March 2017 Hickory Farms Newsletter
- Editor, Don Seymour (Farm House Ln)
Debbi Buchanan and Kendra Seymour for hosting our first (and awesome) Bunco Night.
New HFCA Board member, Melissa Stark, for spotting the rusted, unsightly creek railings on Cotton Farm Rd., flagging it for the Board of Directors, and then heading out on her own to sand, rust prime, and paint the railings.
Here’s a snapshot of the railing Melissa fixed.
New HFCA Email
There’s a new way to reach the HFCA Board of Directors: firstname.lastname@example.org. Any questions, recommendations, concerns — email us and we’ll get back to you asap!
Hickory Farms Spring Egg Hunt
Please join us on Saturday, April 1 at 4:00 PM in the Upper Commons for the Hickory Farms Annual Spring Egg Hunt
- Please bring 12 plastics eggs filled with candy for each participating child.
- Eggs should be dropped off to 4371 Farm House Lane by noon on April 1.
- Children will be divided by age so please attach a note with the age of each participating child.
Our first Bunco Night was a success! We now have 12 regular players, and meet the 3rd Thursday of the month at 7:00 PM.
If a player is unable to make it, we will need a substitute. To be added to the sub list, email Krissy at email@example.com. This is a great way to play and hang out with neighbors, without the regular monthly commitment. No playing experience needed.
Join Our Listserv
Get the latest on neighborhood news and events; ask the community for recommendations on contractors, repairmen, and professional services; find a lost item; receive an advance copy of this newsletter; and much, much more!
Home Maintenance Checklist
- Fire Extinguisher Check: Visually check that each fire extinguisher is fully charged. You should have fire extinguishers in the garage, kitchen, and basement furnace area.
- Dryer Vent Cleaning: Clean lint from both the screen behind the door and exhaust hose which leads to the outside. Lint is a fire hazard. Never use a plastic flexible vent hose – it could melt.
- Bathroom Check:
- Check faucets and showers for leaks. Check caulking around bathtubs and showers for areas where water may leak. Check for leaks under the toilet and sink.
- Test toilets for leakage by placing a few drops of food coloring in the tank, then wait a few hours. If you see coloring in the bowl, you should replace the tank flapper.
- Locate the Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI, usually in the electrical outlet). Press the test button and then reset.
ACC Approvals & Disapprovals
Your monthly update on the changes and improvements to the neighborhood that have been submitted to the Architectural Control Committee (ACC) for review.
- 10120 Spinning Wheel - Replace siding/front door/shutters
- 4358 Harvester Farm – Construct mud room and garage
- 4371 Harvester Farm – Enclose carport, widen driveway, install patio, install fence and complete other exterior modifications
Inspect Your Property, Today - Compliance Reviews Starting Soon
- Brian Roethlisberger
In April or May, a team of Hickory Farms volunteers will be walking our streets (individually or in small groups) and evaluating properties for violations of the Hickory Farms Rules & Regulations and Restrictive Covenants.
At the conclusion of the evaluation process, homeowners will be notified of violations by mailed letter or, in some cases, a home visit and given ample time to correct any violations or deficiencies.
As warmer weather approaches, now is a great time to inspect your property and make plans to bring it into compliance.
Although this is not a comprehensive list, here are some of the issues that our inspection teams have noted in past reviews:
- boats, trailers, tents, campers, and tempo-rary structures in place for more than seven calendar days;
- fences in disrepair (fix it or tear it down);
- cluttered carports; trees or bushes obstructing the sidewalk;
- weed growth across curbs and sidewalks and around mailboxes and road signs;
- pine needles, leaves and other vegetation debris collecting on lawns or along the curb;
- vehicles parked on the lawn;
- exterior items in need of repair, cleaning, or maintenance (siding, shutters, doors, roof, fences, etc.);
- trash containers stored forward of house;
- grass not mowed to a height of less than eight inches;
- temporary structures used as sleeping quarters; and
- wire fences.
In the next couple of weeks, a copy of the Hickory Farms Property Evaluation Checklist will be posted in the Architectural Control Committee section of the Hickory Farms website.
