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Home arrow RAC Minutes arrow RAC Minutes October 18, 2007
RAC Minutes October 18, 2007 PDF Print
SE MN Regional Advisory Committee
Meeting Minutes

Thursday, October 18th, 2007
1:00 – 3:00 pm
Rochester Public Utility Building
4000 East River Road NE
Rochester, MN
  1. Meeting was called to order by Scott McNurlin at 1:17 p.m. McNurlin reviewed the agenda with the attendees. Agenda accepted as written.
  2. Introductions / Attendance
    Committee Members Others In Attendance
    • Scott McNurlin, Goodhue County
    • Barb Brewington, Rice/Steele PSAP
    • Mark Harig, Freeborn County
    • Joel Hansen, Olmsted County
    • Blaine Hentz, Wabasha County
    • Dean Albers, Goodhue County
    • Terry Waletzki, Olmsted County
    • Scott Yeiter, Houston County
    • Doug Ely, Houston County
    • Dave Thomson, Rochester PD
    • Bob Bilder, Winona County
    • Darryl Jensen / Fillmore County
    • Sid Sanocki, Ancom Communications
    • Rollie Frank, Whitewater Wireless
    • Lee Smith, Whitewater Wireless
    • Ed Hazelwood, Elert & Associates
    • Shari Schmitz, Motorola
    • John Rowan / Rice County
    • Mike Norbomm / Rice County
    • Leland Ottman / Grand Meadow Ambulance
    • Scott Wiggins / State of MN

    8 RAC Members present, we do have quorum.

  3. McNurlin asked for a motion to approve minutes of the September 20, 2007 meeting. Motion by Blaine Hentz/Wabasha Co, seconded by Dave Thomson/Rochester PD to approve the minutes. No discussion, motion carried unanimously.
  4. Reports
    Statewide Radio Board (Scott McNurlin)
    3 Pots of money that really exist out there.
    • Local Enhancement money from ARMER is not included in these 3 pots, consider as 4th funding option.
    • Go to ARMER web site, look at local enhancement study. Fund availability is listed.
    • 25-50% funding available for locals, depending on how much participation there is in ARMER.
    • Scott Wiggins Presentation (took over for Ron Whitehead)
    • State will complete voice first, data second.
    • Interoperability between all agencies is the GOAL, not full participation from every end user. Interoperability includes every end user we need to talk to - when we need to talk to them. Surrounding states, counties, cities, etc. surround us.
    • ARMER vision is not about having every single county in the state of MN on ARMER. Reality is we know that every county has different needs/budgets and will make business decisions that make sense for them. All we our saying is we want to have interoperability with you.
    • Our plans and goal will be to provide 95% county by county mobile coverage. Will have to add a number of towers in SE MN in order to achieve this.
    • New Tower Map just received it last week from MN/DOT. The Purple triangles are part of original plan Red triangles represent new tower locations needed to achieve 95% coverage. We know there will be difficult areas, particularly the boundary waters area.
    • Disclaimers.
      • Best info we have at this time.
      • Tower locations will change for a variety of reasons.
      • When MN/DOT puts their areas together they look at 3x3 mile or 5x5 mile area of coverage. If you move this location you can have a 2 or 3 county ripple effect. This map reflects our best estimate, knowing full well it will change and still needs to be approved by statewide radio board. When you do your propagation study you can use this for that.
    • Metro will be done by end of 2008, Dakota/Ramsey complete by end of 2007, Scott/Washington, by end of 2008.
    • Olmsted/Stearns already on ARMER.
    • Goodhue, Sherburne and Wright counties in process of transitioning to ARMER.
    • This region (SE MN) needs a governing Radio Board . Need committee made up of local representatives, that is what this group here today is going to do.
    • We hired a person - Tom Johnson, retired police chief from Columbia Heights. He has some passion for ARMER and interoperability, due to previous situations his City was involved in and not able to communicate with other responders. He is NOT a STATE guy, he is a local guy, who greatly understands the importance of interoperability.
    • Tom’s position is the Statewide Program Manager, will start October 31, and will be working with 3 interoperability coordinators. We have 3 interoperability coordinators: 1 north, 1 central, 1 south. The southern coordinator will be the liaison between ARMER, the statewide radio board and our SE MN region.
    • $1,850,000. designated for a detailed design and planning.
      • This would cover the statewide study of what local enhancement costs would be.
      • This will help us determine what these costs will be for your county, if you choose to hook onto the ARMER system.
      • Through the Homeland Security funds is there the ability for us to study something other than ARMER. i.e.: Interoperability.
    • Fed’s have mandated that we need to develop a preliminary plan for the ARMER back bone by 12/31/07.
    • From that we need to develop a detailed plan by 3/31/2008.
    • We also need to develop a maintenance plan by 6/30/2008.
    • We need to equip existing radio sites with 700/800 radio equipment and have completed 75% of mobile coverage statewide by 2010.
    • The entire project (95% mobile coverage) needs to be completed by 12/31/2012.
    • Our plan is to “light” those towers up right away that have already been approved for ARMER.
    • When the bonding money becomes available, we will then build the additional tower sites, microwave dishes, etc. We are pushing to get some level of ARMER to each area of the state.
    • Some of the funding needs to be spent on developing regional interoperability plans.
    • The remaining funds will be used for infrastructure type expenditures – NOT END USER EQUIPMENT.
    • PSIC GRANT: $14,262.Million, allocated to MN.
    • Otherwise improve or advance the interoperability of public safety communication systems.


