Halting Underage Drinking

As a mother of five children, including two teenagers, Barbara Duncan, wife of Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D), is worried about underage drinking.

Last week she joined Police Chief J. Thomas Manger and county Department of Liquor Control Director George Griffin at Pike Liquor Store in Rockville to begin the second year of the county's education campaign against underage drinking.

Dubbed "Parents Who Host Lose the Most," the campaign targets adults who host parties involving alcohol for underage youths with the idea that it is safer for the youths to drink at home or that it prevents drunken driving.

Duncan said she knows of parents who host such parties.

"When you come across parents that don't have any problem serving alcohol to minors, it's really hard to defend against that, because heaven knows they're the fun families," she said. "You can only hope that lessons you instilled [in your kids] stay with them."

Literature full of statistics about underage drinking will be given to people who buy alcohol at all county liquor stores throughout the holiday season, said Kathie Durbin of the county's liquor control department.

Statistics show that youths who drink before they are 15 are more likely to have substance-abuse problems later in life, Durbin said. She said the majority of alcohol obtained by those younger than 21 comes from friends and family.

"Adults are unknowingly or knowingly providing their kids with access to alcohol," Durbin said.

Durbin hopes to see the program continue.

"This is a long-term, change-the-culture thing," she said. "It's not a quick fix."

Vigil for Crash Victim

Thomas S. Wootton High School students held a candlelight vigil Sunday at the school in honor of Solomon King, a 16-year-old student who was struck and killed by a vehicle on Travilah Road in Potomac on Nov. 13, 2004.

King's mother, with about 50 students and adults, gathered to sing songs, remember King and remind the public that the driver involved in his death remains at large.

The school also will host the Solomon King Music Festival from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Student bands from Wootton, Winston Churchill and Richard Montgomery high schools will perform. 2100 Wootton Pkwy., Rockville. $5. T-shirts bearing a design drawn by Solomon King will be sold for $10. Proceeds will go to the Solomon King Scholarship Fund. For information, call 301-279-8550.

Town Hall Meeting

U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) will host a town hall meeting to discuss the war in Iraq, Social Security, education, health care and gang violence, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Monday at Takoma Park Middle School, 7611 Piney Branch Rd., Takoma Park. For information, call 301-424-3501.

Comments Sought on Park

The Montgomery County Planning Board seeks public comment about the proposed management plan for the Serpentine Oaks Conservation Park at 7:30 p.m. today at 8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring. The park is an example of the rare "serpentine" ecosystem. Serpentine, a mottled green rock created by minerals with elevated levels of magnesium, iron, nickel and cobalt, creates an environment for rare vegetation. The park contains 20 threatened or endangered plants.

Plans for the park include a low-impact trail and outdoor educational opportunities.

For information, call 301-495-4600. www.montgomeryparks.org.

Montgomery's Future

The Montgomery County Planning Board seeks public comment on its report "Revitalizing Centers, Reshaping Boulevards, and Creating Great Public Spaces" about development plans in the county, at 7 p.m. today at 8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring.

The report, a working draft, attempts to offer "a new planning perspective that captures development potential through a focused pattern of sustainable growth that conserves land and energy," according to a planning board news release. The report also discusses strategies for the future of Montgomery development, with an emphasis on public spaces for the community.

The draft is available online at www.mcparkandplanning.org. For information call 301-495-4600.

Trail Workshop

The Montgomery County Department of Public Works and Transportation will hold a public workshop to discuss alignment options for Silver Spring's Metropolitan Branch Trail at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the auditorium of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission headquarters, 8987 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring.

The trail will connect the proposed Silver Spring Transit Center and the Montgomery College's Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus.

For information, call 240-777-7242 or go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dpwt.

-- Compiled by ARUNA JAIN