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RAC Minutes June 20 2007 PDF Print
Tim Heroff: Project Manager, Olm Co Armer

SE MN Regional Interoperability Radio Board

June 20th, 2007 1400 Hours

Olmsted County Government Center, Conference Room 2A & 2B


  • Scott McNurlin (Goodhue)

  • John Dalin (MN/DOT)

  • Rick Eggert (Dodge)

  • Troy Schmidt (MN/DOT)

  • Barb Brewington (Rice/Steele)

  • Ron Ganrude (Winona)

  • Rollie Frank (Whitewater Wireless)

  • Mike Ask (Fillmore)

  • Rodney Bartsh (Wabasha)

  • Gene Mrozek, (Whitewater Wireless)

  • Blaine Hentz (Wabasha)

  • Terry Waletzki (Olmsted)

  • Bob Bilder (Winona)

  • Dave Thomson (Rochester PD)

  • Tim Heroff (Rochester PD)

  • Joel Hansen (Olmsted)

  • Dick Cook (Rice)

  • John Rowan (Rice)

  • Daryl Jensen ( Fillmore)

  • Shari Schmitz ( Motorola)

Welcome by Tim Heroff: Project Manager, Olmsted County ARMER

  • Additional Agenda Item, point #6 re: membership.

Approval of minutes from May 30th, 2007 meeting. Blaine Hentz objected to the 2nd comment under Ron Whitehead’s presentation. Minutes should read user fees, not operating fees. Motion to correct. Motion carried. Minutes approved as amended.

Agency Updates

MN/DOT, Troy Schmidt:

  • Working on developing tower sites, 24 in development right now.

  • Work on antenna systems in Goodhue, Zumbrota and Cannon Falls should be completed today.

  • Working on Zumbrota site to get connectivity to Rochester.

  • Master site has been upgraded to 7.2 by Motorola, working on optimization on that.

  • Getting microwave dishes installed at Lonsdale to help with the southern loop connectivity into this region.

  • Had a meeting last week re: Bear Valley site, we are moving ahead with that.


  • Do you know the status of Elba and Troy?

      • Elba still in procurement process. Troy - looking at another piece of property. Should be a public info meeting scheduled for that – unknown date.

  • Does map reflect new location of proposed site in Wykoff?

      • Don’t believe it does. Not a lot of activity happening in Wykoff. Troy will check and let us know, not aware of an offer yet.

Olmsted County, Tim Heroff

  • Nothing additional since last meeting.

  • Have equipment waiting to be installed at some future date in Dover area, waiting to see what type of coverage is available from Troy and Elba before we make a site determination on that. Depending on what Winona County does, may be interested in sharing expense on that tower.

Goodhue County, Scott McNurlin

  • Board meeting was yesterday, but consultant was late in getting report to board with final numbers.

  • Rather than vote on ARMER, County Board had open discussion on the mobile data part.

  • There is no discussion about not doing it.

  • Discussion re: leasing tower space vs. building towers with possibly leasing space out.

  • Board did not want to vote on ARMER at next two meetings because they are held in conjunction with major events. Puts this into 1st meeting in September, so unless something radically changes, it is favorable that Goodhue is going to ARMER System.


  • How are you funding this?

      • County has put funds aside for this over the last 3 years, also applying for the SAFECOM grant.

  • What is the SAFECOM Grant?

      • SAFECOM Grant is from sale of 700 MHz spectrum the FCC did recently. Feds received a billion dollars and will be distributing it to all states for interoperable communications. $10-$20 million will be open for all of us to write grants to apply for money. Firefighter/Ambulance regional grants come up on a different time table.

  • Will you provide radios for your fire and ambulance services?

      • Not able to do project without providing radios.

      • Our concept was “we will purchase all of the radios”.

      • Looked at each fire department, did inventory, looked at a formula, came up with a prorate solution that was equitable.

      • We are facing $1.5 million in radio equipment alone and we will write as many grants for that as we can.

      • Felt unfair for small fire departments to come up with funding. Formula was based on a per rig situation. Example: a pumper truck, we looked at how many people would service that truck, the personnel they had, then inventoried what equipment they had, including base station radios.

