Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Hangry Joe's Hot Chicken Rockville Pike update (Photos)

Here is a look at the latest progress inside the future Hangry Joe's Hot Chicken at 718-B Rockville Pike. They still look very close to opening. Hangry Joe's is tight-lipped about an opening date, however, and is so far not responding to messages on that topic. A sign in the window indicates they are still hiring staff for this location.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Rockville 7-Eleven robbed during Sunday's plane crash blackout

A 7-Eleven store in Rockville was robbed Sunday evening, while much of Montgomery County was in the dark due to a mass power outage caused by a plane crashing into a Pepco tower in Gaithersburg. At 8:39 PM, an "older male" suspect smashed a window at the 7-Eleven at 13000 Atlantic Avenue in the Twinbrook area. He grabbed a drawer out of a cash register, and fled on foot as Rockville City police cruisers pulled up outside the store. The suspect was last seen in the residential neighborhood adjacent to the store.

Monday, November 28, 2022

King Buick GMC closes in Rockville (Photos)

It's the end of an era at King Buick GMC at 16200 Frederick Road in Rockville. The dealership has closed permanently, although some vehicle inventory remains on the property. King Motor Company was born in 1928, but it was in the 1950s that King family scion Conrad V. Aschenbach opened his first dealership in Olde Towne Gaithersburg. His son, Bill Aschenbach, said the family was forced to sell the dealership because it could not find another location in the area. The dealership's property will become an EYA townhome development, and be annexed into the City of Rockville.

Bill Aschenbach says that he will join a new dealership group founded by his son, Conrad. That group expects to have nine dealerships by December 31 of this year. The existing King franchise is being acquired by Criswell Automotive at its Gaithersburg Chevrolet Buick GMC dealership. But many of the King employees from this location will be moving to the Ideal Hyundai Buick GMC dealership in Frederick, Maryland, Aschenbach said.  

This is the second venerable car dealership to be lost along this stretch of MD 355 in the last decade. Reed Brothers Dodge at 15955 Frederick Road was the first Dodge dealer in Montgomery County. Today, the Bainbridge Shady Grove apartments stand on its former site.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Massive power outage across Montgomery County - UPDATE: Gaithersburg plane crash victims rescued

UPDATE - 12:48 AM, November 28: Both occupants of the plane have been successfully rescued, and are on the ground, Montgomery County Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Earl Stoddard said. They are being transported to local hospitals with serious injuries, Fire Chief Goldstein announced, a change from earlier announcements that there were no injuries. 

UPDATE - 12:25 AM, November 28: Pepco reports tremendous progress in power restoration, with only 1,297 customers remaining without power at this moment. Utility workers are using a bucket truck to ground the Pepco tower and transmission lines so that the rescue effort can finally get underway sometime this morning.

UPDATE - 11:50 PM: Pepco claims to have restored power to over 60% of customers affected by the power outage over the last hour. It reports there are now 34,688 customers still without electricity.

UPDATE - 11:30 PM: Montgomery County Public Schools will be closed Monday, November 28, 2022, due to the power outage. MCPS offices will also be closed Monday.

UPDATE - 10:01 PM: Maryland State police have identified the pilot of the plane as Patrick Merkle, 65, of Washington, D.C., and the passenger as Jan Williams, 66, of Louisiana. Both are still on-board awaiting rescue, and are reportedly not injured.  Their aircraft is a Mooney Mike 20P single engine plane. Pepco reports more customers are without power than ever tonight, with 113,081 now in the dark at this hour. Montgomery County Public Schools says it will make an announcement about potential school closures later tonight.

UPDATE - 9:05 PM: Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein reports that Pepco crews have to manually climb up to ensure the tower is grounded. The plane must then be secured to the tower. A large crane from Digging and Rigging in Clarksburg has been brought in. Additional personnel resources are due to arrive on-scene at 9:30 PM. "One of our concerns is the safety of the occupants in the airplane, the safety of our fire and rescue personnel," Goldstein said. Goldstein confirmed there are two occupants in the plane. "I have no information, I'm not here to talk about power outages," he said. 

