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This Week in Potomac 10-3-07

Travilah Oak Celebration

The Travilah Oak tree, at the Potomac Oak Center at the corner of Glen and Travilah Roads in Potomac, Maryland, is a white oak estimated in 1975 by the Maryland Forest Service to be 275 year old, now making it in the range of 300 years old. On Saturday, Oct. 6, from 12-4 p.m. it will celebrate its birthday, the 6th annual Travilah Oak Day, with an array of family activities. There will also be a raffle sponsored by the Potomac Oak Center’s merchants which along with all the day’s activities will raise funds for Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County. There will be hay rides, scarecrow building, a pumpkin decorating contest, face painting by Wootton Arts Honor Society students, an introduction to the history of Montgomery County, a slide show of Champion Trees of Montgomery County, a community planting of a native Sycamore tree, the Travilah Oak Tree quiz, traditional music by the Martin Family, a birthday cake, a wandering magician, many hands-on nature arts & crafts activities to delight children, and more. The festivities will conclude with a group tree hug to see how many people it takes to encircle the Travilah Oak’s girth. Guy Hopkins Semmes and Michael Porter Denker of Hopkins & Porter Construction, Inc., which has its offices in the Potomac Oak Center, and which in 1997 coordinated the effort to protect the Travilah Oak, will be co-hosts of this event.

Almanac Celebrates 50th

The Potomac Almanac celebrates its 50th Anniversary on October 19, 2007. We welcome reflections from readers as well as those who have worked for or contributed to The Almanac over the years. Please send submissions to The Potomac Almanac, 7913 Westpark Drive, McLean, VA 22102. If sending by e-mail, please send to potomacalmanac@hotmail.com.

Support Dystonia Research

The Metropolitan Washington Dystonia Medical Research Golf Outing will be held at Bretton Woods Recreation Center on Monday, Oct. 15. Practice begins at 9 a.m., with an 11 a.m. shotgun start. Event includes breakfast, lunch on the course, cocktails, dinner and musical entertainment by The McTaggarts. Proceeds benefit research on dystonia, a neurological disorder for which there is no known cure. Golf tournament is $175 per person, or $600 for group of four; contact Gus Duda at 703-684-3472 or e-mail gdudagolf@aol.com. Cocktails, dinner and music only is $75 per person; contact Donna Driscoll at 240-413-0522.

Chat with Berliner

Roger Berliner wants to hear from you. On Wednesday, Oct. 17, County Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-1) will host "Conversations with Councilmember Berliner," a meeting during which he will listen to questions and concerns and discuss local issues with all who attend.

The meeting will be held from 7-9 p.m. at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, Rooms A&B, located at 4805 Edgemoor Lane in Bethesda.

St. Andrew's Walkathon

St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is having its second Annual Walkathon to Help the Homeless on Saturday, Oct, 20, at 10 a.m. in cooperation with the Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington, D.C. The two-mile walk will begin at St. Andrews Episcopal School, 8804 Postoak Road, Potomac. Participants can register on site beginning at 9:30 a.m. or can download a form to pre-register at www.saes.org. The cost is $15 for age 25 or younger and $25 for adults. T-shirts and water bottles will be given to all registrants.

Last year, St. Andrew’s signed up more than 500 registrations whose contributions totaled $14,000 from the walk. This year the school hopes to raise even more contributions.

Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington is a non-profit organiaztion that brings together homeless people and others in need, with support and volunteers in a joint effort to improve the lives of everyone involved.

For more information, go to www.saes.org or contact Katherine Stevens at St. Andrews at 301-983-5200 or Diane Lewis, Samaritan Ministry at 202-722-2280 or www.samaritanministry.org.

Most Local Schools Hit Targets

Only one of 25 comprehensive high schools in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is on a state list of schools needing improvement as a result of students’ scores on the state-mandated High School Assessments, according to an MCPS press release. Information on school performance was released by the Maryland State Department of Education on Friday, Sept. 28.

Five high schools identified for "local attention" last year (Clarksburg, Gaithersburg, John F. Kennedy, Northwood, and Wheaton) met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) improvement targets in all demographic and special-services categories. "Local attention" means that the school system should monitor a school’s improvement efforts in the area or areas not meeting state standards.

Four high schools were identified for local attention this year: Albert Einstein, Sherwood, Springbrook, and Watkins Mill. Special education students at Springbrook and Watkins Mill did not make AYP in math. Reading targets were not met for special education students at Einstein, Springbrook and Watkins Mill. None of the four schools met reading targets for limited English proficient students.

Montgomery Blair High School failed to make AYP in reading in one category — limited English proficient students. These results place Blair in Year 2 of school improvement. Last year, Blair also missed AYP in only one category — students receiving special education services.

