Coffee with the GM Update

By Susan Thompson 
At a June 28 “Coffee with the GM,” John Rutledge, LPA general manager and LPN, LLC director of operations, provided an update on several projects.
The LPA maintenance staff is preparing community roads for the annual seal coat application. This involves grinding out rough spots and filling holes with crushed limestone. Rutledge said the hope is the contractor will be able to do the work a little earlier this year than the past two. Once a firm date is set, LPA staff will do “touch up” work on the miles that will be seal coated.  
Construction is underway on the new maintenance shop, which is being built along 200th Road, west of the Brethren Church. Concrete footings and subwalls have been poured. Rutledge said the target date for completion is October 7, with plans to have the maintenance staff moved to the new facility by November 1. 
In response to a member question, Rutledge explained financing for this project has been arranged through a four-party loan led by Guthrie County State Bank, which also includes Panora State Bank, Farmers State Bank, and Peoples Bank.  
Replacing the tiles on the two pickleball courts at Boulder Beach with an acrylic surface still is in the plans, and will be done as soon as the chosen vendor can get here. Rutledge said a rainy May put the vendor behind schedule.
Before heading to the GM coffee, Rutledge said he stopped at Boulder Beach to check on the beach groomer being operated there. The groomer was purchased in 2016 and first used that year in advance of the Fourth of July holiday weekend. 
“It’s still working as well as it did on day one,” Rutledge said. “It aerates the sand, picks up sticks, trash and other nasty stuff, and leaves the sand behind. We’re very pleased with this purchase.” 
Rutledge said the LPA office continues to get calls about buoy placements, so he outlined recent steps to determine proper buoy locations. Last summer the water safety committee spent several hours reviewing this issue. Working with Shive-Hattery engineers, a map was developed showing chosen buoy locations, which is available online. The LPA board voted on the final map at its September 2018 meeting. 
At that time, the board agreed a full summer of use was needed before any additional changes could be considered. Rutledge said despite ongoing publicity on this topic, this summer has found some members surprised by a buoy location that changed. He suggested people with concerns note the number of the buoy and send an email to the LPA office with details. Another option is to attend an LPA board meeting and speak at the open forum, which is offered at the beginning of each meeting. 
Rules regarding what can be left at the two “brush dumps” are posted at those locations. But Rutledge said prohibited items continue to be dumped there, including such things as railroad ties and old lumber. Cameras at both entrances capture license plates, which LPA Security staff use to track down offenders, who then are required to return and remove banned items. Repeat offenders can be fined, but Rutledge noted almost all concerns involve first-time offenders.
“Most times it’s a contractor who doesn’t know the rules, or doesn’t follow them,” Rutledge said. “If you’re working with a contractor who may not be familiar with our rules, please help educate them. It will save Security a lot of time.” 
Plans for improvements to the LPA water system are on hold until the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issues a construction permit. The work will involve drilling a second deep well into the Jordan aquifer, installing a reverse osmosis system, and related water plant upgrades. Rutledge said DNR officials have said they don’t see any problems with the plans, but have not yet completed the necessary paperwork.  
The Lake Panorama Rural Improvement Zone (RIZ) has solicited bids for an outside contractor to dredge between the Fansler bridge and the upper basin of Lake Panorama. The RIZ board decided this would be the best way to get this area upstream cleared, plus use available storage in the county silt basin before some land leases there expire. 
Rutledge said this work will supplement LPA’s annual dredging contract with RIZ, and will help “catch up” on some of the more challenging areas of the lake and river channel. LPA will continue to dredge alongside this contractor.
Improvements at Panorama West as a result of the McLuen estate gift are mostly complete, Rutledge said. The only remaining project is to renovate the six existing bunkers on the course, which is planned for this fall.
The pool at Lake Panorama National is busy. Some early issues with water quality have been solved and things are running smoothly. An audience member asked why no one is there to collect daily fees, as has been done in the past. Rutledge said past years showed having a staff person at the pool just to collect fees and sell snacks wasn’t a sound financial investment. 
Posted signs state those who are not annual members need to pay the daily $3 fee in the pro shop or LPN front desk, where they receive a temporary wristband. Annual members have permanent silicon wristbands. Rutledge said he would investigate options for better enforcement of daily fee collection, using existing staff.
Rutledge pointed out a new vending area was created near the pool as an additional source of revenue. “Pools don’t make money,” he said. “But it’s a nice amenity for us to offer, and a recreational opportunity for our younger members and guests.”   
A recent conversation thread on Nextdoor Lake Panorama prompted Rutledge to provide some information regarding the use of golf carts and utility vehicles on Lake Panorama roads. He said LPA doesn’t have an official role to provide information on the social media site, but does monitor and sometimes weighs in when appropriate. 
Such was the case when questions were raised on Nextdoor about young people driving golf carts on the road. Rutledge said LPA rules require golf cart drivers to be at least 16 years old and have a valid drivers license to operate the cart independently. 
“Being 14 years old and having a school permit also is acceptable, if they are under the direct supervision of an adult,” he said. Rutledge noted some members object the LPA rules are stricter than Iowa’s school permits, which allow a 14-year-old to drive without direct adult supervision. “Being inside a car provides more protection than a golf cart. We have so many heavy, commercial vehicles on our roads. For this reason, LPA has determined extra caution is needed,” he said. 
The other issue discussed on Nextdoor was the difference between rules related to an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) and UTV (utility task vehicle). An ATV, also known as a “quad” or “four-wheeler,” is designed for one person, and has the driver straddling the seat. Lake Panorama Association rules only allow ATVs on a member’s own property, although these can be used to pull a trailer to a brush dump when doing property maintenance. 
A UTV generally allows at least two people to ride side-by-side. These also usually have a roll bar, seat belts and other additional protection. LPA rules allow the use of UTVs on Lake Panorama’s roads, as long as the driver is at least 16 and has a valid drivers license.  
Another issue raised on Nextdoor was speeding by commercial drivers within the Lake Panorama community. One person commented these drivers can’t be fined, so they ignore speed limits. Rutledge said it’s true only LPA members can be fined for speeding or other infractions. However, LPA can and has contacted employers of drivers observed driving too fast, with the threat that person can be banned from LPA property. “That usually is enough to get them to play nice,” he said. 
Rutledge encouraged anyone not receiving the LPA electronic newsletters – the weekly Panorama Prompt and quarterly Panorama Post – to call the LPA office to sign up. He also encouraged those who use Facebook to consider “liking” the LPA Facebook page to get updates. 
“When we announced the recent boil order on Facebook, 10,000 people saw the notice within the first 48 hours,” Rutledge said. “So using Facebook as a good way to communicate with our members is hard to ignore.”   
These periodic “coffees with the GM” provide LPA members an informal chance to get updates on what’s happening within the Lake Panorama Association. The next one will be Friday, August 9, at 10:30 a.m. at the LPN conference center.