2015 – 2016 Highlights
FAIRS 2015-2016 Highlights
F.A.I.R.S. guiding philosophy over the past year:
To engage communities as part of the goodwill!
To follow are notes regarding the progress made by FAIRS related to goodwill works via amateur radio during the past year:
On September 19th, 2015 a special event station for the Floyd Livestock & County Fair was held at Chantilly Farm, the new location of the event. Several operators from Floyd Amateur Radio Society (FARS) attended as well as on-air participants involved.
FAIRS hosted a local groups of Boy and Girl Scouts for the 58th annual “Jamboree on the Air” or JOTA. The event was hosted at Chantilly Farm and provided opportunities for the Scouts to learn about amateur radio communications as well as enjoy camping at the farm. The event helped the Scouts satisfy the requirements to obtain their Radio Merit Badge. Members from the Virginia Tech Amateur Radio Association (VTARA) were available to help scouts learn about amateur radio and make contacts both here and abroad.
In November, 2015 on Election Day, local trained amateur radio operators provided standby emergency communication support at polling places throughout Floyd County, VA. Officials were pleased to have the communication support and FAIRS was able to provide great coverage by experienced, licensed operators.
In November of 2015 FAIRS and the Floyd County Amateur Radio Club joined local hams together to provide assistance for the annual Veterans Day and Christmas Parades. The group provided radio communications for the events, functioning as spotters and giving parade reports. The group was instructed by net control at the E-911 center. This was a great example of FAIRS providing a public service, with Tom King W4VZH coordinating the effort and David Larsen helping to equip volunteers.
January 31st, 2016 marked the first Winter Field Day, located on the stage pavilion of Chantilly Farm. The event was used to simulate weather conditions and emergency communication coverage while using batteries and generators for power.
In March, members of FAIRS and the Floyd RACES Group provided auxiliary communications services for elections on Super Tuesday 2016. A communications log was maintained and all precinct tests were conducted successfully.
In May, FAIRS donated a G5RV antenna for Hamvention 2016. This large convention of ham radio operators and enthusiasts was attended by several FAIRS members, operating the FAIRS booth that has been regular at the convention since 1993.
In May Chantilly Farm kicked off its’ event season for 2016 with the venues amateur radio station, N4USA, being fully operational and open for use for visitors. Many special events are planned to take place at the venue, with Floyd Amateur Radio Society (FARS) members providing on-site communication.
In June, FAIRS conducted Field Day at Chantilly Farm with amateur radio operators in the community and members of FARS. Field Day is held annually to simulate and prepare emergency communications services in the event of a disaster. A “Get On The Air” station was also up and running for the event, giving new enthusiasts and unlicensed individuals a chance to see what amateur radio is all about.
During July, FAIRS was a sponsor for a basic electronics program as part of the Art/Maker Camp organized by the Floyd Jacksonville Center for the Arts. Maker camp encourages young kids to use their creative to build and design different things, whether it is woodworking, painting, sculpting, or even electronics! FAIRS helped with adding electronic components to the art the children had made in their week at the camp.
Summer 2016 marked nine years of FAIRS and its supporters sponsoring a summer intern program. Local students Autumn Townley, Amber Ingram, Rina van Blerk, Nate Cleveland, Cord Johnson, Alice Cox, Emily Wilson, and Bryan Dowd were all local paid interns as a result. Bryan Dowd participated in the program in summer 2016.
As of summer 2016, Russ Abbey KG4MAV continues to be head of communication for our local Skywarn net, a network designed to train volunteers within the county. These volunteers are essential as The National Weather Service depends on people to communicate local weather conditions.
A roster of local amateur radio operators has been updated with levels of certification verified and a system of rotating net control including more hams and increased training.
Several updates were mentioned in the FAIRS newsletter this year and distributed to members and friends of the organization.
Work is continuing among local amateur radio operators towards a “Buffalo Mountain Repeater” which would be of great value to the FAIRS and FARS projects. FAIRS has donated funds towards radio equipment for the project.
2014-2016: An Emergency Operations Center has been set up in the County Administration Building. This station functions as a place to back up first responders in the case of an emergency.
In September 2015, FAIRS sent assistance by Love One, Teach One co-founder Tony Williams to the people of Dominica who had been affected by Tropical Storm Erika. The storm caused significant flooding, landslides, and a lack of electrical and communication services for the island of Dominica. Tony Williams has handled the shipping of food and supplies with at least four large barrels being shipped to those in need. FAIRS continues to reach out to individuals and organizations in Dominica to allow for growth, exports, and self-reliance for the locals.
Manjurul Haque S21AM continues to promote FAIRS and amateur radio goodwill in the country of Bangladesh, despite government restriction and control. In 2015 Manjur began a Free Electronics Project Building, a small club in his house to help students develop science projects for a school science fair. Manjur realized that many of the students “are interested about radio, antenna, etc. , but the government cannot see its usefulness for educational purposes.”
At the end of 2015, David KK4WW and Gaynell KK4WWW Larsen made their yearly trip to Dominica to oversee FAIRS foundation projects and assist the community by providing education related to emergency communications. Dominica suffered great loss following Tropical Storm Erika in August, a storm bringing massive floods and landslides. Many individuals are still displaced, as costs for repair are incredibly high. After the storm hit, FAIRS was able to help with disaster relief by shipping food, supplies, and medical equipment, much of which was donated by local Floyd businesses. FAIRS also supports the Dominica Amateur Radio Club, a group dedicated to providing communications to those in need on the island. David and Gaynell regularly stay with Clement and Hetty J73HPL and are always thankful to have such gracious hosts. The Larsens kicked off the new year with a late Christmas party for the children of Love One, Teach One (LOTO, an organization that benefits the children of Dominica capital Roseau. FAIRS provides some of the funding for this organization and members are always pleased to see the great things the LOTO group can accomplish. LOTO leader Gloria Walsh and her daughter purchased and wrapped gifts for the youngest students, with the Larsens providing the food and drink for the event. The Larsens also visited friend of FAIRS Joseph Guiste J73JT, overjoyed hearing that Joseph’s children are attending college, a luxury many Dominicans cannot afford. “We are so excited for her (Josephs daughter) to be studying something she is so passionate about” commented Gaynell Larsen. FAIRS also addressed the growing needs of the people in the Kalinago Territory, an area with needs such as clean water, safe shelter, and education towards health and family planning. The Larsens brought clothes, shoes, baby items, and more to the group, much of it being donated by friends and businesses in Floyd. Along with the flooding and landslide damage, Tropical Storm Erika destroyed a FAIRS radio antenna that had been placed years before. A new beam antenna and a 160 meter Windom antenna were purchased and sent to Dominica, with supplies arriving in early March.
In June, Gaynell and her daughter Lisa worked with Josanna Lockhart Brown from Dominica in providing additional aid to the island. Three suitcases full of supplies were carried on the trip this time
The Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Bangladesh has granted a license renewal to FAIRS Bangladesh to continue their Amateur Radio Service Station S21FHQ. A number of individuals apart of the program have also renewed their amateur radio licenses in the past year.
FAIRS continues to support several projects related to ham radio and charitable outreach. Josanna Lockhart, now ministering in Antigua; Joanna Lockhart, overseeing the Dominicans Against Drugs (DAD) program as well as subsidiary children’s programs as well as Joan Lockhart, overseer of ministires within the Castle Bruce and Kalinago Territory. The Wotten Waven Village Improvement Committee and the “Love One, Teach One” foundation also continue to provide outreach for those in need.