Western Massachusetts ARRL

A local section of the American Radio Relay League, the National Association for Amateur Radio™

Important Info on the New Distracted Driving Laws

Back in November, it was reported on this website and on Eastern MA section's website that new changes to the Commonwealth's distrcted driver laws were being considered.  These changes would include holding any electronics communications device, even with just one hand, while driving. 
These changes will go into effect on February 23, 2020.  There will be a grace period until the end of March 2020. So if you're stopped, only expect a warning. But after that, a first offense will mean a $100 fine; second offense $250; and a third or any subsequent offense will cost you $500. Habitual offenders could also be subjected to auto insurance surcharges or driver training. 
Also, as previously posted here and on the EMA website, section management from both sections approached state legislators about this bill with the goal of having an amendment made to the bill to excempt radio operations by licensed amateur radio operators.  They were successful.  The new law states that it “permits use of a federally licensed 2–way radio” provided that “1 hand remains on the steering wheel at all times.”.
The best ways to avoid being ticketed for your lawful use of amateur radio while mobile is to have the appropriate documentation in the vehicle with you.  The idea is that you provide the police officer in question with this information, your chances of the officer giving you a ticket for what is clearly legal exempted radio operations will be substantially reduced.
The first item to print out and have with you in the car is the actual text of the Massachusetts General Law on the subject.  That would be MGL Part 1, Title XIV, Chapter 90, Section 13.  It is recommended that you also highlight the relavant statement in the law that reads: "a person may operate a motor vehicle while using a federally licensed 2–way radio or mobile telephone, except as provided in sections 8M, 12A and 13B, as long as 1 hand remains on the steering wheel at all times".  In these situations, only the exact text of the actual MGL in question will suffice.  Do not use any type of summarization of the law, just print the entire Section 13 per the page at the link above.
The second item is your valid FCC amateur radio license.  Although the FCC went to paperless licenses in February 2015, there are instructions available for obtaining an official copy of your license.
As recent related post to the CMARA email list mentions: "Lest you think this isn't going to be aggressively enforced please note that a CMARA member was pulled over in early December by a policeman that a) thought the distracted driving law was already in effect, b) didn't know the provisions for mobile radio operators. Even with this information you may still receive a ticket but the law is on our side and you should be OK if it goes to court."
Please continue to use your best judgement regarding your safety and the safety of others on the road with you and don't operate your radios unless it is perfectly safe for you to do so.  However, be prepared to ensure that all our hard work to get this amateur radio related exemption codified into the law isn't wasted by making sure you are ready with the correct documents if you are pulled over for this reason.

Boston Marathon Volunteer Registration Opens

On behalf of the BAA Amateur Radio Communications Committee, Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe that 2019 has come to a close and we are heading into 2020. With the New Year comes the 124th running of the Boston Marathon.

Volunteer registration will open for the Marathon is now open.  The race itself is taking place on Monday, April 20, 2020.

For Returning Volunteers:
The BAA sends out an email which provides you with a direct link once registration is open. This email will also include your loyalty number, which is required for sign up.

For New Volunteers:
If you haven't previously volunteered, or have a friend who would like to volunteer, please go directly to the Volunteer Registration page and follow the instructions for new volunteers.

Don’t delay! Volunteer registration closes on Friday, February 7 at 5:00 p.m. Help us get the word out by forwarding this email to your club and other amateur radio operators who wish to volunteer. Most volunteers first learn about the event through word of mouth. If you know new licensees who might like to join us, please make sure to let them know about it. Even just a quick mention at your club meeting can be a big help.

If you have any questions about the upcoming volunteer registration period, or the 2020 Marathon generally, please get in touch anytime. Volunteering at the Marathon is a big job and we appreciate the time and effort everyone puts into it. We’re happy to do what we can to make your work fun, comfortable, and effective.

We look forward to seeing everyone again soon.

Thank you, and 73,
Boston Marathon Communications Committee

New Amateur Licensees - December 2019

Congratulations to the latest new hams of Western Massachusetts:

Everett C Rubel, AC1IP
146 Wales Rd
Brimfield, MA 01010-9748

John D Mckeon, KC1MIP
70 West St
Paxton, MA 01612-1014

KC1KCE Appointed as Western MA Public Information Coodinator

Hi all,

It is my pleasure to announce the addition of Grant Fritchey KC1KCE to our Western Mass staff as the new Public Information Coordinator. Grant has leadership experience in a volunteer role especially with the Boy Scouts. Grant also has skills in social media and has also written press releases. Grant is a fairly new ham licensed since July 2018 with a General class ticket going for the Extra.

