Per Montgomery County:
I visited Montgomery County’s newest Family Involvement Center last week to read to kids and their families during story time, video of which you can see here. I got to see firsthand the powerful impact these centers have on our young ones and their families.
The Family Involvement Center is a place for our youngest children to learn through play and interactions with parents and kids working together. These centers foster an environment where parents and caregivers are given the tools to set strong foundations for their children’s social and emotional development.
We now have centers in Rockville, Gaithersburg and Silver Spring serving 250 families. We plan to add two more soon.
I am proud of our County’s collaboration to uplift all children and remove barriers some kids and families have to early education. We know that early childhood education makes a huge difference for their entire school experience and beyond. There have been many studies that demonstrate the importance and effectiveness of this program including those outlined by Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child.
Every child deserves the best start in life, and with the combined efforts of County Government, Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery College, we are working diligently to make that a reality for all.
I encourage you to visit our childcare support services website by going to montgomerycountymd.gov/ccss. In our reports section, you can see what we hope to accomplish over the next four years by focusing on equity, multilingual learning, helping children with special needs and creating sustainable projects that prepare all children for school successfully.
Inspector General Will Review Sexual Harassment Allegations and Process Issues at MCPS
The County Board of Education last week released a summary of a report by outside law firm Jackson Lewis that detailed issues regarding the June 2023 promotion of middle school principal Dr. Joel Beidleman and sexual harassment complaints against him. The report also raised concerns about processes involved with sexual harassment allegations generally. I was pleased this week when the County’s Inspector General announced two investigations to further explore these issues. You can read my statement from last week here. You can listen to my comments on this week’s media briefing here. I am deeply troubled that this is likely not the only time that sexual allegations have not been addressed, and it appears that several people involved in this particular incident were aware of allegations and did not feel an obligation to follow up. I hope these investigations will produce a more trustworthy process and accountability for people.
Celebrating BioHealth Industry Growth: We Moved Up to No. 3 in the Country
North Bethesda was host this week to the Ninth Annual BioHealth Capital Region Conference bringing together regional industry leaders. It allowed us the opportunity to celebrate moving up in the national rankings of life sciences hubs. This summer’s new ranking of life sciences research talent done by the real estate company CBRE shows our region is now third largest in the United States, up from No. 4 last year.
We have an innovative industry cluster whose companies continue to receive venture and NIH funding. Additionally, companies pointed out that our lab space and housing costs are lower than the other top life sciences regions in the country ranked ahead of us.
Montgomery County has fully embraced the opportunity to grow with the industry. We have seen commercial development add millions of square feet of lab space over the last few years. Our Montgomery County programs supporting business growth in this sector include our wet labs incubator, biotech investor tax credits and Small Business Innovative Research matching programs.
We also have robust training programs through Montgomery College and the Universities at Shady Grove that are putting graduates to work. Within our government, permitting and business center leaders are making it easier for companies to obtain permits allowing companies to get to work quickly.
Montgomery County will continue to be a growth area for life sciences because of our efforts to add a research facility in North Bethesda. The University of Maryland Board of Regents approved funding for the first office for the UM – Institute for Health Computing in North Bethesda. This space will be used by the Institute until a permanent office is completed at the North Bethesda Metro Station.
Health computing and artificial intelligence (AI) technology are revolutionizing life sciences and this institute will bring top AI and computing talent that will focus on innovative breakthroughs and solving the medical industry’s toughest challenges. This will be the County’s first graduate level academic facility—something that is long overdue. Its presence along a Metrorail line and in the heart of our region’s life sciences cluster will draw more companies and create more jobs in our County and State.
As Dr. Mohan Suntha, the president of the University of Maryland’s Medical system said, the IHC could make Montgomery County “the Silicon Valley of health computing.” Maryland Matters stated this point in “Partnership seeks to make Montgomery County ‘the Silicon Valley of health computing”
You Too Can Drive Electric
National Drive Electric Week begins today and runs through Oct. 1. Montgomery County has seen a sizable increase in the number of electric vehicles on the road. Over the last year, 15 percent of all newly registered cars in the County were electric.
We have increased EV registration from 11,000 vehicles in January of 2021 to more than 25,000 vehicles as of August. That is a 150 percent increase in just more than 32 months. This is great progress.
I lease and drive an EV. I can testify that no longer do you have to give up comfort or power to choose electric. There are fewer limitations with electric vehicles than we have seen in the past. I can take a road trip to New Yok on a full charge with the EV I drive today, but that was not always possible.
Our County is embracing the switch to electric. There are more than 600 publicly available EV charging plugs at 233 different locations in Montgomery County. The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) now manages 64 charging ports at parking garages in Bethesda, Silver Spring and Wheaton. MCDOT has been partnering with Pepco to increase this number.
Federal resources should help us greatly expand community charging once grant money is approved. I want to thank the Montgomery County Congressional delegation and the Maryland Department of Transportation for supporting our Federal grant application.
We hope to receive this grant this fall, which will allow us to add chargers to dozens of additional locations, including parking garages, MCPS schools, parks and other public facilities.
Montgomery County also is making it easier to purchase EVs. Last year, we launched the EV Purchasing Co-op – an effort to engage and educate residents that are interested in making the switch to electric vehicles. More than 1,100 residents have already joined this co-op and have pledged to go electric.
