Nixa ham radio club installs new antenna

By: Joe Hadsall, Nixa News-Enterprise

A three-year project came to an end March 27 when the Nixa Amateur Radio Club installed a new repeater on top of a city water tower on West Mt. Vernon. The new repeater is used by the club, but also is available to the Nixa Police Department and Nixa Fire Protection District in the event of an emergency.

"It's a win-win situation," fire chief Jimmy Sebree said. "It gives them a high point for their antenna that they can use, and it gives us a backup repeater we can use if ours go out."

Repeaters are antennas which strengthen radio signals over greater distances.

Installing the $10,000 repeater was a long project for the 15-member club. Initially, the club approached the city in 2001 to install the antenna, but the city refused until the club became a non-profit organization. It did so in April, 2002 and obtained sales tax exemption from the Internal Revenue Service in December, 2002.

Club member James Adkins went back to the board with the project. This time aldermen said yes, but only under two conditions.

"We had to obtain insurance for the equipment and get permission from the Family of Life Lutheran Church to use their parking lot easement," Adkins said. "Thanks to ingenious thinking of City Administrator Brian Bingle, an agreement was drafted by the club and signed by the mayor which allowed the equipment to be covered under the city's insurance policy."

Once permission was in place, the small club set about raising $10,000 for the antenna and related equipment. Adkins said it took a year of selling Krispy Kreme, Pizza Hut and Entertainment discount coupons, as well as donations from private citizens, dues and a loan.

The club installed the tower March 27.

"With the repeater in place, severe weather spotters now have a repeater in nixa that can be used for spotting severe weather," Adkins said. "It can also be used as a backup for Amateur Radio Emergency Services for Christian County during times of emergency, natural disasters or terrorist attacks."

Most importantly, the repeater is connected to the Internet with cutting-edge technology so the American Red Cross, FEMA and SEMA ham operators using a PC can talk to people in Nixa from anywhere in the world.

"Since ham radio operators have so many frequencies they can access, they work out as a great backup," Sebree said. "They are pretty important. They are mentioned in our city and county emergency plans."

Adkins said the club's work is not done, however. It needs to raise $4,500 more to pay for the repeater's programming, installation and other necessary parts. Additionally, Adkins said the club would like to install a weather station-a collection of instruments that measure atmospheric conditions.

Anyone interested in donating to the project can do so by contacting Adkins at (417) 725-4884 or Chris Cochran at (417) 725-0463. Club meetings are on the last Saturday of every month at 5:30 p.m. at Pizza Hut in Nixa.

©Ozarks Newsstand 2004