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Whitman Named Best Public High School In Maryland

by Aaron Kraut | April 22, 2014 at 3:25 pm | 4,778 views | 6 Comments

Walt Whitman High School, via MCPSPerennially high-achieving Walt Whitman High School is the No. 1 public high school in Maryland and No. 61 best public high school in the country, according to rankings published Tuesday by U.S. News & World Report.

The website’s popular annual rankings gave seven MCPS schools a gold medal rating for being among the top 500 public high schools in the nation. Four others got a silver medal rating for being among the top 2,019 schools.

The analysis used 2011-2012 data on overall student performance on state-mandated tests, education of minority and economically disadvantaged students and school performance on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams.

For a glaring reason not to take the rankings too seriously, just take a look at Winston Churchill High School, which somehow wasn’t ranked at all.

The Potomac school was ranked as the best public high school in Maryland in both the 2012 and 2013 U.S. News analysis. Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Walter Johnson High Schools were also unranked this year.

The top 4,707 high schools in the country qualified for the list, U.S. News said.

Wootton (No. 65), Poolesville (No. 83) and Richard Montgomery (No. 163) followed Whitman among MCPS schools.

Bethesda Named A Top 10 Best City For New College Grads

by Aaron Kraut | April 21, 2014 at 12:25 pm | 1,255 views | 1 Comment

People walking down the sidewalk at Bethesda Row (file photo)A website that ranks medium sized cities and towns on Monday named Bethesda as the No. 4 best city in the country for new college grads in 2014.

Livability.com says the combination of Bethesda’s 25- to 34-year-old population, education levels and the presence of jobs in top-hiring industries make it one of the most livable places for those looking to start a career.

Bethesda has the lowest unemployment rate (1.3 percent) on the top-10 list and more than 83 percent of the roughly 7,000 people in Bethesda age 25-34 have at least a bachelor’s degree, according to the rankings. It also helped that Bethesda is the home to leading research facilities such as NIH and major companies such as Lockheed Martin and Marriott.

“Businesses relocate for access to a talented workforce. But, increasingly, those young talents are choosing where to move after college based on livability,” Livability.com editor Matt Carmichael said in a press release. “These 10 cities are great places for recent grads, which should put them on the radar of employers looking to expand as well.”

The website said it also factored in the availability of rental units, public transportation and “cities that cater to a younger demographic by offering lots of recreational activities, hot nightlife and a hip vibe.”

“The majority of residents here make more than $130,000 a year,” according to the website. “Although there are fewer rental properties in Bethesda when compared to other cities on our list, young newcomers shouldn’t have a problem finding a trendy, hip apartment loaded with amenities like a pool, workout room and tennis courts.”

Cambridge, Mass., Bellevue, Wash., and Austin, Texas beat out Bethesda on the list. Other cities in the top 10 include Minneapolis, Hoboken, N.J., Ann Arbor, Mich., and Fargo, N.D.

MoCo Touts High Marks In Life Expectancy, Smoking Prevalence Studies

by Aaron Kraut | April 9, 2014 at 3:05 pm | 249 views | No Comments

People walking down the sidewalk at Bethesda Row (file photo)Women in Montgomery County are expected to live for 84.9 years, the second longest life expectancy for women in any county or county-equivalent in the United States, according to a Seattle-based health research center.

According to the same study, men in Montgomery County (at 81.6 years) are tied for the second longest life expectancy of any county in the country.

Montgomery County on Wednesday cited that study and a corresponding county-level obesity study from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) as evidence that Montgomery is among the healthiest of 3,143 counties in the country.

“We have all known that Montgomery County was one of the best places in America to live, work and raise a family,” County Executive Isiah Leggett said in a press release. “Now we know it is one of the best places to live if you are planning on living as long as you can.”

The life expectancy and obesity studies aren’t exactly new. The IHME published those in July 2013. But together with a county-level study published last month on smoking prevalence, the overall picture of Montgomery County is indeed one that suggests it’s among the healthiest places in the country.

