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RAC Agenda September 20 2007 PDF Print

SE MN Regional Advisory Committee
Meeting Minutes
Thursday, September 20, 2007
1:00 – 3:00 pm
Olmsted County Government Center
Room 2 A/B
151 – 4th Street SE
Rochester, Minnesota

  1. Meeting was called to order by Scott McNurlin at 1:03 p.m. McNurlin reviewed the agenda with the attendees. Agenda accepted as written.
  2. Introductions / Attendance

    Committee Members

    • Scott McNurlin, Goodhue County
    • Barb Brewington, Rice/Steele PSAP
    • Mark Harig, Freeborn County
    • Tim Lee, MN/DOT
    • Joel Hansen, Olmsted County
    • Dave Brand, Winona County
    • Rodney Bartsh, Wabasha County
    • Dean Albers, Goodhue County
    • Rick Eggert, Dodge County
    • Judy Indrelie, Olmsted County
    • Mark Darnell, Olmsted County
    • Terry Waletzki, Olmsted County
    • Scott Yeiter, Houston County
    • Doug Ely, Houston County
    • Mike Ask, Fillmore County

    Others In Attendance

    • Neale Caflisch, Ancom Communications
    • Sid Sanocki, Ancom Communications
    • Rollie Frank, Whitewater Wireless
    • Lee Smith, Whitewater Wireless
    • Gary Elert, Elert & Associates
    • Ed Hazelwood, Elert & Associates
    • Tom Hannon, Central MN Regional Advisory Committee
    • Shari Schmitz, Motorola
  3. McNurlin asked for a motion to approve minutes of the August 16, 2007 meeting.
    Motion by Rodney Bartsh, seconded by Jim Trihey to approve the minutes. No discussion, motion carried unanimously.
  4. Reports
    • Status Update from Tim Lee - MN/DOT

      The zone controller has been installed at Rochester. We are not linked to metro zones yet. Not bringing stuff up real fast yet. Zone controller will not be linked until all 7.2 boxes are installed. Boxes for 7.2 that go to metro should be shipping in the next month or two, looking at installing January / February of 2008. We will transition the Olmsted subsystem to zone 1 - once we start populating sites - then they’ll be brought up as live real sites. Don’t want radio’s to get lost on the talk groups, this is why we are waiting until zones are tied together. Half of our sites are constructed, other half still in land purchase mode. We’ll be doing construction next year. We are just about ready to award contract for the microwave. As soon as we have the microwave we can tie it back in. Links that currently exist will get tied as soon as possible, because we are doing manual tower light checks at this time, and want to get automation of checks at these sites. Other links will be tied as soon as we get them up. Land purchase is taking longer than first thought. All of the land is identified, 1 or 2 sites are still up in the air but most are going forward. Dakota comes up in November of this year. Regionally, you will not want to turn the system on live down here until zones are tied together with microwave. Once we know they are working, we will put them into service. This is going to occur in phases, it’s basically a workload/staffing thing.

      Spring/Nextel Re-banding meeting occurred yesterday. We have requested channels be cleared as soon as possible, so that work can start towards the end of this. Re-banding will occur the next 6-8 Months. FCC requires that it is completed by 7/1/08. The system will be done by that time, but some radio’s may get programmed after that

  5. Special Reports
    • Goodhue County

      800 MHz plan to go with the ARMER Project went to county board on September 4, 2007 and was approved. We are doing a mobile data component with that project as well. Lion share of the work will start now.

    • Rice/Steele County

      Jeff Nelson, PSC Alliance will be making a presentation to the Rice/Steele Consolidated PSAP Joint Powers Board on the 800 MHz ARMER Project at the October 3rd board meeting. Rice and Steele Counties are looking for and interested in any grant funds available to do a propagation study.

  6. Old Business

    SE MN RAC Membership

    • Update from Freeborn County: Albert Lea P.D. is interested in being a member of the RAC. Freeborn County supports their involvement.
    • Update from Winona County. Winona P.D. is interested in being a member of the RAC. Winona County supports their involvement.
    • Question: Is there going to be a limit on how many can be on the RAC.

      Answer: If you are a partner and financially support a radio system, then you can be on the RAC, then you should have a say on the RAC. If you are financially in it and support it and the county is hosting with you, the county can make a recommendation or you can apply.

