New Trail Features to Look for on Your Holiday Hikes

The Big Canoe Trails Committee is always busy maintaining Big Canoe’s most popular amenity. Along with dealing with downed trees, eroding trails, and the usual upkeep, they also have the leeway to get resourceful and creative in adding new features to our 25 miles of curated pathways.

Since the Christmas holidays are one of the busier times for the trails, Mitch Waldman of the Big Canoe Trails Committee provided us with this update on what’s new. Be sure to look for the committee’s handiwork the next time you and your crew hit the trails. And you might even spot a few new signs to boot.

Rebuilt Trail on Blackwell Creek Trail – Foot traffic and natural erosion wear a trail down, unearthing tripping hazards such as rocks and exposed roots. Earlier this year, the Trails Committee rebuilt the worn portions of Blackwell Creek Trail, north of the Covered Bridge and Big Canoe Chapel Cemetery, making the refurbished trail easier to navigate.

And after.Culvert before cleanup.

Unblocked Drains at the Indian Mounds Park – If you hear water running under Quail Cove Drive where the Indian Mounds Trail meets the Lake Petit Trail, you can thank the committee. They removed the mass of debris that had blocked the pipes that run under the road and repurposed the sandy base, which was used to cover exposed roots on other parts of the trail.

New Stairways and a Bridge at Yellow Root – The Yellow Root Access Trail, which connects Yellow Root Drive with the Jeep Trail, has two newly repaired stairways and a walking bridge, thanks to Trails Committee. The railroad ties in the stairways were replaced with fresh pine timber, and the refurbished bridge is back to looking like new.

Mike Davis Trail Cleanup – The Mike Davis Trail, named in honor of the longtime trail committee steward, was cleared of downed branches and debris. The team weeded the area, trimmed trees, and layered soil over the most hazardous exposed roots.

Natural Handrails – Along the Meditation Trails (John Williams, Covered Bridge, Blackwell Creek, and Nature trails) and the Lake Trail around Lake Disharoon, natural handrails made from fallen sapling trees were constructed along the steep inclines. What’s extra cool is that no nails were used in their construction.

The Red Trail bench designed by Joe Tipton.

Joe Tipton Bench – At marker #8 along the Red Trail on the Wildcat Trail, there is a naturalistic, wood-and-stone bench designed by Joe Tipton, whose fingerprints are all over the High Gap Trail. This new addition was recently dedicated it to Big Canoe’s 50th Anniversary, which you can read more about here.

Thank you, Trails Committee, for all your hard work!

To get a copy of their Trails Map, click here.

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Big Canoe 2023 Budget Treats Amenities as Independent Businesses 

BY BARBARA SCHNEIDER

Smoke Signals

bschneider@smokesignalsnews.com

The 2023 POA budget and a proposed fee for rental-property owners were the focus of discussion for the POA board—and questions from property owners—during the Big Canoe POA Open Budget meeting on Nov.10 and the regular POA Board meeting on Nov. 17.

POA General Manager Scott Auer covered the proposed 2023 budget in detail on Nov. 10; the board voted to approve the 2023 budget at the Nov. 17 regular board meeting.

The biggest change was the decision to focus on amenities as independent business units for budget purposes. Increased amenity costs will be covered within each amenity’s annual budget and covered through annual amenity memberships—not folded into the overall general assessments. This approach transfers the cost increases of each amenity to their users rather than all Big Canoe property owners.

“We are looking at the individual amenities more as independent businesses. In 2023, the burden of improving an amenity is part of the fee for that amenity,” explained Auer. “The property-owner amenity members who use a particular amenity, and in many cases have input into proposed improvements, help cover those costs.”

Photo by Mark Green

As an example, Auer noted the golf and greens committee meets with golf maintenance regarding the condition of the courses. Amenity members generally use the amenity more frequently than non-members and have input into amenity upgrades, repairs and usage changes. In 2023, these costs will not be folded into property owners’ monthly dues or guest fees. “No guest fees will be increased,” Auer added. “We did a major increase in our amenity guest fees in 2022 and feel we are well-positioned versus other communities’ guest fees for 2023.”

Auer reviewed each amenity, explaining the reasons for any membership fee increases as well as any expected operational changes.

“Continuing our policy from this year,” he announced, “the Clubhouse will not close for non-property owner events.”

The Clubhouse will have some seasonal changes, he said. During January and February, it will close on Mondays and Tuesdays but some operating hours will be expanded from April through October to give property owners more flexibility to eat at the Clubhouse.

Golf operations will increase annual individual and family fees by about 5% to offset cost increases, largely driven by inflation for golf course maintenance materials and services.

