Tag Archives: Lake of the Woods Civic Club

planning

Trust and Estate Planning is Topic of June’s Civic Club Meeting

Please join the Civic Club on Wednesday, June 12th, at 7pm in the Lake of the Woods Clubhouse, as Joseph M. Kirchgessner, a Senior Partner with Woehrle Dahlberg Jones Yao PLLC, will discuss estate planning and trust creations. You’ll learn what is important to think about and what information you’ll need in order to create these very important documents. Time will be allotted for questions at the end of the presentation. 

A Fredericksburg area native, Mr. Kirchgessner joined the firm the Spring of 2015 after having worked at a boutique employment law firm in Washington, D.C. He advocates for his clients in a variety of matters, including Domestic Relations, Estate Planning, Business/Employment, and Criminal matters.  

After graduating from Courtland High School in 2005, Mr. Kirchgessner went on to attend Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA. He graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in History. Following a sixth summer of coaching a local swim team, he then worked for a small law firm in Fredericksburg, VA that focused on workers’ compensation cases for about two years before attending law school. 

Mr. Kirchgessner attended St. Louis University School of Law and graduated in the Spring of 2014 with a concentration in Labor and Employment Studies.  

Mr. Kirchgessner is an experienced litigator and has participated in hundreds of trials throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, including successful jury trials for both criminal and estate planning matters. 

In his spare time, Mr. Kirchgessner is an avid swimmer, cyclist, and traveler. He currently serves as President of the Ron Rosner YMCA in Spotsylvania County and is active in the Fredericksburg Area Bar Association, among other charitable efforts in the Fredericksburg community. 

Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.

Civic Club Meeting at the Germanna Visitors Center

by Pat Licata, President

The Lake of the Woods Civic Club will hold its Wednesday, May 15th meeting at the Germanna Foundation’s Visitors Center, which is located adjacent to the Germanna Community College’s main campus about three miles west of LOW.  The meeting will begin at 6:30 pm.  The meeting is open to all Lake of the Woods residents.

Germanna Foundation’s Executive Director Timothy Sutphin will tell us about the over 300-year history of the Germanna community, plus current and future plans for The Germanna Foundation.

 Germanna Foundation’s Archaeologist Eric Larsen, Ph.D. will discuss this summer’s archaeology and the ongoing work on the Fort Germanna and Enchanted Castle sites.  They hope to uncover secrets of the fort that was commissioned by Lt. Governor Alexander Spotswood in 1714 and settled by German colonists. 

Lt. Governor Spotswood of Virginia, built two forts, Fort Germanna in the north and Fort Christianna in the south to protect the British Empire on the western frontier.  At Fort Germanna, Spotswood populated the fort with Germans from the Siegen area of Germany who were skilled miners.  He used their expertise in mining to develop an iron industry for the Virginia colonies.  After the Germans had migrated out of the area, Spotswood then build his “Enchanted Castle” on the site and established the short-lived county seat of Spotsylvania County.

At Fort Germanna the confluence of multiple cultures came into play; these include Native Americans, the English, the Germans as settlers, and the enslaved as the imported labor for Spotswood after the Germans migrated west.

This is a great spring opportunity to join your neighbors and tour the Visitor Center and the new Hitt Archaeology Center. The area around Germanna and Lake of the Woods is rich in centuries-old history.

We look forward to seeing you on May 15th at the Germanna Visitors Center at 6:30 pm.  There will be time allotted for questions, so please bring yours!

Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.

LOWA BOD Candidate Reception 7/13

by Pat Licata, President, Civic Club
lowentrance

Please join the Civic Club on Wednesday, July 13th, at 5:00 PM, as we host a Reception for the Candidates, in the Great Hall of the Clubhouse. LOWA BOD candidates are Carl Clawson, Bob Hoh, Jeff Johnson, Larry Morlan, Brian Sakacsi, Brian Smith, Michael Tait, and Jennifer Zukowski.
The reception will begin with a social time to include hors d ‘oeuvres and a cash bar. A more formal program will follow in which each candidate will have up to three minutes to address the gathering.
The Reception for the Candidates is open to all members of the community. Please plan to attend so that you are able to know your candidates better. We look forward to seeing you on the 13th!

