OF THE NEWS STAFF
ith the interest in motorcycles increasing as gas prices climb, potential bikers will have a new way to get their licenses.
Terry Atwood and Larry Jobe have completed construction on a full-size motorcycle safety range for their A&J Motorcycle Safety School. The school, located at Bucktown Heritage Industrial Park on Route 46 in Bucksport, offers intensive two-day courses to prepare bikers to get their motorcycle licenses.
The school is certified by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and all of the instructors, including Jobe and Atwood, are also certified by the state.
“This is a hands-on motorcycle course,” Atwood said recently. “Students get 10 hours on the motorcycle that we provide and five hours in the classroom.”
According to Atwood, the state will waive the road test requirement for students who successfully complete the course.
A&J has been operating in Belfast with a smaller safety range and will continue to use it. But after two years of searching, Atwood and Jobe chose Bucksport as the best site for the school’s headquarters.
“It will serve the eastern part of the state,” Atwood said. “It’s pretty centrally located about 20 miles from Bangor, Ellsworth and Belfast, and it’s not that far from Augusta. Students should be able to get here in a reasonable amount of time.”
During the summer months, the school is operating six days a week and will cut back to weekends in the fall. Because the course is offered over two consecutive days, students who have to travel to the site likely will stay overnight.
“We needed to have comfortable and affordable lodging close by,” Atwood said. “We wanted to be close to Bangor for accessibility to our students north and west, and we wanted to offer easy access to Down East, and Bucksport offered all of those things.”
The regular turnover of students should benefit the local economy, he said.
The new business got a lot of help from Bucksport’s economic development director, David Milan, particularly in obtaining the site in the park, and from park owner John Wardwell, who worked with Atwood and Jobe in preparing and paving the safety range area.
The move to Bucksport gives them more space for the students to learn and practice motorcycling skills.
The safety range is a 260-by-160-foot paved area that is marked with the various maneuvers the students will have to master in order to pass the course. The larger area allows them to handle up to a dozen students at a time, Atwood said.
High fuel prices are increasing the interest in motorcycles for a large number of motorists and an increasing number of women, Atwood said.
“We’ve had a number of classes where there were more than 50 percent women,” he said, “and we’ve had three classes where there were no men at all.”
In addition to the two-day license course, A&J also offers permit classes, experienced rider classes, specialty training classes for women only and seasoned riders classes.
For more information, call 567-3752 or go to www.aandjmss.com.