Monday, November 23, 2015

Woodlawn Barn Visitor Center

History buffs, check out this segment on County Cable Montgomery's The Bottom Line to learn about the rehabilitation of the Woodlawn stone bank barn and adjacent carriage house. The visitor center, which is scheduled to open in the spring, will feature interactive exhibits on the Underground Railroad, the Quaker Experience in Montgomery County, and the barn as a feature of the County’s agricultural landscape. You can get to the bucolic setting in Sandy Spring easily from our major population centers, and you'll be impressed with the the learning experience. We sure were when we took a sneak peek a couple of weeks ago.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Holiday Schedule for Thanksgiving

Here is our holiday schedule for Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, November 26:

  • County Offices – closed
  • Libraries – closed
  • County liquor stores – closed
  • Recreation – all programs and facilities are closed
  • Montgomery Parks -- for holiday operating schedule on Parks’ facilities, including Brookside Gardens, ice rinks, tennis centers, trains and carousels, visit 
  • Ride On – Sunday schedule
  • Metrobus – Sunday schedule
  • Metrorail – Sunday schedule 
  • TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) -- closed
  • Refuse/recycling pickup – no collection*
  • Transfer Station – closed 
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
  • MCPS Administrative Offices – closed Thursday, November 26 and Friday, November 27
  • State offices and courts – closed

    *Collection for Thursday and Friday provided one day later for remainder of week (last collection day is Saturday)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Factors Driving the Cost of Government

Although we are only about four months into the current fiscal year, we are already looking at the basic elements and underlying priorities that will shape next year's budget and those after it. The County Executive has cautioned that fiscal challenges ahead may require a significant tax increase in FY17. Today our Council Administrator and staff gave an outstanding presentation on the factors driving the cost of government. You can get the whole report here.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Eight Councilmembers Write to State Delegation on Liquor Control

Eight members of the Montgomery County Council wrote to State Senator Nancy King, who chairs Montgomery’s State Senate Delegation, and State Delegate Shane Robinson, who chairs the County’s State House Delegation, “to reiterate the County Council’s position on potential legislative changes to the County’s Department of Liquor Control (DLC).”

I joined Council President George Leventhal, and Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, Sidney Katz, Nancy Navarro, Craig Rice and Hans Riemer in writing the letter after Delegate William Frick and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said they would be proposing bills to alter the County’s system of alcohol control.

“The bills proposed by Delegate Frick and Comptroller Franchot share substantial common ground with the County Council’s approach,” the letter states. “Our proposed legislation would also allow private wholesalers to sell directly to retailers and restaurants. However, the Frick and Franchot proposals seek a complete change without regard for the aspects of DLC operations that actually work well for consumers and taxpayers or the impact on other county priorities.”

The complete text of the letter follows:

November 12, 2015

The Honorable Nancy King, Chair                  The Honorable Shane Robinson, Chair 
Montgomery County Senate Delegation          Montgomery County House Delegation 
223 James Senate Office Building                  223 House Office Building 
Annapolis, Maryland 21401                            Annapolis. Maryland 21401 

Dear Senator King and Delegate Robinson:

In light of news reports that Delegate Frick and Comptroller Franchot plan to pursue legislation in Annapolis to require private distribution of alcohol in Montgomery County, we felt it was timely to reiterate the County Council’s position on potential legislative changes to the county’s Department of Liquor Control (DLC).

The bills proposed by Delegate Frick and Comptroller Franchot share substantial common ground with the County Council’s approach. Our proposed legislation would also allow private wholesalers to sell directly to retailers and restaurants. However, the Frick and Franchot proposals seek a complete change without regard for the aspects of DLC operations that actually work well for consumers and taxpayers or the impact on other county priorities. The Council’s approach is limited to privatizing the aspect of its operations that DLC has not managed effectively: the distribution of special order products. And our approach protects other county priorities.

