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Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Update: Noise suppression plan for construction at United Therapeutics site in Silver Spring
Whiting-Turner has filed a Noise Suppression Plan with the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, related to construction work at the United Therapeutics campus at 1000 Spring Street in downtown Silver Spring. The work is expected to begin in late September, and will occur between 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM on weekdays only.
Work will include excavation, bedrock removal, sheeting and shoring, installation of concrete, erection of the tower crane, and installation of geo-thermal wells.
With noise mitigation measures in use at the site, sound levels will be allowed to reach 85dBA under County noise control ordinances.
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
MoCo school board candidate forum September 14 in Aspen Hill
Monday, August 29, 2016
Wheaton-Claridge Park to close for renovations next month
When the park reopens, it will have a reconfigured driveway and parking lot, and a new bridge, sidewalks and playground.
Friday, August 26, 2016
6 of 7 victims of Flower Branch Apartments explosion identified
The six deceased victims are Maria Auxiliadorai Castellon-Martinez, age 53; Augusto Jimenez Sr., age 62; Saul Paniagua, age 65; Deibi “David” Samir Lainez Morales, age 8; Fernando Josue Hernandez Orellana, age 3 and Aseged Mekonen, age 34.
Thursday, August 25, 2016
Ruby Tuesday closes at Wheaton Plaza
Customers yesterday were being directed to their Greenbelt location (just a short jaunt up the road, right? Right.). Out with the old, in with the new. Olive Garden should be a huge upgrade when it opens at Wheaton Plaza.
The closure of the Wheaton Ruby Tuesday comes after the recent demise of the Rockville location. Ruby Tuesday has said it would close 100 of its worst-performing restaurants nationwide.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Man shot to death in Burtonsville last night
Police say they believe the victim knew the alleged shooter, and are investigating the incident as a homicide. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the Major Crimes Division at 240.773.5070.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Firefighters responded to new gas leak 911 call at Flower Branch Apartments Sunday
Based on scanner reports, Paramedic Engine 716 and Truck 716 of the Four Corners substation of the Silver Spring Volunteer Fire Department responded. Paramedic Engine 701 also responded from the Silver Spring Volunteer Fire Department.
A firefighter radioed the dispatcher a short time later, and appeared to suggest having Washington Gas come out to the site, "due to the nature of this complex." There was no confirmation via radio that any gas leak was present. No further information about the incident was relayed via radio, and all three trucks were released back into service about an hour later.
Washington Gas has not responded to an inquiry for comment submitted to a spokesperson early Monday morning as of this writing Tuesday morning.
Monday, August 22, 2016
Spring-Colesville Garage 21 demolition update (Photos)
Friday, August 19, 2016
OSHA slams USPS for safety hazards at Silver Spring postal facility
"The hazards we found at the Silver Spring location show that it continues to expose workers to powered industrial equipment hazards, blocked exits, and fall hazards," said Nadira Janack, director at OSHA's Baltimore Area Office.
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Tilted Kilt sets opening date at Wheaton Plaza
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Seventh deceased victim found in rubble at Flower Branch explosion site in Silver Spring
The investigation continues, as well. Federal authorities may have a preliminary conclusion about the explosion's cause before the week ends. Therapy dogs have been brought in from Frederick County to help residents traumatized by the tragedy, the Frederick News-Post reported late last night.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Fundraiser for Flower Branch residents til 10 PM tonight in Silver Spring
Cava Grill in Silver Spring, who count two of their own employees among those who were displaced by last week's explosion at the Flower Branch Apartments, are hosting a fundraiser for all of the displaced residents tonight. 100% of the proceeds from sales through 10:00 PM tonight, August 16, will go to the American Red Cross effort to assist these residents.
Cava Grill is located at 8515 Fenton Street in downtown Silver Spring.
Flower Branch Apartments explosion death toll rises to six in Silver Spring
None of the six dead have been publicly identified, but Montgomery County Police have said they are among the eight missing people they identified a few days ago. That list dropped to seven missing yesterday, when - in a rare positive development since the explosion - police confirmed that Oscar Armando Ochoa is alive and well. Ochoa had recently moved out of the Flower Branch Apartments, but his name was not removed from the roster of tenants for unknown reasons.
