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by Aaron Kraut — March 27, 2015 at 4:20 pm 1 Comment

View of proposed of B-CC High School addition, which could start next year depending on state and county school construction budgets, via mCPSMontgomery County would get an extra $5.8 million from Annapolis next year for school construction under a new plan announced Friday.

House Speaker Michael Busch announced lawmakers have found $20 million in construction funds that would be split by the state’s five high-growth school districts. The money came from trimming Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposed capital budget and would not require additional funding.

The $20 million would be split annually among counties that have an enrollment of greater than 150 percent of the statewide average, or an average of more than 300 portable classrooms over the past five years.

County Executive Isiah Leggett praised the proposal, which also got approval from two legislative committees on Friday.

“I want to thank Speaker Michael Busch and the members of our Delegation who made bringing home additional funds to help us address our public school construction issues their number one priority,” Leggett said in a statement. “Passing this legislation shows a commitment to working with Montgomery County to address the ongoing challenges of capacity problems in our public schools.”

State legislators from Montgomery County cautioned that the school system’s ask for $223 million in school construction bonds from the state would be difficult to make happen.

The proposal outlined Friday is more in line with Leggett and the county delegation’s strategy during last year’s General Assembly, in which they proposed $20 million in state construction funding a year to the “big three” counties of Montgomery, Prince George’s and Baltimore.

Montgomery County, growing at a rate of about 2,500 students a year, would be in line for $5.8 million, the largest chunk of money for FY 2016.

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by Aaron Kraut — March 27, 2015 at 3:25 pm 972 8 Comments

Photo via Old Angler's Inn

A popular Potomac restaurant and event venue wants to get back to its roots.

The Old Angler’s Inn (10801 MacArthur Boulevard) filed a zoning application this week with Montgomery County for a “Country Inn” designation.

That change would allow the historic Potomac property to add eight overnight guest suites, a feature that would harken back to its very early days when Civil War officers would stay overnight.

The facility doesn’t include guest suites now. It’s a restaurant, beer garden, wedding space and popular spot for hikers after a walk along Great Falls or the C&O Canal.

The plan is to put in a ballroom and the upstairs rooms in the next two years, according to an employee.

Mark Reges, whose mother Olympia ran the business for decades, took over the operation with his brothers and his wife after Olympia’s death in 2005. They reopened the back garden, reconfigured the interior and set out changing up the restaurant with a new chef.

The Angler’s Inn has been open since 1860. According to the restaurant, it opened to serve those traveling into the nation’s capital and many of the wealthy families which set up estates in Potomac and the rest of the Maryland countryside.

During the Civil War, couriers, officers and soldiers from both the North and South would stay at the Inn.

In 1957, prominent Washington attorney John Reges bought the Inn, which is when his wife Olympia restored it.

Photo via Old Angler’s Inn

by Aaron Kraut — March 27, 2015 at 2:00 pm 362 2 Comments

Bethesda's 'Madonna of the Trail' statue

With this week’s news of a new tenant at the historic Bethesda Post Office, some have asked about the story of another historical landmark just outside the building.

That would be the “Madonna of the Trail” statue that stands on the Wisconsin Avenue sidewalk between the Hyatt Regency hotel and the soon-to-be-filled 1938 post office structure.

Regional Services Center Director Ken Hartman passed along this history of the statue in his latest email newsletter, courtesy of the Maryland chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The DAR erected the statue in 1929 and 11 others like it in 1928 and 1929:

The Madonna of the Trail is a pioneer woman clasping her baby with her young son clinging to her skirts. The face of the mother, strong in character, beauty, and gentleness, is the face of a mother who realizes her responsibilities and trust in God. It has a feeling of solidarity — a monument which will stand through the ages.

The figure of the mother is of heroic proportions — 10 feet high with a weight of 5 tons. The base upon which the figure stands is 6 feet high and weights 12 tons. This, in turn, rests upon a foundation that is placed on the ground, standing 2 feet above the level which makes the monument 18 feet above the ground.

The figure and the base are made of algonite stone (a poured mass) of which the Missouri granite is used as the main aggregate, thus giving the monument a warm, pink shade which is the color of the Missouri native granite. It was thought and expected that this stone had admirable aging qualities and, with time, would improve in color and solidarity.

