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by Aaron Kraut — November 20, 2014 at 9:00 am 309 1 Comment

New White Flint Post Office location on Nicholson Lane

The relocated White Flint Post Office that was supposed to open in July is set to finally open Monday, according to the Postal Service.

D.C. area spokesperson Laura Dvorak said the new location (5056-B Nicholson Lane) will open at 9 a.m. on Monday.

It will be the first time the White Flint Post Office has been open since April, when the USPS closed its location in White Flint Mall earlier than it had previously announced.

The Postal Service’s lease at the Mall was up in May and with redevelopment of the mall planned, it started looking for a new nearby location last year.

The Kensington Post Office temporarily took over the White Flint location’s P.O. box service.

by Aaron Kraut — November 20, 2014 at 8:00 am 970 2 Comments

Bradley Shopping Center, via rzultarzaba

Giant Pharmacist Accused Of Stealing Painkillers From Own Pharmacy – Parvin Ossareh, 51, of Bethesda has been charged with the theft of more than 7,300 tablets of the painkiller Hydrocodone from the Giant Food pharmacy he worked in. Police say Ossareh first started stealing the pills in July 2013 from the Giant Food at Georgetown Square Shopping Center. It continued until June 2014, when management confronted Ossareh about fraudulent transactions in the pharmacy’s records. [ABC7]

Upscale Bethesda Restaurant Switching To Barbecue – Newton’s Table (4917 Elm St.) is switching from pricey white tablecloth to barbecue starting in 2015. Newton’s Table owner Dennis Friedman will change the name of the restaurant to Bethesda Barbeque Company and work with a high school friend who started a barbecue company in North Carolina. [Bethesda Magazine]

MCPS Posts Part-Time Athletic Trainers At Each High School – For the first time, MCPS has put part-time athletic trainers at each of the system’s 25 high schools, allowing the professionals to diagnose injuries and offer advice to prevent injuries across all sports. Last year, just seven schools were assigned a full-time trainer and two additional trainers split time between 11 other schools. [The Gazette]

Deadline For Bus Rapid Transit Committees Is Friday – Friday is the deadline for nominations to the county’s new Rapid Transit System Corridor Advisory Committees. Self nominations can be sent in by email, but be sure to read up on the way the county hopes to structure each committee. There will be an Advisory Committee to help with the planning of the 355 South Corridor, which would run from south of the Rockville Metro station all the way to the Bethesda Metro station. [Montgomery County]

Photo via rzultarzaba

by Aaron Kraut — November 19, 2014 at 4:15 pm 232 0

A traffic stop in Bethesda (file photo)

Montgomery County Police will begin their Alcohol Holiday Task Force on Wednesday night, an effort that will include sobriety checkpoints and surveillance of stores that sell alcohol.

Officers from the county’s Alcohol Initiatives Section will be leading the task force, which will run until Jan. 10 and include five focus areas:

  • •Enforcement of traffic laws in areas known for a high number of alcohol-related tragedies with the goal of getting drunk or drug-impaired drivers off the road.
  • Compliance checks of businesses who hold alcohol licenses by using underage volunteers to attempt to purchase alcohol at establishments (ensuring that shopkeepers are careful not to sell alcohol to minors).
  • Surveillance by officers in plain clothes of local businesses who sell alcohol  (ensuring that shopkeepers are not selling alcohol to minors and also ensuring that minors are not using false identification or using other means to buy alcohol).
  • Responding to calls for underage drinking parties.  All attendees are screened for alcohol usage, and those who are under age 21 are issued citations. Every person is then ensured a safe ride home.  Parents of juveniles are notified to come and get them. Any parent or other adult who hosts can also be held liable and can be issued a citation.
  • Sobriety checkpoints: The location of the checkpoints is based on accident and traffic data focusing on areas drivers are most at risk for encountering impaired drivers.

County police will team up with officers from the Park Police Department, Maryland State Police and departments in Gaithersburg City and Takoma Park.

by Aaron Kraut — November 19, 2014 at 3:15 pm 185 2 Comments

The "Monster Plow Truck," via State Highway Administration

While this week’s January-like temperatures haven’t brought any snow, the Maryland State Highway Administration wants people to know it’s ready for wintry weather at any time.

The SHA on Wednesday showed off nine new “Monster Plow Trucks.” At nearly one-and-a-half times the size of a regular plow truck, the SHA says the quad axle truck can carry 10 more cubic yards of salt and hold 40 more gallons of fuel than the typical vehicle in its fleet.

