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Sentinel claims awards

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Sentinel Staff Photo 1bThe Sentinel Staff with owner Lynn Kapiloff, seated. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER   ANNAPOLIS - The Montgomery County Sentinel Newspapers was awarded the Maryland Delaware, District of Columbia Press Association “News Organization of the Year” award for the second time in as many years in a ceremony here Friday.

“It is an honor to be awarded this distinction for the second time in as many years and the third time in the last five years,” said Sentinel owner Lynn Kapiloff. “It is vital for independent publications to remain vibrant – especially at this time in our history.”

The Sentinel won 35 awards out of a possible 48 categories, picking up first and second place in categories such as Investigative Reporting, State Government Reporting, and Multimedia Storytelling (news).

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MoCo sees slight dip in number of homeless residents

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Homelessness in Montgomery County decreased by 9 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to an annual survey conducted by Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

According to the survey, which was a one-night snapshot of the homeless population on Jan. 25 of this year, there were 894 homeless people in the County, as compared to 981 in 2016 and 1,100 in 2015.

The 894 people included 86 families and 172 children, according to the survey.

The survey, in its 17th year, tallied the homeless population in nine jurisdictions in the Washington, D.C. area. Overall, there were 11,128 homeless individuals in the nine jurisdictions, according to the survey which was released last week.

Amanda Harris, Montgomery County’s chief of special needs housing in its Department of Health and Human Services, called the numbers in the survey “typical,” although the survey noted that day was unseasonably warm.

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MoCo delegation satisfied with legislative session

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Three members of Montgomery County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly say they are satisfied with their achievements of the 2017 legislative session.

"The 2017 session was quite productive in terms of getting some progressive legislation passed that had been stalled for years," said Del. David Moon (D-20) who represents Takoma Park.

"It was a really busy session, we got a lot done," said Del. Kirill Reznik (D-39) who represents Germantown and Montgomery Village. "From a progressive point of view, from a productive point of view, I think it was a very good session," he added.

The legislation which passed into law included paid sick leave, a fracking ban, and changes to the crime of rape.

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County Council considers new BRT idea

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ROCKVILLE – The County’s plan to fix traffic just got a bit more complicated.

On May 4, the County Council Transportation, Infrastructure Energy and Environment Committee instructed the Montgomery County Department of Transportation to explore a new idea for the proposed Bus Rapid Transit System on U.S. Route 29.

The BRT is a proposed bus route with limited stops that would use the shoulder lanes as well as drive in mixed traffic to help shorten the commute for riders in the East County. During the public hearing for the BRT, some residents criticized County Executive Ike Leggett’s proposal, saying it would not significantly shorten commute times.

Now MCDOT is looking into a new idea originally proposed by East County resident Sean Emerson that would put the proposed U.S. Route 29 BRT in the median to avoid driving in mixed traffic.

“That testimony was really persuasive. Our professional staff likes it,” said Berliner of Emerson’s idea.

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Green Party candidate to run for council seat

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Tim WillardTim Willard.      FILE PHOTO   Tim Willard of Kensington has formally entered the race for one of four county council at-large seats as a candidate of the Green Party.

“I’m running on a platform of sustainability,” Willard said. “I am going to be the only candidate looking at the limits of growth seriously,” he added.

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County leaders urge vigilance to help quell hate crimes

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Representatives from the County police, FBI, U.S. Department of Justice and the Anti-Defamation League urged everyone who attended a Hate Crime Prevention Forum on Monday to take pictures and call police every time they see any incidents of hate, no matter how minor the incident.

“Everyone’s got a phone. Record it,” urged County Police Chief Tom Manger. Send a message that hate is not welcome here, he said.

“We need help from citizens so we can get in front of it before it becomes a crime,” added Gordon Johnson, special agent from the Baltimore office of the FBI.

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Shay named MCPS 'Teacher of the Year'

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MPI MoCoTchr 0010Nancy Shay, 2017 Montgomery County Teacher of the Year, strives to bring out the best in her students. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER  

Nancy Shay sat perched atop her chair, encouraging her Richard Montgomery High School students not just to sing “Happy Birthday” to a fellow student, but to do it with as much feeling as they could possibly muster.

Whether it’s a simple song, a book the class is reading or a review of a movie they just saw, Shay, who was just named Montgomery County Public School Teacher of the Year, is determined to challenge every single one of her teenage students.

And her students know it.

“Her intonation, the way she gives life to books and films, and the way she is passionate” are the things that make Shay such a good teacher, said Emma McLeond, a junior.

“She’s always energized,” said junior Skyler Bozeman.

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Tax credit could lead to higher taxes

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Because of the order that Maryland calculates residents’ property taxes, a small group of taxpayers who receive a County property tax credit actually end up paying an extra couple of hundred dollars in property taxes. 

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Federal shutdown looms over county economy

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A potential partial federal government shutdown – with Montgomery County at “ground zero” for many immediate cutbacks – looms at midnight on April 28 if Congressional negotiators and the Trump administration fail to reach an agreement to fund the federal government through the end of its fiscal year on September 30.

Joy Nurmi, special assistant to County Executive Ike Leggett, noted the dual “uncertainties for [the County’s] budget” stemming from both the potential shutdown and the proposed cutbacks in President Trump’s FY 2018 budget. The County Council is reviewing Leggett’s proposal for local FY 2018 budget, and is scheduled to vote on it in May.

If there was a shutdown, “essential” functions such as national defense and homeland security would continue, while services deemed “non-essential” would be suspended. The distinction between essential and non-essential services in a shutdown is also reflected in Trump’s proposed budget priorities for FY 2018, Nurmi noted.

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Federal budget could devastate county

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Jobs are in jeopardy for thousands of federal government employees in Montgomery County, as the Trump administration envisions cuts to locally-based agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In his 2018 budget blueprint released last month, Trump proposes slashing NIH funding by nearly $6 billion — an 18 percent drop from its current budget of $31 billion. Approximately 17,000 NIH employees and 10,000 of its contractors work in Montgomery County, according to the agency, which makes NIH the county’s largest employer.

In total, approximately 48,000 Montgomery County residents are federal government employees — around 10 percent of the total workforce — and thousands more are federal contractors, according to the county. Many are in danger of losing their jobs if the new president, who campaigned on “draining the swamp” by gutting government spending and reducing the federal workforce, can implement his budget proposal as it is currently written.

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