Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Chuy's signage finally removed in Rockville

It took more than two years, but the signage has finally been removed from the abandoned Chuy's restaurant at 12266 Rockville Pike at Federal Plaza. No more will out-of-state drivers pull in to the shopping center for an Elvis Presley Memorial Combo, only to find themselves rattling a locked door. The Tex-Mex restaurant opened in October 2016, and remained untouched like a post-apocalyptic time capsule years after its pandemic-era closure. Why the chain gave up on Rockville when it is still packing customers in at other area locations remains a mystery. An Olive Garden would be the perfect tenant for this space!

Daboba opening shop in Rockville

, a Malaysia-based tea chain, is opening a store in Rockville. It will be at 1079 Rockville Pike, in the Talbott Center. Daboba sets itself apart in a crowded field by offering unique flavors, textures and concepts in its beverages. Your drink might have giant boba, a scoop of bobazilla vanilla ice cream, or mochi on top. Daboba also offers limited-edition or seasonal beverages for Halloween, Christmas, and even boy band BTS. This will be Daboba's first location in the Mid-Atlantic U.S.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Pickpocket strikes in Rockville parking lot

Watch your wallet! Rockville City police responded to a report of a pickpocket incident in the Twinbrook area Sunday afternoon, May 28, 2023. The theft was reported in a commercial parking lot in the 2000 block of Veirs Mill Road at 5:48 PM.

Rockville Baskin Robbins grand opening this Saturday, June 3

Rockville has been one Baskin Robbins ice cream parlor short since their Congressional Plaza location closed in late 2019. That is now remedied with the new Baskin Robbins store at 1079 Seven Locks Road. It will be celebrating with a grand opening event this Saturday, June 3, 2023, from 12:00 - 4:00 PM. There will be a DJ, prizes, giveaways, and - of course - 31 flavors. Mention this Facebook ad below to get $2 scoops during the event. If you need a recommendation, it's definitely Baseball Nut season!

Monday, May 29, 2023

Rockville VFD to host first annual Flag Day at the Park on June 14

The Rockville Volunteer Fire Department announced yesterday that it will host its first annual Flag Day at the Park on June 14, 2023 from 5:00 to 8:00 PM. In addition to a ceremony and other activities, a Flag Day Walk will be held at Redgate Park at 14500 Avery Road at 6:00 PM. Tickets to participate in the walk will be $10 for adults and $5 for children. All proceeds from walk tickets will benefit the Rockville VFD. 

All of the evening's events besides the walk will take place at the Elks Lodge at 5 Taft Court in Rockville, which is adjacent to Redgate Park. Activities will include Queen of Heart and 50/50 drawings, a Flag Day ceremony, and a Flag retirement ceremony.  There will be an educational presentation on the history of the U.S. flag, including a visit by an American Revolutionary War soldier. For children, there will be some VFD fire and rescue equipment on hand.

Hot dogs, hamburgers and sausages - as well as beverages - will be available for sale at the Elks Lodge before and after the 6:00 PM walk. Walk participants can walk, jog, run or crawl along the route as they wish, the VFD said. Public parking for the event will be available at the Elks Lodge, and in lots nearby the lodge on Taft Court.

Rockville Memorial Day parade canceled

The City of Rockville announced this morning that the 2023 Memorial Day parade scheduled for today, May 29, has been canceled. A ceremony that was to be held along with the parade has also been canceled. The cancellation is due to the inclement weather, the city said.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

DOD POW/MIA historian to be grand marshal of 2023 Rockville Memorial Day Parade

UPDATE: The Rockville Memorial Day parade and ceremony have been canceled due to inclement weather

Local Silver Spring resident and U.S. Department of Defense historian Stephen P. Johnson has been selected to serve as Grand Marshal of the 2023 City of Rockville Memorial Day Parade. The parade and ceremony will begin at 9:00 AM tomorrow, Monday, May 29, at Rockville Town Square with a musical tribute by the Rockville Concert Band and Chorus. A ceremony will be held at 9:30 AM, and the actual parade will start at 10:30 AM. Roads that will close for the parade will begin to shut down at 6:00 AM Monday, and will reopen at 2:00 PM.

The parade begins at N. Washington Street and Martins Lane, and heads south on N. Washington Street. Next, the parade turns left onto Beall Avenue, right on Maryland Avenue through Rockville Town Square, and left onto E. Montgomery Avenue. Free parking will be available at the Metro lots, Rockville City Hall lots and Montgomery County Courthouse jury lot. Paid parking will be available for $5 in the Rockville Town Square garage, which can be accessed from Route 355 or North Washington Street from 7:00 AM - 3:00 PM on Monday, May 29.