      Albert Lea Police and Winona Police should request membership via a letter to the RAC. This item will be put on the next agenda for consideration and further discussion.

    List Member Representatives & Alternatives

    • A form was sent around the room to document the names, titles, agencies, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of the members and their alternate representative. Barb Brewington will type up the list and get it to Scott McNurlin.

    Planning / Grant Funding Update

    • Scott McNurlin: State of MN has granted SE MN RAC $125,000 for planning. City of Rochester has agreed to host the grant. We should discuss what complications there might be - if any- with one entity hosting the grant.
    • Tom Hannon: the RAC cannot legally administer the grant. Once the SE MN Radio Joint Powers Board is in place than you can apply for and administer your own grants. Stearns County acted as fiscal agent for money we funneled to entities with the agreement that the Advisory Committee agree on the spending decisions. The Central MN RAC developed standards on what the grant requests had to contain, how they had to be developed and integrated regionally, and approved spending limits for each agency, Stearns County administered the grant(s). As an example: Swift County paid the bill and then submitted it for reimbursement - it took about two weeks to get their money back.
    • Mark Darnell: The grant has been reduced from $125,000 to $65,000. The grant deadline was September 12th. Three counties applied for the grant money, I believe they were Blue Earth, Nicollet and one other (who it is escapes me) for 800 MHz planning. Darnell applied for the RAC, it is close to being approved by Olmsted County and will be managed by Olmsted County as the fiscal agent.
    • Barb Brewington: What is the plan to distribute the funds?
    • Scott McNurlin: There will have to be some kind of application process. A proposal will have to be brought to the RAC so that we can determine how many agencies are going to need funds.
    • Barb Brewington: what will the grant requirements be?
    • Scott McNurlin: It will have to include an estimated cost of the propagation study.
    • Barb Brewington: Does Central MN RAC have any forms that they were using, that we could consider for our committee?
    • Tom Hannon: You need to determine how many dollars are available, and then split it amongst the agencies. We did this on a first come, first served basis. We paid 100% of the cost, provided it met our standards. Agencies were required to do a realistic study, look at all of the options, and develop a plan for good decision making. They needed to look at all those around them and see how they fit into the broader picture. Their plan needed to include schools, hospitals, EMS providers. Their plan format had to be consistent with the regional effort.
    • Barb Brewington: How did the funding go from $125,000 to $65,000.?
    • Mark Darnell: The money was split between those counties that applied. Olmsted applied for the SE MN RAC. Olmsted County will need a % of the grant to cover fiscal responsibilities.
    • Scott McNurlin: We know the money exists now and it will be hosted by Olmsted County. We need to come up with a process now, for agencies to apply for the funds. We will also need to know what Olmsted County’s hosting fee will be. We will put this on the agenda next month under Old Business – in the meantime we all need to think about what process we will use to allocate grant funds. Agencies will more than likely need to know ahead of time – from a consultant – what their cost would be for a propagation study.
    • Tom Hannon: In St. Cloud, propagation studies were running between $20,000 - $32,000 depending on size of agencies. It was dependent on how much work was involved in generating the studies, i.e.: how many agencies in the county were included in the study.
    • Barb Brewington: I do not agree with including every possible agency in the county who could benefit from 800 MHz. It is a big enough undertaking just to move Law Enforcement, Fire and EMS. Adding additional entities in the county can come after this work is completed.
    • Scott McNurlin: Goodhue County did not include any agencies other than Public Safety in their plan.
    • Tom Hannon: If you are considering planning funding – get a proposal from a vendor. If you want just public safety, VHF, UHF, 800 MHz, digital analog, etc., you identify that this is for public safety – give them that criteria and look at the dollars at that time.
    • Barb Brewington: Is there a time limit on the grants?
    • Mark Darnell: June of 2008. Based on what the state did – taking that $60,000 and dividing it between the 3 counties – maybe we should cap it at $20,000 per county. If your study comes in less than that, then it would only cover actual costs.
    • Scott McNurlin: it could be up to 100% depending on how many counties need a study done.
    • ? – should depend on whether you go on your own or partner with the state. Depending on what agencies want to use that money. We could do a matching contribution if we didn’t have enough funding.
    • Scott McNurlin: will check with the state to see if there is any other money coming down the pike.
    • Mark Harig:  Our emergency manager applied for a planning grant. Freeborn is one of the 3 agencies that got $25,000 out of that $60,000.
    • ? – What about the letters we all got that talk about monies – close to $1. million?
    • ? – That is for infrastructure. The state will partner with you to that money extent. There are only two counties that have definitely said they are going. Stearns and Goodhue. If no one else steps up to the plate, they will have to decide how that money is going to be re-allocated.
    • ? - resolution with board to make commitment one way or the other.
    • Scott McNurlin: The fewer people in that pot, likelihood they will get a bigger amount. 9.5 million was dedicated for SE Minnesota.
    • Tom Hannon: We came up w/10 things that criteria of grant called for, and we ranked them. Hard for us to speak on behalf of our RACS or boards, we needed to go back and ask them, how do you rank these 10 things. One element is planning money through the grant.
    • Craig Strand: We had $500,000 that was going to go the region to outfit each county EOC with an 800 MHz radio, and whatever else they needed to operate it, antenna’s, etc. This would give each EOC that would communicate with State Units. One base station, one car radio and one portable.
    • Barb Brewington: It would be nice to get a document showing what grant money is available for this project. There is obviously about three or four different sources for 800 MHz.
    • Scott McNurlin: Will put document together. What’s available, timelines, etc. to help us see all the opportunities that are out there for interoperability communications for planning, equipment, and funding. Would like to acquire funds regionally and then agencies can apply directly to RAC for reimbursement.
    • Craig Strand: It is a question of getting together and figuring out what the SE RAC was doing, we would make monies available, someone from this organization represent regional advisory committee, need to figure out how to spend it wisely to avoid duplication of efforts.
    • Scott McNurlin: At next meeting I’ll have a breakdown.
  7. General Discussion and New Business