There will be no changes to the Wellness Center’s amenity fees even though plumbing repairs are planned. The Wellness Center fees are appropriate given the other fitness center choices in the area outside Big Canoe, Auer said. Beach Club amenity members will see a 3% amenity fee increase.

The Racquet Club will add new hours, extending playing time to 7 p.m. from May through September. There will be a 4% annual amenity increase to offset the extensive racquet club renovations begun in 2021 and continuing through 2023.

Auer described the POA’s 2023 plans for the Marina to replace the worn-out fleet of current rental craft with a new fleet of eight pontoon boats and also add a new outdoor “gathering” space and fire pit on the left side of the Marina building.

The 2023 budget includes increased monthly property and homeowner assessment fees. For homeowners, the $20 monthly increase will include $5 toward capital assessments and $15 for operations. The change—largely the result of inflation—reflects increased costs and regular maintenance expenses as well as additional requirements.

As an example, Auer pointed to planned 2023 tree trimming/removal along road shoulders plus clearing out overgrown plants and small trees in the ditches (used as shoulders) along Big Canoe’s 88 miles of roads.

“Our roads do not have curbs to guide rain coming down the mountains into sewers,” said Auer. “We have 80 miles of ditches to catch and move rainwater off roadways—and they need to be cleaned and cleared of debris.” An enhanced program to remove invasive species is also planned for 2023.

Other estimated 2023 infrastructure costs include increased insurance rates, higher garbage collection fees, expanded road maintenance and salary adjustments for many employees.

The salary adjustments are the result of an employee compensation study conducted by Kathy Jones, the POA’s new director of Human Resources, over the summer.

“We ran a benchmark study to see how our salary rates compared to comparable jobs in the Jasper and Dawsonville area,” Auer explained. “Our HR director matched job duties for each Big Canoe position with those in the local area and based her recommendations on that comparison.” The result, he said, showed Big Canoe was well below the Jasper area in many key positions, making it even more difficult to recruit the top talent Big Canoe needs for its future.

The 2023 capital budget includes funding for anticipated maintenance projects designed by Geosyntec on Petit Dam as well as roads and road shoulders.

The board voted to approve the 2023 budget at the Nov. 17 regular board meeting. The board also voted to raise the capital contribution fee from $3,000 to $3,500 in 2023. POA President Amy Tropfenbaum noted the CCF applied to the purchase of each home in Big Canoe has raised $1.2 million.

Along with voting for new POA board members, Big Canoe property owners have an opportunity to vote yea or nay on a proposed annual $175 fee for property owners who lease their Big Canoe homes. Results of the lease administration fee and board member votes will be presented at the POA’s annual meeting at the Big Canoe Chapel at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 3.

The December meeting will include a presentation on the proposed Big Canoe master plan, including the postal facility, renovations to The Clubhouse at Lake Sconti, marina parking improvements and Canoe Lodge refurbishment.

To view videos of Big Canoe’s POA meetings go to the Big Canoe POA Media Channel @bigcanoepoamediachannel9585

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Racquet Club Continues Operations in The Wellness Center

While the Racquet Club building is being lifted off its foundation for a renovation project – click here to learn more – the Racquet Club Pro Shop is operating in the upstairs area of indoor tennis court the Wellness Center.

There, you will find Head Racquets Professional Geoff Hedges running the amenity in its makeshift digs.

The Pro Shop entrance, from inside the indoor tennis court.

The entrance to the makeshift Pro Shop is under the windows on the far left of the indoor courts beneath a black curtain. The space is accessible via the stairs.

Despite the change in scenery, the Pro Shop still offers the same services and inventory as it did in its home location, including the sale of racquets, tennis balls, sports drinks, hats, sunglasses and more. As of Nov. 30, the Racquet Pro Shop is offering a 50% off sale on assorted tennis attire while supplies last.

Click to view slideshow.

The Pro Shop will be moving back to its original location on Wolfscratch Circle in early spring.

For more information, contact the Racquet Club at 706-268-3367.

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Drop Your Kids Off at the Chapel for Parents Night Out

By Kathy Ebener

How about an evening without the kids, especially during the Christmas season? On Dec. 9 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., you can bring your children, from infants to fifth gradere, to the Chapel for Parents Night Out. This is an opportunity for parents who need a night without the children to go shopping, go to dinner, or just enjoy relaxing at home. We have an amazing group of volunteers to entertain your children while you are out and about. Your kids will be engaged in fun and active games, crafts, a Christmas movie. Pizza and ice cream will be served.

We know that many children have food allergies. We will make sure that we do not have any foods that contain tree nuts or peanuts. If your child has other food allergies, please, feel free to pack snacks for them.

Registration for Parent’s Night Out is required by Dec. 7 and can be made at Big Canoe Chapel – Event Details.

