Friday, November 17, 2017

Montgomery County Council clueless in meeting with Maryland transportation official

Another clueless performance by the Montgomery County Council in a transportation meeting yesterday has some in the business community questioning their fitness for office. In a failed attempt to dress down Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's transportation secretary Pete Rahn, their politically-motivated meeting ended up instead exposing how poorly-informed the Council is on the basics of modern infrastructure, its operation, and financing.

Councilmembers repeatedly demanded "transit" be part of Hogan's massive Express Lanes plan for the Capital Beltway, I-270 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. They were unaware that it is standard practice for regular and rapid buses to use Express Lanes on highways.

Council President Roger Berliner asked Rahn if he could "fold in" the stalled Corridor Cities Transitway BRT project into the $9 billion dollar Express Lanes project. This was patently absurd for two reasons: The CCT runs on a completely different route than I-270, for starters. And the CCT, like all bus and rail service, will be a money-loser; transit does not generate profits like Express Lanes. What sane private corporation would try to combine the potentially-narrow profit margin of these particular Express Lanes with a surefire money drain like the CCT?

Finally, Councilmember George Leventhal showed how out of touch he is with his constituents when he advised Rahn that the more transit is part of the Express Lanes plan, "the more it will be easier (sic) to assuage our constituents." Huh? His constituents, tired of being stuck in traffic, want the popular Express Lanes plan proposed by Hogan. Leventhal should listen to voices beyond the yes-men in his office before daring to speak on behalf of his constituents.

Rahn, in contrast, demonstrated he has his finger on the pulse of frustrated Maryland drivers. His only misstep was waffling on how much the project might end up costing taxpayers, off-message with Hogan's promise that private companies would take on the financial burden.

Business leaders watching the hearing - and Montgomery's moribund private-sector economy and plunging wealth numbers - were reminded of a similar amateur-hour performance by the Council earlier this fall. In a worksession on autonomous vehicles, councilmembers showed a laughable lack-of-knowledge of the basic nuts-and-bolts of this now-arriving technology.  Many referred to autonomous vehicles as a futuristic fantasy, apparently unaware that Tesla vehicles on the road right now have fully-autonomous capability. The Council also didn't know how the cars might be insured. As more evidence that the Council hadn't even done the most basic research ahead of the session, they didn't know Volvo had just announced it would take on drivers' insurance liability itself.

Clueless.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Bank inside Wheaton Plaza Giant robbed (Photo)

The PNC Bank inside the Giant grocery store at Wheaton Plaza was robbed Tuesday around 2:18 PM. Montgomery County police say the suspect entered the bank, and handed a note to the teller. The teller gave him an undisclosed amount of cash, and the suspect fled. He was last spotted running in the 11100 block of Veirs Mill Road.

Anyone with information about the suspect or this bank robbery is asked to contact the Montgomery County Police Department – Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5100.  To be eligible for a reward, tipsters may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).  Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided to them that leads to the arrest and/or indictment of this suspect.  Tipsters will remain anonymous.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wheaton murder suspect was detained by police twice before allegedly killing woman

A Wheaton woman might still be alive today, but for Montgomery County's sanctuary county immigration policies. According to Maryland court records, Elmer Marilan Campos-Martinez - who has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Wheaton mother and KFC employee Dania Mendez de Guerra - was detained in traffic stops twice by police since 2012. Because officers are forbidden to ask about the immigration status of those they stop, Campos-Martinez was put back on the streets, despite being in the country illegally.

Case records indicate that Campos-Martinez was pulled over by Montgomery County police on October 7, 2012 at 11:46 PM. He was cited for operating a motor scooter without a license on Veirs Mill Road at Parkland Drive. On April 23, 2013, Campos-Martinez paid a $50 fine and $33 in court fees. Without a check of his citizenship status, he was a free man.

While still living on N. Horners Lane in Rockville, Campos-Martinez was pulled over yet again by Rockville City police on April 20, 2014 at 11:13 PM. Driving an actual car this time, he was cited for driving without a license on Veirs Mill Road at First Street in Rockville.  Once again, the officer was not allowed to check his immigration status. In this case, Campos-Martinez did not even have to pay a fine or court fees. The prosecutor entered a nolle prosequi, meaning the State would not pursue the case, and the charges were thereby dropped.