Grand Marshal Johnson works as a civilian employee in the DOD's POW/MIA Accounting Agency. He volunteered for the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy’s Personnel Accounting Consolidation Taskforce in 2014. As an enlisted member of the Air Force from 1977-1984, Johnson attained the rank of staff sergeant. His selection continues the City tradition of asking a local veteran or active military member to serve as the City's Grand Marshal, and lead the Memorial Day festivities.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Montgomery County Council President Evan Glass to host Pride Month events in June

Montgomery County Council President Evan Glass (D - At-Large) will once again host or appear at a series of Pride Month events in June. This will be the fifth year Glass will perform this leadership role. The events will include Rockville Pride, an annual event hosted by the City of Rockville at Rockville Town Square, which will be held on Saturday, June 24, 2023 this year. 

June 11 will be Takoma Park Pride Day. Bethesda's Big Train baseball club will also hold a Pride Night on June 17. Pride in the Plaza will take place at Veterans Plaza in downtown Silver Spring on June 25. Events will kick off with the raising of the Pride Flag at the Montgomery County Executive Building on June 1. 

“I’m excited to host Montgomery County’s fifth annual LGBTQ+ Pride month events,” Glass said in a statement. “This is a time for celebration, reflection and unity. Today, the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans are under relentless attack. Members of the LGBTQ+ community — especially people of color and trans people — continue to face discrimination and efforts to undermine their human rights. As we continue our struggle for greater civil rights and liberties, Pride Month is a time to not only reflect on our progress but to focus on the work ahead.”

Police called after assault at Rockville grocery store

Rockville City police were called to a grocery store Wednesday night, May 24, 2023, after an individual reported having been the victim of a 2nd-degree assault there. The assault was reported at a supermarket in the 1800 block of Rockville Pike at 7:35 PM. A Safeway store is located on that block, at the Galvan development.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Montgomery County Council approves $6.7 billion budget, 4.7% property tax increase

The Montgomery County Council approved a $6.7 billion budget for the fiscal year of 2024 yesterday, including a 4.7% property tax increase. That tax hike joins a 7% increase in water bills, and a massive recordation tax increase, cementing Montgomery County's status as having the highest total tax burden in the region. Despite clouds on the national and international financial horizons, the budget represents significant spending increases using one-time funding sources that won't be there in future years. While some have suggested this will "create" a structural budget deficit, the reality is that Montgomery County has had a structural budget deficit for many years. The Council has just made it worse.

Montgomery County Public Schools received an 8.5% spending increase in the budget. Under Maryland's maintenance-of-effort law, Montgomery County cannot reduce the amount of spending on MCPS next year, so we are now on the hook for at least that amount in FY-2025 without the means to pay for it. That will require either spending cuts or raising taxes next year. The MCPS funding boost is shoveling good money after bad, given that student performance seems to decline in proportion to the constant and mindless increase in funding for the school system. Something is seriously wrong at MCPS, but there is zero accountability or oversight by the Council.

The FY-2024 budget could best be described as the "deception budget." The Council violated Maryland's sunshine laws, casting votes on various line items in the budget secretly, outside of public Council sessions. This was noted by Councilmember Kristin Mink (D - District 5), who also took some of her colleagues to task last December, when decisions about Council and committee leadership were made behind closed doors. County Executive Marc Elrich (D) expanded on Mink's criticism of the shadow budget process in his remarks on the budget's passage yesterday.

County Council President Evan Glass, who directed the budget process from start to finish, made it clear he did not share Mink and Elrich's view. But his Trumpian "most transparent budget process ever!" declaration was only missing the Sean Spicer "Period." It was clear that the budget process was designed to avoid painful roll call votes that highlight councilmembers' positions on controversial, difficult or unpopular issues. Such as councilmembers who had promised to restore the Office of the People's Counsel opposing funding for the OPC in this budget!

Montgomery County continues to have a tax problem. It continues to have a spending problem. Its leaders can't seem to solve either one. They only know how to increase both.

Even as the tax burden increases on residents, the County is missing out on commercial and business tax revenue it could be raking in. If only it paid the same attention to attracting major corporate headquarters to the County, as it does to boosting government salaries and profits for the Council's developer sugar daddies.

In fact, after having once again raised taxes on residents, Glass will lead a Council effort to deliver another massive tax cut for developers. On June 13, the Council will hold a hearing on an expedited Bill 25-23, which will reduce impact taxes on developers. The move continues the disturbing and immoral pattern of the Council shifting the tax burden for its out-of-control spending from developers to residents.

