Monthly Archives: February 2013
By Buz Whelan
I write this in the first person because I want to take full ownership. I speak only for myself, and, of course, everyone who agrees with me. This is a subjective piece, my take on certain actions and decisions by the Emerald Lakes Association Board of Directors, and if that makes you angry or uncomfortable stop reading now.
The first area of concern here is communications. I write of the Emerald News and the Emerald Lakes Association official website, such as it is. We had a functioning website. It had up-to-date information on events, meetings, schedules and the like. Want to see a current Emerald Grill menu? It was there. Want to know when the Maintenance Committee is having its next meeting or when the community center is open? It was there. What happened at the last board meeting? Check that website. And so on.
Then the association got new software that included a website. So, the old website, that worked quite well, was shut down. Its capable webmaster, Bob Leon, was fired. Employees would manage the new website. That was late July 2012. How’s that working out so far? Seven months later we are still being told that the website, the official website, is a work in progress
Then there’s the Emerald News. Remember when the Emerald News was a monthly paper with up to 24 pages of news and information? Remember when you could read about the most recent board meeting? Remember when actual news of Emerald Lakes, things like shootings, house fires, power outages and home invasions were reported? Remember when there were articles like where to buy the cheapest gas for your car or LP for your home were published? Remember when there was humor along with the serious reporting, things like “Whirled Gnus” and “From the ‘Net?” Remember those things?
Check out the current version of the association paper. That’s what happens when the board fires experienced journalists, takes over the paper, appoints the GM editor-in-chief, and makes sure only good news gets printed. Now we get a 12-page Emerald News that hits the stands on Feb. 8th, but uses almost a full page to advertise the Superbowl Party on February 3rd and the Valentine’s Day Dinner, for which you must sign up and pay by Feb 7th. You could have read about the December board meeting here within 24 hours of its occurrence. But it didn’t make the Feb 8th Emerald News. No news, no fun. Good move, firing those editors and taking the paper over.
The board authorized a budget of $1,500 for the newly resurrected Events Committee. The cost of each event would be deducted from that total. I asked the board if an event made money, brought in more than its cost by, say, $1,000 would that be added back into their budget. A quick ‘No’ was followed by directors exchanging curious glances. It was apparent that this possibility had not been considered. After some discussion it was agreed, I believe, that the budget would be restored up to the original $1,500 but not beyond.
My final comment is on the monthly Treasurer’s Report, a standard agenda item at these monthly meetings. Along with the overall statistics, we are regularly informed of the cost of the Emerald Bar & Grill year-to-date. Now, up through the 2007/2008 fiscal year that unit had a hefty line item allotment of $40,000. That allowed its managers and the treasurer to brag that at an annual cost of as much as $38,000, the bar and grill were $2,000 under budget. Beginning with fiscal year 2008/2009 we began cost saving measures. We closed the amenity down on the slowest nights. From seven nights a week, we went to three. We replaced a mediocre cook with a chef. We hired new staff and a community center manager to oversee the process. We purchased a point-of-sale system that accurately tracked sales and inventory and cut shrinkage by more than 80%. Yet now we are singling this amenity out for its cost, currently $4,000 year-to-date. Why?
A Saturday night visit will reveal to the observer a full bingo room with players having soft and mixed drinks at their places. Around the room you will see plates of finger foods such as quesadillas, wings, French fries and others. You will observe couples and families dotting the main dining room. You will see an SRO crowd at the bar. And, in the pool, you will see a lonely swimmer or two doing laps under the watchful gaze of a lifeguard. We are never told how much it has cost year-to-date to maintain the water temperature, the air temperature, the board-of-health-mandated purification chemicals, or the salary of that bored lifeguard. Why is the only amenity that produces a revenue stream singled out for scrutiny? I favor, without reservation, keeping the indoor pool open. It is a valuable amenity. But if cost per member served is your criterion, the Emerald Bar and Grill is the single most cost effective amenity we have.
(Editor’s note: If you have any comments, questions, or observations about these issues, we encourage you to leave your comments here, but also, PLEASE let the board know how you feel by attending a monthly open meeting or by sending them a letter.)
