Sun City Center Community Association staff and residents alike say they are sorry to see Ed Barnes go.
The President of the Association Board of Directors has taken his volunteer job so seriously sometimes he puts in more than 40 hours a week — and since his tenure began, a lot of projects have been done.
Originally from Oklahoma, Barnes went to Oklahoma State and the University of Arkansas for his MBA and then to Naval Post Graduate school to get an MS degree in operations research.
After 20 years in the Navy he retired as a Commander, coming to Sun City Center in 2003 with his wife Nancy. They had lived all over the world with their three children, who have since produced six grandchildren.
They moved to the area originally because their oldest son lived in Sarasota but he has since gone back north.
By then though, the Barnes were thoroughly entrenched in Sun City Center — and South County – society. He was a member of both MOWW (Military Order of the World Wars) and MOAA (Military Officers Association of America).
He found what he had learned about leadership during his military career was just what they needed on the Sun City Center board. Appointed to fill a term seven years ago when a director left unexpectedly, he then served two three-years terms as an elected officer, the last term being board president. Since the association’s bylaws are written that no one can serve more than two consecutive elected terms (the appointment did not count as time against him), Barnes has termed-out and has decided not to run again in the future.
“What he gave to us is a standard of leadership that’s rare,” said Kelly Emerson, maintenance supervisor for the association for more than 17 years. “His military background prepared him for a lot of things. He knows how to delegate really well. He would come and check with us [on the maintenance staff] on things that concerned maintenance, but if we had a project, unless we needed his advice, he would let us run with it.
“I have a lot of respect for him and I hate to see him go,” Emerson added.
Carol Donner, who works directly with the board members as an executive assistant and has also been employed by the CA for more than 17 years, says Barnes is extremely capable and a good mentor.
“I’ve been here nine years and served on the board three years now,” said Jane Keegan, who is now vice president and also liaison for Sun City Center’s hundreds of clubs. “One of the most important things I feel he did was to make it possible for people who moved from Sun City Center to Freedom Plaza to continue in their groups here. Connie Lesko from Freedom Plaza and the late Ann Marie LaBlanc worked with him on this after a member of our bridge club could no longer play with us. We figured if it hurt us, it had hurt many others.”
She is referring to a rule made several years ago that only current SCC CA members could belong to the clubs.
“He worked hard and long on that one because it was a tricky situation,” Keegan said. “But in the end we got our players back.”
It isn’t like the Freedom Plaza people will flock to the pools and other amenities by the droves and fill them up, Lesko had explained in a previous interview when the decision was made last year. “We all have our own beautiful facilities.”
So despite the fact that Freedom Plaza residents who have moved from Sun City Center have a badge like all CA members, and can use the facilities, Barnes explained, it’s mostly clubs that are affected.
“Ed was appointed for a resigning director in April 2007, then elected in January 2008 for three years and again in January 2009 for three more years,” said Donner. “I think the only person who has ever gone back to the board after the mandatory leave is Paul Wheat.”
Barnes does not plan to return to community leadership, or to the board.
“I came here to retire,” he said, smiling. “I guess I didn’t.”
David Floyd, chairman of the Long Range Planning Committee who is currently working with Barnes on the new construction plans and building going on at the association’s main complex, echoed Emerson’s words in saying that Ed was the kind of person who let people do the jobs they were assigned without micromanaging.
“If you need him, he’s there, but if you don’t, he isn’t watching every move you make,” he said.
The total construction project now is a $2 million dollar project, including the parking lot. More will be done next year but all projects planned by this board are saved for before they are begun.
“We don’t take out loans. We use the money from the resale that’s in the Capital Projects Fund,” Floyd said. That money comes from the resale of homes within the community and was raised from $1,200 to $1,500 a few years ago when the developer fees were raised by the county. Every new home built by a developer pays a $1,500 fee for impacting the community’s infrastructure. And this is where the previous board got the idea of gaining the money for their new facilities.
On Dec. 4, in Hillsborough County Commission chambers in Tampa, the Commissioners gave Barnes a plaque for his outstanding work for the betterment of the community.
His last day in office will be Dec. 31.