Monday, February 28, 2022

Montgomery County government liquor stores stop selling Russian vodka

The Montgomery County government monopoly liquor stores have stopped selling Russian-made spirits, the County announced in a press release on Sunday. Since the County is the only entity that can sell liquor in the jurisdiction, it is an effective ban on the sale of all imported Russian liquor products in Montgomery County "until further notice." The County statement indicated the move was "[i]n solidarity with the people of Ukraine." It is only one of many jurisdictions around the country attempting to boycott Russian products following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Shortly after the ban was issued, individual Montgomery County establishments began announcing they were dropping Russian vodka from their cocktail menus. Montgomery County-operated liquor stores will continue to sell alternative vodka brands such as Smirnoff (manufactured in Illinois, despite the name), Ciroc, Tito's, Absolut, Svedka, Grey Goose, SKYY, Ketel One, and New Amsterdam, the County press release said.

Photo courtesy Russian Standard Vodka

Friday, February 25, 2022

When a Rockville drugstore opening meant free cigars for men, and hot steaks and crab cakes

The postmodernist critique posits that many Americans are nostalgic "for a past that never was." And then that argument gets shattered with the quick perusal of an advertisement for a "Get Acquainted Day" at Peoples Drug in the Twinbrook Shopping Center in 1957 Rockville, Maryland. In contrast to a 21st century where CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens stores open on every other block with little fanfare, this Rockville drugstore opening was a major event. Even Mr. Peanut was on hand.

Look at all of the 1950s cars lined up neatly outside the store. And unlike the Peoples Drug-eating CVS, you were going to leave this event with much more than a receipt you could wrap a mummy in. If you had a family, it was truly going to be a haul. Free Havana No. 9 cigars "for the men!" Free earrings "for the ladies!" Free ice cream cones, comic books and coloring books for the children! And free Coca-Colas, Wilkins Coffee and "miniature loaves" of Bond Bread for everybody (the Bond Bread factory in Washington D.C. still stands at 2146 Georgia Avenue NW).

Today's CVS offers a small convenience store presentation of essential grocery items and snacks. But the 1957 Twinbrook Peoples Drug had real, hot food in its Streamlined Fountain and Grill. There, one could order the "finest sandwiches and special plates," ice cream treats, beverages and platters of steak, veal or crab cakes. Compare that to today, and the devolution of society has rarely come into such stark focus. Sure, we don't need the TV tubes and film development of this Peoples Drug, but when's the last time you got a steak, crab cakes and free Havana No. 9 cigars at CVS?

Thursday, February 24, 2022

City of Rockville proposes $20 hike in trash collection fee

A resolution to increase Rockville's refuse collection fee by $20 in FY-2023 will be reviewed by the Mayor and Council at their virtual meeting this Monday night, February 28, 2022 at 7:00 PM. The proposed 4.4% increase would raise City of Rockville residents' annual refuse fee to $479. If approved, this would be the first increase in the fee since FY-2017. The resolution will be voted on by the Mayor and Council at their May 9, 2022 meeting.

Photo courtesy City of Rockville

White Flint Aldi store opens today (Photos)

Montgomery County's newest Aldi grocery store opens today, February 24, 2022 at 5110 Nicholson Lane in the White Flint Plaza shopping center. It replaces Shoppers Food Warehouse there, and is not far from the existing Rockville Aldi store at Congressional Plaza. Yesterday, workers were making final preparations for today's grand opening: 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Maryland School Board votes to rescind statewide school mask mandate

The Maryland State Board of Education voted overwhelmingly yesterday to rescind its statewide mandate that required masks to be worn inside of public schools. However, the masks won't be coming off immediately in Montgomery County Public Schools. First, the Maryland General Assembly committee that originally approved the Board mandate must approve the decision to rescind it. Then the Montgomery County Board of Education will have the power to decide its own mask policy.

Photon via State of Maryland

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Assault reported at Rockville park

Rockville police responded to a report of a 2nd-degree assault at a park late yesterday afternoon, February 21, 2022. The assault was reported in the 13200 block of Aleutian Avenue at 5:45 PM, according to crime data. Given the specific location, it appears that the victim was on the bike trail that runs between Rockcrest Park and Twinbrook Park.

Monday, February 21, 2022

The People's Convoy trucker protest scheduled to pass through Rockville via I-270 to Capital Beltway March 5

Traffic alert: The People's Convoy, a cross-county trucker protest scheduled to begin Wednesday, February 23, 2022, in California, is scheduled to pass through Germantown, Gaithersburg and Rockville on I-270 on March 5. Truckers participating in the mobile rally are expected to arrive in Hagerstown a day earlier via I-70, then take I-270 south to the Capital Beltway on the morning of March 5. The resulting traffic is expected to cause delays around the entire Beltway on that Saturday.