This checklist identifies the items to be evaluated during the upcoming evaluation and offers homeowners an excellent tool to self-review their properties for compliance.
We all have an economic stake in maintaining our community, as provided by our founding documents, which has resulted in excellent, ever increasing resale values over the past 40 years.
Please continue to do your part in helping to preserve or increase home values and keeping Hickory Farms an outstanding community to live in!
Hickory Farms Phishing Attempt: What Happened & Lessons Learned
- Bruce Bernhardt, HFCA President
On Wednesday, 2/8/2017, a fraudulent email was received by HF directing the submission of a wire transfer that needed to be completed urgently.
The email referenced my name and indicated additional documentation would be sent later.
I was in Tampa, FL, at the time.
In response to that request, $4,340 was wire transferred to a Wells Fargo routing number and bank account.
When the transaction was identified as fraud later Wednesday afternoon, wire transfer units at SunTrust and Wells Fargo banks were contracted but were closed for the day. We were directed to “call back tomorrow!” Luckily, both banks have fraud units that operate 24 hours a day. HF contacted both bank fraud units and initiated fraud cases and requested the funds be returned.
On Thursday, 2/9/2017, HR contacted Fairfax Police and opened a fraud investigation.
On Tuesday, 2/14/17, Fairfax Police reported that Wells Fargo had recovered the funds and sent them back to SunTrust.
On Wednesday, 2/15/17, HF confirmed with SunTrust that the funds were returned to our account.
No funds have been lost due to this incident.
Fairfax Police have closed the fraud investigation based on the return of all funds to Hickory Farms.
Fraud is a risk not only for individual homeowners but our Home Owners Association as well.
Our HF Disbursement Procedure is very specific and requires two Board signatures on every check sent from our checking account. However, we did not address wire transfers specifically.
Going forward, the HF Disbursement Procedure will be amended to include two Board signatures/approvals of all disbursements from all of our accounts. HF will also review current insurance coverages related to wire transfer fraud and other risks not currently covered.
Lastly, we have removed Board Member personally identifiable information from our HF Website and Newsletter to reduce exposure to future fraud incidents.
I would like to thank Brenda Denny – Treasurer and Chuck Stewart – VP for quickly reacting to this incident and enabling HF to recover the entire wire transfer! I would also like to thank Bryan Crabtree - Website Administrator, for quickly removing personally identifiable information for Board Members (name, address, email, and phone numbers) from our Website home page. Also, thanks to Don Seymour - Newsletter Editor for removing Board Member personally identifiable information from the latest and future HF Newsletters. Our Board volunteers really came through during this fraud attempt.
As an Association, we dodged a bullet with this incident. We all need to be even more diligent going forward. This is also a lesson learned and warning to not only our HFCA but also all of our 198 Association members. If you receive an email from a strange email address, don’t open it! If you receive a cell phone call from a number you don’t recognize, don’t answer it! If it is important, they will leave a voice message. It can happen to anyone! We all need to be on the lookout for fraud!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Digital security is more important today than ever. Review your privacy and security settings on all email, social media, and online accounts — turn on features like two-factor authentication, use strong passwords, and don’t engage or share personal information with people you don’t know.
Newsletter Archives & Advertising
We keep an archive of all of our community newsletters online for quick and easy reading. If you missed one, aren’t on the listserv (which you can easily fix), or just want to see what was happening in Hickory Farms going back to 2004, you can catch up by going to:
Also there: all of the information on how to advertise here in the newsletter. If you have something you want to submit, or have a local business in mind who might like to reach the neighborhood, the link above will have everything you need to know.
Birds of Hickory Farms
- Bob Cosgriff
Spring has returned to the neighborhood, and with it the cycle of annual bird migration has begun.
The year started off with 19 species visiting our yard on 1 January. Over the span of 12 observation days (we were out of town for the latter half of the month) we recorded an average of 15 species per day. February showed a slight decline, despite our highest one-day count of this year of 24 birds on 21 February. In 18 observation days (Feb 6 – 23), our average was 15 species per day. The spring migration peak will be at the end of April and the first two weeks of May, but even March sees the first returnees from the south to augment the year-round residents.
