Challenges remain for Musk’s hyperloop in Maryland

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Elon Musk’s East Coast “hyperloop” project still faces technological and regulatory hurdles as Gov. Larry Hogan announced Maryland’s support for construction of the project last week.

Maryland may have jumped the gun a bit, as a day after the announcement Thursday, Musk tweeted a clarification: “Not ready to do a proper announcement yet, but maybe in a month or so. Maryland has been awesome to work with and just wanted to say thanks.”

This deal, though full of ambition from Hogan and Musk, billionaire inventor, entrepreneur and founder of SpaceX and Tesla Inc., thus far is lacking specifics.

Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn said last week The Boring Co. will start with two 35-mile tubes between Baltimore and Washington. Even if this proposal comes to fruition, the company will have 10.3 miles approved, and approximately 215 miles of approval left to complete Musk’s vision of an underground New York City-Philadelphia-Baltimore-D.C. hyperloop.

In Maryland, Musk will still have to gain approval to tunnel more than twice the amount of miles under the remainder of Route 295 — the Baltimore-Washington Parkway — which is owned by the federal government.

“Approval needed from: Federal DOT; 6 states; 17 counties; numerous cities; hundreds of elected officials. Definitely happening rapidly,” tweeted Yonah Freemark, a transportation expert and doctoral student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, expressing skepticism at Musk’s proposal earlier this year.

Musk’s “hyperloop” idea was first released in a joint Tesla and SpaceX Hyperloop Alpha white paper in August 2013, detailing a reduced-pressure tube system capable of propelling small pods of people at an average speed of 600 mph and a top speed of 760 mph using vacuum pumps and “air bearings” to overcome air resistance.

Touted as an open-source project, Musk has taken a backseat approach to the development of the concept, instead encouraging other companies to take the proposal and make it a commercial reality, with SpaceX building a test track in California and hosting a competition for students and engineers to develop prototype sleds.

Two companies are the most active in making the hyperloop a reality: Virgin Hyperloop One, backed by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group Ltd., and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, a crowdsourced company.

This brings us to the question: Who will be building the hyperloop itself?

In the governor’s announcement, the state has given Musk’s The Boring Co. — initially formed to provide a cheaper solution to digging tunnels in an attempt to allay the businessman’s frustration with Los Angeles traffic — permission to dig under the Maryland-owned, 10.3 mile-long section of Maryland Route 295, but has not specified which technology is proposed to be built under the roadway.

Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies’ proposed concepts are vastly different from each other, with Hyperloop One using Musk’s originally proposed “air skis” and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies using a passive magnetic levitation, or maglev, technology.

However, both companies’ specifications depart from Musk’s original white paper, looking more like high-speed, underground rail and less like a 760 mph above-ground bobsled from the future.

Namely, the originally proposed hyperloop’s top speed of 760 mph and average speed of 600 mph may be more of a pipe dream. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has not produced a working proof-of-concept, while Hyperloop One’s recent proof-of-concept topped out at 192 mph.

In a July Tweet, Musk proposed an East Coast hyperloop resulting in a 29-minute, New York City-to-D.C. commute, as compared to the current five-hour drive or three-hour train ride.

Additionally, it is still not clear what environmental review will be needed for the conditional utility permit the Maryland Department of Transportation has given The Boring Co., and how Musk will plan to gain permission to dig under the remaining two-thirds of Maryland Route 295, currently owned by the National Park Service.

Ultimately, the roadway’s future could include construction of additional toll lanes above Route 295, and tunneling a hyperloop beneath it.

According to Hogan’s September announcement of a $9 billion plan to widen Maryland’s highways, he has already started the process of acquiring Maryland Route 295 from the U.S. Department of the Interior. But the federal agency was non-committal: “No decisions related to issues involving the Baltimore-Washington Parkway were made during that meeting,” according to a brief statement.

By CJ Mitchell
Capital News Service

Executive Round Table for Kent County Nonprofit Leaders

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Bulllitt House, Easton – headquarters of Mid-Shore Community Foundation

Buck Duncan, President of Mid-Shore Community Foundation, announced it will sponsor and host a series of collaborative and interactive discussions and seminars for executive directors and other nonprofit leaders, regardless of title, employed by Kent County nonprofit charitable organizations.