Washington Gas completed an inspection of its infrastructure at the site Monday. One other intriguing development yesterday was the sudden arrival onsite of federal inspectors from the National Surface Transportation Safety Board's Pipeline Division.
WUSA9 reported yesterday that the apartment complex had over 1600 code violations in two Montgomery County inspections prior to 2014.
Monday, August 15, 2016
Flower Branch Apartments explosion death toll now at 5 in Silver Spring
Friday, August 12, 2016
Silver Spring construction update: Core luxury apartments (Photos)
Core will contain 292 apartments, and has a projected walk score of 95, with its proximity to so many jobs, amenities, restaurants, nightspots and transit in the downtown area. The 16-story building will also house about 1500 SF of its own retail/restaurant space. 10 more stories to go!
Thursday, August 11, 2016
Piney Branch Rd. fire/explosion injures civilians, FFs; mass casualty incident declared
Update 2:55 AM: Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security deployed to Piney Branch scene, along with MCHHS and American Red Cross
Update 2:40 AM: Firefighter reports via radio that there appears to be a "gas-fed fire" in a second floor apartment on the rear side of an unspecified building at the Piney Branch scene
Update 2:32 AM: Firefighter says via radio that he sees active fire in a 1st floor apartment at 8703 Arliss Street; chief informs crews inside upper floor of that building that there may be fire below them; MCFRS cannot locate Pepco rep on scene to address electrical issues
Update 2:26 AM: MCFRS spokesman says damage includes structural collapse of apartment building where explosion occurred, and collateral damage to nearby buildings; shelter for displaced victims now reported to have moved from Blair HS to Long Branch Public Library at 8700 Piney Branch Road, according to Dee Howard Richards of MCFRS
Update 2:20 AM: MCFRS spokesman says about 2 dozen injured in explosion/fire, many more evaluated by EMS personnel; firefighters still asking for help from Pepco - they can still see lights on in the rear of the apartment building at 8703 Arliss Street, according to scanner reports: "We really need Pepco;" another firefighter at scene reports "at this point, there's no visible fire in 8701" Piney Branch Road; fire chief says via radio they are trying to get crews into left side of 8701
Update 1:50 AM: Firefighters still seeing blue flames at the scene, indicating gas-fed fire; one says "let it burn through the roof, and see what we've got;" Washington Gas still working to shut off gas to two other buildings; still concern that power lines could fall on firefighters: "We need Pepco back here," firefighter says; UNCONFIRMED report: Civilians victims include 29-year-old female transported to Medstar Washington Hospital Center, 6-month-old child transported to Children's Hospital
Update 1:39 AM: At least 2 firefighters injured, transported to local hospitals; one to Shady Grove Adventist, one to Walter Reed, according to scanner reports
Update 1:26 AM: Fire still active, HHS opening shelter for residents
An explosion and fire at an apartment building early this morning in the 8600 block of Piney Branch Road near Arliss Street, in the Long Branch area of Silver Spring, has been declared a mass casualty incident. There are multiple injuries to civilians and firefighters, including burns. Firefighters are still trying to locate and evacuate any remaining residents, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Pete Piringer.
The three-alarm blaze is being fed by natural gas, and the fire and explosion have caused extensive structural damage to the apartment building. According to scanner reports, Washington Gas is on-scene and "working in the front yard." Firefighters were instructed to use caution until Washington Gas can cut off gas service to the affected properties.
MCFRS has not yet publicly identified the name of the apartment complex, but have given the address as 8644/8701 Piney Branch Road.
"We're going to be re-engaging [when] the gas is out," a firefighter said at 1:16 AM via radio.
"There is no more fire, but this is an extremely unstable building," another firefighter said a minute later. However, by 1:23 AM, another firefighter reported an "active fire" at another location of the building.
According to Montgomery County Councilmember Tom Hucker, the County Department of Health and Human Services is setting up a temporary shelter for the many displaced residents of the complex at Blair High School. Hucker also says that the American Red Cross is now also assisting displaced residents.
Stay tuned for updates here, and at @SilverSprung on Twitter.
Photos via Pete Piringer/MCFRS
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
15-year-old girl was alleged human trafficking victim in Silver Spring hotel (Photos)
When the victim announced she no longer wished to continue as an escort, she says Rogers struck her. He also allegedly denied her access to her phone and money.
