Reopening Montgomery: An Active August

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August 20, 2020 |  Bookmark and Share

A Message from County Executive Marc Elrich

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich

Dear Friends:

In the Washington area, August is traditionally a month where little goes on and people look to take vacation. For many, in most years, it is a time to prepare for a new school year or recreational fall sports. However, this year dominated by the COVID-19 health crisis is far from a normal year. And there is so much going on this August.

Voting—and how best to vote—has been a subject dominating the news lately—even though the Nov. 3 election is more than 10 weeks away. This year, the regular neighborhood precincts will not be available to voters. Instead, there will be centralized voting centers at high school sites and several other locations.

The best choice to have your vote efficiently counted—and to stay safe when voting—is to vote by mail-in ballot. A story in this newsletter, and the video following this message, will tell you much more.

The debate over whether it is safe for schools—any schools—to have in-person classes continues to be a national issue without a definitive answer. Two of the major college football conferences in the nation, and several smaller ones, have postponed their seasons because of COVID-19. The University of North Carolina was determined to hold on-campus classes, but so many cases developed within one week that the campus was closed. Montgomery County public schools will have online only classes for their first semester. Even though several private schools in the County also have decided virtual classes will be best for fall, some still are planning in-person classes. The science and data continue to tell us this is not the safest route for now for students, teachers, administrators, staff—or their families.

As August rolls on, there are many people and businesses that need help. Our County is working to provide that assistance.

The County has awarded $1,126,100 to 28 local food assistance providers to improve their infrastructure. The grants will allow them to expand their capacity to provide food access to families that desperately need the assistance.

Last week we had to suspend testing at multiple County sponsored sites. I am happy to report that testing resumes today. For a list of testing sites, go to

By any standard, this has not been an August like any in recent memory. It has been a busy time. Enjoy the final weeks of summer—but remember to stay safe doing it.


Marc Elrich

Marc Elrich, County Executive


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COVID-19 Free Testing Available at White Oak on Friday, Aug. 21

COVID19 testing

COVID-19 testing operated by Montgomery County will be available from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 21, at the White Oak Recreation Center located at 1700 April Lane in Silver Spring. The tests are free and a doctor’s directive is not required.

It is recommended to have reservations for the test center, although walk-ins also are welcomed. The testing will be conducted with test kits provided by the State. Residents can call the Testing Helpline at 240-777-1755 to schedule a test.

Montgomery County announced on Aug. 18 that it has terminated its contract with AdvaGenix, the Rockville-based company that had been providing and processing tests for the County Government’s COVID-19 test clinics. This action was taken following the issue of a cease and desist directive and order by the Maryland Department of Health on Aug. 14. This prohibited AdvaGenix from processing COVID-19 tests.

In response to the State’s announcement last week, the County has been working to restore its testing capacity and reopen testing sites. The Maryland Department of Health has committed to replace the weekly supply of tests for the next four weeks. County officials are working to identify additional test sources to support the County Government’s effort to offer broadly available free tests.


More Information

Residents Can Vote by Mail for November Election

vote by mail

Election Day is Nov. 3 and the COVID-19 health crisis has changed the election process in Maryland, including a change from traditional local voting precincts to a system where there will be centralized voting centers on Election Day. Now is the time to develop a vote plan for the upcoming election.

For anyone who is not registered, the deadline for voter registration is Oct. 13. The Montgomery County Board of Elections encourages voters to start a "Vote Plan" for the upcoming election.

Due to COVID-19, the Board recommends voting by mail. A mail-in ballot can be requested by texting the letters VBM to 77788 or by visiting the Board of Elections website at

A ballot will not be mailed to voters like was done during for the 2020 primary. An application to request a vote by mail ballot (formerly called absentee ballots) will be mailed to voters next week. A mail-in ballot can be requested now by going to the County’s website.

Voters are strongly encouraged to select the ballot delivery method “In the mail” when they receive a ballot application. The paper ballot received will be the actual ballot that will go through the vote counting scanner.

The application also will have an “Internet/email” option. It is intended for people for whom the mail is not a good option. A ballot printed from the internet must be copied onto a scannable ballot by a bipartisan canvass team, which is difficult with COVID-19. The deadline to request a vote by mail ballot is Oct. 20. Registered voters also can request a mail-in ballot online by visiting the Board of Elections website.

