Sunday, March 26, 2023

Robbery at knifepoint in Aspen Hill

Montgomery County police responded to a report of an armed robbery in Aspen Hill yesterday morning, March 25, 2023. The robbery was reported in a parking lot in the 14200 block of Weeping Willow Drive, off of Bel Pre Road, at 9:30 AM Saturday. A knife was the weapon employed in the robbery. 

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Montgomery County Executive vetoes County Council appointment of James Hedrick to Planning Board

James Hedrick

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) has vetoed the appointment of Rockville resident James Hedrick to the County Planning Board. Elrich has not made the reasons for his disapproval of Hedrick public yet. The only public statement regarding the matter came in response to Elrich's move, a press release from County Council President Evan Glass (D).

“I am disappointed that County Executive Elrich disapproved James Hedrick’s appointment to the Montgomery County Planning Board," Glass wrote in his statement. "Mr. Hedrick received affirmative votes from a supermajority of councilmembers to become a Planning Board member on Feb. 28."

While Hedrick received a supermajority of eight votes from the eleven member Council that day, he will need at least one more if the Council is to override Elrich's veto and be appointed to the Board. Glass wrote that the Council will "discuss" the veto at its next meeting this coming Tuesday, March 28, 2023. 

Hedrick was a candidate for the Rockville City Council in 2019. He currently serves as the chair of Rockville Housing Enterprises (his term expires June 1), and as the vice-president of Action Committee for Transit.

Friday, March 24, 2023

AT&T to open new store in Aspen Hill

will open a new wireless store at the Aspen Hill Shopping Center. Competitor T-Mobile already has a store there. This will fill in a gap in AT&T's bricks-and-mortar network in Aspen Hill. They have two stores down in Wheaton, but the drive or walk will now be shorter for their Aspen Hill customers when the new store opens this summer.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Tastee Diner closes in Silver Spring

Tastee Diner abruptly closed forever yesterday at 8601 Cameron Street in downtown Silver Spring. It had been open since 1935. According to a press release from developer Roadside Development, the firm has acquired the diner site and an adjacent property. 

Roadside claims it will somehow incorporate the diner car into the future development it is planning. But the firm has little choice in that matter. As a historic structure, the diner car cannot be demolished. It can, however, be moved. It was moved once before, and Montgomery County allowed Community Paint & Hardware - believed to be the only remaining 19th-century commercial building in downtown Bethesda - to be moved to a County-owned parking lot in August of 2017.

Tastee Diner's Bethesda and Laurel locations remain open for business.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Update on Red Ribbon Bake Shop in Wheaton (Photos)

Construction is underway at the future site of Red Ribbon Bake Shop at 2501 University Boulevard West, in the Georgia Crossing shopping center. Permanent signage has been installed on the storefront. The bakery will be the second major Filipino business brand to choose Wheaton in recent years. Jollibee was the first at Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Car stolen in Glenmont

Montgomery County police are investigating the theft of a vehicle from an apartment complex in Glenmont. The vehicle was reported stolen from a parking lot in the 2300 block of Glenmont Circle at 7:41 AM on March 19, 2023. That is the Glenmont Forest apartments off of Georgia Avenue.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Grace Methodist Church burglarized in Takoma Park

Takoma Park police detectives are investigating a brazen burglary at Grace Methodist Church at 7001 New Hampshire Avenue yesterday morning, March 19, 2023. Officers responded to the church at 10:53 AM Sunday. "Unknown suspects" had stolen unspecified property from the church, police determined. 

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to please call Takoma Park police at 301-270-1100. Refer to case number 230013308 when you call.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Moe's Southwest Grill closes in Wheaton (Photos)

Moe's Southwest Grill
has closed at Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall. Their space in the food court has been walled off. Moe's opened here in December 2019, and I'm surprised it has only lasted a little over three years. There's been a lack of Moe's in Montgomery County, but fortunately they still have a great Montgomery Village Center location

Friday, March 17, 2023

Woman slashed by knife-wielding attacker in Takoma Park sexual assault

A woman was sexually-assaulted and wounded by a knife-wielding attacker in Takoma Park at 3:00 PM on Wednesday, March 15, 2023. Takoma Park police officers responded to the scene in the 7700 block of Maple Avenue and found a female victim with lacerations to her leg. She told officers that she met up with a man she had met through a dating app, and that he had sexually assaulted her.

