President's Message

WHCA Spring Housekeeping by Michael Graves

Spring has sprung and as is the case in many Association households, the WHCA has many items we are trying to, risking a phrase that trivializes some very important issues, “tidy up”

Board Elections

One of the foremost is the upcoming elections for the open positions on the board of directors. As of this writing we have nominations for only two positions. Should you feel the call to serve the Association and help improve our neighborhood, please contact the Nomination Committee at nominations@woodland-heights.org. The two-year term positions coming open are…

  • Director – Membership

  • Director – Infrastructure/Land Use

  • Treasurer

  • Secretary

If you have questions regarding the responsibilities or duties associated with any of the positions, please do not hesitate to inquire.

Revised WHCA Bylaws

As we announced in our last general meeting, the WHCA Board of Directors had adopted a draft of the revised bylaws. The final version should be complete well before the next general meeting. We will keep you updated on the progress.

Volunteers

In addition to folks wanting to serve on the Board of Directors for the WHCA, we are always looking to add to our volunteer rosters for our standing and ad hoc committees. Lights in the Heights® and the Home Tour committees are always looking for help. In addition, the Board has several projects that can only move forward with Association involvement. Planting trees, fixing sidewalks, beautification projects and other deserved causes will flounder without volunteers. We certainly know how life can eat up time allowing month after month pass before you know it. Before those months slip by, drop an email to one of the board members expressing an interest in one project or another and we will work to put an effective group together to carry the work forward. You may find the email address of each board member at https://www.woodland-heights.org/contact.

Hopefully we will see you at our next meeting. To reiterate, we will elect several new board members. If you do not attend, you cannot vote and if you cannot vote, your voice will lose its best means of expression.

President's Message: It's that time of year again, but with a new twist. by Michael Graves

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As you all likely know, our March General Meeting is set by our bylaws as our Annual General Meeting during which Members in attendance elect new officers. Toward those ends and per the Bylaws, your Board has formed a Nomination Committee to seek Members to run for the open Board positions.

Now for the interesting part. Per the authority granted in the current bylaws, Article XI, the Board is in the process of updating our bylaws. One of the key goals of our update pertains to the election and term of Board Members. If anyone has served on a board like ours, one of the truly troubling dilemmas is how best to engender continuity between incoming and outgoing board members. After studying multiple boards for associations like ours, as well as numerous and various non-profit organizations, it was clear to us one of the best measures to decrease the information loss that occurs with the changing of the guard is to decrease the number of those changes. It is a common solution with boards we examined to extend the term of the board members from one to two years. We intend to incorporate that idea into our Bylaws.

Further, we are working to reduce the burden on the Association volunteer pool by staggering the anticipated two-year terms. This staggering will allow the Association to go to the well of the volunteer electorate for only half the current Board head count each year. To integrate the staggered terms with the two-year term length, several of the duly elected Board Members have generously offered to take on a second year of volunteer service at the position to which they were elected. Under the terms considered in the Bylaw update, the balance of Board positions will come up for election at the upcoming Annual General Meeting of the Association.

In order to coordinate these changes, the Board has voted to move the Annual General Meeting, and thereby the election of Board Officers, from the March General Meeting to the May General Meeting. This will accommodate recruiting of candidates for open Board positions and allow the Association to provide input to the Board before the Board renders its final decision regarding the update to the Bylaws. In all cases, the existing Board Members have consented to serve the additional period necessary to elect and install the folks elected to fill the opening Board positions.

At the 2019 Annual General Meeting in May, the Association will elect candidates for the following Board Positions to serve for two years:

  • Director – Membership (currently held by Jay Francis)

  • Director – Infrastructure/Land Use (currently held by Matt Johnson)

  • Treasurer (currently held by Sharon Greiff)

  • Secretary (currently held by Debbie Hall)

The following Board Members have volunteered to serve an additional year at their elected position to accommodate the “staggering” explained above. These folk’s term will close with the elections at the 2020 Annual General Meeting:

  • President (Harry McMahon)

  • Director – Beautification (Stephanie Riceman)

  • Director – Communications (Michael Graves)

  • Director – Security (Cody McGregor)

  • Director - Deed Restrictions (Melissa Sternfels)

As President, I would like to take this opportunity to thank those individuals who have contacted me and the other Board Members to offer their services to the Association. Now that we have a charted path forward, all those interested in volunteering, please submit (or resubmit) to me your name and any position you are interested in pursuing.

Although I am certain I am leaving some key positions out, I have attempted to summarize the opportunities to volunteer your services.

