Friday, August 17, 2018

Two of three suspects in robbery of Esther's Beauty Supplies caught by police

Curtis Pegues
Montgomery County police detectives have arrested two suspects in the July 27 robbery of Esther's Beauty Supplies at 9309 Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring. Curtis Pegues, 19, of Saint Mortiz Drive in Temple Hills, has been charged with armed robbery and first-degree assault and is being held without bond.
Pegues in action at Esther's

A second suspect has been identified by police as a 14-year-old male juvenile from Washington, D.C. An additional female suspect remains unidentified. Anyone with information about the third suspect is asked to call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773- 5070. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
Unidentified third suspect

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Surveillance video of Silver Spring armed carjacking released

Violent early-evening
attack raises new 
questions about 
public safety

Montgomery County police have released surveillance video of the suspects in an August 9 armed carjacking in downtown Silver Spring, in the hope of identifying the two men. Around 8:42 PM that night, two men brandishing handguns allegedly pepper sprayed and pistol whipped a motorist in the parking garage at the Sheraton Hotel at 8777 Georgia Avenue. Both men are seen striding with a pronounced swagger in front of the hotel, and at the entrance to the hotel garage prior to the brutal attack.

Police say the men took the driver's car keys and fled in his vehicle. Such a brazen and violent crime so early in the evening has raised new questions about public safety in downtown Silver Spring, just weeks after a devastating report of spikes in murders, rapes and violent gang crimes was submitted to the County Council. The soft-on-crime Council has proven unable to counter the crime wave of the last 20 months.

Anyone who has information about these two suspects or this carjacking is asked to call Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5100. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County 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 and/or indictment for this crime.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Silver Spring construction update: Thayer & Spring (Photos)

Here's another quick update on the Thayer & Spring apartment project at 915 Thayer Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. The main reason I'm posting it, is because they are starting to add the facade elements that will break up the Soviet-apartment-bloc appearance it currently has, and I had just mentioned that design feature in my last report. A teal frame design is the first to go on, and there eventually will be four colored frames llke this, which - on paper, at least - make the structure appear to be four separate buildings, instead of a big wall.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Nighttime work on Georgia Avenue in Montgomery Hills

A natural gas line along Georgia Avenue is being replaced this week in the Montgomery Hills area of Silver Spring. The work area covers several blocks immediately south of the Beltway, and the replacement is being done at night to avoid impacts on commuters.

Work is scheduled to take place between 7:00 PM and 5:00 AM between Locust Grove Road and Corwin Drive. The project is scheduled to be completed by this weekend.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Pedestrian dies after being struck in Wheaton

A man crossing Georgia Avenue in the heart of Wheaton was killed late Saturday night, when he was struck by a southbound 2016 Nissan Rogue around 11:30 PM. The man was crossing the street in the vicinity of Veirs Mill Road, but detectives with the Montgomery County police say he was not in a crosswalk at the time.

Declared dead at the scene, the victim will not be identified until police can contact his relatives. The driver involved in the collision, Ramon Sanches, 49, of Silver Spring, remained at the scene and was fully-cooperative with police.

Police continue their collision investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the Collision Reconstruction Unit at 240-773-6620.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Long Branch Purple Line blasting postponed

Residents around Plymouth Street are getting a temporary reprieve from rock blasting that had been planned to start yesterday. Purple Line Transit Partners said yesterday that contractors encountered unexpected rock conditions, and have postponed blasting until Monday, August 13. That blasting will occur between 5:00 AM and 9:00 PM. Residents will be given 24 hours notice of the blasts.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Silver Spring construction update: Solaire 8250 Georgia Avenue (Photos)

The Solaire 8250 Georgia Avenue apartment building project  hasn't made all that much noticeable progress since my update last month. Mostly, there is more Tyvek around the lower and middle floors. There's also more definition of the ground floor level of the Washington Property Company development. Perhaps the recent weeks of heavy rains have impacted the pace of the construction.
With a height of 20 stories, the Solaire 8250 will hold 338 apartments and 15000 SF of retail space, including outdoor seating for dining. Parking will be located in a three-level underground garage. Amenities will include a resort-style rooftop swimming pool and deck, cyber cafe, private courtyard, fitness center, and a club room complete with kitchen, library, flatscreen TV, fireplace and game room. Apartments will be a mix of studios and 1-and-2 bedroom units.
Lendlease is the contractor for the project, Design Collective of Baltimore is the architecture firm, and leasing of the street-level retail and restaurant space will be handled by Streetsense. Delivery is expected in Spring 2019.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Purple Line noise ahead in Lyttonsville, Silver Spring, Long Branch

Blasting for the Plymouth Street tunnel is now scheduled to begin tomorrow, according to Purple Line Transit Partners. Dynamiting of rock underground will continue sporadically on weekdays throughout August, between the hours of 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

A different Purple Line-related loud noise will be coming from pile driving at the Lyttonsville Place Bridge. That work will begin "on or about" August 13, and continue through September 7. Pile driving will occur between the hours of 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

12-year-old girl allegedly raped by MCPS school bus driver in Silver Spring

Another day, another sex offense arrest of a Montgomery County Public Schools employee. As the school system's scandalous and sordid child abuse saga continues to unfold, and MCPS "leadership" and the County Council cover-up and hide, parents are left seeking answers. In the latest incident, MCPS bus driver Etienne K. Kabongo, 62, of the 7800 block of Mineral Springs Drive in Gaithersburg was arrested on August 5 and charged with second-degree rape, third-degree sexual offense and the sexual abuse of a minor.

