Monday, February 15, 2010

ECAREA Eau Claire Area Retired Educators

ECAREA Unit Meeting
Grace Lutheran Church
February 2, 2010
1:30 p.m.

The meeting began with Chris Kondrasuk welcoming everyone and leading us in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the introduction of visitors and first-time attendees. There were 33 people in attendance.

Business meeting

A. The minutes from the November meeting were approved and will be recorded as submitted by Sally Gordon.

B. There was no Treasurer’s report as Owen Moyer was not in attendance. Chris shared our current balance.

C. Committee Reports:

Social: Loreen Yager thanked the servers for today and reminded everyone of the upcoming meetings for the year. She announced that the June meeting will be hosted by Chippewa Falls and will take place at the Bohemian Hall on Hwy. 27 north of Cadott. She will provide us with more specific directions as the time draws closer.

Membership: Kathy announced that the membership is now at 127 for this year. She asked that if anyone has a change of address or knows of members who go into nursing homes that they inform the State of that change. You can call, or there is a link on our website to the State website. www.wrea.com

Legislative: It is so good to have Joan Cook back in this position. She gave us an update on her daughter who teaches at Longfellow and has been receiving treatment for leukemia since last year. A stem cell transplant was done from her brother and now in January there was no evidence of cancer. We are happy for the outcome and wish her well. Good example of the benefits of stem cell research.

Joan was happy to report that the Conrad Craig Amendment was voted down. She also reported that the NWEA has not taken a stand on National Health Care. She encouraged everyone to go to the NWEA website and read all of the information that is available to us there.

She spoke of a program called Pennies for Kids whereby the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools has petitioned to raise the State Sales Tax by .01. If all of the money collected were to go to public schools it would result in $830,000,000; most of it going to education in Wisconsin. Visit: www.madisonamps.org This is a very informative site.

Joan shared that in a letter from Dave Mills, the Executive Director of the Investment Board that we are encouraged to keep an eye on our retirement funds. The Core Fund has dropped 1% and the Variable Fund has gained ground and is approximately 1/2 way back to recovering where it was. If anyone wants a Blue Book you can contact Jeff Smith at (608) 266-0660 or
(888) 534-0093or email him at Rep.Smith@legis.wisvconsin.gov and ask for one.

Health and Education: Marlaine White had programs for the Senior Americans Day that will be held at the University on Saturday, March 30. She encouraged members to attend the health options that will be available that day.

Newsletter: Jeanette Scheuermann mailed out 121 newsletters to members at a cost of $124.46. She also shared some advice she learned from an email of how to get away from unsolicited callers. She said to simply say "hold on" to the caller, set the phone down and wait until the beeping sounds comes from your phone. Another piece of advice she offered was that if you feel as though you are being followed to call 777 on your cell phone and the police will answer and be able to tell you if there are police in your area.

President: Chris Kondrasuk asked that if anyone has ideas for a programs/presenters for next year, let her know as we will begin planning very soon. She also passed around a sign-up sheet for volunteers to help with book distribution in the 1st and 2nd grades at several of the elementary schools in Eau Claire on Feb. 19-March 4. This is in conjunction with Clear Water Eau Claire, a program that Terry Sheridan spoke to us about back in November. Plan to spend 1- 1 1/2 hours and be sure to count it towards your volunteer hours. Look for more information forthcoming on opportunities to sign up for this.

D. Old Business

1. Chris informed us that a nice letter of appreciation was written in the Mondovi newspaper thanking us for the games we donated at Christmas time.

2. Chris shared that a grand total of 6774 hours of volunteer services were provided by our group last year, which results in a value of $137,000.00 to the community.

E. New Business

1. A retirement planning session has been scheduled for March 9 from 4-5:30 at Memorial. Roger Byers from WREA will share information with anyone considering retirement in the near future.

2. The State WREA meeting will be held in Stevens Point on May 4-5. Chris asked for volunteers interested in attending to let her know as we are planning to send a delegation from our Unit.


