Annual Meeting 2017

ECHO LAKE PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATION
ANNUAL MEETING

JULY 22, 2017

 

WELCOME:

Called to order by Patti Lennon, Co-President, at 9:15 AM, with about 55 people attending.

 

Secretary’s Report: Susan Czerepak

Motion to accept the 2016 Minutes as posted on the ELPA website was made and seconded. Unanimously approved.

 

Treasurer’s Report: Bill Mann

Bill reported the following Financial Highlights:

  • As of July 22 we had income of $15,660.41 and expenses of $10,116.82.
  • The Color Challenge grossed $6.955.97 and had expenses of $301.07
  • On advice of the state, we did not apply for the Watershed Grant this year, but are not precluded from doing so in the future. We did receive the final payment for 2016 of $900. The Watershed Grant has a relatively small pot of money –about $18,000 – to be allocated to all the lakes in the state. In September we’ll decide if we will apply next year.
  • We received the final payment for 2016 of $4,260.00 from the Aquatic Nuisance Grant. The initial payment for 2017 has not yet been received as the state is behind in processing the grant funds. We will then receive the balance in 2018 after our report is submitted. We are pretty much guaranteed the Aquatic Nuisance Grant on an annual basis as long as we have an access monitor program.
  • We’ve increased pay for our greeters from $11.00 to $12.00 to match the current rate paid to access greeters in the area.
  • Lisa Martin has taken on the payroll responsibilities as a volunteer, eliminating the need for administrative costs we had been paying to NorthWoods. We have created a separate checking account that is dedicated to payroll.

Ed Borden noted that as of July 22nd membership was significantly down this year. Tom Wagner said that membership tends to run late, many members not paying dues until the Annual Meeting. A reminder letter is going out to members who have not yet renewed their memberships.

Motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report was moved and seconded. Unanimously approved. 

 

Insurance/Payroll – Larry Martin

Larry reported that the Board of Directors has made changes to the management of our payroll and insurance, which save us $600.00 a year. In years past, the NorthWoods Center provided payroll service for us at the cost of about $1,800.00 a year.

Lisa Martin has offered to take on the payroll work as a pro bono donation.

Doing the payroll ourselves requires that we take on the cost of Workers Compensation Insurance at an annual cost of $1,200.00. There was a question as to whether it was even legal for us to cover our paid greeters under the NorthWoods Worker’s Compensation policy.

Our new insurance agency is Noyle W. Johnson. They are a major sponsor of the ELPA Color Challenge and an employee is also a member.

 

Access Greeter Report: Terry O’Brien

Terry reported that the Department of Environmental Conservation sponsors the Access Greeter Program that began in 2002. Last year statewide there were over 26,000 inspections.

Echo Lake has participated in the program for the past 11 years, 7 days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Paid greeters are on site from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Wednesday through Sunday. Our paid greeters have a total of 18 years of experience. Volunteers are on site on Mondays and Tuesdays, the quietest days. This year Keith Gee, Laurie Gee, Mike Vinton, Terry O’Brien, Maryanne O’Brien, Jim Brophy, and Lee Topshe serve as volunteers.

There have been 332 inspections through July 10th. Boats are inspected coming into and coming out of the water. Some boats have been put in for the season. There is not much daily boat traffic. Four fishermen account for 75% of the boat traffic. No big powerboats have come to the lake. The fishing is good in the lake but it is not easy.

Last year we sent 10 samples of vegetation to the state. Three of those were identified as invasive, but to date we have seen no indication that invasive plants have taken hold in the lake. 

 

Water Quality: Peter Engels

Peter reported that Echo Lake is one of 60 lakes that participate in water quality monitoring run by the state that was started in the mid-80’s. Three lakes in Vermont — Echo, Maidstone, and Seymour – have the best water quality in the state.

On a weekly basis water samples are taken from the same location in a deep hole about two-thirds of the way out in the lake. Samples are collected, processed, and sent to the state to measure phosphorous, chlorophyll and clarity. We have very little phosphorous here in Echo Lake and phosphorous levels have remained steady from 2004 to 2016.

 

Lake Bed Survey: Peggy Stevens

Peggy reported that this year Ann and Steve Gratton attended the Vermont Invasive Patrollers (VIP) training program and have joined the ranks of our volunteers. We have been conducting the lake bed survey for many years now. This survey is our second line of defense in assuring that invasive species do not take hold in the lake. The greeters at the boat launch are our first line of defense, insuring that invasive species don’t enter the lake. The lake bed survey is conducted to make sure that no invasive species are actually growing. Our report is given to Ann Bove at the Lakes and Ponds Division of the Agency of Natural Resources.