As a result, local dealerships are lining up to offer incentives on the County’s EV Purchasing Co-op Dealership Incentive website. This is a great resource to check if you are in the market for a new car. This month, seven dealerships have advertised offers. Some of these deals let you take advantage of Federal tax credits at the time of sale, instead of waiting to receive a rebate on your taxes. With up to $7,500 available from the Federal government and $3,000 from the State of Maryland, there has never been a better time to go electric.
Poolesville Day Will Bring Out EV Enthusiasts
There is a great opportunity to learn more about electric vehicles this weekend from those who been through the purchase process. Poolesville Green volunteers will be available to show you a wide variety of EV models and talk through the purchasing and tax rebate process at the annual Drive Electric Poolesville Day event. Close to 150 people are signed up to show off their vehicles and be available for questions. The event is scheduled rain or shine. You can learn more about the event by following this link.
I appreciate the work of Poolesville Green in helping our community better understand electric car ownership.
I am excited to see more zero emissions vehicles on the road in the next few years. To learn more about the Co-op and other ways to make environmentally friendly changes in your life, visit montgomerycountymd.gov/green.
We Are Reimagining Ride On to Improve the Ride
Switching to EVs alone is not going to be enough to meet our ambitious climate goals. It requires many strategies including improving public transit to make it more reliable, efficient and accessible, which is what we are doing with “Ride On Reimagined.” The Montgomery County Department of Transportation will be hosting a virtual open house at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, on Zoom to present a first look at the Ride On Reimagined study findings and get feedback on proposed concept changes to the County transit network.
We have worked closely with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA, or Metro) through the Better Bus initiative to create a comprehensive plan that integrates a regional network of transportation systems. These would help users reach shopping centers and areas where many people work. Improved public transit helps address inequality by increasing transportation access, and in turn opportunities, to historically marginalized populations.
The community will have several chances to learn more and offer feedback through pop up events in October. The events are scheduled for:
- Monday, Oct. 2, 7-10 a.m., at Germantown Transit Center
- Thursday, Oct. 5, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., at Rockville Metro Station
- Tuesday, Oct. 10, 7-10 a.m., at Bethesda Metro Station
- Wednesday, Oct. 11, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., at Shady Grove Metro Station
- Tuesday, Oct.17, 7-10 a.m., at Silver Spring Transit Center
- Thursday, Oct. 19, 3-6 p.m., at Wheaton Metro Station
- Monday, Oct. 23, 3-6 p.m., at Lakeforest Transit Center
- Wednesday, Oct. 25, 7-10 a.m., at White Oak Transit Center
Comments can also be submitted via email to [email protected].
More information on the Ride On Reimagined study and details on how to register for the virtual open house can be found on this website.
Community Health Update
There is some good news about COVID-19 in our community this week. For the first time in more than six weeks, our case rate has stopped going up. The percentage of positive cases compared to overall tests is also down across Maryland. These are encouraging signs that the wave of cases we saw begin late this summer may have peaked.
Over the past week, the new COVID vaccines started to arrive in our community. They are recommended for anyone 6 years old and older regardless of if that person has had a previous Pfizer or Moderna vaccine before.
The distribution of these vaccines will mostly be provided via pharmacies and private medical providers, the County will not be the primary provider. You should contact your medical insurance company because they will help patients identify how to avoid out of pocket costs.
For those without medical insurance, there will be options like the Bridge Access Program that only covers adults. Two Montgomery County clinics have also been given $200,000 in Federal money to help. The Community Clinic, Inc. and Mobile Medical Care will have extra resources to reach more people with the vaccine than they normally would.
The State is sending us more rapid test kits and facemasks. We will make them available at libraries that have run out of them. Starting Monday, Sept. 25, you can request COVID test kits from the Federal government at covidtests.gov.
Wheaton is planning to host the Ninth Annual Friendship Picnic on Sunday, Sept. 24. The free event is held at Wheaton Regional Park from noon-5 p.m. A free satellite parking shuttle service to and from the Wheaton Ice Rink and athletic fields will be available. The Friendship Picnic was created by the Montgomery County Committee Against Hate & Violence 10 years ago to celebrate our region’s diversity. It is now run through our Office of Human Rights to foster discussion among our many community groups.
Food will be provided with Kosher, Halal and vegetarian lunch options available. There will be a wide range of activities for children and adults including music, dancing, moon bounce, face painting, a petting zoo, the carousel and rides on the park’s miniature train.
The event is free, but registering ahead of time is encouraged. You can do that by following this link. Please check the County’s website to determine whether it is canceled because of weather.
We are also approaching the holiest day of the year on the Jewish calendar. Yom Kippur is a solemn time of reflection, fasting and prayer. It begins at sundown on Sunday. I want to wish a meaningful day to all who observe.
As always, my appreciation for all of you,
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services (MCFRS) have responded to several collisions on University Blvd E in the area of E. Indian Spring Dr. due to icy road conditions,m around…
There are multiple collisions on Tuesday evening that have been affecting traffic across the county. A list of some, courtesy of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services (MCFRS) can be…
Per the City of Takoma Park: “Library Renovation construction continues to build momentum! The first few trees have been removed due to spatial limitations on the project site.
Kimco is hosting the Kentlands Market Square Holiday Kickoff on Saturday, December 9th from 11am until 3pm.