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by Aaron Kraut — September 30, 2014 at 9:20 am 0

Armed Forces Appreciation DayFlanagan’s Harp & Fiddle and a housing nonprofit for veterans and military families will put on the first Armed Forces Appreciation Day on Saturday along Cordell Avenue.

Flanagan’s, the bar and restaurant at 4844 Cordell Ave., is hosting the event to benefit the Fisher House Foundation, which provides free and low cost housing to family members of combat veterans receiving treatment at military medical centers.

The event will also benefit the Semper Fi Fund, which provides financial assistance to wounded and critically ill combat veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The outdoor street festival will take over Cordell Avenue from noon to 7 p.m., with a silent auction, live bands, bag pipers irish dancers, food and more.

At 11:30 a.m., Rep. Chris Van Hollen will be an attendance for a 21 gun salute from the American Legion Post 86 Color Guard.

To sign up as a sponsor or make a donation, contact Christina Zeender at christinazeender[at]gmail[dot]com.

by Aaron Kraut — September 30, 2014 at 8:15 am 0

Flickr photo by ehpien FoWF Founder: Leggett Should Walk Across Rockville Pike, Old Georgetown Road – Barnaby Zall, founder of the Friends of White Flint group, wrote yesterday that County Executive Isiah Leggett must address the apparent “disconnect” between the goals outlined for White Flint and Transportation Department plans for Old Georgetown Road. Officials have said they’d made no decisions on a new design for the road. Friends of White Flint last week charged that they were considering a design that would essentially make the road eight lanes wide, instead of the Sector Plan-prescribed four. [Friends of White Flint]

Locals Dot Forbes 400 Richest Americans List – Developer and Washington Nationals owner Ted Lerner, Mitchell Rales, investment firm boss David Rubenstein and developer Bernaud Saul II are four local multi-billionaires who once again appeared on this year’s Forbes list of richest Americans. [Washington Business Journal]

MoCo Law Enforcement Honored For ‘Sovereign Citizen’ Case – The Anti-Defamation League recognized Montgomery County law enforcement for its investigation and arrest of Lamont Butler, the squatter who claimed a $6 million Bethesda mansion for his own in 2013 because the property originally belonged to his “Moorish American” group. The ADL says it recognized Montgomery County for the case because it was an example of fighting the spread of anti-government extremism. [The Gazette]

Flickr photo by ehpien

by Aaron Kraut — September 29, 2014 at 3:00 pm 205 1 Comment

Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station area from above

The Planning Department is now offering free trees to property owners in the Grosvenor area, an expansion of the program looking to create more tree canopy in urban areas of the county without much of it.

The department’s Shades of Green program is funded primarily by required contributions from developers who don’t replace or plant new trees on their sites. Since 2012, the Planning Department has offered property owners in some urban areas the chance to apply for a variety of almost 20 trees, ranging in height from 25 feet to 40 feet and taller.

The program has been active in downtown Bethesda, Friendship Heights and Westbard. A 2011 study by the department found that many of the county’s developed areas were lacking the 25 percent tree canopy benchmark meant to ensure cooler buildings, better air quality and reduction of the heat island effect.

In 2011, planners found the Bethesda Central Business District had 24 percent tree canopy coverage, the area around the Grosvenor apartments and Metro station had 44 percent, North Bethesda had 23 percent, White Flint had 19 percent and Friendship Heights had 31 percent.

Property owners interested must sign up for an evaluation. If tree experts determine the site has sufficient soil volume and sunlight, a property owner may qualify.

by Aaron Kraut — September 29, 2014 at 1:40 pm 384 3 Comments

David "Curley" Cornblatt (far right) serves up barbecue at the Bethesda Cares weekly meals program on Monday in Bethesda

A popular local food truck on Monday cooked up sandwiches, slaw and baked beans for some of Bethesda’s most vulnerable homeless and low-income people.

For some who have lived on the streets for years, it was the first time in a long time they’ve been in a position to simply read off a menu.

Curley’s BBQ cooked up chicken, beef and pork barbecue for Monday’s regular gathering of the Bethesda Cares meals program. The nonprofit provides food to the homeless and working poor on weekdays during the last two weeks of every month in a small house behind the Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church on Old Georgetown Road.

On this occasion, Curley’s BBQ owner David “Curley” Cornblatt showed up with his yellow truck ready to dish out about 50 free meals.

The appearance came out of a local office park’s donation drive in August to benefit clients of Bethesda Cares.

With Bethesda Cares at the Rock Spring Park Market, market organizers challenged patrons to donate items or money (with $1 counting as one “item”) in order to extend the market season.

Organizer Stacee Longenecker reported that patrons donated $404 and 345 items (mainly toiletries, food and clothing) for a total of 749 donations. That means the food truck-heavy market was extended into September.

It also meant free barbecue for Bethesda Cares’ clients as Cornblatt pledged to match the donations of his market patrons.

Bethesda Cares Development Director Amy Freeman said the meals program provides about 13,500 meals a year. Bethesda Cares provides the food at a number of church spaces around Bethesda.

