Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Counties Offer Christmas Tree Recycling

As the holidays wrap up, many counties throughout the state are offering Christmas tree recycling to their residents. Please see below for information regarding your county’s offering of Christmas tree recycling services.

Anne Arundel County
Natural garland, wreaths, and Christmas trees are yard waste. They are chipped into mulch, a valuable soil covering. Please remove tree stand, tree bags, metal ornament hangers, and all decorations. Cut very tall trees in half so that the tree will fit into the contractor's truck.
Natural garland, wreaths, and Christmas trees will be collected on your regular recycling day.
Put your natural garland, wreaths, and Christmas trees at the curb before 6:00 AM on your regular recycling day or bring your items to any one of our convenience centers.

Natural garland, wreaths, and Christmas trees will be collected on your regular recycling day. Put your natural garland, wreaths and Christmas trees at the curb before 6 a.m. on your regular recycling day or bring your items to any one of our convenience centers.

Anne Arundel County Waste Management Convenience Centers: http://www.aacounty.org/DPW/WasteManagement/convCtr.cfm

Baltimore City
DPW will provide Christmas tree mulching Monday through Saturday during the entire month of January 2012. Mulching services will be offered from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Reedbird Avenue Citizen Drop-off Center, 701 Reedbird Avenue. Residents may bring their own bags or containers if they wish to collect mulch for their own use. Community groups are also encouraged to bring bags or containers and collect free mulch for neighborhood gardens while supplies last.

For residents who cannot bring their trees for mulching, the Bureau of Solid Waste will offer curbside tree collection from Tuesday, January 3, 2012 through Tuesday, January 31, 2012. Residents should set out trees on their regularly scheduled trash collection day at the same location where their trash is collected. All tinsel and ornaments must be removed from trees before they are set out for curbside collection or mulching. For additional information, please call 311.

Baltimore County
The collection of Christmas trees for recycling will take place over a two-week period, beginning Monday, January 9, 2012. To ensure collection of Christmas trees, residents must have the trees out at the curb no later than Saturday, January 14.

Residents must follow these simple rules when placing their Christmas trees at the curb to be recycled:

- Set out the tree only (no lights, decorations, bags, tree stands, etc.).
- Only set out trees at the front curb/street as trees will not be collected from alleys.

Baltimore County collectors will pick up Christmas trees in standard trash/recycling trucks, and deliver them to County facilities to be chipped and later used as mulch. Baltimore County residents who live in an apartment or condominium should follow their property manager's rules when recycling their Christmas trees.

Tree Drop-Off Locations
Residents who want to drop off Christmas trees themselves may do so starting Tuesday, December 27, 2011. Christmas trees (no lights, decorations, bags, tree stands, etc.) may be taken to one of the three County drop-off locations:
Eastern Sanitary Landfill Solid Waste Management FacilityMonday - Saturday7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Western Acceptance FacilityMonday - Saturday7 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Baltimore County Resource Recovery FacilityMonday - Saturday7 a.m. - 4 p.m.

For directions to the County's three drop-off centers, Baltimore County residents may view the information online or call the Bureau of Solid Waste Management at 410-887-2000.

Carroll County
Carroll County is offering TREE-Cycling to grind trees into compost, mulch or chips for use later in gardens or in landscaping projects.

Remove all non-organic objects, including lights, wire, tinsel and ornaments and drop your Christmas tree off at one of the following locations to be recycled and re-used.

- Northern Landfill, 1400 Baltimore Blvd., Westminster, weekdays 7 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Saturdays from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m.
- Hoods Mill Landfill, 7901 Kabik Court, Woodbine, Saturdays 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. Call for holiday hours.

Residents living within a municipality are encouraged to contact town and city offices for the Christmas tree pickup schedule. Residents living outside incorporated areas should contact their waste hauler to find out if Christmas tree pickup is provided.

For more information, contact Maria Myers, Carroll County Government Recycling Manager at 410-386-2035, or the Northern Landfill at 410-386-4550.

Charles County

Christmas Tree Recycling December 26 through January 14. Recycle your Christmas tree into free mulch! Trees must be ornament and tinsel-free. No plastic bags please. Drop off sites are listed below. For hours of operation, please call 301-932-3599 or 301-870-2778. Look for the Christmas tree recycling sign!

Breeze Farm Recycling Center – Route 254, Cobb Island
Calvary Gospel Church – Route 228, Waldorf
Charles County Courthouse – Baltimore Street, La Plata
Charles County Landfill – Billingsley Road, Waldorf
Gilbert Run Recycling Center – Route 6 West, Dentsville
Pinefield Park – Pinewood Drive, Waldorf
Pisgah Recycling Center – Route 425, Pisgah
Route 5 Park N’ Ride – Mattawoman-Beantown Rd., Waldorf
Radio Station Road – La Plata
Ruth B. Swann Memorial Park – Route 21, Bryans Road
St. Nicholas Drive – Waldorf

Harford County

CLICK HERE for trimming drop-off locations.

Howard County
Beginning Tuesday, January 3 and continuing through Friday, January 20, Christmas trees may
be recycled seven days a week, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the drop-off sites listed below. One
exception to the above days and times is the Alpha Ridge Landfill, which is open Monday
through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Look for Merry Mulch signs at the following drop-off sites:

Kendall Hardware, 12260 Route 108
River Hill Garden Center, 12165 Route 108
Cedar Lane Park, 5081 Cedar Lane
Grandfather's Garden Center, 5320 Phelps Luck Drive
Rockburn Park, 5400 Landing Road
Ellicott City:
Small Circuit Court parking lot on upper Court House Drive (just past Ellicott Mills Drive, on
the right)
Schooley Mill Park, 12975 Hall Shop Road
Alpha Ridge Landfill Wood Waste Area, 2350 Marriottsville Road

Savage Park, 8400 Fair Street

Western Regional Park, 14800 Carrs Mill Road

Howard County residents with curbside yard trim collection can set their Christmas trees out on
their regular curbside recycling days through January 20. Trees will not be accepted on trash
collection days. Please remove all decorations, including tinsel, garland, ornaments, lights, tree
stands and plastic bags. Trees must be cut into less than four foot lengths and tied; they do not
need to be bagged. Each bundle must weigh less than 40 pounds. Set your tree out the night
before your collection day. Trees may be picked up as early as 6 a.m. or as late as 7 p.m.
After January 20, when the sites listed above have stopped accepting Christmas trees and
curbside yard trim collection is no longer offered, residents can continue to bring their Christmas
trees to the Alpha Ridge Landfill Wood Waste Area – open Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to
4 p.m.

