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Ham radio group changes name, but not community focus

William Shakespeare wrote, "A rose by any other name …"

Well, Lawrence County has a rose with a new name.

For many years, ham radio operators in Lawrence County were known collectively as

the Southern Ohio Amateur Radio Association, Inc., Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service

(SOARA-RACES).

Recently, members opted to return to that name after calling themselves the Lawrence County Amateur Radio Association for a few years.

By either name, the ham operators throughout Lawrence County have always stayed busy with a number of activities, everything from communications

for the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade to AMPA Child Search.

"Helping the parade committee is one of our big things," the group's public information officer Ken Massie said. "We are very patriotic and I think the parade committee appreciates us. There are 12 divisions in the parade and we have one or two people in each division. Before the parade starts we help direct people who are lost to the right division and we're in each division to help once the parade starts."

Started in 2003, AMPA, which stands for Amateur Radio Emergency Services Missing Persons Alert, has organized and trained ham operators to assist local law enforcement in searching for missing and abducted people, particularly children. The child search effort was even recognized by state amateur radio officials, who came to Lawrence County to learn more about AMPA.

"We're lucky we've never had to use it (the missing persons alert) but

everyone likes it and we do, too," Massie said.

Ham radio operators also assist government and weather service agencies in the event of large scale weather emergencies by relaying information about conditions in their area.

The so-called "ham" or amateur radios are operated with batteries, a critical consideration when disasters wreak havoc with electricity.

The group is open to ham operators. Currently there are 15 to 20 active members. The group meets the third Monday of every month at the Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency building on Park Avenue.