How to Appeal Your Property Taxes - It's easy

UPDATE: See also

The following is based on information (*) passed on from a Montpelier Hills resident, as a reminder about the property tax appeal process.

In this era of economic decline, property taxes may not fall as fast as the home values upon which they are supposed to be based.  Prince George's home values lose about a third of their value. (Gazette, Dec 16, 2010)

Appeals to lower your property tax are often successful. The next deadline to file a property tax appeal is January 1, 2011.

A summary of steps to appeal:

Download the "State of Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation Petition for Review of Real Property" Form and answer the 7 easy questions.

Go to an estimated home values source such as to find out the value of your home.  Enter this estimated value at line 3 of the petition (current market value).

Print the Zillow page (or other sources) showing your property address and estimated value; and attach it to your form.

At question 3 enter why you think the assessed value is incorrect - such as, "home values have fallen due to the economic downturn", or whatever.

You can choose to schedule a hearing or just have the results mailed to you.

If you have any questions, you can contact
Hours: 8:30 to 4:30 
(301) 952-2500
FAX: (301) 952-2955

(*) original information provided by Sandra Pruitt

Dec 8 Death of Brother of Mary Lehman,
Newly Elected County Council District 1

DAVID A. HENSEL (Age 48)  
On Wednesday, December 8, 2010. Loving father of Timothy and Brendan Hensel; son of Irene B. and the late Richard T. Hensel; brother of Gloria Hensel, Jeanne (Frank) Taylor, Mary (Dale) Lehman, Terese (Neil) Sehgal and Monica Heinlein. Also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.

Relatives and friends may call at the BORGWARDT FUNERAL HOME, 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD on Sunday, 4 to 7 p.m.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 11007 Montgomery Road, Beltsville, MD on Monday, December 13 at 10 a.m. Interment Ivy Hill Cemetery, Laurel, MD.  www.borgwardtfuneralhome. com

New Maryland Traffic Citation Trial Date Procedure

According to a new Maryland law effective January 1, 2011, drivers who receive a traffic citation will now have to request a trial date, if they want one, instead of one being automatically assigned.

Dec 2 1 pm Prince George's Police Seniors Coffee Laurel Hospital Talk on Stroke and Fall Prevention

Monthly Seniors Coffee with Prince George's County Police District VI 
Community Oriented Policing Services (C.O.P.S.)

Stroke and Fall Prevention

A presentation by two Physical Therapy Specialists from 
Laurel Regional Hospital, Physical Rehabilitation Center

Thursday December 2d at 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 pm
13310 Laurel Bowie Road at Contee Rd (map)
Next door to Sapphire Indian & Thai restaurant

Nov 21: Telephone Phishing Scam in Local Area

This is an old story .... but it is happening again locally, so please be aware and share.

Yesterday afternoon we received an automated recorded call to our unlisted cellphone, which falsely claimed to represent by name a local financial institution where we have accounts (i'll call it "bank"). The recording said "your VISA debit card has been deactivated ... press 2 to be connected to our credit card security division". We did not press 2. Rather, we called our bank using the telephone number on the back of our credit card.

Our bank confirmed that some of their customers are indeed receiving such calls -- as are customers of many other financial institutions nationwide. If one does as the recorded calls instruct, one will be connected to a scammer falsely posing as a bank officer, who then asks for your credit card number and other account information in order to steal money from your account -- or worse. These fraudulent calls masquerade as genuine calls from credit card companies alerting you to unusual purchase patterns on your card.

Scammers cast a broad net, hoping that some people they call will recognize themselves in the false details of the message and think it must be real. Usually, the scammers only have a list of phone numbers without even names, or just randomly generated numbers.

In such situations, there is no practical way to reliably confirm the identify of any caller or email sender because Caller ID and email addresses can be falsified.

Aware of these kinds of scams, prudence suggests ignoring such calls, recorded or live, and giving our financial and other private information only people we have contacted on a telephone number that we ourselves have confirmed is valid.

Nov 19 Police Tips to Reduce Recent Rash of Thefts from Cars

Tips to Reduce Thefts From Automobiles 
Prince George's County Police District VI (Laurel/Beltsville)
Community Oriented Policing Services (C.O.P.S.)

• Park your vehicle in a well lighted area.

• Make sure you remove all items of value.

• If you have a portable GPS, consider also removing its mount, and wipe away any marks of its attachment. Such marks reveal that you have a GPS and may lead some thieves to break into your car thinking your GPS is hidden in your vehicle.

• Lock all of your doors and roll the windows up.

• Activate your vehicle alarm, if you have one.

These five easy steps greatly reduce the chances of you becoming a victim of theft from auto.

And remember, if an item is stolen from your vehicle and was not permanently attached or is an after-market product, it may not be covered by your insurance company.

Oct 29-31 PGPD Community Services Division Safe Treat Initiative

The Prince George’s County Police Department’s Community Services Division will be hosting a Safe Treat Initiative to promote personal safety awareness and education.

The Community Services Division, along with the Robbery Suppression Teams (RST), Special Assignment Teams (SAT), and Community Oriented Police Officers (COPS), will be on hand at their respective districts to assist with this initiative.  Each station will decorate their lobby area to allow a safe place for parents to bring their children for trick-or-treating. Parents and children will be able to speak with a COPS officer who will share safety tips and information about the Explorer and Police Athletic League Programs.

