Metro’s Second Fare Hike to Start Tomorrow

Starting tomorrow, the cost of three Metrorail passes will increase.  Metro will also enact a new 20¢ fee during peak-of-the-peak periods (weekdays 7:30 – 9 a.m. and 4:30 – 6 p.m., based on the starting time of the trip).

Metrorail Passes Price effective Aug. 1
Weekly Short Trip Pass $32.35
Weekly Fast Pass $47
Transit Link Card $102

There is one way to save money when the fare adjustment kicks in: Metrorail customers who use a SmarTrip card instead of a paper fare card will save 25 cents per trip, like Metrobus users.

Elderly and disabled passengers who pay with Reduced Fare SmartTrip and Senior SmartTrip cards will see a 10-cent surcharge during the same peak travel periods.

Metro said the fare hikes are necessary to help close a $189 million budget gap for this fiscal year. The fare adjustments are expected to generate $108 million. The largest fare increase in Metro’s history went into effect last month.

[Source: WMATA, NBC Washington]

College Park Day on the Gazette

The Gazette has published this piece in this week’s edition on the College Park Day (Thanks Gazette). I’m reprinting the article here:

College Park to host city festival this fall
Inaugural event to highlight community groups, diversity

Last fall while writing on his blog, College Park resident Joe Smith lamented that his city had many festivals and events hosted by the University of Maryland, College Park, but had very few activities showcasing what the city and its nearly 28,000 residents had to offer outside of campus.

Resident Fazlul Kabir, also an active blogger, agreed that the city should have an event celebrating its diversity.

With the help of city officials and other residents, the two have since run with their ideas, helping to plan the inaugural College Park Day, which will be held Oct. 9 to highlight the people, businesses and community groups that call the city home.

“The idea here is to celebrate everything that the city has to offer,” Smith said. “[We want to] hopefully show people that College Park is more dynamic than they think and that there’s more to the city than the University of Maryland.”

Residents have been actively planning College Park Day since March, said City Councilman Patrick L. Wojahn (Dist. 1). Initially, just a handful of people began organizing the event, but now about 25 residents are working on several planning committees.

“We have a couple of staff members involved on staff time, but for the most part it’s being organized by residents,” Wojahn said. “I think there’s a certain amount of buzz being generated now. People seem to be excited.”

Attractions will likely include food, games, music, dancing, city culture and history exhibits and representatives from community groups, organizers said.

The city allocated $5,000 to College Park Day, Wojahn said, adding that he expects the funds to cover the event’s full cost. Any additional funding would likely come from private donations or local business sponsorship, he said.

“I like it when the city of College Park has a fun, family day,” said resident Kim Lugo, who is not involved in the event’s planning. “It does provide a way for new and older residents to meet up and we’re also able to provide information on what [public services] the city offers.”

Part of the event’s inspiration comes from the now-defunct Taste of College Park — an annual festival in the mid-2000s where residents sampled food from local restaurants. Wojahn said the event provided an opportunity for fellowship, but struggled because it was often overshadowed by the university’s Maryland Day, which was often held on the same weekend and drew more than 50,000 people.

Kabir said he hopes College Park Day will become a longer-lasting tradition than its food-oriented predecessor. He added that he expects the event to help bring together an increasingly diverse city, which includes young professionals and retirees, and has seen increases in Hispanic and Muslim residents.

“Things have been changing. A new generation of people are coming in,” Kabir said. “We decided to do something which could actually bring everyone together.”

College Park Day will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 9 at the College Park Community Center and Paint Branch Elementary School, located at 5051 and 5101 Pierce Ave. in College Park. The event also has a website at http://www.collegeparkday.org

Big Change in Student Demographics in Hollywood ES

The Maryland State’s Department of Education has recently published the student report cards for all of our State schools.

While most of  the local area elementary schools have improved in their performance compared to other schools in the county, the overall  county school performance remains poor in the State.

Though not surprising, one striking trend in the report card is the student demographics of the Hollywood Elementary school, the only public elementary school in our district. Over the past 10 years (from 2000 to 2010), the Hispanic student enrollment has gone up from 35 to 235, while the white student enrollment has gone down from 172 to 73.  The student population of African American origin has also taken a hit during this period (from 198 to 88), the Asian population has made a modest gain (from 26 to 43).

See the detailed statistics below.

This change in student demograpics may also reflect a similar trend in area’s overall population – we’ll have to wait for the 2010 census report to find more about that.

