Comfort Cases provide ‘dignity’ to foster children

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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.


Montgomery County native waitress writes critically-acclaimed debut novel

Montgomery County resident Lillian Li, author of "Number One Chinese Restaurant."  COURTESY PHOTOSNorth Potomac native Lillian Li, author of "Number One Chinese Restaurant." COURTESY PHOTOS  Listed as one of the best books of the summer by Time Magazine, O Magazine, Buzzfeed, Star Tribune, and Toronto Star, the novel “Number One Chinese Restaurant” by Lillian Li, became a hit after being released last month. Critics call it “insightful,” a “beautifully evoked multigenerational narrative.” Kirkus Reviews dubbed author Li a “writer to watch.”    

The story, set in the fictional Beijing Duck House of Rockville, Maryland follows the intergenerational drama and struggles of the immigrant families, who own and operate the restaurant. The novel discusses themes such as “family vs. individual ambition,” parent vs. child expectations, and “family vs. business in general.”

Li, a native to North Potomac, thought of this story after she quit her job as a waitress at a local Chinese restaurant. She describes her experience there as being “new” and “outside of the realm of what [she] had experienced before” but at the same time “painful.”

Not only was the job physically taxing, in less than a month it made Li feel “lonely” and “alienated” and she wondered “what it took” for her coworkers, who had worked there for “years, sometimes decades” to keep going. In planning for her story she asked herself what her coworkers had “given up in their outside lives, in their family, to have that connection with where they work.”    


BRT plans move forward

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Rockville SealROCKVILLE — The next step in the County transit initiative – Bus Rapid Transit – is to move forward with a plan for a BRT on MD-355.

But before the County can proceed into the planning and design process, it first has to consult the two municipalities that sit along the route – Rockville and Gaithersburg. 

On Monday night, County transportation staff briefed Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton and the City Council on County plans for a BRT on MD-355.


Twinbrook residents have “coffee with a cop”

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coffee with a copNeighbors and police got to know each other at Tuesday’s Coffee with a Cop program at a McDonald’s restaurant in Rockville. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAKROCKVILLE — The kids came for the ice cream, but their parents and other adults who entered the McDonald’s restaurant in the Twinbrook neighborhood had a different agenda.

The Coffee with a Cop program, which gives police and residents a chance to get to know each other in a nonthreatening atmosphere, occurs monthly throughout the County’s six police districts. During these sessions, police let residents, and particularly young people, know that they are there for them and want to hear about their problems.


Rockville files suit against opioid companies

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Seal of Rockville MdFollowing the lead of cities and counties across the United States, the City of Rockville has joined a statewide class-action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The City is seeking retribution for what Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton called a public health emergency.

“Everyone knows someone who has been affected by the opioid crisis,” said Newton in a statement. “It’s time to hold the doctors, manufacturers and distributors accountable and change the way the industry does business. Pain management is an important part of healing, but overprescribing has put an enormous burden on families and ruined countless lives.”

The City’s attorneys filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Rockville, and the City will now join the cities of Bowie, Caroline, Frederick, Garrett and Harford Counties and the mayor and council of Westminster in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that opioid manufacturers and distributors have used illegal marketing techniques to make their drugs seem safer than they really are. In addition, the lawsuit alleges that opioid manufactures and distributors have failed to report suspicious purchases.


Rockville lists priorities for 2019 legislature

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Seal of Rockville MdROCKVILLE — Still six months before the Maryland legislative session begins, the Rockville Mayor and City Council are already getting their priorities for the 2019 session straight.

Among the top issues for the City discussed at Monday night’s meeting were local control over small-cell antennas, changing Maryland to an open-primary state, and funding for infrastructure projects.

The discussion was the first step for the City to get its priorities in line before the 2019 legislative session. Rockville is a member of the Maryland Municipal League, which lobbies in Annapolis on behalf of cities and towns, and is the organization that will represent the City’s priorities in the 2019 legislative session.


Rockville’s new police chief sworn in after a two year hiatus

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Hagerstown Police Chief Victor Brito 1New Rockville Police Chief Victor Brito COURTESY PHOTOROCKVILLE — For more than two years, the City of Rockville has been without a permanent police chief.

Ever since longtime City Police Chief Terry Treschuk retired in June of 2016, there has been a vacancy at the top of the department that took until this week to fill.

On Monday, Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton swore in Victor Brito as Rockville’s new police chief. Brito, the former Hagerstown police chief and 25-year veteran of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, told the crowd gathered inside the cramped City Hall that policing was about building trust with the community through personal relationships.


Rockville adjusts MPDUs

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Seal of Rockville MdIn the hope of making the City’s expensive apartments more affordable to residents, the Rockville mayor and council decided Monday to change the standards for affordable housing units to make them available to more people.

The mayor and council unanimously approved the changes, which expand the regulations to allow people 120 percent below the City’s Area Median Income to be eligible for moderately-priced dwelling units and lower the rents for people renting MPDUs. The changes apply only to new units to be built within the City.


Rockville mourns loss of Marcuccio

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Phyllis Marcuccio.  COURTESY PHOTOPhyllis Marcuccio. COURTESY PHOTO  

Former Rockville Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio was perhaps the rarest thing in politics – a politician that people trusted.

Rockville’s former two-term mayor Marcuccio died last week of natural causes, leaving behind a legacy of maintaining the City’s historic feel while also attempting to make it a hub of science and technology. She served as mayor from 2009 to 2013, and was known for steering the City’s development carefully and being a champion for getting a dedicated building for the Rockville Science Center.

“It was clear to me she was smart. She understood Rockville. She cared deeply about Rockville,” said Ruth Hanessian, a longtime friend and neighbor of Marcuccio.

Marcuccio, 84, was a native of Rockville and graduated from Richard Montgomery High School. The transformation of Rockville from a small rural town into a rapidly-growing suburban community is something that helped prompt Maruccio to become involved in politics.

“Mayor Marcuccio was a deeply devoted public servant throughout her life and career,” said current Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton in a statement. “A longstanding Rockville resident, she prided herself as a grassroots activist and was an outspoken advocate for the city, always keeping the best interests of her community close to her heart.”


Rockville hires new police chief

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Hagerstown Police Chief Victor BritoVictor Brito COUTESY PHOTO

Former Hagerstown chief is committed to community policing

After about five months, 100 candidates and three binders full of suggestions from residents, the search for Rockville’s new police chief finally came to an end last week after the City announced it has hired Victor Brito to lead the department.

Brito, who currently serves as Police Chief for the Hagerstown Police Department, will begin work in Rockville on June 18. Brito is taking over for Acting Police Chief Bob Rappaport, who served as a temporary replacement for Terry Treschuk. Treschuk had been Rockville’s police chief for 27 years until his retirement in June 2016.

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