Community Access Channel Launched

Amid turmoil ove the future of its cable television system, Montgomery County this week launched its first community access cable channel, "Cable 22," featuring programs produced or sponsored by county residents and local groups.

Montgomery Community Television Inc. (MCT), the nonprofit corporation set up by the county to manage public access programming, will air locally produced shows by MCT-certified producers and prepackaged programs selected for broadcast by community groups.

All programs, however, will be screened first by the company, and those found to violate rules on commercial or political advertising, obscene or defamatory material, or invasion of privacy or an illegal inducement will not be shown, according to a spokesman.

The Tribune United Cable Co. agreed to grant local residents and community groups access to the cable system as part of its contract to provide cable service.

The company is now trying to sell the franchise and has been pressing the county to renegotiate the agreement. The county is embroiled in a court fight with Tribune-United over efforts to revoke the franchise.

Among the items in dispute is a provision requiring the company to pay for MCT's operation. MCT, which is funded solely by grants and franchise fees, will provide equipment and studios to train county residents and will broadcast their programs for free.

The channel's first night of programming was to have premiered last night at 7 o'clock, with the airing of its dedication ceremony. A program about the 1983 reunion of 15,000 Holocaust survivors was scheduled to air after that, followed by a locally produced documentary called "Living With Grace," about a county woman's struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Taxis for the Handicapped

The Silver Spring Taxi Co. has begun offering taxi service to handicapped individuals, using a specially equipped van that has been authorized for service under a new license issued by the county's Department of Transportation.

The taxi company is expected to add three vans to its fleet by the end of the year. Passengers will pay normal fares, plus a $6 surcharge, a department spokesman said.

The department is planning to issue up to 20 licenses for the special taxi cabs, which also will be used in the Call N' Ride program for elderly and disabled persons. Senior Citizen Services

County officials last week dedicated a community center and a mobile trailer that will offer senior citizens in Damascus and isolated areas in upper Montgomery County hot lunches, health services and other programs.

Established by the Division of Elder Affairs, the Damascus Senior Center is located in the Damascus Shopping Center across from the public library on Main Street. It will be open from 10:30 am. to 3:30 p.m. on weekdays. The 30-foot trailer, which includes a lobby and two private offices, will be used to offer similar services to elderly persons in sparsely populated areas. -- Keith F. Girard