Children are encouraged to come in costume and receive candy; however no child will be turned away if they are not in costume. COPS and Community Services Division officers will be conducting high visibility patrol during this initiative.  They will provide candy and literature to children in the community.

Event: Safe Treat Initiative

When: October 29th – October 31st

Time: 1:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Where: District I / Hyattsville, 5000 Rhode Island Avenue, Hyattsville, Maryland

District II / Bowie, 601 S.W. Crain Highway, Upper Marlboro, Maryland

District III / Palmer Park, 7600 Barlowe Road, Landover, Maryland

District IV/ Oxon Hill, 5135 Old Indian Head Highway, Oxon Hill, Maryland

District V/ Clinton, 6707 Groveton Drive, Clinton, Maryland

District VI/ Beltsville, 4321 Sellman Road, Beltsville, Maryland

All members of the community and media are invited to attend.  For more information, call the Prince George’s County Police Department’s Community Services Division at (301) 772-4402.

For full details, go to

Contact Information:

Community Services Division 301-772-4402

New Soo's Deli in Pheasant Run Shopping Plaza

Here's an unsolicited testimonial received from a satisfied customer about the new Soo's Deli, 9832 Mallard Dr. (MAP), on the corner of the liquor store building that faces south toward Mallard Dr.

I am writing about Soo's Deli located at 9832 Mallard Drive (Pheasant Run Shopping Plaza). I went there several weeks ago and I ordered a chicken salad sandwich which was very good. Then, on this past Thursday morning, I went to the deli because breakfast is served "all day". I wish to report that their "big breakfast" is also quite good and the portion is generous. The big breakfast includes two eggs (your way), home fries (real potatoes) with onions, sausage and bacon and two slices of toast. All of this for $3.99 + tax.

I hope that other South Laurel residents will patronize Soo's Deli. The service is warm and friendly and the food is made on site and very neatly presented. There are tables for those who prefer to "eat in" or carryout is available. As a resident of South Laurel, we must patronize the business of our community and I do hope that Soo's Deli will become a favored place to go.

Montpelier Arts Center - First Film and Final Recital Oct 23-24

Montpelier Arts Center - First Film and Final Recital Oct 23-24

Look Out Photo: Suspect in B&Es in Montpelier

Click to enlarge or print image.
This is a newly available photo of a suspect in the act of committing a burglary in Laurel on at 11:07 pm on August 4, 2010.  The image was captured on a home security system.

8700-hundred block of Graystone Lane
Laurel, MD 20708
CCN# 10-217-0027

If you have information about this suspect or burglary, please email or call the anonymous Prince George's County Police Tip-Line (301) 931-3575 .

Oct 15 Helping Patuxent River One Tree at a Time

Looking for an opportunity for your children to earn community service learning hours and learn about the environment? Join WSSC in removing invasive weeds around trees at West Laurel. If your child is under 15, they must be accompanied by an adult.  WSSC will provide the gloves and snippers.  Fri., Oct. 15 (school is out that day), 9 a.m. to Noon; Supplee Lane Recreation Area, 16901 Supplee Lane, Laurel. (MAP)  301-206-8233 or

Pizza & Wings Coming to Crystal Plaza 
Kafe Kabab Closed

At 12729 Laurel Bowie Rd, in Crystal Plaza at Rt 197 and Muirkirk Rd, the Pakistani restaurant, Kafe Kabab, has closed. There's a hand-written sign in the window saying Pizza & Wings Coming Soon.

Kafe Kabab opened in July 2008, replacing Doc's Grille which emphasized home style hambugers. (street view)

See this update

Thu Sep 2 1 pm County Police Coffee for Seniors
Speaker from Attorney General's Office

2010.08.30 Rio Update: New Management & Menu
Steppin Style Dancing 1st & 3d Thur

2010.08.30 Rio Update -- as we understand:
On August 1, Mr. Tak Yoon, owner of Rio Restaurant and Lounge (aka "Rio Lounge"), 13501 Baltimore Ave at Contee Rd, in Prince George's County immediately adjacent to South Laurel, hired a new Business Manager, Mr. Amit Patel, and a new Marketing Manager, Mr. Vincent (Vito) Catlett. Mr. Patel is the owner of the recently closed Side Pockets Bar & Grill (904 Fairlawn Avenue) in the Laurel Shopping Center (behind Books-A-Million). Mr. Catlett is also from Side Pockets.

On Aug 10, at their request, Mr. Patel and Mr. Catlett met with the Pastor of the adjacent Touch of Love Bible Church, and a few other South Laurel community leaders who could quickly fit the Pastor's schedule. Mr. Patel and Mr. Catlett expressed their sincere intent to operate an "upscale" business for "mature clientèle" (mainly ages 25-55). We expressed the community's expectation  that they operate fully within the conditions of Rio's occupancy permit and liquor license, which were established to ensure peace and safety at that historically violent location. Mr. Patel and Catlett gave assurances that they would definitely operate in compliance. For example, they said that recently, on the first night they posted and enforced their new dress code, they had to turn away about 100 people (mostly former Side Pockets customers, many of whom came back later and passed the dress code). A public hearing is scheduled on December 8 to review Rio's liquor license conditions.

