Friday, December 30, 2016

Congressional Bank closes Silver Spring branch (Photo)

Congressional Bank has permanently closed its downtown Silver Spring branch at 8630 Georgia Avenue. The bank is directing customers to its Rockville branch at 1700 Rockville Pike - not exactly convenient for Silver Spring residents. One customer of the shuttered branch says Congressional had recently reduced the hours this branch was open, after taking it over from American Bank.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A.G. Kitchen hits the road in Silver Spring (Photos)

A.G. Kitchen, the short-lived Silver Spring offshoot of celebrity chef Alex Garcia's New York City flagship restaurant, closed last weekend. On Wednesday, a team from the Big Apple emptied out the restaurant's interior. A graffiti-spattered truck and a U-Haul were among the vehicles helping. Two men engaged in a veritable ballet with what appeared to be a bison head.
Entire contents to be

Stay classy

The excitement mounts

Hey! That's my chair!
What is it? A bison
head? A mascot costume?

Whatever it is, here it goes

Passersby are gripped
by the bison ballet

Sunshine Smiles is first retail tenant at The Bonifant in Silver Spring (Photos)

A look down the future
Purple Line right-of-way
from The Bonifant (left) to
the Silver Spring Library
The Bonifant has its first retail tenant. Sunshine Smiles is a new dentist office coming to the ground floor of the building. A crew was working on the interior of the office at the brand new building on Wednesday.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Police investigate fatal White Oak collision

A serious collision Tuesday morning in White Oak left one man dead, and another hospitalized. Montgomery County Police say a 2016 Honda Fit was making a left turn from southbound Columbia Pike onto eastbound Stewart Lane around 11:20 AM yesterday, when it collided with a 2014 Ford E-Series van that was heading north on Columbia Pike. The van then struck a 2012 Toyota Camry stopped at the light.

The driver of the Fit, Mauro Juan Loli, 83, of Ivywood Lane in Colesville, was transported to an area hospital where he died. Yohnnes Birru Ayele, 42, of Old Columbia Pike, the driver of the Camry, was transported to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The driver of the van, Rohan Wayne Bryan, 46, of Apple Road in Northeast, Washington, D.C., was not injured in the collision.

Detectives from the police department's Collision Reconstruction Unit are now studying the incident. Anyone who witnessed this collision, or has any information about it, is asked to call the Collision Reconstruction Unit at 240-773-6620.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

GNC stores in Silver Spring, Aspen Hill, Wheaton & Olney to close Wednesday, reopen as One New GNC on Thursday

Struggling vitamin and supplement retailer GNC is making a dramatic effort to right the ship this week. Tomorrow, Wednesday, December 28, all of their stores nationwide - including the ones here in Aspen Hill, Olney, Silver Spring and Wheaton - will close for the day. When they reopen on Thursday, they will be rebranded as One New GNC, according to a company spokesperson.

Store staff will be armed with tablets to assist customers, and new point-of-sale terminals will provide faster checkouts. A new loyalty program and mobile app will go online at the same time, with the idea of increasing customer incentives to shop at GNC. And inventory will be more diverse, with new brands, and more stock of currently-popular products.

During January, a 1 Million Point Giveaway Contest will be held, and other samples and prizes will be awarded in stores on Saturdays. Robert F. Moran, Interim Chief Executive Officer of GNC, doesn't underestimate the challenge of turning the company around.  "The New GNC leaves the old, broken model behind," he said in a statement. "We're confident it will have a positive impact on the business, but it will take time for the changes to take hold and translate to improved financial results."

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A.G. Kitchen closes in Silver Spring (Photos)

A.G. Kitchen has closed in Silver Spring. The shocking development caught many potential diners off-guard at the Downtown Silver Spring development. A representative for the restaurant company confirmed in a statement that the location has closed, and said a "new concept" is planned for the space. Whether that new concept will be executed by the A.G. Kitchen company is unclear.

The restaurant lasted barely 18 months, despite a prominent downtown location. Celebrity chef Alex Garcia's original New York City location remains open.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Hate-based, anti-white vandalism found at Sligo Creek ES in Silver Spring

Montgomery County Police responded to a report of vandalism at Sligo Creek Elementary School on Wednesday, December 21, around 2:46 PM. Upon arriving at the school, which is located at 500 Schuyler Road in Silver Spring, officers were told by administrative staff that a student had discovered the words, "Kill all whites" on the wall of a stall in a boys' restroom.

