By: Barry Woodward, Senior Member
In Phase I, I wrote about the beginning of the Chapter, through the 70’s and 80’s. Now we begin the 1990’s to the present day. In 1990, the State of Georgia was awarded what became one of the greatest spectacles in the sporting world, and ultimately what became one of the greatest Communications challenges that we faced, and that was the 1996 Olympics. For 6 years, members of the Georgia Chapter of APCO spent countless hours serving on planning committees, implementing plans, coordinating radio systems, and working long hours for 2 weeks of sports. From the Communications side of things, once the Games started, that plan worked well. Then…all of a sudden it was over, just like that. I have always said “that was a great experience, I was glad I got the chance to participate, don’t ask me again to do it”. But I know, like everyone else, I would do it again in a heartbeat. The 1990’s also brought about the biggest changes within the State on telecommunicator training, which is still in place to this day. The GPSTC finally got smart and hired a professional telecommunications person to get the ball rolling on telecommunicator training, and giving it some teeth with P.O.S.T. backing. To me, it’s the best training you will find anywhere, bar none. The Georgia Chapter also saw its first and only International President in 1990 in the person of George Murray. In 1986, the Chapter supported George’s run for National Office through the officer chairs of APCO, and he won the election to the National Board of Officers. When he came back to Atlanta, there was a substantial greeting committee at the airport to greet him. Over the years until his untimely death in 2004, he remained active in APCO, being at most of the National Conferences with his wife Joan, and their “home on wheels”. He was awarded Life Membership in APCO upon his leaving the Board in 1990, only 2 from the State Of Georgia, the other being Richard Roley who was inducted in 2002 at the National Conference in Nashville, TN. From 1990 until present, the Georgia Chapter has been well represented on National Committees. A number of our members have stepped up to the plate and served the Association on matters such as the 911 Committee, Emergency Management, Constitution and By Laws, EMS, Homeland Security, and a host of the Project committees. Our expertise that comes from this state shows leadership among our ranks, and it is noticed from the National officers and staff. A lot of our present officers joined the Chapter in the 1990’s such as Ted Wynn, Cheryl Greathouse, Brian Burgamy, to name a few. Our biggest growth occurred between 1997 – 2002 when more agencies in the State, not to mention that everyone coming through the Telecommunicator courses at GPSTC were given applications to join, and everyone was beginning to see the benefit of training at the 2 Conferences held each year. This is also when Public Safety personnel made it’s way to the forefront of the Chapter, with more and more local agencies taking part in the Chapter. We were also fortunate in the fact that we finally had a Statewide 911 Coordinator funded through GEMA, who was supported by both the Chapter and the State and has taken the lead in making sure that our plans are up to date, and to assist with wireless issues, and implementation of new centers. In 2001, the Chapter stepped out again by doing something that it had never done before. The Senior Membership classification had always been a part of our Constitution and By-Laws, and a part of National membership, but it had never been used in this Chapter. This particular year, 5 members of the Chapter received this prestigious award in recognition of their work over the years for the Chapter, and National organization. They were: Richard Roley, Elaine Sexton, Barry Woodward, Carolyn Hunter, and Cheryl Greathouse. (George Murray bestowed the honor and pin on these five recipients) These are the only ones we have to date, and we are looking to add some more. Also, in 2001, we lost another member of our chapter with the death of former Board Officer Judy Bryant. She was always a very integral part of this Chapter and is still missed to this day. We have been very fortunate over the years not to have lost too many Chapter members that were active in the Chapter. I spoke earlier about George Murray. George passed away in February, 2004 after suffering a massive stroke in January. George was very active in both the National, and local Chapters in Georgia and Texas, where he held his permanent address after his retirement from the Georgia State Patrol. He and Joan fueled their passion by traveling all over the United States, but always setting their schedule to be at one of our state conferences, or the National Conference. I had seen him about 3 weeks before the stroke during Christmas at Stone Mountain Park, and they were looking forward to another Alaska trip in the spring. Who would have known? Now we are at 2005. We have just finished a VERY successful joint conference with the NENA Chapter in Georgia, and look forward to our next training ventures in the fall. Everyone is active with the Area All-Hazards committees working to improve interoperable communications, and doing so with grant money rather than our own budget funds. We look forward to adding new members to the Chapter, and to have them become active in Chapter Committees and activities. We look forward to our Board of Officers to step up to their elected challenges and take the lead as movers and shakers of this Chapter, and as always, we look to you, the member, to participate and make it all happen. Without you, we do not exist, period. We are receiving excellent training at the Conferences, and having great participation from our vendors. But it all comes down to our members. As we move beyond 2005, there will be more memories, more activities, more challenges, and more members. We invite you to take part in all of this, as it can only get better!!! Hope to see YOU at our next Conference to help create those memories, and be a part of HISTORY!