March 19, 2011

Coworker Arrested in Lululemon Slaying

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The suspect arrested in the Bethesda Row Lululemon Athletica slaying was the victim's coworker, who had claimed to be a victim herself, NBC Washington's Pat Collins reported. Brittany Norwood was found bound and injured but alive at the bloody scene when a third coworker opened the athletics store and found 30-year-old Jayna Murray's body Saturday morning. Montgomery County, Md., police arrested Norwood Friday afternoon when she went to police headquarters for her third or fourth interview in the investigation. They charged Norwood with first-degree murder.

"I can assure you that the people of Bethesda are breathing easier tonight than they were earlier today," said Montgomery County Vice President Roger Berliner, who represents Bethesda. "There was a great deal of fear engendered by this crime." "I am delighted that we have been able to move so fast," Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett said.

Investigators had been going over the story the suspect told while in the hospital. She told police that she and Murray closed the store at 9 p.m. Friday and left at about 9:45 p.m., police said. She said she realized that she had left her wallet in the store but did not have the keys to re-enter, so she called Murray and they arranged to meet back at the store. As they went back in at about 10:05 p.m., two masked men dressed in black also entered, Norwood told police.

Police believe that timeline but said there is no forensic nor physical evidence supporting her story that two men attacked Murray and herself, Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger said. Nor is there evidence supporting Norwood's claim that she and Murray were sexually assaulted. Police also said there is no evidence Norwood was bound by someone else. "All we had was what what we believed was a surviving victim told us, and you have to take victims, especially victims of sexual assault, you have to take their story as truthful," Manger said. "You have to work under that assumption. As the investigation went on, we went where the evidence led us to go."

Police could not say whether the return to the store was planned with an attack in mind. In addition to interviewing Norwood three or four times, investigators reviewed surveillance video and collected forensic evidence at the scene. Investigators found no eyewitnesses, and surveillance video showed no suspects. Evidence found in Murray's car led police to develop Norwood as a suspect. Police believe she moved the car three blocks away from the scene to a parking lot in Bethesda, where it was found.

Tracks found in the store had been made by a pair of size 14 shoes found in the store, Manger said. Murray and Norwood had been involved in some sort of dispute -- witnesses heard two women arguing -- but police do not know the nature of the argument, Manger said.

Police did not say how Murray was killed or what weapon may have been used and said further evidence is being held for trial. Norwood is scheduled to appear in court Monday. Police had received at least 57 tips in the investigation this week, and the reward had reached almost $160,000, Collins reported.

Friends, family and the Bethesda business community planned a remembrance of Murray for Friday evening. They planned to meet at the Mindfulness Center at 4963 Elm St. in Bethesda and walk to the store. Vigils also were planned at the Lululemon stores in Los Angeles and Walnut Creek, Calif. Friends of Murray planned a vigil in Union Square, N.Y.

Reading a statement from Lululemon, Kenny Fried said the three Lululemon stores in the area will remain closed through Saturday. The Bethesda store is closed indefinitely. He had no comment about Norwood.

Polar bear star Knut dies

Heiner Kloes, in charge of bears at the zoo, said they were still trying to determine why the beloved four-year-old animal passed away. Knut collapsed and was found dead in a pool of water. He was the first polar bear to be born in captivity in the zoo for 30 years and the first public appearance of "Cute Knut" in March 2007 attracted 100 camera crews from around the world. He generated millions of euros for the Berlin Zoo in lucrative merchandising and extra entrance fees.

Knut weighed nine kilogrammes (19-pound) at birth and triggered a wave of media coverage after an animal activist said he should have been put down after he and his brother, who later died, were rejected by their mother following their birth in December 2006.

Knut was reared by the zoo, with his keeper Thomas Dörflein bottle-feeding him and strumming Elvis Presley songs for him on his guitar. Dörflein died at age 44 of a heart attack in 2008. Later in Knut's life, he shared his zoo enclosure with his mother, Tosca, and two other females, Nancy and Katjuscha.

But hopes that Knut might form a romantic attachment with one of the females were dashed as stories emerged of violent maulings. One video posted online showed Katjuscha hurling herself at Knut's throat, in an apparent attempt to bite him, before tipping him into the water. SOURCE: The Local

Reactions to lululemon murder arrest

Lululemon Bethesda slaying arrest announced; Brittany Norwood being charged with murder

By Dan Morse and Maria Glod, Friday, March 18, 11:37 PM

The woman portrayed as the brave survivor of a brutal attack at a Bethesda yoga store has now been charged with killing her co-worker. The victim-turned-suspect was found inside the Lululemon Athletica store bound and bruised, and she convinced detectives that two men in ski masks and gloves raped and beat her and her fellow employee. But it was all a lie, police now say.

Brittany Norwood, 27, was charged late Friday with murder in the March 11 death of Jayna T. Murray, 30, who was beaten and stabbed. Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said that there is no evidence there were any sexual assaults at all and that Norwood very likely inflicted her own injuries and tied herself up.

Norwood’s tale, which captivated the region and had shoppers and merchants along Bethesda Row in fear, began to unravel as detectives looked at the evidence.

“When the investigation began, detectives had only the story of Ms. Norwood to go by,” Manger said. But “the forensic evidence and the physical evidence was not supporting what Ms. Norwood had told us.”

The suspect’s story terrified residents and merchants in downtown Bethesda, an area of restaurants and high-end stores that has long been considered one of the safest spots in the region. Stores moved to install security cameras. Private security guards escorted workers to their cars. Average citizens began asking clothing stores if they’d sold ski masks to anyone suspicious. A reward of more than $150,000 was lined up to catch the intruders. But in the end, Norwood, who went to high school in Washington state and college in Long Island, N.Y., couldn’t keep her story going, police said.

