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This Week in Potomac 4-12-06

COUNCIL EXTENDS PLANNING BOARD APPLICATION DEADLINE

The Montgomery County Council extended the deadline last week extended the deadline for applications for the position Montgomery County Planning Board Chairman.

So far the only applicant is the current chairman, Derick Berlage, who is seeking a second term.

The deadline extension comes amidst public criticism of Berlage who has been chairman throughout the recent Clarksburg controversy.

The new deadline is 5 p.m. on May 31. Berlage's term will expire on June 14.

No more than three members of the Planning Board may be from the same political party, and all members must be residents and registered voters of Montgomery County when appointed. Members serve four-year terms and are limited to two full terms.

The Planning Board serves as the Council's principal adviser on land use planning and community planning. The Prince George's Planning Board and Montgomery County Planning Board together form the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission,

The Montgomery County Planning Board meets all day every Thursday. The entire Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission meets the second Wednesday of every month. Two full days a week are spent in meetings. Substantial additional time is required for preparatory work and other activities related to Planning Board responsibilities.

To apply, send a letters of interest and a resume to Council President George L. Leventhal, Stella B. Werner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850, by 5 p.m. May 31.

Letters of application are made public as part of the appointment process.

MCPS ALLOWS RALLY TO COUNT FOR SERVICE

Political and social advocacy activities--including Monday's immigration rally in Washington--can be counted towards high school students' community service requirement.

All high school students in Maryland must complete 60 hours of student service learning between grades 6 and 12 to graduate from high school.

Advocacy can include participation in marches, rallies and other political activities provided the activities are legal and sponsored by a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. The organization must be approved by the Montgomery County Volunteer Center and Montgomery County Public Schools and students must complete a written assignment upon completion of the activity.

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jerry Weast reiterated the policy in a memo last week after the MCPS' decision to give credit to students attending the immigration rally garnered national media coverage.

"Radio programs were criticizing me personally and urging listeners to call my office, as well as the Board of Education and others, to complain strongly about what they perceived as improper, if not illegal, school system support for protests among Hispanic students," Weast wrote. "Many of the callers were abusive to school system staff, using derogatory ethnic comments in expressing their views. I want to emphasize to you that staff are complying within the limits of appropriate laws, policies, and regulations regarding this issue."

He added that MCPS is proud to be one of the most diverse school systems in the country, with six out of 10 students countywide being ethnic minorities.

More information about the student service learning program is available at www.mcpsssl.org.

VAN HOLLEN TOWN HALL MEETING

U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-8th) will hold a town hall meeting for residents of the eighth congressional district Monday, May 8, 7:30-9 p.m. at Westland Middle School, 5511 Massachusetts Avenue in Bethesda.

Van Hollen will report to residents about the activities of the 109th Congress, including issues such as the war with Iraq, Medicare, education, health care, gang violence, the economy, homeland security, disaster preparedness and transportation. He will answer questions and respond to comments from the audience. All residents of the district are invited to participate and a sign language interpreter will be provided.

For more information, call 301-424-3501

JOIN THE RACE FOR HOPE

The ninth annual Cassidy and Pinkard Race for Hope 5K run and walk takes place Sunday, May 7 at Freedom Plaza in Washington, beginning at 8:30 a.m. The race raises money for the non-profit Brain Tumor Society, a research and education organization.

Several Potomac families are major organizers and fund-raisers for the Society and the annual race. Seven Locks Elementary School parents Chris and Lisa Peabody raised more than $20,000 last year. They have participated annually since their nine-month-old daughter Caroline died from a brain tumor.

To learn more, register, or contribute visit www.curebraintumors.org. An Almanac story about the Peabodys and the Race for Hope—published a year ago—can be found at http://www.potomacalmanac.com/article.asp?archive=true&article=46047&paper=70&cat=104.