eHam.net News — PAYETTE — It makes sense that the folks who are involved in amateur radio locally are volunteering to provide what could be a critically important communications service during the overly peopled days surrounding the Aug. 21 solar eclipse. Julie Bunker, president of the Treasure Valley Radio Association and Payette County emergency coordinator for the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), a national group, said she and others are taking their cue from local history. Bunker concedes that she wasn’t a resident of Payette County at the time of the area’s major flood on New Year’s Day in 1997, but she was later told that “a lot of communications for this county disappeared” during the event. “My understanding is the only emergency communications the county had was amateur radio,” she said. Hence the Treasure Valley group’s offer earlier this year to local governments and emergency services officials to establish message relay points along the U.S. Highway 95 corridor and at various other locations for the high-traffic days. With cell service expected to be bogged down by the sudden arrival of perhaps tens of thousands of visitors, amateur radio looms as a reliable backup. Bunker said disaster services coordinators for Payette and Washington counties have both opted to take the Treasure Valley Radio Association up on the offer.