The round table will be held on November 16, 2017, 8:30 a.m,.at the Chestertown Town Hall – 2nd Floor Meeting Room (118 North Cross Street, Chestertown).  Breakfast and networking will begin at 8:30 a.m, followed by a 90-minute interactive round table.  The event will be facilitated by Rob Levit, award winning nonprofit executive director and licensed consultant with the Standards for Excellence Institute.

This event is open to all executives and leaders employed by Kent County nonprofit charitable organizations.  There is no charge to attend.  The goal is for all Kent County nonprofit executive directors and leaders, regardless of title, to come together, meet, discuss and let us know how and what we can do to further your professional goals and aspirations and help your organization meet its mission.  Anyone interested in participating should register online here   or here.

 

Maryland a battleground state in fight against transgender military ban

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As legislative and court battles rage over the question of whether transgender people are fit to serve in the military, two service members with ties to Maryland are at the heart of the fight.

Regan Kibby, a student at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, and Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Brock Stone, stationed at the U.S. Army’s Fort George G. Meade in Maryland, are plaintiffs in two of the cases working their way through federal court.

After the July announcement by President Donald Trump that transgender people would no longer be allowed to serve in the military in any capacity, transgender individuals currently serving as well as prospective service members are left in limbo while the Department of Defense reviews the policy.

“When I came out as transgender I was relying on formal policies by the Navy and the secretary of defense that service members could no longer be separated or dismissed for being transgender,” Kibby said in a declaration filed in Doe v. Trump in Washington, D.C. against the ban.

Kibby, 19, is a student double-majoring in English and history at the Naval Academy and one of several plaintiffs involved in the suit. His goal upon graduation and receipt of his commission is to serve as a surface warfare officer on a naval ship.

After the 2015 announcement by the Department of Defense that soldiers could no longer be discharged based on gender, Kibby began to allow himself to explore his own identity. With the support of commanding officers, Kibby came out as transgender and began developing a treatment plan and medical leave of absence in order to transition with support of the academy.

Now, even completing his education is uncertain due to the ban.

“I have not been able to obtain any assurances from my chain of command about my return to the academy or my future military service,” Kibby said in the declaration. “They have been silent because they have not known how the previously announced policies will change.”

When Kibby saw the president’s tweets announcing the ban on transgender service, he said he was “devastated.”

“The entire future I had planned for myself was crumbling around me,” said Kibby. “To be told that you are less than, that you are not worthy, is a terrible feeling.”

Maryland joined 14 other states and the District of Columbia last week to file a joint amicus brief in support of Kibby and the plaintiffs involved in Doe v. Trump. It is one of three cases filed around the country seeking to block the implementation of the ban.

“The attorneys general strongly support the rights of transgender people to live with dignity, to be free from discrimination, and to participate fully and equally in all aspects of civic life, and argue that these interests are all best served by allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military,” the office of Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said in a press release.

The friend-of-the-court brief argues that the proposed service ban is unconstitutional and interferes especially with the readiness of the National Guard, which operates as a hybrid blend of state and federal service members.

The ACLU of Maryland filed a separate lawsuit, Stone v. Trump, on behalf of six transgender service members in the United States District Court of Maryland on Aug. 28.

Stone, a resident of Anne Arundel County in Maryland, is the lead plaintiff in the case.

Stone is stationed as a computer analyst at Fort Meade, said Josh Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT Project.

“Brock Stone has an incredibly story, as do all our plaintiffs,” Block said. “A lot of these folks, including Brock, planned to serve until retirement and now they are threatened with having their entire careers cut short.”

“Brock has extensive military training and is a decorated service member,” Block said. “Just his story alone makes any notion that these service members might not be fully deployable false.”

Stone has served in the Navy for 11 years, including deployment to Afghanistan. He began to receive medical care for his gender transition in 2016 after the announcement of open transgender service.