UPDATE - 8:55 PM: A Rockville resident near the Rockville Civic Center park reports their power has just been restored. However, the total number of Pepco customers without power has now climbed back to 76,160.

UPDATE - 8:34 PM: Occupants of the plane that crashed into the Pepco tower have not yet been rescued. The number of Pepco customers without power in Montgomery County has dropped from 80,922 to 75,672.

UPDATE - 6:03 PM: Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Pete Piringer reports that the power outage has been caused by a plane crash in the Montgomery Village/Gaithersburg area. The plane is stuck in a Pepco tower and power lines, Piringer said. Passengers on board are so far reported to be uninjured.

Pepco customers across Montgomery County are in the dark, after what appears to be a massive system failure. 78,944 customers are currently without power, according to the utility's outage map. In fact, over 20,000 more customers lost power just since I began typing this article. There is no violent weather in the area. 

Virtually all of the outages are in the central and eastern part of the county, but residents in several areas of Bethesda report that their lights flashed multiple times, power fluctuations that can damage appliances and devices. Few of the outages are west of I-270, in Rockville and Germantown. Some of the biggest outages are in Derwood, Aspen Hill, Olney and Wheaton. There are currently a couple of smaller outages in Bethesda - one in the Woodmont Triangle area, and another near the D.C.-Maryland border.

The outage follows a Thanksgiving on which power outages also occurred across the D.C. area. Stay tuned for further updates on the cause of the power outages.

Car stolen from home in Rockville

Rockville City police are investigating the theft of a vehicle from a home early yesterday morning, November 26, 2022. The vehicle was reported stolen in the 600 block of Monroe Street at 6:30 AM Saturday.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Armed carjacking in Rockville

Montgomery County police responded to a report of an armed carjacking in Rockville early Thanksgiving morning, November 24, 2022. The carjacking was reported in the 900 block of Rose Avenue, at the Pike & Rose development, at 1:41 AM Thursday.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Another Rockville-area Wendy's restaurant to be remodeled

The new restaurant design being rolled out across the Wendy's hamburger chain will be coming to another Rockville-area location for 2023. Wendy's at 5001 Nicholson Lane will undergo a remodeling in the coming months. Design changes included in the update are meant to increase accommodations for more drive-thru, delivery and mobile orders; reduce energy costs; and streamline front and back-of-house operations. The Derwood Wendy's is currently undergoing a major renovation.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Two cars stolen from homes in Rockville

Montgomery County police are investigating the theft of two vehicles from homes in Rockville. The first vehicle was parked on the street in the 4000 block of Manor Park Court in the Manor Park neighborhood. It was reported stolen Tuesday evening, November 22, 2022. A second vehicle was reported stolen early yesterday morning in the adjacent English Manor community. It was parked in the driveway of a home in the 14200 block of Chadwick Lane.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Assault at Rockville office building

Rockville City police were called to an office building in East Rockville Monday night, after an individual reported having been the victim of a 2nd-degree assault there. The assault was reported at a building in the 1000 block of Westmore Avenue at 9:56 PM Monday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

4th gas station break-in this month in Rockville

A rash of break-ins at gas stations in Rockville continued early yesterday morning, November 21, 2022. Rockville City police responded to a report of a burglary at a gas station in the 800 block of Rockville Pike at 3:08 AM Monday. Upon arrival, officers noticed evidence of forced entry at the station.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Rare Montgomery County test item Smoky BLT Quarter Pounder now on McDonald's menu nationwide

When fast food restaurants try out new menu items, their test markets are usually places like Ohio and Southern California, not Montgomery County, Maryland. Last year, McDonald's tested a Smoky BLT Quarter Pounder with two slices of American cheese, Roma tomatoes, Applewood smoked bacon, shredded lettuce and "smoky sauce" at several of their restaurants here in the county, including Bethesda (River Road), Rockville and Silver Spring. The burger was apparently well-received, as it has now been added to their menu nationwide for a limited time this month. Joining it is an Oreo Fudge McFlurry.

