On May 19, the Hot Springs Village Public Services (P.S.) Committee met and elected committee officers. Public Service Director, Ken Unger, asked for the committee members to share their backgrounds so he could know how to utilize individual committee members. He also explained what he sees as the major challenges he faces, and how to address the issues. his vision for the Public Service Department and how the committee can help.

Chairman’s Comments

Chair, Rolland White welcomed Ken Unger, the new Public Services Director, and Steven Klomsten, the newest Public Services Committee Member. White also thanked the former Public Services Director, Jason Temple, for “everything he has done.”

Board Member Liaison Report

Robert McLeod, HSVPOA Board Member, said that the Board approved the purchase of two backhoes.

McLeod also said that some of the sand traps on the golf courses will be eliminated. “Too many were installed,” explained McLeod. “It is about reducing the maintenance,” continued McLeod.

McLeod said that beginning in June, the Board Discussion Sessions were being eliminated and the Board will only meet once a month.

McLeod conducted the election of officers for the Public Services Committee.

Rolland White was re-elected to the chair seat, pending Board approval.

Bob Cunningham was elected to the position of Vice-chair.

White said he would talk to some committee members about filling the Secretary slot. Cunningham has been in the Secretary position for three years and said he would do the minutes for the May 19 meeting. 18:35

McLeod said the GM would have a meeting with all the newly-elected committee chairs and vice-chairs in order to get the committees going down the same path.

Committee Member Background

The Public Service Director asked all the committee members to state what their expertise is as it pertains to the Public Service Committee.

Rolland White: chemical engineering – project management background – heavy steel construction. White has served on the Public Services Committee for nine years and chaired the committee a number of times.

Jim Patton – Built highways and bridges in Chicago, Illinois. P.S. Committee member for around nine years – Chair on P.S. Committee two times. Patton also knows a lot of the POA staff.

Bob Cunningham – Been on the P.S. Committee for around nine years. Cunningham said he does not have any expertise, but was asked to serve on the committee because he doesn’t know anything about engineering. White said that historically an ex-police officer has served on the committee and Cunningham is serving in that capacity.

David Childs – Managed in large city and county governments.

Philip Matone – forty years in consulting engineering. Formal training was in water/wastewater. The last thirty years were highway design of villages to interstate highways.

George Parker – Owned a construction company (concrete work and buildings) for 20 years. Parker served on the POA Board of Directors and the Architectural Control Committee.

Steve Klomsten – Worked forty seasons in underground construction in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Oversaw a company that installed mainline sewer and water in Milwaukee – This company also had an asphalt division, did concrete work, a trucking division and a crushing division. Klomsten oversaw the office and all the employees.

Duane Ninke – Worked for the city of Southhaven, Michigan for 25 years and retired as Chief Operator Superintendent of the water filtration plant, in charge of maintenance and operations, elevated tanks, ground storage tanks, and pump stations.

Thomas Gale Smith – Been in and around the Village since the early ’70s. Smith’s background is in math and physics, bachelor of science. Worked for AT&T. Also worked in accounting. He has a Securities Principal license and is also a mortgage officer. He spent 25 years consulting in the software business. He was a manager with a large CPA firm for three years in the IT area.

Clark Sann – Electrical engineer – worked primarily in control systems and supervisory control systems with a lot of instrumentation background. Sann owned his own company in Washington State that installed supervisor control systems in water plants and sewage plants. He also has experience in the oil field in data communications and supervisory control systems. Sann is starting a company that is building a small supervisory control system.

Drew Kahle – Construction materials supplier, primarily Ready Mix Concrete, sand, gravel, limestone, and blacktop. Kahle also has builder supply experience. He began by doing shovel work and ended up as an executive vice-president of the company.

Public Safety Report

Bob Cunningham does the public safety report. Cunningham reported that there were a number of accidents last month, but none of them were serious. Most accidents were texting or falling asleep while driving or someone taking too many pills.

Chair White asked Cunningham to continue with the safety reports.