“These men and women served admirably and honorably under active duty,” Block said. “Under Trump’s ban, they feel like they’re being pushed back into the shadows again.”

Block stressed to Capital News Service the importance of realizing that transgender service members are being singled out, beyond the same care and treatment that soldiers with medical disabilities receive.

“They are not even being treated the same way,” Block said. “They are being deemed administratively unfit for duty.”

According to the case documents, Stone was close to finalizing a treatment plan with support of doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, that would have included “medically necessary surgery in 2018” for his gender transition.

Now, the entire treatment plan is on hold.

“I can’t imagine serving in the military and accomplishing what they’ve accomplished,” Block said. “To have the courage to step forward like this when you’re under attack from your own commander-in-chief is just incredibly brave.”

Many of Maryland’s leaders have been outspoken against the implementation of this ban. On July 28, Maryland Democratic Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin joined a bipartisan group of more than 40 senators in a letter opposing Trump’s Twitter announcement.

On Oct. 10, more than 100 members of the House of Representatives, including Maryland Democratic Reps. Anthony Brown, John Delaney and Jamie Raskin, sent a letter to the Department of Defense requesting all communication around the ban. Their goal is to find “whether the president’s transgender ban announcement reflected a breakdown in communication.”

Paula Neira, a veteran naval officer and transgender woman, believes that the Trump policy will not deter transgender people from joining the military. Neira chose to resign her commission in 1991, after graduating from the Naval Academy with distinction in 1985, in order to live authentically as a woman.

“They’ll hide who they are because wanting to serve your country is so strong that you’ll make those compromises,” Neira said. “You’ll tell yourself that ‘I can hold this. I can keep this compartmentalized.’ Thousands of us did it. My story is not unique in that way.”

Neira served in the days before “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was implemented. She now works as a nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

“My calling in life was to be an officer in the Navy, and my oath of office did not end when I hung up my uniform” Neira said.

Neira told Capital News Service she did not begin to accept her gender identity until she was 28 years old.

“The running joke in my life is that I want to be this dispassionate advocate like what lawyers are supposed to be, to have this steely-eyed, cold warrior persona. And it just doesn’t work,” Neira said. “Even now, 20-something years later, I can’t talk about this without having my voice crack. The pain of having to sacrifice my career is still so raw.”

“It was the hardest decision of my life,” she added. “And it was because for no other reason than ignorance and bigotry, which is right back where we’re at right now with what the White House wants to do.”

Neira cautioned lawmakers and advocates alike not to lose sight in these conversations of the central issue of transgender military service: namely, service.

“You’re talking with a group of people who are dedicated to defending the country and serving with honor, and with that, the mission always comes first,” Neira said. “You’re not talking about transgender people who happen to be in the military. You’re talking about soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines and Coast Guardsmen who happen to be transgender. It’s that simple.”

By HELEN PARSHALL
Capital News Service

Council Candidates Forum at Heron Point Nov. 2

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Chestertown Town Hall

Chestertown voters will have the opportunity to vote for the Mayor and two Town Council members Tuesday, Nov. 7. The polling place will be at the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Department, 211 Maple Avenue. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Residents who need to cast an absentee ballot must make their request  in writing to the town office, 118 N. Cross St., by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2.

All registered voters are eligible to vote in the mayoral election, in which incumbent Mayor Chris Cerino is running unopposed. Ward 1 voters have a choice among three candidates: Owen Bailey, David Foster and Robert Miller. In Ward 3, the Rev. Ellsworth Tolliver is running unopposed. Ward boundaries can be found online or by calling the Town Office, 410-778-0500. Write-in votes are not accepted in municipal elections.

The League of Women Voters of Kent County will sponsor a Candidate Forum for the Ward 1 Council Seat Wednesday, November 1, 2017 in Wesley Hall at Heron Point from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. The three candidates, Robert Miller, David Foster, and Owen Bailey, will present opening statements and respond to three questions from the League.  Audience members will have an opportunity to ask questions of each of the candidates.  For more information call: 410-810-1883.

Look for profiles of all the candidates, and a candidates’ question-and-answer feature, in an upcoming edition of the Chestertown Spy.

