Every month, we issue an electronic newsletter, eNews Monthly, to keep clients informed about Association items, spotlight clients, and answer frequently asked questions and let you know what is happening with the company. Old issues of eNews Monthly are available on our Library page.
San Antonio Hockey Night
Even though Houston has said farewell to hockey, C.I.A. Services has not! We will be hosting our 6th annual San Antonio Hockey Night with the San Antonio Rampage on Saturday, January 25th. In irony, we’ve chosen this face-off against the Iowa Wild (formerly known as the Houston Aeros). This month, the Wild made their first trip to San Antonio and prevailed in a shoot-out. It promises to be an epic battle.
If you are looking for a reason to have a weekend get away, why not join us in San Antonio? We’re looking for our biggest San Antonio crowd so far and can promise you a great time.
Click below to see photos of the fun from the last five years.
Holiday Lights Sparkle Bright
‘Tis the time of year when dreams of crisp air and bright twinkling lights bring in the holidays and fill our hearts with joy. This month we would like to feature a community that has really captured the spirit of the season with their entrance lighting. Join us as we take a look at Summerwood, one of our Houston communities, to find out just what goes into making their entrance such a show stopper.
The community solicits proposals for three years at a time and starts that process in June of the first year. Prior to soliciting proposals, the Community Manager, Laura Tate, works with the Association Board of Directors to determine what the overall look will be and selects all locations to be decorated and materials expected. This is all determined well before the Christmas season when most of us are thinking about pools and barbecues!
Once the overall plan is finalized, the community invites several professional Christmas lighting and decorating professionals to bid on the work. During the solicitation process, Harry McDaniel, Summerwood Maintenance Coordinator, meets onsite with the bidders to show them the areas to be decorated. They visit each area to be included and go over pictures from prior years, discussing what worked best in the past as well as any new ideas for the future.
Once the proposals are received and a contractor has been selected by the Board of Directors, Mr. McDaniel notifies the contractor and they start working on a specific design plan that incorporates the overall look desired. This is when the details such as colors, styles, and layouts of the decorations are finalized. The contractor then begins the task of embellishing the greenery that will be used for the next three years. It takes several weeks to add the ornaments and lights to the wreaths and garland. With the three year contract, the contractor reuses many of the same components each year. This nets a discount for the subsequent contract years.
Summerwood is in the 2nd year of a three year contract with Lone Star Lighting. The current plan with Lone Star Lighting has several areas decorated, including six large monuments at the two main entrances, two clubhouses, the lake gazebo and sixteen columns. The decorations include various sized lights, wreaths, ornaments and strings of garland, with red, gold and green being the primary colors.
This picture is the main entrance to the community. The decorations used here include over 500 C-7 white lights, 180 feet of garland, 1,400 ornaments and over 7,000 mini white lights. Last year it took the lighting company a week to place the decorations and make adjustments. This year, however, they were armed with last years’ experience so it only took them one day to place all the decorations.
Are you interested in capturing the spirit of the season in your community? With proper financial planning any community can have a holiday sparkle. Let your management team help you accomplish this in 2014.
Home security tips to keep the holiday season merry and bright
"Taking steps to protect your home during the holidays isn’t radically different from what most people should be doing the rest of the year," says Thomas Leman, a retired 27-year police force veteran and criminal justice professor at-Argosy University, Online Programs. Yet, according to the FBI, victims of burglaries suffered a loss of $4.7 billion in 2012 alone. "The problem," says Leman, "is that most people get lured into a false sense of security and tend to let their guard down thinking that crime won’t happen to them."
Just as the holidays seem to start with the change in your home decor, so should your view on safety. When it comes to holiday decorations, modesty is definitely the best policy, says Leman. "While you may love the look of a Christmas tree in your front window, expensive decorations on display can be a signal that there are valuables inside your home worth a criminal’s time. Gifts under the tree are the most blatant of these displays and are a welcome invitation for thieves." Leaving gifts tucked away until the last possible minute is a quick and easy safety precaution.
Whether you are home or out and about, take care to close and lock all doors and windows and set alarms. "Given that most people have extra valuables and gifts in their homes during this time, it’s a good idea to practice home safety whether you’re there or not," says Leman.
USAA, a leading provider of banking, insurance and investment services to the military community, advises customers to install tapered inch-long deadbolt locks on exterior doors to make it harder for a wrench to twist the door open. Leman adds that a simple dowel placed in a sliding glass door or window can be an inexpensive way to secure those entrance points as well.
"Alarms or closed circuit video surveillance systems are a great and inexpensive way to protect your home," says Leman.
A well-lit and well-groomed home not only shows well, but provides an important measure of safety. "The better the lighting in your home and yard, the fewer places there are for criminals to lurk," says Leman. USAA recommends homeowners use the "3 foot/6 foot rule," trimming branches to 6 feet off the ground and shrubs down to 3 feet to minimize hiding places for burglars.