Three-and-a-half years later, Campos-Martinez - now living in the Woods Edge Apartments on Cove Lane in Rockville - was working alongside de Guerra at the KFC at 2119 University Boulevard West in Wheaton. Leaving work, he laid in wait for the 21-year-old de Guerra to walk home to her husband and child on Amherst Avenue, police allege. Four days later, her body was found behind the CVS Pharmacy across a parking lot from her apartment.

Of course, he wouldn't have been there to lay in wait, had he been deported in 2012 after his first scooter misadventure (by the way, do you believe you would have avoided a fine and court fees if you were caught driving without a license? Is there now a separate law for non-citizens?). In fact, Campos-Martinez was deported in 1994. But the sanctuary policies of Montgomery County kept him coming back.
The victim, Dania Mendez de Guerra
If the murder allegations by police are true, those policies cost Dania Mendez de Guerra her life, and her family a wife and mother.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Wheaton Library furniture survey to begin this Sunday, November 19

Current progress on construction of
the new Wheaton Library and
Recreation Center
The long-delayed public input process on furniture for the future Wheaton Library and Recreation Center is now scheduled to launch this Sunday, November 19, 2017, at the Wheaton Interim Library. However, the community has not been properly notified of the event.

Kimblyn Persaud, President of the Wheaton Regional Park Neighborhood Association, has written to Montgomery County Department of General Services Director David Dise to remind him he had promised to post signs at the interim library, which is located in the ballroom of the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad at 2400 Arcola Avenue. Those signs have never appeared.

Traffic at the interim library is down, Persaud reports. Therefore, she suggests the County quickly take additional steps to alert the community of the furniture test before the weekend. Her public information request from July 1, 2017 also remains to be fully responded to under the legal criteria set by the Maryland Public Information Act. Persaud is now requesting Dise comply with that MPIA request by this Friday, November 17.

Suspect in Wheaton homicide was deported in 1994, returned to Rockville

Elmer Marilan Campos-Martinez, who has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Wheaton mother and KFC employee Dania Mendez de Guerra, is in the country illegally, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has confirmed. ICE issued a detainer against Campos-Martinez Saturday.

In a statement, ICE also confirmed that Campos-Martinez was already deported once to his native El Salvador, in 1994. They say he illegally crossed the border again, and made his way to Rockville.

Campos-Martinez continues to be held without bond, as the District Court judge in his case declared him a flight risk, due to his immigration status.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Downtown Silver Spring has a Christmas, er, bike tree (Video + Photos)

The Christmas tree at Downtown Silver Spring this year swaps out traditional Christmas ornaments for those of the Montgomery County political cartel's state religion: bicycles. There's also a chalkboard where you can color bikes, and smaller-scale holiday decorations around the property.








Sunday, November 12, 2017

Pepco work closes one lane on Wayne Ave. at Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring (Photos)

Pepco is working on Wayne Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. Utility vehicles are blocking one lane of Wayne at Georgia Avenue. The Pepco outage map shows no power outages in the area at this time.



Homicide victim found behind Wheaton CVS identified as missing woman, suspect arrested

Elmer Marilan Campos-Martinez has been charged
with second degree murder
Maryland's Chief Medical Examiner has identified the deceased person found behind CVS Pharmacy at 2321 University Boulevard West on Friday as Dania Mendez de Guerra, 21, of Amherst Avenue in Wheaton. De Guerra had been missing since leaving her shift at the nearby KFC restaurant at 12:30 AM last Monday, November 6.

Elmer Marilan Campos-Martinez, 47, of Cove Lane in Rockville, has been arrested for the homicide of de Guerra, and has been charged with second-degree murder. Detectives say Campos-Martinez was in a romantic relationship with de Guerra, whose husband was the one who reported her missing. The suspect and victim both worked at the KFC, and Campos Martinez left early that night to confront de Guerra when she left the restaurant around 12:30 AM.

Campos-Martinez acknowledged assaulting de Guerra, but not killing her. He punched her three times after she told him she wanted out of the relationship, he told detectives, and threw her to the ground. De Guerra struck her head on the ground, Campos-Martinez claimed, and was unresponsive. He said he then stole her cellphone and purse, and fled in a taxi. He later discarded the phone and purse in a dumpster, the location of which was not disclosed by police.

On Friday, November 10, de Guerra’s body was located behind the CVS. Her cell phone and purse were missing. There appeared to be trauma to her body.  The victim’s body was transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, who ruled that the death was a homicide by multiple blunt force trauma and asphyxia.

