October 18, 2020
Greetings from the High Country, much of which has experienced frost over the weekend. This was
probably the last weekend for leaf looking except for a few areas around Grandfather Mountain and
WINTER IS NOT THAT FAR AWAY
I have lived up here in the High Country since 1970 (except for six years spent in Chatham County in
1984-1990). During about half those years up here, a few days after Election Day we got snow flurries
and, in a couple of years recently, we had snow flurries on Halloween.
So, my suggestion is to get ready for winter. Have your heating system checked, stockpile firewood if
you use it, check out your generator, and take one more pass at making sure your antennas are ready
for winds, ice and snow because, at least up here, winter is not that far away.
Although there are forecasts that winter might be milder than usual, that might mean that we get more
freezing rain and sleet rather than snow. Few people drive well on ice but true mountaineers cope
pretty well with snow.
By now, I suspect that you are as tired of political ads as I am and the time has come for each of us to
cast our ballots. Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. According to the NC State Board of
Elections, there are 7.2 million people in North Carolina eligible to vote.
Many people have already voted with an absentee ballot sent by mail the county elections office..
Approximately 1.3 million mail-in ballots have been requested and the NC State Board of Elections
webpage shows that approximately 600,000 mail-in ballots have been returned. In person Early Voting
began on October 15 and the State Board of Elections reports that on Thursday and Friday, over 845,000
voters had voted in person.
If you vote by mail, your ballot must be received at your County Board of Elections no later than 5 p.m.
on November 3. I voted in person on Thursday. Early voting will continue until October 31. If you want
more information about how and where to vote, go to https://www.ncsbe.gov/voting/vote-early-
HAM CLUB MATTERS
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, most clubs have not been holding in-person meetings. As a result I
have been unable to visit with clubs except when the club meeting is held using video technology.
Twenty clubs have invited me to their virtual meeting s since April 1. If your club wishes to have me visit
and give a briefing on current issues, feel free to drop me a line with an invitation.
Tim Slay, N4IB, Club Coordinator, and I want to start virtual meetings with the leader of the various clubs
across the state beginning in mid-November. Please ask your Club President and the Program
Chairperson to drop Tim (email@example.com) and me a line to make sure your club receives an invitation to
Also on the topic of clubs, the Section Managers across the country have held virtual meetings twice a
week with a variety of interesting speakers. Some of the most recent presentations involved an in-
depth discussions focused on operating with the International Space Station and why it is important to
consider Near Vertical Incidence Skywave when trying to pass EmComm traffic on HF to relatively close-
in locations (like reaching stations within a state rather than across the country). Other very important
topics have included Winlink setup and advanced features and setting up Mesh nets using wifi routers
and Ubiquiti microwave dishes to connect club members to pass documents, spreadsheets and photos
without using the Internet. I can give you links to these recorded meetings if you are interested.
SILENT KEY LISTINGS
Since I became Section Manager six months ago, clubs and friends have informed me of the passing of
more than 40 hams. If you want the person listed in QST, send me the name and callsign of the ham as
well as a link to the obituary. When I have the needed information, I then send a request to ARRL HQ to
list each of the name and call sign in QST.
If you know of the recent passing of a ham, please advise me. ARRL policy requires that the person be a
licensed ham and that a link to the obituary accompany the request for listing.
Some of you may have heard that ARES has been ended in North Carolina. The rumor is completely
incorrect but it required my spending two full days responding to ARRL officials, concerned hams (both
from inside and outside North Carolina) as well as several Federal and State EmComm officials,
This saga began when a meeting was held on October 3 to discuss scrubbing the NC Auxcomm database
to remove outdated, inaccurate and discontinued invalid. The meeting involved Emergency
Coordinators in the Western Branch but one person apparently misunderstood what was being said and
posted incorrect information on an out of state ham club’s website indicated that a decision had been
made to shut down ARES in North Carolina.