  • Are you moving just Public Safety agencies or are you including colleges, school districts, hospitals, etc?

      • We are migrating Public Safety and Public works at county & city level. City Public works radios will be funded by city.


Tim Heroff:

  • Olmsted did exactly the same thing. Olmsted provided all subscriber radios for all Public Safety agencies in county; Olmsted Sheriff Office, Rochester Police, Rochester Fire, volunteer fire and ambulance.

  • Very important that we moved as a group. Did not want a situation to develop because one or two services couldn’t make the switch due to funding issues.

  • Majority of County revenue comes from city residents already.

  • Mayo Clinic worked with group from SE MN hospital group. With federal money they purchased 14 base radios to place a base radio in each of those hospitals around the area. Rochester/Olmsted is working on programming them and getting them out as soon as possible. Don’t know the timeline, but it is a high priority for them.

Dick Cook:

  • In Olmsted Co study, how much general revenue / bonding was used for your build out?

      • We used a total cost of 7.5 million dollars, which included the State’s infrastructure in Olmsted County

      • We received a $2.2 million grant to build what Olmsted County needed within our county to plug into the state backbone.

      • That year, the legislature went home without doing anything, State of MN didn’t have any money to do anything and we were in jeopardy of losing the grant money.

      • In 2004 we received $2.8 million to build the State infrastructure; we partnered with MNDOT, and got all of the backbone equipment installed in Olmsted County.

      • State provided 4 sites, county provided 1 site. $2.5 million for subscriber equipment came out of the de-certification of a Tax Increment Finance zone in downtown Rochester. Citizens did not receive a real estate increase.

Scott McNurlin:

  • In Goodhue County, we spent $1.5 million on radio equipment.

  • Infrastructure cost will be between $4 million & 6 million.

  • Commissioners interested in revenue for leasing tower space. That way we could retire capital on the towers in fairly short order & have something we own. We own the real estate & can utilize for whatever the next radio system platform might be. We believe we will receive around 1.5 million from the state in enhancement money & the county has been putting capital away for 3 years. We will pay very little out of bonding.

Tim Heroff:

  • There has been significant opposition in Olmsted to building towers.

  • ARMER system has pushed co-location of equipment. Cheaper for multiple entities to join together, build and share together.

  • Local State senator is very concerned about proliferation of towers, if we are going to allow cell companies to put equipment on our towers.

  • The way the statute is written, it requires MN/DOT to allow cell companies to put equipment on ARMER towers if feasible and capability is there.

Dick Cook:

  • Can you use existing buildings?

      • Whatever engineers will approve. Tower height is important. Cost of putting up a 330 foot tower is around $330,000 – and that’s just the tower, none of the equipment on the tower.

      • You can engineer system as “robustly” as possible, or not, depending on what type of infrastructure you want and the costs involved.

      • Olmsted keeping 1 VHF channel open for interoperability capabilities.

REVIEW BY-LAWS From St. Cloud:

  • We can make our own rules as long as they are not in conflict with Statewide Radio Board.

  • We don’t have all of the legal authority that a JPB would have, can’t buy real estate, things of that nature, that is why we need to start the process and work our way into a JPB, looking at St. Cloud region it took them 18 months to establish a JPB, it is a involved very legal process.

  • Looking at Central MN JPB, Article II: Purpose

      • exchange of information

      • encourage decisions and planning. For instance, we know that Mower County is going to stay on VHF narrow band – we can plan for that.

      • develop plan for interoperability – spend time developing a fleet map, what talk groups should be used in each agency of each county, region, and how it fits into the statewide plan. We have a pretty good start on developing that, but it is still incomplete without all of the information from all counties in our region. Talk groups mapped together so that when one county has a problem, and another county needs to respond for mutual aid, this robust radio system actually works the way that it technically can work. Have policies in place so we know which talk groups we’ll be talking on. A talk group must be coordinated amongst entire region.

      • Sharing resources, no sense in all of us going out and building the way we have in the past. Discuss where we need to ultimately end up.

      • Not going to be an easy process. There will be wrangling amongst the lawyers so that the JPB Agreement says something they can all agree to.

