One Snazzy Ride: Firefighters replace moped

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One Snazzy Ride: Firefighters replace moped

Postby Micronaut » Mon Jan 15, 2007 6:48 pm

One Snazzy Ride: It's good to have pals such as the firefighters at Station 6 in Ardmore ... 9192634518

The buzz starts about 8:45 a.m. on Wednesdays at the Omega House restaurant on Peters Creek Parkway.

"Where's Bill?" patrons of the restaurant ask each other.

The man in question is Bill Jenkins, a regular who many of the restaurant's customers set their watches by.

Jenkins, 62, has lived in Winston-Salem for most of his life and he includes the restaurant in his morning rounds.

These days, Jenkins makes a little more of a splash when he arrives, thanks to the snazzy red customized golf cart that he uses to get around town.

The cart, which has a white cover, was an early Christmas present from the firefighters at Station 6 on Academy Street, and it helps Jenkins, who has cerebral palsy, travel about town in a little more safety and comfort than his old moped did.

"Everybody knows Bill. All the girls know him," said Pam James, his regular waitress at the restaurant.

"When you got it, you got it," Jenkins said.

Jenkins speaks with difficulty, but his ready smile and irreverent sense of humor make him friends wherever he goes, James said.

Richard Staley, a firefighter at Station 6, said he has gotten to know Jenkins well during his six years at the station.

Jenkins, who was befriended by a group of firefighters as a young man, has maintained special relationships with many firefighters around town through the years. He said he considers the station on Academy Street his second home and is pictured in the department's 2000 yearbook.

Someone ran him off the road a while back when he was driving his moped, and though Jenkins wasn't hurt, the firefighters were concerned about his safety. They also worried about him being exposed to the elements, Staley said.

In October, Battalion Chief Larry Holloman, Capt. Jerry Amos, firefighter Rusty Walser and engineer Ted Coleman organized a benefit golf tournament to raise money for Jenkins' new vehicle.

The used golf cart cost about $4,200, and Staley said he helped customize it for Jenkins so that it would meet the requirements for what is officially known as a "handicapped mobility device."

The cart has turn signals, brake lights, a seat belt and a radio, Staley said, and he hopes it will soon have a heater.

Jenkins, who is known as "Turnip Head" around the station because of the shape of his nearly bald head, has been coming by the station for driving lessons, Staley said.

He is still learning to maneuver the cart, and the firefighters have set up cones for him to practice driving around the parking lot.

"When it takes off, it scares him because he thinks he's going faster than he is," Staley said.

He spooks easily if someone blows a horn at him, Staley said.

Many of the customers of Omega House and other places that Jenkins visits check in to see if he needs a ride somewhere. If he doesn't show up at the expected time for breakfast, James said that she calls to check on him.

The two of them have a special relationship, James said. She brings Jenkins his signature breakfast of sausage, applesauce, American-cheese omelet and biscuit. She also sits down with him on her breaks.

James said she thinks that Jenkins likes her because she doesn't treat him like someone with a disability.

"I didn't treat him special," she said. "I never babied him."

Jenkins nodded in agreement as James talked.
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