Contrary to its connotation, "special orders" are anything but unusual. They are a routine purchase for restaurants and retailers, and they make up 85% of the 29,000-plus products available for order from DLC. For many businesses, special order products represent as much as 90% to, in some cases, 100% of their total order. The alcohol market has changed dramatically over the last few decades, and the timely and reliable delivery of special orders is critical to the success of businesses. Despite attempts by our DLC to rectify the issues affecting special orders, restaurants and retail stores continue to be dissatisfied with the selection and availability of product. The Council's proposed legislation seeks to address this issue head on by opening this segment to the private sector. Privatizing the whole market would exceed what is necessary to provide our restaurants and stores with an efficient and effective distribution system. The DLC has a 99% success rate with stock items; prices are competitive for stock items; and there is no negative economic impact from the DLC role in stock item delivery.

Furthermore, neither proposal addresses the most requested improvement from residents: the ability to purchase beer and wine in grocery stores. Residents often perceive Montgomery County’s control system as the primary impediment to their purchasing a six-pack at the grocery store or a case at 
Costco, but as you are aware, it is in fact state law which prohibits the sale of beer and wine in chain retailers, not county law. The County Council is amenable to the state reexamining if this is still the right policy for the time, but it should not be conflated with Montgomery County’s regulatory system. If we truly put ourselves in the shoes of our constituents, any reform effort will come up short if it does not also permit the sale of beer and wine in grocery stores.

While the County Council is not calling for full privatization, we are wholly supportive of reform. The Council does not believe the status quo is acceptable and has been working this year on how best to reform the Department of Liquor Control. Through the Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Liquor Control, the Council uncovered very serious issues at the Department of Liquor Control that would have in all likelihood gone unnoticed and unaddressed without its oversight. To date, DLC has not been an example of a government that works. There is need for significant improvement in the operations of DLC, but its shortcomings do not warrant dismantling the entire system. 

Proponents of privatization have dismissed the approximately $30 million dollars in profit generated annually by DLC as insignificant in the context of an annual $5 billion operating budget, but these revenues are not trivial in terms of the programs and services they support and the tax relief they provide to residents. Without this $30 million in alcohol-related revenue, the county will have either fewer resources for education, transportation and other key priorities, or it will have to raise property taxes. As stewards of the state budget, you may appreciate thinking about what the relative impact of losing $30 million would be to the state. With a $35 billion state budget, the same impact at the state level would be about $220 million. Losing $220 million would pose a serious hardship for the state’s budget.

The impact of full privatization on the county’s capital budget would also be significant. The County currently has about $114 million in outstanding liquor bonds that are being used to fund capital projects. Without a secure revenue source, these projects would need to move to the county’s general capital budget, displacing other projects. Consider that $114 million is about half of all the capital funds that the county is seeking from the state to add much-needed classroom space to address overcrowding in Montgomery County schools. We do not want to have to remove $114 million in needed projects, such as schools, libraries or transportation, from our capital budget.

Although incremental, the option favored by the Council represents significant progress after years of inaction. Previous Executives and Councils were unable to overcome the challenge of how to replace any potential loss in revenue, but through collaboration with the many stakeholders and rigorous analysis, we have identified a solution that minimizes the impact to the county, and meets the modern expectations of retailers and consumers. Like you, we want to ensure that every segment of the public is served by our alcohol laws. Allowing private wholesale distribution of special order beer and wine to licensees moves us forward in a responsible way, and does not preclude additional reforms from taking place. With the Council’s approach, consumers, retailers and restaurants should see tangible improvements in the availability of products and their bottom lines. It seems prudent to give this consensus approach a chance. The Council is committed to monitoring the effectiveness of any reforms and revisiting these issues until the public is satisfied. 

Rather than fully privatize the DLC, whether through legislation or a ballot initiative, we respectfully ask that you support our careful and reasoned approach -- recognizing that there is substantial common ground, as the council proposal allows private distributors to operate in the County for the first time and in a way that has the greatest economic benefit. 

Thank you for considering these facts. We look forward to working with the delegation in the coming months to achieve the right balance in public policy. 

