Friday, July 10, 2020

Montgomery County GOP chairman resigns

Alexander Bush
The chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party has resigned. In a resignation letter to members of the County Republican Central Committee, Alexander Bush, a trial attorney, said that the impact of the pandemic on his practice has placed new limitations on the time he can dedicate to running the party.

Bush will remain a member of the central committee, however. Vice-Chair Dennis Melby will serve as the interim chairman, until a new chair can be elected. Melby has worked at the American Enterprise Institute and Congressional Budget Office, and was elected four times to the Village of Friendship Heights' Village Council.

Photo via Montgomery County GOP

Thursday, July 9, 2020

3rd carjacking in downtown Silver Spring in 2 weeks

The third carjacking in downtown Silver Spring in the last two weeks happened early yesterday morning, July 8 at 2:53 AM. Police responded to an armed carjacking at a gas station in the 7900 block of Georgia Avenue. A 7-Eleven is only gas station on that block by my recollection. The previous carjackings occurred on June 28 (in the afternoon, no less) and July 1.

In two of the three carjackings, including the latest one, the robber brandished a gun. This is a troubling crime trend, to say the least.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Montgomery County criticized for releasing man who allegedly sexually abused child

A man arrested for allegedly sexually abusing a child on June 18 was released from jail by the Montgomery County Department of Corrections on June 23. In the meantime, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers had lodged a detainer request for Rene Atilio Ramos-Hernandez, 56.

ICE officials complain that Montgomery County did not honor the detainer request. They say the County called them at moment they were releasing Ramos-Hernandez, and refused to hold him for the time it would take ERO officers to travel to the jail.

“Montgomery County continues the practice of not honoring lawful ICE detainers and release potential public safety threats back into the community,” acting ICE Baltimore Field Office Director Francisco Madrigal said in a statement. “When they refuse to give adequate notification of an impending release to allow a safe transfer of custody, it shows their actions are insincere. ICE believes the best way to protect public safety is for law enforcement to work together.”

Officials in Montgomery County and other jurisdictions that refuse to comply with ICE requests have said detainers are not arrest warrants. They argue that the County could be sued for illegally holding a prisoner after his or her release. ICE reports that Ramos-Hernandez is in the country illegally, and remains at large.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Cabana Hookah Lounge, Palisades Lounge shut down by Montgomery County

UPDATE - July 8, 2020 10:23 AM: Montgomery County has now acknowledged that it released false information when it incorrectly stated it had "closed" Vibes Hookah Lounge. As noted in my previous update, the business remains fully open for retail sales, takeout and outdoor patio hookah.

UPDATE - 3:44 PM: The owner of Vibes Hookah Lounge disputes Montgomery County's claim that the business was "closed" by the County. He says Vibes remains open for retail sales, takeout service, and outdoor hookah, and that the County inspector ordered that indoor hookah not be allowed during Phase 2 of reopening

Montgomery County inspectors have taken enforcement action against several businesses they say have not complied with Phase 2 reopening guidelines and social distancing requirements. Vibes Hookah Lounge at 1 Dawson Avenue in Rockville was closed down by County inspectors because hookah lounges are not currently allowed to operate under Phase 2 rules.
Cabana Hookah Lounge in Silver Spring was shut down by the County for the same reason, County officials said Monday. Additionally, the County forced the Palisades Lounge in downtown Silver Spring to close because social distancing was not being enforced, and for a liquor law violation, officials alleged.

The Grille at Flower Hill in Gaithersburg came onto County officials' radar after the owner vowed on social media not to follow the County requirement that employees wear masks. But it has not been closed down yet, as it is not reopening until Thursday, when an inspector will reportedly pay a visit.

County health officer Dr. Travis Gayles said Monday that the County has "legal authority" to close businesses that do not comply with reopening guidelines. "Businesses will stay open provided they follow the public health guidelines," County Executive Marc Elrich said yesterday. "If they choose to ignore public health guidance, we will shut them down."

Monday, July 6, 2020

Ford Explorer Police Interceptors being stored at Wheaton Plaza (Photos)

Lindsay Ford has another fleet of new vehicles being stored at Wheaton Plaza near JCPenney. These are unmarked Ford Explorer Police Interceptors. They do not have light bars, front tow rigs or other features you find on a marked police cruiser, but do have the telltale driver's side light cannon. If you're in the business of selling these, "defund the police" isn't a phrase you want to hear!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Armed robbery in Aspen Hill

An armed robbery was reported to Montgomery County police on Wednesday night, July 2. The robbery occurred in the 14000 block of Connecticut Avenue in Aspen Hill. A gun was the weapon used in the robbery, which was reported around 10:19 PM.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Another carjacking in Silver Spring

A second carjacking this week in downtown Silver Spring has been reported. The vehicle was taken in a strong-arm robbery on 13th Street at 4:47 AM on Wednesday. An armed robber committed the first carjacking this past Sunday in a Montgomery County-owned garage on Wayne Avenue.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Strong-arm robbery in Takoma Park

A strong-arm robbery was reported to the Takoma Park Police Department early yesterday afternoon. The robbery took place in the 6900 block of Laurel Avenue. It happened around 1:13 PM in a busy commercial area.

