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Home arrow RAC Minutes arrow RAC Minutes July 11 2007
RAC Minutes July 11 2007 PDF Print

SE MN Regional Advisory Committee

for Interoperable Public Safety Communications

July 11th, 2007            1400 Hours

Rochester Public Utilities




·        Dean Albers (Goodhue)

·        Doug Ely (Houston)

·        Rick Eggert (Dodge)

·        Troy Schmidt (MN/DOT)

·        Jean Westberg (Rice/Steele)

·        Joe Modjeski (Wabasha)

·        Mike Ask (Fillmore)

·        Scott Wiggins (ARMER - DPS)

·        Gene Mrozek, (Whitewater Wireless)

·        Terry Waletzki (Olmsted)

·        Bob Bilder (Winona)

·        David Brand (Winona)

·        Tim Heroff (Rochester PD)

·        Tim Mohr (Blue Earth)

·        Darrin Haeder (Blue Earth)

·        Daryl Jensen ( Fillmore)

·        Shari Schmitz ( Motorola)

·        Craig Strand (HL Security)

·        Tom Hannon (Central MN Regional Advisory Committee)





1.  Welcome by Tim Heroff:  Project Manager, Olmsted County ARMER

·        Dave Thompson and Joel Hanson are revamping the Southeast Minnesota Regional Advisory Committee website.  Effective today, agendas, meeting notices, minutes and meeting documents will be available for viewing at

2.  Introductions

·        Tim Heroff welcomed Tim Mohr and Darrin Haeder from Blue Earth County on a fact finding mission on the ARMER Project.

3.  Approval of minutes from June 20, 2007 meeting.   Motion carried.  Minutes approved.


4.  Reports

ARMER/DPS, Scott Wiggins:

·        Deadline for SCIP (Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan) to be written has been moved up from end of the year to end of August due to billion dollars Federal government got for the SAFECOM grant from the sale of 700 MHz spectrum.

·        Working on strategic plan with consultants – this is a very large document.

·        Retaining Ron Whitehead to help write the plan 2-3 days/week.

·        In process of hiring Statewide Interoperability Administrator – sole purpose will be to work with regional advisory committees and contracted people working throughout the state developing interoperability.

·        $9.5M was designated for Phase 3 local enhancement.  Number of southeastern counties eligible for this money – letter was sent out to make counties aware of funds available.

·        Annually Dept of Homeland Security gives money to State of MN in July for advancing Homeland Security issues – still have not heard how much will be available – believes

state will get $10M.  $4M was requested for interoperable radio assistance in this area alone so $10M doesn’t seem like much for the entire state.

·        Statewide Radio Board met in June, are taking the month of July off, will meet again in August.

MN/DOT, Troy Schmidt: 

·        Identified landowner and another property in Elba that had seen year ago. 

§         Property just west of current tower site - looks positive.

·        Troy land has been identified, doing appraisal and environmentals on now.

§         Public meeting scheduled July 25 at Saratoga Town Hall 7:00 p.m.

·        Wykoff - land has been identified.

§         Owner, Robert Schmidt – have letter of agreement – can start checking on suitability for tower there.

·        E-mail him questions about specific towers, sites, etc. and he will e-mail the information back.

·        Antenna work in Goodhue County, road in Cannon Falls – work is completed.

·        Antennas and microwave dishes up in Lonsdale.

·        Will be starting south loop microwave configuration next week – first step in providing microwave connectivity to this region.


·        When will the Nodine tower be up?

§         Should be up for bid inside of the next month.

5.  Special Reports

Goodhue County, Dean Albers:

·        Are on hold between board meetings until 1st meeting in September.

·        County Administrator believes vote will go 5-0.

·        Have not decided whether to purchase or lease towers.

·        Consultant out on medical leave – was tasked by board to nail down lease agreements for sites.  Not sure what will happen now.

