Friday, September 25, 2020

Award-winning Rockville police officer does it again

Rockville City Police Department Corporal Brandon Thomas has twice received awards for saving lives in the line of duty, in 2018 and 2019. Now he has a third. Two weeks ago, Thomas was awarded a Distinguished Service Citation at the Rockville Public Safety Awards.

Thomas received the recognition for saving the life of a customer who stopped breathing at a fast food restaurant. Finding no pulse on the patient, Thomas performed CPR for seven minutes until paramedics arrived at the scene. That action made it possible for the patient to survive the medical emergency, making for three people who are still alive today as a result of Thomas' quick thinking and lifesaving efforts.

Photo courtesy RCPD 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Montgomery County partners with Main Street Apartments to provide "digital equity" for residents

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich announced Wednesday that the County is partnering with Main Street Apartments to provide internet and WiFi service to up to 70 apartments in the new, inclusive housing development at 50 Monroe Place in Rockville. The service will provide upload and download speeds of 50 Mbps+, and is made possible through private sector partners Plume and Positron Access Solutions.

“Affordable access to the internet is crucial and the need for a safe and reliable connection is more important than it has ever been,” Elrich said yesterday. “With the help of our partners, we are excited to bring robust internet connectivity and home Wi-Fi to eligible residents of Main Street Apartments at absolutely no cost. We believe that the internet should be accessible for everyone and we are happy to be working with Main Street Connect to offer it to their residents, many of whom depend on the internet to work, learn and grow.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Tuesday Accessories now open at Montgomery Mall

Tuesday Accessories
has opened a kiosk at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The business specializes in handmade jewelry and accessories. With all of the craziness of the pandemic and election, it's hard to believe that Christmas shopping season is almost upon us, and one-of-a-kind handmade items make for very unique gifts. Tuesday Accessories is located on Level 1 near Michael Kors.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

D.C.'s HalfSmoke opening at Rockville Town Square

The Starbucks of half smokes is coming to Rockville Town Square. HalfSmoke founder Andre McCain has leased space at the struggling development at 36-A Maryland Avenue, formerly home to American Tap Room and Pandora Seafood. McCain opened the original HalfSmoke at 651 Florida Avenue N.W. in the District.

HalfSmoke's menu will feature four kinds of sausage, as well as grilled chicken and falafel. Another specialty of HalfSmoke is adult milkshakes, although non-alcoholic shakes are available, too.

McCain told QSR Magazine in 2017 that he is trying to put an upscale spin on what is considered wrongly to be a cheap product. Part of that is in providing high-quality ingredients. But the other part is providing a Starbucks type of atmosphere where customers are encouraged to linger at the restaurant in comfortable seating, rather than run out the door gobbling a half smoke.

It's a tough time to be launching a restaurant empire, to be sure. HalfSmoke is also expanding to Baltimore. I love hot dogs, so it won't be a tough sell to get me in the door.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Soulfull Cafe opens in Rockville

Soulfull Cafe
is now open in the ground floor of the Main Street Apartments, located at 50 Monroe Place in Rockville Town Center. The cafe sells baked goods, acai bowls, fresh juices, smoothies and coffees from Dawson's Market. See photos below for the menu and hours.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Atlantic Guns opens new Rockville store

After 70 years in business, family-owned Atlantic Guns has consolidated its Rockville and Silver Spring gun shops into a brand-new Rockville location. The new Atlantic Guns is now open at 15813 Hungerford Drive (MD 355) in the King Farm/Derwood area of Rockville. It's right up the street from Wendy's and McDonald's.

Atlantic Guns carries long guns, handguns, ammo, and firearm accessories. They also sell non-lethal defense products like Tasers, camping and survival gear, archery equipment, knives and fishing supplies.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, only ten customers may enter the store at a time. The first customer at the new store received a free Benchmade knife.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Veirs Mill Road armed carjacking suspects flee on foot in Rockville

An armed carjacking was reported in the 12000 block of Veirs Mill Road in Silver Spring last night at 8:35 PM. Montgomery County police searching for the stolen vehicle located it in Rockville, near the intersection of N. Van Buren Street and W. Middle Lane.