Meanwhile, Rio has launched a strategy to increase dinner customers in the early evening hours, with a new menu and with dinner-oriented events during Happy Hour (3 pm - 8 pm). Those Happy Hour events have included a successful networking dinner on July 27 with 150 business professionals attending, and new twice-a-month "Steppin" style dancing and dinner. See the following event flyer being distributed by Rio.

13501 Baltimore Avenue, Laurel MD. 20707 TEL (410) 813-2020

Rio’s Lounge Presents…
Steppin Chicago Style Happy Hour
Everyone Welcome
Every 1st & 3rd Thursday of the month starting @ 5pm!

LIVE DJ playing all your Favorite Steppin Tunes to Step to!

This event is catered for Mature Clientele. Calling all DMV Area STEPPERS!!!

Drink Specials
Happy Hour 3p-8p 
$2 Domestic Drafts; $3 Mixed Rails; $4 Long Island Ice Tea and now
$6 Top Shelf (excludes VSOP’s, Privileges & 1738 brands) 
5pm – 8pm
 .50 CENT Steamed Shrimp (minimum 12- dine in only)
Buy Any 1 Bottle Wine, Get 2nd Bottle of equal value or less 
1/2 priced!!!

Tue Aug 3 National Night Out at Police District VI

Left-Click on Flyer image to enlarge or print Flyer only

  • MAP to nearby Police District VI Station 
  • Please consider sharing this post using the email icon below 
  • Or tell your Friends this easy to remember web link J.MP/d6nno
  • And/or please send a cell phone TXT message like this to your friends:
Police District VI National Night Out,
Tue Aug 3, 2010 6-8pm,
4321 Sellman Rd, Beltsville
FREE Picnic Food & Soft Drinks & Fun
Details at J.MP/d6nno
Police Demos, Helicopters,
Fire Trucks, Hum-Vs, Horses,
Bomb Robots, Basketball,
Moon Bounce, Radar Fast Pitch,
And more !

WSSC Repairs, Advisories, Updates & Water Saving Tips

July 6 Update
WSSC Lifts Mandatory Water Restrictions
Effective Immediately
Section of 96-inch Pipe is Successfully Replaced
Customers Can Return to Normal Usage 

(Laurel, MD, July 6, 2010)  General Manager Jerry N. Johnson has announced the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) is lifting the Mandatory Water Use Restrictions, effective immediately.  WSSC serves customers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

"Our pipe is back in service.  I want to thank our customers who were unavoidably inconvenienced by these water restrictions,” said Johnson. “We made the right decision and took the proper precautions when we decided to immediately repair the pipe. The restrictions were unfortunate, but necessary.  We needed to be proactive to prevent what could have been a very serious situation."

WSSC [had] continued the restrictions into Tuesday to make certain that the water meets state water quality standards and ensure the health and safety of our customers.  WSSC has never had a drinking water violation in 92 years of operation.  Tests confirmed this morning that those standards have been met.  The pipe was put back in service and now the water use restrictions have been lifted

The [restriction] order was issued on Thursday July 1, 2010 after a state-of-the-art monitoring system detected a potential weakness in a section of a 96-inch pipe near the intersection of Tuckerman Lane and Gainsborough Road in Potomac in Montgomery County.  In order to maintain pressure for fighting fires and to reduce risk to the entire system, it was necessary to reduce water usage to take the pressure off of another, smaller transmission pipe.  A preliminary inspection of the pipe indicates obvious corrosion and damage. It will undergo a full forensic analysis.

WSSC asked for a 30 percent reduction in water use, with a prohibition on outdoor use.  This necessitated cooperation throughout the counties, the state and the region.  “I want to thank Governor Martin O’Malley, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson, their staffs and emergency personnel; as well as WSSC’s Commissioners for their support of our actions,” stated General Manager Johnson. "I also want to thank the media who took extra steps to help inform the public; the State Highway Administration for its cooperation; our customers who cut back on water usage; the contractor who made the repairs; and of course the team at WSSC who literally worked around the clock to fix the pipe and to inform the public.  I know it was a major inconvenience, especially on a holiday weekend."

A sophisticated monitoring technology called Acoustic Fiber Optics (AFO) was installed in the 96-inch Pre-stressed Concrete Cylinder Pipe (PCCP) three years ago during a routine inspection. Wires are embedded inside the PCCP and covered by a layer of concrete.  When corrosion causes the concrete, and then the wires, to deteriorate, the wires snap and make a “ping” sound. AFO works by “listening” for those sounds. An alarm was sounded Thursday June 30, 2010 after eight pings were detected over a 24-hour period.  That set off a series of events which led to WSSC taking the pipe out of service and ordering the Mandatory Water Restrictions.