I'm only aware of one other time that a fast food chain has tested a possible menu item in Montgomery County, In the mid 1990s, McDonald's tested Mighty Wings. That iteration apparently wasn't ready for prime time, as a meatier and spicier version of Mighty Wings didn't get the green light for nationwide release until two decades later in 2013. Let's hope there will be more test items from McDonald's in the future, and that other fast food chains will recognize our usefulness as a test market.

4 cars stolen near Congressional Plaza in Rockville

Rockville City police are investigating the thefts of four vehicles from residential parking lots and garages early yesterday morning, November 20, 2022, near Congressional Plaza off Rockville Pike. Three vehicles were reported stolen in the 1600 block of E. Jefferson Street. A fourth vehicle was reported stolen from a parking lot in the 200 block of Congressional Lane.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Car stolen in Rockville Town Center

Rockville City police are investigating the theft of a vehicle in the Town Center area Friday night, November 18, 2022. The vehicle, which was parked along the street on Helen Heneghan Way, was reported stolen at 11:20 PM.

Rockville gas station burglary spree continues

Another gas station was broken into in Rockville early yesterday morning, November 19, 2022, the third gas station burglary in as many weeks. Rockville City police were called to a service station in the 1900 block of Veirs Mill Road at 6:48 AM Saturday. Officers responding found evidence of forced entry at the business. 

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Assault at Rockville shopping center

Rockville police were called to a shopping center in the Twinbrook area on Thursday, November 17, 2022, after an individual reported having been the victim of a 2nd-degree assault in the parking lot there. The assault was reported in the 2100 block of Veirs Mill Road.

Victim assaulted outside apartment building in Rockville

Rockville City police responded to a report of a 2nd-degree assault on the street outside an apartmetn building early yesterday morning, November 18, 2022. The assault was reported in the 500 block of Blandford Street at 12:02 AM Friday.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Rockville Town Square tree lighting 6:00-8:00 PM tonight, November 18, 2022

The annual Christmas tree lighting at Rockville Town Square will be held tonight, Friday, November 18, 2022, from 6:00 - 8:00 PM. Free to attend, the event will include ice skating on the outdoor rink in the town square, live music, crafts, and appearances by Rockville City officials and Santa Claus himself! For safety purposes, Maryland Avenue will be closed to automobile traffic from noon until 10:30 PM tonight. Parking garage access from Maryland and Beall Avenue will be maintained throughout the day, however.

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando added to Wes Moore steering committee

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando (D - At-Large) was added to the transition Steering Committee for the incoming administration of Maryland governor-elect Wes Moore (D), lieutenant governor-elect Aruna Miller (D) announced Thursday. Jawando, who was just reelected to a second term on the Council earlier this month, joins Maryland Business-Clergy Partnership Co-Chairman Joe Gaskins as the newest members of the committee. 

“Councilman Jawando and Joe Gaskins are critical additions to our transition team," Miller said in a statement. "We have so much work to do together to ensure that this is Maryland’s decade. I look forward to working closely with Councilman Jawando and Joe Gaskins, and our entire transition team, to lay the foundation for a stronger, healthier, and wealthier Maryland.”

"It's a honor to serve as we work towards a stronger and more equitable Maryland!" Jawando tweeted Thursday night. Jawando and Moore are both veterans of the administration of President Barack Obama.

Photo courtesy Montgomery County Council website 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Rockville gas station broken into

Montgomery County police are investigating a burglary at a Rockville gas station early yesterday morning, November 16, 2022. The burglary was reported at a gas station in the 5500 block of Norbeck Road at 12:17 AM Wednesday. That is the Exxon station at the Rock Creek Village Center. Officers responding to the scene found evidence of forced entry at the business.

Assault in Rockville parking lot

Rockville City police responded to a report of a 2nd-degree assault in a parking lot early yesterday afternoon, November 16, 2022. The assault was reported in a parking lot in the 700 block of Rockville Pike at 12:26 PM.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Montgomery County Council passes gun bill despite assurance of expensive court fight

The Montgomery County Council unanimously passed a gun control bill yesterday that will prevent lawful gun owners with concealed carry permits to carry their firearms within a massive swath of the jurisdiction. Because the bill designates so many types of common buildings and spaces as gun-free zones, and includes the area around them up to 100 yards, it renders the recently-affirmed right to carry a gun outside the home nearly impossible to exercise. Councilmembers may find themselves on the stand in a courtroom within the next year as a result. County taxpayers will pick up the tab to defend any legal challenge to the new law. 

