Seven Lakes West has acquired a nearly six acre buffer bordering the outside of Longleaf Drive, stretching from near Douglas Drive to near Callis Circle.

Treasurer Mercedes Herdrich told The Times that the acquisition is part of an ongoing effort, lead by the CSI Team,  to secure and beautify the community's borders. That committee recently negotiated the donation of a one acre parcel that includes one of the Longleaf Pond dams.

The newly acquired Longleaf buffer totals 5.896 acres, according to a deed filed with the Moore County Register of Deeds on Thursday, March 26. The purchase price was $45,500. 

The 100-foot wide strip was carved out of a larger, 96 acre parcel that was clear-cut for timber harvesting last year, leaving an open and not particularly attractive vista from Longleaf Drive to the West End Presbyterian Church and Cemetery.

Read more: Westside Purchases Buffer Strip on Longleaf Drive

[This story originally appeared in the March 6, 2015 edition of the Seven Lakes Times.]

Seven Lakers could see a significant increase in their fire tax rate, if a plan to unify Moore County’s sixteen separate fire tax districts is approved by the county’s Board of Commissioners.

The Commissioners set the process in motion during their regular Tuesday, March 3 meeting, calling for a public hearing to be held on Tuesday, April 21 on the proposal to create a countywide fire service district. If the district is created, the Commissioners would then create a single fire tax rate that would apply to all unincorporated areas of the County. 

Incorporated towns and villages handle their own fire protection, sometimes by creating a municipal fire department, as is the case for Pinehurst, and sometimes contracting with a neighboring fire district, as is the case with the Village of Foxfire and West End Fire and Rescue.

If the plan moves forward, Commissioner Nick Picerno told The Times, a unified fire tax rate would likely be in the range of 7.2 or 7.3 cents per hundred dollars of valuation. Currently, those who live in the Seven Lakes Fire District — which includes all of Seven Lakes North and South and half of Seven Lakes West — pay the lowest fire tax rate in the county, at 4.0 cents per hundred.

In other words, someone who owns a $200,000 home in Seven Lakes would now pay $80 per year in fire taxes. If that rate were raised to 7.2 cents, the homeowners would pay $144 — an increase of 80 percent.

Read more: Fire District Plan Could Raise Seven Lakes Fire Taxes

 Members of the Seven Lakes Landowners Association [SLLA] elected three new directors and returned one incumbent to the Board in balloting that concluded at the Annual Meeting on Sunday, March 22.

Bob Racine was elected to a third two-year term. New members include Joy Smith, Mark Gyure, and Greg Lishawa. David Hill, who was appointed in September to fill a vacant seat, did not secure enough votes to remain on the Board, and petition candidate Lawton Baker failed in his bid to secure a seat.

Smith led the vote count, with 292, followed by Gyure, at 290. Racine collected 276 votes; and Lishawa, 269. Baker garnered 193; Hill, 171.

The membership turned down a $25 dues increase recommended by the Board, with 234 voting against the increase and 201 in favor. Board members then approved the proposed FY2016 budget, without the additional revenue the dues increase would have provided.

Assuming that every landowner who cast a ballot voted yes or no on the dues increase, turnout for the election was less than thirty percent of those eligible to vote.

Read more: Smith, Gyure, Lishawa, & Racine Elected to SLLA Board

From swimming pool pumps to dams and sidewalks, the Seven Lakes Landowners Association [SLLA] Board of Directors reviewed a number of maintenance projects during their Monday, March 9 Work Session.


Ramapo Dam Study

On the unanimous recommendation of the Lakes & Dams Committee, the Board moved forward to the Open Meeting a proposal to commission Jewell Engineering — the SLLA's dam engineer — to assess the capacity of the Ramapo Dam spillways, make recommendations for any design changes needed, and provide an assessment of the dam's ability to handle a fifty-year storm. The study is expected to cost $7,000.

The proposed study had generated significant debate during the Board's February 9 Work Session. Former Director and Lakes & Dams Committee member Don Fentzlaff argued that the dam experienced a 100-year rain event in 2013, when more than six inches of rain fell in less than five hours. Despite the fact that the primary spillway was not functioning at the time, the existing emergency spillways handled the overflow with no problems.

When President Bob Racine raised that point during the March 9 Work Session, Community Manager Ray Sohl argued that thunderstorms are highly localized, so it is not clear what volume of rain actually fell in the Lake Ramapo drainage area during that particular storm.

The NC Dam Safety Office, which is charged with inspecting dams throughout the state, classifies Ramapo as a low-hazard dam — one which, if it failed, would cause no more than $30,000 in property damage or interrupt the travel of no more than 25 vehicles per day.

That means repairs and modifications to the dam do not require state approval — and state approval was not obtained for repairs to the primary Ramapo spillway undertaken in late 2013, when the Association spent approximately $10,000 to install a siphon system to replace the collapsed metal pipe that had previously served as the dam's primary outlet.

"Though state approval is not required," Sohl said, "the Assocaition still has the responsibility to ensure that the dam is maintained according to engineering standards."

"We as board members are elected to act in the welfare of the people on this community," Director Chuck Leach said, supporting Sohl's point.

"There are thirty houses around that dam. We have two engineering firms recommending this study. Should that dam fail, there is a chance of a loss of property values. We recommended spending $4,000 to repair a lighthouse that does nothing. I totally support this proposal."

