Category Archives: ELA Events
Fifty Plus Club to Invite All Adults
by Buz Whelan
The Emerald Lakes Fifty Plus Club, heretofore open only to those over 50 years of age, has announced plans to welcome all adults to its meetings and events. At their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, August 1st, members voted unanimously to open the club to all Emerald Lakes adults. They have also voted to rename the club the Adult Club of Emerald Lakes. Club Chairperson Eileen Avrich wants everyone to know that, “The Adult Club of Emerald Lakes will provide an opportunity for adults (21 and over) to enjoy friends and neighbors in a relaxed, friendly social atmosphere at meetings and events.”
The club will continue to meet on the first Friday of every month at 12 noon in the Community Center. Members pitch in $5 each for lunch and door prizes which are traditionally raffled off after the meal. Almost any topic at all is fair game for discussion before lunch is served. The club also organizes trips to museums, concerts, plays and sporting events. As an example, members recently attended a Rail Riders baseball game in Wilkes-Barre. On Sunday, October 26th, the group is planning to attend a matinee performance of “Mama Mia” at the Scranton Cultural Center (tickets are still available). In the past they’ve had trips to places as diverse as the Gettysburg Battlefield National Memorial and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. Most trips originate as suggestions from members and discounts are often part of the package.
If you are over 21 years of age and available to attend meetings occasionally or regularly, just show up at the Community Center on the first Friday of any month. You can also call Chairperson Eileen Avrich @ (570)643-2917(570)643-2917 for more information. There is one teensy caveat. While most of the members are parents and grandparents who love children dearly, this one’s for the grownups, and attendees are asked not to bring the kids.
Meet the Candidates, August 2, 2014
(Ed. Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I remind our readers that I have been married to Robert Lauri for nearly 20 years, I am partnered with Buz Whelan in this blog and have been good friends with him for years. Bob Leon and I share a love of communication and have worked together on the ELA communications committee and on the Facebook page, and we live so near to one another he can smell what we barbecue for dinner, and I liked Connie Simpson’s ideas enough that I supported her candidacy last year in this blog. I am in no way an unbiased reporter, but I am also all we have here at ELFP. I will attempt to simply report what the candidates said as I heard it, but cut me some slack here, and make of these relationships what you will.)
Our Meet the Candidates session began at 9:30 in the bingo room at the Community Center with four candidates and about 30 members, eager to hear what these folks have to offer our community. The candidates were (in alphabetical order): Robert Lauri, Bob Leon, Connie Simpson and Buz Whelan. Prior to the opening, members were given index cards on which to write their questions which were then handed in, sorted and read by Carol Litwienski (aka Cookie) and Joseph Olall. Each candidate was given a chance to answer, with the order of the responses rotated for each question.
All of the candidates discussed the need for improved communications throughout our community, with “transparency” being the word of the day. Robert Lauri promised to make communications the centerpiece of his tenure. He pledged to use all venues available (meetings, email, Facebook, ELFP, Emerald News) to not only inform members of what is going on, but also to listen to them. He decried the abuse of Executive Sessions by the current board and promised to put a stop to its overuse. Bob Leon discussed the differences between the web page that he created and ran for the community and the new system we have today. He called the internet a “living, breathing” entity but stated that the current webpage is dying through mismanagement and disuse. He suggested that there are many modes of communication that we haven’t even considered but should, including a private radio broadcast, handouts and even home visits to bring members the information they need to participate in the community. Connie Simpson brought up the new Terms Of Service on the ELAinc web page and said that these must be removed. She said that lack of communication causes rumors to fly and distrust to grow. Buz Whelan pledged to “shine a light” on the work of the board rather than to hide behind executive sessions (as the current board seems to do so often). He directed members to the work he has done here at Emerald Lakes Free Press, which contains an archive of information and articles about the meetings and actions of the board and the committees of ELA.
Maintenance was also a hot topic, with the roads, the dam valve, the Community Center and other parts of our infrastructure being the focus of many questions. Bob Leon pointed to other lakes in our area and suggested that we follow their lead and drain Pine Tree Lake to determine if there is actually a leak and its extent, before proceeding with expensive repairs. Connie Simpson said that the engineers and management need time to figure out the exact scope of work that needs to be done and when the cost comes back, there may be need for an assessment to complete those repairs, but that it must be done. Buz Whelan mentioned that a “collar” can pull back the water and allow the engineers to look at the dam, but that we need to move forward on this. He reminded us of the story of the little Dutch Boy who put his finger in the dyke and that “these things do not get better” with time and that we must act before the problem becomes even worse. Robert Lauri agreed and pointed to other parts of our infrastructure that also needed action, including the HVAC in the Community Center and the roads. He also pointed to the snow removal equipment that is sitting in the maintenance yard uncovered since winter ended, the unsealed cracks in the road that lead to greater repair costs each spring, and the lack of direction given to our plow operators that add to road deterioration.
