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December 1, 2007
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Web site Helps Preserve Mason–Dixon Line; House Reviews National Surveyors Week Resolution; Berntsen Launches Geocaching Web site; State Updates

The Mason & Dixon Line Preservation Partnership Web site aims to dispel any myths about the Mason–Dixon Line and promote its factual history.


Web site Helps Preserve Mason-Dixon Line

In October, the Mason & Dixon Line Preservation Partnership (MDLPP) launched a new Web site, www.mdlpp.org, to promote the true history of the Mason–Dixon Line. The MDLPP was established in November 1990 to record the stones that mark the Mason–Dixon Line and to determine ways to preserve them from further loss and deterioration. “The Mason–Dixon Line has become a symbol for the division between North and South and is associated with one of the most defining issues to shape our national society from the 18th through the 20th centuries,” says Todd Babcock, PLS, of the MDLPP. “A number of the [stones] have been damaged over the years. Our first goal was to conduct an inventory of the stones and then eventually replace the ones that have been destroyed.”

Since 1995, the MDLPP has obtained coordinates for approximately 100 of the 230 stones that mark the 230-mile line and tied them to the national GPS network. Once the stones are documented, their locations will be added to the “Stone Inventory” section of the Web site. “A student from the surveying program at Penn State University is working on adding the locations online in a GIS format so people can easily access the information,” Babcock says.

The Web site also includes a variety of resources that the MDLPP hopes will dispel any myths about the line and promote its factual history. It features a library with various articles and books about the Mason–Dixon Line; a collection of links to the original boundary survey conducted by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon; a National Geographic film; and other historical photographs and documents.

“We’re putting all the information we’ve compiled since the partnership began on the Web site and adding to it as we gather more information,” Babcock says. “We also have a feedback page where people will be able to share information on their visit to the stone, pictures or other information. The whole partnership project has really evolved as technology has evolved. The Web site is a work in progress. Anyone across the world has access to its information on the Mason–Dixon Line.”

House Reviews National Surveyors Week Resolution

On October 2, Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland submitted House Concurrent Resolution 223 to the House of Representatives, a bill to honor professional surveyors by recognizing their contributions to society. H. Con. Res. 223 is a follow-up measure to prompt President Bush to sign a proclamation establishing National Surveyors Week. The resolution subsequently went to the House Government Reform Committee for review.

In January 2006, the first resolution [drafted by the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS)] passed the House Government Reform Committee by unanimous consent, but needed 50 co-sponsors to get to the House floor for debate and a vote. Lobbyists acquired a total of 43 co-sponsors, missing only seven of the votes needed for the resolution to move forward.

“We thought very carefully about the current legislative vehicle to use to accomplish our goal of getting the federal government to recognize National Surveyors Week,” says Laurence Socci, chief executive manager of the CLA Group LLC, a government affairs firm that brings client issues before the federal government. Socci is also the government affairs consultant for the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM), the parent organization of NSPS. “A concurrent resolution seemed to fit our goal because it will force both the House and the Senate to pass a resolution with the exact same language. A concurrent resolution which specifically requests the president to issue a proclamation honoring National Surveyors Week will be persuasive in getting him to do so.”

This year, H. Con. Res. 223 was introduced in the House session earlier than last year’s resolution and includes some of the original co-sponsors who agreed to get the resolution passed. “We are working to get all the same members of Congress who co-sponsored [the resolution] last year to do so again,” Socci adds. “We are asking every member of ACSM to ask their state representative to co-sponsor the resolution as well.”

To contact your state representative in support of H. Con. Res. 223, visit www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.shtml.

Berntsen International’s new Web site, www.cachingnow.com, comes in the form of a monthly magazine and celebrates geocaching and bench mark hunting.

Berntsen Launches Geocaching Web site

Berntsen International launched a new Web site dubbed “Caching Now,” celebrating geocaching and bench mark hunting. The Web site, www.cachingnow.com, invites both professional surveyors and amateur geocachers to share their expertise, experiences and hobbies in the form of a monthly online magazine.