- February 23, 2013 Open Board Meeting (emeraldlakesfreepress.com)
- January 26, 2013 Open Board Meeting (emeraldlakesfreepress.com)
by Buz Whelan
EMERALD LAKES, Pennsylvania (ELFP) The Emerald Lakes Association Board of Directors held their monthly open meeting on Saturday, February 23rd. As has characterized these meetings in recent months it was succinct and to the point, lacking the sturm und drang so prevalent in earlier efforts. From the remarks made by directors during discussion, it is apparent that the monthly workshops, with their lengthy debates, are having an effect on the open meetings.
According to Treasurer Earl Frank the association has collected $1.489 million to date, and he believes we are tracking to finish the fiscal year (April 30th) approximately 10% under budget. He remarked that, “Some people want to spend this money (the savings),” but cautioned that this is merely numbers on paper. Because we are also having some shortfall in dues collection, the savings will create a wash, not put extra money in the association accounts.
GM Allen Roth said that efforts were under way to renovate the indoor pool room with an eye to replacing some of the glass walling with more substantial materials in order to retain heat and cut down on fuel costs.
It was also reported, under old business, that plans to upgrade the compactor area are proceeding, with photo and other measurements taken in order for the engineer to create a Request for Proposal and take bids on paving much of the area. Also under old business the board passed a resolution confirming committee chairs, with one, the ad hoc Committee on Renewable Energy, having an acting chair, Mr. Joseph Olall. Mr. Olall is not accused of wrongdoing, but the board has resolved in a previous meeting that his election was effected at a meeting that did not meet Roberts Rules requirements for legitimacy (some members were not notified of the meeting). It was agreed that a new election for chair be held at the committee’s scheduled February 26th meeting. Later in the open meeting Director Joe Miller suggested that the committee be renamed to better describe its overall mission. He made a motion that was seconded and passed that the committee be named the ad hoc Energy Conservation Committee.
The board went on to pass a blanket resolution enumerating the main responsibilities of each committee. Among these are the Rules and Regulations Committee’s duty to eliminate redundancies and unenforceable regulations (two pet limit, perhaps?), the events committee was given a $1,500 budget and the task of preparing a 2013/2014 events calendar, and the Real Estate Committee shall be resurrected and shall form a subcommittee to examine ways to regulate rental properties. President Al Leslie said he hopes this subcommittee can be peopled with rental property neighbors, landlords and even – as non-voting contributors – renters themselves. This would be in an effort to include all sides of the question. The Maintenance Committee was tasked with creating a database for equipment, facilities and infrastructure to be used for quality control records and as a facility maintenance tool. They were also instructed to coordinate with the Finance and Planning Committee regarding spending.
The board also agreed to go forward with an ad hoc Committee Assistance Committee (sounds like the Department of Redundancy Department, no?) made up of previous board members to assist committees in understanding their relation to the board and the scope of their responsibilities in supporting it.
There were two resolutions involving the acquisition of properties. It was approved that Lot 2408 will be purchased from repository for the amount of $800 and the deed for Lot 1603 will be accepted by the association in consideration of $1,477.62 in outstanding dues and fees (they will be forgiven).
Appeals Chairperson Paul Capozzoli reported that his committee heard two appeals and upheld the citations in both, though one fine was reduced.
- January 26, 2013 Open Board Meeting (emeraldlakesfreepress.com)
What a sweet day the Cooking Club experienced on Friday,
February 15th! We took a trip down to Stroudsburg to take a Cake Decorating
class at Kitchen Chemistry on Main Street. Owner Lisa Diemer, had 2 round cakes
for us to make a decorated, double-tiered cake of our own. We had the
opportunity to color our frosting and then we were instructed on using a piping
bag and a spatula to spread the icing. We were then given a tip on how to use
fine water mist to make our cakes look smooth and professional. It was fun
spraying our cakes with water and seeing the difference of the cake’s texture.
