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This Week in Potomac

Restored Spanish Ballroom Debuts

Glen Echo Park’s historic Spanish Ballroom, a home to social dancing for seven decades, will reopen on July 19 after a year-long renovation. The grand reopening also celebrates the North Arcade Building’s completed renovation.

The ribbon-cutting, open to the public, will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will feature free refreshments and entertainment, including musical performances. The Dentzel carousel will operate all day as well. Local and federal government officials, arts and community leaders and Partnership board members will take part in the celebration, including speakers U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.), County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D), and Councilmember Howard A. Denis (R-1).

The Spanish Ballroom was built in 1933, and since then has served generations of Park visitors with social dancing and music, including concerts by Lawrence Welk and Tommy Dorsey. When the building opens, it will continue to host year-round dances on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Among other cosmetic and structural improvements to the Ballroom, there will be a restored lounge and concession area, new bathrooms, and new accessible lifts. The three-story North Arcade Building will house the Puppet Co.’s new quarters, Photoworks, the Glen Echo Glass Consortium, a Park visitor center, a gift shop, and more classroom space.

For more information about classes, camps, dances and special events at Glen Echo Park, call 301-492-6229 or visit www.glenechopark.org

Teen Sentenced

Young Jiun Song, 19 of Cabin John, was sentenced to four years in jail on July 14. The maximum sentence he could have received was 29 years, but sentencing guidelines called for between four and nine.

The State’s attorney’s Office asked for a four-year sentence.

Song pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree assault and one count of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle on March 26 as a result of a Nov. 8 incident in Potomac.

Song, and two other boys, Andrew Klepper, 15 and Ryan Baird, 14 lured an adult entertainer to Klepper’s home on the 7900 block of Quarry Ridge Way.

Once she arrived, Song struck her with a bat. He then took her car for a joy ride while the other two boys sexually assaulted the woman. She was allowed to leave the house, and discovered that approximately $2,000 was missing from her car.

Song is the last of the three to be sentenced. Baird was sentenced as a juvenile and has been placed in a juvenile facility. He must be released by his 21st birthday.

Klepper was sentenced to a 15-year suspended sentence and five years probation. If he violates probation during the five-year period, the 15-year sentence would be implemented.

Anti-Smoking Bill Progresses

On July 10, County Executive Doug Duncan (D) signed a bill to ban smoking in restaurants in Montgomery County into law. Duncan had vetoed a similar bill in 1999, but this time the bill passed the council with a veto-proof 8-1 vote.

The ban is set to go into effect on Oct. 9. However, the restaurant industry has indicated that it may challenge the law in the courts. If that happens, the implementation date may be delayed.

Similar smoking bans have been implemented in many jurisdictions across the country, including the States of Calif., Del., Conn. and Fla. and cities of New York, Boston, and Austin, Tex.

Armed Robbery

On July 5 at 9 p.m., a 42-year-old woman was the victim of a residential armed robbery in the 8700 block of Camille Drive in Potomac, according to police reports. Police gave the following account of the attack: Three suspects entered the home after the victim answered a knock at the door. The first suspect, an Asian male, 28-30 years old, 5'9'' to 6'0'', 160-170 pounds, and wearing a white shirt and black pants, displayed a handgun and demanded money. After obtaining property, the suspects fled. The second suspect was an Asian male, 28-30 years old, 5'7" to 5'9", 170-180 pounds, wearing a blue shirt and black pants. The third suspect was an Asian male, 28-30 years old, 6'0" to 6'1", 160 pounds, wearing a white shirt and tan pants.

Strong Arm Robbery

On July 5 at 9:50 p.m., an employee for Saike Japan, 7101 Democracy Blvd., in Bethesda, was the victim of a strong arm robbery inside Montgomery Mall, according to police. After grabbing a bank bag from the victim, two suspects were seen getting into a dark colored midsize vehicle. The first suspect was a black male, 18-21 years old, 5'10", wearing a white shirt and khaki shorts. The second suspect was a white male, 16-18 years, 5'7" to 5'8", wearing a white shirt.