Three suspects bailed out of the vehicle. Officers arrested one of them, but two remain at-large. Police describe the two at-large suspects as a Latino male with braided hair wearing a red shirt, and a second Latino male wearing a black sweatshirt. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Cava Mezze reopens at Montgomery Mall

Cava Mezze has reopened at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The restaurant is located in the Dining Terrace food court. Also, The Cheesecake Factory is now offering indoor dining again, with social distancing restrictions (Four Cheese Pasta with Chicken is my recommendation). Finally, J. Crew has reopened, as well.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Hit-and-run accident in Rockville

A hit-and-run accident was reported to Rockville police Saturday night. The incident occurred on an unspecified block of Linthicum Street in the Twinbrook Forest area around 7:56 PM. No information on damage, or whether any injuries resulted, is currently available. 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Blinds to Go now open in Rockville

Blinds to Go has opened at 12204 Rockville Pike. The custom blinds retailer takes over the former Next Day Blinds building. Their hours are 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM Monday-Saturday, and 12:00-5:00 PM on Sundays.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Lego Store to open in October at Montgomery Mall

Westfield says the highly-anticipated opening of the Lego Store at Montgomery Mall is only about a month away. The mall operator now expects it to open in October, and will have a more specific opening date in the coming weeks. While all businesses have faced disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Lego Store is technically still on schedule for its previously-announced Fall 2020 opening.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Montgomery County Council proposes creating its own illegal police force to pull you over

Proposal is illegal under
federal and state law

The Montgomery County Council is proposing to create its own police force, to replace the Montgomery County Police Department's role in traffic enforcement. This would be illegal under both federal and Maryland law, but that's not deterring them from trying to quietly move forward. Councilmembers have floated the idea with two local reporters in recent weeks, resulting in two low-key articles, one in The Washington Post and one on NBC Washington's website. Those, and a virtual town hall being held by one councilmember tonight, have largely evaded public attention.

Who would make up this new police force remains unclear. The Post article made vague references to "civilians" somehow gaining the authority to pull over and detain motorists. NBC Washington reports that it could be County bureaucratic employees who somehow gain this authority. Unfortunately for the Council, neither group can engage in such activity under the law. Which is why such a ridiculous idea isn't currently allowed anywhere in America.

In the case of civilians, the Council may have been inspired by an idea proposed in the District to have civilians be able to use an app to enforce traffic laws in Washington, D.C. One can only imagine the potential abuses of an army of "Karens" wielding a Stasi-style reporting app, but that was largely the goal, as yet another way to harass people committing the horrific offense of continuing to drive private automobiles.

Now, imagine Karen or a random bureaucrat empowered to pull you over and issue tickets and other penalties, with no way to defend yourself against any preposterous allegation designed to fill the County's dwindling coffers. Your crime might be your race, as if racism is somehow only found among sworn police officers, or a particular religious or political bumper sticker displayed on your vehicle. Let's not forget, it was our white County Planning Board chair who repeatedly called in police officers on members of a black church peacefully protesting at board meetings.

Having non-sworn civilians pulling people over in traffic would not only be a violation of federal and Maryland law, but it would also be a danger to those making the traffic stops. Who would pull over for a non-police vehicle, especially when a non-sworn bureaucrat would have no authority to make a stop? What happens if the driver detained is a criminal and has a violent response? How would tourists know non-police could pull them over in our jurisdiction? How many accidents will be caused by the confusion of non-police vehicles trying to pull over drivers on busy roads? And traffic stops are inherently very dangerous to make, as the number of police officers hit by vehicles while making such stops each year indicates.

Montgomery County has one of the most professional and highly-trained police forces in the nation. These men and women are prepared physically and mentally for one of the most difficult and demanding jobs in the world. Bureaucrats would not have anywhere close to the same preparation and judgement as these officers possess. And if they did, why and how would taxpayers fund what essentially would be a duplicative police academy and police department?

