There's something not quite right about growing up in Annapolis without ever spending time on the water. It's like living at Camden Yards and not seeing a ballgame, or retiring to Italy and not eating pasta.
For a variety of reasons, of course, the Chesapeake Bay is an opportunity missed by many Annapolitans. But close friends of the late Straughan Lee Griffin are working to see that youths from the city's low-income neighborhoods need not be among them.
The friends have established a maritime program in his memory that gives those youths access to water activities -- kayaking, sailing and fishing, to name a few. Last year, 25 children participated. The number grew to 32 this year, according to co-founder Anne Harrington.
"It's not our goal to make professional sailors out of these kids," Harrington said. The aim is to broaden horizons, she said, and most of the participants "have never experienced the water until this program."
Whatever the goal may be, last summer's Outstanding Sailor of the Year, 15-year-old Roland Queen, is sailing competitively this year. "It's really changed his life," Harrington said. "He was one of the kids who might have slipped between the cracks."
Griffin, known to friends as Lee, was killed outside his home in the city's historic district two years ago. The killers shot him and drove over his body as they fled in his Jeep Cherokee. He was 51.
The program is called Box of Rain, named after the slain sailor's 27-foot Hunter sailboat. Griffin, in turn, had named the boat after a sweet, hopeful ballad by the Grateful Dead, a song about wind and water and a dream one afternoon long ago.
Take the Money and Run
It wasn't so much the disagreement over the script of a movie set at the U.S. Naval Academy that sent the producers packing, but a lucrative tax package dangled in front of them by the state of Pennsylvania.
That's the story line Maryland officials were offering last week, after Disney Co. announced it would film the movie in Philadelphia instead of Annapolis, as originally planned.
"A lot of people are making the biggest issue the rift between Disney and the Naval Academy," said Dennis Castleman, Maryland's assistant secretary of economic development for tourism, film and the arts.
Officials from Philadelphia sought out Disney and said, "you're going to stand to get $2.5 to $3 million in tax credits on your film," he said. "Well, that was hard for Disney to pass up."
He added that if it hadn't been for Pennsylvania's tax package, the academy and Disney "would have worked out" their differences over how the script portrayed the academy. "And it would have been shot here."
To ensure that Maryland does not lose yet another film to its neighbor to the north, state officials said, they are working with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich's administration on legislation that would allow the state to offer similar tax incentive packages.
College Can Expand
An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge ruled last week that Sojourner-Douglass College can proceed with plans to establish a campus in Edgewater, ending what had been a racially tinged battle.
Supporters of the college, which is named for African American abolitionists Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass and serves a predominantly black student body, said the residents who opposed the campus building did so out of racial animus -- a charge the residents adamantly denied. And as the judge cleared the way, college officials cheered and said construction could soon begin.
"I am excited and pleased to be moving forward," said Charlestine Fairley, a college official.
Carl O. Snowden, an aide to County Executive Janet S. Owens, called it a "very significant ruling" that is also "potentially historic" and could "pave the way for some significant changes in the county."
"This goes far beyond a land use issue," Snowden said. "What it does is allow for the building of the first African American four-year college in Anne Arundel County."
College officials had sought the building because of the school's continued growth; it has five other campuses in Maryland and one in the Bahamas. But nearby residents said it did not adhere to covenants governing the six-acre parcel that say the property must be used "in conjunction" with the Anne Arundel County Board of Education.
College officials argued that the college does have a longstanding relationship with the Board. And Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Ronald A. Silkworth agreed.