      • We need interim policies, pending creation of the regional JPB Board. Start with the interim policies they used in central MN. They took standards from the statewide radio board and adopted those as their interim standards, tweaked as necessary & did not reinvent the wheel.

      • Committees used to advise Board on matters of policy and technology. Once we get the JPB Board in place, the Regional Radio Board will be staffed by members of current City/County Boards. Members will need to all be elected officials.

      • The Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) participants must know what they are talking about and advise the Regional Radio Board. We should consider having several standing committees that serve this Regional Board. Technical, Planning and Policy committees. Chair of each of those should be a member of the RAC. Members of sub-committees don’t need to be from any particular member agency. Example: If Winona County is not yet a member of the RAC because they haven’t joined the system yet, but Bob Bilder has some particular expertise we could use, then Bob can be a member of one of these committees.

      • Membership of RAC: List member counties, the RAC will accept applications and present them to the JPB for final approval.

      • Anyone have an agreement we could use for an example? Olmsted County and the State of MN are working on a written agreement – they are currently using system without the finalized document. There is a mutual verbal understanding of this agreement, it is currently on paper, but not signed yet due to time factors. Now that regional committee is being formed, don’t know if we should sign this or work on one with SE MN RAC.

      • Everyone should take a look at the Joint Powers Agreement on the Central MN’s Regional Board’s web site: before the next meeting.

      • Metro Radio Board transitioned into a regional radio board at the time that the Statewide Radio Board was created. At the same time the 911 Board merged with Metro Radio Board. There are two regional radio boards currently identified; Central and Metro, along with the SEMN RAC. The Statewide Radio Board is a 21 member board and is sliced 3 ways: 1/3 state agencies, 1/3 metro agencies, and 1/3 out state members.


  • Members of SE MN Regional Advisory Committee should have a vested interest in 800 MHz and the ARMER Program. Olmsted County currently has a vested interest. Goodhue County’s Board will officially decide to go to the Statewide Radio System in September. Membership should be made up of those counties that have indicated a desire to participate via a “resolution” by their governing Board to commit to use of the statewide ARMER radio system. Goodhue/Olmsted would be members on the Joint Powers Board. By-Laws need to also allow for membership outside of those counties that have joined the system or are working on joining the system.

  • RAC membership requires stated intent to participate in the statewide radio system. Joining ARMER project and being 800 MHz.

  • Central Regional Board did not require all of these counties to wait until they actually took steps toward 800 MHz, such as hiring a consultant and contractors to start developing the system within their county.

  • We need those not involved in ARMER, to talk about interoperability. Do not want to dissuade any agencies from participating.

      • Participation through counties not on 800 Mhz can be fulfilled on sub-committees.

    • RAC needs to apply for planning funds for our region. Decisions regarding dispersal would be made by the RAC, interested agencies would come and express their interest to RAC.

    • Wabasha County also made that request and did not receive any funding. That request went to the state, not Olmsted County. Wabasha was told by the State that they needed to go through Olmsted Co. Olmsted does not having any planning money available.

    • Regional discussion on how funding will be split, if only 3 counties apply for the 9.5 million, will more than 50% be appropriated? Possibly.

    • Planning Phase: Need to decide:

      • can or can we not operate in the 800 MHz system

      • If we can’t then we have to go to the technical phase, how are we going to make interoperability happen

      • Then we need to work out the terms of policy to govern it.

      • We are at the point where we could be operating with the committees, maybe not formally, but we could be starting the process regionally.

      • These three committees will have some affect on each other

      • They can all be running in parallel. Technical/operation committee vital to figuring out those interoperability issues whether we are on VHF or 800 MHz. Just depends on how much time everyone wants to devote to this project. We want to continue to support these meetings, also educational tool.

      • Tim Heroff : strongly encourage all of you to continue to participate and attend these meetings. Tim will go ahead and make a request for the planning/funding waiting out there on behalf of SE MN RAC. Olmsted Co will manage that fund, for the good of the region.


    • Olmsted County unable to attend next meeting on third Wed in July.

    • Next meeting date changed to July 11th at 1400 Hours somewhere in Rochester.

    • Tim Heroff will find a meeting room and advise everyone by e-mail.

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