• Carolyn Estes donated money on Wednesday to buy new, smaller radios for Butte County Search and Rescue.(Bill Husa/Staff Photos)<p class='dotPhoto'>All Chico E-R photos are available <a href='http://chicoer.mycapture.com/'>here</a>.</p>

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CHICO — Butte County Search and Rescue must replace all of its aging handheld radios as they become obsolete under new narrow band requirements imposed by the Federal Communications Commission.

On Wednesday, the Larry Estes Memorial Foundation, named in honor of a former Butte County sheriff”s lieutenant killed in the line of duty, came up with nearly $15,000 in donations — an amount expected to cover the full cost.

Capt. Ed Stopper said the all-volunteer group will purchase 25 Kenwood radios that meet the FCC requirements, and are lighter and smaller than the current radios.

The radios will be used by search teams in the field. Five of them will include a special feature that will automatically send a GPS signal to a command post, pinpointing the location of search team members up to several miles away.

Also to be purchased with the donation is a Maptech module to will track the movement of search teams in realtime.

Total for the equipment is estimated at $14,791.

Estes” widow, Carolyn Estes, said the donation exhausts money collected by the foundation over the last 10 years, and no additional fundraising efforts are planned.

“Larry would just be delighted about this,” Estes said. “This really warms my heart and our whole family feels very good about where this money is going,” she said.

Larry Estes was the Butte County Sheriff”s Office liaison to search and rescue for several years before his death in 2001. He and deputy Bill Hunter were killed in a shootout with a suspect in Inskip.

The donation comes in the year that will mark the 10th anniversary of the killings, and the 50th anniversary celebrating the formation of Butte County Search and Rescue.

Staff writer Greg Welter can be reached at 896-7768 or at gwelter@chicoer.com.

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