Assistant Chief Drew Tracy said there were some inconsistencies from the beginning, but detectives chalked them up in part to a stressed victim. One of the unanswered questions, Tracy said, involved Norwood’s wounds. The wounds were superficial, compared with Murray’s. Investigators wondered why she didn’t leave the store before another employee opened it the next morning.

A big break in the case was provided by evidence found in Murray’s car, Manger said. Norwood had gotten into Murray’s car, which had been parked in front of the store, and drove it to a parking lot a few blocks away off Wisconsin Avenue, the chief said. He declined to specify what was found in the car. SOURCE: Washington Post

Montgomery Council Committees to Discuss County’s Facility Consolidation Plan

ROCKVILLE, Md., March 16, 2011—The Montgomery County Council’s Public Safety Committee and its Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T and E) Committee on Thursday, March 17, will be updated on County Executive Isiah Leggett’s “Smart Growth Initiative” that seeks to consolidate numerous County facilities into fewer, more efficient sites.

The Public Safety Committee, which is chaired by Phil Andrews and includes Roger Berliner and Marc Elrich, and the T and E Committee, which is chaired by Councilmember Berliner and includes Councilmembers Nancy Floreen and Hans Riemer, will meet at 2 p.m. in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville.

Representatives of the County’s Department of General Services, Department of Transportation, Office of Management and Budget, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) will attend the worksession.

The consolidation plan calls for the establishment of a Multi-Agency Service Park on a property along Snouffer School Road (adjacent to Montgomery Village) that is formerly known as the Webb Tract. It will be the future home of the County’s Public Safety Training Academy, the Montgomery County Public Schools food distribution facility and the MCPS and M-NCPPC maintenance facilities. Another part of plan calls for the Equipment Maintenance and Operations Center, which provides service areas and parking for 200 buses, to be relocated on the west side of Crabbs Branch Way in Rockville. It is currently on another site along Crabbs Branch Way.

The Smart Growth Initiative also included purchase of the former GE Tech Park property along Route 28 in Gaithersburg. The County’s Department of Liquor Warehouse and its Public Safety Headquarters will be moved to that location.

The initiative intends to move operations into more centralized locations and to sell some of their current locations to developers.

At 10 a.m. Thursday in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room, the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee, which is chaired by Nancy Navarro and includes Councilmembers Riemer and Valerie Ervin, will discuss recommendations made recently by the County’s Organizational Reform Commission in regard to Regional Services Centers.

March 18, 2011

Universities at Shady Grove Contemporary Social Issues Seminar Series

The Universities at Shady Grove and Rockville Institute present the 2011 Contemporary Social Issues Seminar Series:

Wednesday, March 30, 4:30 p.m. -- Comprehensive Review of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) Policy: Held at the Universities at Shady Grove, 9636 Gudelsky Drive, Building III, Room 3241. Free and Open to the public. For more info visit

Shelley Perry, Ph.D. of Westat, Susan Berkowitz, Ph.D. of Westat and Dr. Sunil Dasgupta, Program Director of the UMBC Political Science program at USG will discuss Westat’s review of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) policy that was compiled on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). This discussion will share the results of the review, the challenges in studying a highly charged topic, and the role the findings had in informing DOD to change the policy.

Please find more information below. Thanks for letting me know if you’re able to attend or include the event on your website.

Miran Lee
(301) 581-7235 office
(301) 542-9673 cell

Montgomery County fire officials, FBI investigate explosion at Potomac home

Fire investigators released a photograph of a silver necklace found today at a home where a pipe bomb exploded in Potomac. Investigators believe the necklace, which is made up of five Hebrew letters, may be linked to whomever placed the bomb in front of the residence at 9214 Inglewood Lane, said Assistant Chief Scott Graham of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.

Investigators know what the necklace says but are not releasing that detail at this time, he said. The necklace says ‘Jennifer' in Hebrew, according to a rabbi at a Rockville temple.

The pipe bomb detonated near a front window sill of the home Wednesday night, emitting an odor that brought hazardous materials investigators and the FBI to the scene, officials said.

Investigators are reviewing surveillance tapes from neighboring homes of the residence to determine who put the pipe bomb on the property, Graham said. No one was home at the time of the explosion, which damaged the window and inside the house. Damage is estimated at $25,000, according to the Fire and Rescue Service.

"We are continuing to evaluate the ingredients of the bomb to determine where they were purchased and where it was made," Graham said. He would not say whether someone who lives at the house created the pipe bomb or if someone else put it on the property.

Neighbors called 911 about 9:15 p.m. Wednesday to report the sound of an explosion in the area of River Road, Harrington Drive and Newbridge Drive, according to the Fire and Rescue Service. SOURCE: Gazette

Proposed Montgomery County Budget Eliminates Briggs Chaney Police Substation

Montgomery County’s proposed budget for fiscal 2012 would close the sole police substation in East County but put more resources into law enforcement along the Route 29 corridor, the most active crime area in the county. Under the proposal, the 3rd District police substation at Briggs Chaney Road (along with other police satellite offices in Olney and Piney Branch) will be eliminated to save about $21,000 for the year. But Leggett said his budget increases public safety funding overall and will focus efforts on the Route 29 corridor.

Councilwoman Nancy Navarro (D-Dist 4), who represents Colesville and Burtonsville, said Wednesday she needs more details about Leggett's public safety plan, particularly closing the East County substation.

“I am very pleased that there was a decision made to increase police presence and the attention to this corridor,” said Navarro. “I don’t understand how closing the satellite office would promote this endeavor.”