Artificial Christmas trees and wreaths can be recycled year-round in the scrap metal area at the
Alpha Ridge Landfill Residents’ Convenience Area.

Montgomery County
CLICK HERE for collection information.

Prince George’s County
The Prince George’s County Department of Environmental Resources’ (DER) Waste Management Division (WMD) will provide County residents with Christmas tree collection and drop-off services for recycling of their live Christmas trees, at no charge beginning December 27.
To participate, residents with County-provided yard waste collection service should place their undecorated Christmas trees at curbside before 6:30 a.m. on their regularly scheduled collection day starting December 27, 2011.

Residents may also bring their undecorated trees, at no charge, to the Prince George’s County Yard Waste Composting Facility, 6601 Southeast Crain Highway in Upper Marlboro; Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., or to the Brown Station Road Public Convenience Center, 3501 Brown Station Road, Upper Marlboro; Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. through January 31, 2012.

Before dropping off the trees, residents are reminded to remove all tree stands, tinsel, lights and ornaments from trees. Only undecorated trees will be accepted. For more information on recycling, call WMD’s Recycling Section at (301) 883-5045

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Weather Travel Precautions by ACM Intern Jordon Nesmith

During this time of year, as people continue to travel and crowd the streets to engage in seasonal festivities, it becomes increasingly important to remain mindful of actions and precautions that can be taken in order to maintain safety in winter weather conditions. These safety tips apply not only to driving precautions, but also around the home.

When preparing to leave home, allow yourself extra time to get to desired locations as to avoid rushing. If you will be warming your car, a recommended practice to help the engine run better, be certain not to do so in an enclosed area, and be certain to clear all snow and ice from the vehicle for maximum visibility.

It is also recommended to always leave the car with at least a half full tank of gas to reduce the possibility of gas line freezes. Tires should always be properly inflated and either radial tires or an alternate type, but never a mix of multiple. The use of parking breaks should be avoided in cold, rainy, or snowy weather, and a seat belt should always be worn while operating a vehicle.

The use of the “cruise control” features within vehicles is not recommended in wet or slick driving conditions, and additional attention should be paid to potentially hazardous, upcoming road conditions, such as black ice on bridges. If skidding occurs, acceleration should decrease, and efforts should be taken to maintain control of the vehicle, steering in the desired direction.

Vehicle operators should remain particularly reserved while driving, leaving additional space between themselves and other vehicles, reducing usual speeds to compensate for weather conditions, and separating emotions from driving.

It is important to be prepared for probable setbacks. In the car, having booster cables, a spare tire, a flashlight, an ice scrapper, tools and other supplies are important to assist in a crisis. At home, important supplies may include, but are not limited to bottled water, a radio, a cellular phone, a flashlight with additional batteries, food and other emergency preparedness equipment.

The winter is a wonderful season for celebration and festivities, but it is paramount to take precautions to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you. For additional safety tips, refer to Red Cross and AAA resources.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Holidays

American Community Management would like to take the opportunity to express to you season's greetings and good wishes. We value our relationship with you and look forward to working with you in the year to come.

Our offices will be closed:

- Monday, December 26, 2011
- Monday, January 2, 2012

We wish you a very happy Holiday Season and a New Year filled with joy!

New Employee Spotlight: Tina, Community Association Manager

ACM would like to welcome Tina, one of our newest Community Association Managers. Tina lives in Glen Burnie and has three children. She has past experience working in the Community Association Management industry and has attended Howard and Anne Arundel Community Colleges.

In her spare time, Tina enjoys scrap-booking, camping and playing softball.

We are thrilled to have Tina be part of the ACM family!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New Employee Spotlight: Chris, Administrative Assistant

ACM would like to welcome Chris, joining our team as a Community Association Assistant. Chris is from Bowie and is working toward his Associates Degree in Computer Science from Anne Arundel Community College. He has past work experience as an Office Automation Clerk and as a Sales Representative. Chris' hobbies include the Ravens, playing football and spending time with friends and family.

Welcome to the ACM family Chris!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

ACM Presents: Maryland Law Update with Nicholas D. Cowie

ACM would like to thank Nicholas D. Cowie for sitting down with us and discussing the Update to the Maryland Law where condominium associations may be sued by unit owners for allowing
the Statute of Limitations to expire on construction defect claims.

Mr. Cowie is a partner in the law firm Cowie & Mott, P.A. Cowie & Mott, P.A. is a construction defect law firm that is dedicated primarily to represent condominiums and HOAs in construction defect disputes with developers and builders.

Nicholas D. Cowie
Telephone: 410-327-3800
Fax: 410-327-3801
2310 Boston Street
Baltimore, MD 21224

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

ACM's Renewal Rate Reaches 100% in 2011

As 2011 is coming to an end, ACM has continued to grow and expand its client portfolio with a 100% renewal rate for the year! All ACM associations have successfully renewed their contracts for 2012 and we are thrilled to be continuing our relationship with all 192 communities we represent. ACM's association renewal rate has increased from 96% in 2010 based on the high quality community management services provided.