Campos-Martinez remains in Montgomery County jail, and is being held without bond. Police did not comment on his immigration status. Other missing details raise additional questions.

A substantial portion of the police account sounds like the what the defendant's attorney might argue in court, and it's notable that in a he-said-she-said situation where only the suspect can testify, a lesser charge of second-degree murder is being entered. How could it be established on simply the suspect's account that it was not premeditated murder? Furthermore, the official account does not explain why, if the victim fell in a different (and yet-unidentified) location during the alleged argument and assault, she was not found until Friday afternoon.

Hopefully the answers will become clear as the investigation continues. Anyone with information regarding this homicide is asked to call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Woman's body found behind Wheaton CVS days after nearby resident disappeared

MoCo gang horror
reaches new heights

Residents in the Amherst Avenue area of Wheaton are anxiously awaiting the identification of a woman's body, which was found behind dumpsters in back of the CVS Pharmacy at 2321 University Boulevard West Friday afternoon. That's because one of their own neighbors, Dania Suyapa Mendez de Guerra, 21, disappeared after midnight Monday, after leaving the nearby KFC restaurant to walk to her home in the 11500 block of Amherst. Montgomery County police said they cannot rule out that the body is De Guerra's, but have transported the unidentified woman to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore.

Paramedics were called to the scene at 3:29 PM yesterday, after the body was found behind CVS. An East MoCo reader reports that De Guerra's apartment is in the building directly across the parking lot from where the body was discovered. If it is determined that the body had been there prior to Friday afternoon, it would raise serious questions as to why investigators would not have searched the Wheaton Manor Shopping Center property days ago - as well as all nearby properties, given that a missing woman had disappeared on such a short walk home.

Whoever the deceased person was, and if she was indeed the victim of a homicide, there clearly was no significant attempt by the perpetrator(s) involved to cover-up their crime. Only someone who doesn't fear getting caught would put a body behind CVS.

The horrifying discovery Friday has many nearby residents more concerned than ever about gang activity in Wheaton. Impotent Montgomery County elected officials, who have actively given safe harbor to MS-13 and other dangerous gangs for years, like to say the record homicide numbers in the County are simply "gang-on-gang violence," and pose no danger to the community. Should an innocent woman have been victimized by one or more gang members in this case, it would signify the coming turf war between MS-13 and a new spin-off rival may already have arrived. MS-13 capos in El Salvador recently told recruits to head to Montgomery County, the Washington Post reported, as the County's sanctuary policies make it the ideal place to make their stand against the new rival gang.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Businesses near Wheaton redevelopment project cite parking, poor lighting as issues

Businesses in the Wheaton Triangle met with Montgomery County officials last week regarding the now-underway construction of the future County office building and Town Square on Parking Lot 13. Business owners expressed concerns about parking, traffic and poor lighting. Lighting has become an issue with the construction site and shuttered Midcounty Regional Services Center. County officials say they will address that issue with additional lighting along Triangle Lane and by the darkened Services Center. The latter is now due for demolition in about a month.

Meanwhile, excavation for the office building has reached as deep as 40' in some spots. Around 40 dump trucks are entering and exiting the site on a daily basis to haul away all that soil. They expect to hit maximum depth in early-to-mid-January, according to the County. Tie-back anchors continue to be installed, and those are being tested with a hydraulic jack to ensure safety.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Silver Spring construction update: Edible Arrangements (Photos)

Not much progress at the future Edible Arrangements in the The Bonifant, at 929 Bonifant Street in downtown Silver Spring. A fresh coat of red paint, and tile on the floor. Even so, they are soliciting Christmas gift orders, which they say will be delivered from their Rockville store.





Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Jobocalypse ahead after Montgomery County Council approves $15 minimum wage

"That's a lot of extra
Slurpees to sell"

The potentially-devastating impact of a $15 minimum wage was evident moments after it was unanimously passed by the Montgomery County Council yesterday. A Bethesda restaurant owner observing the proceedings, who had been planning two additional ventures in the county, declared he would never open another restaurant in the jurisdiction. He said his existing downtown Bethesda restaurant might even have to close in the coming years, as a result of the new financial burden in a razor-thin-profit-margin industry.

