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Afternoon Poll: O’s Or Nats?

by Aaron Kraut | April 24, 2014 at 3:15 pm | 69 views | No Comments

Caddies on Cordell shows both the Orioles and Nationals each nightUsing aggregated Facebook data, the New York Times on Thursday generated a map of the top three favorite Major League Baseball teams of every zip code in the nation.

The rankings are based on mentions of teams from Facebook users in each zip code and an extension of county level-data Facebook published a few weeks ago.

Living in suburban Washington, D.C. of course presents a dilemma for baseball fans, many who weren’t around when the Washington Senators left town. The Times labeled the battle between the Orioles and Nationals for the fandom of Maryland zip codes as “The Line of Potomac Aggression”:

After the departure of the Senators in 1971, Washingtonians spent decades alternately lamenting their plight and treating the Orioles as their home team. That era is over. While the Orioles have held onto many Maryland suburbs, the Nats now dominate Washington and much of the Virginia suburbs. In parts of the Washington region, the Orioles aren’t even the second-favorite team; the Yankees or the Red Sox are.

The Facebook stats show things starting to shade more orange in mid-Montgomery County.

The area also has a fair number of New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox fans.

In the Bethesda 20814 zip code, the data showed 31 percent prefer the Nationals, 16 percent prefer the Yankees and 15 percent prefer the Orioles. In Bethesda’s 20817, it goes 31 percent for the Nats, 16 percent for the Yankees and 14 percent for the Orioles.

In Chevy Chase’s 20815, the split is similar: 28 percent Nats, 17 percent Yankees and 13 percent Orioles.

In Bethesda’s 20816 zip code, the Red Sox get on the board, with 15 percent of the zip code’s Facebook fandom. The Nationals lead with 29 percent and the Yankees take in another 15 percent.

North Bethesda’s 20852 goes 33 percent Nats, 17 percent Orioles and 14 percent Yankees.

Popular Woodmont Triangle sports bar Caddies on Cordell goes with both the Nationals and Orioles, as you can see above.

This despite being a part of a piece of Nationals history. Caddies was the place former Nats manager Jim Riggleman went to solve “the world’s problems” the day he quit the job.

We’ll take this poll off Facebook and ask you, where do you stand?

New Bethesda Apartment Pitches New Definition Of Pet-Friendly

by Aaron Kraut | April 24, 2014 at 1:45 pm | 319 views | 4 Comments

The completed Gallery of Bethesda in early 2014 (file photo)In the competition for tenants in Bethesda’s growing apartment market, one new building is rolling out the red carpet for the four-legged demographic.

The Gallery of Bethesda, the 17-story, 235-unit building that opened earlier this year on Rugby Avenue, is hosting a grand opening of its pet spa and dog park on Saturday, May 3.

The Humane Society, a professional dog trainer, owner of a pet fitness business, pet grooming company and local restaurant will all be involved with the event, meant to show The Gallery is a “highly pet-friendly” property, according to assistant property manager Andrew Davies.

“This is something the community has not seen in any new development in Bethesda,” Davies said.

Vantage Management, the property manager for The Gallery, is trying to bring a little bit more to the definition of a pet-friendly rental. Davies said the building, from developer Donohoe Companies, has slip-proof stairwells designed to accommodate dog paws and a pet spa in-house.

When the building fills up, Davies said the property manager will start scheduling appointments. It’s equipped with a turbo blowdryer.

Davies said the building is also looking to incorporate a dog run — common on the rooftops of newer apartment buildings around the country — so that tenants won’t have to take the elevator downstairs and back each time they need to take their pet out for a quick walk.

The event on May 3 will run from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The Humane Society will install free tracking microchips to all dogs and cats and host a pet adoption. Professional dog trainer Heather Stein will conduct a free, one-hour obedience class. Fido Fitness & Play will do a free exercise class for pets. There will be free grooming and nearby Mia’s Pizza will provide food.

School Crossing Guard To Parents: Use Your Turn Signals

by Aaron Kraut | April 24, 2014 at 11:20 am | 55 views | No Comments

Photo via Somerset Elementary School newsletterMs. Susan, the trusty crossing guard who works the streets in front of Somerset Elementary in Chevy Chase, is having a bit of trouble.

Susan can’t know which way a driver is turning if drivers don’t use their turn signals — a problem she’s noticed more and more lately, according to a notice in the school’s newsletter.

“Of particular concern to Ms. Susan is the lack of turn signal usage during drop-off and pick-up school hours,” read the notice. “Susan is diligently trying to direct traffic, of course it is the safety of our school children that receives her highest priority, but without the additional help from us, the parents (and commuters), she can not accurately predict traffic flow without proper signals being used, and as a result feels that this is a potential danger.”

The school of 531 students is nestled between Drummond Avenue and Dorset Avenue and a number of other neighborhood streets.

The newsletter starts off by saying the crossing guard has noticed several vehicles with broken headlights and turn signals. Perhaps that’s a way to politely remind drivers to turn them on.

