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A few months ago, I was elected the new president of Lake Martin HOBOs. After the election, a friend and I engaged in an interesting conversation about two subjects: Change and what is a HOBO? 

The first subject is a larger philosophical one, a subject on which I am probably not smart enough to comment without bringing the parameters into a reasonable scope, addressing just change on Lake Martin. 

I am a Florida transplant to Lake Martin by way of Atlanta, but I have been here since August of 1990, so I do have some knowledge and expertise about change on Lake Martin – at least, since that time period and from a once-part-timer’s and now a fulltimer’s point of view. 

Some of the change has been good, and some of the change not so good, depending on one’s point of view. During our conversation, my friend and I didn’t totally agree on whether all of the changes were good or not, but we did agree that change had occurred and would continue to occur. Some want no change to occur and for everything to remain “as is” forever. Others embrace change as progress. It depends on the point of view. 

I have come to know that, regardless of point of view or wishes, Lake Martin is changing and will continue to do so. The question becomes then, “How do we influence the changes to ensure our beautiful lake remains a treasure to future generations? How, as individuals, can we influence the powerful forces at work around the lake to ensure our voices and concerns are taken into consideration? How do we engage the businesses around the lake to keep this powerful economic engine of Lake Martin as a vibrant source of economic activity without sacrificing the lake to unchecked and unhealthy growth?” 

This leads me back to the conversation with my friend. My friend asked me, “What is a HOBO?” I thought about it for a minute. Seemed a pretty simple question with a pretty simple answer. I stated that HOBO is an acronym for “Homeowners and Boat Owners.” My friend quickly stated he knew that, but he didn’t know what a HOBO did or why he should join or care. I was being called to task. 

Again, I went for the straightforward and simple answer. I told him, “Lake Martin HOBOs work to preserve and protect Lake Martin for future generations.”

I felt pretty good in already knowing the association’s motto. Again, my friend pushed for more information. This is when the conversation started to become more interesting and involved. 

We started discussing some of the issues facing our Lake, such as: 

Water quality with the upriver pollution from chicken farms and other agricultural enterprises; 

Off-lake development wanting multi-boat dock usage and storage; 

Boating safety and wake boat usage affecting our shorelines and seawalls; and

Lake level regulations. 

My friend said he knew about some of these but was uninformed about how these could affect him and where he is located on the lake. I told him these were just some of the issues the HOBOs are involved in. 

We also discussed an issue he had with the rules of the lake changing without his knowledge or input. He asked, “How is an individual homeowner supposed to know the changes or influence the changes?” 

My friend unknowingly opened the door for my soapbox speech. 

“Lake Martin HOBOs Association is an advocate for all homeowners and boat owners on Lake Martin. They are our only customers. Our members’ concerns and issues are the ones we try to address and influence around the lake. 

“HOBOs work with other organizations and associations around the lake. We work with and support Lake Watch, LMRA and other local organizations around the lake. We are members of both the Alexander City Chamber of Commerce and the Lake Martin Dadeville Area Chamber of Commerce. Beginning in September, HOBO board members will attend the county commission meetings of Tallapoosa and Elmore counties. HOBOs monitor filings with FERC and communicate with Alabama Power on lake regulations. Our board of directors works to keep members informed about what is going on with Lake Martin. We encourage our members to get engaged in the community. 

“HOBOs work with lake community neighborhoods to establish Neighborhood Watch groups in their neighborhoods. If your neighborhood has interest in establishing a watch group, contact us and allow us to assist you.”

I will get off my soapbox now. That covers our mission and efforts. You can help Lake Martin HOBOs fulfill our mission. You can help us influence and guide the future of Lake Martin. You can join through our website at lakemartinhobos.com. HOBOs want our membership to be informed, engaged and ready to preserve and protect our beautiful lake. 

An individual membership is $15 annually. Family membershipsare $25 annually. You can visit our Facebook page, Lake Martin HOBOs, and become informed. You can join us at our board meetings and become engaged. We will enthusiastically welcome you. 

What does the future of Lake Martin look like? The lake will continue to change. How it changes is up to all of us. 

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

 Harry DeNegre is president of Lake Martin HOBOs. Follow the Lake Martin HOBOs Facebook page and visit the HOBOs website at lakemartinhobos.com.