The bottom line is that what the Council is proposing is illegal. They've offered no details on their proposal, nothing is mentioned about it on the Council website, and there is so far no public process through which we the People can yet comment on this.

If you are concerned about your Constitutional rights and tax dollars, you may want to sign up for Councilmember Will Jawando's little-advertised "virtual town hall" tonight at 7:00 PM. Given the hush-hush nature of the event beyond the Montgomery County political cartel, it's unlikely he's expecting your virtual attendance.
Would you turn to your lawyer or hairdresser to perform emergency heart surgery? Likewise, most of the general public is more comfortable with professional police officers enforcing the law than with random bureaucrats. It's about time we also had a professional County Council. Maoist fever dreams like a personal police force are yet another distraction from the Council's failure to address the multiple crises they've created over the last two decades.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Salon Lofts coming to Rockville

Salon Lofts is coming to the new mini-mall at 1170 Rockville Pike. The franchise leases salon suites to stylists. Leasing seems to be picking up at the retail center since the first tenant came aboard last month, after 19 months of no activity. Salon Lofts boasts over 100 locations nationwide, in the eastern and central regions, with a heavy presence in Maryland and Northern Virginia already.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

First look: Soulfull Cafe in Rockville (Photos)

Soulfull Cafe is getting ready to open in the ground floor of the Main Street Apartments at 50 Monroe Place in Rockville. The cafe will offer baked goods, acai bowls, fresh juices, smoothies and coffees from Dawson's Market. A soft opening is currently scheduled for tomorrow, September 9, 2020, from 7:00 AM-2:00 PM. Here is a sneak peek at the space.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Loudoun County leader blasts Montgomery County for failure of understaffed 911 call center in teen's death

Montgomery County Council has
failed to fully-fund 911 call center staffing,
leaving 54 positions vacant

The Montgomery County Council has failed to adequately staff the county's 911 call center for years, leading to call takers working overtime, and being stressed and exhausted. In recent weeks, the call center has been criticized for its response to a 911 call from the Loudoun side of the Potomac River. By the time the first rescue unit arrived at the correct location, 36 minutes had passed.

"I am baffled by how poorly Montgomery County handled this," Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall said, according to the Washington Post. "How do you wait 17 minutes and then keep waiving Loudoun off, and saying, 'We're taking this call?' They need to work on their 911 center."

But the Post reports that the Montgomery County Council has not only failed to fully staff the 911 center, but is now dragging its feet in investigating the 911 center's failures in the drowning incident in which a 16-year-old family friend of Randall's died. Loudoun has already completed an investigation, and developed a 77-page report. Montgomery County? A Council "briefing is expected later this month," the Post's Dan Morse reported.

It's mind-boggling to consider the tens-of-billions of dollars in wasteful spending and kickbacks to its campaign donors the Council has approved over the last decade. They also managed to have $6.7 million in taxpayer funds vanish, in an embezzlement scheme that has yet to be investigated by the FBI. 

Let's not forget Council expenditures like the $900,000 over-budget Glen Echo Heights sewer pipe, or paying $22,000 for a security camera system that costs less than $1000 retail. And countless extraneous new executive-level positions with six-figure salaries, often filled by political allies of the Council. 

Yet they've failed to spend the necessary funds to staff the 911 call center - where the 911 system itself has experienced two outages in recent years. 

It's a County Council that cannot execute the most basic functions of government. Now, competing jurisdictions aren't only whipping Montgomery County's posterior in economic development, infrastructure and schools, they're also starting to call out its incompetent and feckless elected officials. Considering the local press won't, it's about time someone did.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Fact check: Is Montgomery County Ride On bus service being cut by Larry Hogan?

A remarkable column about Montgomery County transit appeared in Friday's Washington Post. It was remarkable for two reasons. First, Post columnists have been silent on transit cuts made by the Montgomery County Council over the last decade, including their elimination of the Park and Ride route for Frederick commuters entering Montgomery, and their slashing of weekend bus service in Damascus. And remarkable because it was...false.

