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In the Media: West Baltimore Kids Attend Drone Camp; Kevin Plank's Port Covington Faces Questions

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Port Covington

A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From the Baltimore Sun: Kids in West Baltimore spend spring break at drone camp

"Ten-year-old Eric Morris had already sent a 4-inch drone into the air in a West Baltimore park Monday morning when instructor Austin Brown asked the students if anyone wanted to take the controls of a much larger aircraft.

"Eric wasted no time. His hand shot into the air.

"Eric is one of about 10 students spending the week at a drone camp at the Penn-North Kids Safe Zone. The organizers hope that working with the remotely controlled quadcopters will help the children learn about science and technology and inspire them to consider a career in engineering.

"Richard May, the chairman of Innovation Village, a sponsor of the program, said getting students familiar with the latest technology is especially important in areas such as West Baltimore, where people can't always keep up with innovation in the wider economy.

"If all goes well, the group hopes to back similar camps throughout the summer vacation.

"Drone companies have struggled to find their footing as the Federal Aviation Administration works out rules for how their craft can be safely flown in America's already crowded skies. But that should be sorted out by the time the students at the drone camp are grown.

"The city government-backed Innovation Village launched this year to spur job growth and entrepreneurship in West Baltimore, part of revitalization efforts after the violent protests that rocked the area after the death of Freddie Gray last year.

"Global Air Media's Phylicia Porter said she hopes the spring break camp will help show children that Baltimore is a viable place for them to start a high-tech business after high school or college."

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From the Baltimore Sun: Financing deal for Kevin Plank’s Port Covington faces tough questions

"A record $535 million in city financing to help billionaire Kevin Plank redevelop Port Covington could face tough questions from members of the city's Board of Finance.

"The financing would be used to build infrastructure in Port Covington, where Under Armour's founder is planning a massive redevelopment anchored by a campus for his sports apparel company. It needs to be approved by the board and the full City Council.

"'There's a perception from my end, and probably the public's end, that we're creating projects that are making people very wealthy, and these people are already extremely wealthy,' board member Larry I. Silverstein. 'So we should just make sure that we're not being taken advantage of.'

"Silverstein noted that past financing — Harbor Point, the future home of energy company Exelon's regional headquarters, benefited from such a deal — has faced similar criticism.

"Plank's private real estate firm, Sagamore Development, this month asked the city to contribute $535 million toward parks, roads, utilities, bike lanes and other infrastructure in Port Covington, where they hope to build offices, shopping, restaurants, and thousands of apartments next to the new Under Armour campus.

"The project is estimated to cost $5.5 billion, including $1.4 billion for infrastructure.

"The city's contribution would pay for improvements that include a $19.7 million eastern waterfront park; $17.6 million in changes to Key Highway; a $26 million "archaeological pier" and a $15.3 million pedestrian swing bridge connecting to Westport, according to a project list shown to the Board of Finance on Monday.

"In addition to the city's $535 million, Sagamore is seeking about $574 million in federal and state funding for transportation projects for the area, where they want to create a new Light Rail spur and new highway access.

"Baltimore's money would come from bonds issued by the city, which are repaid with new property taxes generated by the project, a mechanism known as tax increment financing or TIFs."

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From the AFRO American: Baltimore black Republican candidates debate immigration, other issues

"Although their numbers are small on the national level, Black Republicans are alive and well in Baltimore City.  On March 21, The Black Republican Council of the Maryland Black Republican Party held a symposium at Bethany Lutheran Church in Baltimore for local Republican candidates running in this spring’s mayoral and City Council elections. 

"The event, the '2016 Baltimore: A Colloquy on Conservative Solutions to Problems Besetting Inner-City Baltimore,' provided a platform for local Black Republican candidates to present their ideas and exchange viewpoints on issues impacting Baltimore voters.  And like all candidate forums, each hopeful was asked to discuss approaches to solving the city’s housing, educational, transportation and criminal justice problems.   

"But Baltimore’s Republicans quickly departed from the standard list of debate questions.  Event host and moderator Antonio Campbell asked each candidate to weigh in on their views about Donald Trump, illegal immigration and other “hot button” issues making national headlines in light of the increasingly contentious Republican presidential primary season.   

“'These issues are being discussed by candidates in our party and people are going to expect our candidates to have a viewpoint on these matters' said Campbell, explaining to the audience why local candidates were asked to weigh in on the national debate.  He added, 'Furthermore, these issues impact Baltimore.' 

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