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Lantana Trailblazers Seek Second Act

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The first Lantana residents ever elected to Denton County Fresh Water Supply District #6 are seeking their second terms in office this May.

Board members Max Miller and Donna Robichaux were sworn into office in May 2006.  They replaced two non-resident board members that were originally appointed by Lantana’s developer when the district was created in May 2000.

Three more residents – Ross Ferguson, Jim VanVickle, and Adrian Weaver – joined Miller and Robichaux on the board in 2008.

With a current population estimated at over 7,200, Lantana has nearly doubled in size since Miller and Robichaux were elected four years ago.  But both can remember back to the days when the development had just a few families.

In fact, Robichaux was one of the first 10 residents of Lantana, settling in the Sandlin neighborhood in September 2001.  She served on the official Lantana Welcoming Committee for six years, handing out famous homemade apple pies from the Lantana Grill to new residents.

As a Realtor for Ebby Halliday in Flower Mound, Robichaux estimated that she has moved over 100 families into Lantana during the past nine years.

“I am a top producing Realtor with a team of agents, and have successfully worked in this immediate area for 19 years,” said Robichaux.

Helping people in her community is a duty that Robichaux does not take lightly.

“I am a founding member and current President of a local non-profit organization, ‘Your Home Team Cares ’, which assists local families in getting through a temporary crisis, like a serious illness or job loss.”

“I feel that one of my strongest assets is that I sincerely listen to all sides on an issue, educate myself with the facts, and then make a responsible decision based on what is best for the community,” added Robichaux, who currently serves as Vice President of FWSD #6.

Max Miller was transferred to DFW in the summer of 2002, and he and his wife, Susan, became the first residents of Lantana’s Laurel neighborhood that September.

“I started attending Fresh Water Supply District meetings in early 2005 as a concerned resident and owner of LantanaLinks.com, a website I started in 2003 to keep my fellow residents informed about our growing community,” said Miller.

A year and a half later, Miller found himself sitting on the board instead of just reporting about it.

“It was nice to have some ramp up time to watch and learn before serving on the board, especially since Fresh Water Supply Districts operate much differently than your typical municipality, and it takes some time to learn the intricacies.”

The same year he was elected, Miller acquired The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper, which is mailed each month to nine towns in southern Denton County, including every home in Lantana.

“I am in the unique position of being able to make decisions on behalf of my constituents and disseminate that information directly to them almost immediately,” said Miller.

As a small business owner, Miller stays active in the local chambers of commerce, serving as an Ambassador for both the Argyle and Flower Mound Chambers. He was recently named ‘Ambassador of the Year’ for the Flower Mound Chamber.

“Prior to my life as an entrepreneur, I spent 17 years working for a major broadcast company, mostly in management, where I supervised up to 60 employees,” added Miller.

He contributes to the children of the community by serving on the Board of Directors for the Cross Timbers Family YMCA and making monetary donations to both Lantana elementary schools each year to help them fund special events.

Miller currently serves as President of the FWSD #6 board, where he presides over board meetings and works with the district staff to coordinate the meeting agendas.  He also serves on a budget subcommittee with fellow board member Ross Ferguson and two members of the FWSD #7 board.

“I enjoy building consensus with my fellow board members and working to resolve residents’ concerns,” said Miller.

When talking with residents, Miller and Robichaux said that one of the first questions that comes up is, “What exactly is a Fresh Water Supply District and what are its responsibilities?”

“We don’t oversee the Lantana public schools and we won’t send you a letter reminding you to pull your trash can out of the street,” joked Robichaux.

What the Lantana Fresh Water Supply District boards do oversee, however, is serious business.

The two boards (FWSD #6 and #7) meet at least once a month at the district office in Bartonville Town Center to conduct business similar to that of a town council – including setting the property tax rate, reimbursing the developer for infrastructure improvements, overseeing utilities, and maintaining roads, sidewalks and parks.

“We work with an annual budget of $4 million, and a staff of 7 full-time employees report to us,” said Miller.

The pair said that they are proud of what they have accomplished as freshman board members.

“Donna and I have been able to make several important contributions to our community since being elected four years ago and are excited about our role in helping to make Lantana a better place to live and raise a family,” said Miller.

“We were instrumental in getting a school zone installed on Lantana Trail near E.P. Rayzor Elementary in 2007, and we are currently working on options to improve safety for children crossing Lantana Trail at Stacee Lane near Blanton Elementary and Harpool Middle School,” said Robichaux.

“We are blessed to live in such a family-oriented community, and the health and safety of our children is a big priority for us,” said Miller, who has a three-year-old son and is expecting a daughter at the end of April.

Miller said that during their tenure, the district has reduced its bond debt by more than $6 million.

“In addition, we have has just completed taking our water and sewer metering and billing in-house, which will save taxpayers more than $552,000 over the next five years.”

Communication with the residents has vastly improved over the past four years, according to the pair.

“Before we were elected, the meeting agendas were posted on a tree next to Lantana Trail and hardly anyone knew about it. In fact, I wrote about it on my website in 2005, calling it the ‘Tree of Knowledge’,” said Miller.

“To make it easier for residents to access the information, we erected kiosks in front of both Amenity Centers as well as posted the meeting agendas and minutes on the LantanaLive.com HOA website.”

Robichaux added, “We also encouraged community involvement and public participation by getting our monthly meetings moved from the developer’s office in Dallas to Lantana.  First to the golf clubhouse, then to our new district office in Bartonville Town Center…and we changed the meeting time from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. to accommodate as many residents as possible.”

The lines of communication have also improved between the two Fresh Water Districts that oversee Lantana.

“One of the changes I am most proud of is my initiative to hold quarterly meetings with the FWSD #7 board.  As we grow, we must develop a working relationship between the two boards for the good of the total community,” said Robichaux.

Miller said that public safety is becoming a big issue in the community since Lantana is located in unincorporated Denton County and does not have the benefit of a local police department like its neighboring towns.

“We are always exploring way
s to improve the safety of Lantana,” said Miller. “We have met several times with representatives from the Denton County Sheriff’s Department and County Commissioner Andy Eads to make sure that we are getting the best service from our public safety providers, and the board has explored the possibility of contracting with the Sheriff’s Department for a dedicated patrol.”

Residents familiar with Miller and Robichaux’s work on the board are enthusiastic about their contributions to the community.

“Donna is amazing, during the public forum, she will look you in the eye, listen to you…I mean really listen to you…and consider you and what you have to say.  She has proposed things to the board based on things that come up in the public forum,” said Donitta Palmier, the Crime Watch Captain for Navarro.

“I have attended many of the board meetings and have seen Max’s leadership in action. As president of the board, he has always been open to new ideas and I have seen some issues being advanced into policy,” said Laurel Crime Watch Captain Bill Featherstone.

“It takes a certain kind of person for community service; a person who is not putting his issues first, but the issues that are good for Lantana. Max is that person.”

Miller concluded, “Donna and I have enjoyed helping to make a difference on the board during our first term. There is plenty more work to do, and we look forward to the opportunity to continue serving our community. Lantana residents can vote for two candidates on the ballot this May. Please choose Max Miller and Donna Robichaux for FWSD #6!”

Early voting begins April 26 and runs until May 4.  Election Day is Saturday, May 8.  Lantana residents can cast their vote on Election Day at Double Oak Town Hall, 320 Waketon Rd., between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

For updates and more information, visit www.Vote4Max.com.

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