Open Board Positions

  • Membership

  • Infrastructure/Land Use

  • Secretary

  • Treasurer

If you are not interested in a Board position, all of the Board Members often have need for ad hoc committees and task assistance. Such commitments allow a volunteer to “dip a toe in the water” and better understand the process, responsibility and effort required in a Board Position.

Of course, we have numerous committees and subcommittees which are consistently in need of helping hands. Lights in the Heights and the Home Tour committees are always looking for volunteers. Additional ad hoc committees can be formed only if there are enough volunteers will to work to support the effort. For example, an ad hoc committee is contemplated to help better understand the need for sidewalk upgrades. We are also considering how best to apply the opportunity to plant trees where established trees have died or have been removed. We have needs for an IT subcommittee, data management assistance, deed restriction coordination, infrastructure monitoring and planning, constable patrol coordination, assistance with disseminating flyers, newsletters and door-hangers generated by Communications and last but certainly not least, assistance with keep our beautification upgrades in good shape and, hopefully, executing beautification projects currently under consideration.

There are TONS more opportunities which I have certainly overlooked. If you have skills not included in the above, and you would like to offer your services, do not hesitate to send in your name and suggested field of endeavor.

Finally, I personally want to thank all those who have served so selflessly on the Board of Directors and the numerous, essential committees and volunteer positions which help the Association make the Woodland Heights a special place to live. Thanks to you all.

Harry McMahon
President, Woodland Heights Civic Association

President’s Message - ‘Tis the Season by Michael Graves

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The holiday season is upon us. Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, there is no getting around the fact, the holiday season is fast approaching. For the Woodland Heights, the holiday season comes with more than its annual evening of fun, Lights In The Heights.

The LITH big night is December 8th, a Saturday, as a culmination of several events coordinated by the Woodland Heights Civic Association via the LITH Committee. Lighter In The Heights, completed over two weekends (October 8 and October 15), expertly pulled off by Sharon Greiff and the LITH committee despite rain on the first weekend, gave folks in the neighborhood a chance to be free of their garage sale items without going through the hassle of staging a garage sale.

November 3 at 7 PM is Light Up The Night Bash, a casual gathering for fun and frolic, will feature unique silent auction items, food from neighborhood restaurants, wine, and beer. Friday Night Lights on December 7 (I luv the name of this casual gathering for neighbors on the Norhill Esplanade!) followed by the biggie, LITH. There are full details on the events, opportunities and merchandise posted on the WHCA website under https://www.woodland-heights.org/lith/.

After months of planning and coordination, at our WHCA General Meeting and General Forum (for all Woodland Heights residents, not just those who are members of the WHCA) of September 11, Sharon Greiff presented a detailed overview of all the plans and preparation going into pulling off a fun, safe and secure LITH. Several members of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events along with Representative Cisneros and her Director of Special Operations were in attendance along with numerous WHCA members and non-member residents. The crowd showed unanimous support of all the efforts put forth to better LITH. No one who had a negative opinion of LITH or might have a criticism of the organizers and their plans attended.

That stated, we, the Board of the WHCA, know there are those in the neighborhood who long for the good old days when LITH was a tiny event almost exclusively for the neighborhood. Gone are those days. Personally, I moved into the neighborhood in 2007 and have lived on both Omar and Bayland, the guts of the LITH in years past. I personally witnessed the huge attendances and have also personally witnessed the decrease in attendance over the last few years. This decrease is the result of a concerted effort by previous WHCA Boards and LITH Committees to “localize” the event. These efforts have been hugely successful by decreasing the attendance more than 50 percent. As my wife would say, Good on ya, you beaut!

For all the gains, there is no doubt there was and will be continue to be incidents which rancor some folks in the neighborhood. To the extent possible, the LITH committee and the WHCA Board of Directors have worked diligently to limit the potential of such incidents and secure the event in such a way, should such incidents occur, a suitable response is available. The Board and LITH Committee cannot control individual behavior. We suggest, should you witness foul behavior, report it. The LITH Committee have seen to it there is plenty of security, both HPD and Constable Patrol.

Although the General Neighborhood Forum for LITH is past, we have another WHCA General Meeting scheduled for November 13th. We invite you to attend. If you are not a member of the WHCA, we also invite you to join so you too will have a chance to vote your opinion on any issue raised to a ballot.

Harry McMahon
President
Woodland Heights Civic Association

My First General Meeting by Michael Graves

My first official solo act was to preside over the General Meeting for the WHCA scheduled for July 10.  Of course, I was running late for the meeting as a result of my bill-paying job.  On my way to the meeting, I get a flurry of comms about the meeting.  I pulled over to see what was happening.

