Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Keswick Creamery cheese sold at Takoma Park farmers market recalled for Listeria risk

Keswick Creamery
is recalling 10 cheeses sold at farmers markets in the Mid-Atlantic region, including the Takoma Park Farmers Market, due to the risk of Listeria infection. Routine testing of Keswick's products by the Food and Drug Administration found the bacteria in some of these cheese samples. The following cheeses are affected by the recall:

  • Calverley Cheese in 4 oz to 12 oz packages, price and weight labeled in red, black, or purple ink
  • Vulkwin’s Folly Cheese in 4 oz to 12 oz packages, price and weight labeled in red, black, or purple ink
  • Havarti Cheese in 4 oz to 12 oz packages, price and weight labeled in red, black, or purple ink
  • Vermeer Cheese in 4 oz to 12 oz packages, price and weight labeled in red, black, or purple ink
  • Wallaby Cheese in 4 oz to 12 oz packages, price and weight labeled in red, black, or purple ink
  • Cider Washed Tomme Cheese in 4 oz to 12 oz packages, price and weight labeled in red, black, or purple ink
  • Feta cheese in 4 oz to 12 oz packages, price and weight labeled in red, black, or purple ink
  • Whole Milk Ricotta, 8 oz and 16 oz clear deli container, expiration dates 7/18/22, 7/25/22, 8/1/22, 8/8/22, 8/18/22
  • Bovre Cheese (plain, oregano and garlic, herbes de Provence, cranberry and honey), 8oz clear deli container, expiration dates 7/25/22, 8/1/22, 8/8/22, 8/22/22
  • Quark Cheese (plain and dill and onion), 8 oz and 16 oz clear deli container, expiration dates 7/7/22, 8/4/22, 8/25/22

As of the posting of this recall, no illnesses have been reported.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Filippo's Italian Deli for sale in Wheaton

Filippo's Italian Deli
, a fixture in the Wheaton Triangle since it started as Marchone's in the 1950s, is for sale. The deli hasn't declined with time, as it just won the "Best Deli in Montgomery County" contest held by The MoCo Show in 2020. It remains fully open for business, but is now available for sale at an asking price of $420,000, according to the sale listing.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Silver Spring construction update: Solaire 8200 Dixon apartments (Photos)

The new titleholder for tallest building in downtown Silver Spring is being delivered by Washington Property Company at 8200 Dixon Avenue. Solaire 8200 Dixon is just about completed on the outside; some units inside are still being completed, and the curved-facade food hall on the ground level is expected to debut early next year. The finished product actually looks better than the renderings, and along with the 26-story height, the fact that it's not jammed amidst other high-rises on all sides helps the design to stand out even more.

According to the website, building tours and some apartment units are now available. However, some renters have reported online that - depending on their unit - their move-in has been delayed from late August to September or October. Those future residents are reportedly receiving hotel and storage accommodations until their unit is ready, if they had already signed a lease with an August move-in expectation. At the same time, the property's official website shows me unit B-11 - a 927 square-foot one-bedroom for $2495 a month - to be available, so it may a unit-by-unit issue.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Dollar Tree opening Wheaton location; Max's Kosher Cafe space available for lease

Big changes are ahead at the Wheaton Manor shopping center at 2311 University Boulevard W. in Wheaton. The large retail space at the corner of University and Elkin Street that once housed Toys R Us - and more recently, CVS Pharmacy - has been leased by Dollar Tree. And the adjacent space recently vacated by the beloved Max's Kosher Cafe will become available for lease on September 1, 2022, according to real estate brokerage firm KLNB. That Dollar Tree should really boost foot traffic for a restaurant tenant that moves into the Max's space.

Leasing map images courtesy KLNB

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Marc Elrich victory confirmed as Montgomery County Executive election results are certified

The Montgomery County Board of Elections certified the results of the July 19, 2022 gubernatorial primary election yesterday. A full recount in the Democratic Montgomery County Executive primary race confirmed the victory of incumbent Marc Elrich over second-place finisher David Blair. Final results showed Elrich with 55,504 votes, and Blair with 55,472 votes, a difference of only 32 votes.

