The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory to warn Friday morning commuters of the potential for freezing drizzle and rain.
The Advisory is in effect from 6 a.m. Friday to 2 p.m. Friday, with sleet and freezing rain expected to start after 9 a.m:
…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 6 AM TO 2 PM EST FRIDAY…
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR FREEZING RAIN AND SLEET…WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 6 AM TO 2 PM EST FRIDAY.
* PRECIPITATION TYPE…FREEZING RAIN…FREEZING DRIZZLE…AND SLEET.
* ACCUMULATIONS…LESS THAN A TENTH-INCH OF ICE.
* TIMING…FREEZING DRIZZLE WILL START DURING THE MORNING COMMUTE…WITH SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN ARRIVING AFTER 9AM. PRECIPITATION WILL CHANGE OVER TO RAIN FROM EAST TO WEST DURING THE MIDDAY.
* TEMPERATURES…AROUND 30.
* WINDS…NORTHEAST 5 TO 15 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 25 MPH.
* IMPACTS…FREEZING PRECIPITATION WILL AFFECT THE FRIDAY MORNING COMMUTE. ROADS WILL BECOME ICY AND SLICK…ESPECIALLY BRIDGES AND OVERPASSES.
But there it was – Thomas Hardy’s poem “Snow in the Suburbs” — at the bottom of a Monday service update alerting residents to a rearranged trash and recycling pick-up schedule thanks to the day’s snow and ice.
It’s the work of Solid Waste Services IT Specialist Susanne Wiggins, who began inserting quotations into the department’s regular emails a few years ago. At some point, Wiggins said she found a poem that seemed best to include in its entirety.
“I wasn’t sure how a longer text would be received by our subscribers, so I hit send rather gingerly,” Wiggins said. “It turned out well, and here we are.”
Monday’s email contained some important information. Because trash and recycling trucks could not get to snowed-in homes, the pick-up schedule was moved back a day. Monday pick-ups were done on Tuesday, Tuesday pick-ups on Wednesday and so on.
If subscribers read to the end of the message, they were rewarded with this:
A sparrow enters the tree,
A snow-lump thrice his own slight size
Descends on him and showers his head and eyes,
And overturns him,
And near inurns him,
And lights on a nether twig, when its brush
Starts off a volley of other lodging lumps with a rush.
“It’s really just a little bonus to add a seasonal touch and contemplation to what might otherwise be a potentially dry message,” Wiggins said. “I’m sure most people don’t expect to see it there.”
A new subscriber to the department’s alerts will occasionally write a puzzled response. More seasoned fans of Wiggins’ emails will let her know when a poem is missing.
She said people have told her they forward the notifications — which typically detail schedule changes — because of the poems.
Like many others in county government, Wiggins is hoping we’ve seen the last of the winter weather for the season.
She’s used up her stash of snow-themed poems.
A group of 16 well-respected restaurants in D.C. and Northern Virginia will set up a beer garden concept in the massive mixed-use development coming to the old Mid-Pike Plaza in North Bethesda.
The Neighborhood Restaurant Group, which includes favorites such as Rustico in Alexandria and Birch & Barley on 14th Street, announced it will set up the yet-to-be-named restaurant in Pike & Rose.
It’s the latest restaurant or retail announcement from Federal Realty, the Rockville-based developer that’s building the 24-acre mini city on Rockville Pike and Old Georgetown Road. Construction on the first phase of the project should be complete by the end of the year.
“Pike & Rose will be a pedestrian-friendly mixed-use environment with a high energy, consumer-centric atmosphere,” said Neighborhood Restaurant Group principal Michael Babin in a press release. “Our team is currently in the process of creating a concept that we feel will complement the North Bethesda area and neighborhoods and business districts around it. We are excited to bring a world-class beer program, led by Beer Director Greg Engert, and a distinct culinary program to match.”
The restaurant will go in “Upper Muse Alley,” designed to be one of the main pedestrian open spaces in the development. It’s set to open in mid-2015 with the rest of the retail in that area of the project.
The development already has commitments from iPic Theaters, City Sports, bowling alley and bocce court Pinstripes, Sport&Health Club and the Strathmore, which will operate a small music and event venue.
Announced restaurants include Del Frisco’s Grille, Protein Bar, a Stella Barra Pizzeria and another American cuisine concept from the Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group known for its Mon Ami Gabi on Bethesda Row.
Pike & Rose’s first residential property, the PerSei apartments, has started leasing units.
For the second time in a month, the downtown Chipotle was burglarized:
A commercial burglary occurred at Chipotle, 7624 Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda on Sunday, 2/23 just after midnight. Forced entry; property taken.
Police also say there was a sex assault at Suburban Hospital:
A sexual assault occurred at Suburban Hospital, located at 8600 Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda on Thursday, 2/20 at approximately 4:00 p.m. The suspects are known to the victim.
The rest of the most recent 2nd District crime summary follows:
A residential burglary occurred in the 6800 block of Brookville Road in Chevy Chase on Friday, 2/21 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. No forced entry; property taken.