Bull and Oyster Roast by Heritage Area Teams with Kennard Alumni

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Heritage Area Teams with Kennard Alumni to Host Bull and Oyster Roast

Experience Eastern Shore tradition at a Bull and Oyster Roast from 12-4 p.m. on Saturday, October 21 at the Kennard High School Cultural Heritage Center, located at 410 Little Kidwell Avenue in Centreville .

The event is sponsored by the Kennard Alumni Association and Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area. Oyster roasts and fish fries are a long-standing tradition that celebrates the bounty of the Chesapeake region.

Guests will feast on pit beef by Paul Gunther, fried oysters from Harris’s Crab House, and fish fried by local fry master Melvin Shorter — all while supporting programs to preserve, promote, and interpret the Eastern Shore’s cultural, natural, and historic resources. Oysters on the half shell from Harris’s and a local dessert bar will also be available.

Tickets cost $40 if bought before October 17 and can be purchased online. The price rises to $45 after October 17.

All proceeds benefit the programs of Stories of the Chesapeake and Kennard Alumni. For more information, call 410-827-8684 or visit storiesofthechesapeake.org.

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Maryland board approves surplus of 10 college properties for city, campus revitalization

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Maryland’s Board of Public Works approved the surplus of 10 University of Maryland properties Wednesday for an ongoing community redevelopment project known as the Greater College Park Initiative.

The university’s president, Wallace Loh, took the podium at the Maryland State House to show his support for the project and the Terrapin Development Co., a recently created limited liability corporation, which will develop and manage the real estate on the edges of the College Park campus.

“We are not in the real estate business,” Loh said to the board, which includes Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. “However, we are in the business of innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Loh told University of Maryland’s Capital News Service that with the transfer of these properties to the Terrapin Development Co., the university can continue its work to foster “an innovation hub” as well as a desirable place to live and work.

“To make sure that this mission of the university will outlast us here,” Loh told the board. “We want to institutionalize it and that’s why we’ve set up this LLC, that will enable us to do business at the speed of business and will continue long after we’re gone.”

State Sen. James Rosapepe praised the revitalization efforts. The senator represents Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties and serves as the chair of the College Park City-University Partnership.

Rosapepe said these projects were born of the same broad university plan that included the construction of the Purple Line light rail and of College Park Academy, a charter school that opened its doors this year.

Before Loh came on the scene in 2010, Rosapepe said, the university in College Park was like “an ivory tower, isolated from its environment.”

“Frankly, sometimes, we’re hostile to the community and that led to a situation six or seven years ago where only 4 percent of university faculty and staff lived in College Park,” Rosapepe said.

But now, the college and the city are partners, Rosapepe said.

“The city is the check and balance. When the city and the university come together, great things happen,” he said. “When they go in different directions, either nothing happens or bad things happen.”

Many of the surplussed properties are on the east side of Baltimore Avenue, “an area of campus that years ago was the back-of-the-bus operations — parking lots, auto repair, aging student housing, old warehouses,” said Carlo Colella, University of Maryland’s vice president for administration and finance.

At this time, there isn’t a specific building-by-building proposal for the 10 properties that have been surplussed, Colella said. But they are all essential to the continuing redevelopment.

For now, step one — the surplus — is complete. Step two comes in 45 days, when the board will vote on the official transfer of the properties to the Terrapin Development Co. The company, which is operated by the university and its foundation, can acquire, develop, lease, manage, and sell real property.

