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This Week in Potomac 9-13-06

Park Police Arrest Burglary Suspect

Detectives from the Maryland-National Capital Park Police have arrested a suspect in connection with multiple burglaries from The Big Train Baseball office at Cabin John Regional Park's Shirley Povich Field. Detectives identified the suspect as Dustin Lewis Woods, of Rockville.

Celebration of Life for Mike Peterson

There will be a Celebration of Life for Michael Peterson, who died in a car accident in July at the age of 23, at Potomac United Methodist Church, 10300 Falls Road, Potomac, on Saturday, Sept. 16 a 11 a.m. It will include a memorial service, interment next to the church, and a reception in the parish center with video, food and a few testimonials.

Good Scouts, Good Samaritans, Good Cyclists

A Cub Scout troop saved the day for Calvin Kline of Potomac after he blew out the tire on his bike on the C&O Canal Towpath near McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area on Saturday, Sept. 9.

Kline was 12 miles away from where he vehicle was parked at Swains Lock when he caught a flat tire.

"I'm 61 years old, I've been bike riding a long time, but believe it or not, I'm not that experienced at changing a tube or fixing it," Kline said.

Kline walked his bike nearly a mile before he passed a parking lot near McKee-Beshers, where he saw a scout troop he'd passed earlier on the path. He asked if any of them knew how to fix a bike tire. One of the fathers, who'd recently had knee surgery and wore a brace, still proved an expert in fixing the tire. "He gave all the kids a tutorial; at each point, he explained what he was doing," Kline said. "He really knew his stuff."

"I don't even know his name. … It was a Robin Hood sort of thing," said Kline, who could only glean that the scouts were part of Pack 928 in Rockville. Kline wanted to pay them for their time and trouble, but the scouts and their leaders would have none of it.

"It was just a really cool experience," Kline said. "Good things do happen."

State Highway Project Improves Drainage Along River Road

Earlier this month, the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) began a $1 million project to make drainage improvements along MD 190 (River Road) over Rock Run. The limits for the project, located along MD 190 between MD 189 (Falls Road) and Gary Road, should be complete by fall 2007 if the weather permits.

The SHA will improve drainage by replacing the existing dual culverts with larger culverts. The project will improve safety by slightly widening River Road to add an exclusive right turn lane along northbound River Road to Gary Road and southbound River Road at the entrance to the Giant Food/Post Office. Currently, only one lane is available along north and southbound River Road in the project limits with no turn lanes, creating recurring daily congestion. The project also includes grinding, resurfacing, re-striping, curb and gutter reconstruction, storm water management upgrades, waterline improvements on behalf of WSSC and sidewalk reconstruction in both directions along River Road.

Approximately 23,600 vehicles travel daily along River Road near Falls Road. During construction, motorists can expect traffic along River Road to be alternated with a flagging operation between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Nighttime work may be necessary in order to accommodate construction activities such as utility work, roadway grinding and paving. SHA will also provide arrow boards, drums and concrete barriers to guide motorists through the work zone.

Citizens who have questions about River Road, Falls Road or any other State numbered roadway in Montgomery or Prince George’s counties can call 1-800-749-0737.

Potomac Country House Tour Returns

The 51st annual Potomac Country House Tour will be on Saturday, Sept. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 1, from noon-5 p.m. Four homes will be featured this year, each with its own unusual special feature providing visitors with an extraordinary opportunity to experience some of the most unique living spaces in the area.

When the doors open on this tour, visitors will experience four spectacular homes with arguable the most unique collection of features on any house tour. A Civil War style tavern, an Artist studio, a barn refitted as a full gym, an Arts & Crafts style guesthouse (architect Charles Goodman), a wine cellar, one of the original Bethesda gold mines and spectacular outdoor pool and patio living spaces.

The Potomac Country House Tour (PCHT) is sponsored by St. Francis Episcopal Church, Potomac. The proceeds from the PCHT have been central to the outreach ministry efforts for the church since 1955. The tour features houses and gardens of Potomac in a two-day event. Tickets will be sold for $20 in advance or $25 on tour days. The entire proceeds are used to benefit over 30 charitable organizations that assist the elderly, needy, hungry, ill and homeless; or that aid women, children and the disabled.

For additional information call 301-365-2055 or visit www.stfrancispotomac.org.

Help Keep the Boat Afloat

The Surrey in Potomac Village invites the public to a wine and cheese party to benefit the Charles F. Mercer, the new canal boat in the C&O Canal by Great Falls Tavern, on Thursday, Sept. 28, from 6-8 p.m. Twenty percent of all sales (saddles and consignment items excluded) will be donated to the boat. Although the Charles F. Mercer has arrived and is giving rides on the canal, additional funds are needed to cover remaining costs, which include insurance and the final installation of the wheelchair lift.

Potomac Day Takes Shape

Members of the Potomac Chamber of Commerce met on Wednesday, Aug. 30, to discuss plans for Potomac Day. The annual celebration includes a children’s fair, 5K race, parade, and numerous local vendors and entertainers setting up outdoor booths. This year’s event will take place on Saturday, Oct. 28. Andy Ross, president of the Potomac Chamber of Commerce, said that the race will kick off at 8:30 a.m., and parts of River Road and Falls Road will close for the parade at 10 a.m.