Leggett said Tuesday that his $4.35 billion plan for fiscal 2012 closes a $300 million budget gap and will “define a new normal,” for the county. SOURCE: Colesville Patch

Today is World Cancer Day

Small request In memory of our moms, dads, brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, friends and loved ones of whom there are so many:

This year has been one with too many diagnoses too close to home. For all the friends, family, loved ones, and those we don't even know...

Friday is world cancer day - I'd appreciate it if you will forward this request.

93% won't forward

A small request.. Just one line.

Dear God, I pray for a cure for cancer. Amen

All you are asked to do is keep this circulating, even if it's only to one more person. In memory of anyone you know who has been struck down by cancer or is still living with it.

A Candle Loses Nothing by Lighting Another Candle…

Please Keep This Candle Going

'Tis the season for Maryland Trout Fishing

Just learned about Maryland's effective trout sport season. Closure 1 (March 6 to March 26) Now Upon Us. The 2011 spring put-and-take trout fishery is now in closure period 1. Put-and-take trout fishing areas are closed to fishing from 10:00pm of the first date, to 5:30am of the second date, during each of the closure periods listed in the following schedule.

Montgomery County police officer charged with helping fiance run cocaine ring

A Montgomery County police officer engaged to marry a convicted drug dealer was charged with helping him operate a cocaine trafficking ring. Delores Culmer, 37, a patrol officer, used law enforcement databases to access information for her fiance, according to federal officials. In once instance, she ran license plate numbers associated with a man who owed her fiance drug money, authorities said. She also allegedly helped him conceal the cash he earned dealing.

Culmer, of Silver Spring, was hired by Montgomery County police in July 2003, officials said. She has worked as a community services officer, has helped with presentations on women’s safety and participated in programs for at-risk teenagers, according to a biography on a county Web site that police said she wrote.

Her fiance once told a confidential informant that Culmer kept him informed about “law enforcement moves against him,” according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. Another time, he bragged that he could find anyone at any time. Culmer was arrested Wednesday morning after a ruse designed to catch her off guard, officials said. She was told to go to her department’s Family Crime unit in Rockville to assist in an investigation, they said.

Culmer was suspended from the department, and county officials were in the process of halting her pay. Federal officials said she has been detained pending a hearing scheduled for Friday.

“It’s shocking, and it’s hurtful,” Capt. Paul Starks, Montgomery County police spokesman, said of the allegations. “We have a department of about 1,600 people. Of course all of them are affected, and so is the community.”

Andrew R. Szekely, Culmer’s attorney, declined to comment. Federal authorities did not identify Culmer’s fiance. Prosecutors said in court papers that he has two drug convictions in Pennsylvania and has spent time behind bars. One informant told police that the man transported large amounts of drugs among Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

The two met in Pennsylvania, where Culmer previously worked as a police officer in Pittsburgh, according to the criminal complaint. The fiance gave Culmer expensive gifts, including an engagement ring worth about $100,000, court papers say. He also allegedly gave her $30,000 in drug proceeds that she used toward the down payment on a Silver Spring house. SOURCE: Washington Post

March 17, 2011

In Japan, Owners and pets cling for comfort

Here is a nice blurb about Japan and how some animals were saved as the tsunami hit: Reuters

New GGCC Board Member

The Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce (GGCC) has a new addition to its Board of Directors. Stuart Barr, Principal with Lerch, Early & Brewer, Chartered will join the Chamber board this month. The Board shapes the future of the Chamber and works very hard to make the GGCC an outstanding organization.

“Stuart has been very active on the Corridor Cities Transitway Coalition. He has shown great leadership in helping to move this project forward. We are delighted to have him on our Board.” stated GGCC President Marilyn Balcombe. Stuart Barr is a land use and zoning attorney at Lerch, Early & Brewer. His law practice encompasses the areas of land use, planning, zoning and rezoning, real estate development and redevelopment, master plans and sector plans, due diligence, building, use and occupancy, and other permits, water and sewer category changes, condemnation and eminent domain, administrative law, annexation, and historic preservation.

Stuart represents a wide range of clients before the Montgomery County Planning Board and planning staff; the Board of Appeals; the Montgomery County Council; the Montgomery County Departments of Permitting Services, Environmental Protection and Transportation; the Historic Preservation Commission; and before other agency departments and commissions throughout Montgomery County. Stuart also appears regularly before the planning commissions, boards of appeals, mayors and councils, departments and agencies in the City of Rockville and the City of Gaithersburg.

For more information on the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber please visit the GGCC website at

How smoke detectors work

Homeowners would fork out $8,229 per year under Leggett's budget

Montgomery County homeowners' average annual tax burden would exceed $8,200for the first time under County Executive Ike Leggett's fiscal 2012 budget proposal. Households would pay an average $8,229 in taxes in fiscal 2012 -- up $255 from fiscal 2011 -- under Leggett's plan, according to the county finance department.

The county is facing a $300 million deficit in fiscal 2012 -- on top of long-term unfunded commitments such as $3.6 billion in retiree health benefits -- and revenues heavily dependent on property taxes remain deflated by the residual effects of the recession.

"We still have a relatively weak economy," Leggett said Tuesday. "There are uncertainties with our state fiscal deficit, and federal unemployment procurement changes will continue to have a negative economic impact on our county."

To offset falling home prices, Leggett would increase county property taxes by roughly $17 per $100,000 of assessed value -- or about $85 more annually on a home valued at $500,000. The rate would climb 1.7 cents from the current 69.9 cents. Leggett said the effect on taxpayers would be minimal, but County Councilman Phil Andrews argued costs would rise in the future.

"If you raise the property tax rate ... that will come back to bite people when the property [assessments] go back up," said Andrews, D-Rockville/Gaithersburg. "I'm very concerned about this particular proposal."

Leggett also would start charging a 5-cent tax on plastic and paper bags.

