A Community News Organ

Ham from EN64VP

In Culture Bluffs, E Beach, Open Season, Tech on September 18, 2016 at 3:37 pm

September 18, 2016

A group of ham radio operators are up on the overlook today attempting to “work” some of their colleagues over in Wisconsin. It’s part of a microwave contest. Some plan to stick around all day and some are heading down to Chicago later, sending signals down the coast as they go. Their homemade gear is supercool looking! A bit of fun trivia: Elberta’s call location is in EN64VP. One of the operators I spoke to, Gary, is a veteran of the telecommunications industry from back when the government was trying to break up Ma Bell. He showed the Alert some of his equipment and explained how a bit of rain, not overhead but in the signal’s path, could push his call distance much farther.

A lot has changed since amateur radio first made it possible for individuals with a bit of tech knowledge and the patience to let someone else finish a sentence—ham is “simplex” while a phone call, say, is “duplex”—communicate essentially for free with other people all over the world. But hams will probably still be around, and needed, long after other forms of telephony crap out. —Emily Votruba

Alert fan and licensed ham operator William Laut posted this on Facebook today:

“While it’s fairly routine to communicate across Lake Michigan on what is called the 2-meter band (so named because of the length of one radio wave—144 to 148MHz, a little above the FM broadcast band) this time of year, microwave is much higher in frequency and so can be more challenging. In fact, I was talking to a fellow ham the other night about how they would chase for distance (or DX) stations on VHF/UHF and above, even to working all 50 states and seven continents—on VHF, which normally is impossible! Indeed, about this time of year, there are hams on the Pacific coast who will set up parabolic antennas and attempt to communicate with fellow hams in Hawaii, because the radio waves propagate more easily over water than they do over land.

“The phenomenon which makes this VHF communication possible is called tropospheric ducting, and occurs when a pocket of warm air is enveloped top and bottom by cooler air. This creates a duct, similar in concept to forced-air heating, through which radio waves can travel great distances. Indeed, this past summer we’ve been having great ‘band openings’ on 2-meters. With my handheld 5-watt transceiver and a ‘slim jim’ antenna inside my bedroom in Muskegon, I’ve reached all the way down to Kalamazoo and up to Ludington. In fact, one of the APRS ‘digipeaters’ that the Benzie radio club operates (which is atop the Benzonia water tower) regularly is received down near me in Whitehall. And last fall, when I was up in Elberta, I was parked at the hill overlooking Lake Michigan and with my handheld 5-watt radio, I had no problem connecting to a repeater located in Hart, MI; through which I spoke with a fellow club member who was in Spring Lake at the time, a distance of some 100 miles!

“Check back with them this evening as the sun begins to set, starting around 6:00pm. I would expect the bands will be opening up for them.

“As seemingly outdated as it might appear to outsiders, ham radio will always be around—and it will always provide communications when even the Internet fails. For that reason, it’s a smart move to study for the entry-level license (the “Technician”) and spend $30 on a Baofeng handheld; not only in case it’s needed, but also to expose yourself to an entirely different world of communication that could inspire you to new things.”

Watch this footage of the hams in action, taken by an Alert staffer.


The Best $15,000 a Year We Will Ever Spend

In Uncategorized on September 16, 2016 at 3:02 pm
Editorial by Emily Votruba
I don’t do this very often (even when it hurts not to) but I am going to voice a strong a opinion regarding Village governance. If you’ve been seeing improvements around the Village, and you’ve had a positive and helpful interaction with our Village clerk, Catherine Anderson, I strongly urge you to take a moment to contact members of the Village council and encourage them to approve a separate contract with additional pay for Cathy so we can keep her here.
Cathy has asked for a reasonable additional compensation of $15,000 a year on a contract basis to continue to go above and beyond her normal clerk duties (paid hourly). There would be no new precedent set for the clerk position. Basically, Cathy would have two positions: clerk, and contractor, continuing to handle the extra, nonclerk duties that she has taken on so successfully for free till now: applying for and overseeing grants, managing building projects, managing contracts, and building and improving and maintaining our website. These are all things we would have had to (as we have in the past) either hire out or find volunteers to handle. (Hey, have you voluntarily written a grant for the Village yet? Yeah, there are three of you out there that I know of. Thanks. Want to do it again?)
In her time as Village clerk over the past couple of years, Anderson has managed to do what no one had done for years before: produce a balanced budget and drive down our Village General Fund deficit, which once put us in line for an emergency manager, from over $600K to under $200K. We are now, finally, after years of mismanagement (yes, I said mismanagement) correcting our course. We are on track to eliminate our deficit by the year 2021, and the State is pleased with our progress. This year we actually banked over $147K. In contrast, a few years ago we spent over $10,000 on a contractor to produce a deficit elimination plan. It was about 20 pages long, made no sense, involved selling the Farmers’ Market Park, and was summarily rejected by the State. Cathy’s deficit elimination plans, in contrast, have cost the Village nothing additional and have produced this incredible financial turnaround. She’s managed this in addition to her organizational skills in the office, creating and maintaining our public records, creating and managing contracts correctly so that we’re in compliance with State law (which was NOT being done before), saving us thousands of dollars in legal bills by actually reading and applying her brain to things that used to just get sent to the attorney for review because let’s face it, council members and volunteers just didn’t have the time or skills to do it, all while adhering strictly to policies and procedures adopted by the Village with the approval of State. Let’s not interrupt this flow of positive activity, and ensure that we not only survive, but thrive. We are in a better position than we have been in in decades.
Yes, it takes a Village, but in a Village this size, it sure helps to have one incredible rockstar keeping things transparent, accountable, accounted for, and efficient. If you see improvements in services and the appearance of the Village, Cathy has had a hand in it. From the Little Community Garden to the new Village sign going up this week, to renewed garbage bag sales at the office, signage and improvements at Elberta Dunes South Natural Area, bike racks, memorial benches at the Waterfront Park, ongoing improvements to the Life Saving Station, and the $50K we got from the USDA for a permanent restroom facility at the Farmers’ Market/Minipond park! … the list goes on. And she’s done it all while helping us IMPROVE our financial situation. She’s saved and earned us literally hundreds of thousands of dollars, and she has the will and the ability to do even more. Please call Village President Diane Jenks, and/or trustees Holly O’Dwyer, Ken Holmes, Joyce Gatrell, or Bill Soper and urge them to approve this salary increase so she can afford to stay here in this job among us.
Cathy has made it possible for us to do better work here, to create the kind of Village we want to live in. Her work ethic and her ethics in general are inspiring. We need her. *I* need her.

Hunting in the Village: Let the Game Begin

In Community Alert, Environment, Law & Order, Open Season, Wildlife on September 15, 2016 at 10:39 am

It’s hunting season! But it’s illegal to shoot firearms within Village limits. That includes up in the dunes. So if you hear gunshots here in Elberta, you would be correct to call the Sheriff, who is tasked with enforcing that law, because it’s also a state law. Bowhunting, however, is allowed in EDNA, as long as regulations, including legal distances from structures, are followed. EDNA hikers should be aware that there may be archery going on in the park during their visit. Hey, Blaze Orange looks good on everyone! This notice is posted on the Village website here.