On the two sides of the base are to be found words of historical data or local commemoration. These inscriptions are of the Revolutionary period or the early history in respective localities. These monuments were erected in each of the 12 states through which the National Old Trails Road passes.  The design of the monument was that of sculptor August Leimbach of St. Louis and was offered by Mrs. John Trigg Moss, Chairman of the DAR national committee.

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by Aaron Kraut — March 27, 2015 at 1:00 pm 263 6 Comments

A Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control truck makes alcohol deliveries on St Elmo AvenueUpdated at 1:35 p.m. – Montgomery County on Friday hit back at critics of the county’s unique alcohol control model, arguing the system has helped protect the county from the amount of alcohol-related problems that affect other communities.

The occasion for the county’s push against privatizing its alcohol distribution and liquor retail operations was the latest meeting of the Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Liquor Control, which hopes to recommend major reforms later this year.

Dr. David Jernigan, a public health professor at Johns Hopkins, said Montgomery County’s control model is close to the “sweet spot,” wherein the county can decide not to sell alcohol products deemed especially dangerous while also satisfying the needs of its licensees — the restaurants and beer and wine stores that rely on the county’s Department of Liquor Control (DLC).

Montgomery County Police Capt. Tom Didone also cautioned against getting rid of the DLC from a public safety perspective.

“Public health experts will testify this morning that Montgomery County’s Local Liquor Control system is superior to protecting the public health, combatting underage drinking and striking the balance between the sale of a legal, controlled substance and meeting community concerns and the public interest,” the county announced in a Friday morning press release. “Montgomery’s system, in fact, has blocked the introduction of numerous liquor industry products aimed at underage drinkers.”

It later put out a more detailed release citing a variety of statistics and expert opinion.

Councilmember Hans Riemer, the chair of the committee, has criticized the DLC before.

But for a few weeks, it’s been apparent that Riemer and colleagues Marc Elrich and George Leventhal would prefer to keep the county’s current system intact while improving its management and allowing special order craft beers and wines to be sold privately to county restaurants and beer and wine stores.

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by Aaron Kraut — March 27, 2015 at 11:45 am 187 0

Check out our picks for open houses around Bethesda this weekend.

See our Real Estate section for a full listing of open houses and houses for sale:

8912 Burdette Road8912 Burdette Road*
4 BD | 4.5 BA single family detached
Jan Evans, Beasley Real Estate
Listed: $1,997,000
Open: Sunday, March 29 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

5901 Rolston Road5901 Rolston Road
4 BD | 4 BA single family detached
Brian Maury, Maury Real Estate
Listed: $875,000
Open: Sunday, March 29 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

8906 Melwood Road8906 Melwood Road
3 BD | 3 BA single family detached
Delilah Dane, Redfin Corp
Listed: $839,000
Open: Sunday, March 29 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

10 Greentree Court10 Greentree Court
4 BD | 4.5 BA single family detached
Hans Wydler, Long & Foster Real Estate
Listed: $1,299,000
Open: Sunday, March 29 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

*Denotes featured (sponsored) listing

by Joseph Hawkins — March 27, 2015 at 10:30 am 369 13 Comments

My Two Cents is a weekly opinion column from Bethesda resident Joseph Hawkins. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BethesdaNow.com.

Dear soon-to-be MCPS Superintendent:

Recently, when cleaning out my office, I found a 1983 article I co-wrote about test score differences between black and white Montgomery County students. It might be one of the first published academic articles written about the MCPS achievement gap.

Joseph HawkinsSince 1983, I’ve probably written more about MCPS achievement gaps than any other individual in the nation. I’ve penned letters to editors, countless newspaper columns, a book chapter and endless blog pieces. And so writing what I’m about to write is difficult and a little painful, but it needs saying — and you need to hear it before you buy a home in Montgomery County (maybe you should rent):

During your tenure, you will not close the achievement gap between our racial groups and between students from our wealthiest and poorest income groups.

There are many data points to support my claim; however, here are two quick data points to demonstrate why I’m saying this, and why I feel the way I feel.