Elrich will face Republican Reardon Sullivan in the November general election. While the lengthy counting and recount provided a final result more than a month after the primary, the small change in votes produced by the recount does help to boost confidence in the integrity of the vote-counting process in Montgomery County.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Armed carjacking at Silver Spring apartment complex

Montgomery County police responded to a report of an armed carjacking just outside of downtown Silver Spring yesterday morning. It was reported in a residential parking lot in the 8500 block of 16th Street at 4:48 AM. The Summit Hills apartments are located on that block.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Office work, transit use aren't recovering in Montgomery County, new data show

New Google Mobility data for Montgomery County show that transit use has only picked up by 1% since spring 2022, and that fewer workers are toiling in on-site offices than were this past spring. The data use a five-week period just before the pandemic hit the United States, January 3 - February 6, 2020, as the baseline. In reports I've posted over the last two years, numbers for office and transit use have been poor, as expected. But we've also seen some surprising shifts in behavior, which continue in the latest period examined here, from June 23 - August 4, 2022.

For starters, with the overwhelming message from governments and the media being to drop precautions and go back to business as usual, it's intriguing that there's been no significant increase in transit use in Montgomery County since President Joe Biden's State of the Union address. And would you have expected that the number of residents going into an office in Montgomery would actually decline by 12 percentage points since then, as well? Time spent in offices of employment in spring 2022 was 30% less than the pre-pandemic period; this summer it was 42% less than early 2020. The return of vacation travel may have been a factor - but not entirely, as summer 2021 office use was only 2 percentage points higher at 44% below the pre-pandemic period.

Use of public parks in Montgomery County has bounced back since spring. This summer, residents were 19% more likely to be in a park than they were during the pre-pandemic period of 2020. Shopping in stores and supermarkets has picked up since spring, too. The percentage of people going into retail stores compared to this past spring has doubled, but still remains 16% below pre-pandemic shopping levels. Residents' patronage of grocery stores is up 5% from spring 2022, but is 1% less than the pre-pandemic period. 

Montgomery County residents this summer are spending 10% more time at home than they did in the January-February 2020 period, the new data show. The data collected by Google is limited to those users who have opted in to allowing the tech giant to track their phone's location. It measures both the frequency of visits, and the amount of time those users stay in the places categorized in the results, such as grocery stores, transit stations and parks.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Car stolen in Takoma Park

Takoma Park police responded to a report of a stolen vehicle Friday morning, August 19, 2022. A gray 2019 Toyota Rav4, with MD Tag #2EX3226, was stolen from the 7400 block of Carroll Avenue. Police say they believe the SUV was stolen sometime between 11:00 PM Thursday night, and 6:30 AM Friday morning. If you have any information about this crime, or spot the stolen vehicle, you are asked to call police at 301-270-1100 and refer to case number 220035761.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Wheaton Metro station bus stop locations to change starting Monday, August 22

A pavement rehabilitation project at the Wheaton Metro station will temporarily relocate several bus stops in the bus loop starting this Monday, August 22, 2022. The project will take about five months to complete. During that time, a different set of bus stops will be relocated in separate phases. Phase 1 will last until October 3 this year.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Purple Line tunnel work to resume in Long Branch August 22

Purple Line contractors will resume work on the Plymouth Tunnel in Long Branch this coming Monday, August 22, 2022, the Maryland Transit Administration announced this morning. Work will also restart at the site of the Manchester Place light rail station. At the tunnel site, workers will be preparing for installation of the tracks inside the tunnel. Work hours going forward will be 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM weekdays, and weekends as needed.

Photo via Maryland Transit Administration

Maryland governor candidate Dan Cox visits Montgomery County Fair

Dan Cox
, the Republican nominee for governor of Maryland, stopped by the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair in Gaithersburg. The candidate met and spoke with voters, toured the exhibits and attractions, and visited the Montgomery County Republican Party tent. One stop of particular interest to the gubernatorial hopeful was the 4-H Sheep & Swine Club booth, where he participated in the 4-H raffle. Cox was a Champion sheep (Shropshire) showman and shepherd in Maryland 4-H from 1986-1991. 

