Cypress Isles News
The official newsletter of the Cypress Isles Homeowners Association
Fall 2002 Edition - Published Quarterly

In This Issue
The Vice-Prez Sez...
Trick or Treat!
Yard of the Month
As the Clock Turns
Hats Offs and Door-Knockers
Neighbors Meet at Fall Festival
Top 10 Things Overheard
My First Board Meeting
Holiday Decoration Contest
Lights at the Ends of Tunnels?
Crystal River Drive Awaits…
Neighborhood Watch
Homeland Security in Cypress Isles
WLCA Sets Photo ID Schedule
Contact List
A Seasonal Jingle


The Vice-Prez Sez…
Dear Homeowners,
As you know, the management fee for our homeowners association is the one of the largest line items in our yearly budget. With that in mind, we wanted the homeowners to be fully informed on how we came to our unanimous decision to retain Penn First Management as our management company. The following is a snapshot of the information that the Cypress Isles Board used in determining to whom to award our management contract for the next few years.

We sent requests for bids to four companies based on recommendations from homeowners and a local realtor.

Attwood Phillips - $1000 per month, one-year contract; 30-day cancellation with financial penalties.
No follow-up from company

Leland Management - $500 per month, one-year contract with some possible hidden/transition costs; 30-day cancellation. Some negative feedback on their performance.

Mid Florida Management -
No response after 3 requests.

Penn First Management - $560 per month through Dec 2003, and $595 per month through Dec 2005, with a three and one-half-year contract; 30-day cancellation clause

The Decision
The board unanimously approved Penn First Management based on the following information.
Penn First Management currently manages the operations of the Waterford Lakes Master Association, along with most of the Waterford Lakes Sub Associations, with no outstanding issues. We at Cypress Isles have no outstanding issues with Penn First. In fact, we felt that our neighborhood is the best kept in all of Waterford Lakes. We have a long history with Penn First, and they know the contractors and the developers and have a good working relationship with them. Since this contract can be cancelled in 30 days without penalty, it is a performance-driven contract. If Penn First does not perform, we can find a management company who will.
We decided that we would make a decision based on value, not just lowest costs. But in addition, we have negotiated a 25-cent-per-home-per-month discount in price compared to other Waterford Lakes neighborhoods managed by Penn First.
Thank you for your support over the years and, as always, we welcome your feedback at our monthly meetings. Our goal is to make good, sound decisions for the neighborhood and to keep you, the homeowners, informed.

Steve Hartman, Vice-President
Cypress Isles Board of Directors

Trick or Treat!
Trick or Treat night will be on Thursday, October 31st (a.k.a. Halloween), starting at 6 PM., ending at 9 P.M., or whenever the treats run out. Turn your porch lights on and meet your neighborhood goblins.

Where to go? I'm glad you asked. Good rule of thumb, or foot, is: Porch light on - go there. Porch light off - don't go there. Of course, as we all know, sometimes the lights are on and no-o-o-body's home...

Trick-or-treaters: Watch out for vehicles and be extra careful because your costumes can make it hard to see. Carry a flashlight to make it easier for you to see, and for others to see you.

Drivers: Watch out for trick-or-treaters and be extra careful because behind every bag of goodies is an excited child.

Moms and Dads: Those costumes are great; we have no idea who they really are.

Everyone: Don't forget to check those goodies before eating them.

Watch for our January issue to find out when Groundhog Day will be.
(Yeah, yeah, this was a re-run article from last year. Sometimes we run low on imagination…)


Yard of the Month
Recent Yard of the Month winners are:

John ("JD") Davis - 739 Spring Island Way (July)
Al & Lorna Santamaria, - 725 Divine Circle (August)
Jose & Betsy Canales - 837 Spring Island Way (September)

Congratulations on your exemplary yards!

