PGR newsletter

Web/Operations

Last year, the Operations team began a long-overdue overhaul of our website and email infrastructure, to move us to true dual-site architecture with disaster-recovery capability. Our old servers were outdated, and lacked the capacity and redundancy required of a national organization with such a heavy dependency on email and web presence. We had also far outgrown the old website software functionality (or lack thereof), so the first order of business was to upgrade the site itself. PGR contracted with SEOvB, Inc. to assist us in the migration to new Vbulletin software, since the entire PGR Operations teams were already stretched to their limits. Those teams are composed of volunteers just like all of us, and they try (with varying degrees of success) to have lives outside PGR. The undertaking was huge and problematic, but they rose to the occasion to make it happen.

Shortly on the heels of the website migration, the decision was made to again contract with SEOvB to host our primary website infrastructure on the east coast, while our email servers remained in the Seattle-area facility that also hosts our backup site. I would be totally remiss not to mention that the majority of this work was conducted by only two people: PGR National Web Administrator Drew “BSDBLUZ” Berendts, and PGR Operations Director Robert “Gator” Collins. These guys put in a staggering number of hours to complete these projects. To say the PGR would be crippled without their dedication would be a sad understatement.

As we are all painfully aware, there have been a couple of extended outages along the way, and some level of member frustration has been encountered with the process required to sign-up on the new website. Without going into painful technical detail, I can assure you that the reasoning for the somewhat complicated procedure was necessary to begin with a clean and secure database. Our membership rolls had become bloated with duplicate and inactive accounts, and corrupted with information from various web crawlers and spammers. The new signup process takes a little more time and effort, but it greatly assists the operations teams with maintaining the data required to serve the mission. The most effective assistance I can pass to anyone encountering difficulty with site access is to read directions posted on the homepage of the site! Most of the problems reported could have been prevented by this simple step. Please remember to be patient as we continue this transition, which is still in progress, in some respects.

PGR Store

The big news surrounding the PGR Gear Store is the recent retirement of long-time Store Manager, Bryan Loun. Bryan has worked very hard for the last several years, maintaining the relationship with our fulfillment vendor, Fast Color, overseeing virtually all of the day-to-day store operation. He’s grown the store from a very small low-level concern, to the national-level entity that we have today. On behalf of the PGR Board of Directors, and the whole organization, we extend our thanks and appreciation to Bryan for all of his dedication and effort…enjoy your retirement, Bryan!

With the growth of the PGR store, and to accommodate future plans, the decision was made to go forward with two National Store Managers. Stepping up to give Bryan a well-deserved rest, are a pair of Texans: Rick Crabb, who assumes the vendor liaison and customer service role, and Herb Parsons, who will take on the technical challenges as we relocate the store site from Amazon to our own PGR servers. More information on the new team will be forthcoming very soon.

Additionally, you may not be aware that the PGR store has a new access URL now: http://store.patriotguard.org If you’ve not visited in a while, I encourage you to take a look at many new items that are added regularly. Of particular note is a new pin, called the “Flag Line pin”, which was designed by PGR member Stephanie Santaquilani of Indiana…it’s very unusual and is expected to be a big seller, as well as a popular gift for the families we honor.

Trademark Defense

In the wake of our successful effort to secure the Patriot Guard Riders trademarks, we now find ourselves obligated to undertake the protection of those marks, as required by trademark law. Those last few words “as required by trademark law” are critical to understand…if we don’t protect our rights, we can lose them! Questions may arise as the BoD moves to protect our identifying marks against unauthorized use by people or outside groups who wish to profit from the hard work of our membership, and our honorable mission. Those questions may be referred through your local or state leadership. It is also encouraged that you report any suspected unauthorized use of our trademarks in the same manner. Please help us be diligent in the protection of the integrity of your PGR!

Snowball Express

As you may be aware, PGR entered into a partnership with Snowball Express in late 2013. Building on the relationship established by TX PGR, it was agreed that Snowball Express was a fine organization whose mission was a perfect complement to our own HOTH goals. So far in 2014, PGR has made a substantial cash donation to SBE, via the Maydaze Crawfish Boil Benefit event in Louisiana. A special patch is being produced for sale in the PGR store, with all proceeds going to SBE….look for that soon. If you don’t know about Snowball Express, read about it athttp://snowballexpress.org/ . Be sure to check out the other sponsors, and I believe you’ll agree that we’re in good company.

As always, the national leadership of the PGR wishes to extend our profound thanks to YOU, the members who stand the flag lines in honor of our fallen heroes, on a daily basis. None of what you see above would be possible without everything you do. If you ever have doubts about the impact you have on our country, do a simple search for “PGR” or “Patriot Guard Riders” on YouTube, or take some time to read the letters of appreciation on this website. There is no doubt that you all make a difference.

Respectfully,

Mike “StayLow” Childree
VP/Members
National Board of Directors
Patriot Guard Riders

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