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Aquia Harbour's managers

Discussion in 'History of Aquia Harbour' started by Ben Blankenship, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. Ben Blankenship

    Ben Blankenship Junior Member

    Aquia’s managers vs. elected directors
    by Ben Blankenship

    Managing a homeowners association, whether effectively or not, has challenged even the most talented of them, it appears.Based on the limited but longtime observations of this onlooker about Aquia Harbour’s paid managers, carrying out their proper roles usually gets them crosswise with board members, who have been elected but unpaid to serve in sometimes trying legislative and oversight capacities.

    Granted, the particular problems that have led to the managers’ replacements (on at least four occasions) have varied, most often from board members’ unhappiness with their performance or attitudes, but sometimes from asserted or actual managerial misbehavior. I cannot further identify specific instances because of inadequateinformation, which past and present board members understandably must be reluctant to provide.
    I do, however, have opinions about the relative value of the Harbour’s investmentsin its managers.I understand that the most talented candidates now on the market today would expect, if asked to manage in Aquia Harbour, a salary of some $75,000 to $90,000 or more. Salaries are also within the province of our elected boards and are nonpublic.
    Through the years we have prospered, more or less at times, from the various persons managing the operations. They should collectively be thanked for putting us in the good repute our community has enjoyed. They have endured elected board members who have worked well and poorly, collectively and individually. Boards’ problems and accomplishments reflect individuals’ frictions, cooperation and leadership.

    Here’s the history:

    June 1972-June 1994Fran Hopkins. A pioneer resident who then helped us through early growth pains. She established the practice for board meetings to start with a prayer she led.

    Oct 1992-Oct 1995 James White. Hired particularly to manage projects associated with the Harbour’s Capital Improvement Project that saw a new country club built, parks expanded, hiking trails established, etc.

    Jan 1996-Sep 1996. Rob Otto. Served first as maintenance manager, then promoted to acting manager.

    Feb 1997-Jan 1999Ken Laenger.Had served earlieras golf course manager.

    Feb 1999-Oct 2012Charles Halt.

    Oct 2012-presentKen Laenger. Formerly a board member.

    Conclusions: Residents who have been members of AHPOA’s elected boards will have various opinions of their own effectiveness and those of the managersthey oversaw. But in total, board members’actions have generally made it tough for managers to do their jobs as well as they might have wished. That is , alas, also true even of Congressional oversight of the government’s managers.
    Democracy, even in Aquia Harbour, ain’t easy. Nevertheless, in my own opinion, Fran Hopkins and Chuck Halt, partly by virtue of their long service to us, proved the best.
    Note: This article also appeared in the January 2013issue of Harbour View.
    Verna and JRRobert like this.
  2. Ben Blankenship

    Ben Blankenship Junior Member

  3. Ben Blankenship

    Ben Blankenship Junior Member

    Here's a recent footnote to Aquia Harbour's remembrances of or by former managers, as forwarded July 3, 2013 by our first manager, Fran Hopkins, to me by email.(Her family was also one of the first residents)--

    "As Texas kids we thought we had found paradise here in Aquia Harbour for raising kids. Little did we know how much being
    raised at Aquia Harbour would mean to the kids when they grew up. They talk about it so fondly.

    I long for the day when the folks who are at Aquia now hear someone tell how much credit Ed Wrenn and American Realty did for Aquia as his
    Nationwide Corporation was falling down around him. Without his protection of the monies they had collected on behalf of the Property Owners Assn. We would never have been able to get the start that we did. Furthermore his protection of land which he had set aside for the future of Aquia was much easier for us to get because of his help . Sometimes hate and bad information can really hide the truth from reality.

    Aquia's first Board of Directors and some very dedicated residents at the time became the poster kids for many other Associations. I look back
    now at the number of developments in Virginia, Maryland and other states who looked to Aquia for guidance in how we got things done. It is an amazing
    situation that those from ARSC and the new Developer, Bill Roth and Atty. Frank Eck who helped the Association so much are remembered as the bad guys.

  4. HarbourLites

    HarbourLites Junior Member

    So glad you remember and share these notes, Ben. You are, obviously, a lot more aware of the AH leadership comings-and-goings than we are...
    Bill Roth built our home -- the first we actually owned after moving all around the world with the Army. (We still see his dear Grace occasionally at church or Jimmy the Greek's.) We certainly don't remember him as a 'bad guy'. (Didn't know anybody did, and I have to wonder why...? To young [and very green] new homeowners he was quite a genial and easygoing man.)
    As for Fran Hopkins, whom we remember as a smiling and kind person, the only remotely negative thing we ever heard about her was that she did not have the strongest business mindset. Possibly... We had a serious erosion problem with our property in the months succeeding our moving in, and Fran asked us if we would please not bring this up to Bill (this was around the time of his heart attack). Instead, she had the AH crew (with Wes, I believe :) come over to fill in and shore up the soil above our ditch...
    Perhaps she was not the most hardbitten businesswoman but her heart was certainly in the right place. And I think maybe the Harbour in its early years (much like a baby) prospered more with her kind heart than it might have under a harder, more business-oriented hand. At any rate, we like to believe that our leadership (now as well as then) also allows kindness to factor into day-to-day decisions whenever it can.
    Most times, even with some $ cost, it's still good to have a little humanity in the machinery... :heart:

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