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Fingerprint Scanners Coming To Montgomery Rec Centers

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) -- Montgomery County residents will soon be required to scan their fingers to enter recreation centers.

Officials say switching from plastic passes to finger scanners will save the recreation department $50,000 annually. The scanners will be put into use this fall at three centers, and will be expanded to all the county's centers next year.

Privacy advocates say the measure is intrusive and unnecessary. Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, says it isn't appropriate for a community pool.

Pepco Defends Storm Response To Maryland Regulators

BALTIMORE (WUSA/AP) -- Pepco is defending its response to recent storms that left many without power for days to Maryland utility regulators.

But during a hearing before the Maryland Public Service Commission on Tuesday Pepco officials also admitted that they've had problems communicating with customers.

The PSC noted in its order calling Tuesday's hearing that outages since late July have affected nearly a half million customers and customers complain the company has not communicated effectively during outages.

PSC Chairman Douglas Nazarin engaged in a long round of questioning. He says from hundreds of letters and complaints, the perception among customers is that "the power goes out too often, too easily, and takes too long to restore."

School Lunches Affected by Slow Economy and Budget Cuts

Education Week reports that due to summer school and transportation budget cuts in Montgomery County schools (and in counties across the country) fewer children are getting free lunches in at least one school district.

The recession has made an impact in school lunch and nutrition programs funded by the Department of Agriculture.  The number of free lunches provided to children in the summer has dropped drastically, and the outcome is proving to be detrimental to low income families.

While the cuts in free lunch assistance are heavy this summer, the program should be stabilized for the fall school year.

To read more, visit: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/08/16/01nutrition.h30.html?tkn=MMLFZq6PoVB8iFvgg7dQ1KSCyQH0m549TsDC&cmp=clp-edweek

Montgomery County Council Members Meet Head-On with Pepco

Montgomery County Council President Nancy Floreen, Vice President Valerie Ervin and Council members Phil Andrews, Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, George Leventhal, Nancy Navarro and Duchy Trachtenberg are set to meet in Baltimore on August 17 with Pepco’s chief operating officer and senior officials as the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) performs “a proceeding to investigate the reliability of Potomac Electric Power Company’s (Pepco) electric distribution system and the quality of electric distribution service that Pepco is providing its customers.”

According to the Commission, Pepco’s response to power outages and their communication with customers has been far from superior with the recent summer thunderstorms that have occurred in the area.

The continual year-round power outages that occur in Montgomery County have made the need for a more trustworthy electric company a “top priority”, says President Floreen.

Montgomery County Is Battleground For Swing Votes

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) -- Montgomery County's troubles could be former Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich's ticket back to the governor's mansion.

The state's largest, wealthiest and arguably most liberal jurisdiction is broke. County leaders wrestled to plug a roughly $1 billion budget deficit this year.

Ehrlich has made the county a focal point in his campaign. He announced he would challenge Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley in Rockville, the county seat. His running mate, former Maryland Secretary of State Mary Kane, is from Potomac, one of the county's plushest communities.

Have Fun at the 2010 Montgomery Country Fair and Help Feed the Hungry While Doing It

The 2010 Montgomery County Agricultural Fair will be held in Gaithersburg, MD from August 13 to 21.

Choose from over 40 carnival rides; participate in BINGO, cake auctions, and dance contests; and eat as many funnel cakes and snow cones your stomach can handle.

General admission is $10.00 per person while children 11 and under are free.  Parking is $5.00 per vehicle.

And please don’t forget to bring a non-perishable food donation for the Countrywide Food Drive benefitting the Manna Food Center.  Your canned food donations will help provide food to neighbors in need.

For more information about the 2010 Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, please click: http://www.mcagfair.com/default.asp

Wheaton Woman Without Power Again

WHEATON, Md. (WUSA)-- Thousands of PEPCO customers are having an uncomfortable sense of de ja vu, suffering in the heat of a Washington summer without power, after another passing storm.

Two weeks ago, Jaquanna Duffin stood outside her Wheaton home for days at a time, waiting for PEPCO to reconnect her power after a tree brought down power lines in her front yard.

Thursday, she was in her yard again. The tree was gone and the power lines were restored. But, once again, she was without power.

Duffin learned, during the first storm, where she could go to get her 3-year-old boy out of the heat. Thursday, the little boy was unhappy again, because he couldn't watch cartoons.

When asked if her earlier experience had prepared her for the possibility of going without power for days and days, she simply said "no."

"I think I would go crazy... it's like being in the 1800's," Duffin said.