Friday, January 24, 2020

Temporary closure on ICC this weekend

Traffic alert: There will be a temporary closure along the ICC this weekend, as the Maryland Transportation Authority begins replacing the electronic tolling gantries with newer, updated ones. Closures are expected between January 24 and 27, 2020 and again next weekend. Follow the detours below this weekend and next.

Beginning at 9:00 PM tonight, Friday, January 24, and continuing until 5:00 AM on Monday, January 27, westbound traffic on the ICC/MD 200 will be detoured at New Hampshire Avenue (MD 650). The detour route will direct motorists north on New Hampshire Avenue to Norbeck Road, west to Layhill Road (MD 182) ,and south on Layhill Road back to westbound ICC/MD 200.

The following weekend, from 9:00 PM Friday, January 31, until 5:00 AM on Monday, February 3, eastbound ICC/MD 200 traffic will be detoured at Layhill Road (MD 182). The detour route will direct motorists north on Layhill Road to Norbeck Road, east on Norbeck Road to New Hampshire Avenue (MD 650) and south on New Hampshire Avenue back to eastbound ICC/MD 200.

Photo via MDTA

Rockville Deputy City Clerk search begins

Rockville needs a new Deputy City Clerk. Deputy City Clerk Niles Anderegg "is no longer an employee with the City of Rockville," according to city spokesperson Marylou Berg. Anderegg's exit cannot be further commented upon by the City, as it is a personnel matter.

Berg said the city will soon begin a competitive recruitment process to fill the vacancy. Anderegg had served since March 11, 2019.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Ding Tea soft opening today in Rockville

Ding Tea will be holding a soft opening today, Thursday, January 23, 2020 at the Ritchie Center in Rockville. The store will be open from 2:00-9:00 PM, according to their Facebook page. Ding Tea is located at 785-C Rockville Pike.

Rockville Mayor & Council to discuss City Manager in closed session

Rockville City Manager
Rob DiSpirito
Rockville's Mayor and Council will go into closed session at their Monday, January 27, 2020 meeting to discuss the City Manager. The session will be closed to the public. According to the meeting agenda, the subjects of the discussion may include one or more of the following:  the appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of the City Manager."

City Manager Rob DiSpirito has served in that role since November 2016. Note that Monday's meeting will begin at 5:45 PM instead of the usual 7:00 PM start. It will begin in open, public session at 5:45 with a vote to adjourn to the closed session. The meeting is scheduled to reconvene back into open session around 6:30, pending completion of the closed session.

Photo via City of Rockville

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Montgomery County fumbles Eli Lilly factory to North Carolina

Indianapolis residents now know what it feels like to live in Montgomery County. Just as moribund MoCo can't get one of its few remaining major companies - Lockheed - to locate its manufacturing facilities here, neither could Indy get hometown pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly to build its new manufacturing facility in the Hoosier capital. Lilly is looking south instead, choosing Durham County, North Carolina's booming Research Triangle Park.

"We continue to grow North Carolina into a worldwide hub for the biotechnology industry," a jubilant North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said in a statement Tuesday.

Biotech and hospitality are the only two economic sectors in Montgomery County that even have a pulse these days, thanks to decisions made by wiser County leaders prior to the Montgomery County political cartel's seizure of the County Council in 2002 (today, the cartel controls all nine Council seats). But just days after the Washington Post reported once again that Montgomery County has fallen behind Prince George's County in job creation (while failing to report MoCo was also behind every other county in the region over the last decade in that department), Montgomery County's elected officials weren't able to score the biggest biotech get of the year so far - the Eli Lilly factory.

Not only did the County Council and economic development officials make no public campaign to attract Lilly, but their fumble also emphasizes how our inept leaders are squandering the biotech advantages their smarter, less corrupt predecessors left them at the turn of the century. North Carolina is catching up, as is Virginia. As MoCo officials continue to drop balls left and right, those and other states will soon surpass us.

North Carolina Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland correctly noted Tuesday that, "North Carolina is one of the nation’s leading centers for innovation in the life sciences." They also have two other things we don't: A friendly business climate, and superior infrastructure.

The Tar Heel state has the Research Triangle Park. Montgomery County was supposed to have a "Science City" in the I-270 corridor. Remember that?

Montgomery County elected officials couldn't even get that done. Of course, they never intended to. "Science City" was a total ruse perpetrated by the Council, and their developer sugar daddies, a decade ago. Sold to you as something like North Carolina's biotech park, that fakeout was merely a Trojan horse for more residential development.

Remember how Clarksburg, Germantown and Shady Grove were going to be booming job centers, with a Corridor Cities Transitway and expanded MARC service? None of that ever happened.

But - the housing all got built.

Jobs continued to divert to Northern Virginia, and I-270 just got more congested with all of the new housing approved by the Council without any new transportation infrastructure to support it. Heckuva job, Brownie!

Now, standing amidst the ashes of a "Science City" ghost town surrounded by stack-and-pack Soviet-style apartment blocs, the Council is saying the whole problem is...there wasn't enough housing built. LOL. [Insert cuckoo clock sound here].

You can't make this stuff up, folks.

What did we lose this week as a result?

462 new pharmaceutical manufacturing jobs, with an average salary above $72,000. 462 jobs are just a drop in the bucket given how stagnant and shrinking Montgomery County's economy is, but we're not in a position to pass any up in such a crisis. We should be, but are not, actively pursuing aerospace, biotech, and defense corporate headquarters, and their related research and manufacturing facilities.

North Carolina's Research Triangle Park's motto is, "Inspiring Bold Ideas."

The Montgomery County Council's is, "Lining our pockets with developer cash."

Our County's should be, "The Bedroom Community for the Booming Job Centers Elsewhere in Our Region."

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Rockville firm to employ AI in partnership with major German cosmetics firm

Insilico Medicine, a Rockville biotech firm specializing in artificial intelligence, is going to put AI to work in the skincare field. German cosmetics firm Beiersdorf announced this morning it has entered a partnership with Insilico to apply AI to the search for new active ingredients for skincare products. Beiersdorf owns major brands like Nivea and La Prairie.

In a statement released by Beiersdorf, Insilico CEO Alex Zhavoronkov said the company is "delighted at the chance to prove AI’s potential in the skincare industry moving forward." Beiersdorf’s Senior Corporate VP for Research and Development May Shana called Insilico "the undisputed expert in the field of artificial intelligence." Insilico is located at 9601 Medical Center Drive in Rockville.

Logo courtesy Insilico Medicine

Monday, January 20, 2020

Rockville Swim Center upgrades to debut January 22

The first of several upcoming improvements at the Rockville Swim and Fitness Center will be open to the public on Wednesday, January 22, 2020. Visitors Wednesday will be the first to have access to the all-new lobby area, and the larger, modernized locker rooms. Additional exterior and interior work will continue in the months ahead, requiring the section of the parking lot furthest from Martins Lane to remain closed at this time. The swim center is located at 355 Martins Lane.