Friday, October 19, 2018

Pre-Retirement Seminar #6: Job Well Done

Matt Wiser, of Cornerstone Wealth Strategies, presenting,  "Social Security & Financial Planning." 

BFSRA sponsored its 6th Pre-Retirement Seminar, October 18th, at the ESD in Pasco. These seminars began in 2014 (we held two in 2015), and to date we estimate approximately 750 overall, soon-to-be-retirees, have attended overall. 

We didn't get an accurate head-count on this one, but we estimated approximately 150 in attendance, and with the help of  WSSRA Executive Director, Dr. Alan Burke, and his fresh $10 bills for any new member sign-ups, we collected 29 new members. 

Congratulations and thanks to Elaine Banks, Jim Bumgarner, Dottie Stevens, Victoria Russell, Ardith Eakins, and in absentia, Donald Parks, for their leadership, assistance and help offered.

Thank you's also go to ESD 123, from set-up to take-down, Matt Wiser, CornerstoneWeatlh Strategies; Dr. Alan Burke, WSSRA Executive Director; Larry Cade, Washington State Health Care Authority; Catherine Cadoo, Dept of Retirement Systems Plans II & III; Rohn Rutledge and Jeff Burgess, AMBA Representatives; Kristin Faris, VEBA; and Bob Fox, DRS Plan I. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Meet the Candidates Forum

Kudos to our crack Legislative Commitee members, Jim and AJ Foster and Elaine Banks, for organizing another excellent Meet the Candidate Forum at the September luncheon. 12 of the 14 candidates from each of the three districts in our region were in attendance. When Jim asked if they will support the Plan I COLA and the funding required, everyone of them said, "Yes."

If you're wondering which district is yours, click on these links:  
Eight, Nine and Sixteen.

To see who your candidate are,
go to our Facebook Page here. 

Victoria Russell, VP/Program Chair, opening the meeting.

Elaine Banks awarding Terry Nealy, retiring
District 16 Representative, with a Certificate of Appreciation
for his many years of leadership and support. 

Sam Derosa, Health Committee Chair,
 leading members in a robust round
of challening calisthenics.  

Sunday, September 2, 2018

August Luncheon: "The Picnic"

Elaine Banks presents Rep. Larry Haler
with a certificate of our appreciation. 

The opening BFSRA Luncheon welcomed 90 attendees for the annual Indoor Picnic featuring a Buffet of Pulled Pork and salads, and a Chef’s Salad.  The choices were nearly evenly divided and members commented on their appreciation of food quality even with an increase cost to $17.

Andy Eads took pictures including legislative committee and Representative Larry Haler with certificate from BFSRA recognizing his outstanding public service. In his remarks he commented on Plan 1 COLA saying he had recommended 2% but only could get 1.5% at this time.

Sam and Bill get everyone up on one foot.  

New banners were displayed with some addition to include health. The Health Committee gave an update on new Medicare Cards and lead us in an activity of standing on one foot at a time.  Expected 30 seconds, not many made it.  Advice: pick up the work out.  Thank you Sam and Bill.

Dottie Stevens, Larry Haler, Elaine Banks, Jim and AJ Foster
The Legislative Committee hit hard on VOTING!  Also reminding us of the “Meet the Candidates” BFSRA Luncheon on September 24th with extended time from 11:30 to 1:30 pm.  There is time for presentations and questions.  Candidates for contested positions are anticipating talking with us.  We know that positions in the 16th and 8th will be hotly contested and look forward to hosting this open forum where you can listen, interact, and decide.  Thank you, AJ and Jim Foster, and Elaine.

Membership Committee shared new $10 premium for new members and that our Unit would also cover the in-betweens that are on cash only or WSSRA only with the $10 for those moving to direct payroll deduct. There were takers to the Treasurer’s approval.  Thank you Don.

Kathy Parks wins the basket drawing. 
Drawing for free lunches and a basket were met with enthusiasm.  The basket was chosen first and Dottie admitted to being involved with a friend to offer this prize.  Kathy Parks won!!  It was also revealed that BFSRA Baskets for the June Convention included splits of wine from Nancy and Hank Sauer.  Thank you Sauers; Nancy was a guest at the Luncheon. (see basket picture)

* Thanks to Madam President, Dottie Stevens for the report, and to Andy Eads for the photos. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Last Luncheon: 2017 - 2018

Installation of Officers: 2018 - 2019

WSSRA President, Dr. Curtis Horne performed the installation of our "new" officers for next year. They are, L to R:  Lew Edming, Secretary; Marlys Mayer, Treasurer; Dottie Stevens, President; and Victoria Russell, President Elect/Program Chair. 

