NOAA 2004-R244
Contact: Marilu Trainor

NOAA News Releases 2004
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Ron Valley, a recently retired engineer from KSPS Television Channel 7 television in Spokane, Wash, receives the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Environmental Hero Award.

Held in conjunction with Earth Day celebrations, the award honors NOAA volunteers for their “tireless efforts to preserve and protect our nation's environment.” Valley was recognized for his effort to organize and develop emergency communications and the All-Hazards Emergency Alert System for the Inland Northwest.

Valley has been involved in broadcasting for many years working as a technical expert for several different radio and television stations across eastern Washington and northern Idaho. He is well known and respected throughout the Inland Northwest and has been a leader in the radio and television industry.

“NOAA and the nation are fortunate to have such dedicated people volunteer so much of their time,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “They set a perfect example for others to follow in their communities. America needs more environmental heroes like them.”

Established in 1995 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Earth Day, the NOAA Environmental Hero Award is presented to individuals and organizations that volunteer their time and energy to help NOAA carry out its mission.

“On behalf of the 12,500 men and women working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, I am pleased to present you with this 2003 Environmental Hero Award,” Lautenbacher wrote in a letter to the recipients. “Your dedicated efforts and outstanding accomplishments greatly benefit the environment and make our nation a better place for all Americans.”

Since the early 1980s and during events such as the eruption of Mt. St. Helen, it became evident that emergency communications and the former Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) systems in the Inland Northwest were not effective in getting civil emergency or severe weather information to the public.

“Ron and Ken Holmes warning coordination meteorologist in Spokane, worked with local and regional broadcasters, elected officials and emergency responders to update and develop an excellent broadcast system that could rapidly disseminate emergency information,” said John Livingston, National Weather Service (NWS) Spokane meteorologist in charge. “This system was successfully used by the NWS during several severe weather and fire events in the 1980s.”

As the All-Hazards Emergency Alert System (EAS) was formulated, Valley again helped to organize and participate in numerous meetings to coordinate and develop a vastly improved emergency communications system, according to Livingston. In addition to EAS he helped to develop a “Safety Advisory” program that dealt with the dissemination of important emergency information such as 911 outages and flood events that did not quite meet the criteria of an EAS alert. “These systems have proven to be an extremely valuable asset to the NWS in meeting our mission objective of saving lives and property," said Livingston.

When Holmes discussed the need for NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) to broadcast into extreme northern Idaho, Valley aided in getting support and funding from the Boundary County Translator Board to purchase a transmitter. In addition, he arranged for KSPS television to supply a microwave link from Mt. Spokane to the transmitter on Black Mountain to carry the NWR signal. This was at no cost to the NWS.

“Over the past 20 years Ron Valley has been an important player in developing emergency communications that has had a major impact on the ability of the NWS to disseminate severe weather warnings to the media and public of eastern Washington and northern Idaho,” Holmes said. “We applaud him for his efforts and it is fitting that he be selected as one of the 2004 NOAA Environmental Heroes.”

NOAA’s National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NWS 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.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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