It's no surprise we don't have money to expand or replace overcrowded and aging schools, when we keep cutting taxes on the developers who are filling them up with new students. Likewise, the laser focus on residential development expands the structural deficit, because the new costs generated by residential development exceed the amount of property tax revenue it generates. But the Council will continue to feign surprise that we are once again in the red next spring.

Montgomery County hasn't attracted a major corporate headquarters in over 25 years. It has lost some in the interim. Most are choosing Northern Virginia, whose jurisdictions were able to increase spending in their FY-2024 budgets without raising property tax rates - and in some cases, cutting taxes. Gee, I wonder why?

While there can often be hyperbolic discussion about "cutting waste" in budgets, the fact is that there is a lot of waste in the County budget. Nobody wants to look for it. Exhibit A, is the infamous $22,000 security camera system for the County's Supervised Visitation Center. Such a 4-camera surveillance system, with installation, would have available for about $1000 at the time the Council shelled out $22,000 of your money for it. 

Such bloated expenditures going to well-connected businesses, contractors and non-profits who donate to councilmembers are a major source of fat in the County budget each year. If we have determined that County government should provide A, B or C to the public, streamline the operations and have the County provide them directly. Instead, we are making costly appropriations for a thousand individual organizations because this Councilmember's campaign donor, or that County official's wife, is on the board of such-and-such charity. Needless to say, this practice must be investigated, audited and eliminated.

The bottom line is that taxes will continue to increase until you, the taxpayer, make it politically painful for the people who are raising them. This hasn't happened yet. There was no taxpayer revolt. The only interruption of a Council session was by MCPS employees. They shut it down. Guess who got money in this budget.

Politicians generally aren't smarter than you. They're just more clever and devious, that's all. Like rodents in a laboratory maze, they quickly learn to favor the rooms with a piece of cheese over the ones where they receive an electric shock. Whether it's beating the Columbia Country Club with the Purple Line, or picking your pocket with another tax increase, the Council has yet to pay a price at the ballot box. It will continue to plunder until it does.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Rockville City Councilmember Mark Pierzchala enters 2023 race for mayor

Long-serving Rockville City Councilmember Mark Pierzchala is officially running for mayor in the 2023 City election. Pierzchala capped a career in government statistics expertise by running his own firm in that field from 2010 up through last year. His public service career in Rockville began with leadership roles in the College Gardens Civic Association, but he is now embracing apartment living in Rockville's struggling Town Center. 

The challenge of fixing Rockville Town Center is one of the major issues Pierzchala is highlighting in his election year agenda. A longtime supporter of transit-oriented development, he is advocating for affordable homes for younger residents and senior citizens. Pierzchala was one of the leading voices against the widening of I-270 during the intense debate over former Gov. Larry Hogan's Express Lanes proposal, which new Gov. Wes Moore appears to be tabling in favor of other transportation solutions. His agenda also refers to an issue that has often animated his discussions on the Council, that of the roles of elected officials versus the professional City staff.

Pierzchala's announcement kicks off the 2023 election season in Rockville. It's a good time to get ready to participate and vote in the City election. Are you registered to vote? If you are registered to vote in Maryland, and live in the City of Rockville, you are already eligble to vote in the Rockville election. If not, you can register online now.

This will be the second City election in which you will have the option to vote by mail. Ballots will be mailed to every registered voter in the City of Rockville on or before October 13, 2023. Return your postage-paid ballot by mail by 8:00 PM on November 7, 2023. Don't trust the USPS? You can drop your ballot off in the dropboxes located in the parking lot of City Hall or Montrose Community Center.

Still prefer to vote the old-fashioned way? There will be two places to vote in-person on Election Day, November 7, 2023: Rockville City Hall and the Thomas Farm Community Center.

Do you want to run for Mayor or Council yourself? All the information you need is on the City's Running for Office webpage. The deadline to submit your nominating petition (which requires signatures from at least 100 City residents who are eligible, registered voters - Hint: get more than 100) is September 8, 2023. Rockville's Mayor and Councilmembers now serve 4 year terms.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

TruBlue Total House Care opens in Rockville

TruBlue Total House Care
, a handyman service focused on busy adult and senior citizen clientele, has opened a Rockville office. The local franchisee is Karen Kiley, a veteran of Warner Bros. Discovery. She got the idea for opening the franchise after helping her mother upgrade her home to facilitate aging-in-place. TruBlue offers handyman services, aging-in-place and senior home safety assessments and upgrades, house cleaning, yard work and landscaping services, deck building and repairs, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, and even hanging up your Christmas lights. 