Just consider the impact of two full restaurant operations, with all of the employees those would entail, now never existing. All of those jobs just vanished, and the economic impact of that unemployment far outweighs the slight cash boost to workers in existing restaurants - assuming they don't lose their jobs, or get replaced by touchscreen kiosks. Now multiply that among other entrepreneurs deciding to take their dreams - and jobs - elsewhere. Montgomery County's outlay of services, required by those unemployed folks, will increase, not decrease. Taxpayers will pick up that bill, along with the increased prices of food and merchandise. Heckuva job, Brownie!

Of course, this is exactly what the Council wants. The more unemployed people, the more people who have to crawl on their knees to the Council for "services." Dependency on government is the aim, and that involves keeping those at the bottom of the ladder from climbing the rungs.

Councilmember Hans Riemer and his colleagues effectively terminated the middle-class business opportunity of Airbnb a few weeks ago. Up until that point, a modest real estate investor could have bought a few small homes and condo units, and generated a good cash flow from Airbnb rentals.

Without the same level of tenant damage concerns, or having to seek evictions of problem tenants, a middle-class County resident could have more-easily generated money for larger investments and ventures than with traditional renting. Now, you can only rent out your own current place of residence - just one unit - and you have to be on the property during the rental. Nothing makes an Airbnb more appealing than a hotel room than a landlord sitting on your couch, right? Thanks, Hans!

Imagine, initiative and some work allowing County residents to attain upper class status - status the County Council enjoys now, as they work a few hours a week for $137,000 a year. Notice they don't consider you deserving that amount, too. $15 isn't even close to a living wage in Montgomery County, and they know it.

Increasingly moribund Montgomery County has suffered a net loss of over 2000 retail jobs since 2000, according to the Maryland Retailers Association. We've had a net loss in jobs since 2005, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows. Montgomery County's restaurant sector has "slowed since 2012, and remains flat," according to Melvin Thompson of the Restaurant Association of Maryland. 

Surprisingly, Councilmember Craig Rice also voted for the bill, despite his previous and correct concerns about the impact on African-American job-seekers, young workers in particular. According to a 2015 survey by The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, BETAH Associates, Inc. and Montgomery College,  only 8.7% of black high school students surveyed in the County are employed, and only 30.7% of black high school dropouts have been able to obtain employment. Among Montgomery County's young black high school graduates, only 39.7% of those surveyed are currently employed. 

The hits just keep on coming from the most anti-business elected officials in the region. A Council that has done literally nothing to improve traffic congestion, or to provide direct access to in-demand Dulles International Airport for international businesspeople, is spending most of its time criticizing Gov. Larry Hogan - - who is actually doing something in proposing Express Lanes for I-495 and I-270, and funding Metro. And that's when they're not telling us which snacks to buy from vending machines, or banning circuses.

Reaction to the $15 wage vote by local Chambers and business organizations was muted yesterday. In the next few days, we'll find out if those leaders are ready to "get dangerous" and challenge the MoCo cartel, as former Gov. Bob Ehrlich exhorted them to do in 2004. Or go quietly into the good night, in the most moribund private sector economy in the D.C. region.

Police identify victim and suspect in White Oak homicide

Anthony Michael Strong was
arrested Tuesday morning
The White Oak homicide victim and her alleged killer shared the Bradbury Manor Court home where police found her body Tuesday morning. Victim Chaunya Michalyn Blackwell, 43, and suspect Anthony Miguel Strong, 50, were dating, police said. The relationship ended with Strong phoning police yesterday morning to report he had just killed his girlfriend.

Officers arrived at the scene to find Strong standing outside the home. He cooperated with police, and was arrested without incident. Inside, officers found Blackwell deceased. Detectives noted trauma to her body, which was transported to Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore, who will determine the cause of her death.

The Department urges anyone with information about this homicide to contact the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070.

Wheaton KFC employee missing/Wheaton mujer desaparecida

A Wheaton woman is missing, having disappeared after her shift ended at the KFC at 2119 University Boulevard West at midnight on Monday. Dania Suyapa Mendez de Guerra, 21, usually walked home after work to her nearby residence in the 11500 block of Amherst Avenue. But this time, she did not show up at home.

De Guerra is described as a Latina, 5’4”, and weighing 185 pounds. She has brown hair and brown eyes.  She was last seen wearing a KFC uniform: black pants, a red polo shirt with KFC insignia, a black hat with KFC insignia, and black shoes.

Police say de Guerra does not speak English, and does not have access to a vehicle.  She is not familiar with public transportation.