As the Clock Turns
Remember last April when we sprang forward and lost that hour of sleep? Well, soon you will be able to regain that hour of lost sleep (supposedly). On Saturday, October 27 at 2 a.m. we return to EST - Eastern Standard Time. This means you will turn your clock BACK one hour. So you can either set your alarm to get up at 2 a.m. and make the change, or do it at a reasonable hour later in the morning, or before you go to bed. No excuses for being late the next day, like when Daylight Saving Time begins in the spring. (yawn)

Hats Offs and Door-Knockers
…and whiskers on kittens…
The ARC awards Hats Off commendations to homeowners who do exceptional property maintenance, and gives "Doorknocker" reminders to mow, trim, maintain, replace, move or remove, or repaint something. Ten Hats Off awards were issued during the last quarter, and only 4 doorknockers.
Several homeowners have recently received anonymous "Dear Neighbor" letters via U.S. mail about their property maintenance. Neither the Board, the ARC, nor Penn First had any part in these irritating letters, which do more to damage community spirit than they could ever gain to improve landscaping. We hope the perpetrator ceases and desists. There's enough other trash in our mail.
Remember - grass clippings are NOT to be blown into the street. If you hire a lawn maintenance company, be sure they are aware of this also. But we'll tell you to your face.

Chip Crane, ARC Chairman

A preliminary guide to ARC - Homeowner interactions

What's this I hear about a walk-through?
This year in November the ARC will have a "walk-through" of the entire neighborhood, instead of just a "drive-through." The purpose will be to point out some of the things that all of us should do to keep our homes and properties in great shape.

What is the ARC?
The Architectural Review Committee consists of 3 or 4 neighborhood residents who are appointed by their neighborhood association Board of Directors.

Why do we need an ARC?
The ARC keeps the neighborhood looking good. In Cypress Isles, the ARC tours the neighborhood once a month to ensure that the yard, weeds, sidewalks, driveways, and shrubs, are kept up and looking neat. They also make sure there are no trailers, RVs, or commercial trucks in driveways.

How neat is "neat?" Do I have to bounce a quarter off my lawn? What if my redneck cousin in his monster truck comes over to visit?
Always the kidder. The standards enforced by the ARC are based on guidelines from the Amended and Restated Declaration of Master Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (See "Limits of Authority" in the Summer 2002 Cypress Isles News.) Those documents allow the ARC to use consistent rules to maintain community standards, and the ARC should eventually formalize and publicize those rules, even if they change later. Common sense moderates the process. The odd weed is overlooked, but ample amber waves of weeds get doorknockers. Cousin Eddy, visiting in his RV, is not a problem, but more than a week of parking a box panel truck will get a doorknocker. The ARC isn't whimsical or arbitrary, even though some of our sloppier residents might like to think so.

I got a doorknocker. What happens now?
Depends. If you fix the problem within 15 days, it's over. If you do a great job of fixing the problem, you might get a Hat's Off from the ARC, and probably a "thumbs up" from your neighbors as well.
If you need more than 15 days, call the phone number on the doorknocker and ask for more time. If you disagree with the finding or need more clarification, call the phone number on the doorknocker and talk it over.
On the dark side, if you ignore the doorknocker for more than 15 days, you'll get a violation letter from the Property Manager restating their case and strongly requesting compliance or an explanation. If you ignore the letter, then things start to get too ugly for this Q&A column.

By the way, all official doorknockers show the phone number for the management company. If you get an unsigned note, it's not from the ARC or from anyone official. In all these proceedings Penn First often acts as the Board's agent, but all decisions are made by the ARC or the Board, not by Penn First.

When do I need to submit an ARB form?
First of all, there are no such things as "ARBs" or "ARB Forms" even though the term is used a lot. The Architectural Review Committee is the ARC, and the form is called an Architectural Review Application, which would be abbreviated "ARA." But I digress.
The appearance of your outside property affects the whole community, so the community should be consulted before you change that appearance. As community representatives, the ARC needs to know about anything that would change the outside appearance of the property beforehand, while there is still time to discuss any possible problems. The Review Form starts this "discussion" with the community.
Review forms must be submitted prior to making any changes to landscaping, construction of pool, outside house paint, gutters, additions, statues or fountains in your yard, or any other changes. Homeowners usually hear back within 30 days

What if the ARC rejects my application?
Don't take it personally, just continue the discussion. Talk to someone on the ARC, find out what the objection is, and work out a solution. Problems with house paint color? Try lowering the intensity a few shades. Like that. When everyone agrees, it's over.