Leggett's chopping block
• Most recreation center youth sports programs would be eliminated, along with teen special events.
• The Office of Commission for Women, Office of Human Rights, and the Regional Services Centers would be consolidated.
• The Conservation Corps program would be eliminated.
• The county Energy Tax Rebate program would be killed.
• Supplemental payments to developmental disability service providers would be reduced.
• Substance abuse treatment services and in-home aid services for seniors would be reduced.
• The High School Cadet program in the Fire and Rescue Service would be eliminated.
• Transportation incentive funds for commuters using transit or ride sharing in Bethesda would be eliminated.
• Traffic signal relamping, roadway maintenance and traffic studies would be curtailed.

SOURCE: Washington Examiner

Montgomery County will not regulate panhandling this year

An attempt to restrict panhandling in Montgomery County has failed, but at least one council member says he will fight to regulate the practice next year. State Del. Anne Kaiser (D-Dist. 14) of Burtonsville withdrew a state bill Friday that would have allowed the council to approve a permitting system for roadside solicitation — begging, raising money for charity or selling goods at county intersections.

At issue was a controversial amendment in the works that also would have allowed the council to approve an outright ban on the practice. Kaiser said she withdrew the bill because she felt the issue needed further discussion. She said she wanted to strengthen the permitting system proposed in her own bill and that she also had heard from supporters of the ban option. However, Councilman Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg said the bill was withdrawn because state lawmakers who opposed the option to ban roadside solicitation weren't sure they had enough votes to defeat the would-be amendment.

"That's the only explanation that makes any sense," said Andrews, chairman of the council's Public Safety committee. SOURCE: Gazette

County Councilmember Nancy Floreen’s Statement on Fiscal Year 2012 Recommended Operating Budget

ROCKVILLE, Md., March 15, 2011—Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Floreen’s statement on the recommended Fiscal Year 2012 Operating Budget released today by County Executive Isiah Leggett:

This morning, the County Executive transmitted his recommended FY12 Operating Budget to the County Council. Next year’s operating budget represents both a continuation of the fiscal challenges we have experienced in recent years and a framework for future budgets. I commend the County Executive and his team for their hard work in developing this proposal.

While the County Executive’s recommended budget contains cost-cutting measures that will be difficult for residents and employees in the short term, I am pleased that it includes a balanced long-term fiscal plan. I spearheaded this new approach to budgeting last year, and I’m gratified to see a continued long-term perspective in our budget work. I have asked the Office of Legislative Oversight to look at the plan, particularly in terms of its progress toward resolving our structural deficit. I also plan to look closely at the reserve funds proposed by the County Executive. Last year, we set a policy to increase our reserves as we believed this would greatly improve our ability to handle future downturns and would confirm the historical excellence of our financial management.

I encourage residents to engage in the conversation about the hard decisions we will make in the coming months. As I have said many times before, I remain committed to fairness and equity among stakeholders and will work to make sure no one group shoulders a disproportionate burden. Residents should feel free not only to contact the Council as a whole but also to contact me directly at

Death penalty repeal gets hearing but lacks momentum

Much of the same cast of characters from previous debates over repealing Maryland’s death penalty were present in the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday afternoon. At the hearing, those speaking in favor of this year’s repeal bill included Kirk Bloodsworth, a former Maryland death row inmate later exonerated by DNA evidence. Those opposed included Scott Shellenberger (D), the state’s attorney for Baltimore County, the Maryland jurisdiction which has sent more inmates to death row than any other.

Representatives of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions, the Maryland Catholic Conference and the American Civil Liberties Union were all on hand as well — as they have been in recent years. Yet Tuesday’s hearing lacked the drama of those during the first term of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), when he made abolishing capital punishment a priority. This year, O’Malley has not put much muscle behind the bill. House leaders seem unlikely to embrace it. And Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) told reporters Tuesday that the interest isn’t there in his chamber.

“I don’t believe there’s a sentiment in the Senate to repeal,” Miller said.

Part of the reason remains an uneasy truce reached in 2009, under which higher evidentiary standards are required in capital cases. SOURCE: Washington Post

March 16, 2011

Outer Loop Of Beltway Reopened After Accident

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WUSA) -- The Rockville post of the Maryland State Police says the outer loop of the Capital Beltway has reopened to traffic after a multi-car accident. Officials say four cars were struck by the hit-and-run driver in the area of the outer loop and Route 355 (Rockville Pike) around 8:25 p.m. Wednesday. At least one car rolled over on the Beltway. The striking driver is now at the hospital being treated for minor injuries. Another person also suffered minor injuries from this crash. SOURCE: WUSA

UPDATE in Jayna Murray murder at Lululmon Athletica store

Police are looking at surveillance video and following up on about 40 text message tips in the slaying of Jayna Murray at the Lululemon Athletica store in Bethesda, Md.

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Va. Gov Urges State Workers To Assist Japan Relief

NOTE: Does Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley have any such plans?

RICHMOND, Va. - The state of Virginia has created a special direct campaign to assist Japan has it struggles in the aftermath of an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power crisis. In an appeal Wednesday to state workers, McDonnell urges them to consider a donation to a special campaign to support American Red Cross relief efforts. McDonnell calls the disaster in Japan "unexpected and heartbreaking."

St. Patrick's Day parade draws thousands to Gaithersburg

The rhythmic tapping of Celtic dancing and the drone of bagpipes filled the air Saturday during Gaithersburg's 11th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. Thousands of spectators were on hand for the celebration, held at the Washingtonian Center. This year's event set an attendance record with more than 7,000 spectators, said Gaithersburg Police spokesman Officer Dan Lane. The parade generally draws about 4,000 people from around the county, according to organizers.