Each year BFSRA nominates two member for the prestigous Patrick T. Hoban Meritorious Award Nomination and the Stan McNaughton Outreach Award Nomination.  Our nominees this year are Helen Bruggeman, Patrick Hoban; and Bette Evans, the Stan McNaughton Outreach Award Nomination.
L to R:  Helen Bruggeman and Bette Evans 

Patrick Zuniga:  Teacher Grant Awardee Presents - 

One of our 20 Teacher Grantees, Patrick Zuniga, shared with members how his grant has been used to purchase storybooks which he will utilize with his students. Zuniga, a Prosser High graduate, recently completed a Masters where he developed his "Empowerment Learning Theory." 

Celebration of Life

Benton/Franklin School Retirees’ Association Deceased
June 2017 -- May 2018

Kathi Hand -- (1937-2017)
Jan Harlow -- (1943-2018)
Ruth Ivey -- (1936-2018)
Paul Kraus -- (1934-2018)
Robin Morris -- (1942-2017)
Vic Sands --(1929-2017)
Delfina Shockley -- (1932-2017)
Julie Van Hoy -- (1946-2018)

In Memory and Recognition of our School Retirees
Music performed by Vickie Bowles Evans
Roses presented by Dottie Stevens and Victoria Russell
                                                            May 21, 2018

Vicki Bowles Evans

See you next year!! 
BFSRA, Out! 

(photos by Andy Ead)

Monday, April 23, 2018

A Choir, Some Scholarships, and Honorary Members

A Choir:  An outstanding program began today with Don Parks introducing Pasco Superintendent of Schools, Michelle Whitney, who then introduced Curtis McFadden, director of the McLoughlin Middle School Treble Choir. 

Curtis McFadden, Director,
McLoughlin Middle School Treble Choir

This auditioned choir brought a twinkle to every eye in the room along with an energy level many of us haven't experienced since before retirement. 

Great job to all concerned!

The McLoughlin Middle School Treble Choir

Some Scholarships:  Two Robert J. Handy Scholarships for $900/year for up to four years, were awarded to Caitlynne Burke, Chiawana High School, and Meghan Callaway, Richland High School.  The WSSR-Foundation Scholarship, a one-time $2500 scholarship was awarded to Lizzie Stites of Southridge High School.  Congratulations to these three E8 Scholarship Winners!! 

Caitlynne Burke, Chiawana High School
Robert J. Handy Scholarship

Lizzie Stites, Southridge High School - WSSR/Foundation Scholarship

Meghan Callaway, Richland High School - Robert J. Handy Scholarship

Honorary Members:  President Dottie Stevens presented four very special members their WSSRA Honorary Membership Awards today with some assistance from Jim Bumgarner, E8 Rep to the State Board.  Honorary Members pay no more monthly dues and receive four free lunches during the year. 

L to R:  Dottie Stevens, Sybil Bolkam, Sam De Rosa, Barbara McIntyre, and Jim Bumgarner.
Not pictured was Elizabeth Gladden.
To become an Honorary Member one must have achieved the age of 90 by June 30th, have been a member of WSSRA for twenty years, and have been active, contributing members as identified by committee service, holding office, or involved in activities which support the purposes of WSSRA. Congratulations to each of these very special members!! 

Photos by Andy Eads and Jim Bumgarner

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

20 Mini Grants Awarded

to these school employees who are either Active BFSRA members,
or are sponsored by an Educational Advocate who is a BFSRA member.