What if that doesn't work?
Depends on your style. If you're the creative type, you'll figure out some new solution that satisfies both your needs and the ARC's objections. If you're the belligerent type, there are lawyers who will be more than happy to have you support them as you slowly lose the battle with the Homeowners Association. Me, I like the creative option better.
Is that it?
Yep - for now. Now about that bush…

Chip Crane, Board Member and ARC Chair
Dennis Horazak, Editorial Facilitator

Neighbors Meet and Greet at Fall Festival

Over 100 people turn out for the Fall Festival…(not people over 100)

Bunnies, baby goats, baby chicks, and squealing piglets; a big red fire truck with a 75 foot ladder to climb; a pony to ride; water balloon tosses; hot dogs, chips, sodas, popcorn, and cookies; and lots of prizes … OH MY!
The first Fall Festival was a wonderful success. Neighbors visited and mingled. Everyone was enthralled with the "petting zoo" and the kids (baby goats) wandering around eating anything. The Orange County Fire Rescue Division, Ladder Company 83 came out to demonstrate their impressive equipment and competence. We got to blow the horn and run the siren. Several neighbors brought special treats to complete the provided snacks and sodas AND LOTS AND LOTS OF COLD ICE WATER. We were all treated to the hot, sunny, beautiful Florida Fall day.
To those who were able to attend, we thank you. To those who missed the Fall Festival, we hope you plan to attend our next community event. A grand time was had by all and we all enjoyed meeting our neighbors in this richly diverse community.

Special thanks go to our neighborhood merchants who provided the many prizes for our raffle:
Donato's Pizza Dress Barn
Eckerd Drugs Home Depot
Longhorn Steakhouse Quizno's Subs
T.G.I Friday's TooJay's Gourmet Deli

Of course, this event could not have all come together as successfully as it did without the tireless efforts of the Festival Committee:
Sonya Barsness Chip Crane
Myron Davis Steve Hartman
Ellie Huck Claire Sheeler
Cookie Symons Jamie Wiley
Ron Wiley

Allen Huck
Fall Festival Committee Chair

[See Colored Pictures]

Top 10 Things Overheard at the Fall Festival
10. Man, it's hot. Mustard on the hotdog, please.
9. Why can't we have a pony? Ask your mother…
8. %$#%^ water balloon!
7. Larry, the goats want to discuss a 3-year vegetation maintenance contract.
6. Why is the scarecrow smiling? Oh…
5. You want me to climb what?
4. Sure is hot. Maybe November next time?
3. Somebody please hit me with a water balloon!
2. Was my number called?
1. They can have this bullhorn when they pry it out of my cold, dead hands!


My First Board Meeting

A resident writes us...

