Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra with Dr. Cornel West
Friday, February 2 at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore

Tapped by Wynton Marsalis to create an Afro-Cuban jazz band to perform regularly at Lincoln Center, pianist and composer Arturo O'Farrill brought together the drama of big band jazz, the culture of Latin music, and 18 of the world's most accomplished solo musicians to create the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO). ALJO's critically acclaimed performances have established them as the standard-bearer for creative interpretation of Latin jazz greats, as well as the driving force behind new commissions from modern jazz's most talented composers and arrangers.   strathmore.org

The top 10 home sales in Montgomery County in December of 2017 were made in just six zip codes, according to Carolyn Sappenfield of Carolyn Homes. The most expensive home sale was at 5619 Bent Branch Road in Bethesda (20816) which sold for $2.8 million - $79,900 less than the list price.  
An apartment (#900) at 8302 Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda (20814) sold for the list price of $2,570,000 while another apartment (#1102) at 5610 Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase (20815) sold for $2.3 million, $99,000 less than the asking price. Other top 10 sales were made in zip codes 20852 (North Bethesda); 20854 (Potomac); and 20817 (Bethesda). More Info

The county is holding five budget forums to seek input from residents on matters related to the fiscal year 2019 operating budget. County Executive Isiah Leggett will be leading the forums that are spread around the county. He will announce his recommended operating budget for fiscal year 2019 on March 15 and the County Council will approve a budget by the end of May. The county's current operating budget stands at $5.4 billion. The dates and locations of the five forums are: January 24, Mid-County Community Center in Silver Spring; January 29, BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown; January 30, Silver Spring Civic Building in Silver Spring; January 31, Eastern Montgomery Regional Services Center in Silver Spring; and February 6, Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center in Bethesda. All of the sessions start at 7 p.m. and will last approximately 90 minutes. More Info  

For residents earning less than $54,000 a year, the county offers free tax preparation services at several locations around the area. Under the Community Action Agency's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, residents can receive the free service on preparation of 2017 taxes only. Prior year and amended returns will be prepared starting in June. Those wanting to take advantage of the service will need to bring an original Social Security card for each family member, a photo ID and other documentation. More Info>


A new state law that took effect January 1 requires homeowners to replace their battery-only operated smoke detectors with devices powered by sealed batteries with a 10-year life span. Additionally, many homeowners may not know that all smoke alarms have expiration dates so both hard-wired and battery-operated smoke alarms need to be replaced every 10 years. mcfrs.org/mcsafe   Because properly functioning smoke alarms can dramatically increase the chances of surviving a fire, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service will check your home smoke alarm installation and perform a safety check for free. More Info>

We're not suggesting a return to Prohibition, but for those residents offended by an establishment's liquor license, now is the time to file a protest against the granting of a renewal of said license. The Montgomery County Board of License Commissioners offers a form that must be signed by at least 10 residents or real estate owners in the close vicinity of the business with an alcohol license. Because most liquor licenses expire April 30, the renewal process is underway, thus a petition against a renewal must be filed between February 1 and March 31. More Info

The Board of Education has adopted the school year calendar for the 2018-2019 school year that features 182 days of instruction, a shortened spring break and two "operational closures" that coincide with the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. School will begin on September 4, 2018, and end on June 13, 2019. County schools will be in session two days more than the state requirement of 180 days. More Info

Need a birthday party idea, rainy day or everyday activity for the little tyke or teen in your family? Here are three great MoCo places and businesses that cater to kids and birthdays.

Croydon Creek Nature Center - Just a short drive from downtown Rockville, the nature center sits on 120 acres of forest preserve and open meadows with a vibrant creek. There are exhibits and interesting programs and there isn't a cost to visit the nature center. Croydon also offers birthday parties with a hour-long program led by a naturalist.  
More Info>

MoComCon - The county's second comic convention will be held at the Silver Spring Library in Silver Spring on January 27 and will feature a variety of presenters, workshops, programs, displays, exhibitors and costume play that affords dressing up as a character. The event is free and starts at 11 a.m. No weapons, including replicas and costume pieces, will be permitted. More Info>

Summer Camps - Kids looking for a summer slate of fun activities can check out two summer camp fairs sponsored by Montgomery County Recreation. Campers and their families can meet recreation staff and instructors, learn about financial aid and register for camp. Both fairs run from noon to 3 p.m. and will be held January 20 at the Nancy H. Dacek North Potomac Community Center in Rockville and February 17 at the East County Community Recreation Center in Silver Spring. More Info>

