Category Archives: Uncategorized

Garrison Keillor to Be Honored in Rockville in October

Keillor ReaderThe F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival, which this year will honor Garrison Keillor, founder and host of A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer’s Almanac, invites writers to submit entries for the festival’s short story contest. There is no restriction on subject matter but stories must be fewer than 4,000 words and unpublished and only residents of Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. are eligible to enter.  Entries for the 20th Annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Short Story Contest must be postmarked by Friday, Aug. 12, 2016.

Garrison Keillor will be the festival highlight when he receives the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature.  Keillor went to work for Minnesota Public Radio in 1969, and on July 6, 1974, he hosted the first broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion in St. Paul. He is the host of The Writer’s Almanac,  the editor of the Good Poems series of anthologies from Viking, and author of nearly fifty books, including Lake Wobegon Days. The award is named in honor of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who is considered one of America’s finest writers and like Keillor, was born in Minnesota. Scott is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery with his wife Zelda in downtown Rockville (did you know that he’s related to the author of our national anthem, Francis Scott Key, hence his name F. Scott?).

The award has been presented to some of America’s most distinguished writers, including Norman Mailer, Pat Conroy, John Updike and Joyce Carol Oates. The festival’s activities include writing workshops designed for emerging and established fiction and nonfiction writers, literary discussions, panels and a film screening. The festival is for writers and book lovers who are not themselves writers.  Festival sponsors include the City of Rockville; the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference, Inc.; and the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County.

Learn more about the contest and festival at www.fscottfestival.org or by calling 301-309-9461.

Rockville Pike Traffic Solutions Appear Confusing, but 252′ Width Seems Right

Rockville Pike proposal for 252 feet.png

Rockville Planning Commission’s proposal for a 252′-wide ROW for the Rockville Pike.  It includes eight lanes for cars, two lanes for Bus Rapid Transit, four lanes for bikes, and two sidewalks for pedestrians along with landscaped medians and left-turn lanes.

On Monday, May 9, the Rockville Mayor and Council will continue its worksession on “Rockville’s Pike Neighborhood Plan.”  Along with building heights and pedestrian crossings, traffic congestion is a major controversy and the conversation has become terribly confusing:  widening or narrowing the road, keeping or eliminating the access roads, extending adjacent roads, increasing Metro service, and incorporating bus rapid transit (BRT).  Some of these solutions are beyond the control of the City (such as Metro service), some benefit one group versus another (such as businesses or nearby residents), and others are so expensive or far in the future that their feasibility is unclear (such as the BRT). What’s become incredibly confusing are Continue reading →

Fine Art Festival Comes to Rockville Town Square

 

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Craig English, a popular local artist specializing in silk-screen prints, will be part of Rockville’s fine arts festival.

The Fourth Annual A-RTS at Rockville Town Square Fine Art Festival will bring together more than 160 artists who are creating the most exceptional art found in America today.  A-RTS, a premier outdoor art festival, takes place Saturday, May 7, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, May 8, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

 

The jury-selected artists from across the U.S. will exhibit in an outdoor art gallery brought to life on the streets of Rockville Town Square. All participants were selected based on the creativity, innovation, and exquisite execution of their original works. A list of artists is available at http://www.a-rts.org.

These acclaimed artists represent the country’s highest calibre of art in a wide range of media including ceramics, digital art, drawing, fiber, glass, graphics/printmaking, painting, photography, and sculpture, among others. Also highlighted are the wearable arts – from fashion to jewelry – perfect for last minute Mother’s Day or graduation gifts.

According to A-RTS Festival Director Robin Markowitz, who also heads the Bethesda Row Arts Festival, A-RTS is a rare opportunity to meet outstanding artists and discover their work first-hand. “We’ve created an extraordinary and accessible show – one that has something for everyone – from college students to moms, whimsical collectors to fine art patrons.”

New this year, visitors to A-RTS can sample creations of another kind – Maryland wines and distinctive craft beers – all served in commemorative glasses. Local food purveyors will offer artisanal foods from hand-made chocolates to olive oils. And, A-RTS starts and ends on a high note with live music from bands including the popular 19th Street Band.

A-RTS will take place rain or shine. Sponsors include Bethesda Magazine, Rockville Town Square, Federal Realty Investment Trust, and Cambria Hotel & Suites Rockville.

