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B-CC Celebrates 20 Years of Mentorship Program

by BethesdaNow.com | December 3, 2012 at 3:45 pm | 388 views | No Comments

The Montgomery County Council honored Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce and the Junior Achievement program of Greater Washington last week on the 20th year of Career Partnership Day.

The program matches up about 200 B-CC juniors and seniors with professionals at area businesses to explain the ins and outs of a work day, an attempt to teach students the connection between learning and earning money.

The groups held a formal celebration in September at Imagination Stage.

Last week, Chamber President Ginanne Italiano, B-CC principal Karen Lockard and Junior Achievement’s Ed Grenier and Charles Atwell were on hand to receive a council proclamation on the anniversary from Council President Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac).

Berliner Ends One-Year Council President Term

by BethesdaNow.com | December 3, 2012 at 2:45 pm | 753 views | No Comments

Roger Berliner will hand over his title as Montgomery County Council president to Nancy Navarro (D-Colesville) tomorrow, concluding a year in which the Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Potomac representative says the county made strides despite ongoing fiscal restraints.

“I look back on it with some sense of satisfaction because I do believe we have advanced Montgomery County’s public good during the course of this past year,” Berliner said. “First and foremost, I think we were responsible fiscal stewards.”

For the first time in 11 years, the county did not raise property taxes to the full limit the county’s charter allows, which Berliner said was a sign the council recognized residents’ struggles in a floundering economy.

The council president position typically serves a one-year term, during which he or she gets to set the agenda and serve as the public face of the county’s nine-member legislative body. Berliner held a weekly Monday press conference to talk about issues facing the county, something his predecessor Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring) didn’t do as often.

He said those media sessions were an enjoyable part of the job. He even awarded the reporter who showed up to the most of them with a proclamation during his final press conference as council president on Monday.

Some of Berliner’s pet issues — utilities, Pepco, transportation and business development — did take center stage at times throughout the year.

Berliner, an energy lawyer, often took the lead in criticizing Pepco for its performance during last summer’s derecho and on Monday discussed in great detail his stance against another requested rate hike from Pepco. He did say anecdotal evidence, particularly the company’s performance during Superstorm Sandy, indicates Pepco is improving.

Berliner spearheaded a meeting with Fairfax County officials, what he called the first-ever of its kind between the two suburban counties that typically make headlines competing for businesses, to talk improvements to the American Legion Bridge. He said one of his disappointments was the lack of a funding solution for the county’s major transportation needs and projects.

He also introduced a Small Business Navigator tool through legislation in the council that’s designed to help businesses wade through county regulations. He pushed for the county to hire a chief innovation officer, similar to positions in major cities such as Philadelphia, San Francisco and Chicago.

“My goal quite frankly is that Montgomery County become known as a small business sanctuary. We’ve been more nimble and more entrepreneurial and we will also spread the wealth,” Berliner said, referring to master plans in Wheaton, Takoma Park and Burtonsville the council presided over in the last year.

Navarro, who served as council vice president during the past year, will be given Berliner’s position tomorrow. The decision on the next vice president isn’t as clear.

Berliner wouldn’t reveal his choice on Monday. The council will decide on Tuesday during council elections scheduled for 9:30 a.m.

Bethesda Big Train’s Holiday Auction To Feature Local National

by BethesdaNow.com | December 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm | 594 views | No Comments

Bethesda Big Train’s annual Bethesda Baseball Holiday Auction will feature a Washington National with local ties.

Steve Lombardozzi, the Howard County native who played many positions for the N.L. East Division champions last season, will be on hand when the Big Train holds the fundraiser on Sunday, Dec. 16 at the DoubleTree Hotel (8120 Wisconsin Ave.).

The Big Train are a summer baseball team for collegiate players who often live with area host families while playing games in and around the region as part of the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League. The team is part of the nonprofit Bethesda Community Base Ball Club, created in 1998 to improve conditions of baseball fields throughout the area.

The team, named after former Bethesda resident and all-time pitching great Walter Johnson, plays at Shirley Povich Field in Cabin John Regional Park.

Tickets for the event start at $50 and can be purchased here. For more information, visit the Big Train’s website.

Flickr photo by Keith Allison

Council Expected To Approve New Guest House Provision

by BethesdaNow.com | December 3, 2012 at 11:00 am | 439 views | No Comments

The Montgomery County Council tomorrow will likely approve a bill that will require a property owner to live in the main home on the property before building a guest house.

The legislation stems from a dispute in Bethesda’s Battery Park neighborhood, where a Del Ray Avenue property owner who is renting out the principal home wants to build a two-story guest house with a garage in her backyard she can use when she visits the area.

Neighbors decried the guest house plans as a loophole in accessory apartment law and organized to present their case before the county Board of Appeals and bring it before Councilwoman Nancy Floreen (D-At large) of Garrett Park.

Floreen introduced Zoning Text Amendment 12-15, which would require a property owner to live at the main residence before building a guest house. Her Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee recommended approving the measure by a 3-0 vote.

An attorney for Rina Levy, who lives in Israel and rents out the main house on the 5000 block of Del Ray Avenue, said the garage is a needed improvement for the property, as the main house does not have a covered garage. She also said Levy never intended to rent out the guest house to a separate tenant, another concern of neighbors.

County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) recommended adding a provision to the bill that would prohibit a guest house on the same lot where an accessory apartment is located.

Former NIH Employee Sentenced to Six Months In Prison

by BethesdaNow.com | December 3, 2012 at 10:00 am | 847 views | No Comments

A former NIH employee who pled guilty to using government-issued credit cards to buy iPads, perfume a mattress and other products was sentenced to six months in prison followed by six months of home detention on Friday.

Tamia M. McCoy, 33, of Germantown pled guilty to theft of government property and money for using two credit cards to purchase more than $100,000 worth of goods from May 2011 to December 2011, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Maryland.

McCoy was a purchasing agent and procurement analyst for NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases since 2007. Her purchases included about 119 iPads and other electronics, designer perfume, clutch bag and a queen-size mattress set. She kept some of the items for her personal use and resold others, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

McCoy disputed some of the charges with the credit card company and falsified documents to get away with the scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

As part of her sentence, McCoy must also repay the $106,096.09 she took from the government, according to her plea deal, and serve three years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service.

Morning Notes

by BethesdaNow.com | December 3, 2012 at 9:05 am | 499 views | No Comments

Audits Show Mismanagement of Funds at B-CC — Audits from 2008 and 2011 show lax record-keeping procedures for cash and checks collected by sponsors for school activity and at least $61,000 in understated debt owed to Montgomery County Public Schools and other vendors. [Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland]

Pepco Again Asks For Rate Hike — The power company is asking the Maryland Public Service for a $60.8 million increase in its base rates, about $7.13 more a month for the average customer. [The Gazette]

Ride On Bus Cameras Watch and Record  — Nearly 300 Montgomery County Ride On buses have surveillance cameras that record sound in addition to video. That has some worried about privacy issues, but the county says the sound recording is meant for the bus drivers. [Washington Post]

Flickr photo by smather

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