April 2015 Meeting

Huajilla Unit April Meeting

President Rosemary Bendele opened the monthly meeting of the Huajilla Unit TRTA held at the St. Dominic’s Parish Hall in D’Hanis at 10 AM on April 27, 2015.  President Bendele led the group in the pledges to the American and Texas flag and welcomed guests Dr. Charlotte Travis, District 20 President, guest speaker Sandra Hall, and the 65 members present.

Lewis Stroud offered the opening prayer and after giving some background information on George M. Cohan and the inspiration for song lyrics, Kay Sholtz led the group in singing “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”

Bendele then introduced Sandra Hall who presented a program centered on protecting our Mother Earth’s environment.  A retired second grade teacher from Ohio, Ms. Hall is active in the Hondo Garden Club and she and her husband are active members of several state and national environmental groups.  While Ms. Hall took the role of Mother Earth reading a letter to the children of the earth citing the ways to protect her, TRTA members assisted in this creative presentation, playing the role of the animal inhabitants of Earth. 

In addition to her conservation presentation, Ms. Hall demonstrated tools which she has found or “re-tooled” to address the limitations of those with arthritis.  These items included a cutting knife, a round emery board, a can opener, a fruit scrubber, a magnet wand and many others which have been redesigned for the arthritic hands.  In appreciation for her presentation, President Bendele presented Ms. Hall with a jar of Huajilla honey.

Irene Dubberly presented the minutes and Bruce Simpson reported the financial status of the unit, indicating a sufficient amount for the two unit sponsored scholarships.  There are currently about 52 members on the Diamond Plus Plan, while about 150 pays dues directly to the unit.

President Bendele presented the slate of officer nominees for the coming year: President – Irene Dubberly; 2nd Vice President – Kathy Carlson; Secretary – Linda Perkins; Treasurer – Sam Dubberly. Nominations Committee member Sissy Bell submitted Jean Sexton for 1st Vice President.  Since no further nominations were made, Victor Ortiz moved to accept the slate of candidates by acclamation.  The motion was seconded and was unanimously approved by the membership.  Bendele encouraged other members to consider serving on one of seven committees in the coming year.

Legislative Chair Ken Hanson reported that the state budget is now in committee due to the differences between the House and Senate versions.  Currently, it is important to pass SB 1993 Supplemental bill to address the TRS Care shortfall.  Of over 7,000 proposed bills, many are still in committee and some two-thirds will never make it out of committee by the May 11 deadline.  Members are asked to keep up-to-date through the local and state TRTA websites as well as other sites which cover legislative actions. 

The issue of Defined Benefits vs. Defined Contributions continues to come to the forefront through powerful group and foundation contributors who will be launching challenges to unseat current legislators favoring the current Defined Benefits retirement annuities.  Hanson also predicted that there will be changes in health care for retirees in the next legislative session.  He further encouraged members to thank elected officials for their support of education issues and the benefits for current and retired educators.

Charles Carlson reported that the Scholarship Committee will meet to select the winners of the two scholarships awarded by the unit.

TRTA District 20 President, Dr. Charlotte Travis, spoke briefly about education facts: in Texas, one in twenty is involved in education; one in sixteen retirees receives a TRS pension; every dollar that a retiree spends generates $2.34 for the community; the average TRS annuity is $1900 a month, but 31% receive less than $1000 a month; 85% of retirees DON’T get Social Security, and many of those who do receive it, are penalized and lose 66% of their earned benefits.  Education retirees will be facing a health insurance dilemma in two years, since the legislature has provided only a “Band-Aid.”  These are just several reasons that TRTA membership is important not only for retirees, but for current educators.

Dr. Travis also complimented the Huajilla Unit’s membership numbers, which has grown in membership in the past year.  She also reminded members and officers of the District 20 Summer Workshop scheduled for June 4 at the Floresville Community Center.

Prior to the meetings’ adjournment, Sam and Irene Dubberly gave a short summary of the State TRTA Convention which they attended in Austin.  After the meeting adjourned, the members gathered for their Spurs picture, and then enjoyed a meal catered by Seco Secrets.

The final meeting of the year will be on May 11 in Devine at 10 AM.