February 2024: How We Operate, Part 1

Number 118, February 2024

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From the Desk of: Bill

Over the Christmas holiday, I read a book about one room schools in Montana. I have visited Montana several times, but never lived there. The reason the book was fun for me is that I attended a one room school for my first three years of school in Missouri. The book brought back a lot of memories.

We did have electric lights – about 8 bare bulbs hanging down on wires from the ceiling. We also had a couple of outhouses: boys & girls. (I suppose today, you might need a dozen or so outhouses….)

In the fourth, fifth and sixth grades, there were only two grades in my classroom (because our one room school closed and we were bussed to town). We even had an indoor bathroom! By the time I made it to the seventh grade, there was only one grade per room.

As it turned out, when we started homeschooling our children about 1980, we simply modeled it after Upper Ten Mile School, the one room school I attended. Some home schools are very casual and some are more organized. Ours was one of the more organized ones.

The holidays are behind us now and political campaigns are beginning to pick up speed. I am working with Duke Buckner as his Campaign Manager. Duke is running for the 6th United States Congressional district in South Carolina against Jim Clyburn. I am new in the political arena, so there is a big learning curve for me. Other than writing some emails for Duke in 2022, my only experience in politics is basically complaining about politicians.

In the next month or two, I will begin making final reservations for our trip west with a couple more grandchildren. This will be our 5th trip taking grands to visit some western states. We have taken 12 children so far. Normally, we try to go to one of my favorite places: Yellowstone National Park, but this year, we are going to go southwest instead.

On the way west, we will pick up a couple of grandsons in the Knoxville area. There are two large lakes in western Kentucky formed by hydro dams. Between them is the “Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.” If you cross the lakes (and the land between) them on U.S. 68 rather than north of the dams on I-24, you will see a sign saying, “Elk & Bison Prairie.” The “prairie” is a rather large fenced area with, you guessed it, elk and bison wandering around. This will be the grands first chance to see bison. For some reason, the elk are difficult to see, but the bison like to hang around the several mile long loop road through the prairie.

On our trips, there is a lot of driving involved, so we try to have an activity at least one per day. The trips are typically 6,000 miles long (about 100 hours of driving) over 2 1/2 weeks so frequent stops are needed.

We plan to cross the Mississippi river on a ferry from Dorena, MO to Hickman, KY – south of Cairo, IL. When I was a boy living in southeastern Missouri, on some day trips, we would take a ferry across the river, drive a few miles and take another ferry back to Missouri. Back then, there were many ferries. Today, there are only two or three left on the entire river. The Dorena Hickman ferry looks like the ones I used to ride. It is basically a barge with a tugboat connected to the side of it.

We took the ferry across the Mississippi on our 2016 trip. (L to R) Kandy (aka Gramma), Mandy, grandson Austin, granddaughter Charlotte, Jessy, grandson Bo. We had dropped off another granddaughter in the Springfield, Missouri area.

Panning for gold at South Pass City in 2018. Austin, the grand on the right actually found a few flakes of gold. We purchased a small glass vial so he could bring his gold home.

When we leave South Pass City, we will follow the Oregon Trail back east with several stops along the way. There is a park beside Split Rock near Muddy Gap, Wyoming, that contains a huge boulder – maybe 200 feet high. It is rounded and looks like the rocks used in some of the old westerns I watched as a boy. We plan to climb to the top of it. 

As we continue east along the Oregon Trail, we will come to Douglas, Wyoming. The town has a rail museum there which is very nice. They have a dining car that is open so you can sit down at a table look out the window and imagine you are on a trip somewhere. You can also walk through a Pullman car and a couple of others. There is a huge articulated steam locomotive in the park also. 

Out next stop will be Ft. Laramie, Wyoming, now a national park and then Scottsbluff, Nebraska. (The town of Scottsbluff is one word. The county of Scotts Bluff and Scotts Bluff National Monument are two words.) 

Near Scottsbluff, we plan to stop by the grave of Rebecca Burdick Winters who died of cholera on the Oregon Trail back in 1852. Her family was on the way to Utah to homestead. She is the grandchildren’s 1st cousin, 8 times removed so that makes history a bit more real for them. Rebecca Winters was one of the few pioneers on the Oregon Trail who was not buried in an unmarked grave. A family friend stayed up all night and chiseled her name into a steel wagon wheel rim. Her grave was moved a couple of times when the railroad and then highway were built. 

Rebecca Winter’s grave near Scottsbluff, Nebraska. The wagon rim with her name carved on it is bent into an arch. Abbey is taking a photo when we visited in 2012.

Fort Robinson is a state park in the Nebraska panhandle north of Scottsbluff. It was originally a cavalry fort. At the park, we plan to take a stagecoach ride, perhaps a trail ride and hayride/cookout at the foot of a butte. They sometimes have a rodeo with some of the local park employees, which is entertaining. Ft. Robinson is the site of Chief Crazy Horse’s surrender along with 1,100 of his braves back in 1877. 