Year  American Indian / Alaskan Native Asian / Pacific Islander African American White (not of Hispanic origin) Hispanic  
2010  5 43 88 73 235  
2009  3 35 95 70 216  
2008  2 34 70 61 231  
2007  2 28 75 68 178  
2006  2 30 84 84 144  
2005  3 32 86 100 128  
2004  4 37 90 119 144  
2003  3 33 90 131 99  
2002  3 22 110 152 44  
2001  6 28 203 174 36  
2000  4 26 198 172 35  
1999  3 21 207 191 29  
1998  3 23 205 200 23  
1997  4 24 211 211 19  
1996  1 28 219 229 14  
1995  1 26 188 230 11  
1994  0 18 184 250 13  
1993  1 14 177 226 12  

NCPCA Candidates Forum Rebroadcast on Verizon FIOS Channel 19

Just a short note to let you know that the Candidate Forum from July 15 is scheduled to air on Greenbelt’s Access Channel on the following schedule:
 
Thursday, July 29 – 11am, 4pm, 9pm
Saturday, July 31 – 11am, 4pm, 9pm
 
It is a long program, clocking in at a bit over 2 and a half hours.
 
The first segment covers the Sheriff’s office candidates.
The second segment covers the County Executive candidates, appx 48 minutes into the program (Th,S – 11:48am, 4:48pm, 9:48pm).
The third segment covers the State’s Attorney candidates, appx 1h 45m into the program ( Th, S – 12:45pm, 5:45pm, 10:45pm).
 
Greenbelt Access is available on Verizon Fios 19 in the College Park area.  The channel is not available on Comcast in CP, unfortunately.
 
Please pass along to anyone you believe may be interested. 
 
(Thanks to NCPCA member Matthew Byrd for this message)

College Park Day Website is Up!!

The College Park Day’s official website is finally up. Here is the link:

http://collegeparkday.org

So far the site is fairly simple. We’ve added the following items to the site:

  • A message from the City mayor Andrew Fellows
  • A brief description of various committees who are working on the event
  • An online signup form for volunteers and vendors.
  • A link to download the Save the Date flyer
  • A link to the event’s FaceBook fan page.

Storm Kills Woman in North College Park

Michelle's damaged van (Washington Post)

Clay Gump and Michelle Humanick

The Washington Post is reporting that a woman was killed by yesterday’s storm.

 

The woman who died in her vehicle on Rhode Island Avenue, near Odessa Road in College Park, was described as being in her 40s. Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George’;s fire and EMS department, said the woman’s mother,  who was also in the vehicle, was taken to a hospital with serious injuries. .. Rescue workers had to cut the top of the vehicle off to pull out the injured person. (Washington Post)

 

Later, I came to know more about the woman from Dist 1 councilman Patrick Wojahn.

“The woman’s name was Michelle Humanick.  Some of you may know Michelle – she was active in the Neighborhood Watch in College Park Estates and Yarrow, and was married to Clay Gump, who has long been active in the City.  This is such a tragedy – in addition to her husband, Michelle leaves behind two young girls.  Michelle’s mother was also in the car and was taken to the hospital with serious injuries”

True, this is such a loss for our entire community. Michelle’s husband Clay Gump runs popular RethinkCollegePark website. 

The storm also caused a massive power blackout in the area, cutting off power from roughly 53,000 people in our county. The storm has also made quite a bit of damage to several Seven Springs apartments located in Cherry Hill.

More here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/26/AR2010072601401_3.html?sid=ST2010072601402

Experience and Enjoy College Park, Tomorrow

The next Experience and Enjoy College Park event will be held on Tuesday, July 27, at 7 pm at the Jungle Grille, 8145 Baltimore Ave. 

The special guest speaker for the July event will County Councilman Eric Olson.

I attended the last month’s event at Plato’s, the owner was tehre to greet and give $5 gift certificates to everyone in attendance!  Among the guests were MD State Senator Jim Rosapepe, Mayor Andy Fellows and other city council members.

Come join for this one and enjoy good food and good conversation, and meet other people from College Park!

RSVP: ilovecollegepark@gmail.com

On City’s History and Cultural Diversity

I’ve been assigned to chair the history and multiculturalism part of the upcoming College Park Day event. I think this will be a great area we can work together to showcase the long and rich heritage and diverse cultural groups in our great city. Here are a few ideas we’ve brainstormed so far. If you’ve further ideas, please feel free to let me know:

  • Language Exhibits: We’ll work with Gary McCone of the Language Museum on exhibits. something similar to this will be exciting:
    http://languagemuseum.org/menu/index.html
  • Poster Display Contest: we’ll be working with local schools to prepare posters with pictures and descriptions of their culture, language, heritage, etc.
  • College Park history, local heritage – We’ll get in touch with various residents and the Lakeland Community Heritage Project about presenting pictures of local history, as well as other people who have lived in College Park, and Lakeland community. We’ll also get in touch with the University’s archive project.
  • “Today is History” display – have computer and webcam available for people to take pictures of themselves at the event, and to submit pictures of the event to the Facebook page
  • Possible use of cardboard figures to take pictures, or to digitize images of people’s heads on bodies of historical figures
  • Push-pin display of countries/cities/states where people come from

Volunteers Needed for College Park Day

The College Park Day is only about 9 weeks away and here is the *official* version of the letter we’re sending to all community groups. In case it hasn’t reached you, please spend a moment to read and let us know where you can help out. Thank you.

