PARA – The Early Years (1992-2008)

The Philipsburg Amateur Radio Association was established in 1992 by Dave AA3EJ and Dave K3MGC. The club grew with additional members and soon held its first meeting and published the first newsletter. Meetings were held at the Church of the Nazarene, Pastor P. Scharler N3BIC, on US route 322 East of Philipsburg.

By 1993 a VE testing team was established with Dave AA3EJ acting as the Contact Volunteer Examiner (CVE). The VE testing was done under the direction of the W5YI VEC Group. Other members certified as Volunteer Examiners (VE’s) included Dave K3MGC, Jim N3ONE, Jerry WA3GFL and Peter N3BIC. Over the years many people started their amateur radio hobby at testing sessions conducted by these hams.

In 1994 PARA was invited to join with the Quad Counties Amateur Radio Club (Clearfield) and the Nittany Amateur Radio Club (State College) for a Christmas Banquet. The banquet was held at the Harbor Inn in Philipsburg. After dinner door prizes were awarded and a DX Expedition slide show was presented. This was the first of several such Christmas Banquets.

Also in 1994 PARA held its first annual Cookout at the home of Bill Foreman N3QLE. Bill and his wife Sandy played host to over twenty people that day. Hamburgers, hotdogs and rolls were provided by the club. Everyone was asked to bring a covered dish which resulted in more food than could be consumed.

In 1995 plans were drafted for a new 2-meter band repeater to be located in Philipsburg. Dave K3MGC completed the paperwork to apply for a coordinated frequency through the Western Pennsylvania Repeater Council. The frequency of 146.640 was granted by the council and construction of the repeater began. The repeater was initially to be located on a 30 foot tower behind Dave AA3EJ’s home, but a more suitable location was soon located with the assistance of Jim N3ONE. The new location was off of Six Mile Road near the Pleasant Hill section of Philipsburg and was at an elevation of 1640 feet above mean sea level. Some of the repeater equipment was donated, while other equipment needed to be purchased. In time the necessary funds were raised and the repeater was placed into service on August 25, 1996 at 3:00 PM. The repeater trustee was Dave Posmoga K3MGC, and the repeater carried the club call sign KB3CLZ.

In late 1996 PARA reached its membership peak with over forty paid memberships, while the number of hams that actively participated was about twenty.

In 1998 it was decided to suspend club activities for the summer. The rationale was that during the summer people were busy and scheduling club activities might be a bit difficult. Unfortunately the club did not resume activates in the fall as planned. The 1998 summer suspension lasted until November of 2003 when there was a brief attempt to resume club activates. In early 2004 a meeting was held at the Philipsburg Area Hospital with five area hams in attendance. The program for that meeting was Woody K3YV who presented a PowerPoint presentation on the new 146.850 repeater system in State College. PARA officials were a bit disappointed with the participation and no further activities were scheduled at that point.

The year 2005 brought a financial crisis to PARA. The 146.640 repeater was in need of repair. But without any income to fund the repairs club officials funded the repairs themselves. The repeater was repaired, but this crisis brought forth the decision to sell the repeater before anything else happened. Eventually a deal was struck with Ed K3EDD to purchase the repeater.

In July of 2007 PARA officials organized a Philipsburg Area Amateur Radio Picnic at Cold Stream Dam Park in Philipsburg. It turned out to be a very pleasant day and everyone enjoyed themselves. In addition Jim, N3ONE, shared the celebration of his birthday with those present. Twelve people were in attendance and the general consensus was that we should organize further activates. This success resulted in the planning of a PARA Christmas Banquet dinner in December 2007. The banquet was held at the Philipsburg Country Club and again the consensus was that plans should be made for further actives. During this time several PARA members began collecting the necessary equipment to build a new 2-meter band repeater. This one would operate on 146.430 with a positive 1 MHz offset. The new repeater was placed into service on February 16, 2008.

In February 2008 the PARA VE testing program was revived. The first testing session was held on February 6, 2008 at the Philipsburg Public Library. Two new amateur radio operators were licensed that day. The VE team for this session was Dave AA3EJ as the Contact Volunteer Examiner (CVE). Filip KB3MAI and Joe KB3CBN rounded out the testing team as the Volunteer Examiners (VE’s).

Also in February 2008 an informal PARA brunch gathering was held at a local Philipsburg restaurant. The Saturday 10:30 AM meeting was a success in terms of the number of people that participated, as well as the encouragement we received from other area hams that couldn’t attend on a Saturday morning. This brunch solidified the return of regular activates to PARA. At that brunch, it was decided that future brunches would be held the first Saturday of each month at a local restaurant.

On June 7, 2008 Ed K3EDD, the owner of the 146.640 repeater in Philipsburg, and PARA officials agreed on a plan which would transfer the Philipsburg 146.640 frequency coordination and any remaining usable equipment over to the Philipsburg Amateur Radio Association. The 146.640 repeater was originally constructed and placed into service by PARA on August 25, 1996. Due to unresolved noise issues the .64 repeater had been turned off back in March 2008. A new repeater was purchased and brought on-line in short order. With the .64 repeater returning to PARA control, the club was now in a position incorporate the .64 repeater into the PARA network of repeaters.

Contributed by John Szwarc N3SPW, 2008