The following are surplus properties approved for transfer at Wednesday’s meeting:

–UMD land (southern wing of service building, 7757 Baltimore Ave.)
–Parking lot (immediately east of Ritchie Coliseum, 7675 Baltimore Ave.)
–4505 Campus Drive
–4608, 4610, 4624, 4642, 4644 Norwich Road (Old Leonardtown Road)
–4425 Campus Drive (Bldg. 11)
–7761 Diamondback Drive (Bldg. 6)
–8320-8400 Baltimore Avenue
–Parcel C (immediately northeast of The Hotel at UMD, 7777 Baltimore Ave.)
–Parcel B (immediately north of The Hotel at UMD, 7777 Baltimore Ave.)
–4100, 4103, 4109 Metzerott Road

By Julie Depenbrock
Capital News Service

Town Council Meeting: WAC Students to Clean Up Rail Trail

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Gilchrest Rail Trail in Chesterown

Washington College students will conduct their annual cleanup of the Gilchrest Rail Trail this coming Sunday, Oct. 22,

Arianna Hall, the secretary of service and community relations for the college’s Student Government Association, told the Chestertown Mayor and Council at their Oct. 16 meeting that students will gather at the Dixon Valve parking lot at 1 p.m. Sunday  She said the students invited community members as well as college faculty and staff members to join in the effort. Hall said it is important for the campus to be more involved with the community, “We want the event to serve as an opportunity for all of us to come together,” she said.

Mayor Chris Cerino said the town welcomes the effort. He said he would be on hand with his pickup truck to help haul away bags of trash collected by the students. He said previous cleanups had gotten “incredible turnout,” He said his truck could carry as many as 25 bags of trash.

Town Manager Bill Ingersoll said the town has in the past supplied trash bags and gloves to students working to clean the trails. He said town crews may need to do some pre-cleaning, removing fallen limbs and cutting back weeds so cleanup crews can see the trash along the trail.

Hall said the SGA would like to know other ways student volunteers could help out around town — “big or small things,” such as raking leaves or shoveling snow.

Police Chief Adrian Baker promoted Reynolds Peele (front) to Patrolman First Class

Councilwoman Linda Kuiper invited students to volunteer for the Chestertown Tea Party Festival committee, which has been short of members. She said she knew most students would be away from campus on Memorial Day weekend, when the festival takes place, but there is plenty of work to be done before the weekend. She said the committee would especially welcome students who could help with marketing or social media.

Also at the meeting, the council appointed Robety Ortiz to fill a vacancy on the Board of Supervisors of  Elections. Ingersoll said the vacancy arose after Don Cantor asked to be removed from the board to deal with hurricane damage to his Florida vacation home. The council unanimously approved the appointment.

Police Chief Adrian Baker promoted Reynolds Peele to Patrolman First Class. Peele has completed two years of service with the department and met proficiency requirements. He recently returned to duty after completing a year’s deployment with the U.S. Army Reserve in Guantanamo, Cuba.

 

Talkin’ Baseball at the Historical Society

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the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame

The Historical Society is pleased to announce a special lecture, Hot Air and Hubris: Baseball and the Rural Culture of the Eastern Shore”, that will coordinate with our window exhibit  “When Hometown Baseball Was King.” Marty Payne and Donnie Davidson, both representing the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame, will be with us to discuss baseball and just what it means to this area. The talk will focus on how technology brought baseball to the Eastern Shore, the social and economic impact that this had on the region, and the quality of players and teams.

Payne is a member of the Society of American Baseball Research and has presented his findings to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Davidson is one of the premier collectors of Eastern Shore baseball historical items and is the historian for the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame.

The talk is at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, in the Bordley Building. We hope to see you there! Ifor more information, call 410-778-3499 or email atadmin@kentcountyhistory.org.

 

First Friday: RiverArts Reception and Exhibit

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Opening Reception: First Friday, October 6, 5 – 8 pm.  Join us for refreshments and the new Artists Exhibit for October. Be sure to vote for your favorite in the People’s Choice award. The exhibit will be on view through October 29.

Join the HP Festival fun with RiverArts!

This is your chance to

learn how to mix magic spells and potions to take home! 

Friday 5pm-7:30pm: Register here

Saturday 10am-4pm: Register here

 

 

 

At KidSpot – Friday5-7pm

 

Collage created by students at Kent County Schools with Aimee Boumeia

Concentric Circle Quilt by Kindergarten and 1st Grade classes

Triangle designs by 2nd and 3rd-grade classes

Wall Hanging by 4th and 5th-grade classes

Want to learn more about upcoming events, exhibits, classes?

Read all about it on our website.