Anyone with information in regard to the whereabouts of Dania Suyapa Mendez de Guerra is asked to call the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000 (available 24 hours).

+ + +

Una mujer de Wheaton está desaparecida y desapareció después de que su turno terminara en el KFC en 2119 University Boulevard West a la medianoche del lunes. Dania Suyapa Méndez de Guerra, de 21 años, por lo general caminaba a casa después del trabajo a su residencia cercana en la cuadra 11500 de Amherst Avenue. Pero esta vez, ella no apareció en casa.

De Guerra es descrito como una latina de 5'4 "y pesa 185 libras. Ella tiene el pelo castaño y ojos marrones. La vieron por última vez con un uniforme de KFC: pantalón negro, polo rojo con la insignia de KFC, un sombrero negro con la insignia de KFC y zapatos negros.

La policía dice que de Guerra no habla inglés y que no tiene acceso a un vehículo. Ella no está familiarizada con el transporte público.

Se solicita a cualquier persona que tenga información con respecto al paradero de Dania Suyapa Mendez De Guerra que llame al número de la policía que no es de emergencia al 301-279-8000 (disponible las 24 horas).

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

House fire in Burtonsville

Montgomery County firefighters are battling a house fire on multiple floors of a home in the 3000 block of Schubert Drive in Burtonsville. A hole has opened in one of the floors, according to scanner reports, and there is concern about animals in the home. The fire was reported at 9:33 AM this morning.

Assault reported at Albert Einstein High School

Paramedics responded to the health room at Albert Einstein High School in Kensington for a reported assault just after 9:15 this morning. The dispatcher requested an Advanced Life Support paramedic unit, according to scanner transmissions (that does not necessarily mean the injuries are life-threatening, however). No further details are available at this time, including whether or not the victim was a student.

Homicide in White Oak area of Silver Spring

Montgomery County police report a homicide has occurred on Bradbury Manor Court in the White Oak area of Silver Spring. An adult male was arrested outside of a residence there just before 7:00 AM this morning.

Detectives say the victim, an adult female, lived in the same home there as the man who was arrested. They are suggesting the homicide was a domestic incident. Officers responded to a call, and found the victim deceased inside the home.

By coincidence, another man charged with a different homicide earlier this year, was also a resident of Bradbury Manor Court. What's going on there, folks? Very troubling.

MD A.G. opposing $4 billion deal...for company in his own state

A virtually unprecedented situation is unfolding in Maryland. The state's attorney general, Brian Frosh, is opposing a $4 billion dollar merger expected to be a financial boon for a company...in his own state. In a move that has left many in the business community again scratching their heads over the anti-business mania of the Montgomery County political cartel, Frosh last Friday joined his peers in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island in opposing the merger of Sinclair Broadcasting and Tribune Media Company.

Hunt Valley, Maryland-based Sinclair forecasts the merger would be a boon in boosting revenues, cutting costs and generating cash flow to pay down debts. Should such benefits come to pass, the cash flow would also go to the state of Maryland via taxes. But now Maryland's own attorney general is stepping in to try and stop the deal, which is currently before the Federal Communications Commission.

Despite that potential revenue boost for the state, Frosh is calling the merger "a bad deal for Marylanders." The attorney general claims the deal would raise the cost of cable, and reduce programming choices for viewers. Apparently, Frosh is unaware of Netflix, HBO Now, Sling TV, Hulu, YouTube TV, Playstation Vue, Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access, Crackle, Tubi TV, Acorn TV, and Pluto TV, just to name a few.

Frosh and his fellow travelers also say the merger would improperly use the UHF Discount rule to avoid the FCC cap on total station reach, and advise the FCC to wait until the District of Columbia Circuit Court issues its final ruling on the UHF rule. But clear heads can rule today that the Montgomery County political cartel has once again lost its wits.

While the deal should certainly be scrutinized by regulators, it is astonishing to witness a state's attorney general trying to sabotage a deal - and lower profits for - a company in his own state. It does not help Montgomery County and Maryland shed their horrible international reputation as anti-business jurisdictions. And will therefore give just one more reason for corporations to avoid us and relocate to Virginia instead.

Bad deal.

