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Local student receives new scholarship named for late Gaithersburg activist

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Linda Hanson Gburg Mayor Jud AshmanThe late Linda M. Hanson and Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman, seen here in 2015 receiving a certificate of recognition. Ashman joined members of the Gaithersburg Rotary Club on Monday to honor the first recipient of a scholarship named for Hanson. COURTESY PHOTOGAITHERSBURG — At Monday night’s City Council meeting, Mayor Jud Ashman joined members of the Gaithersburg Rotary Club to honor the first recipient of a scholarship named for a city resident and activist. They named Kiana Taylor, a recent graduate of Quince Orchard High School, the winner of the Linda M. Hanson Scholarship. 

Hanson, a professional music teacher who passed away in January 2017, was an active member of the Gaithersburg Rotary Club, had served on the Gaithersburg Olde Towne Advisory Subcommittee, and at the time of her death, was executive director of Gaithersburg HELP, a nonprofit organization that provides food, transportation and medical services to underprivileged citizens and families.

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Ashman backs a second term for Hogan

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Jud AshmanGaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman. COURTESY PHOTOGAITHERSBURG — Mayor Jud Ashman has endorsed Governor Larry Hogan in his bid for reelection this fall.

While Gaithersburg, like many other Maryland municipalities, has nonpartisan elections, Ashman is a registered Democrat. 

Formerly a Republican, Ashman switched his party affiliation in the mid-2000s.

“I was disenchanted by the policies of the George W. Bush administration,” Ashman said. “I started voting Democratic, even before I changed my registration. I believe the last Republican I voted for was [former Representative] Connie Morella. Whether I’ve been registered as a Republican or a Democrat, I’ve always been a centrist.”

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Gaithersburg bugged by pesticide concerns

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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.

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Immigration advocates push Gaithersburg to be Freedom City

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Gaithersburg SealGAITHERSBURG — Members of the immigrant advocacy group United We Dream came to City Hall Monday night to urge Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council to designate Gaithersburg as a “Freedom City.” 

The group’s organizers cited as an example Austin, Texas, which recently declared itself a Freedom City in response to the state legislature passing Senate Bill 4, which permits police to ask the immigration status of anyone arrested or detained. Austin passed an ordinance requiring officers who ask immigrants their status to also state that these questions need not be answered.

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Not John Waters’ Pink Flamingos but still a powerful statement displayed in Kensington

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A local Kensington couple uses their collection of plastic lawn flamingos to call attention to social ills, such as this tableau illustrating the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. PHOTO BY PETER ROULEAUA local Kensington couple uses their collection of plastic lawn flamingos to call attention to social ills, like this scene illustrating the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. PHOTO BY PETER ROULEAUKENSINGTON — Pink, plastic lawn flamingos are regarded as a tacky decoration by some, but for one local couple, they have become a medium for public expression.

For several years, Michael Laythan and Mandy Golden have arranged large and small flamingos in their yard in exhibits designed to call public attention to social ills and to protest policies.

“When I first met Mandy in 1990, she was wearing flamingo earrings,” Laythan said. “She gave me one, and I hung it on the mirror in my car, and they’ve been sort of a theme for us ever since. Ten years ago, I was finishing up a year-long treatment for Hepatitis C, and Mandy asked friends of ours to buy a flamingo or two. When I woke up the first morning after the treatment was finally done, the yard was just full of flamingos. Since then, the ‘mingos have come out off and on. We find it’s a good way to make known our opinions about what’s happening in the world.”

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Gaithersburg receives survey results

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Gaithersburg SealGAITHERSBURG — The Gaithersburg Planning Commission joined Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council at Monday night’s City Hall meeting to hear the results of a public survey on how to best utilize a stretch of land along Route 355.

The Corridor Development (CD) Zone was originally created to implement the 2001 Frederick Avenue Corridor Land Use Plan. A 2013 study by the city determined that the 355 Corridor did not need a new zone to foster development; instead, the study found that the CD Zone should to be refined and made the primary zone in the Corridor.

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Gaithersburg considers code changes

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Gaithersburg logoMembers of the Gaithersburg Planning Commission joined Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council at Monday night’s meeting to discuss a proposed amendment to the city code to clarify the types of businesses allowed to operate in the city’s Central Business District (CBD). The CBD includes all of Olde Towne, a historic neighborhood on Gaithersburg’s east side. The economic revitalization of Olde Towne has long been cited as a priority by city officials. 

Tom Lonergan, Gaithersburg’s economic development director, and Laura Howell of the city’s Planning and Code Administration discussed the proposed change to Chapter 24 of the Code.

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Gaithersburg Council Responds to Olde Towne Concerns

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Gaithersburg logoGAITHERSBURG — At Monday night’s meeting at City Hall, Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council responded to public concerns about the economic condition of Olde Towne. The revitalization of this neighborhood on Gaithersburg’s east side, which includes City Hall, has long been cited as a priority by the city’s elected officials and staff.

During the public comment period, Monica Lozada, a resident of the Deer Park neighborhood, addressed Ashman and the Council.

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Problems with Aspen Hill Library persist

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ASPEN HILL — The Aspen Hill Library closed in November 2016 for a “refresh” project designed to modernize the building’s facilities. Staff members were temporarily assigned to other branches during the closure. The remodeling included an expanded children’s area, new carpeting and flooring, and improved Wi-Fi connectivity.

The library reopened to the public on July 15 last year. Three months later, staff and area residents celebrated the 50th anniversary of the branch’s initial opening.

Nearly a year after the reopening, some of the branch’s advocates say that, while the refresh did provide needed updates, other problems have persisted and perhaps were even exacerbated by the process.

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G-Burg authorizes Kelley Park negotiation

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Gaithersburg SealGAITHERSBURG — The Gaithersburg City Council voted unanimously to grant City Manager Tony Tomasello the authority to negotiate with Montgomery County Public Schools over the proposed construction of a new elementary school on Kelley Park.

On March 22, the Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the superintendent’s recommendation for the construction of a new elementary school on the grounds of Kelley Park, a city-owned property on the east side of Gaithersburg, which features a playground, walking trails, a tennis court, and baseball fields that are used in the summer by the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League. The school is intended to reduce overcrowding in the Gaithersburg cluster, where several of the elementary schools that serve city residents are operating well over capacity.

The vote and the prospect of the new school have been divisive issues in Gaithersburg. Some residents feel that the school would provide much-needed relief to the city’s elementary schools, whereas others have argued that the construction and operation of the school would deprive residents of a valued community gathering and recreational area, negatively impact property values, worsen traffic congestion as a result of parents picking up and dropping students off, and provide negligible relief to the schools.

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