By Brian Cameron
Stationed high on a Manzanita hilltop lies a little known secret about the local North Coast community, a tried and true FM radio station with the frequency of 88.9 MHz.
Officially a regional repeater for KQMI All Classical Radio out of Portland the small station normally transmits a continuous flow of Mozart, Bach or maybe some Tchaikovsky over the bands in and around Manzanita. According to one active local however that doesn’t necessarily have to be all it broadcasts.
“Its one of many communication methods we here in Manzanita could make use of,” said David Dillon of Manzanita. “Another proverbial feather in the arrow for emergency communications available to North Coast citizens.”
Dillon refers back to local history to The Great Flood of 1996 when the area experienced a true centennial flooding event. Millions of dollars in damage to local commerce and infrastructure and a lasting scar for the entirety of Tillamook County endures even to this day. Dillon suggests that had this station been around back then it would have served a crucial use for emergency responders and public works during the time when all other communications were knocked offline.
The aim of what Dillon is trying to accomplish revolves around training. He wants to facilitate more volunteers to be able to step in and act as the first on-site citizen response effort in the event of a local emergency. The recent tornado activity was a great example of how this radio service could be useful.
When KQMI first approached the City of Manzanita about potentially putting a broadcast tower in the community the city council approved it with the proviso that the community retain the ability to utilize the station in the event of an emergency, and that’s precisely what Dillon is endeavoring to set up. Currently the system is run by a small number of local volunteers but he wants that number to grow.
“This is a great resource for pretty much everyone in the local area and the entire region,” Dillon said. “I want to set up training courses with the Emergency Volunteer Corps (EVC) in hopes of bringing more interested people on board to help us in the event of a local emergency event.”
To aid the knowledge of the 88.9FM emergency radio service Dillon has elicited the help of Portland area graphic designer Elise Englert who helped create a quality sticker for anyone to pick up and display to help get the word out about the station. The sticker can be picked up at the Manzanita, Nehalem or Wheeler city halls or can be requested by contacting the local Emergency Volunteer Corps of Nehalem Bay. Check out their website at www.evcnb.org for more information.
“If we have something to transmit to outside services in the event of an emergency,” Dillon said. “We ought to be doing it.”