Oh, and all these events are free! That’s right! For additional information, contact Kathy Ebener, Big Canoe Chapel’s new Children’s Minister, at bigcanoekids@gmail.com.

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Big Canoe Christmas Donation Guide

Residents in Big Canoe have demonstrated for years that the holidays aren’t just about getting gifts, but also about giving.

There is no shortage of opportunities to donate to those in need, whether it’s to give a toy to a local child or to ensure that everyone stays warm this Christmas.

Below are some great ways to help spread the holiday spirit.

Coat Drive

Big Canoe POA works each year on a coat drive that benefits the clients of CARES, the Pickens organization that provides food and essential non-food items. Look for donation boxes in the Canoe Lodge and Wellness Center where you can drop off clean, new or nearly new coats. For more info: Teri Sawyer at tsawyer@bigcanoepoa.org or (706) 268-1092.

Toy Drives

Residents will have three separate opportunities to donate a toy to a child in need in Big Canoe. All request that the toys are unwrapped:

Volunteers will be collecting toys during the Winter Ball on Dec. 2. Residents may also donate toys under the Clubhouse tree through Sunday, Dec. 4. For more info, contact Jackie Duncan at jpoom@bellsouth.netor Jan Stader at jsta@bellsouth.net.
Toys for Tots, run by the Marine Corps Reserve, will have collection boxes at the Fire Station and Package Porch until Dec. 17. For more information, go here or contact local coordinator Robert Jaeckel at rjjaeckel@gmail.comor 770-778-7678.
DJ Kevin Tillery and the local Lions Club will be collecting on Trivia Night on Tuesday, Dec. 13. These toys will be gifted specifically to children in the Pickens county area. While toys for young children are accepted, Kevin urges that donors consider bringing toys geared for pre-teens and teens as these age groups typically receive fewer items. For more information, contact Kevin Tillery at ktillery13@gmail.com or collection coordinator Sandra Gadd at swg349@windstream.net

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Keep your Christmas Decor up to Code

The day after Thanksgiving, folks are often pulling holiday decorations from the attic. But before the inflatable Santas come start popping up on the front lawn, Treena Parish, our AECD Manager, wants to remind everyone of the Big Canoe Architectural Control Standards, which state:

Holiday Decorations or seasonal decorations shall consist of live natural materials or artificial materials with a natural appearance. Decorative accessories and trimmings (including holiday and seasonal decorations) intended for the enjoyment of the Property Owners shall be positioned so as not to offend the community or the immediate neighbors. All seasonal outdoor decorations are allowed for the applicable holiday period and must be removed within two weeks after the holiday.
Outdoor lighting approved for the winter holiday season is limited to miniature clear white bulbs displayed at the front entry, including front foundation shrubs and adjacent small trees less than six inches in circumference and less than ten feet tall are allowed.
Structures, decks or property lines shall not be delineated.
Flashing or running lights are not allowed. Icicle-like and other mimetic-shaped lights are not allowed.

For more information, contact Treena at  tparish@bigcanoepoa.org.

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Big Canoe 2022 Holiday Gift Guide

With the thick of the holiday season almost upon us, a sobering thought can enter the mind: When will I ever get my Christmas shopping done?

Not to worry. Big Canoe’s got you covered.

From pontoon boat-ride gift cards to the coolest, locally designed Big Canoe-branded T-shirts this side of the Covered Bridge, Big Canoe has a range of ideas that fit most every Christmas wish list. What better way to show off the place you love than by handing out a Big Canoe-themed gift?

And remember: If make any purchases at any of the amenities or the Black Bear Pub on Friday, Nov. 25, a.k.a. Black Friday, you’ll get 30 percent off on not just Big Canoe-themed items (excluding gift cards), but on ALL items – from Christmas ornaments to tennis rackets. There’s also up to 50 percent off select items (excluding range finders and golf clubs).

Below is a sampling of just a few Big Canoe-branded items available in the Trading Post/Golf Pro Shop, the Marina, The Wellness Center/Racquet Club and the Black Bear Pub. There are plenty of other sweet gift options beyond what’s pictured.

 

Pontoon Boat Gift Cards – Starting Jan. 1, the pontoon boat rentals for Property Owners go up to $40 per hour. Buy a two-hour rental before the end of the year for $70, which is a $10 savings. Available only in the membership director’s office in the Canoe Lodge. Contact Teri Sawyer for more details at tsawyer@bigcanoepoa.org.

 

 

The Trading Post and Other Amenities, Pt. 1 – From left, back row: Glassware (Big Canoe-branded low ball, wine glass, beer glass), money clips, Big Canoe sign, coffee mugs, water bottles; front row: one of the locally designed, original Big Canoe-themed T-shirts and sweatshirts, which are available in four different styles with two different designs.