Montgomery County ranked No. 11 in the country when it came to the least amount of women who smoke, with just 9.7 percent estimated to smoke. The IHME study estimated only 13.4 percent of men in Montgomery County are prevalent smokers, good for the No. 12 ranking in that measure.

The 2013 life expectancy study found women were living five years longer in 2010 than they were in 1985 and that men in Montgomery County were living seven years longer than they were in 1985.

Montgomery males trailed only Fairfax County, Va. in the entire nation and tied with Gunnison and Pitkin Counties in Colorado. (Gunnison is home to Aspen, Col.). Females came in second behind only Marin County, Calif.

According to the 2013 obesity prevalence study, 24.9 percent of county women were obese in 2009 and 23.9 percent of men were obese in 2009. Both those marks put the county in the top 10 percent of the country when it came to the least amount of obese residents.

“There are many factors at work here — income, employment, broad access to quality health care, a focus on public health, our excellent parks and recreational facilities, and more. The more I think about it, though, the more I believe our County education system is a key factor. Educational excellence contributes to raising self-awareness and to the ability of County residents to get good jobs, provide stability for their families, and support a strong tax base with strong social services,” Leggett said.

“These statistics show that Montgomery County is making measurable progress in our public health efforts,” Councilmember George Leventhal said in the press release.

Leventhal is chair of the Council’s Health & Human Services Committee and the backer of many health related bills, such as the 2009 law that requires large restaurant chains to include calorie counts on menus. Montgomery County was among the first jurisdictions in the country to enact the calorie count law.

“Our goal should be a culture of wellness, where every resident has access to affordable medical care, pays attention to his or her diet, exercises, keeps fit, feels good and maintains a high quality of life.”

Morning Notes

by Aaron Kraut | March 14, 2014 at 9:05 am | 258 views | No Comments

Flickr photo by ehpien

Whitman Wins Basketball Semi, Headed To State Title Game — The Whitman High School boys basketball rode 20 points from guard Kyle Depollar and a banked-in 3-pointer to beat the third quarter buzzer to beat Annapolis, 59-48 on Thursday at the Comcast Center. The Vikings will face perhaps their biggest challenge yet, Upper Marlboro’s Henry A. Wise in Saturday’s Class 4A state championship game. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. at the Comcast Center. Wise beat Springbrook on Thursday night. [The Gazette]

County Snow Removal Costs About $25 Million — This season’s many snow and ice events have pushed Montgomery County’s salting, snow removal and employee overtime budget well past the previously set aside $9.1 million. The county’s costs are about $25 million and County Executive Isiah Leggett will likely ask the County Council for a supplemental appropriation in the next couple weeks. And our winter may not even be over — forecasters are calling for a chance of snow on Monday. [Washington Post] [Weather.com]

Locals Dot Forbes Billionaires List — Potomac businessman Mitchell Rales, investor David Rubenstein, the Marriott brothers and Chevy Chase Bank founder Bernard Saul II are among the richest people in the world, all with net worths of at least $2.2 billion. The richest Marylander according to the list is Washington Nationals owner, developer and Chevy Chase resident Ted Lerner, who has a net worth of $4.2 billion. That’s good for No. 354 on the list. [CBS DC]

Notice Something New On Old Georgetown Road? — Construction of the Pike & Rose development will radically change the look of Mid-Pike Plaza and around the Old Georgetown Road section of White Flint. Crews have installed new street lamps to mark the southern entrance to the development. [Pike & Rose via Twitter]

Chevy Chase Resident Worried Construction Might Take Out Elm Tree — A 150-year-old Elm tree on the Town of Chevy Chase’s Elm Street might be in danger from a home construction project. John Fitzgerald, a Town resident and environmentalist, filed a formal complaint with the Town that will be reviewed on March 26. By then, he worries a drainage ditch to go along with the construction will have badly damaged the tree’s root system. The project was given the OK by the Town’s arborist, who judged the project was in line with the Town’s strict tree ordinance. [WTOP]

Flickr photo by ehpien

Bethesda, Chevy Chase Neighborhoods Among Wealthiest In America

by Aaron Kraut | February 26, 2014 at 10:15 am | 3,261 views | 3 Comments

Chevy Chase Village Hall (file photo)Say hello to Stephen Higley, the retired urban social geography professor who investigates racial integration in America’s wealthiest neighborhoods.

