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This Week in Potomac 7-11-07

Whitewater Festival Returns

Potomac Paddlesports will host the 17th annual Potomac Whitewater Festival at the Great Falls area on the Potomac River July 13-15. The event features clinics for beginner’s kayaking, as well as races that feature both amateur and Olympic-level athletes.

The festival begins on Friday, when most of the beginner’s clinics take place. There are a number of different levels of instruction, some courses led internationally competitive paddlers.

On Saturday the races and other competitions begin. They range from upstream and downstream races, waterfall competitions and freestyle competition. Events feature all types of different levels of ability," Said festival chair Risa Shimoda, "all the way for those who can just stay in the boat, through the Olympic level competition."

On Saturday the event will take place at the Great Falls area of C&O Canal National Historical Park. The best place to watch the event according to Simoda is the Maryland Observation station, where the events are centered "Beginning mid day and throughout the afternoon there will be many events visible from there."

On Saturday night there will be a banquet and silent auction that takes place at Rockwood Manor, 11011 MacArthur Blvd., within a mile of the competition. The Rockwood Manor event also features music by the band Fat Chance.

Sunday's competition will take place in the lower parking lot of the Great Falls National Park in Virginia, and will feature the advanced freestyle competition, and an event called "Boatocross." Which Simona describes as "competitive paddling under the Great Falls, around obstacles, and right by the observation deck."

Both the events during the daytime, and the banquet at night are to support the American Whitewater charity. For more information about the event or to register for a beginner's clinic, visit www.potomacfest.com

Take Your Daughter to the Course

The Montgomery County Revenue Authority is supporting and participating in the Take Your Daughter to the Course program during the week of July 9 through 15. The national event is sponsored by the National Golf Course Owners Association and the PGA of America.

Take Your Daughter to the Course Week was designed to introduce junior girls to the game and encourage family interaction on the course. Participating golf courses offer free clinics and lessons for girls throughout the week, as well as free greens fees to girls accompanied by a paying adult.

The event will be held in Potomac at the Falls road Golf Course on July 14, from 10 to 11 am. For information on the event, contact Falls Road Golf Course, 10800 Falls Road, Potomac, 301-299-5156.

A Day for Our Wounded Military Personnel

Ron and Joan Furman would like to provide wounded military personnel at local military hospitals with a chance to spend a day in a country, park-like environment with swimming, volleyball, horseshoes, badminton, darts, ping-pong and a picnic lunch.

The Furmans are planning this activity with The American Red Cross of the National Capital Area. They will provide transportation for these events, and seek volunteers for this day. Join the Furmans for an organizational meeting on Sunday, July 15, at 13211 Quarry Mill Road at 2 p.m. Monetary contributions to help with this effort would also be appreciated; make checks payable to the American Red Cross and specify "For Camp Furman." The money will be used for equipment and supplies for these outings.

For further information contact Ron and/or Joan Furman at 301-948-7000, or e-mail furman@anproperties.com or joananpi@yahoo.com.

Protection for C & O Canal?

The Montgomery County Council last week passed a Zoning Text Amendment that will limit accessory structures, such as some fences and sheds, from being constructed on private property within 200 feet of the C & O Canal Historic Park that forms most of the County’s western border.

The amendment is intended to protect the natural setting of the park, doing so in a manner that preserves the reasonable use of private property.

"The C & O Canal Park is the only national park we have in Montgomery County and it is one of the most heavily visited national parks in the nation," said Councilmember Marc Elrich. "For many people, it is the park that forms their concept of Montgomery County. We needed to pass this so we could ensure the park would be protected."

"This park is a treasure and we need to treat it as such," said Councilmember Roger Berliner. "We took an important step in doing that today."

Council Passes Pedestrian Protection Legislation

The Montgomery County Council last week unanimously passed a measure that will require the County’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to submit statements on pedestrian and bicycle impacts with certain proposed capital projects.

The bill specifies that the OMB must provide an impact statement for any new or modified building, road, park, school or other capital project that is proposed for development on a single unified site and is identifiable as a separate facility.

"We need to protect the people who are most vulnerable in these accidents—the ones walking and riding bicyclists," said Councilmember Phil Andrews, the bill’s chief sponsor. "We can take a major step to do that by addressing safety measures early in the planning process of new projects."

Montgomery Approves Road Code Revision

The Montgomery County Council last week unanimously approved measures that will lead to comprehensive revisions to the county’s Streets and Roads Code. The eventual changes to street and road design, construction and regulations are intended to have considerable impact in future subdivisions, including the creation of streets that will be safer for pedestrians and bicyclists and standards that will improve stormwater management.

The Council approved default standards that will now go to the County’s executive branch for consideration.