Photo via Dan Cox for Governor

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Coral reefs spotted in Takoma Park bus shelters

Coral reefs have appeared in two Takoma Park bus shelters. The City of Takoma Park's Arts and Humanities Division has commissioned and installed two oceanic-themed vinyl wraps in bus shelters at 1300 Holton Lane, and at the intersection of Maple Avenue and Hilltop Road. The project utilized public art funds. “We wanted to create a fun scene that would brighten people’s day while they’re walking by or waiting for the bus,” Arts and Humanities Coordinator Brendan Smith said in a statement. “They are the first bus shelters where you can sit next to tropical fish and sea turtles without holding your breath.”

Photo courtesy Takoma Park Arts and Humanities

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Work resuming on Purple Line bridges over Rock Creek in Silver Spring this week

The new construction contractor for the Purple Line light rail project is restarting operations on the new transit line between Bethesda and New Carrollton this week. In Silver Spring, that will include resuming work on the bridge that will carry trains over Rock Creek. A second span will carry the Capital Crescent Trail. No trail closures are anticipated, but workers will direct pedestrians around construction activity as needed. So just be aware of this if you are hiking through Rock Creek Park in the vicinity of the Capital Crescent Trail.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Rumi Life store to open at Wheaton Plaza

Rumi Life
will open a new location at Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall. The lifestyle store chain carries affordable products from around the world designed to make you happier and more creative, and your home more spacious and comfortable. Product categories include apparel, beauty, health, housewares, toys and electronics. Look for Rumi Life on Level 2 next to Shoe Stars.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Elrich finishes first in Montgomery County Executive election results, Blair-requested recount pending

After canvassers counted the 102 missing ballots that election workers discovered Thursday, Marc Elrich held onto his narrow lead over David Blair in the Democratic race for Montgomery County Executive yesterday. Blair did manage to cut Elrich's lead from 42 votes down to 35. That number could change again in the coming days and weeks, as Blair is requesting a full recount. But as of this morning, Elrich has 55,497 votes (39.20%) to Blair's 55,462 votes (39.17%).

Friday, August 12, 2022

Montgomery County Board of Elections finds 102 more ballots

The already drama-filled Montgomery County primary election just took another bizarre twist. Montgomery County Acting Election Director Alysoun McLaughlin issued a statement late last night on Board of Elections letterhead announcing that election staff has found 102 missing ballots. As a result, McLaughlin said, the Board will be unable to certify the election results today as scheduled. The Board will meet at 3:30 PM this afternoon to figure out how to proceed.

The ballots were found Thursday during a "precertification audit," McLaughlin wrote. “Today, we pulled our random sample of empty provisional ballot envelopes for audit and were unable to locate one of the randomly selected envelopes where it should have been," she explained. "In addition, we were unable to resolve a discrepancy between the number of provisional ballots that our staff had recommended that the Board accept, and the number of ballots scanned. Together, these two pieces of information prompted a visual search of folders where provisional ballots had been stored prior to the canvass. Those folders contained 102 unopened, sealed ballot envelopes that were never removed from their folders and presented to the canvass from the following precincts:

• Precinct 06-10 – 1 ballot

• Precinct 06-11 – 1 ballot

• Precinct 06-13 – 14 ballots

• Precinct 06-14 – 7 ballots

• Precinct 06-15 – 15 ballots

• Precinct 13-56 – 12 ballots

• Precinct 13-57 – 10 ballots

• Precinct 13-58 – 30 ballots

• Precinct 13-59 – 12 ballots

Intriguingly, McLaughlin personally apologized in the statement for not locating the missing ballots until yesterday, thereby delaying a certification of the results. The delayed certification has all kinds of implications for the photo finish of Democrats David Blair and Marc Elrich in the County Executive race. Elrich declared victory in the race last week. But if the 102 ballots found yesterday were to split Blair's way, that could flip the current results and Elrich would then have the option to ask for a recount. If Elrich retains his lead after the 102 new ballots are tallied, the recount Blair has said he will request following certification will be further delayed.

