Amateur radio comes to NW Colorado

RBC | As the result of a partnership between Rio Blanco County, the Sheriff’s Office, the State of Colorado AuxComm Division and Rocky Mountain Ham Radio LLC (a 501(c)3), amateur (HAM) radio equipment has been installed and is operational to serve much of Rio Blanco County.

A couple of years ago, Sheriff Anthony Mazzola reached out to the Auxiliary Communications (AuxComm) division at the State of Colorado and asked for assistance with communications for the (then) upcoming Rally America™, to be held in Rangely.  Rally organizers typically rely on amateur radio operators for operations and emergency communications during the Rally.  At that time, there wasn’t any Ham radio towers to facilitate the radio traffic.  The AuxComm team brought in radio operators and public safety radios to fill the void.  The Rally was a huge success and communications for most of the Rally course were outstanding. 

The discussions over the last two years as how to facilitate communications for many public events in our community has yielded a conclusion that amateur radio is likely to be the best option.

Rocky Mountain Ham Radio has offered to install communication gear at existing radio towers to be used for this year’s Rally America. Additionally, they have offered to leave the gear fully operational for ham radio use, at one of the sites, when it has not been remotely configured for local event use.

The equipment installed is robust digital hardware that allows licensed amateurs to talk across town, or around the world, while sitting at their kitchen table with a handheld radio. These digital radios are just slightly more expensive that traditional analogue Ham radios.

A meeting is scheduled to take place in Rangely at the Rangely Fire training facility on the east side of town, on Sept. 15, at 7 p.m.  All existing licensed amateur radio operators as well as interested people are welcome to attend. Plans are being made to bring in training and testing for new ham radio enthusiasts (no Morse code required). Russell Granger, the regional Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) section chief will be on hand to answer questions and is hoping to identify a couple of people to help build a cadre of licensed amateur volunteers to support our community in emergency situations, under the direction of the sheriff, the County Emergency Operations Manager or fire management, in times of need.