Cherokee Village SID offers video interviews of candidates running for commissioner

Wednesday, March 16, 2022
Philip Dedas

The Cherokee Village (CV) Suburban Improvement District (SID) will hold an election on April 11, bringing three new commissioners to the table. With Commissioners Jim Best and Tim Lee remaining on the SID board, there will be a total of five SID Commissioners after the election.

After nominations were made on Feb. 21, there are currently eight candidates running. They have all submitted bios and recently made video recordings in which they each addressed five questions: 1) What amenities do you currently use, if any? 2) Of our current amenities, which would you consider the highest priority for repairs and upgrades? 3) How would you project we increase income? 4) How would you propose building a stronger relationship between CVSID and the City of Cherokee Village? 5) How would you handle conflict between commissioners?

The answers to all five questions were limited to a total of five minutes. Recordings were made by Peter Martin, who dropped out of the race to provide his audio/visual services. The following is a summary of each candidate’s answers.

Robert Dreyer

Philip Dedas

“We live on a lake. I wanted to hunt and fish as part of my retirement. That’s basically what I do, I’ve used the lake and that’s about it.” said Dedas.

As far as repairs/improvements, Dedas offered, “I don’t think we have enough input from our land owners to determine what are the priorities…The Omaha pool needs to be worked on. Recently, we’ve been turning away people at the Thunderbird pool because there’s a limit to the number of people that can be there…People can’t get in there that are paying to, and we lose revenue.” Dedas also suggested the camp ground needs work, as well as the lakes. “There’s a lot of stuff we need to discuss about lakes,” he added.

Dave Gruger

With regard to revenue, Dedas suggested having a working session after the election to discuss opportunities to improve income. He said, “As part of that, we have the attorney with us to make sure we understand everything that we can do legally. That’s the important thing.” Dedas suggested the discussion should set priorities for what the best avenues for increasing revenue would be, and how to put those ideas into action. Dedas emphasized the plans need to be publicized to everyone.

Building a strong relationship between SID and the city of CV is important to Dedas. “Anything that’s good for CV can be good for SID too,” said Dedas. “We should not have any exchange of funds between the two entities, but we should exchange information and we should work together to get things done.” He suggested the relationship could be improved by having a SID representative at the city council meetings, and a councilman at the SID meetings. Those individuals would then report back to the SID board or the city council. “We need to have a two-way street of communication,” explained Dedas.

Dedas was disappointed in the last question asking about conflict between commissioners. “The word ‘conflict’ bothers me a great deal,” he said. “We should be electing people we feel are professionals and know how to work together as a group to get something done. We need to have people who are willing to use their ears more than their mouth. That’s the way you learn.” Dedas emphasized the importance of communication and the ability to compromise when trying to accomplish something.

Susan Jett

Dedas expressed some final thoughts, “I feel like I am uniquely qualified here. I just moved here last year, so I don’t have the history of all the issues from the past…What I want to do is start today and look forward. We can learn from the past, but we need to concentrate on how we’re going to change things for the future.”

Robert (Bob) Dreyer, Lt. Col. USAF (retired)

As for amenities, Dreyer said he uses the Tohi walking trail, the beach at Lake Sequoia, the pools and mini golf course at Thunderbird Center, as well as the South Golf Course on occasion and Papoose Creek. “Unfortunately, the mini golf course and the pools at Omaha Center are not functional at this time,” Dreyer said.

Joe Kaiser

For repairs and upgrades, Dreyer stated, “My highest priorities would be to fix those amenities that can be done quickly, cheaply and easily, and those would be the mini golf courses and the playground…For a few thousand dollars we could turn those around pretty quickly…maybe less. We could have donations from the local community.” He would use local labor, possibly from churches, the Elks Club and anyone who wanted to help. “The lakes and the golf courses are the gemstones of our Village, and they bring people here that want to live here, so we need to improve those areas as much as we can,” said Dreyer. He added the major task would be to incrementally improve the pools, which are important to get functioning as soon as possible.