"I want to emphasize that Maryland’s comprehensive precertification audit was designed to identify issues like this before an election is certified to ensure theaccuracy of the results," McLaughlin wrote. "It worked as intended.”

“I will finish reviewing the rest of the audit to ensure that there are no further discrepancies before I ask the Board of Elections to certify the results of the election. The Board will meet at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, August 12, and we will discuss the findings of our audit and the schedule for canvass and certification.”

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Sameday Health closes at Wheaton Plaza (Photos)

Sameday Health
has closed at Wheaton Plaza. The health clinic's space by J.C. Penney has been cleared out. It appears that their business has been hurt by the rise of in-home rapid testing, fewer situations in which the general public must furnish a negative COVID test result, and the shift by governments at all levels toward "living with the virus." Sameday Health was founded in September 2020, growing nationwide largely on the need for rapid COVID testing, and is now shifting its business model to providing other services like intravenous vitamin therapy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Flood watch in effect for Montgomery County as severe storms approach

Severe thunderstorms are expected to pass through the area this afternoon and evening. The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch that will remain in effect until 11:00 PM tonight for Montgomery County, Prince George's County and most of Maryland west of the Chesapeake Bay, Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia. Rainfall amounts of 2-4" are expected, in timeframes as little as one or two hours, leading to potential flash flooding. Isolated strong wind gusts are also expected.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued a statement this afternoon regarding the severe weather forecast. "More severe weather is expected to impact our state this afternoon and evening, including thunderstorms that could produce damaging wind gusts, heavy rainfall, and flash flooding," Hogan said. He urged residents to "please monitor local forecasts, exercise caution while traveling, and never drive through standing water."

Now is the time to charge your devices, and check the batteries in your flashlights. Bring objects that might fly away in from yards and balconies. Have a battery-powered radio to receive information in case of power outages. For Pepco customers, download the Pepco app to report power outages.

Signage installed at Kusshi at Downtown Silver Spring

The sign is up at Kusshi, opening soon at 8512 Fenton Street at Downtown Silver Spring. There are two existing locations of the sushi bar and Japanese restaurant at Pike & Rose, and at Westpost (a.k.a. Pentagon Row🤷) in Arlington. Kusshi may sound like sushi, but the local chain is actually named after the "ultimate" Japanese oyster.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Kwame's African Collection opens at Wheaton Plaza

Kwame's African Collection
has opened at Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall. The store features a wide array of African products, including apparel and accessories, jewelry, art, waistbeads, pottery, authentic masks and Djembe drums, and much more. All items are personally curated by Kwame himself, a native of Ghana who has been procuring the finest products from Africa for more than twenty years. Look for Kwame's African Collection on Level 1, next to H&M.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Maryland governor candidate Wes Moore to hold fundraisers in the Hamptons, on Martha's Vineyard this month

Wes Moore
, the Democratic nominee for Maryland governor, will be raising funds with some boldfaced names in New York and Massachusetts in the coming weeks. Director Spike Lee will host Moore for a fundraising event at his home on Martha's Vineyard on August 14, CNBC reports. Attendees will pay $500 to $6000 to get inside Lee's Oak Bluffs mansion.

A week later, Moore will head to the Hamptons for a second fundraiser hosted by Dilation Capital hedge fund managing partner Brian Eizenstat and C-Street Advisory Group CEO Jon Henes. CNBC reports that ticket prices are the same for that event. Moore is only one of many gubernatorial and presidential candidates heading where the money is this month; Stacey Abrams, Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence, Ben Sasse and Lee Zeldin all have similar events planned in the Hamptons.

Moore's travel itinerary has caught the attention of his Republican opponent, Dan Cox. In a fundraising email to supporters, Cox said that while Moore "is raising money from the international law firms and big pharmaceuticals and is in the Hamptons this month raising money from Oprah, C-Street globalists and power-hungry radicals, this week I was in the neighborhoods of West Baltimore hearing concerns of students and parents."