George Leventhal                              Nancy Floreen                          Hans Riemer    
President                                            Vice President
Marc Elrich                                        Tom Hucker                            Nancy Navarro
Craig Rice                                          Sidney Katz
cc: Montgomery County Delegation

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

County Maintains AAA Bond Rating

Good news. Montgomery County has maintained its Triple-A bond rating for 2015 from three Wall Street bond rating agencies. Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s all affirmed the "AAA" rating – the highest achievable -- for the County. They all termed the outlook for Montgomery County as “stable.” The Triple-A bond rating enables Montgomery County to sell long-term bonds at the most favorable rates, saving County taxpayers millions of dollars over the life of the bonds. The rating also serves as a benchmark for numerous other financial transactions, ensuring the lowest possible costs in those areas as well.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Holiday Schedule for Veterans Day

Here's our holiday schedule for Veterans Day on Wednesday, November 11:

  • County Offices – closed
  • Libraries – closed
  • County liquor stores – all retail stores are open normal hours
  • Recreation – aquatic and community centers open as scheduled; classes and programs will meet as scheduled; all senior programs cancelled, and administrative offices and senior centers closed
  • Montgomery Parks -- for holiday operating schedule on Parks’ facilities, including Brookside Gardens, ice rinks, tennis centers, trains and carousels, visit
  • Ride On – special modified holiday schedule; go to and click on “Holidays” to see specific schedules
  • Metrobus – Saturday supplemental schedule
  • Metrorail – Saturday holiday schedule
  • TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) -- closed
  • Refuse/recycling pickup – no collection*
  • Transfer Station – open
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
  • MCPS Administrative Offices – open
  • State offices and courts – closed

*Collection provided one day later for remainder of week (last collection day is Saturday)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Apply Now for Bethesda Urban Partnership

Here's the full press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., October 29, 2015—The Montgomery County Council is seeking applicants to fill an expired term on the Bethesda Urban Partnership Board of Directors. Andy O’Hare’s second term has expired and he is ineligible to apply for reappointment. 

Letters of application must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18. 

This position is open to applicants who live in a residential community outside of, but adjacent to, the Bethesda Urban District. The Council will recommend three candidates to County Executive Ike Leggett, and he will select one to serve on the board. 

The Bethesda Urban Partnership is responsible for the maintenance of streetscape and streetscape amenities; the promotion and implementation of special events and marketing initiatives; and other similar activities. The board directs all aspects of the Urban District program including management of the contract for the County to run the Transportation Management District (Bethesda Transportation Solutions) and serves the community in the provision of Urban District services. 

The 11-member board includes the following: two members nominated by the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce; three members who are, or represent, owners of an optional method development; one member who is an owner, partner, proprietor or corporate officer of a small business; one member who resides in a residential community within the Bethesda-Chevy Chase planning area and is nominated by the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board; one member who is a resident member of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board and is recommended by the board; one residential representative from an adjacent neighborhood who is nominated by the County Council; one member who lives within the Urban District; and one ex-officio, non-voting County Executive representative.

The board currently meets on the third Tuesday of every month at 7:45 a.m. Members serve three-year terms without compensation. Members of County boards, committees and commissions may not serve on more than one such group at a time. 

Applicants should submit letters of interest with a resume to: George Leventhal, President, Montgomery County Council, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850. Applications also can be submitted via email to . 

Letters of application must be received no later than 5 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 18. It is the Council’s policy not to consider applications received after the deadline. The names of all applicants are published and resumes made available for public review.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Firefighters Wear Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I was pleased to present a County Council Proclamation to the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service and Local 1664 for their outstanding efforts to raise money and awareness for cancer research and programs.

Through the International Association of Fire Fighters Passionately Pink Campaign, firefighters trade in their traditional on-duty shirts for bright pink ones throughout the month of October. So far, they have raised nearly $15,000 to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Red Devils through sales of the shirts.