The Civic Club Board has dispensed with group questioning and encourages members to ask their questions during the social time before and after the candidate’s presentations.
Following the Reception for the Candidates, consider having dinner at the Clubhouse. The deck is open, and the view of the lake is priceless.
The Civic Club has asked each BOD candidate to answer nine questions and their answers are below. On behalf of the Civic Club, we wish the candidates good fortune in the election and want to express appreciation for their willingness to serve our community.
If you wish to receive the Civic Club’s newsletter, Lakeviews, send an e-mail with “subscribe” in the title to <subscribe@jimhopkins.com>.
Below are the questions with answers from all candidates:

1. Why are you running for the Board?
Carl Clawson: I believe my experience as volunteer here and in Stafford County will benefit our community. As a member, I want to keep my community at its best both financially and physically.
Bob Hoh: There are four main reasons for my decision to run: 1) I believe I can make positive contributions to our community. 2) I want to be part of the process to develop and execute responsible plans to ensure Lake of the Woods remains a viable and desirable place to live and raise families in the future. 3) I now have the time to devote to board duties. 4) I have the support of family and friends
Jeff Johnson: We teach our kids that in order to make a difference you need to be involved; however less and less parents are willing to be involved in the solution. Instead they want to voice all the problems. I want to make a difference, be part of the solution and lead by example.
Larry Morlan: I am running because I feel I bring a positive perspective to looking to the future of Lake of the Woods. With my previous experience of serving on this and other Boards, I bring a working knowledge of how to accomplish goals.
Brian Sakacsi: I decided to run for the board when it first appeared that there would not be enough candidates to fill the vacant positions and felt that somebody (me) had to step up and volunteer.
Brian Smith: Because I, like many others, are fed up with how we are treated by the board. I’m fed up with extending votes just because the Board didn’t get the vote that they wanted. Our assessments keep going up with no increase or improvement in services. Why is it that we all have to set a budget with a finite income and make cuts, but the BOD and Management just keep spending like Congress?!!! Because I am fed up with hearing people, including myself, being told “If you don’t like it, then move”!

Michael Tait: I have resided in this community since about 2003, and after retiring in 2010, have been getting involved. I served on the Board of Directors at the Ridge Point HOA in Falmouth and found that I enjoyed helping my neighbors. I think that now is a good time for me to become involved with service to this community. In addition, I was a Vice President of two small businesses in the chemical water treatment field from 1994 until my retirement. Working with employees and customers, managing budgets when income might vary greatly each month depending on sales, has given me the experience and prepared me to understand the complex concerns our HOA faces each year regarding improvements, repairs, and personnel, etc.
Jennifer Zukowski: I have enjoyed working on several committees in LOW and am aware of some of the major issues facing the community. I believe my experience on LOW Committees and my work experience as Manager of Attorney Employment and Professional Development gives me a unique perspective on how to reconcile differences and support a thriving community.
 
2. What are the 3 most important duties of a Board member?
Bob Hoh: The 15 official duties of board members are spelled out in Article VIII of the bylaws. However, for me they can be distilled into the three most important: 1) Provide for the welfare and security of residents, owners and guests. 2) Carry out the fiduciary responsibility to manage LOWA assets for the overall good of the LOW community. 3) Plan for the maintenance, replacement, acquisition/expansion, use and disposal of association facilities, land and equipment.
Jeff Johnson: 1) Honesty 2) Communication and 3) Accountability
Larry Morlan: 1) Listen to all members of the Association. 2) Do your homework on all sides of each issue. 3) Attend and participate in a positive manner at all meetings.
Brian Sakacsi: In my opinion the three most important duties of the board are: 1) formulate and administer the annual budget. 2) Ensure that our current amenities are maintained and/or improved. 3) Listen to and address member concerns.
Brian Smith: 1) Most important, is to be a voice of consensus for the members! 2) To manage orderly discussions of issues for the members! 3) Listen to the members and to maintain better fiduciary responsibility for the members!
Michael Tait: 1) Listen to the members. 2) Review expenditures to make sure what’s being spent benefits the majority of the members. 3) Monitor the Capitol plan to make sure it makes sense for the majority of members, not a select few.
Jennifer Zukowski: 1) Establish, adopt, and enforce the rules and regulations of the community. 2) Support policies that promote the general and financial welfare of the community. 3) Listen and support open communication between members, management and the Board.
Carl Clawson: 1) Listening to the concerns of all our members. 2) Working with management to insure that they are performing to the best of their abilities. 3) We should insure that the members’ fees are being used wisely.
 
3. What should be the role between the Board and LOWA staff, particularly the General Manger?
Jeff Johnson: Communication is a major role of the Board to ensure the LOWA staff has the tools needed to do their jobs, roles and functions. If they don’t, it’s a failure in the system.
Larry Morlan: The Board sets the policy for the operations of the Lake of the Woods and supervises the General Manager. The Board should not be involved in the day to day operations of the staff except through the General Manager.

Brian Sakacsi: In my opinion the role of the board in regard to the staff should be to work with the GM. Ultimately formulating direction for the GM to handle the day to day operations and associated staff.
Brian Smith: To ensure that the Management does the bidding of the members, not the other way around! How many more bars do we need here? Why are our subsidies so high for the various amenities?
Michael Tait: 1) The Board provides policy and budget. 2) The General Manager supervises the staff, not the Board. 3) The President of the Board is the only direct contact for the General Manager.
Jennifer Zukowski: The Board makes policy; the GM implements policy, particularly in regard to maintaining association property and amenities, ensuring all assets are properly recorded; and the GM submits the operating and capital budgets for the Board’s consideration each year.
Carl Clawson: I believe that the board should work closely with the General Manager on major decisions but not try to micro manage the operation of the community. This should be the responsibility, and duty of the General Manager. If while serving on the board I see any staff member not doing his or her duty it should be brought to the attention of the General Manager for correction or discipline.
Bob Hoh: The relationship between the board and the staff/general manager is a multi-faceted one. 1) Supervisory – the board must provide overall guidance, support, and discipline if necessary. 2) Mentoring – board members must share their significant experience and expertise in relevant areas. 3) Partnership – the board must allow the staff to manage community affairs within established guidelines, giving assistance where needed.
 

4. What do you think of the current status of our facilities/amenities?
Larry Morlan: We obviously are facing some tough decisions relative to our pools and some other areas of our facilities. The Board must stay current on these issues through the Lakes Management Plan, the Replacement reserve Policy, and the operations and budget status of each amenity in order to maintain the viability of each.
Brian Sakacsi: I think our current amenities are in good shape, but we should strive for continuous improvement.
Brian Smith: Many of our amenities are in need of major repairs. We need to weigh repairing vs replacing over the long run. But I question why buildings approximately five years old need major renovations? Some are talking about a Skateboard park again. But can we afford it now?
Michael Tait: We have great facilities, and the future projects that are being considered could make our amenities even better than they are.
Jennifer Zukowski: Some of them, like the Clubhouse and Woods Center, have been improved substantially. The Clubhouse used to have a $500,000 subsidy; this year’s subsidy is approximately $160,000. With its recent renovation, Fareways is projecting a 50% increase in revenue this year. The Golf course, according to several golfers, is in better condition than it has ever been. The Equestrian Center received lighting this year which will increase revenue by lengthening the time lessons can be given during the shorter days of the year. The Clubhouse pool/Fitness Center building is in poor condition, does not meet code, and does not meet member needs. It should be replaced. Sweetbriar pool should be replaced using the $510,995 from the insurance company and Sweetbriar pool reserves.
Carl Clawson: I as a general contractor have an eye for detail. I have observed many situations concerning the upkeep of the facilities. Maintenance and repair should be put on a critical path to insure that our current facilities should not reach a point of needing replacement.
Bob Hoh: Overall they are very good. Over the years we have lived here, we have enjoyed the lakes, golf course, equestrian center, fitness center, pools, community center, Woods center, clubhouse, parks, campground, playgrounds and beaches. They are not perfect and some are starting to show their age. We must make sure that the board, in concert with the relevant facility/amenity committees plus Planning, Finance, etc. are working together to craft a logical, responsive and affordable plan for the future.

Jeff Johnson: Certain areas are behind the curve, such as the fitness facility. The golf course amenities are nice, but the fitness facility brings in revenue and needs to be updated and increased in its size. By doing this, I am confident it will bring in even more revenue.
 
5. What is your view of LOWA capital planning?
Brian Sakacsi: I think the Reserve Study is a very important tool in helping the board to plan the budget, and plan for capital expenses.
Brian Smith: This is probably the only area that I feel where the Board and Management just might be doing what they are supposed to be doing. Planning for the future replacement or maintenance of equipment and other assets seem to be inline.
Michael Tait: I think when the Board is ready to make a final decision regarding new Capitol projects or replacing an existing one, the membership should have information as to what effect it would have on their assessment before it goes forth. I am not sure the majority of members are informed as to specific cost and what it means to each family over time.
Jennifer Zukowski: LOWA has two forms of capital planning. There is the New Asset and Improvement reserve, which is used for new capital projects. There is also the Replacement Capital Spending Plan, which is used to repair or replace LOWA existing assets. New capital projects usually originate with one of our LOWA committees. They are vetted by the Planning Committee and then presented to the LOW community at a Town Hall meeting before being added to the Planning Committee’s Five Year Plan for Board consideration. The repair and replacement plan amount is based on the Miller & Dodson Reserve Study. Historically, the Board has fully funded the recommended amount, giving LOWA a healthy replacement reserve.
Carl Clawson: I believe that a lot of the upfront cost of the capital projects can be put into a scope of work format. Contractors can then give their suggestions, comments, and a preliminary cost estimate before we hire a consultant. This will at least give us a better idea of the cost or situations, which may not require an expensive study.
Bob Hoh: I believe our capital planning is a good, deliberate and logical process. I think it has enough flexibility to meet evolving as well as emergency community needs
Jeff Johnson: Planning is adequately done, however I have concerns about the accuracy of it. I have heard from many people since I voiced I was running for the board that they do not have full faith and confidence in the honesty of the state of our capital funds.
Larry Morlan: The overall planning efforts within the community have been forward looking. A number of volunteer committees monitor and address this concern each fiscal year and present findings and recommendations to the Board. This important area takes a community effort in looking to the future needs of the Lake of the Woods.

 
6. What has been your involvement with LOW community activities?
Brian Smith: I volunteer with the LOW Volunteer Fire and Rescue. I put in no less than 36 hours a week on average and have for over one year going into my second year. I also hold multiple officers positions within the Rescue Squad. My daughter is a Girl Scout (four years) and on the Barracudas Swim team (sixth year). My wife has been a Girl Scout Troop leader for a number of years.
Michael Tait: Vice Chairman of the Maintenance and Ecology Committee since August of 2015, and prior to that as an alternate. Since February 2016, I have served as an alternate on the Pool Committee as well as an alternate on the newly formed Ad Hoc Pool and Fitness Committee.
Jennifer Zukowski: I was a member of the original Youth Activities Committee and the Pool and Fitness Committee. I am currently a member of the Fitness Committee, Planning Committee and Ad Hoc Committee on the Pool/Fitness Center Outdoor Recreation Complex. I am also subcommittee chair of the LOWA 2016 Land Use Study. In 2009, I served as a volunteer EMT for Fire and Rescue. In 2015, I became one of the founding directors of Friends of Lake of the Woods (FLOW), a 501(c)3 charitable organization dedicated to improving LOW infrastructure and amenities.

Carl Clawson: I have served on the Environmental Control Committee, Equestrian Committee and Maintenance and Ecology. Committee. I have Volunteered, furnished tools and created detailed drawings for the Lake of the Woods Church and the LOW Lions club to build many handicapped ramps and perform repairs to homes in our community and Orange County for the less fortunate. I am a member of Lowlinc, and Lake of the Woods Lions club.
Bob Hoh: As mentioned in four above, we have participated in or attended many activities through the years. This has included candidate forums, town hall meetings, board meetings, committee meetings and concerts on the point. I am currently a member of the Golf Committee, the ad hoc 50th Anniversary Steering Committee, the LOW Veterans Club and enjoy the LOW Fun Bowling League.
Jeff Johnson: Honestly I am involved in a very limited role. I am a veteran, but have not yet joined the VA because I have church on Thursday evenings in Stafford. I am a member of the Orange Youth Council and need to be more involved. I also work in DC every day.
Larry Morlan: Since 2013, I have been the coordinator of the LOW Neighborhood Watch. This program currently has 950 members and 53 block captains that aid in the overall security of LOW. This involves close coordination with management of the Lake, Lake Security and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. I have also been associated with the Safety and Security Committee, the Equestrian Committee, the Legal and Compliance Committee, the Golf Committee, the Communications Committee, and the Tennis Committee.
Brian Sakacsi: I haven’t had much involvement in LOW Community activities, due my work schedule and the associated commute.
 
7. Should the Association take an active role in the affairs of state and local government? What type of issues should be addressed?
Michael Tait: I think we are well represented in our local and county government, School Board and Chamber of Commerce. What ever might impact our community.
Jennifer Zukowski: Yes, the Association should take an active role. With Orange County adopting the Germanna Wilderness Area Plan (GWAP) in June 2015, change is going to happen, especially along Route 3. It is better for LOW to be part of that process than not. Issues that need to be addressed are water, what type of businesses we attract to the area and increased traffic.
Carl Clawson: I would encourage our external affairs committee to monitor not only the state and local governments but also any issue outside LOWA that may impact our community.
Bob Hoh: Yes, when they do or could affect our community. This could include issues like the dam, tax assessments, Route 3 corridor development, school upgrades, etc.
Jeff Johnson: Being a retired Federal Agent, I am interested in youth activities, law enforcement and wherever else I am needed.
Larry Morlan: I believe the Association should take an active role in affairs outside of the Lake. The External affairs Committee does an outstanding job of extending the influence of the LOW. Important issues to be addressed would include: economic development around LOW; transportation systems affecting LOW; school issues affecting parents within LOW; and, legislation affecting HOA’s such as LOW. There are many other issues but these are a few of the most important issues.
Brian Sakacsi: I do not believe it would be appropriate for the association to take an active role in state or local government.
Brian Smith: I have mixed emotions on this topic. At the county level, absolutely we should be involved because most of what the county does directly affects us here at LOW. We are the biggest community in the county, but it seems that we get the table scraps. At the state level, would we be more like lobbyists or constituents?

 
8. Are you satisfied with how the LOWA budget is developed? Please explain.
Jennifer Zukowski: As a member of the Planning Committee, I know that producing the annual budget is a long process with many steps. It begins with the Operating Center Managers who work with their various committees on both the Operating Budget and capital projects. The Operating Center Managers review this information with the General Manager and Assistant General Manager and determine whether items listed in replacement reserves need to be replaced in the current year or later. The Operating Center Managers and General Manager work with the Finance Director and Controller to produce a draft budget. The draft budget is then reviewed by the joint Planning and Finance Committees with the General Manager and Operating Center Managers. After adjustments, a draft is submitted to the Board for consideration. It seems to be a thorough process.
Carl Clawson: Although I have not been involved in the process, I understand that a budget is developed by two committees, known as the Planning Committee and Finance Committee. Then the proposed budget will be submitted to the General Manager and the board of Directors for approval. I am familiar with the Miller Dobson study that provides us with a long-range plan for the repair and replacement of our amenities and equipment.
Bob Hoh: In general, yes. I believe working with the various committee and their five year plans, soliciting member inputs and discussing the budget in open board meetings is a healthy and effective approach. But nothing is perfect and I’m sure there are some areas where the process can be tweaked.
Jeff Johnson: Without having been a part of the process 100%, I can only say that I believe there is room for improvement. For example, I believe the 3rd gate is a waste of time, money and effort…but that’s just me.
Larry Morlan: I experience the LOW budget process for the first time this last year. I was impressed with the transparency and thoroughness of the process, most particularly the work of the Planning and Finance Committees. My previous budget experience at the state level (Budget Director for the Kansas Department of Transportation), at the local level (as a member of the Lawrence Kansas School Board), and at the private level (President of the University of Montana Foundation) afforded me tremendous opportunity to observe many budget operations. I must say I have not seen a process that passes through so many reviews as occurs at LOWA before final submission to the Board.
Brian Sakacsi: I am satisfied with how the LOW budget is developed. I think the Board has done a great job in holding increases to a minimum. I think the reserve study is a key factor that makes that possible.
Brian Smith: No!!! As stated above, why is it that we as individuals have to live within a finite budget do to not being able to give ourselves raises, but the Association can just raise our fees every year after year, after year? I was speaking to a man at the Festivities for the Fourth who has lived here for 20 years. He said that in all that time, we haven’t gotten any more amenities or services, but the assessment keeps going up. 20 years ago the assessment here was $400 a year! I have lived here since 2003 and have seen the same thing. Cuts need to be made so that people can afford to continue living here. We need to get new residents in here and fill these many vacant homes.
Michael Tait: I think the working relationship between Planning and Finance seems to be working. The Board has final say, but it should rely heavily on recommendations from the General Manager’s cost centers, and advice from the two committees; Finance and Planning.

 
9. What is your view for the future of LOW?
Carl Clawson: I would review past projects as to their success and how they benefitted the community. I would discuss my findings with my fellow board of directors and the General Manager to gain a consensus as to their successes and failures. In my Opinion Lake of the Woods is one of the premier communities in the Commonwealth.
Bob Hoh: I think the future is bright! Many surveys indicate that the next generation of owners and residents will be, in some ways, more demanding with higher expectations in many areas. Communities that offer the wonderful array of security, amenities, volunteerism as LOW can meet these expectations. While we enjoy all these benefits today, we must plan now to keep our amenities viable and desirable for the future.

Jeff Johnson: Growth in youth activities and, growth in community and involvement, increased satisfaction and better communication.
Larry Morlan: The future is bright for LOW! This is a great place to be! We do need to address some key issues: 1) Becoming all inclusive in governance — involving our working families more. 2) Addressing issues relative to our growing youth population. 3) Supporting prudent spending and reasonable assessments. 4) Maintaining amenities and the common areas.
Brian Sakacsi: I am very optimistic for the future of LOW, it is a great place to live and as long as we continue to maintain and improve our current amenities I see no reason that it should not continue to be a great place to live.
Brian Smith: Lake of the Woods started out back in 1967 with a vision of basically being a weekend get away for people and a retirement community. Currently it’s more of a bedroom community for folks working in Richmond and DC. It’s becoming a younger community over recent years. Presently our community, financially, is not welcoming to anyone young or old due to our assessments. How many homes are vacant for years now just along Lakeview Parkway? Why? Younger folks just starting out are on a relatively fixed income. Older folks are definitely on a fixed income. But our Association is not???!!! Once we get that resolved, we can start making improvements much more easily. Improvements such as the Fitness Center. Paving roads instead of the chipped rock. The Clubhouse pool. Improvements to the Equestrian center.
Michael Tait: Exciting time ahead, what a great place to live.
Jennifer Zukowski: LOW has successfully evolved from a weekend retreat with a few permanent residents to a community of primarily permanent residents. The community also has a greater number of younger residents than it did in the past. My view of LOW is that it is a resilient and adaptable community. It will remain a community where people want to live for many years to come.

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It’s another beautiful day at the lake!