Set out below, unedited, is the response that I posted on the North Georgia Tri-State Amateur Radio
Club webpage. The only editorial change from in my posting is the removal of the name and callsign of
the amateur who posted the incorrect information.
Please read the following so that you will better understand the status of ARES and Auxcomm in North
October 9, 2020
Mark Twain once said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”. So, too, are the reports of the
demise of ARES® in North Carolina that were posted here by ( ) over this past weekend.
The posting has caused confusion and some anger because it spread a lot of misinformation. I am sorry
that my response is as long as it is but there has been great confusion caused by ( )’s posting on
this webpage. The posting resulted in emails from people in Florida to ARRL Board members and
numerous discussions ensued about what transpired.
I hope you will allow me to set the record straight.
Along with about 30 others persons, including myself, ( ) participated in a virtual meeting on
October 3, Saturday, that focused on changes being made in the NC Auxcomm program. The next day,
( ) submitted a letter of resignation from Auxcomm citing health reasons. He never mentioned any
policy disagreement. Later, on Sunday, he made a posting on this webpage with a different message,
one containing an erroneous image of what is going on in North Carolina to an audience that
overwhelmingly is made up of people who will not be affected in any way by the changes.
If ( ) had concerns of any type, the SEC, Tom Brown, N4TAB, or I would have listened and helped
him to more clearly understand the evolution of ARES® and Auxcomm.
Let me state without any ambiguity that ARES® continues to exist in North Carolina despite what you
have been led to believe based on( )’s post.
Just as it has since its inception nearly 70 years ago, ARES® remains committed to involvement in public
service events like bicycle races and marathons. ARES® is largely made up of amateur operators with a
desire to serve locally or who, for one reason or another have not chosen to complete ICS training.
NC Auxcomm became heavily involved with NCEM following an announcement in 2010 that all North
Carolina responders must comply with NIMS, including ICS basic training, or be dropped from the NCEM
State Emergency Response Team. This meant that amateur radio would have to adopt the training
regimen set by NCEM or not be a part of SERT. A staff member from ARRL HQ stated to NC ARES®
leadership that ARES® members could not and would not be required to take ICS training. It was at that
point over ten years ago that Auxcomm came to be incorporated into NCEM plans while local ARES®
groups that eschewed the ICS training were left to operate on the local level, often without any
connection to local EM.
Overall, as a result of embracing ICS and Auxcomm, amateur radio plays a larger role in EM than in most
other states and several other states are looking at North Carolina as a model.
In case you are not familiar with it, Auxcomm is program sponsored by the Department of Homeland
Security. A key requirement of Auxcomm is that all persons complete the required four on-line CS
courses. However, beyond the four required courses, close to 150 amateur operators in North Carolina
have already completed the three-day DHS Auxcomm course which has been offered several times in
North Carolina. Also offered to our Auxcomm personnel is a North Carolina-developed course that was
held in six locations, taught by credentialed North Carolina instructors, so that NCEM now has a cadre of
skilled Winlink SHARES operators. NCEM has covered travel and lodging costs for Auxcomm personnel in
the same manner as training costs are covered for other response agencies. All of us look forward to the
resumption of training and exercises once COVID-19 restrictions end.
A key point is that although ARRL ARES® members have only recently been encouraged by ARRL to
complete ICS training, ARES® does not actually require any training in order for someone to proclaim or
retain membership in ARES®.
What ( )has apparently misunderstood during the meeting last Saturday is that the NC Auxcomm
database will no longer list amateur radio operators holding ARES® appointments. The NC Auxcomm
database is not owned by ARRL and a decision was made by Auxcomm leadership to list only Auxcomm
personnel and to scrub the database of personnel who are inactive, have no useable email address, or
In an emergency, the NC Auxcomm database is consulted to determine the personnel in a given area
who have been trained, tested by credentialed instructors and COML’s and who have indicated a
willingness to support NCEM on an on-going basis.
