Myron Manker, W4UR
Myron Manker, W4UR Mar 2006 – Dec 2008
Myron was a member of the Planning Committee, a long time friend of Bill’s, and the obvious choice to become the new EC. All we had to do was convince him! Once again the promise of a strong support team to back him up was the deciding factor, and Myron agreed to take the job. The growth that began during Bill’s tenure as EC continued under Myron’s direction. WCARES got involved in our community by making a presentation about Amateur Radio to the Williamson County Reserve Sheriff’s Alumni Association. We established and implemented a set of minimum Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) training standards to facilitate access to County EMCOMM areas and participated in Homeland Security District 5 simulated emergency exercise. We also developed a plan to begin regular participation from the Williamson Medical Center in a monthly hospital communications net to test communications capabilities among various hospitals and medical centers in the Middle Tennessee area.
An area of concern was getting credentials for WCARES members that would be honored by all agencies in time of an emergency. Since the County Department of Emergency Communications is our primary contact, Myron worked with Bill Jorgensen to come up with a plan that would satisfy the served agencies that we might be called upon to support. With Bill’s assistance, we developed a procedure that after WCARES members completed some FEMA training and got a background check that they would be issued a County ID Badge. The county badge would identify that the WCARES member was performing duty on behalf of the county and had completed the required training.
A major 2007 drill that involved WCARES members was a joint communications exercise with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department. For a regular Saturday evening shift, we placed WCARES members with mobile amateur dual band radios and antennas in seven sheriff’s department vehicles. We also had WCARES members manning a dispatch console in the 911 Center. For a five-hour period, we mirrored all of the Sheriff’s Department communications on Amateur Radio as the sheriff deputies used their assigned frequencies. We demonstrated, in a graphic manner, that Amateur Radio could provide reliable and accurate backup communications to the Sheriff’s Department if we were needed.
Another of our initiatives was to provide Amateur Radio classes for people who wanted to get licensed. For two of the years that Myron was the EC, WCARES sponsored Amateur Radio license classes. Although initially the only class that we offered was a Technician course, we received many requests for a General upgrade course also. Not only did Myron coordinate the plans for these sessions. but he also taught multiple sessions of the Technician course. Many of the students from the classes became WCARES members after they received their licenses.
Although Morse code proficiency is no longer required to obtain an Amateur Radio license, several newer members were interested in learning CW. Several “old timers” were also interested in regaining some proficiency in this original mode of digital communication. Myron conducted two classroom sessions to gage the interest in having a CW training course. The sessions were very well received so he developed series of CW training sessions that were held weekly on the WCARES repeater system. At the end of the lessons, the students were copying code accurately at 15 WPM.
WCARES committed to make Field Day our premier training event of the year. Although we had participated in Field Day in 2004 and 2005 from the EOC facility, we had not gone to a field location to set up and operate in a 100 percent emergency capacity. We began to make plans to be in the “field” for Field Day 2006. A location was identified, while radios, antennas and all the associated equipment needed to operate with were located and committed. On the last full weekend in June, WCARES put N4FR and W4SQD on the air from the corral at the Ag Expo Park. Twenty-four hours later a group of very tired WCARES members disassembled all the equipment and headed home.
Several months later, when the results were announced, we were overjoyed to learn that WCARES placed Number #1 in the Tennessee Section, Number #1 in the Delta Division and Number #1 in the United States in our category. Field Day results in 2007 and 2008 were almost as spectacular except a group of interloper hams from NJ took over our place as #1 in the nation.
Work continued in the Winlink arena with the development and employment of another Winlink drop kit. All of the equipment of the two earlier kits was retained, and HF capability was added to the new kit, opening a whole new avenue of emergency communications capabilities. Once again WCARES members stepped up to get qualified to operate the new drop kit.
The 145.15 repeater that belonged to the inactive FOW group had been off the air for several years. After a series of meetings between Myron, FOW members and Bill Jorgensen, a plan was developed for the repeater to be turned over to the county. In turn the repeater would be upgraded with new equipment and be linked to the rest of the repeaters in the WCARES system. The additional repeater gave us the option of delinking it from the system and using it as a stand alone repeater if we needed to pass emergency traffic without tying up the entire repeater system.
We had tried to have general information meetings with the WCARES members, but the chemistry just wasn’t there, so Myron tried a different approach. In December 2006, he contacted a local restaurant in Franklin and reserved a room for a few hours on a Saturday morning. Thus began a monthly .Chew and Chat. breakfast get together. This allowed the members to get to know each other better over a meal and a cup of coffee, and it allowed Myron a few minutes to pass on whatever business matters he might have. The C & C sessions were a big hit and continue to have a large attendance each month.
In February 2008, a tornado touched down in western Williamson County. We assembled a crew of WCARES members and deployed to a deserted cow pasture in the area where the tornado had touched down. Members assisted Department of Emergency Communication employees in setting up a 100′ portable tower and putting a public service repeater on the air to assist volunteers involved in the clean up operation. WCARES members worked side-by-side with county employees for several days manning the radios at the deployed command post.
2008 also marked WCARES’ first full involvement in the ARRL Simulated Emergency Test exercise. We also provided special event communications support for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and provided a complete communications package for a fund raising bicycle ride, the Hope On Wheels 100. WCARES membership had increased to 132 members, but more importantly active membership was approximately 75 people, and our weekly nets averaged 50 check-ins for 2008; life was good in Williamson County. Toward the end of the year, Myron announced to the Planning Committee that he was going to step down at the end of 2008, thus ending his successful run at the helm of WCARES.