The Villages Voice - February 2020

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Area and Region News

by VHA Regional VP's


North of 466

Joan Testa, Vice President


A crowd of 30+ VHA North Directors and Neighborhood Reps had a great time the evening of December 16th (I know this based on the amount of food and wine consumed!) at  Testa Festa, our annual “thank you”  for our wonderful volunteers. Not everyone stayed for the photo, but these guys and gals have worked at our many VHA workshops, New Resident Nights, attended their District CCD meetings, and so much more.  They are the eyes and ears of their neighborhoods and do a great job in being of assistance to so many.  Kudos to them! On January 16th the “Cutting the Cord from Cable TV” workshop at LaHacienda was attended by 187 VHA members, 10 VHA North Representatives, and all 5 VHA North Directors.  The program was excellent once again and the crowd expressed many compliments to the speaker (Joe Kennedy of the Computer-Connected Villager Club, Inc.) and to VHA North for keeping their pledge to help our neighbors in as many ways as possible.   FYI: Alert Sumter is a free emergency notification service (severe weather warnings, evacuation notices and more) available to all Sumter County residents.  You can sign up at  Just click the Alert Sumter icon at the bottom left of the page.  Another great program is the Resident Out of Area Program by Community Watch, offered to Villagers who will be out of town for more than 7 days.  This free service will notify participants if a natural disaster such as a fire, tornado or hurricane occurs and advises homeowners if their homes are damaged.  This program also lets first responders know that there is no one in the home.  For more information call District Customer Service at 352-753-4508. Joan Testa  


Between 466 and 466A

John Dean, Vice President - 207--557-0371  

JUST A REMINDER:  The monthly New Resident Nights provide a great opportunity to become familiar with the programs offered by a variety of agencies and organizations in The Villages area.  And, in spite of the name, it is also of value to anyone who has lived here for years.  It provides a good refresher.  It is also a good time to explore becoming a neighborhood representative. Remember, the VHA is the Villages Homeowners Advocates, not Association.  If representing your neighborhood appeals to you, please contact me.  I always said I would never retire to Florida, but here I am, and I still marvel at this place.  One thing I try to do is take notice of something seemingly simple, like the landscaping.  I will intentionally observe the landscape between a couple of roundabouts going down Buena Vista.  I try to imagine what it takes to care for just this relatively short stretch of road; to care for my favorite palm tree, and the trees, shrubs, edging, and whatever repairs that might be needed.  I would encourage you to read Richard Baier’s article on this very topic in this issue of The Voice. We should be happy with the quality of life we have here.  When I am tempted to lament that I can’t do what I could do in my younger years, (well, I can in my mind but the body lets me know the difference) I look to my neighbor here in Mission Hills who has had a serious health challenge as long as I have known her.  Yet, you would hardly know it.  She is so full of life, and energy, and creative ideas, that she is an inspiration to everyone who interacts with her.  You can be sure that she is not the type of Villager who will call or write to complain that the neighborhood pool temperature is 83 when it should be 84.  I can only hope that I would be half as strong, gracious, and spirited as she is if I were faced with what she deals with.   DID YOU KNOW? One of the things I look forward to each year is the series of performances at the Studio Theatre at Tierra Del Sol.  If you are not familiar with the Studio, this is a “black box” theater with a capacity of about 100 seats - this an intimate “in your face” experience.    I am not a theater expert, but to me, these shows are a real treat.  I admire the talent of the actors (who can remember that many lines), the musicians, set designers, directors, lighting, sound, and others who contribute to the experience. We are half way through this production season so there are still opportunities for you to experience The Studio.     Stay healthy and safe! John Dean P.S.  See “Upcoming Events” for the VHA Educational Seminar “Where Does the Money Go?” presented by Barbara Kays, the District Budget Director on Monday, February 24, 7:00 p.m. at Seabreeze Regional Recreation Center.  This is a VHA Member-Only event with an opportunity to join/renew membership at the door.  


