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This Week in Potomac 6-13-07

Frost Teacher Faces Second Sexual Abuse Charge

On Thursday, June 7, Joseph Robert Ballman was arrested at his home in Germantown and charged with sexual abuse of a minor and third-degree sexual offense, according to Montgomery County Police.

Ballman, a former teacher at Robert Frost Middle School in Rockville, was arrested in May on similar charges.

According to police, both charges stem from investigations during which detectives learned that Ballman engaged in appropriate sexual conduct with two former students while he was their 7th and 8th grade English teacher.

The earlier charges stem from alleged incidents that occurred in Ballman's home between 2004 and 2005; the most recent charges allege that similar activities occurred in Ballman's home between 1995 and 1997 with a now 24-year-old male.

Ballman posted $150,000 bond after his first arrest. Ballman's bond was initially set at $150,000 after last week's arrest but after a hearing that bond was revoked and Ballman is being held without bail, said Lucille Bauer, a spokesperson for Montgomery County Police.

Anyone who has any additional information about any inappropriate contact Ballman may have had with juveniles is asked to call Detective Carvajal in the Family Crimes Division at 240-773-5417. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County a 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Public Input Sought for County Budget

The Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board (WMCCAB) will host a public forum in order to receive input on the county's next six-year budget.

Capital projects include public facilities such as sidewalks, bikeways, libraries, schools, recreation centers, parks and ball fields that serve the community. Storm water management projects that address drainage and flooding problems are also part of the Capital Improvements Program (CIP). Representatives from county agencies will provide an overview and answer questions about capital projects in the Potomac, Bethesda, and Cabin John communities.

The WMCCAB, a citizen advisory panel to County Executive Ike Leggett, will use the input from this forum to prepare a list of priorities that it will submit to the County Executive in late July for funding consideration in the next CIP.

The forum will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 18 at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center located at 4805 Edgemoor Lane in downtown Bethesda. For more information or to arrange special accommodations, please call Karen Thon at 240-777-8210 or e-mail karen.thon@montgomerycountymd.gov.

CAN 5K Approaches

For the seventh straight year, the Cure Autism Now 5K will bring runners, walkers and volunteers to Potomac Village on the Fourth of July. Proceeds benefit Cure Autism Now and Autism Speaks, formerly separate nonprofits that have merged to fund autism research and find a cure. Potomac’s Susan Pereles, the founder of the Can 5K, hopes to raise more than $200,000 with this year’s race, which will raise the event’s seven-year total to more than $1 million. Register now for the CAN 5K by visiting www.canrun.org.

Facilitators Needed for Study Circles

Facilitators are needed for the Study Circles Program in Montgomery County Public Schools. Study Circles is a dialogue and action program that works with schools to address racial and ethnic barriers to student achievement and parent involvement.

A meeting on Wednesday, June 27 from 7-8:30 p.m. is scheduled at the Carver Educational Services Center auditorium located at 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. The meeting will give an overview of the Study Circles process and specifics on roles and expectations of facilitators.

Participants selected will receive instruction in multicultural and group processes, a certificate of completion, and a stipend when they facilitate a full study circle.

For more information on the Study Circles program visit www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/studycircles, call 301-279-3455, or e-mail studycircles@mcpsmd.org.

Run for Roses

The Montgomery County Road Runners Club (MCRRC) holds the Run for Roses 5k Women’s Distance Festival on Saturday, June 16, 8 a.m. at Wheaton Regional Park. Runners and walkers of all ages and abilities are invited to participate in this annual event.

The Run for Roses 5k course is a scenic course through Wheaton Regional Park and Brookside Gardens especially during the spring when the gardens are at full bloom. As befits the name of the race, each finisher will be presented a long-stem rose and finisher certificate as she crosses the finish line. The event also includes free Also on race day, there will be free quarter-mile and half- mile young runs at 7:45 a.m. for children 12 and under. Online registration and additional information is available on the MCRRC Web site www.mcrrc.org or by calling 301-353-0200.

‘Killer Angels’ in the Amphitheater

The Heritage Theatre Company will present "Killer Angels" at the Cabin John Regional Park outdoor amphitheater on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, May 24 -June 30, at 8:30 p.m. "Killer Angels" is the stage adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning Civil War novel about the 3-day battle of Gettysburg in 1863. For tickets call Heritage at 301-770-9080, or visit www.theheritagetheatre.org.

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 begins 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.

On Saturday, June 16, at 10:30 a.m. Potomac Library will hold its Summer Reading Club kickoff event with folk musician Bruce Hutton, who will play and introduce traditional instruments such as the autoharp, ukulele, banjo and mandolin. For grades K-six, pre-registration required.

For more information about the Summer Reading Club — and other library programs, visit

www.montgomerycountymd.gov/library.

Public Invited to Safety Forum

The Montgomery County Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee invites county residents to a "Dialogue on Pedestrian Safety Solutions." The public is welcome to come share their views about pedestrian safety and mobility issues with representatives of local and state government and members of the county advisory committee. The exchange will primarily focus on three solutions to improve pedestrian safety: education of motorists and pedestrians, enforcement of traffic safety laws, and engineering of roadways to make communities pedestrian-friendly.

It will take place at the Germantown Recreation Center on Monday, June 18, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/walk.

Summer Pedestrian Safety Tips

With the spring season in full bloom and the start of summer fast approaching, more people are enjoying outdoor activities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian injury is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 5 to 14. To stay safe this summer, please follow these pedestrian and bicycling safety tips:

Pedestrian Tips

* Cross the street at marked crosswalks and intersections. Do not jaywalk.

* Before crossing, look left, right, and left again. Then look over your shoulder for turning vehicles.

* Make eye contact with drivers to make sure they see you.

* Use pedestrian pushbuttons.

* Begin crossing the street on the "Walk" signal.

* Wear light-colored or reflective clothing to be visible after dark and in bad weather.

* Do not wear headphones while walking.

* Watch out for trucks and buses backing out of parking spaces and driveways.

Driver Tips

* Stop for pedestrians at marked and unmarked crosswalks.

Clara Barton Holds Art Contest

The staff of Clara Barton National Historic Site invites artists to submit work for an upcoming exhibition entitled "The Art of Clara Barton." This show will display the work of artists who have created work related to Clara Barton along with original never-before exhibited work by the famous founder and president of the American Red Cross. Submit a clear, color photograph or digital image file of the artwork for consideration by August 19. The staff of Clara Barton National Historic Site will select the works for the exhibition. This exhibition will be held during the months of September and October. For more information visit www.nps.gov/clba/artists.htm or contact 301-320-1410.

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 June 2-9, July 1-7, 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.