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Radio club having a field day 'hamming' it up

DANNEMORA - When Gary J. Donivan was a kid, amateur radio fascinated him.

"I was really interested back then, but you had to learn Morse code to get an amateur radio license and I never conquered Morse code," admitted Donivan. "So, I forgot about it."

Several years later, the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC as it is more commonly known, dropped the Morse code requirement, rekindling Donivan's interest.

"When I found that out, I took the exam and passed it," he said with a smile.

The amateur radio, or "ham radio" license, to which it is often referred, opened up many new doors for Donivan, including one to a membership in the Champlain Valley Amateur Radio Club.

"I got involved with the guys at the club and it's just gone from there. I've been involved quite extensively ever since," said Donivan, who today serves as a member of the club's board of trustees.

And, every year since he's been a member, Donivan has joined his fellow club members participating in the annual American Radio Relay League Field Day. The two-day event, always held the last full weekend in June, is a way to test the skills of amateur radio or "ham" operators on what to do in the event of a communications emergency.

That training is important, said Donivan. When called upon by the Clinton County Office of Emergency Services, the club is able to provide communications for emergency officials in situations where other means of communication aren't accessible, he explained.

"The Ice Storm in 1998 is a perfect example," he said. "The club was able to provide communications when other means weren't available. If we had another emergency like that, we could be activated again to assist in communications in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties - wherever we might be needed."

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