Residential Burglaries

Police report the following burglaries:

* Between 1:30 a.m. and 7:50 a.m. on July 3, a house on the 11600 block of Silent Valley Lane in North Potomac was broken into. Suspects twisted the knob on the garage door and took a computer and cash.

* At 4:40 a.m. on July 3, a house on the 7700 block of Tomlinson Ave. in Cabin John was broken into. Suspects opened an unlocked side door and took cash, a phone, and sunglasses.

* Between 6 p.m. on July 8 and 9:30 a.m. on July 9 a house on the 13400 block of Signal Tree Lane was broken into. Suspects entered through the rear window and took dirt bikes.

* Between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. on July 7, a house on the 11400 block of Saddleview Place in North Potomac was broken into. Suspects entered through a garage door and took a bike.

Police Warn Public of Used Car Scam

The Montgomery County Police Fraud Section is investigating a new scam involving the sale of used cars.

The suspect first contacts the car seller, usually by e-mail, and agrees to buy the victim's advertised used car. The "buyer" is often a foreign national, and most frequently says he or she is from Nigeria.

After the buyer and seller agree upon a price, the buyer mails a cashier's check to the seller. When the check arrives, the seller finds that the check is for several thousand dollars more than the car's sale price. The buyer then asks the seller to deposit the check and wire the excess balance overseas to the buyer, through Money Gram or Western Union. The buyer frequently tells the seller that he can keep an extra hundred dollars or so from the overpayment for the trouble of returning the remainder.

After the extra money is sent back to the buyer, the bank contacts the seller and tells him that the check is counterfeit. The victim thus loses several thousand dollars.

The Montgomery County Police Department urges recipients of cashier's checks to wait until the check clears before finalizing the transaction. The Police Department warns that the public should be on guard against counterfeit cashier's checks and other fraudulent documents.

Anyone who has been a victim of this scam is asked to call 301-279-8000 and file a complaint with the FBI's National White Collar Crime Center at www.NW3C.org.

Duncan Makes Appointments

On July 8, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan made three new appointments to key positions in the County’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). He named Kenneth H. Rumsey as the chief operating officer, Uma Ahluwalia as chief of Children, Youth and Family Services, and Daryl Plevy as chief of Adult Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to the County’s DHHS.

Both Duncan and Carolyn W. Colvin, director of the DHHS, are pleased to welcome all three members to the senior leadership team.

Duncan’s appointments are subject to County Council confirmation.

Volunteers Sought

The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, Aging and Disability Services, seeks volunteers for the assisted living ombudsman program.

Ombudsmen work with residents, families and providers of assisted living for the elderly. Ombudsmen also provide community education to assist consumers in making informed choices about selecting a group home.

A training session for volunteers is scheduled for Sept. 15-18 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Registration is required.

Volunteers are asked to commit four hours per week for at least one year. Call 240-777-3910.

Volunteers Sought

The Potomac Healthcare Foundation is looking for creative and dedicated volunteers to assist with recreational activities for children at a temporary residence for women and children in crisis. Volunteers will plan and implement activities such as birthday parties, holiday and cultural celebrations, and other indoor and outdoor recreational activities. Call 240-777-2600.

The Nominees Are …

The Potomac Chamber of Commerce is starting its search for nominees for Businessperson of the Year, Citizen of the Year and Youth of the Year for 2003.

These awards are given annually by the Potomac Chamber of Commerce and are presented annually at the Potomac Day Parade, this year scheduled for Oct. 25.

Businessperson of the year must work or do business in Potomac (20854 zip code), be a member of the Potomac Chamber and must have benefited the community. Citizen of the year can be a private citizen or organization that has benefited the local, regional or national community. Youth of the year must live or attend high school in Potomac. Youths must be nominated by their school principals or counselors.

Nomination forms and guidelines may be obtained from Fred Goldman 301-294-0007, fax 301-294-9055. The deadline for entries is Sept. 26.