Looking back on 2015, it was a sad and violent year in Germantown, but our sadness is mixed with hope for the new year.
The Germantown/Clarksburg area was rocked by eight homicides in 2015, which is three more than 2014. From the recent shootout which resulted in the death of a man on Sage Way to the murder-suicide in broad daylight at a gas station on Germantown Road in August, to the tragic murder of a young woman in the Target parking lot in June — our community was visited far too often by violent crime in 2015.
Germantown was also rocked by arson charges brought against of two teenagers in connection with a fire that destroyed a Germantown home in November. While none of the residents were injured the family was left without a home, and the community was shaken to think that thirteen-year-olds to be so callous and reckless.
Many residents continued to come out each week for much of 2015 to help search for Sara and Jacob, the missing Hoggle children, as their mother remains confined to a mental institution as doctors and officials work toward helping her to become mentally healthy enough to stand trial or perhaps aid in locating the children. The children disappeared while in their mother’s custody in September of 2014.
However, all the sadness associated with the senseless violence and tragedy runs parallel with some of the amazing things Germantown residents achieved in 2015.
In February, the Seneca Valley boys basketball team went on a surprising run to the regional championship game but fell to Linganore in 2015. The Northwest softball team made it all the way to the state championship game at the University of Maryland but fell to Sherwood. In November, the Northwest volleyball team brought home the Maryland State Championship trophy and completed an undefeated season. Also in November, the Northwest girls soccer team made it to the regional finals game for the second year in a row.
In football, both high school teams had great years, as both Northwest and Seneca Valley went deep into the playoffs. Germantown was the only town in Maryland — probably the country — with two local teams playing high school football in the second week of November. Seneca Valley and Northwest both played the regional championships. While Seneca Valley lost to the eventual 3A State Champions our neighbors to the north Damascus, Northwest defeated our neighbors to the south, Quince Orchard, for the third straight year to advance to the State Semi-Finals. The Jaguars were also defeated by eventual State Champs, the Wise Pumas.
And our hometown professional sports team, the Washington Spirit had another successful year, with two members of the team — Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris — winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The Spirit were one game short of an appearance in the NWSL championship game, for the second year in a row. However, the season saw the Spirit’s star forward Crystal Dunn rise to superstardom as she was named NWSL MVP and was awarded the Golden Boot.
Beyond achievements on the fields or courts, the Germantown community saw some great changes in 2015. We saw neighbors helping neighbors as thousands of dollars were raised to help families that lost everything in two fires that ripped through Germantown homes in 2015. One on Wanegarten Court and the other on Falcon Crest Circle.
Germantown saw the opening of a brand new park, as the Germantown Town Center Urban Park was officially opened in October. The park includes trails and boardwalks, lighting, overlook terraces, water features, a pavilion along with enhanced wetland areas for education and interpretation of nature.
Another highlight of 2015 was the world premiere of the Roberto Clemente Middle School Rock Band documentary film, “Best Day of My Life” at Seneca Valley High School in May.
Perhaps, one of the biggest developments for the Germantown community was the resurrection of the Germantown Alliance. The reboot of the Germantown Alliance promises to be a huge step forward for the Germantown Community was Germantown continues to navigate the process of building and maintaining a viable, livable, and thriving community.
2015 was a year of many changes for Germantown. One of the biggest changes was the way Germantown residents received their news. In August, the venerable Gazette Newspapers stopped publishing in Montgomery County. As a result, many residents found the Germantown Pulse, as readership of the Germantown Pulse increased from just 4,782 unique users in January of 2015 to 26,775 unique users in December.
The Germantown Pulse ended 2015 with more people visiting our website, more times than any other month in our short history and 2016 promises to be even bigger. Germantown Pulse has already rolled out a new sports page — Sports Pulse where readers can find the all the sports-related news stories as well as a standings section. The Sports Pulse will also feature a Quick Hits section that will feature photos and updates from games and events.
Germantown Pulse is also hoping to roll out a smartphone app that will allow users to receive notifications of breaking news or anytime a new story is published on the Website.
The Pulse is truly a community-based news source, and we thank our readers who have helped to spread the word about Germantown Pulse to the rest of the community. In 2015, more than 129,000 people came to Germantown Pulse for news over 303,000 times, which is pretty good for a small-town news organization that has spent less than $5,000 on marketing itself.
Germantown Pulse wants to thank our advertising family — Paisanos Pizza, Crossfit Germantown Performance, Camp Sonshine, Congregation Or Chashad, Audiology Center of Maryland, Planet Fitness, and Mary of Nazareth School.
But most importantly, the Pulse wants to thank the residents of Germantown and our readers who have helped spread the word about Germantown Pulse. Thank you.
It is the hope of the Germantown Pulse that our wonderfully diverse community will continue to come together and find the will move past the violence which we saw far too much of in 2015 and make 2016 a year of peace and progress. May 2016 be full of blessings and great memories and devoid of sadness and tragedy.