    • Blaine Hentz/Wabasha County: The study you are talking about – are you going to do the study or are you going to pay for the studies we do locally. We’ll be hiring a company to do this by the end of 2008.
    • Scott McNurlin: there are several counties in the room looking at radio upgrades. We have $60,000 of grant funding parked with the RAC Right now (Olmsted Co hosting this grant for the RAC). We will have a lot more requests for studies than we have the money to pay for. We need to develop a protocol for these agencies to come to the RAC and requesting funding.
    • Scott McNurlin: how do we work with these pots of money to find available money to study this? This group is looking to figure that out. As a region, will we have access to more funding to do these studies? Wabasha, Houston, Fillmore, Rice/Steele, and Freeborn want to do studies. Freeborn received $25,000 for their study, but there are 4 counties in the room for sure that need funding to do a study in the very near future.
      • Scott Wiggins replies: I will commit to go back and see if there is a way we can speed this up somehow. I don’t have an answer today, but am here to listen to what your needs are. We want to do this analysis – but you need it quicker than I might be able to provide it. I will see what I can do and e-mail my findings to Scott McNurlin.
    • Ed Hazelwood, Elert & Associates: the counties I have talked to are echoing the same issues. Don’t have any money yet to hire our firm or any other firm until they see the money.
    • Scott Wiggins - the challenge you have given me today is to speed this process up.
    • Blaine Hentz: Wabasha is in the middle of new building projects and needs to move along faster.
    • Scott Wiggins - We are looking at adding some more towers down here along the southern border.
    • Blaine Hentz: if we could combine that local enhancement study with some county studies, to look at VHF overlay to digital, it would be apples for apples. Might save money to add to current local enhancement study.
    • Scott Wiggins: With this “pot of money”, we can’t use that money for VHF studies, it was allocated for ARMER studies. The other two pots, those are the funds that we want you to be able to use - to add on to that element of the VHF analysis. I know the funding gets really confusing, it is just NOT all of this money in one big pot that we/you can spend it however we need or want to – that is just not the case.
    • Blaine Hentz: it just seems like the State is doing one thing and the county doing something else. Doesn’t seem right that we need to do two separate studies when we’re doing the same thing.
    • Barb Brewington: the State is studying what they need to do to get 95% mobile coverage – their studies do not include what we might have to do for local enhancements.
    • Blaine Hentz: He made the statement that they would do an enhancement study, that’s why I asked the question.
    • Scott McNurlin: to clarify, I don’t know if we are going to take a look at this area again or if we are considering the study already done based on the Geo-Comm study.
    • Blaine Hentz – it was based off of some false tower locations. Study was based on those locations but some FCC license addresses that were used are not where I know they are exactly at. Lake City for example.
    • Dave Thomson: The study is based strictly on the proposed ARMER towers and where they “projected” they would need additional ARMER towers.
    • Blaine Hentz: Wabasha County owns the Lake City tower - they are putting 800 on that tower, so it is based on some wrong information.
    • An enhancement study has already been done, it is on the ARMER website, you can download the .pdf file. It was done about a year ago.
    • Scott Wiggins – over time the picture will become clearer and clearer. It is a big project, we need to keep the vision in mind, which is INTEROPERABILITY.
    • Scott McNurlin: the planning committee is going to have to struggle with what is going to be covered with that $60,000. We’ll talk about that here in the near future.
    • Terry Waletzki: Emergency Management has talked about taking $100,000 out of their funding for the SE MN RAC to help with 800 MHz studies. But that hasn’t been finalized yet – there are more counties in the Emergency Management region than are in the SE MN RAC region, so not sure how that is going to come out. Meet again in December and it will be on the agenda.
    • Scott McNurlin: can you represent our interests at that meeting?
    • Terry Waletzki: yes, but Scott should call Craig Strand and discuss this with him as well.