We were given piping bag tips to make star and shell borders and the option to
write a message on our cakes. Lastly were the fondant flowers. That alone
could have been its own class! It’s amazing how an expert can turn a rolled
piece of fondant into an elegant flower. For us, 15 minutes later, we managed
to figure out how to make what somewhat resembled flowers. It was fun and we
had quite a few laughs. We ended up with a variety of themed cakes such as
Valentine’s, St. Patty’s Day, Spring, Cancer Awareness, and a blue and pink
pregnancy cake make by a member who is pregnant and will find out if she is
having a boy or a girl soon. We look forward to more demonstrations and more
good times. Keep your eyes open for future trips. Any questions or
suggestions, you can reach Kathy Colford at (570) 643-7778 or Ginny Kellerman at
WASHINGTON, District of Columbia (FNS) The White House confirmed today what knowledgeable insiders have known for weeks: Vice President Joe Biden will sit in the host chair of Late Night with David Letterman for a week in May while the eponymous comic and host is on vacation. The VP will do five shows beginning Monday, May 13th through Friday, May 17th. The guest lineup is still being prepared but several slots have been confirmed. Ex-Vice Presidents Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney are both expected to be interviewed the first night, and will discuss the awesome responsibility of being the second-most important political leader in the nation. Also expected during the week on nights not yet finalized are the San Francisco Forty-Niners who took second place in Super Bowl XLVII this past February 3rd. Miss America runner-up Shirley Sekundt will also be on hand to discuss the enormous pressure of being constantly prepared to step in should Miss America die in office or become incapacitated before her reign is over. Later in the week former astronaut Buzz Aldrin will talk about how being the Second Man to Walk on the Moon has altered his life, making scoring a good table at exclusive restaurants a routine event. Former Assistant District Attorney Christopher Darden will also stop by to talk about how he almost got a conviction on O.J. Simpson in the famous 1994 murder trial. Jockey Mario Gutierrez is expected to describe the thrill of winning two of the three Triple Crown races, while four-division boxing champion Tommy Hearns tells how it felt to be the second best middle-weights fighter of the 70s and early 80s after Sugar Ray Leonard.
RED NECK, New Jersey (FNS) Fender University, New Jersey’s premier aggressive driving institution announced today that it will hold an extension class in Pennsylvania’s beautiful Pocono Mountains. The standard two week course, including both classroom and field work, will be compressed to 5 days. The cost is $250 per person, or $225 each for families of five or more. Located in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens, nicknamed the Appalachia of the Northeast, the school has graduated over 5,000 angry drivers. Fender President and Dean of Students Ben D. Dick boasts, “We are the best there is at what we do. More than 50% of all road rage incidents in New Jersey involve at least one FU graduate. You can’t argue with the numbers.” If you expect an easy, undemanding week of instruction, you don’t know Dick. Course work includes sign and signal recognition, variations on horn harassment, proper ways to use hand signals to express disdain or anger, tailgating techniques and rapid lane-changing. After 3 rigorous days of class work, students are paired with experienced instructors and taken to highways for hands-on roadwork. Bump-and-run tactics, intimidation through tailgating and near-miss sideswiping, lane jumping and best ways to cut off other drivers are emphasized and practiced until students are proficient in all types of aggressive driving.
For those who insist on the complete course conducted at the South Jersey campus, registration can be done on line at www.nutsodriving.com. The cost of the full deal is $500 per person and includes lunches and weeknight accommodation at a modestly-priced motel in the area. Also included is a tour of the area and visits to the known and suspected burial sites of some of New Jersey’s most admired men of respect. Extras not included in the tuition but available for separate purchase include fast food dinners, evening visitation by experienced and understanding professional companions and cable tv. Says recent graduate Allen Rench, “Anyone listening to Dick will know this: If you’re serious about aggressive driving, you have to say ‘FU.’”
If you haven’t been to the Emerald Grill recently, you will be amazed at all the positive changes that have transformed it from a dreary room with mediocre food to a brightly-decorated, clean eatery with food to rival many local restaurants at prices that cannot be beat.
Central to these changes is the addition of Chef Todd Wilczewski. Charming and passionate about cooking, Chef Todd speaks eagerly of his hopes for our restaurant. “Not only are we making changes to the menu to attract more members,” he told me, “but I want to be a resource for everyone in the community. I plan to work with the cooking club to offer workshops and ideas. I want to give everyone a chance to learn about good cooking.”
Originally from Pennsylvania, Todd comes to us after many years in Atlanta, Georgia, where he received his degree in Culinary Arts. His food is featured on the cover of the textbook On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals, and he worked as a chef in Atlanta before joining us here.