The Trading Post is your motherlode for Big Canoe items with kitchenware, baseball caps, hoodies and other assorted clothing. The Trading Post also features many items that are not Big Canoe branded, including footwear and clothing, Christmas ornaments, club covers, massage guns and more. All Big Canoe Christmas T-shirts and branded water bottles are also available at the Wellness Center, the Racquet Club (now temporarily located above the Indoor Tennis Court at Wellness), the Marina and behind the hostess station at the Black Bear Pub. And at each amenity, that Black Friday sale applies to items such as tennis bags, tennis rackets and clothes at the Racquet Club; and outerwear and waterproof bags at the Marina.

 

“Big Canoe: The First 50 Years” – Give loved ones a chance to take a bit of Big Canoe back home by gifting this 50th-anniversary commemorative book, which is packed with current and archival photos that capture the spirit of our insanely beautiful mountain community.

 

Pickleball Bags and More – Though it’s been relocated, the Tennis Pro Shop is operating out of the upstairs area at the Indoor Tennis Court in the Wellness Center. These sweet Big Canoe pickleball bags are among the branded goods you can pick up there.

 

Big Canoe Memberships – Buy a membership before Christmas for any of the amenities other than aquatics, and you will receive two complimentary months with your one-year commitment. Save from $24 to $650. Contact Teri Sawyer for more details at tsawyer@bigcanoepoa.org.

 

Trading Post, Pt. II – This throw pillow and coffee mugs help you bring the Mountains of Big Canoe into your cozy place.

 

 

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The Christmas Drive-Through on Saturday, Dec. 10: Your Shortcut to Santa

On Saturday, Dec. 10, you won’t have to drive the kids to the North Pole to see Santa. From 6 to 9 p.m., the Village Core will feature the Christmas Drive-Through, the light-lined spectacle packed with Yuletide surprises. The drive-through will culminates with a visit – and a gift – with St. Nick at the Big Canoe Fire Station.

Drive-through participants can follow the route that starts on Wolfscratch Circle, the road on the Lake Petit Dam side of the Racquet Club. The street snakes its way past the Big Canoe Chapel. From there, the route continues drive past the Postal Facility (on the right) before looping west toward the Fire Station. Celebrants will be greeted by Santa at the Fire Station before they depart via Wolfscratch Drive.

Please note that the Drive-Through route will be closed to through traffic starting at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10.

With many motorists expected for this event, the start of the drive-through line will be in the three-tiered parking lot above the Playfield. Cars will be directed by staffers before entering the drive-through route on Wolfscratch Circle.

Though the narrow road between the Fire Station and the tennis courts will remain open to provide continued access to the Postal Facility, Property Owners are strongly urged to avoid the area at the time of the event.

Also be sure to look at our list of holiday activities to find out what else is in store this season.

Questions? Write to askthepoa@bigcanoepoa.org

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Embrace the Spirit of Giving This Christmas With Toys for Tots

By Robert Jaeckel

Residents will have an opportunity to give to a child in need this Christmas through one of the Toys for Tots stations inside the gates.

The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys in October, November and December for distribution to less fortunate children in the community over Christmas.

In 2021, Toys for Tots collected and distributed 10,830 toys to over 3,100 needy children in Pickens and Dawson counties.

Collection boxes are inside the Big Canoe Fire Station and the Package Porch. Toys can be collected until Dec. 17 before they are distributed to local children.

All new unwrapped toys are welcome. To donate items such as bicycles or cash, please contact Robert Jaeckel at rjjaeckel@gmail.com or 770-778-7678. Online cash donations can also be made to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation website.

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Wildflower Bunch 2022 Closing Luncheon

By Jocelyn Smith

The final event of the WFB season was the Fall Member Luncheon in November at the Woodbridge Tavern in Jasper. An overwhelming response to the luncheon brought together old and new friends to enjoy a lovely closing lunch for 2022.

We would also like to give special thanks to all of the board and committee members for their dedication and work this past year and it is with great pleasure we welcome new and returning board members, and committee chairpersons for the 2023 season.

Board Members
B. Marr – President
Lynette Howard – Rising President
Marylou Stevens – Secretary
Karen Anderson – Treasurer
Jocelyn Smith – Publicity
Jan Murphy – Communication
Leigh Weiskittel – Membership
Susan Morgan – Programs

Committee Chairs
Plant Sales
Margie Halls
Susan Starling

Garden Tour
Liz Littleton

Picnic
Marci Uzamar
Patricia Stimmel
Susan Shaw
Linda Kadicheek

Future events will restart in March 2023, so come grow with us and join our group! The Wildflower Bunch membership is open to any Big Canoe resident and is available throughout the year. Check out our website, https://wildflowerbunch.com/ or visit our Facebook page for real-time updates.

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