Schoonerfest Should Attract Thousands to Portsmouth, New Hampshire

by Roger Wood

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It may be only a city of some 22 thousand people, but Portsmouth, New Hampshire, has been extremely successful in attracting tall ship visits.  This summer is no exception, as the Piscataqua Maritime Commission hosts two schooners, the Privateer Lynx and the Schooner Mystic.  They are due at the city’s commercial fish pier starting on Friday, August 1st.

The Schooner Lynx – Courtesy photo from Portsmouth Maritime Commission

For three decades, sailing replicas from older times have called on the Port of Portsmouth, giving visitors and residents an opportunity to tour or sail aboard the magnificent vessels.

Larry Job, Vice Chair, Piscataqua Maritime Commission – Roger Wood photo

Last year, the U.S. Coast Guard vessel Eagle made a stop.  As you will hear in my report, the commission is also actively fundraising and sponsoring teens who are identified as at risk for a week-long sail, with educational aspects.  Please click on the listen arrow above or the download link below.

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Jim Splaine – Overcoming Personal Tragedy and His Plans for the future – A Profile, part 3

by Roger Wood

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In this third part of a three-part interview with Jim Splaine, we talk about his personal family tragedy, his championing of gay rights, and how that may have influenced his decision to not seek higher office.

In the following video clip, Jim Splaine testifies in favor of equal rights legislation.

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Jim Splaine, Champion of New Hampshire’s First Presidential Primary – A profile – Part 2

by Roger Wood

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Jim Splaine has served several terms on the Portsmouth, New Hampshire City Council, twice as assistant Mayor.  He is serving in that role again.  But his political life wasn’t limited to local government.

Jim Splaine – AP Photo

Jim went on to win terms in the New Hampshire House and State Senate.  It was in the Legislature that his ideals were transformed into laws that have had far-reaching effects beyond his native state.  One of those bills has resulted in his small state getting the attention of most major and minor Presidential candidates every four years.

NH Secretary of State Bill Gardner, left and Jim Splaine – Photo by Tony Schinella

To listen to part two of my interview, click on the arrow above or the download link below.

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Jim Splaine, Friend and Public Servant – A profile, Part 1

by Roger Wood

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Jim Splaine has been my friend for over 40 years.  When I broke into radio news broadcasting, he was already the youngest member of the Portsmouth City Council.  I watched and reported on his career in public service, as he advanced into the New Hampshire Legislature, first as a member of the 400 member House, then as a Democrat in the 24 person State Senate.

Jim Splaine, with City Hall as a backdrop – Photo by Roger Wood

He lives modestly in his native city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  But, he has had a huge impact on the state, politically, economically and socially.  He is now back in the city council, elected assistant mayor, only losing the top spot by a little over a 100 votes.  I recently had the opportunity to interview him in depth about his early life, family tragedies and his ability to rise above all of the adversity life has presented to him.  In this three part series, I hope to provide some insight into the mind of a truly great, yet under-rated individual.  You can listen by clicking on the arrow above or the download link below.

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1876 Built Church a Hidden Gem along the Atlantic Coast

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St. Andrews by the Sea is a hidden gem tucked away among a mix of new and old stately homes in a neighborhood in Rye, New Hampshire.

St. Andrews by the Sea – Roger Wood photo

Built back in 1876, it predates many of the more modern structures, and is home to an Episcopal Congregation.  Actually, church Senior Wardens who oversee it,  say that the seasonal  summertime place of worship is not membership oriented, but attracts some 175 people to the two services held every Sunday.  Like the minister, most of those who serve at St. Andrews are unpaid volunteers, with the exception of the sextant, who keeps the sanctuary spotless and just as new appearing as when it was originally built.  Originally, the two services were held, first for the wealthy summer visitors, and second, for their servants, naturally a tradition long abandoned in the modern age.

Altar

Altar and stained glass windows – Roger Wood photo

The stone church has stood the test of time, even strong winds and hurricanes.  It is a constant draw for potential weddings, and derives much of its strong endowment from some events.

Historically, the land for the new church came about as a gift from the Philbrick family, under the proviso that the family could be buried there.  John Colby Philbrick named his “Farragut” Hotel after Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, the civil war hero of Mobile Bay. The hoteliers even built a boardwalk over to the church to keep the worshipers dry.

One unique feature of the church is the Lich-gate, a covered gateway to the church used to protect coffins awaiting a priest before a funeral.  There are said to be only three such structures in the state.

Right now, the church door is locked during the week, but opened for those who wish to tour it.  I had an opportunity to sit down with two past Senior Wardens, Max Smith and Carol O’Leary, to talk about the building, its history and its present goals.

Past Senior Wardens Carol O’Leary and Max Smith – Roger Wood photo

You can listen to the interview by clicking on the podcast arrow above or download link below.