Having been the victim of several culinary disasters at the Emerald Grill in the past, we were reluctant to try another meal at the Community Center. Does anyone else remember the St. Patrick’s Day disaster with its shoe-leather corned beef and grainy, still-powdered instant mashed potatoes? Recollections of 25 minute waits for a simple drink, uninspired menus and unappealing buffets replete with overcooked vegetables and bland main dishes had driven us away. The dreary lighting, dark tablecloths, and overcrowded furniture, all placed to hide the disgusting, stained and ratty carpeting kept us from returning.
It was only the rave reviews on Facebook of patrons declaring their joy at the changes that convinced Bob and I to join the Whelans for a Valentine’s Day celebration at the Grill.
With low expectations and a determination to enjoy the company in spite of any possible problems, we arrived for the 6:15 seating. I looked around at the recently renovated and redecorated dining room. Brand new floors and lovely light-colored tablecloths brighten the room considerably. Curtains soften the view to the bar and the pool areas. Beautiful roses graced the tables and holiday decorations were placed on the walls. The lit fireplace lent its glow to the ambiance. Fewer tables meant that the room was comfortably full, but not crowded. Soft dinner music, provided by “Rob and Blue J”, added to the festive atmosphere. Already we could sense that this would be a large improvement on any of our prior experiences here.
Our waitress, the lovely Melissa, introduced herself and quickly delivered our drink orders. And then…the appetizers. Cajun crab cakes with a delicious sauce (What was that wonderful sauce, Chef Todd?) and a tomato basil crostini that was rich and tangy. It occurs to me how much details matter when we are dining out. The appetizers were delicious, but they were also plated so nicely that the experience was delightful even before the first bite. The red wine sauce on the beef was fragrant and rich, and the raspberry sauce on the cheesecake was, when combined with the white chocolate chips, a superb feast for both the eyes and the appetite. The strawberries on the chocolate mousse were fresh and juicy and sliced just to the stem, so they looked beautiful and provided a small slice for each bite of chocolate.
One thing the Emerald Grill offers that is simply not possible in a commercial restaurant is the sense of community. Throughout dinner, we visited and were visited by our neighbors, (though we did not see a single board member this evening!) and we chatted about the meal and the neighborhood. Manager Ryan Culverson and his staff kept everything running smoothly in the background as we enjoyed one another’s company. With all the pieces in place, the center really can function as the heart of ELA. At the end of the evening, Chef Todd stepped out of the kitchen to greet us all. He accepted compliments gracefully and chatted about his plans for improving the kitchen even more.
As we bundled up and headed out into the snow, I looked back at the room and smiled. The Emerald Grill is finally ready for business.
When your pet goes missing, it is important to move fast to increase the chances of having it returned to your family safely. Camp KCS, on Long Pond road, has a program they call “Rescue Rover” (click Here to learn more). When you enroll your pet in this program, they keep records, notify local veterinarians and shelters, supply flyers, publicity and identification tags, to help in the search. Facebook has helped reunite so many of our neighbors with their furry friends, but this program may be even more effective and organized then you are able to be in such a stressful situation.
Camp KCS also provides boarding and other services, and I have found them to be a wonderful resource for pet care.
For more information on finding your pet, click on the links below:
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (FNS) Forty-niners quarterback Collins Koppernickel pulled no punches in naming the individual responsible for his team’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII. Placing blame squarely on the Savior, Koppernickel spoke at the post-game press conference. “I gave Jesus the credit for the successful season, for the victories in the post season. I always gave Him credit for a win. You know, ‘this was Jesus’ victory,’ and ‘the Lord was with us on this one,’ so I’m not going to mince words here. We were ready. We had a first and goal, down by 5. What would it have taken to help one little pass be completed? I mean, he’s God, for His sake. He could’ve. But He didn’t. All that credit I gave Him every time we won. Well, I’m pissed, and I’m saying so.” Reporters noted that a thunderstorm broke just as Koppernickel began speaking. “I’m not saying it’s connected,” said FNS sports reporter Randy Ball-Fahr, “but I wasn’t taking any chances. I stayed in the conference room until the rain stopped.”
SWIFTWATER, Pennsylvania (ELFP) This isn’t a review of the Woodfield Manor Chophouse so much as a report of an experience my wife and I had with a restaurant that has been a favorite of ours for the last five years or so. It was a little strange, a little different, but a lot of fun.