Rhonda Rushing, president of Berntsen and publisher/editor of “Caching Now,” first became interested in broadening Berntsen’s horizons beyond the professional surveying community with her book Lasting Impressions: A Glimpse Into the Legacy of Surveying, published last year. Rushing received numerous photographs and stories from geocachers and bench mark hunters, which sparked her desire to find out more about these GPS-based hobbies.

“Our goal is for [the Web site] to be a fun and educational site,” Rushing says, “and I am hoping that it will also be a help to the surveying community in getting young geocachers aware of land surveying as a profession.” Visitors of the Web site have an opportunity to learn about the technologies behind GPS-based activities, including reviews of GPS hardware and software, interesting stories on the sport of geocaching, and information from educators, professional surveyors, land management agencies and geocachers on how they can all work together to promote the surveying profession.

Students of Tidewater Community College’s new Land Surveying Certificate Program learn to operate new GPS equipment.

State Updates

Virginia College Offers Surveying Certificate Program

In September, Tidewater Community College (TCC) in Hampton Roads, Va., began offering a new Land Surveying Certificate program. The new certificate was approved by Virginia’s Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects (APELSCIDLA) as a survey apprenticeship program. The one-year program consists of 29 credits as part of TCC’s Civil Engineering Technology Program, and is designed to provide the formal theoretical and laboratory coursework necessary to prepare a person to take the Virginia Land Surveyors-In-Training Examination. Students who successfully complete TCC’s survey apprenticeship program and have at least six years of work experience have an opportunity to take the exam in the fundamentals of land surveying to receive the surveyor-in-training designation. “This reduces the amount of work experience a student needs before completing the certificate,” says Chris Cartwright, TCC’s Civil Engineering Technology program head. “For example, right out of high school, students would need at least eight years of work experience to take Virginia’s surveying-in-training test. With the certificate, however, students only need six years of surveying work experience to become an LSIT.”

Cartwright began exploring the idea of incorporating a surveying certificate program to the school’s curriculum in 2005. For guidance, he looked to Evergreen Valley College in San Jose, Calif., because of its recently developed two-year associate degree program in land surveying. Evergreen Valley received a grant from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Advanced Technological Education program in May 2007 to develop a civil engineering/surveying curriculum integrated with new technology. Since then, Evergreen has seen growth in its program, setting a standard for survey programs across the nation.

Using Evergreen’s program as a model, Cartwright and TCC’s civil engineering technology advisory board reached out to local surveyors to help develop the right curriculum for TCC students. “We went to local surveying meetings and got their feedback to make sure we were creating the right program,” Cartwright says. Because the surveying community was so involved in the formation of the program, the advisory board appointed two new members to its board: surveyors Steve Stevenson, LS, and Brian Dresen, LSIT. “These surveyors helped draft a proposed curriculum for our program,” Cartwright says. “They were instrumental [and] made sure our courses would meet the requirements to sit for the Virginia surveying exam.”

The Land Surveying Certificate Program has been in full swing for several months, but TCC plans to strengthen it by offering additional new courses in the spring of 2008 with topics such as photogrammetry and remote sensing, Virginia mapping standards and law, and GPS. “I think we have a really strong program,” Cartwright says. “The [students] seem to be excited about it, particularly those who are already working as surveyors. I think it will continue to increase in popularity once the word gets out.”

Information on TCC’s Land Surveying Certificate Program can be found at www.tcc.edu/faculty/webpages/CCartwright/FYI.htm.

This painting, “N.Y. Taylor, 1872,” commemorates the first licensed land surveyor in Minnesota and honors surveyors of who worked on original GLO surveys.