Connie Simpson was the only candidate to come out solidly against the dues increase. She is not for an increase until she has a “list of where the money will go.” She is a fan of directed funds, meaning that an increase must be directed to a specific problem and only be spent on that. Buz Whelan pointed out that our finances are not a secret and are available to any member. He even offered his phone number and said he would be glad to explain the numbers to anyone. He supports the dues increase and told the audience that the “very diverse” Finance & Planning committee recommended it unanimously and the board endorsed it in a 6-0 vote (with one abstention). He said that not one of these people, who have studied this problem extensively, opposed it and so the need is clear. Robert Lauri reminded the group that the last dues increase included money to be directed to road repairs and that a separate line item was created for this purpose. For this increase, $100 will go to the reserves fund and $100 to the general operating fund. He mentioned the price of gas has more than doubled in the 13 years since he came to ELA and other prices have risen as well. ELA, he said, is not immune to these increases and the membership needs to make a choice as to what kind of community they want, but that $17 a month was not unreasonable to help our community move forward. Bob Leon supports the dues increase and would like to see some portion of the increase go to taking care of our employees. He suggested that our staff is one of our greatest assets and they need to be retained. He also pointed to the renovation of the administration building conference room as an example of money that should have been spent in the Community Center where it could have benefitted all the members rather than the few who attend meetings there.
All of the candidates support this measure and expressed dismay that it will not be on the ballot for this annual meeting. Leon, Simpson and Whelan were on the bylaws committee that proposed this change and were all unhappy at the delays by the board that kept it from going to the membership. Buz Whelan said that your vote is your most important right in this community and he proposed a special meeting, with an extended voting period over a full weekend, to present this issue to the membership and to allow as many people as possible the chance to vote.
Buz Whelan said that when we had an Association-sponsored youth program, it cost a great deal of money and was used by only a very small fraction of the families in the community. He says that the children, who are in need of supervision, the “bad” kids, will not attend such a program anyway. He does support a parent-based, self-sustaining program and believes that the board should be willing to help them create this. Robert Lauri discussed the Boy Scout Troop that he ran in Emerald Lakes. He says that there was no support from the board at all, that they were “basically thrown out of the building” during a cost cutting phase of the board. These young EL citizens were involved in EL clean up, elderly assistance for winterizing, and participated in the annual meetings. He told the group that even the plaques won by the troop for camporees and competitions were given back to him and he was told there was no place to hang them in the Community Center. He does agree with Buz that without parental involvement, any youth program is doomed to failure. Bob Leon suggested that Emerald Lakes needs a community equivalent of a school’s PTO. He says that parents could be recruited right from the bus stops. He also pointed to our communication issues as a roadblock here. When he ran the web page, it was very difficult to get any information about which groups were meeting in our Community and thus many opportunities to increase involvement were missed. Connie Simpson believes that serving the children of our community is important and would like to see the Community Center made more kid-friendly, with more after school events and a kids’ menu.
When asked if board members should have term limits, Robert Lauri said no. He referred to a baseball Hall of Famer and said, if you have a Joe Torre, why would you want to make him go away? Bob Leon was less sure about this issue. He pointed to the lack of participation in committees as the reason why some members are on many different committees. With the lack of human resources, term limits do not make sense right now, but he allowed for the possibility of a day when many people are clamoring to serve the community and, in that case, we may need term limits to give everyone who wants it a chance. Connie Simpson supports term limits and believes it will guarantee that the community gets some “fresh faces” and presumably, new ideas. Buz Whelan said that the annual elections already serve to limit the terms of people that the membership wants to remove. Limits would take the power of choice away from the membership.