The rest of the newsletter is a bit more straightforward.

“So, please check your turn signals and if they work, then use them.”

Photo via Somerset Elementary School Newsletter

MoCo Revokes Permit For WSSC Contractor, Contractor Remains On Site Anyway

by Aaron Kraut | April 24, 2014 at 10:15 am | 260 views | 2 Comments

Montgomery County has revoked a key permit from a WSSC contractor involved in a number of Bethesda sewer and water projects.

But as of Wednesday, the contractor hadn’t moved from its staging area on Elm Street, incurring 15 citations with fines for as much as $750 each from the county’s Department of Permitting Services.

It’s the latest controversy surrounding Metra Industries, the New Jersey-based sewer and water main contractor chosen by WSSC to lead its Bradley Boulevard pipe replacement project. Due to multiple leaks in the replacement pipe, Metra has had to re-excavate large portions of the road, leaving Bradley Boulevard a jumbled mess of uneven pavement and steel plates and pushing the project past its scheduled completion date.

On April 18, after a series of complaints from the neighboring Edgemoor community, the Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services revoked Metra’s right-of-way permit to use the pedestrian-only area of Elm Street.

“We were finding that we weren’t satisfied with the way they were maintaining the site,” said Diane Schwartz-Jones, director of Permitting Services. “We weren’t satisfied with the way they responded to our directions about dirt being tracked on to the right-of-way, the way their use of the right-of-way had expanded to include moving some other staging activities there. We just hit a point where enough was enough.”

Judy Gilbert Levey, president of the Edgemoor Citizens Association, said Metra has been using the area as a staging ground for at least a year. The neighborhood’s concerns with how contractors were treating the formerly grassy patch goes back almost as far.

The Elm Street pedestrian-only path is a connector for Edgemoor residents to downtown Bethesda. It stretches from Glenbrook Road to Exfair Road. Metra’s heaviest excavation machinery, some pipes and a porta-potty are in a fenced-in area on Glenbrook Road.

“The place looks terrible. They put a dumpster there and it was piling up trash. Some neighbors have observed rodents scurrying in and out of there,” Levey said. “We understood the work done in our neighborhood was necessarily going to be messy and inconvenient. But this was not consistent with what the permit allows.”

The citizens association also raised concerns that Metra was using the staging area for other projects around Bethesda, not just pipe replacements done in the Edgemoor neighborhood.

In October, WSSC representatives met with the group and pledged to find a solution within 60 days, Levey said.

“WSSC reps came to our citizens association and said we’re going to get them out of there,” Levey said.

WSSC spokesperson Jerry Irvine said the utility was well aware of problems with Metra. He referred back to comments made last week about the contractor’s performance on the Bradley Boulevard project.

In those comments, WSSC director of communications Jim Neustadt acknowledged that Metra hadn’t met its contractual requirements and that picking Metra because of its lowest bid status might not have been the best approach.

“We are aware of the issues with this contractor and we’re working with them,” Irvine said.

A Metra employee who answered a phone call to the contractor’s New Jersey corporate headquarters said the company doesn’t make comments to the press.

The revoking of the right-of-way permit required the contractor to leave the site and restore the site to its pre-existing condition. That has led to multiple citations on each day this week and thousands of dollars in fines from the Department of Permitting Services.

The citations will go to the Office of the County Attorney, which will attempt to enforce the penalties in District Court, Schwartz-Jones said. If the contractor hasn’t moved and restored the staging area, the county will also ask the court for an abatement order.

If Metra fails to move at that point, Schwartz-Jones said the county can go to the court for a show cause order. Beyond that, the county could pull the bond that secured the restoration of the Elm Street right-of-way.

Schwartz-Jones said she doesn’t anticipate getting to that stage. A permit has been issued by Montgomery Parks for Metra to stage in a parking near Little Falls Parkway.

“We think they’ll be moving soon.”

Morning Notes

by Aaron Kraut | April 24, 2014 at 9:10 am | 497 views | 1 Comment

Flickr photo by Ehpien

Parents Sue School Because Son Got Bad Grades – Bethesda’s Robert and Valerie Bramson sued the prestigious Bullis School in Potomac for “breach of contract” after their son, Erol Maximilian Bramson, earned final grades of 70 and 69 in honors functions and honors biology, respectively. The Bramsons, who paid between $24,000 and $30,000 a year in tuition, said the school didn’t tell them their son was having trouble academically until the grades came. Last week, a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge threw out the lawsuit. [The Gazette]

Bethesda Blues and Jazz Struggled In Its First Year – The live music club in the historic Bethesda Theatre generated a lot of excitement when it opened in February 2013. But despite more than $800,000 in ticket sales in its first year, the club didn’t break even. Owner Rick Brown said he considered changing the name to reflect the larger variety of acts the venue attracts. He’s sticking with the name, though he does anticipate hosting more private and corporate events. [Bethesda Beat]