The arrest came after an investigation of an alleged incident aboard Kabongo's bus on July 31, around 12:30 PM. His bus, transporting special education students, stopped at Yates Road in Silver Spring to drop off a student. While a second MCPS bus attendant was off the bus assisting the student being dropped off, Kabongo allegedly raped another 12-year-old female student aboard the bus.

Detectives with the Montgomery County police Special Victims Investigations unit say they are concerned that Kabongo, known to students as "Mr. Steve," may have other victims. Their concerns are multiplied by the fact that "Mr. Steve" has worked since 2006 as a bus operator, primarily driving for students receiving special needs education, at multiple schools across the County. Anyone who is concerned that a child has been victimized by Kabongo is asked to call detectives at 240-773-5400.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Astro Lab Brewing logo painted on (Photos)

The logo sign for Astro Lab Brewing was being painted on the front of the building Sunday. Expected to open by the end of summer, Astro Lab is located at 8216 Georgia Avenue.

Friday, August 3, 2018

TPB grant to fund design of new Forest Glen sidewalk

A long-missing piece of pedestrian infrastructure in Forest Glen is a step closer to being filled in, thanks to a grant provided by the Transportation Planning Board of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. The $248,000 grant will fund an preliminary engineering design for the 2700' long sidewalk, on the north side of Forest Glen Road. It will link pedestrians on that side of Forest Glen Road with Woodland Drive and Sligo Creek Parkway, providing additional access to Forest Glen Metro Station, Forest Glen Medical Center, Holy Cross Hospital, Sligo Creek Stream Valley Park and the Sligo Creek Trail. The grant was approved for the Montgomery County Department of Transportation.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Silver Spring construction update: Astro Lab Brewing (Video+Photos)

Here's the latest progress at future Silver Spring brewery Astro Lab Brewing - and there's been a lot. You can see they now have a front patio, and what appears to be a garage-style door on the front facade. Astro Lab is located at 8216 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Montgomery County murders, gang-related crime spiking again in 2018

Massive 72% surge
in violent
gang-related crime;
"Most alarming"
53% jump in 
rape cases

Montgomery County's soft-on-crime County Council continues to have real consequences for victims of crime and gangs in our community. The latest statistics show that, after a 31% spike in murders last year, there have already been more homicides in 2018 than at this time of the year in 2017. That represents a 10% increase in murders this year on top of the 31% increase last year.
Gang related robberies have increased by 36% in 2018, and gang-related assaults have shot up 43% this year. There have been 247 reported cases of rape as of June 30, compared to only 161 by the same point in 2017 - a shocking 53% increase, which Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger called "most alarming" in his testimony before the Council Public Safety Committee on July 23.

Despite recent passage of "common sense gun laws" in Maryland, weapons violations are up 6% in 2018. And even after the Council loosened marijuana laws in 2014, marijuana violations are up 11% this year. Drug offenses are up 7.4% overall so far this year. There has also been an increase in human trafficking and kidnappings.

Assaults are up 3.3% in 2018. That increase was driven by an "uptick in gang activity," Assistant Police Chief Russ Hamill told the committee. The department released a list of unsurprising hot spots of gang activity in the County, with Gaithersburg and Montgomery Village being the hardest hit areas. Cider Mill and Lakeforest Mall are being worked overtime by MS-13, and the Hittsquad and L3 gangs.

MS-13 continues to dominate in the Wheaton and Piney Branch areas of the County; an MS-13 "destroyer house" was discovered on University Boulevard last year. "One Way Hustle" is now the dominant gang in Germantown, and Silver Spring is beset by multiple gangs, according to the Council staff report.

Violent gang-related crime is up an astonishing 72% in 2018, a clear failure of the County Council's weak 2017 anti-gang initiative.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

United Therapeutics acquires additional property in downtown Silver Spring

One of the very few bright spots in the moribund Montgomery County economy, United Therapeutics, has just upped its investment in downtown Silver Spring. Just as its ambitious Unisphere campus expansion nears completion, the biotech firm has acquired an additional piece of property.

United Therapeutics purchased a low-rise office building at 8808 Cameron Street on June 25 for $2,600,000. This gives them an additional 7256 SF of expansion space, adjacent to their existing campus. The purchase certainly portends continued growth by United Therapeutics, some much needed optimism in a downtown still reeling from the news that Discovery was relocating the bulk of its Silver Spring offices to Knoxville, Tennessee.

Meanwhile, look at the 3000 solar panels going onto the Unisphere facades. Along with deep geothermal wells under the buildings, the Unisphere is designed to have a net zero carbon impact on the environment.