Solid Waste Regional Management District Board Meeting

This meeting has a time conflict with the HSVPOA Board Meeting. Cunningham said he attended this via Microsoft Teams, which is similar to a Zoom meeting. The meeting room did not have good acoustics. These are the following topics discussed at the meeting:

  • Tire-shredding – old tires are collected and shipped to Arkadelphia for shredding. The cost of transportation to ship the tires by 18-wheelers has doubled. The timing of when the tires are shipped needs to be spread out.
  • Erosion at Bauxite Landfill – areas are being seeded to help with this issue. Problems with regulating ingress and egress at the landfill.
  • Finances

Cunningham reported that there was nothing in the Solid Waste Regional Management District Board Meeting of interest to the Village.

Cooper Land Evaluation Ad Hoc Committee Update

Thomas Gale Smith said the committee was tasked with taking a look at properties that our Developer, Cooper Communities, Incorporated (CCI) has for sale. This is being looked into to determine which of the properties we need and possibly even want. The ad hoc committee will be making recommendations to the Hot Springs Village POA Board of Directors in June or July. The ad hoc committee met with CCI and was “pleasantly surprised.” Smith said he thought we would be okay on all the trails or portions of trails located on CCI property, with the exception of the Cedar Creek Trail. Cedar Creek Trail is located entirely on CCI-owned property. This trail is located on a large tract of land and much of it is not buildable.

Smith said CCI is willing to sell the POA the golf cart parking area at Coronado for around $5,000. This tract of land also includes room for future expansion.

Vison of Public Service Director

Unger said, “This is an exciting time for our organization. There is a lot going on.”

“An integral part of our planning and organization is the involvement of the Public Services Committee,” Unger said.

Unger then asked his team (staff) to introduce themselves.

Unger said that after being hired, one of the first things he did was look for ways to streamline and improve operations in his department for better response, efficiency, and potential cost savings. On the first day on the job, Unger was handed the resignation of Brad Meredith, Lakes Manager. Unger took this opportunity to combine the Lakes Department and the Common Property under the leadership of Todd Noles.

Unger also looked at “how we operate further down the line.” He said there were some “synergy opportunities when you look at the grinder tank, the line coming out of it, running into our sewer network, and then the major pump stations that also tie into our wastewater treatment facilities. And after talking to the leaders of the organization, we also made a decision (and this is fairly new news), we’re basically going to incorporate the building and electrical responsibilities and organization into two of our existing line organizations.”

Unger said, “The grinder tank systems are going to be moved under Larry Hefley’s organization, so he has [is in charge of] all lines that go underground. That includes electrical lines that we are running for First Electric or Entergy. We had projects where you had two separate parts of my organization going out to dig trenches and lay pipes. Now we will have one.”

Unger continued, “The hope here is that if there is a problem in the system, you don’t have two groups that have to come out and do something. We have one group, with one team that deals with the problem.”

Pump stations “are connected to the wastewater treatment plant. We have odor issues throughout that system that go all the way to the treatment plants down in Cedar Creek. Looking at the flows out of that system, what impacts the plant, what’s getting into the lines in the network through the pump stations, through the gravity lines, it made sense to consolidate that under Chris’s organization. [Chris Boutzale].”

Unger said there were a lot of special projects and Mike’s team [Mike Sykora] “directly interfaces with recreation and golf. We would get requests for things like the fountain [at the west gate]. “If there is a major electrical issue with a recreational amenity, Public Services will take care of that.

Unger stated that there is an opportunity for some of the committees to work closely together or become one committee. (Unger mentioned the Common Property, Forest, and Wildlife Committee and the Lakes Committee.) “That is up to them.”

Public Services has a lot of things the committee can help with. Unger believes there is enough for the P.S. Committee to do that they could be meeting twice a month. (Currently, the P.S. Committee meets every other month.) Unger said he would hold his staff meetings prior to the committee meetings at the same location. [Police Training Center]. Unger said, “My feeling is that meeting twice a month will serve us well for the foreseeable future.”