Cornblatt, who cooks 75 meals a month for the a homeless shelter in Rockville, said he quickly got over any stigma about the homeless and working poor.

“They aren’t outcasts. They are real people. This is us,” Cornblatt said. “Today was more of an excuse to connect with a different group. I see the smiles on these peoples’ faces and it’s priceless.”

by Aaron Kraut — September 29, 2014 at 12:25 pm 201 0

5608 Overlea Road 8901 Battery Place 4532 Rosedale Avenue

Check out the condos, townhouses and homes that sold last week in Bethesda and Chevy Chase:

  • 5225 Pooks Hill Road; 1 BD | 1 BA condominium; List price: $249,000; Sale price: $210,000
  • 7500 Woodmont Avenue; 1 BD | 1 BA condominium; List price: $350,000; Sale price: $350,000
  • 8901 Battery Place; 2 BD | 1.5 BA condominium; List price: $409,000; Sale price: $395,000
  • 4974 Sentinel Drive; 2 BD | 2 BA condominium; List price: $410,000; Sale price: $397,320
  • 6820 Wisconsin Avenue; 1 BD | 1 BA condominium; List price: $555,000; Sale price: $533,000
  • 9400 Kingsley Avenue; 2 BD | 1.5 BA single family detached; List price: $599,000; Sale price: $574,900
  • 6213 Rockhurst Road; 3 BD | 2 BA single family detached; List price: $589,900; Sale price: $603,000
  • 9314 Parkhill Drive; 4 BD | 3 BA single family detached; List price: $650,000; Sale price: $621,000
  • 10110 Crestberry Place; 3 BD | 3.5 BA townhouse; List price: $659,000; Sale price: $659,000
  • 4532 Rosedale Avenue; 3 BD | 2 BA single family detached; List price: $699,000; Sale price: $707,000
  • 5612 Greentree Road; 3 BD | 3 BA single family detached; List price: $799,000; Sale price: $799,000
  • 8210 Hawthorne Road; 4 BD | 3 BA single family detached; List price: $869,000; Sale price: $848,000
  • 5608 Overlea Road; 5 BD | 4 BA single family detached; List price: $1,100,000; Sale price: $1,010,000
  • 5813 Lenox Road; 4 BD | 3 BA single family detached; List price: $1,059,000; Sale price: $1,015,000
  • 5601 Oakmont Avenue; 4 BD | 4 BA single family detached; List price: $1,050,000; Sale price: $1,030,000
  • 5300 Ridgefield Road; 4 BD | 5 BA single family detached; List price: $1,350,000; Sale price: $1,324,500
  • 4714 Jamestown Road; 5 BD | 4.5 BA single family detached; List price: $1,595,000; Sale price: $1,500,000

Photos via MRIS

5300 Ridgefield Road 5601 Oakmont Avenue 4714 Jamestown Road

by Aaron Kraut — September 29, 2014 at 11:25 am 522 1 Comment

Walt Whitman High School, via MCPS

MCPS last week revealed three early designs for an addition to overcapacity Walt Whitman High School.

All three would use the land of the existing Whittier Woods Center (once an elementary school, now a daycare facility in front of the school) for a new building that would likely include 13 regular classrooms, two science labs, two engineering labs, one art room and an auxiliary gym.

MCPS senior planner Deborah Szyfer presented the three potential designs to parents and other community members on Tuesday. Another open to the public meeting is set for Monday, Oct. 6. The 2:30 p.m. start time is geared for staff just after the regular high school day ends.

As is the case with all three school clusters in Bethesda, the Whitman cluster has seen a large increase in students — particularly at the elementary school level. MCPS planners have said turnover in single family neighborhoods, private school students transferring to public schools during the recession and an uptick in the birth rate are all contributing factors.

Whitman High School was remodeled in 1992 and has an existing capacity of 1,882 students. It’s already overcapacity, with a projected 1,910 students this school year and 1,921 students last school year.

Whitman High School and the Whittier Woods Center (top right corner) that could be part of an addition project for the school, via Google MapsWith that in mind, plus the coming surge of elementary and middle school-aged children in the cluster, MCPS recommended and was given money in the current capital budget for an addition feasibility study.

Szyfer said next year’s freshman class at Whitman will be “the first very large class,” and the school will is projected to be 239 students overcapacity by 2019. The school is projected to pass the 2,000 enrollment work during the 2015-2016 school year and hit 2,121 students by the 2019-2020 school year.

By then, MCPS hopes to at least have the money to fund an addition project that would provide a capacity of 2,300 and perhaps have that addition project already under construction.

One option would be a combination one-story and two-story building with a courtyard in the area where the Whittier Woods Center stands now. Another option would provide for a more compact three-story addition and a third concept would be two-stories with room for yet another addition.

Szyfer said planners are considering that option because of the Westbard Sector Plan, which could mean new residential development along Westbard Avenue and River Road. Many school-aged children in that new residential development would be in the Whitman cluster.