Among the major standards that would be revised by the bill are ones that would reduce the widths of newly constructed or reconstructed neighborhood and business district streets to widths that would naturally reduce the speed of traffic and shorten the distances that would be required for pedestrians to cross a street.

The road code revisions also included a major amendment offered by Councilmember Roger Berliner that would bring Montgomery County’s construction practices in urban settings up to date with current practices in other major metropolitan areas, including the District of Columbia, Arlington County in Northern Virginia, New York City, San Francisco and Phoenix.

"The new standards require that road construction respects the needs of all users, not just motorists," said Councilmember Nancy Floreen. "Flexible rules create context sensitive streets that give attention to the needs of bicyclists, stormwater management, pedestrians and community design. I am thrilled by the County’s innovative thinking on these issues, and I am confident our residents will find future roadways much more responsive to our diverse needs."

State Rules with Montgomery County Schools in Challenge to Health Education

The Maryland State Board of Education ruled in favor of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Tuesday, July 3, clearing the way for the 8th and 10th grade health education curriculum to include two lessons that MCPS says will promote tolerance, empathy and respect for all people regardless of sexual orientation and one 10th grade lesson that demonstrates the proper use of a condom.

Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, and Family Leader Network asked the State Board of Education in the spring to overturn the Montgomery County Board of Education’s curriculum decision to include these lessons in health classes.

"We appreciate the State Board’s careful deliberation and strong ruling in favor of MCPS in this case," said Nancy Navarro, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. "The State Board rejected each and every legal challenge brought by the opponents and determined and that there was no valid reason to overturn our decision. It is my hope that the litigation in this matter will finally come to an end as we move forward with the lessons that teach that all people deserve to be respected regardless of their sexual orientation."

For students to participate in the lessons, parents must provide informed written consent in advance. It is important to note that all parents have the opportunity to review the health curriculum at parent meetings before the health classes are taught. Students who do not have parental consent participate in alternative lessons on different health topics.

Montgomery College Board Seeks Applicants for Nominating Committee

The Montgomery County Council is seeking applicants for a two-year term on the nominating committee for the Board of Trustees of Montgomery College. Nominations must be submitted by Wednesday, July 25.

The committee’s immediate business will be to fill the seat of Trustee Robert C. Maddox, whose term expires in September 2007.

The committee reviews applications for vacancies on the Board of Trustees of Montgomery College and submits recommendations to the Governor, who makes the appointment.

County residents who are registered voters and have knowledge of, and interest in, meeting higher education needs of the County, and who have demonstrated an active interest in civic affairs may apply.

Applicants should send a letter expressing interest, including a resume listing professional and civic experience, to: Council President Marilyn Praisner, County Council Office, Stella B. Werner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850. Letters of application must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 25. It is the Council’s policy not to consider applications received after the deadline. The names of all applicants are published and available for public review. Interviews are open to the public.

Council Approves New Waste Management Plan

Rockville's Mayor and Council have adopted a new citywide refuse and recycling collection system that, among other things, continues the city's traditional twice per week refuse collection, but adds some new features. The new system will use semi-automated technology and equipment for trash pick-up. It also will provide for 'single stream,' once per week, recycling collection. The changes are expected to reduce worker injuries, improve neighborhood cleanliness and encourage recycling.

The new program is expected to begin in the spring of 2008. Those homes that have been part of the pilot program and were having their refuse picked up once a week, will be switched to twice a week collection in mid-August. They also will be provided with single-stream recycling collection at the same time. They will be formally notified of the changes within the next two weeks.

For the current fiscal year that began July 1, 2007, residents will pay the monthly fee of $32.70 previously approved as part of the City's annual budget. Estimated increases over the next several years are projected at $34.55 in FY09, $36.50 in FY10, $38.55 in FY11 and $40.70 in FY12.

Neighbor Rescues Family From Fire

At approximately 3 a.m. on Sunday, July 1, units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service were dispatched to 19615 Gott Street, in Poolesville for a report of a house on fire. Responding firefighters arrived to find a two story, single family home with heavy fire involving the rear of the structure. Prior to the arrival of firefighters the fire had quickly spread vertically involving the second story and

the entire attic.

A neighbor had discovered the fire and alerted the occupants. The family was awakened by their next-door neighbor, Mike Owens. Owens himself was awakened moments earlier to several loud popping noises. Upon investigation he saw his next-door neighbor’s rear corner of the deck and house on fire. Mr. Owens immediately called 911 and responded to his neighbor’s house. He was able to gain entry into the next-door neighbor’s house through an unlocked door, rescued a family pet dog and then alerted the occupants for their escape. His actions were potentially life-saving.

The natural gas meter apparently became involved and fed the fire. Fire Investigators believe the fire originated from the exterior of the house near the deck. This area accommodated a seating area and the electrical service/feed for the in ground pool.