Sixty-nine groups of dancers, bagpipe bands, school groups, clowns, fire trucks, equestrian units, service organizations and others marched in this year's parade, said Dorthy Winder, the city's coordinator for the event. Two Irish-American authors — Alice McDermott and Danny Costello — served as grand marshals. The parade was sponsored by the city of Gaithersburg, Harp and Shamrock Society of Gaithersburg and the Peterson Companies at Washingtonian Center. For information about the parade, contact the city of Gaithersburg at 301-258-6350 or www.gaithersburg

Photos by Anthony Castellano/The Gazette. Dancers from the Hurley School of Irish Dance perform on a float during the parade on Saturday. Pictured are (from left) Gracie Kennedy, 13, of Olney; Rachael Belcher, 14, of Ashton; Laura Knipe, 14, of Olney; Bridget Reese, 14, of Ellicott City; Megan Chun, 14, of Bethesda and Fiona Caretto, 14, of Germantown. SOURCE: Gazette

Habitat for Humanity to Celebrate Affordable Homeownership

Gaithersburg, MD (March 16, 2011) – On Saturday March 26th Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County, MD (HFH-MC) will celebrate two home dedications for local families. This is an opportunity to welcome our partner families into their new homes and wish them luck.

What: Habitat Home Dedication Ceremony
When: Saturday, March 26th 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
Where: 2:00 pm 18600 Cross Country Lane, Gaithersburg, MD 20879
3:00 p.m. 8710 Emory Grove Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20877

A home dedication is a celebration that brings together community members, homeowners, volunteers, supporters, staff, neighbors and friends. “A home dedication is where the magic happens,” says John Paukstis, HFH-MC Executive Director. “Dedications are an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of the homebuyer, the volunteers, the staff—everyone who helped build it! Our construction crew did an amazing renovation which will keep energy consumption at a minimum for the new homebuyers.”

Environmentally friendly UltraTouch™Denim Insulation, made from old blue jeans donated by ReStore customers and volunteers, insulated parts of the houses. In addition to the insulation, other green features include energy star appliances, advanced air sealing techniques, high efficiency windows, and low, to no, VOC paint. These features keep the home comfortable and affordable over the long-term.

Incorporated in 1982, HFH-MC has served 66 families through home building, renovation and weatherization.

This event is free and open to the media and the public. For more information or directions, please call 301‐990‐0014 x15.

Fox5: Silver Spring Group Wants to Preserve McKenney Forest Trees

Silver Spring Group Wants to Preserve McKenney Forest Trees:

Speech and Debate team to host first national tournament at Whitman this weekend

The speech and debate team will host its first national tournament this weekend, featuring debaters from thirty-seven high schools nationwide.The tournament, which begins Friday after school and ends Sunday afternoon, will have two debate events: Lincoln-Douglas, which features one-on-one philosophical debate, and student Congress, which models how the U.S. Congress debates. Ten students, including Whitman freshman Conrad Mascarehas and junior Peter Jorgensen, will participate in Congress.

While the team has been talking about hosting a tournament for several years, a lack of funding and advertising connections caused them to put the tournament off.

“It’s easy to have a lot of talk but no action,” club president Nikhil Gupta said. “This year we had a lot of time and more money so we were able to do it.”

To finance the tournament, the team sold advertising to business magazines, like the Economist and Capital Business.

“They’re basically paying us to distribute their magazines at the tournament, which is a solid source of income for this tournament,” coach Ari Parker said.

In addition to the magazines, the team also received donations from places like Cava, Whole Foods and Chipotle. These donations enabled them to save money and will also help to provide the debaters with food during the tournament.

With over thirty Whitman debaters participating in the tournament, the team is optimistic that the tournament will be a success.

“We hope that this will be a successful tournament,” Jorgensen said. “The fundraising will give us the opportunity to hire more coaches and send more people to tournaments.” SOURCE: Black & White

March 15, 2011

County Council President Valerie Ervin’s Statement on Fiscal Year 2012 Recommended Operating Budget

ROCKVILLE, Md., March 15, 2011—Montgomery County Council President Valerie Ervin’s statement on the recommended Fiscal Year 2012 Operating Budget released today by County Executive Isiah Leggett:

Difficult budget times force us to make choices that are necessary to position ourselves for better days ahead. It is how we respond to these times that determine what kind of community we are and what we want to be when we emerge in more prosperous times.

The FY12 operating budget proposed by County Executive Leggett and his team was crafted during historically difficult economic times for our County. I want to thank the County Executive and his staff for their extraordinary efforts in developing his budget proposal.

Now the members of 17th County Council get to work carefully reviewing the operating budget. This year, the Council will get back to basics, focus on disciplined governing and implement long-term structural changes to benefit all of our residents.

State and local governments across the nation, like the American people, have felt the severe impact of the recession and the slow recovery. Although the County’s economy is stronger than many other jurisdictions, we have our own budget challenges. Revenues are down, and demands for service are up. To balance the FY12 budget we must close a $300 million gap between projected expenditures and resources. But for the $32 million in spending cuts the Council has made in the current year’s budget – which itself was the leanest seen in more than 40 years – the gap would have been much larger.

The County Council is committed to fully engaging the community throughout the budget process. The Council welcomes input from all County residents. The Council’s public hearings on the FY12 operating budget are scheduled for April 5-7. Residents may sign up to speak by calling 240-777-7803. Residents can also provide input by sending comments via email at, regular mail at 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850, or by calling our budget hotline at 240-777-7802. The Council’s daily work on the budget can be followed on www.montgomerycountymd/council and clicking on ‘budget update.’

We must make the tough decisions that will keep this County on the course of greatness, which is the reason why nearly a million people call Montgomery County home and why so many who are drawn to innovation and opportunity choose to work here. We have our challenges, but we will approach them with the confidence of knowing that if any community has the capacity to adapt, it is Montgomery County. I am confident that by working together we will continue to achieve great things.