    Election of RAC Chair and Vice Chair

    • Mike Ask made a motion to nominate Scott McNurlin as RAC chair. Seconded by Jim Trihey. No further discussion. Rodney Bartsch made a motion to close nominations, seconded by Dean Albers. Motion to elect Scott McNurlin as Chair carried unanimously.
    • Joel Hansen made a motion to nominate Tim Heroff as Vice-Chair, seconded by Dean Albers. No further discussion. Motion carried to elect Tim Heroff as Vice Chair unanimously.
    • Do we need to elect a secretary/treasurer. If so, by-laws will need to be amended. Barb Brewington agreed to take minutes. She will notify Scott McNurlin if she is unable to attend a meeting so that other arrangements can be made to take minutes.

    Strategic State Communications Interoperability Plan (SCIP)

    • Scott McNurlin was asked to participate in the refinement of the SCIP - along with others, it was an interesting process - a huge document which states strategic plan to roll out ARMER system, whole piece on interoperability which is the driver for what we were doing, Purpose is to get ready for PSIC grant, timelines need to be met by December to receive 14.3 million in grant funding. Consultant identified 10 areas in the PSIC grant where the money could be allocated. We were asked to rate the initiatives. Following is what our group came up with. McNurlin would like our opinion on how these were rated.
      Potential InitiativePriority LevelFit with PSIC
      1) Interoperability Communications Equipment (portables/mobiles)1 
      2) Local enhancements to ARMER infrastructure3 
      3) Planning & Development of Regional/Statewide VHF interoperability resources-network based gateways-option to use state patrol4 
      4) Should we fund radio control stations, 2 per PSAP and one per EOC-hospitals? Radios at critical infrastructure facilities, high risk facilities; get a radio at those facilities; e.g. Eden Prairie has a radio at control tower. 4PH 3 has $ set aside for some of this.
      5) Ensure ARMER capable dispatch consoles in all PSAPs5 
      6) Study how to provide First responder alerting in ARMER environment5 
      7) Data System – planning and/or acquisition  
      8) Equipment – based interoperability planning/training/exercises  
      9) Enhanced I.P. based connectivity between PSAPs and EOC and critical infrastructure (not limited to VoIP)  
      10) Develop caches of operational radios for crises with back up batteries/chargers – also gateways, portable towers. Deployable Full site.Strategic Reserve 


