March 05, 2013

New club established for area hams

A group of seven Rusk County Hams recently met to establish a new Amateur Radio club in East Texas. President Keith Ballow says the organization is hoping to promote ham radio to a new generation.

"We hope to bring the excitement of ham radio and electronics to the young people of Rusk County," said Ballow. "Of course, we'll have activities for all ages. Several local hams are interested in storm spotting, community service, emergency preparedness and even just talking to folks on the radio."

The Rusk County Amateur Radio Club is made up local amateur radio operators and their families. "Hams," as they are often called, are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to operate two-way radios on shortwave, VHF, microwave and other frequencies. While most often seen providing emergency communications during natural distastes  many hams enjoy talking around town or around the world nearly everyday.

"It is a vary diverse hobby that offers a wide array of activities," said David Chenault, a member of the new club. "You can chat with several friends at one time in Henderson on the local radio repeater, talk to space station astronauts, or exchange digital pictures hams in Japan or Spain. The possibilities are nearly endless."

James Pike, a relatively new ham who is also the county emergency management coordinator  said he's been looking forward to a local club for years.

"Hams can be vitally important in an emergency," said Pike. "When all the power goes out, cell phones stop working, but hams still have the ability to provide communications. They can work with police, fire and Red Cross workers to help people and save lives."

Anyone can become a ham by simply taking an FCC test. The club is planning on hosting testing session in the next few months. More information is available on the group's website,