While work on the pipe is complete, work to restore the site will continue for several days.  WSSC wants to thank the residents and motorists in the area for their patience.
More WSSC News, Alerts & Updates

Kafe Kabab Menu and 3-for-2 Entre Coupon Offer

Photo credit: The Best of East Laurel Coupon Magazine (Spring 2010), Think Big Productions (Click image to enlarge)

In addition to this partial list of Kafe Kabab's many entres, the bottom row shows a typical buffet which changes daily. The buffet also includes deserts like Kheer, and Gajar Ka Halwa (Sweet Carrot Delight), and piping hot Gulab Jamun , and more. (*)

Look for the Kafe Kabab ad in the current The Best of East Laurel Coupon Magazine (Spring 2010) with a coupon for a 3d entre Free with purchase of any 2 entres  (through 6/22/2010, coupon needed -- this article is not a coupon).

Kafe Kabab
12729 Laurel Bowie Rd (Crystal Plaza)
Laurel, MD  301-498-5233

(*) For more information, including American entres see
Kafe Kabab Expands Menu: Indian-Pakistani & American

Update 3 - HB558/PG315-10 Entertainment Permit

UPDATE 4: 2010.05.20 HB558 signed into law by Governor in final form as Chapter 684 (supercedes versions below). This law enters into effect July 1, 2010. Then the Liquor Board will develop regulations to implement its provisions.
UPDATE 3: 2010.04.12 According to a P.G. County official, HB558/PG315-10 passed the Maryland Senate today (with no changes to the House version), the last day of this legislative session. There are no expected impediments to the Governor signing HB558 into law.
UPDATE 2: 2010.04.02 Fixed link to full text of HB558, and added fiscal and policy note 
UPDATE 1: 2010.03.31 If i correctly understand  the MLIS bill status page, this is the final wording of the House adopted HB558 and this is the HB558 Fiscal and Policy Note at its third reading on March 25, when it passed the full Maryland House of Delegates by a vote of 131 Yeas, 7 Nays. To become law, it still needs to pass in the Maryland Senate.

Apr 12 4pm Del. Gerron Levi Final Farewell Event

As this years session of the Maryland Assembly is about to end, Delegate Gerron Levi is leaving office as our long community-serving Maryland House Representative for District 23A. 

Crystal Plaza Kafe Kabab Expands Menu:
Indian-Pakistani & American

Kafe Kabab 
12729 Laurel Bowie Road, Laurel 
Phone: 301-498-5233 
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 
11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday (closed 1 to 2:30 p.m.); 
11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
Christopher Anderson/The Gazette
Skewers of marinated chicken and lamb cook on the grill at Kafe Kabab in Laurel.

For those seeking authentic Indian-Pakistani kababs and curries, Kafe Kabab in South Laurel offers a range of ethnic choices to tempt even the most timid taster. And just to be fair to wary eaters, owner Faisal Jilani says it's his philosophy to allow customers to taste a dish before they order it. As a result, visitors might go instead for his burgers and fries ($4.99), chicken wings ($4.99) or soft tacos ($3.99). Whatever their tastes, there's sure to be something tasty for everyone at Kafe Kabab.  Full article in the Dec 10, 2009 Laurel (C)

Mar 15 Legislative District 23 Night in Annapolis

Click image or download Flyer

South Laurel Residents are Invited to Join

Senator Douglas Peters
Delegate Marvin Holmes
Delegate James Hubbard
Delegate Gerron Levi

for the
Legislative District 23
2010 Night in Annapolis

Monday, March 15, 2010
5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Miller Senate Office Building
President’s Conference Room West

Sat Mar 6 2 PM Black History Month Concert - Montpelier Mansion

Black History Month Concert
Society for the Preservation of African American Arts
Saturday, March 6, 2 pm (*)
Montpelier Mansion

9650 Muirkirk Road  (Muirkirk Road at Route 197) 
Laurel, Maryland 20708 

The Society for the Preservation of African American Arts will teach about African Americans’ rich history through re-enactments, song and theater based on plantation life in the 1800s.

This program is funded in part by the Maryland State Arts Council

Ages 10 and up
  • $10 for FoM Members / Seniors 60+ / Students / Prince George’s County residents
  • $15 for others
Reservations Recommended (301) 377-7817; TTY (301) 446-3302

(*) Postponed from Saturday, January 30, 2 pm due to snow

Fri Mar 12 & Fri Apr 9 Afternoon Teas Montpelier Mansion

Where:             Montpelier Mansion
                      9650 Muirkirk Road
                         Enter driveway from Muirkirk Rd just west of Rt 197
                         Laurel, Maryland 20708

Contact Info: Tel: (301) 377-7817
                         TTY: (301) 446-3302

When: Friday, March 12 and Friday, April 9, 2:30

What: Treat yourself or someone special to a selection of fine finger sandwiches, scrumptious cakes and pastries, buttery scones and your choice of quality loose leaf teas, all served on imported English china and tiered silver stands, in Montpelier’s elegant South Wing.

Cost:   $25 per person.  Reservations and Payment required in advance.

Sun Feb 28 2-4pm Laurel Area Fundraiser for County Council District 1 Candidate Mary Lehman

Come support Mary Lehman's
County Council Campaign
Sunday, February 28 2-4 p.m.
Tampico Grill
42 Washington Blvd. South
(Route 1 South)
Laurel, MD 20707
Donate online:
By Authority of Jeanne Taylor, Treasurer

Feb 22 South Laurel Apartment Fire Displaces 27

According to that article, those wishing to help the displaced residents should contact the Red Cross.

