Courtney Jones Pendergrass, great-granddaughter of J.D. Slaughter, presents a check to Bob Gault, corresponding secretary of the Cleveland Amateur Radio Club, for construction of an addition to their clubhouse. Attending the presentation were, from left,Toby Pendergrass, director of the Allan Jones Foundation; Larry Hatmaker, CARC recording secretary; Steve Weber, CARC president; Courtney Pendergrass; Joe Johnson, CARC vice president; Gault; Bob McCall, CARC member; David Benton, CARC member; John Bailey Jones, great-grandson of J.D. Slaughter and vice president of Check into Cash; and Will Jones, great-grandson of J.D. Slaughter and vice president of Jones Management Services.
Jones Foundation donation allows amateur radio club expansion
The Cleveland Amateur Radio Club has announced plans to expand its clubhouse on Johnson Boulevard.
The need for more space in the building that serves as a hub for local amateur radio activities was the result of steady growth in membership dating back over five years that forced some activities to relocate to alternative locations. A lot of work and time have gone into planning construction of the addition that will help the local non-profit and 501(c)(3) meet both current and future space needs. A groundbreaking ceremony is being planned for Saturday, April 14, weather permitting.
The current CARC president, Steve Weber, said the Allan Jones Foundation has helped make this expansion possible.
Jones’ family has a unique historical tie to amateur radio and its development in Bradley County during the infancy of two-way wireless communications.
Jones’ grandfather, J.D. Slaughter, was a pioneer in wireless communications and was the first person in Bradley County to receive a government issued amateur Ham radio license when communication was brought under government oversight, Weber explained.
Slaughter was born in 1901 and graduated from Bradley High School in 1919. His first amateur radio call was W5AMF. Later, when the government made changes to the way amateur radio calls were structured, he obtained the call sign W4MU.
“My grandfather JD Slaughter was a pioneer and we are proud that he is now being honored as the first licensed Ham Operator in Bradley County,” said Jones.
“I recall the stories from my childhood about how in 1924 JD did a live broadcast of the World Series between the New York Giants and the Washington Senators on top of what is now the Stamper’s building in downtown Cleveland. He communicated via ham with a ham operator in New York, and then gave the play-by-play to the people who were listening below.”
Toby Pendergrass, director of the Allan Jones Foundation, said the $10,000 donation was made not just to honor Jones’ grandfather JD Slaughter, but also to honor CARC member Bob Gault.
“Mr. Jones attended school with Bob and has fond memories of those days,” Pendergrass said. “The donation is an ideal way to honor two outstanding citizens.”
Jones said when the CARC was formed in 1962 they applied to the Federal Communications Commission for Slaughter’s HAM radio call, W4MU. But the request was denied by government regulators because Slaughter passed away before the club was formed
That call is now held by an amateur in Colorado. Jones has contacted him in the past to inquire about obtaining it to preserve his grandfather’s legacy.
He added, “My grandfather lived at 463 8th St. N.W., next to Arnold school, and maintained a small radio house built adjacent to his home. I remember the room was packed full of equipment. When he passed away, my grandmother gave me his Hallicrafters receiver. I still have it today with the w4mu call letters.”
Historical records reveal club meetings were held in various locations around Cleveland for the first 20 years of the club’s existence. The clubhouse is on property leased from the city of Cleveland and was constructed by members. It was officially dedicated in 1982.
It serves the varied interests of its members that stretch from hobby interests to working with the Cleveland – Bradley County Emergency Management Agency and private organizations offering disaster relief assistance.
The City Council helped pave the way to construction by granting the club a 40-year lease – double an existing 20 year lease – in 2017.
“We really appreciate the Cleveland City Council and the city staff for all they have done on our behalf,” Weber said.
He said it was felt the longer lease was needed to ensure potential donors the site would be used for amateur radio communications for many years in the future.
Weber said construction plans include expanding the communications center and the meeting room where most of the club’s activities occur.
Weber pointed out regular meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday nights of each month and are open to anyone interested in amateur radio.
“We have a number of members that are here on Saturday mornings to work on different projects or to simply engage in conversation with other members sharing their experiences talking to other amateurs around the world,” Weber said.
He adds that Saturday mornings anyone planning to test for a license can receive tutoring assistance to get through any rough spots they do not understand.
A team of volunteers administer amateur radio license examinations each month.
Even though Morse code is mostly a thing of the past for commercial use, instruction is provided weekly to anyone wanting to learn the code and develop a proficiency sending and receiving messages.
The most popular event of the year is the Field Day communications exercise that is always on the last weekend of June. Field Day is a communications exercise where participants simulate operating in conditions that would come in the aftermath of a major disaster. It also serves as a public relations tool giving the public insight into the valuable service amateur radio offers.
Weber said any business or organization that would like to contribute to the club’s construction effort can get more information by emailing, firstname.lastname@example.org, or attending a regular meeting. The club also maintains a website and a Face Book page that has information about the various club functions.
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