Friday’s report from the state also included results for students in special schools. Gateway to College, Longview School, and Montgomery Evening High School Centers met AYP in 2007. They will be removed from the state’s list if they meet their targets again in 2008. Stephen Knolls School was placed in School Improvement Year 1 this year. Mark Twain School continues to be challenged by state-mandated requirements and moved into "Restructuring Planning" status.

The results released Friday were for high schools only. AYP data for middle and elementary schools were released last August. School performance at the middle school level increased significantly with 27 out of 38 middle schools in MCPS meeting the testing targets compared with only 15 out of 38 middle schools the previous year. At the elementary level, 124 out of 129 elementary schools met the state performance goal. Ten schools that were on the state’s improvement list last year met AYP this year and will be removed from the state’s list if they meet their targets again in 2008. One school, Shady Grove Middle School, attained that status this year after reaching its performance goals for the second consecutive year.

Individual school scores and AYP data are available on the Maryland State Department of Education report card website at www.mdreportcard.org.

Purple Line Panel Appointed

The Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday, Sept. 27, appointed a committee of 28 area residents who will help its transportation planners analyze the potential impacts of the proposed Purple Line, a transit corridor that will link Bethesda with New Carrollton by light rail or a rapid bus line.

While the Maryland Department of Transportation is leading the planning for the Purple Line, Montgomery County planners have begun an effort that will highlight the Planning Department’s recommendations for the type of transit, route and station locations in Montgomery County. Once the study, called a functional master plan, is complete, it also will amend the county’s existing master plans through which the new route will travel.

Staff expects the plan to provide a framework for the Planning Board to react quickly to the MTA's Purple Line recommendations, which may emerge next summer.

More than 80 applicants responded to the department’s call for committee members. The committee meetings, expected to begin in October with a briefing from MTA on the alternatives under review, will be open to the public and advertised at www.mcparkandplanning.org/transportation/projects/bicounty.shtm. Everyone who expressed an interest in the committee will receive invitations to the meetings.

Members include:

Bethesda/Chevy Chase: Edward Asher, Pat Baptiste, Veda Charrow, Marcy Fisher, Sue Knapp, Anne Martin, Judy Tso, Mier Wolf

Silver Spring: Karen FitzGerald, Tony Hausner, Jonathan Jay, Caleb Kriesberg, William Mellema, Edward "Ted" Power, Chris Richardson, Karen Roper, Rob Rosenberg, Harry Sanders

Takoma Park: Eric DeVaris, Clay Harris, Byrne Kelly, Laurie Kellym José Rodriguez, Fred Shultz, Todd Solomon

Countywide: Phil Alperson, Georgette Godwin, Peter Gray

Fire Prevention Month

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service asks that residents take action this October during Fire Safety Month to keep everyone in their homes safe. On Sunday, Oct. 21, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service will be joining forces with the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association to remind local residents to take part in The Great American Fire Drill.

According to the latest research by the National Fire Protection Association, more than 3,000 people annually die in home fires — that’s roughly eight people every day. Only 23 percent of households arm their families with a well-practiced plan for escaping home fires.

Are you prepared for a fire? Although preparing for the unexpected is difficult, reviewing the information below and taking action based on it to plan for a fire could save lives. Don’t forget to practice your escape plan during Fire Safety Month. County residents are invited to attend any one of the many local community fire station open houses throughout Montgomery County during the month of October. The Fire/Rescue Expo on Oct. 21 will coincide with the Great American Fire Drill and will feature emergency equipment and demonstrations. In addition many local community fire stations will be conducting ‘open houses’ throughout the month.

Home fire escape plans are recommended for maximum safety. Develop a floor plan of your home identifying all exits (doors and windows) and two ways out of each room. Keep doors closed to help contain the fire and minimize smoke from spreading throughout your home. Define an outside meeting place (e.g., neighbors or tree) where everyone can safely meet. Get out and stay out. Remember to call 911 in the event of an emergency. Practice your escape plan so that everyone knows what to do in an emergency. Crawl Low Under Smoke — Remember that in a fire, heat and smoke rise. If one has to escape through smoke, crawl low under the smoke keeping your head just off the floor area where the air is cleaner and cooler.

Deer-Hunting Park Closures

Blockhouse Point Conservation Park, Darnestown, will be closed on Nov. 6 and Dec. 18 from Sunrise to Sunset (approximately, 5 a.m. until dark) for managed deer hunts.

On various dates from October 2007 through January 2008, nine parks throughout the county will be closed from Sunrise to Sunset for managed deer hunts. From

Jan. 1 through March 31, 2008, six county parks will be closed from Sunset to Sunrise-at night when the parks are closed to the public-for Maryland-National Capital Park Police based sharpshooting of deer. "Park Closed" signs will be posted throughout the affected parks.

