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Posted Aug 31, 2011

HURRICANE IRENE - Much appreciation goes to the thousands of operators across the state who got on the air to help with Hurricane Irene emergency communications. Fortunately for many North Carolinians, public communications infrastructure remained intact, and the services of Amateur Radio were not needed on a widescale basis. Hams in the northeastern counties and on the Outer Banks saw tremendous damage. North Carolina Emergency Management's Eastern Branch Regional Coordination Center (RCC) in Kinston was a hotbed of activity through Tuesday. The Tar Heel Emergency Net (THEN) was on the air almost continuously from last Thursday through Monday. Many thanks to THEN Net Manager Mark Cantrell, KD4IMA, and his dedicated team of THEN volunteers. Also kudos must go to the dozens of ARES groups throughout North Carolina which monitored events both inside and outside affected areas. Public officials are very aware that Hams were well organized and trained, and on standby to help.

REPEATER REFRESHER - Disasters like Hurricane Irene cause repeaters to light up as new and inactive operators gather on air with reports but also to find out what's going on. It's important we all welcome such operators but they may need gentle reminders about when to identify, to wait for courtesy tones, allow for time between transmissions, and to observe Net Control Station (NCS) instructions during directed nets, especially on repeaters designated for ARES or SKYWARN. During declared emergencies and net activations, nets should function with order. Many government officials as well as the public listen to Amateur Radio repeaters on scanners, so we always should be at our best.

MEDIA HITS - August was a busy media month before Hurricane Irene hit. The Shelby Star ran a story on Cleveland County Amateur Radio Society's new repeater being installed. The News of Orange County ran a profile on the Orange County Radio Association (OCRA) entitled, "For the Love of It". Hurricane Irene prompted Time-Warner Cable's News 14 in Raleigh to do a story on Amateur Radio EmCOMM, and the Wilmington Star News showcased the role of ARES at the New Hanover County Emergency Operations Center (EOC). In an ironic twist, a production company for The Weather Channel contacted me two weeks before Irene came ashore to ask for Hams to interview about supplying EmCOMM during Hurricane Earl last year. That program is expected to air next July.

NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS MONTH (NPM) - In the last two weeks North Carolina has experienced tornadoes, an earthquake and a hurricane. It's only fitting that the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) declare September as National Preparedness Month. For the past few years, many Ham Radio clubs and ARES organizations from across the country and North Carolina have registered as NPM coalition supporters. To join and show that Amateur Radio is a key resource in times of disaster, go to and file under the "Communications" group. So far North Carolina ARES, Durham Co. ARES, Moore County Amateur Radio Service, and Orange County Radio Association (OCRA) have listed themselves. Thanks to these organizations for waving the flag in support of North Carolina Amateur Radio.

MIRIAM SMITH AWARD WINNER - Congratulations to Bob Rodgers, KC4TVO, of Bakersville for being the 2011 winner of this prestigious award, which is presented annually by the Western Carolinas Amateur Radio Society in memory of SK Miriam Smith, KB4C, who was RACES officer and ARES EC for Buncombe County. Bob was cited for his work in setting up voice and digital communications at the Blue Ridge Hospital in Spruce Pine, and for his many humanitarian missions as part of medical teams in Honduras, where he provides Winlink connections for doctors on behalf of patients in jungle villages.

PEN PAL PROGRAM - Many of us remember "Pen Pal" programs from elementary school where we exchanged letters with people elsewhere to find out more about them, their cultures and their lives. There's a new Yahoo Group devoted to setting a "Pen Pal" service using National Traffic System (NTS) radiograms. The purpose of the group is to improve traffic handling skills by exchanging radiograms with other "Pen Pals". More information and sign up at:

NTS REPORTS - July, 2011. QNI (Net Stations Check-In) 3234 (up 217 or 7%). Messages passed 504 (down 192 or 27%). STATION ACTIVITY REPORTS (SARs) K4IWW 369, W4DNA 153, WK4P 140, W2EAG 125, W4TTO 55, KC4PGN 42, KE4AHC 39, W3HL 37, KA4IZN 21, W4AJT 17, WB4Y 13. PUBLIC SERVICE HONOR ROLL (PSHR) K4JUU 140, WK4P 140, W4DNA 135, K4IWW 130, W2EAG 110, KA4IZN 106, W4TTO 105

SKs - We regret to report the passing of the following Hams: Paul Copeland, K4KCS, of Greenville; Jack Miller, KK4UH, of Denton; Jim Rogers, N4FHM, of Fayetteville.

HAMFESTS - September 3-4, Shelby Hamfest, Dallas, NC. Talk-In 146.88 and 147.12 For more info to go ; October 8, Winston-Salem October Swapfest, Summit School Eagles Nest, 2100 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, NC Talk-In 146.64 (PL 100.0) For more info go to

PUBLIC SERVICE - September 7, Carolina Cycling Time Trial, Lowes Motor Speedway, Concord. For more info go to ; September 10-11, Bike MS Historic New Bern Ride, New Bern. For more info go to ; September 24-25, MS Breakaway to the Beach bike race, Monroe to Sunset Beach For more info go to ; September 25, Six Gap Century Bike Ride, Dahlonega, GA. Race weaves over NC-GA state line and uses repeaters and 75 meter NVIS. For more info contact Howard Estes, WB4GUD, at NOTE: Organizers - after your events please complete an ARRL Public Services Activity Report on line at These reports help in quantifying the costs we donate as volunteers to non-profit organizations and communities in time and equipment.

SPECIAL EVENT STATIONS - Sep 17-Sep 18, 1300Z-2100Z, K4EG, Carousel Festival, Celebrating 101 Years of the Dentzel Carousel, Burlington. Alamance Amateur Radio Club. 14.275 7.200. QSL. Carousel Festival, c/o K4EG, PO Box 391, Elon, NC 27244; Sep 24, 1330Z-1830Z, NC4AR, Everybody's Day, Thomasville. Tri-County Amateur Radio Club. 7.210 145.29, 53.010, Linked. Certificate. NC4AR, PO Box 747, Trinity, NC 27370. Oldest Festival in North Carolina.

THE LAST WORD - The mark of a good Ham Radio operator is to listen, and there were many listeners last week during and after Hurricane Irene. All of us should take pride at the professionalism almost all Hams exhibited as we faced communications outages. Simulated Emergency Test (SET) exercises are helpful training tools, but there is no substitute for the real thing. Yes, there were some gaffs last week, but most seemed to center around casual operators forgetting net and operating procedures on repeaters. The best surprise came from ARES organizations. Hurricane Irene was the first large scale disaster since National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command Structure (ICS) training became mandatory for ARES officials holding appointments of Emergency Coordinator (EC) or higher. When Irene hit land last week, 55 of North Carolina's 100 counties had ARES ECs trained in the ICS system. More importantly, many counties have over 250 Assistant ECs (AECs) who have completed ICS courses 100, 200, 700 and 800. The results were that if you monitored ARES communications, you heard a smooth, confident flow of traffic. Preliminary reports show that ARES performed very well. Many thanks to former Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC) Bernie Nobles, WA4MOK, who began to implement the NIMS/ICS system in North Carolina ARES, and to current SEC Tom Brown, N4TAB, and his team who expanded the program dramatically in the last year. In a large disaster like Hurricane Irene we need the services of all Hams - both those ICS credentialed performing official government assigned tasks, and those who are conscientious operators relaying informal, but still vital, traffic. Let's not have another hurricane for a long time, but when we do, we'll be ready.

I look forward to seeing many of you this weekend at the Shelby Hamfest.

73 de Bill Morine, N2COP ARRL North Carolina Section Manager