It seems, through some miscommunication among the staff at Hogg Middle School (the locale of the scheduled meeting), the doors to the building were locked and there was no assistance available.  Consequently, after deciding to cancel the meeting, an ad hoc gathering flocculated at A 2nd Cup on 11th.  Those who made the effort to attend the General Meeting gathered informally out of courtesy to the guest speakers and to hear their presentations.

Figure 1 - Shelley Rice presents "All Things Bees In Texas."

Figure 1 - Shelley Rice presents "All Things Bees In Texas."

David Welch and Shelley Rice (Figure 1) each made interesting and informative presentation regarding “Special Minimum Lot Size and Building Ordinances” and “All Things Bees” respectively.  The gathering disbanded after some discussion of recent events and some offhand communication of board information.

Now, if I was making an autocratic decision regarding how to deal with the cancelled General Meeting, the fact all the folks who attempted to attended the General Meeting came together at the ad hoc gathering plus the fact there was no official business set forth that required a vote would be sufficient to deem the General Meeting requirements fulfilled.  However, a review of the bylaws makes clear their silence on dealing with a cancelled General Meeting but also reveal clarity regarding the General Meeting must take place within the bounds of the Woodland Heights.  

There is no doubt in my mind those who drafted the bylaws and included the clause indicating the General Meeting should occur “at a place within the Association Boundaries” did so with the intent of allowing easy access to all eligible Homeowner Members. Given the fact my estimates place the location of the ad hoc gathering a mere 100 feet out of the area of the Association (Figure 2), it is clear the intent of bylaws was fulfilled by moving the gathering in easy walking distance.  There is also the question of quorum.  From our headcount, there is a valid question as to whether or not we could have met the quorum requirements.

Figure 2 – Hogg Middle School north limits to the seating area of Second Cup; distance estimate.  Image and calculation credit to Google Earth

Figure 2 – Hogg Middle School north limits to the seating area of Second Cup; distance estimate.  Image and calculation credit to Google Earth

Given the above, I will likely not reschedule the meeting.  However, I will entertain reconsidering this decision should two prerequisites fall into place: 1) I receive enough requests to reschedule the meeting to meet General Meeting quorum requirements, and 2) Those who send the requests and meet the qualification of Association membership firmly commit to attend the meeting.

I am looking forward to serving our neighborhood with the dedicated individuals of the board and of the neighborhood.  I will always field requests and listen to opinions with the neighborhood’s best interest in mind.  

For the greater good of the neighborhood,

respectfully,

Harry McMahon,
President, WHCA
 

A Message From The New President: The Training Wheels Are Off! by Michael Graves

Harry McMahon, President, WHCA

Harry McMahon, President, WHCA

In March I committed to a two-year term on the board of directors for the Woodland Heights Civic Association.  The term to which I was elected (I am using the term “elected” loosely since  I ran unopposed) was one year as president-elect, essentially a trainee under the president, Matt Reynolds. The one-year president-elect term was to be followed by my own one-year term as president.  However, early this summer Matt informed the board of directors he and his family are being transferred overseas.  Consequently, and through due process, my term as president was moved up and extended to cover the balance of Matt’s term as well as my own.  My year with training wheels goes out the window.

I guess you are all thinking, “Who is this guy?”  Good question.  My wife, a wonderful lass, born in Scotland and raised in Australia, and I moved to the Woodland Heights about eleven years ago.  We lived on Bayland for about five years then we moved to our current home on Omar.  We have two children, both born while we lived in the Woodland Heights.  My daughter, 10, and my son, 4, keep this sixty-year-young father spry.

This is my first foray in the official world of Woodland Heights civic service.  The decision to throw my name into the hat was based on family and community.  First off, I was interested in setting an example of community service for my children.  Secondly, I have witnessed several of my friends and neighbors sacrifice their personal time and their personal interests to promote the broader interest of the Woodland Heights community.  I would like to increase participation by the residents of the Woodland Heights in our civic endeavors and promote recognition of the unselfish effort that goes into the process of community oversight from which all the neighborhood residents benefit greatly.  In short, I am hoping to give a little back.

Please follow the Woodland Heights community activity on our website (www.woodland-heights.org), on Facebook and Twitter.

- Harry McMahon, President, WHCA

Woodland Heights Civic Association Board Elections by Michael Graves

The WHCA board elections will be held on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 7 PM at the Hogg Middle School Cafeteria.  The WHCA bylaws require that a nominating committee of five (5) individuals be established to receive nominations for the WHCA board positions.  The nominating committee is to consist of two (2) current WHCA board members and three (3) woodland heights residents.