That means drivers of the monster plows will be able to stay on their snow plowing routes longer before having to reload and refuel.

The SHA showed off its collection of plow trucks, dual wing plows, tow plows and “state-of-the-art snow blowers,” at its maintenance facility in Silver Spring.

Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation holds a similar event before each winter. The agencies work together when it comes to salting and plowing roads — though the SHA is responsible for clearing highways and major state routes such as Wisconsin Avenue, Old Georgetown Road and Connecticut Avenue.

The SHA says it tries to use less salt on the road each year and will again pre-wet salt with brine or magnesium chloride before it’s dispersed. That allows the salt to stick to the road better, instead of being bounced off by passing traffic.

There are 940 lane miles of road categorized as primary, arterial or emergency throughout the county. Montgomery County and its contractors are responsible for plowing 4,210 residential lane miles — those roads predominantly in neighborhoods.

Last year’s frequent snow events meant a total snow plowing price tag north of $25 million. The county had budgeted just $9 million.

Photo via SHA

by BethesdaNow.com — November 19, 2014 at 2:00 pm 352 0

ArcLight Bethesda at Westfield Montgomery mall

UPDATE 5:25 p.m.: Thanks to all who emailed in and congratulations to our three winners. Check in tomorrow for another chance at free movie passes from ArcLight Cinemas.

It’s a big movie weekend. To celebrate, Bethesda’s newest movie theater is giving away free passes.

ArcLight Cinemas Bethesda (7101 Democracy Blvd.) is offering three pairs of tickets for a movie this weekend to the first three people who email news@bethesdanow.com with the subject line “ArcLight Cinemas Bethesda.”

Remember to include your name in the email and if you win, ArcLight will set aside your passes for a show this weekend.

The 16-screen multiplex had its official grand opening a few weeks ago at Westfield Montgomery mall. Starting Friday, the theater will feature new releases “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1″ and “Foxcatcher.”

If you don’t win Wednesday, be sure to check BethesdaNow.com on Thursday as we’ll be giving away more ArcLight passes. Also be sure to follow the theater on Twitter for events and announcements.

by Aaron Kraut — November 19, 2014 at 12:45 pm 2,293 62 Comments

(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) Montgomery County planners could recommend 75-foot high mixed-use apartment buildings along River Road, a new Little Falls Library in a civic square and a new development of 50- and 80-foot tall buildings on what’s now a shopping center parking lot in the Westbard section of Bethesda.

Planners working on a revision of the Westbard Sector Plan presented their Concept Framework Plan to residents on Tuesday night at Westland Middle School.

The presentation included renderings of how development spurred by the yet-to-be approved Sector Plan might look along River Road and Westbard Avenue.

Planners also projected the Concept Framework would allow for triple the amount of housing units in the area today, with an additional 1,685-1,927 units allowed on top of the existing 1,104.

The renderings and housing projection elicited gasps and laughs from some of the roughly 250 residents packing the school’s cafeteria, many who have expressed opposition to more density since major property owner Equity One first met with them in January.

In a question and answer session that followed, the vast majority of the residents who spoke said they were against the proposed density because of concerns about traffic, school overcrowding or the potential loss of gas stations and auto repair shops that dot the dead-end alleys off River Road.

Some lambasted county planners. One man didn’t leave the microphone until planners attempted three different responses to his assertion — guised in the form of a question — that the plan was a “giveaway” to developers.

Others chose not to wait for their turn at the microphone, frequently yelling out while planners were attempting to respond to questions and concerns.

“All you’re doing by adding density is building a wasteland,” said one.

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — November 19, 2014 at 11:15 am 371 4 Comments

White Flint, as seen from above

A Montgomery County-led landscaping effort might be able to brighten up some gloomy concrete intersections along Rockville Pike in White Flint, while also providing the area with a more unified look.

Ken Hartman, a county administrator and director of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, said he’s close to a $40,000 planting program for soil beds in the medians in four major White Flint intersections.

Miami Crape Myrtle, via White Flint Downtown Advisory CommitteeUsing some of the money budgeted for the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee, Hartman told the group on Tuesday that the program would bring pink Miami Crape Myrtle trees and grassy flowering plants such as salvia in an effort to better establish White Flint’s identity.

Hartman said he still needs final approval to do the plantings from the State Highway Administration, which decides on all proposed improvements to Rockville Pike. He also asked for donations from private property owners along the Pike.

“If anyone is willing to partner with us, that frees up more funding in our budget in the spring for more stuff,” Hartman said.

