Pictured are: (standing) Bob McFarland, Ron Bogard, John Levo, Dave Tourtelot, Lee Bishop and Harley Maines; (seated) Ted Ruble and Floyd Colville.
Pictured are: (standing) Bob McFarland, Ron Bogard, John Levo, Dave Tourtelot, Lee Bishop and Harley Maines; (seated) Ted Ruble and Floyd Colville.
Highland County’s Highland Amateur Radio Association was recently honored by the Ohio State Senate on the observation of the club’s 40th anniversary.

According to Association President Dave Tourtelot, the surprise proclamation states “The accomplishments of this organization are an excellent reflection not only on the association itself, but also on every member who has banded together to educate both one another and the community on the benefits – and in many ways necessities – of ham radio in today’s world.”

The proclamation was signed by Senate President Larry Obhof and President Pro Tempore Bob Peterson. It was presented at the club’s Aug. 8 meeting.

Highland Amateur Radio Association information officer John Levo states that although the club was recognized for its 40 years of existence, area amateur radio operations have been traced back to the early days of the 1900s when wireless communication was in its infancy and all communication was by Morse Code.

Area amateurs were taking to the airwaves well before the government had a license process in place. However, in 1934, the late Virginia Barrett Layman became the first Highland County resident to earn an amateur radio license issued by what is now the Federal Communications Commission.

Today, there are close to 500 licensed “ham radio” operators in Highland and the surrounding counties. The local club has more than 100 members, is very active and is acknowledged as one of the leading amateur radio clubs in Ohio. Their award-winning “Monday Morning Memo” newsletter is distributed weekly to hundreds of hams throughout south-central Ohio, northern Kentucky and northwestern West Virginia and features news about the various amateur radio clubs throughout the region.

Although most people think of hams just talking to all corners of the earth with simple radios and weird contraptions for an antenna, hams were in the forefront creating things we take for granted. According to the American Radio Relay League, hams were leaders developing ways to transmit voice instead of code over the air. Their inventions led to the development of radio for the delivery of news, entertainment and two-way communications in the 1920s and 30s.

Amateurs helped win World War ll through the creation of radar, the walkie-talkie and single sideband radio transmissions as well as providing a pool of people with electronic knowledge to the armed forces. After the war, the invention of the transistor and technology developed by a Cleveland ham led to today's cell phone.

During the Vietnam War, it was through ham radio and the MARS Program many serving abroad in the military were able to keep in contact with loved ones stateside. Today’s ham is just as likely to use some sort of a digital mode to make a contact as he is to use voice or code and some elect to make contacts through satellites circling high above the earth.

There is even a ham radio set up aboard the International Space Station. It is often used to give school students an opportunity to ask a question directly to an astronaut.

According to club vice president Jeff Collins, a successful 2016 license class resulted in more than 25 area people earning their first license or upgrading to an advanced license. Therefore, the club is considering holding another class in early 2018 that will cover the technician and general class licenses.

Anyone interested in learning more may contact Levo at 393-4951, Collins at 393-3115 or go to highlandara@yahoo.com.