Kathy was on vacation this particular Friday, and we decided to go out for dinner. To break the tie we both felt between the Blakeslee Inn and the Woodfield Manor, I went online to look over their respective menus, both to refresh my memory on the standard menus and to see if there were any specials that would tip the balance. I was startled by the Manor’s menu. It was unfamiliar, lacking the usual exotic game dishes, but also lacking my favorite, the Duck L’Orange. There was also the appearance of the name Frogtown Inn and Six Acres, another fine restaurant, but what was it doing here? In an effort to clear this up I called the listed number.
A gentleman named Casey answered the phone, and in answer to my query explained that the Frogtown Inn and Six Acres had taken over the kitchen. The menu reflected the no-nonsense entries of a true chop house I was told, and the prices were a little more affordable. I told him I was more interested in fine dining than low prices, and by the way, where was my duck? He said the transition was new and they would be making adjustments. They would have game nights, and if I really wanted duck he would get me duck. But could he make it like the previous chef? He said he was the sous chef, that he had worked for years alongside the previous chef, and he was confident he could make me happy. “I can have your duck next weekend, if you like,” he promised. I checked with Kathy and made the reservation for the following Friday. And as the week wore on, I had some trepidation about whether or not I made the right decision.
On the next Friday I called at 3:30pm – the restaurant opens at 5 – and asked for Casey. I was told he wasn’t in yet, but was there something my respondent could do for me. I told him about the reservation and the duck and asked if he knew whether Casey had followed through. He answered, “He did the next best thing. He told me about it. My name is Lyman and I’m the chef. I have your duck. And Casey made a sauce of orange and hoisin. I think you’ll enjoy it very much.”
We arrive at the restaurant and identify ourselves to the hostess. It was like the whole restaurant had been waiting for us. The bartender heard our name and called out a big, welcome hello. Our server knew what our entrée would be. There was warm bread and dipping oil in seconds, and after salad and some extra dry Stoli martinis, straight up and ice cold, out came the duck, mine with wild rice and grilled asparagus, Kathy’s with roast garlic mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. And everything was delicious. The generous half duckling was glazed with a fabulous sweet-tangy orange sauce, the skin crispy, the flesh moist and tender. My grilled asparagus was crunchy but tender, the wild rice seasoned perfectly. Kathy had a similar reaction to her meal.
At different times during the meal both Chef Lyman and Casey the sous chef, came to our table to inquire about our reaction to the meal and to thank us for making the suggestion. They told us that when ordering our duck they made it part of an order of two dozen, and that the half-ducklings were quite popular and selling well. They were considering making them a regular part of the menu.
I don’t expect that the Woodfield Manor or any restaurant can make special meals for us or anyone else every time we visit. But it was nice that they were so very responsive on this occasion, and it made us want to return. Who doesn’t like being treated so specially?
LOCAL TIME, Kentucky (FNS) A study published in the Right Way, a conservative journal, purports to prove that watching liberal tv shows such as those on MSNBC will often lead to heroin addiction. Sponsored by the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, the researchers quizzed over 6,000 heroin addicts in prisons and back alleys alike, and found that almost all of them admitted to watching Morning Joe, Hardball or Rachel Maddow at least once or twice before turning to heroin. “You can’t argue with the numbers. Watching these programs will lead to the damnation of addiction. These poor unfortunates should have been watching FOX,” said Heritage spokesman Wright Wingnut. The study was based on the methodology of the now-discredited LaGuardia Report, done in the 1930s. In that study, thousands of heroin addicts, most of them incarcerated, were questioned on their use of marijuana prior to their introduction to heroin. More than 90% reported that they had tried marijuana before ever getting their first taste of heroin. This led researchers to conclude that marijuana use was a precursor to heroin addiction and they further concluded that there was causality at work. For decades thereafter, marijuana was labeled a ‘gateway drug,’ one that almost inevitably led to experimentation, often addiction, to more dangerous substances. Perhaps now, if Mr. Wingnut has his way, liberal television programs will be seen as a ‘gateway activity,’ as with marijuana, inevitably leading to a downward spiral and the utter ruin of the individual.