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by BethesdaNow.com — October 31, 2012 at 3:26 pm 1,256 0

Montgomery County Police are searching for a possibly armed suspect who stole a car near White Flint Mall on Wednesday afternoon before leading police on a pursuit into Silver Spring.

At about 2:15 p.m., a call came in for an armed carjacking of a black Lincoln SUV near the intersection of Rockville Pike and Edson Lane. The suspect stole the car and the victim’s wallet and had a black pistol, according to the call.

The suspect, a black male in a black hooded sweatshirt with a black canvass bag, then traveled south on Rockville Pike and got on to the Beltway. Police pursued the suspect, who bailed out of the vehicle near the Silver Spring Library on Colesville Road.

Police called a K9 unit to the scene and are still searching for the suspect.

by BethesdaNow.com — October 31, 2012 at 2:00 pm 597 0

The popular Thanksgiving morning Turkey Chase is in its 30th year after more than 9,000 runners participated in Montgomery County’s largest race in 2011.

Runners can register here and find more information here. Until race day on Nov. 22, registration is $45 for the 10K, $20 for the two-mile and $15 for the always dramatic 50-meter Kid’s Run.

The signature charity event of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rotary Club and the YMCA Bethesda-Chevy Chase, the Turkey Run has raised more than $1.5 million for YMCA and Rotary charities since 1992.

Packet pick-up is from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 19 and Tuesday, Nov. 20 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 21 at City Sports (7121 Arlington Rd.). The race starts at the YMCA Bethesda-Chevy Chase (9401 Old Georgetown Rd.)

by BethesdaNow.com — October 31, 2012 at 12:35 pm 762 0

Days after Hurricane Sandy swept through the region, the Montgomery County government is turning its attention to what forecasters predict will be a more snowy than usual winter.

On Thursday morning, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) will speak at the county’s “snow summit”, where officials from agencies with snow removal responsibilities will discuss their readiness for winter storms and some new tactics.

The summit is taking place at the county’s Department of Transportation Bethesda Depot, home to a fleet of snow plows and trucks responsible for maintaining some of the county’s nearly 5,000 lane miles of roads.

After getting little significant snow last winter, forecasting company AccuWeather is predicting above average snowfall in 2012-2013 for Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern cities including Washington D.C.

The biggest storms are expected to hit in January and February. The D.C. region gets an average of 14.6 inches of snowfall each winter season.

Flickr photo by Craig Thoburn

by BethesdaNow.com — October 31, 2012 at 11:40 am 1,549 12 Comments

(UPDATE: 9:35 p.m.) Commenter and petition starter Lisanne Petracca points out the Japenese fishing boat included in the backstory is also based on real events. More on the fishing boat here.

Chris Hoover wanted a new type of haunted house with an urban feel and a slick backstory when he opened “The Warehouse: Project 4.1″ last month in North Bethesda.

According to a story in The Gazette, it appears the Kensington native got a lot more.

A group of people identifying themselves with the Marshall Islands is outraged about the fictional story of the haunted house, which alludes to the actual story of Project 4.1. In 1954, the U.S. studied the effects of a nuclear test on people in the Marshall Islands.

In the haunted house’s story, a fictional pharmaceutical company in the warehouse’s North Bethesda location gets access to a apparently fictional Japanese fishing boat that was infected by the nuclear blast. The 37,000-square-foot haunted house in the former space of Filene’s Basement features mock labs, contamination pods, a morgue and about 70 zombies.

Those zombies are supposed to depict employees of the fictional pharmaceutical company and not victims of the actual Marshall Islands nuclear testing, according to a statement on the haunted house’s website.

That hasn’t stopped Lisanne Petracca, of Long Island City, N.Y., from starting an online petition to get the haunted house to rebrand and change its story. The petition had more than 470 supporters this morning.

This premise is quite obviously grossly insensitive to an entire nation of people that continues to struggle with the effects of nuclear radiation. And yet this company has chosen to profit at the Marshall Islanders’ expense.