With the addition of our unique Property Management Department, the innovative website service provided to all homeowners and our strong belief in education by forming a partnership with Community Mediation Maryland and assisting with the development of a course about community association governance with the University of Maryland, ACM is looking forward to maintaining our relationships with all communities represented in 2012!

New Employee Spotlight: Delphine, Community Manager

ACM would like to welcome Delphine, joining the ACM team as a Community Association Manager. Delphine is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is a huge Eagles fan! She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from LaSalle University.

ACM extends a warm welcome to Delphine!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Howard County Opens VITA Site to Provide Free Income Tax Preparation -- Volunteers needed to help out at VITA site

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman announced today that the County's first Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site will open in January and run throughout the 2012 tax season.

Like other VITA sites across the county, the Howard County site will offer free tax assistance preparation to most taxpayers who earned up to $49,000 in 2011. In addition to free tax return preparation, the site will also offer free electronic filling. Individuals who choose to take advantage of the e-file program will receive their refunds in half-the-time compared to returns filed on paper - even faster, when tax refunds are deposited directly into a bank account.

"Through the opening of this pilot site, we take another step forward to making and keeping all Howard County residents self sufficient," said County Executive Ulman. "Working families who might otherwise pay hundreds of dollars for tax preparation and electronic filing can now use those funds to pay bills, weatherize their homes or save for their futures."

The Howard County VITA site will operate out of the North Laurel Community Center, 9411 Whiskey Bottom Road in Laurel, three days a week from January 18 through April 14: Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Appointments are encouraged and can be scheduled at the start of the New Year by visiting www.howardcountymd.gov/VITA.htm. This year's tax deadline is April 17, 2012.

In preparation for the site's opening, the County is also seeking volunteers to serve as tax preparers, quality reviewers, greeters and office staff. Volunteer tax preparers are trained to help with special credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. Training and certification for volunteer tax preparers are offered for free and sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service; no prior tax preparationn or accounting experience is required. Residents interested in volunteering should contact the site coordinator, Enock Guerrier, by e-mail at vita@howardcountymd.gov or by telephone at 410-313-0386.

For more information, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/VITA.htm.

ACM Welcomes New Communities

We would like to welcome Addison at St. Paul's Condominium II, Inc. and Woodlands Condominium.

Addison at St. Pauls Condominium II, Inc.
Condominium located in Captiol Heights, MD

Woodlands Condominium
Office Condominium located in Columbia, MD

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Employee Spotlight: Kristin, Administrative Assistant

ACM would like to welcome Kristin, one of our newest Community Association Assistants. Kristin is from Annapolis and has past experience working as an office assistant. She has earned her Associates Degree in Mathematics.

In her spare time, Kristin enjoys playing softball, basketball, four-wheeling, horseback riding, drawing and working on her Mustang.

We are thrilled to have Kristin join the ACM team!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Basic Household Winter Safety Tips from Arthur J. Gallagher

Click on the photo to enlarge the Basic Household Winter Safety Tips from Arthur J. Gallagher.

Consumer Reports: 12 Low-Cost Ways to Save Energy and Money Now

CLICK HERE to read a report by Consumer Reports that outlines 12 low-costs ways to save energy and money.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Holiday

ACM's offices will be closed Thursday, November 24, 2011 and Friday, November 25, 2011 in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.

We wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving weekend!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Arthur J. Gallagher Property Visit

On October 25 and 26, 2011, representatives from Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services, Inc. visited several ACM associations to conduct a preventative risk management assessment. Mr. Scott B. Parrish, Area Senior Vice President and Mr. Michael G. Waytena, Area Assistant Vice President, of Gallagher joined Mr. Bob Guerin, Vice President of Property Management and Ms. Amanda Lande, Marketing Coordinator of ACM to walk through the following associations:

  • Capistrano by the Square Condominium
  • Cedar Valley Condominium
  • Clary's Forest I Condominium
  • Clary's Forest II Condominium
  • Coldspring Community Association
  • Concord House Condominium
  • Deering Woods Condominium
  • Governor's Grant Condominium
  • Hearthstone at Timbers Condominium
  • Heatherfield Condominium
  • Hickory Crest Townhome Condominium
  • Highlands Corporate Center One
  • Hollington at the Pointe I
  • Hollington at the Pointe II
  • Silverbrook Farm Condominium
  • The Gatherings at Lyndwood
  • The Villas at Hobbit's Glen
A report is being generated by the Gallagher representatives with suggestions and recommendations for preventative and routine maintenance after conducting the property visits. Upon completion, this report will be shared with the Community Manager and the Board of Directors of each association to assist with any future developments or necessary projects that may be able to be completed for preventative maintenance purposes.

introduced the specialized insurance program for represented associations with Zurich and Arthur J. Gallagher in September 2010. Over the past year of this program being available, significant saving have already been recognized. If your association is interested in learning more about the insurance program, please contact your Community Manager.

ACM is Now on Twitter

Can't get enough of ACM News? We have reached Twitter! Follow us @ACMgmt2001.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

ACM Welcomes New Communities

Thames Street Condominium

Caroline Street Condominium

We would like to welcome Caroline Street Condominium and Thames Street Condominium to the ACM family. We are excited to begin working with you!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Nationwide Test of the Emergency Alert System - Wednesday, November 9th

As part of the effort to keep our country and communities safe during emergencies, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will conduct the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS).

The national test will occur on Wednesday, November 9th at 2 PM. The test will be similar to local emergency alert system tests. The test will be transmitted via television and radio stations.

The EAS is a national alert and warning system established to enable the President of the United States to address the American public during emergencies. The EAS can also be used by NOAA's National Weather Service, governors and state and local emergency managers so that it can be used to issue more localized emergency alerts.