Election workers are needed to assist voters on Election Day. Election workers (or election judges) must be registered Maryland voters. Workers can earn up to $310 and Montgomery County students can earn 25 Student Service Learning (SSL) hours per day.

To inquire about becoming an election worker, text SERVE to 77788. Information also is available at and the elections website.


Voting Information

Grants Awarded to 28 County Food Assistance Providers

Montgomery county Emblem

Montgomery County has awarded $1,126,100 to 28 local food assistance providers to improve their infrastructure. The grants will allow expansion of their capacity to provide food access to families that need extra help during the COVID-19 health crisis.

The program was funded by the Federal CARES Act as appropriated by County Executive Marc Elrich, the County Council, the Community Food Rescue mini-grants program and the newly launched Food Security Fund at the Greater Washington Community Foundation. Nonprofit organizations were eligible to apply for up to $85,000. Awarded grants ranged from $1,075 to $85,000.

The COVID-19 Emergency Food Assistance Provider Capacity Building Grant is a partnership between the County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Montgomery County Food Council (MCFC), the Healthcare Initiative Foundation (HIF) and the Greater Washington Community Foundation (The Community Foundation). The County’s Food Security Task Force, formed by the County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS), reviewed and determined all grant awards.

The grant awards will support community nonprofit purchases of refrigerators and freezers, shelving and space enhancements, vehicles, forklifts, hand trucks, computers and software, as well as repairs to existing infrastructure. Funded investments will directly expand the ability of organizations to store and transport larger quantities of shelf-stable and cold-stored food. The grants are estimated to increase community-wide capacity for food assistance distribution and delivery to more than 31,000 households.

“I am proud to be part of a community where our nonprofit and faith-based organizations work tirelessly to ensure our residents have access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food, especially during this national pandemic,” said County Executive Elrich. “Providing funding to help these organizations improve their infrastructure and increase their capacity to feed more residents is money well spent.”

Special consideration was given to organizations that formed partnerships to better serve the community.

“Food insecurity is currently being experienced by more residents in our community than ever before,” said County Council President Sidney Katz. “So many of our neighbors are feeling the instability caused by the health crisis in so many ways. It is incumbent upon us to provide culturally appropriate food to those in need and these funds will do just that. I want to thank all of the nonprofit and faith-based organizations who are forging partnerships to reach out to the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.”


More Information

Access to Athletic Fields Expanded by Montgomery Parks to Allow for Youth and Adult Games and Tournaments for Low- and Medium-risk Sports Starting Sept. 1

Athletic Fields

Access to athletic fields to allow youth and adult games and tournaments for low- and medium-risk sports for groups of 50 or less is being expanded by Montgomery Parks, which is part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Fields at local parks are currently available and fields at regional and recreational parks will be available starting Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Games and tournaments were canceled in March due to the COVID-19 health crisis. High-risk sports games, such as football and rugby, are not permitted at this time. Practice and skill-building drills for high-risk sports are permitted. Sports are categorized by risk by the Maryland Sports Commission Return to Play Committee Report.

Staff and field users must follow COVID-19 safety guidelines, including wearing face coverings, social distancing and hand-washing requirements.

Athletic fields, including local and regional park fields and fields located at schools, are available for permit for the fall season via ActiveMontgomery or by emailing Permits are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Montgomery Parks allows access to its athletic fields without an athletic field permit, but non-permitted users must relinquish the field to permit holders.

Stand-alone restrooms will be open at regional and recreational park fields. Portable restroom facilities are available at some local park fields.

Montgomery Parks also is offering permits for its picnic shelters beginning Sept. 1. Permits are available via or by submitting an application (available on the permits page of Montgomery Parks website) to

Other park facilities and amenities have recently reopened based on State and County’s Phase 2 reopening guidelines, including:

  • Playgrounds
  • Boating and fishing facilities
  • The driving range and miniature golf at South Germantown Recreational Park
  • Ice rinks at Wheaton Regional Park and Cabin John Regional Park
  • Tennis centers at Wheaton Regional Park and Cabin John Regional Park
  • Brookside Gardens visitors center and conservatory


Program and Facility Updates

Registration for Fall Recreation Programs Opens on Monday, Aug. 24

Fall Guide

Registration for Montgomery County Recreation fall programs will open on Monday, Aug. 24. The Fall Guide is now available online, with details of classes, programs, activities and events—all designed to meet County safety guidelines in regard to the COVID-19 health crisis.