There is a wide network of Marshallese people (and their allies) that is positively outraged over this company’s idea of “entertainment.” Our Facebook group, “United Against Hallow Inc’s Haunted House,” now has over 3,000 members from all over the world. Group members’ posts on Hallow Inc’.s website sharing information about the nuclear testing and photos of the real-life victims of nuclear fallout were taken down within minutes. What are the Marshallese to do, sit back and watch as Hallow Inc. continues to make profits from their tragic past?

Our many, many emails to Hallow Inc. have gone unanswered (save for a form response that everyone received). And the company’s “Disclaimer,” which was produced within 24 hours of the start of our protest, merely parroted back educational material we had provided to them and contained no original thought. The Marshallese people and their allies are still awaiting  (1) an apology and (2) a massive overhaul of this supposedly “fictional” backstory. This calls for a rebranding of the “Project 4.1″ theme and all material related to the nuclear testing that occurred in the Marshall Islands.

The people of the Marshall Islands have suffered enough. Let’s do what we can to change the premise of this ill-conceived Halloween attraction.

This is the last weekend the haunted house (at 11840 Rockville Pike) was scheduled to be open. In September, Hoover said he hoped to bring it back next year, perhaps with a different story and in a more permanent location.

The Mid-Pike Plaza where the haunted house is now will be redeveloped in the mixed-use Pike & Rose project in the next two years.

by BethesdaNow.com — October 31, 2012 at 10:30 am 469 0

County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) credited Pepco for the small number of outages in Montgomery County during Sandy’s impact on Monday and Tuesday.

The much criticized power company had said to prepare for tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of power outages, some that could last for a week after the storm.

Instead, all but a handful had power by Wednesday morning and the relatively low number of 7,000 customers were without power in the Bethesda area at the storm’s peak late Monday night.

Pepco’s performance has elicited high praise from residents and politicians alike. Others say that praise is only coming because Pepco has set a low reliability standard in the past.

How would you assess Pepco’s performance during Sandy?

Morning Poll: Pepco’s Performance During Sandy

by BethesdaNow.com — October 31, 2012 at 9:13 am 838 0

 

(UPDATE: 10:05 a.m.) A couch fire caused minimal damage in a Battery Lane apartment this morning and it appears nobody will be displaced, a Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services spokeswoman said.

MCFRS was called to 4911 Battery Lane at 8:41 a.m. for a report of smoke in the building, spokeswoman Beth Anne Nesselt said. Upon arriving, first responders evacuated the building and requested additional resources. They determined a couch fire in one of the apartments caused the smoke.

Nesselt said firefighters put out the fire at 8:50 a.m. and there were no injuries.

Investigators are on the scene now, but Nesselt said it doesn’t look like anybody will be displaced. She said officials were trying to locate the resident of the apartment where the fire took place.

A resident of 4911 said the man who lives in the apartment typically walks to work in the mornings. His car remained in the parking lot.

The 4911 building is a three-story garden style apartment near the intersection of Battery Lane and Woodmont Avenue. The fire happened in a third-floor apartment. Firefighters busted out two back windows and inserted high-pressure water hoses into the apartment through the front door.

by BethesdaNow.com — October 31, 2012 at 9:00 am 465 0

MCPS, County Government, Federal Government All Open Wednesday — The D.C. region gets back to normal after two days of Hurricane Sandy cancellations. Metro reopened Tuesday afternoon with a Sunday schedule, and will be back to a normal weekday schedule today. [Washington Post]

Group Says North Bethesda Haunted House Disrespectful — A group of people identifying themselves with the Marshall Islands says The Warehouse: Project 4.1 should rebrand after basing part of its haunted house story on nuclear testing gone wrong in the Marshall Islands. The group even started a petition that says the company behind the haunted house “has chosen to capitalize on the tragic past of a small island nation for profit and entertainment.” [The Gazette] [Change.org]

Early Voting Reopens, Extended — After Sandy led to two cancelled days of early voting, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has extended hours from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at all polling places and ordered they open through Friday. [Montgomery County BOE]

Flickr photo by Signalbot

by BethesdaNow.com — October 30, 2012 at 4:30 pm 752 1 Comment

Police say a man with a hard hat and reflective vest claiming he worked for the water company distracted an elderly Bethesda resident last week as his partner stole jewelry from her house.

