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Town Hall Meeting Draws a Crowd

by Buz Whelan

The Town Hall meeting held on Saturday, October 26th drew a full house.waterdrop[1] 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 beatcrime[1]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 or (570)895-2400.

thCAR4GP2N    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.

Cabaret ’35 – The Best of Times is Now

Elizabeth Knecht

Elizabeth Knecht

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 cabaret 2013 004topped 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

What pool?

What pool?

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

Hosts for the evening, Buz Whelan and Lola Lauri

Hosts for the evening, Buz Whelan and Lola Lauri

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

Photo op, anyone?

Photo op, anyone?

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

Our photographer for the evening, Robert Lauri, with Elizabeth

Our photographer for the evening, Robert Lauri, with Elizabeth

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)

Mario and Melanie Balzano

Mario and Melanie Balzano

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

Ashley, a rising star, and Elizabeth

Ashley, a rising star, and Elizabeth

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

Second set, quick costume change.

Second set, quick costume change.

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).

He looks happy.

He looks happy.

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

Him too.

Him too.

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

Alex and Gini Leslie - Best Dressed

Alex and Gini Leslie – Best Dressed

fun (and a boa that shed feathers in its wake!) first place

Second place for best dressed, Melanie Balzano, on stage with Elizabeth Knecht

Second place for best dressed, Melanie Balzano, on stage with Elizabeth Knecht

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

On their feet for Elizabeth Knecht.

On their feet for Elizabeth Knecht.

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.

Curious Decisions, Curious Reports


By Buz Whelan

I write this in the first person because I want to take full ownership. I speak only forspeech1[1] 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.)

Halloween Fun in ELA – Funhouse Pictures

Stefania Johnson

What an amazing production at the Funhouse (aka Community Center)!   Four days of scary turns and twists that sent some running out the door even before the end of the tour!

She looks harmless, right?

Brave participants were greeted by The Evil Gypsy Fortune Teller, and then led past the friendly but tortured soul who just wanted new friends she could make look like her or her hollow-eyed doll.  At every corner the scary clowns and mimes warned all to play fairly.  They said they just wanted to be friends, but woe to those who said no, for they would suffer terrible consequences!  All around was evidence of what happened to those who did not please them. Victims were jailed, tortured, beaten, stabbed by the Ring Master.  There was Jack who didn’t stay in his “box” but instead came after visitors with his Chainsaw trying to chop up his the next meal!  Through it all, there was a crazy Jester who would pop up in places that you would never imagine.  The final stop on this terrible tour was the play room, where sadistic clowns were waiting for each group, trying to lock them in, making them beg for mercy before they were released, except for one young soul.   She absolutely never left!  We’ll see next year where she is found…or NOT.

Read the rest of this entry

Cancer Awareness Day a Huge Success

by Buz Whelan

  By any measure – attendance, enthusiasm or money raised – Cancer Awareness Day held in and around the Emerald Lakes Community Center was a great success. According to chief organizer June Solla, the event raised $1,500 for cancer research.

The day started with a buffet breakfast, continued with a car wash and that led into late afternoon entertainment

The newly-decorated dining room looks wonderful!

with Adrienne ‘Lady A’ Carver and Mike Gregorio providing musical performances and Adel Rivera doing facepainting. There was a Tricky Tray auction that began in the early afternoon and culminated with a drawing of winners between 6:30 and 7:00 pm. Over 100 items were donated for the auction including artwork, and themed

Some of the swag from the Tricky Tray.

baskets for such things as “A Night at the Movies,” “Italian Dinner,” and “Cat’s Delight.” And because the day became an all-day festival with people eating, drinking and visiting with each other even the Center itself profited with receipts up over $400 above normal. And since all the work and materials were donated, there was no cost to the association.

One young participant with her lovely face painting.

The event was supported by the Women’s Club and the 50+ Club and numerous volunteers, among them Eileen Avrich, Delores Amadio, Paul Capozzoli, Henry Chieffo, Melanie DePerro, Rich DePerro, Rachel D. Douglas, Margaret Fitzgerald, Dennis Green, Alex Leslie, Connie Lewis, ‘Cookie’ Litweinski, Joe Olall, Karen Peloubet, and Kay Ricciuto. Of course, without the prodigious efforts of June Solla, this event may not even have happened. For months June has been organizing, promoting and securing materials. She was tireless in her efforts and deserves a big ‘thank you’ from the community.

The bingo crowd, showing their support.


Washing cars in the rain. What good sports!


Beaching and Boating: By the Weather or By the Calendar?

by Buz Whelan

     Sunday, September 8, 2010. The temperature between late morning and late afternoon ranges between 81 and 84 degrees. The sun is shining brightly and the blue sky is dotted with a few puffy white clouds. The lake water temperature is in the mid-70s. We’re just one week from the middle day of the Labor Day weekend. It’s a perfect day for sunbathing, swimming and boating. But there is not a soul on the beach during the entire day, and not a boat on the lake. What’s going on? Is the calendar so powerful that once we pass that unofficial final weekend of the summer, no matter what the weather is, summer activities are over? We’ve gone back to school and back to work and that means no more summer fun, even on days off. That’s the way it seems, doesn’t it?

The funny thing is, that doesn’t seem to work on the other end, the beginning of the summer season. Remember the unusual hot spell last April, when we had two weekend days with the temperature hovering near 90? Even though the water was an icy 60 degrees, folks were wading and even swimming in the chilly water. Apparently, we can’t wait to get summer started, but we are not at all reluctant to let it end before it has to.

I make these observations because I live directly across the lake from Pine Tree Beach. While there may not be anything profound here, it’s interesting to me to note the difference in the way people view vacation-type activities pre- and post-season.

Household Hints – For the Birds

Eileen Avrich

As summer ends, and the weather gets cooler, it is easy to forget about our feathered friends.  They aren’t ready to leave for their winter homes, so here are a few tips to help them stay healthy and strong.


Did you know that there are several diseases that can be spread by birds due to unclean bird feeders?  Birds with disease are likely to die from starvation, dehydration, predation and severe weather, so protect them by following these tips.

Avoid overcrowding:  If possible, spread them out.  Crowding creates stress making the birds vulnerable to disease.

Clean up waste:  Keep birdfeeders clean of bird droppings and seed hulls.  A shop-vac works well, but any method done consistently will help.

Disinfect your feeders:  Immerse your feeder or birdbath in a nine to one water-bleach solution, rinsing thoroughly, one to two times a month.

Make feeders safe:  check for any sharp edges and fix or replace.  Even a scratch can become infected.

Food – Discard any food that smells musty, looks moldy, is wet or has fungus.  Store where rodents cannot get into the food.  Mice carry many diseases that can affect birds.

Spread the word to your friends and neighbors who feed the birds.

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