A total of six adults were displaced by the fire and the Red Cross was on the scene providing assistance. Damage is estimated to be $485,000. Fire Investigators believe Owens' actions were instrumental in the evacuation of the home’s occupants and saving the pet dog, as well.

Almanac Photo Galleries

Last month we launched a new feature on the Potomac Almanac Web site — photo galleries. Every week, Almanac and Connection Newspapers photographers and reporters take hundreds of photos at events around Potomac and Northern Virginia. And despite taking dozens of photos at some events, often only one or two photos make it into print.

Now on our Web site, readers can find many more photos from events. It is a work in progress, but already we have posted photos from many events, including high school proms and community events. We will post photos from many high school graduations as well. For example, families and friends can look for 25 photos of the Churchill graduation, 16 photos from Wootton’s graduation and 42 photos of Whitman’s graduation. More is on the way.

The photo galleries offer a chance to see many more photos of these and other events. Readers can e-mail the images to share them, and also have the opportunity to purchase prints, digital images or other items.

See www.PotomacAlmanac.com, and click on "Connection Photo Galleries."

Free WiFi Coming to Rockville Town Center

The Mayor and Council of Rockville have approved a set of agreements that will bring free WiFi (wireless Internet) service to the new Town Square development in Town Center. This will make Rockville one of the first communities in the region to have free WiFi in its downtown area. There is no cost to the city for the project contract with Aepco (Advanced Engineering and Planning Corporation, Inc., of Gaithersburg), according to a press release from the City of Rockville. In fact, the City will receive free wireless Internet service for its mobile workforce, such as inspectors.

The free WiFi access will be available to the public in the outdoor areas of Town Square including the public plaza and along the streets within Town Square (Maryland Avenue and Gibbs Street). In some cases, the WiFi signal strength may be powerful enough to provide coverage several hundred feet beyond the Town Square footprint.

Ready for Reading Road Trip?

Young readers in Montgomery County are invited to take a "Reading Road Trip" by participating in the 2007 Summer Reading Club that began on June 14 in Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL). The annual program, a cooperative project of the Maryland State Department of Education and public libraries in Maryland and the District of Columbia, is designed to encourage reading among young people of all ages.

Children who sign up for the program will receive a "gameboard" to keep track of their reading and a suggested reading list. To fit this year’s travel-related theme, the "gameboard" includes a map of the United States with interesting facts about the states featuring a variety of cultures and landmarks, "Wacky Facts," "Rules of the Road," and fun travel games. During the summer children will be able to receive various prizes and be able to purchase T-shirts with the "Reading Road Trip" imprint for $5, while supplies last.

Smoother Driving Ahead

The Montgomery County Police Department is once again participating in the "Smooth Operator" campaign, which began on Saturday, and will take place one week out of each of the summer months. The Smooth Operator Campaign targets aggressive drivers in Maryland, Northern Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Aggressive driving behaviors include: speeding, tailgating, unsafe lane changing, failing to yield the right-of-way, and running red lights and stop signs.

The campaign for 2007 will consist of four, one-week-long waves in Aug. 5-11 and Sept. 2 -15. During these waves, Montgomery County Police will be especially committed to enforcing aggressive driving laws and traffic violations, to include a focus on the aggressive driving behaviors of teen drivers.

The Montgomery County Police Department wants to remind all motorists to be aware of their responsibility to obey all traffic laws and to always use caution when operating a motor vehicle. Montgomery County police and City of Rockville police are using automated speed enforcement cameras in some residential areas with speed limits of 35 mph or less and in some school zones. For more information about the Safe Speed program, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/police and click on the Safe Speed icon.

Wanted: Volunteers at Lockhouse 8

The Potomac Conservancy is looking for river history buffs to help maintain and staff the River Center at historic Lockhouse 8 on the C&O Canal. This year, the River Center will feature a new exhibit, Backyard to the Bay, which will educate visitors about the Potomac River, its connection to the Chesapeake Bay, and what they can do in their own backyards to protect these resources. The full docent description is available at www.potomac.org/join/volunteer.html. Volunteers who wish to help staff the River Center should contact Judy Welles at weles@potomac.org.

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.

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. 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, then click "Departments," then "Recreation," then "RECord" 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.

Info on Nursing Homes Available Online

An updated and redesigned resource to help Marylanders select a nursing home is now available on the Web. The "Maryland Nursing Home Guide" includes information on more than 200 comprehensive care nursing facilities and 34 continuing care retirement communities. Among the types of information available are quality of care assessments and results of recent inspection visits. The guide, developed by the Maryland Health Care Commission, is located by clicking on ‘Consumers’ on the commission’s Web site at www.mhcc.maryland.gov.