Federal Realty’s Jay Corbalis said the developer might be interested and has looked into landscaping on two pedestrian medians that separate the intersection of Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike from high-speed turn lanes.

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — November 19, 2014 at 10:00 am 227 1 Comment

The Georgetown Branch extension of the Capital Crescent Trail at Jones Mill Road on Jan. 30, 2014

Montgomery Parks on Wednesday said it will plow its section of the Capital Crescent Trail this winter, after complaints last winter from Trail users who encountered icy conditions for days and weeks after snowy weather.

The pilot plowing program was approved as part of this year’s county budget, with up to $75,000 being set aside for the operation.

Parks staff will clear snow on its 3.5 miles of the trail running from Bethesda Avenue to the Montgomery County-D.C. line. Parks will also clear snow along 12 feeder trails. In an announcement on Wednesday, Parks said staff will begin clearing the trail within 24 hours after snow stops falling.

The money in the budget allows for the purchase of special trail clearing equipment as well as money to cover extra staff time.

“We recognize that many people rely on the Capital Crescent Trail for commuting and appreciate the county’s support of this pilot program enabling us to respond to the needs of residents,” Parks Director Mike Riley said in a prepared release.

In the past, Montgomery Parks has argued the idea of plowing the Capital Crescent Trail would mean having to remove snow on all of its trails in the county, a financially arduous task.

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — November 19, 2014 at 9:00 am 4,171 2 Comments

Montgomery County police carThe police commander for the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area says a number of recent daytime home burglaries could be the work of groups of transient criminals.

2nd District Police Capt. David Falcinelli penned a letter sent out to neighborhood groups across the area on Monday warning homeowners of thieves posing in WSSC uniforms, entire families sitting in cars casing neighborhoods and women showing up and asking to use the phone as a distraction.

Falcinelli said those scams are typical of “transient criminals,” some who stay in a local hotel for a few weeks before heading out of town.

He also went into detail about what the criminals look like, writing that they “are often mistaken as Hispanics:”

The appearance of a transient criminal can generally be described as medium to dark complexioned Caucasian, who are often mistaken as Hispanics. Dark hair and dark eyes are common characteristics. The number of suspects involved can be between two and six. At times, American transient criminal women and children will accompany a male suspect, or two women will work as a team. A look out is often used and usually sits in the vehicle and may sound the car horn if the police are spotted. You should note that transient criminals are experts at false identification and will use a variation of family names and birth dates

Falcinelli didn’t explain how police have connected several recent daytime burglaries to transient criminal activity, but did mention that residents have reported seeing unfamiliar people sitting in a car in their neighborhood around the time of a burglary.

(more…)

by BethesdaNow.com — November 19, 2014 at 8:00 am 332 0

This biweekly column is written by Suzanne Lawter, Director of Community Outreach for Mutts Matter Rescue, a local nonprofit, all-volunteer dog rescue. Mutts Matter is a network of volunteers who love animals and want to make a difference by helping forgotten and discarded dogs find loving families. Since our founding in 2010, we have successfully rescued and placed more than 1,400 dogs in the local Washington Metropolitan area.

Casey is an adorable 2.5-year-old terrier mix who weighs about 17 pounds. He’s a puppy mill survivor who is still very timid and adjusting to the world around him. He takes time to warm up to new people and trust new situations, but he finally knows what it’s like to be loved by a family and is embracing all the pleasures of home life, like treats, belly rubs, and snuggling with his foster family in bed.

Mutts Matter Rescue bannerCasey was one of 35 dogs that Mutts Matter took in from a large puppy mill bust in Virginia this year, and he was one of more traumatized dogs we rescued. He spent the entire first two years of his life locked up in a tiny, crowded cage, never having access to the outdoors or freedom to explore his environment. He was malnourished, his coat was severely matted to the point it limited his mobility, and he suffered from neglect and abuse at the hands of humans.

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — November 18, 2014 at 3:40 pm 1 Comment

Flickr photo by Nicole'

The United States Postal Service announced on Tuesday that it’s kicking off the holiday shopping season by delivering packages seven days a week in high volume areas including all Bethesda, Chevy Chase and North Bethesda zip codes.

The seven-day-a-week delivery will include delivering packages to mailing addresses in the 20814, 20815, 20816, 20817, 20852 and 20895 zip codes.

The Postal Service said it’s anticipating double-digit package volume growth up until Christmas Day.