Ultimately, the Board voted unanimously to send the proposal to the Open Meeting for a vote. Racine noted that he felt is should be moved to the Open Meeting, but was not sure whether he would ultimately vote in favor of the proposal.

Read more: Plenty of SLLA Projects Pending

Bernadette York, John Shaughnessy, and Jack Lattin were elected to the Board of Directors of the Seven Lakes West Landowners Association [SLWLA] during the Sunday, March 15 Annual Meeting. They replace Dan Blue, Bruce Keyser, and Jim Pierman on the Board.

Vote tallies were not announced during the meeting, based on a 2012 consensus decision of the Board to change the Annual Meeting procedure. Nor will those tallies be released to The Times by the Board or office staff, though they are available to members by contacting the office.

York's election is unusual in that she gained a spot on the ballot through the petition process, after being interviewed and then rejected by the Nominations Committee.

The proposed FY2016 Budget won the support of 389 members, while 186 voted to reject it, suggesting that a bit more than one third of the membership participated in the election. The budget includes a 3.6 percent dues increase for improved lots and a 7.3 percent increase for undeveloped lots.

Read more: York, Lattin, & Shaughnessy Join Westside Board

SLWLA LogoSix candidates will compete for three open seats in the Annual Meeting balloting for the Seven Lakes West Landowners Association Board of Directors.
They are Jim Beaty, Jim Greaves, John Hildebrand, Jack Lattin, John Shaughnessy, and Bernadette York.
The Times’ Ellen Marcus interviewed each of the candidates by telephone, using the same set of questions as conversation starters.
We asked about the opportunities and challenges facing Seven Lakes West, about the candidate’s previous experience and preferred assignment is elected. We asked about dues increases and controlling expenses. And we asked how the community should respond to its growing diversity.
Our goal was not so much to elicit specific answers to our questions as to give the candidates an opportunity to talk about their understanding of where Seven Lakes West is and where it should be heading — and how they might contribute to moving the community in that direction.
You’ll find summaries of our interviews below.

Read more: The Times Interviews Westside Candidates

[An abridged version of this article appeared in the February 20 edition of The Times. Jump to the questions and answers that weren't included in the print edition.]

SLLA LogoMembers of the Seven Lakes Land-owners Association [SLLA] gathered on Wednesday, February 4 to meet the six candidates for their Board of Directors.

The candidates were given up to six minutes for introductory remarks on their background and experience, challenges and opportunities facing the Association, and how their talents and skills might help the organization meet those challenges and take advantage of those opportunities.

Afterwards, Seven Lakes Times Editor Greg Hankins, who moderated the event, asked the candidates questions that had been submitted in writing by audience members.

The six candidates, who are vying for four open seats on the Board, include Joy Smith, Bob Racine, Greg Lishawa, Mark Gyure, Dave Hill, and Lawton Baker. Racine and Hill are both current members of the Board.

Read more: SLLA Candidates' Night


It was standing room only at the Seven Lakes West Landowners Association [SLWLA] Candidates’ Night on Tuesday, February 3.

Candidates Jim Beaty, Jim Greaves, John Hildebrand, Jack Lattin, John Shaughnessy, and Bernadette York sat facing the audience. Community Manager Jeanette Mendence, who moderated the session, explained that each candidate would be allowed up to a three minute introduction. They would then be asked six questions, suggested by Association members, with two minutes to respond to each.

Read more: Seven Lakes West Candidates' Night

Six Bs, nine Cs, and five Ds. No As, and no Fs.

Moore County's public schools, along with all of the public schools in the state, were given letter grades on Thursday, February 5. It's something new for North Carolina, mandated by the General Assembly.

Union Pines High School received a B; Pinecrest and North Moore both had Cs.

Among the middle schools, only West Pine received a B. New Century and Elise both received Cs, and Southern Pines and Crain's Creek Middle received Ds.

Among the elementary schools, there were four Bs: West Pine, Pinehurst, Sandhills Farm Life, and Southern Pines.

West End Elementary, Vass-Lakeview, Highfalls, Carthage, and Cameron received Cs. Westmoore, Aberdeen, and Robbins received Ds.

Two Moore County charter schools also received letter grades. The Academy of Moore received a B; STARS scored a D.

Parents of students at D-graded schools will be getting a letter noting the low score.


Read more: Moore County Schools Get Letter Grades. Do They Mean Anything?

Seven Lakes Country Club officially has new owners. Golf Seven Lakes LLC, headed up by industry veterans Larry Galloway and Jon Whittemore, closed the transaction on Tuesday, January 27.

"The members have been phenomenal," Galloway told The Times. "I can't remember the last time I felt so welcomed by a group of people."

The membership met on Sunday, December 14 and voted to dissolve Seven Lakes Country Club, Inc., to facilitate the sale of its assets.

As The Times reported in December, Galloway and Whittemore are both alumni of ClubCorp, the largest owner of private golf and country clubs in the US. ClubCorp owned Pinehurst Resort and Country Club from the mid-1980s until 2006.

The two men also worked together at Century Golf Partners, a golf management and consulting firm that has rights to the Arnold Palmer Golf Management brand.

The pair have acquired acquired three other courses in the past couple of years: Serenoa Golf Club and Rolling Green Golf Club in Sarasota, FL, and West Ridge Golf Club in McKinney, TX, which is part of the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Whittemore resides in Florida; Galloway, in Texas.

Read more: Deal Closed on Seven Lakes Country Club

In Memory Of