Photo exhibit compares life in Laurel in 1910, 2010
Special Events Mar 21 & 27

The Gazette Thursday, February 18, 2010

Laurel Historical Society and Museum


March 21 - Spring Back in Time
Laurel--The Laurel Museum, 817 Main St., hosts an afternoon of fun and discovery featuring crafts, games, snacks and activities for children of all ages at the Spring Back in Time event, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., March 21. Cost is $5 per child, parents attend free. Pay at the door. Reservations required, call 301-725-7975. For more information and directions visit or call 301-725-7975.

March 27 - Night of the Comet - Laurel Historical Society Annual Gala
Laurel--The Laurel Historical Society will host their Annual Gala, 6:30 p.m., March 27, at the Carriage Room at Laurel Park Racetrack. Reservations required, call 301-725-7975 or visit Dinner, dance and a silent auction. Cost is $75 per person. The evening celebrates the year Haley's Comet streaked across the sky in 1910 and life in Laurel featured in the newest exhibit of the Laurel Museum, 817 Main Street, "Snapshots in Time: Our Community in 1910 and 2010". 

Regular Museum Hours & Arranged Tours - Free
The Laurel Museum is open Wednesday and Fridays 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., and Sundays 1:00-4:00 p.m. Group tours are available by special arrangement. Admission is free, and there is a museum gift shop on the lower level. For more information and directions visit or call 301-725-7975.

Mar 18-21 Tabernacle Church Women's Conference

    Click image to view or print

    The Tabernacle Church 11601 South Laurel Drive, Laurel

Schools Superintendent Letter on Snow/Schools

Schools Superintendent Letter on Snow/Schools Feb 15, 2010

Provided by District 1 School Board Member, Rosalind Johnson

MD District 21 Snow Removal Update Feb 15

From Maryland State Delegation 21

Senator Jim Rosapepe
Delegate Barbara Frush
Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk
Delegate Ben Barnes

Thanks to all who have helped neighbors deal with last week's heavy snow fall and who have let us and County Councilmen Dernoga, Olson, and Benoit know which streets still needed plowing by county and state highway agencies. We've been in constant touch with them to focus their attention -- and plows -- on our neighborhoods and main roads like Routes 1, 197, 198, 212, 175 and 32. We've coordinated with the Cities of Laurel and College Park as well.

With snow still piled up from last week and more snow expected today, please let us know streets and intersections which still or again need plowing. Obviously, because the scale of last week's storms was unprecedented, the highway agencies did not have enough equipment to clear all roads and streets as quickly as any of us would like. That makes information from citizens who know exactly where the problems are especially important.

Likewise, if your power goes out, please notify PEPCO (1-877-PEPCO-62) or BGE (1-877-778-2222) as soon as possible. Additionally, the harsh weather and salting has created many dangerous pot holes. If you see potholes during your commute please call the state hot line at 301-952-0555.

And feel free to contact us as well.
Call 301 858 3141

Thanks again for your help through this challenging time.

Senator Jim Rosapepe
Delegate Barbara Frush
Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk
Delegate Ben Barnes

21st District Delegation
301 858 3141

Feb 15 Trash & Recycle Pick Up

According to a February 12 Prince George's County Press Release, recycling and trash collection, will operate on your street's regular schedule on Monday, February 15, 2010

Snow Update From Councilman Tom Dernoga
Feb 14 10:30 AM (#7)

From District 1 County Councilman Tom Dernoga:

Happy Valentine's Day! I think.

I am hoping that this will be my last day of snow duty (until tomorrow night) and that we can all get back to normal routines. Based on what I have seen, we are on the home stretch.

Weather Today: Partly to mostly sunny and breezy. 35-40. | Tonight: Mostly clear. Increasing clouds late. Teens to near 20. | Tomorrow: Snow or wintry mix develops. 32-37. (Wash Post)

Today should see the wrap up of the communities that have seen too little action. I have been around to every corner of the District and I will be out later this morning to check out the few remaining places I know of.

Saturday Tour - I will be brief – these posts of mine run on too long.

After getting out the Sat Morning Update (#6), I read and responded to emails for hours, compiled the latest complaints and forwarded a list to DPWT. Then I called to make sure they got it and that they would do something about it. DPWT is great but sometimes they don't see things the way you do, so I have to help … um, "interpret" your concerns.

I hit the road mid-afternoon and checked out my West Laurel neighborhood. While it was made passable reasonably early in the week, remember that "passable" is a relative term and by the end of the week, people are pretty tired of chewed up snow that gets regular vehicles stuck. I toured almost the entire neighborhood and did what I could to prioritize equipment to the main internal arteries. People saw a lot of activity through evening and all night. There is still some more work, but things are a lot better.

I went to Mayfair to make sure that was done – yes! Then I checked out Old Gunpowder Spur andBirkhall/Davron. OK, but not great.

