Board Meeting Minutes September 10, 2016

ECHO LAKE PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATION
Board of Directors Meeting – September 10, 2016

Present: Patti Lennon, Larry Martin, Nancy Engels, Bill Mann, Jean Wilson, Terry O’Brien, Keith Gee, Susan Czerepak

Welcome: Patti Lennon

Patti called the meeting to order at 9:10 and welcomed new members – Keith Gee as Board Member, who is a new permanent resident of Echo Lake, and Susan Czerepak as Board Member and Secretary.

Old Business:

None

Secretary’s Report: Susan Czerepak

Annual Meeting Minutes for 2016 were submitted for review. Additional changes were noted. Motion to approve the minutes as amended was made and seconded. Approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Bill Mann

Bill gave us copies of the Financial Highlights, comparing 2016 with prior years.

Our income is derived from:

  • Dues and donations – $6,550
  • Town Grant – $1,000
  • Aquatic Nuisance Grant – $7940
  • Watershed Grant – $4,600

Our largest expenditure is the Greeter Program. As of September 10 that was $10,000. We will be accruing an additional payroll cost of about $3,000 for Aug/Sept. We use NorthWoods Stewardship Center to administer the payroll. They calculate tax withholding, workman’s comp, etc. They charge us 15% of the total payroll plus a service cost (Note: Those amounts are not spelled out in the Treasurer’s report)

To date this year our only donation was $50.00 to FOVLAP as a membership fee. We will be making a $100 donation to NorthWoods and $100 to VCE (Vermont Center for Ecostudies) as authorized last year.

The $7,940 listed under the Aquatic Nuisance line item is artificially high because the first payment ($3,581) of the 2015 grant, normally received in the year awarded, was not received until January of 2016. The second payment of the 2015 grant ($2,229) was also received in January of 2016. The normal grant payment process is receipt of the first payment when the grant is awarded and the second payment is received after the final report is written and submitted at the end of the year, so that payment isn’t received until the following fiscal year. The first payment ($2,130) of the 2016 grant was received in July. This gives us the $7,940 listed in the report. We currently have a healthy balance of $27,990.26, which is maintained in Community National Bank

Motion to approve the Report was made and seconded. Approved.

Access Greeter Report: Terry O’Brien

There was little change this year over last. Last year 846 launches and retrieves; this year 822. Last year paid greeters put in 1020 hours; this year 987 hours. There were added hours for the Hex hatch, but not many fisherman showed up. There was an increase in volunteer hours — 198 hours this year compared to 98 hours last year. In 2015 18 samples were sent to the state; 2 were confirmed as milfoil. This year 13 samples were sent to the state; 3 were confirmed as milfoil. The invasives were found early in the summer. It was agreed that we would award $25 gift cards to the 3 greeters for each time they found milfoil.

Seymour is finding a lot of plant life. There was a question as to whether Seymour is seeding Echo Lake through the connecting Ssream. Susan had sent an inquiry to Ann Bove of the state regarding this, but has not yet had a response.

Most of the activity at the landing is in the first 2 hours of the day. Volunteers monitor the landing on Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday is the slowest day. There was discussion about the 4-hour shift being too long. It was proposed that we change that to 2-hour shifts, and set up a sign-up calendar where volunteers can sign up for as many 2-hour shifts as they want. We’ll discuss this further at our next meeting in January.

There was discussion about raising the pay from $10, which seems low compared to other ponds. Joe’s Pond pays $12. Seymour pays $12 or more. Motion was made and seconded to increase the pay to $11.00 an hour for the 2017 calendar year. Approved.

A motion was made, seconded, and approved to give each of the paid greeters a $100 bonus.

There was discussion about posting a banner or sign at the landing stating that Echo Lake is Milfoil free and encouraging fishermen to help keep it that way. No action was decided.

Watershed Grant Requirements: Patti Lennon

There is question as to whether we will receive the Watershed Grant next year. It is not guaranteed. We have received it since 2014 but went a couple of years prior without it. This year when we received the $4,500 grant a letter was sent to the Town indicating that the Committee wants us to be more self-sustaining. They only have $90,000 and $265,000 was applied for.

The Citizen Review Committee appointed by the Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife reviews and ranks project proposals for the Commissioner’s final approval. The question arose as to who is on this committee. Ben Coopens of Memphremagog recently stated that there are “plenty of grants available”. We’re not sure where he is getting his information, as it seems inconsistent with what we are hearing.