One in eight women in the United States (or 12 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in her life, making breast cancer the most common cancer among women except for skin cancer. I salute the firefighters for doing their part to help defeat this terrible disease.

And one more thing—have you had your mammogram this year?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Apply Now to Grants Advisory Group

Here's the full press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., October 8, 2015—The Montgomery County Council is seeking applicants for positions on its Fiscal Year 2017 Grants Advisory Group. The Council will appoint the volunteer community panel to review grant applications and advise it on proposals received from the non-profit community. Letters of interest from applicants must be received no later than 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 9. 

The Council believes that a strong partnership with non-profit organizations is critical in meeting the County’s needs. The Council has established a grants process in which the Council accepts applications from non-profit organizations seeking funds, forwards proposals to the Grants Advisory Group for advice and comments and then makes funding decisions during its spring budget deliberations. 

It is anticipated that the Grants Advisory Group will be appointed in December and will be asked to report to the Council by the end of April 2016. The Council will designate the chair of the advisory group.

Panel members will need to attend training sessions and review relevant materials during late January and February. The applications review process will take place between late February and April 15. 

The Grants Advisory Group will be asked to provide the Council with written comments on each of the grant proposals. The workload will vary based on the number of applications received and panel members appointed; however, it is expected that each member would review approximately 20-25 applications. Panel members should anticipate approximately six to eight meetings between late January and mid-April, with the potential for weekly meetings in March. 

Applicants for the Advisory Group may not be employees of, or members of a board of, a nonprofit group applying for Council grant funding. However, applications will be accepted from members of panels reviewing Community Development Block Grants or Community Service Grants, as well as from other advisory boards or community groups. 

Interested applicants living or working in the County should submit their letter of interest with a resume to: Council President George Leventhal, Montgomery County Council, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850 or via email to

Letters of interest must be received no later than 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 9. For more information regarding the Grants Advisory Group, contact the Council Grants Manager at 240-777-7935 or 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

CEASE Policy Advocacy Award

I'm honored to be receiving the 2015 Policy Advocacy Award from Communities Engaged in Advocating for Smoke-free Environments (CEASE) for my work to ban electronic cigarette use in places where traditional tobacco smoking is prohibited.

I'll accept the award at the CEASE annual conference this Saturday at Morgan State University in Baltimore. Council President George Leventhal, who chairs the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee, is also named in the award.

I was the lead sponsor of Bill 54-14 that was unanimously approved by the Council in March. The bill prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes in public places where traditional tobacco smoking is prohibited. The bill also requires child-resistant packaging for nicotine containers.

Perhaps swayed by the belief that electronic cigarettes are safe, or emboldened by the fact that e-cigarettes have little odor that parents could detect, teens who have never tried traditional cigarettes are using e-cigs, putting themselves at risk for nicotine addiction, nicotine poisoning or exposure to harmful chemicals. I am not willing to gamble with the health of our current generation of young people. The Council did the right thing by putting these protections in place.

The CEASE Policy Advocacy Award recognizes individuals who have played a major role in developing and/or facilitating the passage of important tobacco-related legislation, regulations or private policies. Recipients of the award may have achieved success by serving in public office, in appointed positions or as advocates for the public’s health.

Electronic cigarettes have a cartridge that holds a liquid solution containing varying amounts of nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals; a heating device; and a re-chargable battery. Generally, puffing action activates the heating device and vaporizes the liquid in the cartridge. Although they do not produce tobacco smoke, e-cigarettes still contain nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals. There is a concern that e-cigarette use may serve as a gateway or introductory product for youth to try other tobacco products.