As for increasing income, Dreyer suggested, “Once improved, as far as the mini golf courses and the pools, I would very slightly increase the user fees for that, but still…keep them a bargain for our residents so we don’t dissuade them from using them.” He also brought up installing metal donation boxes at the Tohi walking trail, the playground and the beach at Lake Sequoia. “They are very effective. People are more likely to donate a buck or two to help defray the cost.” Dreyer also suggested, once the pools are up and running, to maintain the Thunderbird pool for members and guests only, and to open the pool at Omaha Center to the general public.

As far as the relationship between SID and the City of CV, “I would go to the city council meetings as much as I could. Go to listen to what their issues are, their challenges are…learn as much as I could and bring it back to the SID,” Dreyer offered. He would make the effort to build a mutual trust with the city.

Bill Matselboba

Considering potential conflicts among commissioners, he believes in respect for fellow commissioners and allowing them to have their own time to speak. “I find…from my experience that a sense of humor does a lot to dampen a tense moment. I’m more than willing to make fun of myself.” Dreyer added, “In my 20 years in the military, six years as a commander…generally, I’ve had a lot of experience in conflict resolution and I’m adept at doing that.”

David (Dave) Larry Gruger

For amenities, Gruger primarily uses the lakes; his family uses the pools as well. As for upgrades and repairs to amenities, Gruger offered, “What I consider to be our highest priorities…, obviously our pools, our community centers, the buildings that need attention. I believe that we should also greatly consider cleaning up and fixing up the RV park, as well as campgrounds.”

David Nebel

On increasing income, Gruger said, “This is a tricky one…I think the commissioners all need to seriously sit down and review all the user fees that we have. This includes guest user fees and boat stickers and permits because once our assessment is paid off, the amenities should be operating on user fees.” Gruger again explained the importance of keeping up the amenities for this purpose, and brought it back to improvements on the campgrounds, another opportunity to raise money.

He added, “I think we need to really seriously look at what debt we have hanging over our head and see if we can get that paid off as quickly as possible. I don’t think we should go into debt unless we [have] a very good reason for a capital improvement, and that would require a new assessment,” Gruger explained.

On concerns about improving the relationship between the city and SID, Gruger commented, “I don’t see a relationship between the two other than we’re encompassed by the same boundaries. SID is governed by a specific law and there shouldn’t be any co-mingling of any funds or monies between the two.” He continued, “That being said, I think we should have a working relationship with the city because the better our amenities are, the better the city’s going to be able to promote people coming here to live…Likewise with the city, [it] can have better sales on the properties here.” Looking ahead, Gruger felt that would bring more income all around, better amenities and hopefully better streets and other benefits provided by the city.

Ronald Page

As for conflicts between commissioners, Gruger added, “You’ll never see me get into a heated discussion…It’s completely up to the chairman of commissioners to run the meeting…and that commissioner should be able to put a stop to any disagreements or arguments that go on.”

Gruger concluded, “I can assure you guys I will be one of the people on the commission that is a voice for you, and will be fighting to make sure we stay on the right and narrow path.”

Susan M. Jett

As far as amenities used in CV, Jett was tickled, “I use them all, some of them actively and some vicariously. I’m a beginning kayaker, I love to walk on the golf course and the trails. I love to attend functions, meetings and classes at Thunderbird Center. For years we have been participants at the Omaha Center with the health club. We go to lots of the parks and a beach every once in awhile. The amenities are to be enjoyed, even if I just look at them,” Jett offered.

As far as repairs and upgrades, Jett said, “It really doesn’t matter what my opinion is as to what needs to be fixed. My job is going to be to listen fairly with a non-biased attitude and just listen to what your heart’s desires are. We’ve got a 31-page budget of where our money is spent and where are money comes from.” Jett would like to hear from the committee of each amenity for what they think is important and “see where we could get the most bang for our buck to move forward,” she offered.

Jett wondered, “Maybe we need to look at what we have and figure out how to maximize that. I want to listen to people and see what we can do. It’s not my community, it’s all our community,” said Jett. Any money or grant ideas are the team’s ideas, according to Jett, where “we can all move forward together.” She added, “It would be my place to empower the people that want to be included to have their voices heard.”