The time our patrollers spend surveying the lake counts as a credit in kind toward our Aquatic Nuisance grant application.

This year we had full coverage of every section of lake shore. Our patrollers do more than just identify potential invasive species. They also note the types of healthy vegetation that are growing. Peggy maintains a master map of what we find. This year we have less vegetation than in years past. This may be due to the lack of sunshine this spring and early summer. It used to be a jungle of plant life in the inlet, but there is much less vegetation density this year. Big leaf pondweed, wild celery and pipewort are most common. It will be interesting to see what plants we find during the next lake bed survey at the end of the summer.

One of our goals is to have all property owners become familiar with the vegetation in their water, be aware of what’s there, and call if you see something new. If we each mind our own shoreline, that will help stop an invasion. If you do see something, don’t touch anything; contact Peggy or one of the other patrollers listed on our web site. If it turns out to be a potential invasive species, we’ll send a sample to the state for official identification. If warranted, the state will send professionals to assess the situation. If found early, it may be possible to halt the spread of invasive species, and, although a long shot, possibly eradicate it. Prevention is the only sure way to avoid infestation by invasive species.

 

Lake Wise Awards – Susan Czerepak, Tracey Shadday and Heather Murphy

Lake Wise Awards were presented to John and Carolyn Simsarian, Jon Mills (on behalf of the extended Mills Family), and Mary Kenison and Nancy Tessier. Other recent recipients are Peggy Stevens, Elaine Carpenter, and Cindy Swanson. This brings us to 22 properties that have received the individual Lake Wise Awards, which represents 23.4 percent of the lakeshore properties on the lake. That is above the 15% requirement to qualify for the Gold Lake Wise Award. We are the first in the state to have achieved this honor!

Heather Murphy, the Technical Specialist from the Division of Lakes and Ponds of the Department of Environmental Conservation, joined our meeting to announce that we have been awarded the Gold Lake Wise Award. We will be receiving a letter signed by the governor and a special Gold Lake Wise Award to be posted at the landing. Heather and Amy Picotte are creating a video which will be posted on the Lake Wise page celebrating Echo Lake and its achievement. Heather asked that ELPA members forward to her any videos they may have of their activities on the lake – swimming, boating, fishing, water skiing, etc., together with a few words about what the lake means to them.

Marianne O’Brien mentioned that kayakers on the lake have noticed the Lake Wise Award signs and inquired about them. People are paying attention.

 

Invasive Preparedness – Larry Martin

Larry reported on his research into the remediation of invasive species, and identified four keys to being prepared

  • Prevent the introduction of an invasive species. The importance of our greeter program cannot be overstated. This is our first and most critical line of defense.
  • Detect the presence of an invasive species. Our Vermont Invasive Patrollers are our second line of defense identifying as early as possible Invasive species that have taken root. The sooner you find it the better.
  • Act quickly if an invasive species is found.
  • Have funds immediately available to pay for cleanup.

Larry reported that the cost of remediation is very expensive. Our operating costs would increase significantly if we have to fight the spread of milfoil or other invasive species. He listed lakes in the area that have expenses of from $20,000 to close to $300,000.

Combatting an invasive species requires a permitting process that takes considerable and valuable time before remediation work can even begin.

Once you have an invasive it is a long and costly battle to control it. Three options for control are:

  • Limited use of herbicides
  • Harvesting that requires trained divers
  • Benthic Matting that must be purchased and professionally installed

The most important thing we can do is to prevent an invasive species from being introduced to the lake.

Larry mentioned that other lakes get greater financial support from their communities. There was a suggestion that we ask for an increase from the Town. We have hesitated to ask for money, as there is no public beach on Echo thus limiting use by town residents. Patti will talk with the Select Board to see if they can work with us. Patti will also investigate whether we can do a VIP meeting on site.

There was discussion about the benefit of installing a Wash Station at the landing. A Wash Station would have to be situated away from the lake to keep it from draining back into the lake. It would require electricity, heated water, and two people to manage it. Typically wash stations target Spiny Water Flea. The general consensus was that a wash station would be more trouble than it is worth. There are 3 mobile wash station units in the state, and perhaps we could have them come and demonstrate. No decision was made regarding that.

 

Contingency Fund: Bill Mann

Bill reported that he, Larry Martin, and Keith Gee developed a guideline for a contingency fund of monies set aside for the remediation of an event in which an invasive species of an aquatic nuisance, plant or animal, were to occur within the waters or shoreline of Echo Lake. Other lakes in the area have a similar contingency fund. Seymour has $100,000 in such a fund.