For more information, please visit: http://www.fema.gov/eastest/

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries

Remember to turn the clocks back one hour this weekend! Daylight Savings Time ends this Sunday, November 6, 2011 at 2:00 AM.

"The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is reminding consumers that when changing the clocks this weekend to change the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, too."

The CPSC estimates that 16 million homes in the U.S. have smoke alarms that do not work mostly because of dead and missing batteries.

For more information, please click on the following links:



Thursday, October 20, 2011

ACM Partners with Community Mediation Centers Statewide at the CAI Expo

On October 18, 2011, the Community Associations Institute (CAI) held their annual expo at Martin's West in Baltimore. This year's topic was "You Only Have One Day in Court. Be Prepared!". The keynote presentation was a mock trial being conducted based on common covenant/bylaw violations.

As part of the expo, ACM sponsored a booth for Community Mediation Centers statewide. We were fortunate enough to have representatives from the Conflict Resolution Center of Baltimore County spend the day with us at the booth explaining mediation and the free services offered to individuals.

If you weren't able to attend the event, you can visit Community Mediation Maryland online at http://www.marylandmediation.org to find a center near you and learn about the alternative dispute resolution services offered.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Administrative Savings

Administrative expenses for 2011 are projected to be almost $20, 000 less than 2010, bringing our cumulative savings since implementing our new website services in January 2010 to $84,000, or a 23.8% reduction in costs.

Register today at www.acmhome.com to become a member of the website for your home and learn how you can help save your association money!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Guerin Assumes Role of Vice President of Property Management

Mr. Robert (Bob) Guerin will be assuming the role of Vice President of Property Management at ACM. Bob joined ACM as a Community Manager in 2004 and has an outstanding 35 years of experience in residential and multifamily property management including the position of Property Manager for Monumental Properties and District Manager and Assistant Vice President for Town and Country Management.

Bob has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from the University of Baltimore and has earned the designation of a Registered Apartment Manager (RAM) from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Bob will be replacing Tom Flanagan who led our Property Management Department since joining our staff in 2009. Tom intends to return to commercial property management. Congratulations Bob and best wishes Tom!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Administrator of the Month: August 2011

Pictured: Shirley, Michelle, Crislyn, Carolyn, Carol, Heather, Sandra, Juanita. Not Pictured: Amber, Katie, Gail, Robert

The Administrator of the Month for August 2011 is the entire Administrative Department. The full administrative team deserves recognition for the month for doing an amazing job during the Vice President of Client and Administrative Services extended absence.

Thank you for your continued hard work and all that you do!

Congratulations Administrative Department!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

City Launches New Mobile App for 311

Last week, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced the official launch of Baltimore's new 311 Mobile App. The service allows citizens to report service requests from an iPhone or Android smartphone. The first edition of the mobile app has over fifty different service requests to choose from, including complaints about trash, potholes, graffiti, and malfunctioning traffic signs.

The free smartphone application automatically pinpoints the location of the reported problem by using Global Positioning Satellite technology. Allowing the user to attach a photo and the exact location to the service request will give the City-dispatched crew a better idea of what equipment and tools to bring in order to fix the problem the first time. Reports made to the system can be anonymous, and citizens can track the status of their requests any time with the new mobile app. When the repair is completed, the city will notify the person who reported the issue.

To find the app, users can search for "Baltimore 311" in the App Store or Android Market.

For more information, please CLICK HERE.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

University of Maryland Conducts Research to Develop Class about Community Association Governance

One of ACM's core beliefs is the importance of education for both Board of Directors of community associations and Community Association Management professionals. ACM, in coordination with the University of Maryland Institute for Governmental Service and Research (IGSR), is currently exploring the possibility of advanced leadership training and educational opportunities about community association governance.

University of Maryland researchers began this process by conducting interviews with ACM staff members of all departments to learn more about their roles in the community association governance process and what types of educational developments would assist with their responsibilities. After interviews were finalized, the researchers facilitated three (3) focus group sessions held with board members of ACM associations. These focus groups gave board members the opportunity to discuss with one another their experiences as board members and the types of educational training that would be beneficial in assisting them while performing their voluntary duties.

ACM would like to thank all of the board members that expressed interest in this opportunity and were able to participate. The researchers will be compiling the data they gathered over the course of the last month and it is our hope that a class about community association governance will be developed.

To learn more about the University of Maryland Institute for Governmental Service and Research (IGSR), please CLICK HERE.

ACM Employee Picnic

ACM hosted a picnic for all employees and their families on Friday, August 26, 2011 at Centennial Park in Ellicott City. The weather was beautiful and everyone had the opportunity to socialize with their co-workers and get to know each others family members.

Employees participated in a team building exercise in the morning with lunch provided and games set up in the afternoon.

We would like to send out a big "Thank You!" to everyone who was able to attend and make the day one to remember!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

ACM Welcomes New Community

We would like to introduce and welcome Huntley Square Condominium.

Huntley Square Condominium is a 338 unit garden condominium located in Temple Hills, Maryland. They will be managed out of our Columbia office.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Administrator of the Month: July 2011

Congratulations to Heather Griffing for her award as Administrator of the Month for July 2011!

Heather's kind and gracious spirit, coupled with her forever smile, makes her an invaluable part of our department. Kudos Heather!!

ACM Welcomes New Community

We would like to introduce and welcome Millwood Homeowners Association.

Millwood HOA is a 106 town home community in White Marsh, Maryland. They will be managed out of our Timonium office.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Heat Wave to Hit East Coast

Record high temperatures are hitting many states in the nation this week and it seems that we are next. Forecasters are anticipating the heat index values to rise in between the range of 105 to 115 for the rest of the week.