As to improving the relationship between SID and the City of CV, Jett said, “I’m not a dull and boring person, but I do have a sense of business because I’ve done it for a thousand years, but maybe we could just have a block party…with a pot of coffee and a gallon of sweet tea or red kool aid…and hash out our relationship. I know this lawsuit has been an awful thing, and my heart just cracked when all that came up. I’m not going to cry about it, but that’s going to affect all of our lifestyles for years to come.” Jett continued, “Our mayor has a thankless job, and whoever takes his place, it’s going to be important that the SID Commission has a working relationship with him.” She pointed out that SID can’t be working independently from the city, and vice versa. It’s important everyone be on the same page.

As to handling conflict between commissioners, being in sales, Jett said she had been through a multitude of classes on the subject. She brought it down to a simple bottom line, “Listening, and listening and listening.” Jett looks forward to working for the people of CV by serving on the board.

Joe Kaiser

On amenities used, “I use two or three of [the lakes] on any occasion I can go because I love to fish. I’m and avid fisherman,” said Kaiser. “In the past, I have been a member here and used the Omaha Fitness Center. This is a great facility and I love coming here to walk on the treadmill…Also, the tennis courts, my family plays out there and not that I play, but I will go with them to enjoy the nature and the beauty there at the North Golf Course,” shared Kaiser.

Kaiser offered there is a big list of repairs and upgrades needed for CV amenities. “Boat ramps are in high need of some attention. We have potholes in them, we have areas on the edges where they have fallen off,” said Kaiser. He addressed other areas, “This is a biggie, the pools here at the Omaha Center. Something we need to work together as a board, come together and decide what we’ve got to do to get those back in order so that the people…can enjoy this wonderful thing that we have with the pools.”

Kaiser has thought a lot about how to increase income. “I feel like guest fees, when we have people that come in and rent property in CV or they come in as a guests, those fees need to be a little bit higher,” suggested Kaiser.

To improve the relationship between SID and the city, Kaiser offered, “I think the biggest thing with that is being open and transparent. That’s the number one thing we have to do. We have to open up our ears and listen to the property owners and find out what their concerns are.”

Kaiser did not like the final question of resolving conflict among commissioners. “That question already assumes that we’re going to have problems. I’m a man of peace…and I don’t like conflict…I don’t foresee us having any conflict between commissioners.” Kaiser continued, “But if we did, I would say we need to respect each other’s opinion.” He explained when a mutual agreement cannot be reached, then commissioners should agree to disagree, and at the end of the day, “we’re all friends.” That’s the way Kaiser would like to see the commission run, and looks forward to the opportunity to help see CV grow.

Bill Matselboba

Of the amenities offered in CV, Matselboba primarily uses Tohi Park and Omaha Center. He addressed which amenities need to be repaired first. “Lake Thunderbird should be fixed first because it’s the center that’s closest to the city, it’s closest to the visitors and it’s closest to most of the activities that take place in CV,” said Matselboba. He added, “The rec center also has the greatest potential for bringing in income for the city as well as SID.”

As far as increasing income, Matselboba said, “Obviously, the two amenities that are in the best condition are the golf courses. Golf tournaments…produce good revenue if run properly. The income that is generated could be shared income.” Matselboba explained, it could be shared with the pools, businesses, with the city, SID, everybody.

Matselboba added a professional activities director is a necessity in an environment like CV. They could produce special events like a Las Vegas night, Bingo, a poker tournament, baking and cooking classes, educational classes for using cell phones, computers among other things.

To improve the relationship between SID and the City of CV, Matselboba suggested, “A joint venture vacation rental will produce an immense amount of fees. The SID is capable of working together with the City of CV in doing these ventures. They work together, they make money together. Everybody is going to be happy.” He offered there may be a need for an advisory committee to help smooth over differences. Any idea that is formulated could then be voted on.

In handling conflicts among commissioners, Matselboba had a simple solution, “Majority rules.” A vote takes care of that, he added.

In closing, he offered, “I think we can all move forward. We can all do well if we get together and figure out what each group wants…take the assets that we have and figure out the best way to produce income.”

David R. Nebel, Sr.

