The Mystery of the John. C. Brown Bridge

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Photo170And who is Margaret S. Fletcher?


This is The John C. Brown Bridge. This bridge in Rockville is dedicated to the memory of the first Maryland man killed in the Korean war.

He died in June of 1950 and the monument dedicating the bridge in his name came on August 26, 1950.

Brown, a corporal, was killed in action and the plaque was posted on the bridge. Later the bridge was re-dedicated and the plaque was placed on a monument near the foot of the bridge, courtesy of the local VFW.


"I came here with dreams"

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County resident remembers fleeing violence for hope here


When the popular restaurant Silver Diner on Rockville Pike first opened for business on Feb. 14, 1989, its future operating partner was a teenager in civil-war-torn El Salvador.

Fleeing the violence in his native land, Omar Martinez, then 14 years old, crossed Guatemala and Mexico before entering the United States by swimming across the Rio Bravo into Texas in the middle of the night on Dec. 28, 1989.

“I came here with dreams to live in different sort of world where I could go to school and make positive contributions to American society,” Martinez said.

Soon after his arrival in America, Martinez was detained by the immigration authorities and was held in a minors’ detention center for roughly two months. He was eventually released into the care of his uncle, who was then a legal resident of Rockville.

After relocating to Rockville, Martinez began attending Montgomery County Public Schools and took his first job at Silver Diner, as a dishwasher. He learned English in school and eventually took advanced classes at Montgomery College.

“It took me about five years to become fluent in speaking English,” Martinez said. “It’s taken me a lot longer to learn how to write it properly.”

As Martinez started a family, he advanced at Silver Diner, working nearly every job at the restaurant before he was offered the position of general manager at Silver Diner’s Tyson’s Corner location. In 2005, he returned to the Rockville location to become its operating partner and has worked there ever since. During his tenure, the diner’s revenue has increased substantially.

“One of my dreams was to be a contributor to society, and I’ve been able to do that here in Rockville,” Martinez said, citing Silver Diner’s financial contributions to support health and wellness programs in area schools. He received an award from MCPS in 2014 as the business owner who had done the most to support the schools.

Martinez formally became an American citizen at a ceremony in Baltimore in 2001. He said that he has always felt welcome in America, but that the rhetoric and proposals of President Donald Trump, who on the campaign trail called for mass deportations of illegal immigrants and the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, have alarmed him and many in his community.     

“Over the last year, the news that we’ve been hearing, particularly from the new president, has been very scary to my Latin American community,” Martinez said. “It’s something that keeps our friends and families awake at night.  This is the kind of threat that a lot of us came here to get away from. There was a big celebration many years ago when Germany knocked down its wall, but now, seeing that they want to build a wall here in our own backyard, separating out families is very heartbreaking.”

Martinez said he would like to show those concerned about losing jobs and resources that immigrants make significant contributions to the American economy.

“I am a businessman and I would have to say that I am very successful, and I feel that if I don’t have the workforce from other countries, I would have to close this business,” Martinez said. “Mr. Trump says he wants to rebuild American infrastructure, but he also says he wants to deport 11 million people.  If he does that, who’s going to build all these new roads and bridges? I did not come here to take jobs from Americans. I came here so that I could build something, give back and create more jobs for this wonderful country.”




Rockville winds down work on new Pike Plan

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Rockville Seal

ROCKVILLE – City Council members made their last changes to the Rockville Pike Neighborhood Plan last week, setting up an Aug. 1 vote to update the master plan for the first time in 27 years.

Council members agreed to most of the changes offered July 18 though Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton and Council member Mark Pierzchala debated about whether to include single or dual-direction bike lanes along MD-355.

They ultimately agreed to disagree with each other about the safety of the lanes, leaving the north and south bicycle lanes on both sides of the 1.9-mile stretch of MD-355.


Rockville nixes building heights

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ROCKVILLE – The mayor and City Council removed limits on minimum and maximum building heights in certain parts of the Rockville’s Pike Neighborhood Plan while also voting for a compromise regarding the width of the Pike.

The compromise would allow the construction of access lanes along the Pike but would also allow developers whose projects meet certain criteria to negotiate with the mayor and council for more development space in lieu of the access lanes.

“I think it’ll be hugely effective and primarily because it allows both the mayor and council to be much more flexible in what they go forth with and give more space on the ground to build more housing or to have more open space,” said Pierzchala. “In terms of smart growth, it’s hugely advantageous for the city.”

During the Monday night meeting, the mayor and council unanimously backed a motion to eliminate part of the Pike Plan in which Planning Commissions recommended a minimum building height of two stories in most of the plan area and three stories in the South Pike Core.


Rockville Pike battle looms as residents fight expansion

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Rockville 252 artist rendition from draft master plan 4-6-16-page-001An artist's rendition of the proposed widening of Rockville Pike as featured in the Rockville Pike Neighborhood Master plan latest draft.

ROCKVILLE – Opponents of the proposed Rockville’s Neighborhood Pike Plan told the mayor and City Council Monday they don’t want part of the road widened to 252 feet or building heights limited to 7 and 10 feet in the South Pike area.

The city would have to acquire parts of two or three private properties along the Pike, according to Planning Commissioner David Hill, including part of the PNC Bank site at Congressional Plaza between Halpine Road and Congressional Lane.

Existing curbs and sidewalks along Rockville Pike would also be removed in the widening area, though Hill noted the city and state “already own the right of way.”


Residents oppose widening 355

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Rockville 252 artist rendition from draft master plan 4-6-16-page-001An artist's rendition of the proposed widening of Rockville Pike as featured in the Rockville Pike Neighborhood Master plan latest draft.

ROCKVILLE -- A petition to limit the future width of the Rockville Pike is gathering signatures in the run-up to an April 11 public hearing scheduled before the mayor and City Council.

Residents are asking the council to allow only 216 feet of right-of-way for the road that traverses the eastern portion of the city from north to south.  


Council examines future Pike development

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DSC 4405Development on Rockville Pike is being hotly contested in Rockville. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER

ROCKVILLE – Preventing new buildings from blocking sunlight to local residents’ homes and developing more access roads along MD-355 are two of the hot topics City Council members and staff plan to address with the new Rockville’s Pike Neighborhood Plan.

There will be public hearings on the Pike plan April 11 and May 16, which are separate from the April 4 and April 18 public hearings for the Fiscal Year 2017 budget.


WSSC still fighting water main breaks

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Since last’s week water main break on Rockville Pike, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission officials tallied 22 more water main breaks and leaks in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties through Oct. 19.


Mayoral race heats up

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ROCKVILLE -- When Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton took over the reins of City Council in 2013, her seat in the middle of the four council members also placed her squarely behind a political 8-ball.


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