Between 466A and SR44 Joe Elliott, Vice President – 757- 846-1998

Greetings from the South, Our Educational event on Monday January 13 was fun and informative as almost 200 Villagers from all four of the VHA areas learned the latest  about The Villages Grown.   (Visit their website for more information and their retail store (pictured right) in Brownwood). Jennifer Waxman, Executive Director, and Adam Wright, Director of Operations, led a great discussion of the history, status, and future direction of great tasting, healthy options for the Friendliest and Healthiest Hometown. VHA President, Phil Walker, spoke about The VHA Community Foundation, The VHA Helping Hands Program, and his vision for the future of the VHA. These events are a great chance to meet leaders and other members of the VHA, learn a little more about our sponsored events and how you can get involved in our goal:  Keeping the Dream Alive!  If you know of topics you’d like to hear about in the future, be sure to let us know. It can be difficult to fully engage with what we do not understand – To understand the Friendliest Hometown’s governmental structure, consider attending the “Introduction to your Special Purpose Local Government” meeting held every Thursday at 10:00 a.m. at the District Office, 984 Old Mill Run in Sumter Landing. After that, a great follow up is the Resident Academy. The next one is scheduled on April 1, 2020.  You can register either on line at, or by calling the Customer Service Center at 753-4508. As your South Interim Area Vice President, I am always happy to talk to you. If you have a subject you want me to explore, of general interest to your fellow Villagers living in the “South Area”, please let me know, or contact the rest of the South team listed inside the front page of the Voice. Join in the Celebration for Ground Hogs, Hearts and Presidents!!!!!! Joe Elliott  


South of SR44

Andrew Bilardello, Vice President – 561-644-1358

If you live in the newest areas of The Villages, in the “Far South,” we want to invite you to jump on board and join the established “old” areas by getting involved in advocating for your homeowners and residents.  Now is the time to lay the foundation for your area by becoming involved in leadership that can, and will, impact your future lifestyle.  The Far South will have a voice in matters of concern and importance along with the North, Central and South areas that are well-represented in The VHA.  Your voice will be added, along with theirs, to guarantee an active presence to problem-solve, support charitable causes, and address concerns with local leaders and the Developer?  The VHA was established for that very purpose; to be the voice of the residents of this unique, pre-planned community:  to advocate for change, if needed, to address concerns, as needed, to respond to needs, as they arise, and to maintain our property values and quality lifestyle, always in a positive and constructive manner.  Volunteers are our lifeblood, whether it be as a neighborhood representative, serving on a committee, heading up a program, helping pick up or deliver durable medical equipment through our Helping Hands program, or simply being available where needed, in an area that suits your skills and interests, including for our annual Hoedown.    We may be more spread out than ever before, but we are still all part of The Villages. We are one community, and Villagers, from north to south, are best represented by all of us working together.  If being part of that mission appeals to you, contact Andrew Bilardello, your Area Vice President, by phone or email as listed above.   If Andy is unavailable, contact Phil Walker, VHA President, at .  Filling in for Andy this month, who is on vacation, Jan Palmer  


