Woman Saves The Little Engines That Can

Learning To Fix Rather Than Discard Means Money's Worth

October 21, 1991|By Dianne Williams Hayes | Dianne Williams Hayes,Staff writer

If it's broken, Betty Klebe probably knows how to fix it.

Her 25-year-old washing machine, 15-year-old lawn mower and 10-year-old leafblower are oiled and ready to go, no thanks to the repairmen who recommended that they be thrown away.

"Repairmen might tell a woman that there's something wrong with apart or tell them it needs to be thrown out when it's not the case,"Klebe said, who won't say more about her age other than that she's definitely had her 50th birthday and on occasion calls herself a senior citizen.

"It's difficult to get someone to work on equipment that age. People generally have the inclination to throw it away or buy a new one. I don't agree with that philosophy.

"Once I've paid forit," she said, "I want it to last."

The small engine repair classthat she is enrolled in at the Center for Applied Technology North has certainly come in handy.

Every Monday she drives her Toyota pickup truck to the center to work side by side with about 15 men in tackling problems that can arise from a troubled small engine.

At a recent class, she learned to repair a generator.

Last year, the home appliance repair class gave her the knowledge to repair her washingmachine and dishwasher. In both cases, she was the only woman enrolled in the classes offered by the Continuing Education department at the Board of Education.

"It doesn't bother me," Klebe said matter-of-factly. "I'm pretty independent."

That trait was something that struck program coordinator Lou Apuzzio who was impressed by Klebe while visiting the class.

"I make it a point to try to observe classes," Apuzzio said. "I walked into class and was overjoyed and surprised at the same time. Here this senior woman was standing in front of awork bench and had her lawn mower completely disassembled.

"I asked her what she was doing and she said she was repairing it to save money. I felt real good. We are providing a service to adults. In thiscase, she can fix her own washer and dryer based on the knowledge gained from that class."

There are few things in her Severn home that Klebe wouldn't consider tackling. In addition to the repair coursesthrough the school system, she has also taken courses in car engine repair at the Pascal Senior Center in Glen Burnie.

"My husband (Edmund) supports all of this," she said. "He's pleased that I've taken an interest in this and has always encouraged me."

Prior to her work with engines, she had worked as a medical secretary. She also has a bachelor's degree in fine arts from the University of Maryland and a certificate in floral design from Dundalk Community College.

Butretired with no children, the repair classes are keeping her busy.

"I want to know how to take care of all the equipment we have," Klebe said. "It's just important to have the knowledge."

The continuing education program is offered at six sites in the county ranging from North County High to South River. Adults may choose from 150 courses ranging from GED test preparation and computer education to ballroom dancing and floral arrangements.

Ballroom dancing is among the most popular classes that range from $10 for a one-time class to $46 for 10 weeks. The county has offered the continuing education programfor the last 25 years, but budget restraints require the program be self-sufficient.

With cuts expected at the Anne Arundel Community College, more students may be flocking to the school system's programs as the college serves more students seeking to transfer into four-year universities.

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