Damascus HS struggles to maintain calm after posted social media threat

Students from Damascus High School were in panic mode Friday after an old social media threat against Damascus students had been reposted to social media sometime around noon.

“Everyone that goes to Dmas gtfo of there,” a Damascus student’s Instragram post read.

“not sure if everyone is awre but there’s apparently a kill list out and a threat to shoot up damascus. if you’re there, leave now. please be safe. ______ was apparently the one who made it,” another post read.

However, a 12:08 p.m. letter with a “Damascus High” logo titled “Rumor of a threat at DHS” was sent out to parents and guardians stating there was no real threat to students.

“We have had several parents and students reach out today to make the school aware of information regarding [a] threat to the school. We have reviewed the information and investigated and there is no credible threat to our school at this time. Students are safe and learning in our building,” an excerpt of the communication stated.


UPDATED: Man and woman found dead in parked car in Burtonsville

MCPD car MCFRS rescue vehicleMontgomery County Fire and Rescue personnel responded Thursday evening to a 911 report of a man and a woman found dead in Burtonsville; they will be transported to the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Baltimore and will undergo a scheduled autopsy Friday, a Montgomery County Police spokesman said.

A resident called 911 at approximately 9:56 p.m. Thursday after discovering the bodies in a parked car – with the engine still running – in a townhouse parking lot on Aldora Circle. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue personnel responded to the scene and confirmed the two occupants of the vehicle were deceased.


Clarksburg HS student arrested for bringing loaded handgun to school

Police arrested Clarksburg High School student Alwin Chen for bringing a loaded handgun onto school property.  COURTESY PHOTOPolice arrested Clarksburg HS student Alwin Chen, 18, for bringing a loaded handgun to school. COURTESY PHOTO  One day after a former student shot and killed 17 people at his Florida high school, Montgomery County Police arrested an 18-year-old Clarksburg High School student for bringing a loaded handgun and knife to school.

A Montgomery County Police school resource officer arrested Alwin Chen at approximately 2:20 p.m. Thursday after police and school security confiscated two weapons Chen had in his possession, according to a Montgomery County Police press release.

Chen became the focus of police and school security interest after the police officer based at Clarksburg received a tip that Chen may have brought a gun with him to school.


UPDATED: Police charge and release teen suspect in Northwest HS social media threat

Northwest High SchoolNorthwest High School. COURTESY PHOTO  

Montgomery County Police charged a 15-year-old male student with “offenses relating to disrupting school operations” Friday after they worked with the high school’s staff to identify the suspect.

“Montgomery County Police (MCP) investigators, in coordination with administrative staff from Northwest High School, identified the suspect responsible for this social media post as a 15-year-old male student who attends Northwest High School,” police said.

Police charged the boy as a juvenile, and then returned him to the custody of his parents. Police referred the case to the Department of Juvenile Services for adjudication.

Police also advised parents to tell their children to tell an adult about a suspicious social media post, rather than share it on social media.

“MCP encourages parents to have a conversation with their children about responsible social media posts,” police said. “Parents are reminded to monitor their child’s social media accounts and encourage them to not to re-post or share rumors or threats.”


“No Place Like Dietle’s”

Famous local dive bar goes up in flames taking a century of memories with it

One of the most historic watering holes in the county burned this week. Dietle’s had been in the county for more than a century COURTESY PHOTOOne of the most historic watering holes in the county burned this week. Dietle’s had been in the county for more than a century COURTESY PHOTO  A century of good times went up in smoke early Wednesday morning when a fire reduced Hank Dietle’s Tavern, a longtime Rockville Pike landmark, to ashes.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Pete Piringer called the damage the fire inflicted on the century-old wooden building – which has served as a local watering hole since 1916 – “almost a total loss” and said the fire was likely accidental, and was probably caused by smoking materials that were left on the tavern’s wooden porch.

“When fire crews arrived, there were some pretty heavy fire conditions throughout the structure,” Piringer said.

At about 2:45 a.m. firefighters responded to reports of a fire at the tavern’s location on 11010 Rockville Pike, where they encountered heavy enough smoke and fire that they called reinforcements to the scene. In total, the fire required the efforts of 65 firefighters to extinguish it. Piringer said no one was injured or killed in the fire.

“They made some pretty quick work of it – they were able to knock it down in 15 minutes or so,” Piringer said, adding that the total cost of the damage was up to $500,000 – $400,000 from the building and $100,000 from the contents.