Minnesota Honors First Registered Land Surveyor

In the spring of 2006, Edward Otto, the 2006 president of the Minnesota Society of Professional Surveyors (MSPS), commissioned the painting of Norris (N.Y.) Taylor, the first licensed land surveyor in the state of Minnesota. Taylor served as the Meeker County Surveyor in Minnesota from 1887 to 1924 and accepted his first contract as a U.S. Deputy Surveyor in 1873. As Meeker County Surveyor, Taylor worked on the original government survey in northwestern Minnesota and helped enact the first licensure laws for land surveyors. He was also elected as the first president of MSPS and played an important role in remonumenting GLO corners in the state.

The idea to commission the painting first came from John Freeymeyer, the 2006 Minnesota NSPS Governor, after discovering a letter written by Taylor to his son about his experiences working on the original GLO surveys. Recognizing that there are few pieces of art honoring the surveying profession, Freeymeyer and Otto agreed to use Taylor’s letter as an inspiration to create a painting to commemorate Taylor and other surveyors of his time who worked on GLO surveys. Artist Dan Metz was commissioned to create the artwork and on Feb. 1, 2007, the first print of Taylor, “N.Y. Taylor, 1872,” was sold at the MSPS annual meeting.

For the full story on “N.Y. Taylor, 1872” as well as excerpts from Taylor’s original letters, click here.

Several American chestnut trees planted on the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in Hodgenville, Ky., on November 2 honor the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.

Kentucky Surveyors Honor Lincoln

To honor the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, the Kentucky Association of Professional Surveyors (KAPS) and the American Chestnut Foundation planted several American chestnut trees on the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in Hodgenville, Ky., on November 2.

The national bicentennial event is significant to KAPS and the state of Kentucky because of Lincoln’s experiences with surveying. Lincoln’s father, Thomas, worked as a surveyor in the Sinking Springs and Knob Creek areas in Kentucky. Years later, Lincoln drew from his father’s experiences and began practicing surveying before becoming president. In 1992, KAPS also preserved the original Lincoln family farm survey point by using GPS technology. “KAPS has fashioned several commemorative plaques from some of the salvaged Lincoln farm boundary lumber for special occasions, such as the 200th celebration of Lincoln’s birthday,” says James R. Riney, PE, PS, KAPS member.

The chestnut tree was specifically chosen to honor Lincoln because of its historic significance. Families in rural America, including the Lincoln family, once depended heavily upon the trees for food and shelter. These trees grew straight and tall and were rot-resistant, making the wood desirable for building everything from log cabin homes to split-rail fences.

Visitors to the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site have an opportunity to view the newly planted chestnut trees as well as learn about Thomas and Abraham Lincoln’s history as surveyors.

GITA Announces New Oklahoma Chapter

The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) Board of Directors approved a new North American regional chapter in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Chapter joins 22 other GITA chapters, each created to sponsor local educational sessions and provide a forum for technology information exchange in the areas they represent.

According to Robert Stokes, Oklahoma Chapter president and president of Topographic Mapping Company in Oklahoma City, the process to create the new chapter first began about a year and a half ago when a handful of long-time GITA members working in Oklahoma noticed a need for a local, vendor-neutral professional association. “There are other local user groups operating in the state, but to my knowledge not a single professional chapter from any national geospatial association,” Stokes says. “This small group quickly grew into an interest community of well over 60 people from across the state. From that time, we have continued working toward our main goal of chapter formation by electing officers, developing and adopting local bylaws and providing educational/information seminars for the community--all culminating in our application and eventual approval for chapter formation.”

The first chapter meeting took place on October 3 at Tulsa Community College. Attendees and officers at the meeting heard reports on GITA’s recent Oil & Gas Conference in Houston as well as a presentation from the Indian Nations Council of Government’s Kurt Bickle on geographic profiling and the use of geospatial techniques used within the Tulsa law enforcement community. In the future, the Oklahoma Chapter hopes to develop a scholarship program as well as a conference to bring together local geospatial users in a platform-independent environment.

For additional information on GITA’s North American regional chapters, visit www.gita.org.

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