**FILE** MCPS is under fire for the high levels of lead found in its schools' drinking water. (Courtesy of advancedwatersoftening.com)

In the wake of the recent uproar about the high levels of lead found throughout the Montgomery County Public Schools system, advocates are calling for stricter lead standards for school drinking water sources.

While MCPS conducts its first districtwide drinking water analysis in nearly a decade, reports on 21 schools have already surfaced. Of those 21 schools, 12 contained water samples had lead levels exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard of 20 parts per billion.

In a recent statement, County Council member Marc Elrich said that he was exploring the possibility of establishing stricter lead standards for drinking sources at playgrounds, recreation centers and schools and that he’s already reached out to Dr. Travis Gayles, the county’s public health services director, about whether the council can pass such a measure.

Deadly Car Crashes Prompt Community Meeting

The Maryland State Highway Administration hosted an informational meeting Thursday, March 22 on proposed improvements for a Bethesda intersection where three people were killed in a car accident.

During the meeting, state officials shared renderings of the proposed upgrades at the juncture of River Road and Braeburn Parkway and answered questions from the community.

The public meeting was spurred by a spate of deadly crashes in the area in recent years, including one in 2016 in which a Walt Whitman High School senior and his parents were killed near the back entrance to the school.

SHA has since added flashing yellow signs to the site and reconfigured the intersection to prohibit left turns from Braeburn Parkway onto River Road.

Residents have also requested that SHA create a new back entrance to the Whitman parking lot at Pyle Road and to install traffic signals at the River Road intersection and crosswalk.

Marijuana Dispensary Coming to Silver Spring

A new marijuana dispensary is headed for downtown Silver Spring.

In May, HerbaFi is set to open after final business inspections, which are expected to take place this month.

The business will be located at 8413 Ramsey Ave., next to the Silver Spring Transit Center and across from the Discovery Inc. building.

In a statement to Bethesda magazine by Terry Saad, HerbaFi’s director of operations, the company has spent nearly $70,000 to install cameras and other security measures before the opening.

HerbaFi will be the second medical marijuana dispensary in the downtown area, following RISE Silver Spring, which opened in December.

Lauren M. Poteat

Lauren Poteat is a versatile writer with a strong background in communications and media experience with an additional background in education and development.

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