Part I of an undoubtedly multi-part series
The COVID-19 phenomenom that we are, unfortunately, all sharng is much different than most other things most of us have ever experienced. The virus seems to spread very rapidly without the need for direct contact. Local, county, state and federal governments, as well as the CDC, all began to -- almost in unison and with remarkable speed -- strongly recommend quauratining when you do not feel well, keeping your distance from others to ensure you did not pick up the virus (or if you happen to be a carrier, unknowlingly pass it on to others) and working from home. It was quite amazing or me how our reactions to the virus seemed to change on a dime! Initially, not that worried, but maybe concerned, to now -- well... The numbers of those infected were (and still are) getting scary high!
Like many other organizations and businesses, Antietam Radio Association found itself knee-deep in many decisions. Many of the members/officers had their own thoughts as to what to do about the hamfest, Field Day, and many related things. I am going to start my timeline about the second week of March, 2020. We were all wondering what effect the virus spread would have on the ARA's Great Hagerstown Hamfest, and whether we should cancel the Hamfest, postpone it, or continue business as usual and see how things played out. It was a very good question, and there was a lot of thought put into it. This was definutely going to be the main topic at our next meeting, only a few day away. That is until, on March 12, 2020, Gov. Hogan changed the entire scope of our decision-making process.
ARA President, Bob Long (KD3JK), suggested that, since St. John's Church was closed for the time being, instead of skipping the Activities Meeting that usually takes place on the second meeting of the month, we instead have a meeting on the air at 7P, Tuesday, March 17.
MARCH 17, 2020 -- FIRST ON AIR MEETING
The meeting ran very smoothly; because we were unsure as to whether or not the on-air meeting would be considered "official," Bob ran the meeting under authority of an emergency Executive Committee meeting.
During this meeting we deliberated on several things, as outlined below:
There were about 23 participants who checked into the net, of which seven of those were board members (six board members are required to hold a vote). After some discussion the Executive Board decided that, because the bylaws and constitution make no mention about on-air or other electronically-held meetings, that in the future we will hold regular on-air meetings for as long as necessary. On-air meetings fall under the same guidleines and procedures as physical meetings, other than not to discuss confidential or financial information during during on-air meetings.
Some members thought we should amend the current ARA bylaws/constitution to include on-air meetings, but after some thoughtful debate, it was decided that the bylaws as currently written cover any electronic meetings (an announced specifc time and place). There is no mention of physical location, nor that the meeting must be in person. Further, amending the bylaws in and of itself requires at lease two meetings; you can see what kind of beautiful Catch-22 situation we could incur.
Because large gathering are not pemitted at this time, the next ARA meeting will be held on the first Tuesday of April at 7PM.
GREAT HAGERSTOWN HAMFEST
Many of the members and officers tried in vain to weigh the pros and cons of holding, cancelling, or postponing the Hamfest. Regretably, but thankfully, Governor Hogan made it simple, though still far from easy. NO ONE wanted to cancel the Great Hagerstown Hamfest. NO ONE! But cancelled we did. Tha Board voted that, regardless of what might happen in the next few weeks, the Hamfest of May 2, 2020 is cancelled. Bob held a second vote as to whether to attempt to reschedule for a later date (Fall or later) this year. The vote for a Hamfest at a later date was approved, but no date was attached. A later Hamfest also depends on what dates are available.
During the meeting, Tim (N3VGS), said that the County will void the contract for May 2, and will work with us to try and ensure that we do not see a loss from this extraordinary event that is unfolding before us. I am sure there will be a plethora of new developments as time passes -- stay tuned!
The Antieta Radio Associatin Annual Officer Elections annual elections are upcoming, held during the May business meeting (first meeting). Officers are installed suring the June business meeting.
The way in which we hold elections is stipulated in the bylaws/Constition, meaning we are not permitted to the current officers' posts; because we took the time to hammer out the validity of regular meetings on the air, the elections will be held on schedule. We will follow the same procedures as for a physical meeting:
1) Must be present (checked into the net) to vote
2) Must be in good standing (paid 2020 dues) to vote
3) Must vote by email (simialr to when we hand out ballots at a physical meeting; ballot must be returned (replied to) by 23:59 the end of the weekend (Sunday).
Several members brought up issues that something may hamper members from hitting the repeater, and this is true. Others thought that we could send out a ballot to all paying members. Both are valid, and both may deserve further investigation, but those and other issues are for another time. The ARA currently does not send out ballots to all paying members, only those who attend the meeting vote. A quorum of 15% is required, or no vote may take place.
During this meeting we very briefly touched upon Field Day, and decided a wait-and-see approach is appropriate. It is very possible that Field Day may be held in our own backyards this year.
I hope that this helps answer some of your questions about how the ARA is responding to the pandemic. While it is not business as usual, we are trying to ensure it is as close to BAU as we can get. Plus, we are a radio club, after all! I am sure that more will be posted as things unflod. Stay Tuned!