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This Week in Potomac 7-6-05

ROBBERIES UP, OVERALL CRIME DOWN, STATISTICS SHOW

Montgomery County Police released crime statistics for the first quarter of 2005 on June 30, showing an overall 4.4 percent decrease in crime compared to the same period a year ago. The first quarter runs from Jan. 1 to March 31.

Part I crimes, which include murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault were down 8.8 percent overall, and part II crimes, including minor assaults, arson, vandalism, drug violations and white collar crimes decreased 1.8 percent.

Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger called the statistics “encouraging” but pointed to an overall increase in robberies — particularly commercial robberies which shot up 48 percent — as cause for concern.

Police noted in a press release the overall number commercial robberies — 52, compared to 35 in the first quarter of 2004 — is still relatively small.

In the Police District One, which includes Rockville and most of Potomac, total crime was down 14 percent from a year ago. Burglaries decreased by more than a quarter, car thefts were down by half, and rapes were down 44 percent compared to a year ago. Robberies were up 37 percent and the number of murders doubled from one to two.

In Bethesda, nearly every type of crime has decreased, except for aggravated assaults, which have more than tripled.

A complete copy of the first quarter crime statistics, along with statistics from previous years can be accessed at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/police.

WETLAND PLANTING JULY 16

Members of the public are invited to join a wetlands restoration, planting, and community celebration marking the end of a more than 15-year cleanup effort at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, formerly known as the David Taylor Model Basin. The event is jointly sponsored by the Naval District Washington, the Potomac Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, and the Restoration Advisory Board, which has monitored the Navy cleanup.

The land being restored was formerly a base landfill. The contaminated fill and soil has been excavated and shipped out of the base and the area has been graded to be filled in as a wetland area connected to Rock Run, which passes through the base.

The restoration will take place Saturday, July 16, from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The event will include informational displays about Carderock's environmental cleanup, the importance of wetlands to the environment, and how to help protect the Potomac.

Participants should enter through the facility's back gate on MacArthur Boulevard.

Because the Naval center is a secure installation, cameras are not allowed. Visitors must declare their citizenship and must pre-register to be admitted to the base. For registration, directions, inclement weather information, or other questions, call Ben Claus at 703-471-6405 ex. 4603 or e-mail him at benjamin.claus@ch2m.com.

VAN HOLLEN HITS $1 MILLION IN CAMPAIGN FUNDS

U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-8th) announced June 30 that his campaign has more than $1 million in total cash on hand.

Van Hollen has not announced his candidacy for any office in 2006, but has said that he is seriously considering a run for the Senate seat that Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) will vacate next year. More than $700,000 of Van Hollen’s cash-on-hand reported to the Federal Election Commission was raised after Sarbanes announced he would not run for re-election.

In May, Van Hollen tapped Democratic strategist Mike Morrill — who managed Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s (D-Md.) re-election campaign last year — to lead his exploratory team for the senate seat.

PARK AND PLANNIGN SEEKS INDEPENDENT REVIEW

Leaders at the Montgomery County Department of Park and Planning have ordered a comprehensive review of the agency’s development approval process, after acknowledging that hundreds of homes in the new Clarksburg Town Center were built in violation of setback requirements and height limits.

An independent firm will conduct the review and all county agencies involved in the development and building process will be asked to participate and fully cooperate with the review.

The order was jointly issued by Charles Loehr, director of Montgomery County Department of Park and Planning and Rose Krasnow, chief of development review.

“As it stands, there are problems in our procedures,” said Krasnow. “While we handle a tremendous number of development applications, we have a very limited enforcement staff.”

The review is expected begin next month. On Thursday, the Planning Board will consider the Clarksburg violations and is expected to issue citations and a compliance plan.

DEMOCRATIC PARTY AT COMMUNITY CENTER

Terry Lierman, chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party, will hold a meeting at the Potomac Community Center on Tuesday, July 12 from 7:30-9 p.m. To RSVP, contact Kenneth Giunta at 202-285-6735 or at kjg212@aol.com or Bilal Ayyub at 301-299-9375 or at ba@umd.edu.

SCHOOLS SEEK USED SUPPLIES

Montgomery County Public Schools and Learn Shop Inc. are collecting used school supplies in good condition for children in need as part of their annual Drive for Supplies.

The groups are seeking pencils, rulers, paper, glue, notebooks, crayons, scissors, folders, markers, dictionaries, etc. No clothing will be accepted.

Businesses and individuals may drop off donations in the cafeteria of Julius West Middle School, 651 Great Falls Road in Rockville from July 5-8.

Students wishing to earn service learning hours may help sort and pack the supplies. For more information, contact the MCPS Student Affairs Office at 301-279-4957.

PADDLE FOR CONSERVATION

Registration is open for the fourth annual Potomac Sojourn, a week-long canoeing and kayaking expedition with visits to important sites along the river, shoreline camping, ecological restoration projects, festive meals, meetings with elected officials and more.

The Sojourn is co-sponsored by the Interstate Commission on the Potomac and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay to boost awareness of the Potomac River’s importance to the region and encourage residents to play an active role in its restoration. Novice and experienced paddlers are welcome to join, and may sign up for all or part of the trip.

The trip begins July 9 in Shepherdstown, W.Va., and ends in Great Falls, Va., with planned stops at White’s Ferry and Pennyfield's Lock in Montgomery County.

For more information and registration, visit www.acb-online.org/project.cfm?vid=241.