I headed to Calverton which was a major hot spot over night. If you think you had it bad, you have not been to Calverton. They really were at the end of the clean up list – their streets had not been even "passable" in the broadest sense. Boy was I in for a pleasant surprise. They may have been last, but they were best. They got the new shipment of front end loaders and they worked to get their cars off the streets. So, they had virtually wall-to-wall bare pavement. No packed snow/ice and no single lane. There is something to be said for being last, I guess. There was still a few streets to be done, but I spoke with the foreman and with Calverton activist Frank Cockerell to make sure it all got done before the loaders were moved. I spoke with some residents who decided not to boil me in oil now that they saw why we needed the loaders and what the loaders would do.

I went through Beltsville, which also had a lot of issues this week. Many streets had been made "passable" but they really weren't. A Metro Access Van had been stuck on 35th Place on Friday trying to bring a handicapped resident home, and there was another van stuck when I drove up. It was embarrassing. I had some residents give me "what for" (who can blame them), but I dragged a dump truck over there to get on it. I toured the side streets on the south Side of Montgomery Rd – the ones on the steep hill that are hard to get into good condition. They were improved and some were actually good, but it seems like more work is needed.

I ran down Sellman to Sellman Estates which had been deemed "passable" earlier in the week but was now a mess. A front end loader and a plow were making it all good.

I ran by Chestnut Hills so that Karen Coakley wouldn't be writing about me in the next Beltsville News (Smile) and that whole area really needed major work. The plows had been there but again, "passable" a few days ago had deteriorated into a mess. Fortunately, I knew that the plan was for the front end loaders in Calverton and Sellman Estates would be spending the rest of the evening in Chestnut Hills.

I exited Beltsville out Josephine and I was really disappointed that the area around Josephine and Brandon had not been done better than they were. Something to get done on Sunday. I made one more loop around West laurel on my way home and saw that some of the things we asked for were happening. I made one more loop around the neighborhood later in the evening and started to feel good.

I did not get to a few places that I wanted to, so I will be out on late this morning. I did send in requests about areas in Laurel and South Laurel and Vansville, and I called to make sure that they were getting attention. I will check them. I was told that Longwoods and Vansville got treated and I hope so. Also, Briarwood/Chip and Snow Hill Estates.


With any luck, my last Update will be later today after I do my tour and we can call an end to Snowmageddon. I really hope so. The upper-30's temperatures, sunlight and salt should really help today with actual melting.

As always, my staff and I are monitoring phone calls to the office (301) 952-3887 and emails that we receive. We are forwarding concerns directly to the personnel supervising the snow removal teams. I am getting these emails on my Blackberry - your message is being read and dealt with.

Since Saturday, all I have done is SNOW 24-7. It's what is expected and it is what should happen. Things are definitely slower than anyone would like. I don't control the plows or the operations. But, I have a duty to make sure that your problems are addressed and that DPWT knows what you are seeing. I believe that i am obligated to get out in the streets and see the situation first hand. In addition, since DPWT does not have time for neighborhood-level communications, it is also my role to try to tell you what is going on and what to expect. My staff and I are doing our best to keep you informed and to make sure that you get usable streets as soon as possible.

Tom Dernoga, Chair

Prince George's County Council (District 1)

(301) 952-3887

Snow Update From Councilman Tom Dernoga
Feb 13 9:30 AM

From County Councilman Tom Dernoga:

My staff and I are monitoring phone calls to the office (301) 952-3887 and emails to . We are forwarding concerns directly to the personnel supervising the snow removal teams. I am getting these emails on my Blackberry - your message is being read and dealt with.

Weather Today: Slight chance of morning light snow or flurries, then decreasing clouds. 33-38. Tonight: Clearing, breezy, and cold. 18-24. | Tomorrow: Mostly sunny. 35-39. (Wash Post)

I am fielding a lot of emails and calls. We are pushing DPWT to make as much progress as possible - although there is a lot of places still needing help. We expect to saw a lot of real progress Thur & Friday and should see excellent progress today/tonight. The mid-30's temperatures, sunlight and salt provided some actual melting.

I didn't get out the planned update yesterday (I started it, but got too busy). I also didn't get to read all emails, for which I apologize, but let me recap what I've been doing and what seems to be getting done.

As you may know from prior updates, I toured various parts of District 1 Monday night when I could get out and Tuesday night. Wed I followed instructions and stayed in during the blizzard (without power).

Thursday, I worked on my update, responded to emails and got a much-later-than-planned survery of the District. I went out at 5pm and stayed out until 11pm. I read and responded to emails to 3am on Friday morning (and I still wasn't done). I got up by 8am and started reading emails and working on the Friday update, but I had to leave to get out to see what was happening based on Thur night's information. I ended up at the Snow Operations Center again and finally came home around 7pm last night. As soon as i finish this update, I will head out for another survey.

My surveys help because the plow/tractor operators and the Supervisors in the Operations Center do not know your communities. They also don't have time to tour large sections of the District for 4-5 hours, and their Snow District goes almost to Bowie, down to the District line in Langley Park/Chillum and includes Glendale. So, I am able to check on your complaints and concerns and bring big issues directly to their attention.

Understanding DPWT Operations (Why haven't we seen a plow?)

The County is divided up into Snow Operations regions and each Region is divided up into Primary Road and Residential Street Sectors. Equipment generally does the Primary Road Sectors first, and then moves into the Residential Street Sectors.