The City of College Park is organizing its first ever College Park Day, an event that will act as a showcase for the diversity our City has to offer, on Saturday, October 9, 2010, from 1-5 pm.  This event will draw together dozens of community organizations to provide entertainment, activities, and fun for the whole family to enjoy.

We are looking for community members to volunteer and help plan this effort. This effort will be volunteer-driven and run, and we rely on volunteers to help make the event a success!  We are seeking volunteers to help out for approximately 15 hours between now and October 9.

We are looking for people to help out with the following committees:

Food Vendors: Help find local food vendors interested in selling food at the event, including helping them apply for temporary food sale permits and setting up the booths. Contact: If you are interested, please contact Morgan Gale at morgangale@comcast.net or (240) 481-7010.

Activities, Events, & Entertainment: Help recruit local organizations to provide entertainment and help set up activities for children and families at the event. Contact: If you are interested, please contact Becca Lurie at becca.lurie@gmail.com or (215) 808-4050.

Heritage, History & Community Organizations:Help recruit local organizations and put together displays on local history and our local community. Contact: If you are interested, please contact Fazlul Kabir at faz.kabir@gmail.com or (301) 659-6295.

Publicity & Media: Help publicize the event to get more people to come and attract local media to cover it. Contact: If you are interested, please contact Joe Smith at smitty5358@gmail.com or (301) 910-2433.

Welcome Committee/Logistics: Help arrange logistics for the events and help recruit volunteers for the day of the event to direct people attending the event and help people around. Contact: If you are interested, please contact Cheryl Moran at cheryl.moran@pgparks.com or (301) 345-2808.

Fundraising:Help get donations from potential corporate sponsors and other potential donors and help keep the total costs of the event down. Contact: If you are interested, please contact Patrick Wojahn at pwojahn@collegeparkmd.gov or (240) 988-7763.

Summer Picnic Fun!

Enjoy the outdoors at a summer community BBQ picnic! All are welcome. There will be hotdogs and hamburgers with all the fixings, and you’re requested to bring a side dish to share. (Such as chips, salad, dessert, pasta, fruit.)

Date: Saturday, July 24, 2010
Time: 4pm – 7:30pm

Location: Acredale Community Park, 4200 Metzerott Rd, College Park, MD
(Near the intersection of Rt. 1 and 193/Greenbelt Rd.)

RSVP optional but encouraged.

This event is sponsored and organized by members of the Faith Community Network of College Park, which is a recently-formed community group dedicated to improving the quality of life in College Park and surrounding areas. Leaders of diverse faith traditions are represented in this organization. The mission is to advance residents’ quality of life through coordinated action. Member congregations work together to address the environmental concerns and social needs of the people in the local area.

I attended a cleanup event back in April organized by the group.

While You’re on Vacation..

[The following message was sent by City's public service director Bob Ryan]
 
Please let your constituents know that they may request random premise checks when they are away from home. An email to me [Bob Ryan ( bryan@collegeparkmd.gov )] or Lt. Keleti ( jskeleti@co.pg.md.us ) will add their address to our premise check list. A request may also be forwarded through your neighborhood watch coordinator or COPS officer.

Thank You Meals on Wheels!!

Methodist Church on Rhode Island Ave.

Meals on Wheels volunteers (The Gazette)

So many good things are happening in our neighborhood that we often don’t notice.

 The Gazette did a good job in publishing an article on the work of Meals on Wheels (MoW) right here, in north College Park. MoW works off the the Methodist Church on Rhode Island Avenue.

I personally know a few volunters and organizers of the program and much appreciate their hard work and years of services.

As the Gazette report says, the program’s fund has been down for the past few years. Please help them continue their work in any way you can.

More Armed Robberies, Gunshots?

Video Plus

Officer Melanie Sarita, the PG COPS Officer for the North College Park has this report for us.

The video Plus store on Rhode Island Avenue was robbed by gunpoint on 07/18/10 (Sunday) by a black male who is approximately 6’3. After the incident a canvass was done in the area with negative results. The suspects face was covered and cash was taken from the store.

Officer Sarita has spoken with the manager of the Video Plus and he is in the process of getting video surveillance together from the incident.