Organizers for the convoy characterized the event as "a peaceful and law-abiding transcontinental journey toward the east coast" in a press release, inspired by the recent trucker protest in Canada. Participating organizations and leaders identified in the press release include Dr. Pierre Kory, attorney Tom Renz, Nevada gubernatorial candidate Joey Gilbert, Pastors Rob McCoy and Rick Brown, transportation workers, railroad workers, airline pilots, The Unity Project, The America Project, Advocates for Citizens' Rights, U.S. Freedom Flyers, The American Foundation for Civil Liberties and Freedom, and faith groups from across the country.

What organizers seek is the lifting of all coronavirus mandates and restrictions nationwide, and the cancellation of the national emergency regarding Covid-19. What they will do upon arriving in the D.C. area is the subject of conflicting reports. The People's Convoy website states that the convoy will peacefully disband when it arrives in the D.C. area, and will not enter the city of Washington, D.C. Fox 5 reports that the truckers plan to shut down the Capital Beltway using the convoy, but that is not stated on the People's Convoy official website. What is clear, is that there will very likely be a traffic impact on that day, and you may want to make plans accordingly.

UPDATE: February 21, 12:35 PM:

The Maryland State Police has issued the following statement regarding the trucker convoy:

Maps via

Friday, February 18, 2022

Rockville shooting now investigated as homicide

The victim of a shooting in Rockville last night has died, the Montgomery County police department announced this morning. A homicide investigation has begun, with the County department taking over from City of Rockville police, whose officers discovered the wounded man at the intersection of Bradley Avenue and Fletcher Place at 10:50 PM Thursday night. The shooting was initially reported to police in the 14000 block of Cove Lane.

Montgomery County police urge anyone who has information about this homicide to call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070 or contact Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).  A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of the homicide suspect(s). Callers can remain anonymous. 

Montgomery County indoor mask mandate to expire next week

Montgomery County's indoor mask mandate will expire on Monday, February 21, 2022 at 11:59 PM. The expiration was triggered by the meeting of targets for improvement on three health metrics: the number of cases per 100,000 residents, the test positivity rate, and the percentage of County hospital beds filled by Covid-19 patients. 

However, even after Monday night, masks are still required in Montgomery County Public Schools, in government buildings, and on public transportation. School mask requirements may change after the Maryland Board of Education meets to discuss the matter on Tuesday, February 22.

Wind gusts cause power outages in Rockville this morning

Gusty winds are bringing down trees and power lines, and causing power outages this morning in Montgomery County. There are currently three outages in the Westbard area, with a crew assigned to the largest of the three, which impacts 43 Pepco customers. 

Small outages currently affect about 5 customers each in the Chevy Chase/Martin's Additions area, the area between Tilden Lane and Montrose Parkway, the area near the Target on Bou Avenue, an area south of Bells Mill Road off of Gainsborough Road, customers along Falls Road near Potomac Village and the Bullis School, and East Rockville just east of the CSX/Metro tracks.

Major outages are found further north along I-270. 710 customers are in the dark along the Watkins Mill Road corridor between MD 355 and Montgomery Village. 98 customers are impacted by an outage between Scenery Drive and Middlebrook Road east of MD 355 in Germantown. A small outage near Kingsview Middle School in Germantown currently affects 5 customers.

Expect more outages, with wind gusts between 20 and 50 MPH until late morning. Watch for downed trees, falling limbs and live power lines they may hit and displace. Bring in all unsecured objects that might blow away from yards or balconies.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Aggravated assault with gun at Rockville gas station

Rockville police responded to a report of an aggravated assault involving a firearm at a gas station last night. The assault was reported at a gas station in the 700 block of Rockville Pike at 7:15 PM, according to crime data. There is an Exxon station on that block.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Synthetic drug possession at Montgomery County government office in Rockville

Montgomery County police were called to a County-operated facility in Rockville to investigate an individual in possession of synthetic drugs on Monday evening, February 14, 2022. The call came from a County government office in the 1300 block of Piccard Drive at 5:20 PM. There are several County offices and facilities at 1301 Piccard Drive, including the Department of Health and Human Services, Montgomery County Child Welfare, and a crisis center. Examples of common synthetic drugs include fentanyl, bath salts and synthetic cannabinoids.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

LensCrafters "coming soon" at Pike & Rose

has posted "coming soon" signage for its future Pike & Rose location at 901 Rose Avenue in Rockville. There is a QR code for job openings at the location, which I'm told will be opening on April 4, 2022. LensCrafters will face immediate competition from Warby Parker, which is also coming to Pike & Rose this year. 