The bill also adjusted language in the County's recent law on privately-manufactured firearms to match the new state restrictions on them. Despite Maryland having passed some of the most-restrictive gun laws in the nation in the previous decade, and the Council having passed a PMP bill last year, the Council acknowledged in a press release that the County is nevertheless still experiencing "an epidemic of gun violence." 

"I continue to believe that guns create immeasurably more problems, often with tragic outcomes, than they attempt to solve,” Council President Gabe Albornoz (D -At-Large) said in a statement. “This legislation will help to ensure that we do everything possible to minimize the number of guns in our public space." Albornoz led the effort to pass the PMP bill in 2021. 

"[T]his will go into effect very rapidly, and we’ll be moving in court, equally rapidly,” Mark Pennak, President of gun rights organization Maryland Shall Issue told DC News Now following the Council vote.

Armed robbery in Rockville

Rockville City police responded to a report of an armed robbery at a business on Rockville Pike Sunday night, November 13, 2022. The robbery was reported at a retail business in the 800 block of Rockville Pike at 8:31 PM Sunday.

Pedestrian in critical condition after collision in Rockville

A 40-year-old man is in critical condition, after he was struck by the driver of a 2017 Toyota Corolla heading east in the 1600 block of E. Gude Drive on Monday. The collision occurred at 5:38 PM. While police said the pedestrian was crossing Gude "from north to south," they did not specify if he was in a marked crosswalk at the time. The driver remained at the scene and is cooperating with the police investigation.

The Collision Reconstruction Unit continues to investigate this collision. Anyone with information regarding this collision is asked to contact CRU detectives at 240-773-6620.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Maryland governor-elect Wes Moore names first cabinet members, with heavy emphasis on Baltimore

Wes Moore introduces Fagan Harris (left) as
his Chief of Staff Monday

Maryland governor-elect Wes Moore (D) held a press conference Monday to introduce his choices for several positions in his future cabinet. He was joined by running mate Aruna Miller, as he presented five nominees who face the challenge of helping him translate campaign promises into legislation and accomplishments. 

Moore named Fagan Harris as his Chief of Staff. Harris co-founded non-profit Baltimore Corps with Moore, He is also a President Joe Biden appointee to the AmeriCorps Board of Directors. 

Another non-profit sector veteran, Tisha Edwards, was named as Moore's Secretary of Appointments. That's the political position current Gov. Larry Hogan (R) held before assuming the top office in the state. Edwards is also known for creating the Mayor’s Office of Children & Family Success in Baltimore City,

Moore stuck with Baltimore for his third appointment. Helene Grady is vice president, chief financial officer, and treasurer for Johns Hopkins University. She will serve as the Secretary for the Department of Budget and Management.

Amanda LaForge, who served as counsel to Moore's gubernatorial campaign, will now be his Chief Legal Counsel. LaForge served that role in the past for the Democratic National Committee. She was most recently Of Counsel to the firm of Sandler, Reiff, Lamb, Rosenstein & Birkenstock, PC.

Finally, Maryland Delegate Eric Luedtke (D - District 14) was announced as Moore's selection to be his Chief Legislative Officer. Luedtke will have to give up his seat and his enviable position as Majority Leader in the House. The potential for a plum job for the next eight years may make that an easy choice for Luedtke, who has represented parts of Silver Spring, Burtonsville, Olney, Damascus, Brookeville and Sandy Spring in his current office.

Photo courtesy Moore for Maryland

Montgomery County Council to vote on gun control bill today that may trigger a lawsuit

The Montgomery County Council will vote on a gun control bill during its 9:30 AM session this morning that is designed to stymie the right to carry a firearm in public, by designating an exhaustive number of places as gun-free zones. Bill 21-22 would make it illegal for concealed carry permit holders to carry a firearm over so much of the geographical area of the county, as to render that recently-Supreme Court-ruled right nearly impracticable to exercise. That will almost surely invite legal challenges, for which County taxpayers will pick up the tab.