 

 

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Pan Mass Challenge Raises Millions for Cancer Research

by Roger Wood

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The Pan Mass Challenge bike event is the largest athletic fundraiser in the world, some $414 million dollars since its beginnings in 1980.  Bicycle riders from around the nation will converge on the Bay state to choose from 12 different routes through 46 towns.  The routes will range from 25 to 190 miles, with each cyclist raising money individually, at least $500, in order to participate.  For one bicyclist, the annual event has special meaning.  It was back on September 11th, 2001 that Carol O’Leary of Rye, New Hampshire, watched the World Trade Centers in New York fall, with the loss of some 2800 lives.

Carol O’Leary – Courtesy Photo

She of course survived, and in my interview with her, she’ll tell you why, and the reason that she became involved in the challenge.  The website for the challenge is pmc.org.

Carol O’Leary and Ted Ristaino at the finish line – Courtesy Photo

You can listen to the interview by clicking on the arrow above or download link below.

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Tourists urged to be cautious on the Highways

by Roger Wood

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With nearly 900 thousand visitors expected in New Hampshire alone, and more coming to Maine and Massachusetts, police are reaffirming their commitment to keep the highways safe on the Fourth of July weekend and beyond.

State Police motorcycles in front of the BAT mobile – Roger Wood photo

To that end, a show of force of State Troopers joined a New Hampshire Marine patrol boat and a Bay State strategic vehicle at a busy highway in the Granite State.  With vehicles pouring north through a new highway construction zone, the troopers used the backdrop to urge safe driving, and warn that they will be diligent in their efforts to keep down accidents.  I asked one NH state trooper if cell phone distraction is a major cause of those sometimes fatal accidents, and what a new state law might accomplish to reduce those tragedies.

NH State Police Maj. Chris Aucoin – Roger Wood photo

You’ll also hear from Massachusetts and Maine Troopers, who joined in the yearly battle against drunk, distracted and speeding drivers.  You can hear my report by clicking on the listen arrow above or download link below.

 

 

 

Here’s a short video taken at the scene overlooking Great Bay in New Hampshire.

 

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New England chosen for World Radiosport Team Championship This Month

by Roger Wood – From a news release issued by the World Radiosport Team Championship organizers.

The World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC) organizers have selected 16 New England communities as operating sites to host its 7th quadrennial radiosport competition, the first held in the United States since 1996.  From July 9 through 14, the world’s top amateur radio operators will converge on towns spanning the Route 495 corridor for the “Olympiad of amateur radio,” WRTC2014.  Previous WRTC competitions have been held in Seattle (1990), San Francisco (1996), Slovenia (2000), Finland (2002), Brazil (2006), and Russia (2010).

WRTC2014 pits 59 two-operator all-star amateur radio teams, representing 38 countries, in a battle of operating skill and strategy under emergency field conditions, for personal and national pride on a world stage.  Similar to Olympic athletes, competitors hone their skills for superior performance through mental and physical conditioning, talent, skill and strategy.  This form of competition evolved as a method of practicing emergency communication, but also serves as a laboratory for technology innovation and experimentation, much like other technical sports, such as motor sports or sailing.

 

Operating sites for WRTC2014 include private properties, state parks and other state- and town-owned facilities in Mansfield, Wrentham, Devens, Assonet, Berkley, Dighton, Pepperell, Hollis (NH), East Taunton, Plymouth, Carver, Leominster, Medfield, Cohasset, Hingham and Norwell, each carefully selected to establish a level playing field.

Past Field Day operation by Port City Amateur Radio Club – Courtesy PCARC

 

Competing teams were selected from around the world in a series of 55 qualifying events over a 3-year period.  Just earning a spot in the competition is a prestigious accomplishment for every competitor, allowing them to represent their country and have the opportunity to win a coveted place on the podium.  Mark Pride, K1RX is one of the directors of the competition, and lives in Kensington, New Hampshire.  He is also President of the Port City Amateur Radio Club, at w1wqm.org.   His club recently participated in the annual National Field Day Competition, scoring some 3300 contacts, including one with the International Space Station, over a 24 hour period.  His club operated from Stratham Hill in New Hampshire.

View of Port City Club operation from above – Courtesy Photo

 

WRTC2014 teams will compete to contact other amateur radio stations in countries around the globe using both voice and Morse code transmissions.  Top teams will operate without sleep for the entire 24-hour competition in an effort to contact as many stations and countries as possible, pursuing the highest score, to earn the distinction of “the best in the world.”  Top level radiosport enthusiasts originate from all walks of life and a variety of professions.

2010 Honorees at Moscow event – Courtesy WRTC

It is common for technology CEOs, emergency room physicians, retired diplomats, members of the military, and engineers to each compete on a level playing field with university students, bankers, grocery store managers or antique dealers.