“We are thrilled to bring TruBlue to Rockville as we continue to expand our footprint rapidly across the country,” TruBlue President Sean Fitzgerald said in a statement Tuesday. “As a country, we are experiencing a change in how and where people want to grow old. However, almost no one is offering home assessments, modifications and maintenance programs for seniors, despite the staggering demand. We’re virtually alone in this segment, and we’ve seen tremendous growth as a result.” Call TruBlue at 301-799-5958, or visit their website to schedule an appointment.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Can you identify these Rockville armed carjacking suspects?

Rockville City police are seeking the public's help in identifying and locating two suspects in an attempted armed carjacking at a gas station last night, May 22, 2023. At 8:15 PM, police say, these two suspects approached a customer pumping gas at the Exxon station at 200 N. Washington Street. One allegedly pulled out a handgun, and demanded the customer's car keys. The victim declined, and alerted bystanders to the robbery in progress. At that point, the suspects fled on foot, having obtained nothing.

Police released a surveillance camera image showing the suspects this afternoon. Anyone with information as to the identity of the suspects, or the attempted robbery, is asked to contact the RCPD Criminal Investigations Unit at 240-314-8938.

Assault in Rockville industrial park

Rockville City police responded to a report of a 2nd-degree assault in an industrial park Sunday night, May 21, 2023. The assault was reported in the 1600 block of E. Gude Drive at 8:08 PM.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Circus coming to Montgomery Mall in Bethesda this June

The Do Portugal Circus will present its Cirque show under the big top next month at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Tracing its roots back to 1911, the Mexican circus troupe has been touring with this show around the world for 25 years. You won't see elephants or tigers, but you will see just about everything else you expect from a circus starting June 9, 2023 and continuing through June 25: Trapeze artists, magicians, roaring motorcycles in the Cage of Death, and more.

Tickets to all performances are available now online, and VIP seats are an option for the biggest circus aficionados. No outside food or drinks will be allowed, but the circus will have its own concessions with hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, pickles, cotton candy, snow cones, soda, water, juice, Powerade, coffee and hot chocolate.

Photos courtesy Do Portugal Circus

Buy Buy Baby, Bed Bath & Beyond closing in Rockville

Buy Buy Baby
is closing its Rockville store at 1683 Rockville Pike, in the Congressional Plaza shopping center. A store-closing sale is underway. Savings are currently listed as being 20-40%-off storewide. All 122 Buy Buy Baby stores are closing as a result of parent company Bed Bath & Beyond's bankruptcy filing. 

Bed Bath & Beyond
just happens to be a neighbor of Buy Buy Baby at 1519 Rockville Pike at the Congressional North shopping center. It's having its own closing sale. The savings are - surprise! - 20-40%-off storewide, as well.

Aggravated assault with firearm in Rockville

Rockville City police responded to a report of an aggravated assault with a firearm last Thursday night, May 18, 2023. Officers responded to a 911 call at an apartment building in the 600 block of Blandford Street at 8:08 PM. A source reports that an adult female suspect took an adult male victim's cell phone, and pulled out the sim card. When the victim demanded the sim card be handed back, the woman pulled a gun on him.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Shoplifters strike at 2 Rockville liquor stores in 90 minutes

Surveillance camera footage has been showing us the recent handiwork of well-organized shoplifting teams in Montgomery County businesses. The County itself was the latest victim Friday afternoon in Rockville. Shoplifters hit two Montgomery County-owned liquor stores within 90 minutes. The first 911 call came from the 300 N. Washington Street store at 2:07 PM; the second, from the 14937 Shady Grove Road store at the Fallsgrove Village Center at 3:36 PM.

Altar'd State closing today at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Altar'd State
is closing permanently at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, at the close of business today, May 21, 2023. The Christian women's apparel boutique opened here in April 2018. This closure we can blame on Montgomery County's hostile business climate and County Council, as the brand is neither going bankrupt, nor closing stores elsewhere in the country. In fact, a company press release exactly one month ago described Altar'd State as "a rapidly growing women's fashion brand with 123 Altar'd State stores, 25 Arula boutiques, six Vow'd boutiques and two Tullabee boutiques in 38 states."