CEASE is a collaborative organization that aims to reduce tobacco use and to promote healthy living in Southwest Baltimore. CEASE provides smoking cessation treatment and prevention activities, disseminates data and information and engages in public advocacy. It partners with businesses, faith-based organizations, public schools and recovery organizations to educate, encourage and excite residents to choose healthier ways of living.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Council Approves Restrictions on Pesticides

Having battled breast cancer myself, I am particularly sensitive to the need to limit our exposure to toxic chemicals. I am proud that Montgomery County is taking the lead in protecting public health and welfare in this way. All residents, and particularly our children, stand to benefit from reduced exposure to pesticides. Here is the full press release on today's action:

ROCKVILLE, Md., October 6, 2015—The Montgomery County Council today approved amended Bill 52-14 that bans the use of pesticides on County-owned and private lawns, becoming one of the few jurisdictions in the nation to have such restrictions. One of the amendments to the original bill will allow the County’s Department of Parks to continue to use pesticides on playing fields as part of an integrated pest management program and requires the department to develop a plan that would lead to maintaining fields without pesticide use by 2020. The department will conduct a pilot program in the interim period to study the impact of maintaining fields without using pesticides.

Amendments that were approved today were proposed in a memo on Oct. 2 by Council President George Leventhal (the lead sponsor of the original bill) and Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer. The amended bill was enacted by a vote of 6-3, with those five and Council Vice President Nancy Floreen in favor. Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Sidney Katz and Craig Rice were opposed.

Public hearings on the bill were held on Jan. 15 and Feb. 12, with more than 300 attendees at each. More than 300 people attended today’s session.

The enacted bill provides for a phasing of effective dates, with provisions related to County-owned property and County parks taking effect July 1, 2016. Today, on a motion by Council Vice President Floreen, the bill was amended to have provisions related to private property taking effect on Jan. 1, 2018 (rather than the originally proposed Jan. 1, 2017). 

In addition to lawns, the bill also restricts the use of certain pesticides on public and private playgrounds, mulched recreation areas and children’s facilities such as child care centers.  The bill’s restrictions do not apply to gardens. They do not restrict pesticide use for the control of noxious weeds or invasive species, for human health or agricultural purposes or to prevent significant economic damage. 

The memo of Oct. 2 from Council President Leventhal and Councilmembers Elrich, Hucker, Navarro and Riemer offered amendments to recommended changes to the original bill that had been made by a majority of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T and E) Committee on Sept. 17. 

The recommended changes approved by the committee would have eliminated the ban on the use of pesticides on County-owned and private property lawns. T and E Committee members Berliner and Floreen supported the amendments. Councilmember Hucker was opposed. 

In addition to restoring the restriction on the use of certain pesticides on both County-owned and private property, the approved bill substantially clarifies the method of determining which pesticides are subject to the restriction. 

“Today’s action is another step in the ongoing effort to make Montgomery County the healthiest, safest county in the country,” said Council President Leventhal. “Countless studies have linked pesticides to a wide range of health conditions in children and adults and, since the bill was introduced one year ago, I have received hundreds of reports from constituents of children and pets experiencing adverse effects from the application of pesticides.

“Local government can—and should—step in a preventative way to protect the public’s health, even when there is not complete scientific certainty. The science may never be conclusive since it involves complex chemical interactions, but the absence of incontrovertible evidence does not justify inaction.

“I am extremely optimistic about what the passage of this bill will mean for Montgomery County’s economy. Now that this bill has become law and that harmful chemical treatments will be banned, I think it will foster an extraordinarily competitive industry for alternative lawn care options in the County. 

“Property owners have a right to maintain their own property, but they do not have a right to inflict harm upon their neighbors. Residents will still be free to hire any lawn care professional to treat their lawn or to manage their own lawn care, but they can do so now with the confidence that their family will be better protected.”

Council Vice President Floreen said: “Having battled breast cancer myself, I am particularly sensitive to the need to limit our exposure to toxic chemicals. I am proud that Montgomery County is taking the lead in protecting public health and welfare in this way. All residents, and particularly our children, stand to benefit from reduced exposure to pesticides.”