The American Red Cross has published the following precautions to keep you and your family safe during extreme heat conditions.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol. Eat small meals and eat more often.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun's rays.
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day. Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors, and use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
  • Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.
With code orange and code reds in place, many counties and cities have opened up cooling centers where residents can go and get a break from the sweltering heat. Please visit your city or county government's website to see a list of cooling centers in your area.

Friday, July 15, 2011

New Cost Options for Solar Power

Using solar energy is a great way to cut cost on utility bills, but it can be a big expense upfront when installing solar energy systems.

Two companies, Standard Solar and Greenspring Energy, are offering a type of leasing program in which the homeowner can choose how much money they want to put down. This allows Maryland homeowner's to reap the benefits of solar power without the big start up costs.

To read the WBAL TV article and view more information on the program, please CLICK HERE.

MD Daily Record: Maryland foreclosures fall, but news isn't good

"Maryland foreclosures fall, but news isn't good" by Maryland Daily Record

Foreclosures on Maryland properties in the first half of this year fell more than 68 percent compared with the corresponding period in 2010, an extreme example of a nationwide trend, foreclosure listing company RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

But the decline, which resulted from delays in foreclosure processing, may not be good news for homeowners, instead indicating that the housing market is far from recovery.

Foreclosures nationwide fell 29 percent from the first half of 2010, with June marking the ninth straight month where foreclosure activity decreased. Maryland's decrease was the second steepest in the nation, following only Washington, D.C.

"It really unfortunately is an artificially low number, and does not indicate that the housing market is improving," said Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac. "A lot of foreclosure activity has just been delayed. Ultimately, those foreclosures will hit. The question is when, not if."

Sharga said the delays may push the housing market's recovery out to 2015, a year beyond previous predictions. Maryland, he said, may recover earlier because it was not hit as hard by the housing market crash as many other states.

"It's possible Maryland could come out a little earlier than the rest of the county," Sharga said. "Maryland had some trouble with the housing market, but it wasn't as insane as it was in places like California. The wave of foreclosures now is being driven mostly by unemployment, and Maryland's unemployment rate isn't as high as some other states."

James Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said the delays in processing may push as many as 1 million foreclosure actions that were scheduled for this year to 2012 or beyond.

"This casts an ominous shadow over the housing market, where recovery is unlikely to happen until the current and forthcoming inventory of distressed properties can be whittled down to a manageable number," Saccacio said in a statement.

Maryland's steeper decrease may be due more to political and social factors than economic ones, said Daraius Irani, director of the Regional Economic Studies Institute at Towson University.

"Maryland is much more of an activist state," Irani said. "It has more consumer interests at heart than maybe some other states would, and its rigorous control requirements are being put into effect and slowing things down."

Although Irani also said Maryland may recover sooner than many other states, he said the housing market will continue to struggle both locally and nationally.

"Until the market settles down and finds the bottom, which I still don't think it's done, all we're doing is postponing the inevitable for the next three to four years," Irani said.

Banks foreclosed on 421,212 homes nationwide in the first half of the year, down from 529,633 in the first six months of 2010.

In Maryland, Prince George's County was hit the hardest with foreclosure notices, with 1.04 percent of all housing properties receiving one, followed by Charles and Frederick counties at 0.5 and 0.42 percent, respectively. Garrett County had the lowest rate at 0.06 percent. The rate in Baltimore City was 0.33 percent, and Baltimore County's rate was 0.25 percent.

Maryland homes receiving foreclosure-related notices over the last six months totaled 8,905, down from 28,293 between January and June of 2010, according to RealtyTrac. The total nationwide was 1.2 million homes.

CLICK HERE to visit the Maryland Daily Record website.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Changes Coming to My Corner Page in www.acmhome.com for Registered Homeowners

American Community Management has been working with the web designer of www.acmhome.com to help make navigation easier for our homeowners. Next week, we will be implementing a new My Corner page for all registered users of www.acmhome.com. The information and events posted on the community websites will still be fed onto the My Corner page for quick view, but we have revised the icons on the right hand side of the screen to make it easier to access account information. We believe that this change will not only make navigation easier, but will also enhance the homeowners experience in ACM Home even more.

Flexibility of Services

ACM would like to welcome Lake Village Square Homeowners Association and Mt. Airy Estates Homeowners Association to the Full Community Management level of service offered. Both of these associations recognized the possibility for more involvement from ACM with the management of their community and seized the opportunity to switch levels of service based on the needs of their association at no additional cost.

ACM offers two levels of service to associations; Accounting and Administrative services and Full Community Management services. To learn more about the different levels of service offered, please visit our website, www.communitymanagers.net and click on the "Our Services" tab. Associations have the liberty to alternate levels of service depending upon the needs of their association. This switch can be made at any time during the association's contract with ACM at no additional cost. We've structured the two levels of services specifically to meet the different demands and levels of involvement of associations we represent. We MANAGE to Make a Difference!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Administrator of the Month: June 2011

Congratulations to Amber Courtock for being voted Administrator of the month for June 2011! Amber was elected by her peers for her willingness to help whenever and where ever needed. Her positive attitude and commitment to the department makes Amber our star for June!

Friday, June 24, 2011

ACM Photo Contest Results

ACM Would like to extend a big "Thank You!" to everyone who participated in the ACM Photo Contest for 2011! We had a total of 109 entries making the selection process very difficult. We appreciate all of the photos received from ACM associations and would like to recognize the following photo contest winners:

First Place: Paul Trattner for his entire portfolio of entries for Coldspring Community Association.

Second Place: Danny Simpson for his photo of Oak Fair Homeowners Association.

Third Place: Tie- Carol Allen of ACM for her photo of Burleigh Manor III HOA.

Third Place: Tie - Amanda Lande of ACM for her picture of Dorsey Crossing Condo and HOA.