“Clause 15” and membership
The “Clause 15” issue addresses the status of properties that are not legally tied to Emerald Lakes through declarations on the deed, but are located within its borders. The candidates were asked how they would approach this problem. Bob Leon sees this as an opportunity to add an additional level of membership to the community by allowing them to pay dues and use the amenities for a fee, but not become voting members. He suggests that we might consider opening some of the amenities to people outside of ELA for a fee as well, as a way to raise revenue. Connie Simpson opposes opening our amenities to non-ELA members and suggests simply offering the involved properties the opportunity to amend their deeds and become full-fledged members. She also believes that ELA identification cards should be color-coded to identify renters versus members. Buz Whelan says that the first step is to properly identify the properties without declarations and then offer them the opportunity to join, permanently. Should they choose not to join, they would not be entitled to vote and the association would bill them for services (for example, road usage and lake maintenance). Robert Lauri says that the database must be examined with a fine toothed comb and cleaned up completely. He also mentioned that enforcement, meaning policing the use of the amenities by these people, would be very difficult.
Community Center and Amenities
When asked if the bar and grill should continue to operate, Connie Simpson said yes, but that the menu should be pared down and the prices need to be considered more carefully so that it does not ever lose money. She says that there is a great chef in place and that it should be able to operate successfully. She also suggested that the name be changed to something “more friendly”. Buz Whelan reminded the audience that during his prior tenure on the board the bar and grill was budgeted to cost $40k per year and that he and Robert Lauri found that to be an unacceptable figure. They brought in a Point-Of-Sale system to track sales and control inventory and shortly thereafter the place was operating at nearly the break-even point. Now, he says, something has clearly gone wrong and it seems that no one is addressing the problem. Robert Lauri picked up this point and added that it has been an ongoing issue and he can’t understand why no one stepped in the first time a report showed a large loss. Instead, it continued month after month, with no credible explanation and no apparent action taken. He pledges to use his experience in management to not only address the proper use of the POS, but to undertake the training of the staff, and he believes that, if run properly, the Bar and Grill can become the shining centerpiece of our community. Bob Leon says that the treasurer’s reports are consistently misleading since income and expenses are reported without taking the inventory on hand into account and that this paints an unfairly negative view of the bar and grill. He also mentioned that frequent disruptions of the schedule and plans for events sabotage the possible success of this amenity; the only one we have, he points out, that actually brings in revenue.
Candidates Running from the Floor
After the written questions were asked, the floor was opened to the audience and new member Kevin Marsland asked about the possibility of candidates running for the board from the floor at the annual meeting. He wondered if the candidates believed this option should be taken away. All the candidates agreed that this option is needed, but only for special circumstances. Some believed that incumbents should be denied this option completely. Robert Lauri sees this issue as a double edged sword since all candidates should be willing to “stand up and take the bullets” at Meet the Candidates, but a grievous act could necessitate someone exercising this option. Bob Leon pointed out that, with absentee balloting, running and gaining office from the floor would be nearly impossible since votes would be cast before the meeting began. Buz Whelan explained that when he ran from the floor for his first term, there were special circumstances and he felt justified in doing so. Whelan was fired from the Emerald News because he had investigated and tried to report on what was eventually deemed a justifiable shooting in our community. He felt that the board should not be able to filter the news that reaches the membership and tried to participate in the Meet the Candidates that year, but was denied because he had not filed his intent-to-run form before the deadline set by the committee. In his case, running from the floor was not an impulsive act or an attempt to dodge questions from the membership, but a necessity due to circumstances occurring after the deadline.
Other questions from the Audience
Based on concern over the rubber-stamping of signatures on checks that allows deniability on the part of board members, Pat Galderisi asked if each candidate would be willing to provide a social security number to the bank and be willing to physically and in-person sign checks written on the ELA account. All the candidates agreed.
Darren Johnson pointed to what he believes to be inappropriate behavior of current board members and asked that the candidates take a “pledge of civility” and be willing to follow appropriate chain of command in addressing problems or issues with the staff. There was no disagreement from the candidates that board membership requires reasonable behavior, but both Robert Lauri and Buz Whelan explained that sometimes there is a need to step in and address a situation immediately, but that there are proper ways and times to do this. Whelan’s analogy was that if there is a fire, one should “pick up a hose, even if you are not a fireman.”
Citing township practices, Joseph Olall asked if the candidates would consider making public a “bill list” each month to inform the community of where money is being spent. Connie Simpson said yes, and Bob Leon agreed, with the exception of the salaries of our employees. This devolved into a general discussion of whether or not our employee salaries should be confidential, with several people stating opinions. Buz Whelan said that we should not break confidentiality with our employees in this way and Robert Lauri said he agreed with half of what Mr. Olall was suggesting, but that this level of detail would become tedious month after month. Buz Whelan also reminded the audience again that the financial details of our community are not secret and that anyone who wishes to see this information need only go to the administration office to get it.
