Computer support specialist, roller coaster connoisseur
How long have you been riding roller coasters?
Since 2001. My current count is 150. Just 500 more to go in North America and 2000 more across the globe.
What was your first one like?
It was the Beast at Kings Island in Cincinnati, and I thought I was going to die! It took me 10 years before I would ride another.
Which one is your favorite?
My favorite overall coaster is a hybrid (steel structure with wood tracks) called The Voyage in Santa Claus, Indiana.
What’s the best seat on a coaster?
On wooden ones, the back seat is the most wild, the front seat gives the best view, and the middle of the train is the mildest.
Are the new ones as fun as the old rickety ones?
Nothing beats an old rickety ride because it has history and character. The new ones usually have more flash and tricks than substance. However, many coaster manufacturers are starting to revert back to old styles with new technology, so the future looks promising.
Any particularly cool memories?
The American Coaster Enthusiasts offers exclusive events. Nothing beats a 1 a.m. ride on a wooden coaster in the dark with nothing but the sounds of the lift chains and crickets!
Does coaster riding dictate your travel?
When my wife and I travel, we have to plan at least one visit to an amusement park. I am looking forward to the NEA RA in San Diego (in July) as an excuse to visit some of the top West Coast parks and rides.
Mark L. Davis
Elementary science/math teacher, bat rehabilitator
What fomented your love of bats?
I caught a bat in third grade, took it to school for show-and-tell, and fell in love with the furry creature. Now, I do educational bat programs for museums, state parks, zoos, and libraries.
Ever been bitten, or is that a myth?
Bats do not bite unless they are scared. I have been bitten because I handle them. (I have my rabies shots!)
What and how much does a bat eat?
In the U.S. Northeast, bats eat insects—600 mosquitoes per hour! Elsewhere, they eat pollen, fruit, insects, fish, birds, other bats, and drink blood.
What’s the typical bat personality?
Babies are much like cats. They twitch their ears when you talk to them, and they constantly lick themselves to stay clean. They fly to you when you go to feed them.
Batman—good or bad for bats’ image?
Batman brings an awareness to the real thing. He’s a good guy, just like bats.
What’s your favorite piece of bat memorabilia?
My custom Harley motorcycle that has a bat theme with airbrushed bats.
Marion, South Carolina
Simmons, a retired business education teacher, successfully lobbied to get the Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Marion County, South Carolina, on the National Register of Historic Places. This meant researching the church’s history and architecture, and tracking down documents, including the deed. She credits her interest in education for her enthusiastism to complete the project. “Young children don't know anything about their ancestors or the struggles they had; [without the church's new designation] they may have looked at the church...and never realized that it was done with hands and little else.”
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