February 2022

I want to welcome you to the inaugural edition of SMLA AHOY!  A new monthly newsletter from the president’s desk at SMLA.  My goal is to keep you, our membership, up to date on the happenings of the SMLA Board of Directors and associated SMLA news.  

We are pleased that John Rupnik, past president 2020-2021, will continue on with his BOD membership.  John has done a tremendous job of promoting the work of the SMLA in our community, during a difficult time period with the introduction of Covid 19, and has been tireless in making sure our lake remains safe and beautiful.  

BOD meeting highlights during the month of January included:   

Membership focus – Like many other non-profit organizations, SMLA has struggled to attract new members during the difficult past few years.  We are conducting a membership drive this spring to increase membership, including sending out a welcome and introduction letter to new homeowners on the lake to inform them of our mission and important work of SMLA.   We ask that as you welcome new families to your neighborhoods, you help us make them aware of the important work the SMLA does to maintain the water of SML and make it safe for recreation and invite them to join our organization.  The SMLA board will continue to focus on community awareness of the great work SMLA and our volunteers are doing to support in support the lake – this effort is enhanced by your words of support and encouragement.

Strategic planning – SMLA has formed a working group who will update the SMLA strategic plan to address the emerging threats to the lake and the opportunities to meet them afforded by advances in technology, data analytics and awareness techniques.  With a working title of Smith Mountain Lake 2030, we will develop our plan in partnership with other lake associations, leading universities, and governmental / private organizations supporting our mission.  Additionally, the plan will look to expand our partnerships in support of our mission and address development activities needed to ensure that the lake is sustained for the enjoyment of you, your children and their children.  We are working to have this plan in place by the summer and will keep you updated on our progress.

County Reps:  Bedford County Representative Edgar Tuck reported that Bedford County had their Strategic Planning Session in late November and he was able to get consensus to add the Septic Pump Out requirements for waterfront homes this next coming year.  

Franklin County Representative Lorie Smith reported that Smith Mountain Lake Park is continuing its work on shoreline stabilization.  Franklin County finished up their Strategic Planning.  They have started the 2023 Budget on January 18th.  

Bob Hastings, who chairs our buffer landscaping project, has been working with Neil Holthouser, our AEP board representative, on a buffer landscaping project at Mariner’s Landing.  The plan is to have a demonstration buffer garden for lake residents to view and receive knowledge of the importance and construction of buffer gardens on their lakefront properties.  

Two board members, Tom Hardy and Geoff Orth, participated in an initial 2-hour zoom call with members of the Lake Gaston lake association sharing information about their programs.  We will continue our interaction between SMLA and LGA, with the goal increasing our awareness of lake safety and water quality programs used by other lake associations. 

We welcomed four new BOD members in January.  David Gay will chair Fish Habitat, Ron Barrett will chair Environmental Education, Pete Heyroth will serve on the membership committee and strategic planning and John Vidovich will chair our Vessel Pump Out Program (VPOP) and represent SMLA on the TLAC board.  We are excited to have welcomed these new board members.  

I always enjoy this time of year on the lake when we can enjoy the snow covered shorelines and unbelievable sunsets.  Soon we will be hearing fishing boats navigating their way to a successful catch and before you know it boaters, skiers, surfers and swimmers will once again liven our waters.   Be safe and enjoy this time of year.  

Membership and charitable donations support the good work of SMLA so thank you for your membership. Your support will help SMLA continue our mission to protect the water of Smith Mountain Lake and promote safe recreation. If you would like to see more about what we’re doing, please visit our website at www.smlassociation.org or join us on Facebook. Working together to protect the water of SML is our most efficient insurance for maintaining our property values and preserving our treasure – The Jewel of the Blue Ridge. 

Bill Butterfield