www.winnebagocountyrta.org OCTOBER 2020
Dear WCRTA Members:
I hope this newsletter finds you well with time to enjoy the beautiful fall colors! As we are all aware, 2020 has certainly been a trying time for each and every one of us. Hopefully you, your family, and your friends have been healthy, safe, and free from the COVID-19.
The WCRTA Board had many events planned this year. But, as in the case of most everything else, we had to cancel the meetings, special events, and bus trips. The one general meeting we were able to accomplish was on February 13 at the Thunder Bay Grille. Our guest speaker was Renee Wolters, Tour Director from Van Galder Tour & Travel. This event was well attended, and our members went away with a wealth of information and tour books about a variety of trips which Van Galder has to offer.
The 2019-2020 end of the school year welcomed 78 retirees from the 11 districts in Winnebago County. We had a “Retirement Celebration” planned for the new retirees in April at the Mauh-Nah-Tee-See Country Club. Unfortunately, the retirement celebration had to be cancelled along with the rest of the activities we planned for 2020. In May we had a bus trip planned to the Fireside Dinner Theatre to enjoy the production of “The Church Basement Ladies in a Mighty Fortress.” Our annual Blanche Martin Scholarship luncheon was unable to take place in person. However, we were able to award scholarships to four incredible elementary education majors who applied.
Four $2,500 scholarships were awarded as Blanche Martin Scholarships to the following students:
1. Chloe Baxter, continuing at Rockford University
2. Brianna Meyer, going to Rockford University from RVC
3. McKenzie Brown, going to Newman University, Wichita, KS
4. Sofia Dunn, RVC this summer and then Rockford University
This year, we awarded scholarships in honor of our former WCRTA President and Board Member Fred Kunz. The Fred Kunz Memorial Scholarships totaling $3,000 were awarded to four very deserving high school seniors who committed to becoming teachers and showed a passion for volunteerism. Fred served on the board for many years and held the position of Co-President prior to his passing on August 1, 2019.
The winners of the Fred Kunz Memorial Scholarship were:
1. Coe Johnson from Rockford Christian going to Tennessee
2. Paige Griffith from Hononegah going to Illinois State
3. Alysha Monson from Hononegah going to Bradley University
4. Kylee Semenchuk from Harlem going to Marian University
The “Legislative Forum” scheduled in September would have been a nice opportunity to meet our area Representatives and Senators for a panel discussion. We tried for another trip in October to the Dubuque and Galena area which would have been a nice time to see the changing colors of all the beautiful trees. Finally, the event we had scheduled on November 19 at the Machine Shed has also been cancelled. We tried to get the information out to those of you who provided us with your current email address for Member Planet and selected that option to receive your newsletter as opposed to a hard copy in the mail. We were unable to produce a newsletter for a long time due to the closing of the Regional Office of Education where our newsletter is printed. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused any of you, but we did the best we could to communicate by updating our website: winnebagocountyrta.org and utilizing Member Planet.
Please check the mailing label on this newsletter (above your name) to see what our records indicate concerning your WCRTA and IRTA status. The code “LA2020” on the label means that you have paid your dues for 2020. This stands for “Local Annual 2020 dues for WCRTA. This code only applies to members who pay on an annual basis. Life members of WCRTA will see the code “LL.” The SECOND code on the mailing label refers to our local understanding of your status in the state IRTA organization
You can renew your membership for 2020 or 2021 by mailing a check to our treasurer, Dorothy Schoonover, at 4143 Catalpa Woods Drive, Rockford, IL 61101. Checks should be made payable to WCRTA. The membership year for 2021 in WCRTA begins January 1, 2021, and ends December 31, 2021, for those who pay dues on an annual basis. Annual membership fees are only $10, and Lifetime membership cost is $100.
If you have not joined IRTA, you can do so by either clicking on the link on our website or going to irtaonline.org and selecting the “join now” option.
This is a synopsis of what IRTA stands for:
“As the voice of Illinois’s retired educators, the Illinois Retired Teachers Association (IRTA) defends pension and healthcare protection via its lobbying efforts, advocates for retirees, provides group rate dental and vision insurance among other benefits, and provides travel and entertainment options for its members.”
We hope to host events and meetings in 2021! We are trying to plan a bus trip in the spring.
We will try to continue to communicate with our members through newsletters, Member Planet, and our website. The WCRTA Board continues to plan and meet via Zoom.
We discussed hosting a Zoom workshop. There seems to be some interest in a survey we sent to the members through Member Planet. To those of you who receive your newsletter by mail, please complete the enclosed survey if you would like to participate in a Zoom workshop.
