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Police Looking For Utility Scam Artists

by BethesdaNow.com | October 30, 2012 at 4:30 pm | 630 views | 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.

Getting Rid Of Tree Debris

by BethesdaNow.com | October 30, 2012 at 2:15 pm | 483 views | No Comments

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.

Bethesda Gets Back To Business

by BethesdaNow.com | October 30, 2012 at 12:45 pm | 600 views | No Comments

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

Halloween Dinner Theater At Flanagan’s

by BethesdaNow.com | October 30, 2012 at 11:30 am | 459 views | No Comments

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

Fight Looms Over White Flint School Site

by BethesdaNow.com | October 30, 2012 at 10:30 am | 978 views | No Comments

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.

Photos of Damage From Sandy

by BethesdaNow.com | October 30, 2012 at 9:30 am | 1,451 views | No Comments

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.

Morning Notes

by BethesdaNow.com | October 30, 2012 at 8:30 am | 595 views | No Comments

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

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