"We’ll be looking for volunteers to help out with the parade and would love to get some community members involved," said Ross. Everyone is welcome to join in the parade.

Last year, hundreds turned out for Potomac Day, which featured the Wootton High School marching band, Boy Scout troops, volunteer firefighters and local police.

If interested in participating in Potomac Day, contact Ross at 301-299-2170.

Five Robberies of Gas Stations

Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Major Crimes Division, Robbery Section have released surveillance camera photos of a man who is responsible for the robbery of five gas stations.

This suspect's five robberies were:

* Aug. 19 at the Shell gas station at 600 Quince Orchard Road in Gaithersburg, with a handgun.

* Aug. 26 at 7:50 p.m. at the Exxon gas station at 7340 Wisconsin Ave. in Bethesda, with a handgun. The suspect fled on foot toward Hampden Lane.

* Aug. 29 at the Exxon gas station located at 448 N. Frederick Road in Gaithersburg, with a handgun.

* Sept. 1 at the Texaco station located at 8240 Wisconsin Ave. in Bethesda, with a handgun.

* Sept. 6 at 11:56 a.m. at the Wheaton Exxon at 11310 Georgia Ave. in Wheaton, with a handgun. The suspect was last seen walking on foot south on Georgia Avenue toward Ennalls Avenue.

There have not been any injuries in these armed robberies, but investigators are concerned about the increasing level of violence that has occurred during these robberies. During this last robbery, the suspect not only displayed the handgun, but pointed it at the clerk in a threatening manner several times.

The suspect in the photos is described as a black male with a beard and glasses, approximately 35-45-years-old, 5'4" to 5'6" tall, and weighing 150-160 pounds. He is armed with a handgun.

Anyone who has information about these armed robberies or the suspect is asked to call the Major Crimes Division, Robbery Section at 240-773-5100. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information provided to them that leads to an arrest and/or indictment in these felony crimes.

Important Back-to-School Safety Reminders

Montgomery County Public Schools are back in session, and Police Chief J. Thomas Manger, along with the officers of the Montgomery County Police Department, want to encourage all community members to continue to make the safety of our children a top priority.

All drivers should be on the lookout for young pedestrians who will be walking to and from school. Parents should set aside time to remind their children of the following: cross streets at marked crosswalks, look both ways before crossing the street, and don't cross the street between parked cars. If there isn't a sidewalk and it is necessary to walk in the street, walk on the left side facing traffic. Children and adults should follow the directions of our Crossing Guards who are there to assist and protect students.

Some students will be riding bicycles to school. Please remind them that they must follow all traffic rules and signs, i.e. stop signs and traffic lights. By law, all children under the age of 18 must wear a bicycle helmet when riding or being carried on a bicycle, while riding on a public street, right-of-way, or on a bicycle path.

Many students will be riding buses to school and all drivers are strongly reminded that they are required to stop at least 20 feet from school busses that are stopped with flashing red lights. It is also recommended that adults accompany young children to bus stops, and remain with them until the bus arrives.

The start of the school season is also a good time to remind children of basic safe practices. Children should not speak to strangers, and once they are home, they should not open or answer a knock at the door if an adult is not present without first determining who is there. Every child should have a list of parents', neighbors', and/or relatives' phone numbers that they can call for assistance. Children should also know when it is appropriate to call 9-1-1.

County police remind motorists that the violations of these Maryland Transportation Articles may result in the following penalties: speeding in a school zone incurs a fine of up to $1,000 and 5 points on your license, and passing a school bus with flashing red lights incurs a fine of $550 and 3 points against your license.

Parents who bring their children to school or pick them up after school, are reminded to obey the "No Parking, No Stopping, and No Standing" signs in a School Zone. A violation of this sign incurs a fine of $50.

Emergency Vehicle Guidelines

The metropolitan area is often crowded and congested with traffic conditions caused by collisions, work zones, holiday travelers and sometimes just "normal" traffic. Extra care should be taken during this time of year – schools are opening, vacations are over and traffic patterns are changing. Emergency vehicles are impacted by these conditions, as well. When somebody calls 911 for help – the men and women of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service respond. How can everyday drivers help us to help you? – Normally, drivers will hear vehicles first, next they will see the vehicles, and then drivers need to clear for them.

*C – L – E – A – R for emergency vehicles.

* C – Calmly pull to and as close to the edge of the roadway as possible and stop.

* L – Leave room. Keep intersections clear and never try to follow emergency vehicles.

* E – Enter into traffic with caution after the emergency vehicle has passed. Remember to use signals.

* A – Aware (be). Be aware of your surroundings. Keep radio volume low and check rear view mirrors frequently.

* R – Remain stopped until the emergency vehicle ha passed. Be mindful that there may be additional emergency vehicles approaching.

Hear emergency vehicles.