As part of his studies, Higley ranks the top 1,000 wealthiest neighborhoods in the country by aggregating contiguous block groups presented in the U.S. Census American Community Survey for 2006-2010. That basically gives him a look at each neighborhood’s demographics.

Based on the 2006-2010 ACS mean household income data, Higley has a number of area neighborhoods in the top 25, including one section of Bethesda at No. 2.

According to Higley, the Bradley Manor-Longwood neighborhood of Bethesda — just inside the Beltway where Bradley Boulevard crosses over — is the second most wealthy neighborhood in America, with a mean household income of $599,440.

No. 1 is the Golden Triangle in Greenwich, Conn., which has a mean household income of $614,242.

Not too far behind is Potomac Manors, a Potomac neighborhood of just 42 custom-built homes with a median household income of $599,331, good for No. 3 on the list. Carderock-The Palisades — the area just west of Bethesda along the Potomac River — is No. 5 with a mean household income of $595,669.

Chevy Chase Village, the incorporated area along the D.C. border and Connecticut Avenue, is the No. 24 most wealthy neighborhood with a mean household income of $466,049.

[The 2010 Higley 1000]

Bethesda Left Off Most Exciting Suburbs List

by Aaron Kraut | February 4, 2014 at 11:30 am | 1,218 views | 9 Comments

Bethesda Row, Flickr pool photo by AmyMarieMooreBethesda may be the “Most Secure Place in the U.S.,” “Best City For Finding Employment Right Now,” and have the “Best 2013 Housing Market,” but one thing it is not is “exciting,” at least according to the real estate blog Movoto.

The website did another one of its rankings, this time in search of the “Most Exciting Suburbs In America,” and Bethesda isn’t even close, not even garnering mention in the top 50.

Movoto came up with a formula that includes counting the number of bars, clubs, comedy stops, live music venues and outdoor activity spaces. Places, all determined by Census designations, got more credit for more young people and less credit for fast food restaurants.

The top-tier results weren’t so surprising. Well-established college towns such as Cambridge, Mass. (No. 1), Berkley, Calif. (No. 3) and Evanston, Ill. (No. 10) dotted the top-10, as well as beach areas such as Miami Beach (No. 4), Santa Monica, Calif. (No. 5) and Jacksonville Beach, Fla. (No. 7).

At No. 11 is Towson, Md., presumably thanks to a boost from the party-friendly population of Towson University.

But while Bethesda is nowhere to be found, Montgomery County wasn’t completely shut out. Silver Spring came in as the No. 13 “most exciting suburb,” something that a few of our friends east of 16th Street not-so- subtly pointed out:

Flickr pool photo by AmyMarieMoore

Morning Notes

by Aaron Kraut | January 7, 2014 at 9:05 am | 272 views | 2 Comments

Flickr photo by jweingardt12

Bethesda No. 3, Chevy Chase No. 10 ‘Best Places’ In Maryland — A real estate blog ranked the “best places” in Maryland, as judged by the cost of living, crime rate, high school graduation rate, median household income and other factors in 185 U.S. Census-designated places. The result was a top 10 list in which all 10 places are in Montgomery County, including No. 3 Bethesda and No. 10 Chevy Chase (the Census-designated place, not the incorporated towns and villages). In first place was Travilah, a CDP consisting of parts of Rockville and Potomac that most people we know call either Rockville or Potomac. [Movoto]

Bethesda Businessman Gets Nod As Leggett Campaign Manager — Scott Goldberg, a 2010 District 16 state delegate candidate and Bethesda business owner, was announced on Monday as County Executive Isiah Leggett’s 2014 campaign manager. Leggett, a two-term incumbent, is facing Doug Duncan, his predecessor, and County Councilmember Phil Andrews for the Democratic nomination. Goldberg owns a Bethesda-based property management firm and is a member of the Western Montgomery Citizens Advisory Board. In the past, Leggett campaign managers have been kept on in prominent positions in Montgomery County’s Executive Office. [Washington Post]