3. The Foundation Box was available for anyone wanting to contribute money. Kathy drew the winner of the raffle and deposited half of the money in the box.

The meeting was adjourned for the program.

F. Program

Alice and John Ridge shared a presentation about the 3,700 mile Yellowstone Trail, one of the first transcontinental auto routes in the country. They have been working for the past 13 years researching and promoting the restoration of the trail which came right through Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls and Menomonie, and was in operation from 1912-1930.
ECAREA
NEWSLETTER
JANUARY 2010
Eau Claire Area Retired Educators’ Association/ECAREA www.ecarea.org
A unit of WREA Wisconsin Retired Educators’ Association www.wrea.net

“Your Voice, Your Choice” Since 1951
___________________________________________________________

Greetings From Our President
Dear ECAREA Friends,
Welcome to 2010 and the second half of our organization’s year. I hope you were able to be at one of our fall programs. They were excellent and ended with a wonderful performance by the Regis High School choir at our Holiday Luncheon.
We have meetings on the first Monday from February through May. Then in June we will join the Chippewa Falls group at their meeting. Put us on your calendar!
I am pleased to announce that Joan Cook has volunteered to rejoin the Board in the Legislative Chair position. We have missed her experience and input! You will see an article from her elsewhere in the newsletter.
I can also report that our volunteer hours for the past year were 6,774.5. This translates into a donation of $137,183.62 to the community. Remember to keep track of your volunteer hours all year long. WREA now counts them during the calendar year (Jan.-Dec.). Categories are Health, Education and Community. You don’t have to put them in a category, but some members like doing it that way. Then next December I’ll be asking for 2010’s total from our group. We may be retired, but many of us are still out there doing lots of good things for our neighbors.
There will be an opportunity to earn some Education volunteer hours when we sign up in February for the Clear Vision Eau Claire free book program that Terry Sheridan talked to us about this fall. We will be looking for volunteers to be in the schools to give out books and read with students. More information will be forthcoming.
Chris Kondrasuk, President


ECAREA 2010 Programs
February 1---1:30 p.m. John & Alice Ridge “Yellowstone Trail” Grace Lutheran Church Hall
March 1---1:30 p.m. Joe Knight EC Leader outdoors writer Grace Lutheran Church Hall
April 5---10:00a.m.Brunch Jim Alf “Caryville Ferry” Lake Street Methodist Church
May 3---1:30 p.m. Globe University “Introduction and Tour” At the Globe University Site
June 7--Noon Lunch Meeting with Chippewa Falls Unit at the Bohemian Hall, north of Chippewa
Meetings are open, so bring your spouse, friend, neighbor, and especially a retired educator!!!

***REMEMBER: If the Eau Claire Area Schools are closed due to weather, we will not have our scheduled meeting unless it is a luncheon or brunch. We will still have to pay for the meals so we will meet for them. Reservations necessary for brunches and lunches by the Thursday prior to the meeting.

****Did you ever notice that our units letters ECAREA make “EC(Eau Claire) AREA?
The Unit includes retired educators living in Eau Claire and surrounding area. Invite a friend to come and join with us at a meeting or a membership. You don’t need to attend the meetings to belong. Check out the extra benefits on page 5.


Yellowstone Trail Program for February 1st Meeting
On February 1st at 1:30p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, Alice and John Ridge will tell us about the Yellowstone trail. It was the first transcontinental auto highway “from Plymouth Rock to Puget Sound” in 1912-1930 and it went right through Eau Claire. Join Alice and John Ridge to enjoy the days of the Ford Model T when there were only named roads, muddy and with no numbers. We will get a little history lesson about this national treasure with lots of pictures and fun on the way. Expect to receive a free Guide to driving the Yellowstone Trail in Wisconsin. By Alice Ridge

Joe Knight, Leader-Telegram Outdoor Writer Speaks at March 1st meeting
On March 1, 1:30p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church Hall, Joe Knight, writer for the Leader-Telegram in Eau Claire will discuss his book, Frozen Assets: Reflections on Winter in Northern Wisconsin, and read excerpts from his book. Joe will also tell us about his work as a writer for the paper. Join us in March and learn about the “frozen assets” we have in this area and better understand his work at the Leader-Telegram.

