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Phil Anderson speaks at the August Squires & Stags meeting.
PHOTOS BY SCOTT ARMENTROUT

Anderson discusses 6 major issues facing Big Canoe

By Scott Armentrout

An enthusiastic gathering of nearly 90 gathered for the regular August 4 breakfast meeting of Squires and Stags to hear POA President Phil Anderson discuss six major issues facing Big Canoe residents in the coming year.

Anderson was introduced by Master of Ceremonies Chuck Gordon, who took the opportunity to remind all Big Canoe residents to remember to vote regularly in local elections so that the opinions of this community would be heard in our two surrounding county governments.

Once introduced, President Anderson, ever mindful of, and loyal to, his alma mater, the venerable Virginia Military Institute, and his 30 plus years of service in the US Army, began his talk by donning his regular “Morning Exercise Uniform of the Day”—a well-worn VMI cap and bright safety vest complete with strobe lights for high visibility—which he wears during his daily walk around Lake Petit.

He added to his presentation another typical military accouterment, the acronym WIMFLC to highlight the 6 issues—water, internet, management, fire station, land use and clubhouse—he was to discuss. The only military-like items missing were the stars of a Major General.

On the subject of Water, the W in WIMFLC, Anderson reprised the recent issues with Big Canoe Utilities Company which have been addressed in Smoke Signals and public meetings over recent months: frequent water line breaks; the major outage of November 2016; creation of the Water Task Force headed by resident Hollis Lathem, whose diligence Anderson feels helped move the Utility Company to announce that it was for sale; and the ongoing sale process itself.

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 Anderson displays his high visibility morning excercise uniform.

Just as at the recent town hall, Anderson, on the advice of counsel, was loath to get into any details of the POA’s discussions with the utilities company.

He did highlight the recent news that a local regional public water authority, Etowah Water and Sewer, had opened discussions with the Big Canoe Utilities Company about purchase of the water company.

Anderson opined that he thought highly of Etowah, a major factor in the development of the 400 corridor in Dawson County he said, and that he thought they could do a good job in operating the water system here in Big Canoe.

Later, in answer to a question from the audience, he noted that the possibility existed that the POA itself might move to buy the water system, saying “we’re not ruling anything out.”

Other questioners asked about the rights the POA now has in the water system and what the actual asset was which was being put up for sale. These he could not get into on the advice of outside counsel. Another resident questioned how a potential buyer could assess the “Pandora’s box” of future repair problems.

President Anderson then went on to the next issue—the internet—noting that this critical issue has been put on a temporary hold pending the outcome of the water issue.

High speed Internet service is a major consideration for many potential buyers of property here and elsewhere, and the parties involved in developing a Big Canoe high-speed internet system are standing by, ready to participate, pending disposition of the water company issue he said.

Issue 3, management, involved discussions with the Troon organization. This is an ongoing matter, Anderson said. After close examination there appear to be few, if any, monetary savings to be realized from an affiliation with Troon, he said, but there may prove to be real benefits to Big Canoe from “best business practices” and marketing stemming from an affiliation with Troon.

This topic generated a number of questions. Will we need a general manager if Troon is in the picture? Yes, Anderson said. Troon would help with amenities and golf, but not management and maintenance of the property, fire department, etc. Troon would manage golf course maintenance.

Would Troon have a constant presence on site here? No, Anderson said. There would be a point of contact through the POA and the GM. Troon would administer wages and benefits of employees but not the management of department heads.

Anderson added that the POA had not found any clubs operating with Troon which were dissatisfied. The one club interviewed which had terminated its relationship with Troon had done so because it had closed its golf course and no longer needed the affiliation.

Firehouse construction (issue 4) is making visible progress Anderson noted but is now a month behind schedule, because the earth moving contractor was delayed by difficulties in relocation of underground utilities.

In order to avoid delaying laying of asphalt and risking further delay from cold weather this winter, it is necessary to demolish the existing fire building sooner than originally planned, Anderson reported. This will necessitate moving firemen into the bottom of the adjacent former restaurant space across the street temporarily until the new station is complete.

There also will have to be a temporary metal building erected and used to house the fire fighting equipment. This metal building will ultimately be relocated to the fire training facility off Hubbard Road after firehouse construction is complete.

Land use. On this issue Anderson referred all residents to the comprehensive report of the Land Use committee on the POA website.

On the subject of the Clubhouse, Anderson noted that the Board has approved a subsidy of $525,000 for improvements in food and services with the expectation that this will lead to increased usage and long-term revenue flow at this facility. Linked into this topic and also connected to the matter of management was the subject of the Big Canoe general manager’s position which is now vacant. Anderson stated that, “John Thompson (the former general manager) served us very, very well”, but the Board felt that the community needed a change. In answer to a question, he stated that, should the POA sign up with Troon, Troon could help with the search for a new GM. He noted that Board Vice President Steve Wilson will serve as chair of the search committee and encouraged residents to serve on Wilson’s committee in seeking out a new GM.

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