A mediator could settle litigation involving Hot Springs Village gates.

The Property Owners’ Association board of directors in executive session on Aug. 5 unanimously voted to ask the POA’s legal counsel, Rose Law Firm, to enter mediation with attorneys representing International Security Network, or ISN.

The POA sued ISN on Nov. 26, 2018, alleging the Florida company failed to deliver on a contract to boost Village gate security. ISN countersued the POA on Feb. 1, 2019, contending that the company met its end of the contract, and also supplied equipment at gates and custom supplies for the POA.

The news was revealed publicly last Wednesday at the board’s August session, as part of the consent agenda. Minutes were read by executive assistant Ella Scotty.

In an email to property owners sent at 4:56 p.m. last Monday, Aug. 10, the POA announced that the meeting would not be livestreamed and would be held via Zoom, as a COVID-19 pandemic precaution.

The email, sent hours after the Voice press deadline, said that several directors had self-quarantined as a precautionary measure.

“The POA does not possess the equipment to live-stream from a Zoom meeting unless we have somebody with a camera actually in the room with one of us taping and streaming it to the internet,” acting corporate chairman Lloyd Sherman said last Wednesday. “That is why we’re holding the meeting the way we did today. We don’t intend to do this in the future, but given what COVID has done to the nation, we have to be adaptable.”

The audio feed is now available at www.youtube.com/user/HSVPOA.
Sherman told the board ISN has agreed to mediation, scheduled for Oct. 14. He said mediator Jim Tilley is well respected.

Also, the board voted 6-1 in Aug. 13 executive session to not pursue the $7.7 million judgment against Capital Source Funding. The Saline County Circuit Court judgment was for delinquent assessments. The POA’s legal counsel was directed to write a voluntary motion to dismiss without prejudice the judgment.

Also, the board voted 4-3 on Aug. 13 to remove Diana Podawiltz as corporate board chairman.

Immediately afterwards, Podawiltz resigned from the board, according to the minutes.
Later, during Wednesday’s director comments, Sherman discussed Podawiltz’ board resignation.

“I would like to address the elephant in the room. As many know, Diana (Podawiltz) resigned from the board this last week. I would like to say that the action was taken by the board and by a majority of the board. When the board speaks as a majority, they speak for the board. When a majority makes a decision, it is our responsibility of duty of loyalty, obedience and duty to uphold those decisions that are made by the majority of the board.”

“We will miss Diana. She worked hard and feverously. She put in extraordinary effort during her time on the board and as board chair. But I want everybody to know that this was a decision to ask her to step down as chair and she chose to resign. The board did not vote her off of the board.”

Last Wednesday, director Tucker Omohundro nominated Sherman as chairman, and was elected.

Director Pam Avila nominated Omohundro for vice-chairman, and was elected. Both were the sole nominees.

In other business, Sherman welcomed general manager Charles King to his first monthly board meeting.

“Right now I am analyzing our team from the top down, making sure we are set up for success in the future,” King said. “Making sure we are not top heavy. Making sure we are financially responsible as far as our layers in our organization.

He’s taking time to reorganize and is reviewing reporting procedures and dynamics. One key is ensuring that all levels are working financially responsibly and are held accountable.

Overhauling the food and beverage operation is one goal, to meet expectations of customers.

He pledged to work closely with the board while bringing back a true sense of pride in POA operations and polishing the “Hot Springs Village brand.”

“I am extremely excited about the future. I think once we get over these first few bumps and hurdles in the road things will start moving smoothly and I think the property owners will see some really good changes here in the future of the direction we are going.”

“It’s about extreme transparency. Extreme accountability,” he said. “We’re going to have fun doing it. I’m excited about this board and where we take this thing and just continue to focus and working together. Working as a unit. Not one here – one here. But working together as a unit to accomplish all these goals and all these objectives that we’ll sit down and work on.”

King summarized some changes, including removing the role of chief member experience officer. “It really didn’t fit into what we were doing and we realigned some responsibilities underneath it. And there’s a few more changes to come in the near future,” he said.

“We really need to really dive through all the operations and find out, make sure we don’t have any waste,” he said. “Make sure we don’t have the overlapping of responsibilities and really get this team working together as a really tight unit.”
The board also passed a resolution supporting Arkansas ballot Issue 1, citing a request from local quorum courts.

Several volunteers were appointed to committees: Debra Fuller and Maureen Morgan, recreation; Paula Lane and Max Billingsley, common property and forest; and Jan Miles, trails.

In the chief operating officer’s report, Jason Temple said staff practices safety and appropriate disinfection strategies in line with Arkansas’ COVID-19 phase 2 opening. “Staff are taking the extra measure of safety by wearing masks when riding in vehicles with multiple passengers,” Temple said in the report.
Corporate treasurer Wayne Foltz gave the financial report.

The board also:

• Approved a standing marketing committee charter and appointment of members.
• Asked King to solicit bids for an electronic/mail hybrid voting system.
• Awarded a mowing contract of up to $25,200 for lake dams and spillways.
• Revised committee charters, including recreation, trails and lakes.
• Adopted a lakes policy revision.

In director comments, Avila said she was glad the board upgraded the marketing subcommittee to a full standing committee. Avila said committee members are reviewing revenue and will work closely with the marketing department.

Garrison said he is impressed with the “measured approach” that King is using. “I applaud that. I know a bit about what he’s doing and trying to accomplish and I think he is spot-on in his approach,” he said.

King thanked Garrison, saying he hopes property owners will see over time that the POA is diligent about effecting positive changes. “And I think it all starts right here. It starts with this group working together and making sure we have our boundaries and our understandings of what we’re all doing,” he said.

King is excited for the future. “I think that great things can happen. I think it’s not going to happen overnight. With all the emails that keep coming, just be patient. But I promise you there’s going to be some good changes,” he said.