From the County Council Office of Valerie Ervin

Residents and Friends, 

 

As we begin the holiday season, our hearts are heavy in the aftermath of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We grieve for those who have lost loved ones, and despair the loss of innocence for so many more. 

 

We remain steadfast in our belief that it is the power of community that will see us through. Each time our resolve is tested, we discover anew the power of neighbors helping neighbors and people coming together to mourn, to heal, and to champion the change that will create a brighter future. 

 

It is in that spirit that we look inward and recommit ourselves to be engaged residents. This newsletter features a snapshot of some of our recent efforts to ensure that Montgomery County residents are healthy, nourished, and safe. As always, I encourage your input and participation as we work to move Montgomery County forward. 

 

I wish you and those you love a joyful holiday season and a peaceful and hopeful New Year.

  

Sincerely, 

Valerie Ervin  

Valerie Ervin 

 

 

Children Need Nutritious Meals at School 

 

 

In Montgomery County, more than one out of every seven children is at risk of hunger. Over the last three academic years, the number of children qualifying for free or reduced-price meals in the county has increased more than 25 percent with more than 47,000 children now falling below 185 percent of the federal poverty level. Currently, Montgomery County has more than 80 schools that meet the criteria to participate in MMFA, but because of funding levels, only 40 schools are benefiting from the program this school year.

Providing nutritious meals is one of the most immediate and cost effective ways to improve a child's health and performance in the classroom. Low income children are at the greatest risk of food insecurity and often the meals that they do receive lack the vitamins and nutrients essential for their development, which can have a dramatic impact on student achievement.

Maryland Meals for Achievement is a national model for increasing access to the National School Breakfast Program, which improves the educational performance, health and behavior of students. This program allows schools, which have at least 40 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals, to provide universal, in-classroom breakfast. In MMFA schools, the average participation in school breakfast is close to 70 percent, which is significantly higher than school breakfast participation in non-MMFA schools.

On December 19, I joined with: Anne Sheridan, Maryland Director, No Kid Hungry Campaign, Share Our Strength; Senator Jamie Raskin; Delegates Susan Lee and Aisha Braveboy; Board of Education President Christopher Barclay; and Principal Annette M. Ffolkes at Roscoe Nix Elementary School in Silver Spring to recognize the leadership of Governor Martin O'Malley and Share Our Strength for their commitment to the Maryland Meals for Achievement Program (MMFA).

With the support of the Montgomery County Delegation and Prince George's County Delegation, we requested an additional $1.8 for the fiscal year 2014 Maryland State Department of Education budget to provide breakfast to approximately 57,000 more children.

The success of the MMFA Program is the result of our partnership with the Montgomery County Public School System. It is the administrators, principals, teachers, cafeteria workers and support staff who helps make it possible for our children to receive a healthy breakfast in classrooms throughout the County.

Turning Waste Into Hope: 

Food Recovery Work Group Update

 

In November, the Council appointed the members of the County's Food Recovery Implementation Work Group. This initiative is based on the successful model of food redistribution called the Food Recovery Network at the University of Maryland College Park. This program encourages college students to collect unused food that would otherwise be wasted and redistribute it to those in need. Over the next few months, the work group will develop a strategic action plan for implementation. The work group that must submit an interim report to the Council by March 31 and a final report by July 1.    

 

The food recovery initiative will not only help our area non-profit organizations who fight hunger, but should also reduce the amount of food that ends up in our waste stream.  In my mind, this initiative is a win-win as those who donate food receive tax benefits and those in need receive healthy meals.

 

I want to thank those who will serve on the Food Recovery Work Group, including:

Anne Sheridan of Share our Strength; Ben Simon of the Food Recovery Network; Brett Myers of Nourish Now; Jackie Coyle of Shepherd's Table; Jeremy Criss of the County's Department of Economic Development; Kate Garvey of County's Department of Health and Human Services; Kathi Carey-Fletcher of Montgomery College; Barry F. Scher of the Capital Area Food Bank; Lindsay Smith of Montgomery County Food Policy Council; Marie Henderson of the Interfaith Works; Mark Bergel of A Wider Circle; Marla Caplon of Montgomery County Public Schools Food and Nutrition Services; Michele Dudley of Crossroads Farmer's Market; Minerva Delgado of Manna Food Center; Patricia Drumming of Rainbow Community Development Center; Sarah Cunningham of Maryland Restaurant Association; James Perkins of Giant Food, LLC; Gregory Ten Eyck of Safeway, Inc.; Craig M. Shniderman of Food and Friends; and Richard Jackson of the County's Department of General Services.

Standing Up to Address Bullying

 

I consider bullying to be a critical issue facing today's youth.  Bullying among children and teenagers has often been dismissed as a normal part of growing up.  
 
Greater attention must be paid to the devastating effects of bullying and the connection between bullying and other forms of violence. Silence is no longer an acceptable response. 