As we head south and east, Chimney Rock is also one of our planned visits. Chimney Rock was the landmark most mentioned by pioneers on the Oregon Trail. It is a slender rock spire that can be seen for miles. Chimney Rock marked the end of the flat prairie land travel and the beginning of hills and mountains. 

On the way home, we plan to stop by the Strategic Air Force Museum outside Omaha. When I was about 3 or 4 years old, my Daddy worked (as a civilian – he was in the Navy during World War II) at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha. The museum was originally on the base. 

The eastern terminus of the Pony Express route is in St. Joseph, Missouri. There is a museum in the old stables and that is on our list of places to visit. St. Joe also has a surprisingly large museum (the Patee House) that we may try to visit. The Patee House was originally a “fancy” hotel. Adjacent to it is the house where Jesse James’ “friend” shot him in the back for the reward.

From St. Joe, we will pretty much just drive (unless we see some place that looks fun to visit) straight back to Knoxville. 

After 6,000 miles and 18 or so days, we will be back home if all goes according to plan. 


Debby is Willis’ wife and Bill’s daughter. She homeschools their eight children, gardens and even bakes her own bread. In her “spare time” she is putting the newsletter together for us, starting this month. Debby has a nice artistic touch, so you should see aesthetic improvements soon. ——————————————– Bill writes most of the newsletter text, Willis edits it. Genie helps with photos and Debby makes it look good!

How We Operate, Part 1

Any operation can always be viewed from more than one aspect. How we operate Willis Sinclair, for example, can be viewed from at least two different aspects. One is how we operate from a personal standpoint and the other is how we operate from a technical standpoint. This month, we will discuss our “personal” how; next month, our “technical” how. Although good morals and high standards don’t seem to be very important in our world today, they are crucial to us.

First it is important to us that we do all of our work to the very best of our ability. While there are standards we have to meet (Building codes, Electrical codes, Zoning requirements, etc.) for us, there is a higher standard: doing excellent work. We know Who we really work for and we want to be a good representative of His name. That means when (not if) problems arise or mistakes happen, we resolve them. We will find a solution. We will not cast blame. We hold ourselves to the Ultimate standard. We understand that it is really God’s reputation that’s at stake, not ours.

Honesty is also very important to us. Our managers and employees are always honest with our clients, even if, the “truth hurts” as the saying goes. What the saying does not state is that “lies hurt more.” We will be straight with people. Lying is a slippery slope and once you start down that slope, standards fade from view. We stay off that slope. If we tell you something, you can depend on it being true, to the best of our knowledge. We won’t gloss things over, we will be honest with you and with ourselves. We also hold our subs to this same standard. If we ever find them to be untrustworthy, they are dismissed.

Another of our goals is to operate our projects pleasantly. Building and remodeling can be stressful, worrisome, and is a whole lot of hard work, but we strive to make the process of working with us as pleasant as possible. It is a big undertaking to build or remodel, but the process can still be an enjoyable one! We’ll do everything in our power to make it so.

We do our level best to stay positive and upbeat no matter the circumstances. Whether it is waiting because of material delays, aggravation over subs not showing up, or awaiting decisions to be made by home owners, we will still be pleasant to work with. It is no fun to work with grumpy people and besides there is always a good reason why something has occurred. Sometimes people control that reason and other times, God controls that reason (e.g. the weather!). We will be calm and level headed, no matter what. Things have a way of always working out perfectly!

Our higher Standard requires we treat others (clients, subs, suppliers, visitors, everyone) like we want to be treated (i.e., nicely). We do not badger our subs or suppliers for lower prices. We will not allow our customers to be overcharged, but we will not insist our subs or suppliers take a hit. We look out for you, the people we work for, and for the people we work with. We treat everyone with kindness and respect. If we ever believe a price to be too high, we will shop around for a better one, if at all possible. We care about the cost! We do know though that sometimes price affects quality and we keep that in mind as well. The quality of our work is very important to us.

Although it may not be politically correct to mention it, we pray for our customers, workers, and jobs. We fully understand some people think this is foolish based on our scientific world today. I (Bill) have a science background (BS with honors in Electrical Engineering). I am a registered Professional Engineer in Florida. I have been awarded 6 United States Patents. If you flew on an airliner in the 1970, 1980 or 1990s, the chances were very good that some circuitry I designed was on your plane. Literally millions of copies of my designs have been built in television sets. I have a good scientific base and I believe prayer works. You may or may not, but don’t let anyone tell you an educated person cannot believe. I am and I do.

I think that about sums up our personal “how”. I am sure there are more things I could add to this list, but this is not an exhaustive list. The relationship we build with you, our customer, is very important to us, as is your happiness and your finished project! Soli Deo Gloria.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss a project,

call (843 846 2500), text (843 846 2500),

email (info@willissinclair.com) or visit us on a job site.

No cost or obligation for you, of course.

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