Hank Dietle’s became Montgomery County’s first ever alcohol licensee when it opened as a general store in 1916. Owners converted the general store to a bar in the 1950s, after which it served as a casual local establishment for beer and live music.

The bar’s loyal patrons took to Facebook early Wednesday to express condolences for the tavern to its owners.


Dockless bikes make their first local appearance

Bikes 4Dockless bikes can now be found across Montgomery County. PHOTO BY ABIGAIL CRUZSILVER SPRING — As the rain was pouring down Saturday afternoon, Ashton Green, 26, was peddling so fast on Fenton Street in downtown Silver Spring he kept yelling “Excuse me! Excuse me!” to avoid pedestrians.

Green, who had just gotten his phone stolen, was using a yellow OFO bike as his method of transportation to catch the man who took his phone. “I’m trying catch the dude that got my phone but riding these bikes ain’t easy,” he said. “That’s my issue with them – they [are] hard to ride -- they only have three gears.”

Green said that he was on his phone to retrieve the code needed to unlock and ride a OFO bike when it was snatched from his hand. “That’s the only thing good about these bikes, I swear,” he said. “You can just grab and go once you got the app on your phone.”

The bright yellow bicycles offered by OFO are just one of four different varieties of bikes available from dockless bike-sharing services that can now be found in Montgomery County.


Green Party candidate enters State Senate race

David JeangDavid Jeang Photo by George SmithDistrict 19 voters will have the opportunity to vote for a member of the Green Party to be their next state senator now that David Jeang of Rockville has thrown his hat into the ring.

“I feel the need to build other representation in Montgomery County would be healthy to bring out voters who don’t feel the alignment with the current Democratic County and in turn bring out more voters in the whole of Maryland,” he said in a phone interview. 

Jeang, 29, will face off against three-term Del. Ben Kramer (D) for the privilege of representing Rockville, Silver Spring, Gaithersburg, Wheaton and Olney in the Maryland Senate. He explained his choice to run as a third party candidate is meant to ensure that the prospective Democratic nominee will have some opposition in the general slection and will allow him to raise issues that otherwise might be ignored.


Maryland considers dedicated Metro funding

Maryland Flag Metro LogoANNAPOLIS — A delegation for business people and elected officials made their way to the state capital Tuesday to make their case that Metro, the region’s struggling mass transit system, needs a reliable supply of state dollars.

On Tuesday, the Maryland House of Delegates Appropriations Committee held a public hearing for a bill that would give the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority $125 million in dedicated funding. WMATA has requested this type of funding for some time from the three jurisdictions of D.C., Maryland and Virginia, as it is one of the few mass transit systems in America without a source of dedicated funding or a consistent permanent supply of public money.

Council member Roger Berliner (D-1), who served on the Council of Governments, a regional body of elected officials from D.C., Maryland and Virginia that work on regional issues, said no issue has united people more than the need for a dedicated funding source for Metro.

“I’ve had the privilege of serving on the board of the Council of Governments for many years and last year as chair,” Berliner said. “In all of those years, no issue has united our entire region, Republicans and Democrats, urban and suburban, more than the need to finally provide dedicated funding for Metro.”


Seneca Valley senior sews her way to help

Rosie BlissRosie Bliss Photo by Suzanne PollakWhat can you do when you are only 17 years old, know you like to sew and want to help the world?

For Seneca Valley High School senior Rosie Bliss, the answer to that question enabled her to meet and work with several like-minded people, culminating in a five-day working trip to Haiti.

Her desire to help out in a developing country began several years ago, when her older brother, Gareth Bliss, returned from Haiti, where he volunteered in the pediatric ward of a clinic. 

Bliss didn’t want to help out in a medical clinic. Instead, she decided to combine her love of sewing and all her mother’s cloth scrap pieces into something meaningful.


School graduation rates vary across the County

MCPS logoMontgomery County public schools officials brag about its high school graduation rates that are higher than the state average, but that is only partially true, according to a new state report posted online last month. 

MCPS officials boasted that the county high school graduation rate for the adjusted 4-year cohort was 89.5 percent, a decrease of 0.3 percentage points from 2016, but which was higher than the state average. 

However, nine of Montgomery County's 25 high schools' graduation rates dipped below the state graduation rate, which officials measure in terms of the “four-year cohort.”