Nebel lives on Lake Thunderbird, so as far as amenities, he uses Lake Thunderbird. “I have friends on Lake Omaha, and friends on Sequoia Lake, I have been there. I also use the golf courses...the North and South Golf Courses,” added Nebel. “I’m a member of Village Pride, and we have used the North Course facilities in the past for our annual volunteer awards.”

As far as amenity improvements, Nebel stated, “Folks, we have a great opportunity here in 2024. We are going to have a solar eclipse right over top of us. I think our facilities like Omaha Center, pools and everything, they need to be upgraded now…It’s time for us to buckle down, put our straps on…and get with the program.”

Nebel combined facility improvements with increased income. “We have facilities that can generate income. Reopen the restaurant at the South Golf Course. It was popular when it was open.” Nebel continued with cleaning up the Baseheart Campgrounds so people would be able to pitch tents there. Nebel believes the marina contract needs to be renegotiated on pontoon rentals. “[The amenities are] the crown jewel that we have and we need to use our facilities to the best that we can,” expressed Nebel.

Regarding the relationship between SID and the city, Nebel said, “I’m going to be blunt here, [there has been damage done] between the city and SID…How we can build that relationship from that, I don’t know. I am here because I have worked on the airport commission, worked with Village Pride, I have walked the ditches with some of these people that run our city. They have everything in good faith for our city. The same that I would do.” He continued, “I will do everything I can for SID, to make sure our facilities are in proper working condition,” said Nebel.

As for commissioner conflicts, Nebel claimed he has no agenda. “I am here to listen to you and to take all your matters into serious consideration. We have to do something that has not been done in a long time around here…compromise.” From his past experience, Nebel explained he has the abilities to negotiate, compromise and get the job done. He reminded, “In 2024, we have a great, great opportunity here to show the U.S. and the world what our facilities are and what a great gem Cherokee Village is.”

Ronald (Ron) Page

Of the amenities available, Page said, “I have enjoyed the Omaha Center, the lakes, but predominantly I enjoy the golf courses. I am an avid golfer.” Page offered, “I didn’t know I was an avid golfer until I moved to Cherokee, even though I’ve played around the world.”

As for those amenities requiring the most improvement, Page stated, “Currently, the 2022 budget has a number of bids out there requesting people to repair the Omaha Center and the Lake Thunderbird Center. That is key at this point in time, to fix the infrastructure and the facilities, as well as really look at how we are going to repair the Omaha pool system…which is a key item for a lot of people who live in this area of CV.” From there, Page added, “The lakes currently have issues with the shoreline and with some weeds.” Page has watched over the last five years, a different lake is chosen each year for attention to some of these issues.

Page also believes family activities could help increase income. “Things that I call ‘family oriented activities’ like tournaments, pickleball, golf, maybe badminton and tennis. Things that go really well so the entire family can enjoy those activities.” Page added, “Open it up to the full community that we have in CV, Highland, Ash Flat, the community at large.” This would attract more people to come into Cherokee.

In building a relationship between SID and the City of CV, “I already do that because I have been an [airport] commissioner. I’ve had a great relationship with almost all of the CV Council members, as I used to do presentations to both the council members…and the people in SID…so we can talk about airport issues, which is a diamond in the rough,” said Page. He suggested the same coalition of people could be used in building a stronger team.

In dealing with conflicts among commissioners, Page offered, “I have seen some people who really wanted to dominate across the board…The ability to communicate would be key. It means listen…first before being heard.” He suggested taking a step back and get additional information, and then renegotiate toward getting solid teamwork moving in the same direction. “Teamwork builds, it doesn’t destroy,” said Page.

He offered his openness to discuss any issues people may have. “I’d like to see us build CV from 5,000 people to 10,000 over the next seven to 10 years, with the industries we could bring in and attract with an expanded airport.”

Full bios and edited recordings are posted on the SID website, Videos can also be seen on YouTube. Additional information regarding the election, poll times, early voting, absentee ballots and other specifics are also available on the SID website, or by calling the SID office at 870-257-2468.

The CVSID is hosting a “Meet the Candidates” informal get-together on March 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Omaha Center Auditorium. Refreshments will be served and people can mingle and talk to the candidates one-on-one in an informal setting. The public is welcome to come and go at their leisure during that time.

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