The Villages Voice - July 2013

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Presidents Message - Our District Government at Work

by Bill Gottschalk

A message from the President – Our District Government at work

I recently had the privilege of spending the morning with some very dedicated individuals as they performed their tasks.  Scott Wilder, Battalion Chief, Safety & Community Watch made it possible for me to give you a glimpse into the daily operation of this team in providing a safe community for all of us living in The Villages.

It all started with Roll Call.  Laurie Scheben, Assistant Director, and Stan Maxwell, Supervisor of Blue Team, addressed the patrol drivers as to the specifics of the day’s routine.  I was to ride along with Prestel “Pres” Cromer.  Pres is a 13 year veteran of Community Watch.  He started his career as part of the golf cart patrol doing house checks, followed by two years as attendant at the north Morse gate and now patrol driver.  

It was with interest I watched the drivers check their vehicles. The only time these vehicles are idle is between shifts.  Each driver had a check list that they stepped through including fluid levels, tires, equipment and general condition. The check list is signed and turned in prior to starting his/her patrol.  

We started the morning patrol with Stan Maxwell supervisor for the blue team requesting Pres take me to an area that was reporting the visitor gate not working and traffic was backed up.  We did not find traffic backed up and the gates were working fine.  

The next few hours with Pres were a typical shift.  Checking storage lots, Neighborhood Patrols, house checks, and giving the attendants at the manned gates a 15 minute break.  Gate Attendant – that seemed like a job I could handle.

Riding with Pres for a couple hours included reading the standard operation procedures including how to complete neighborhood patrols, giving directions to residents and visitors, district amenities property patrols, assistance for Police, Fire and Medical services, The House Check program, verification of resident identification at neighborhood pools, assisting other district departments, and attention to our safety throughout The Villages.  

I was looking forward to the mundane job of waving residents and guests through gates.  It only took 15 minutes at the north Morse gate to again realize maybe I was not cut out for this either. The traffic never stops and guess what – the snow birds are gone.  It takes a special person to monitor the flow of traffic, give directions, keeping vehicles from backing up into the roundabout and doing it all with a “Good Morning” and a smile.   

It was now time for a tour of the dispatch center by Dudley Dye, supervisor of the dispatch center. As we were quietly returning to the community watch office, Pres says, “Did you see that?”  I quickly respond, “What?” And the answer is a “1A”.  Pres slows down and safely does a U turn, and back up the street 50 yards or so are the remains of an animal that did not make it across the street. It is picked up for disposal.  Just another job performed by the Community Watch drivers in keeping The Villages the pristine community it is.  

The past few hours I had been listening to the communication over the radios of drivers passing and receiving information from and to the dispatch team.  What I did not know was what was really being done by Dudley and his team of two. They sat in front of two large computer screens and were quickly able to track, log and dispatch drivers as well as take incoming calls from residents. They made it look easy.  Until I stopped to think about the number of districts, villages, streets and the coordination with Public Safety, EMS, Law Enforcement, Property Management and District Utilities all in a day’s work.  

This was a special day for me, and I hope you appreciate a little more what this dedicated team does for us 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  As stated in their mission, they provide a safe community for Villages residents by keeping a watchful eye around the clock.  Thank you, Community Watch.  You do your share and more to make The Villages Florida’s Friendliest Hometown!

Bill Gottschalk
President
The Villages Homeowners Association