Friday, September 25, 2020

Burtonsville Giant getting a facelift (Photos)

Renovations continue at the Burtonsville Giant at 15618 Columbia Pike. The roofline has been adjusted from flat to peaked on the part of the building over the entrance. A painter was rolling on a tan color over the creme facade of the store when I stopped by.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Bottlegonia coming to Shoppes of Burnt Mills in Silver Spring

, a beer and wine store, is coming to the Shoppes of Burnt Mills at 10715 Colesville Road in Silver Spring. The owners say to expect a mid-November opening.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Chuck Levin's expands in Wheaton

The legendary Chuck Levin's in Wheaton just got bigger. They've expanded down the hill into the former GameStop store at 11147 Veirs Mill Road. The music store's new building is hosting school rentals.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Ulta Silver Spring location sets moving date

The Ulta store at Downtown Silver Spring is relocating within the Peterson Cos. development, as I previously reported. Now there is an opening date for the new store, next Tuesday, September 29, 2020. The new Ulta location is at 8510 Fenton Street.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Howard Johnson's Wheaton restaurant and hotel now completely demolished

Only the memories of chicken croquettes, fried clams and orange sherbet remain at the corner of Veirs Mill Road and University Boulevard in Wheaton. The former, and many would argue historic, Howard Johnson's hotel and world-famous roadside restaurant building have now both been completely razed.

The property will become part of the future Wheaton Gateway mixed-use development. In later years, the hotel structure had become a Best Western and Ambassador Apartments, and the restaurant building a mattress store. These were among a handful of extant Howard Johnson's buildings remaining in the state of Maryland.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Atlantic Guns relocates Silver Spring store to new Rockville location

After 70 years in business, family-owned Atlantic Guns has consolidated its Rockville and Silver Spring gun shops into a brand-new Rockville location. The new Atlantic Guns is now open at 15813 Hungerford Drive (MD 355) in the King Farm/Derwood area of Rockville. It's right up the street from Wendy's and McDonald's.

Atlantic Guns carries long guns, handguns, ammo, and firearm accessories. They also sell non-lethal defense products like Tasers, camping and survival gear, archery equipment, knives and fishing supplies.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, only ten customers may enter the store at a time. The first customer at the new store received a free Benchmade knife.

Wheaton Sport Bar space available for lease

A sign has been placed outside the Wheaton Sport Bar building indicating that the restaurant and lounge space is available for lease. It's a great location with high visibility, but there continues to be frequent turnover in tenants. 

Perhaps the loss of parking at the nearby Lot 13 and surrounding area during the Montgomery County government office building construction was a factor. That project is now completed.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Armed carjacking on Veirs Mill Road in Silver Spring

Two suspects
remain at-large

An armed carjacking was reported in the 12000 block of Veirs Mill Road in Silver Spring last night at 8:35 PM. Montgomery County police searching for the stolen vehicle located it in Rockville, near the intersection of N. Van Buren Street and W. Middle Lane.

Three suspects bailed out of the vehicle. Officers arrested one of them, but two remain at-large. Police describe the two at-large suspects as a Latino male with braided hair wearing a red shirt, and a second Latino male wearing a black sweatshirt. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

El Dollar Plus closes in Wheaton

You know you're in trouble when the dollar stores are closing. El Dollar Plus has closed at 11208 Grandview Avenue in Wheaton. A for-lease sign is up in the window. El Dollar Plus opened in 2016.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Burtonsville Taco Bell opens (Photos)

The new Taco Bell in Burtonsville is now open at 15670 Old Columbia Pike, at Burtonsville Town Square. Try the $5 Grande Nachos Box before it disappears off the menu. The drive-thru hours are 7:00 AM to 1:00 AM Sunday-Thursday, and 7:00 AM to 3:00 AM Friday and Saturday.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Walter Reed in Silver Spring optimistic on coronavirus vaccine

Researchers think one vaccine will
be effective on all existing Covid strains

Researchers developing a coronavirus candidate vaccine at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in the Forest Glen area of Silver Spring are optimistic that it could be effective on all known strains of Covid-19. The Miami Herald reports that Walter Reed scientists are finding minimal mutation happening within the virus so far. They also believe that the vaccine could also provide immunity for some strains of the common cold. Walter Reed's trials have so far been limited to monkeys, however. Human trials are anticipated to begin later this year.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Strong-arm rape reported in Wheaton

