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.
Pendleton Receives Fellingham Award
The Joe Fellingham Community Service Award was presented to the family of Judy Pendleton, prompting a standing ovation from the assembled members.
Pendleton died on March 4, before she could be presented with the award.
She served on the Communications Committee and was an active contributor to the Seven Lakes West newsletter, providing reviews of books and news on community book groups. She also served on the Architectural Review Committee.
Most importantly, Keyser said, Pendleton established and managed the Seven Lakes West free lending library, which he called "a valuable resource for the community."
Members of the Pendleton family accepted the award on her behalf.
Reviewing the year
As the votes were being counted, outgoing President Bruce Keyser provided the substantial crowd who attended the meeting with a slide show highlighting accomplishments over the past year.
"The front entrance was the highlight of the year, along with the roads project," Keyser said. Seven Lakes West completed a substantial upgrade and reconfiguration of its front entrance, including a new gatehouse that sits further inside the community. In addition, the first phase of repaving Longleaf Drive was completed.
Management company "CAS is entering its fifth successful year," Keyser said, noting that the management staff continues to handle more and more duties, which allowed the size of the Board to be reduced from nine to seven.
The Architectural Review Committee processed 364 improvement projects and 22 new constructions during the past year, compared to 254 improvements and 10 new constructions in the previous year, Keyser reported.
"We are back to being a growing community, folks," he added.
CAS staff have taken over responsibility for managing both the events and amenities committees. In addition to hosting a number of events over the past year, from Summer concerts to Christmas parties, they conducted online surveys about the pool and other amenities.
The West Side Park Nature Trail was completed, and pickle ball courts added to the tennis courts. A new gazebo is under construction near the swimming pool.
The Lake & Dam Committee worked with the community's dam engineer to complete a digitized survey of the Lake Auman Dam and has a five year maintenance plan for the dam underway. Ten buoys were replaced in the past year and another ten will be replaced in the coming year, achieving the goal of replacing all the lake buoys.
Keyser noted that the Board had implemented in-house enforcement of speed limits after a Town Hall Meeting on security issues.
"In the three years that I have been a director, the big thing on our members' minds has been speeding and not stopping at stop signs," he said. "In the past couple of months, our new enforcement has been having an effect like no other way that we have attempted to control this issue in the past. We're not trying to fine anyone, we are trying to slow folks down."
The Finance Committee recommended early retirement of the mortgage on West Side Park, saving the Association interest payments. And collection efforts, including retaining a new collections attorney, has reduced the total past due member receivables from $87,000 to $65,000.
The new CSI Committee installed fencing around key problem areas on the community's perimeter, and helped secure the donation of an acre of land that includes the dam for Longleaf Pond #3.
The number of landowners who have registered to use the SLWLA website has reacher 1030, and maintenance of the website has been moved over to CAS staff.
Secretary Mandy Goodman provided a brief tour of the website following Keyser's Year in Review presentation.
Keyser praised the work of the community's many volunteers, who he said made possible the achievements he had reviewed. A list of committee members and volunteers was distributed at the meeting, and the Association will host a reception honoring volunteers on March 27.
He noted that the Association has a significant need for new volunteers and encouraged members to become involved.
Outgoing Directors Honored
It is traditional for retiring directors to be honored with small gifts, as well as praise, and Vice President Chuck Watkins made sure each of the three outgoing Board members was presented with a suitable gift.
Infrastructure Director Jim Pierman was given a toy end loader and dump truck in recognition of his work on road repaving and other projects. Pierman praised the members of his committee and Community Manager Jeanette Mendence for their work.
Among the Board's more interesting debates in the past year was a discussion about the possibility of regulating yard art. During that debate, Architectural Review Director Dan Blue, alluding to a painted concrete pig prominently displayed on NC Highway 211, said "You know someone is going to buy the polka dot pig."
So Watkins awarded Blue his very own, very small polka-dotted pig statue.
Blue thanked his committee members, noting that the Architectural Review Committee is one committee that simply could not function without a dedicated group of committed and knowledgeable volunteers.
Noting that President Bruce Keyser could no longer look forward to incendiary emails and irate phone calls at all hours, Watkins said, "in those hours when you can no longer look forward to being a basket case . . ." and presented Keyser with a basketball hoop that can be worn as a hat.
"As I look out over everybody who is here," Keyser said, "I just want to appreciate the committees, the CAS staff, all the committee people who have worked so hard, and this group of directors. We have been, in my mind, a fairly cohesive group this year. We have had a lot of situations in which there have been a lot of discussions, but, in the end, for the most part we have always come up with what is in the best interest of this community."
"And that is basically what I would like to present to the new members coming on the Board: Learn to work together. Learn to work with the CAS staff. And learn to work together for what is in the best interest of Seven Lakes West."
Watkins announced the names of members who have agreed to serve on the Nominations Committee for the coming year. The include, Mike Swenson, Jessica Wimberly, Tom McGinnis, Ed Cockman, Ed Silberhorn, and Ron Shepard. They will be joined by one member of the Board.