Libraries Launch E-Book Lending — Montgomery County Public Libraries launched three new online services for 2014, including a 3M Cloud Library system that will allow customers to check-out e-books from the “big six” publishers from any location. [Montgomery County Public Libraries]

Councilmembers Want More Urban Roads — County Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Hans Riemer have introduced a bill that would amend the county’s Road Code to reduce speed limits and allow for lanes no wider than 10 feet in urban areas. The idea is to reduce the distance pedestrians will have to walk to cross a street and make developing areas more accessible to cyclists. Controversy over a reworked Old Georgetown Road in White Flint is one example of how some feel the existing Road Code is holding newer urban areas back. [Just Up The Pike]

Flickr photo by jweingardt12

Bethesda Among Least Likely Towns To Be Hit By Natural Disaster

by Aaron Kraut | August 29, 2013 at 2:35 pm | 228 views | No Comments

Damage to power lines in the 5900 block of Grosvenor Lane during Superstorm Sandy (file photo)The Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick metropolitan area is the fifth least likely to be hit by a natural disaster, according to a report put out by real estate website Trulia.com.

If you read BethesdaNow.com regularly, you’re by now probably well aware that many of these rankings use the “metropolitan area,” as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, when researching and categorizing lists including “Most Secure Place in the U.S.,” “Best City For Finding Employment Right Now,” “Best 2013 Housing Markets,” and even the “Highest Ratio of Single Women to Single Men in the U.S.

So chalk up another one for the supposed metropolis that is Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick.

Trulia created a “Natural Hazard Visualizations Map,” using hurricane and tornado data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and wildfire data from the U.S. Forest Service.

Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick ranks fifth on the list of housing markets at lower risk of natural disasters, according to the website’s research. Of course, the area’s asking price for a home per square feet far surpassed any other area in the top 10.

Syracuse, N.Y. took the top rank for lowest natural disaster risk, followed by Cleveland, Akron, Ohio and Buffalo, N.Y.

Bethesda Companies Make Fastest-Growing List

by Aaron Kraut | August 21, 2013 at 10:30 am | 430 views | No Comments

Inc5000 logoA pair of Bethesda companies made the top 500 of year’s Inc. Magazine’s list of 5000 fastest growing companies.

Mobomo, the mobile app developer based on Democracy Boulevard, came in as the No. 159 fastest growing company in 2013 with $2.8 million in revenue last year, up from $107,540 in 2009. The company is still small — it started in 2009 and has added 10 employees in the past three years for a total of 13 — but it is the highest ranking Bethesda company on the list.

Wellness Corporate Solutions, the Cabin John-based firm that creates wellness programs for corporate and government clients, came in at No. 357 in the rankings. It tailors health programming for offices. Its clients include a single office with 50 employees, multi-state corporations with 150,000 employees and many places in between. The company posted $9.3 million in revenue in 2012 and has added 46 employees over the past three years for a total of 51. It was founded in 2004.

Other Bethesda-based companies on the list include government cyber security and IT contractor Digital Management at No. 513 and online wedding organizer and services company WeddingWire at No. 613.

Digital Management reported a 2012 revenue of $162.3 million and has added 1,093 jobs in the past three years for a total of 1,212 employees. WeddingWire, which in the past year moved from Bethesda to bigger offices in Chevy Chase, launched PromWire.com and MitzvahWire.com and had a reported 2012 revenue of $19.7 million. WeddingWire came in at No. 309 on last year’s list.

Streetsense, the all-in-one retail and restaurant broker, architecture, design and branding firm, moved into a vacant space at 3 Bethesda Metro earlier this year. It came in at No. 2,129 this year and has added 50 jobs in the past three years.

Two Bethesda Zip Codes Among Area’s Wealthiest

by Aaron Kraut | August 16, 2013 at 12:40 pm | 964 views | No Comments

Flickr photo by afagenTwo Bethesda zip codes are among the area’s 50 wealthiest, according to data presented by the Washington Business Journal.