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a strong-arm rape in the center of Wheaton Tuesday night. The sexual assault was reported in the 11100 block of Georgia Avenue.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Montgomery County Council proposes creating its own illegal police force to pull you over

Proposal is illegal under
federal and state law

The Montgomery County Council is proposing to create its own police force, to replace the Montgomery County Police Department's role in traffic enforcement. This would be illegal under both federal and Maryland law, but that's not deterring them from trying to quietly move forward. Councilmembers have floated the idea with two local reporters in recent weeks, resulting in two low-key articles, one in The Washington Post and one on NBC Washington's website. Those, and a virtual town hall being held by one councilmember tonight, have largely evaded public attention.

Who would make up this new police force remains unclear. The Post article made vague references to "civilians" somehow gaining the authority to pull over and detain motorists. NBC Washington reports that it could be County bureaucratic employees who somehow gain this authority. Unfortunately for the Council, neither group can engage in such activity under the law. Which is why such a ridiculous idea isn't currently allowed anywhere in America.

In the case of civilians, the Council may have been inspired by an idea proposed in the District to have civilians be able to use an app to enforce traffic laws in Washington, D.C. One can only imagine the potential abuses of an army of "Karens" wielding a Stasi-style reporting app, but that was largely the goal, as yet another way to harass people committing the horrific offense of continuing to drive private automobiles.

Now, imagine Karen or a random bureaucrat empowered to pull you over and issue tickets and other penalties, with no way to defend yourself against any preposterous allegation designed to fill the County's dwindling coffers. Your crime might be your race, as if racism is somehow only found among sworn police officers, or a particular religious or political bumper sticker displayed on your vehicle. Let's not forget, it was our white County Planning Board chair who repeatedly called in police officers on members of a black church peacefully protesting at board meetings.

Having non-sworn civilians pulling people over in traffic would not only be a violation of federal and Maryland law, but it would also be a danger to those making the traffic stops. Who would pull over for a non-police vehicle, especially when a non-sworn bureaucrat would have no authority to make a stop? What happens if the driver detained is a criminal and has a violent response? How would tourists know non-police could pull them over in our jurisdiction? How many accidents will be caused by the confusion of non-police vehicles trying to pull over drivers on busy roads? And traffic stops are inherently very dangerous to make, as the number of police officers hit by vehicles while making such stops each year indicates.

Montgomery County has one of the most professional and highly-trained police forces in the nation. These men and women are prepared physically and mentally for one of the most difficult and demanding jobs in the world. Bureaucrats would not have anywhere close to the same preparation and judgement as these officers possess. And if they did, why and how would taxpayers fund what essentially would be a duplicative police academy and police department?

The bottom line is that what the Council is proposing is illegal. They've offered no details on their proposal, nothing is mentioned about it on the Council website, and there is so far no public process through which we the People can yet comment on this.

If you are concerned about your Constitutional rights and tax dollars, you may want to sign up for Councilmember Will Jawando's little-advertised "virtual town hall" tonight at 7:00 PM. Given the hush-hush nature of the event beyond the Montgomery County political cartel, it's unlikely he's expecting your virtual attendance.
Would you turn to your lawyer or hairdresser to perform emergency heart surgery? Likewise, most of the general public is more comfortable with professional police officers enforcing the law than with random bureaucrats. It's about time we also had a professional County Council. Maoist fever dreams like a personal police force are yet another distraction from the Council's failure to address the multiple crises they've created over the last two decades.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Construction begins on Elan condos in Silver Spring

Work is now underway on the conversion of the office building at 700 Roeder Road in downtown Silver Spring into a residential building. The final product will be the Elan condominiums. Prices range from studios starting at $199,999 to two-bedrooms from the low $400s.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Hair We Go has closed in Silver Spring

Hair We Go has closed at 8203 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. Their space has now been cleared out. This was previously a Hertz rental car office. Hair We Go opened last November, but hair salons were forced to close for months during the pandemic lockdown earlier this year in Montgomery County.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Loudoun County leader blasts Montgomery County for failure of understaffed 911 call center in teen's death

Montgomery County Council has
failed to fully-fund 911 call center staffing,
leaving 54 positions vacant

The Montgomery County Council has failed to adequately staff the county's 911 call center for years, leading to call takers working overtime, and being stressed and exhausted. In recent weeks, the call center has been criticized for its response to a 911 call from the Loudoun side of the Potomac River. By the time the first rescue unit arrived at the correct location, 36 minutes had passed.