Photo courtesy TPPD

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Armed carjacking in Montgomery County parking garage in downtown Silver Spring

Montgomery County police responded to the report of an armed carjacking in downtown Silver Spring Sunday night just after 11:00 PM. The carjacking took place inside a Montgomery County public parking garage in the 900 block of Wayne Avenue.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Car stolen in Aspen Hill

A car was reported stolen to Montgomery County police in Aspen Hill on Saturday. The vehicle taken was parked on the street in the 13100 block of Dauphine Street, in the Harmony Hills neighborhood. It was apparently stolen sometime over the night between Friday evening and Saturday morning.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Silver Spring construction update: Elizabeth House III (Photos)

The Elizabeth House III project at Elizabeth Square, at 1424 Fenwick Lane in downtown Silver Spring, is beginning to climb near street level. A 267-unit residential building, it will also include the public South County Regional Recreation and Aquatic Center, which will feature an olympic size pool, diving boards, and basketball courts. The latter adds to the engineering complexity of the lower level of the project.

Montgomery County's Housing Opportunities Commission is the developer of the building. Costello Construction is the contractor, and the architecture was designed by KGD Architecture.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Carjacking in downtown Silver Spring

A carjacking was reported to Montgomery County police in downtown Silver Spring Monday afternoon. The strong-arm carjacking took place in the parking lot of a residential building in the 8500 block of 16th Street around 3:45 PM, a brazen crime in broad daylight.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Coming Soon signage for Spice Street up in Silver Spring

The first signs of the future arrival of Spice Street in the ground floor of the Solaire 8250 Georgia Avenue apartment tower in Silver Spring have been spotted. Coming soon signage has been posted inside the papered-over windows of the restaurant's space. Spice Street is an Indian restaurant, and is expected to open this year at the property.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Strong-arm robbery, car stolen in Silver Spring

A strong-arm robbery was reported to Montgomery County police on Sunday in Silver Spring. The robbery occurred in the 700 block of Pershing Drive around 9:22 PM. On the previous day, a car was stolen from the 8500 block of Fenton Street. The vehicle was parked on the street at the time.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Downtown Silver Spring getting a refreshed logo

A new logo for Downtown Silver Spring is starting to pop up around the property. Here you can see it on a curbside pickup sign. It's also on the website for the Peterson Cos.-owned retail property. See the old logo at bottom for comparison. Which one do you prefer?

Friday, June 19, 2020

Wheaton Streetery for outdoor dining starts today

Sections of Price Avenue and Elkins Street will be closed beginning today so that restaurants on those streets in Wheaton can have added space to accommodate outside dining. See the map here for the specific locations. Tables will be set up in the roadway. Diners can use them for carry-out purposes, but unlike the Bethesda Streetery, Montgomery County says some restaurants will actually have servers providing sit-down service at the Wheaton Streetery.

Restaurants will also have the option of hosting diners indoors again beginning today at 5:00 PM. But for those not quite ready to make that leap yet, the Wheaton Streetery will provide more room for al fresco dining. Tip: Don't forget the sunscreen if your table is not in a shaded area!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Wheaton Plaza to reopen Tuesday, June 23

Westfield Wheaton Plaza is ready to come out of Covid hibernation. They will be reopening on Tuesday, June 23, 2020.

Montgomery County's Phase 2 reopening that begins Friday at 5:00 PM requires masks to be worn, and social distancing observed, in stores. There may be restrictions on how many customers may be in a store at one time if it gets crowded.

Malls in Montgomery County will be "open for shopping, not for socializing," County Executive Marc Elrich said yesterday. "The food courts will not be opening," Elrich said. "We are not going to allow people to gather in the mall."

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Lindsay Ford finds storage space at Wheaton Plaza

Wheaton Plaza has been impacted for weeks by the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, which required indoor malls to close. Only some businesses at the retail center have been able to operate. The nearby Lindsay Ford dealership has found a good use for the empty parking areas, by storing Ford vans near JCPenney.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Copper Canyon Grill reopens at Downtown Silver Spring

Copper Canyon Grill has reopened at 928 Ellsworth Drive at Downtown Silver Spring. They are operating limited hours on a new schedule: Wednesday-Sunday 12:00-8:00 PM. Patio dining is available, as well as curbside pickup/takeout. I recommend the Rattlesnake Pasta.

Monday, June 15, 2020

First look: Wheaton Town Square and MNCPPC headquarters (Video+Photos)

The new Montgomery County government office building that will include the headquarters of the Montgomery County Planning Department and Planning Board is nearing delivery at Public Parking Lot 13 in the Wheaton Triangle. Also nearly finished is the new Town Square with stage and amphitheater directly across Reedie Drive. There are pedestrian walkways to the adjoining Metro station and to Georgia Avenue from the Town Square.
Panoramic view near the upper row "seats" at the new
Wheaton Town Square amphitheater (stage is at left
in the distance - look for the sail-shaped canopy)
You can also see the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission sign has been attached over the lobby entrance. Rules for the splash pad on the plaza outside are posted, but good luck stopping the kids from drinking the recirculated water! The Town Square stage features a sail-style canopy, very reminiscent of the one completed last year at Rio Lakefront in Gaithersburg.

Contractor Clark Construction reports that there have been no additional coronavirus cases among workers on the project over the last two weeks; 30 workers tested positive for Covid-19 previously at the site. Additional parking capacity is being restored to Lot 13 as work wraps up. Wi-Fi and security systems are being installed in the office building. 800 workstations and an 8th-floor Data Center have already been installed. Completion of the project is anticipated by June 30.