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This Week in Potomac

Fire/Rescue Master Plan

The Fire and Rescue Service is in the process of updating its Master Plan.

“The focus of the new plan is to address the customer [county residents],” said Scott Gutschick, senior planning specialist for the Fire and Rescue Service.

Gutschick spoke at a meeting of the Western Montgomery County Citizen’s Advisory Committee on Monday, Oct. 19.

The current plan was adopted in 1994. Gutschick hopes to have a draft of the new plan completed by January 2004, and to have a new plan adopted by December 2004.

The southern area of the county, which includes Potomac, currently has the best service coverage, he said. “We would like to and intend to keep it that way,” Gutschick said.

Last year, there were a total of 98,936 calls made to the Fire and Rescue Service countywide. The busiest station in the county is Station 8 in Montgomery Village, which had 8,341 calls in its first due area.

Station 10, on River Road, had 1,237 calls. Station 30, on Falls Road south of River had 981. Station 33, on Falls Road near Glen Road had 1,994.

Gutschick is interested in citizen input in the Master Plan process. “We need to decide which programs we need in place to provide the best service,” he said.

Residents interested in viewing the current Master Plan or offering suggestions for the Plan in development should contact Gutschick at 240-777-2417 or e-mail scott.gutschick@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Murderer Sentenced

One of three men who murdered a woman at Violettes Lock was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

On Aug. 5, Raul Giovanni Medina, 20, pled guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the death of 19-year-old Samantha Benavides.

On Dec. 4, 2002, Medina, Carlos Aguilar, 23, Jose Rivas, 22, Benavides and two other men bought a 12-pack of beer in Gaithersburg and drank it at a local park, according to Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office.

The group then drove to Violettes Lock. As Aguilar drove, Medina said, “Let’s kill Samantha,” according to the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office.

After arriving at the canal, Medina told two of the men to go back to the car. He, Rivas and Aguilar then beat Benavides and threw her body into the canal.

The body was discovered on Dec. 13 by a man at the canal walking his dogs.

An autopsy determined the cause of death to be blunt force trauma to the head and drowning. It is unclear if the event was gang-related.

Rivas and Aguilar have both also pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Sentencing for both men is scheduled for Nov. 4.

Teenager Assaulted

A 17-year-old girl was assaulted as she waited for her school bus, according to Montgomery County Police.

The student was waiting at a bus stop on MacArthur Boulevard in Glen Echo at approximately 6:35 a.m. on Oct. 13, when a man jumped out of the bushes and started walking toward her, according to police reports.

The girl used her cell phone to make a call as she backed away from the suspect. When the suspect grabbed her arm, the girl screamed and he let go, according to the report. He was last seen running down MacArthur Boulevard toward Glen Echo Park.

While the suspect's intent is unknown, police remind citizens to be aware of their surroundings.

Police say the victim in this case reacted well. Immediately calling police on a cell phone or screaming when being attacked is among things potential victims can do. Running away is another.

“There’s no reason why you can’t get out of there,” said John Fitzgerald, spokesperson for Montgomery County Police. “All of these are good tactics.”

The suspect is described as an older black male, who is 6-feet-2 inches and approximately 180 pounds. He was seen wearing a blue sweat shirt, black pants and a black hat. He had no facial hair, according to police.

Anyone with information about this incident, or the identity or location of the suspect, is asked to call Montgomery County Police at 301-657-0112.

Cryor Appointed to Panel

Del. Jean Cryor (R-15th) was appointed to a 24-member panel that will review higher education funding. “Its the question of how we’re going to face the dilemma ahead of us,” Cryor said.

She said she does not agree with the controversial proposal made by one of the University of Maryland’s regents to double tuition over the next few years. “That’s not the answer at all,” she said.

Cryor hopes to explore ways of increasing the University’s endowment. She cites other public universities that are better able to bring in financial support from their alumni. “What are the barriers [here]?” she said.

Sewer Work in Cabin John

WSSC has begun nighttime sewer work in the Cabin John area. The work on the sewer mains began on Oct. 19 and is expected to be completed in one week.

The work is taking place from 11 p.m.-5 a.m., weather permitting, on Quarry Ridge Way, Quarry Ridge Road, Rising Ridge Road, Rising Ridge Way, Park Overlook Drive, Park Overlook Court, Glenmore Spring Road, Glenmore Spring Way, Mackenzie Court, Thornley Court, Edenwood Court, Lilly Stone Drive, Hamilton Spring Road, Hamilton Spring Court, Carderock Drive, Carderock Court, Persimmon Tree Lane, Comanche Court and Stone Trail Drive.

During tests, crews will open manholes to monitor wastewater flows to determine if groundwater is infiltrating the sanitary sewer. Such infiltration can deplete the pipe’s flow capacity and increase treatment costs.

Water or wastewater services will not be impacted.

The work is part of a four-year study that will help WSSC review growth patterns and develop plans to meet future wastewater needs.

Flea Market

The Potomac Community Center, 11315 Falls Road, will hold its annual flea market and community yard sale on Nov. 1 from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Spaces are available for $25.

All proceeds from the sale benefit programs at the Community Center.

For information on reserving a space, call 301-983-4471, or go to the community center.

Low Water

The National Park service temporarily lowered the water at the C&O Canal in the Level 14 Widewater area on Monday, Oct. 20, to allow Park Service staff to inspect the canal wall. This includes the area between Lock 14 (mile 9.5) and Lock 15 (mile 13.5). The towpath was to remain accessible in this area.

Because of the lowered water, boaters were asked to carry their kayaks and canoes upstream one-fourth mile from the bridge at Angler's Inn to enter Widewater. The water level is anticipated to return to normal on Thursday, Oct. 23.

Commercial Burglary

Between 7 p.m. on Oct. 7 and 9 a.m. on Oct. 8, the Potomac Swim and Tennis Club on Oaklyn Drive was broken into. Entry was gained through unknown means, and numerous tennis racquets were taken.

School Trips

The Board of Education has tentatively approved a revised policy on travel study programs and field trips.

The revised Policy IPD, Travel Study Programs, Field Trips and Student Organization Trips, affirms the Board of Education’s position that classroom instruction is the foundation of the educational process and that maximizing instructional time is a primary goal of the Board of Education.

The policy provides guidance for planning, approving, implementing and evaluating various types of school trips, and the revisions reflect a strengthened emphasis on the relationship between the purpose of the proposed trip and instruction.

Public response to the revised policy should be sent in writing by Dec. 8, 2003, to the Office of the Superintendent of Schools, 850 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, MD 20850.

All responses will be shared with the Board of Education.

To view the policy, visit www.mcps.k12.md.us/info/pdf/ipd.

Keep Pets Safe

The Montgomery County Humane Society reminds pet owners to keep their pets safe on Halloween.

Masks and costumes, in addition to a frequently opened door, can be frightening and disorienting to pets. The Humane Society recommends keeping pets in a quiet room.

Chocolate can be fatal to pets, particularly to dogs.

Lit jack-o-lanterns can singe your pet’s fur or be a fire hazard if knocked over by a pet.