gaithersburg High School alum is among the missing sailors after a U.S. Navy ship collision earlier this week.

Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26, who graduated from Gaithersburg High School in 2009, is one of the sailors missing after the USS John S. McCain, on which he was stationed, collided with a tanker ship early Monday morning.

Bushell is an electronics technician, second class, in the U.S. Navy.



Two more at-large candidates file for County Council seats

Will Jawando Mohammad SiddiqueWill Jawando (D) and Mohammad Siddique (D) both filed for at-large seats on the Montgomery County Council. COURTESY PHOTOS  Since the new term limits amendment to the County charter, preventing reelection bids for at-large incumbent Council members Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal and Marc Elrich, there will be at least three new At-Large Council members in 2018. Two more at-large candidates officially filed for County Council this week, bringing the total number of candidates to 11 for four at-large seats.


County offers free month of bus ride on new Ride On Service

GAITHERSBURG -- Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett came to the Montgomery County Fairgrounds Monday to offering residents a chance at a free ride.

On Monday, Leggett announced that the County will waive bus fares for the County’s new expedited bus service Ride On Extra as a way to entice commuters to take public transit rather driving themselves. Ride On Extra’s MD-355 route will begin Oct. 2 and will not charge fares for the month of October.

“Along Route 355, our busiest commuting route, people will have another option for getting to work and home, while using WiFi to stay connected,” Leggett said in a statement. “On an introductory basis, this service will be free during October, to encourage people to try it out and decide whether it might be preferable to their current commute by transit or car.”


MoCo Dems begin the Summer of Resistance and Renewal

The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee launched its “Summer of Resistance and Renewal in Montgomery County” in mid-July, but the canvassing that makes up those efforts began in earnest this past weekend. Those canvassing efforts are aimed at drop-off voters with the hope of ensuring a Gov. Larry Hogan loss in 2018.

“There’s good turnout for general elections, for presidential elections, more of a drop-off with midterms,” said Jackie Coolidge, a precinct official in District 18. “This is going to be a very exciting year leading up to the election.”

Before the canvassing started, the small group of canvassers gathered in the Margaret Schweinhaut Senior Center, and one of the organizers, Marie Mapes, posed an important question: “What are the barriers to (drop-off voters) feeling engaged in the Democratic Party?”


Anniversary vigil honors victims of fatal fire

SILVER SPRING — Flower Branch tenant Felicia Prospere said she can still remember the cries and screams from the fire and explosion that killed seven at the Silver Spring apartment complex last August.

“As soon as I opened – my husband opened the door – I just saw flames – big flames, people crying and screaming, people, you know, letting kids out of the windows, out of the balcony, people just crying for help,” Prospere said. “I couldn’t help them, all I could do was run to save my own life.”

On Aug. 10, the first anniversary of the fire at the Flower Branch Apartments complex located on Arliss Street in Silver Spring, tenants and community members gathered for a candlelight vigil to remember the sudden death and destruction from one year ago. Faith leaders, tenants, activists and politicians were present to remember the tenants that died in the fire: Fernando Jose Hernandez Orellana, 3, Deibi “David” Samir Lainez Morales, 8, Aseged Mekonen, 34, Saeda Ibrahim Deibi Samir, 41, Maria Auxiliadorai Castellon-Martinez, 53, Augusto Jimenez Sr., 62 and Saul Paniagua, 65.


Malvo denied sentence appeal

ROCKVILLE – Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge John Greenberg ruled against convicted “D.C. sniper” Lee Boyd “John” Malvo’s appeal of the life sentences he received for the murder of six people in 2002.

“The decision of Judge Greenberg today affirms that Mr. Malvo was properly sentenced to a maximum sentence available for his heinous acts – six consecutive sentences of live without the possibility of parole,” said State’s Attorney for Montgomery County John McCarthy.


How far we’ve come . . .

Sentinel celebrates 162 years of publication and service to the Montgomery community through a variety of cultural changes

MoCo Sentinel 1st IssueA reprint of the first issue of the Montgomery County Sentinel from Saturday, Aug. 11, 1855. FILE PHOTO  

For 162 years, The Montgomery County Sentinel has provided the residents of the County weekly news coverage from its newsroom in Rockville.

“We are proud to carry on the tradition of independence, and of being a community leader,” said publisher Lynn Kapiloff. “Our commitment to this community has never been stronger.”

The Sentinel remains the only community newspaper still publishing in Montgomery County and has been named the News Organization of the year by the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Press Association three out of the last five years.

Under the leadership of current owner Lynn Kapiloff and her late husband Dr. Bernard Kapiloff, The Sentinel became a beacon for Civil Rights and independence. During the 60s The Sentinel’s reporting on “The Giles case” – often referred to as the “’To Kill a Mockingbird’ case of Montgomery County,” led to freeing African Americans charged and wrongly convicted of rape.

But the paper was founded in different times and once stood for far different interests.

Founded in 1855 by Matthew Fields, like many newspapers of the era, The Sentinel began as a partisan publication in a divisive political environment prior to the Civil War in 1861. Issues such as slavery, tariffs, and state's rights were fiercely debated across the nation.