Edgerton Mayor Don Roberts, right, is pictured here with former Gardner businessman and current amateur radio operator Del Sawyer, call sign K0DDS, at Sawyer’s operating station in Edgerton. Photo courtesy o Gil Ludwig, WA0YCY

Rick Nichols
Special to The Gardner News
Don Roberts, Edgerton mayor, was reintroduced to the world of amateur radio June 27 and came away from the experience all the more appreciative of the key role amateur radio operators, or “hams,” can play in providing communications over great distances during an emergency.    The occasion was Field Day, the annual nationwide emergency preparedness exercise organized by the American Radio Relay League, and the place was former Gardner businessman Del Sawyer’s operating station in Edgerton. Sawyer is a member of the Santa Fe Trail Amateur Radio Club, call sign KS0KS, and used that “call,” as operators routinely refer to it, instead of his own, K0DDS, in trying to contact other operators during the 24-hour period that ended at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 27.
Roberts, Edgerton’s mayor since 2009, was at the operating station at Sawyer’s invitation and spent approximately half an hour there observing Sawyer and fellow club members Gil Ludwig, WA0YCY, and Rob Underwood, K0RU, as the three of them searched the airways looking for available “hams” on the other end of their signals.
Roberts told me last week that while he knows people who are “hams” and was already well aware of how “hams” have responded in the past in the wake of disasters such as the Joplin tornado, it was the first time he had ever watched some of them in action. “I’m glad Del invited me,” he said, pleased to have been afforded the opportunity that came his way. He also said he found the entire experience “very interesting.”
It was Roberts’ observation that “in times of need hams can be the backbone of operations” from a communications standpoint and that they “ultimately can provide huge benefits to friends, neighbors and people around the world” by their presence in the field. “Hams” represent a “super important piece (in the communications equation) for all of us,” he noted.