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Cardin meets interfaith group following Charlottesville riot

  • Published in Local

20170831 153445 1Sen. Ben Cardin (D) stands with interfaith clergy at discussion on community unity after Charlottesville rally violence in August. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAK  While there was much agreement expressed by the 45 interfaith clergy members who attended Sen. Ben Cardin’s (D-Md.) Aug. 31 meeting on how to unite the community after the violence in Charlottesville, Va., there was also dissent.

While united against President Donald J. Trump’s statement equating white nationalists with the counter protesters at the Virginia rally last month, those attending the 90-minute discussion in Rockville also complained about conditions for their individual communities.

“Why, all of a sudden, does it take one person, one white person, to die, to forget all about the other 19 who were injured,” asked Bishop Paul Walker, of HYOP Life Skills Reentry Program. The death of an African-American doesn’t rile up the community the way the killing of a white person does, he said.

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Residents express concerns about construction of new county playgrounds

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Almost every Montgomery County playground has a shredded wood chips surface, partly because the natural product is less expensive than recycled rubber tire, which also is used at playgrounds and parks.

But, said Kathy Dearstine, Montgomery Parks project coordinator for playground renovations, both recycled rubber and wood chips have drawbacks, and she would prefer using a combination of both products at each playground. Ideally, she said, wood chips would cover most of a playground, and recycled rubber would be used where flooding may occur or where wheelchairs and strollers are pushed. The recycled rubber can be used to make hills and slopes, she said.

Of the County’s 275 playgrounds, 252 have floorings made of engineered wood fiber, which Dearstine described as “a wood chip that has been shredded a few times.”

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Leisure World town hall

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The vast majority of the 300 Leisure World residents attending a town hall meeting July 28 made it clear that they oppose the management of their residential facility in Silver Spring and won’t consider supporting a proposed $7.2 million administration building until they see the results of an engineering study on the current structure.

So far, however, no engineering study has been undertaken or agreed to by the management of the large complex that is home to 8,500 people who are at least 55 years old.

“No matter what you hear, [construction of the new building] is not a done deal,” said Sheryl Katzman, president of Just Us, the residents’ group that conducted the meeting. Her organization wants both an engineering study and a resident-wide referendum held on the proposed building.

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“It’s Solvable . . .

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Reaching out to the chronic homeless to find a solution

MPI 0021 1A homeless man sleeps on the pavement in Silver Spring. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER  Oumou Cisse squatted down to speak with the homeless man resting by the Silver Spring Metro station. She identified herself as “street outreach” before asking him if he needed a new pair of socks.

Without making eye contact, the disheveled man tilted his arm awkwardly to accept the clean, white socks. Although he hadn’t said a word to Cisse, an outreach specialist at Bethesda Cares Inc. who often walks six miles a day around downtown Silver Spring, considered the brief encounter successful .

It’s all about building trust, Cisse and John Mendez, director of outreach and special projects at Bethesda Cares, explained. That’s why they keep an eye on those sleeping around the Silver Spring library, the Metro station, the recycling dumpsters, where the smell isn’t as strong as the trash dumpsters, and the numerous bus stop shelters and alleyways.

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Some students still want to get “Lost in Space”

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Brad Gurda’s seventh-grade students at Parkland Magnet School for Aerospace Technology in Rockville are in for a surprise when school starts again in September. Their teacher will be wearing the blue flight suit he was given while attending the Honeywell Educators at Space Academy program this summer.

Gurda spent five very intense days in Huntsville, Alabama, learning not just about space and what astronauts experience but also how to make science interesting to his students.

“It was remarkable,” said the 31-year-old teacher, who lives in Frederick. For five days, he joined a group of teachers from 45 states and 33 countries as he participated in classroom lectures and laboratory and field training. He worked with a team of 15 teachers who performed many of the same exercises that astronauts do.

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Leisure World residents revolt against new plans

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Leisure World logoSome residents of Leisure World, a residential facility in Silver Spring that is home to 8,500 people who are at least 55 years old, are so frustrated with management’s call for a new $7.2 million administration building that they intend to hold a town hall meeting of their own.

Just Us, a residents group run by Sheryl Katzman, is inviting residents to attend a July 28 meeting. The idea, Katzman explained, is to make sure that residents are aware that under the proposal, the administration building will be demolished and a new one built near the golf course even though an engineering study was never done to see if the current building could be refurbished instead.

“The residents are trying to put a stop to it. I am leading the charge,” Katzman said.

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