Given the unlikelihood of receiving the Watershed Grant and the effort required to submit the application, Cindy Swanson will apply only for the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) Aquatic Nuisance Grant. We believe that the Aquatic Nuisance Grant for 2017 is assured.

The Board felt we should apply for the Watershed Grant anyway and risk being denied. Keith has offered to take on the Watershed Grant application. Terry will talk with Cindy about giving Keith a leg up on this.

Proposed 2017 Association Dates: Patti Lennon

  • Jan 14th – Board Meeting
  • May 27th – Board Meeting
  • July 2nd – Color Challenge
  • July 22nd – Annual Meeting
  • August 19th – Annual Picnic
  • September 9nd – Board Meeting

The proposed dates were discussed and approved.

Newsletter: Susan Czerepak

Last year there was no Fall Newsletter. This year we will send out a Fall Newsletter covering what has been happening this past summer. The Fall Newsletter will be delivered as email only and posted to the web site In the Spring we will publish and mail a hard copy newsletter together with a membership form. That newsletter will also be sent by email and published to the web site. Susan will prepare a preliminary draft of the Fall Newsletter to serve as a starting point.

Membership Committee: Jean Wilson

Membership is up this summer. To increase membership further, the Membership Committee plans on developing and mailing a brochure and membership form to all property owners. Tom has an old brochure and the Membership Committee will work with that. There is also discussion of doing a town-wide mailing as well as a door-to-door campaign early next summer.

The Membership Committee is also considering revising the current Dues and Donations Form, which offers a $15.00 individual membership and a $30.00 family membership, together with varying levels of donations. The Membership Committee is considering replacing that model with one that is based on levels of giving – such as Trout, Bass, and Minnow. There was also some discussion on classification of ”Friends of Echo Lake” versus “Members of the Echo Lake Association”. This will be discussed further at our next Board Meeting

Fundraising: Patti Lennon

Discussion on activities and efforts to raise monies for the Association.

Access Greeter Program – In November, the Fundraising Committee will send a direct mailing to all PO Boxes and Rural Delivery addresses in the Charleston area, using https://www.usps.com/business/every-door-direct-mail.htm soliciting donations to support our Access Greeter Program. The donation form will be designed so that contributors can detach and keep a portion of the form as their tax-deductible receipt for charitable contribution.

Color Challenge – Patti will once again spearhead the Color Challenge fundraiser. It was very successful this past summer, with an even bigger turnout than in 2015. That income is not necessarily something we can depend on, as the event is weather dependent.

Echo Lake Map – The map has not been updated for some time. We will update it listing new owners and new lots and make it available for sale. Jean has offered to drive this. She will look into getting the current map digitized so that it will be easy to plug in the names and lots. She will have the graphic ready for the Board meeting on May 27th. Keith offered to edit the content. We will announce the availability of the map in the Spring Newsletter and have the maps at the Annual Meeting for purchase.

Marketing Echo Lake – Keith suggested that we might consider how to best market Echo Lake and the ELPA to different audiences. He has offered to bring samples of brochures to the Board’s January meeting for out consideration as potential models for the Echo Lake brochure.

We should have a brochure in place for a spring direct mailing to the Charleston Area – similar to the Access Greeter Program mailing. Spring is a good time to advertise and attract new members. In addition to the hard copy mailing we would deliver by email as well.

At the same time we should redesign the membership form as well.

Lakewise Evaluations Update: Susan Czerepak

There were 8 evaluations conducted by Amy Picotte this summer. John and Carol Simsarian already have a Lakewise Award for some of their property. An additional parcel qualified for the award.

  • The Jon Mills property and that of adjacent property owned by other family members also qualified for the Lake Wise award. This covers the wooded stretch to Dickie Brook.
  • Holly Bull’s property is a hair’s breadth away from getting the Lake Wise award. She is going to expand her “No Mow” zone and will install 2 rain gardens. Holly G will be sending her drawings of the proposed rain gardens and she will be applying for grant monies to do the work.
  • Brian Trehearne’s property needs improvements. There is a problem with massive run-off down the shared straight, downhill driveway, and his waterfront retaining wall is beginning to collapse. Amy suggested that he apply for a permit to build a combination stone/vegetative banking to replace the existing wall. She also suggested that turn-offs, water bars, and a stone apron at the base of the driveway be installed. The driveway stone turn-offs and stone apron have been completed.
  • Byron and Sue Fish received the Lake Wise Award. Amy was very impressed by all the work they had done and plantings they had established.
  • The Borden property adjacent to the inlet by the Connecting Stream did not qualify for the award. It’s a difficult property given the natural topography. But Amy did have some suggestions for improvements that might be made.
  • Cindy Swanson’s property qualified for the Lake Wise Award.