Any person who wishes to register in ARES Connect is strongly encouraged to go to
https://arrl.volunteerhub.com/ . In its five years of existence nine counties (out of 100) in North Carolina
have set up accounts with ARES Connect. Of the 71 Sections in the ARRL Field Organization, 40 Sections
have some of their counties using ARES Connect.
Amateur radio operators in North Carolina may be enrolled in either or both databases by meeting the
relevant eligibility criteria. Nothing prevents an individual being in both databases and an individual who
participates might be acting under ARES® or Auxcomm, depending upon who activated the individual
and the type of event.
However the two databases are different and serve different purposes.
ARES Connect tracks time spent by ARES® members on activities like club meetings and local events like
parades, bicycle races and marathons. Tracking those activities is most appropriately done in the ARES
Connect database since these events do not count as training or exercises within the scope of NCEM.
Amateur radio operators who do not wish to complete the four ICS courses (100, 200, 700 and 800)
training are welcomed in ARES®. Furthermore, local EC’s may choose to use ARES Connect to track club
meetings and other activities, entering the hours invested by their members and then have that data
automatically reported to ARRL.
By contrast, the Auxcomm database tracks personnel with basic (100, 200, 700 and 800) courses as well
as the advanced 300 and 400, Auxcomm, COML, COMT and Winlink SHARES courses, all of which are
available to amateurs who participate in Auxcomm. The database contains copies of certificates for all
FEMA and NC recognized courses completed by members. It should be noted that documented activities
in NIMS compliant events count towards completion of state-issued credentials and identification cards
which are then added to the database.
During a recent hurricane, I wrote to 900 amateur radio operators listed in the NC Auxcomm database
to determine their willingness and ability to deploy in support of NCEM if needed. Approximately 100
emails bounced due to incorrect addresses, closed email accounts, and deaths. Others who replied
indicated they did not desire to deploy outside of their local community.
The errors and changed status of some of those listed led to recognition that we should scrub the
Auxcomm database to insure that we had current information on amateur radio operators and include
only amateurs who are willing to deploy to support NCEM.
On Saturday, October 3, a WebEx meeting was held which included Tom Brown, NC SEC and Auxcomm
Coordinator, the three Branch Coordinators (East, Central, and West) plus about 25 of the local EC’s who
are being asked to take on greater responsibilities involving outreach to interested operators and
keeping members current on their training and net procedures. It was announced at the meeting that
local EC’s (who previously automatically held similar titles in both ARES and Auxcomm) would only have
Auxcomm titles listed in the NC Auxcomm database.
NC Auxcomm works hand in glove with North Carolina Emergency Management and is a key part of the
NCEM ESF-2 group. Auxcomm activates during each hurricane and other major events of statewide
significance. Auxcomm participates on a weekly basis in video meetings with NCEM, State Highway
Patrol, UNC-TV, Verizon, ATT, NC Broadcasters and other communications support groups. ( ) is
correct when he says that Auxcomm uses VIPER, SHARES, and that credentialed Auxcomm individuals
have access to WebEOC which is the main resource tracking and event record system operated by
In the interest of full disclosure, I serve as the North Carolina Section Manager for ARRL and I am a Type
III AHIMT COML, COMT, Type III AHIMT Liaison Officer and am a State Sponsored Auxcomm Instructor. I
also serve as the Watauga County ARES Emergency Coordinator. When possible I participate in various
SHARES nets. My training allowed me to serve as an instructor on five of the six Winlink SHARES classes.
All of the credentialed trainers look forward to the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions so that classes and
exercises can resume. Once the restrictions are lifted I will return to being able to team teach the
Auxcomm class with other credentialed AUXC instructors.
Meanwhile, today, like any other day, I am ready and willing to deploy when asked by an Authority
Having Jurisdiction and to operate under NIMS.
I get that people want to be involved and want to help. Volunteerism has always been a part of the
American character. In fact, I first got into radio as a RACES volunteer over 60 years ago and later served
as a volunteer fireman and fire chief. Volunteerism matters a great deal to me and my family which has
had four generations of first responders going back to 1938.
