Crooked River Ranch Roundup
Ranch administrator finds success in new position
By John Bowler
One of life's real pleasures is observing professionals in any field in action plying their trade.
Whether it's a big league ball club infield scooping up a ground ball and snapping off a double play, a Japanese chef sharpening his knives and chopping up food on a Tapanyaki grill, firemen bringing a blaze under control in a multifaceted attack, or a squad of lifeguards streaking down a beach to rescue a desperate swimmer, watching trained and experienced pros doing their job as only they know how is generally pleasing to observe.
An interview this past week with Crooked River Ranch Administrator Judy LaPora, who is on the brink of completing her first six months on the job, was just such a pleasure. Seated at her desk in the Ranch office, she looked and acted right at home and was eager to talk about her experience in her new job.
She interacted with her staff for support when she didn't know the answers to some questions off the top of her head, and the staff appeared equally comfortable responding to her.
With over 20 years of banking experience before coming to the Ranch position -- most of it in administration and supervision of banking operations and staff -- LaPora's pleasant, upbeat, and articulate about her job and her colleagues.
She gives answers to questions straight from the shoulder without dodging them or hesitating, and pays rapt attention to each query posed and exudes confidence without a trace of conceit.
When describing what she does day to day, LaPora recited a list of duties ranging from dealing with questions and comments from members of the CRR Club and Maintenance Association, to learning about how the Ranch operates, pays its bills, collects past due members' fees and carries out its mission of governing Ranch operations.
Every day is different as she tackles new duties and eventually repeats most of them, according to LaPora. She credits her staff and colleagues, and the warm reception she has received from Ranchers for helping her adjust to the new job.
LaPora was somewhat surprised by the volume, depth and variety of her daily workload, but is undaunted by it. She said her predecessor left the position in orderly condition and she found no evidence of his doing anything but properly discharging the duties of his office.
She is highly complimentary in her regard for board of directors President Ben Johnson and the rest of the board for their diligence to duty and supporting her.
"President Johnson has mentored me on the workings of the Ranch and has been extremely helpful and supportive in all aspects of my learning and executing my job," she said. "His firsthand knowledge of the daily challenges of the position was invaluable."
LaPora is also grateful to Vice President Jim Martin who was given the assignment of orienting and introducing her to Ranch staff and operations.
"Jim has an amazingly detailed wealth of knowledge about Ranch operations and personnel gained over his years of service," she said. "I feel fortunate for his taking the time to acquaint me with the Ranch during my first two weeks on the job and making it a pleasant and informative experience."
She is also proud of what has been accomplished in her first six months at the Ranch. High on the list is the launch of the new Telegraph newsletter.
Its format was designed by the Communications Committee chaired by Billie Higgins with former Club and Maintenance Association Director Gail Day as the board liaison. The work of laying it out and transferring the old newsletter format to the Telegraph was mostly done by Telegraph editor and administrative staff member Phyllis Carlin and LaPora.
Changing over the ad formats was a particularly complex and time-consuming task according to LaPora.
She also cited significant progress in reducing the volume of past due accounts, primarily by communicating directly with homeowners association members in arrears and offering payment plans to those who need them.
LaPora views turning members over to legal firms for collection as a last resort when all direct efforts have failed. That option carries significant costs for members and some financial risks for the association.
Prior to the start of the Independence Day parade, LaPora was observed actively involved in last minute arrangements on the HOA float and issuing instructions to the personnel on it. It was the first time the HOA had participated in any Ranch parade and she obviously played an active role in organizing the effort.
As for her future priorities, she lists conduct of the upcoming election and a successful annual meeting. She hasn't caught up with longer range projects, like the proposed community center or the need for an alternate evacuation route.
She has no reservations about a Ranch board composed of elected resident volunteers being able to effectively govern the Ranch in the foreseeable future.
It's apparent that LaPora has found the Ranch to be a place where she can practice her professional expertise and experience as an administrator to good effect among people she likes and respects.
There's evidence that both parties are already benefitting from the partnership and predict it will be a mutually profitable relationship for many years to come.