When approached by an emergency vehicle – the law says to pull over to the closest parallel edge of the roadway and yield the right of way to the emergency vehicle. An emergency vehicle is one with an audible siren and/or siren and emergency flashing lights. When driving and approaching an emergency scene – slow down and move over. In other words - "Give us a brake!"

Reduce the risk of an accident near an emergency scene and around emergency equipment.

* Stay alert – expect anything to occur when approaching emergency vehicles.

* Pay close attention – watch for police or fire direction.

* Turn on your headlights – let on scene workers and other motorists see you.

* Don’t tailgate – unexpected stops frequently occur near scenes.

* Don’t speed – slow down.

* Keep up with the traffic flow – dedicate you full attention to the roadway and those traveling around you.

* Minimize distractions – avoid changing radio stations and using mobile cell phones while approaching these areas. Expect the unexpected – keep an eye out for emergency workers and their equipment.

*Be patient – remember, firefighters and EMT’s have been called to the scene and are working to help someone.

In Montgomery County pedestrian and traffic safety issues are front and center. If you travel by car or are a pedestrian, please place extra emphasis on safety. Simply looking both ways before crossing a street, crossing in a crosswalk, spending a few extra seconds to cinch the belt on your child's safety seat, or delaying departure to ensure you get enough rest before a long trip can make all the difference. Preventative safety, while measured in seconds or minutes, can save you from months or years of anguish, grief, and "what if". Be smart. Be safe.

Marathon Anecdotal History Walking Tour

Join the marathon series of Anecdotal History Walks from Capitol Hill to the White House on Sunday, Oct. 8 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., with all proceeds benefiting the Tourette Syndrome Association of Greater Washington.

Award-winning author and historian Anthony S. Pitch, featured on C-Span TV, the History Channel and National Public Radio, merges four of his favorite walking tours into one marathon walk to tempt well-wishers, history buffs, fitness freaks, health enthusiasts, couples, singles, and everyone else wanting to benefit this worthy cause. Pets also welcome.

The marathon four hour stroll starts with the British capture of Washington during the War of 1812, based upon Pitch's latest book, "The Burning of Washington: The British Invasion of 1814." This kick-off walk begins in front of the Supreme Court as Pitch describes how the British burned the Capitol on the night of 24th August 1814, destroying works of art and thousands of books in the Library of Congress.

The second half of the marathon walk will start outside the E St. entrance to the Welcome Center gift shop at about noon.

Pitch takes up his third walk, filmed by C-Span TV, when he narrates the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and his death the following morning in the log-cabin-sized bedroom at the back of a boarding house opposite the theatre. This leg of the marathon walk has more stories of the burning of Washington in 1814 en route to a stroll around Lafayette Park.

More stories of the assassination conclude in Lafayette Square, facing the front of the White House, where Pitch will tell true and gripping stories from his fourth walk, "The Curse of Lafayette Square."

Rain or shine, meet at the base of the steps leading up to the front of the Supreme Court, 10 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 8. For those joining at the halfway mark, meet about noon at the E St. NW entrance to the Old Town Trolley's Welcome Center, corner 10th St. Estimated time of the entire marathon walk is 4 hours. $40 for the entire marathon or $25 for those joining at the E St. entrance. You must have reservations to be included in the walk. Contact the Tourette Syndrome Association of Greater Washington to purchase tickets at www.tsagw.org or call Voice at 301-681-4133, toll free at 877-295-2148 or fax 302-945-8980

Triathletes Make Wishes Come True

The Make-A-Wish Triathlon at Sea Colony is a swim-bike-run competition for up to 1,000 athletes at Sea Colony Resort, Bethany Beach, Del. on Sunday, Sept. 24. This USA Triathlon-sanctioned event features an ocean swim, scenic bike ride and exciting along the beach. The event concludes with a family-style picnic and awards ceremony at the waterfront in Bethany Beach.

For more information, please visit midatlantic.wish.org or call Stephanie Holland at 301-962-9474.

"Seven Signs of Terrorism" Video Recommended Viewing

The Montgomery County Police Department recommends that community members view an informational video, "The Seven Signs of Terrorism," to help them become more knowledgeable about the types of suspicious behaviors that might precede a terrorist attack. This video is available for viewing on the Montgomery County and Montgomery County Police websites.

The Montgomery County Police "Seven Signs of Terrorism" video was based on a video developed by Michigan State Police in February of 2005. The Montgomery County "Seven Signs of Terrorism" video is narrated by MCP Chief J. Thomas Manger, and the performers are police officers, civilian police employees and police department volunteers.

Reminders to the public include: If the suspicious activity of a person is right in front of you, don't hesitate to call 911. For those that are in the state of Maryland, and are aware of an on-going situation that seems suspicious, calls can be made to the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center at 1-800-492-TIPS (8477).

The video, which runs approximately seven minutes long, can be viewed on the home page of the Montgomery County government Web site under "Emergency Preparedness - Seven Signs of Terrorism video": www.montgomerycountymd.gov and at the bottom of the home page of the Montgomery County Police Web site under "Other Useful Links" - "Seven Signs of Terrorism": www.montgomerycountymd.gov/police.