February 2017 Virginia Section Manager Report
Section Theme---“Moving forward with Amateur Radio for our Future”
Well, we are through our first month of 2017. January brought us a new President and many opinions of his future success of the multitude of promises made.
Amateur Radio concerned legislation:
In Virginia this has also brought us to a new legislative year for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia’s legislature is a part time session lasting a few months of the year. This means that bills, laws and decisions for the state government must be made in a short time frame. This also means that we hams must be very diligent in our monitoring of potential changes affecting amateur radio operations in Virginia. Now with this being said, Virginia hams have seen some of my emails concerning senate and house bills that have been introduced concerning vehicular safety. These bills originated a couple of years ago and were originally to correct things like texting, and cell phone use, etc.. Politicians like to fine tune the original laws passed and here we go again. So we see modifications that add and/or modify parts of laws that have to do with use of radios, cell phones, etc. in moving vehicles. While this is for Public Safety, we also we need to make sure amateur radio is exempt from certain restrictions thus allowing for ARES, SKYWARN, EMCOMM, and other emergency and health/welfare services support. Our diligence has been successful with all of your support.
Amateur Radio Parity Act Bill H.R. 1301 of 2016
This has come around again in 2017 as H.R. 555. I am happy to say that this passed the house once again and now on to the Senate . Unfortunately with all of the other governmental controversy, it may be awhile before this comes up on the Senate agenda.
National Parks On the Air
NPOTA Program has proven to be one of the most successful and popular on-air activities ARRL has ever created.
Virginia ARES groups and other EMCOMM groups have had much success in 2016 and we forward to an even better 2017. There are some hams that still have a difficult time with past problems. However working to rebuild from old ways and bad decisions always takes time and effort . Attitudes still need to improve as well as cooperation between all ARES groups, unaffiliated EMCOMM groups and local as well as State Agencies.
Rules governing training, and a multitude of other requirements may be similar and yet many are different, however if we want be a member, play a game, or help in an emergency, we must abide by the rules. This is something we all learn as we grow and learn from our first teachers—our parents.
Technology advances are growing at a rapid rate. On one hand many communications advances come each year and are adopted by some groups and not adopted by others. Increased cooperation by must be learned and subsequently utilized by everyone everywhere. Funding for these new technologies is also an important point that have to be considered.
Technology and new equipment is great, but even more important is training. Knowing the National Incident Management System (NIMS), the formats used as part of Incident Command System (ICS), are all part of training that needs to be accomplished. This training allows ARES members to be cross trained in AUXCOMM operations that allows them work with multiple agencies during times of emergencies. This is the real Interoperability necessary for multiple agency responses.
A recent EMCOMM exercise with a mix of ARES/SKYWARN/EMCOMM groups around the state participated in Winter Fury which utilized many modes of communications as well as use NIMS forms. This is an example of the kind of cooperation that is so important to everyone when an actual event occurs.
Remember that we to need to train for any size of emergency as well as, whenever and wherever it happens.
We have had major forest fires in various parts of the country with devastating results. Hams of ARES and EMCOMM groups have played an important part in each and every one of these operations throughout these many operations this past year.
Our Virginia SKYWARN programs plays a critical role in all types of storm emergencies. It is important to understand that our technical abilities to forecast weather, use of radar, satellites, etc. has improved our warning and reporting, however, nothing can beat an actual person giving a visual account from actual ground level observations. Our new SKYWARN management has done an excellent job of transitioning operations.
General Section Information
RICHMOND FROSTFEST HAMFEST
FROSTFEST is again on Saturday February 4 at the Richmond International Raceway. It is also the State ARRL Convention. Forums for ARRL, SKYWARN, ARES, Winlink Communications, as well as License Testing will be offered. www.frostfest.com
I ask all hams to make use of our ARES Virginia Web site. It contains links to many important ham radio web sites as well full interactive ARES reporting, ARES applications and many other features for old as well as new hams.http://www.aresva.us.
ARES/RACES of Virgina on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/101756496822770/ is very active and I am pleased to report quite a number of new ARES applications. We are really excited that we are getting applications not only from new hams, but also from experienced older hams.
VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
Be sure and check the Ready Virginia web page for emergency preparedness. https://www.ready.gov/virginia This page includes what actions to take when you receive a hurricane watch or warning alert from the National Weather Service for your local area.
ROANOKE Division Facebook page can be found at:http://www.facebook.com/ARRL-Roanoke-Division-s://w1114578661885666/
The National traffic systems continue to utilize very dedicated hams. Traffic remains steady, but slow. We encourage all hams to learn about the ARRL traffic system as it is still in use during emergencies . Please support your local NTS operators.
Please Check the ARRL Letter for all major and national ARRL events and meetings.
REMEMBER----Education is the key to your success, both in Ham Radio as well as in your life.
Dr. Joe Palsa
Virginia Section Manager