The incident, which happened before 11:50 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 26 in the 5200 block of Alta Vista Road, is very similar to a reported incident about 15 minutes earlier in Chevy Chase.

At about 11:35 a.m., police say officers responded to an 87-year-old woman in the 5300 block of Sherrill Avenue who said a man with tan pants and a hard hat knocked on her door and claimed he worked for the Bethesda Water Company.

He told her he needed to check her water pressure because of a water main break, police said Tuesday in a press release. Police said a neighbor arrived at that point to check on the victim. The man again said he worked for the Betehsda Water Company before leaving the property in a gray Saturn, police said. He did not enter the home.

Police later received the call from Alta Vista Road, where they say an 86-year-old woman heard a knock on the door and opened it to find a man with blue jeans, a reflective vest and a hard hat.

He said he worked for the water company and that he had to check the water pressure in the basement because of a water main break. When the victim was with the man in the basement, police said she heard footsteps upstairs. After questioning the man about the footsteps, he quickly left the home, police said. She went upstairs and found jewelry missing from her bedroom.

Police did not say whether they think the same man posed as the utility worker at both homes. They did warn residents to ask for proper identification from any utility workers asking to enter their homes in the aftermath of Sandy.

Police are asking anyone with information about the incidents or the suspects involved to contact detectives at 301-657-0112.

by BethesdaNow.com — October 30, 2012 at 2:15 pm 595 0

Montgomery County will collect tree debris of a certain size on regular recycling days, but many residents likely have bigger branches to dispose of.

Debris (up to 500 pounds) that is longer than four feet in length and wider than four inches in diameter can be recycled at the county’s Shady Grove Processing Facility in Derwood, which is open until 5 p.m. today.

For curbside recycling, Montgomery County wants residents to bag branches in bundles less than 45 pounds and less than 30 inches in diameter.

For tree debris in the public right-of-way, call 311. The Montgomery County Department of Transportation is collecting trees and branches that have fallen on roads or sidewalks. While most of the major downed trees were discovered during the storm last night, police were still reporting new instances of downed branches today.

In another sign of how Bethesda escaped significant damage from Sandy, the Town of Chevy Chase today reported just one downed tree on public land. That tree did not cause any power outages, according to a Town email alert.

The Capital Crescent Trail, at least the portion from Bethesda to the D.C. line, was clear of any prominent obstructions on Tuesday.

by BethesdaNow.com — October 30, 2012 at 12:45 pm 735 0

Tiran Hill was expecting a power outage and perhaps some flooding when he walked into work today.

Instead, the general manager at BGR The Burger Joint (4827 Fairmont Ave.), found the power was on and the restaurant was in better shape than expected after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on other areas of the East Coast.

The only thing off was a small water leak from the roof in the bathroom.

After closing because of Sandy, BGR was back open on Tuesday, one of many Bethesda businesses opening back up after a rare day off on Monday.

Most shops and restaurants on Bethesda Row were open, or opening at least for part of the day Tuesday. Most Woodmont Triangle businesses were open as well.

Don Battista, general manager of Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery (7900 Norfolk Ave.), said the restaurant’s headquarters told him he had to close Monday. It was the first time he could remember Rock Bottom closing because of weather in his 13 years there.

Not everybody closed down. Battista’s around-the-corner competitor Union Jack’s (4915 Saint Elmo Ave.) took advantage of being one of the only Bethesda bars open to serve a rush of customers off from their own jobs.

