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ARRL Board Adopts Volunteer Monitoring Program; Official Observer Program to be Retired
The Board said the action is expected to re-energize enforcement efforts in the Amateur Radio bands and was undertaken at the request of the FCC in the wake of several FCC regional office closures and a reduction in field staff. Coordination of cases and evidence gathering would become the responsibility of ARRL Headquarters staff, while the FCC will retain the responsibility for final decisions regarding action in specific cases.
The study committee report spelled out the additional steps necessary to launch the Volunteer Monitoring Program. Among them would be the appointment of a dedicated Headquarters staff member or an independent contractor working under the direction of ARRL Headquarters to administer the new program and interface with its participants. The Volunteer Monitoring Program administrator would, among other duties, create a vetting and accreditation process for prospective Volunteer Monitors. The authority to accredit, appoint, and dismiss Volunteer Monitors would be assigned to ARRL Headquarters staff. Section Managers will continue to be a part of the vetting process for VMs, although they will not have appointment or dismissal authority.
Volunteer Monitor accreditation would be limited to a 3-year term, renewable by satisfying requirements necessary to ensure competency. A new Volunteer Monitoring Training Manual is in the final stages of development.
The administrator will create
a target for the number of geographically distributed Volunteer Monitors.
Preliminary plans would include up to five Volunteer Monitors per ARRL
Section and up to 250 Volunteer Monitors overall.
ARRL 2017 Annual Report Focuses on Hurricane Response
In his message to ARRL members, President Rick Roderick, K5UR, suggested that a paradigm shift is under way within Amateur Radio.
"The wants and needs of the new-generation hams are very different from those of 'traditional' hams -- of which I consider myself one," Roderick wrote. "[W]e've got to embrace and meet the challenges of new technological developments and the operating trends of the next generation. It's a different landscape than when I started. ARRL is there to support and promote these new things as outlined in our mission statement -- to advance the art, science, and enjoyment of Amateur Radio -- and to fight for our spectrum allocations, but the organization does not 'own' Amateur Radio. That ownership rests with hams." Roderick said seeds for change planted in 2017 are starting to sprout, as ARRL also adapts to a changing Amateur Radio environment.
In his report, CEO Barry Shelley, N1VXY, looked back on what he called "a remarkable year" for ARRL -- one that first and foremost was defined by change.
"Much of the change could be considered internal to the organization, and not always visible," Shelley wrote. "But the changes that occurred helped create new ways to face and deal with some of the challenges presented throughout the year," adding that one of the biggest challenges ARRL faced in 2017 -- and one of the most public -- was the response to the devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean and southeastern part of the United States."
The Emergency Preparedness Department reported an upward trend in Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES) activity. "An increase in reported activity was noted during the months of August through November, due to Amateur Radio response activity for hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria; wildfires in the western US, and the total solar eclipse that occurred on August 21," the report recounted. The narrative tells how additional Ham Aid program equipment was on its way to Puerto Rico by September 9 in response to Hurricane Irma. After Hurricane Maria, more Ham Aid packages were dispatched to Puerto Rico with 22 Red Cross/ARRL volunteers.
"During the 2017 hurricane season, particularly after the damage hurricane Maria caused in Puerto Rico, ARRL experienced a significant increase in awareness of Amateur Radio and the service that ham radio operators can offer in times of emergency," the report noted.
The ARRL VEC Department summary pointed out, "Interest in Amateur Radio took an upturn in the second half of the year, due to a heightened awareness of Amateur Radio's potential role during natural disasters."
Cycle Is More Intricate Than Previously Thought
The sun's pockmarked surface is always shifting. Sunspots and solar flares rise and fall every 11 years, a cycle associated with regular reversal of the star's magnetic field. Huge quantities of plasmaknown as coronal mass ejectionsfly into space, which can disrupt satellites and other electronic signals if they reach Earth. More solar activity during the cycle also amplifies auroras and warms Earth's temperatures slightly. Yet careful study has shown that longer periodicities exist, too. The Gleissberg cycle, first identified in 1862, strengthens and weakens the 11-year cycle over the course of a century (shown in yellow). One paper posits that the Gleissberg pattern is caused by a slow swaying of the sun's magnetic pole. The Suess-DeVries cycle (green) lasts about 200 years, whereas the Hallstatt cycle (blue) runs on the order of 2,400 years. Still, the sun can also be erratic, making it tricky for physicists to predict future sunspots, says Alexei Pevtsov, an astronomer at the National Solar Observatory in Boulder, Colo.: There's an element of randomness.
WB4QZK Bama Rowan, SK, 1926-2018
History: A Century of Amateur Radio and the ARRL
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