Did you ever ride the Car Ferry Across the Chippewa River at Caryville? April 5th Meeting
At our April 5, 10 a.m. Brunch, at Lake Street Methodist Church, Jim Alf, whose family lived on the Chippewa River and operated the Caryville Ferry from 1949 to 1964 will share his experiences with us. Jim has written a book, When the Ferries Still Ran, which gives the history of the four ferries on the Chippewa River between Eau Claire and Durand. Growing up and living in the “Ferry House”, will be some of the stories in his book that he will tell us. He will also bring a model of the Caryville Ferry that he has made.

Learn About Globe University at the May 3rd Meeting
On May 3rd, 1:30 p.m., we will meet at the Globe University, 4955 Bullis Farm Road, Eau Claire. They will give a brief explanation of the school, answer questions, and give us a tour. They will serve coffee as we visit with the staff.

Legislative News By Joan Cook, Legislative Chair
All WREA members should have received the WREA News on or about December 21st. Of particular interest is the letter on page 4 and 5 from Dave Mills, retired Executive Director of the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB).
The letter raises the possibility of the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) being taken over by a “rescue plan” sometime in the future. He warns that members must be vigilant in opposing any legislation that threatens the plan, explaining that thwarting legislation is much better than pursuing court action to argue the unconstitutionality of a duly enacted law.
WREA is fortunate to have Mr. Mills as a member who has much needed expertise in retirement plans.

Membership Report By Kathy Morley, Chairperson
ECAREA membership is 124 strong, with eleven being local only members and two emeritus members. This is good but we could be better. Our membership is missing many of our newly retired teachers. I recently mailed out seventeen “We Missed You” postcards to our 2008 retired teachers. Our 2009 retired group has a one-year free local membership and we wish we could see more of them at our meetings. If you know of any of our recently retired teachers please bring them along to a meeting or give them a call to join us.
A list of our 2009-2010 memberships was available at our December luncheon. If you were not able to attend the luncheon it will be setting out at our next meeting in February. Hope your winter months find you healthy and happy.


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Social Committee Reports By Loreen Yager and Carol Friday, Chairpersons
February 1st and March 1st are two regular meetings (1:30 p.m.) scheduled at Grace Lutheran. Carol and I would like to thank our servers ahead of time: Mary Genz (Chairperson), Fae James and Marlaine White for February and Ruth Bremmer (Chairperson), Richard Kozbial and Bill Benson for March.
** Reservations for the April 5th brunch (10:00a.m.) at Lake St. Methodist should be called or emailed by Thursday, April 1st, by 7 p.m. Cost - $10.00
**The May 3rd regular meeting (1:30p.m.) will be held at Globe University. The staff at Globe University will serve us coffee.
**Reservations for the June 7th picnic luncheon (12 Noon) need to be emailed or called by Monday, May 31st. It will be held by the Chippewa Area Retired Educator’s Unit is at the Bohemain Hall north of Cadott on Hwy. 27. The cost will be $10.00.
Contact Loreen Yager at 836-7801 or lyager7801@charter.net for reservations or cancellation.
**If you signed up for a brunch or luncheon, but unable to attend, you need to pay for it unless you cancel by the reservation date.

Health and Education Report By Marlaine White, Chairperson
Health: Now the swine flu shots is available for all. Did you get both shots?
Health care reform in Congress: Check the news. Check www.aarp.org.nrta about this. We all know people who have the “Doughnut Hole.” They have run out of benefits and need to pay all, because of chronic health problems. That shouldn’t be.
Education; We need to let our state of Wisconsin senators and representatives in Madison know that education in our state needs more funding, NOW! One cent more on the state sales tax, earmarked for education, is probably the least painful method. (Our property taxes keep going up each year.) School systems are sharing specialists or they may be forced to combine systems because of finances.

