NOAA 2002-042
Contact: John Leslie
NOAA News Releases 2002
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The 2002 Mark Trail Awards have been presented to individuals and groups that made contributions to expand and improve the life-saving NOAA Weather Radio system coverage, awareness and radio receiver ownership across the nation. The awards, from the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), were given today at a luncheon held in the U. S. Capitol Building.

NOAA Weather Radio continuously broadcasts forecasts and warnings, and is credited with saving lives during severe weather conditions. The award is named after syndicated comic strip character, Mark Trail, the official spokesman for NOAA Weather Radio.

"NOAA Weather Radio has been the difference between life and death for many people," said Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., USN (ret.), NOAA's administrator. "When a tornado is looming, or when rivers and streams are rising, every second counts. That makes a strong case for why more people need the up-to-the minute news from NOAA Weather Radio, and why today's awardees are worthy of honor."

At a Capitol Hill luncheon, South Dakota Governor William J. Janklow, Judge Ray B. Stanley of Polk County, Ark., and representatives of the Sam's Club Spirit volunteers from Muncy, Pa., joined other recipients to accept their Mark Trail Awards, sponsored by NOAA's National Weather Service.

Brig. Gen. Jack Kelly USAF (ret.), director of the National Weather Service said, "Your tireless efforts to ensure more Americans tune into the life-saving coverage of NOAA Weather Radio exemplifies the true spirit of looking out for your neighbor."

In its sixth year, the Mark Trail Awards are presented to individuals, local governments, organizations and corporations, recognizing either their support to expand NOAA Weather Radio coverage, receiver ownership, or quick reactions that saved lives during severe weather episodes, or civil emergencies.

Mark Trail, a syndicated comic strip published through King Features in approximately 175 newspapers nationwide, has been the official spokesman for NOAA Weather Radio since 1997. Jack Elrod, writer and illustrator for Mark Trail, became involved with NOAA Weather Radio in 1995, featuring it in a Sunday comic strip.

Kelly said the Awards are a key part in the National Weather Service's drive to increase listenership of NOAA Weather Radio. "We're spotlighting real-life benefits of NOAA Weather Radio. We hope more people will be inspired to own one."

The 2002 Mark Trail Award winners are:

  • South Dakota Governor William J. Janklow of Pierre and Minnehaha County Sheriff Michael Milstead of Sioux Falls, for using NOAA Weather Radio to provide urgent civil emergency information. Gov. Janklow also purchased 10,000 NOAA Weather Radio receivers for state, county, and local governments;
  • Judge Ray B. Stanley, Polk County, Ark., for helping to extend NOAA Weather Radio coverage in the Ouachita Mountains, which are prone to tornadoes and flash floods;
  • The Sam's Club Spirit volunteers of Muncy, Pa., for raising funds to purchase NOAA Weather Radio receivers and distribute them to hospitals, senior centers and child daycare centers throughout Lycoming County;
  • The Rural Utilities Service of the Department of Agriculture for issuing $5 million in matching grants to fund NOAA Weather Radio transmitter expansion in rural America;
  • The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (NJOEM) for buying and installing two new NOAA Weather Radio transmitters, providing coverage for about two million residents. NJOEM also installed 3,000 radio receivers in all school administration buildings;
  • George Bisso, of Redmond, Washington, for helping to bring the Puget Sound NOAA Weather Radio transmitter to the Miller Peak area of the state, where coverage did not exist;
  • Kenneth D. Lowden of Angola, Ind., for fund-raising efforts, resulting in NOAA Weather Radio coverage for Steuben County;
  • Larry Collins, an emergency manager in Sidney, Neb., for bringing NOAA Weather Radio coverage to the area in June 2001;
  • Walter Henry and the Clinton County, Iowa Emergency Management for working with local merchants to offer NOAA Weather Radio receivers at a reduced cost;
  • Mid Rivers Telephone Cooperative, Inc., of Circle, Mont., for purchasing and installing four new transmitters, which filled the largest gap in NOAA Weather Radio coverage within a non-mountainous U.S. area;
  • Darrell Wilson of Puryear, Tenn., for expanding NOAA Weather Radio coverage in a rural area of the state;
  • Clarke-Washington Electric Membership Corporation, of Jackson, Ala., for providing free tower space for the new Jackson transmitter and buying NOAA Weather Radio receivers for local schools;
  • Mark Roisen, of Appleton, Minn., for securing funds for a new NOAA Weather Radio transmitter that was installed and given to the National Weather Service;
  • Sam Minter of N.W. Electric for expanding NOAA Weather Radio coverage across 19 counties in Missouri;
  • Robert David and Jerry McCoy, emergency managers in Michigan's Isabella and Montcalm counties respectively, for making NOAA Weather Radio available to more than 300,000 Michigan residents.

NOAA's National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy. To learn more about the National Weather Service, visit

Learn more about NOAA Weather Radio at

Editor's Note: Detailed descriptions of awardee accomplishments are available by calling John Leslie of the National Weather Service at 301-713-0622.