Remember that the County has a lot of smaller plows and a number of big dump trucks with plows, with few front-end loaders or graders (which aren't normally needed). For this storm, with the 24-30 inches over the weekend, the plows could not handle the load. This forced the burden onto the dump trucks (an insufficient number for the need), and even the dump trucks had trouble. Trucks got stuck repeatedly and the constant wear and tear in harsh conditions led to various breakdowns. what is needed in the case of massive snow is digging by front end loaders and using graders. There are very few of these and it took time to get more and get them positioned. There has been a good surge in availability of this equipment since Thurs, so a lot of progress has started to be made.

While many people "never saw a plow" through mid-week or yesterday, there were crews all over the District doing what they could with the equipment they had. For these two storms, when they moved into the Residential Street Sectors, they focused on the main residential arteries in each community to try to get access at a minimal level - in large part so that emergency vehicles could get close to any incident and a plow could be detailed to assist with any emergency. This actually happened on a number of occasions, pulling that plow off of its assigned duties.

After the Primaries and main residential roads were done Sun & Mon, they moved into all residential streets to try to make them "passable". They may not be passable for YOUR car, depending on what you drive. "passable" often really means you need 4-wheel drive or front-wheel drive. however, most emergency vehicles can get through, and that is key.

Some streets appeared to have been skipped either because they are smaller or in corners or were blocked by vehicles - this shouldn't happen, but it has in some cases it did - OR because the residents' self-help made it look passable and the drivers moved on to worse streets. I know someone (maybe you and your neighbors) did something on every street I went to because I could not find any streets with 24+ inches of snow (although I'm sure someone has one somewhere). I did see a number of streets with 8-10 inches of snow and tire tracks made by 4-wheel drive vehicles that I would not consider passable (although I drove them in my Prius).

From Tues through Thur night, as the Primary Roads were put into decent shape, more equipment became available and allocated to this Region. The crews are assigned to a Residential Street Sector and they are going street by street. If you are at the opposite end of the Sector from where they start, it can be awhile before they get to you - this is very time consuming. Also, I have noticed that if they get to your street in sunlight or with a front-end loader, they are getting down to bare pavement in many instances. If they get to you at night or with a smaller plow they are improving on "passable". They will be back to get you to bare pavement as soon as possible. I got a lot of emails yesterday suggesting mid-to-late afternoon plowing due to the melting. The crews are doing that but it may not be in your neighborhood.

Also, passable is often 3-6 inches of hard-packed snow/ice. Passable for the right vehicle in cold weather because its as solid as pavement. With the salt and melting temperatures, the daytime traffic is tearing the ice into HUGE potholes (which then freeze). I know this. You know this. The Snow Team knows this. These streets are becoming impassable and the goal will be to get the streets down to bare pavement or as many bare spots as possible.

What I've Seen Lately

Following up on the last update about my Mon/Tues tour, Wed during the blizzard had the crews out in various areas, but I know I heard reports of plow sightings in Beltsville (along the Montgomery Road corridor), Hillandale and Adelphi, parts of South Laurel (such as Montpelier Woods) and some streets in West Laurel.

Thurs morning and afternoon, i heard a lot of complaints along the Montgomery Road corridor, Calverton and Buck Lodge (and others, but these were large areas in need). I asked to have those areas and South Laurel Drive/Snowden Pond prioritized as soon as possible on Thurs/Fri.


My tour took me through the Bounds/Sweitzer area of West Laurel (bare pavement so it must have been afternoon plowing or a loader), down through Virginia Manor to Ammendale (still in good shape), over to Powder Mill and down to Josephine (lots of justified complaints). I had promised to visit Cardinal & Hartford, so I did. And, I got stuck. A neighbor pulled me out (thank you!) and I headed out Sellman to Montgomery. Clearly, that area of Beltsville needed big work. I had already put on a lot of pressure to get trucks in that area and I knew that there were some working around Brandon/Josephine etc., and that there were more along the Montgomery Road corridor, but there was a lot of work to be done. I went northwest on Montgomery to the end and turned around (Montgomery was unacceptable as a major residential street). I checked out some side streets and while "passable" in the broadest sense of the word, they really needed more work - especially the very hilly south/west side of Montgomery.

I went down Route 1 (not as good as it should have been) to Cherry Hill Rd (which had been a disaster earlier in the week). The front end loader cleared up Cherry Hill very nice. I went up to check out Sellman Estates (moderately passable, but starting to deteriorate into potholes). From there, I went up to Allview Estates real fast where I had heard about impassable roads (technically, they were passable, but one could certainly argue). I headed down Riggs, through Forest Hill/Green Forest and Wooded Way (passable, but tough on the hills) to Adelphi and back up Riggs.


My blackbery had emails about Buck Lodge. I checked it out and it was worse than anything virtually any of you have seen. 8-10 inches of frozen snow with two tire tracks all the way through. I took it in my Prius but I have no idea how i made it through - It was scary and I was expecting to have to yell for help. I put Buck Lodge on the priority list for Friday and called it in to the Snow Operations Center. From there I checked out parts of White Oak Manor (a lot of bare pavement streets, but some bad side streets and cul-du-sacs (passable, but not very). I then hit Hillandale and found a huge front end loader clearing the virtually impassable Towhee/Phoebe entrance section. I went down Phoebe and it was 8-10" of snow/ice with two tire ruts. again, it was scary but I barely got through. There some trucks in Hillandale trying to clear up that sector before moving on. Many of the Hillandale streets were in pretty good shape, but there were still some places needing work.