While leaving the box for your new 55-inch flat screen on the curb will win you cool points with the neighborhood and the title of host of the next big football party, it could land you in trouble with potential burglars. "When it comes to big ticket items and valuables, boxes on the curb can be an advertisement for the new valuables in your home," cautions Leman. "Take the time to break down boxes and recycle them or put them on the curb over time and inconspicuously," he advises.
If you plan on traveling for the holidays, you need to plan ahead for home safety. Whether you opt to have a neighbor collect mail and newspapers or have your service stopped by calling the post office and your neighborhood delivery person, be sure neither piles up at home. "Set your lights and television on timers," suggests Leman, who also advises homeowners to have a neighbor park their car in your driveway intermittently to keep up the appearance someone is home.
While keeping your home safe may not top the list of your holiday to-dos, taking a few extra precautions can go a long way to make sure your season stays merry and bright.
~Article provided by Brandpoint Content.
Volunteers in Cross Creek Ranch
The Cross Creek Ranch community hosted the Splash Me Dash on Saturday, November 23rd. The Splash Me Dash is an un-timed fun run where participants travel along a 5K course while being splashed with colorful powder from head to toe. Despite the day being cold, wet and windy there was still a great turnout and a fun time had by all!
The event benefited Champions Kids Camp which is an organization with the mission to nurture children who have survived a traumatic injury, illness, or personal loss, such as the loss of a parent or sibling. Champions Kids Camp was created in 2001 and offers a week long camp to children between the ages of 8 and 12 with the objective of instilling a sense of pride in every child. For more information visit www.championskidscamp.org
Several C.I.A. Services employees and their guests were able to volunteer in a very unique way. As official Splash Me Dash volunteers, the group was responsible for splashing the color on the participants as they passed through the color zones. Executive Vice President and Cross Creek Manager Renea Miksch joined a Cross Creek resident volunteer in the green zone, the first color zone in the course. Cross Creek Ranch Assistant Manager Kristen Craig and Maintenance Assistant Rhonda Culbreth covered the runners in the blue powder in the middle of the course. And Executive Vice President Laura Tate along with her daughters Melody & Emily, Renea’s daughter Maggie and Kristen’s daughter Rayna were stationed at the anchor color station and responsible for splashing everyone that came through their zone in yellow! Renea later joined the yellow zone after everyone had gone through the green.
After the event, the community passed out hot chocolate and everyone enjoyed a duo of Houston area break dancers. Everyone also had a great time posing for pictures in the photo booth set up with fun props.
Our website contains a nice interface for online payments. Online payments are handled by Mutual of Omaha Bank through their secure website. Buttons to make payments are located at the bottom of every page and throughout our website. When you click a payment button, you’ll see a page describing your payment options. When you are ready to make a payment, we’ll transfer you to the Mutual of Omaha site. Nothing you enter on the Mutual of Omaha site is visible or available to C.I.A. Services or to your association.
The online payment page has a clean user interface and that is easy to use. You can make a payment by credit card or electronic check. With an electronic check, you simply use the routing information from one of your paper checks. The funds are then pulled from your checking account without you having to write and mail the check. Mutual of Omaha Bank charges a fee for processing credit card payments but electronic checks are free! Features include:
The ability to schedule payments is a really nice feature. If you create a personal account, you can see your transactions and make future payments with less effort. With an account, you can also schedule payments. So, for example, if you want to take advantage of our multi-payment options (Nov, Dec and Jan payments), you can schedule three eCheck payments in one session by specifying the dates and amounts. Or if you have monthly assessments, you can set those up. At any time, you can change the schedule since you have full control over your payments.
Over the past year our website has been very busy! In the last month alone we averaged over 9,000 visitors with 48% being new vistiors. As you can expect Monday’s tend to be our busiest day with an average of 419 each Monday.
We are proud of every one of our communities so it is always hard to find just one to highlight. We start by having each of our Community Managers write a nomination for one of their communities. We then read them and take a vote. Here are our most recent selections:
To see the full story on these communities and to see the past winners, visit the Community of the Month page on our web site.
Every month we appreciate the communities that are celebrating their anniversaries with us. Here are the clients that started with us in December.
Our goal has always been to create a positive, long term relationship with all of our client communities. We are very proud to be managing all of these communities.
Dawna Woods has been keeping things operating smoothly and safely in our North Office communities for 17 years. She is also very instrumental in coordinating internal office projects that have hundreds of details.
Libby Hodges has been a Community Manger in our Southwest office for 8 years. She is responsible for one of our largest communities.
Rebecca Arguello and Megan Davenport celebrate their one year anniversary with us. Both Rebecca and Megan are Community Specialists in our North office.
Every month, we issue an electronic newsletter, eNews Monthly, to keep clients informed about Association items, spotlight clients, answer frequently asked questions and let you know what is happening with the company. Old issues of eNews Monthly are available on our Library page.
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