Michael Martens, KB9VBR, New NE Wisconsin DEC

Michael Martens, KB9VBR (left) with Wausau Fire Department Deputy Chief Phil Rentmeester, at the WI Valley Radio Association Field Day site.

Michael Martens, KB9VBR (left) with Wausau Fire Department Deputy Chief Phil Rentmeester, at the WI Valley Radio Association Field Day site.

June 28, 2013


I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Michael Martens, KB9VBR. I am the new DEC for the Northeast Wisconsin district and I’m honored to be chosen for this position.

I’d like to thank Mark Rasmussen for his tenure as the previous DEC and look forward to working with him as the new SEC. I know I’ll have some pretty big shoes to fill.

As for myself, I lived in the Wausau area since 1978 with the exception of about 5 years in Madison while attending the University of Wisconsin. I have a degree in Communication Arts and have worked for the last 20 years in a variety of positions in IT, sales, marketing, and non-profit management. Recently I spend 3 years in the non-profit sector employed with the local Boy Scouts of America Council and am currently self employed, running a online marketing and consulting business. I’m married for almost 20 years to my wife Christine and have two children: Greta a senior, and Carl a sophomore at Wausau East High School.

I was first licensed as a Tech Plus in 1999, received my General in 2000 and achieved Amateur Extra in 2002. Emergency Communications has always been a draw for me, and have been an active member of the local ARES/RACES and SKYWARN teams since getting my license. I served as AEC for Marathon County ARES/RACES and have been their EC since 2006. I’m also active with the Wisconsin Valley Radio Association and currently serve as the club president. I also dabble with antennas (you may know me as www.jpole-antenna.com), amateur television, and HF voice and digital modes. Besides amateur radio, my other hobbies include photography, cooking, camping, and bicycling.

I’m usually a pretty active person, but am pretty easy to get ahold of. Email at kb9vbr@yahoo.com is usually the best unless it’s urgent, then phone call at (715)845-4218 works. I’m an advocate of the power of social media and may use those channels to disseminate information. Feel free to connect with me personally on Facebook or on Twitter (@NEWIARES).

Thanks again for everything you do in your community. I’m looking forward to working with you.


Michael Martens


Marathon County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Dedicated

Marathon County EOC dedication

Marathon County Emergency Manager Steve Hagman (left) looks on while County Administrator Brad Karger (center) and Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple (right) give their remarks during the dedication.

The new Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for Marathon County, WI was dedicated on Wednesday April 17, 2013. Located in the basement of the Wausau City Hall, the EOC is designed to help manage the response for natural disasters, severe weather, multi unit response fires, and large scale public events.

Media, city and county employees, and the public attending the dedication.

Media, city and county employees, and the public attending the dedication.

In an article published by the Wausau Daily Herald:

Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple, Marathon County Administrator Brad Karger and Marathon County Emergency Management Director Steve Hagman hosted a dedication ceremony Wednesday for the new $75,000 center, followed by an open house for the general public. Hagman said planning for the Emergency Operation Center, which was paid for through a combination of state grants and county funds, began about a year ago.

“The reality is, when disasters happen, they are likely to happen outside of Wausau,” Karger said. “Disasters don’t follow boundaries. Because of that, we all have to work as a team, and this center will help us serve the public in the best way possible.”

Marathon County ARES/RACES will have a permament spot with communication equipment in the new EOC.

Marathon County Emergency Manager Steve Hagman walking the visitors through the various workstations and their function at the new EOC

Marathon County Emergency Manager Steve Hagman walking the visitors through the various workstations and their function at the new EOC


Marathon County opens new Emergency Operations Center

Marathon-County-EOC-1Marathon County, WI Emergency Management is putting the finishing touches on their new Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Located in the basement of the Wausau City Hall, the new EOC will be available in times of large scale events, disasters, severe weather, or any time the Incident Command System needs to establish an off site command center to provide support for the Incident Commander.


Marathon County Emergency Manager Steve Hagman, right, demonstrate to Dave Levorson, K9KNY, some of the features of the Maraton County EOC.

The EOC provides workstations and technology for the command staff of each of the ICS sections to sit and work together to provide support to the Incident Commander. At the head of the table, a manager can control the large displays on the wall to provide situational awareness for all the participants in the event. The rear of the EOC has tables to give knowledgeable experts space to set up and consult with the command staff. The EOC also has an adjacent conference room for briefings and meetings.

Marathon-County-EOC-3Amateur Radio and Marathon County ARES/RACES group has been a major consideration in the design and creation of the EOC. The amateur radio group will have access to the facility and space for equipment to provide auxiliary communications to incidents. Steve Hagman, Marathon County’s Emergency Manager also encouraged the group to utilize the EOC to run the SYWARN severe weather nets, giving emergency management access to the group if the weather event requires an extended response and recovery.

