Nancy Floreen's Montgomery in Focus, May edition

Golden Shovels for Community Heroes

golden shovel lapel pin

What a pleasure it was to recognize 20 winners of the Golden Shovel awards today. The 2014-15 winter season in Montgomery County, according to the County Department of Transportation, had seasonal snow totals ranging from 34.4 inches (in the southern part of the County) to 46.6 inches (in northern areas of the County). In addition, there were 20 days when the high temperature for the day was 30 degrees or below.

Residents submitted 97 nominations for the awards this winter, and I presented 20 Golden Shovel awards at the April 21 ceremony.

As I read through the nominations, I recognized how grateful people are for the kindness of their neighbors. Truly these nominees are unsung heroes, so it was difficult to select the winners. All those nominated are certainly deserving of our appreciation, and we thank them for their selflessness. See the story on County Cable Montgomery.

Here are my shoveling heroes (in alphabetical order):

Bruce Bishop and his son Kiran of Bethesda expanded their snow clearing this year to include sidewalks of six houses on Cheshire Drive and was out as late as 10 p.m. to finish the job.

David and Jim Carter of Rockville (brothers aged 72 and 74) unselfishly shoveled out the homes of two elderly, widowed neighbors including the driveways and a completed clearing the sidewalk down the street.

Carey (Gene) Cheek Sr. of Rockville used his snow blower to clear the sidewalks in front of many houses, the neighborhood common areas and more than a dozen driveways of neighbors.

Jeff Clare of Rockville, whom his neighbors refer to as “The Good Samaritan of Rockville,” shoveled his newly met neighbor’s driveway and unexpectedly provided first aid and called 911 when the neighbor collapsed during one storm.

“The Difference Makers” of Takoma Park, a group of Takoma Park Middle School students and advisors, helped many elderly neighbors clear their sidewalks and steps of snow and ice on school snow days and on weekends.

Mike Glasby of Silver Spring heroically shoveled a long, heavily traveled church sidewalk on University Boulevard, enabling safe passage for students of Eastern Middle School and Blair High School students and for many Ride On commuters.

James Gutmann of Montgomery Village, who is sometimes referred to as “The Snow Angel” of Montgomery Village, received seven neighbor nominations for his tireless shoveling of many walkways, driveways, storm drains and fire hydrants.

Chris Hersman of Chevy Chase, who was called “the epitome of a good neighbor” by one nominator, received 10 Golden Shovel nominations. He diligently worked for hours in the dark snow blowing multiple sidewalks and driveways for neighbors.

Cheryl Leanza of Chevy Chase shoveled several blocks on Grubb Road so children could walk safely to and from school. She also encouraged members of the neighborhood listserv to “be a good neighbor” and clear their sidewalks of ice and snow.

Bill McDowell of Silver Spring, who is retired, continued his annual assistance to his neighbors by regularly clearing snow from many of their driveways and went even further by clearing the snow off of their vehicles.

Michael Marshall of Gaithersburg cleared the car, sidewalk, steps and parking space of his neighbor, who has mobility issues, and also shoveled out additional parking spaces in the community so visitors would have a place to park.

John Mayhew, Philip Stack, Ron Kessler and Michael O’Neil of Olney continued their winter storm day ritual of rising early to clear snow for their entire cul-de-sac, including the roadway, and inspiring a spirit of camaraderie throughout the community.

Shannon Shaffer of Kensington, in spite of a bad back, cleared snow from sidewalks, bus stops and mailboxes and then broke up the tough snow packs that were left by snow plows in front of the driveways of his neighbors.

Mark Springuel of Glen Echo, who is an adult with a developmental disability, routinely shoveled the driveway and sidewalks of his elderly neighbor, providing one of the needed services that allows that neighbor to remain living in his long-time home.

Jeanette Steele of Germantown, who is 72 years old and a native of Milwaukee, said that helping her neighbors clear their sidewalks and driveways keeps her in touch with her Midwestern roots.

Tim Tehan of Bethesda regularly cleared the driveways and walkways for his neighbors, including some very grateful ones (on the aptly-named Snow Point Drive), who were recovering from medical problems.

Kurt Zimmerman of Bethesda cleared the sidewalks in his entire neighborhood so that children could get to their bus stops.

Budget Update

Nancy Floreen

If you would like to follow along as we continue to work through the FY16 budget, you can get our committee and full Council agendas on our Web site, and all of our meetings are broadcast live either on television or on County Cable Montgomery’s Web site. We will pass a final budget on May 21. Although we have finished our public hearings, you can still let us know what you think. Also, check the Council's Web site for regular budget updates.

Bill to Establish Excise Tax on E-cigarettes

Councilmember Tom Hucker introduced Bill 15-15 that would establish an excise tax on the distribution of electronic cigarette products. The bill has six co-sponsors, including me.

Under current state tax law, cigarettes are taxed at $2 per pack and other tobacco products are taxed at a rate of 30 percent of the wholesale price. Electronic cigarettes are not currently subject to state tobacco taxes. The proposed tax on the distribution of electronic cigarettes would be 30 percent of the wholesale price--mirroring the state tax on other tobacco products.

If you want to weigh in, you can testify at the public hearing at 7:30 on May 5. Call 240-777-7803 to sign up. You can also send your testimony to

Winner of the Intel Science Competition

Nancy Floreen presenting a proclamation to Michael Hofmann Winer

What a treat it was to meet Michael Hofmann Winer and congratulate him on being named one of three first-place winners in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search competition. He received the First Place Medal of Distinction for Innovation and a cash prize of $150,000. See the story on County Cable Montgomery.

Michael's study looked at how fundamental quasi-particles of sound, called phonons, interact with electrons. Organizers said that Michael's work potentially could be applied to more complex atomic structures such as superconductors. Michael is a senior at Blair High School in the Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science Magnet Program. He plans to attend MIT in the fall.

One other Montgomery County student--Yizhen Zhang from Richard Montgomery High School--was a finalist in the competition. Of the 300 semi-finalists, 16 were from Montgomery County.

Green Tip of the Month

The County has launched the Tree Montgomery program to improve the local tree canopy. Each fall through early spring, Tree Montgomery will plant shade trees at single-family homes, multi-family properties and business parking lots free of charge. Once a tree is planted, Tree Montgomery will provide after care for up to two years to help ensure its long-term survival. Shade trees grow to at least 50 feet in height, have a broad crown, and provide a wide array of benefits to communities. Funding for the program is provided through the Tree Canopy Law which was passed in 2013.

Fast Fact

On Saturday, May 2, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., several Montgomery County law enforcement agencies will be conducting a Drug Take-Back day. This is a safe, free and anonymous opportunity to dispose of unused, unwanted or expired prescription drugs. This initiative is part of an effort to prevent the increasing problems of prescription drug abuse and theft that continues to occur nationwide. There will be nine drop-off locations throughout Montgomery County. These locations will accept prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications only. Liquids, illicit drugs, needles, sharps and syringes cannot be accepted as part of the take-back program. Learn more.

Let's Talk

Is your community organization hosting a public meeting? Please let me know how I can help. I am happy to assist residents in understanding pending bills or in finding ways to get involved in the political process. Even more important, I want to hear about what matters to you. Send your meeting notices to or call 240-777-7959 if you would like me to address a particular topic with your group.

May 2015

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