Congratulations to our Photo Contest Winners! All photo entries have the opportunity to be displayed on our Facebook page and throughout both ACM offices. Just because the contest is over for 2011 doesn't mean you have to stop taking pictures! Any pictures taken between now and next year can be submitted to Amanda Lande via email, alande@communitymanagers.net, to be considered for any future ACM Photo Contest.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Coldspring Newtown Resident Named 'Baltimore's Best Hon'

A resident of an ACM managed community, Coldspring Newtown, was awarded "Baltimore's Best Hon 2011" at this year's "HONfest". To read the article and view the pictures of the award as reported by the North Baltimore Patch, please CLICK HERE.

Friday, June 10, 2011

New Change to My Corner Page

We have taken your suggestions about navigation on the website and have put them into action. When board members and homeowners were asked, "what is the most difficult aspect of the website?", the majority of the responses revealed similar answers. Navigation between www.acmhome.com and SenEarthCo provided to be the most challenging.

We have been working with the website designer for Resident Interactive (www.acmhome.com) and the support staff from SenEarthCo to provide you a more user friendly way to get from the My Corner page to the information held within SenEarthCo.

We have created new icons that when clicked on takes you to a menu of links that users visit frequently, for example, account statement, management reports, architectural applications, etc. The homeowner will then be launched into the exact location in SenEarthCo to find the information that they are looking for. We believe that this is a positive change to provide our homeowners an even more user friendly website.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Heat Wave Hits the Region

The hot weather our region is used to seeing in August has started earlier and stronger than normal this year. With highs reaching the upper 90s and records being broken, counties have opened cooling centers along with providing hot weather assistance and tips. Please click on the links below to view information on cooling centers and assistance offered for each county.

Anne Arundel

Baltimore City

Baltimore County

Carroll County

Charles County

Harford County

Howard County

Montgomery County

Prince George's County

Friday, June 3, 2011

ACM Community Managers Participate in Mediation Workshop

On June 1, 2011, ACM hosted a Mediation Workshop with the Conflict Resolution Center of Baltimore County. Janet Bayer, Director of the Community Conferencing Program and Robyn Engle, Mediation & Outreach Specialist, led the workshop with ACM's Community Management Department.

The workshop included several exercises to help the Community Managers understand conflict and how to effectively handle those types of situations when they occur within community associations. The Community Managers learned active listening techniques as well as how to ask open-ended questions in order to keep people from getting defensive and to really understand what the true problem is.

The Conflict Resolution Center of Baltimore County is one of seventeen (17) Community Mediation Maryland centers across the state available to assist communities with resolving conflict free of charge. ACM will be incorporating the appropriate contact information for the county Community Mediation Center on each association's website on www.acmhome.com as the first alternative to dispute resolution.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Stink Bugs... a $7 Homemade Trap

It may be the early onset of extremely warm weather, but have the stink bugs come back with more of a vengeance this year? You see them everywhere and we've tried everything to get rid of these creepy crawlers and we mean EVERYTHING! We've even duct taping around the windows in our living room!

Although there may not be a distinct solution right now to get rid of them, one homeowner in Shaler, Pennsylvania has taken it upon himself to design a $7 do-it-yourself stink bug trap that really seems to do the trick! Click on the link below to view the news report from WPXI of the "$7 Homemade Stink Bug Trap".

Administrator of the Month: May 2011

Congratulations Sandra for earning Administrator of the Month for May!!

Sandra Carroll was voted Administrator of the Month by her peers for the month of May 2011. Her willingness to always help and pitch in to do whatever it takes to get the job done makes her the Administrative Department's shining star for the month!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

FHA Condominium Approvals - Required for FHA-Insured Loans

The FHA requires condominium complexes to be FHA approved before individuals can use FHA-insured loans for purchases, refinancing, or reverse mortgages. The advantage of FHA approval is an increased pool of buyers, and the ability for unit owners to refinance using FHA-insured loans. Over 80% of first-time home-buyers state they are using FHA-insured loans. Having a larger pool of buyers can stabilize or improve property valuations. Condominiums that are not FHA approved tend to have a higher percentage of investor purchasers.

In order for a condominium to be FHA approved or re-certified, certain eligibility requirements must be met. For example, the FHA requires an owner-occupancy ratio of at least 50% and delinquency rates below 15%. There are additional submission requirements including legal, financial and insurance documents, as well as the completion of an FHA Questionnaire.

If your condominium association is interested in becoming FHA approved and would like assistance in the preparation of a submission package, American Community Management (ACM) recommends Condo Approvals, LLC, a member of the Chesapeake Chapter Community Associations Institute (CAI). Condo Approvals has been a proven partner with ACM and its community associations providing a low-cost, high-quality service to condominiums involved in the approval process.

"Since our original request with FHA came back with a denial, it was appreciated to be able to contract with a company that could resubmit the needed paperwork in a thorough manner for follow up seeking the approval we were looking for due to our already hectic work schedule," says Ron Rims, Community Association Manager for Garrision Ridge Condominium, represented by ACM, about working with Condo Approvals, LLC.

You can contact Gary Gooch at 571-312-0925, by email at condoapprovalseast@condoapprovalsllc.com for a free pre-screen of your association.

Article written by: Gary Gooch

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Local Event: Columbia Home Tour

The Columbia Home Tour 2011 will be held June 5, 2011 from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The event is sponsored by the Villages of Columbia and the Columbia Archives with proceeds benefiting the charity "One Month's Rent Initiative". To learn more about this charity, please visit them online at www.onemonthsrent.org.

