The rest of the story...

Here's where I tell you all the stuff that wouldn't fit in a 2-minute TV story.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Santa Who Never Quits

Tom Williams' everyday look.
Christmas was two months ago, but don't tell that to Tom Williams, who is the closest to a dead ringer for Santa Claus as any man I've ever seen.  You either.

Tom can't help but look like Santa, whether it's December, or July or last week when we caught up with him as he volunteered at the Habitat ReStore in Christiansburg.

He can't just turn it off.

We saw that when a young child approached him wide-eyed in the ReStore.  As far as that kid was concerned, THAT was Santa, and the boy wanted to talk to him.  Tom, of course obliged.

I asked him why he didn't just shave the beard and get a haircut.  "Then, I wouldn't look like Santa," he said.

The C'burg ReStore
See, Tom wants to look like Santa.  Not for the notoriety.  Not so he can sit in the mall at Christmas. (Which he doesn't do.) Not for some personality disorder, or even for local fame.  Tom wants to be Santa so he can accomplish good.

In my story, you'll see how Tom volunteers for numerous organizations.  You'll hear about his Santa Cares Program.  You'll see the story of a man who is truly trying to put the giving not just into Christmas -- but into every other month of the year as well.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Time for Renewable Energy?

Mark Hanson's home
Has the time come for Virginians to seriously consider solar panels and windmills to heat and cool our homes, power our blenders and light up our flat screen TV's?  Are battery powered cars finally the best way to get to and from work?  Maybe.

Make that a qualified maybe.  There are still a few obstacles to overcome, but one of the biggest -- price, is fading like a light bulb in a black out.

And that's generating new enthusiasm for long-time renewable energy fans like the men in my story, Mark Hanson and Mark Howard.  As we toured Hanson's home which is chock full of renewable energy and carbon footprint shrinking technology, the thing we heard over and over is that the cost of solar panels has come way down.  Enough that the two Marks, and their club, REEVA for Renewable Energy and Electric Vehicle Association are hoping more people will get in line to try what has been historically a passion reserved for hobbyists and environmentalists.
Mark Hanson

REEVA is an active club, and their website is full of pictures of projects the group has taken on -- often at the homes of other club members.  But they will go to just about anyone's home to help install wind, solar or electric car equipment, if the person will just buy it.

Hanson's custom electric VW
"We figured the cost of the energy has come down to the same price as traditional options, but the equipment still costs money.  We figured if we supplied the labor to install it, then renewable energy is a viable choice for a lot more people," said Hanson.

Mark Howard
It's not like their phones are ringing off the hook, but interest has steadily been picking up.  The other Mark -- Mark Howard, owner of PowerMark Electrical is a certified electrician who specializes in solar installations, he says about half of his work last year was solar related. 

The Marks and the rest of the club make valid points about our dependence upon non-renewable energy sources.  It's hard to argue with a solar panel, which as Howard points out, "... Has no moving parts. Once its installed it just produces energy."

Say one thing for these guys and, from what I can tell the rest of the club.  They talk the talk,  and drive the drive.   They are offering to donate their time and their minds to see others discover what they already believe -- that there's a better way.  I wish them well.