Since You Asked: May-June 2012

Since You Asked: May-June 2012

Questions and answers about the Bethesda area.

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What happens to the plastic bags I recycle at the grocery store? Are they washed and reused? Melted down? Put in a landfill? Now that I’m paying 5 cents for each of these things, I’m curious!
—Laura Stewart, Silver Spring

Almost all grocery stores in Montgomery County offer receptacles where customers can recycle plastic grocery bags, and almost all of those bags go to a company called Trex, which manufactures a composite lumber from the bags and wood waste, according to Eileen Kao, chief of the Waste Reduction & Recycling Section of the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Solid Waste Services.

Trex, based in Winchester, Va., also uses the bags and wood waste to manufacture wood-alternative materials for benches, fences and railings.

“I myself have used the material for the deck of a getaway cabin I have in West Virginia,” Kao says. “It doesn’t rot, crack or splinter, and it’s totally weather-resistant. It’s really cool stuff.”

Trex products are available at a variety of local stores, including TW Perry, which has locations in Chevy Chase and Gaithersburg; and at Fisher Lumber in Rockville.

Photo by Stephen WalkerWhat is the history of Bullis Park in Silver Spring? Is it affiliated with the Bullis School?
—Jessica Bronson, Silver Spring

Bullis Park, on Houston Street in downtown Silver Spring, was once the site of the Bullis School, founded in 1930 by Cmdr. William “Joey” F. Bullis as a prep school for the U.S. Naval Academy. The school was originally located near Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., but it quickly outgrew that location and moved to the Silver Spring site in 1934, according to school spokeswoman Susie Zimmermann.

That 4-acre location had been the site of a U.S. naval outpatient hospital and a rest home for World War I veterans, which Bullis converted into classrooms and dormitories.

In 1961, the school purchased land on Falls Road in Potomac and moved some of its classes there. The school remained split between the two campuses until 1970, when it consolidated its operations in Potomac, Zimmermann says.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission acquired the Silver Spring site in 1976. It now features a soccer field, tennis courts and a playground.

Photo by Stephen WalkerThe Kensington Baptist Church seems like an interesting building, and is a community hub where lots of different organizations share space. Does it have some special history?
—Katherine Lewis, Rockville

Kensington Baptist Church will celebrate its 90th birthday in October. It was founded in 1922 by Ida Simms, a local resident who enlisted more than two dozen of her neighbors to become the church’s charter members, according to the church’s website. They built the original church on two lots on Dupont Avenue, and then built annexes to the original building in 1947 and 1951.
Membership continued to grow and the church built its current facility at 10100 Connecticut Ave. in the 1950s to accommodate the demand.

The church has long served as a community gathering place, hosting English as a Second Language classes, and groups as varied as the Hungarian Freedom Fighters, the Parent Encouragement Program and the Composers’ Society of Montgomery County. Pastor Bill George says the church is “known to have one of the best acoustics in the county.”

“We appreciate our history, but don’t want to be buried in our past,” George says. “We want to use our history as a point from which we can look forward and reach out to the community, and from which we can bring hope and purpose to people’s lives.”

Have a question you’d like answered about someone or something in the Bethesda area? Email your question to sinceyouasked@bethesdamagazine.com. Please include your name and the city in which you live.

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