When asked to summarize what our community really needs, Buz Whelan stated “A fresh coat of paint.” He explained that he meant this in more than just the literal sense. He says that while we (of course) need to take care of the big issues, attention must be given to the little things as well. He pointed to the new floor in the Community Center as an example of a relatively small project that brought a big change to the appearance of the building. Small renovations, upgrades and remodels, even a truckload of sand on the beach, can go a long way toward building the appearance and enjoyment of our community. He also announced that since lowering the temperature of the pool did not bring the savings that some had hoped, he now supports raising it again to 84 degrees for the comfort of the people who use it and have asked for it. Robert Lauri said that we must work on the perception of the board from the members, who see directors as a secretive, petty group that is not focused on what is best for the whole community. We need to build trust, let go of past disagreements, and create a feeling of pride in our community. He cited his work on the Community Center during his previous term, including the resolution of the issues with the Liquor Control Board, obtaining permission for private groups to use the kitchen for events, and the purchase and setup of the POS system, and said that he would like to continue this work to improve the services offered at the Community Center, which he called the “Jewel of our Community”. Bob Leon picked up on Whelan’s fresh coat of paint theme and mentioned what he called a punch list of little repairs in the CC and throughout our amenities. He wants to address the “nickel and dime repairs” that can improve the quality of our members’ experience in the Center. He also called for some additional winter recreation activities, including a sledding hill that is available in the community, but not publicized or maintained. Connie Simpson believes that what the community needs most is honesty and transparency. She says that distrust costs us money and members should not be left in the dark as to what the board is doing and why they are doing it. She agrees with the other candidates that our amenities need to be updated.
Well, there you have it. What was scheduled to be a two-and-a-half hour meeting ended after nearly four hours of questioning, and the candidates graciously and patiently stayed until everyone had a chance to voice their concerns. My fingers were cramped from taking notes and my posterior was numb from sitting for so long, but I tried to provide comprehensive coverage without being overly detailed. For those of you who could not attend, I hope this paints a clear picture of these candidates’ positions. For those of you who were there, if you feel I have left out something substantial or mischaracterized someone’s statements, please let me know in the comments section below or on our Facebook discussion page.
Finally, a special thanks to Eileen Avrich for her comments, editing and suggestions on this article. She agreed to help because my usual guys for this job (Buz Whelan and Robert Lauri) were unable to do this due to the obvious conflict.
Comedy Night V
Emerald Lakes’ Community Center played host to Comedy Night V on Saturday, May 3. This year our host, Buz Whelan, brought us two old friends, Tommy Gooch and Johnny Watson, as well as a surprise set from newbie Michael Burlew. The doors opened at 7 and ELA residents and friends poured in, ready for the fun.
The center opened this year with a cash bar for early arriving guests, thus eliminating much of the delay that other shows here have had in getting the initial order of drinks out to the patrons. Chef Todd also set up an auxiliary bar in the corner of the dining room for folks to purchase beer and wine. Once the show began, servers were delivering drinks to the floor. The tables were set in long rows across with seats only on the side facing the stage, so everyone had a forward view and there was room to get in and out without interrupting the comedians. These tweaks helped the evening to go smoothly and allowed the show to be the center of attention, just the way any good venue should.
Buz began the evening by teaching us a few classic bar bets that we could all use on those who didn’t make it to the show. With ELA’s own Bob Leon pressed into service as a volunteer, we learned how to win a bet with only a barstool and a $50 bill, and with the help of a married couple from the audience we learned that a straight line is not always the fastest path between two points. Between the featured acts, Buz kept us all in stitches with his own brand of comedy and insight.
First up was newcomer Michael Burlew. Michael was brought along at the last minute and only had 5 minutes to make an impression. His self-deprecating humor prompted laughter and groans from the audience and was a pleasant, although short, addition to this evening’s line-up.
Next up was our old friend Tommy Gooch, whose experience here in Emerald Lakes brought a personal touch to his comedy. He clearly remembered several of the audience members as he stepped into the crowd with clever greetings and observations. The servers kept as far as possible from the stage while Gooch was on when he reminded us and them of how he was not above dragging them into the spotlight for a joke. No one was safe from his barbs and, judging by the laughter, everyone enjoyed the set. As an older parent of a toddler, Tommy’s stories about his family had many in the audience holding their sides with glee. For those of you who missed the show, Gooch has shows coming up at the Borgata in Atlantic City and in many other cities too. (Click here for more information) Emerald Lakes is very lucky to have Tommy return year after year, and we look forward to seeing him again.
