At August’s meeting, the how and why of a new non-profit corporation, the Magnolia Intertie Incorporated, was described by Frank Howell K4FMH, President of the company. Why? “Fundamentally, we do this because we hams want to have ‘fun’ in the practice of our hobby. In this case, a linked backbone of repeaters around Mississippi will also be a great service to those in need of communications in times of emergency.” Over 35 amateur radio operators and those ready for the FCC examination were in attendance at this monthly meeting. The Intertie’s website can be found at magnolia-intertie.com.
Howell said he spent a full year researching other successful Intertie systems around the U.S. All had various suggestions on methods to utilize in linking repeater systems but all also had one definitive piece of advice: DO NOT try to organize a confederation of club repeaters! They said while it’s the quickest way to get a bunch of repeaters linked but it’s the most certain way to have it fail in a short time and with rancor between the Intertie and those clubs. Howell said that the Magnolia Intertie has heeded that set of recommendations. Clubs and other organizations, such as ARES chapters, MEMA, the National Weather Service, Storm Spotters, the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, may apply to connect to the Intertie’s backbone system through a mechanism that is being developed by a working group of Board members and technical advisors, the Network Operations Working Committee. The NOWC is chaired by Mike N5DU. Mike is also the current President of CMSARA and Secretary-Treasurer of Magnolia Intertie Inc.
Frank emphasized that the leadership for this project has been a true partnership with Mike N5DU in addition to the Board of Directors, Technical Advisors, and, most recently, an External Advisory Board. “This effort must be a legally organized group endeavor rather than a myriad of complex agreements existing on the mere handshakes of persons currently in strategic offices. This is why most amateur radio club relationships fail and precisely why the ARRL, for instance, has Memoranda of Understanding regarding organizational relationships,” said Howell.
Howell also said that this applied to any and all directed nets but any individual hams would be encouraged to use the Intertie’s backbone system at any time that there was not a higher priority usage such as a directed net authorized by the Network Operations Working Group. In fact, the company’s call sign, KG5FCI, is being promoted as being the Friendly Conversation Intertie!
The website, magnolia-intertie.com, is the major portal through which the Intertie communicates about the pending repeater system. The first segment to be launched on the I-20 corridor between Vicksburg, Jackson and Meridian. Plans are to have that in operation by the end of 2015.
Major partnerships between the Intertie and the Mississippi Hospital Association and the Mississippi Public Broadcasting agency have proven to be great opportunities for this effort. Roy Davis and Steve Barr, both licensed amateur radio operators with the MS Public Broadcasting Technical Services Division in Jackson, we in attendance as well as Joyce Pearson, another ham, who heads the Emergency Communications Program at the Mississippi Hospital Association. As a registered 501c3 non-profit organization, the company will soon be in a fund-raising campaign once approved by the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office.
Howell ended his talk with a discussion of how individual hams can participate in the Magnolia Intertie. “First of all, we want to see amateurs across the state become better acquainted with one another through using the backbone for QSOs. We hope that hams recognize the financial costs to create and maintain such a backbone to support the contributions made by Board members and external sponsors.”
Frank’s slides are available in PDF by clicking here.