20 Mini-Grant Awardees for $200 each for great ideas
affecting the eduction of students.

Patrick Zuniga, Pasco SD, Stevens MS, 7th grade, 
Empowerment Learning in Literacy
Valerie BakerProsser SD, Prosser HS, Course Completion Rewards
Debbie DohaniukFinley SD, Finley El and River View HS, Instruments for Kids
Lorianne Donovan, Finley SD, Finley El, 4th grade, Sound Wave, Vibrations,
and Exploration of  Sound
Antonio VegasKennewick SD, BFJJC, HS, GED Support
Brooke Canada, Kennewick SD, Kennewick Mid-Columbia Parent Partnership, 3-5th grades,          
World Traveler
Janice Sola, Kennewick SD, BFJJC, 6-12th grades, Classroom Library
Danielle Belliston, Kennewick SD, BFJJC CATS Program, 8-10th grades,
Community Alternative Transition School Support
Jennifer WardFinley SD, Finley HS, Remix Read
Stephanie BradshawFinley SD, Finley El, K-5 grades, Read with Me
Kelly WilliamsonFinley SD, Finley El, 3rd grade, Connecting
to STEM with Pulleys
Debra KunzeKennewick SD, Cascade El, K-5 grades, CoWriter: Universal in Special Education
Becky Denman, Pasco SD, Captain Gray STEM El, K-6 grades band, 
Band Cleaning Kits
Jennifer Appel, Richland SDEnterprise MS, 6th grade, Character Strong Support
Denise Senor, Kennewick SD, Kamiakin HS, CASE Curriculum Project
Ashley Williams, Kennewick SDKennewick HS, Shakespeare
in the Snow and Tape Measures
Kelsie Siegfried, Kennewick SD, Chinook MS, 6th grade, Classroom Library
Alyssa Ducken, Kennewick SD, Lincoln El, 4th grade, Flexible Seating
Wanda Cadwallader, Kennewick SD, Legacy HS, 7-12th grades, 
Intro to Programming
Dan White, Kennewick SDKennewick HS, CASE Curriculum Project

Monday, January 22, 2018


Elaine spoke at today's luncheon regarding the fact that we are closer today than we have been in seven years to some degree of legislative relief regarding a restoration of both our COLA and Medical Benefits package.

Finally, a slit of light casting the possibility of some potentially Good News this year? Maybe so, but to convert that possibility to something substantial we must make sure the legislators KNOW our issues, they need to hear from US.

A lack of contact will be perceived as a lack of concern, and lack of concern puts our issues right back where they have been the last seven years: in the ashcan.

With some of our older members living near the poverty level, and for some of the younger ones, where the future can be terrifying, we cannot allow this.

Please find the legislators email and FB page contacts in the left margin of this webpageClick the name, up comes your emailer, compose your note, click SEND.


The following information was provided by Peter Diedrick, Legislative Director, WSSRA, on January 15th -

The first week of the 2018 Legislative Session is complete. It was a mixed bag.

The good news. There is widespread bipartisan support for restoring the Plan 1 COLA and Retiree Medical Benefits that were eliminated in 2011. Currently, there are eight Plan 1 COLA bills active in the legislature. We expect two more to drop next week. The list of bills are:

  • House Bill 1484 & Senate Bill 5556 (2017 Legislative Session), $2 per year of service credit.
  • House Bill 2323 & Senate Bill 6290, 3% increase on all PERS 1 & TRS 1 pensions.
  • House Bill 2452 & Senate Bill 6305, 3% increase on the first $25,000 in pension income for PERS 1 & TRS 1 retirees. Increases the Medical Benefit to at least 50% of the monthly premium.
  • House Bill 2511 & Senate Bill 6340 by request of the Select Committee on Pension Policy, 3% increase on the first $25,000 in pension income for PERS 1 & TRS 1 retirees.
  • Several bill drafts are circulating for a full restoration of the Plan 1 UCOLA.

We are working with legislators and other advocacy groups to coordinate this legislation and coalesce around a single bill. Currently, the strategy is to advocate for HB 2452 & SB 6305 (the red paragraph), with HB 5211 & SB 6340 as the fallback position (the blue paragraph).


Monday, November 20, 2017

"Toy Drive" with "Mary Lou and Stevie"

Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, cranberry relish, and a nice oven-warmed bun (well - sorta), were the main items on today's entree at CG Pub House for our annual November luncheon.

Members enjoyed socializing with this great meal while "Mary Lou and Stevie" created a perfect background to the affair with their wonderful Christmas music.

Apologies for no pictures today of "Mary Lou and Stevie," however this video, taken in 2016, was found in the archives, so give them a click and enjoy the moment, again.

