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September 7, 2000
The Buzz in October

POB Acquires RPLS.com

Topcon and Javad did it. Trimble and Spectra did it. So did Eagle Point and SMI. Amidst the merger-crazy atmosphere in the surveying industry, POB figured we should do it, too. POB is pleased to announce the acquisition of RPLS.com, the best surveying bulletin board on the web.

In 1996, Mark Deal, a PLS in Oklahoma City, became interested in the Internet and enthralled with the concept of creating an open meeting experience on a worldwide basis for the surveying profession. Already Internet-savvy, he found a service provider, set up the board and sent out E-mails announcing the birth of RPLS.com to friends in the industry. Within a month, dozens of visitors came to the board. Now the visitors number in the thousands.

"The board provides a venue for developing relationships with surveyors around the world. It's a place to express opinions, say what's on your mind and get feedback from other surveyors," Deal said. "The board offers a tremendous potential for learning. Often, surveyors in small firms don't get the opportunity to discuss issues with other surveyors. The board provides that opportunity. That's its greatest value."

RPLS.com's popularity grew beyond Deal's expectations. Running his own firm, Mark Deal and Associates P.C., attending college for a master's in business administration at the University of Central Oklahoma, and twin daughters, Andrea Jean and Cora Lee, didn't leave him much time for expanding the board. "The board has a tremendous potential for growth. There's so much I wanted to do with it, but simply didn't have the time," he said.

That's where POB comes in. In order to better know what's on the minds of surveyors, staff members were frequent visitors to the board. We contacted Deal and asked if he would like to form a partnership with the magazine. Due to professional and family demands on his time, Deal asked if we would instead be interested in buying the site. We were.

"POB's acquisition of the board is a positive thing for the RPLS community," Deal said. "POB has the staff and the resources to bring RPLS.com to the next level." As part of the acquisition, Deal agreed to act as Internet Consultant for the magazine, write a monthly column on the website and continue to take an active role in the RPLS community.

What will change on the board as a result of the acquisition? Not much. Our vision is the same as Deal's-we want to provide a venue for surveyors to share ideas with other surveyors around the world. We will retain the general discussion board, as well as the manufacturer-sponsored discussion boards. Surveyors from all over the globe are welcome to post their ideas, opinions, two cents, etc., about any survey-related topics. We want the board to retain its integrity as a place of discussion without sales pressure, so we will monitor the site daily for any commercial postings. All such postings will be deleted and the originators of those postings will be contacted regarding their interest in placing an ad on POB's extensive online classified ad section.

Thanks to the acquisition of RPLS.com, POB now has the resources to establish monthly (eventually weekly) live web chats with well-known members of the surveying community (coming soon). Please let us know what topics you would like covered on POB web chats.

POB Online provides the surveying community with extensive news, product, editorial and reference sections and now-thanks to the acquisition of RPLS.com-the opportunity to learn from other surveyors as well.

Good Will Mission to Cuba

Thirty years in the industry could get you a trip to Cuba. Frank Ledford will be going there with about 20 people in January 2001 as part of People to People International, an arm of the American People Ambassador Program. Ledford, president of F.R. Ledford & Associates, Shelby, N.C., was selected to lead a delegation of surveying and mapping ambassadors to Cuba. Ledford and his delegates will meet with private and geodetic surveyors in Cuba, visit project sites and evaluate their techniques, equipment and technology. Meetings with the Ministry of Construction, Department of Geography of the University of Havana and the area's leading surveying organizations will provide more insight into surveying practices in Cuba.

In a letter from the Ambassador Program, Ledford noted: "The government is slowly changing policies towards international economic development and investment. Cuba lost its major export and trade partner in 1991 when the trade agreements between Cuba and Russia crumbled with the breakup of the Soviet Union. These new opportunities for investment are bringing with them a demand for new building construction and infrastructure development. With it will be the increasing need for engineering and boundary surveying and map resources to support development."

Ledford's 30 years in the areas of land surveying, mapping, design, construction and photogrammetry, and his long-standing membership in the North Carolina Society of Surveyors, ACSM, NSPS and ASPRS led the American Ambassador Program to select Ledford for the mission. Ledford also led a People to People mission to Australia and New Zealand in 1999 and to China in 1997.

He says the experiences are unmatched. "The mission to China was more of an understanding (of good will between the countries). But, their surveyors and engineers were bananas over GPS," Ledford said.

Ledford said he doesn't expect GPS to be as well received in Cuba. "It has been hinted not to mention anything about GPS," he said, suggesting it was probably due to the benefits GPS has provided the United States Army in locating the enemy in wars.

Ledford said the trips are pleasurable and beneficial-learning experiences on both ends. He said one must be prepared to deal with other languages, cultures, foods and values when traveling and examining other groups. And, he said, "You have to have a sense of adventure."

Nedra Foster, LSLS

Texas Licenses First Female LSLS

On May 24, 2000, Texas Land Commissioner David Dewhurst announced the licensing of Nedra Foster as the first female licensed state land surveyor (LSLS) in Texas. An LSLS is the only surveyor in Texas permitted to survey permanent school fund land and state-owned land, and the only surveyor permitted to resolve original boundary problems. There are currently 55 LSLS statuses active in Texas, but Foster is the first female. To become an LSLS, one must be a Texas Registered Professional Land Surveyor (RPLS), which Foster attained in 1999, and pass an eight-hour examination covering the history and function of the General Land Office and legal principles of original land grants.

Foster works as head surveyor at Shine & Associates in Silsbee, Texas, where she began organizing seminars with owner Darrell Shine in 1981.

"After working with Darrell for so long, I finally decided to go ahead and get serious about it," Foster said.

Though she hasn't attained a degree or certificate, Foster has studied at Lamar University-Beaumont and Paris Junior College in Texas. "I never have achieved [a degree]. I'm on the 25-year plan," Foster joked.

She has been a member of the Texas Society of Professional Surveyors (TSPS) for over 10 years and has served on the TSPS Education Committee for nearly a year. She is also collaborating with Shine on a book entitled, Inland and Coastal Waters of Texas and Their Boundaries.

Now that she has set an example for women in her state, Texas officials hope to see more women following Foster's steps.

"We're all proud of Ms. Foster and hope she will be the first of many women qualified to survey the boundaries of state lands," Commissioner Dewhurst said.