In the spring of 1977, several hams in the Cleveland area began to talk about forming a local radio club for the benefit of hams in the area. Through the efforts of local hams led by Sammy Neal, N5AF, and Clyde Dominy, N5IF, mail outs were sent to approximately thirty hams in the area surrounding the Cleveland area, namely Dayton, Livingston, New Caney, Grangerland., Cut & shoot, Conroe and Cold Springs.
The first meeting was held in the summer of 1977 to decide whether there was enough interest locally to form a club. It was decided a club was really wanted by the group present so an interim executive committee was formed. Thus the first officers of the club were elected, being Clyde Dominy, N5IF, President; Jeff McClain, K5MV, Vice-President; Sherry Butler,WB5RUI, Secretary; Shelton Boles, WA5KOK, Treasurer (he was 1st. VP at the bank), and Robert McWhorter, K5PFE, Activities Manager. After this meeting, we began the search for a name for the club, with everyone asked to submit any name they thought appropriate for this club. Several names were submitted during the next meetings with various names including Cleveland Amateur Radio Club, East Texas Radio Club, Piney Woods Radio Club, Liberty County Radio Club, and Tri-county Radio club. The name Sam Houston Amateur Radio Club was submitted by Glen McClain, WA5HXF(now SK) and the name was immediately accepted by unanimous vote.
The constitution and by-laws were accepted by the membership. The interim officers were elected to a two year term and the club was off and running. In December of that year, 1977, the club held its first Christmas party. It was held in the old Liberty Café in downtown Cleveland and the club has not missed a Christmas party since that first beginning, however, the parties have become larger and more elaborate since that first party. At the time the club was formed there was very little FM activity on 2 meters and only 1 radio that I can recall in the Cleveland area. Mr. Scott, W5EFD (now SK) was the only one I recall with a 2 meter FM radio.
As a few more FM radios came into the area, we started considering a repeater. Jeff McClain had a repeater station license (which was required at that time), with the call signWR5ANB. Jeff also had a 50 foot tower at his home in the South end of town so we put a repeater up on that tower. We had no duplexers so we used 2 Ringo Ranger antennas for the repeater, the receive on top of the tower and the transmit antenna inverted on the bottom. You could reach the transmit antenna from the ground but the repeater worked so we were off and running on 2 meter FM. At that time the repeater license called for the repeater frequency of 146.91 and there it was until the early 1980s. The FCC changed the spacing on the repeater frequencies from 30Khz to 20 Khz and we had a choice of moving either to 146.92 or 146,90 where it is today. In 1980 the club formally adopted the repeater as a responsibility and asset to the club and the repeater was moved to one of the towers on Cleveland AM radio station KJCH-AM located on Plum Grove road. This was a hot tower but with the use of an iso-coupler, we were able to operate there for some time with fairly good results. This was when we got our first auto-patch. Pete Tanner, N5EJ, built a phone patch with a rotary converter (all phones in Cleveland were the rotary type) and it would take forever for the patch to make connection due to the conversion. In the summer of 1981, the club rented enough property from Gilley Gilchrist, WA5SNL, to erect a 180 foot tower. The rent was $1.00 a year so we were happy with the repeater for a while.
The club invested in a new repeater with all accessories and it is still in use today. During the summer of 1987, a train wreck on the Southern Pacific Railroad adjoining the property caused the property to be contaminated with chemicals and eventually condemned. Dave Wise, N5AK, bought the property where the repeater is presently located . In July, 1982, the club was incorporated and became a 501(c) 3 tax exempt club. From the beginning of the club, one of the aims has been to further education of amateur radio and classes were taught almost from the beginning, holding not only Novice classes but all classes for those wanting to upgrade. In 1984 the FCC turned all testing of hams to other hams. In December, 1984 a few of us that had become VEs through the ARRL VE program gave the first tests in this area that were given by hams and we have continued this testing to this date. As of this date, January 2005, the club has administered over 2,000 exams to hams, Novice through Extra Class. The club has participated in field day events since the beginning of the club. Some years have seen excellent participation and some years have been very slim, however, overall, the spirit of competition has prevailed and for many years the club has been a front runner in overall standings in the field day results. The club can now boast ownership of a communications trailer along with a separate trailer with a generator and tower mounted on it, so it can be used for field day or any emergency field use which might arise. With the occurrence of September 11, 2001, amateur radio has again become very important not only to hams as a hobby but to the population as a whole as an emergency communication tool. The Federal Government has provided funds to local governments for civil emergency use involving the use of amateur radio where necessary, so amateur radio is still vital to one and all. Since the formation of the club, it has seen many changes in amateur radio, mostly beneficial, maybe some not so good, but the club will endure through the efforts of its fine members and we can look forward to many years for the club.