            Update on Consultant - Shari Schmitz

·        Was taken to the hospital with chest pains – had kidney and gall bladder removed - his second major surgery in less than 6 months.

Fillmore County, Daryl Jensen:

·        Next step having meetings with fire chiefs, police and ambulance directors,

·        Having round table meeting with Amherst administrators about mandates, ARMER and region status.


·        If Winona does not go with 800 MHz, will there be some type of technology to connect them to surrounding areas?

 Tim Heroff

§         Olmsted County now has 800 MHz resources patched with VHF resources so they do have interoperability.

§         Does not know if they will ever drop MNSEF for whatever may be coming into the area, but want to be able to patch things together if they do.

§         Can be done – with limitations – it won’t be easy or cheap - doesn’t have same capabilities for patching as it would if everyone was on 800 MHz platform.

§         Olmsted/Rochester has well equipped incident command vehicle with Rafion JPS100 interoperability box.

·        Have to predict where vehicle is going to be used and have appropriate radios and frequencies in place when vehicle arrives.  Could bring this vehicle in to assist surrounding communities with limited communications abilities.

David Brand

·        Will depend upon what surrounding counties do whether or not they go with 800 MHz.

·        Has already met with first responders and departments – they’ve been updating their own equipment with VHF so they can go on their own banding.

 Tim Heroff

·        Mower County has purchased their own VHF radio system – doesn’t appear that they will be joining ARMER in near future, but it doesn’t mean that they won’t.


6.  Old Business – SE MN Regional Advisory Committee Organization

Membership, Representation & Alternates

Draft By Laws – Tim Heroff

·        Used the Central Minnesota (St. Cloud) By Laws as a model to draw up the draft.

·        A number of counties were listed along with the City of St. Cloud suggesting that additional agencies petition for membership based upon County Board’s indication of desire to participate in the statewide radio system.

§         He deleted the portion in Article III, Section 3, about County Board intent to join and listed all southeastern counties and city of Rochester and indicated that membership is made up of those entities to be more inclusive.

§         Doesn’t feel that we will make such major decisions in the near future that the only people allowed to vote are those in the ARMER system.


·        In the draft, it suggests adjacent counties can apply for membership, but what if they expand?

Tom Hannon

·        Statute provides that it is up to the State Radio Board to establish the Regional Radio boundaries.  They are currently looking at using the Homeland Security districts.

Dean Albers

·        Suggested using a pre-existing geographical group, such as region 10.

Bob Bilder

·        City of Winona would like to be represented at these meetings – they should participate because they own their own radio system.

Tim Heroff

·        Cautioned against having such a large committee that it is difficult to get anything done.


·        Is there any concern, say regarding Mower County having made their commitment to narrow band VHF, that they would have any vote that would affect any financial avenues for anyone else?

 Tim Heroff

·        Yes and there may be some strings attached with funds coming from the state or federal grants that make that specification and it will have to be dealt with accordingly.

 Bob Bilder

·        With the distribution of Homeland Security money - all southeastern counties had agreed how that money will be spent.  Interoperability was one of the priorities, but one county could say that they wouldn’t want it spent on that and that money would be put in limbo.

            Tim Heroff

·        Would like to see all southeastern counties join ARMER, but that might not happen.  Believes as committee can work together to establish interoperability throughout the state and with funds from MN can achieve that goal.  Does all of the money have to be spent on 800 MHz ARMER equipment – no, given the fact they have to accommodate any county that goes in a different direction.  Would strongly argue against spending money on VHF with exception of equipment used to accomplish interoperability.


·        Will tower sites be made to work with both?

Troy Schmidt

·        There will be some opportunity for VHF transmitters at some sites that would require use of adjacent counties to have interoperability capability.  Need to decide how much coverage you want in a certain area.


·        If Winona decides to stay independent, who pays for that link?

 Troy Schmidt

·        Grant money may be available to provide the link, but it isn’t going to give you the same capabilities as 800 MHz in wide area communications and functionality.

