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This Week in Potomac 4-4-07

American Legion Bridge Work

Daytime single-lane closures on the American Legion Bridge that began in mid-March will finish on or about April 13. The lanes are closed while work crews install scaffolding below the roadway to prepare for a $5.6 million cleaning and painting project to improve the bridge.

No closures will take place on Thursday, April 5 or Friday, April 6 to accommodate holiday traffic, said Chuck Gischlar, a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration. Alternating one-lane closures will continue on the inner and outer loops through next week.

Once the scaffolding for the project is installed the lane closures will cease, but a portion of the far right lane on the inner loop of the bridge will be closed for the duration of the project, forcing quicker merges onto I-495 from the George Washington Parkway and shorter merges into the exit lane for the Clara Barton Parkway, said Gischlar.

The project will include painting the bridge's support structure and the installation of a containment system to keep road debris from falling into the Potomac River.

State Highway Administration officials urge motorists to be patient and cautious while driving through the work zone.

Maryland General Assembly Finishing

The 423rd session of the Maryland General Assembly is in its final week and will conclude on Monday, April 9.

The week will be packed with final votes on many issues, said Sen. Rob Garagiola (D-15).

Garagiola said that he hopes to see the Senate pass a bill that was passed earlier in the session by the House of Delegates regarding new portable classroom legislation.

"The problem that it’s facing right now is that there are some legislators [who are] worried about the cost of [new] portables," said Garagiola. The bill passed by the House set new standards for indoor air quality and construction standards for new portables but did not address existing portables. Because the state is facing a $1.5 billion budget deficit next year, many legislators have not been eager to endorse bills that would require additional spending, said Garagiola.

Other bills likely to be voted on in the closing days of the Assembly session are a proposed statewide ban on smoking in bars and restaurants and an initiative that would require utility companies in the state to produce 2 percent of their energy from solar power by the year 2022.

Garagiola said the Assembly may agree to hold a special session later in the year to begin tackling the looming budget crisis.

Landon Hosts Mark’s Run

The sixth annual Mark's Run will take place Sunday, April 15, at 9 a.m. (sign up at 8:20 a.m.) on the Landon School campus, 6101 Wilson Lane, Bethesda. Runners of all ages can participate in either the 5-kilometer race or 1-mile Family Fun Run, held in memory of Mark Ferris, Class of '94, who died from complications associated with juvenile diabetes. The event benefits the Landon Scholarship Fund and the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard. The registration fee for the 5K Race is $20 and $10 for the Fun Run. Visit www.marksrun.org for more information.

Harrison Honored by National Park Service

Don Harrison, president of Friends of the Historic Great Falls Tavern, received the George B. Hertzog Jr. Award as the volunteer of the year for the National Capital Region of the National Park Service in a ceremony at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va. on Friday, March 30.

“I was very honored and pleased,” said Harrison, a Potomac resident who was one of three nominees for the Hertzog Award. “It could have been any of the three of us. … All three of us should be up there to receive this award.”

Harrison, a Potomac resident, helped lead a $534,000 fundraising effort to bring a new canal boat to the C&O Canal by Great Falls Tavern. Last September, their efforts reached fruition with the maiden voyage of the Charles F. Mercer, a new replica packet boat named after the original president of the C&O Canal Company.

At the christening of the Charles F. Mercer last September, Kevin Brandt, superintendent of C&O Canal National Historical Park, said, “I would describe [Harrison] as someone with the patience of Job. Working with the Park Service is not an easy thing.”

A national volunteer of the year will later be chosen from among Harrison and the volunteers of the year in the six other National Park Service regions.

Berliner Endorses Obama

Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner (D-1) announced that he is endorsing U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in his presidential campaign.

Berliner cited Obama's charisma and leadership abilities as the reasons for endorsing the first-term senator.

"I think he is unique in our political community today in terms of being able to transcend politics as we know it and to inspire people," Berliner said. "I really feel like that's what we [as a country] need more than anything else right now."

Though the Democratic primaries will not be held until January 2008, and the general election is more than a year and a half away, Berliner said it his endorsement was not premature.

"It's not too early," Berliner said. "It needs to happen now."

Board of Education Seeks Public Input

The Montgomery County Board of Education has requested community comment regarding its revised Policy IEA, Framework and Structure of Early Childhood and Elementary Education. The policy was revised to affirm the Board’s commitment to a challenging and comprehensive educational program for young students. Copies of the draft policy are available through the Public Information Office by calling 301-279-3391 or on the MCPS Web site at www.montgomerycountyschoolsmd.org.

Individuals who wish to provide comments should respond in writing by May 4. All responses should be sent to the Office of the Superintendent of Schools, 850 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, MD 20850. The responses will be shared with the Board of Education.

Volunteer at a Local Park

Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission seeks volunteers at local parks in the area. For a full listing of all the opportunities available, contact Jayne Hench at 301-495-2504 or e-mail jayne.hench@mncppc-mc.org.

Members for MD-355/I-270 Committee Sought

The Montgomery County Planning Board seeks applicants for a community advisory committee to collaborate with professional land-use planners to improve the county's MD 355/I-270 Technology Corridor. Send resumes to Planning Board Chairman Royce Hanson, 8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910; mcp-chairman@mncppc-mc.org or 301-495-1320 (fax). Go to www.md355planning.org to learn more and/or download an application form. For more information on the MD 355/I-270 Technology Corridor master plan, contact Sandy Tallant at 301-495-1329 or sandra.tallant@mncppc-mc.org.

Heritage Theatre Company Seeks Volunteers

The Heritage Theatre Company, a professional year-round theater company dedicated to producing the classics, seeks volunteers ages 15 and older for Stage Crew, Light and Sound Operators, Gate/Ticket sales, Assistant Stage Managers, House Manager, assistants, etc. for a production of “The Killer Angels” at Cabin John Regional Park in May and June. “The Killer Angels” is the stage adaptation based on the Pulitzer Prize winning Civil War novel of the same title, chronicling the momentous three days of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. County students may earn Student Service Learning hours for volunteering. Call 301-770-9080 (leave a message if you reach voice mail), or visit www.theheritagetheatre.org.

Recreation Department Offers Courses

Art classes for toddlers, karate, dance and magic-trick lessons for children, fencing lessons for teens and yoga for adults are a few of the courses offered by the Montgomery County Recreation Department at Potomac Community Center. Elsewhere in the county, the Rec Department offers courses from skateboarding to yoga to cooking to youth art. Registration deadlines for some of the courses are coming soon. Pick up the Montgomery County Recreation Department Guide a Potomac Community Center, 11315 Falls Road, Potomac, call 240-777-6840 or visit http://montgomerycountymd.gov/content/rec/RECord/articles/february2007/earlybird.html for course information.

Critical Blood Shortage

The National Institute of Health Blood Bank has announced an urgent need for type O blood donors. Both local and regional inventories of this blood type are dangerously low. If you are a donor with blood type O, donate today by visiting the NIH Blood Bank located on the first floor of the Clinical Center on the NIH campus in Bethesda. Hours of operation are from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Call for an appointment or directions at 301-496-1048. Convenient, free parking is available for blood donors.

If you have not donated blood before and are not sure if you are eligible, visit www.cc.nih.gov/dtm/html/donrinfo.htm to learn more about being a donor at NIH.