      • Shouldn’t #3 come before #2?
      • #6 is an issue that needs to be dealt with
      • #7 is in limbo right now due to 700 MHz being frozen by FCC
      • #2: isn’t there money already identified for that. Through PSIC Grant? Just for SE MN, no where else in the state.
      • Infrastructure first and portables/mobiles second.
      • You do have up to 50% matching money out of 9.5 million, when we went through our process, extremely difficult to get grants for small law enforcement agencies and small EMS service providers. Difficult to get money for mobiles and portables. But nothing to help with the mobiles and portables, so our experience was just the opposite.
      • Infrastructure might be significantly less, mobiles/portables could be a bigger expense because grant money is available for infrastructure, but not mobiles/portables for everyone.
      Scott McNurlin: Each state is to rank these things. You have to have financial justification. If MN wants the dollars, they need to state what the strategic interoperability plan is and what the funding needs are. These top 3 things, are what is going to drive the part of this grant that everyone is going to apply for. 14.3 million is available, every county will be different in their needs and that money will be dispersed according to top 3 things to look at - that they will fund.

      Review this document – we will table this discussion and put it on the next agenda. Think chances of getting money are better as a region.

    Public Safety Interoperable Communications (PSIC) Grant

    1. Management & Governance of systems

      There is a need for three committees: Planning, Technical & Operations, and Policy. These committees would advise RAC, and the RAC would advise the Board. Each committee would be asked to brief the RAC at each meeting.

      • Planning Committee:

        Entails coordinating and looking at dollars and all available funding. Looks at applying and securing that money, and more importantly revising criteria for applying for money. This committee decides what the RFP’s should contain. Another duty of the planning committee would be to review plans that come in, work with vendors doing the plans – hold their feet to the fire and general management of that whole process. Scott McNurlin volunteered to head up the planning committee. Barb Brewington & Craig Strand volunteered to be on the planning committee.

      • Technical and Operations Committee:

        Need someone to head up this committee with technical expertise. Joel Hansen will chair that committee and will find persons inside and outside the RAC to work on this committee with him.

      • Policy Committee

        Daryl Jensen will chair this committee.

      • Development of the SE MN Regional Radio Board

        The next phase is developing our Regional Radio Board itself. McNurlin handed out part of the statute relevant to the development of Regional Radio Boards. The Regional Radio Board is comprised of elected officials from within the region, such as county commissioners and other, denoted, elected officials bound by a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA). St. Cloud also added one member of the RAC, one member of the owner/operators committee, and one member from the user committee, and one person from each of the three committees. They have a total of 23 people on their board. You do have flexibility to add things that are unique to your region, to provide for that representation you want on that board. Tom Hannon has given us all of their documentation on a CD so that we can look at the format they used and see if we want to adopt it for this region.

        Scott McNurlin, Barb Brewington, and Doug Ely will get together to identify who needs to be on a committee to look at developing the JPA.

  8. Upcoming Meeting Date/Time/Location –October 18, 2007 1:00 – 3:00 – Joel Hansen will try to find a location away from the Olmsted County Government Center for this meeting. Possibly Rochester Public Utilities or MN/DOT Building.

Scott McNurlin inquired if there was any new business?

Questions: When will Phase III be complete?

Response: It takes awhile to buy the land. 8-9 months, should all be purchased by end of this year. Bids out for towers, some winter construction, some wait until spring. The spec for coverage is 95% mobile only coverage statewide.

Joel Hansen, reminded the RAC that funding is dependent on this committee and the local county boards. Approval of grant funds is based on how enthusiastic and willing you are to work together as a region. We need to get it going and if there are problems with convincing elected officials that a Joint Powers Board is the way to go, it is up to us to convince the elected officials that acting as a region is much more beneficial when applying for grants than applying individually. This will be our funnel for money – if people won’t come to the table it won’t get done.

We are in competition with other regions so that we have resources available to us. Without the development of this Joint Powers Board - we don’t have it. There is competition for the funding, it is viewed as a race. Every two weeks Central MN is meeting. SE MN needs to have its interests represented. Funding, planning and how we will do business regionally so that we have a voice at the table. But without being an organized entity we need representation at a statewide level. We have a lot of work ahead of us. This is not about the statewide ARMER System, it is about the SE MN Region working collectively as a group. I do have to consider my neighbors in the mix. That’s the purpose.

Motion by Bartsch to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Mike Ask. Motion carried unanimously.

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