Like most of the residents of Cypress Isles, I relocated to Florida from the north, never knowing what a Homeowners Association was or the purpose of the Board of Directors. Initially, it appeared to be a council of some sort to which I paid periodic fees. It appeared that what I got in return for my fees was an upkeep of lawn and pond maintenance. I now know differently, since my wife has become involved with the association, first with Neighborhood Watch, and more recently as an elected member of the Board of Directors. I've learned that the Board is in fact a type of council that makes decisions on ground maintenance, insurances, improvements, and managing the association's assets
Until recently, I never had an interest in attending a Board meeting but a resident's letter citing some issues he had for the board, prompted me to attend my first meeting. To be honest, I thought, if anything, I might be entertained. Six of the seven board members were in attendance -- the property manager, the resident who wrote the letter, two members of the newsletter committee, and six other residents, including myself. I arrived late and found the meeting in progress going over old business quite like a city council would do. After old business came the new business. I said previously that I might be entertained and this is where it began. The president and the treasurer of the board had a debate over the wording of a contract, both citing their views of why they thought it was wrong. I joke about being entertained but could see that they were both serious about their views. They each could have just conceded, but instead they agreed to investigate it further.
There was other new business, most of which went with no snags or interruptions until we came to the resident with the letter of issues. Now, this is where I thought I would be entertained and somewhat I was. Both the board and the resident remained very professional and presented their points, many of which I agreed and disagreed with. Afterwards when the meeting was officially adjourned, instead of running for their cars, many continued their discussions in smaller groups.
My first Board meeting was an education and experience and I stress to all residents of Cypress Isles to try to attend a meeting when possible. See what it's like and let your opinion be heard. I can say that the Board wants to hear what you have to say. These people (Board) are volunteering their time because they care about their community. Show them you care too by attending a meeting and maybe even getting involved. Meetings are held every third Tuesday of the month.
Let me reiterate, I did not write this letter to advocate one side. I just would like to let all residents of Cypress Isles know that we have a Board that cares (and residents too) and looks for feedback from their residents. The best way we can let them know is to attend meetings, e mail them, or become involved.

Scott Symons

Holiday Decoration Contest
Plans are underway with our neighbors in Bradfordt Lakes to swap Holiday Decoration judging again this year.
This may also be combined with a hot chocolate fest and a visit from Santa before he begins his annual rounds.
The date, time and place will be announced at the November 19th Board meeting, posted on signs at both entrances, and on our website. Also look for details of the event in the December Fountain of News.

Lights at the Ends of Tunnels?
How many permits does it take to install a light bulb?
The Cypress Isles entrance lighting project has been a work in progress for over a year, but recent developments may have dimmed (groan)its prospects for completion. To further abuse the title metaphor, the problem is not with the lights, but with the tunnel.
Installing lights at both entrances to Cypress Isles is a relatively simple project, but connecting them to each other and to Florida Power requires tunneling beneath the road, which can be the construction equivalent of brain surgery. Besides the usual fire ants, the ground beneath the road also contains water lines, sewer lines, TV cables, telephone cables, and other electric lines. Whoever digs the tunnel must have lots of permits and lots of expertise in avoiding all these other utility lines.
This tunneling complexity has caused the cost of the project to creep upward. The most recent price quotation was $6,600. This vendor was spotted doing an entry lighting project at another neighborhood and advised that they could work with Orange County's requirements, as evidenced by the project they were doing. Two other Waterford Lakes Neighborhoods hired this company to do their entry work also. The price, however, exceeds both the original budget of $4,500 and a subsequent increase to $5,500.
The Board established a formal committee, consisting of Chip Crane and Ron Wiley, to find out whether the homeowners of Cypress Isles are comfortable spending $6,600 for the lights and also to explore other vendors and options. The committee will report back to the Board at the November Board of Directors meeting.


This just in… While proceeding with the lighting project at another neighborhood, the contractor we obtained prices and assurances from had another neighborhood entry project shut down by Orange County. Seems that they did not have the system figured out as well as they thought they did. Stay tuned for updates on whether the project can be resurrected.

Dennis Horazak, Science Editor

Speaking of lights…

Crystal River Drive Awaits…
The streetlights for the dark and creepy area on Crystal River Drive have been approved by Orange County and now it is up to Florida Power. They are running about four months behind before they get around to doing installs like this. With that time frame, hopefully that should be in the next month or so.