Should the bill pass this morning, it would make it illegal to possess a firearm within 100 yards of any publicly or privately-owned 

  • park
  • place of worship
  • school
  • library
  • recreational facility
  • hospital
  • community health center, including any health care facility or community-based program licensed by the Maryland Department of Health
  • long-term facility, including any licensed nursing home, group home, or care home
  • multipurpose exhibition facility, such as a fairgrounds or conference center
  • childcare facility

Possession of firearms, even legally, would also become criminal inside the following buildings, which have now been defined to include the building's parking lot and grounds:

  • government building, including any place owned by or under the control of the County
  • polling place
  • courthouse
  • legislative assembly, and
  • a gathering of individuals to collectively express their constitutional right to protest or assemble

RASA to replace Slapfish in Rockville

has closed at 12033 Rockville Pike in the Montrose Crossing shopping center. This is not a total surprise, as the restaurant was urgently seeking a sublease over the summer. The chain itself has run into choppy waters in recent times, canceling a massive number of planned openings in Texas and Arkansas. Slapfish will be replaced by RASA, a fast-casual Indian restaurant with four existing locations in the D.C. area.

Signage has been torn off the storefront. The restaurant did leave a cordial goodbye message in the window, which is a good strategy to at keep a friendly impression of the brand in customers' minds. Diners are being redirected to the chain's not-exactly-convenient Ashburn location. Located in a more business-friendly jurisdiction, the Ashburn restaurant appears to be more resilient against the stormy seas than its Montgomery County counterpart was.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Assault at store in Rockville

Rockville City police were called to a store on Rockville Pike early yesterday morning, after a person reported having been the victim of an assault there. The assault was reported at 12:00 AM Sunday, at a store in the 1700 block of Rockville Pike.

Armed robbery at Norbeck Road Park & Ride lot

Montgomery County police responded to a report of an armed robbery at the Norbeck Park & Ride lot at 3890 Norbeck Road yesterday morning, November 13, 2022. The robbery was reported at 7:19 AM Sunday, not a busy commuting day for the lot, which offers connections to Metrobus and Ride On routes at the border of Rockville and Silver Spring.

What's happening at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda for holiday shopping season 2022 (Photos)

The countdown to Black Friday 2022 is on at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Many favorite holiday decorations have been brought back, alongside some new ones we haven't seen before. An elf was seen testing Santa's chair, to make sure everything is just right for Father Christmas when he arrives. Here are some of the exciting events and new features the mall has planned for 2022:

Jingle Lounge

A new Christmas-themed seating area called the Jingle Lounge has been set up, with upscale white chairs, sofas and tables, near Talbots on Level 1. Nutcrackers stand guard, and a pillow promises "Christmas cheer here." From November 18 to December 24, the Jingle Lounge will offer pizza delivery from Frank Pepe's Pizza, and cocktails, along with scheduled activity events.

Jingle Lounge

Jingle Lounge

Jingle Lounge

Mario Lopez

Speaking of events, the mall will start the holiday shopping season with a bang this coming Sunday, November 20, with Mario Lopez hosting a Home for the Holidays Kickoff Concert from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. The concert is free, but you are being asked to RSVP online. By RSVPing, you also could win a meet-and-greet with Mario Lopez. Consider making a generous donation when you RSVP, as 100% of the proceeds will go to the Children's National Medical Center, and the Seacrest Studios at CNMC.

Westfield has partnered with CNMC. The company will match donations up to $10,000 during the holiday campaign, so your $10,000 donation would turn into $20,000-worth of benefit for the hospital. Find the concert in the Center Court on Level 1.

If you can't get out of bed for Sunday's concert, keep your pajamas on and head to the mall on Saturday, November 26 for a Holiday Pajama Party with the legendary Geoffrey the Giraffe from Toys R Us, which has a shop inside Macy's this holiday season. Take a selfie of yourself in your pajamas and tag @WestfieldMontgomery on social media for a chance to win a $250 gift card from Macy's. RSVP online, and you could win a free children's birthday party performance by Zucchini the Great. The pajama party will be held in the Center Court on Level 1 .