  5. Special Reports
  6. Old Business
    SE MN RAC Organization
    • Membership Request – City of Albert Lea
      • We have two cities that have indicated interest in being on the RAC. Albert Lea and Winona. Scott McNurlin has a letter from Albert Lea, but not from Winona.
      • Bob Bilder has a copy of the letter from Winona County. City of Winona’s primary delegate is Mike Patke. Bob Bilder will be the alternate for both Winona County and the City of Winona.
    • McNurlin requested a motion from the floor to accept these two cities as members of the RAC. Albers made a motion to accept the two cities as members, seconded by Yeiter. No further discussion. All in favor, no nayes. Motion passed. McNurlin will add the points of contact to the membership list.
    • Contact list will be sent out to everyone as soon as it is complete. Still waiting on Mower County.

  7. General Discussion and New Business
    Committee Reports/Development
    Planning Committee
    Planning Committee consists of Scott McNurlin, Barb Brewington, Scott Yeiter/Houston County. Committee is looking at Central MN’s RFP request that they formatted to try and find a consultant – but it is not applicable for what we’re trying to do in SE MN. Committee will develop the criteria for the RAC. What each agency will need to provide to ask for funding. We are looking at central MN RFP, there are some things we can use, but some we wouldn’t use. We need a stringent criteria for a consultant to look at it, so that agencies can bring proposal back to the RAC. We have to come up with that fairly soon - so you can go find a consultant, present a proposal, and then we can present them to the RAC so they can make a decision. What are we looking for? Blaine Hentz will join the planning committee. Mark Roach/Freeborn will send Scott McNurlin what they submitted to the state for funding. We need to consider how we all going to do business together - what is it that we want to collectively know.

    Dave Thomson: Will probably need to have what the current VHF wideband covers. We will need to know if it is better than what we currently have or worse. This should be included as part of the study. It is going to be highly competitive, and deadlines need to be part of the study analysis. Planning Committee will meet in Rochester, Monday, October 29th at 10:00 a.m. Brewington will find a meeting location.

    Technical & Operations Committee:
    Joel Hansen is the Chair. Dave Thomson on committee as well. Have not yet met. Rollie Frank expressed interest on being on that committee. They will schedule a meeting and will report at the next meeting on their committee.

    Policy Committee:
    Sheriff Jensen is the Chair. There are no other members on this committee yet. We need to identify what other persons will sit on that committee. Dean Albers, Rodney Bartsch will work with Jensen on that committee. May have to meet via telephone conference, whatever you need to do to get the job done.