However, in this day and age, no one gets access to 911 centers and EOC’s, or has access to local, state
and federal radio communications systems without being without being vetted and properly trained.
Auxcomm fills that role. Someday, ARES® may embrace the same training and credentialing standards.
Marv Hoffman, WA4NC
NC ARRL Section Manager
Because my support for ARES has been questioned, I would like to point out that for most of the past
month our ARES group developed a plan to activate to support of local community agencies in a local
Simulated Emergency Test that was held on October 17. The exercise involved a simulated earthquake
in Eastern Tennessee that disrupted the power grid necessitating our sending ham radio operators
(actual response not simulated) to pre-designated Red Cross Shelters, the Watauga EOC, the local Red
Cross Office as well as to the Western Branch Office of NCEM and the Hickory district office of the Red
Cross. The local repeaters were turned off and all operations were made on talk-around because the
simulated earthquake disrupted power, internet and cell phone. Our local SET gave us valuable
information as to how to complete this or a similar mission without the use of repeaters. We consider
the local SET run by Watauga ARES a success and your local ARES group may want to plan a similar
Dave Roy, W4DNA, NC Section Traffic Manager submitted this report for September.
W4DNA – NC Section Traffic Manager Report – SEPTEMBER 2020
NET NMGR QNI LISTE
D PASSED TIME SESSION
S TFC %
CN KC4PGN 422 111 97 522 60 87.39%
CSN KV4WN 166 27 24 642 30 88.89%
NCEN W4DNA 403 113 101 491 30 89.38%
NCMN W3OJO 308 113 99 450 30 87.61%
CWTN N4CNX 394 68 68 517 30 100.00%
ENCTN W4DNA 102 31 31 162 30 100.00%
PCTN W4TTO 197 60 60 242 30 100.00%
TOTAL 1992 523 480 3026 240 91.78%
Dave’s report may not be formatted properly because of limitations in the ARRL email system. The full
report is posted at www.ncarrl.org.
UPDATE ON FCC APPLICATION FEE
As of October 18, the FCC reports that 1600 comments have been filed concerning the proposal to levy a
$50 application fee for each amateur radio license application filed with the FCC. Their site,
www.fcc.gov/ecfs/ shows that 71 of the comments came from persons in North Carolina.
www.fcc.gov/ecfs/ is the site that you should use to file comments you want to submit to the fcc.
In the past few days, the ARRL indirectly advised amateurs about how to file comments with the FCC in a
posting at (https://www.facebook.com/groups/myarrlvoice/permalink/2100166540127336).
When I file my own comments on the proposed fee, I cannot indicate that I am an ARRL Section
Manager and I must avoid suggesting that I am speaking for ARRL. My filing, when it is made, might not
mirror the ARRL talking points. Everything I have learned in teaching students about public policy is that
form letters to government agencies and elected officials tend to carry less credibility than letters which
reflect your own thoughts.
The deadline for filing comments with the FCC is November 16, 2020.
WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE – WHAT ARE YOUR WISHES?
A few days ago, I was contacted by someone who advised that her father-in-law had passed away and
she didn’t know what to do with his radio equipment. Unfortunately, there was no name or callsign
included and it was not clear whether the radio equipment was ham equipment, CB gear or other radio
Obviously, I needed more information before I could help but I indicated that there are a number of
ways to dispose of equipment owned by a ham who has passed away: sale by a friend, sale by a club,
gift to a club, sale by family members over EBAY, sale at a hamfest, sale at a flea market, or a disposal in
All of this leads me to urge you to think about what you wish to have happen with your ham station
once you die. Family members are often unsure of what to do with the equipment.
Despite its original cost, what is the current value of the equipment? Who would you want to have the
gear? Have you prepared instructions about a preferred method of disposal of the radios?
Each of us will die or become incapacitated at some time in the future and the gear that we love so
much will become a burden to our survivors.
