By Sandi Soendker
Covering the member news and happenings in trucking is much like reporting community news; it’s just that our community is bigger than most. Newspaper folks affectionately call “community news” the “chicken dinner news.”
Hearing and reading these stories always makes your big old coast-to-coast neighborhood seem more connected. Here’s a mix of neighborhood this-and-that, and the good news is – it should be the last of the winter news.
Member Paul Schwanke of Acton, CA, recently provided a ride-along with a producer of ABC’s “Good Morning America.” The total video was almost four minutes and aired on a Saturday in January. Among other topics, they talked about the challenges faced by independent owner-operators.
Now you might be thinking, how did that guy and his truck end up on national television? Sure the producer can always send somebody out to find a willing driver at a truck stop, but of late it seems the mainstream media find it easier and more productive to let OOIDA’s media spokesperson Norita Taylor do the work. And that makes her a really busy person here at the HQ.
In the case of Paul and “Good Morning America,” the TV people saw a Los Angeles Times piece written by Ron White that quoted OOIDA’s Todd Spencer. Seeing that story inspired them to do their own feature, and they wanted to include an individual truck driver “up close and personal.” They contacted OOIDA, and Norita took it from there. They needed a driver in California who had his own authority so a ride-along was possible, and they wanted someone who could comment on what truckers are facing economically. She hooked them up with Paul.
Why Paul? We asked her. “He was already involved in the opposition of a parking restriction in Antelope Valley and had been in contact with Land Line’s Clarissa Kell-Holland,” she told us. “Paul was the right guy for the job and was willing to do it.” Getting the trucker’s perspective to the mainstream without a producer-type going Hollywood on it is tough. Norita does a fine job. And Paul, you were great.
We were just about ready to close down the office one night when two knockout trucks pulled in to the parking lot, grabbing the attention of Staff Writers Clarissa Kell-Holland and Dave Tanner. The black tractors pulling hot trailers were headed to Kansas City’s Sprint Center for a big concert. They were hauling equipment for Rascal Flatts and Jessica Simpson’s “Bob That Head” tour.
Stage Call drivers and OOIDA members, John “Yo” Mallen of Philadelphia, PA, and Johnny Moore of Warm Springs, AR, came in to visit. They paid dues, made contributions to the OOIDA PAC fund, and invited us down to the Sprint Center to see the other 14 trucks. It was an irresistible invite, so it was Good Morning Kansas City.
It turned out to be a wretched morning to drive into KC, but Clarissa, Dave and our photographer Nikohle Ellis ignored a snowstorm and 2 below zero temperatures to meet with others and talk speed limiters, hours of service, equipment, logistics, truck route nav systems and more. What a great bunch of guys.
One OOIDA member who made a trip to Washington, DC, during biting cold inaugural days was Scott Grenerth of Arlington, OH. That’s pronounced “green earth.” Scott and his wife worked as volunteers during the Obama campaign. Scott told Land Line Now’s Reed Black that he used part of his time in the Capitol to meet with top aides to Ohio’s two senators, urging them to help the new administration adopt a new transportation policy.
Reed tells me that Scott and his
wife also urged the senatorial aides he met to oppose any extension of the Mexican cross-border trucking program. They also let it be known that they, as voters, wanted to be assured that a proposed massive infusion of money into the highway system would actually be spent on roads and bridges … and not things like transportation museums.
Bill Gudzik is a member from Gibsonton, FL. He believes in getting his money’s worth when he buys a truck. That’s why he still drives his 1977 Kenworth K-100 that he bought brand-new 31 years ago.
Bill’s truck has more than 3 million miles on it, but still looks good as the day he got it thanks to regular maintenance and a recent paint job that stayed true to the original color scheme. It looks like his initial investment has been a good one. Bill believes a combination of good upkeep, luck and his dad’s spirit keep this truck on the road.
We are still hearing stories about trucking and the winter weather. There haven’t been many bright spots in Washington state as flooding, avalanches and mudslides caused by a large quantity of melting snow continue to play havoc with travel. Commerce was at a standstill for a third day on Jan. 9, but some major routes closed, including Interstate 5 and the Snoqualmie Pass on Interstate 90.
OOIDA member Jon Amerman of Whitehall, MT, was hauling a 53-foot reefer on Jan. 7, south of Olympia when he heard that routes were closed to the south and east. He was held up in the area until U.S. 2 opened late on Jan. 8 heading east. Jon told Land Line Nowon XM Satellite Radio that the truck stops were all full and the off-ramps and on-ramps were also full of trucks. He stayed in his truck, cleaned up the place a bit, caught up on his paperwork and slept.
OOIDA members Sherrie and Bob Bond live on a farm outside of Chehalis, WA. On Jan. 8, the Bonds said they watched helplessly as trucks tried to route around flooded roads in the area and then were trapped on a two-lane road near their house. Sherrie told Land Line that problems got worse before they got better. She saw more than six miles of trucks lined up on the freeway waiting for the floods to clear. To make matters worse, truckers were starting to run out of food, and fuel prices jumped more than 30 cents per gallon overnight. LL