The victim was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, police said. Detectives were able to identify the male suspect, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. Anyone with information about this incident, or who believes they were victimized by the same suspect, can contact the Takoma Park Police Criminal Investigations Division at 301-270-1100. 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Montgomery County property tax hike proposed in County Executive's $6.8 billion FY-2024 budget

Montgomery County elected officials have raised property taxes on homeowners every year since 2010, except for FY-2015, when a 2014 election-year tax cut delivered a whopping average $12 savings to tax-whipped residents (gee, thanks!). It looks like they are going to do it again for FY-2024, as County Executive Marc Elrich (D) released his proposed budget yesterday, and he suggested the largest property tax hike since FY-2017. The extra payday would go exclusively to Montgomery County Public Schools, whose student performance has only declined as bigger and bigger budgets have been approved for it by the County Council. Money has never been the problem at MCPS, only incompetent leadership since the exit of Superintendent Jerry Weast, a clearly-failed curriculum, and an increasingly-stark lack of student safety and security.

There's an even greater problem about the record $3.2 billion outlay for MCPS in Elrich's budget. Due to the disastrous Maintenance of Effort law, the amount spent on MCPS can never go down from one year to the next. So, even as Elrich himself declares "a mild recession could take place later this year," his budget would lock in a required expenditure of at least $3.2 billion for MCPS in the FY-2025 budget - even if a recession deals a severe blow to County revenue. And we're not even talking about the worrisome situation in the banking sector, which is persisting despite a federal bailout of wealthy billionaires at Silicon Valley Bank earlier this week.

What that would mean, is that savings and cuts would have to be found elsewhere in the budget: police, fire, libraries, road maintenance, etc. And the County Council is already cruising toward a rude fiscal awakening, as it has convinced itself, the local media, and enough voters that its rosy budgets of the last few pandemic years were due to councilmembers' overwhelming talent and skill, and not the overwhelming federal cash that poured into the County to cover COVID-19 losses. That money is now being cut off by Uncle Sam.

You wouldn't know it from reviewing the proposed budget. And from a steep tax hike being proposed, you wouldn't know that a majority of County residents are being hit hard by persistent inflation. Not to mention that, for many County residents - particularly the elderly and others on fixed incomes - the current property tax has become the equivalent of a second mortgage they must pay off on their home.

There are other fanciful ideas in the budget announcement, such as the recent canard pushed by the County political cartel that Montgomery County residents are somehow paying less property taxes than some other jurisdictions. This is false, because the assessments on houses are so much higher in Montgomery County than in those jurisdictions that MoCo residents actually pay more. In reality, Montgomery County has the highest real property tax payments, and the highest total tax and fee burden in the Washington, D.C. region. We pay massive income and piggyback income taxes, real estate transfer taxes, energy taxes, cell phone taxes, rain taxes, and more - many of these being taxes that don't even exist in counties around us. 

Our current tax structure and burden are two of the major reasons for our moribund County economy. Montgomery County's economic growth and strength have been at or near rock bottom in the region for more than a decade, as measured by every relevant federal indicator. No major corporation has relocated its headquarters to Montgomery County in over a quarter century. 

Taxes have also been the major cause for the flight of the rich out of Montgomery County, which caused the County's "Rodeo Drive" of Friendship Heights to crash, leaving behind vacant buildings and empty storefronts. Significantly increasing taxes and spending, as we've done and as is being proposed again here, is a reckless move in this context, and total insanity when you factor in the County's massive debt.

One positive thing Elrich's budget proposes? Providing the funding to restore the Office of the People's Counsel, a lawyer who can represent the people in land use matters. This is long overdue, but we don't need a $6.8 billion budget or a property tax hike to make that happen.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

McDonald's challenges Chick-fil-A with new lemonade

has already attempted to muscle into the chicken sandwich market with the very Chick-fil-A-esque McCrispy. Its spare pickle accompaniment and buttered bun leaves no doubt as to which fast food chain inspired its inception. Now the Golden Arches are again displaying the sincerest form of flattery toward America's favorite closed-on-Sundays restaurant, with a new beverage many Chick-fil-A customers find goes best with that famous chicken sandwich: lemonade. It's appearing in select markets across America right now, including New York City, Dallas, Chicago, Seattle, and...Montgomery County, Maryland.