 

 

On December 11, the Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a resolution, which I introduced, to increase bullying prevention efforts through the enhancement of multi-disciplinary teams. These teams bolster bullying-prevention efforts through enhanced communication among service providers to get to the root causes of bullying and develop collaborative prevention strategies. Multi-disciplinary teams have been shown to be an effective method for providing and coordinating services for children and their families.  

 

In March 2012, Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) reported that for the 2010-2011 school year, there were 4,678 reported incidents of bullying, harassment or intimidation. This was a state-wide increase of 860 from the 2009-10 school year. 

 

For the 2011-12 school year, Montgomery County Public Schools reported 515 incidents of bullying, harassment or intimidation, of which 487 were confirmed. The 515 reported incidents were an increase of 78 from the 437 reported incidents in the 2010-11 school year.

 

The Council also requested increased funding from the Maryland General Assembly, during the 2013 session, for anti-bullying efforts.  I want to thank my colleagues who co-sponsored this resolution: Council President Nancy Navarro; Council Vice President Craig Rice; and Councilmembers Nancy Floreen, Phil Andrews, Hans Riemer and George Leventhal.

 

As Chair of the Council's Education Committee, a former School Board member, mom and grandmother, I know the importance of the physical and psychological well-being of our children. Everyone in the community needs to be empowered with options to effectively respond to bullying.

 

Students who have been bullied; parents/guardians/close adult relatives of student victims; and school staff members who want to report an incident of alleged bullying, harassment or intimidation, can complete a confidential form and return it to the principal at the student's school. They may also contact the school for additional information or assistance at any time. More information on bullying can be found from the MCPS web site.

Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety:

Celebrating Five Years of Progress

On December 17, I joined County Executive Isiah Leggett in celebrating the five-year anniversary of our Pedestrian Safety Initiative, which for the first time provided a blueprint for action to improve pedestrian safety based on measurable strategies.  

 

Beginning in 2007, one of my first acts on the Council was to partner with the County Executive to bring attention and funding to the issue of pedestrian safety.  As the District 5 Councilmember and through serving on the Pedestrian, Bicycle & Traffic Safety Advisory Committee, I have pushed for the expansion of trails, including the Metropolitan Branch Trail, Safe Routes to Schools, expedited sidewalk construction, traffic calming measures, and bikeshare. The goal of these efforts is to keep our County moving while improving our quality of life.

 

The Pedestrian Safety Initiative outlines an approach to pedestrian and traffic safety that is focused on three essential components:  education, engineering and enforcement.  It significantly enhances the County's investment in educating motorists and pedestrians, keeps enforcement efforts visible and intensively and aggressively applies the most innovative and pedestrian-friendly road engineering designs.  Since 2009, pedestrian collisions have decreased 12 percent and the most severe collisions have declined 21 percent. 

 

For additional information, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/walk.

Land Use Updates

 

Burtonsville Crossroads Neighborhood Plan

  

On December 4, the Council unanimously approved the revised Burtonsville Crossroads Neighborhood Plan.  

 

After two years of work with the Burtonsville community, I want to thank the Planning Board and staff for developing this sector plan in a way that will foster the creation of a complete community designed at a scale that is appropriate to serve the area with small businesses, retail, residential and open space.  It establishes a vision to revitalize the existing crossroads into a complete community, including improving the street network, adding green space, and providing for civic activities and recreational opportunities.  This plan balances appropriate development with the preservation of key tributary headwaters and maintains the rural character of established areas.

 

To achieve the vision we have created for Burtonsville, with mixed-use development, a main street, public green space, and a village center, we need to spur private investment.  That's why I testified before the Montgomery County Delegation in support of MC 14-13

sponsored by Delegates Luedtke, Kaiser and Zucker and Senator Montgomery, to support the creation of an enterprise zone in this area.  This bill, which will be before the General Assembly in January, will incentivize investment and improve properties throughout the Burtonsville area, including the Burtonsville Crossing Shopping Center and the strip of commercial space along Old Columbia Pike/Route 198. 

  

The Burtonsville Crossroads Neighborhood Plan is our guide that will help shape this area over the next 30 years, and I will continue to do everything I can to see that this vision is achieved.
 

 

White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan

 

Planning staff estimates that a staff draft of the White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan will be presented to the Planning Board in March 2013.  The plan will address land uses, urban design, transportation, environmental issues, and the need for more community facilities and recreational opportunities.  Planners are exploring options for a new research and technology node that capitalizes on the growing presence of the FDA and is complemented by mixed-use development.  They are also examining the future of several sites, including the National Labor College, the White Oak and Hillandale shopping centers, and several vacant properties on US 29.
 

 

Long Branch Sector Plan


On December 13, planning staff presented a draft of the Long Branch Sector Plan to the Planning Board. Reflecting community input collected over three years, planners have proposed land use and regulatory recommendations for a mixed-use, transit-oriented community in Long Branch.  This includes development with varied housing options within a pedestrian-friendly community anchored by two Purple Line stations.  Following a January 24 public hearing, the Planning Board will refine the plan in work sessions and send a draft over to the Council for consideration.
 
Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan

Planners are currently working with the community on the Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan, which will review zoning and land use, focusing on the commercial/industrial area along Brookville Road and two proposed Purple Line stations.

