Saturday, January 22, 2011

2011 Statewide Georgia ARES Conference

We had a really good statewide ARES meeting this year.  Our day started very early this morning when Steve-K4SDJ picked me up at 0400.  We drove over to pick up Lester-KF4JBQ near Kensington Park then out to Pooler Parkway where we picked up Peter-KJ4FAW.  We headed west and when we started getting near Dublin we gave out a shout for Bob-WN4Q on the 145.150 repeater.  Bob met us at the Cracker Barrel at 0600 and we had a nice breakfast before continuing on to Forsyth.  We arrived at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) around 0815.  Over an hour before the meeting started.  That gave us some time to catch up with other HAMs that we usually only talk to on the radio.  Always good to put a face with a callsign.

The meeting got started at 0930 with welcome and introductions of Section Officers and Area DECs.  The first guest speaker of the day was Robby Westbrook who is the EMA Director for Cherokee County.  Mr. Westbrook gave us some great pointers on how to build a strong releationship between the local ARES teams and the county EMAs.  He referred to the relationship as an "Extreme Partnership" and couldn't say enough good things about the ARES program.  He also stressed the importance of professionalism in what we do and how we interact with other agencies. 

Next, and at several times throughout the day, there were door prizes given out.  Quite a few ARRL books, mugs, and such as well as the grand prize of a Wouxon Dual Band Handheld radio.  Good stuff.

Lunchtime started at 1100.  Most folks either brought a lunch with them or ran out and grabbed a burger and brought back to the conference.  The lunchtime session was a full two hours to allow for folks to eat and visit a variety of forums and displays that were set up like breakout sessions.  This was the best part of the day in my opinion.  It really allowed for some great collaboration with other HAMs from across the state.  Here is a list of the forums:

- National Weather Service:   Lynn Bianco, KN4YZ
- Public Health:   Barry Kanne, W4TGA
- Digital:   Tom Olley, KG4VUB
- Nets and Traffic:   Charles Pennington, K4GK
- D-Star:   John Davis, WB4QDX
- Peach State Intertie:   Jimmy Burgamy, WB4NFG
- Zoning Issues & Solutions:   Charles Pitchford, N4QET
- Mobile Comm:   Clyde Mathe, WB4BDP

The general session started back up again at 1300 with our second guest speaker of the day.  Lans Rothfusz, KD5EJN who is a meteorologist with the NWS Peachtree City gave a nice update of how things are going at the NWS.  Lans also had great words to say about the fine work that HAMs and Skywarn weather spotters do for the NWS.  He gave us a glimpse into some of the technology advancements that are on the way in the weather forecasting world. 

Next we heard an update on how things are progressing on putting together a universaly recognized badge for ARES members across the state.  More work to be done. 

Next, Mike Brown, KE4FGF recognized all of the top nominees for the Georgia ARES HAM of the Year and then announced the winner to be Jim Millsap, WB4NWS.  After some final comments from Mike Brown, KE4FGF who is our Section Emergency Coordinator and from Dr. Gene Clark, W4AYK who is our ARRL Section Manager, we adjorned right around 1530.

What a very good meeting this year highlighted by the two hour breakout session and collaboration with fellow ARES members. 

Steve, Lester, Peter and I hit the road and made it back to Savannah just after 1800.  It was a long day but well worth K4GTM

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