story by stephanie johns • photos contributed by bill ronay
Local ham radio operators working Camp Twin Lakes’ Spin for Kids fund-raiser bike ride next weekend
This year marks the second year that local ham radio operators will assist with communications for the Spin for Kids ride to benefit Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge, according to Bill Ronay, Emergency Coordinator for Morgan County Amateur Radio Emergency Services.
The ham operators allowed ride personnel to keep in contact with one another even if their cell phones did not work. Ronay said there was one incident in particular where the ham operators were able to help.
“Some scouts took a wrong turn,” he said. “They didn’t think they were lost but we did.”
The scouts arrived safe and sound.
“We’re here for support and to provide emergency communications when called upon to do so,” he said.
Jim Dale volunteered with Ronay last year and said that he was glad to help.
“They were very cooperative and had good organization out there,” he said. “We felt very good about it.”
Dale said the ham operators gathered information from the different stops and passed it along to the officials working the event.
He added that volunteering to work the ride gave him and Ronay an opportunity to practice as they both serve as part of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Reserve.
“It’s good practice in case we have an emergency,” he said. “We’d do a similar service.”
Caitlin Still, Special Events Coordinator at Camp Twin Lakes, said that the ham operators were “absolutely wonderful” last year.
“They helped smooth out the logistics that go into a ride and made the riders feel fully supported,” she said.
Still said that the ham operators kept the lines of communication open and that although no emergencies came up last year, the ham operators were prepared for emergencies.
“I love working with them,” she said. “I’m incredibly appreciative of them.”
Ronay shared that the group of volunteer ham operators had a practice test run prior to the day of the ride last year. That practice run and subsequent ride went so well that they do not plan to have a practice run this year.
There are about 50 FCC licenses and call signs in Morgan County. Of those 50, about 36 are active ham operators. The two Morgan County ham operators – Ronay and Jim Dale – were joined last year and will be joined again this year by other ham operators from Barrow, Butts, DeKalb, Henry, and Newton counties.
At least two ham operators will be at each of four rest stops: Centennial Baptist Church, Town Park, Fairplay Store, and Rutledge. Those operators will be in communication with net control at the Start/Finish line at Camp Twin Lakes.
A repeater, a machine that receives signal on one frequency and repeats the signal on a different frequency, allows the group county-wide coverage. The repeater operates on 146.865 and has been on a silo in the county for many years, according to Ronay.
He noted that Janis Wilbanks purchased the repeater and donated it to the county for use by all licensed ham operators living in or traveling through the county.
Printed in the October 11, 2012