The final act of Comedy Night V was Johnny Watson, returning to ELA for the second year in a row. Johnny took his turn at the audience and then, in spite of the obvious charm and good-looks that earned him more than a passing glance from the ladies in the audience, much of his act was about his troubles with women. His take on divorce, marriage and dating had us all rolling in the aisles. Johnny continues to perform his weekly radio show, “Watson and Watson” and will be performing at Giggles comedy club next week. (Click here for more on Johnny Watson.)
The Comedy Night tradition has become one of ELA’s best nights of the year. I can’t wait to see what Comedy Night VI (that’s six, Buz) brings. Thanks to Buz, Todd and the staff for all their work to bring this seamless and exciting event to our community.
Town Hall Meeting Draws a Crowd
by Buz Whelan
The Town Hall meeting held on Saturday, October 26th drew a full house. At a few minutes after 11am Dan Glasgow, a board director, began the meeting by explaining the water testing options and then handing out test kits and instructions to members who wanted them. Three levels of testing were offered. A package at $125 offered to test total coliform w/E. coli, nitrate and nitrite, pH, hardness, conductivity, lead, copper and iron. Another package at $85 included all but pH, hardness, conductivity and copper. A budget package at $30 tested only for total coliform w/E. coli. Anyone who missed the meeting but wishes testing done should contact Dan through the Emerald Lakes website or the admin office. You may also wish to contact the tester, Microbac Laboratories at (570)629-8900.
In the second part of the meeting Officer Dan Jones of the Pocono Mountain Regional Police made a presentation, complete with slides, on personal security and neighborhood watch practices. Jones is a large man with an even larger personality. He used both exhaustive statistics and a sense of humor to educate the attendees on local – Emerald Lakes – criminal activity. Among the 650 calls so far this year, 1 was for homicide, 1 arson, 1 rape/sexual assault, 2 robberies, 10 assaults (including attempted and threats of violence), 12 burglaries, 22 thefts, 1 act of fraud, 2 receiving stolen property, 17 acts of vandalism and 57 domestic disputes. He also noted that there were 141 false alarms and that an excess of 3 false alarms in a single year would result in a fine.
On the defensive side, Jones said that most crimes are committed by individuals ranging between 14 and 24 years of age, and further, that the peak time period is between 3 and 7pm. One of the ways to guard against a high crime rate is to provide supervised activities for young people, including Boy and Girl Scouting. Jones also said that ‘environmental design’ plays a role in vulnerability to crime. Such things as lighting, landscaping or structural impedimenta that give cover to burglars or, in the case of lighting, limit such cover, can be manipulated by the homeowner to decrease the attractive nature of his or her home to a criminal. He suggested that knowing one’s neighbors and familiarization with their vehicles helps in reporting suspected crime. Jones emphasized that anyone seeing what they suspect is criminal activity should report that to the police and never, ever confront a suspected perpetrator. He closed by saying he could be reached a email@example.com or (570)895-2400.
In the third installment of the meeting Fishing and Conservation Club representative Eric Bergstrom spoke on fishing and stocking. He discussed the problem of ice fishing. Emerald Lakes has a catch and release rule. Any fish caught, of any size, must be promptly released back into the lake from which it was taken. Many members, including this writer, have observed ice fisherman set up multiple holes, with flagging devices that alert the fisherman to a catch. The fish is then hauled in and placed in a bucket which leaves with the fisherman. Ice fishing is rarely done for sport and is mainly subsistence fishing. A spirited discussion ensued in which it was pointed out that much of this activity occurs on winter weekends when Public Safety is not on duty. Calls for assistance are often delayed until
the fishermen have left. It was proposed that large chest tags be issued to members only so that they could be easily identified at a distance. It was also widely suggested that ice fishing be banned altogether.
On September 7, 2013, residents Frank Gonzalez and Jennifer were married at the Community Center. The ceremony was performed by former Delaware Water Gap Mayor Frank Brown and attended by the couple’s four children and a few family friends. Frank and Jenn met on Staten Island in 1992 and dated on and off for about three years before losing touch for more than 16 years. They were introduced to each other by their mutual friend Cass, and it was through his Facebook page that they reconnected. They reunited and Frank moved in with Jenn and her 3 children in Long Island.