Hagman stressed that this new facility isn’t just for emergency, but can be utilized for any large scale community event where public safety groups need to provide support to the management of the event.



NTS traffic handlers wanted

With the recent passing of Dennis, W9PBB the Wausau area has lost a reliable outlet for passing National Traffic System (NTS) traffic into and out of our area. We are looking for one or more amateur radio operators with General class privileges that can reliably check into the HF traffic nets to receive and pass traffic. Technicians can also get into traffic handling with a packet radio station and a desire to move message in and out of the system.

NTS National Traffic System LogoNTS traffic is a standard process of moving messages, called radiograms, on the amateur radio frequencies. The NTS nets meet at regular intervals and have standardized procedures to make moving the messages easy and efficient. Once you get the hang of the message form, you’ll be surprised you easy it is to pass a message.

If you traffic handling ability is rusty, or if you’ve never handled traffic before, training is available, both online and in person. Plus we will match you up with a mentor to help you out and get you traffic handling abilities up to speed.

Sample ARRL NTS Radiogram

Sample ARRL NTS Radiogram. Click to download PDF

Interested? Take a listen to the following traffic nets and see if the schedule and time commitment works for you. Then drop Michael a line via the contact form and we’ll get you started. Reliability is important and sharing the task with multiple people will make getting on the air on a regular basis.

Wisconsin National Traffic System (NTS) Nets

5:00 AM Badger Weather Net (BWN) 3982.5kHz
12:00 PM Badger Emergency Net (BEN) 3982.5kHz
5:15 PM Wisconsin Side Band Net (WSBN) 3985kHz
6:00 PM Wisconsin Novice Net (WNN) 3555kHz
6:30 PM Wisconsin Slow Speed Net (WSSN) 3555kHz
7:00 PM Wisconsin Intrastate Net – Early (WIN-E) 3555kHz
10:00 PM Wisconsin Intrastate Net – Late (WIN-L) 3555kHz


Scanning Wausau and Marathon County Wisconsin frequencies

On September 12, 2012, Marathon County Wisconsin made the cutover from a wideband analog radio system to a narrow band digital radio system. The County fire, Wausau Fire, and paging systems are still on analog narrowband, but the police and sheriff channels are now exclusively transmitting in P25 digital mode. Most scanners won’t be able to pick up these transmissions unless it is P25 digital compatible.

Still, there is lots of stuff you can monitor over the air, including the fire channels, DPW, and the highway department.

Please note a few frequency changes for Wausau and County Fire:

Wausau Fire Repeater: 154.235 MHz, PL167.9 NFM
Marathon County Fire: 154.965, PL186.2 NFM

More local frequencies can be found on the Radio Reference site.



Marathon County Summer 2012 Road Construction

marathon county 2012 road closed(Updated 08/10/12): Storm spotters need to be aware of the road construction projects on tap this summer for Marathon County. A closed road can adversely affect your condition if you need to take an escape route during spotter activity. For the summer of 2012 the County is primarily resurfacing the roadways in the northeast corner of the county.

From the Marathon County, WI website:

Marathon County Highway Department will be replacing the pavement on the following highways during the 2012 Construction Season.

  • County Highway Y from State Highway 52 to the County Line (Town of Harrison) from July 9 to early September.
  • County Highway G from County Highway Y to the County Line (Town of Harrison) from July 16 to early September.
  • Bridge is out on County Highway Z  (Town of Wausau) between 73rd Street and 85th Streets. Replacement is expected to be completed by the end of September.

The dates listed above are the anticipated dates for construction.  The schedule is subject to change based on weather, equipment and other delays that may be experienced during construction.

During construction the roads will be posted with signs reading “ROAD CLOSED – LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY”.  Crews will work to maintain access to businesses and residents at all times from both ends of the project.  Drivers should expect the roads to be rough at times and they should also anticipate delays as crews will often reduce the roadway to one lane with flaggers controlling traffic.

As access will be provided during construction, a detour route will not be posted.  Please use alternate routes if possible during construction.

May/June ARES/RACES meeting

Marathon County ARES WisconsinMarathon County ARES usually meets on the 4th Monday of the month. Since the 4th Monday in May is Memorial day, we will be shifting our meeting to Monday June 4, 2012 at 7:00pm. Location is still the upper conference room at the Wisconsin State Patrol headquarters in Wausau.

We usually do not have meetings scheduled for either June or July. If there is a significant weather event that requires a debriefing, we will schedule a meeting. Otherwise our next meeting will be on the 4th Monday in August.