Montgomery Council to Meet With Executive About His FY 2012 Recommended Budget

ROCKVILLE, Md., March 14, 2011—The Montgomery County Council at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 15, will meet with County Executive Isiah Leggett as he presents his recommended Fiscal Year 2012 Operating Budget. The County entered the budget season with an estimated budget gap of $300 million.

County Executive Leggett will informally go over key points of his recommended budget in the Third Floor Conference Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. This will begin the period of review of the budget by the Council, which could make changes before approving the budget in late May. The County Executive will formally present his budget at a news conference at 12 noon Tuesday at the Executive Office Building.

The meeting of the County’s top elected officials will be followed by the Council’s regular weekly general session that will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Third Floor Hearing Room. The regular Council meeting, and a 3:30 p.m. meeting of the Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee, will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and also will be available via streaming through the County Web site at The meeting will be rebroadcast on CCM at 9 p.m. on Friday, March 15. The informal morning meeting between the Council and County Executive will not be televised.

During the Council’s morning session, Bill 8-11 will be introduced. That bill, proposed by the County Executive, would impose a five-cent charge on each paper or plastic bag provided by a retail establishment to a customer at point of sale, pickup or delivery. The establishment would be required to indicate on a transaction receipt the number of bags provided.

The proposed tax would not apply to bags provided by a pharmacy containing prescription drugs; a newspaper bag or bag intended for initial use as a garbage, pet waste or yard waste; a bag provided at a seasonal event, such as a farmers market; or a paper bag that a restaurant gives a customer to take prepared food or drinks from the restaurant.

Retail establishments would retain one-cent of each five-cent tax to cover administration fees of collection.

A public hearing on Bill 8-11 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 31.

During the morning session, the Council will hold worksessions on amendments to the Fiscal Years 11-16 Capital Improvements Program for projects for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue, transportation, housing and general government.

The PHED Committee, which is chaired by Nancy Floreen and includes Councilmembers Marc Elrich and George Leventhal, will meet in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room to continue its discussions on the Housing Element of the County’s General Plan. The housing element includes 20-year visions for many types of housing in the County, including affordable housing, workforce housing and housing for seniors.

Frank Buckles - America's Last World War I Veteran - Laid to Rest

Frank Buckles - America's Last World War I Veteran - Laid to Rest:

NOTE: I received this in my email box today.

Dear Neighbor:

County Police have asked that I reach out to you to seek your help in solving the awful crime that occurred on Friday night on Bethesda Avenue. Police are specifically looking to speak to anyone out on Bethesda Row on March 11 who may have seen or heard anything out of the ordinary.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Homicide/Sex Section at 240-773-5070. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477) or 240-773-TIPS (8477). Anonymous tips can also be provided by typing “MCPD” plus the tip on a cell phone or PDA and texting it to 274637 (CRIMES). A substantial reward is available for information that leads to the apprehension of the suspects in this case.

Please see the press release linked below for additional information:

Please pass this request on to your neighbors. Thank you for your assistance.


Ken Hartman, Director
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center

Police search surveillance tapes in Lululemon murder

The brutal murder of Jayna Murray was not captured on surveillance video inside the Lululemon Athletica store in Bethesda, but detectives are combing through tapes from nearby businesses in efforts to identify the two masked suspects.

"There was no tape in the store," says Montgomery County Police Captain Paul Starks, "but we have lots of other tape to review."

The autopsy by the Maryland Office of Chief Medical Examiner specifies Murray died of blunt force trauma. Murray and a female coworker locked the yoga store at 9:45 p.m. Friday. After realizing they forgot something, the woman returned, and entered the front door of the Bethesda Row store at 10:05 p.m., Police Chief Thomas Manger says.

"We're hoping to get people to focus on the time between 10 and 11," a source familiar with the investigation tells WTOP.

"We're hoping someone saw something either in the front or the back of the store."

Manger says police have found no evidence that either victim knew the attackers. The men wore dark clothing, gloves and ski masks. Police believe one man was 6 feet tall, the other 5-foot-3 inches tall.

"No one could have planned this crime against these particular women," says a source, considering the randomness of two employees returning to a locked store.

"These guys were out there, with masks and gloves -- apparently ready to commit some criminal act," says Starks.

Police say the violent and sexual nature of the attacks does not appear to be part of a pattern. SOURCE: WTOP

Both victims in Bethesda yoga store attack were beaten, raped

The masked assailants who slipped into a Bethesda yoga store raped two workers, beat one of them to death and beat and bound the other, Montgomery County police said Monday. It was the first time that police have said how Jayna T. Murray was killed.

Police have collected forensic evidence from the store but lack video surveillance and have not formed a solid theory about why the attack happened. But they think the attack was random and have found no evidence that either victim knew the attackers.

"We have no indication at this point that this was anything but a random crime of opportunity," Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said Monday, as officials announced a $136,000 reward for help in solving the case.

Manger also provided a more exact time line of the slaying than had been released previously:

At 9 p.m. Friday, Murray, 30, and a fellow employee closed the Bethesda Row yoga store Lululemon Athletica. At 9:45 p.m., they set the alarm, locked the store and left.

A short time later, one of the women realized she had left something behind, called her co-worker and the two met back at the store. They entered the front door at 10:05 p.m., Manger said.

"We believe that the two suspects in this case followed them in just seconds after the two victims entered the store," he said.

The men wore dark clothing, gloves and ski masks, Manger said. One is thought to be 6 feet tall, the other 5 feet 3.