Anyone with information about this vandalism and/or the suspect(s) is asked to contact the 3rd District Investigative Section at 240-773-6870.  For those who wish to remain anonymous, Crime Solvers of Montgomery County is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for any information that leads to the arrest of the suspect(s).  Tipsters can call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411 TIPS (8477).

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Barwood files for bankruptcy after MoCo Council charged you to subsidize it

"If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidize it."
- Ronald Reagan

SPECIAL REPORT: Abuse of the system

The Montgomery County Council proved yet again why term limits were supported by nearly 80% of their constituents this week, when the dinosaur taxicab company it tried to preserve for the last year using your tax dollars filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Barwood Cab announced the filing yesterday, about 18 months after the Council gave the company several regulatory breaks, and charged Uber users and taxpayers to subsidize changes that would help it compete with Uber and Lyft.
Fox 5 News
The private-sector entrepreneurs who created Uber and other ride-sharing services spent years and many thousands of dollars developing the mobile apps that brought them so much success. Barwood and other taxi monopolies around the country could have invested in and implemented such apps years ago, if they wished. They didn't.

What did the Montgomery County Council do? They charged their constituents and Uber new taxes and fees to fund the creation of what they claimed would be a hip, new Barwood app - a.k.a. "a centralized dispatch system" - at YOUR expense.
Montgomery County Council
generously using your money
to help Barwood Cab
"Compete With Companies
Like Uber," NBC4 reported
The laws passed also gave numerous, money-saving breaks to Barwood that weren't in the public interest, such as allowing them to use older vehicles longer (not exactly a move to increase service reliability, as your mechanic might be able to tell you), relax meter standards and color requirements, and allow sublicensing and temporary identification cards for taxicab companies - which are not ride-sharing services like Uber, and therefore were supposed to be more regulated.

Fact is, the Council was once again caught "fighting the future," trying to drive the very ride-sharing services their constituents now choose over the Stone Age taxicab out of the county.

Who were the lead faces behind Barwood-subsidizing Uber"taxicab reform?" Councilmembers Roger Berliner (who once had the owner of Barwood serve as his County Council campaign treasurer) and - surprise! - Hans Riemer. Once again, Councilmember Riemer has proved every initiative he takes on will end in complete and utter failure.

Ending the County liquor monopoly? I'll give you a few minutes here, to roll around on the floor with laughter. After claiming with great media fanfare that government had no business running the liquor business, Riemer ended up ramming through a proposal that would preserve the dinosaur liquor monopoly at the expense of taxpayers, and restaurant and bar owners. It was such a great proposal that his own Democratic colleagues in Annapolis tore it up and threw it in the trash upon its arrival. Riemer has since endorsed numerous variations on the theme - solutions that preserve government control, while charging new taxes to subsidize that monopoly. Nice.

Food trucks? Riemer's own political operative, who was appointed to a $150,000 County position, was put in charge of "helping food trucks." The changes he and Riemer implemented resulted in 96% of food trucks going out of business, or retreating back into the District. A handful remain, which operate only on private property.

Cybersecurity? Riemer promised in 2010 to make MoCo a "cybersecurity hub" on the east coast. Four years later, it was exposed that the county government was running on Windows 2000, perhaps the most insecure platform in the world. Six years later, a State audit revealed critical cybersecurity weaknesses in Montgomery County Public Schools' computer network. These flaws put private student information a few clicks away for hackers, and gave access to the entire MCPS network, including log-in passwords for personnel. Yikes.

Jobs? Riemer was given a friendly platform by the faux-conservative Washington Examiner in 2012 to announce he was going to do something about the county's "sluggish job growth." Results? Four years later, Riemer's own former chief of staff criticized the county's "stagnant" private-sector economy, which remains moribund. The County continues to experience a net loss in private-sector jobs since 2000, including a loss of 2000 retail jobs, according to the Maryland Association of Retailers. Not one single major corporation has moved its headquarters to Montgomery County in two decades. Ouch.

