Comfort Cases provide ‘dignity’ to foster children

comfort casesComfort Cases founder Rob Scheer stands by shelves of his cases ready for inspection and delivery to children in the foster-care system. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAKROCKVILLE — It all started with a simple trash bag, the kind most people use, don’t give any thought to and then toss into the garbage. But for foster children, who move from place to place, that plastic trash bag holds all their possessions.

Rob Scheer knows this all too well. He spent part of his youth in an abusive, drug-oriented household before entering the foster-care system when his parents died. He carried a trash bag, and he continued to carry it as he aged out of the system and become homeless.


No gang-related murders in County this year

moco police logoMontgomery County Police are saying that an increased effort to confront gang activity is working, as new funding has led to no gang-related homicides in 2018, after years of increasing gang-related murders.

According to statistics from Montgomery County Police, there have been no gang-related homicides in 2018. The numbers come after the County Council added $596,920 to the police department’s budget to suppress gang activity.


County expands role at Glen Echo Park

20180720 142028 Glen Echo 1Senator Chris Van Hollen, speaking, and County Executive Ike Leggett (far right) were among those announcing the county’s new role in Glen Echo Park. PHOTO BY JUSTIN FITZGERALDGLEN ECHO — Montgomery County will take over the management, maintenance and operation of Glen Echo Park as part of its agreement with the National Park Service, General Services Director David Dise announced on Friday.

In an event held Friday afternoon by the park’s historic carousel, County Executive Ike Leggett and National Parks Acting Regional Director Lisa Mendelson-Ielmini signed an agreement extending the partnership between the County and the National Parks Service for another 10 years.


State releases alternatives for I-270 construction

MD DOTLast week, state transportation officials released 15 different options for its plan to add lanes to I-270, as Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) plan to spend $9 billion on adding lanes on I-270 and other major roads moves forward.

In September, Hogan announced at a press conference in Gaithersburg that the state will spend $9 billion on reducing traffic in the County, among the nation’s most traffic-congested areas, by adding lanes on I-270 and I-495 through a P3 public-private partnership.


Hard rains and flooding take a toll on the county

MCFRS logoMaryland was hit hard by rainfall this week, but most of the damage in Montgomery County occurred over the weekend, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services Spokesperson Pete Piringer said.

According to Piringer, MCFRS received about 30 percent more calls than usual on Saturday night, many of which were related to the thunderstorms sweeping through the area.


Gaithersburg bugged by pesticide concerns

Gaithersburg Govt logoGAITHERSBURG — At Monday night’s work session, Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council received recommendations pertaining to the city’s use of pesticides and herbicides.

Gaithersburg’s Sustainability Coordinator Dyan Backe, Landscape and Forestry Supervisor Mark Kober, and Operations Maintenance Manager Charles Reed presented the results of a pilot program the city implemented to test new means of weed removal and plant care.


Elrich Wins Recount

Blair won’t explicitly say he’ll back Elrich in the November general election

County Executive Democratic candidate Marc Elrich (left) wins recount; fellow Democratic candidate David Blair conceded defeat. FILE PHOTOCounty Executive Democratic candidate Marc Elrich (left) wins recount; fellow Democratic candidate David Blair conceded defeat. FILE PHOTOS Less than a week after asking the Board of Elections for a recount, County Executive Democratic candidate David Blair conceded defeat this week, as a recount held that Marc Elrich remains the winner of the Democratic Primary.

While Blair asked the County Board of Elections for a recount last week – citing concerns about voters being purged from the rolls due to a computer glitch within the Motor Vehicle Association database – Blair formally conceded this week after the recount he requested failed to change the outcome of the election.

“The outcome of the recount wasn't surprising. The outcome of the election is a disappointment...our message clearly resonated with many people across the County, and we came within a whisker of winning,” Blair said.

Blair and Elrich were locked in a closely-contested primary that took almost two weeks to decide, as the Election Day vote total had Elrich ahead of Blair by fewer than 500 votes. Elrich’s lead would slowly slip, as Board of Elections officials began counting thousands of absentee and provisional ballots that decreased his lead.

When election officials counted all the votes, however, they declared Elrich the winner, with just 79 more votes than Blair, which Blair contested. On Monday, Blair called Elrich, conceding the election.


Strike still possible but Metro negotiates

ATU Local 689 MetroA Metro union strike continues to be a possibility, with the potential to disrupt the commutes of about one million bus and rail passengers.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 President Jackie Jeter would order a strike only if union leadership are not able to make progress with Metro in discussions, said her executive assistant Barry Hobson Tuesday.

“Our president has not given us a definite [date on] when we might strike, but if the negotiation with the authority have come to a halt, then our membership has already given us authorization through the strike vote,” Hobson said.

Lately, discussions between Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld and Local 689 elected leaders have gone smoothly, union spokesperson David Stephen said Monday.

“The leadership of ATU Local 689 had its third negotiation meeting with designees of WMATA [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority] General Manager Paul Wiedefeld today, and the meeting was productive,” Stephen said.


Man dies after being shot by Montgomery County police officer

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The man that police said threatened his estranged girlfriend and three-year-old son died last week after a Montgomery County Police officer shot him in a Silver Spring home.

According to police, John Carlos Natera-Perez, also known as “Jean Perez,” threatened his estranged girlfriend with a knife and barricaded himself inside a Silver Spring home, before police entered and shot him. Paramedics transported Natera-Perez to a nearby trauma center, where he was in critical condition until his death hours later. Police say Natera-Perez was approximately 30 years old.

According to Montgomery County Police, officers responded to a 911 call from 2800 block of Mozart Drive in Silver Spring, where a woman was screaming over the phone, and a man in the background could be heard saying “I will kill you,” before the call was disconnected.


A "Death by a thousand cuts" proposed in Takoma Park

WPFW TkPk townhall 7 19 2018WPFW hosts Katea Stitt (left) and David Zirin (second from left) talk with guests Andy Shallal (third from left) and Parisa Narouzi (right) PHOTO BY NICKOLAI SUKHAREVTAKOMA PARK — As the Takoma Park City Council vote on the Takoma Junction redevelopment project approaches on July 25, residents in the city gathered for a town hall on Thursday to discuss equity, economic development, social justice and gentrification.

“Gentrification is what happens when an area that was previously denied resources … resulting in demographic shifts and displacement,” Sabiyha Prince, Ph.D., an anthropologist for the Anacostia Community Museum, said, opening the discussion, which took place at the Takoma Park Volunteer Fire Department. “Those resources I’m referring to are primarily loans in the form of home improvement, purchasing of property, improving property.”

The discussion, which was broadcast on air by local radio station WPFW, covered topics such as economic effects gentrification, worker-owned and cooperatively owned businesses, and the effect of development on minority-owned businesses.

In addition to Prince, the panel, which was moderated on air by WPFW hosts David Zirin and Katea Stitt, featured local business owner Kendra Blackett-Dibinga; George Mason University sociology professor Johanna Bockman, Ph.D.; Empower DC executive director Parisa Norouzi; Takoma Park Silver Spring Co-op employees Mokie Rovner and Tiffany S.; Busboys and Poets founder Andy Shallal; local writer Sue Katz Miller; student activist Emily Kombe; and four-term Council member Jarrett Smith (Ward 5).