Willie T's Seafood Shack/Be Right Burger update in Montgomery Hills (Photos)

Here's a look at the progress on the interior fit-out of Willie T's Seafood Shack and Be Right Burger at 9326 Georgia Avenue, in the Montgomery Hills neighborhood of Silver Spring. It looks pretty close to finished. Kitchen equipment and even a soft drink dispenser are being installed. This space was previously home to Andy's Restaurant, and is next to Tropical Ice Cream.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

David Blair requests recount in Democratic race for Montgomery County Executive

David Blair
today announced his intention to seek a recount of votes in the Democratic primary contest for Montgomery County Executive. A recount has been expected given the current 42-vote margin between second place finisher Blair and incumbent Marc Elrich, who last night declared victory in the race. Because the totals are so close, Blair is entitled to the recount under election law, and will not have to fund the effort. Blair referred to the Associated Press having declared the race "too close to call" in his statement this morning.

"After several weeks of counting and virtually all votes recorded, the Associated Press has declared this race too close to call," Blair said in the statement. "Given the extremely close margin, we will be requesting a full recount, and are hopeful that the outcome will be in our favor." The Montgomery County Board of Elections has not yet released a schedule for further canvassing or recounts. Stay tuned for updates on that.

Photo courtesy David Blair for Montgomery

Marc Elrich declares victory as counting of Montgomery County election results winds down

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich declared victory in the Democratic primary for that office last night, after the Board of Elections released election results showing him provisionally clinching the nomination. The board said it has only 34 ballots left to count today. As it stands this morning, yesterday's counting gave Elrich a total of 55,469 votes (39.20%), and second-place finisher David Blair 55,427 votes (39.17%). That is a difference of only 42 votes. While that number will change by the end of the day today, it is unlikely to change the outcome of the primary race.

"I am honored to be the Democratic nominee for County Executive," Elrich said in a statement last night.  "I want to thank the voters.  I love this county and care about our residents so very deeply. This primary has been a long journey (and certainly exciting). Now, with the results certain, we must work together to ensure Montgomery County remains solidly Democratic and turns out for [Democratic gubernatorial nominee] Wes Moore and our entire Democratic ticket. I look forward to continuing to work together to help...Montgomery County and all our residents succeed and thrive."

Once the count is final, Blair will have the option of requesting a free recount, due to the razor-thin margin of Elrich's victory. If Elrich prevails again in that count, he will have done what County Executive Neal Potter could not in the early 1990s. Elected in reaction to many voters' belief that developers and special interests were wielding too much power over the County government in 1990, Potter only served one term. Developers put big money behind Rockville Mayor Douglas M. Duncan (D) in the 1994 election, and Duncan served twelve years as executive.

Duncan would likely have been able to easily win again in 2006, but chose to run for governor of Maryland, before withdrawing from that race for health reasons. His successor as executive, Ike Leggett, was somewhere between Duncan and Potter on development issues. With the County political machine forming a more muscular cartel in 2002, it seized majority control over the County Council with the victory of its well-funded "End Gridlock" slate that year. The result was a dynamic of conflict between the executive and legislative branches, that only accelerated with the 2018 election of Elrich, a popular politician who has promoted responsible growth policies to limit the impact of development on existing neighborhoods and school capacity.

As we await confirmation of final results, and the likely recount, political junkies across the County have to thank both men for providing a dramatic race by each running very strong campaigns. This has certainly been exciting - and it's not over yet! But if anyone ever tells you your vote doesn't count or doesn't matter, look at this race.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Surprise! Marc Elrich is still leading after another day of Montgomery County election results

Incumbent Marc Elrich ended yet another day of vote-counting ahead of challenger David Blair in the Democratic race for Montgomery County Executive on Friday. In fact, Elrich expanded his lead in the latest election results released last night. He now has 53,224 votes (39.29%) to Blair's 53,026 votes (39.14%). There are still thousands of provisional ballots to be counted when canvassing resumes at 10:00 AM this morning, at the Germantown campus of Montgomery College. That means that, mathematically, either candidate can still win.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Grand Jewelers closes at Wheaton Plaza (Photos)

Rising crime in Montgomery County is beginning to have an impact on business. Grand Jewelers at Wheaton Plaza has been cleared out. You may recall that the store was the victim of an armed robbery on New Year's Eve last December 31. Now the store has permanently closed.