Hans Riemer made himself the public face of a snow removal law that cost County taxpayers $6 million, for his own publicity purposes and political gain. Then winter hit, and snow remained unshoveled in front of properties owned by wealthy developers, and more embarrassingly, by Montgomery County itself! To cap off the humiliation, Riemer and his council colleagues rode past the snow piles multiple times on a tourist bus tour of the Westbard area, and after seeing the unshoveled sidewalks, still took no action. Best of all, in recent weeks, Riemer has put himself forward in the media again as the "snow guy." Oh, boy, is this winter going to be fun.

Changes ahead for Barwood? They will paint their cabs black (in fact, they've already started doing so), and will use iPads for payment. The former would eliminate the one branding element they've been known for. As for the latter - why would you want to deal with somebody's dirty public iPad, when Uber lets you use your own phone for the entire transaction, including receipt? Talk about the stone age.

After the "success" of using their constituents' money to boost Barwood Cab, what's the next venture for Riemer and the Council? They're going into the banking business!

That's right. The seemingly endless number of banks all around us are no longer enough. Berliner is going to start his own bank - with your money. How generous! Local businesspeople will go to the Bank of The Montgomery County Council and get a loan. They represent a risk that real, private banks won't take on. But that's not a problem at the Council's bank - because it's your money they'll be doling out, not theirs.

You won't even get a lollipop.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Santa Claus is coming to the Colesville area tonight, courtesy Hillandale VFD

Watch for Santa Claus tonight in the Colesville area of Silver Spring. He'll be getting a lift from the Hillandale Volunteer Fire Department. You may spot him on Notley Road, Locksley Lane, and Orchard Way by Westover Elementary School tonight, according to the Hillandale VFD calendar.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Mattress Firm opens in Silver Spring (Photos)

Well, that was fast. Mattress Firm has completed a quick build-out of its new store at 8701 Colesville Road in downtown Silver Spring, and it is now open for business. They're having an opening sale to start with.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Fire at Wheaton Park Beer & Wine

Firefighters responded to the Wheaton Park shopping center around 9:00 PM last night after a report of smoke coming from the Wheaton Park Beer & Wine store. An electrical fire in the walls was discovered and extinguished, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesperson Pete Piringer. No injuries were reported.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Two shot in Aspen Hill shooting

A 22-year-old man and 36-year-old woman were shot early this morning in Aspen Hill, as they sat in their parked car in the 3800 block of Palmira Lane. The victims told police their vehicle was approached by a man of unknown race around midnight. He spoke to them, then shot them and fled on foot.

The suspect was in his late teens or early 20s, police say, and was wearing dark clothing.

Anyone with information regarding this shooting is asked to contact the 4th District Investigative Section at 240.773.5530.  Those who wish to remain anonymous and eligible for a cash reward of up to $10,000 can call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Wheaton woman missing (Photo)

Montgomery County Police are asking the public's help in locating a missing Wheaton woman. Isaura Ovalle, 18, of the 10800 block of Georgia Avenue, was last seen leaving her residence on Friday, December 9 at 11:00 p.m.

Isaura Ovalle is described as a Latina female, 4’8”, about 140 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. Police say she is in need of medication that she does not have with her.

Anyone with information in reference to the whereabouts of Isaura Ovalle is asked to call the Montgomery County Police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000 (available 24 hours). Callers may remain anonymous.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Discovery Communications HQ holiday lights in Silver Spring (Video + photos)

Discovery Communications' headquarters building in downtown Silver Spring is lit up for the holidays in a big way. Christmas red and green colors dominate an animated light display high above the streets below.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Hen Quarter looks ready to open in Silver Spring (Photos)

The tables aren't only in place inside Hen Quarter, they're set - with a bottle of hot sauce on each one, to boot. Opening day can't be far off at the Downtown Silver Spring location of this new concept from the creators of Austin Grill (which it replaces) and American Tap Room.

Hen Quarter will serve Southern cuisine with locally-sourced farm ingredients. Get ready for real biscuits, whiskey flights, a massive selection of bourbons, and - of course - crispy Southern fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, pork belly lollipops and collard greens. An Alexandria location opened this past summer, and now it will be Silver Spring's turn very soon, as they are clearly on-track for the scheduled December opening.
Patio dining area

Hen Quarter
919 Ellsworth Drive