Caps, Coupons, Cartridges, Labels, and Strips for Education By Cherry Larson
Please remember to save your Milk Bottle Caps, Campbell Labels (need the bar on the labels) Milk Moola Strips, and General Mills coupons for Education. Also, we can turn in used computer cartridges for cash for a school. These are collected, counted and turned in by May meeting.

$$$$$$ Treasurer’s Report $$$$$$ By Owen Moyer, Treasurer
This report includes all transactions up to December 31, 2009
Checking Account Balances---Beginning December 7, 2009 $2123.31
Ending on December 31, 2009 $2092.34
Savings Account Balances ---Beginning on December 7, 2009 $1656.14
Ending on December 31, 2009 $1656.15

In Memory of
We want to remember the members who have passed away since our last newsletter.
Alberta Carlson Janis Stamm
Our local unit has sent a $10.00 donation to the Wisconsin Retired Educators’ Assn. Foundation in their memory.

ECAREA BOARD MEMBERS 2009-2010
President….Chris Kondrasuk 835-1683 Social….Loreen Yager 836-7801
Vice President… Carol Friday 835-0817
Treasurer…Owen Moyer 831-0609 Past President…Cathy Hoffmann 834-6634
Secretary…Sally Gordon 834-6140 Newsletter…Jeanette Scheuermann 831-9222
Membership…Kathy Morley 833-7065 Collections for Educ…Cherry Larson 962-3456
Health/Education…Marlaine White 832-3173 Website Coordinator…Cheryl Poss 286-9413
Legislative…Joan Cook 832-7558 Phone Tree…Jeanette Scheuermann 831-9222
Email Coordinator…Chris Kondrasuk 835-1683 -3-

Do you know of someone who has retired from education and could be a member of our unit ECAREA or the Wisconsin Retired Educators Association (State unit)?
We are enjoying our retirement benefits and Wisconsin has one of the largest retirement funds in the Nation. However, in our troubled economy, many groups—political and other—are very interested in attaining some of those funds. Unless we stand united and support our WREA staff, who are the “watchdogs” of the fund, we may see a change. It happened about 30 years ago and it was the members of this group that pooled their own money for lawyers to get it back—and the State had to pay it back, with interest and a fine. In the meantime, the fund dollars were lowered and payments out were less at that time. PLEASE read pages 4-5 in our WREA State News as Joan Cook referred to in her legislative report. AND, get others who don’t belong to join the group!!! Bring them to a meeting! We have four meetings left and the programs are explained in this newsletter. Hopefully, one or all are of interest to you and friends. WREA State Dues $40.00 @ year and ECAREA Dues $15.00 @ year.
Check the last page “Membership in WREA has Benefits”.

WREA Lifetime Membership By Marlaine White
I became a life member a few years ago when I got a tax refund. The cost was $500. Now the cost is $550. Arrange for this before the cost gets hiked up again. If you set aside $66.11 each month from January through September, you will be one penny from the $550. amount! This would be before the October dues are due. Then you won’t have to worry what the next year’s dues will be. Lifetime memberships can be paid as a lump sum, quarterly, or monthly for a year. You’ll be glad that you got WREA lifetime membership and WREA will be glad, too! Our local is $15.00 a year.

Check our website www.ecarea.org
Created and cared for by Cheryl Poss. Comments welcomed by her on the website.

