March 2017 Virginia Section Manager Report
Section Theme---“Moving forward with Amateur Radio for our Future”
Well, we are through our two months of 2017. Flu season is in full swing in our house. The weather is acting like a spoiled brat. One day we have 80 degrees and then in the next day or so we drop to 12 degrees overnight with a high of 32 the next day. Up down again and again. About the only advantage is if you need to do antenna work and you can work quickly, you may get it done.
Our ARRL State Convention meeting was held during a forum at the FROSTFEST Hamfest which was held at the Richmond International raceway on Feb 4. The weather was wonderful and everyone noted the great organization, electronic ticketing, selection of vendors and equipment and services as well as the friendly atmosphere. Once again, this was attended by over 2,500 persons of all ages that came from as far away as New York and Florida. This is largest hamfest held in the middle atlantic states
Amateur Radio concerned legislation: Virginia
In Virginia we have had a new legislative year for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia’s legislature is a part time session lasting only 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. Well this years session is now over and we had several opportunities to contact our legislators get all of these bills that would had an impact on Virginia hams, either sent back to committee and die or pulled back by sponsored.
Amateur Radio Parity Act Bill H.R. 1301 of 2016: National
This has come around again in 2017 as H.R. 555. I am happy to say that this passed the house once again on January 23rd 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. With all of white house controversy on more pressing matters, we will just wait around for our turn.
Recently ARRL Field Services staff made a concerted effort to improve reporting within the ARES program. The main objective was to use information, submitted from ARRL Emergency Coordinators (which is derived from monthly reports by Emergency Coordinators and District Emergency Coordinators) to generate a basic report showing the value that ARES provides to our communities, states and the nation through collaboration with partners at all levels. In early 2016, the FIRST basic report on the status of ARES was released.
In discussions with staff, it was admitted that getting monthly reports from volunteers is always a difficult chore. While this initial report showed many holes and lack of reporting by many states---IT DOES NOT--- mean that these areas do not have active or well functioning programs. This NEW published part of the program is expected to encourage all of the ARES program participants be able to show the public as well as other emergency services operations ARES better details about their work.
ARRL is only now playing catch-up to many other amateur radio programs and operations who have been become increasingly sophisticated in logging, and reporting, thus increasing the accuracy of contests and other amateur radio operations records. The use of computerization has affected all of our lives both locally, in work and our hobbies. Now the cloud hovers over us all, 24/7.
Here in Virginia, we do have as many of you know, an active ARES program, but we found---like many others---MAJOR CRACKS in our reporting and computerized records. I have made some changes, some temporary, some permanent to OVERHAUL all of our ARES reporting and records services. Some of you may agree or disagree with these new actions, but these changes are absolutely necessary for our ARES programs and people as well as for our ARRL HQ reporting. The job descriptions for all appointees are available on the ARRL website for all to see. All we ask is to make sure when you apply for an appointment, be sure you have the time, dedication, and responsibility to fulfill the appointment duties.
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
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 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.
Also, REMEMBER, in Virginia, all ARES members automatically transition to become RACES volunteers in the event of a governmental declared emergency or disaster.
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
ARES/RACES of Virgina on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/101756496822770/ is very active. I am pleased to report increased 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.
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