The self-guided tour includes five features homes located within the Columbia Villages selected because of their unique qualities:
  • Restored historic mansion in Kings Contrivance
  • Contemporary split level in Hickory Ridge
  • Unique, redesigned town-home in Town Center
  • Beautifully landscaped colonial in Dorsey's Search
  • Lakeside town-home in Owen Brown
Participants are provided tour guide books with the purchase of tickets and are invited to visit the newly renovated Owen Brown Community Center between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM for a reception with refreshments and Columbia Archive displays. To learn more about the event, visit the "Columbia Home Tour 2011" Facebook page by CLICKING HERE.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

ACM Concludes Board Feedback Survey and Reviews Results

ACM concluded the Board Feedback Survey on April 30, 2011. All responses have been received and are in the process of being reviewed for action. Thank you to all of the board members who participated in the survey. Your feedback is very important to us and will help ACM to continue enhancing our management services for community associations.

While reviewing responses to the survey, one question had very similar answers from the majority of participants. When asked, "What is most difficult for the homeowners and board members when using the website?", most of them answered that navigation on ACM's community portal, www.acmhome.com, has proven to be difficult. After receiving this feedback, ACM is making it a top priority to work with our software providers to potentially simplify the navigation, as well as educate both homeowners and board members about utilizing the website features. The survey also determined that most board participants plan increase use of the website this year and our goal is to make the online tool as easy to use as possible for residents.

Thank you again to all of the board members who provided ACM with feedback about our services. We appreciate your participation and value your responses.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Administrator of the Month: April 2011

Congratulations Carol for earning Administrator of the Month!!

Carol's hard work and team efforts during the month of April earned her votes from her peers as Administrator of the Month. Thank you Carol for all that you do!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Considerable Savings Observed in Reimbursable Administrative Expenses

Beginning January 1, 2010, ACM's integration of accounting, property management and community management software was introduced to our clients via www.acmhome.com. In the first year of usage, administrative reimbursements paid to ACM in 2010 were $64,712.13 less than in 2009, a total savings of 17.9% for associations. Administrative reimbursements include costs such as, postage, copies, storage of paper records, printing and bulk mailings.

The savings recognized has a direct correlation with each associations involvement with the website, www.acmhome.com. A combined effort of both the Board of Directors of the associations and ACM has been necessary to encourage homeowners to register for the website service in order to help the association save additional administrative costs. With the use of the website we are able to store community information electronically online at no cost to the association, communicate with homeowners via the website and email, as well as reduce the administrative reimbursement expenses that were paid in the past.

Along with cutting down on paper usage and promoting ACM's "green" approach to business, our client portfolio increased in 2010 with 23 associations joining us, making the savings much more significant. Opportunity exists for more savings for our clients with the use of direct debit and e-check payments provided at no cost to the association, which eliminates the need for the purchase of coupons or statements. *

Combined, all the features of the website have generated substantial savings for ACM associations. The more homeowners register for www.acmhome.com, the more savings the association will see.

* Administrative reimbursable expenses do not include the cost of coupons or statements.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mediation as an Alternative

Conflict within a community association is not unheard of. In fact, it happens more often than one would like to admit. ACM has been introduced to Community Mediation Maryland, founded and incorporated in 1999 by several Community Mediation centers working with the Maryland Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office (MACRO). Today there is a total of seventeen (17) Community Mediation Centers across Maryland that are available to assist community associations with the conflict resolution process. Participants are able to speak their mind, understand each other and reach self-determined agreements to possibly resolve issues before they escalate to legal action.

ACM has had the opportunity to meet with a representative from the Conflict Resolution Center of Baltimore County and is planning on coordinating workshops for employees as well as providing contact and referral information for all community associations. Mediation should be considered as the first step in conflict resolution and dealing with community association legal issues. There is no cost for utilizing this service but more importantly, mediation helps build a stronger community.

To learn more about Community Mediation Maryland and to find a Community Mediation Center that services your area, visit them online at www.MDMediation.org.

ACM Photo Contest

With the spring weather upon us, ACM will be holding a community photo contest!!

This contest will be open to Board members on behalf of the association and all ACM staff members. There will be a 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize winner including recognition on the ACM News Blog.

Pictures of the communities should be submitted to Amanda Lande (alande@communitymanagers.net) by May 20, 2011. If you have any questions, please contact Amanda via email.

** ACM has the right to use all pictures submitted as we see fit on ACM websites and for other promotional material. Selected photos will also be displayed in both ACM offices.

Below are some pictures from previous contest winners.

Scarborough Association:

Coldspring Community Association:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

ACM Communities Enrolled in Insurance Program with Zurich and Arthur J. Gallagher See Substantial Savings

Since the introduction of the insurance program with Zurich and Arthur J. Gallagher in September 2010 to ACM associations, substantial savings have already been recognized. The ACM Community Client Insurance Program has eclipsed the $400,000 premium mark representing over $100,000 in premium savings for the participating associations. If you have not received a quote and would like to learn more about the insurance program, please contact your Community Association Manager.

For those of you who live in associations that were not able to be insured by the insurance program with Zurich, there are other options available to you. Wayne Pachol, President of Alternative Insurance Management, LLC, is an insurance and risk management consultant. Contact Mr. Pachol for alternative solutions by phone, (410) 343-3123 or email, wpachol@comcast.net

Positive Feedback from ACM Board Survey Leads to Addition to the Board Reference Library on www.acmhome.com

For the past month, ACM has asked for board members to provide feedback about ACM and the services we provide to their community association via the Board Feedback Survey on www.acmhome.com. Participation is continuing to grow and we've received very positive and informative responses to date.

Back in November, ACM created the Board Reference Library on www.acmhome.com to provide helpful articles, publications, links, and community resources for board members. One of the questions asked on the Board Feedback Survey was about how helpful this tool was for board members.

As of March 30, 2011, more than half of survey participants have agreed that the articles posted from various community management sources on a wide variety of subjects have been useful in assisting board members with their role. With that said, the vast majority of survey participants also agreed that references and performance comments about contractors and service providers from other board members of different associations would assist with the governance of their associations. Because of this positive feedback about the tools provided to board members on www.acmhome.com, ACM has decided to create a "Service Reviews & Recommendations" discussion board. This will be available to all board members in the Board Reference Library and it allows them to submit comments about contractors and service providers, such as landscaping and legal services, working with their associations.