WREA District Meeting By Cathy Hoffmann
In mid-October several Board members attended the WREA District Meeting held in Rice Lake. This meeting once again proved to be very worthwhile. I am reporting on the information that I found particularly interesting. It is taken from a presentation by Sari King, from the Constituent Relations Office at the Dept. of Employee Trust Funds (ETF). She may be the person you speak with if you call EFT and she encourages you to call if you have questions or concerns about our annuities.
Core Floor-you are probably aware that your annuity payment can never drop below your Core Floor. You can find out what that is by looking at your Annuity Payment Statement-under Regular core.
Keep your information up-to-date-You need to keep your beneficiaries accurate. There are cases of divorces, deaths, etc., that have drastically changed as to whom an annuitant would want to inherit their fund and there is no legal way to correct it. Also, keep your address current. The US postal system is going to stop forwarding mail and you want to receive you payments. It is highly recommended that you use automatic deposit of you checks. That is the safest and most dependable method.
If you are considering changing from Variable to the Core fund-there is a video you can access via computer at the EFT website. It is about 12 minutes long and provides a lot of information. You can also call the EFT Office to speak to someone about your concerns and questions on whether changing is a good idea.
Contact sources: 1-877-533-5020, Self Service Line—877-383-1888 (to request forms/brochures, or to change address or tax withholding) www.eft.wi.gov the EFT website.
To Contact SWIB (State of Wisconsin Investment board) 1-800-424-7942 www.swib.state.wi.us
I have attended three Dist. Meetings and found them all very interesting. The WREA state convention will be the first week in May. Most of your expenses are covered by the unit so your major investment is your time. You will learn few things, get a greater appreciation for WREA and have some fun. Consider attending the next State meeting, which will be in Stevens Point, May 4-5.
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Games to School—Christmas Luncheon Charity
Money and games were donated at the Christmas Luncheon for Elementary schools. A total of $180.00 and nine games were collected and Carol Friday and Loreen Yager shopped for games and gave twenty-four games to Davy Elementary. The Mondovi Retirees gave games to the Mondovi Elementary Public School. Mondovi’s December B.U.G. (Being Unusually Good in their classrooms) winners got to choose one of the games for their classroom. The children and games were pictured in the Mondovi Herald News. Rachel Baumann coordinated the Mondovi donation.

Legislative Alerts
The WREA and ECAREA will have any legislative alerts, which give information about activity and bills in the legislature that we can contact our representatives about. Websites are on the front of the newsletter by the heading.

A Brain Teaser
Using the first two words, give a third word that completes both words. Answers Below.
Example: Brain / Thunder can be Brainstorm and Thunderstorm.
1-Think / Army ________________________ 2-Head / Jump ___________________________
3- Thought / Hot air_____________________ 4-Intelligence / Talent_____________________
5-Mind / Speed ________________________ 6-Smart / Chocolate-chip ___________________
7-Mental / San Francisco ________________ 8-Memory/ River _________________________
9-Rational / Phone _____________________ 10-Brain / Micro __________________________


I CAN’T REMEMBER Author Unknown
Just a line to say I’m living, And there are times when it is dark,
That I’m not among the dead. With my night cap on my head,
Though I’m getting more forgetful, I don’t know if I’m retiring, or
And mixed up in my head. Just getting out of bed.
I got used to my arthritis, So, if it’s my turn to write you,
To my dentures I’m resigned. There’s no need for getting sore,
I can manage my bifocals, I may think that I have written,
But, God, I miss my mind. And don’t want to be a bore.

For sometimes I can’t remember, So remember that I love you,
When I stand at the foot of the stairs, And wish that you were ear.
If I must go up for something, But now it’s nearly mail time,
Or have I just come down from there. So I must say goodbye dear,
And before the ‘fridge so often, There I stand beside the mailbox,
My poor mind is filled with doubt, With my face so very red,
Have I just put food away, or Instead of mailing you my letter,
Have I come to take some out? I opened it instead.

JUST FOR YOURSELF
Laugh—It triggers the release of endorphins, those chemicals in the brain that induce feeling of euphoria. A good laugh can also suppress the production of cortisol, a hormone released when you’re under stress and one that can influence blood pressure, causing your body to retain salt. Laughter is legal, moral and nonfattening. It’s also contagious, and engaging in tit frequently will contribute to a nicer world. Take from Be Happy Be Healthy by United Health Foundation

(Answers: Tank, Start, Balloon, Agent, Reader, Giant, Cookie, Bank, Number, Wave.)

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