    We need to put some diligent effort into the development of the Joint Powers Agreement. The funding process will become highly competitive as all areas of the state will be looking for funding out of the same pots of money. Requesting funds as a consortium will give us some clout under the current legislative statute.

    Right now, there is a representative from the Central MN Board sitting on that State Board. Other RACS will be looking to place people in that seat. Hopefully, we will be in a position to do that ourselves. Barb Brewington, Sheriff Ely and Scott McNurlin are on the committee to develop the JPA. We are going to enhance that committee with commissioners and county attorneys to help us with the development of the agreement. This will allow us to have a voting voice and legislative voice for the region. This is NOT an ARMER thing, it is NOT a VHF thing, it is US, as a region, deciding how we are going to move forward and do business regardless of what radio platforms we are on. It will help us make decisions on how to fund end user equipment and collectively apply for grant opportunities. We will have a lot more clout and a better likelihood to get what we need if we apply for these grants as a region.

    If you think your commissioners or county attorney or county administrator may have a problem with this, they should sit on the committee, and help us punch holes in it to come up with a final draft.

    If you have county attorneys/commissioners working as a sub-committee, then we won’t be doing a lot of work that they will say no to. They can bring certain elements to this document that we cannot. If we bring them in early to the discussion, our chances of forming this Joint Powers Board is much more likely.

    McNurlin did a first draft yesterday. Committee will meet in the near future to see who else should be on the committee. The document now reads that JPB Chairs office would administrate the finances. Members of the RAC stated that this may not work, as it may be difficult to move finance issues from agency to another agency on a yearly basis.

    Rice/Steele Consolidated PSAP
    Scott McNurlin made a presentation to the Rice/Steele County Consolidated Joint Powers Board to explain the concept of a regional radio board and the RAC. One of the JPB members asked if there was a place at the table for the Rice/Steele PSAP. Brewington currently represents Rice County and Steele County as their alternate representative.

    Consensus: If there JPB believes that they should be an individual autonomous entity at the RAC on behalf of the combined center, they should complete the same letter as Winona and Albert have and we can review it and discuss it at that time. The by-laws of the SE MN RAC talk about cities and counties, they would have to be amended to include PSAP’s.

    Question arose that if she were the only one in attendance from the two counties, how many votes would she have, one for Rice, one for Steele and one for the PSAP? This will be discussed further if the JPB presents a letter of interest.

    Next meeting will be at Olmsted County in Conference Room 2A-2B. All other future meetings will be held at Rochester Public Utilities.

    We will post the current local enhancement study to our website at

    Update on Emergency Management Grant
    Terry Waletzki: We still need to identify in our region, what monies are available that we can use. There are more counties in the Emergency Management Region than are in the RAC Region. There was $500,000 in grant funding, with $100,000 of that for Region 1. Nothing was determined at our last meeting. We met to figure out how we were going to earmark the $500,000 to be spent. We talked about $385,000 for equipment and then $100,000 into planning and $15,000 for administration of the grant. Still needs to be determined at our next meeting.

    We will need something in writing to ask for some of this funding. They are going to want money for their regions too. Some of those counties got money for planning.

    Scott McNurlin will check with Craig Strandon the time limit on the money. He will send a letter requesting the $100,000. be utilized by the RAC for planning money.

    One Other Item:
    Dave Thomson. The SE Regional Mobile Command Van needs to add UHF radio for interoperability. Would be interested in putting this on the next agenda for discussion to see if RAC would be interested in funding that radio equipment. Sherry Schmitz/Motorola, working on price for it, $3-$4,000. Dave will bring van to the next meeting.

  8. Upcoming Meeting Date/Time/Location –November 15, 2007, 1:00 – 3:00 – at the Olmsted County Government Center 151 4th Street SE Rochester, MN, Room 2A-2B.

    Motion by Yeiter to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Thomson. Motion carried.

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