The Big Event for the luncheon was when Anna Avile and Elizabeth Amezcua, representing 'The Salvation Army," accepted the toys collected by members for this year's Annual Toy Drive.  Ms. Avile thanked BFSRA for its donations and reported we donated 189 toys last year (we didn't get a count on today's donation), and that they have had 400 children sign up with them this year.

We did get a few pics of Anna and Elizabeth and few of the many toys:

Master Gardeners applications open until
Jan. 3rd.  Contact Alice Allison.

Only 5 Mini-Grants left of the 20 budgeted for at $200 each.  If you know someone who could use the funding, click on the "Mini-Grant" tab above to find an application.

Have you written your legislators lately?  Many know they should, but put it off and out of mind until the urge disappears. You can call them, email them, or send them a private FB Message. Find the links for email and FB in the left-hand margin on this page.  If you don't, then that "blank" supports their mentality to keep your COLA.

Have you subscribed to receive updates to your blog?  Right-hand margin. Email addresses are never shared with anyone, anywhere, at any time. Keep up with what's happening in your association, subscribe.

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas
everyone. We'll see for our next luncheon,
January, 22, 2018.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Powerful Program Today: Human Trafficking

Tricia MacFarlan, Executive Director of Mirror-Ministriespresented a powerful program today on human trafficking in the Tri-Cities. In response to their mission of, "responding to domestic minor sex trafficking with love of Christ and through intervention and restoration," their primary focus is on minors and those same minors as they move into adulthood, over 18.

MacFarlan reported the movie, "Taken," starring Liam Neeson, "isn't what human trafficking looks like." 

The picture she painted is far bleaker. 

Many of our local kids are involved in trafficking after being lured into this evil industry; those by personal choice an extremely low number.  The estimated number of girls prostituting, again not by choice in most all cases, in the Tri-Cities, is 234; with an additional 39 other, older kids, often doing the pimping.  

An example of how they become involved is with a young girl 12 - 13 being invited to a party where unbeknownst to her, her open cup is spiked.  The next morning she awakens to find soreness, bruising, and no memory of what happened. Then she begins receiving pictures on social media of what happened while she was "out," with threats that if she tells anyone there will be trouble. 

Trapped, guilt-ridden, with no one to talk to, what follows can be a long trip through hell-on-earth, where some kids are exposed to as many as 8 - 10 "customers" a day. Many performing for things like food, a place to sleep, or being supplied with the drugs they have become addicted to.

A second example involved Play-Station where gamers can interact with one another via the internet as they play the game. Traffickers often allure young kids into their web of deceit by first making contact through this venue, and other such, gaming devices. Once a relationship is established, making actual contact, and creating the trafficking situation is the easy part.  

Local police agencies, using undercover techniques, put out ads as mom or dad selling out their own children, and received "thousands of responses." Incredible!     

The average age of entry is 12 - 13. Once inside, through such force, coercion, and fraud, the average life-span is 7 years. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Mike Moran, WSSRA's newest Lobbyist, Visits BFSRA

Mike Moran
WSSRA's newest lobbyist, Mike Moran, joined us for lunch today at CG Pub House. Mike's group, Moran Public Affairs LLC, provides support to Businesses, Environment Advocates, Government, Law Enforcement and Labor, as well as Social Service Agencies, Tribal Governments, and Labor Organizations.

Mike reports we have been losing income for years via the state pension system.  Couple that with what may, or may not, happen at the federal level and "we are like a frog in the saucepan.  They are turning up the heat and we don't know it yet."

No one can make the change needed, but us.  Maybe it is time to start pushing back, much more significantly.  In his experiences working with government, he says most decisions are based on anecdotal information rather than data collection, analysis, and consequent recommendations.

To that end, when we contact our legislators via email, or on their Facebook pages, we need to share with them anecdotal information regarding either our personal stories, or stories of what we know about other retired school employees who are struggling more and more as the years go by.

He mentioned the importance of our finding someone in the legislature who can serve as a "champion" of the pension system.

"Silence is acquiescence," Mike said.

In the left margin of this blog you will find the legislative email links, and the Facebook page links, for the three legislators from the 8th district.  Let's begin contacting them often, much more often, and work toward them knowing and understanding how their actions can either provide either further escalation of hardship, or some semblance of the comfort planned for by the thousands of retired school employees in Washington state. We recommend using the "message" feature of their FB pages, rather than posting directly on their front page.

It is up to us.