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World and beyond beckons Pepperell HAM radioman
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PEPPERELL — If it weren’t for the wood stove chimney that sticks up from what appears to be an embankment in the woods, you wouldn’t know you’ve reached the end of Stanley Pozerski’s long Groton Road driveway.

Three sides of his comfortable basement-height home are buried in the ground.

The fourth side’s large windows that overlook a natural, wooded glen become evident as you round a two-story garage attached to one end of the single-floor home.

The house is as unique as its owner and the yard stretching over the crest of a small ridge provides Pozerski exactly what he wants, room for HAM radio antennas without interference.

Pozerski has been an amateur radio operator for 13 years and the world itself is available to him from his stereotypically jam-packed listening station at one end of the house.

Pozerski is a Navy veteran, having served on a destroyer off the coast of Vietnam in the late 1960s. His wife, Lynda, is Board of Health secretary in Pepperell. They have two sons.

He is president of the 60-member Nashoba Valley Amateur Radio Club (NVARC) and is one of many HAMs in town and several hundred in the region (see www.ARRL.org).

“I got interested in CB radio after the service, which eventually became unacceptable and unregulated,” he said, “then short-wave, then HAM radio because it was friendly.”

The word HAM, he explained, has no accurate description. But it is linked to old wire communications during which amateur enthusiasts often blocked ship-to-ship communications with their volume, leading radiomen to complain they were “hamming” up the air waves.

Amateurs operate on and between assigned bandwidths according to degree of Federal Communications Commission-issued license. They monitor their own broadcasts. Signals are bounced by repeater boxes located in spots chosen for reception.

Pepperell has four repeaters spread throughout the town. The NVARC uses boxes situated all the way to Cambridge.

Because he is familiar with them, Pozerski has been working with town systems administrator Den Connors to site repeaters for Pepperell’s wireless network that is ending its phase one construction. He isn’t paid for the work, but then much of what Pozerski does is voluntary.

“Thirty-five of us handle all police communications at intersections along the route of road races so that roads can be opened and closed for the runners,” he said.

NVARC has handled the Walk for Hunger, the walk for the Groton Rotary Club, the Parker Classic on Devens, and Pozerski is one of 250 amateurs who work the Boston Marathon. He does the communications for the annual Pepperell Fall Soccer Classic.

A computer systems administrator by trade, the 24-year resident is an eight-year member and current chair of the Systems Technology Committee (IST).

He is also a member of the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), which is associated with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“All towns have a small group who work with declared emergencies,” Pozerski explained. “A lot of HAMs were involved with Katrina. The inside area was wiped out so they set up mobile units outside to maintain communications. They spent months down there.”

Prior to the advent of e-mail and cell phones, Pozerski used to patch into Naval Military Affiliate Radio Service (MARS) sites to help sailors call home. The New England repeater station ranges are circled on a map above his microphone.

“Each service has a MARS. We can do emergency communication if needed,” he said. “The military might need to move and know what roads are closed. We can do that.”

“The school contacted us to run it and it took three and a half years to set up,” he explained. “The kids chose the questions. They had nine and a half minutes as the station went over.”

A 100-foot portable antenna used for that and other long-range communications is folded into a trailer parked in his driveway.

Pozerski also volunteers time to the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Committee. The group is locating fixed objects in town by satellite and integrating them into the computer system in layers so that a computerized picture of infrastructure, buildings, roads and more will be instantly available to DPW and emergency workers, and assessors.

He explained he must stand on or beside an object, let the GIS pack locate available satellites then wait two and a half minutes to receive up to 25 readings, accurate within a half meter, to be registered in the back pack.

“There are some interesting hydrants not on roads,” he said. “It’s good for the town because we now have it down permanently. The fire chief will have some of the I.D.’d maps.”

This winter, Pozerski is concentrating on Park Street, locating water shut-offs, storm drains, water outflows (required by the state), culverts and outlets.

“It’s actually a good time in winter. There’s better communication with satellites,” he said.

Amateur radio has room for every interest; voice, Morse code, Digital computer-to-computer communication and amateur television. Amateurs have paid to bring 50 satellites into space.

Pozerski is also working with the Groton Police Department to solve spot communication problems by finding the best locations for its repeaters.

“I’d recommend kids get into radio, although it’s harder to attract them with all the video games, etc.,” he said. “When I came in, a lot of people were different. I’m always building something.”

Reflecting something other than the usual retirement plan, Pozerski said, “If I was retired, I could do more.”