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This Week in Potomac 3-1-06

COUNCILMEMBER CALLED FOR 'FULL' SEVEN LOCKS DATA

Montgomery County Councilmember Steve Silverman (D-At Large) asked Montgomery County Public Schools for a cost analysis covering the “full range of options” related to expanding student capacity at Seven Locks Elementary School, documents provided by the Council show.

In a Feb. 22, 2005 memo, Silverman asked MCPS facilities management director Richard Hawes to respond to written questions provided by the Save Seven Locks Coalition, including a call for analysis of a full range of construction options.

Hawes replied that the Board of Education’s position on construction options stands and that there was “no additional information.”

A Montgomery County Office of Inspector General report released last month found that MCPS concealed two construction options from the County Council, both of which were less expensive than building a new elementary school on Kendale Road, the plan adopted in early 2004. One option was to conduct a simultaneous renovation and expansion at Seven Locks and another—recommended by the architect hired by MCPS—was to raze the school and build a new school on the existing site.

In a memo responding to the inspector general’s report last week, schools Superintendent Jerry Weast stated “the cost data on a replacement school for the Seven Locks site was available, but previous decisions by the Council precluded such an alternative as a viable option,” but does not explain the statement.

PLANNING ENVIRONMENTAL PRESERVATION

The Montgomery County Planning Board plans to develop a Green Infrastructure Master Plan that will outline a comprehensive vision for preserving the county’s environmental; resources.

The Board will receive community input on the proposed plan at a public hearing Thursday, March 9 at 7 p.m.

An initial outreach report—available at http://mcparkandplanning.org/green_infrastructure/index.shtm—explains why natural resources connections are important and why the county needs a functional master plan to protect them. It also outlines the relationship of this plan to other state and county plans and programs, and the proposed timeline and outreach strategy for its development.

To get involved in the development of the plan, contact environmental planner Mark Symborski at mark.symborski@mncppc-mc.org 301-495-4636.

ARTIST GROUP DELIVERS DONATIONS

The non-profit group Potomac Artists in Touch made major donations last month to the Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department, the Community Ministries of Montgomery County, and So Others Might Eat, which fights hunger and homelessness in Washington, D.C.

Each organization received approximately $2,300, and the group plans to donate the same amount to Cure Autism Now, with close ties to several Potomac families.

The group raised the donations through Ponymania, a public art project it initiated in late 2004. Artists designed fiberglass ponies, which went on public display in Potomac and were auctioned at a gala dinner in November. Learn more about PAINT at www.potomacartistsintouch.com.

TAX CLINIC MARCH 18

U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen will host a tax clinic on Saturday, March 18, 9:30-11 a.m. at Sligo Middle School, 1401 Dennis Avenue in Silver Spring. Representatives from federal, state, and county taxing authorities will be present to answer tax questions and provide information on electronic filing, earned income tax credits, child tax credits, disaster relief credits, green energy tax credits, and other topics. A sign language interpreter will be provided. For more information, call 301-424-3501

FORUM ON M.S. IMPROVEMENTS

Parents and students are invited to attend a series of public forums to discuss ways to strengthen Montgomery County Public Schools’ middle school programs. Feedback and from the public will help guide the school system's middle school reform initiative.

The forums will be Thursday, March 23, at Herbert Hoover Middle School in Potomac,

Wednesday, March 29 at Montgomery Village Middle School and Monday, April 3 at Francis Scott Key Middle School. All there forums are from 7-9 p.m. Interpreters for Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and French will be available.

For directions to the schools or more information, visit www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org.

CHURCHILL SPORTS NIGHT GALA

A dinner and cocktail reception, silent auction, and a performance by comedian Roger Mursick will all be part of CHS Sports Night 2006 at Bethesda Country Club on Friday, March 10, a fund-raiser for the athletics program at Winston Churchill High School. Last year’s Hall of Fame Gala raised $140,000 that went to restore three athletic fields at Churchill and purchased equipment for the swimming and track teams. Admission is $125, with proceeds going to field maintenance, a “reel” mower for the lower athletic field, repairs to the softball field drainage, track and field equipment, and uniforms for Churchill’s volleyball, golf, basketball, softball and baseball teams. Call Rich LaFleur at 703-847-7550 or e-mail bulldogbooster@bulldogbooster.org.

'STATE FAIR' AT HOLY CHILD

Connelly School of the Holy Child presents “State Fair,” a romantic musical comedy by Rodgers and Hammerstein on Friday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 4 at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. at Connelly School of the Holy Child, 9029 Bradley Blvd., Potomac. Admission is $5 and $8. Call 301-365-0955 or visit www.holychild.org.

CONSERVANCY SEEKS EVENT LEADERS

As the Potomac Conservancy prepares the new Lockhouse 8 River Center for its first full season of operation, it is seeking volunteers to lead recreational activities and outreach events.

Volunteers are encouraged to share their knowledge and talents: lead a naturalist walk, teach a wood-carving class, or give a banjo lesson.

The River Center at Lockhouse 8 offers visitors a new understanding of the Potomac River, its connection to the Chesapeake Bay, and what they can do to protect these special resources. It will reopen in May.

Contact Heather Montgomery, conservation program assistant at montgomery@potomac.org.

CONGRESSIONAL ART COMPETITION

High school students invited t participate in the 25th Annual Congressional Art Competition. All students who live or attend school in Maryland's eighth congressional district are eligible to participate in the contest sponsored by U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen.

The entries will be exhibited at Strathmore Arts Center April 1-28 and the winning entry will be displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol with the winners from each of the nation's 435 districts.

Runners-up will be displayed in Van Hollen's congressional offices.

Entry forms must be signed by the entrant, a teacher, and a parent and faxed by March 15 301-424-5992

Forms and more detailed information are available at www.house.gov/vanhollen. Questions may be directed to Congressional Art Competition Coordinator Linda Pepper at 301-657-8650 or at pepper461@aol.com.