Lynn Davis - 352-250-7782

The following are services that are available and ongoing at the Lady Lake Library - Free of Charge SHINE:  (Serving Health Insurance Need for Elders) is offered the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.  on the second floor of the library. AARP Tax-Aide:  Begins on February 4th and will continue during tax season on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.  Appointments can be made ONLY online at . ONGOING EVENTS at the Log Cabin, on 441/27, south of 466. Weekday Farmers Market: Every Tuesday, 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Weekend Farmers Market: The 1st Saturday of the month, 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Lynn Davis     IN OTHER NEWS VHA DECEMBER GENERAL MEETING HIGHLIGHTS  Fred Briggs welcomed everyone to this VHA Business Meeting. Fred thanked the membership for their support through his five years as VHA President. He emphasized the accomplishments of the VHA which occurred through the efforts of many VHA members some of which include: 200 plus Hoedown volunteers; VHA Helping Hands and their over 6000 transactions in 2019; VHA Community Foundation BINGO evenings; and New Resident Night volunteers.   Fred reminded members that the VHA continues to be apolitical, working up front and behind the scenes as advocates for all Villages residents to maintain the lifestyle and property values. Fred reviewed the VHA accomplishments during his five years which include: being the only lifestyle group to work along with Owens Corning to resolve the shingle degranulation issues on Villagers’ houses; found a solution to bring back the Lifelong Learning College by working with Janet Tutt and John Rohan to create The Enrichment Academy; created a Country Western Hoedown (now in its fourth year) which brings in people from inside and outside The Villages; worked to allow PWAC to be the advisory group for SLCDD, which prevented creation of another layer of bureaucracy while giving residents a voice in local government decisions; preparing to make the final payment of $5000 of the $25,000 donation to the hospital auxiliary to sponsor a room; supporting the joining of the Central Florida Health Alliance with University of Florida Shands Hospital which begins January 1st; and having our contacts in our Circle of Partners always willing to take our calls which includes: Sumter County Sheriff, CDD Supervisors, District Government, Sumter County, Daily Sun, County Commissioners, Hospital, etc.   Fred thanked the many people who worked alongside him during his presidency noting Executive Vice President Phil Walker’s readiness to move up. In particular, the various VHA Board of Directors, Senior Staff ,and Advisory Board along with long serving members Joe Elliott, Ray Glessner, Kathy Porter, Joan Sullivan, and Sandy Mott.   Incoming President, Phil Walker read letters to Fred on his retirement as VHA President from Dr. Gary Lester and Janet Tutt, who were unable to attend. Phil then introduced the following speakers acknowledging Fred’s efforts: Richard Baier-District Manager; Lt. Siemer-Sumter County Law Enforcement representative; and Sandy Mott-VHA Past President. Phil invited Fred’s wife, Peggy Briggs to the front, and presented a gift from the VHA to Fred and Peggy as thanks for all their time and efforts serving the VHA.   Annual VHA Membership Business Meeting:  Fred then introduced the Board of Directors’ previously approved incoming VHA President Phil Walker.  Phil addressed the membership as he accepted the VHA presidency. Phil reported on the many events and activities planned for the January 25, 2020 Hoedown, encouraging members to attend as guests and volunteers.  He also shared his leadership philosophy and his desire to share the load, delegate, and communicate effectively moving forward.  Joan Sullivan VHA Secretary   IN CASE YOU HAVEN’T HEARD: HOSPITAL UPDATE  UF Health (Shands Hospital) will be acquiring Central Florida Health as of January 1st. This includes the Villages Regional Hospital, the Leesburg Regional Medical Center and the new emergency room on SR 44. This exciting opportunity builds on the existing relationships between both organizations and holds much promise for the continued growth of our health system. It will leverage the resources and expertise of UF Health to advance quality healthcare and groundbreaking technology and procedures in The Villages and surrounding areas. Being a teaching hospital, UF Health will also be a pipeline for new doctors and an opportunity for Villages physicians to advance their education. This also opens the door for the potential for a new third hospital supporting our community. As the VHA is a sponsoring partner with the Villages Hospital, the agreement insures that all the fund raising for the The Villages Hospital Auxiliary Foundation and the Villages Hospital will stay in The Villages. Watch the Daily Sun for details. “At UF Heath, we work hard every day to help our patients regain their health.  To do that, we use our problem-solving skills, knowledge and instincts.  UF Health is the Southeast’s most comprehensive academic health center, constantly working to solve the toughest challenges in medicine.  That kind of dedication moves medicine forward.” by Russ D’Emidio VHA Board of Directors     BUENA VISTA AND MORSE BLVD. IMPROVEMENT PROJECT: CONSTRUCTION DATES AND LANE CLOSURE INFO   BUENA VISTA:  Work from South of Lake Miona Drive to CR-44A began the week of January 20, 2020 and is scheduled to be completed on May 16, 2020.  This is the final phase of the repaving project for Buena Vista. MORSE BLVD:  Work from 1,000 feet south of Stillwater Trail to SR 44 will commence the week of March 2, 2020 and is scheduled for completion on June 14, 2020.  This is Phase Two.  Phase Three will follow the receipt of a million dollar grant from the State after July 2020.  Stay tuned for details. Lane closures for both projects will be utilized during daytime hours between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.  Drivers can expect partial lane closures, heavy machinery to be present, and posted construction speed limits to protect both drivers and construction workers. Bradley Arnold Sumter County Administrator