Monday, February 14, 2022

Rockville Mayor & Council to be briefed on Montgomery County detention center plan tonight

Representatives of the Montgomery County Department of General Services will brief Rockville's Mayor and Council tonight at 7:00 PM on the County's future plans for the County Detention Center site at 1307 Seven Locks Road. The County has proposed demolishing some structures on the site, and renovating or modifying others, to make room for a school bus depot. While the work is done, the detention center will remain in operation. The plan will have to be reviewed by the Rockville Planning Commission, but as a "mandatory referral" government project, commissioners will have little power beyond an advisory role.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Rockville HDC to determine historic significance of Great Falls Road home

The Rockville Historic District Commission will consider the historic significance of a property at 500 Great Falls Road at its next virtual meeting, scheduled for February 17, 2022 at 7:00 PM. 500 Great Falls Road is a single-family home in the Rockville Heights subdivision. It was nominated for historic status by historic preservation non-profit Peerless Rockville.

Peerless Rockville nominated the home last year after it noticed the owner beginning significant renovations to the structure. The City of Rockville has asked the owner to state his position on the nomination, but has not received an indication of his approval or opposition to the proposed inclusion of the property in an historic district. However, the owner did request a certificate of approval from the HDC last year for the renovations. He told the commission that moisture retention by the stucco applied to the home was damaging the interior, and rendering the foundation unstable.

The original home at 500 Great Falls Road
flanked by HDC-approved additions now
under construction

The HDC ultimately granted approval for the owner's proposed changes to the property. However, it did not render an official judgement as to the home's designation as historic. Dr. Clara Bliss Hinds Finley, a nationally-known female physician who founded multiple organizations and lectured on women's and children's health, resided in the home during summers between 1916 and and her death in 1940. She is buried in Rockville Cemetery.

City of Rockville Preservation Planner Sheila Bashiri has determined that the property meets the following criteria for historic designation:  It represents the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of the city, as the home of a women who was a pioneer in her field, Dr. Clara Bliss Finley, and her daughter, a prominent suffragist. Second, it embodies distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, as it is already listed in the city's Historic Buildings Catalogue as a prime representative of the Colonial Revival style. Finally, it is an established visual feature in the Rockville Heights neighborhood. Its surrounding lot, house footprint and massing are intact, and its Colonial Revival architecture and placing on the large corner lot have made it an established visual feature in that community.

For these reasons, Bashiri is recommending the HDC find that the home does meet the criteria for historic designation, and that the commissioners forward a recommendation to the Mayor and Council to place the property in the historic district zone.

Photos courtesy City of Rockville

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Tower crane erected at Wegmans construction site in Rockville (Photos)

The next phase of construction at the future Wegmans/Twinbrook Quarter construction site is now set to begin. A tower crane has been erected at the B.F. Saul development project at the corner of Rockville Pike and Halpine Road, across from Congressional Plaza. Excavation and pile driving have already been performed to ready the site for construction of the eagerly-anticipated grocery store, as well as the residential and office space that will be above it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Sexual assault on Rockville Pike

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a sexual assault on Rockville Pike Monday evening, February 7, 2022. The adult victim reported having been fondled in the 800 block of Rockville Pike at 7:48 PM, according to crime data.

Rockville Pike Animal Hospital to open at Towne Plaza

Rockville Pike Animal Hospital
is coming soon to 12248 Rockville Pike in the Towne Plaza shopping center. This is the former Navy Federal Credit Union space, which still has a Navy Federal ATM embedded in the storefront. There are at least three other animal hospitals on the Pike currently: Caring Hands at Wintergreen Plaza, Dr. Boyd's Veterinary Resort, and the 24-hour Metropolitan Animal Emergency and Specialty Center.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Strong-arm robbery at Rockville Town Square

Rockville police responded to a report of a strong-arm robbery at Rockville Town Square yesterday afternoon. The robbery was reported in the unit block of Maryland Avenue between Beall Avenue and E. Middle Lane at 4:30 PM, according to crime data.

South Block coming soon to Rockville

South Block
has posted coming soon signage at its future location at 11803 Grand Park Avenue at Pike & Rose in Rockville. The local chain specializes in smoothies, acai bowls, fresh-pressed juices, and avocado or banana toast. Take a closer look at these photos to find out how you can get a free acai bowl. You're welcome!