Rockville Town Square, located in downtown Rockville between Hungerford (#355), Middle, Washington, and Beall streets, is within easy walking distance of the Rockville Metro Station. Parking is available at numerous garages located around the Festival site.

More information about A-RTS is available at http://www-a-rts.org or by visiting A-RTS on Facebook. More information about Rockville Town Square, one of the area’s most popular destinations for shopping and dining, is available at http://rockvilletownsquare.com.

Blizzard 2016 Report from Twinbrook

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The Blizzard of 2016 has left the Mid-Atlantic and for the next few days we’ll be digging ourselves out of nearly two feet of snow (although with the winds, there are drifts that are much higher).  The Twinbrook neighborhood has crews of shovelers and blowers working to clear homes and cars and City of Rockville crews are plowing streets.  The major streets in Twinbrook, such as Twinbrook Parkway and Viers Mill Road, are open to one or two lanes but they’re not back to normal and I wouldn’t venture outfor another day unless it’s an emergency.  Minor streets vary significantly–some have a passable lane, others were plowed yesterday and now have a layer of snow. But even if you could get out, there isn’t any place to go.  Most stores and restaurants remain closed because their parking lots need to be cleared and they’ll soon be faced with the problem of figuring out where to put all that snow. After 2010’s blizzard, I remember a mountain of snow at Trader Joes that didn’t disappear until late March–becoming ever dirtier over time that by the end, it looked like coal.

It’s difficult to get local information and the best source I’ve found is Twitter.  To see what’s happening, use hashtags #blizzard2016, #Rockville, or #RKV or follow @Rockville411, @MontgomeryCoMD, @MDSHA, @WMATA, or @DrGridlock.

If you want to take your kids sledding, you’ll probably want to walk to your nearest park if it has a hill (Rockville Central produced a Google Map with suggestions ages ago).  The best one is at the Rockville Civic Center, which has a famous sledding hill near Glenview Mansion.  Montgomery County Parks has a list of approved sledding sites in their parks.

A couple reminders from the City of Rockville: Continue reading →

Snowstorm News from Twinbrook

About 17 inches of snow has fallen so far in the Twinbrook neighborhood of Rockville. During a break from the winds, I carved out a path to Twinbrook Parkway and shot this short video from Meadow Hall Road.  City crews have maintained a one-lane road on Twinbrook Parkway, enough for emergency vehicles but not for anyone else.  Side roads are unplowed.  I’d plan on staying inside for another day.

Report from Maryland Legislature

Cheryl KaganState Senator Cheryl Kagan just provided her report about what’s happening in Annapolis just as the 2016 legislative session started (the Maryland Senate and Assembly meet nearly non-stop for a couple months in winter, then recover the rest of the year).  Here’s an excerpt from her report:

The First Bills of the Session
Because I wrote and submitted two of my bills so far in advance, they are already starting their way through the legislative process.
Closing a Loophole for Married Couples
The first bill to be heard is appropriately numbered SB 1.  It will be  in the Senate Finance Committee tomorrow, January 20th at 1:00pm.  SB 1 would  fix a loophole in current law by guaranteeing that heterosexual married couples with both an infertile husband and wife will receive insurance coverage for In Vitro Fertilization treatments.  This gap was created after enactment of  my “Fertility Parity” bill for married lesbian couples last year.
Providing Language Access to State Government
The following day, Thursday, January 21st, my second bill will have its hearing in the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.  SB 28 insures that Maryland State agency websites offer translation options for languages that are spoken by at least 3 percent of the State’s population.  Providing translation options can now be done at little to no cost given the accuracy and efficiency of online translators.  Material on state websites is so often critically important.  Those who do not speak or read English as a first language, if at all, deserve access to these sites too. As you may recall, this bill easily passed the Senate (39-8) and got held up in the House.  By starting earlier and working with various agencies and departments, we hope to finish the job this session!

Continue reading →

2015 Election Results will be Familiar

Rockville-Election-UpdateThe 2015 Rockville election will return Bridget Newton as Mayor and Beryl Feinberg, Julie Palakovich Carr, Mark Pierzchala, and Virginia Onley to Council for the next four years, beginning on November 16.  Of the 40,749 registered voters in Rockville, there was a total of 6,343 ballots cast (15.57 percent) including votes cast on early voting days, same-day registration at City Hall on Election Day and by absentee. That’s slightly lower that 2013, which had a participation rate of nearly 17 percent.