Rogers was arrested on July 29, and is being held in the Montgomery County jail, with bail set at $80,000. Thomas had already been nabbed by Prince George's County police on July 11, but was released on a $5000 bond.
Police are concerned that there may be other victims in this case. Investigators are urging anyone who has information about human trafficking activities involving these suspects to contact the Vice and Intelligence Section at 240-773-5959.
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Wingstop coming to Takoma Park this fall
Monday, August 8, 2016
Sign installed at Tilted Kilt in Wheaton
The sign is up at the future Tilted Kilt at Wheaton Plaza. After many delays, real progress has been made on the interior over the last few weeks. They were hoping to open this month, so stay tuned!
Friday, August 5, 2016
Can a county running on Windows 2000 be called "Tech Savvy?" Uh...yep.
It's a major award! Seriously, though, what was it that put us over the top?
Was it Councilmember Roger Berliner, when he asked: In the year 2016, when attempting to dial 911 in an emergency - “Would I be looking at my cellphone for alerts? I don’t think so.”
To quote his colleague George Leventhal, in the midst of publicly berating a female County employee on live television, "WHAT YEAR IS IT?! WHAT YEAR IS IT?!"
It's 2016. The same year a state audit of MCPS found that exterior users can gain access to "any destination on the MCPS network." That an insecure connection protocol used by MCPS administrators shows login credentials in clear text. That 86 third-party business partners of the school system improperly have "network-level access to the entire MCPS network." That every computer tested by state auditors was determined to be running an outdated operating system. That 75% of the workstations they tested did not have the latest security updates downloaded. And that 13,000 MCPS computers were determined to not even be compatible with the anti-malware software tool the school system uses.
Was that "tech savvy" enough for the judges?
No, perhaps what put us over the top was the County Council throwing a tantrum that the aforementioned County operating system was so ancient, that it couldn't sync calendars with the fancy new phones councilmembers could afford after voting themselves a 28% raise (don't you wish you could do that at your office?).
Or a tech-based effort to "help" food trucks, which ended with 96% of food trucks either leaving the County, or going out of business altogether. Was that what snagged us the tech savvy award?
Maybe it was the drone adventure by the same County official who helmed Councilmember Hans Riemer's aforementioned food truck fiasco. That former Riemer campaign operative and donor, who was rewarded for his efforts with a $150,000-a-year County position created just for him, spent about $3000 of taxpayer funds on drones without clearing it with the higher-ups. After County Executive Ike Leggett got wind of it, the early Christmas presents ended up as extremely expensive paperweights in the County Innovation Officer's office.
That had to be it, right?
Or maybe it was the County Department of Liquor Control's paper-and-Post-It Notes inventory system, which has restaurant and bar owners taking the lead in efforts to boot the current County Council from office?
There's just so much tech-savvyness here in Montgomery County, it's honestly hard to say.
Whatever "open data" and "big data" efforts that have been made by Montgomery County have simply been aping similar moves by other jurisdictions across the country in that direction. It was just a few years ago that the City of Baltimore, the State of Maryland and Montgomery County were stealing wholesale from New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani with their various CityStat, CountyStat and StateStat programs, without crediting Giuliani, Bill Bratton, or other pioneers in the field.
I recall a consultant standing before the Mayor and Council of Rockville a few years ago, eagerly promoting the idea that he could shift the venerable Rockville Reports newsletter from print to online. Not exactly groundbreaking; should he have received an award?
By the way, in researching PTI, I noticed something else odd: two of the other jurisdictions that received the Tech Savvy award were Evanston, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. If you check the PTI Board of Directors list, the City Managers of Evanston and Mesa currently sit on the Board. Can anyone explain that?
Thursday, August 4, 2016
Suspicious death in Wheaton now under investigation as homicide
Her body, found around 4:19 PM Wednesday, showed evidence of trauma. Detectives ruled the death suspicious, and are now treating the case as a homicide investigation.
Detectives are urging anyone who may have information regarding this investigation to contact the Major Crimes Division at 240.773.5070. Police say they are withholding the name of the victim until her immediate family can be contacted.