It was a day like any other day in 1988 as Ron, KA1RMY, was driving along Route 7A in Arlington. Upon spying a yard full of antennas, he stopped to see who this ham radio operator might be. As it turns out, it was a CB’er named Randy, going by the handle of “Banjo Picker”, who Ron promptly asked if he would “like to be a ham?”. “Banjo Picker” became a Novice in 1988, and was awarded the call KA1TYE. He quickly upgraded again, obtaining the Technician call N1GWL, or as he was affectionately known, the “Number 1 Guy With the Ladies”. He began to wonder how many other hams were out there, and how they could get together and meet. So it was a fateful day in 1989, sitting at KA1RMY’s picnic table, that Randy (N1GWL), Ron (KA1RMY), and Pat Honan (WV1P) founded SOVARC, the Southern Vermont Amateur Radio Club.
Randy was named Interim President, Pat became Treasurer, with Ron taking Secretary duty. They obtained a list of all the hams in the area, mailed out an introductory newsletter, and anxiously waited to see if they would get any response. About a dozen people showed up to that first meeting so long ago. One of them was Bob Moeller, KA1PXF, who just happened to be a trustee at the Bennington Free Library, who obtained a meeting room for future meetings that is still used today.
SOVARC continued to grow to an all-time high of 82 members in the 90’s, making it the 3rd largest in the state. In 1992, they held their first organized ARRL Field Day event, which continues to be the high point of the members summer. SOVARC members also hold foxhunts, give training classes on all facets of amateur radio, give license classes and V.E. exams, participate in Public Service events like the ADA Tour de Cure and March of Dimes WalkAmerica, support the Red Cross and other organizations through the Amateur Radio Emergency Services (A.R.E.S.) program, and hold Special Event stations for things like Bennington Battle Day and the Bennington Car Show. All these things are why SOVARC has become an ARRL Special Service Club.
SOVARC is especially proud of their repeater, operating on 146.835 MHz, which serves Bennington County and adjacent New York and Massachusetts. Located in Shaftsbury, VT at the QTH of Skip Crego (N1RRW), it is maintained to perfection by Repeater Manager Chuck Watson (WA1NBU), and his trusty assistant Mike LaChant (N1HSJ).
The repeater and cavities were donated by the now disbanded GEARC (GE Amateur Radio Club) of Pittsfield, MA. Frank Pulaski, WT1B, remains as the trustee for the repeater and it’s call is K1SV. A work party gathered at the base of Bosquet Ski Area to ride the chair lift to the top where the repeater was installed. It was disassembled and carried down via the chair lift, and eventually installed at Skip’s place.
The Southern Vermont Amateur Radio Club always welcomes new members, and the public is invited to its monthly meetings, Field Day, and all other events they participate in. If you always wondered what ham radio was about, come join us and find out what all the excitement is about.