Frank and Jenn both enjoy drinking Jack Daniels, so it was on a trip to the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee that Frank proposed marriage. They were in the private Tennessee Squire room at the distillery, along with master distiller, Jeff Arnett, when Frank dropped to one knee and produced Jenn’s grandmother’s ring to seal the deal.
About two months later, and only days after finding out that Jenn was pregnant with what would be her 4th child and Frank’s first, Hurricane Sandy caused so much damage to the home they were renting that the landlord refused to make the repairs. Coupled with the fact that Frank was a first responder during the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, they decided it was time to leave New York for good. In February 2013 they began shopping for a place to live in our area. On Easter Sunday, Frank and a very pregnant Jenn brought their children and pets and moved into Emerald Lakes.
Once they were settled in, and after Jenn gave birth to Gunner, they began planning their wedding at the ELA Community Center. The ceremony was witnessed by Cass and his wife Melanie who, interestingly, were introduced by Jenn many years back. Also attending were Jenn and Frank’s children; Maverick, Leilani, Hunter and Gunner. So, we here at ELFP would like to extend our best wishes for a long and happy marriage and a big welcome to the community to our neighbors and newlyweds, Francisco and Jennifer Gonzalez.
ELA’s Dancing With the Stars
On Saturday, September 21 Emerald Lakes hosted our very own version of Dancing With the Stars, and discovered that we have quite a bit of talent in our community! This evening of fun began at 5 pm with a buffet dinner and, by the time of the show, there was standing room only in the dining room and bar.
Judges, Amelia, Ana and Destini made their way to the judges tables to prepare their judges paddles (1 = not so good, 5= ok, 10= excellent) for the kids’ performances, but first up were Linda and Wayne Koslowski. Although they were not competing, they have trained
in ballroom-style dancing for 6 years. They danced a swing number to Moondance by Van Morrison.
First up for the kids’ competition were the Bat Girls (Teyanna Green, Gabby Skidmore, Brianna and Samantha Castro), who did a remix version of The Cupid Slide (final score, perfect score of 30). At the end of the show, they were tied for 1st place. Next we had Zandee, (Xandria Adams), who performed to the song Wings by Little Mix and earned a second place title (final score, 28). And finally, D Kool, (Dylan Colford) performed a DJ Scooter ReMix of Michael Jackson’s Thriller with makeup and glove to boot! (final score, perfect score of 30). The tie drove a freestyle dance that the audience called for and, after their amazing freestyle dancing, I decided to give them both 1st place and will purchase additional 1st place trophies for both acts.
We then closed the curtain for Ms. Silhouette’s (Heather Kelly) Intermission performance of an amazing modern jazz dance viewed through the see-through curtain. The song was Sail by AWOL Nation. When the curtains were opened again for the Adult Acts, our next judges took the stand. Adult Acts Judges (Sheri Ornitz, Cookie and Eileen Avrich) scored just like the actual DWTS competition.
First up was MJ Robot (Marquie Jardine) with a Mime/Robot style which showed amazing precision, performed to the song Radioactive by Imagine Dragons. (final score, 29). Our second act was The AWA Water Babes (Arlene Ciervo, Clara Bryantt, Joan Gregorio, Kathy Banghart
and their fearless leader, Heather Kelly) who did a mixed artist/music dance to the Twist, NY NY, Ring My Bell and finally, Skinny Dippin. They kicked off their shoes and dressed up with yellow sunflowers in their hair! (final score 25) The third act was our very own sous chef, Cool Runnngs (aka Bremmer) with a freestyle dance to As Your Friend by Chris Brown. His R&B/Pop style dance made the girls in the crowd go wild, especially when he took off his shirt and threw away his hat during the performance. (Final score: 27). Then came The Duet (Heather Kelly and Dennis Green), who did a Merengue Freestyle number to Calabria by Enur that was both spicy and fun (Final score: Perfect Score of 30). Finally, we had an encore
with MJ Robot who brought his cousin out with him. Although he performed before, he wanted to add a little more fun to the show before our closing performance. Although we didn’t count his score in this act, he received a 28 for this one.
The final tally gave us The Duet in first place, followed by MJ Robot in second, and Cool Runnings in third.
Before we closed out the show, I mentioned the recent news of John Belly’s passing and we had a minute of silence and requested prayers for his wife and family. I then acknowledged all involved in the preparation and execution of the show and urged our guests to get involved and make a difference in the community by taking time to be involved. We really believed this show demonstrated to all what our community is all about!