An aggravated assault occurred in the 4300 block of East West Highway in Bethesda on Tuesday, 2/25 at approximately 12:10 p.m. The suspects are known to the victims.
A commercial burglary occurred at Tia Queta, 4839 Del Ray Avenue in Bethesda overnight from Monday, 2/24 to Tuesday, 2/23. No further details are available at this time.
A residential burglary occurred in the 5000 block of Edgemoor Lane in Bethesda on Monday, 2/24 at 1:20 p.m. No further information is available at this time.
An aggravated assault occurred in the 3400 block of Glenmoor Drive in Chevy Chase on Tuesday, 2/25 at approximately 9:30 a.m. The suspect is known to the victim.
Two of the three Democratic candidates for governor debuted their first TV ads on Wednesday, a sure sign that this primary season is ramping up.
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is seeking to become the first lieutenant governor and first black person elected as governor, emphasized his military service in his ad.
Brown, 52, served as a helicopter pilot. In 2004, at the age of 43 and as a state delegate, Brown was called to duty in Iraq.
“It was my responsibility to serve and that meant going to Iraq,” Brown said in the ad.
A voiceover lauds Brown for his service: “When many in his generation chose Wall Street, Anthony chose military service.”
Brown credits his father, a Jamaican immigrant, for instilling in him a desire to “get an education, serve others.”
Gansler’s ad spotlights citizens around the state to point out his accomplishments as attorney general and Montgomery County state’s attorney: Penalizing polluters, winning $1.6 billion in mortgage relief and making the state safer, “because I brought the Beltway snipers to justice.” It also touches on his legal support for same-sex marriage and his inner city Baltimore youth lacrosse league.
Takoma Park Del. Heather Mizeur is also running for the Democratic nomination. Republican candidates include Harford County Executive David Craig, Del. Ron George, former Bob Ehrlich aide Larry Hogan and businessman Charles Lollar.
Recent polls conducted by the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun show Brown with a 2-to-1 advantage over Gansler among Democratic candidates.
The primary is June 24.
This controversial fence backing up to the Capital Crescent Trail in Chevy Chase belongs to Ajay Bhatt, the president of a group pushing to save the trail from Purple Line construction.
On Jan. 21, a district court judge ruled the fence — built last May — was built illegally, about 18 feet into the county’s right-of-way. It’s also in the path of a planned retaining wall for the Purple Line.
Thursday, longtime Purple Line supporter Wayne Phyillaier argued Bhatt’s new fence shows a conflict of interest and could pose problems for the Maryland Transit Administration if and when it starts building the 16-mile system. Part of the Purple Line would include two light rail tracks and a rebuilt trail on the existing Georgetown Branch extension right-of-way.
“I think it’s important that the county protect the right-of-way from new construction,” said Phyillaier, who wrote about the fence in detail on his blog, Silver Spring Trails. “He knew, or should have known, just from being in the middle of this for so long.”
Bhatt, who was fined $500, is appealing the ruling and will have another court hearing in April.
He is the president of the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail, a group that opposes the Purple Line in its proposed form because it would mean the loss of the existing trail and some of the existing green space.
“Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail is dedicated to preserving and augmenting the opportunities to appreciate nature and recreation on the segment of Trail between Bethesda and Silver Spring,” Bhatt said in a prepared release on Wednesday in response to recent Purple Line funding decisions. “Our vision is a World Class Park stretching from Georgetown to Silver Spring. Clear cutting and removing a mature forest ecosystem inside the Beltway — where it can never be replaced — is contrary to the goals of smart growth and sustainability that so many environmental proponents of the Purple Line supposedly espouse.”
Behind homes in Chevy Chase that back up to the trail, there are many fences and sheds that are technically in the county-owned Georgetown Branch right-of-way.
Many were built before Montgomery County purchased the right-of-way for a potential transit line in 1988, some as far back as the 1950s. That has caused confusion and frustration among some homeowners whose backyards back up to the trail.
The trail used to be a CSX rail line.
Phyillaier said he’s making Bhatt’s fence a public issue because the construction is new.
“It’s the most recent construction that I know of,” Phyillaier said. “I don’t think it’s necessary for the county to start going through and ripping through all these old fences and old tool sheds. There’s really no public good in ripping them out or confronting the property owner. I think it’s important that the county confront Ajay or anyone else who is doing new construction.”
It’s the most recent example of Purple Line supporters and opponents butting heads.
As the Town of Chevy Chase debated a legal fund to lobby against the Purple Line, members of the pro-Purple Line Action Committee for Transit claimed Town Mayor Pat Burda had a conflict of interest and a public hearing wasn’t held in accordance with public meeting laws.
ACT also questioned the Town’s decision to hire a lobbying firm that employes the brother of an influential member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Burda rebuked ACT’s claims by saying the group was “attempting to distract from the obvious and abundant flaws,” in the Purple Line’s Final Environmental Impact Statement.
The Town Council later approved a contract of up to $350,000 with lobbyists and legal firms to fight the Purple Line and pressure the MTA into desired mitigation.
