Channel 19 – August 2001

Filling potholes: Crime or business opportunity?
Two Dallas area men, fed up with potholes on county roads, bought 1,300 pounds of asphalt and fixed the holes themselves. But the county says that’s illegal, and it may prosecute.

“We don’t know what kind of asphalt they used, and we don’t know if the job was done right” says Kelly Zwinggi, county public works director.

Maybe those Dallas offenders could be rehabilitated if they worked for the Massachusetts manufacturer of a pothole-patching substance made of asphalt, sand – and ground-up computers. Conigliaro Industries collects more than 25,000 pounds a day of plastic casings from computers, printers, scanners and other electronics to chew up for Cold Path, its water-based pothole filler.

“At first, everyone thought it was kind of a kooky product,” says President Greg Conigliaro. “But it has worked so well, and that’s been really rewarding.”

Cold Patch could be hot. An estimated 150 million computers will be thrown away by 2005 – and every trucker knows that potholes are America’s greatest renewable resource.

Not all lobbyists wait in the lobby
The National Rifle Association has blown away the American Trucking Associations in Fortune magazine’s ranking of the most powerful lobbying groups. The NRA placed No. 1; the ATA was 30th. Nevertheless, the trucking industry can take heart in leaving the Association of American Railroads way down the tracks, at No. 70.

Thai one on with coconut-diesel cocktail
A gas station in Thailand sells a blend of kerosene and coconut oil to motorists who normally fill up with diesel. The new blend is a third cheaper than straight diesel, and sales are good.

Meanwhile, the king of diesel-dependent Thailand, who moonlights as an inventor, has applied for a patent to mix diesel with palm oil as a fuel for boat engines and farm machinery.

One reason that truckers elsewhere are leery of biodiesel is that it starts to freeze at 25 degrees. That’s no problem in the land of coconuts and palms, where the average year-round temperature is about 80 degrees.

Desert pies and piety
National Geographic‘s May story about Giant Travel Center on I-40 at Jamestown, N.M., marvels over the 245-person workforce, including 90 Navajo, and the 5,000 daily visi-tors who stop at this motorists’ oasis. Not to mention the banana cream and chocolate cream pies whipped up by Irene Charley, or the Sunday afternoon truckers who “have nearly come to blows disagreeing over what to watch on TV – NFL football or NASCAR racing.” Sunday morning is more sedate. The chapel draws a few of the faithful, such as Paul Pearson of Jamestown, N.Y., who isn’t bashful about petitioning the Almighty: “Sometimes I ask the Lord to save a parking space for me at the truck stop.”