After the trophies were awarded, our final performance brought out all the performers to do “The Wobble”. We pulled audience members up out of their seats and onto the dance floor dance to join us. The show ended at around 8:45pm, when we opened the dance floor for the after party!
Bog Removal Underway
By Buz Whelan and Bill Henry
You made have seen a funny-looking yellow contraption this past week on West Emerald Lake, but if you missed it look to East Emerald Lake in the coming week. That’s a bog boat, and its purpose is to remove the floating bogs from lakes, here East and West Emerald Lakes. And that ‘contraption’ cost upwards of $85,000, accessories not included. Accessories include a huge bladder for containing and draining the bog material, large diameter hoses and miscellaneous connection and holding gear.
Essentially a peat bog is lake bottom. It can become loose and then in warm weather float to the top of the lake. It presents a swimming and boating hazard and gives off an unpleasant odor. Bogs have a tendency to accrue, to grow larger and larger over time. If unchecked they will eventually take over a lake, at first turning it into a swampy quagmire and eventually drying out to leave a meadow, its character depending on local native growth.
Beginning two years ago, management sought bids on removal. Eco Scientific
Solutions was chosen to do the work. They have done other types of lake management work for the association in the past. Owner-operator gave an estimate of $8,000 and a budget line item of $9,500 was put in the 2012/2013 budget to cover the additional cost of permit fees. It was estimated that 700 cubic yards of wet material would have to be removed from the lakes, which would leave about 250 cubic yards of dried matter to be eventually taken from the site. Bog removal will take about two weeks, until the end of next week, and then an additional several weeks will be needed for the material to dry.
Emerald Lakes will retain some of the dried material since it makes a very nutritious topsoil.
Miller Resigns From ELA Board
by Buz Whelan
EMERALD LAKES, Pennsylvania (ELFP) Emerald Lakes Board of Directors member Joe Miller tendered his resignation to the board via email Tuesday, August 20th. It was to be effective at midnight that day. In his email Miller states that increased demands from his business coupled with competing demands on his time from workshops, open meetings and liaison work are taking a toll. He further says that he believes someone with more time, preferably one who is a full-time resident, would be better for the association. He also pointed out that the new bylaw assigning a vacancy to the next highest vote-getter at the Annual Meeting puts Margaret Fitzgerald in his place, a situation he is comfortable with. Finally, Miller wished the board continued success.
In a ‘phone conversation, Miller was more forthcoming on his reasons for resigning. “I’ve been increasingly uncomfortable with the board’s actions and practices over the last 18 months or so. Some of the things that have been done and hidden from the membership are just plain wrong, in my opinion, but the tight confidentiality agreement and the fact that these decisions are made under the cloak of executive sessions make it difficult for me to be more open. I don’t think the board members are evil, but I think they are misguided. I began serving on the board under the presidency of Buz Whelan when transparency was the watchword. Other members of that board, like Bob Lauri or Paul Capozzoli would never stand for secrecy. This board is the opposite. My conscience has really brought me to this decision. I’m sorry I can’t say more.”
Miller added, “I want to say something positive about Margaret Fitzgerald. She was frequently my only supporter and backed me in my objections to secrecy. I think she is a good person and I wish her well. I don’t know June Solla as well, but what I do know, I like. I think she’ll be a good board member and I wish her luck and success.”
- New Board Officer Selection Produces Only One Change (emeraldlakesfreepress.com)
Cabaret ’35 – The Best of Times is Now
By Lola Lauri
Cabaret ’35 began at 7 pm on August 10th at “Club Emerald” (formerly known as the Community Center). Its creators worked all day to create the illusion of a nightclub from the 1930’s, and their attention to detail showed. Guests entered past the old time ticket booth, which was graced with a large sign declaring this performance “Sold Out”. The dining room was elegant, with black tablecloths topped with mirrors and lovely white candle lamps. A glance out the window, showed a dark city skyline with a bright crescent moon above. A peek over the fireplace afforded a view of the “band”, in its art deco orchestra pit. In front, to the left, a large lighted sign dotted with fireflies declared that this was Club Emerald in elegant script and, to the right, a dazzling
tinsel curtain covered the hallway exit. In the center, an art deco patterned curtained served as a backdrop for the stage where the performance was soon to begin.