A number of residents have also reported that they heard gunshots in the Hollywood commercial area around 10:30pm of the same night. It’s yet to find out if the sounds of gun shots were anyway related to the VideoPlus robbery incident.

Later in teh day, the District 1 PGFD Police Chief  Robert Liberati gave us a bit more details about the VideoPlus robbery incident. He also said there was one more armed robbery in another store a few days ago:

On Friday, July 16, 2010, at 11:15 PM a lone suspect robbed the Pizza Hut located in the 9000 block of Baltimore Ave.  On Sunday, July 18, 2010, at 9:00 PM the Video Plus located in the 9900 block of Rhode Island Ave. was also robbed, possibly by the same suspect.

The lookout is for An African American Male, 5-06, with a black shirt or sweater over his face.  In one robbery the suspect also was wearing a Blue Washington Nationals hat.

Anyone with any information please call the PGPD at 1-866-411-tips

County Executive Candidates Brush off Criticisms at NCPCA Forum

In case you could not attend the past Thursday’s county wide candidate forum at NCPCA, you have missed this political drama. The drama began during the Q&A session with the County Executive candidates when someone from the audience (thankfully) asked the candidates about a recent Gazette report that heavily criticized most of the candidates for their lack of experiences and competencies. Mr. Sam Dean, 74 was criticized for his old age.

Candidate Gerron Levi shrugged off criticism by saying: “I’m running for the first time, but in no way, by far a new person”. She touted her experience as the District 23A Delegate at the State MD legislature. She also said “I‘ve been Senior staff at Capitol Hill , lawyer for lobbyist for 15 years. I’ve seen government for 20 years in addition to serving in elected office now. I’ve racked up a distinguished record in that period of time. I’ve received recognitions such as legislator of the year and public servant of the year. My initiatives have made front page of the Washington Post at least twice. During the period of time, I’ve helped to get a million dollar project on the ground.”

Rushern Baker tried to lighten the criticism against him by cracking this joke: “They could’ve used a better picture of me (in the article)“. Responding to the criticism of him running twice unsuccessfully, he said:  “I gave up a very good job at Annapolis to run for this position. I was on fast track to chair appropriation and go the Senate. But I think our county is not living up to its full potentials. It’s still at the bottom of our education systems. I came very close in 2002. In 2006, I could’ve won if I had one more week to campaign” – Mr. Baker joked further. Responding to the criticism that his most generous donor is the owner of the largest apartment complex in the region, Mr. Baker said “People want to give me money, because I tend to be leading..”

Henry Turner said he thought the article was a very good one and he doesn’t have any problem with this at all. Responding to the criticism that he did not have any political experience, he said: ”I’ve served in the military for 21 years, Majority of that career, I served for 1, 3 and 4 stars general as well as admiral, also highest political appointees in our nation. I think I’ve more political experience than anybody else sitting at this table. When they (the generals) were on the jet to make sure the nation is safe and command that nation , I was there with them. I may have held the bag to deliver the paper and coffee for them, but I saw how they ran this country” – said the retired Army lieutenant colonel who attended the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York. Responding to the criticism that he is the brother of District 4 county council woman (who is yet to endorse him), he said ”I looked at that and I think that’s the greatest advantage. We have an unique opportunity to make a history that a brother and a sister can work on two different branches of our government – both the legislative and the executive.”– He reminded the audience.

Samuel Dean defended his record by saying ”I’m capable of leading. I’ve been in this business and every position I’ve ever held. I’ve delivered and I’ve proven results.”Responding to criticism on his old age, he said it’s all about experience. “I know many people much younger than me (who is now) in the grave.” – boasted the eight term county council member.

The fifth County Executive candidate Michael Jackson could not attend the forum due to an engagement – his campaign representative told the audience.

Earthquake Safety Tips

A very few would have ever thought that our area would be hit by an earthquake. Fortunately, no significant structural damage has been reported and there hasn’t been any injury due to the quake. However, similar quake may again happen, and thus the UMd’s police chief Paul Dillon is sending the following tips. Please call him at 301-405-5762 or email at dillon@umd.edu if you have further questions.

  • During an earthquake if you are indoors take cover under a desk, table, or bench.  If none is available, use an inside wall or doorway.
  • Stay away from windows, outside doors, walls, and anything that could shatter or fall on you.
  • If you’re sleeping, stay in bed and cover your head with a pillow. If your bed is under a heavy light   fixture or you have a large mirror or painting over your headboard, move to the nearest safe place.
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops. Most injuries during an earthquake occur when people enter or exit a structure.
  • If you are outdoors move away from buildings, streetlights, and overhead utility wires.
  • If you are in a Motor Vehicle stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
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