Carla Reed, VP Beautification and Brad Snead, VP Security have agreed to serve as the two (2) current WHCA board members on the nominating committee.

If you would like to serve as one of the three (3) woodland heights residents on the nominating committee please send an email expressing your interest to William Getschow at president@woodland-heights.org.  Once the nominating committee is formed then further instructions will be sent out to the neighborhood about how to nominate someone for a WHCA board position for the next term (March 2017-March 2018).

As a reminder, all board positions will be up for election on March 21, 2017.  We hope that many of the current board members will serve in the next term but they will need to be nominated and elected. The WHCA board positions are as follows:  President, President-Elect, VP-Security, VP-Treasurer, VP-Deed Restrictions, VP-Membership, VP-Beautification, VP-Infrastructure, VP-Communications and VP-Secretary.

Thank you,
William Getschow
President

Message from Outgoing WHCA President by Mark Sternfels

From outgoing WHCA President Tim McConn:

I have had the absolute pleasure of serving as President of the Woodland Heights Civic Association for the last year. I call it an absolute pleasure because it has provided me the opportunity to work with and get to know a number of my neighbors from across this great neighborhood, all of whom love this neighborhood dearly and all of whom have a common purpose in mind: ensuring that the Woodland Heights continues to be the best neighborhood in Houston. And it was by working with those great neighbors that we were able to accomplish so much this past year. 
 
Preserving and beautifying our green spaces is always a top priority for the WHCA. This past year, we devoted significant funds to maintaining and beautifying the wonderful green spaces around the neighborhood, including the Norhill Esplanade, Ley Plaza Park, and the Watson Esplanade.  
 
Preserving the integrity of our neighborhood through the enforcement of deed restrictions is also a top priority of the WHCA, and this year we made great strides on that front. Members of the WHCA Board worked tirelessly with the members of the Norhill Deed Restrictions Committee to help shepherd the Norhill Deed Restrictions through to approval, ensuring that a large portion of our beautiful neighborhood is protected by reasonable and balanced deed restrictions. Also, our deed restrictions team continued their monitoring efforts around the neighborhood, and as a result, we were able to work with multiple residents to make sure their renovations and new constructions complied with applicable deed restrictions.
 
Helping to ensure the safety and security of the neighborhood will always be a top priority of the WHCA. This past year, we fully funded two shifts of Constable service. We also worked with the City on the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program because of serious and very real concerns about the increasing volume and speed of traffic in our urban neighborhood. I know that not everyone in the neighborhood is in favor of the measures being proposed, but I hope everyone understands that all of the hard work of the WHCA Board members and the Neighborhood Traffic Committee on this issue are being driven by one goal: maintain the safety and security of Woodland Heights residents. I am very proud of our efforts on this issue.  
 
The WHCA also works hard to maintain open lines of communication with government officials to make sure they are fully aware of the needs and viewpoints of Woodland Heights residents. Last July, when the closure of I-10 at I-45 sent big rig trucks and thousands of other vehicles streaming through our neighborhood, we spent hours working with Council Member Gonzales’s office, the Mayor’s office, and TxDOT to remedy the situation and to make sure it doesn’t happen again. These efforts resulted in TxDOT officials and new Council Member Cisneros coming to our General Meeting in November to discuss what should be done during a similar closure in December. The result of this meeting and follow up discussions was that there was virtually no impact on the neighborhood during those most recent closures. We also held a debate at our September General Meeting for the candidates for the City Council District H position. This provided our members a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the candidates.   
                   
Finally, we organized a number of events to bring neighbors together in a fun and social setting. We had our first Movie Night on the Norhill Esplanade in October, and we put on the 2nd annual night before Lights in the Heights gathering for the neighborhood. But the best of all was yet another successful Lights in the Heights. Jan Greer and her team of volunteers did an amazing job, and the result was a fun-filled night for all who came. We hope to duplicate this success as we bring back the Home Tour in April.   
 
We could not have accomplished so much without such an active and hard working Board. These people are volunteers who have full-time jobs and families, but they spent several hours each week working hard to ensure the success of all of the WHCA’s projects. They all deserve our heartfelt gratitude.  And an extra big thank you to David Jordan, who is rolling off the Board after serving for several years in various capacities, including as President. We all owe David our gratitude for his hard work and passion for this great neighborhood of ours. 
 
Thank you again for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your President. You’re in great hands with incoming President Casey Ballard and the new Board.