And of course, there was Tastee Diner (7731 Woodmont Ave.), the venerable all-day breakfast joint that has become a gathering place when Bethesda loses power.

“We always stay open no matter what,” said manager Beth Cox. Her staff was dealing with a larger than usual lunch crowd on Tuesday. With the federal government shut down for the second day and Metro closed until this afternoon, many residents stayed close.

One local economist estimated more than $35 billion in economic losses stemming from the storm, some of it from two days of lost business.

But as Sandy left town, leaving some rain, minor damage and a smattering of power outages, Hill felt fortunate.

“I was expecting a lot worse than this,” he said.

Flickr photo by ehpien

by BethesdaNow.com — October 30, 2012 at 11:30 am 571 0

If you can switch from storm preparation mode to Halloween mode, the Do or Die dinner theater group hopes to see you this weekend.

The production company, which acts out interactive murder mysteries on Friday and Saturday nights at Flanagan’s Harp & Fiddle (4844 Cordell Ave.), is putting on its “Legend of Creepy Hollow” Halloween-themed show for the next three weekends.

The plot is based on the death of “hometown girl and budding author” Tabitha Craven, who comes back to haunt the town of Creepy Hollow until she rests in peace.

Dinner and the show begins at 6:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets include a buffet meal and cost $47.50.

For more information, visit Do or Die’s website.

Photo via Do or Die Productions

by BethesdaNow.com — October 30, 2012 at 10:30 am 1,193 0

The company that wants to redevelop White Flint Mall doesn’t think it should have to donate land for an elementary school to quell overcrowding concerns, but some on the Montgomery County Planning Board do.

The topic came up during last week’s Planning Board review of developer Lerner Enterprises’ White Flint Sketch Plan. The Lerner group has owned the White Flint Mall since developing it in the 70′s and wishes to transform it into 5.22 million of mixed-use development as part of the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan.

Part of the development includes space for an elementary school to service the projected influx of 400 elementary-aged students from the White Flint Mall redevelopment and other nearby projects that are estimated to create 14,000 housing units and 13 million square feet of development around the White Flint Metro station.

Robert Brewer, the attorney who represents Lerner Enterprises on land and zoning issues, said the company would be willing to sell the land to MCPS or perhaps work a deal to do a partial dedication. But he was adamant that it would be unfair to require Lerner Enterprises to give away the land, based on the open space and Rockville Pike restructuring the group has already agreed to.

“There is a fairness issue here,” Brewer said. “We’ve spent millions of dollars getting here today in good faith with reliance on your design guidelines and your sector plan and based on how you’ve treated other applicants. For you to require dedication, I don’t think so.”

The discussion came after MCPS Real Estate Management official Janice Turpin told the Board the Walter Johnson High School cluster is already nearing capacity. In an unrelated presentation at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School last week, MCPS Division of long-range planning chief Bruce Crispell said elementary school enrollment was swelling throughout the county.

Since 2007, enrollment has grown by 10,000 students, a fact many parents and activists have attributed to unchecked development.

Planning Board Chair Francoise Carrier said she was aware that perception would persist despite the open space, road and other concessions Lerner Enterprises made in the process.

“For many people, none of that will matter if they don’t get the school,” Carrier said.

The group spent much of Thursday’s hearing discussing the procedures and legal means that would be associated with requiring Lerner Enterprises to give away the elementary school land. Carrier said a final decision would be made in the preliminary plan step of the process.

by BethesdaNow.com — October 30, 2012 at 9:30 am 1,620 0

Bethesda appeared to suffer much less significant damage than officials had predicted for Sandy, which made landfall in South New Jersey last night.

About 1,830 Pepco customers were without power in nine Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Kensington and North Bethesda zip codes at 9 a.m. The utility company had predicted perhaps hundreds of thousands of customers in its Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and Washington D.C. coverage area would lose power.