For the Foodies in Montgomery County

AMICI MIEI - The Italian restaurant with a deeply loyal following has moved its Italian-owned and inspired menu from Potomac to a new location in Rockville. The authentic Italian experience includes pizzas, pastas, and meat, chicken and fish entrees with a variety of fresh and creamy sauces. amicimieiristorante.com

EDIBLE ARRANGEMENTS - While it's not a sit-down dinner place, the new Edible Arrangements in the Kentlands offers more than 70 fruit arrangements for pick up or delivery. The store also has fruit smoothies, yogurt parfaits and berries dipped in chocolate. There are also locations in Rockville and Germantown. ediblearrangements.com 

GYROLAND - Located in Congressional Plaza, the recently opened Gyroland offers a wonderful selection of Greek fare, from tzatziki and rosiki to build your own salad to gyros and souvlaki to traditional grilled Greek platters. gyrolandmd.com

L’ACADEMIE DE CUISINE - In a shock to those around it, L'Academie de Cuisine abruptly closed after 41 years. Regarded as one of the country' top culinary schools, L'Academie de Cuisine offered recreational cooking classes in Bethesda as well as the professional programs in Gaithersburg. lacademie.com

NANTUCKET'S REEF - Happy Days are here again at Nantucket's Reef. The New England-style seafood restaurant in Rockville has an extensive Happy Hour in effect every day. Discounts at the bar start every day at 3 p.m. and run until closing while bargains in the dining room Monday to Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Specials include $2.50 bottled beer, $5 rail mixed drinks and $7 fish or chicken tacos, chicken tenders and sliders. nantucketsreef.com

QUENCH - After a six year run in Rockville, Quench has closed. When it first opened, Quench quickly became popular for its upscale cocktails and small plates and won an award from the Restaurant Association of Maryland. Quench's owner has sold the restaurant to new owners who plan to open a new restaurant in the same space later this year. quenchnation.com

Montgomery County is one of the nation's wealthiest counties, yet there is need throughout our region. Support your neighbors by donating to a county-based charity. The issue's charity focus is the Olney-based Autism Society of Montgomery County. Through advocacy, information, referral, support groups, and financial aid, the organization aims to make the county a better place for persons on the autism spectrum. It also offers an annual $500 scholarship to an educator who is furthering his or her studies in the field of autism.  autismmontgomerycounty.org
Meet Alika! This gorgeous girl is looking for a forever home today. Alika was a stray baby who is about nine months old. She is great with other kitties, loves playtime and is always up for a good snuggle. She is all update to date on her vaccines and is spayed; now all she needs is a family of her own.   for.roxiesfund@gmail.com  www.roxiesfund.org


The Recycled Wedding Fair at the Kentlands Mansion in Gaithersburg is an opportunity to turn your old into gold or find a diamond in the rough. Newlywed couples are invited to sell their wedding treasures and gently used wedding-related items to those with pending nuptials and others looking for a bargain. The cost of a vendor's table is $20-$25, but admission is free. The fair is March 4 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  gaithersburgmd.gov

Join the park staff at Seneca Creek State Park
in Gaithersburg for a free, beginner's yoga class. The class, which lasts 45 to 60 minutes, starts at 2 p.m. Meet at the Park Office, then enjoy the views from the Woodlands Room while exercising in a warm, scenic environment. Bring your own towel, yoga mat and water. More Info>

Win a $25 gift card to Heckman's Deli in Bethesda which features traditional, award-winning New York-style Jewish deli cuisine. Enter for a chance to win the gift card by emailing your name and address to:doug@montgomerymag.com. Put Heckman's in the subject line. heckmansdeli.com

The winner will be notified by email on January 22.

Online deal-based sites like LivingSocial and Groupon only clog your in-box with endless emails and alerts and, worse, make you pay to get your discount. Try our sister publication Premier Values Magazine where consumers can easily redeem discounts at restaurants, frame shops, home improvement companies and more. For example, Nantucket's Reef in Rockville is offering $10 off a lunch of $30 or more and $20 off a dinner of $60 or more while the Golden Samovar in Rockville is offering $15 off a dinner of $60 or more of its wonderful Russian and central Asian cuisine. premiervaluesonline.com


Quote of the Day
""What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness."
John Steinbeck