Please join me in welcoming Grant aboard and best wishes in his goals.

Thank you,

Section Manager Report January 2020

Hello everyone, Happy New Year! Today I officially begin my second term in this role. I am looking forward to this as now I have something to work with in terms of a staff. To those who have supported me the past two years, I can’t say it enough, Thank you! Now, let’s move it forward!

One of the things I plan on doing is getting together with key people and getting information on what went well or bad and what we need to do to make this section stronger and function better.

Earlier this week we had a visit from mother nature which had all the making of being an ice storm equal to 2008. Thankfully the result was far from that but just the same there was a need for some readiness. Special thanks go out to all those who monitored and conducted nets and provided weather reports. This can certainly act as a building block to improve our ARES program.

In a couple of weeks, our ARRL New England Division Director Fred Hopengarten  K1VR will be conducting the annual cabinet meeting to have club presidents, section managers and other section representatives from New England gather and share comradery, ideas, issues, etc. as the League will have their board meeting shortly after. If you have anything to bring up you are welcome to shoot me an email and I will bring it forward. Meetings such as these have definitely been heard at the League and acted on as well.

As usual, the help wanted sign is still out. You can certainly add to the New Year’s resolutions and volunteer for one of the open positions we have.

That’s all for now hope to see you as I start up visits to meetings.


10th Annual Montague Sawmill River 10K Run

The Franklin County Amateur Radio Club will again be supporting the 10th Annual Montague Sawmill River 10K Run this year.  The event wil be on January 1, 2020.

For this event, FCARC's Leyden repeater (146.985 MHz, PL 136.5) will be used.  Due to the nature of the course, volunteers should strongly consider using mobile radios with 10W or more to ensure they can get into the machine reliably.

More details on the race itself are available at the race's participant registration website.

Due to some of passing of a few SKs that normally volunteer at this event and a couple others that moved, a few more new volunteers to this event would be helpful.  Please contact Richard KB1NOX if you can help or for more details.

New Amateur Licensees - November 2019

Congratulations to the latest new hams of Western Massachusetts:

John P Swienton, KC1MCU
444A N Main St
# 335
East Longmeadow, MA 01028-1812

Peter K Lindenauer, KC1MCT
21 Roe Ave
Northampton, MA 01060-1635

Michael R Kuehl, KC1MDR
1778 Parker St
Springfield, MA 01128-1286

Benjamin D Greenfield, KC1MFQ
58 Linden St
Williamstown, MA 01267-2512

Colleen R Ahlquist, KC1MEV
327 Bridle Path
Worcester, MA 01604-1306

Nicolas X Machado, KC1MCO
100 Institute Rd
# 5458
Worcester, MA 01609-2247

Norman W Hansen, KC1MCW
39 Janock Rd
Milford, MA 01757-2130

Walter L Weber, KC1MDA
5 Wales St
Milford, MA 01757-3827

Section Manager Report December 2019

Hello all! The silly season has descended upon us once again! I trust each of you will have a very joyous Holiday Season with family and friends. Be safe as well.

With the weather approaching tomorrow take extra care to be prepared in case something was to happen. Even an HT with your local repeater or the 146.520 frequency can always help. With the weather, remember Dec 7 th is the annual Skywarn Recognition Day. This will be the 20 th year of doing this. They will be on HF and various other modes. More information can be found on the NWS SKYWARN Recognition Day website or on our own website post about it.

Two weeks ago, we found out about the distracted driving bill was revised and put on the Governor’s desk later for signature which created a flurry of concern to the Radio community. Tom Walsh, K1TW our Eastern Section Mgr. who has a section Government Liaison, alerted me of the nature of the changes and together we put out an announcement to tell our political leaders our concern for the wording and we received assurances that we are exempt from the law. The response was huge and we received assurances from them that this indeed was the case. Thanks to all who assisted in this effort. This also underscores the need to have our own Government Liaison. I have mentioned this a number of times and still have not been able to fill this. Please consider this or other open positions available in our section.

January 1 yours truly will begin his second term as section manager. I hope you feel the same as I do in that we made some significant improvement to our section and that I have been living up to the promises I made when I started. Has it been easy? Oh, heck no! Kind of tough talking to crickets sometimes. There were times of frustration and a handful of people stepped up and now working together we now have forward momentum. My plan is to build on this and continue doing what I’m doing. I am always open to your suggestions. If I was to ask anything of you is to promote the website, the section, ARES, and also to volunteer. It’s not about me, it’s about Ham Radio! Keep that in your radar!

Happy Holidays and very 73!