The hustle and bustle of the holidays is behind us, February still a few days away and things are very busy at the GCARC.
The Budget Committee met on January 21st and drafted the budget 2018. The budget was submitted to the Board of Directors at the January meeting where it was unanimously approved. The budget will be presented by the Treasurer, Al Arrison KB2AYU at the General Membership Meeting at the Pfeiffer Community Center on February 7th for final approval.
For those who have been following the drama surrounding the ARRL Board of Directors and the controversial “ARRL Policy on Board Governance and Conduct of Members of the Board of Directors and Vice Directors” (now that’s a mouthful), after some consideration and plethora of emails form concerned members, at the January 2018 meeting, the ARRL Board adopted “a motion to a review the entire code of conduct for Board members”. The motion sought to address a number of the concerns expressed by ARRL members. Additional information can be found at: https://tinyurl.com/ARRLconduct and our club website under the “ARRL BOD Issues” tab.
Last year we announced plans to sponsor a special event to activate Petty Island. The event is expected to take place over two or three days and operate similar to our annual Field Day event. The island is included in the US Islands Awards Program (NJ010) and as a sub-reference area for World Wide Flora & Fauna (KFF-0684). Access to the island has and continues to be restricted and therefore has never been activated before for any awards program.
Petty Island (AKA Petty’s Island) is a 292 acre island in the Delaware River and is part of Pennsauken Township, NJ. The island is currently owned by CITGO Petroleum Corporation which is owned by the Venezuelan Government. In 2009 the Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced plans to donate the island to New Jersey for environmental preservation. CITGO retains responsibility for the environmental cleanup on the island and the transfer is expected to be completed sometime in 2020. CITGO supports and encourages education and stewardship efforts. The New Jersey Natural Lands Trust has been granted a conservation easement for the island. The programming and stewardship activities are a collaborative community project involving partnerships with New Jersey Audubon Society, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and Cooper River Watershed Association. The project relies on funding from New Jersey Natural Lands Trust and The William Penn Foundation.
Jim Clark KA2OSV and Tony Starr WA2FZB co-chair the W2MMD Special Events Committee and are currently working on plans for the event while I attempt to secure permission for the event. Although we are in the early planning stages for this event there has been significant interest from our members; particularly with regard to operating the event. As plans firm up we will need volunteers to support this event. Anyone that wishes to support the event in any way or with contacts in any of the above mentioned organizations that may be able to help secure permission, is encouraged to contact Jim, Tony or myself.
Tech Saturday typically occurs on the first Saturday after the General Membership meeting each month. Although some months feature a particular theme for the discussions, they are really just a starting point and typically the discussion can cover any topic in Amateur Radio and beyond. This informal gathering often includes some show and tell, tech support, and even operating from the club’s HF, VHF and satellite stations. By all accounts this program has been a resounding success; so much so in fact that we are now planning to expand the program to include every Saturday each month. In order to accomplish this we need volunteers to give a few hours once a month to be stewards or docents. The responsibilities would be fairly simple; open the clubhouse, greet visitors, answer questions about the club and station, and of course lockup the clubhouse. We are hoping to sign up six or so stewards to provide coverage and allow for schedule changes. Anyone interested in more information or to volunteer is encouraged to contact John K2ZA or myself.
Our club has a long history of community service. In the spirit of community service our members have worked with Boy Scout troops to help the scouts earn their merit badges. For a few years now the Boy Scouts have participated in some of our events including Hamfest where there provide an excellent food service for our attendees. Last year Bob Fields KC6AOH as part of his efforts in the area of Membership and Publicity has been working to expand the scope of our work with the Scouts to not only include more troops and activities, but also to include the Girl Scouts. We look forward to more events in 2018.
This year upgrades continue at the club station with plans for a new access control system that will provide ease of access while improving security, upgrade to our current camera system from the current four cameras to eight with the ability to stream camera feeds for remote monitoring, and enhanced internet access through a dedicated broadband connection that will provide the necessary bandwidth facilitate projects such as remote access to the station equipment and video streaming for educational purposes. In addition, some projects that never got off the drawing board last year will be completed this year. Those projects include repairing the front entry stairs and renovating the storage shed.
Ron Block NR2B and John Zaruba K2ZA have volunteered to collaborate on a new and as yet unnamed committee for the purpose of soliciting grants, donations and other miscellaneous fundraising endeavors. Any members with experience in writing grant proposals, solicitations for donation, or that have contacts in companies or organizations that may consider a donation to our club is encouraged to contact Ron or John. As mentioned, this committee is in need of a name…suggestions are welcomed.
Our family is healthy and doing well. For those who are fans of “A Christmas Story (1983)”, the following may seem a bit familiar. Several months before Christmas there was a notable increase in background noise and low-level chatter around our home. Occasionally at first, but with increasing frequency a single word could be heard above the noise floor; drone. In addition, pictures and stories about drones began to show up in unlikely places and a barrage of pro-drone propaganda dominated every conversation with our daughter.
While my wife and I were both immune to the social engineering attacks initiated by our oldest child, my mother-in-law proved to be no match, and in fact caved quite quickly. Christmas morning there was of course a drone under the tree. Unfortunately, the weather was uncooperative on Christmas (and the days immediately following) so Aryanna had to wait patiently for that first flight. Wind is the single most limiting factor for flying. Her drone does quite well in gusts up through 20 MPH, however, after that things can get a little less predictable. We try and get out flying most days with suitable weather and have even flown at the club site a few times. She has plans to video several of upcoming club events.
The Philadelphia Eagles have made it to the Super Bowl again. The last time they made it to the championship was in 2005, Super Bowl XXXIX. In that game the Birds lost by three points after Donovan McNabb threw an interception with 46 seconds left on the clock. This year they will again face the New England Patriots. The Patriots are favored to win, but we will have to wait until Sunday February 4, to see if the Eagles can beat the odds.
Finally, this flu season seems to be living up to the expectations expressed previously by the CDC. Remember that a few extra precautions can mean the difference between getting sick or not. A few of our members have already contracted the flu this season and in at least one case that I know of it was quite serious. Be safe, stay healthy, and hope to see you at the next meeting.