The Business Journal determined the wealthiest zips my measuring average disposable income and average net worth.

Bethesda’s 20816 zip, made up mainly of single family home neighborhoods west of River Road and south of Goldsboro Road, came in at No. 12 with an average disposable income of $153,242 and net worth of $1,534,989.

Their neighbors to the north in the 20817, which includes the area of Westfield Montgomery Mall and extends to Potomac, were ranked as the No. 16 wealthiest area zip with an average disposable income of $149,333 and net worth of $1,522,879.

Great Falls in Virginia took the wealthiest zip code ranking with an average net worth of $1,890,528. Potomac’s 20854 came in No. 3, Garrett Park’s 20896 No. 6 and Cabin John/Glen Echo’s 20818 No. 9.

Chevy Chase and its 208515 zip code was ranked No. 38 with an average disposable income of $136,635 and net worth of $1,259,215.

Flickr photo by afagen

Bethesda ‘Most Secure’ Place In U.S.

by Aaron Kraut | July 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm | 820 views | 3 Comments

Bethesda PlaceThe Metropolitan area that includes Bethesda, Gaithersburg and Frederick has been named the “Most Secure Place to Live in the U.S.,” by Farmers Insurance, which did a study of crime stats, extreme weather, housing value and other factors to come up with the ranking.

The company ranks metropolitan areas of 500,000 or more people by factoring in criteria including crime, risk of natural disasters, foreclosures, air quality, life expectancy, motor vehicle fatalities and employment.

The Bethesda-Gaithersburg-Frederick Metro area (used in many of these rankings and defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) ranked No. 1 in the study. It has been ranked in the top 10 every year since 2007:

Some of the key factors that helped the historical Maryland area earn its No. 1 spot in the 2012 study included its low unemployment and low personal crime rates, while its long life expectancy rate contributed to its top rating.

Grand Rapids, Mich., was ranked No. 2. It was followed by Pittsburgh, Austin-Round Rock, Texas and Cambridge-Newton-Farminghan, Mass.

13 Bethesda Companies Make List Of Region’s Largest

by Aaron Kraut | July 3, 2013 at 2:05 pm | 317 views | No Comments

Lockheed Martin's Center for Leadership Excellence, Flickr photo by kgunnarThe Washington Business Journal recently published a subscription-only list of the largest publicly traded companies in the area that includes 13 based in Bethesda and 30 in Montgomery County.

Montgomery County Director of Economic Development Steve Silverman praised that number as an indication of the “overall strength of our business community.”

Montgomery’s highest-ranking company on the list is Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin, ranked No. 3 with 2012 revenue of more than $47.1 billion. Also making the top 25 are Bethesda-based Marriott International (2012 revenue of $11.81 billion), Host Hotels & Resorts, (2012 revenue of $5.29 billion) and American Capital Agency Corp. (2012 revenue of $2.11 billion).

Other Bethesda companies on the list were USEC, Inc., a nuclear fuel provider, LaSalle Hotel Properties, RLJ Lodging Trust, DiamondRock Hospitality, private equity firm American Capital, Ltd., Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, real estate finance company Walker & Dunlop, First Potomac Realty Trust, developer Saul Centers, Eagle Bancorp, Chinese healthcare company Chindex International. American Capital Mortgage Investment Corp. and Sucampo Pharmaceuticals.

In May, the county announced a 4-percent job growth rate since 2010, meaning its workforce grew by nearly 25,000 jobs.

The county used the announcement to point out the job growth rate was slightly higher than the rate in Fairfax County, which it frequently competes against for large businesses. Three of the top five largest companies on the Washington Business Journal’s list are located in Fairfax.

Flickr photo by kgunnar

Bethesda ‘Most Educated’ Place In America

by Aaron Kraut | June 24, 2013 at 12:25 pm | 3,701 views | 3 Comments

BethesdaBethesda and Chevy Chase have been named among the smartest cities in the U.S. before. Now, a website has ranked Bethesda as “the most educated place in America,” by weighing the level of education of residents.