Both women - one age 27, the other 30 - were violently attacked. Murray received "catastrophic" injuries that rattled even longtime law enforcement officers, sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing said. READ MORE: Washington Post

Constellation Energy Says Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Reactor is Safe

BALTIMORE - The operator of two nuclear reactors in southern Maryland says the facility remains safe amid news of partial meltdowns at reactors in Japan triggered by an earthquake and tsunami.

Baltimore-based Constellation Energy Nuclear Group operates the reactors at Calvert Cliffs in Lusby. Spokesman Mark Sullivan says the company's plants are designed to withstand any events indicated by the seismic history of the places where they're located.

More than 180,000 people have evacuated the area around Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, and up to 160 may have been exposed to radiation.

Critics of nuclear energy say the crisis in Japan may bring to an end the so-called "nuclear renaissance" in which nuclear energy has been touted as a safer, cleaner alternative to fossil fuels.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says all U.S. nuclear power plants are built to withstand earthquakes and tsunamis. SOURCE: FOX

March 14, 2011

Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hosts meetings

Our sincere apologies for the delay in sending this notice. As you know we are developing a new website and the process can be quite tedious and time consuming. We had difficulty establishing the Certificates of Authenticity for the new calendar of Events / Online Payment. We were unwilling to proceed without them, but the matter was resolved today. We will be populating our calendar this week with more events from throughout the entire region we serve. So, check the website often. Thank you for your patience.

---------------------------------------------------------- The Rockville, Gaithersburg & Germantown Chapters of the Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce cordially invite you to its monthly I-270 Tech Corridor After-Hours Business Mixer

Register online now – Space is limited - Register online now

Grow your business – Make new business connections and friends – Learn from your peers Practice your Spanish, your English or both – Enjoy Spanish Sangria and cuisine!

Our I-270 Greet & Meet Networking events are open to small business owners, women, minority and veteran entrepreneurs and anyone interested in starting a business. All beers, cocktails, specialty drinks and selected appetizers at $3. Bring along plenty of business cards and business literature.

When: Wednesday, March 16, 2007

Time: 05:00 PM – 07:30 PM

Where: La Tasca - Spanish Tapas Bar & Restaurant, 141 Gibbs Street, Suite 305, Rockville, MD 20850.

Admission: It includes one (1) free drink. Members: $10.00; Non-Members: $15.00. Pre-registration required. All beers, cocktails, special drinks and selected appetizers at $3. Bar appetizers courtesy of the Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Register online now.

Info: For more information about this event contact MAHCC Vice President Jorge E. Arce at 301-642-2409 or Jorge Ribas at 301-404-1946.

# # #

The Greater Silver Spring Chapter of the Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce cordially invites you to its monthly Greet & Meet Business Mixer and Speed Networking Register online now – Register online now – Register online now

Enjoy the company of good people having a good time while doing business. Bring plenty of business cards. There will be a special business literature table.

When: Thursday, March 17, 2011.

Time: 05:00 PM – 07:00 PM

Where: El Nopalito Grill Tapas & Tequila Bar, 2259 Bel Pre Road, Plaza del Mercado, Silver Spring, MD 20906 Phone: 703-598-1736 - Winner of the "2010 Mid-Atlantic Chef of the Year” award.

Admission: It includes one (1) free drink and the opportunity to win lunch for two at El Nopalito. Members: $12.00; Non-Members: $15.00. Pre-registration required. All beers, cocktails, special drinks and selected appetizers at $3. The first round of Bar appetizers are a courtesy of the Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. (Register online now)

Info: For more information about this event contac MAHCC President Jorge Ribas at 301-404-1946 ( To find out about future events visit the Calendar of Events.

Event sponsorship: For more information contact Jorge Ribas at 301-404-1946 ( or Omayra Martinez at 787-593-2627.

Membership Info: For information about membership in the Chamber, please 240-686-0055.

Montgomery County first responders honored for bravery

Sixty Montgomery County public safety employees were honored Friday during the 37th Annual Public Safety Awards in Rockville. Thirty-seven of those to receive awards were first responders to a Sept. 1 hostage standoff at Discovery Communications in downtown Silver Spring.

About 1,200 members of the business community, politicians and public safety employees attended the event hosted by the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce at the county's North Bethesda conference center.

One of them, Tom Fisher, was a security guard in the Discovery headquarters building when a man strapped with explosives and waving a starter pistol took three employees hostage. SOURCE: Gazette

Thousands Expected at Pension Protest at Md. State House

The director of Maryland's largest state employees union said thousands of protesters will attend a rally in Annapolis Monday night. Gov. Martin O'Malley's has proposed state employees increase their pension fund contributions to help offset billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities.

"We have difficult choices ahead of us as a people ... and we're going to confront those choices, and we're going to do it with dignity and respect for all stakeholders: citizens, teachers, union leaders, those that serve our citizens as elected leaders," O'Malley told the Associated Press.

Patrick Moran, director of the Maryland chapter of hthe American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said the rally will include a walk from the Navy Marine Corps Stadium to the State House. He expects 5,000 to 10,000 people to attend. Maryland is facing $19 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and another $16 billion in retiree health liabilities. SOURCE: NBC

MCYR Meeting Reminder

Young Republicans,

This is just a reminder about our meeting tomorrow (Tuesday March 15th). We hope to see you there! We'll be discussing preparations for the April 16th Charity Ball, executive board nominations for our April monthly meeting, and other upcoming efforts for 2011. PLEASE MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO COME! The meeting starts at 7:30pm at Red Hot and Blue in Gaithersburg. Join us for Happy Hour around 5:30pm if you're able to! More details listed below.