Councilmember Elrich said: “This legislation is an important step toward protecting our public health and environment.  We have an obligation to let the public know that our regulatory agencies’ actions do not keep pace with the multiple recent scientific findings.  In 2015 alone, we have seen important news: glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp, is classified as a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer; a study links pesticides to antibiotic resistance, and, perhaps most important, a study of daughters whose mothers were exposed to DDT 54 years ago shows an almost four-fold increase in breast cancer risk in their daughters.

“DDT was banned in 1972 because it was endangering our national bird, the bald eagle and not because of health impacts on people. If we had waited for the proof that DDT caused cancer, it would have been used for 40 more years, and many more women would have been at increased risk for breast cancer. We lack certainty about the safety of many EPA registered chemicals, and many earlier studies do not begin to assess risk pathways to human health that are widely recognized today. 

“I did not want to look back in 20 years and say that we could have acted.  This bill acts on the precautionary principle, restricting and reducing the use of pesticides and exposure wherever possible.  It does so based on the scientific evidence.  I think as the public understands the science, they will appreciate our action.”

Councilmember Hucker said: "Our first concern cannot be protecting homeowners' right to the cosmetic benefits lawn pesticides promise, especially when there are alternatives. Our first concern has to be protecting public health and the environment."

Councilmember Katz said: “The health and safety of our residents remains my utmost priority, and the Council should rightly do all it can to limit exposure to hazardous chemicals on the properties we maintain. However, I still have many concerns about how we encourage the reduction of chemicals on privately-maintained properties in a responsible, thoughtful, and cost-effective manner. Today’s discussion made it abundantly clear that we don’t have all the answers. We must continue to educate and inform not only the public, but ourselves regarding the implementation of this legislation.” 

Councilmember Navarro said: “I'm proud of the work that Montgomery County has done today in passing this groundbreaking pesticide legislation to restrict the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes. I have stood behind this bill from the beginning because I believe that it is the Council's responsibility to work to protect Montgomery County's public health. 

“As this bill is implemented, the education campaign will be key. Educating the public on the intent to reduce major health risks and the effects of these chemicals will be a critical piece of enforcement. This bill will set the national standard for reducing pesticide use and creating a safer and cleaner environment for our communities.”

Councilmember Riemer said: "People need and trust the government to protect them from health risks associated with toxic chemicals. Having reviewed the scientific evidence, I find that there is enough concern to justify restrictions on the application of lawn chemicals. As a parent of two young children, my priority in this legislation is to protect the health of all children in our community. I believe we have done that today."

More details about Bill 52-14 and related amendments are available at: .

Unemployment Rate Drops from Same Period Last Year

According to the Department of Labor, Montgomery County's employment rate in August was only 3.8 percent – down from 4.6 percent last August. Almost 10,000 more County residents had jobs compared to the year before.

Friday, October 2, 2015

One of the Most Decorated Women in U.S. Military History to be a Speaker at Vietnam Veterans Event

We've just learned that retired Air Force Brigadier General Wilma Vaught, who retired after 28 years in the U.S. Air Force as one of the most decorated women in U.S. military history and who was one of the few military women to serve in Vietnam who was not a nurse, will be among the featured speakers on Saturday, Oct. 24, as Montgomery County honors the men and women who served the nation during the Vietnam War. The Honor and Gratitude program will take place at the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville, starting at 10:30 a.m. Note that although the event is free, registration is required.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Proclamation for Open Water Triple Crown Winner Jim Clifford

What a treat it was to present a County Council Proclamation to Jim Clifford, who became the world's oldest person to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming when he swam across the English Channel in ten hours, three minutes. The Open Water Triple Crown consists of three swims--21 miles across the English Channel, 20 miles across the Catalina Channel and 28 miles around Manhattan Island. At age 63, Jim broke the record for the fastest swim across the English Channel in the over 50 age category. He completed the Catalina Channel swim in nine hours, 49 minutes and the Manhattan Island swim in nine hours, 30 minutes. What an amazing accomplishment.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Montgomery County to Honor Vietnam Veterans

Here's the full press release:

Bob Schieffer, who recently retired as host of the CBS show Face the Nation, has agreed to be the host and guest speaker on Saturday, Oct. 24, as Montgomery County will honor the men and women who served the nation during the Vietnam War. The event will take place at the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville, starting at 10:30 a.m. 