I headed back up to Calverton because I had started to hear about it being impassable. I checked out the south side (Chapelview/Craiglawn) and it was in good shape. Then I went up Greenmount and checked the side streets. It was Buck Lodge all over again. I had a very scarey run through Dunnington and I bailed out on Castleleigh because I didn't want to try the hill up to Briggs Chaney. I had asked for plows out there, but they hadn't gotten there, so I called it in again and let them know that whatever they had thought ... most of Calverton was impassable and needed major equipment immediately.

Beltsville Again

I stopped back in Beltsville and saw that Cedar Lane had gotten pretty clear and that Howard looked pretty good. I went down Cardinal the other way and found someone stuck at Hartford. I got out and spoke with the residents and helped push the car out. I then went up Josephine (I swear there was a plow there at Brandon), headed out Brandon to Howard and came across another car that just couldn't get up the hill by the Elementary School because it had no traction. We pushed that out and I went up to Montgomery again and took it to Powder Mill. I found a dump truck laying salt, so I followed it over to Beltsville Heights and checked that out (passable, but terrible).

South Laurel

I then decided to wrap up the evening over in South Laurel. I needed to check on South Laurel Drive and Snowden Pond. On the way, I checked out Bedford (passable, but getting potholes - a few bare streets) and Montpelier Hills (ok). The big equipment was taking the previously impassable South Laurel Drive and making it look great. I confirmed that they were next going to Snowden Pond and then Montpelier Woods. So, i went to both and checked them out (passable, but terrible).

On the way back home, I swung through Snow Acres. The ring streets were very good, even some bare pavement. however, the connecting streets (Dub and Mark Place) were terrible.

I got home around midnight and worked on emails until 3am.

Friday, first thing I called in to push for Buck Lodge, Calverton, Beltsville, Mayfair and some smaller areas that had been missed. I also had Alex Hirtle, my Legislative Aide, camp out at the Snow Operations Center instead of working from our office in order to get more accurate info


Then, I decided to go down Old Gunpowder to Franklin Farms (largely bare pavement except Blackpool). Then, I headed over to Calverton (really, really bad) to see if the equipment was there. They told me it was but I didn't see it. I went down Powder Mill to Cherry Hill and checked out Allview. I didn't go on all the streets but what I saw was largely bare pavement, so it looked like they had cleaned it up as I had requested. I went down Cherry Hill to Starbucks to download your emails and confer with DPWT. They had me run down to Largo, drop my Prius and finally get a 4-wheel drive.


I came back to Beltsville to find that Route 1 was a parking lot. More lanes and turn lanes needed SHA! :-)

I cut through Tonquil and Usange (passable, but deteriorating and rough with the hills) and headed up Montgomery to Powder Mill. Montgomery was still unacceptable (one lane in spots) and the side streets on the southwest side still were tough because of the hill (passable doesn't work on an icy hill). I drove into a couple of streets, but it really needed work. I headed down Powder Mill to Beltsville Heights (formerly passable was deteriorating quickly.


Then, I headed to a meeting at the Snow Operations Center in Glendale. I and other Council members met with the Director and talked about communications and what needed to be done to get all streets up to a usable condition. Afterward, I headed up Kenilworth/Edmonston to Vansville. Cordwall and the streets around it were terrible - arguably "passable" but the deteriorating ice made it ridiculous. I check North Creek Farms - good - and went up Ellington to Muirkirk. I checked out Longwood. Some streets were pretty good, but most were formerly "passable" that had deteriorated into a mess.

From there, I went up Virginia Manor to Mayfair which had been waiting for a front end loader for days. The loader had come, but it broke down. Mayfair Road was still terrible, but Mayfair Drive had a fair amount of bare pavement.

I called it a day and headed back for emails.

As soon as I get through some emails and check out status of last night/this morning, i will go do another tour today. I know that I need to find the last hot spots AND to check out those formerly "passable" streets that have melted into moonscape.

Look for me. I'm in a County-marked 4-wheel drive and I will stop to talk. Just be nice. A little.

What about Tom's Street?
I know a lot of people suspect political figures get their streets done first. I know better. I took a photo yesterday morning as evidence. My street is also "passable", but has a few bare spots down further from my house. I know a plow or two has come through because I've seen the evidence. But no front end loader, no bare pavement, etc. I can get out with my front wheel drive Prius, so no special treatment needed.

Since Saturday, all i have done is SNOW 24-7. It's what is expected and it is what should happen. Things are definitely slower than anyone would like. I don't control the plows or the operations. But, i have a duty to make sure that your problems are addressed and that DPWT knows what you are seeing. I believe that i am obligated to get out in the streets and see the situation first hand. In addition, since DPWT does not have time for neighborhood-level communications, it is also my role to try to tell you what is going on and what to expect. My staff and I are doing our best to keep you informed and to make sure that you get usable streets as soon as possible.

Tom Dernoga, Chair
Prince George's County Council (District 1)
(301) 952-3887