Monday, November 6, 2017

PJ's Coffee of New Orleans to open in downtown Silver Spring

"The best coffee in New Orleans for the last 30 years" is coming to downtown Silver Spring. PJ's Coffee of New Orleans will open a store in the new Core apartment building at 8621 Georgia Avenue. Founded by Phyllis Jordan in the Carrollton neighborhood of New Orleans in 1978, PJ's uses only the top 1% of Arabica coffee beans from sources in Colombia, Sumatra, Ethiopia, and Papua New Guinea, among others.

PJ's is a unique get for Core, as it will be the chain's first Mid-Atlantic location; its only other northeast location is in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and only the third on the East Coast.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Takoma Park man killed by neighbor in crash on Larch Avenue

A Takoma Park man died after being struck crossing New Hampshire Avenue on Larch Avenue around 7:49 PM on Wednesday, November 1. James Sexton Byrne, 79, of Lockney Avenue, was transported to a local hospital where he passed away.

Byrne was walking east across New Hampshire when a neighbor, Starlington Windel Simms, 72, also of Lockney Avenue, allegedly struck him with his 2004 Cadillac Escalade. Detectives continue to investigate the circumstances of the collision, and are seeking help from any witnesses to the accident. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Collision Reconstruction Unit at 240-773-6620.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

MoCo HOC under fire from East County renters

Residents from several buildings owned or funded by the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission heavily criticized their treatment and living conditions at the HOC's monthly meeting yesterday in Kensington. Among their complaints were pests and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A resident who testified from his wheelchair in the audience said management of HOC-owned Alexander House is denying him the apartment unit he needs. Instead, they are placing him in a noisy, street-facing unit that will also hamper his escape route during fires. He recounted caretakers of other senior citizens and physically-challenged residents on his floor trying to bump them in wheelchairs down staircases during a fire evacuation this past year. If he wants a unit more suited to his needs, he would have to pay $500 more per-month in rent, he said management told him.

Residents who had complaints at one HOC building moved to the Oakfield Apartments off Georgia Avenue in Glenmont. The mother - through tears - and daughter told commissioners this was no improvement, complaining of bedbugs and a variety of other problems. Oakfield is not owned by HOC, but has received funding from the commission.

Commissioners had no comment on the unconfirmed allegations at yesterday's meeting. They instructed staff to speak to the complainants "offline" outside the meeting. Staff would then update the commission at a later time, they said. The accusations follow an embarrassing audit of HOC properties earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in which federal inspectors found 405 code violations. Montgomery County Councilmembers have failed to pass a lengthy list of rental housing reforms recommended by the County's Tenant Work Group in 2010.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

More penguins for downtown Silver Spring (Photos)

The penguins of the restored mural near the Silver Spring Metro station will have some company in a few years. An extended-stay hotel in the works at 8600 Georgia Avenue will have its own penguin-themed public art, which will be visible from the town's cursed Silver Spring Transit Center.
Proposed diving penguins
mural as it would look
from the Metro
The hotel's massive building-side-height mural will feature diving birds of the tuxedoed variety entering ostensibly-polar waters. It comes with a minor caveat: Should the adjacent property redevelop, the new penguins could end up being blocked from view.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Woman assaulted in armed robbery in Wheaton garage stairwell (Photo)

Pistol-packing backpackers
remain at large

A woman was assaulted and robbed at gunpoint in the stairwell of a garage at Wheaton Plaza on October 11, according to Montgomery County police. Around 9:00 PM, the victim walked from the mall's food court to a parking garage on the property. Police say she was followed by three masked men, and then confronted in the stairwell of the garage.

One suspect assaulted and threatened her at gunpoint, as a second suspect reached into her pants and snatched her wallet, detectives allege. The third suspect acted as a lookout, they say. All three then fled the scene on foot.

The suspect who was armed with a handgun is described by police as a Latino male in his late teens, 5’ 5”, and weighing approximately 150 pounds. He was wearing a black hoodie, black pants, black and white Adidas tennis shoes, and a black backpack.

The second suspect is described as an African-American male, 5’ 8”, and weighing approximately 165 pounds. He has black eyes and brown hair. He was wearing a black hoodie, dark blue pants, orange shoes, and a black backpack.

The third suspect is described as an African-American male. He was wearing a black hoodie, black pants, black shoes, and had a black backpack. Suspect #3 is seen at left in the photo above; to his right is Suspect #2. If you can identify either or both, detectives would appreciate your help.

