John Hendricks, HAM Radio Operator and long-time pharmacist in Heber Springs was the presenter at the June 6 meeting of the Rotary Club of Heber Springs. Rotarian Connie Herrin introduced Mr. Hendricks, saying that she had learned about his HAM Radio expertise and many years as an operator when she was taking emergency management training for her employer.

John Hendricks, HAM Radio Operator and long-time pharmacist in Heber Springs was the presenter at the June 6 meeting of the Rotary Club of Heber Springs. Rotarian Connie Herrin introduced Mr. Hendricks, saying that she had learned about his HAM Radio expertise and many years as an operator when she was taking emergency management training for her employer.

Mr. Hendricks has been a HAM Radio operator for a number of years, and explained to Rotarians that the decision to become a HAM operator was similar to the reason one my join a Rotary Club. Fellowship with other HAM operators, and opportunities for community service, especially during times of crisis or natural disasters were among the top reasons stated. Mr. Hendricks discusses the many times that HAM operators were the only ones able to reach into disaster affected areas after hurricanes, tornadoes or other disasters, to enable emergency personnel to communicate outside the disaster area. HAM operators are also instrumental as “on-the-ground” spotters during severe weather.

The HAM Radio Club of Heber Springs meets on the third Thursday of each month and Mr. Hendricks encouraged anyone who is interested in learning more, or becoming an operator, to participate. At one time, the licensing requirements were far more stringent than they are today, he said, noting that no longer is Morse Code required as a part of the exam. He also encouraged anyone who thinks they may not be able to afford the equipment to participate as well, saying that many members of the local club have extra equipment that they may be able to provide at a reduced cost to help new operators get established. There are three levels of certification, Technician, General and Extra Licenses, and each test has a nominal fee of only $15.00. Each test is progressively more difficult, but each certification allows for more privileges once the tests are passed.

HAM Radio is a hobby. It cannot be used, according to FCC rules, for business communications, and there are steep penalties for those who break the law. However, it is a satisfying hobby no matter the level of disability the operator may have. Some operators meet regularly in what Mr. Hendricks called “nets,” where the same group meets each week. He has been involved with one of these “nets” with the same group of operators for more than 20 years. As a HAM Radio operator, Mr. Hendricks noted that he has made lifetime friendships with other operators around the country and world, some of whom he has only met by radio contact.

The Object of Rotary is "to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise." The Rotary Club of Heber Springs meets each Tuesday at noon on the ASU-Heber Springs Campus. For more information about the Rotary Club of Heber Springs, please visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/TheRotaryClubofHeberSpringsAR.