For more than a decade, the Department of Parks has worked to control deer populations in select county parks through its managed hunts and Park Police based sharpshooting operations. These operations are conducted carefully and with the utmost regard for protecting public safety. Private hunters conducting managed shotgun hunts for deer in county parks must meet the highest level of state and county safety standards in order to participate, and the sharpshooting operations in the parks are conducted by expertly trained Park Police officers only.

For more information on deer management and related park closures visit www.mc-mncppc.org/environment, click on "Deer in Montgomery County," then click on "Deer Population Management."

Activity Key for Seniors

Montgomery County has teamed up with the National Council on the Aging to create an online resource guide listing more than 70 local physical activity programs. The Web site, found at www.activeoptions.org, is searchable by zip code and type of activity. Even as bodies and abilities change, there are plenty of ways to keep moving in Montgomery County. From water exercise classes in County pools to dance and chair exercise classes, residents can stay fit in ways familiar and new, with others or alone. Seniors and individuals with disabilities can ride free on County Ride-On and Metro buses Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Call 240-777-7433 for route information. In addition, many physical activity providers offer discounts or scholarships for people with limited income.

Active Options also provides a free way for physical activity providers to promote their programs. To be listed in the database, log onto www.activeoptions.org and follow directions for "physical activity providers".

The senior health promotion program is available to answer questions about this resource and other senior health issues at 240-777-1350.

Stay In The Know

In a typical week, the county Planning Board and staff from the Department of Parks and Planning Department host several community events and consider an array of issues that affect quality of life in Montgomery County. To help residents stay abreast of park and planning activities, the board and its staff have launched a weekly e-newsletter.

Called InfoShare, the newsletter provides a regular snapshot of what’s going on in Montgomery County, such as fairs, festivals, classes, community meetings and other events of interest. InfoShare also includes links to the Planning Board’s next agenda.

The newsletter, concisely written with links that provide more detailed information, comes out on Fridays. Subscribe today at www.mcparkandplanning.org/board/outreach_center/infoshare/signup.shtm.

InfoShare is the latest of a series of measures to explain planning processes for people interested in Montgomery County park and land-use issues. The newsletter complements a planner speakers’ bureau — Experts PLUS — and a new online system for residents to sign up to testify before the board. To find out more, go to www.mcparkandplanning.org/board/outreach_center/outreach_center.shtm.

Business Representative Sought

Bethesda Transportation Solutions is looking for a member of the business community to join its advisory committee. The committee needs a business representative with 50 or more employees and a business located within the Bethesda Transportation Management District. Applications in writing are due by Oct. 15, addressed to Danielle T. Milo, Director of Bethesda Transportation Solutions 7700 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, MD 20814. For more information, contact Ms. Milo at 301-656-0868 or dmilo@bethesda.org.

Free Dial-Up

Free Dial-up Internet Access from Maryland Public Information Network (Sailor) is now available to Montgomery County Public Libraries cardholders. For more information go www.montgomerycountymd.gov/apps/News/press/PR_details.asp?PrID=3900

BCC '71 Grads Plan Reunion Online

Alumni from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Class of 1971 are participating in a Class Reunion Website at http://classreport.org/usa/md/bethesda/bcchs/1971. There are no registration fees required to join in the fun. Each class member has full participation privileges.

This Class-Based Reunion Website features dynamic changing content daily. Stop in to view current Class News. Exchange opinions and stay up to date with the Message Board. View the Featured Alumni Biography of the day. Send a birthday greeting to a class member listed in the Upcoming Birthdays panel. Reunion Announcements, Book and Movie Reviews, Favorite Recipes and Featured Links will keep one checking in regularly to see what's new.

Class member Barbra Paul Johnson has volunteered to serve as Class Administrator. Barbra would like to invite all Class of 1971 Alumni to stop in and fill out a profile so they can be reached regarding the next Class Reunion.

Comment on Local Parks

The Montgomery County Department of Parks is asking for comments from both users and neighbors of 31 small and medium-sized park recreation buildings within the county's parks system. The recreation buildings were reviewed for current condition, level of use and maintenance requirements by staff and consultants. A listing of the recreation buildings can be found in the June 28, 2007, Planning Board briefing memo.

The department's community outreach will include using the Internet to exchange information; sponsoring a public meeting in September; and making community group presentations. To request a review of the project at a group meeting or to share your views on the status of these park properties, e-mail Mark.Wallis@mncppc.org or call 301-650-4389. For information and updates, see www.parkplanningandstewardship.org. After reviewing and including public comments on the draft proposal, the Department of Parks will present a final recommendation to the Montgomery County Planning Board in early November.

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 www.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.