For 18 years, first in Delta and now in Cedaredge, a group of local ham radio enthusiasts have been meeting for breakfast. Last Wednesday morning, the informal gathering met at Scramblers Restaurant in downtown Cedaredge and it was particularly thankful to be together after one of its members had been lost for 24 hours in a heavily wooded area.
Carol Gamble, who is a veteran ham radio operator and longtime member of the group, was found last month when several community members and numerous agencies aided in the search for the Cedaredge resident. Searchers included a first-responder communications team from the Montrose Amateur Radio Club. The breakfast group is affiliated with the Montrose club that includes membership from Montrose and Delta counties.
Amateur radio is a popular hobby and service in western Colorado that allows people to communicate locally and around the world. QRZ.com -- a website which serves amateur radio operators -- provides an estimate of the number of hams in the area. According to QRZ databases, Montrose County has approximately 163 ham licenses and Delta County has 141. Of hams affiliated with Delta County communities, about 40 live in Delta, 40 call Cedaredge home, 21 operate in Paonia, 13 in Eckert, 12 in Hotchkiss, seven in Austin, six in Crawford and two in Cory.
According to the National Association for Amateur Radio (ARRL), ham radio brings people, electronics, and communication together without using the internet or cell phones. ARRL recommends amateur radio as an activity that is "fun, social, educational, and can be a lifeline during times of need." And the Wednesday morning ham radio group is grateful that amateur radio and a caring community were on hand last month to extend a successful lifeline to one of its members.