Black-white SAT score gap. In 1999, when former MCPS superintendent Jerry Weast took over MCPS, his first graduating class of black seniors — the Class of 2000 — scored, on average, 915 points on their SATs (math plus verbal or reading).

White students in the Class of 2000 scored, on average, 1,153 points. The gap was 238 points. Fifteen years later, under former MCPS superintendent Joshua Starr, the graduating class of black seniors — the class of 2014 — scored, on average, 938 points on the math and reading sections of their SATs. White 2014 seniors scored, on average, 1,186 points. The gap widened to 248 points.

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by Aaron Kraut — March 27, 2015 at 9:35 am 0

A burglary at an apartment construction site leads the latest 2nd District crime summary:

A commercial burglary occurred at a construction site located at 8300 Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda between Saturday, 3/15 and Monday, 3/16. Forced entry; property taken.

A commercial burglary occurred at Music & Arts, 12274 Rockville Pike in North Bethesda on Tuesday, 3/17 at 12:37 p.m. Unknown entry; property taken.

A residential burglary occurred in the 7000 block of Rollingwood Drive in Chevy Chase on Thursday, 3/12 between 10:27 a.m. and 1:01 p.m. Forced entry; property taken.

A sex assault occurred in the 7000 block of Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda on Thursday, 3/12 at 7:15 p.m. The suspect is known to the victim.

Two incidents of theft from vehicles occurred in this beat during this reporting period. Incidents occurred on Dupaul Drive and Stoneham Court in Bethesda. Items taken included a computer and a cell phone.

by Aaron Kraut — March 27, 2015 at 8:45 am 439 4 Comments

Flickr pool photo by John R Whitaker

Renovations Start Next Week For North Bethesda Restaurant – Helen’s The Bar hopes to open in the former Addie’s building at 11120 Rockville Pike over the summer. Addie’s and local restaurant owner Jeff Black left the spot because the landlord wouldn’t agree to a renovation plan. Helen Wasserman, a D.C. caterer taking it over, said renovations should begin next week. [Bethesda Magazine]

Norwood School 5K Run/Walk – The Norwood School (8821 River Road) is hosting a 5K Run/Walk on April 12 to raise money for Horizons Greater Washington. The nonprofit works on private and public school partnerships “designed to empower economically disadvantaged students.” The event will take place on the Norwood School’s Bethesda campus. [Horizons 5K at Norwood]

White Flint Wegmans Watch – Officials from New York-based grocer Wegmans were in town Thursday for their new Alexandria store. They didn’t talk about the long-rumored location at the White Flint Mall redevelopment project, which has been stalled due to legal issues. But company officials said they’re still eyeing other D.C. area sites in Tysons Corner and the old Walter Reed site in D.C. [Washington Business Journal]

Details On Old Georgetown Road Project – The State Highway Administration’s intersection improvement project at Old Georgetown Road and Cedar Lane has started. The SHA put out a public notice with more details of lane closures and contact information. [SHA via Montgomery County]

Flickr pool photo by John R Whitaker

by Aaron Kraut — March 26, 2015 at 4:05 pm 2 Comments

The search firm helping MCPS find a new superintendent says it has boiled down almost 1,000 pieces of community input into six “desired characteristics” the new hire should have:

  • A collaborative administrative style
  • Effective communication skills
  • Evidence of being culturally aware, culturally responsive, and valuing diversity
  • The ability to narrow the achievement gap
  • Educational experiences as a teacher, principal, and central office administrator
  • Respect for, and appreciation of, teachers and staff

The school system released the 47-page “Leadership Profile Report” from search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates on Thursday.

Board of EducationFormer Superintendent Joshua Starr resigned from the position in February once it became clear that a majority of Board of Education members wouldn’t support renewing his contract, which was up this summer.

Little has been made public about why Board of Education members were opposed to Starr continuing as superintendent, as preliminary deliberations were held in closed-door sessions.

The search firm collected feedback from 978 people, including parents, students, staff and other community members from focus groups, a series of community forums, online surveys and individual interviews.

The achievement gap, economic disparities and inequities, communication and transparency and testing were recognized as some of the school system’s poor qualities.

The Board expects to have a new superintendent in place by July 1. The search firm is still accepting applications.

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