Amy was supposed to have evaluated Beth Allen’s property on West Echo Lake Road, but went to East Echo Lake Road instead. She found the property of Nancy Bernstein instead, which she observed was beautiful, exemplary, and obviously qualified. We need to get in touch with the owners.

The addition of these new Lake Wise award brings the Echo Lake count up to 14.

Road Erosion Update: Larry Martin/Patti Lennon

Since the Better Roads project on East Echo Lake Road, residents from Apple Tree Lane down to Beulah’s Way are complaining about road erosion and torrential run-off with plumes of dirt washing into the lake. Amy Picotte is coming to the lake on September 19th to look at the homes reporting problems. Tom has contacted homeowners.

A resident allegedly commented that the “Echo Lake Association did not do its job.” However, an article in the Chronicle commended the Association.

Mike Vinton mentioned that there is a significant washout problem near his property.

Kingdom Games Swim Race: Patti Lennon

This summer Phil White and Kingdom Games hosted the Echo Lake Swim and Run. His website page explains that “20% of all adult registration fees on the run and the bike events go directly to OCCA to support its mission”.  The page also states:

“We’re adding a swim of 1 mile or 3 miles on one of the most pristine lakes in all of North America to help support another good cause, the Echo Lake Association.”

Phil does contribute $100 to ELPA, however we do not get a percentage of the proceeds of the event. We had asked Phil last year not to use the name of the Echo Lake Association in any advertising for his events.

Mike will contact Phil and ask him once again to reframe from using our name for advertising purposes for his events.

Website Security: Susan Czerepak

Tom Wagner sent Susan a notice from iPage, our web host, informing us that infected files had been detected on our site. A partner of iPage, SiteLock contacted us about purchasing security protection at non-profit half-price rates. A yearly contract would cost $90.00. For $150 they would clean up the site.

Susan contacted iPage, examined the results of the webscan and deleted the infected files that had been identified. There is a risk that the site will be reinfected. Often time hacks are stealing traffic and redirecting traffic through links and input fields, sometimes they are placing a page in place of your own to steal customer information. In some cases a host will shut down an infected site, or when people visit a compromised site, Google sometimes posts notices that the site is infected

The Board has left it to Susan’s judgment as to whether or not to purchase the security protection, but have authorized the expenditure if necessary. Because the rates are for a non-profit organization, payment should be made from the ELPA account.

Susan will further investigate and report.

Facebook, Website Blog for pictures: Patti Lennon

Patti suggested that we have a better presence on Facebook and maintain a website blog dedicated to Echo Lake photos. People can send their pictures to Tom. The goal is to be able to post batches of multiple photo files to the blog. Patti informed us that out hosting company supplies the backend for a blog as well as for our website.

Susan will research the ability to use a blog and post photos.

New Business: Jean Wilson

We often talk about what we can get from the local community to support our efforts to keep Echo Lake pristine. Jean suggested we should also consider how we could give back to the community. An ELPA member who wishes to remain anonymous approached Jean with a proposal to fund a school field trip program:

This is a multi-visit proposal for the 4th/5th grade combo classroom at the Charleston School run by Siskin Ecological Adventures.

Students will learn, explore, and make real life connections with the Echo Lake Ecosystem.

Topics will include:   

  • Animals living in and around the lake
  • Plants living in and around the lake
  • Non-native and a native the good and bad effects on the lake
  • The health of the ecosystem and how citizens can help

Format

  • 3 Classroom visits at school in the fall, winter, and spring each about 1 hour
  • Full day field trip in the fall, winter, and spring
  • End of school year celebration day with community and school at Echo Lake to display what the 4/5th graders learned.

Motion was made and seconded to accept the generous $1250 donation to sponsor this educational program. Approved.

Adjourned: At 12:10

Submitted by Susan Czerepak, Secretary on September 25, 2016

 

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