At Age 10, Trenton Girl Is Among Youngest Ham-Radio Operators

Thursday, May 23, 2013

When many kids her age are learning texting abbreviations such as ROFL or IYKWIM ("if you know what I mean"), 10-year-old Sierra Saylors is focused on KK4RJW.

That's her call sign, the collection of numbers and letters issued by the FCC that identifies her as a legitimate ham-radio operator. 

On the air you may hear a timid “KK4RJW, CQ?" know that it is spoken with a big, hopeful smile.

Sierra is thought to be the youngest ham-radio operator in Northwest Georgia. 

Although ham radios may seem outdated in an era of smartphones and Twitter, hobbyists remain devoted to their frequencies, enjoying the chance for random chatter while standing by to use the airwaves in an emergency.

Sierra wanted to join her parents; father, David WK4DS and mother Teresa KG4WHE, as amateur radio operators. After Sierra saw her father work a ham in Russia with Morse code, she was primed to get her ticket, FCC amateur radio license.  She studied for a month and passed the Federal Communications Commission's required technician-license this week with flying colors.

Recent years have seen a huge revival in the interest in amateur radio, said Allen Pitts, spokesman for the American Radio Relay League, a national ham-radio group. "We were the first social media, and ham radio has had a three-year growth spurt in the number of new licensees, now with almost 700,000 in the U.S.," Mr. Pitts said.

As recent events, like the 2011 tornadoes in Dade county, the Oklahoma tornadoes and the bombing in Boston, when the common modes of communication rapidly failed, Amateur radio was there to provide the much needed communication.

Sierra's venture into ham radio grew partly out of an interest in helping others through calamities; she is a member of the Dade ARES group. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment, with their local ARES leadership, for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes.

Sierra is a star honor roll student in the fifth grade at Davis Elementary School. Her father stated, “she is always hungry to learn new things so I got her a study guide. It took her about a month of study time (during softball season no less).”

After passing the technician test, and taking a short break from studying to go swimming some, she will be working on getting her general license. The general license will allows her to communicate on a wider array of frequencies, and potentially with ham-radio operators around the world. 

The general license exam includes some questions on electronics and engineering, is a harder test to pass, but Sierra is up for the challenge. 

Sierra and her parents are active in Dade ARES group and will be on the air at the Amateur Radio Field Days at Cloudland Canyon State Park on the weekend of June 22 and 23.

Dade ARES - The Dade ARES group was formed in 2013 by local citizens after the communication failures that occurred during the tornado outbreak in April 2011. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service consists of licensed amateurs who have volunteered their time and equipment, for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. This Dade ARES group is for amateur radio operators that would like to take part in emergency and special event communications in the Dade County.

Local HAMs consider checking in during the weekly net, 7 p.m. Thursdays, on 146.595 MHz simplex.  Join them the last Friday of the month,  at 7 p.m. at the sheriff's office in Trenton. Hams and non-Hams are welcome to attend the meetings.


Chattanooga Eagles To Host Charity Benefit September 19

Chattanooga Fraternal Order of Eagles #945 and Ladies Auxiliary invite the community to hit the links in support of various local and international charities at its 6th Annual Charity Golf Tournament Friday, Sept. 19, at the Brown Acres Golf Course, 406 Brown Rd. The event is open to the public at a cost of $100 per-player or $400 per-four person team if registered by Sept. ... (click for more)

Dance At American Legion In East Ridge Saturday

The American Legion, 3397 Ringgold Road in East Ridge will host its monthly dance on Saturday.  Cover charge is $5 per person, and hours are 7 - 10 p.m.  Light refreshments will be served.  All are welcome to dance, or just sit and listen to the Legionnaires big band playing tunes of Woody Herman, Glenn Miller, and many others. (click for more)

Rhasean Lowry, 34, Charged In Death of 3-Year-Old Girl

Rhasean Lowry, 34, was arrested for abusing a three-year-old girl, and then criminal homicide after she died. Last Tuesday, the Chattanooga Police Department was called on a suspected child abuse case. Lowry took the victim to a local hospital and he stated the victim fell down steps. Doctors advised that the victim’s injuries were the result of blunt force trauma consistent ... (click for more)

City IDB Member Who Made Motion For $9 Million Black Creek TIF Had Not Lived In City For Years

A City Industrial Development Board (IDB) member who made the motion to approve a controversial $9 million Black Creek Tax Increment Financing (TIF) had not lived in the city for years, City Attorney Wade Hinton confirmed. Chris Ramsey, a BlueCross BlueShield official, was not present at an IDB meeting on Tuesday morning. Five other board members were. Citizen Helen Burns ... (click for more)

Decimating The Chattanooga Public Library

Corinne Hill claims that the library is just undergoing a normal weeding process for eliminating books.  She has bragged that she's responsible for the elimination of over 100,000 books - with more to go. "Normal" weeding is not rampant throwing away.  Yes, books go to the Friends for their sale - where they get $2 for a $75 book and thousands wind up being recycled ... (click for more)

The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)