Big Picture Challenges in the Village

The Village has been here for 50 years and much of the west-side infrastructure has been fully depreciated for 20 years or longer. “We haven’t been able to invest the capital in it to replace that infrastructure as it reaches the end of life…” We are in a situation right now where we are spending more time and energy patching and fixing it than we would if replacing it with an infrastructure that has a useful life of another 20 to 30 years.”

“We also have design issues here. If you ever drive around after it rains, there is water pooling in spots on the roads. There are structural issues in the pavement design that are hard to overcome, just by overlay.”

“We have water mains that are installed on the hard bedded rock. They need to be replaced. But we have to replace them correctly. So right now when we patch them, we’re just patching a spot that is still surrounded by a water main that is not bedded properly. So we’re going to continue to suffer those breaks.”

“Sanitary sewer, most likely the same thing.”

“The major issue I am seeing here is Cooper built this community for 30,000 plus homes and we have about 9,000 to 10,000. Most of the infrastructure that went into place was sized for those 30,000 homes. But when you only have 9,000 homes contributing to it, that causes problems.”

Unger said the reason we have the odor issues is that fluid is not moving through the system fast enough. There is not enough flow.

Unger said he just found out the other day that the same thing is true with transformers We have transformers out there that were sized and installed based on the expected load of electricity. We pay a different rate based on transformer size. We may have an opportunity there. We may be able to downgrade transformers and be charged differently for the electricity that we use.

First Electric gave Unger an electric bill. He said you can clearly tell what pump stations are working and which ones are not working very much. “Right there we are able to target which ones have flow issues because if they aren’t using electricity, they aren’t pumping.”

“In areas where the sewer system is old, we have high infiltration rates. When we get major storms, our treatment plants are experiencing a major influx.”

How Do We Approach the Problems?

“The logical approach that you think would be logical is not necessarily the approach we are going to look at. We have a priority list of 1’s and 2’s. But the major culverts that failed on DeSoto were priority 2. How accurate are the priorities? The culverts that we have can fail at any time. My view is we could put $200,000 to open up a road to fix a culvert that we say is really bad or we could put that money into 20 or 30 culverts that we know we can slip line, for example, for the same amount of money. The analogy that I use, in my opinion, is we’re trying to fix the broken arm of a guy who is suffocating. We have to stop him from suffocating.”

“The roads are not designed for the loads they are experiencing on a day-to-day basis. Until we can figure out how we are going to redesign the roads or control traffic, to spend the kind of money we’ve been spending on some of the roads, we’re just throwing it out the window, in my opinion. It looks good, but the structural integrity isn’t going to be what we need to support the loads that we are seeing in the Village.” Unger said his cul de sac was torn up when he built his house.

Unger said we should be preserving as much of the existing roads as possible with crack sealing and seal coating. Once the road starts cracking and water gets into it, you are going to end up with potholes.

Management Input

Matt Broom (roads) – We are rehabilitating culverts instead of replacing them. “We’ve reached out to a lot of contractors.”

Unger said that rehabilitating means using a slip lining process. There are two types of slip lining. One is a soft resin fabric that is pulled through the pipe. This is activated by steam and hardens, creating a structural pipe. It molds to the existing pipe. The useful life of some of these materials is 75 years. The second alternative is a resin spray.

Unger said, “The caveat here to what Matt is saying is, we’re not going out and saying ‘this is what we want. Give us a price for it.’ We’re going out to the world saying, ‘here’s our problem. Here’s generally what we are looking for. What is your solution to the problem?’

Unger said we will need engineers to help to determine the best solution. The P.S. Department is not only looking for the most cost-effective solution but one that is less evasive to the community.

We are going to limit the activity to proof of concept to see if the slip lining works. Then we will request bids from contractors to do a large volume of work in order to get the best pricing.

The balance the P.S. Department is trying to come up with is how to preserve what we have, make it look good, and make it useful.

We are purchasing equipment to crack seal. “For preservation type work, we should be working year-round,” said Unger. POA staff will be crack sealing the secondary streets and contractors will handle the major roads.