Phyillaier said he didn’t consult with ACT or any other pro-Purple Line group before examining Bhatt’s fence.
ACT on Thursday tweeted out a screen capture of the online court record of Bhatt’s fence case, which was brought by Montgomery County as a code violation.
Reached by email, Bhatt characterized the fence controversy as a series of personal attacks.
Fence photos via Wayne Phyillaier
The school system on Thursday spelled out where it stands in regard to the rest of the 2013-2014 school year calendar.
The original calendar, with room for four snow days built in, has the last day of school on June 12. MCPS has canceled nine days of school because of snow and inclement winter weather.
Because of Maryland’s requirement for at least 180 days of instruction, MCPS could be on the hook for five extra days of classes and would move the last day of school to Thursday, June 19.
So what about that waiver?
The Maryland State Department of Education has not yet begun accepting applications for a waiver of the 180-day requirement. When they do, MCPS will decide whether to apply for a waiver, and how many days it will seek to have waived.
A big factor could be any additional snow days in the coming weeks. MCPS has received snow day waivers before.
The MCPS press release sounds an optimistic tone, at least for two of the five overflow snow days:
The fact that Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley declared a state of emergency on February 13 and 14 may make it more likely that a waiver would be granted for these snow days, but it is not guaranteed. The district would still need to apply for such a waiver.
(Updated at 2:50 p.m.) An apparent accident involving a snow plow and power lines on Monday has meant a powerless Mia’s Pizza for the past three days.
A downed light pole remains on the front patio space of the popular pizzeria at 4926 Cordell Ave. A ripped up wire also remains and there is noticeable damage to the awning of next door Mexican restaurant Gringos & Mariachis.
A little before 7 p.m. on Monday, the power went out for about 700 Pepco customers in Woodmont Triangle and East Bethesda. Some on Cordell Avenue heard a loud sound before the outage:
Snow plow totally just hit a power line. Power's out in @BethesdaNow, but thankful for our generator.
— Carrie Ziskind (@CZiskind) March 3, 2014
Power was out to a number of businesses in Woodmont Triangle until about 9 p.m., according to Pepco’s outage map.
Mia’s wasn’t so lucky. Owner Melissa “Mia” Ballinger said she had all necessary repairs done by 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. She’s waiting for an inspection from Montgomery County, which must happen before Pepco can turn the lights back on in her building.
“Hopefully, Montgomery County will do the inspection tomorrow,” Ballinger said.
A sign on the restaurant’s front door said it’s hoping to open no later than Thursday.
The question came up last year during a three-week strike by workers for Gaithersburg-based Potomac Disposal, a trash and recycling pick-up contractor for the county that serves throughout, including in areas of Bethesda and Chevy Chase.
An initial payroll investigation by the county’s Department of General Services found 22 violations in 390 payroll records. Potomac Disposal and the workers have since entered into a collective bargaining agreement. The living wage law does not cover workers under a collective bargaining agreement.
The workers claimed the company threatened them with immigration enforcement after an unsuccessful negotiation for healthcare insurance and better wages. According to the Mid-Atlantic Region of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), trash collection truck drivers were making between $120 and $130 a day, while those who load trash into the trucks were making between $60 and $70 a day.
That would put the trash loaders below the current living wage of $13.95 per hour. In 2002, the county approved a living wage law that requires workers for county contractors to be paid a minimum wage based on the area’s Consumer Price Index.
The county’s Department of General Services started an audit to investigate the allegations that Potomac Disposal was not abiding by the law. Workers at Unity Disposal, another county-contracted sanitation company, also went on strike.
On Thursday, DGS will report to the Council’s Government Operations Committee with its findings and suggest new penalties for contractors that don’t submit payroll forms on time.
A Council questionnaire asked DGS if changes to the law were needed to help enforcement:
Implementing penalties for late payroll submission and other forms of enforcement may help motivate contractors to comply. The Prevailing Wage Law serves as a good model to ensure that workers are justly compensated for their efforts. The Living Wage Law should give the Director the ability to assess penalties for non-compliances, such as late payroll submissions and under-payments.
DGS estimated there are typically 400 county contracts subject to the living wage law. But it’s up to the contractor to file payroll reports about workers covered by the law. DGS said it has been receiving 50 to 200 reports each quarter.
DGS recieved 12 complaints about non-compliance since the law was enacted in 2003, including one about Potomac Disposal in 2007 in which DGS did in investigation. Potomac Disposal initially didn’t provide sufficient payroll records, DGS said. DGS said Potomac later provided those records and was determined to be in compliance.
Others were determined to be in violation and paid up. A Burtonsville landscaping company was determined to be in violation of the law in 2009 and retroactively paid $22,000 to employees. In another case, an audit of Cruz Cleaning Services found the company in violation of the law. DGS said the company did not make up for the lost wages, so the county terminated its contract in 2005.
The sanitation strike led to some delays in trash and recycling pick-ups, though the company assured Montgomery County that all scheduled pick ups would be made.
Photo by Nicole Duarte via Twitter
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