Among the things you could do while under COVID-19 quarantine are the following things:
a. Prepare a guidance letter concerning your radio equipment. Put it in an envelope and pin it to
the wall of your shack.
b. Prepare an inventory of equipment. Better yet, also prepare a thumb drive with photos of the
individual items with a notation about whether the gear is operational or its condition is
c. Talk with friends in your club and see if they would be willing to help your family when the time
comes that help is needed in disposing of your ham equipment.
HEADS UP ABOUT FLU VACCINE SHORTAGE
About this time each year, I get a flu shot in hopes of not getting sick with the flu during the winter
months. Last week, I went to the pharmacy I regularly use and was told that they have run out of the
Senior Flu Vaccine. There is a special dose for senior citizens and the pharmacy did not know when or if
they would have more of the double dose senior flu vaccine.
Apparently, many seniors, particularly concerned this year about the flu, have caused a run on the
vaccine. Shortages have shown up in about half the states.
Wanting to get a shot, I went on the web to make an appointment at another national pharmacy chain
which indicated they had senior vaccines and made an appointment for the injection on the following
day.. I went to the pharmacy only to be told that the national appointment database is not shared with
them and they had run out of the senior vaccine. I settled for the regular dose.
The take away from this story is get your flu shot and don’t wait until none is left.
VERY EXPENSIVE COSTS OF AIR AMBULANCE TRANSPORTATION
Also on the topic of illnesses, you might want to take a minute to read this.
A story appeared last week involving a person who was extremely ill with COVID -19, required being
airlifted from a hospital on one side of Philadelphia to a hospital 20 miles away that could give more
After spending six weeks in the hospital recovering from COVID-19, in addition to the hospital charges,
the patient received a bill for over $50,000 for the air ambulance transportation. Several national
publications covered this situation.
Locally, first responders up tell me that an air ambulance transport from Boone to Johnson City TN or
Winston-Salem can result in a bill of at least $40,000.
The take away from this story is to check whether your insurance covers such air ambulance
transportation charges and, if not, you might want to look into special insurance for medevac charges.
Information can be found on the web at
Some air ambulance companies offer coverage similar to a membership in a coop that involves an
annual change under $100 that covers the cost of their service should a medevac be needed.
I hope all of you and your families stay well.
Marv , WA4NC
NC Section Manager
WA4NC ELECTED ARRL NC SECTION MANAGER (SM)
Our own Dr. Marv Hoffman, WA4NC, has been elected ARRL North Carolina Section Manager, effective April 1, 2000. The ARRL web site summarizes the responsibilities of this office as follows: “The Section Manager is accountable for carrying out the duties of the office in accordance with ARRL policies established by the Board of Directors and shall act in the best interests of Amateur Radio.” Further details of this position can be seen at http://www.arrl.org/section-manager. After reading this, you will agree that Marv has a big job ahead! I am sure our club will support him as he carries out his new duties!
WARC ASSISTS IN SEARCH FOR MISSING MAN
Watauga ARES/Auxcomm amateur radio operators were asked to assist the Red Cross during a recent law enforcement operation. On March 22 over 100 law enforcement, fire and rescue personnel conducted an intensive day-long search over rugged terrain in western Watauga County, looking for a missing person who had left his home and had not returned. We picked up and distributed sandwiches, chips, fruit, coffee, water and soft drinks for the search personnel for lunch and returned later in the day with a hot meal when the search personnel returned to base camp. W4ZW George, WA4NC Marv, and KB4JEB Jack supporting search operation
WA4J CALLSIGN ASSIGNED TO WARC
We are proud to announce that the callsign WA4J, which belonged to our club member John W. Dinkins, SK, has been assigned to the Watauga Amateur Radio Club. The familiar WA4J Repeater ID is once again announcing its presence on 147.36 MHz. Thanks to Repeater Trustee Doug Hall, WA4UNS, for his efforts in this matter.