But this lemonade isn't what you might have expected, given McDonald's' Coca-Cola partnership. It would have been easy, cheap and predictable to simply promote Minute Maid Lemonade. After all, Minute Maid has one of the best store-bought lemonades on the market.

Pre-made bottled or frozen lemonades haven't been the tradition at Chick-fil-A, though, so McDonald's is again turning to a formula that has worked for its upstart competitor. Chick-fil-A lemonade is made with "three simple ingredients: real lemon juice, cane sugar and water," according to the company's website. The new McDonald's Lemonade is made with...real lemon juice, cane sugar and water. Chick-fil-A lemonade has bits of pulp in it, due to being squeezed from real lemons. McDonald's Lemonade also has bits of pulp in it.

Wow, what a coincidence!

It's safe to assume that if customer reaction is favorable enough, the new lemonade will be added to the menu nationwide. For now, check your local McDonald's in Montgomery County, and you can be one of the first in America to sample it. Even on Sundays.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Takoma Park homeowner transported to hospital after fighting home invader

A home invasion in Takoma Park yesterday ended with the homeowner in the hospital. According to Takoma Park police, an African-American male in his 20s, wearing a light blue puffy jacket, black slacks and a backpack, broke a window on the ground floor of a home in the 6600 block of Gude Avenue sometime after 7:00 AM Monday. Inside, he allegedly confronted the owner of the home.

The suspect and homeowner engaged in a fight, which ended on the front porch of the home. The suspect then fled on foot toward Poplar Avenue. Police responded at 7:23 AM. The homeowner was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries from the fight, police said.

Anyone with information about this home invasion is asked to call Takoma Park police at 301-270-1100. Refer to case number 230012185.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Montgomery County government offers self-defense courses for women as violent crime wave persists

Violent crimes such as armed carjackings, assaults, and robberies continue to plague Montgomery County, in all areas and at all hours. Montgomery County announced today that it will be offering low-cost self-defense courses for women this month and next, classes that will include "training on risk, crime awareness and prevention. Participants will be given a 13-piece student folio with information on how to reduce the risk of exposure to violence and how to escape violence. Participants also will learn some physical aspects of self-defense."

The courses will cost $12, and will be offered through the Montgomery County Commission for Women. You must pre-register to participate, and classes will have to fill up with at least 10 participants to be held. Teenage girls aged 13-17 are welcome to register, but must be accompanied by an adult, the County said in its announcement. Register online now and choose your location; the classes will be held at Montgomery County public libraries. All locations are in the East County or Germantown area.

The Commission for Women will not offer a course for men, but advises that such a course is available. Men are directed to call 240-777-8300 for information about that separate class.

Gold's Gym launches web page for future Silver Spring location

Gold's Gym
has activated an official page for its future location at Downtown Silver Spring. The page has images and information about the fitness facility, and a sign-up form to reserve status as a Founding Member. Located at 901 Wayne Avenue, Gold's Gym will front onto Fenton Street next to Burger Fi. The gym will mark Gold's' return to Silver Spring after the closure of its Layhill Center facility.

Photo courtesy Gold's Gym

Friday, March 10, 2023

Kensington gas station demolished to make way for new shopping center (Photos)

A vacant gas station at 10619 Connecticut Avenue in Kensington has been demolished. The demolition signals the beginning of construction of the future Kensington Crossing shopping center. Tenants signed for the retail property so far are Mezeh Mediterranean Grill, Buffalo Wild Wings GO, and an M&T Bank branch with a drive-thru. Three retail spaces are still available for lease at this prime property on a major commuter route.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Olney man arrested for trading drugs for sex acts with 15-year-old girl

Montgomery County police detectives with the Special Investigations Division and Special Victims Investigations Division have arrested an Olney man they accuse of trading drugs for sex acts with a 15-year-old girl. Erik Calderon Pereira, 22, has been charged with a third-degree sexual offense, and sexual solicitation of a minor, for engaging in illicit sex acts with the girl between December 2021 and February 2023. Detectives allege that Pereira gave the girl drugs, for which she would pay him in the form of performing sex acts. 