Stay well, be healthy, and enjoy the holiday season ahead of us! Please feel free to contact with any questions or concerns. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
--Gayle Haab, WCRTA President
Things have been pretty quiet on the legislative front (as one might expect in an election year). A kind of barometer is that IRTA itself hasn’t put out a legislative update since May, but here are some things to think about.
The IRTA-PAC was hard at work over the summer reviewing the Illinois legislative candidates and, where possible, making endorsements. WCRTA had met previously with all of our local legislators in past summers; we only needed to meet with the one candidate running in a contested race here in Winnebago County which we did via Zoom. WCRTA decided not to make any endorsements of any candidates in our area. We are fortunate as the large majority of legislators/candidates here support us and what we advocate for retired teachers. Consequently, it is more to our advantage to remain neutral with respect to our local candidates. There might be some issue that causes you to vote for one legislative candidate over another but, as WCTRA sees it, that issue would not be one involving pensions or benefits for retired teachers. The only candidate who has a record of opposing some of our positions is, unfortunately, unopposed. There’s not much that can be done in that non-race.
Another issue is the Fair Tax Amendment and here, once again, IRTA has taken a neutral stance. It is worth noting, however, that contrary to what some ads might indicate, nothing in this issue has anything to do with taxing our retirement income. All our meetings with local legislators have confirmed that there has been no stomach in the legislature to address the issue of taxing retirement income at the state level. It is just not an issue in the amendment or the legislature.
It was disappointing that Covid prevented us from having our planned legislative forum. Dave Davison had put a great deal of work into that forum, and a lot of us had been looking forward to seeing our local legislators interact with each other on the issues. Our survey showed there wasn’t sufficient interest in having the forum by Zoom. Let’s hope things will be different and we can hold a live forum during the next election. The most important thing now is to get out and vote.
Our family got our ballots by mail and will be putting them in the drop box outside of Lori Gummow’s office later this week. A valid argument can be made that the future of our democracy will depend upon this year’s voting. So, the bottom line is, by whatever way suits you, VOTE!
--Dr. John Carleton, Legislative Chair
Our association works hard to protect your pension AND your insurance benefits. This is one of the main advantages of being a member and one of the main reasons we are here for you!
Thanks to our trusted partner, Association Member Benefits Advisors (AMBA), members are eligible for exclusive supplemental insurance. Get special group rates on dental, vision, long-term care, home healthcare, cancer, heart, stroke, life insurance, and other policies.
Call 1-877-810-6334 Monday-Friday 8 am-5 pm CT for more information
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WCRTA Zoom Workshop Survey
Back in August, WCRTA concluded that Covid restrictions would mean we’d have to cancel our Fall Legislative Forum with our local legislators. At that time, we put out a survey to see if there was any interest in having the forum using Zoom. We found that there was not a lot of interest in a Zoom Forum, but there was a fair amount of interest in having a workshop on how to use Zoom. As that survey only went to members who have email, and since this is our first newsletter in a while, we thought it would be a good idea to give everyone the opportunity to respond to a survey about interest in a Zoom workshop. Please note that you can attend Zoom workshops using a smart phone as well as a computer if you are able to get email on your smart phone.
Please respond to the following survey. If you get email, then watch for this survey via Member Planet, our WCRTA email service and respond that way. If you do not get email, then please return this short survey form to: Gayle Haab, 7998 N. Main Street, Rockford, IL 61103.
1) Are you still interested in attending a workshop on how to use Zoom? (Check one)
I do not have a computer or a smart phone so I am done with the survey.
2) If you checked Yes, do you think you would be able to log into such a workshop if you were sent a set of instructions with a link on how to log in and get started?
3) Would there be someone in your household that would be able to help you get started in a Zoom workshop until you’re comfortable?
3) How would you attend a Zoom workshop?
I would attend using a desktop computer
I would attend using a smart phone
I would attend using a laptop computer
I would attend using a tablet
All smart phones and many tablets have a microphone, and most have a camera so you can see as well as be seen. You will need to know how to set the camera on your phone so that you can be seen as well as view the Zoom call. Once you download the Zoom software, it will often help with this and frequently sets it up automatically. If you are using a desktop computer, not all desktop computers have cameras or microphones so you’ll need to check if you have one or both. Most newer laptops have both cameras and microphones, and the Zoom software will help you access both.
4) Do you have a preference as to when you would like the Zoom workshop to take place?
I prefer mornings
I prefer afternoons
I prefer evenings
I have no preference; I’ll try to attend whenever it is held