Anyone with information regarding the suspects or this armed robbery is asked to call the 4th District Investigative Section at 240-773-5530. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided to them that leads to an arrest in this case.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Pollo Campero opens in downtown Silver Spring

Pollo Campero has opened at 8666 Colesville Road in downtown Silver Spring, in its prime spot next to the Fillmore concert venue. The Latin chicken chain has been in business since 1971.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Wheaton redevelopment excavation hits 25', nearby businesses feel vibrations

At last count, the massive excavation underway at the future Montgomery County office building and Town Square near the Wheaton Metro station has reached 25' below street level. People in buildings along Triangle Lane report feeling vibrations during the installation of tie-back anchors 20' below their properties. County officials say they think the problem was the drill bit striking a boulder underground. They have inspected the buildings along Triangle Lane, and say they have found no structural issues resulting from the vibrations so far.

Excavation and the ongoing installation of those tie-backs will continue to be the main activity at the site for now.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Olney chosen by Hogan as test site for "smart" traffic signals

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced a new Smart Signal Corridor program on Wednesday, designed to improve traffic flow. The signals will adjust to congestion and other factors in real time. One location was chosen in each county (although some counties - such as Charles - got more than one, where this could really help move traffic along Route 301), and Olney - where traffic congestion is a plague upon residents - was designated as the winner in Montgomery County.

The signals will be placed along MD 108 between MD 182 and Volunteer Drive. A pilot study in Harford County showed a travel time improvement of 13 minutes after installation of the Smart Signal technology.

“Last month, our administration introduced a bold Traffic Relief Plan beginning with three massive, unprecedented projects to widen the Capital Beltway, I-270, and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway,” Governor Hogan said yesterday. “This next phase will employ the newest technology to further ease congestion in Maryland. By replacing 20-year-old existing controls with Smart Traffic Signals, we will have the ability to respond to changes in traffic flow, as well as traffic conditions immediately – benefiting nearly 700,000 Maryland citizens across the state.”

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Astro Lab Brewing changes name, gets set to begin construction in Silver Spring

Downtown Silver Spring's newest brewery is gearing up to begin construction at 8216 Georgia Avenue. If something seems different, it is: Astro Lab Brewing has dropped an "e" from their name. The owners say people were having too much difficulty pronouncing the original "Astrolabe" moniker.

With pronunciation of the name squared away, they expect to start work in early November. In the meantime, the owners have been touring craft breweries for inspiration, as close as Howard County and as far away as Ontario, Canada. When it opens, the brewery will also serve artisan food to pair with their beers.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Veirs Mill corridor master plan meeting tonight

The next public meeting in the Veirs Mill corridor master plan process will be held tonight, Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at 7:00 PM at Newport Mill Middle School, at 11311 Newport Mill Road in Kensington. At the last meeting, planners and residents identified and discussed community needs and challenges along the corridor.

Tonight, a consulting firm hired by the Montgomery County Planning Department will present their own list compiled after they conducted a study themselves. Residents and other stakeholders will be able to offer feedback on the consultant's report.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Community does what Montgomery County government won't in Edgewood Park

You would think that with the taxes you pay, Montgomery County would regularly clean up and maintain Edgewood Neighborhood Park in the Briggs Chaney area of Silver Spring. Wrong! Edgewood Park, and other neaby County-owned properties have fallen victim to litterbugs and neglect.

This past Saturday, as it has done before, Impact Silver Spring and its East County Collective organized a civilian clean-up crew of volunteers to do what the County won't: clean up and tear out weeds in Edgewood Park. Impact has held similar clean-ups in the past, once collecting almost 450 pounds of garbage in the same park and a nearby school in a single day, according to The Washington Post.

What a sad statement about the Montgomery County Council, Montgomery County Parks Department, and the County government, that they cannot execute the most basic functions of government. Whether it's the 911 service failing and two County residents dying as a result, trash uncollected for three weeks in Silver Spring and Bethesda, or simply failing to perform the most basic landscaping and trash collection duties in your neighborhood park, Montgomery County has proven impotent on all fronts.

Shouldn't our charitable organizations and watershed groups be able to pursue other important priorities, rather than have to spend their Saturdays cleaning our parks and streams, doing the job of government themselves? Imagine paying taxes, and then having to provide the services yourself with no pay. In Montgomery County, we don't have to imagine; it's all horribly real. As the County infamously said during the trash (un)collection scandal: "Don't call us, just wait for them to pick it up."