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This Week in Potomac 5-23-07

Van Hollen Calls for Immediate Release of Potomac Resident

On Tuesday, May 22 Iranian officials charged Dr. Haleh Esfandiari, a U.S. citizen and resident of Potomac, Maryland with attempting to overthrow the government of Iran. In response to the imprisonment of Dr. Esfandiari and the charges made against her, Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced a resolution today in the House of Representative calling for her immediate and unconditional release.

Dr. Esfandiari is the director of the Middle Eastern Program of the Smithsonian's Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC. In a statement released Tuesday, Van Hollen said that while visiting her 93-year old mother, Iranian authorities took Dr. Esfandiari into custody, interrogated her and eventually imprisoned her without official charges. She has been held in Iran's notorious Evin Prison since May 7, 2007.

"Dr. Esfrandiari's imprisonment shows a gross disregard for the rule of law and belies statements by Iranian government officials that Iran would like to improve relations with the United States," said Representative Van Hollen in the statement.

Representative Van Hollen asked that his Congressional colleagues join him in passing this resolution to free Dr. Esfandiari and to encourage the U.S. government to employ all appropriate means to expedite this process.

Memorial Day Barbecue Safety Tips

With Memorial Day right around the corner the Montgomery County Fire Department wants to remind the public to be aware of safety regulations and tips to keep in mind when grilling out this weekend.

In Montgomery County, unless you live in a house, it is illegal to:

* Kindle or maintain charcoal burners and/or gas-fired grills on balconies or within 20 feet of any structure.

* Store liquid propane gas cylinders within 20 feet of multi-family residential buildings.

A few safety tips to keep in mind:

* Always open the hood before lighting the grill.

* Always keep the grill in a safe area away from children, pets and heavy people-traffic where someone could bump into it.

* Check grill hoses for brittleness, cracks, holes and leaks.

* Make sure there are no kinks or bends in the hose connected from the tank to the grill.

* Keep tanks upright.

* Do not store tanks or other flammable materials near a grill, indoors or in a heated area such as a vehicle truck.

* Do not use grills indoors, inside vehicles, tents or campers. Carbon monoxide fumes produced from grills are poisonous and potentially fatal.

Correction

The man in the photograph accompanying the May 16 Almanac article “Boat Builder” was incorrectly identified as Don Harrison. Harrison was named the nation’s individual volunteer of the year by the National Park Service for his work in raising funds for the Charles F. Mercer, the new canal boat by Great Falls Tavern.

Experts to Discuss Alternatives to Sprawl

Two urban planning experts will discuss alternatives to sprawl-type development to manage growth in an urbanizing county.

The event will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 24 at the Montgomery County Planning Board Auditorium at 8787 Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring.

Alexander Van Hoffman, a senior research fellow at Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, and associate Lucille Harrigan, a former legislative information coordinator for the Montgomery County Council, will discuss growth strategies that help avoid sprawl, a catch-all term for leapfrog construction that creates poor traffic patterns and scattershot public services.

Wicket Cool Fundraiser

Ron Furman will host a catered brunch at his home at 13211 Quarry Mill Road on Saturday, June 2 at 11 a.m. (rain date June 9), and will host the grand opening of a tournament croquet course, featuring demonstrations and lessons from three-time world champion Doug Grimsley. There is no charge for the brunch; guests will be asked to help raise funds to help families in Montgomery County through the Red Cross Heroes Campaign. Call Ron Furman at 301-948-7000 or Kumara Rama, community development officer for Montgomery County Red Cross, at 240-485-3012.

Volunteer Trail Ranger Program

In anticipation of National Trails Day on June 2, the Montgomery Department of Parks this week announced a new volunteer trail ranger program for sections of the county's 100-plus miles of natural surface trail.

Volunteer trail rangers will help keep the trails safe and clean by performing light trail maintenance on designated sections and inspecting and reporting problems back to the Department of Parks every three months and after big storms. The initial program sites are at Wheaton Regional Park, Northwest Branch, Blockhouse Point, Rachel Carson Conservation Park, and Hoyles Mill Trail, a connector trail between Black Hill Regional Park and South Germantown Recreational Park.

"We're teeing up motivated volunteers to be our eyes and ears on the trails and report back problems through an official inspection process," said Ben Sugar, Department of Parks Volunteer Trail Coordinator in a statement. "The kinds of people we're expecting to attract with this program are those who already care about the trails because they're out there enjoying them and have a vested interest in seeing them maintained to a high standard."

The two training dates for the program will be Saturday, June 2 and Saturday, June 16. In each session trainees will learn about basic trail standards, how to spot and report significant trail problems, and how to handle simple maintenance issues such as encroaching vegetation.

Potential volunteers must be 18 years of age or older and be available between 3-8 hours every three months for at least one year and be able to work without direct supervision.

For more information on the program and other volunteer opportunities in county parks visit www.parksvolunteer.org.

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.

Speed Cameras Now Issuing Tickets

Montgomery County Police announced that their Safe Speed Program kicked into full gear on Wednesday, May 2. The automated speed enforcement program uses stationary speed cameras and mobile speed enforcement vehicles to enforce speed limits in residential areas and school zones with a speed limit of 35 mph or less. Previously, violators had been issued warnings, but those warnings will now be citations, said Lucille Bauer, a spokesperson for Montgomery County Police.

In the Rockville/Potomac area, cameras are located on Dufief Mill Road, Bells Mill Road, Quince Orchard Road, Stone Ridge View Drive, Glen Mill Road, and Travilah Road. For a complete list of locations and for more information about the Safe Speed program, visit the Montgomery County Police Department Web site at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/police and click on the "Safe Speed" icon on the front page.

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/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.

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.