What is ARCS?
Pierce County Amateur Radio Communication Services (ARCS) is a Washington nonprofit corporation, tax-exempt under IRC 501(c)(3), with the express purpose of supporting Western Washington’s District 5 Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES)(website). ARCS is a corporate entity which may enter into binding relationships (contracts, MOU’s, etc.), own property, receive funds, and exercise any corporate functions in accordance with State and Federal laws. Pierce County District 5 ARES is the local affiliate of the national ARES program, which is in turn organized and directed by the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL). As such, Pierce County ARES does not exist as a distinct corporate entity. Therefore, Pierce County ARES may not enter into any binding relationships, own property, maintain funds, or exercise a corporate franchise. ARCS was formed by the leadership of Pierce County ARES as a way to support its material needs. All participants in Pierce County ARES and in ARCS are uncompensated volunteers with FCC amateur ratio licenses.
What does ARCS do for District 5, Pierce County ARES?
ARCS raises funds, manages existing contracts such as operating agreements for our repeaters and communications infrastructure, hosts our website and maintains our Email service. ARCS also maintains the State and Federal documentation and filings needed to maintain our 501(c)(3) and non-profit status.
ARES is an all-volunteer organization which operates largely with donated time and materials. Still, some recurring expenditures are necessary and ARCS serves as the fiscal agent which manages them. Examples of our other expenses are radio equipment, maintenance and support of our equipment and resources, as well as our outreach and recruiting program. Our outreach program funds promotional items such as flyers and space rentals at Amateur Radio, Public Service, Educational and Community Events.
ARCS provides property management and accountability for ARCS-owned equipment and resources. ARES supports a wide network of Served Agencies and locations while maintaining accountability for our assets.
Donations to the ARCS are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Donors receive documentation of their donations for tax reporting purposes.
In 2018, ARCS received generous grants from area foundations to build 12 VHF/UHF Radio Go-Kits to facilitate county-wide FM radio communications among ARES teams and with local emergency officials. In early 2023, ARCS applied for grants to build three HF Radio Go-Kits to enable ARES teams to communicate beyond the local area and on an HF radio band intended for emergency inter-agency communications. In its grant applications it wrote:
“Pierce County covers an area of more than 1,700 square miles with topography that rises from sea level to over 14,000 feet at Mt. Rainier and has a population approaching 950,000. Providing emergency communications over such a broad area with such diverse terrain, and serving such a large population, will require having radio operators in many locations with the proper equipment to send resource requests, welfare information and provide situational awareness to emergency managers. The terrain is challenging for communications, but in 2018 we built 12 VHF/UHF “go kits” which have put us in a great position to have robust local-area communications throughout the county. Now the challenge is making sure we can communicate with the rest of the world. We need the ability to communicate with emergency managers and resource providers outside the disaster area (an area which could include all of western Washington and Oregon after a subduction zone earthquake). We will also need to send “health and welfare” messages to loved ones living outside the disaster area. Trying to fill the communication gaps and find equipment and supplies after the disaster has occurred is a recipe for failure. We need to have radio equipment pre-positioned, and volunteer operators need to train on and practice with the equipment they will be asked to operate when the need arises.”
How is ARCS managed?
ARCS consists of Officers, Directors, and General Members. ARCS membership is open to all FCC-licensed District 5 ARES members with current WA State Emergency Worker Cards who have performed, or demonstrated a desire to perform, leadership roles within District 5 ARES. All General Members must be recommended and/or appointed.
ARCS Board Members:
President: Rob Allen, WZ7L
Vice President: Stan Nelson, K7DKK
Secretary: Doug Oakman, AD7AV
Treasurer: Karl Johnson, K7KHJ
Director 1: Patrick Niles, N7SOI
Director 2: Al Zuck, KJ7UI
Director 3: Lorraine Nelson, K7LJN
Director 4: Dave Stark, W7TUK
Director 5: Garrett Pessemier, KB7IOG
ARCS Organizational Chart
The ARCS Insignia:
The ARCS Insignia was developed to highlight the specific relationship between the ARCS and the organization it supports, Pierce County ARES.
Our insignia consists of five parts all symbolizing distinct aspects of our organization. Our motto, “Ad Firmamentum”, is a Latin phrase that describes our purpose to support and strengthen ARES. The Roman Numerals, MCMXCIV (1994), represent the year that ARCS was incorporated. The key symbolizes our logistics functions of procurement, control, and accountability. The quill symbolizes our leadership functions of authority, knowledge, and guardianship. And lastly, the lightning bolt, symbolizes power, strength, and instantaneous communications.