NerdWallett.com, a site that compares credit cards, used U.S. Census data on the percentage of the population to finish high school, get an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and professional or doctoral degrees.

The website weighed the percentage of residents 25 and over who have finished high school or have an associate’s degree at their highest level of education for 30 percent of the overall score. The percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree made up another 30 percent of the score.

Higher degrees made up the last 40 percent, a way the website says the ranking measures “broad-based education,” not a workforce, “where some workers are very highly educated.”

Still, it’s clear the area’s highly-educated population played a role in the No. 1 ranking:

Bethesda is home to the main campuses of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (where the president gets his yearly check-up), the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and the National Institutes of Health, whose research has helped create hundreds of thousands of biomedical jobs both in Bethesda and around the country. Numerous government, technology, healthcare and investment companies, including Lockheed Martin, GetWellNetwork, and Cambridge Information Group, have headquarters in Bethesda, making it a hotspot for workers in these fields. A whopping 27.3% of the city’s population has a professional or doctoral degree as their highest level of education, and another 26.8% of the population has a master’s degree as their highest level of education. Only 1.9% of the population did not finish high school. The wide variety of technical and challenging work in Bethesda ensures a continued supply of well-educated workers.

Bethesda beat out Palo Alto, Calif. and Wellesley, Mass., for the top spot. Potomac was ranked No. 5.

Three Bethesda High Schools Make Top 200 Of ‘Best High Schools’ List

by Aaron Kraut | May 6, 2013 at 2:34 pm | 459 views | 3 Comments

MCPSAll three Montgomery County High Schools in Bethesda made the top 200 of another ranking of America’s top high schools.

This time, The Daily Beast rated the top 2,000 public high schools in the country based on a formula that seeks to measure how well a school prepares students for college. A few weeks ago, both Walt Whitman (No. 59) and Bethesda-Chevy Chase (No. 128) High Schools made the cut for the U.S. News and World Report rankings.

The Newsweek/Daily Beast rankings put Whitman at No. 137, Walter Johnson at No. 148 and B-CC at No. 178. Poolesville (No. 96) and Winston Churchill in Potomac (No. 97) were the top two Montgomery County schools. A total of 17 MCPS schools made the list.

The rankings were determined by a formula that includes graduation rate (25 percent), college acceptance rate (25 percent), Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and other college-level tests taken per student (25 percent), average SAT/ACT scores (10 percent), average AP, IB and other college-level test scores (10 percent) and percent of students enrolled in at least one AP, IB or other college-level course (5 percent).

“The Newsweek rankings, and other such lists, demonstrate that our high schools are national leaders in preparing students for college and the workplace,” MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr said in a release. “While there is still work left to be done, our staff and community should be proud of how well we are serving our students.”

Bethesda High Schools Make U.S. News List

by Aaron Kraut | April 24, 2013 at 11:15 am | 382 views | 1 Comment

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High SchoolTwo Bethesda high schools achieved gold medal status in the latest rankings from U.S. News and World Report, with Walt Whitman ranked No. 59 on a list of best high schools in the country.

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School was ranked No. 128. The top 500 high schools get gold medal status.

MCPS had six schools in the top 500, led by Winston Churchill in Potomac (No. 52). Poolesville (No. 99), Thomas S. Wootton in Rockville (No. 105), Richard Montgomery in Rockville (No. 106) and Montgomery Blair in Silver Spring (No. 247) were also on the list, as well as Wheaton (No. 1,032).

MCPS had the six top schools in Maryland and seven of the top 10.

“The schools on the U.S. News Best High Schools list should be proud of the work they have done to serve their students and prepare them for college and the workplace,” MCPS superintendent Joshua Starr said in a statement. “I am pleased with the work that all of our high schools are doing, and we must continue to focus on meeting the needs of all students so we can prepare them for the future they want.”

Schools were judged on student to teacher ratio, college readiness as indicated by participation in Advanced Placement courses and proficiency in Algebra and English.

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