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HOA, condo, and community leaders gather to learn more about association living

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If there's one thing that writing this column has taught me about association living, it's that I have much to learn. Thankfully, South Florida is virtually brimming with opportunities for your West Palm Beach HOA Examiner, and anyone else who is curious about the strange and sometimes confusing world of HOAs, to gather together and share common experiences, as well as to learn about how things are supposed to be run in a perfect world.

Now, everyone knows that this is not a perfect world. Far from it. That is part of the reason why so many people are confused about what really goes on in associations, and why so few people take the time to get involved in their local communities. Fear is a horrible thing, but it can also be a motivator. The best weapon to battle fear is knowledge, for knowledge is the only real power any of us have.

On Wednesday, Jan. 8, the Florida Community Association Journal will be sponsoring the FLCAJ-FCAP Statewide Conference & Expo at the the Palm Beach County Convention Center. This community association trade show bills itself as being different than some of the others in the state (and there and many), and consists of education galore, giveaways, and even entertainment! There is no cost to attend, and parking is free if you preregister.

The event features numerous courses and opportunities to interact with professionals in the homeowners' association field. Two of the regular contributors to the question and answer section of this column, Donna Berger of KG&B law and Mitch Drimmer of AFS will be featured presenters at the event.

If you can't make that conference, or if you are in the mood for even more information (and who isn't) the group Condo Craze and HOAs will be hosting it's annual Condo Craze board certification course and day of education at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood on Saturday, Jan. 25.

The event includes a free breakfast, and helps to fulfill the government regulation that all board members be certified in association law within 90 days of their election. It also features numerous free courses, good for continuing education credit for licensed CAMs, as well as a chance to meet and learn from fellow board members, the show's sponsors, and other experts in their fields.

To register for the event, or for more information including sponsorship opportunities, visit their website or call 855-4-CONDOCRAZE.

An important deadline in the world of condominiums, homeowners associations and co-ops is coming up on Jan. 31. What is it, you might ask. Well, that is the last day to submit applications for the 2014 Florida Communities of Excellence Awards. The Florida Communities of Excellence Awards is the first and only comprehensive, independent recognition program for the tens of thousands of community associations throughout Florida, and helps to recognize the hard work that community association volunteers and managers do to keep our world running smoothly.

"Regardless of the outcome, participation can be a community-building event that brings people together," stated Executive Director Alan Penchansky. "Winning communities point to their Awards with pride. Many winners include the Communities of Excellence logo on their site and in their materials. The Awards document their accomplishments and raise their profiles while bestowing prestige that can help promote new sales and increase property values."

Any shared-ownership residential community is eligible to participate, and you may submit an entry in one or two categories – or in all eleven categories.

"The submission process is done entirely online at www.CommunitiesOfExcellence.net," Penchansky continued. "There you can download a PDF with questions for each category, register your association and begin answering the questions for any category you're entering. This year we've added the ability to save your work so you can return to make edits or additions later."

The Awards will be presented at the Communities of Excellence Conference & Awards Gala, Friday, May 2 in Orlando at the Rosen Plaza Hotel, and the winners will be posted at the Communities of Excellence site afterward. The Awards ceremony is a free event for all active CAMs, board members and residents and you do not have to submit an entry to attend. The event includes educational sessions, a trade show, cocktail reception, and an Awards Banquet.

With these various conferences and seminars, there are ample opportunities to try and figure out the ever changing world of association life. Who knows; you may even run into your favorite West Palm Beach HOA Examiner there!

Be sure to subscribe to this column, and stay abreast of issues involving you, the homeowners of Palm Beach County. If you've had any issues with your HOA that you'd like me to try and delve into, and possibly write about later, please let me know. Also, if you'd like to join the discussion on Twitter, you can find me at http://twitter.com/#!/faborplumbs. While you’re at it, please read my articles about local getaways,motorsports, elections, and restaurants.

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