"I am baffled by how poorly Montgomery County handled this," Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall said, according to the Washington Post. "How do you wait 17 minutes and then keep waiving Loudoun off, and saying, 'We're taking this call?' They need to work on their 911 center."

But the Post reports that the Montgomery County Council has not only failed to fully staff the 911 center, but is now dragging its feet in investigating the 911 center's failures in the drowning incident in which a 16-year-old family friend of Randall's died. Loudoun has already completed an investigation, and developed a 77-page report. Montgomery County? A Council "briefing is expected later this month," the Post's Dan Morse reported.

It's mind-boggling to consider the tens-of-billions of dollars in wasteful spending and kickbacks to its campaign donors the Council has approved over the last decade. They also managed to have $6.7 million in taxpayer funds vanish, in an embezzlement scheme that has yet to be investigated by the FBI. 

Let's not forget Council expenditures like the $900,000 over-budget Glen Echo Heights sewer pipe, or paying $22,000 for a security camera system that costs less than $1000 retail. And countless extraneous new executive-level positions with six-figure salaries, often filled by political allies of the Council. 

Yet they've failed to spend the necessary funds to staff the 911 call center - where the 911 system itself has experienced two outages in recent years. 

It's a County Council that cannot execute the most basic functions of government. Now, competing jurisdictions aren't only whipping Montgomery County's posterior in economic development, infrastructure and schools, they're also starting to call out its incompetent and feckless elected officials. Considering the local press won't, it's about time someone did.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Fact check: Is Montgomery County Ride On bus service being cut by Larry Hogan?

A remarkable column about Montgomery County transit appeared in Friday's Washington Post. It was remarkable for two reasons. First, Post columnists have been silent on transit cuts made by the Montgomery County Council over the last decade, including their elimination of the Park and Ride route for Frederick commuters entering Montgomery, and their slashing of weekend bus service in Damascus. And remarkable because it was...false.

Columnist Petula Dvorak was apparently attempting to write a critical piece about service cuts proposed by the Maryland Transit Administration to MTA bus routes and MARC rail service. But a lengthy introduction, and let's-give-the-Council-free-press quotes from councilmembers, suggest that Montgomery County and its Ride On bus service will be the victims of the MTA cuts.

Ride On Route 55 is specifically cited by Dvorak, and later she says the MTA cuts will make the Route 55 buses even more crowded like "sardine cans." She adds that low-income residents in Montgomery County will be "among those devastated by reductions in bus routes." The article paints Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) as the villain who is behind the cuts.

Just one problem - Ride On is not run by the MTA. Ride On is funded by Montgomery County taxpayers, and is run by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. There are no Hogan cuts to Ride On because Hogan has no authority over or involvement with Ride On. There are no MTA cuts to Ride On routes proposed. If any Ride On cuts are made, they will be made by the Montgomery County Council deciding not to fund those routes.

The column wound up literally being fake news. At best, Capitol Hill resident Dvorak did not realize the MTA doesn't run all bus service in the state of Maryland.

Depicting Montgomery County Council members as heroes fighting to save Ride On bus service in the County doesn't even pass the laugh test, much less a fact check. If they are working so hard to save transit, why have they still not restored weekend service on Route 90 in Damascus, a 2010 Ride On cut that left car-free residents stranded in town on weekends?

Is Montgomery County Ride On bus service being cut by Larry Hogan? Nope. It has been cut in the past by the Montgomery County Council, though.

Fact check score: FOUR PINOCCHIOS 

Friday, September 4, 2020

Silver Spring construction update: Ulta (Photos)

Here's a sneak peek at the new Ulta store at Downtown Silver Spring. The shop is moving from 914 Ellsworth Drive to 8510 Fenton Street.