There was a discussion regarding the investment of these funds. The proposal is that we purchase a Certificate of Deposit. The Bank has stipulated that if the monies needed to be withdrawn prior to the term of the deposit, any penalty would be waived if the monies were being used as intended.

The Board will determine the initial deposit to be made to this fund. Members can pledge money to the fund, although monies must first be applied to our day-to-day operations. There was discussion about whether the funds should be placed in a broad-based mutual fund or whether that was too risky.

There was a suggestion that we see if we could purchase insurance that would cover us if it were determined that an invasive species needed to be remediated. That will be investigated

There was concern expressed about what would happen to the money if it were never used. For the life of the Echo Lake Protective Association, the money would remain in the Contingency Fund. As pristine as Echo Lake is today, it is possible, if not likely, that we will need those funds to clean the lake. According to Article X of the ELPA By-Laws, if the Echo Lake Protective Association ever were to be dissolved, the remaining assets will be transferred to the NorthWoods Stewardship Center to be used for educational and testing purposes related to Echo Lake.

After discussion, motion was made and seconded to approve the establishment of the Contingency Fund as described in the ELPA Contingency Fund Guideline.

Unanimously approved.

 

Color Challenge: Patti Lennon

Patti reported that the Color Challenge was a huge success this year; that it was “the perfect storm without a storm.’– a beautiful day and high attendance with 215 runners and 30 volunteers. We had high business support, more sponsors than ever before, and over $1,000 in prize donations. We netted $6655.00.

This year we had very low expenses as we had materials that had been purchased in years prior. Next year we will have more expenses for t-shirts, powder, and sunglasses.

This is a very successful fund raising event for us. It is possible that in the future interest will peter out, but currently we are a very popular event, getting a name, and drawing interest from Newport, Coventry, and Barton. There was a suggestion that we add another dimension of a longer distance to draw even more interest. That idea will be taken into consideration.

The names of this year’s corporate sponsors will be posted to our web site.

 

Dues Increase: Larry Martin

Larry recommended that we increase membership dues as follows:

  • Increase individual membership from $15 to $25
  • Increase family membership from $30 to $50
  • Dues for Friends of Echo Lake would remain at $25

Motion to increase dues as recommended was made and seconded.

Unanimously approved.

 

Membership: Tom Wagner

Tom reported that the Membership Committee:

  • Proposed that a Friend of Echo Lake form be designed for renters and guests. A copy of that form will be posted on the Membership tab of the ELPA website.
  • Will be sending out a letter for dues to those existing members who have not yet paid
  • Will be conducting a campaign to personally visit all lake residents who are not currently members and deliver literature on invasive species and floatable key chains

Tom said that approximately 65 to 70 percent of lake property owners are currently members.

 

Nomination and Election of Board Members and Officers: Patti Lennon and Jean Wilson

Jean Wilson and Mike Vinton are both retiring from the Board, Patti extended thanks to each of them for all they have done for the Association, and noted that each had expressed willingness to continue contributing to the Association’s efforts in various volunteer roles.   Patti noted that we are like the Hotel California – You can check out any time but you can never leave.

Jean made a motion to elect the following:

  • Larry  – 2nd Term Co-President
  • Nancy – 2nd Term Board Member
  • Ann Hunsicker – Partial Term Board Member (completing the remaining year of Mike Vinton’s term)
  • Steve Gratton – 1st Term Board Member

The motion was seconded and the slate was elected unanimously.

 

Loon Nesting: Laurie Eckels Gee

Laurie reported that the loons have been nesting for 27 days on the nesting platform near their property. Let your guests know about the loons and please respect warning signs.

These will be the first loon chicks since 2005

(Note: 2 chicks hatched the day after the meeting!!)

 

Annual Picnic Potluck –

The picnic will be held at 4:30 on Saturday, August 12h, at the Koenigsbauers’, Beams’ and Wilsons’ beach at the west end of the lake. There’ll be live music from 6:00 to 8:00 provided by Li’l Deb and Big Wind.

 

Other Business: –

Concern was raised about residents and guests around the lake feeding the ducks. It may be fun, but it’s not healthy.

Uneaten bread can cause algae blooms, allow bacteria to breed, and attract vermin. In addition, bread and other human foodstuffs can be harmful to waterfowl, leading to potentially fatal or disabling health conditions. Uneaten food can also cause changes to the chemical and bacteriological content of water, increasing the risk of avian disease

It was suggested that we provide literature to rental cottages about the ducks, and also post the information to our website

 

Meeting adjourned: At 11:10 AM:

Submitted by: Susan Czerepak, Secretary, on August 9, 2017