County legislation would ban small signs in a move some call "anti-business"



After the April’s Democratic primary, Montgomery County Council member George Leventhal (D-At large) has had enough of the political campaign signs in the county.

Seeking to rid the county of the “eyesores” along roadways and neighborhoods, Leventhal sponsored a bill to prevent further proliferation of signage.

On June 21, Leventhal introduced Zoning Text Amendment 16-06, would enforce stricter penalties on political candidates, non-profit groups, realtors and business owners who chose to advertise with temporary signs near public road ways. A hearing for the bill is scheduled for Aug. 2.


County adds two more circuit court positions

There will be two more judges in the Montgomery County Circuit Court but who will fill those positions is still an open question.

Applicants for these vacancies must fill out a personal data questionnaire, which can be found at

They also must submit two writing samples to the Administrative Office of the Courts by 4:30 p.m. on July 14.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) will then select the final candidates.


Rockville hits reset on Chestnut Lodge townhouses

ROCKVILLE – A controversial plan to build seven townhouses at Chestnut Lodge is now being pared down to six townhouses.

However, the developer will need to start the application process over again before the City Council decides whether to approve it.

“We’re not thrilled about starting over again,” said Stephen Orens, an attorney representing the developer. “So much of it has been vetted over and over and over and over again.”


Recurring fire and smoke at Gallery Place Metro

Gallery Place Fire  Smoke 1Metro closed Gallery Place for repairs after smoke filled the station early Monday evening due to a "smoldering bolt." PHOTO COURTESY OF HELEN STARKWEATHER

D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services investigated a “smoldering bolt” at Gallery Place Metro station that occurred around 6 p.m. Monday night. Staff closed the station after another fire occurred later in the same area so crews could repair that section of the track. One rider complained of smoke inhalation and emergency medical techmicians took the rider to a hospital, said Maggiolo.

D.C. Fire/EMS spokesperson Vito Maggiolo said firefighters responded to the station due to a report of smoke in the station. They arrived after Metro staff had already put out the fire using fire extinguishers in powdered form. 


Beating the odds while suffering from cancer takes humor and determination

Ken Lourie 2012Kenneth Lourie   COURTESY PHOTO

BETHESDA – At the convention for Cancer Survivor Day on Saturday, Burtonsville resident Kenneth Lourie occasionally slipped in a joke while telling his story of surviving stage four lung cancer.

“I guess I’m living proof, no pun intended, that if …” Kenneth said.

According to Kenneth’s oncologist Dr. Leon Hwang, Kenneth had 13 months to live. That was seven years ago.


Metro GM hires new COO, plans to cut 500 jobs

metro logoPaul Wiedefeld has hired a public transit veteran to serve as Metro’s new chief operating officer and plans to cut about 500 non-safety-related positions in the next several months.

Wiedefeld, general manager for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, said in a news release Wednesday that he selected Joseph Leader for the position. Leader will be responsible for several departments, including rail, bus and paratransit services starting Aug. 1. He will also be the executive manager of parking, Metro Transit Police and support services.


Residents fight more county cell phone towers

A bill to allow telecommunication companies to extend cell phone coverage is angering some local residents who want a public hearing.

Zoning Text Amendment 16-05, sponsored by Montgomery County Council President Nancy Floreen (D-At large) would change the zoning laws.

Telecommunication companies would be allowed to install small antennas on utility improve cell phone coverage.

County residents objected to the bill because it would allow the telecommunication companies to install the antennas without a public hearing.

 “It undercuts the participation of interested members of the public in a dialogue on where the thing ought to go or shouldn't go,” said Derwood resident Jeff Reznick.

Though a hearing for the bill is scheduled for July 19, if passed, the telecommunication companies could install the antennas without input from the public.


Minimum wage hike debated

ROCKVILLE – Fallout from the county’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020 came as expected Tuesday night as business owners and laborers found themselves on opposite sides of the issue.

Forty people testified Tuesday night about Bill 12-16, which would raise the minimum wage to $12.50 per hour in 2018, $13.75 per hour in 2019 and $15 per hour in 2020.


Woman dies in suspicious auto accident

Silver Spring Crash1The remains of Victoria Hitchins' Camry following an accident Friday.               PHOTO COURTESY OF CHARLES KMETZ SILVER SPRING – One woman is dead following a car accident on Randolph Road near Kimblewick Drive early Friday Morning.

Police say they are still investigating the cause after a second collision occurred less than a minute and a block away which included drugs and fleeing passengers.

71-year-old Victoria Hitchins died at the scene after her 2009 Camry struck a tree.

A mile away and about a minute later, a black SUV crashed at Randolph Road and New Hampshire Avenue. There were no casualties in the second accident, but police said they believe the two collisions were related and are still investigating the whereabouts of missing passengers who fled afterwards from the SUV.


90-year-old lives history and teaches students

Florence Binstock 1Florence Binstock greets her two daughters at the Springbrook High School luncheon honoring Binstock's many years of service.   PHOTO BY JACQUI SOUTH 

SILVER SPRING – For one local substitute teacher teaching history may just involve remembering significant events from her own life.

Florence Binstock Avigan, a 90-year-old school teacher, has several stories to tell about growing up during the Great Depression and her formative teenage years during World War II – not to mention her 49 years of substitute teaching for Montgomery County Public Schools.

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