Unger is confident that by using in-house staff, “before you know it, we’re going to have a lot more of the roads touched and fixed than we ever had. And while we are still working with contractors to do the major routes to make them look good.”

Chris Boutzale (lift stations) – Boutzale is working on eliminating the odor from the lift stations. They will be putting water into the problem lift stations where gas is created. The gas is formed because there are not enough houses and the fluid sits for a time before being pumped out. “We are going to see how much water it takes to get rid of the odor.” The water used for this will be recycled from the water already being used to flush out the water pipes in the area.

Unger said they are working with J. Allen (home builder) for him to install his own grinder pumps. Traditionally, the POA has always done this work in the past but loses money on the installations. The POA will inspect the work and also perform maintenance.

Dallas Fetterhoff (fleet) – The purchase of a dump truck is budgeted. Originally, it was planned to get a larger truck in order to have fewer trips. Fetterhoff said due to the impact a larger truck would have on the roads, it “might be more beneficial to have two smaller trucks than one bigger truck.”

Unger said the other advantage is that if we have two smaller trucks we can load one truck with pressed (dried) sludge, while the driver is taking the all-ready-loaded truck to dump. This allows time for the sludge to dry and the weight is less, costing us less to dump. Although this process takes two trucks, it is dry weight which not only costs less to dump but results in a lighter load on the roads.

Mike Sykora (buildings) – Sykora’s crew is tasked with power washing and painting some of the buildings – Granada, Coronado. The crew will also be working on roofs, floors, and spring cleaning air conditioners, among other tasks. Sykora said, “We never quit”, stated Sykora.

Unger said that Sykora has been given the task of looking across the organization and recommending needed improvements.

Todd Noles (lakes, common property, Urban Deer Hunt) – new guardrails were installed.

Urban Deer Hunt – next year the Urban Deer Hunt may possibly be designated only for Property Owners and POA employees.  Noles feels this will cut down on the littering, destruction of property, and theft.  Right now orientation is handled by the Arkansas Bow Hunters Association.  If the HSV Archery Club sponsors this, the $35 orientation fee would be collected by the POA.  Noles said some hunters may buy a lot so they will be able to participate in the HSV Urban Deer Hunt.  

NOTE:  The proposal to allow only Property Owners and POA employees to participate in the  ’23/’24 HSV Urban Deer Hunt is just a proposal.  A final decision on this subject has not been determined.

Unger said, “We are looking at ways to increase revenue and reduce expenses in every aspect of our organization.  And hunting is no different.”

Unger Sees Public Services Committee Participation as Key to Success

Unger asked the committee to weigh in on the 7-year Operations and Maintenance Tables (O & M) for things that are missing or shouldn’t be there.

“I am a big believer that if you take care of the little things upfront, the bad things on the back get smaller and smaller and smaller.  Our challenge here as an organization was, that they were caught in a cycle of dealing with disaster, constantly.  My challenge is to figure out how we create more time for these people to take care of the operation and maintenance upfront, so they are dealing with fewer disasters and can do more maintenance so that cycle reverses on itself and all we are doing is maintenance and not recognizing disasters,” expressed Unger. 

“My goal is to have a long-term plan, so every year we know what we are going to be doing,” said Unger.

Unger said he needs help publicizing the accomplishments of the organization and also attracting new committee members.  He wants as much input as possible.

In summary, Unger said, “I view the Public Service Committee’s input and participation as critical to our success. What I am requesting of you right now if you are willing, is that we meet bi-weekly. Maybe it can be a subset of the overall committee, based on the topic at hand. But until we get our arms around a lot of these things that need to be put in place and handled, I think meeting twice a month is a good thing.”

P.S. Chair, Rolland White, said he has gotten mixed reviews on meeting twice a month. The P.S. Committee plans to meet for their next meeting on Thursday, June 9 at 9:00 AM.

A Property Owner requested a handicapped van-accessible parking space (with signage) be made at the fitness center. Unger said he would talk to the Property Owner after the meeting.

Contact information for Public Services Director

Ken Unger
Director Public Services
Hot Springs Village

Report by Cheryl Dowden