Rockville Election Results 2015

Although the results are preliminary until certified, which is expected by November 10, and the final expenses of the campaigns aren’t reported until January 2016, there are some patterns we can already discern.  In campaign tactics, Brigitta Mullican’s Continue reading →

Rockville Solar Co-op Installs First House

Norman_Braveman-8.58kW-RockvilleNorman Braverman installed a solar array on his split-level house in Rockville last week, making him the first of fifty in Rockville’s Solar Cooperative.  Looks great on his house! (doesn’t he look like a proud homeowner?).  Before he’ll be able to collect solar energy, though, he’ll need to complete inspection by the County and permission to operate from Pepco.  More than 200 people are part of the co-op with 171 members seriously considering a proposal–it’s a major shift in attitude about energy and sustainability in Rockville.  Thanks again to the Rockville’s Environment Commission for making this happen! (disclosure: we’re going solar, too!).

Where the Golden Colors of Fall Really Shine

Pumpkins at Comus Market.Rockville is at peak fall color right now so it’s a great time to get out and fill your day with orange, yellow, and red.  My two favorite places are:

Comus Market in northern Montgomery County, about a 20-30 minute drive north of Rockville.  At the corner of Old Hundred Road (109) and Comus Road across from the Comus Inn is a small shed surrounded by tables and bins filled all sorts of strange and wonderful pumpkins and winter squashes, like Blue Hubbard, Sweet Dumpling, or Long Island Cheese.  Although these unusual varieties are now appearing in grocery stores like Trader Joes, what you don’t experience is the drive out in the country and a chance to meet David Heisler, the farmer that grows them. A bit further up Comus Road is Sugarloaf Mountain (a short hike for a family) and Sugarloaf Winery (bring a picnic).

Lake Bernard Frank on Avery Road on the east side of Rockville. It’s actually a water reservoir that feeds into Rock Creek but it’s also a park for walkers and hikers. One side of the lake is a paved trail and on the other an unpaved one. Even on Sunday afternoons it’s so quiet that you might only encounter a dozen people.  No playgrounds, playing fields, boating, or restrooms but there are picnic tables near the parking lot.

Many of my friends love visiting Butler’s Orchard in Germantown because they have children who like the pick-you-own experience. Apples, tomatoes, raspberries, cherries, peas, potatoes, and flowers have passed but you can still pick you own pumpkins and enjoy a dozen different pies from their bakery (including such unusual flavors as apple caramel walnut, blueberry lemon bucket, and strawberry mango).  Weekends gets far too busy for me but your kids will love it.

If you have a favorite place where you enjoy fall in or around Rockville, please share it in the comments below.

Follow the Money: Election Campaigns in Rockville

Rockville-Election-UpdateOctober 1 was the deadline for the first financial reports in this campaign season with the second one due October 26, just a few days before the November 3 election.  Financial reports are a result of unfair election tactics and political corruption, and indeed, while most voters feel that money has a bad influence on politics, fundraising is a crucial aspect of campaigning, even here in our hometown of Rockville.  As I mentioned in a previous post, the cost of a campaign is high, especially in mayoral races.

Rockville’s election code has a lengthy section on campaign financing that outlines the requirements for a treasurer and record-keeping; acceptable expenses, contributions, and loans; and restrictions on campaigning by people who are not candidates.  At times, these requirements and limitations seem onerous or archaic, such as prohibiting “payment for walk-around services.” Aren’t the days when thugs were paid to hustle people at the polls to gain a vote or to intimidate opponents long gone? Yet in 2003, the Maryland Court of Appeals reviewed a case that accused the Ehrlich/Steele gubernatorial campaign of hiring high school and college students along with 200 residents of a homeless shelter to “accost voters” outside the polls and urge a “voting preference.” The 2013 election campaign in Rockville involved several questionable tactics and since then the Board of Supervisors of Elections has clarified the Election Code to close some of these loop holes (e.g., no statements and materials may be distributed anonymously, even by individuals).

Campaign financial reports also reveal the name, address, and amount contributed to every candidate, which can suggest the shape and nature of a campaign (and the city).  For example, an analysis of the contributors Continue reading →