Local News

June 28, 2014

Local 'hams' put on show

Display amateur radio capabilities

TUNNEL HILL — Radio static trilled within Smith Chapel United Methodist Church Saturday as Rial Sloan methodically calibrated equipment and dialed in his sought-after band.

At the head of a makeshift command center, the amateur radio operator pulled up several computer programs — routed through his radio — on a monitor, and displayed the machine’s capabilities.

With just a few clicks, a message appeared on Sloan’s computer. It had been forwarded from another operator some 450 miles away — near St. Louis, Mo.

“We can send messages, emails and texts, even with the Internet down and phone services gone,” he said. “All of this through radio. We can routinely reach out to other operators several hundred miles away.”

This weekend’s public demo was part of an annual field day event, hosted by the Dalton Amateur Radio Club, to allow operators, hopeful operators and any interested members of the community to learn more about amateur radio.

Use of the technology, often referred to as “ham” radio, is a fun or interesting hobby to those taking part, but also plays an important role in emergency and public services throughout the country.

The Field Day event, a highlight of a week-long Amateur Radio Week sponsored by the  Amateur Radio Relay League, was held to demonstrate ham’s usefulness.

“We can talk around the world using these radios. Part of what we do is in the interest of the public,” said John Heard, a public information officer for the Amateur Radio Relay League. “We assist emergency management personnel if they need us to help with searches or provide emergency communications in the event of a disaster.”

In past years, amateur radio operators have provided emergency communications during wildfires, hurricanes and other catastrophic events.

Rescue efforts at the 2013 Boston Marathon, where two bombs exploded near the race start/finish line, relied heavily on ham radio operators.

And, according to Sloan, an Emergency Coordinator for ARRL, radio operators supported investigators with a missing person search several years ago in Catoosa County in an area where cellphone service was unavailable.

“We were able to communicate when all other systems were unusable,” he said. “In my several years of doing this, I have never had an email message not get through.”

Ham operators, according to Heard, also help track weather-related events to report findings to the National Weather Service, who prefer the radio method because cellphones and email capabilities can be unreliable, and overwhelmed, during bad weather.

They too are enlisted to track bicycle and cross country races held throughout the country each year, including The Georgia Jewel — a 100-mile trek on the Pinhoti trail, which runs through several areas with a lack of cell service.

The communications support allows for a quick emergency response were a rider to have trouble on the track.

“Many of these tasks could not be done without amateur radio,” said Heard. “And, this ham community serves a training ground for future commercial radio operators and military radio operators.”

Saturday’s event also provided an opportunity for individuals to test for a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license, which is required for all ham radio operators.

Zach Burnett, of Ringgold, said he is studying rules and regulations now in hopes of earning a license in the near future.

“I love the technology,” Burnett said. “I just enjoy it.”

According to a release issued by ARRL, there are about 700,000 amateur radio licensees in the United States, and more than 2.5 million around the world.

Heard said the local radio club occasionally offers classes so that people can learn how to use the radios, and get their entry level FCC license in the same day.

“We just hope to generate more interest in what the amateur radio community is all about,” he said.


Text Only
Local News
  • Green spot closing 1 mlh.jpg A part of the family

    Larry Green can’t remember the exact date. But he says it was about 54 years ago when his father Marvin took him to see the new store he and his brother Herman had commissioned Red Jennings to build at 309 W. Emery St. in Dalton.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • New high school?

    The only means for “staying small” and preserving “The Dalton Way” in Dalton Public Schools may be through expansion, Superintendent Jim Hawkins said Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014

  • Bond denied for man arrested in synthetic marijuana bust

    A Dalton business owner charged in a synthetic marijuana bust was denied bond Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014

  • Longtime Dalton business Green Spot to close

    Larry Green says he made the decision more than a year ago.

    July 29, 2014

  • Kiwanis Club3.jpg Kiwanians get a lesson in money and banking

    It makes it easier for us to buy and sell goods and services. It is the measure by which we judge the relative value of those goods and services, and it allows us to “store value,” by placing it away and using it when we need it.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff: Inmates don’t ask to vote

    In his 21 years of service, Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood said inmates have never asked for the opportunity to vote.

    July 28, 2014

  • Little library 1 mlh.jpg Little Libraries, big goal

    Whitfield County just received a new library.
    And better yet, 26 more are on the way to the region.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Picture 3.jpg Rock solid

    A great number of things have come and gone since 1974.
    One that hasn’t: a small Dalton school founded by parents wanting a unique learning environment for their children.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vann House Day '14 6 mlh.jpg History comes alive at Vann House

    SPRING PLACE — In the early 1800s, the 1,000-acre plantation belonging to Cherokee Indian leader James Vann was a bustling place.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • Local officials agree with Deal

    Regarding news last week that approximately 30 unaccompanied minors from Central America, who had crossed the southern border into the United States, were sent without warning to Dalton last year and enrolled in Dalton Public Schools, Republican politicians representing portions of Murray and Whitfield Counties agree — state and local school officials deserved to know in advance, they say.

    July 26, 2014