ISHPEMING — It’s not just a hobby, it’s a new look on life. Safety and community involvement are just two of the satisfactions Ham Radio Operators feel as they maneuver the radio frequency spectrum.
“We’re basically a back–up system. The ARRL, which the American Radio Relay Leagues, motto is ‘When all else fails, when everything else fails, we’re there,” said Hiawatha Amateur Radio Club President Lou Gimbolis. “And we can communicate anywhere in the world.”
Of the 800,000 licensed ham radio operators in the nation, 1,500 of them can be found spread throughout the Upper Peninsula.
The Hiawatha Amateur Radio Association, or HARA, has 120 paid members, making them the largest club in the U.P. and runs the frequencies for Marquette County.
HARA provides communication to widely–enjoyed events like the UP–200, Fourth of July parade, and ski races. In the past few years, HARA has been awarded two grants by the Marquette Community Foundation.
The most recent grant was $4,800 dedicated to fixing the Republic repeater, which strengthens the communication in the southern and western parts of Marquette County.
“We’re apart of the Rapid Response Team and that’s to locate Alzheimer’s patients if they have the bracelet on in case they wander off,” said Gimbolis.
“In fact, Republic has a number of Alzheimer’s patients so this is going to help us there.”
There are four repeaters total throughout the county in Negaunee Township, Ishpeming, Gwinn and Republic. The repeaters also house linking systems that makes communication between the county and areas as far away as Munising and Grand Marais, possible.