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OUR LAGUNA:HAM it up by sending radiograms

Locals will be able to contact loved ones by radiograms this weekend at the annual Field Day event, conducted by the Laguna Beach Emergency Response Team, testing amateur radio-operated communications.

The 24-hour international event will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday just off the fire road about midway between Moulton Meadows Park and Top of the World.

“Just look for the antennas,” said John Kountz, chief radio officer of the Laguna team. “There will also be signs. Visitors are encouraged.”

Laguna’s team will operate several solar-powered radio stations, equipped with a variety of communications formats, including digital, as well as the portable radio system used in Orange County, national elections and emergencies such as the 2005 Bluebird Canyon landslide.


“Visitors will be able to talk to amateur radio operators all over the world or send free radiograms anywhere in the United States or to service personnel overseas,” Kountz said. “We are partial to having children come and learn about alternatives to cell phones.”

Kountz said if eight members of the Laguna team each sign up for three-hour shifts, the 24-hour event will be well staffed.

Amateur radio operators are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission. They are familiarly called HAMS.

“If you Google HAMS, you will find an entire encyclopedia of explanations for the name, but none that makes any sense to me,” Kountz said.


This will be the ninth year that local HAMS will participate in the communications drill.

“Laguna Beach’s HAM operators look forward to meeting you and helping you get on the air,” Kountz said.

HAMS are assigned call signs — an identifying number and letters. When HAMS die, their call signs become “silent keys,” Kountz said. “SK signals the end of a transmission.”

Silent keys are made available upon request to relatives who are HAMS or go back in the pot and are re-assigned by the luck of the draw.

The drill this weekend will be dedicated to silent keys Art Casebeer and Betty Gallagher, both dedicated local HAMS, who recently died.

Regular call signs are free, but there are vanity call signs for a fee, if the request is available.

Kountz never was interested enough in the vanity call signs to even find out the cost.

He has two assigned call signs, one for the United States and one for Afghanistan, where he has traveled since 1962.


Members of the Laguna Beach HAMS include Assistant Chief Radio Officer Lynn Taylor, Mick Donoff, Quinn Farnes, Ronald Kaufman, Robert Lawson, Bill Self, Mark Cohen, Lanny Lewyn, Bruce Orsborne and Marc Morin of Emerald Bay, Captain Mike Hall and Police Officer II Andy Peck of the Laguna Beach Police Department and Kountz’s wife, Arlene Schwartz.

HAMS also can be certified to administer examinations to anyone interested in becoming an amateur radio operator. For more information about HAMS or the drill, call Kountz at (949) 494-8783.


The Ebell Club donated $1,500 in June to the city to refurbish and maintain the city’s 1931 Seagrave Fire Engine, the little pumper cherished by the Laguna Beach Fire Department.

The funds were raised at the fall club’s fall fashion show and luncheon. It is only a coincidence that club director Carrie Joyce is Fire Chief Mike Macey’s administrative right hand.

Proceeds from the annual Kentucky Derby fundraiser in 2006 were used to create an endowment fund for the scholarships awarded by the club to graduating Laguna Beach High School seniors.

The Ebell Club was the first organization in town to make a financial award to a Laguna Beach High School graduate. Club records show a $150 check was made out in June of 1946 — the award has grown to four $1,000 scholarships a year.

Sasha Speare, Marshall Thomas, Robert Sadler and Tiffany Chen were this year’s recipients.


Proceeds from the 2007 Kentucky Derby Fundraiser will benefit local philanthropic organizations in 2008.

“The way it works is the money raised this year will be disbursed next year,” Joyce said. “We have sent out letters to previous donation groups and requested applications that include how much money is wanted and how it would be used.”

Outgoing club President Karen Baker and incoming President Murphy Gerber co-chaired the event, assisted by Mary Thompson, in charge of raffle baskets and silent auction items; Debbie Sussex and Victoria Templeton, centerpieces; Bea Rosenbaum, raffle boxes; and committee members Terry Halpern, Amy Altieri, Shari Yamamoto, Carla White and City Clerk Martha Anderson.

Sally Jameson, dressed as a jockey, and Cristina Calderone greeted guests. Lori Rosenberg and husband, Don Romero, snapped shots of the event.

Member Patrice Pickering’s son-in-law, Mike Knee, served as master of ceremonies. The Tom Corbett Band entertained with Bluegrass.

The mint julep bar lent an authentic flavor.

Corporate sponsors, Empire Homes and Intellimed International each bought two tables for the fundraiser.

Other local donors and sponsors included Johanna Felder, Mitchellene Channels, Charlotte and Alex Masarik, Ed and Jeannette Merrilees, Eleanor Tinor, Joyce Zaenglein, Ginny Preston, Penny Stastny¸ the Bead Shop, Dutch Door, Brown’s Flowers, Ganahl Lumber, Cedar Creek Inn, Bubbles of Laguna, Hennesseys Tavern, Veronice Nice’s Nice Touch Chiropractic, Javier’s Cantatina & Grill, Surf & Sand, La Serena Grill, Pomodora, Thalia Street Surf Shop, Kristalle, Sawdust Festival, Laguna Art Museum, Sun Dried Tomato, Laguna Canyon Winery, Las Brisas Restaurant, Victoria Skimboard and Tom Lamb Photography.


Proceeds from the 18th Annual Collectors Choice Fundraiser to benefit students and programs at Laguna College of Art & Design have reached $97,000 and still counting.

The final tally may come close or even reach the $100,000 mark, exhorted by master of ceremonies Mike Tauber at the al fresco event, which included dinner, the featured raffle and silent and live auctions.

  • OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Write to Barbara Diamond, P.O. Box 248, Laguna Beach, 92652; hand-deliver to Suite 22 in the Lumberyard, 384 Forest Ave.; call (949) 494-4321 or fax (949) 494-8979.

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