 

http://www.montgomeryplanning.org/community/lyttonsville/

Joint Community Meeting With Councilmember Muriel Bowser

 

Shepherd Park Elementary School
7800 14th Street NW Washington, DC 20012
January 14, 2012
7:00 p.m.  

I invite you to attend a meeting with me and Muriel Bowser, District of Columbia Ward 4 Councilmember. The residents of Silver Spring and the District share many of the same issues, and we thought this meeting would be a great way to discuss constituent concerns and answer questions.

The primary topics of this meeting will be dog parks; the 16th Street Traffic Circle; parking; and the Met Branch Trail.  I hope to see you there.

Honoring National Adoption Month

Montgomery County has many families who step forward to provide safe, loving, supportive homes for children who, through a variety of circumstances, cannot return to their biological families. Sometimes, adoption becomes the best option and adoptive parents give children a new family, security, a sense of belonging and a commitment to permanency.  

 

On Nov. 27, I recognized November as National Adoption Month to raise awareness about the adoption of children and youth from foster care and presented a proclamation to adoptive parents and County employees who work to match children in need with new families.  Adoption gives children a brighter future.

 
Congratulations Jeanette Dixon!

  

On December 4, I was honored to be joined by Jeanette Dixon, Principal of Paint Branch High School, who recently won the Washington Post's Distinguished Educational Leadership Award.  She has served as principal for the last 11 years after teaching social studies for 23 years.  Under her leadership, Paint Branch has received national recognition for the success of its students.  Paint Branch has a very diverse student body and her innovative initiatives have established a unique and collaborative learning community.  She has dedicated so much of herself to support the students and faculty of Paint Branch High School.  I am delighted that the Washington Post has recognized something we have known for years, as she is truly a distinguished educational leader. 

Promoting Cultural Competence Through Education

 

The Kaur Foundation was founded in 2002 after the attacks on the World Trade Center and is based in Silver Spring.  The Foundation's mission is to create awareness of the Sikh identity and heritage and to build lasting relationships that are the foundation of multiculturalism.  

 

Here in Montgomery County under the leadership of Mirin Phool, the Kaur Foundation has reached a significant milestone by advancing a multi-educational curriculum, which is under review at MCPS. The goal is to have students learn about the Sikh community in social studies classes.  

 

On December 2, I was truly honored to have received the Excellence in Education award from the Kaur Foundation and to have been a working partner in accomplishing this significant goal.

Council Grants  
 

  

The Montgomery County Council believes that a strong partnership with non-profit organizations is critical to meeting the needs of our residents.  As in previous years, the Council is accepting applications from organizations that wish to request Fiscal Year 2014 funds.  
 
The Council is accepting applications for programs and projects that advance the County's services, goals, and objectives in areas such as health and human services, economic development, education, and recreation. This year, the Council is particularly interested in proposals that provide emergency and other assistance to the neediest members of our community. 
 
Below are key dates for the Council grants process:
 

January 7

Grants workshop at 7:00 p.m. in the 3rd Floor Hearing Room

  

January 17

Deadline for applications

  

April 26

Grants Advisory Group is scheduled to issue its report

  

Mid-Late May

Council will make FY2014 Operating Budget funding decisions

  

July 1

Funds made available after execution of a contract with the County

 

If you have questions, please contact Peggy Fitzgerald Bare, Council Grants Manager, by email or at 240-777-7924. 

 

Please note the option for electronic grant application submission. 

Call For Nominations: Building Momentum for Change  
 

  

People and organizations with spirit and vision are guiding the continuing transformation of the greater Silver Spring community.  IMPACT Silver Spring is now accepting nominations for the 2013 Momentum Awards.  
 
These awards honor individuals and organizations that are activating the power of our community's diversity to build momentum toward positive impact and reflect the diversity of the greater Silver Spring area.  
 
Award categories include social, economic, and civic momentum.  Nominations are open until January 18, 2013.  Click here for the nomination guidelines. 
Distinguished Service to Public Education
 

  

The Montgomery County Board of Education is now accepting nominations for its 16th Annual Awards for Distinguished Service to Public Education.

 

The awards seek to recognize and show appreciation to individuals, students, groups and organizations that have made exemplary contributions to public education in Montgomery County.

 

Nomination forms are available on the Board of Education web site and must be received in the Board of Education office by 5:00 p.m. on Feb. 1, 2013.

Pepco Launches New Streetlight Reporting System
 

  

Pepco has launched an upgraded streetlight reporting system for its customers. With the click of a mouse, customers can access maps depicting streetlight locations using the "Bing" mapping engine that is easy to read and use. 

Once a streetlight problem is reported, the new reporting system sends the customer an email with a tracking number, location and pole number. When a streetlight is submitted for repair, the respective icon on the map will appear red; once the light has been repaired, its respective icon will turn green. In most cases the streetlight will be repaired within 15 days. An email confirmation will be sent to the customer when the service request has been completed. 

To access the new reporting system, visit

www.pepco.com and click "Alerts and Outage Information."