The Vietnam War—which changed the lives of those who served and altered the political scene back home—ended for the United States in 1975. Honor and Gratitude: Montgomery Salutes Vietnam Veterans will be the first significant event in those 40 years to honor the County’s Vietnam veterans. It is estimated that between 130 and 140 Montgomery County residents lost their lives in the Vietnam War. There are more than 13,000 Vietnam veterans currently living in the County. 

County Executive Ike Leggett (who is a Vietnam vet), Council President George Leventhal and the County Council will lead the special ceremonies at the Universities at Shady Grove at 9630 Gudelsky Drive in Rockville. The event will be recorded and broadcast on many of the public cable television channels that compose the County’s PEG (Public, Education, Government) organization, which is hosting the event. In addition, the PEG organization will be recording the stories of many of the veterans for a documentary. 

The program will include a look back at some of the significant events of the U.S. involvement of the conflict that dates to July 8, 1959, when two U.S. military advisers were killed in a raid at Bien Hoa. More than 800 people are expected for the Oct. 24 event, including those who were present in major actions of the 11-year U.S. involvement. Those events included attacks on the USS Maddox in August 1964 that led to Congress on Aug. 7, 1964, passing the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that gave President Lyndon Johnson the power to take whatever actions he saw necessary to defend South Vietnam against Viet Cong forces. 

Honor and Gratitude: Montgomery Salutes Vietnam Veterans event organizers are currently seeking to contact more of the veterans who will be honored on Oct 24. Those veterans, or family and friends of the veterans, seeking more information about the event should call 301-424-1730 / ext. 350. Additional details, including how to register to attend the free event, can be found at: 

“It has been almost four decades since our Vietnam veterans returned home,” said County Executive Leggett. “We want to take this opportunity to acknowledge their courage and patriotism and say thank you for making the world a better place. As a veteran of the Vietnam War, I know the sacrifices that were made by members of our military during times of war. This event is a perfect way for all of us to pay tribute to these brave and honorable men and women.” 

Mr. Schieffer was a reporter for more than half a century and 2015 marked his 46th year at CBS News and his 24th anchoring "Face the Nation." Prior to joining CBS in 1969, he was a reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram where he was the first reporter from a Texas newspaper to report from Vietnam. 

Mr. Schieffer has won virtually every award in broadcast journalism including eight Emmys, the overseas Press Club Award, the Paul White Award presented by the TV News Directors Association and the Edward R. Murrow Award given by Murrow's alma mater Washington State University. In 2008, he was named a living legend by the Library of Congress. In 2013, Mr. Schieffer was inducted into the National Academy of Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame. 

Speakers at the event will include veterans who served in various aspects of the Vietnam conflict. The event will honor their service and also will look at how those experiences influenced their lives since. 

“So many in our community heroically served our nation, and the world, 40 years ago,” said Council President Leventhal. “Oct. 24 will be a day where our County recognizes those whose actions helped that had such a great impact on our nation. There have been many books written, and many movies made, about the people we will honor, but on this day, we will personally thank—and hear directly from—some of the men and women who did so much to shape the life and freedom we know today.” 

An important part of event will be the opportunity to record the stories of the Montgomery residents who served in Vietnam. 

“Whether they were troops in the jungles, on helicopters and bombers, serving on the ships, the river patrol boats, in the medical corps or the troops supplying them all, there are stories that have yet to be told about Vietnam,” said Merlyn Reineke, chair of the PEG Governing Board. “This event will introduce a new generation to the sacrifices made by the brave men and women in Vietnam, and as the County’s cable providers, we will be there to preserve these stories so future generations will know about their heroism. It is hard to believe there has never been a major event to honor Montgomery County’s Vietnam vets, but we think this is the right time to salute them.”