Study: MoCo’s Population Growth Didn’t Mean A Spike In Driving – Montgomery County has grown by roughly 100,000 residents in the past decade, but according to a Planning Department mobility study, the amount of driving in the county has remained steady. The report also showed that the busiest intersections for cyclists in the county were in Bethesda, with the intersection of Woodmont Avenue and Montgomery Lane No. 1 at 163 bikes during the morning and evening rush hours. [Greater Greater Washington]

County Starts Street Sweeping Program – Check the numbered map to find out when county street sweepers will clean your neighborhood streets, weather permitting. [MCDOT]

Flickr photo by Ehpien

Pikes Peek 10K Returns To North Bethesda This Sunday

by Aaron Kraut | April 24, 2014 at 8:05 am | 81 views | No Comments

The 2013 Annual Pike's Peek 10K (file photo)The annual Pike’s Peek 10K will again take over much of Rockville Pike on Sunday morning, with a post-race festival planned for the parking lot in front of White Flint Mall.

The race is one of the premier events in the county, with runners starting near the Shady Grove Metro station and continuing down Rockville Pike until the finish line at White Flint Mall.

It’s also one of the fastest, with a mostly downhill course.

For those traveling on the road on Sunday morning, the race is set to start at 7:50 a.m. and will take up all of northbound Rockville Pike from the starting line to Gude Drive in Rockville. At that point, competitors must run in the two median lanes of the Pike, so look for lane closures.

The post-race festival will include plenty of activities, promotions and food from Mama Lucia restaurant.

For more information on the race or to register, visit the official website.

Emergency Bridge Repair Work Means Multiple Beltway Lanes Closed Overnight

by Aaron Kraut | April 23, 2014 at 4:25 pm | 134 views | No Comments

Three lanes of the Beltway inner loop between Connecticut Avenue and Georgia Avenue will be closed Wednesday and Thursday nights for emergency bridge repair work, via TrafficLand.comThe State Highway Administration said emergency bridge repair work means it will close the three left lanes of the Beltway inner loop between Connecticut Avenue and Georgia Avenue overnight on Wednesday and Thursday.

In a news release, the SHA said the lanes would close at 10 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and open no later than 5 a.m. the next morning.

Crews must do emergency repairs on the Beltway bridge over Kensington Avenue, just east of Connecticut Avenue, according to SHA.

The work requires cutting out a large section of concrete and pouring new concrete, which takes a few hours to set.

In the news release, the SHA advised drivers traveling at that time to use East-West Highway as an alternate route.

Photo via TrafficLand.com

Police Crack Down On Group Dealing Marijuana In Downtown Bethesda Plaza

by Aaron Kraut | April 23, 2014 at 3:25 pm | 1,834 views | 13 Comments

The public plaza at 7600 Old Georgetown RoadThe plaza area at Old Georgetown Road and Edgemoor Lane in downtown Bethesda is a popular hangout spot for teenagers and a popular spot to munch on a burrito.

But last fall, county officials started to notice some “unsavory characters” hanging out in the area, which sits between a Chipotle and the county’s Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.

Ken Hartman, director of the Regional Services Center, said he coordinated with police to bring some extra attention to the plaza. A 2nd District Police investigation resulted in three people being charged for dealing marijuana near the prominent corner.

This month, those three have either pleaded guilty or been found guilty, according to court records. For two of the three charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, their jail sentences included probation terms that require them to stay away from the area of 7600 Old Georgetown Rd.

Andrew Wooten, 28, of Silver Spring was found guilty of of distribution and conspiracy to distribute marijuana on March 6 and sentenced to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised probation earlier this month.

Bethesda police district commander Capt. David Falcinelli said an investigation found Wooten was a “higher tier street-level dealer.”

Vincent Cromer, 24, was his underling, Faclinelli said. Cromer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana on April 15 and was sentenced to a year in prison with 18 months of probation.

David Cook, 29, of Silver Spring was also convicted on April 15 when he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana. He will be sentenced on June 12, though the Montgomery County Circuit Court has indicated it will sentence Cook to 90 days in prison.

Because the area is so popular among teenagers and because it’s home to an apartment complex, businesses and the Regional Services Center, Hartman provided a victim impact statement to the state’s attorney during Wooten’s sentencing.

“For parents who let their kids wander around after school, there are a lot of issues that go on and it doesn’t matter where you are in the county or what community you’re in,” Hartman said. “Even in downtown Bethesda, there are people, sometimes older people, who will be up to unsavory activity.”

Faclinelli said his 2nd District officers will continue to keep an eye on the area.

“Marijuana is oftentimes a gateway to other drugs like cocaine and heroin, and we have unfortunately all seen the tragedies across the area from untimely deaths of our young people from using these drugs,” Falcinelli said. “Officers from the 2nd District will be giving extra attention to this area to ensure that it remains a place where business owners and residents feel safe.”

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