There was significant tree damage in the 5900 block of Grosvenor Lane. Power has been shut off in that neighborhood as crews work to untangle a mess of downed trees and power lines just east of Old Georgetown Road.

A traffic light came down at the intersection of East-West Highway and Waverly Street around 11:30 p.m. Monday, though it didn’t appear to cause any further damage.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services reported 324 dispatches countywide between 5 p.m. and midnight. The peak period came between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., when MCFRS units were dispatched 156 times. From midnight to 4 a.m., MCFRS units were dispatched 47 times.

The most significant incident in Montgomery County came in Silver Spring, where a downed tree on an apartment caused a gas leak that displaced 19. There were no injuries.

by BethesdaNow.com — October 30, 2012 at 8:30 am 719 0

Power Outages Linger As Sandy Dies Down — About 4,707 Pepco customers were without power at 6:30 a.m. in nine Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Kensington and North Bethesda zip codes, down from a peak of 7,105 at 11 p.m. The worst of Sandy hit New Jersey and New York, where historic flooding caused massive power outages and at least seven deaths in the region. A fatal car collision Monday morning in Clarksburg was deemed a weather-related incident. [Pepco] [New York Times] [Washington Post]

MoCo, D.C. Region Shuts Down For Second Day — MCPS is closed for the second day. So is the federal government, Montgomery County government and Bethesda Circulator. The Montgomery County Council meeting scheduled today will be rescheduled for Nov. 6. WMATA says it will make a decision around noon on whether to reopen Metro for the afternoon. [WTOP via Twitter]

Number of Roads Remain Closed — Wisconsin Avenue between Willard Avenue and River Road remained closed this morning because of downed trees. Kensington Parkway was closed between Beach Drive and Glenmoor Drive, Little Falls Parkway closed between River Road and Massachusetts Avenue, Beach Drive closed from the D.C. line to Grosvenor Lane because of high water. [Montgomery County DOT]

D.C. Region Economic Hit An Estimated $35 Billion — With damage and the expected loss of two days of business, University of Maryland economist Peter Morici predicted the region’s economic losses at $35 to $45 billion. [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr photo by jmharman73

by BethesdaNow.com — October 29, 2012 at 9:40 pm 1,159 0

The pace of damage from now “Superstorm” Sandy picked up in Bethesda just before 9 p.m. Monday, a trend reflected countywide according to a Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services spokesman.

Assistant Chief Scott Goldstein said “MCFRS noticed an increased tempo of responses,” to downed trees, wires and other damage as winds picked up and heavy rain continued. He urged people to remain in their homes and off the roads.

Despite a relatively low amount of power outages (about 2,500 in nine Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Kensington and North Bethesda zip codes, according to the Pepco outage map) a number of trees and downed wires were reported from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Police closed down Glen Clove Parkway near Newport Avenue after a tree fell on an unoccupied car and home in that residential neighborhood around 7:40 p.m.

A tree fell on and knocked down wires on Willard Avenue near North Park Drive and River Road in Chevy Chase around 8:30 p.m., causing live wires on the street.

Downed trees were also reported near Grosvenor Lane and Farnham Drive and near Grosvenor Lane and Cheshire Drive just east of Old Georgetown Road around 8:40 p.m.

Police reported another downed tree in the 9100 block of Kittery Lane, just south of where Bradley Boulevard passes over the Beltway, at about 9:45 p.m. A tree fell on wires and witnesses said sparks were visible.

Goldstein said MCFRS has increased the amount of personnel on-hand through tomorrow and possibly into Wednesday, depending on the need. Montgomery County Police also urged people to stay off the roads:

If you must travel during the storm or after the storm, remember that when approaching a traffic signal without power, state law requires you to treat the intersection as a four-way stop. #mdsandy

While winds are expected to die down Tuesday, rain will continue, causing the second day of a number of closures around Bethesda, the county and the D.C. Metropolitan area.

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