Neighborhood Watch
No news is good news!
Good news - it was a dark and quiet summer, with no incidents to report this quarter. The punks and brats have been behavin' lately…

Homeland Security in Cypress Isles
Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary and Homeland Security Deputy for East Orange Marian Hultgreen met with neighborhood watch coordinators on September 10th to present a preview of Orange County's new homeland security awareness program. This program is an Orange County initiative, not currently connected to any federal or state program.
The purpose of the program is to inform Orange County residents about what may constitute suspicious activity, how to report suspicious activities, and how to plan for and cope with disasters if they happen. Eventually, the program may develop into sets of procedures related to the color-coded national terrorist alert levels.
Homeland Security tips for our neighborhoods are based on the premise that you, the homeowners, are the eyes and ears of America.
Be Alert - Spot suspicious packages, luggage, or mail abandoned in a crowded place like an office building, airport, school, or shopping center.
Listen - If you hear or know of someone who has bragged or talked about plans to commit acts of violence or claims membership in a terrorist organization, notify law enforcement immediately. All threats should be taken seriously.
Call the Sheriff's Office Homeland protection Unit at 407-628-7008 if you see or hear suspicious activities.
Be Prepared - Take steps to plan ahead for emergencies to protect yourself and your family.
The Cypress Isles News obtained a sample of the pamphlet A Guide to Homeland Security. The pamphlet contains information about general emergency preparedness, evacuation plans, guiding your children, opening the mail, and dealing with major emergencies. The guidelines on what to do before and during large-scale emergencies are also useful in preparing for hurricanes, tornadoes, or floods. Orange County intends to provide one pamphlet for each household in the near future.

Myron Davis,

Neighborhood Watch Coordinator

WLCA Sets Photo ID Schedule
Below is the schedule for Photo IDs now being issued to all residents by the Waterford Lakes Community Association, Inc. (WLCA) at the cabana by the pool at 453 Mark Twain Blvd. In addition to Monday-Friday 9am to 11am we will be open every Tuesday from 6:00pm-8:00pm, and will also be open on the Sundays listed below from 9:00am until 11:00am. We will also post this schedule at the pool. The following procedures are in effect to ensure the success of the Photo ID conversion:
* Please bring photo identification such as a valid drivers license
* IDs will be issued on a "first come--first served, time available" basis.
* Each resident age fourteen (14) and above can obtain an ID card.
* The homeowner must accompany any children needing a card.
* Tenants need written authorization to receive an ID.
Photo ID Schedule:
Every Monday-Friday 9am until 11am
October 29 (Tuesday) 6 - 8pm
November 3 (Sunday) 9 - 11am
November 5 (Tuesday) 6 - 8pm
November 12 (Tuesday) 6 - 8pm
November 17 (Sunday) 9 - 11am
November 19 Tuesday) 6 - 8pm
November 26 (Tuesday) 6 - 8pm
December 1 (Sunday) 9 - 11am
December 3 Tuesday) 6 - 8pm
December 8 (Sunday) 9 - 11am
December 10 (Tuesday) 6 - 8pm
December 15 (Sunday) 9 - 11am


Contact List
Board Members
Sonya Barsness -
Chip Crane -
Myron Davis, Treasurer -
Steve Hartman, Vice-Pres . -
Larry Sheeler, Pres. -
Cookie Symons -
Jean Thomsin, Secretary -
Penn First Mgt. - 407-380-803 -
Dennis Bode, Webmaster -
CI News Editor and Copyboy Sandy & Denny Horazak -


A Seasonal Jingle
…you know the tune…
(Pitch pipe (A=440) "Hmmmmmmm")
"Pressssssure wash your dirty rooftop
Fa-la-la-la-laaaa, la-la-la-la
So the reindeer won't slip and flop
Fa-la-la-la-laaaa, la-la-la-la
Clean the slime off where you're walking
Fa-la-la, la-la-la, laa-laa-laa
Keep the A.R.C. from squawking
Fa-la-la-la-laaaa, la-la-la-laaaaaaaaaa"
Dennis Horazak
(thank you, thankyouverymuch)
Disclaimer: No roofs were harmed in the making of these song lyrics. Neither the Cypress Isles News, nor any roofing company that we know of endorses the pressure washing of roofs, which has been determined by the Roofer General to cause premature roof replacement. (See "To Clean or Not to Clean Your Roof" in the Fall 2002 Fountain of News.)