Monday, February 7, 2022

Rockville Super Bowl specials at Taco Bamba

Chicken wings and nachos are frequently found on Super Bowl Sunday spreads at homes across America. Taco Bamba in Rockville is offering a special Super Bowl LVI package featuring both - with some unique flavors - now through Super Bowl Sunday, February 13, 2022. 

For $75, you will get a Big Game Platter with 18 Bamba Wings, cotija poblano ranch dipping sauce, nachos, 12 oz. of your choice of toppings (carne asada, barbacoa, spiced ground beef, birria, carnitas, chorizo, chicken tinga, spicy 'shroom, or roasted buffalo cauliflower), 8 oz. each of queso, guacamole, pickled jalapeƱo, pico de gallo, and crema; and 16 oz. of salsa of your choice (verde, taquera, arbol, morita).

You can order the Big Game Platter online here. Taco Bamba is located at 1627 Rockville Pike, at Congressional Plaza.

Photo courtesy Taco Bamba

Friday, February 4, 2022

Rockville considers annexing Shady Grove Hospital, Shady Grove Metro station and brewery sites into city

Rockville's Mayor and Council will hold a discussion on the possible annexation of four sites into the city at its virtual meeting this Monday, February 7, 2022 at 7:00 PM. The sites under consideration are the campus of Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, the Shady Grove Metro station, and industrial sites leased by two breweries at 400 E. Gude Drive (True Respite) and 1029 E. Gude Drive (Twin Valley Distilleries). 

Because the hospital and Metro station are owned by non-profit entities, the city can initiate annexation procedures for them without the consent of the landowners, Adventist HealthCare and WMATA. Because state law requires a municipality to border a property it wishes to annex, acquiring the hospital site, would require the agreement of two private property owners whose land is between the city and the hospital campus.

City staff suggests that future development on either property could bring tax revenue to the city if they are annexed. Acquiring the brewery sites would enhance the city's established branding of the RockEast District along Gude Drive as a craft beer destination.

The timeline for annexation of the properties would be nine to fourteen months from the start of the process by the Mayor and Council, assuming there is no legal action taken by any party, and the private landowners of the brewery sites and hospital adjacent sites agree to annexation in a timely fashion. If the Mayor and Council direct staff to lay the groundwork for an annexation of one or more of the properties, staff would begin outreach to the landowners. Site surveys would be performed, and then the Mayor and Council would decide whether to initiate the annexation. 

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Eko House soft opening today in Rockville

Be one of the first to try the new Eko House pan-African restaurant and lounge at 150 Gibbs Street at Rockville Town Square. Their soft opening begins today, February 3, 2022, but you need to make a reservation through their website or Resy. Seating will be limited, so don't delay. Soft opening hours this week will be as follows:

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Tower Companies activates largest solar grid in Rockville

The largest solar energy grid in the City of Rockville is now active. Real estate development firm The Tower Companies flipped the switch on its half megawatt solar PV canopy system at The Tower Building at 1101 Wootton Parkway yesterday. It will provide the same annual carbon offset value as 600 acres of forest, a positive in a county where forest and tree canopy are being clearcut at an aggressive pace.

The new parking lot grid will also supply a full fifth of the Tower Building's energy needs each year. In addition to the Prospect Solar-installed canopy, four electric vehicle charging stations were added. By June 2022, Tower will be generating almost 2 million kWh of on-site solar energy across its entire real estate portfolio, using approximately 4,000 solar panels.

The Tower Building in Rockville

"This is a great, innovative project that shows how Rockville businesses are contributing to clean, local renewable energy generation and helping our community meet our greenhouse gas reduction goals," Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton said in a statement yesterday. "We are proud that our city is home to companies like Tower that share the values of our community and are taking proactive approaches to help us meet Rockville's climate action goals." She said the project aligns with the Mayor and Council's efforts on a Climate Action Plan for the city.

Tower Companies CEO Eric Posner on Tuesday touted the grid as not only good for the environment, but also a potential draw for climate-conscious tenants that other office building owners could emulate. "Tower is proud to continue our long-standing commitment to sustainability and contribute to local, state, and national climate action goals that will improve the lives of generations to come," Posner said. "We view this project as a smart investment that not only benefits the environment, but is also a real value-add for our office building tenants."

Photos courtesy The Tower Companies, Prospect Solar

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

El Mercat Bar de Tapas now open in Rockville

El Mercat Bar de Tapas
is now open at 101-C Gibbs Street at Rockville Town Square. George Rodrigues is the executive chef and owner of the Spanish tapas bar. You can see the menu, make reservations and order online on the restaurant's website. I've already heard a rave review from one reader of Rockville Nights.

Photos courtesy El Mercat Bar de Tapas