New Funds Allow Libraries

To Restore Hours, Add Staff

Flush with a half-million-dollar boost in this year's budget, the Montgomery County libraries are restoring previously cut hours and hiring more staff members.

"We've restored quite a bit of funding," said council member George L. Leventhal (D-At Large). "We think library service will improve and hours will be back to where they were before."

In May, the council added $205,000 to the budget to allow libraries in Wheaton, Bethesda and Gaithersburg to add four hours of operation that had been previously cut. The libraries will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays beginning today. About $300,000 was also earmarked to increase library staffing.

"I was hearing a lot of complaints from staff that they were just feeling overwhelmed," Leventhal said. "We've geometrically increased the demands on library staff."

The additional spending went into effect July 1, the beginning of the county's fiscal year. The libraries are reshuffling positions and working to hire new staffers.

"It's been a tough few years for the library system, but I hope we can turn that around," Leventhal said.

In Downtown Silver Spring, Goodbye to Right on Red

No matter what the intersection and no matter how long you stop, don't turn right on a red light anywhere in Silver Spring's downtown business district.

Montgomery County officials announced the right-turn-on-red ban last week as part of their efforts to decrease dangers to pedestrians. They are considering whether to do the same in Bethesda's downtown zone and other business districts across the county.

As of last month, eight people had been killed while crossing local roads or walking along them. That compares with three pedestrian deaths during the same period last year.

Not just drivers are culpable. County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) has asked police and the county's Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee to study whether jaywalkers or pedestrians disobeying other safety rules should be ticketed more aggressively.

County Launches Web Site Geared for Children's Use

County officials have started a Web site especially for children, offering not only information about Montgomery County history, but facts about the county bird and blossom and the meaning of the county emblem and flag.

The new site is accessible at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/kids. It also contains information about county services, swimming pools and recreation programs, the arts and volunteer opportunities.

South Germantown Center To Add Slides and Pools

Work has started on a $15.8 million indoor swim facility at the South Germantown Recreational Park.

The facility will include three pools -- a competition pool, an eight-lane recreation pool and a leisure pool with two water slides. Scheduled to open this fall, it will be the county's fourth indoor swim facility.

The 655-acre South Germantown Recreational Park includes 24 soccer fields, a splash park, an adventure playground, a driving range and the Discovery Stadium.

Staff writers Amit R. Paley and Susan Levine contributed to this report.