CHIEF LOGAN STATE PARK - Members of amateur radio clubs from two counties set up shop near the cabin inside Chief Logan State Park all day Saturday in an effort to make contact with others across the nation.
The two clubs - the Coal Country Amateur Radio Club, based in Madison in Boone County, and the Logan County Amateur Radio Club - were there as part of an event called Parks on the Air, which is a nationwide effort to link ham radio operators and bring more visibility to state and national parks. When contact is made with another operator, their information is written down, and a certificate is sent out to confirm the connection.
Saturday marked the first time Chief Logan State Park had been activated as a park on the air. Despite what the members said were bad band conditions that day, by 3 p.m. they had made contact with several other operators, including as far as Florida.
Most of the members say they got their start in the amateur radio hobby through operating CB radios, and many are trained in emergency management such as firefighting and EMT work. In the event of an emergency during which traditional communications are shut off, ham radio can be utilized instead.
"It's events like this that helps us prepare for when we have an emergency in our area," said Dale Harrison, president of the Logan County Amateur Radio Club. "We've got experience in setting up our equipment out here, so we can help out the fire department or the police or whoever needs our help."
"It actually goes all the way to Homeland Security in Charleston," said Kenneth Cregger, president of the Coal Country Amateur Radio Club. "We can communicate all around the state if anything goes on and if anybody needs any communication back and forth from different locations. We're pretty handy to have around."
There will be another event Saturday-Sunday, June 22-23, at Waterways called Amateur Radio Field Day. It will be sponsored by American Radio Relay League.
For anyone interested in joining either club, the Logan County Amateur Radio Club meets the first Saturday of every month at the Henlawson Fire Department, and the Coal Country Amateur Radio Club meets the first Tuesday of every month at the Madison Civic Center. Both organizations prepare newcomers for certification in ham radio operation and offer the tests every few months.
The Coal Country Amateur Radio Club also has a website at www.wv8ccc.org.
Dylan Vidovich is a news reporter for HD Media. Contact him by phone at 304-896-5196 or follow him on Twitter @DVidovichLB.