The fall schedule features outdoor and virtual programs for all ages. The activities include sports, dancing, fitness, health and wellness, martial arts, music, therapeutic recreation, workouts, arts and crafts, cooking and children’s playtime.


Fall Guide

MCPL ‘Contemporary Conversations’ Series Will Celebrate 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote with Virtual Event on Saturday, Aug. 22

MCPL ‘Contemporary Conversations’ Series Will Celebrate 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote with Virtual Event on Saturday, Aug. 22

Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s passage, guaranteeing women the right to vote, with a discussion featuring two prominent authors as part of MCPL’s “Contemporary Conversations” series. The virtual event called “Celebrating 100 Years of Women’s Right to Vote” will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 22.

Montgomery County League of Women Voters Co-President Diane Hibino will moderate the discussion that will feature authors Ida E. Jones and Rebecca Boggs Roberts.

Dr. Jones, a noted scholar and university archivist at Morgan State University, will discuss her work about two relevant women. The works she will address are “Mary McLeod Bethune, True Democracy and the Fight for Universal Suffrage” and “Baltimore City Rights Leader Victorine Q. Adams, the Power of the Ballot.”

Roberts, a journalist and curator of programming for Planet Word Museum, will talk about her books focused on the suffrage movement. Those books are “Suffragist in Washington, D.C. – The 1913 Parade and the Fight for the Vote” and “The Suffragist Playbook: Your Guide to Changing the World.”


Register for Event

Public Hearings to Continue in August and September on I-495 / I-270 Managed Lanes Study as County Executive and Council Seek Input in Forming Joint County Position

I-495/I-270 Public Hearing

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), the State Highway Administration (SHA) and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) will jointly host two in-person and two additional virtual public hearings in August and September on the I-495 / I-270 Managed Lanes Study Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The managed lanes study is examining the feasibility of adding tolled lanes to portions of I-495 and I-270.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and the County Council are seeking input from County residents who are testifying at the public hearings and those who send correspondence regarding the DEIS. The elected officials are requesting residents and groups also send copies of their testimony and correspondence directly to the County at no later than Monday, Sept. 14. The elected officials will consider comments received before developing a joint County position on the matter.

County Executive Elrich sent a letter to MDOT Secretary Greg Slater in late July asking the State to extend the comment period to at least 120 days to give the community more time to review and respond to the complex and lengthy DEIS. County Executive Elrich wrote that the currently recommended 90-day study period is inadequate, especially due to the complications of the COVID-19 health crisis.

“Reading, reviewing and analyzing this report is a substantial additional burden at this time,” the County Executive wrote. “My bigger concern is that you are expecting the community, as well as volunteer organizations, to read and digest almost 18,000 pages in 90 days.”

The State’s hearings are proceeding as originally planned.

Additional virtual hearings will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 25 (Official USACE Hearing) and Thursday, Sept. 3. There will be three sessions each day: From 9 a.m.-noon; from 1-4 p.m. and from 5-8 p.m.

To register to provide virtual testimony, go to Email instructions will be sent for approved session time.

The virtual public hearings can be viewed via live streaming. Click to view the virtual public hearing livestream. Closed captioning will be available.

Two in-person hearings will be held. Each will run from noon-9 p.m. on the following schedule:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 1, in Prince George’s County: Homewood Suites by Hilton, 9103 Basil Ct., Largo.
  • Thursday, Sept. 10 in Montgomery County: Hilton Executive Meeting Center, 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville.


More Information

Montgomery County Police, County Police Foundation Host Golf Clinic for Kids

Police Chief Marcus Jones

Montgomery County Police, in partnership with the M.C. Police Foundation, on Aug. 17 hosted a golf clinic for 10 kids ages 9-11 at the South Germantown Driving Range. Police Chief Marcus Jones was among those helping with the clinic.

Bethesda Country Club Assistant Golf Pro Ana Orlov donated her time to provide instruction. Chick-fil-A provided lunch for the kids.


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