Among the highlights this year so far: Pileated Woodpecker, Cooper’s Hawk, Eastern Bluebird, Cedar Waxwing, Eastern Towhee, Hermit Thrush, Black Vulture, American Goldfinch and Fox Sparrow. The waxwings (sighted on 2/14/17) were the first in our yard in at least five years. These beautiful birds are highly nomadic, sweeping into an area in good-sized flocks to eat holly and other berries, then disappearing for days, weeks or even months from a given location. The Fox Sparrow is only an occasional visitor. We have seen this large, beautiful sparrow in only three of the last five years, with this year’s sighting on February 22 coming about a month earlier than in the other two years. The Fox Sparrow gets its name from its striking reddish and gray plumage.
However, the top sighting had to be an overflying Common Raven on February 20th. Despite the name, these birds are not all that common, particularly here in suburbia. They generally live in more remote coastal or mountainous habitat; they can be seen in the Bull Run Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains to our west. I saw another raven on December 23, 2016, about a mile east of here near Olley Lane. However, based on feedback from experts with whom I discussed my sightings, ravens are apparently expanding their range into more populated areas and have been observed raiding dumpsters at suburban construction sites for food. Being members of the crow family (Corvidae), ravens are highly intelligent and very adaptable and opportunistic birds, which explains their range expansion. This brings our Hickory Farms list to 118 species.
For readers who are unfamiliar with what the birds listed above look like, a very good online reference source is allaboutbirds.org, the website of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This site provides excellent photographs, detailed descriptions, numerous facts (including status and range), and sound recordings of songs and calls. Other good references include a field guide: the Sibley Guide to Eastern Birds, the Peterson Guide to Eastern Birds, and the National Geographic Guide of North American Birds are the most popular field guides.
In mid-March, we will begin ‘spring cleaning’ of the 11 bluebird boxes on the HFCA bluebird trail. Bluebirds are in the neighborhood and have been seen sitting on our boxes already; nest selection begins early, with egg-laying usually starting in early April. One thing we’ll be focusing on is re-ducing the number of House Sparrow nesting attempts. Doing this would increase the number of successful bluebird nestings. Hopefully, in 2017, we’ll also see the return of Tree Swallows to our boxes as well. I’ll provide updates of our success in subsequent newsletters. Until then, enjoy the warmer weather and the emerging leaves and flowers in Hickory Farms. Spring is on the way!
Abridged Minutes: 2/7/17 Board Mtg
The following is an abridged / sample version of the meeting minutes from the last HFCA Board of Directors meeting on February 7, 2017. You can read the complete minutes on hickoryfarms.org.
Treasurer: We came in $2,444 over budget in 2016 due to a large number of trees needing to be taken down in common areas. We are currently within budget and operating in the black.
Common Grounds & Paths: The board approved, via email, the tree removal expense of 2 tree jobs for $2,500 in January.
Architecture Control Committee (ACC): 18 letters were sent out to HF homeowners for violations. Of the 18 violations, 6 complied and fixed the issues, 5 partially complied and 7 HF homeowners made no effort to correct these issues.
Property Inspection Volunteer Subcommittee: Dante G. has 9 volunteers, which will roughly be 22 homes audited per person.
2017 Property Inspection Contractor SOW: Brian R. will provide the statement of work for review by the end of February. If the volunteers cannot complete the inspections, a contractor will be engaged to complete the task.
READ THE FULL MEETING MINUTES ONLINE @ HICKORYFARMS.ORG
- Community Kudos
- New HFCA Email
- Hickory Farms Spring Egg Hunt
- Bunco Night!
- Join Our Listserv
- Home Maintenance Checklist
- ACC Approvals & Disapprovals
- Inspect Your Property, Today - Compliance Reviews Starting Soon
- Hickory Farms Phishing Attempt: What Happened & Lessons Learned
- Newsletter Archives & Advertising
- Birds of Hickory Farms
- Abridged Minutes: 2/7/17 Board Mtg
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