“It would allow more options for the future and we’re trying to plan for that future,” Szyfer said.

Architects will continue to do site planning to come up with cost estimates, Szyfer said, before submitting the project to the superintendent next year for consideration in his FY2017-2022 capital budget request.

But as is often the case with school addition and renovation projects, the Whitman addition will be competing against a number of other projects in a number of other overcapacity school clusters.

The daycare that leases out the Whittier Woods Center would be notified of when it must vacate the building once funding is in place.

The three concept plans presented last week should be put up on the MCPS website soon, Szyfer said.

by Aaron Kraut — September 29, 2014 at 10:05 am 281 0

U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett make guacamole Aug. 7 at Boloco BethesdaThe first of four minimum wage hikes in Montgomery County will go into effect on Wednesday.

In November 2013, the County Council passed a bill to raise the minimum wage to $11.50 per hour by October 2017 in a series of wage raises that would go into effect each October.

The first wage raise — from the state minimum $7.25 per hour to $8.40 per hour — will go into effect Wednesday. The minimum wage will increase to $9.55 per hour on Oct. 1, 2015, to $10.75 per hour on Oct. 1, 2016 and finally to $11.50 per hour in 2017.

To mark the occasion, County Executive Isiah Leggett, a number of councilmembers, minimum wage workers and a group of labor leaders will gather at the National Labor College in Silver Spring.

At the urging of Councilmember Marc Elrich, the county joined Prince George’s County and D.C., which passed the same minimum wage legislation.

“I believe that a higher minimum wage for Montgomery County is justified, given the higher cost of living in the County as compared to the rest of the State,” Leggett said in a prepared media release.

Leggett joined Gov. Martin O’Malley and U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez last month at the Boloco burrito location in Bethesda to tout a higher national minimum wage. Earlier this year, O’Malley signed a bill to raise the minimum wage elsewhere in the state of Maryland to $10.10 by 2018.

The county says this year’s increase will mean about $2,400 in gross pay for those who now work 40-hour weeks at the minimum wage. Those likely to see the most benefit are food service workers, housekeepers and cashiers.

The law applies to work for all private sector employees with at least two employees working in Montgomery County.

According to an analysis done by the University of Maryland, there are 77,000 workers in the county who earn less than $12 an hour. The family “self-sufficiency standard” for one adult and one preschool-aged child in the county is $64,606.

The state’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation will be responsible for enforcing the county’s minimum wage law. Those who wish to get more information or file a complaint about a violation of the law should contact the DLLR.

by Aaron Kraut — September 29, 2014 at 9:00 am 190 0

Downtown Bethesda, Old Georgetown Road and Woodmont Avenue

Charges Dropped Against NIH Police Officer In Road Rage Case – A construction worker says NIH police officer Phillip Zhu pulled a gun on him in a June 2 incident of road rage on Rockville Pike. Prosecutors disagreed, dropping felony charges against Zhu after hearing his very different version of the story. Zhu has denied ever pulling his gun on the man and he remains on paid administrative leave with the NIH Police Department, pending results of an internal affairs investigation. [ABC7]

State Elections Board: Leggett Shouldn’t Have Used Campaign Money For Foreign Trips – The Maryland State Board of Elections ruled this month that County Executive Isiah Leggett improperly used $9,200 in campaign funds for trips to El Salvador, Ethiopia and China between 2011 and 2013. The Board also disallowed a $12,700 loan from Leggett to his campaign to fund travel expenses for the September 2013 trip to China. Leggett said he has repaid his campaign committee the $9,200 and that he used the campaign funds instead of county funds to save money for county taxpayers. [Washington Post]

Democrats Open Campaign Office In Bethesda – The Maryland Democratic Party on Sunday opened its “2014 Bethesda Coordinated Campaign Headquarters” in a Woodmont Avenue office building. The space will act as a phone bank for volunteers. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown, attorney general candidate Brian Frosh and many of the candidates for state legislature positions were at the office to mark the opening. [Anthony Brown Campaign]

Marijuana Decriminalization Kicks In This Week – Wednesday, Oct. 1 will bring a batch of new state laws into effect, including the decriminalization measure that will make getting caught with less than 10 grams of marijuana a civil charge and not a criminal offense. [WAMU]

by Aaron Kraut — September 26, 2014 at 3:05 pm 215 1 Comment

Gallery of Bethesda mural

Check out the large mural recently completed opposite the Gallery Bethesda apartment building on Auburn Avenue.

It’s from Bethesda artist and Walt Whitman High School graduate Jordann Wine, hired by developer Donohoe to add a new touch to the Gallery’s pedestrian plaza.

The mural includes 26 shades of purple and more than 1,200 triangles across the 24-foot by 90-foot cinder block wall, according to local blogger Robert Dyer.

Besides adding some public art to the plaza, the mural will also serve as a placeholder of sorts. Donohoe has approval to build a second Gallery of Bethesda building (at 16 stories and 221 units) on the site. But with the first Gallery building opening just this year, it’ll likely be a few years before ground is broken.

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