Thursday, January 29, 2015

White Oak and BRT plans discussed at community meeting

The Following is a guest post by local blogger David Hondowicz, who authors Hondo At Large. David lives in Four Corners, and he formerly worked for Councilmember Phil Andrews for 16 years until Andrews' retirement this past fall.  Due to this experience, David is very well versed on the workings of the county government and county council.     

About 50 people attended last night's discussion at Pinecrest Elementary School about the implementation of the White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan and related transportation issues.  Major concerns about both the overall development called for in the White Oak plan and what is anticipated as part of the County-Percontee partnership for Site II were clearly evident during the discussion.  Montgomery County Department of General Services (DGS) Deputy Director Greg Ossont noted that the material terms of the property disposition for Site II (which sets the framework for the subsequent General Development Agreement that the Executive Branch negotiates with Percontee) is pending before the County Council.  The Council's public hearing about the property disposition is February 24th, followed by further deliberations before the Council takes action.  It is worth noting that the Council only has a role in the property disposition process because of Expedited Bill 11-12 (authored by current Council President George Leventhal).  Before EB 11-12, which was enacted by a 6-3 vote in May 2012 over County Executive Leggett's veto, the disposition process for County Government property was an exclusive prerogative of the Executive Branch.  Deputy Director Ossont did point out that the entire development under this public-private partnership must go through the same regulatory approval process at the Planning Board as any other private development, subsequent to Council approval of property disposition and the conclusion of the General Development Agreement.  He also speculated that actual construction by Percontee would not occur until late 2018, at the earliest.

The meeting room.  Photo by David Hondowicz.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

1936 Four Corners murder

During the difficult times of the Great Depression, Four Corners and other rural communities across the country saw a rise in gang activity.  While the idea seems odd today, these gang's main activities consisted of attacking travelers on isolated highways (which Colesville Road and Old Bladensburg Road were at the time) for the purpose of robbery.  Because law enforcement coverage was sparse, these gangs often carried out their crimes unobstructed and without capture.

On November 21st, 1936, a local farmer named Elwood Matthews walked through the woods from his farm just north to the general store in Four Corners.  He left the general store around 8 PM, but did not return home to the farm he shared with his brother.  After two days unaccounted for, his brother reported him missing to the Montgomery County Police on November 23rd.  A large search of the wooded areas along Northwest Branch and the creek itself ensued, but no evidence of Matthews was found.  On December 3rd, almost two weeks after his initial disappearance, Elwood Matthews' body was found by some Boy Scouts in Northwest Branch Creek at the fall line, the area of the creek just south of Colesville Pike with large boulders and rapids.

Matthews had been shot two times, strangled with his own suspenders, and thrown into the water.  The perpetrator(s) of the crime were not yet known.  

The same day of this discovery, a gangster named W. Joseph Kirby was arrested in West Virginia for robbery and kidnapping.  While being questioned by police there about his previous criminal activities, he revealed that he and two other men had murdered a man in Montgomery County, Maryland several days earlier.  He named his two accomplices as William Read, 22, of Four Corners, and Lawrence Gingell, 22, of Kensington.

Josephy Kirby, 22, one of the accomplices in the murder of Elwood Mathews who originally revealed what had happened.  Image from the Washington Post.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Snow day in photos

It's a new year and the first work week of 2015, and we also got some significant snow here in Four Corners.

Woodmoor Shopping Center in the snow around 9:15.  Photo by the author.

The snow began falling overnight during the early morning hours, and it continued to fall until around 10 AM.  There appeared to be about 3-4 inches by the time it let up, more than enough to cuase serious problems on the roads.  Both University Blvd and Colesville Road were covered in snow and slush, which significantly slowed traffic.

University Boulevard at Saint Lawrence Drive.  Photo by the author.