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Winter weather brings early morning texts

February 17, 2021 at 5:29 a.m.

Tom Judson expects early morning text messages this time of the year.

Judson, chief operating officer for the Bella Vista POA, got a 5 a.m. text message from Bella Vista mayor Peter Christie last week, giving him an update on road conditions around the city.

"Those texts are really helpful," Judson said.

Early morning updates on winter weather conditions are key for Judson and his staff as they decide daily whether to close a facility or have a delayed opening.

"Who are you going to argue with, Mother Nature? You're not going to win that battle," Judson said. "We just have to go with the flow and, if we have to close, our membership understands."

As winter weather, including snow, sleet, freezing rain and single-digit temperatures have become common in recent days, the POA staff has worked hard to keep facilities, staff and members safe, Judson said.

"Our maintenance and construction teams are the ones who are able to get out early and get the sidewalks salted for members and employee safety," he said. "On top of that, we communicate with our staff in a variety of ways, through email and through our employee weather hotline. We update the hotline first thing every morning to notify everyone if we will have a delayed opening or if we won't be open at all.

"And we always give employees the flexibility to not come in because we have so many who live all over the place and maybe in their area the roads are really bad. Safety is first."

If a program or facility is unable to open due to winter weather, the POA communicates that to its members through social media.

"We communicate through Facebook mainly," Judson said. "That's one of the quickest and easiest ways."

Judson said his team winterizes facilities during the fall to protect pipes from freezing in the winter. Golf course officials also use special tarps to cover the greens at Scotsdale and Brittany golf courses.

"Both of those courses have Bermuda greens that are susceptible when temps are extremely low," he said. "We've also been going through the last couple of years and renovating a lot of our bathroom facilities to make sure pipes are inside of the building."

Winter weather has forced the postponement of the POA's first golf tournament of the year, the Sweetheart Open, which was scheduled for last Saturday. It will now be played on March 6.

Postponing a tournament or having to close a recreational facility or a restaurant isn't ideal, especially financially, Judson admits, but it common this time of the year.

"If we have to close our restaurants for a few days, then that's unfortunate," he said. "But our budget in the winter months is smaller, so the impact is a lot less than if we had a windstorm that forced us to close in the summer. The amount of revenue lost is significantly smaller than it would be in the summer.

"We can never anticipate how many winter days we are going to have, but we know that we will always have some and that's incorporated in the budget."

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