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Maryland Democrats to honor Steny Hoyer at 2023 Gala in Baltimore

The 2023 Maryland Democratic Party Gala will honor Congressman Steny Hoyer, who has represented the state's 5th Congressional District since 1981. It will be held on the evening of Thursday, June 22, 2023 at the Martin's West banquet hall in Baltimore. Maryland Governor Wes Moore is expected to attend the event. The party expects the gala to sell out in advance; tickets are available online.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Lakeforest Mall owner wants to demolish mall sooner than planned

The now-shuttered Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg was not expected to be demolished until next year. But owner WRS Realty is now seeking to bring the building down much sooner. The rationale for waiting until 2024 was that the company would retain the fallback plan of reopening the mall, should the City of Gaithersburg not approve its plan to redevelop the site with thousands of residential units, along with new restaurants and retail. 

WRS Realty now says it would raze the mall sooner, if it could enter a binding contract with the City that provides a guaranteed right to redevelop the property, the Washington Business Journal reported this afternoon. If the City agrees, reporter Daniel J. Sernovitz wrote, it could speed up delivery of the new development by two years. The new plan by WRS Realty may explain why an auction of the mall's contents is now scheduled for next month. If WRS Realty were to reopen the mall, it would have to replace some amount of that stuff to do so.

Rockville Wegmans construction update, Twinbrook Quarter apartments branded "The Milton" (Photos)

The Wegmans grocery store-anchored Phase 1 building of B.F. Saul's Twinbrook Quarter development continues to progress towards completion at 1592 Rockville Pike. Among the latest news updates, the biggest is the revealed branding of the residential component of the building. The apartments are now being marketed as "The Milton." A new amenity for the building's residents has also been announced: a full-size, resort-style pool, with private cabanas.

Construction is now moving to the phase of applying the brick facade, which will utilize different colors of brick to add visual interest and define sections of the building. This can already be seen along the Chapman Avenue side of the property. Also outside, underground utilities are being installed, as are sidewalks, curbs, and traffic signals. 

Inside the building, interior wall studs, water and sewer pipes, mechanical ductwork and electrical systems are now being put into place. Ahead for the summer, installation of exterior walls and window glass will be two major projects. A 2024 delivery is anticipated for Wegmans and The Milton.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Assault at 7-Eleven on Shady Grove Road

Montgomery County police responded to a report of an assault at the 7-Eleven store at 15900 Shady Grove Road, on the border of Rockville and Gaithersburg, early Tuesday morning, May 16, 2023. The assault was reported at 1:43 AM Tuesday. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Journey Within Wellness Center to open in Rockville

Prepare to embark on the journey within. The Journey Within Wellness Center is moving into the former PureBeauty Salon in the ground floor of The Sterling at 11755 Rockville Pike. Services offered will include float therapy, massage therapy, cryotherapy, infrared sauna, steam room, Thai body stretch, and intravenous injection therapy. The original Journey Within Wellness Center in Columbia boasts celebrity clients from the Baltimore Orioles, NFL, USFL among others. Journey Within is expected to open in June 2023.

Lakeforest Mall contents to be auctioned off next month

Lakeforest Mall
fans will have one last chance to grab a piece of memorabilia from their nostalgic past next month. After closing on March 31, the Gaithersburg mall was quickly boarded up and fenced off. Beyond security concerns, one reason for that was to preserve the remaining contents inside for future sale. That future is now set for June 21-30, 2023, when an auction of those contents will take place. 

The auction will include "furniture, fixtures and equipment from dozens of stores, restaurants [and] common areas" of the mall, according to the auction listing. June 21 will be the preview date, when all items being auctioned off will be displayed on the auction page. The auction will then close beginning on June 22. Winners will pick up their items from the mall between June 26 and June 30.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Lotus of DC advertising down the Pike in Rockville

Lotus of DC
is advertising its presence further down MD 355 at the Ourisman Mazda/Volkswagen dealership at 801-A Rockville Pike. A Lotus with the dealership's website URL is parked out front in a Mazda-reserved space. The real dealership is further north at 15301 N. Frederick Avenue, where the old Ourisman Chevrolet showroom has been being remodeled for Lotus sales. It opened last year, and operates from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM Monday - Friday.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Burglars break into Rockville hotel room

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a burglary at a hotel in Rockville this past Saturday morning, May 13, 2023. The burglary was reported at a hotel in the 2600 block of Research Boulevard at 11:48 AM Saturday. There is an Extended Stay America hotel on that block. Officers responding to the scene found evidence of forced entry at the hotel room.

MCPS art show at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda (Photos)

Artwork by Montgomery County Public Schools elementary school students was displayed at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The annual All-County Art Show is designed to show the results of visual arts studies by MCPS students. Here is a sample of works that were on display: