Archives: July 2013


cygnet family (3)While the swan “May”hem extended into June, thankfully, July has been much quieter. There had been several baby swan (cygnet) emergencies, none of which had a positive outcome, and a few adult issues, of which one was successful. It was a full time job!

 Louisa Rucker’s recent article in Lake Currents dispelled rumors of LOWA harming our swans on the lake. It is true, however, that our species of swans, the mute, is not looked upon favorably, as it is a non-native species. In many areas of the country, these beautiful creatures are “removed” from waters (killed) because they are aggressive toward other native species of swans. It is also believed that they upset the ecosystem by eating too many grasses.

Mute swans are extremely aggressive toward geese, which is one of the reasons why, I believe, we should welcome them. As a matter of fact, Bob Knox, the swan keeper who cares for Bella, the permanently injured swan expressed mailed to Chicago in December of 2011, owns a business selling and/or renting mute swans to hotels and apartment complexes for the specific purpose of geese control. And speaking of Bella…she had five cygnets this year with her mate, Beauregard
On our lake in May, two swan pairs hatched clutches. One pair had two cygnets, and the other had five. Unfortunately, to date only four of the seven remain. The mortality rate is extremely high! Hopefully the cygnets are now large enough to avoid the snapping turtles’ jaws.
As you can see in the photo, one of the cygnets is much “whiter” than the other three. This cygnet is a Polish mute, while the siblings are Royal mutes. The Polish mutes are born white and have taupe colored legs and feet and a much paler orange bill than the Royals. The Royals’ legs and feet are dark grey/black; their bill is a deep orange, and they are born greyish-brown and turn white as they lose their baby feathers and the white adult feathers come in. The mute swans do not discern between Polish and Royal mutes. One of the ancestors of these parents must have been Polish, as the parents of these cygnets are both Royals. The Polish mutes are called Polish because a Polish biologist tried to breed albino swans, and this is as close as he got!
I am so thankful for the number of residents who truly worked hard to be a part of the rescue efforts for our cygnets and adults. In addition to large fish and snapping turtles, another danger is human in nature. Please, fisherman, discard fishing wire and hooks; they are deadly to our wildlife. And please, do not use lead sinkers.
My list of residents willing to be part of a “wildlife watch” or to assist in the rescue of injured wildlife is growing dramatically. Thank you to everyone! If you are interested in becoming a member of our informal wildlife group, FOWL (Friends of Wildlife at the Lake), please email me at
Until next time…It’s another beautiful day at the lake!
Pat Licata-REALTOR

Report: U.S. Home Prices on the Rise

Real Estate dataMuch to the elation of home sellers everywhere, home prices are on the rise in nearly all states, according to a recent report from the real estate researcher CoreLogic.
Evidently, 48 states showed year-over-year gains in April.
Meanwhile, home prices also showed month-over-month gains between March and April.
As a result, home sellers from California to New York are feeling increasingly confident about entering their local real estate markets, hopeful about the price they may be able to get for their property.

Home Sellers Encouraged by National Home Prices

According to CoreLogic, home prices rose 3.2 percent between March and April – a sizeable increase from the 1.9 percent gain between February and March.
Nevada led the nation in gains, with home prices there leaping 24.6 percent from 2012.
Rounding out the top five list were:

  • California (19.4 percent)
  • Arizona (17.3 percent)
  • Hawaii (17 percent)
  • Oregon (15.5 percent)

Experts say that a low inventory of available homes for sale has caused home prices to rise – at least in part.
After all, as more buyers have entered the market hoping to take advantage of near-record low mortgage rates and depressed home values, the proportion of buyers and available homes for sale has become increasingly skewed.
In fact, the total number of homes for sale is 14 percent lower than it was last year.
And as any Economics 101 class will tell you, when demand exceeds supply, prices begin to rise.
This is driving even more buyers to the market, hoping to secure a great deal before prices rise even more.
Experts are now calling on more homeowners to list their property on the market, emphasizing that these individuals are likely to be pleased with the outcome of the sale.

Fast Facts on the National Housing Market

But before they enter the market, home owners should recognize the importance of aggressively pricing their property.
By accurately pricing their property at fair market value, it’s more likely that home owners will be able to sell their property quickly, instead of watching it languish on the market.
In order to price their home, it helps to be aware of recent activity on the market.  To that end, here are some recent national housing market statistics that should help:

  • The National Association of Realtors recently reported that sales of previously occupied homes reached a 3.5 year high in April.
  • In April, the total number of signed home purchase contracts rose to its highest level in three years.
  • Home builders are gaining confidence in the market, with building permit applications increasing in April to their highest level in almost five years.
  • In 94 of the 100 largest U.S. cities, home prices increased during the month of April. During the previous month, that only happened in 88 cities.
  • Los Angeles and Phoenix saw the biggest price gains in those 100 cities, with both seeing a 19.2 percent year-over-year increase in home prices.
  • Atlanta and Riverside-San Bernardino were runners-up in terms of price gains. Both saw 16.5 percent year-over-year increases.
  • Dallas saw the third highest price gain in the country, with a 10.2 percent increase.

Although these home price gains are quite encouraging, it’s important to note that prices nationwide remain about 22 percent lower than their April 2006 peak.

Keeping an Eye on the National Housing Market for You

Check back here soon for regular updates on the state of the national housing market, which is sure to have an impact on local real estate markets all across the country.
Whether you’re thinking of buying or selling a piece of real estate, the information we provide will better prepare you for navigating the market effectively.
What’s happening in our Lake of the Woods market?: Click here to find out!
It’s another beautiful day at the lake!
Pat Licata-REALTOR

10 Things You Must Do Before Listing Your Home This Summer

Summer home salesMany would-be home sellers want to rush the market in the summertime because they’ve heard that it’s saturated with home buyers.
While it’s true that the spring and summer are traditionally great times to sell because buyers are interested in moving in before the school year starts, it is still important for sellers to properly prepare for entering the market.
After all, buyers also are distracted by summer vacations and kids home from school during the summer. Thus, it’s important to quickly grab their attention when they do spend an afternoon navigating the market.

Selling Your Home During the Summer Months

Here are 10 things that you can do to effectively prepare your home for the housing market:

  1. Be diligent about mowing the lawn. Everyone knows grass grows quicker during the summer. And while you may be willing to skip a week as a homeowner out of sheer convenience, it’s important to stay on top of mowing the lawn frequently – perhaps even twice a week if necessary. You don’t want to risk your lawn appearing unkempt to an interested home buyer because that buyer may assume the rest of your house is equally unkempt.
  2. Set the right scene outside. Speaking of curb appeal, we recommend giving your home’s exterior a major facelift by taking the time to plant some colorful flowers and trimming the bushes. Don’t forget to sweep the walkway and perhaps even repaint the shutters. While these sorts of improvements are important year round, they’re especially important during the summer since buyers are spending a lot of time outdoors.
  3. Don’t forget the backyard! Summer is the perfect season to spend quality time with the family outdoors. Imagine the kids playing in the backyard pool while dad grills hamburgers and mom lays by the pool, enjoying a magazine. Now wouldn’t it be easier to imagine that if the lawn furniture was already arranged accordingly? Help home buyers see themselves living there by setting the scene. You may even consider setting up a vignette of plates and a pitcher of water on the backyard table.
  4. Remove As Many Personal Belongings as Possible. Buyers like to imagine themselves inhabiting the property. Its easier for them to do this when the space is opened up and there aren’t any references to personal items. Consider renting a storage unit and remove as much from the house as you possibly can. Clean out the closets, take down photos and pull items out of cabinets.
  5. Let there be light. Home sellers have an extra tool in their belt that sellers in winter don’t have: a large amount of natural light. So make the most of it by opening curtains throughout your home. The light will make your home feel more warm and inviting. It will also make it seem larger.
  6. Make sure your windows are crystal clear. It won’t do any good to open up the curtains if your windows are so dirty that hardly any light is getting in. So remove the storm windows and hire a professional to clean your windows. It makes a huge difference.
  7. Spend some time deep-cleaning the house. With all of that light streaming in, it’s going to be easier for home buyers to see the dust on your fixtures and the dirt in the corner of the kitchen. So before you start showing your house, give it a deep-cleaning. Polish the cabinet knobs, mop the bathrooms, scrub the bathtub, vacuum the carpet (don’t forget floorboards!) and clean the kitchen stove.
  8. Think bright and sunny when it comes to color schemes. Preparing a home for showings is all about creating an irresistible ambiance for buyers that allows them to visualize living there. Pursue that effect by adding summer hues indoors, perhaps a bright yellow pillow on the sofa or a baby blue painting in the bathroom. You’d be amazed what these little accents can do to highlight your home’s assets and downplay its flaws.
  9. Put a Fresh Coat of Paint on the Interior.  Remember when your toddler accidentally ran some purple marker along the floorboards of your bedroom? Or when you put a smudge on the stairway walls as you were trying to carry a television up the stairs? While these may be funny or even endearing memories for you now, they might not necessarily be appealing to home buyers.  So consider giving the interior of your home a fresh coat of paint.
  10. Steam Clean the Carpets.  It’s amazing what a steam cleaner can do that a regular vacuum cleaner just can’t.  To see what we mean, take a before and after picture of your carpet.  It’s incredible!  And your freshly cleaned carpet is sure to impress prospective buyers!

Exceptional Home-Selling Assistance for You!

Great opportunities await on the summertime housing market for those sellers who are willing to prepare their home before listing!
Until next time…It’s another beautiful day at the lake!
Pat Licata-Realtor

LOWA Board Candidates Reception

new low front gate resizedThe Lake of the Woods VA Civic Club is hosting a Candidates Reception at the Clubhouse on Wednesday, July 17th, at 5:30pm. The evening will begin with a social hour including hors d’oeurves and a cash bar, where residents and board candidates have an opportunity to meet and greet on a one-on-one basis. At the conclusion of the social hour, each candidate will be given up to five minutes to address the attendees.
The candidates for the (3) three-year and (1) two-year terms beginning in September are Dick Delio, Jim Hutchison, Nancy King, Stan Lasover, Colin Newlin, Louisa Rucker, and Mike Rugless.
Please see responses below to the questions each candidate was asked:
1. Why are you running for the Board?
Dick Delio: My interest in running for the Board is to serve the members of LOWA. I believe that my financial management experience and operational background will enable me to serve the community in a beneficial way; a community my wife carleen and I love being a part of. As a LOWA Board member I will work to promote a culture of compromise, openness and respect for peoples’ differing opinions. With this type of culture, the other issues facing LOWA can be more effectively resolved.
To protect the value of the members’ homes, the Board must act as the objective agent of the owners in the effective management of the Common Areas. I would accomplish this by setting appropriate goals and objectives for the General Manager and objectively evaluate the General Manager’s performance against these goals and objectives. I will strive to improve LOWA’s financial and operational reporting which will enable an effective and efficient use of the annual assessment paid by the owners.
Finally, I will endeavor to effectively maintain the Common Areas in a very good condition by ensuring that the capital reserves are funded and managed properly in order to have the money needed to maintain the Common Areas of the community.
Jim Hutchison: As a long standing member of this community since 1992, I feel that we are part of the LOW “family” and can make significant contributions to the future growth and quality of life within LOW that will maintain/increase our property values, keep assessments reasonable, focus spending on priority projects that benefit ALL residents, increase revenues, improve our amenities and maintain/replace our aging infrastructure!
My experience in the military running three distinct overseas communities in excess of 50,000 individuals combined with 20 years as a corporate executive in the aerospace industry provides LOWA with almost 50 years of personal business and management experience that will benefit ALL LOW residents.
Nancy King: I want to take an active part in the direction, maintenance, and improvement of our community, our way of life, and our property values.
Stan Lasover: The primary reason is, the present Board can profit from my experience as President of a large HOA with 3 successful years of dedicated service to the community, merge that success with 45 years of executive management highlighted by a strong proven record which will benefit the Board as well as all LOW members.
Colin Newlin: I’ve been a management consultant for nearly twenty years. That experience and capacity must’ve been evident during the LOW Preschool Co-Op meetings because when Jim Walsh came to one of our meetings and mentioned the Association wanted good Board candidates, I was enthusiastically nominated for such by some of the other parents.
My candidacy is not being submitted for the sake of ego or belonging, but rather that I know my skills, experience and vision as an organizational management consultant will be of potential use to the community. And, I very much want this community to continue to thrive.
Louisa Rucker: As a previous 5-year part time and 14 year full time resident of LOW, I have grown to truly love this place, with its diversity of residents, amenities, and opportunities to serve. The decisions to maintain and shape the community’s future are being made now, and I would like to be part of that process.
Mike Rugless: I have a sincere desire and commitment to serve the community in which I live, and I have been active here at LOW since 2002, serving in a variety of ways, committees and organizations. I believe I bring a legacy of leadership and management to the Board from my 26 years service in the US Navy Civil Engineer Corps and my 18 years service to an engineering firm—both of these career paths centered around the planning, operations and maintenance of property, roads and buildings covering a wide range of facilities—all subjects of vital importance and interest to the homeowners here at Lake of the Woods.
2. What are the 3 most important duties of a Board member?
Mike Rugless: 1) To represent the members of LOWA, the home owners, in all matters of the operation of the Association and to keep the members informed of the issues and activities that affect them, taking actions that preserve and enhance the property values of the members. 2) To review, question and then vote on approving the annual budget for LOWA as well as any other authorizations to expend LOWA funds. In this process, to be active in and around the LOWA community to (a) be personally aware of the how the operations of the LOWA are going and (b) to become familiar with those issues that are of greatest concern or interest to our members. 3) To be responsive to members’ concerns brought to the attention of the Board
to insure our rules and regulations are being followed, that all of our amenities are operated fairly and efficiently and within the budgets allotted, and that they are kept in good operating condition
Dick Delio: 1) Maintain open and transparent communications with the owners. 2) To professionally and objectively evaluate the management of LOWA, whom the Board is responsible for hiring, against meaningful goals and objectives that the Board has established. 3) Ensure that the assessment is spent efficiently and effectively for the purposes stated in the Articles of Incorporation and in the Covenants; namely to provide for the maintenance of the Common Areas, including all amenities, that will protect the property values of the owners.
Jim Hutchison: 1) Fiduciary responsibility: Determine the fiscal needs of the Association, review and approve the annual budget and levy fees on lot owners, tenants and users of LOWA facilities and amenities. Manage the financial assets of the Association in a wise manner that benefits the Association and all of its members in the short and long term. This includes transparency to members on all Board decisions and actions. 2) Establish, supervise and carryout policies which guide the management of LOWA in a progressive and fair manner! 3) Represent ALL members to protect property values and maintain a safe, secure community where members and families can enjoy a superior quality of life that promotes the recreation, health, and welfare of the entire community.
Nancy King: With input from our community, set policy for the General Manager regarding the focus and direction of the community; emphasize the maintenance of our amenities and infrastructure in order to enhance our property values; and determine the fiscal needs of our Association in a balanced and rational manner.
Stan Lasover: 1) Fiscal management/responsibility – A 5 year operating plan to include all expenses and revenues. 2) Maintain and preserve Assessments – A realistic evaluation of LOW’s financial position. 3) Communications – This is the duty of the board, timely and honest information.
Colin Newlin: 1) To show up. 2) To become informed. 3) To make decisions that are in the best interests of the community.
Louisa Rucker: The three most important responsibilities are to maintain the financial health of LOWA, to establish policies and make operational decisions, and to be responsive to and representative of the interests of the association members.
3. What should be the role between the Board and LOWA staff, particularly the General Manger?
Louisa Rucker: The role should be one of mutual respect and support. We are a team where the Board focuses on policy and the staff on implementation. However, individual directors should take care to not abuse direct access to staff members.
Mike Rugless: The General Manager reports to the Board and is the link between the LOWA staff and the Board, and, as such, the Board members need to have a solid, honest and open relationship with the General Manager where both sides feel the freedom to discuss matters of the association in the spirit of a team working together cooperatively to provide the members the type of community facilities and amenities that they are willing to support.
Dick Delio: There are three separate groups at LOW who have a stake in the management of the LOW: 1) The first group is the owners (members) of LOWA who are required by the Restricted Covenants and the Articles of Incorporation to maintain the Common Areas and to fund the maintenance of these Common Areas by means of the Annual Assessment and to enforce the covenants and regulations. 2) The second group is the Board who is elected by the owners as their agents to accomplish Point A above. The Board does this by hiring a competent and professional management team and to oversee and evaluate the work of
this management team against appropriate goals and objectives. 3) And the third group is the management team hired by the Board, specifically the General Manager, who is responsible for hiring, organizing and directing a staff for the maintenance of the Common Areas and the operation of the revenue generating amenities. The Board itself is not the management team. The proper organizational structure will ensure the effective and efficient use of the owners’ assessment.
Jim Hutchison: The Board, thru the President (as the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board), supervises the General Manager; thus, directing the activities of the Association which ensures that the policies of the Association are carried out. The General Manager is hired by the Board and is responsible forthe day-to-day operation of the Association in accordance with governing documents. The GM is not responsible for establishing policy!
While the roles of the General Manager and the Board are clearly and formally defined within the Articles of Incorporation, Covenants and the Association Bylaws, they must BOTH work closely together on ALL issues which guide the Association and its members; thus, the informal relationship must be one of trust and confidence that maintains transparency in not only the day-to-day management of the Association, but the short and long term goals of the Association and its members. Strong consideration must also be given to the cooperative roles of the Board and the General Manager when it comes to interfacing with the County of Orange and the Board of Supervisors, State and Congressional Representatives and the Orange County management staff. LOWA is a significant part of Orange County, thus County decisions MUST include considerations and input from LOWA thru the combined and coordinated efforts of both the Board and the General Manager.
The roles of the Board and the General Manager must also address the LOWA Committees. Again, the Articles of Incorporation, Covenants and Bylaws define this formal relationship and the Board appoints Committee members! The Committees exist as “advisors” to the Board, particularly the Finance Committee, the Legal and Compliance Committee, Maintenance and Ecology Committee and the Environmental Control Committee. The Committees report to the Board, but must consult with the General Manager (or his designated representative) for the purpose of gathering information and/or data. This again, requires a cooperative and trusting relationship between the Board, the General Manager and the Committee chairs to insure that ALL appropriate Association information and/or data is made available to the Committees so that they may carry out their Charters in advising the Board! The Committees are a vital organizational element in the management oversight and planning of the Association and should be used to the fullest extent by the Board and the General Manager … thus taking advantage of the enormous volunteer talents and experience of Association members in good standing which assist the Board in managing, guiding and planning LOWA. This also insures significant input from the membership in general since all committees are open to the membership for attendance.
Nancy King: The Board sets policy and provides the General Manager with information from committees and the community. He was hired to manage the staff to implement that policy. I feel that we have an outstanding General Manager. Micro-management should not be a function of the Board.
Stan Lasover: The Board institutes policy, the GM carries out the established policies. The Board should establish yearly written performance objectives for the GM.
Colin Newlin: My background in nonprofit management instructs me to respond that the most important function of a Board of Directors is the hiring, evaluation and replacement of the General Manager. I am not in favor of Director inference in internal staff issues and minutia. That can erode morale within the staff and diminish the effectiveness of the General Manager.
However, in light of the fact we all live together I would not stand in judgment of Directors that make their issues known to staff directly, especially since that is the right of any member of the community. Where care must be taken is in understanding that the communications with staff should be from the perspective of being a resident, and that communications with staff having to do with their performance must be communicated directly with and through the General Manager.
4. What do you think of the current status of our facilities/amenities?
Colin Newlin: This community has a lot of wonderful amenities. It is the reason we moved here. I am still getting to know LOW and have an open mind on these matters but overall the community appears fairly well run. That being said, I very much want to see the Clubhouse become financially self-sustaining. I think that, along with the ever-present priority of maintaining the lakes and grounds, is a leading concern with respect to amenities.
As a new resident I can also share some disappointment in the planning and design of a couple amenities – I think some opportunities were lost. For example, even though I am not a golfer I’ve visited the Fareways Café and Woods Center. The location of the building and café seems to have missed an opportunity for placement on a more scenic and welcoming spot near the 9th green. Instead of a view of a beautiful fareway from a comfortable chair on a deck or patio there is a view of the golf course cart and equipment shed.
Another example of a missed opportunity is the equestrian center. For some reason the original developers of LOW decided to keep the horses out of sight and in a poorly graded location. It would’ve been more advantageous for LOW’s branding and marketing to have some, if not all horses, attractively visible from Route 3 and/or near the main entrance. Moreover, the equestrian center stables are on a difficult slope, making it less inviting, environmentally sound, and difficult for the horses, pedestrians and cars.
Those critiques aside, the tennis courts, swimming pools, beaches, Clubhouse and parks appear well-maintained and deserving of high use by members. Although it is not officially an amenity, the LOW Preschool Co-op is also a real contribution to the community and one of the reasons we moved here. My family loves it here and those are big reasons.
Louisa Rucker: A number of our amenities are currently getting needed repairs and facelifts, some by design and others as a response to unplanned circumstances. I wholeheartedly support maintaining our amenities well as there-in lies the association’s value.
Mike Rugless: Overall our facilities and amenities are functioning well and generally receiving the degree of attention to maintenance and operational needs to keep them in a good state of repair. Each year there are projects proposed to accomplish needed work to keep facilities in a healthy, usable condition—this is a major part of our annual budget. It is extremely important that we complete the reserve study currently underway to update the adequacy of our reserve funds to be able to repair/replace our facilities and amenities in a timely manner such that each of them continues to remain operable and usable for the needs and enjoyment of all of our members.
Dick Delio: The facilities and amenities that existed at the beginning of LOW, and exist today, are what appealed to Carleen and me in choosing to live at LOW. The facilities all appear to be in reasonable condition, although like with one’s house, there is always something more that can be done. The two large revenue generating amenities, the Golf Course and the Clubhouse have excess capacity and they need to create more demand.
Jim Hutchison: The facilities/amenities are good, but some are aging and operate at a loss! The real problem is that many are underused and could be considered for opening to the public to increase revenues. Those facilities and amenities that should be considered for possible public use for a fee are: Golf Course; Club; Swimming Pools; Tennis Courts; Campground; Sweetbriar Sports Field; Equestrian Center. The Clubhouse could also consider expanding remote services to support swimming pools, sporting events, beaches. I also believe that a miniature golf course could be set up in Sweetbriar Park during the Summer months as an additional amenity and revenue source. The Front and back gates must be addressed. They are currently
inadequate to handle the volume of traffic and the problem will only get worse. This is both a safety and a security problem.
Nancy King: The Holcomb Building is the face of our community, and is outdated and crowded. However, due to financial considerations, I think that a replacement should be in the long-term plan only. The Fitness Center needs to expand to accommodate its nearly 1,000 members. The Fitness Center committee chairman has a very good plan for this expansion and I endorse that plan rather than the much more expensive construction of a new fitness center at this time. The Equestrian Center needs to move, period. As a former horse owner I know the location is not conducive to boarding a horse, especially at the stated rates and on gravel. As soon as possible, we need to devise a plan to relocate and improve this amenity.
Stan Lasover: The facilities/amenities are first class; they are the heart of the community, also being excellent enticements for new home buyers. They are greatly underused. That said some of our amenities are still being subsidized yearly costing our members with yearly increased assessments. New programs should be put in place to increase usage and reduce subsidizes.
5. What is your view of LOWA capital planning?
Stan Lasover: My view is there is a need for improved planning! We have had discussions relating to the committees as to their part in the planning process, their inputs are extremely important for the Board and GM for review. That being said we must push forward with a well devised 5 year/10 year plan to address our Associations financials, this will help us maintain good assessment control.
Colin Newlin: I am a new resident to LOW and am still learning about its operations, but from what I can tell the maintenance and capital planning elements of the budget, especially the reserves, appear well-planned and financed. This year there is a major expenditure for the replacement of the irrigation system for the golf course. Yet, it is covered through reserves set aside for that purpose. Many communities would be facing an increase in HOA fees or a special assessment for such an expense yet LOWA is not. While there may be other expenses for which the community is less prepared, that is a symptom of a good capital planning strategy.
Louisa Rucker: I am grateful for the dedicated attention LOWA capital planning receives and the diligence of the committees that work with it. LOWA is healthy from all observations.
Mike Rugless: The process of planning and proposing capital budgets is very thorough and truly involves the entire community. Each of our committees that is responsible for an activity or amenity has full opportunity to suggest or propose capital projects that then are developed and reviewed in detail in sessions open to the entire community such that all interested parties have an opportunity to voice their thoughts and ideas as projects are developed in detail for becoming part of an annual budget. Through this lengthy (several months) process of identification, development, shaping, costing and honing—led by the Planning Committee and fully reviewed by the Finance Committee—again in open sessions, the capital budget is formed and submitted for inclusion in the General Manager’s budget to the Board for their discussion and approval. This process creates a thorough, open and fair assessment of our capital needs and their affordability.
Dick Delio: The one and five year capital planning can be more systemized and easier to understand and it should be part of the Annual Budget review and the 5 year operating plan. By this I mean the replacement of existing assets, or the major repair or improvement of existing assets, should be straightforward and managed by the General Manager and the manager’s paid staff; they are the ones using the equipment and are responsible for maintaining the common areas, including the golf course, clubhouse and other revenue generating amenities. The Board, by means of the Annual Budget review, should evaluate the planned capital spending proposed by the General Manager. The Finance Committee is a proper vehicle to evaluate the financial aspects of the proposed capital spending for the Board.
There is also a need for long range planning. This would involve looking out 10 or more years, to determine the needs of the Association, especially with respect to the roads, the lakes, the major amenities, and the buildings now used by LOWA.
Jim Hutchison: The process is ad-hoc, not well coordinated with Committee’s and too many projects are approved by the BOD out of the published planning cycle. This gives the appearance that certain projects get preference to special interests and are not in consonance with the entire membership. Real or not, the perception of special interests involved with Capital spending exists and must be eliminated! I favor the current 25 year planning effort, but it MUST be coordinated with ALL Committee’s, LOWA Management and the BOD and it must not only address new spending, but also address new revenues in order to keep
assessments under control!
Nancy King: LOWA capital planning currently involves two steps—5 year planning and long-term planning. I support this planning process. The 5 year plan is available on the LOWA web site and at the individual committee meetings and planning committee. The newly implemented long-term planning is long overdue. We need to have a vision for our future here at Lake of the Woods and take steps now to ensure that our current spending is appropriate and reserves are safe for the future. Further, that no matter how management and leadership change the process is institutionalized.
6. What has been your involvement with LOW community activities?
Nancy King: I was President of the Lake of the Woods Ladies Golf Association (LOWLGA) for two years and have been a board member for seven years. I organized and have run the LOW Farm Team for the past six years, teaching and mentoring new and former golfers every other Wednesday evening throughout the summer. As a result, we have increased the number of golfers and revenue generated by the course. I have been a member of the Golf Committee for the past three years, and am currently its Chairman. I have been an active member of the LOW Garden Club for the past three years, chairing their Christmas Tea for two years; I have been a member of the LOW Church Chancel Choir for the past two years. I received the
LOW Honors Award twice, a Certificate of Appreciation in 2010 and an Outstanding Service Award, along with my husband, Stu, in 2012, for our work with the Farm Team. I was appointed to the Fareways Committee in 2010 to recommend changes to the Grill in order to increase revenues at that amenity, and as a result of many of our recommendations Fareways Grill has the strongest revenue of all time. I was asked to be a member of the committee to find a new General Manager after Ted Wessel left. After five months of search and interviews, we selected several strong candidates for the Board to interview. I was among the original members of the new front gate committee, and still stand by the strong marketing impact of our new beautiful front gate. I strongly support the Clubhouse by utilizing it two or more time per week.
Stan Lasover: I have the following involvement: I am a Voting Member of the Environmental Control Committee (ECC); AARP Program; LOW Vets; LOW Lions Club.
My wife Sherri is a LOW Lioness, she is the chairperson for the books and the monthly book sales, and I have helped her with the placement of signs, movement of books, and made the bookshelves for the Ferris bldg. I also have been an ice cream server at the annual Child Help Organization function.
Colin Newlin: My family moved to LOW in November 2012. My volunteer experiences in the seven months we have lived here have been mostly limited to the LOW Preschool Co-Op, where our two year old daughter is enrolled. I have participated in the Parent-Teacher meetings and in fundraiser planning and solicitations on behalf of the Preschool. However, in the interest of learning more about our new community I have attended several of the board meetings.
Louisa Rucker: Member: F&R (7 yrs, EMT), Lighted Boat Parade (9 yrs), Clubhouse Committee (3 yrs and current BOD liaison), Equestrian Committee (currently BOD liaison), Personal Secretary to the LOWA BOD President (1 yr). Additionally, I give flower arranging classes and programs, and do a bit of interior decorating.
Mike Rugless: My most significant amount of time of service here at LOW has been dedicated to the ECC from early 2005 to January of this year when I was elected to the Board. In this ECC role I served as chair for nearly 7 years wherein I interfaced with many other committees as well as the General Manager and his staff on numerous common interest items, becoming very familiar with the LOWA operation and management of our association. I also served as member of the Quality Management Council and was one of two quality control managers for the project to rebuild our main dam spillway—fortunately, reason
prevailed with the Virginia state dam regulators and the need for that $6 million project was cancelled by the state. I also served on the ad hoc boat safety committee to update and rewrite our boater safety regulations and develop a course manual that leads up to the test for licensing our members to operate power boats on the lakes, then became chair of the Board of Examiners for the boat safety course and test. I have been a regular attendee at Board meetings over the years, consistently interested and involved in many elements of our LOWA operation. In addition, concurrent with my ECC work, I served as Elder for buildings and grounds at the Lake of the Woods Church, again responsible for the successful operations of the church
facilities under tight budgetary conditions. All of this has prepared me well for now serving on the Board of Directors.
Dick Delio: I have been a member of the Finance Committee, a member of a subcommittee on Long Range Planning and a member of the committee in selecting a new auditing firm. My wife Carleen and I have attended various fundraising functions at the Club and I have helped Carleen in her work with Child Help. I had been part of the Camera Club, have participated in various fundraising golf tournaments and have attended both Board meetings, workshops and certain committee meetings.
Jim Hutchison: I am currently a voting member of the Safety and Security Committee, SSC Liaison to the LCC and Coordinator for the LOW Neighborhood Watch Program.
7. What is your assessment of the contribution of LOWA’s standing committees?
Jim Hutchison: Many Committees’ are NOT used effectively by either the Board or LOWA Management and feel that they are not useful! My particular concern is the function and utility of the Finance Committee. The lines of responsibility are blurred between LOWA Management, the Planning Committee and the Board. The Finance Committee’s role needs to be better defined in the budget and planning process as does the role of the LOWA Treasurer!
Nancy King: The twenty-one standing committees as appointed by the Board are essential to this community. Studies show that 20% of any given organization’s membership is truly active, and that is the makeup of our standing committees – the committed and dynamic members of our community. Over the years, they have been major contributors to all aspects of our growth. I feel that the Board should continue to utilize their efforts. I am always amazed at the backgrounds and experience of these people.
Stan Lasover: The BYLAWS OF THE LAKE OF THE WOODS ASSOCIATION INC, States “Other Significant Duties Include” Selecting and appointing the officers of the Association and members of committees. The Board of Directors may appoint or dissolve a committee as it deems best except for those committees designated in the Articles of Incorporation. As stated in the bylaws the committee reports to the Board of Directors and oral reports shall be periodically given at the Boards’ monthly meeting. This does not happen often enough. The committee members are dedicated and as I have seen are extremely
knowledgeable. The Board needs to utilize our committees more effectively.
Colin Newlin: The proof is in the pudding: LOW has a healthy civic life and the community appears well run overall.
Louisa Rucker: The well being of this community rests on the foundation of the 4 standing committees. Their responsibilities regarding environmental, financial, legal, and maintenance and ecological issues address the beating heart of LOWA. The dedication and time invested by the members is impressive. My appreciation of the committees has grown exponentially over the last six months that I have served on the BOD.
Mike Rugless: Our standing committees are the heart of the successful operation of the Lake of the Woods community and the primary vehicle through which all members have the opportunity to voice opinions, suggest solutions, and propose change. The wealth of experience, expertise and talent available throughout Lake of the Woods is readily apparent when one sees all of the work done by our committees in addressing the full range of planning; finance; activities; operation and use of amenities; rules and regulations being set, changed when needed, and enforced; safety and security; and justice being carried out as necessary for violators. All desires for action or change begin in the committee structure; are then carried through to the General Manager and the Board by committees; then, once they become reality, most often are carried out by committees in conjunction with the General Manager and staff. If you have not served on or been an observer of one or more of our committees, I invite you to do so and become a closer part of all that takes place here within LOW.
Dick Delio: I find that there is a dedicated group of people involved on these committees, committed to the welfare of LOWA, and who give freely of their time on these committees. These committees have been a foundation of the community from its beginning and they allow all members the opportunity to participate in maintaining and making LOW a better place to live. They are an invaluable source of information and suggestions to the Board.
8. Should the Association take an active role in the affairs of Orange County? What type of issues should be addressed?
Dick Delio: 1) I believe that it would not be proper for the Board to take an active role in the political affairs of the County, because LOWA is not a political association but a housing association. 2) It seems to me that it is the individual owners who should take an active role in the affairs of Orange County. The individual owners will have their own personal opinions and issues concerning the affairs of the County. 3) But it would be proper for the Board to keep the owners well informed about issues in the County that could affect their property values. 4) The Board should always strive to make LOW a good neighbor; for example the Board could mobilize the owners to help when a community disaster or special need existed.
Jim Hutchison: The Association MUST take an active role in the affairs of Orange County because we are a SIGNIFICANT portion of the County demographics, including the tax base. Additionally, Orange County has focused its PRIMARY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT initiatives for the County within those Districts involving LOWA. Thus, economic growth and development within the County will primarily impact LOWA and the Route 3 corridor. LOWA MUST strongly influence the County Comprehensive Plan and zoning/tax base decisions and policies to prevent negative impacts upon our community.)
Nancy King: As a major force in Orange County through our voting bloc, we should take an active role in the affairs of Orange County. An immediate issue to be addressed is the lack more deputies and fire and rescue equipment at this end of the county. However, the main issue is the development of the Route 3 corridor. The added residences and retail establishments will increase traffic dramatically, some of which will impact LOW at the trash compactor, at our playing fields due to the increased number of children, and at our turn lanes for access and egress.
Stan Lasover: YES! I believe in communications, inside LOW and outside of LOW. At our board meetings we have reports from: Lee Frame – Orange County District 5 Supervisor; Mark Amos – Orange County Sheriff and Jim Hopkins – Orange County School Board.
We are a major area within Orange County, a large population with a significant income impact. It is important to be notified as to the financial budgets, as we do pay yearly taxes. Our security is also somewhat dependent on the county police department. With the new Wal-Mart store opening in July, there will be a lot of changes in this county which will affect us directly. We must continue a good business relationship.
Colin Newlin: In a word, “yes.” LOW has nearly a quarter of all residents in the County and is a significant contributor to the tax base. The issues of concern with Orange include, but are not limited to, the school system, roads and infrastructure, utilities, public safety and the environment. I know of a parent that pays extra to send their child to high school in Spotsylvania because they are not satisfied with the schools in Orange. The quality of schools in Orange are very much of interest to LOW and ought to receive regular, sustained attention.
Louisa Rucker: Yes the Association should. What happens in Orange County, particularly in our end of the county affects the vitality of LOW, currently and in the future. Particularly crucial issues are commercial development verses rural atmosphere; water availability and use; and roads and traffic as the population continues to grow.
Mike Rugless: LOW is certainly a part of the local community and rightfully interested and concerned about all that transpires around us. At each Saturday Board meeting we receive a report from our Orange County Board of Supervisors District Representative, Lee Frame and our Orange County School Board member, Jim Hopkins, and maintain contact with them regarding all that we do that may affect or that we may be affected by Orange County. The Board supports LOWA communicating with local businesses such as, seeking support from the developer at Rtes 20 and 601 to ask for a larger buffer on the LOWA side of his property recently zoned commercial, the Civic Club inviting the new Walmart manager to offer a briefing on the opening of the new store on Rte 3, and raising various traffic concerns with Orange County that will result
from the new traffic patterns that will occur with the opening of this new store. We were successful in negotiating a new lease with the County for retention of the Compactor here at LOW, a convenient place to dispose of our trash and recyclables. In an informal survey conducted through Lake Currents, 85% of the LOW community who responded expressed the definite desire to keep the Compactor here. We are neighbors, want to be good ones to many activities outside our gates, but want to stand up for protecting against adverse effects when the area’s rural landscape changes into one that is more developed both commercially and residentially. Our members expect LOWA to voice concerns and seek mutually agreeable solutions, and the Board can and should play an active role in all such dealings that could affect us.
9. What items would you add to, or delete from, the current LOWA budget? Explain your answer.
Mike Rugless: I appreciate very much the detailed review the proposed budget receives from the various committees and LOWA staff. The committee review meetings and the presentation of the budget by the General Manager are all sessions open to members, so everyone has a chance to voice their thoughts of support and concern. The budget is presented to the Board for approval and once again there is opportunity to offer changes. Based on this final review this year, I was satisfied with the balance of competing items in the budget and voted for approval without reservations. Thus, I sought no deletions, but saw no urgent need for increases. For the coming year, the reserve study results will come into play in the next budget and may
offer some challenges in funding all that is recommended for inclusion.
Dick Delio: 1) How to increase usage of our amenities with goals and objectives for each one. 2) How to improve the financial reporting and information system for more timely and expanded financial and operational information. 3) Develop metrics (information to measure the operations) that would give the owners and the Board the ability to analyze the efficiency and effectiveness of the various operations and departments under management.
Jim Hutchison: 1) ADD: Security Surveillance System for high risk areas within LOW. This is an inexpensive force multiplier that will significantly enhance LOWA security. We will never have enough security manpower to enforce/secure/patrol 42 miles of roads, all the facilities and man the gates of LOW…it is too expensive! 2) DELETE: $112,000 upgrade to LOW Clubhouse for new bridal dressing room and modification of upstairs restrooms. Too expensive and does not benefit all members! A long-term plan for the Clubhouse must be developed instead of piecemeal projects! 3) DELAY: Golf Course
Irrigation System to 2014/15 when it was originally planned for in the budget. 4) ADD: Manned security Kiosk at back gate which will also include the addition of one unarmed security office/shift to man! 5) ADD: New Administration Building to replace Holcomb Building. The current Admin building is too small for the current Admin Staff. Convert Holcomb Building to Security and IT Center; modify front gate design/kiosk for enhance traffic flow; and use for Committee meetings (there is currently a severe shortage of meeting areas within LOWA). 6) ADD: Refurbishment of sports fields at Sweetbriar Park; put Astro Turf on field for soccer and other sports events which will bring in revenue and increase intramural sports activities for growing number of families on LOW. The current field is in terrible shape. I would also add a miniature golf course in Sweetbriar (for summer use) which will also bring in revenue. 7) ADD: New LOWA Maintenance Facility on portion of Leach/Goodwin property (behind Area 9.9) and eliminate facilities located near Woods Center and Compactor sites. These vacated properties can be converted for other uses. Particularly the property near the Woods Center, which is unattractive, has hazardous materials and sits on valuable property which could be used as property lots. 8) ADD: Relocate Equestrian Center to
potential property adjacent to LOWA (which would have to be procured) and convert existing Equestrian site to property lots. This solves multiple existing problems (environmental and adequate grazing, trails, training and stalls for Center). This could turn into a significant revenue generator for LOWA and the region. 9) ADD: Section 19 the proposed over 55 housing initiative currently under discussion. This is a STRONG revenue generation project which will help maintain LOWA assessments at a reasonable rate and will not impact the Orange County in a negative matter thru the increase of County Services (i.e., schools,
law enforcement, etc.)…thus contributing to the tax base in a positive manner! More info on cost & risk to LOWA is required. 10) ADD: A Comprehensive IT System that supports ALL of LOWA activities and Services. The current Jonas System is basically a Club Management System Software Package that has been “modified” to provide support to management, maintenance, security and finance. Jonas was not designed to do what it is doing attempting to do within LOWA. There are available software packages (Cloud based) on the market today which will do everything (and more) that LOWA needs more efficiently and in a cost-effective manner. This will require an update to LOWA’s entire IT capability, including servers. LOWA
must get into the 21st century with IT. This includes the establishment of a new “IT Committee” reporting to the BOD!          11) ADD: Establish an Emergency Warming Center at the Woods Center to provide residents (particularly seniors) with a place to go during power outages and emergencies. OC has yet to activate an Emergency Shelter in the proximity of LOW during severe weather incidents or extended power outages. OC has previously activated an emergency shelter in the Town of Orange which is unacceptable for residents (particularly seniors) to travel the distance on dangerous roads. Establishment of this Warming Center will require the acquisition of a Standby Generator and fuel source to provide power to the Woods Center. This standby power source will also provide emergency power to the reefer units at the Woods Center, thus preventing food spoilage.
Nancy King: This is a tough question. Our current annual budget is a well-thought out document that was prepared by our General Manager, was presented to the community in several venues, went through committees, and was passed by the Board of Directors. It was prepared to meet our current needs. The reserve study that has been awarded and will be done this year could show that our reserves are adequate or underfunded. If they are underfunded, they should be re-established and properly funded for the future. I moved to LOW because I believe in the vision of Lake of the Woods, as a “recreation-oriented, private community of single family, owner-occupied homes with neighbors working together to promote a friendly, healthy, safe, and aesthetically pleasing community and to provide a high quality of life”. Because our amenities are the primary support of and contributors to our property values, the Board must continue to adequately fund these amenities so that others will find Lake of the Woods as wonderful in ten years as it is today.
Stan Lasover: This years’ budget has already been approved and published. There are no specific budget items that I would delete. What I believe we do need to add is improved timely reporting of our finances, along with an effective means for the community to be able to analyze the various budgeted items of LOW departments.
Colin Newlin: Thus far I do not see any item in the budget that should be added or deleted – but I have also not scrutinized the budget with an eye toward those decisions. I would not arrive on the Board with a pre-set agenda one way or the other. Our job is to ensure a high quality of life for all members while being fiscally responsible with their money. On the face of it this community accomplishes that balance.
However, as noted above, I would like the see the finances of the Clubhouse go from red to black. Things are trending in the right direction there but I do not consider the subsidy an item to “delete” from the budget. The Clubhouse is a vital part of the community and I would not want to risk the quality of life it affords simply because it requires subsidy.
Louisa Rucker: What I would immediately suggest deleting what has already been done: we no longer accept AmEx credit cards, whose transaction fees are the highest. What I would hope to see added to the budget sooner rather than later, is moving the Equestrian Center to a larger area to provide pastures for the horses, decent parking for show followers; dog kennels, and a chance to eliminate the EC perennial deficit.
Please attend the reception to learn as much as you can about our candidates. It’s important to us all! While you’re there…why not dinner on the Clubhouse deck?
Pat Licata-REALTOR
It’s another beautiful day at the lake!
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