The Board Feedback Survey will be available to all board members on www.acmhome.com until April 30, 2011. We encourage all board members to participate and submit their comments and/or suggestions for ACM. If you would like to participate, but aren't registered on the website, go to www.acmhome.com and click on the "Register" link. Your feedback is important to us and helps us provide the best quality service possible to your association!

Baltimore Sun: White pages era coming to end

"When you were a tot, they gave you a boost at the dining room table. As a kindergartner, you dipped their pages in watery glue to make papier-mache. In your teens, you scanned for funny-sounding names to prank call.

You might even have used them to look up a telephone number once or twice.

Yet now when they land with a thud at your doorstep, you probably toss them straight into the recycling bin.

The era of the phone book is passing.

This week, the General Assembly approved legislation to end mandatory delivery of the residential white pages, a step already taken by states across the country as fewer people turn to the once-trusty reference..."

To continue reading the rest of the Baltimore Sun's article, "White Pages Era Coming to End", please CLICK HERE.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Vice President of Client Services Assumes Responsibility of Administrative Department

Hazel Wilkinson, current Vice President of Client Services for the Community Management Department, will be relinquishing that role to assume the position of Vice President of Client and Administrative Services.

Hazel was hired by ACM in 2003 and she has a remarkable 28 years of property management experience. Hazel has achieved the impressive designations of Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) and Association Management Specialist (AMS) through CAI, as well as Certified Property Manager (CPM) through the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM).

Hazel will be assuming responsibility of the Administrative Department in mid March. Congratulations Hazel!

Friday, March 11, 2011

CAI's Chesapeake Chapter Features ACM in Membership Spotlight

American Community Management was featured in the Membership Spotlight section of CAI's Chesapeake Chapter's winter 2011 newsletter, The Beacon. Read the full article as it appeared in The Beacon below.

American Community Management (ACM) was founded in 2001 by merging two management companies in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area, each with more than 15 years experience. Over the past decade, our company has established itself as a leader in community management of condominium and homeowners associations throughout Maryland. We are currently servicing over 25,000 households within 187 residential properties, and an additional half a million square feet of office condominiums. ACM has two offices, with the main office located in Columbia and a satellite office in Timonium.

ACM is an Accredited Association Management Company (AAMC®). We earned that designation in part because of our commitment to the continuing education of our employees. We seek out educational programs offered by many industry sources, as well as those offered by the Maryland university system.

American Community Management has embarked on a plan to increase the value that communities can receive from their management company. The community manager will be joined in their efforts to provide services to our communities by members of the newly created Property Management Department.

The Property Management Department consists of a team of facility managers that are dedicated to bringing the correct maintenance solution to the communities we manage. From routine maintenance to emergency services, the property manager will provide the Boards of Directors with the right solution. Focused attention to the proposal process, along with the knowledge and consideration of potential contractors, will help ensure that ACM's managed communities meet the expectations of the community boards and their members.

ACM's community portal website, www.acmhome.com is a critical component of our business and provides the platform where our innovative systems merge. We have designed a portal that serves as a gateway to homeowner interaction and community involvement. Communication, awareness, and proactive residents are vital to all associations and our goal is to create a website where owners are inclined to visit frequently. This is achieved by personalizing the website for each homeowner, with links to community related information and a "one stop shop" for access to pertinent association documents.

ACM is constantly researching and integrating the latest technology to maximize our potential as managing agents. By investing in the services of companies that provide accounting, management and maintenance software, we have been able to create a platform to streamline information seamlessly and efficiently for our clients in a fashion that few others can deliver. ACM's utilization of technology has saved our clients over $75,000 in administrative fees in the first year of this program. Proactively pursuing new and innovative ways to assist our associations and deliver services is our priority. By investing in the best tool and technologies today, we better position ourselves and our clients for the future.

Please visit us at www.communitymanagers.net to learn more about ACM and submit a proposal request for our services. We MANAGE to make a difference.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ABC2News: Police warns residents of burglaries

Police in western Howard County are warning residents to be on alert for suspicious people or vehicles after 12 burglaries or attempted burglaries have taken place since January near the I-70 corridor and near Md. 32.

For more information on the burglaries and tips on burglary prevention, please CLICK HERE.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

ACM Welcomes New Communities

We would like to introduce and welcome those communities that have recently joined ACM:
  • King's Gift Community Association
  • Sloop Cove Landing HOA

ACM Approved for BBB Accreditation

ACM has always been conscious of client needs and has maintained a high quality of service for associations. In the past, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Greater Maryland has not fully understood the functions of a community association management company and has often confused ACM with that of a landlord role. After addressing this confusion with the BBB and educating them on the purpose of a community association management company, and the management of the association by the governing body of homeowners, ACM agreed to apply and was approved for accreditation with the BBB in January 2011. For more information on the BBB of Greater Maryland and to review ACM's rating and history of service, please visit http://greatermd.bbb.org.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Explore Harford: Bel Air passes mandatory fire sprinkler law; town was lone holdout in Harford

"The town of Bel Air joined the rest of Harford County Tuesday in adopting requirements for fire suppression sprinklers in all new residential construction.

Several members of the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company attended a public hearing held during the town meeting to rally their support for a sprinkler requirement in the town's building code.

Ordinance No. 739-11, which amends the International Building Code to include requirements for the installation of sprinkler systems into all new single and double family dwelling construction, was approved 4-1 by the Board of Town Commissioners..."

Click on the following link to continue reading Explore Harford: Bel Air passes mandatory fire sprinkler law; town was lone holdout in Harford