Pereira is now free on $20,000 bond. Detectives believe there could be other teenage victims in this case. They are urging any victims to contact Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Callers may remain anonymous.  

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Montgomery County Metro ridership up 94.6% year-over-year

Montgomery County commuters have been returning to the Metro subway system in force in recent months, according to the latest data from WMATA, the D.C.-area transportation authority that operates it. Ridership in January 2023, the most recent month for which data has been made public, was up 94.6% over January 2022. Pandemic-era data released by Google in 2020-2022 had shown much weaker ridership, and a turtle-like pace of increasing return to the system after the initial lockdown of 2020.

A Red Line train approaches the
Rockville station

The biggest surges, 296.6% at Shady Grove and 263.6% at Rockville, may have had more to do with maintenance-related closures at those stops over the last two years. Grosvenor-Strathmore was the next-highest, with an increase of 140.5%. Twinbrook had the smallest increase at 8.7%. WMATA's numbers are based upon the number of entries and exits recorded at each station, so they do not count gate jumpers, only paying customers.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Solaire Social food hall construction begins in Silver Spring (Photos)

The Solaire 8200 Dixon apartments opened last November in downtown Silver Spring. But construction is just getting started on the most eagerly-awaited feature of the property, the Solaire Social food hall on the ground floor. Signage has been installed outside, but work is in the earliest stage on the interior fit-out. A liquor license hearing for the food hall is now scheduled for March 16, 2023.

When completed, Solaire Social will feature 11 vendor stalls with different dining concepts. It will also have a Top Golf Swing Suite golf simulator. Solaire Social has been scheduled to open before the end of this spring - we'll see if that is realistic or not in the coming weeks.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Piney Branch Pool reopens in Takoma Park

The Piney Branch Pool has reopened at 7510 Maple Avenue in Takoma Park. It closed last month after a boiler that heats the water in the pool broke down. The pool remained closed for 12 days while a replacement was installed. Work was completed in time to reopen the indoor pool yesterday.

Bacon Ranch McCrispy arrives at McDonald's in Montgomery County

The new Bacon Ranch McCrispy has arrived at McDonald's restaurants in Montgomery County. While the limited-time-only menu item is scheduled to be available nationwide on March 13, 2023, it is popping up early at McDonald's locations in Montgomery County. The Bacon Ranch McCrispy sandwich features a "whole muscle chicken filet," topped with a special ranch sauce on both the top and bottom buns, applewood smoked bacon and crinkle-cut pickles. A Deluxe version adds sliced Roma tomatoes and shredded lettuce.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Metrobus crashes into Jewelry Buyers in Wheaton

A Metrobus crashed into Jewelry Buyers at 2575 Ennalls Avenue in Wheaton around 9:30 AM yesterday morning, March 2, 2023. The bus drove through the storefront, and continued all the way into the store. No one was inside the store when the accident occurred, but three people were transported to local hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Pete Piringer said. There were no passengers on the bus at the time of the accident.

According to Metro Transit Police, the bus was struck by a speeding white van whose driver allegedly made a reckless lane change. Police later charged the driver of the van with making an unsafe lane change, failing to control speed to avoid a collision, making an improper right turn, and failing to wear corrective lenses. Wild morning in the Wheaton Triangle!

Reader-submitted photo

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Takoma Park Wendy's offering a "construction special" during remodeling

The Wendy's at 6823 New Hampshire Avenue in Takoma Park is offering a "construction special." Buy one Dave's Single burger or their famous Spicy Chicken Sandwich, and get another free. That means you don't have to decide - just get both and one will be free. The offer is good for the duration of the restaurant's remodeling.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Metro Red Line trains to single-track between Silver Spring and Forest Glen after 10 PM this week

Metro Red Line trains will be single-tracking after 10:00 PM between the Silver Spring and Forest Glen stations this week, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation said. The reason is a rehabilitation project related to the drainage pumping system. Water intrusion, as with underground garages, is a typical issue confronted by most subway systems. An audit last year found significant water intrusion and pooling in several locations at the Forest Glen station.

Photo courtesy MCDOT