CRESTVIEW — Eleven new manuals and handbooks recently donated to the Crestview Public Library will be a valuable resource for amateur radio enthusiasts — also called “hams” — Library Director Jean Lewis said.
Among the North Okaloosa Amateur Radio Club’s donations were training manuals, for new amateur radio buffs seeking operator’s licenses, and guides for more advanced hams. The donation will benefit the Crestview area and serve radio buffs throughout the county, Lewis said.
“These are very good, excellent books on ham radio,” she said. “Until this donation, we only had one book, which was ‘Ham Radio for Dummies.’”
The donation comes when the Crestview City Council has eliminated the library’s book acquisition budget.
“We’re helping the library get books they can’t afford to buy,” NOARC activities director Cal Zethmayr, W4GMH, said. “Anybody who wants to study ham radio or learn more about it can check these out.”
The books are available to any Okaloosa County resident within the county library system, Lewis said.
“We knew the library was under pressure for money to get new books,” Zethmayr said. “These are brand new books the (American Radio Relay League) requires. If we can reach more people and get more operators, the better for the community.”
The league — of which NOARC is a member — in 2014 will celebrate its 100th year of American amateur radio.
In addition to connecting with fellow hams all over the world, amateur radio club members advise local Boy Scout troops during the worldwide Jamboree on the Air, Zethmayr said. They also provide communications during regional emergency operations.
NOARC also serves as a training resource for many area responders including county Emergency Operations Center employees, he said.
“We, over the last couple years, have trained employees of Okaloosa Gas, Auburn Water, the Okaloosa County Health Department, and (Community Emergency Response) teams,” Zethmayr said. “We’ve added more than 100 licensed amateurs. Okaloosa County now has more than 800 licensed hams.”
Through regional radio networks, Crestview area hams provide communications linking and guiding emergency responders using satellite positioning and related technology. Local hams helped set up the emergency center’s amateur radio communications equipment, Zethmayr said.
“If other equipment fails, amateur radio will keep working,” he said. “A lot of the guys have solar power now, and many have generators in case the power goes out.
“For example, if Crestview has a situation where you can’t get into Crestview when water comes up over the roads — and it’s happened before — we’re geared up to provide additional communications to the network.”
Want to go?
The North Okaloosa Amateur Radio Club meets the second Thursday of each month at the old Dorcas Fire Station 42, 5232 Deer Springs Drive. The location is 8 miles east of Crestview off U.S. Highway 90. Contact club President Bob Walker at n4cu@AMSAT.org.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.