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Ham Fest set for Saturday

Ham radios may come across as a thing of the past, but for the Jim Bell Wireless Association, they can be a matter of life or death.

On Saturday the Jim Bell Wireless Association will be demonstrating the importance of radios at its annual fundraiser, Ham Fest.

Between 10 and 20 vendors will be selling new and used equipment for amateur radio operators like two-way radios, antennas, antenna connections and vintage radios for collectors, according to Ham Fest Chairman and amateur radio operator Jerry McCullough.

“It’s an annual event that the Jim Bell Wireless Association puts on, which is a collection of amateur radio operators from Butler, Crenshaw and Lowndes Counties,” McCullough said.

The fundraiser allows the operators to purchase electronic equipment that will be used in disaster preparedness.

“I am on standby to provide emergency communication for any entity that needs it at no cost,” McCullough said. “When (Hurricane) Ivan came trough, Ivan tore down all of the power lines, the cell phone towers, and the only communication that was available for a short period was municipal two-way radios.”

He said hospitals are now equipped with a mature radio two-way communication station. In the event of a natural disaster, if communication abilities are disabled, hospitals can now use emergency power back up to communicate with other hospitals out of the region to transport patients.

In addition to vendors, the Regional Incident Support Unit will be attending the event, which is typically located at the Emergency Management Agency in Dothan, Ala.

“This particular region as well as other regions of the state have emergency communication vehicles readied for deployment if they’re needed,” McCullough said. “This is a mobile command post that will be set up here for display to anyone who wants to go through that.”

The event will begin at 9 a.m. and admission will be $5. License testing will be provided at 9:30 a.m. and the American Legion will provide food.

McCullough said typically the event sees about 150 people and the club typically raises between $400 and $500.

“For us the event is always a really good event and offers a social interchange between radio operations and persons,” McCullough said. “This would offer people who might have interest in becoming a radio amateur operator a chance to talk with other radio amateur operators who do foster an interest into the amateur radio hobby.”

For more information contact McCullough at ke4ero@gmail.com or 334-301-5007.