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This Week In Potomac

2.61 Mile Bike

Path Improvements

The county will soon begin construction of an eight-foot wide, 2.61-mile bike path along MacArthur Boulevard between I-495 and Oberlin Avenue. The county’s Department of Transportation estimates that the project will be completed in one year.

The county’s DOT, Division of Transportation Engineering will resurface roadways, install retaining walls, driveways, underpass lighting, and conduct upgrades to the existing drain system and landscaping.

Work will be done weekdays between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. and there will be lane closures for periods of time between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. throughout the project.

Accessible pedestrian routes will be provided and access to all side streets and driveways will maintained at all times.

For more information, send an email to mcdot.dte.construction@montgomerycountymd.gov or call 240-777-7220.

Firearm Safety Act

Gov. Martin O’Malley applauded Sen. Brian Frosh and Del. Kathleen Dumais for efforts that helped lead to Maryland passing SB 281 - The Firearm Safety Act of 2013. The legislation, which passed in the first week of April 2013, addresses gun safety and violence prevention in Maryland.

“With today’s vote, Maryland has chosen to enact a comprehensive, common sense approach to licensing and gun safety, a ban on the sale of military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and meaningful improvements to mental health treatment and data-sharing – striking a balance between protecting the safety of law enforcement and our children, and respecting the traditions of hunters and law-abiding citizens to purchase handguns for self-protection,” said O’Malley.

“We appreciate the hard work of Senate President Miller, Speaker Busch, floor leaders Senator Brian Frosh and Delegate Kathleen Dumais, and members of the General Assembly. Together, with a strong coalition of advocates, and the people of Maryland who overwhelmingly support policies to reduce gun violence, we’ve chosen to take action by advancing the strategies that work to save lives.”

The legislation includes a ban on assault weapons; a limit on the capacity of a magazine from 20 to 10 rounds; fingerprint licensing requirements on future handgun purchases; and restrictions on possession of firearms and ammunition by persons prohibited by prior criminal offenses and mental health disqualifications, according to state officials. The legislation also provides a comprehensive approach to safeguarding mental health and making improvements to services to ensure that individuals are not deterred from seeking treatment, but those identified as dangerous are prohibited from possessing firearms, according to officials. The plan includes information sharing among federal and state partners for background checks, improving mental health services in Maryland, and establishing a Department of Health and Mental Hygiene-led Task Force to Improve Continuity of Care for Individuals in the Community Mental Health System.

On gun safety, the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s plan:

• bans the sale of military-style assault weapons;

• limits magazine capacity to 10 rounds (previous limit was 20);

• requires licensing, fingerprinting, and safety training to purchase a handgun;

• makes it a crime to use armor-piercing bullets in a crime of violence;

• requires reporting to law enforcement of lost or stolen firearms;

• bars persons who receive probation before judgment for violent crimes from possessing firearms;

• establishes a single automated gun application process between gun dealers and the Maryland State Police; and

• prohibits persons who cannot lawfully possess firearms from possessing ammunition.

On mental health, the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s plan:

• creates safeguards to keep guns away from people who may be dangerous to themselves or others due to mental illness;

• facilitates unprecedented levels of information sharing among federal and state partners for background checks;

• improves mental health services in Maryland;

• establishes a Center for Excellence on Early Intervention for serious mental illness;

• expands Maryland’s Crisis Intervention Teams, Crisis Response Services, and Mental Health First Aid; and

• establishes a Department of Health and Mental Hygiene-led Task Force to Improve Continuity of Care for Individuals in the Community Mental Health System.

On school safety, the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s plan:

• dedicates $25 million of school construction dollars for school security enhancements;

• establishes a Maryland Center for School Safety; and

• ensures that the Maryland State Department of Education will work with the State Police to review all school district emergency plans to identify and address any gaps.”

New Zoning Ordinance?

The County Council’s Planning Housing and Economic Development committee began a review Friday, April 5 of the County Zoning Ordinance, a formal process started with the Planning Board in 2008.

The process could lead to the county's first major rewrite of its Zoning Ordinance in 36 years, according to county officials.

The Planning Board sought to streamline and simplify all aspects of the document, improve the organization, update provisions to reflect the changing development climate with a greater emphasis on infill development, create predictability in standards, and promote “green” land use policies, according to county officials. The current code of more than 1,200 pages is viewed as antiquated and difficult to use. The number of zones, for example, has nearly tripled, from 41 in 1977 to the current 120. Public hearings will be scheduled during the next few months, and the Council’s PHED committee will meet many Friday meetings over the next few months to discuss the proposed rewrite. See http://www.montgomeryplanning.org/developmentlzoning/documents.shtm for the latest version.

Whitman High School’s

50th Anniversary Concert

Walt Whitman High School is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

"A Celebration of 50 Years of Walt Whitman High School with Music," is scheduled for Saturday, June 22, at 7 p.m. in the Whitman Auditorium.

Whitman choral or instrumental music alumni are invited to participate in the concert; rehearsals with brunches and social gatherings are planned for the Saturday event.

Music alumni can sign up to participate by submitting the Google Form, found at the following link:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1XYKwmkGybNMaZB22EZJvs2DtDSTOUwlGw4-JITSIpJs/viewform

Information for participants, including concert and rehearsal updates, can be found on the Walt Whitman Alumni Concert Facebook Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/191785370961991/?ref=ts&fref=ts

Interested alumni who do not have a Facebook account can send inquiries to concert chair, Francesca Slesinger, at fpslesinger@gmail.com.

The concert will be open to the entire Whitman community. Details, including program and ticket information, will be announced shortly through neighborhood listservs, Whitnet announcements, and area publications.

Inaugural Poet

Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco is scheduled to speak at the Rockville Memorial Library on Friday, May 17, at 7:30 p.m.

Blanco’s family emigrated from Cuba to Spain, moved to New York City, and then settled in Florida where he was raised and educated. Blanco’s fourth book, a bilingual triptych of poems submitted for President Barack Obama’s inauguration is scheduled to be released on May 6.

Blanco, the first Latino and the first openly gay poet laureate for the presidential inauguration, will present a program of readings.

Montgomery County Council President Nancy Navarro is honorary chair of the event. She is the first Latina to serve as the president of a county council in Maryland, according to county officials.

Call 240-777-0020 or visit www.folmc.org.

Rabies Prevention

Maryland law requires that all dogs, cats, and ferrets four months and older are vaccinated against rabies.

Montgomery County Police Department’s Animal Services Division will sponsor five rabies vaccination clinics (Sunday, April 21; Sunday, May 19; Sunday, June 16; Sunday, July 21 and Sunday, Aug. 18) at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter located at 14645 Rothgeb Drive in Rockville, from 10 a.m. to noon.

The most common carriers of rabies in Maryland include raccoons, foxes, bats, and skunks.

Exposure to rabies can be prevented by having pets vaccinated and keeping vaccinations up to date, avoiding sick animals, avoiding touching and feeding wild or stray animals, preventing pets from roaming fee, teaching children to stay away from wild animals, and preventing bats and other wildlife from entering homes by using window screens and chimney caps.

Contact the MCPD Animal Services Division at 240-773-5925.

— Ken Moore