Daily Archives: July 2, 2009

4th of July parade celebrates BI teen’s energy independence

Mark King and his electric car
Mark King and his electric car
Look below for my story about a recent Bainbridge High School grad’s homemade electric car.

Mark King’s face lights up at the opportunity to share his leather-bound book of inventions.

Barefooted and sleepy-eyed after a late morning wake-up call, the newly-minted Bainbridge High School graduate quickly pages through diagrams and descriptions, eventually coming upon his first jet pack.

“I made that in 10th grade,” he said, pointing to a photo of himself with a collection of tubes and wires strapped to his back. “It didn’t work.”

He turns the page to show off a more streamlined version.

“This one worked, but not well enough.”

It produced 132.6 pounds of thrust, which wasn’t quite enough to rocket him across the island to school in the morning.

He’s tried his hand at several other contraptions: an electric skateboard, a hybrid gas-electric motorcycle, even a steel-framed helicopter.

But it was his desire for a better way to get to school that pushed him toward his masterwork.

“When I went to register at school for a parking spot, they told me it would be $240 for the year,” he said, noting that previous year’s fee was just $70. “They told me the reason was that they wanted us to carpool and be more green. So I thought ‘how green can I be?'”

That very same day, King began work on what would become a fully electric car. Built from scratch, the car’s construction followed only the blueprints that appeared in his mind.

“I went home, thought about a car and just did it, I guess, through trial and error,” King said while standing among drills, cables, sanders and welding equipment in his parents’ garage – a place that was long ago taken over by his projects.

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City groundskeeping cutbacks making for a shaggy, weedy summer

BI police are fighting weeds with rocks
BI police are fighting weeds with rocks

Here’s my weekend story on the impact of the city’s drastic groundskeeping and roadside mowing cutbacks.

Bainbridge police are trained to weed out crime.

But weeding out weeds? Not so much.

The city has slashed funding for landscape maintenance, forcing police, groups of senior citizens and others to get their hands dirty as volunteer gardeners and landscapers.

Officers and police support staff spent much of Saturday planting new shrubs and replacing their station’s front yard with a lower-maintenance rock garden.

“We’re growing rocks now,” joked an officer as she walked past white stones where green grass had been last week.

Where volunteers aren’t picking up the slack, city officials say islanders can expect a shaggier look this summer on the generally well-groomed island.

“We have less hours and less people to do these activities,” city public works assistant director Lance Newkirk said. “Things may look different this year.”

The biggest difference may be seen along roadsides. In the past, the city crews mowed the sides of all paved public roadways during the summer. This year, the city will mow once and do a few spot mowings at intersections where grass and weeds block visibility.

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