We would love to hear from you to let us know you are going to make it. Have a wonderful day,

Carl T. Weber III

Council President Valerie Ervin to meet with media today

ROCKVILLE, Md., March 14, 2011—Montgomery County Council President Valerie Ervin will meet with members of the media TODAY, Monday, March 14, to discuss key items that will be facing the County Council and its respective committees in the near future. Among the items she will discuss are the recommended Fiscal Year 2012 Operating Budget that County Executive Isiah Leggett will be presenting to the Council on Tuesday, March 15; collective bargaining agreements with unions representing County employees; and the County Board of Education’s actions regarding the State Maintenance of Effort Law.

Council President Ervin’s meeting with media members will begin at 11 a.m. in the SIXTH Floor Conference Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville.

Among the other issues Council President Ervin will discuss is the proposed bag tax the County Executive has recommended implementing and how the proposed increase in the state gasoline tax would impact Montgomery County.

Council President Ervin intends to hold regular briefings to help explain and expand on upcoming issues facing the Council and the County in general. Most briefings will be on Monday mornings.

Video of Jayna Troxel Murray celebrating 30th birthday, bungee jumping!

RIP Jayna Murray!

$11,000 reward offered towards arrest of Jayna Murray murder

An $11,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrests of the suspects in the murder of Jayna Murray and sexual assault of her 27-year-old co-worker, ABC7 reports. Federal Realty, who owns the property where Lululemon Athletica leases, is contributing $10,000 to the reward, and Crimesolvers is putting up the other $1,000.

Montgomery County detectives have obtained surveillance video from nearby businesses and will try to identify the suspects. Lululemon Athletica remains closed today as mourners continue to place flowers outside the store's front.

Christine Day, CEO of Lululemon Athletica, Inc., issued the following statement:

We are devastated by the tragic events at our Bethesda store. We are focused on providing support to those that are most immediately impacted by this tragedy, and we know that you all feel the loss as well. Thanks to all of you for your outreach to support the stores and the people impacted. It is the outpouring of love and concern that will get us through these tragic circumstances.

In deep sadness, Christine Day


MCPS budget for 2011-2012 will require job cuts, increased class sizes

MCPS superintendent Jerry Weast sent an e-mail to county teachers March 4 discussing the most recent budget changes for the next school year, which could potentially save a total of $45,139,860. In the e-mail, Weast detailed the possible job cuts and ways to reduce the number of teaching jobs. Possible actions include increases in class size, reductions of media and security assistants and reduced funding for high school athletics.

“I want to be clear that while we hope that we will not have to make any of these reductions, we must deal with the reality of the situation before us and provide staff and principals ample opportunity to make plans and adjustments,” Weast wrote.

An increase in class size — one student per class at elementary and middle schools and .4 at high schools — would result in the elimination of 168.4 teacher positions. There is also a possibility that 9.75 of the 58.3 composition assistant positions in high schools will be cut, according to Weast’s e-mail. Not only will teachers be directly affected but consequently students as well, due to an elimination of three percent increase for inflation for textbooks and instructional materials.

For high school students participating in after-school activities, the after-school buses will also be eliminated, requiring those students to arrange their own transportation home. SOURCE: Black & White

March 13, 2011

MORE on Bethesda murder of Jayna Troxel

After spending most of the day at the store, police released the identity of the slain worker, Jayna Troxel Murray of Arlington, Va. Her killing was the second workplace homicide this year in Bethesda, a rarity in the upscale area. A worker at Suburban Hospital was killed New Year's Day and a colleague is under arrest on murder charges.

On Saturday morning, the worker arriving found the door unlocked, items out of place and a murmur coming from the back of the store, according to police.

Officers, who arrived at 8:12 a.m., found the women. The 27-year-old woman who survived was hospitalized. Her identity has not been released. Police said one of the robbers was about 6-feet tall and the other about 5-feet-3-inches. They are asking for witnesses or others with information to come forward. SOURCE: Gazette

Woman killed, another sexually assaulted at Bethesda Lululemon store

Two men wearing masks and gloves entered an upscale yoga clothing store in downtown Bethesda after closing hours this weekend, killed a worker and sexually assaulted another, officials said Saturday. Detectives think the attack began as a robbery about 10 p.m. Friday along the high-end Bethesda Row shopping district.

The assault victim, who is expected to survive, was found bound in the back of the store Saturday morning. She was hospitalized and has been talking with detectives.

Police declined to say how the homicide victim, identified as 30-year-old Jayna T. Murray, of Arlington, was killed. But law enforcement sources confirmed a horrific, bloody scene inside Lululemon Athletica, part of a chain of stores that began popping up across the country a few years ago. The stores sell yoga and sports clothing and are designed to give shoppers a sense of calm. Violent crime is exceedingly rare in Bethesda’s central business district; law enforcement and government officials couldn’t recall a recent homicide.

“We’re all stunned. No one can remember another murder in the last 20 years,” said Ken Hartman, director of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, a government office for the area.

The Bethesda store sits between the Papery, a stationery store, and an Apple retail store that has been buzzing this weekend with its hot new product, the iPad 2. It was unclear how long the assailants were inside the store.

The two victims had closed the store at 9 p.m. Friday and left a short time later, police said. One of them realized that she had left something behind and didn’t have the means to get back inside, police said. She called her co-worker, who met her at the store and let her inside, leaving the door unlocked.

Detectives think that the men — dressed all in black with faces and hands covered — entered a short time later, police said. Because the intruders were covered, police have come up with only limited descriptions, with one being 6 feet tall and the other a little over 5-foot-3, police said.

On Saturday morning, a female worker arrived to open the store, according to a police spokesman. She heard a faint noise in the back of the store, retreated and called a man who was outside to come into the store, police said. This man went farther into the store and saw what he thought were two bodies in the back of the store. Police were called.

“Detectives do believe this started out to be a robbery,” said Capt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery County police spokesman. SOURCE: Washington Post