David Brand

·        You have to put in what works for your area and it isn’t right to turn grant money away from us.

 Tim Heroff

·        Money has been restricted to members of the ARMER system for 800 MHz expenses.

 Tom Hannon

·        Legislative intent for the $9.5M is to provide matching grants to local jurisdictions to build local enhancements or improvements in the statewide radio system.  There is also money set aside to bridge existing VHF/UHF systems.


·        Motion made.  Consideration of the By Laws approved.

·        Plan to vote on the By Laws next month.

·        Each agency listed needs to assign an official representative and an alternate.

·        Daryl Jensen will contact Mower and Freeborn to make them aware of this since they have not attended a meeting yet.


7.  General Discussion & New Business

Planning Grant Funding

            Tim Heroff

·        Has not requested planning grant funding yet – wants Planning Committee involved in this – will see what can be done in interim until sub-committees can be formed.

·        Due to shortage of consulting firms available, may not have consultant immediately available even though funds are there.

·        Received an inquiry from Gary Ellert, Ellert & Associates, who will have a representative at the next meeting.

Tom Hannon

·        Have had discussions with Blue Wing Services, Ellert & Associates and GeoComm.

·        Jeff Nelson, PSC Alliance, is not taking any more work.

·        GeoComm is expanding their staff.

·        RCC from New Jersey responded to some of their planning RFP’s.

 Shari Schmitz

·        Timing is important when put in request - funds may be available, but resources are tight – doesn’t want to get 6-8 months down the road and feasibility studies are still not done.

May be short-term problem as some counties get done, but Committee needs to address.

             Tim Heroff

·        Will be gone the next 3 ½ months – wants someone to volunteer to work with him on planning grant funding.  He will start the plan of where funds should go and needs someone to continue the work in his absence.

§         Would like a short application from anyone interested.

Management and Governance of Systems

            Tim Heroff

·        Asked that committee look at the proposed By Laws and sub-committees listed and see where they or their staff members may fit in to help.

Inclusion of “Communities of Interest” in Planning Process

            Tom Hannon

·        Need to be all inclusive to obtain everyone’s input including those outside of public safety realm.

·        Make sure vendor community is involved to offer opinions and participate in the process – discussion only, not in decision making.

New Business

            Craig Strand

·        SCIP (State Communications Interoperability Plan) draft needs to be written by September 1 and submitted by September 30 before we can get federal funds.

·        Marilyn Mackiewicz, Alliant Consulting, wants to meet with the region to help write the plan.

§         Looking for statewide input for interoperability plan.

§         Wants to meet with local elected officials, emergency managers, public works, county engineers, etc.

§         Will send out meeting info to emergency managers to route to parties who need to be included.

§         Marilyn’s phone numbers:  630-885-7059 cell, 651-291-0607 office


·        Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, August 1, from 1:00-3:00 at Rochester Public Utilities.

New Business

Craig Strand

·        Gave a copy of the 800MHz Talk Group List for metro area to Tim Heroff.

·        LaCrosse, Wisconsin works 800MHz – concern of County Manager, Keith Butler

§         One of towers plan on putting in Houston County interferes with the LaCrosse Airport’s flight path – believes this is the tower outside of Caledonia.

§         Butler would also like to exchange talk groups between the Minnesota side and Wisconsin side once we get up and running.


·        The LaCrosse County Emergency Manager asked if he could attend one of our meetings – does anyone have any objections to that?

§         There were no objections

Shari Schmitz

·        Asked for suggestions for next month’s agenda.  Suggested keeping this as an open item on the agenda for each month so that people can be thinking about what they want to get out of these meetings.

8.  Set Next Meeting Date

·        Tim Heroff wondered if future meetings could be scheduled 3rd Thursday of the month – no objections.

·        Next meeting scheduled for Thursday, August 16, 1:00-3:00 somewhere in Rochester.

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


Meeting Adjourned.


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