At the Wednesday, July 20, 2022 Board Meeting, General Manager, Kelly Hale, updated the community on many activities and issues that he, staff, and volunteers have been working on over the past months. Hale began by talking about successful community events and then spoke of more serious items such as maintenance progress, cost-cutting decisions, a change in oversight of the Security Company, and important upcoming contracts.
Defenders Motorcycle Rally – On June 25, 2022, the Defenders Enforcement Motorcycle Club rode down DeSoto Blvd. Many current and retired military personnel, law enforcement officers, and emergency services personnel rode through our Village while excited onlookers came out to watch, wave flags, and enjoy food and fellowship. The community support was appreciated and the club looks forward to returning in the future and making this ride a tradition.
Successful Stars and Stripes Celebration – “The 4th of July Stars and Stripes event was outstanding this year,” enthused Hale. Thank you to the Citizens Police Academy for assisting with the transportation shuttles. Also much appreciation to the sponsors, staff, and community volunteers who helped make this a successful event. Next year the Parks and Recreation Department has an objective of obtaining more sponsorships to reduce the cost of the celebration to the members.
GAC Fostering Relationships with Surrounding Communities and the State of Arkansas – The HSVPOA Board and Governmental Affairs Committee hosted a Saline County Quorum Court Meeting on Tuesday, July 5. The meeting represented a continued effort by the POA to foster good and productive relationships with Saline and Garland Counties and the State of Arkansas.
POA is Using Both Staff and Contractors to Repair Roads – Hale said, “The Public Services Department is currently working on parking lot crack sealing projects.” After the POA staff finishes crack sealing on the parking lots, the department will begin working on secondary roads. Contractors are working on major roadways.
“The plan is to keep the contractor on the main roads, where we have a need for flaggers.” Using POA employees as flaggers is a drain on staff.
Recycling Improvements – HSVPOA has moved the recycling from Grove Park to Minorca Waste Station, which is located at 218 Minorca Road. Hale thanked the Members for being patient with the recycling changes. “The model we had became very ineffective due to the fact that we had more recyclable goods than we do space.
The recycling trailer we rent from Waste Management costs $25,000 a year in rent. “We realized we need two, if not three of these trailers,” said Hale. This would cost $50,000 to $75,000. Ken Unger has devised a plan for the recycling process where it is believed we can expand recycling to two or three days a week.
DeSoto Club – Hale said, “staff has completed cost-effective updates at the DeSoto Club, The outside of the Clubhouse had not been touched in 21 years. “These include exterior painting, power washing, landscaping, general cleanup, and umbrella patio seating.” The improvements came at a very low cost to us [less than $15,000] and greatly improve the Member’s experience,” stated Hale.
Hale encourages Members to visit the DeSoto Club. With the improvements, there is more interest in groups using the facility.
Leveraging Village Assets to Bring in Visitors – Hale shared, “We are leveraging these assets… to help benefit the Village. We want a good member experience.” Hale said they are encouraging people from Hot Springs to move to the Village. Kevin Sexton, Director of Community Affairs, has been meeting with employees of larger corporations in Benton and Hot Springs and doing presentations, ‘Work in Hot Springs/Benton, but Live in the Village.’ “The new bypass is opening up opportunities. Two days after Sexton’s first meeting with a major corporation in Hot Springs, they booked the DeSoto Club for 75 people to have lunch. This is step one of us leveraging, where we don’t have to provide overnight stays.” The thought is that we can get local business people to come here for their corporate meetings. This provides an outing for their employees and they can use our facilities while paying us nonmember rates.”
Hale said there are more meetings coming up.
Finance and Planning Committee Working Hard With Staff – The staff has been working with Finance and Planning (F & P] Committee Members to update the 7-year O & M [Operations and Maintenance Tables]. Larry Siener and Jeff Lofgren of the F & P Committee are working with the leadership of the Departments. The Department leaders are setting goals of where we need to go, but yet have a flexible understanding of how inflation can affect us for the next six to eighteen months. In order to make sure the strategic plan is optimal, the O & M will be revisited every six months.
IT Department Discovers Ways to Save Money – “The IT Department has saved the POA $8,000 to $10,000 annually by restructuring the data backup services and removing all redundant and unnecessary costs,” stated Hale. Will Rainwater, IT Manager, has discovered and implemented a savings of around $97,000 this year. Evaluations of our systems are still ongoing and more potential annual savings of $30,000 to $50,000 may still be found. “If you see Will and his team, thank them for all the hard work because they have been digging deep.”
Staff and Volunteers Cleaned up Storm Debris – On Tuesday, July 12 there was a bad storm, leaving downed trees and dangerous debris on many Village Roadways. Employees worked throughout the night, behind the scenes on a volunteer basis, to clear the roads. Volunteer firefighters and residents also helped to make sure the Village was safe and the roads were cleared. First Responders also fought a fire early that morning. Then after doing all of this, the employees clocked in and came to work. “I think a lot of times our members do not realize that this is what our people do,” said Hale. When you see the POA employees, thank them for what they do for all of us. They really do care for the Village and Villagers.”
Coronado Clubhouse – The Coronado Clubhouse has been painted. Minor landscaping is being finished. “We have a brand new-looking asset that we will continue to take care of,” said Hale.
Woodlands – Powerwashing of the curbs and sidewalks at the Woodlands has improved the look of the facility. Also, some landscaping improvements have been made. Hale enthused, “You will see that it looks brand new!” Lightpoles which were close to toppling, are also being replaced.
Gate Security – “We continue to evaluate our gate security. Gate security has been reassigned from the Compliance Department to the Police Department.” Kristi Bennett, the new HSV Police Chief, will take ownership of the gates during the next month. “We will see a different approach from the past management of the gates,” explained Hale. Hale and Bennett are working out new details on how to better work with the gate security company.
Ambulance Contract – A team is reviewing the ambulance contract. Hale said, “I felt it was important that we are transparent and understand what the best value is. We have three vendors that have bid on the new ambulance contract. We assembled a team of experts. In addition to the Director of Compliance, the team consists of a retired fire battalion chief, a retired Office of Emergency Management employee [Arkansas], an F & P Committee Member who is very familiar with contracts, and our current fire and police chiefs, This team is conducting an in-depth examination of all of the contracts submitted by potential vendors. The team will be making a recommendation to Hale and the Board very soon.
Communications Cell Tower – Staff is currently evaluating options for several cell tower units that are located on a half-acre piece of fenced common property. SBA Corporation has been leasing this POA-owned land and the current 30-year lease ends on December 18, 2022. SBA Corporation has offered to extend the lease for an additional 30 years. This includes a $10,000 signing bonus and an increase of $4,000 in the annual term. Over the 30-year life of the lease, this would give the POA $642,000. We have no other use for this property and there are a few other similar situations. “This is additional passive income for the members,” said Hale. Director of Compliance and Contract Management, Charles Brown, negotiated the deal.
Report by Cheryl Dowden