Columnist Petula Dvorak was apparently attempting to write a critical piece about service cuts proposed by the Maryland Transit Administration to MTA bus routes and MARC rail service. But a lengthy introduction, and let's-give-the-Council-free-press quotes from councilmembers, suggest that Montgomery County and its Ride On bus service will be the victims of the MTA cuts.

Ride On Route 55 is specifically cited by Dvorak, and later she says the MTA cuts will make the Route 55 buses even more crowded like "sardine cans." She adds that low-income residents in Montgomery County will be "among those devastated by reductions in bus routes." The article paints Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) as the villain who is behind the cuts.

Just one problem - Ride On is not run by the MTA. Ride On is funded by Montgomery County taxpayers, and is run by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. There are no Hogan cuts to Ride On because Hogan has no authority over or involvement with Ride On. There are no MTA cuts to Ride On routes proposed. If any Ride On cuts are made, they will be made by the Montgomery County Council deciding not to fund those routes.

The column wound up literally being fake news. At best, Capitol Hill resident Dvorak did not realize the MTA doesn't run all bus service in the state of Maryland.

Depicting Montgomery County Council members as heroes fighting to save Ride On bus service in the County doesn't even pass the laugh test, much less a fact check. If they are working so hard to save transit, why have they still not restored weekend service on Route 90 in Damascus, a 2010 Ride On cut that left car-free residents stranded in town on weekends?

Is Montgomery County Ride On bus service being cut by Larry Hogan? Nope. It has been cut in the past by the Montgomery County Council, though.

Fact check score: FOUR PINOCCHIOS 

Friday, September 4, 2020

Rock Grove shopping center begins to take shape in Rockville (Photos)

The conversion of the strip mall at the corner of MD 355 and Shady Grove Road into a new shopping center called Rock Grove is well underway. Construction began back in April. You can now see the facade and roofline that was shown in the renderings beginning to take final shape.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Ritchie Center pad site available for lease on Rockville Pike

Here's an interesting development at the Ritchie Center. The retro-design brick building at 795 Rockville Pike could be torn down to make way for a new retail use, based on a new for-lease listing. Rather than touting the building for lease, it is offering the pad site land itself, a 6970 SF parcel.

This would be a great location for a new fast food restaurant with drive-thru - excellent visibility and vehicular access. We need a Hardee's, Steak 'N Shake, or Jack in the Box quite badly.
Map courtesy NAI Michael

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Hogan: Let's go to the movies! Elrich: Not so fast

Montgomery County won't immediately 
accept move to Stage 3 of reopening Friday

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) declared Tuesday afternoon that the state's coronavirus numbers now permit moving to Stage 3 of reopening. He said that would include movie theaters and all businesses, and would go into effect this Friday at 5:00 PM. But don't call the Moviefone guy for Tenet showtimes just yet, Kramer.
Regal Cinemas Majestic 20 in
downtown Silver Spring is still closed,
like all Maryland movie theaters
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said Hogan's announcement had "taken us by surprise." Because Hogan did not share his executive order with County officials in advance, Elrich said, it would take time to review it. "Although I want to see our community open as quickly as possible, we also must proceed with care," Elrich tweeted, adding that he would continue to rely on "data and science" in making decisions.
New movie posters outside the Regal, but
not always with the right release dates in
the tumultuous coronavirus era
Elrich said it will take at least a few days to review the order and data. He said he was troubled by Covid-19 case numbers being higher this week than last week in the county. Stay tuned for further updates between this morning and Friday.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Amazon Fresh grocery store to open on Shady Grove Road

Amazon will open one of its new Amazon Fresh grocery store concepts in Gaithersburg. The store will take over the Office Depot building at the 270 Center on Shady Grove Road.

First opening in California, the stores will offer the Amazon Dash Cart, which identifies the items you place in it. Customers can then push the cart through the Dash Cart checkout lane for instant checkout when leaving the store.

Fresh foods are prepared daily in-store. Amazon Fresh stores will emphasize low prices, compared to the company's higher-end Whole Foods Market chain. Expect a 2021 opening for the store.