As the stylishly dressed guests filed in, greeting friends and neighbors, anticipation for the show began to build. The staff hurried to seat and take orders from the more than 70
guests in attendance. Overwhelmed by the initial rush of patrons, they struggled to get drinks and food to everyone but, by 8:15, most were enjoying their drinks and settling in for the entertainment.
Chef Todd had a superb menu for this evening, with an assortment of small plates, designed for sharing. Shrimp cocktail, a classic from the era, was a popular selection, along with the crab stuffed mushrooms and the potato
blintzes smothered in a caramelized onion crème. The London broil salad in balsamic vinaigrette and the fried calamari with marinara sauce for dipping were both tasty and delicious too. There was also a special cocktail menu for those who wished to sample drinks that were typical fare in 1935. Peach Bellinis and Mint Juleps were refreshing choices for several guests.
Before the show, guests were directed to the giant crescent moon in the corner for a photo opportunity. With
legs draped across the moon, guests cuddled and smiled for the camera, then left their contact information so they could have a digital keepsake of this fun event. Bob Lauri was our eager photographer, and he captured many memories of the evening, including the ones pictured here in this article. (Thanks, Honey!)
When it was time for the show to begin, Buz Whelan introduced the performer for the evening, Elizabeth Knecht. Buz and I met Elizabeth last year when she performed at The Speakeasy Lounge (see here, for a review of that evening)
and we were both extremely excited to bring her to Emerald Lakes. Elizabeth took to the stage with a black and gold sequined dress and a short black flapper hairdo. She set the mood by singing “Cabaret” and then launched into her rendition of “All That Jazz” while actively recruiting audience members to sing and dance along with her. Resident Melanie Balzano took no time at all to decide that she was going to be in the act, as she enthusiastically leapt to the dance floor. Elizabeth also brought along her young niece, Ashley, who lent her dancing skills to the festivities throughout the night. Soon enough, many of the other guests took turns dancing
and singing as well. But it was Elizabeth that caught everyone’s heart with her powerful and heartbreaking version of “Memories”. The standing ovation that followed showed just how much the audience was captured by her performance.
After a brief intermission Buz introduced “Liz K” – Elizabeth, but with a black lace dress and a blond curly hairdo. She continued to wow the crowd with selections
that alternated from romantic to rousing, keeping toes tapping, hands clapping and the dance floor full. All too soon, the last song was upon us and she closed the evening with “The Best of Times is Now” (from La Cage Aux Folles).
Everyone rose to their feet, clapping and singing along as Elizabeth took her leave from the stage.
The only piece of business left was for us to announce the winners of the
best dressed couple prizes. We awarded Melanie Balzano second place because, even though her husband Mario did not dress in costume, Melanie had enough spirit and costume for two. With gangster-style pinstripes and flapper
fun (and a boa that shed feathers in its wake!) first place
went to Emerald Lakes President Alex Leslie and his wife, Gini.
Finally, it takes a lot to bring a night like this together, and Buz and I are very thankful for all the folks who helped us. The ELA staff was wonderful – especially Todd, Heather and Jackie; even our Public Safety officers helped out when the servers fell behind! In fact, Heather and Jackie spent the whole week leading up to the show working on ways to make this event special. They designed costumes and makeup for the servers; they spent hours creating
and setting up the lovely table centerpieces and the old time ticket booth for the entrance to the Community Center; and they put their creative skills to work all day Saturday designing and painting the lighted “Club Emerald” sign for the stage area, all before helping the rest of us decorate and set up the room for the evening. These two gave a very special effort for Cabaret ’35 and we could not have pulled the evening together nearly so well without their creativity and talent. We also want to thank Stefania, Darren, Kathy, Shari, and Meredith, who gave the afternoon to help with decorations and, of course, we can’t forget the Lovely Elizabeth Knecht. In spite of the troubles, disagreements and difficulties of our community and of the present time, it is when we all come together to celebrate that we can remember that the Best of Times really is now. Buz and I truly enjoyed bringing this party to the community and hope you all will support us in the future.
Correction to “Meet the Candidates 2013” article
In the article I attributed a plan to acquire and utilize abandoned properties to Connie Simpson. This was incorrect. The suggestion was made by Sherri Ornitz. I also failed to mention that Ms. Simpson feels that current landlords are undercharged and that we should raise our fees for rentals. She noted that A Pocono Country Place charges $175 per rental, regardless of length of time. My apologies to both Ms. Ornitz and Ms. Simpson. I regret the errors.