To make sure your package arrives in time for Christmas, the USPS also released a list of Christmas shipping deadlines for each type of delivery:

  • Dec. 2 – First-Class Mail International/Priority Mail International
  • Dec. 10 – Priority Mail Express International
  • Dec. 15 – Standard Post
  • Dec. 17 – Global Express Guaranteed
  • Dec. 20 – First-Class Mail/Priority Mail (domestic)
  • Dec. 23 – Priority Mail Express (domestic)

Flickr photo by Nicole’

by Aaron Kraut — November 18, 2014 at 2:45 pm 931 10 Comments

A major part of Rockville Pike’s “strip mall on steroids” layout is halfway to becoming one of its first attempts at urban living.

Developer Federal Realty, County Councilmembers, Montgomery County staff and Planning Department figures gathered at Pike & Rose on Tuesday to celebrate the official ribbon cutting ceremony for Phase I of the project that has transformed the former Mid-Pike Plaza Shopping Center at Rockville Pike and Old Georgetown Road.

Pike & Rose, situated around the newly built Grand Park Avenue, features 80,000 square feet of new Class A office space in the building that houses the luxury iPic movie theater and AMP, the 250-seat music venue to be operated by Strathmore and opening in March.

It also includes about 500 residential units spread over two buildings — the already opened PerSei apartment complex and the almost finished Pallas, the residential tower that will include higher-end apartment units and condos.

“We often hear, ‘Really, is Montgomery County open for business? Does Montgomery County welcome business?’” said Councilmember Roger Berliner, who used the “strip mall on steroids” phrase to describe what the area around the White Flint Metro station still largely resembles.

“This is proof positive that if you give our community a vision to get excited about, a vision where everybody has bought into it, we collectively can make something wonderful happen,” Berliner said.

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — November 18, 2014 at 1:15 pm 2,833 13 Comments

The Bethesda Library

Bethesda is once again at the top of a list — this time for an honor that has been bestowed upon the area in one way or the other a few times before.

NerdWallet, a website that rates services including credit cards, insurance plans and shopping deals, named Bethesda as the “Most Educated Place in America.”

The website also ranked Potomac as the No. 2 most educated place in America and North Bethesda as the No. 10 most educated place in America.

It’s not the first time Bethesda has earned a top ranking on a most educated list and not the first time the area has been ranked near the top in an attempt to name the smartest places.

NerdWallet used Census numbers for almost 2,000 Census Designated Places in the country. Forty percent of the overall score for each place depended on the percentage of the population with at least a high school diploma or associate’s degree. Thirty percent of the overall score was based on the percentage of the population with at least a bachelor’s degree.

Ten percent each was assigned to the percentage of people with a master’s degree, the percentage with a doctorate degree and the percentage with a professional degree.

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — November 18, 2014 at 12:15 pm 165 0

White Flint Metro StationAn official, county government-funded website for the redeveloping area around the White Flint Metro station could be made public in the next few weeks before an official launch in early January.

Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Director Ken Hartman said on Tuesday that the website will be able to incorporate any branding or naming decisions that come out of a charrette held in September by the Friends of White Flint and a group of area developers known as the White Flint Partnership.

The website, designed by the same contractor who worked on the Bethesda Urban Partnership site Bethesda.org, will function in much the same way.

The first phase of the site will include a restaurant directory, retail directory, direct link to Metro White Flint’s Twitter feed and updates from local news outlets.

The website, for now, includes a header reading “Metropolitan White Flint.”

The suggestion of that name last spring was the impetus for a flurry of activity in the naming debate, a process that has been going on unresolved for years.

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — November 18, 2014 at 11:10 am 0

The Music Center at Strathmore, Flickr photo via Bill in DC

Last month, it was the 5th graders’ turn. Starting Tuesday, it will be MCPS 2nd graders who are flooding the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda for a series of annual student concerts.

From Tuesday through Friday, more than 11,000 2nd grade students will see and hear a performance from the National Philharmonic, giving many their first taste of classical music.

There will be seven concerts over the four days in the Music Center, the 2,000-seat concert hall on Tuckerman Lane in North Bethesda.

Students are taught about the four families of instrument that make up an orchestra during the performance, via videos and images projected on a large screen hovering overhead. This year, the students will be able to sing along with the orchestra as it performs the “Little Train of Caipira.”

Strathmore said the 2nd grade concerts represent a $124,000 investment. This year’s 5th grade concerts for the first time focused on Blues music. The Strathmore Hall Foundation, Geico, Jordan Kitt’s Music, Capital One Bank and the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation all donated to the student concert effort.

Flickr photo via Bill in DC

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