 

Amateur Radio, or “ham radio” as it is often called, enables licensed participants to use short wave frequencies to communicate with peers from around the world.  Licensed “hams” in the United States are authorized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to use their radio equipment to talk anywhere on earth, using different “modes of operation” such as voice, Morse code, or any of several digital modes, also pioneered within the ham radio community.  Today, there are more licensed amateur radio operators than ever before – over 700,000 in the U.S. alone, in addition to more than a million operators around the world.  Radio amateurs are prohibited by law from accepting compensation of any kind for any activities they perform as radio operators. Everyone involved in WRTC2014 is participating purely for the love of the sport.

WRTC2014 is much more than an international sporting competition,” shares Randy Thompson, WRTC2014 Co-Chairman.  “It is also an opportunity for these great operators to meet each other, often for the first time, after years of radio contacts.  It also allows radio amateurs within New England to interact with some of the top operators from around the globe, and to demonstrate the international appeal of amateur radio.”

Returning to the United States after 18 years, WRTC2014 gathers competitors, referees, and visitors from around the world to connect and celebrate amateur radio.  Westborough’s DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel serves as team village, headquarters, and the venue for the WRTC2014 opening and closing ceremonies.  Hundreds of spectating visitors are also expected to attend, taking advantage of the rare opportunity to network with amateur radio luminaries worldwide, while enjoying the surrounding area’s rich history and regional charm.  On the global scale, thousands more will “tune in” and participate over the airwaves, and follow the event’s real-time Internet scoreboard to stay abreast of competition results.  The largest “radiosport” competitions draw activity from over 20,000 participants and can collectively include more than two million two-way contacts – all in one weekend.

Amateur radio plays a key role as a critical emergency service in times of disaster when other forms of communication fail.  Locally, this was demonstrated after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, when cellular networks were overloaded and failed.  Amateur radio operators have assisted in providing communication services to the Marathon for many years, and were on hand to provide vital communications for Marathon volunteers following the bombing.  Critical communication services were also provided by hams during the aftermath of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.  Radio amateurs have been involved in the front lines of developing modern communications systems, including the fundamental technology used in all cell phones.

2014 also marks the centennial anniversary of the founding of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) – the national association for amateur radio in the United States.  ARRL assists people in obtaining their amateur radio license and promotes the wide variety of interests within the hobby.  The ARRL will hold its national convention weekend following WRTC2014 in Hartford, CT. WRTC2014 is recognized by ARRL as a centennial celebration activity. Many WRTC participants and visitors are expected to stay in the area to attend both events.

 

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Subscribers Wanted and Appreciated

If you find any of the multi-media features I produce on this site interesting, I invite you to enter your email address in the subscribe box in the upper right hand corner.  I also welcome criticism, complaints, praise or story ideas.  Thanks.  You can email me at rogerwoodnews@gmail.com.

 

Roger

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Radio Hams – Having a Field Day for fun, Competition and Public Awareness

by Roger Wood

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Amateur radio, or Ham radio as it is popularly called, is a hobby which has attracted enthusiasts for over a century.  For me, the calling came in 1963, when I was first licensed through a morse code and electronics  exam, while growing up in Philadelphia.

Roger at Lower Merion High School with fellow ham Harry Grossman

For the last 44 years, my radio call has been W1FSY, a licensed call  issued by the Federal Communications Commission.

Part of my own modest radio setup – Roger Wood photo

I have also been privileged to observe or participate in some of the many “Field Day” Competitions held nationally over the years.

“Field Day” as defined by the American Radio Relay League, has as its objective:  ”To work as many stations as possible on any and all amateur bands and to learn to operate in abnormal situations in less than optimal conditions.”

So, the many thousands of clubs across the nation, usually pack aluminum poles for antennas, miles of cable to connect their transmitters,  and portable generators, seeking the highest locations in which to operate during the 24 hour period, the last weekend in June.  One such club, a yearly participant, is the Port City Amateur Radio Club, which holds monthly meetings in Greenland.  I spoke to club president Mark Pride, K1RX, who oversees the yearly event, held on top of Stratham Hill, in Stratham, New Hampshire.

Mark Pride, PCARC President, truck loaded with antenna parts – Roger Wood photo

This year, his club pulled a coup while making over 3 thousand worldwide contacts.  He’ll explain that achievement during the interview you can hear by clicking on the listen arrow above or download link below.  Their club call sign is W1WQM, and their website is www.w1wqm.org.  They will be posting pictures from this year’s event, along with the images from past field days. Mark is also involved as a director in a world-wide amateur radio event called the World Radio Sport Team Competition, where hams are required to operate essentially the same radio power and antennas in a competition for contacts.  There will be awards for contacts, as there are for Field Day.

The web site for that July event, to be held on the 12th and 13th  is www.wrtc2014.org.  He says that this will be the first time that the competition, which has been held  in Moscow, Brazil, Finland and the U.S. West Coast, will be originating from New England, at Westborough, Massachusetts.  Mark calls it an Olympic event for hobbyists worldwide.

Below is a video posted from a Cape Cod club during field day.

 

 

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