NOAA 2001-060
Contact: John Lesie


Sixteen Mark Trail Awards were presented to individuals, associations and local governments for their efforts to expand the NOAA Weather Radio coverage across the nation, and make the portable device, which broadcasts severe storm warnings, more accessible. In some cases, the radio warnings helped award recipients act quickly to save lives as tornadoes threatened.

At a Capitol Hill ceremony, Scott B. Gudes, NOAA's acting administrator said, "NOAA Weather Radio has been the link between life and death, and the efforts of these award recipients demonstrates the urgency of having up-to-the-second information before a potentially dangerous storm hits."

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Jack Kelly, director of NOAA's National Weather Service, lauded the award winners, saying, "Your consistent resolve to expand NOAA Weather Radio coverage and make citizens more aware of what it can do to protect lives and property is making a difference." He added, "The other lesson some of this year's recipients show is warnings mean nothing unless citizens are prepared to act."

In its fifth year, the Mark Trail Awards are presented to individuals, local governments, organizations and corporations, highlighting their community actions, gifts, and response to NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts, which exemplify the radio's lifesaving benefits.

Mark Trail, a syndicated comic strip published in approximately 175 newspapers, has been the "official" spokesman for NOAA Weather Radio since 1997. Jack Elrod, the creator, writer and illustrator for Mark Trail, became involved with NOAA Weather Radio in1995, featuring it in a Sunday comic strip.

Below is the list of the 2001 Mark Trail Award recipients:

  • Sabrina Duckworth, Jasper County, Miss., for her quick action following a tornado warning broadcast across NOAA Weather Radio. She alerted her mother, who called family members, friends, and neighbors. The fast action helped spare lives from the tornado.
  • Robert Cashdollar, of Cashdollar, Jones, and Associates in Washington, D.C., for his role in forming a partnership between NOAA's weather service and the USDA Rural Utilities Service. Cashdollar's efforts have helped millions of people in rural America obtain access to NOAA Weather Radio.
  • James Pitchford, Emergency Management Director, Macoupin County, Ill., for using a $50,000 Illinois First Grant to improve NOAA Weather Radio and weather communications in Macoupin, Greene, and Montgomery counties. Through his efforts, NOAA Weather Radio receivers are used extensively throughout each county.
  • Kieth Williams, Superintendent of Schools, Beebe, Ark., postponed a basketball game and evacuated 300 spectators after he heard a tornado warning broadcast on NOAA Weather Radio. An hour after the gym was cleared, it was leveled by a tornado.
  • Communication Services for the Deaf, Aberdeen, S. D., for arranging contributions to purchase 23 NOAA Weather Radio receivers for the deaf and hard-of-hearing residents of Aberdeen and Brown County.
  • Northern Electric Cooperative, Bath, S. D., for using its monthly publication, Connections, to promote and sell NOAA Weather Radio receivers at cost to its members. The promotion expanded the number of homes, schools, churches, and businesses that receive severe weather awareness on a timely basis to protect life and property.
  • Northeast Missouri Electric Power Cooperative, Palmyra, Mo. for donating three NOAA Weather Radio transmitters and back-up power supply to the weather service. The transmitters provide NOAA Weather Radio coverage to 10 counties in northeast Missouri that could not previously receive the broadcasts.
  • National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Arlington, Va., for donating more than 30 NOAA Weather Radio transmitters and ample tower space for antennas.
  • National Safety Council, Washington, D.C., for its support of NOAA Weather Radio through various safety venues through their member organizations.
  • Illinois Emergency Management Agency for using its "Surviving Tornadoes through Awareness and Reaction" program to distribute 7,925 NOAA Weather Radio receivers throughout Illinois during the past two years.
  • Iowa Emergency Management Agency for its support of NOAA Weather Radio expansion. The agency provided four transmitters to the weather service, has six more scheduled for installment, and funding for an additional 12 transmitters that will provide 95-100 percent NOAA Weather Radio coverage for the state of Iowa.
  • State of Oklahoma Operation Warn Team for its work with Wal-Mart and a commercial NOAA Weather Radio supplier to make 100,000 Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME)-equipped NOAA Weather Radio receivers available to the general public at a substantially reduced price.
  • Tennessee State Emergency Management for bringing NOAA Weather Radio to every school in the state, within the range of a NOAA Weather Radio transmitter.
  • Missouri Emergency Management Agency for its support of the NOAA Weather Radio expansion program and providing nearly $1 million to cover the cost of transmitter installations. So far, 10 transmitters have been donated, with seven more to be installed by mid-summer 2001. Ultimately, 26 transmitters will be installed and donated to the weather service, bringing NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts to nearly 100 percent of Missouri residents.
  • Dare County, North Carolina for its gift of a NOAA Weather Radio transmitter.
  • Beaufort C. Katt, deputy director for the Missouri Emergency Management Agency, for his personal initiative in garnering support from state and local emergency management for the weather service's NOAA Weather Radio Cooperator Expansion Program.