President’s Newsletter

Chris DeMarco, President

Chris DeMarco, President


April – May 2024

It’s great that Spring is on its way, even after such a mild winter.  So great to be able to get outside for some fresh air! Happy to see some new members joining our ranks, and I look forward to meeting you at the May luncheon. Please make it a point to come up and introduce yourselves.

Please be sure not to miss our scholarship and teacher grant awards at the upcoming luncheon.  Jim Montaquila and his committee have worked hard on this project, and it is one of the most important and valuable services PCRTA offers our community. I also look forward to seeing what Jim has cooked up for the presentation, as it is always as creative and entertaining as it is inspiring!

Please make sure that you not only make an advance reservation for our luncheon, but also make your payment in advance as well. Too many of us have been making reservations without making payment, opting to pay at the door, and this creates several problems. If you make a reservation without advance payment, please note that the cost at the door will be $20.00, beginning with the upcoming May luncheon.  

Our Social Committee, chaired by John Kerstetter, has put together another slate of many varied events for 2024, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to John (330-931-0221) with any questions regarding our events and suggestions for future outings. It is our desire to have something for the various interests, capabilities, and ages of our members. Thank you to Vice-President Wendy Cooley for putting together an impromptu outing to see “Twelve Angry Jurors” in Stow. The production was very well done and quite intense. The show featured an outstanding performance by Wendy’s husband, Ralph Cooley, a very talented actor.

Please consider making a donation to ORTA’s Pension Defense Fund, as ORTA has spent about $50,000 from this fund in our attempt to reinstate STRS board member Wade Steen to his seat, following his removal by Governor DeWine. See the ORTA website,, for details and to make a contribution.

Remember that our local PCRTA Chapter is having a positive impact on our local community as well on the lives of our members, while ORTA is working hard to advocate on our behalf, as retirees. The bigger our membership – THE LOUDER OUR VOICE! Thank you for your continued membership and please spread the word to former colleagues, family, and friends and encourage them to join us.


February – March 2024

As we start 2024, there is much to reflect on and be pleased with regarding our PCRTA Chapter. Attendance has picked up for our luncheons, though not back to pre-Covid levels, but more about that later. I am very pleased to welcome Wendy Cooley and Terry Schoettler to our Executive Board as Vice-President and Membership Chair, respectively. Also, we welcome Helena Parry back to her former position as Newsletter Editor. Thank you, Maureen Haska, for your service as Editor, providing us with very professionally prepared newsletters.

It was an honor for our Portage County Chapter to be recognized as ORTA’s initial “Chapter of the Month.” This honor was in recognition of our outstanding scholarship and grant programs, chaired by Jim Montaquila; our Luncheon meeting format, often cited by Executive Director, Dr. Robin Rayfield, as exemplary; and especially our distinguished website, maintained by Connie Evans.  It was also gratifying to see Jim Montaquila feted for his dedication and successful leadership of the scholarship and grant efforts. A hearty thanks to everyone whose efforts help to make PCRTA membership meaningful and an asset to our county.

It was reported at our recent Board meeting that from 2020 to 2023 our Chapter has lost 50 members. It is more important than ever for all of us to redouble our efforts to recruit new members. The matter of membership growth has become a necessity, not only for the continued success of our many services to our county and the social role of PCRTA that is so important to enhancing the lives of our members, but also the continued viability of our organization itself.

Our Social Committee, chaired by John Kerstetter, is putting together another slate of many and varied events for 2024, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to John (330-931-0221, or myself (330-730-7204, with suggestions for the committee to consider. It is our objective to have something for the various interests, capabilities, and ages of our members.

It is worth restating that our local PCRTA Chapter is having a positive impact on our local community, as well on the lives of our members, while ORTA is working hard to advocate on our behalf, as retirees. The bigger our membership – THE LOUDER OUR VOICE! Thank you for your continued membership and please spread the word to former colleagues, family, and friends and encourage them to join us.

October 2023

The evening is coming earlier and getting brisker. Autumn is coming. I always look forward to our holiday meetings in November and December. Mark your calendar and get your reservations in. We look forward to seeing you!

I invite everyone to visit the all-new ORTA website, at The ORTA Executive Committee has worked hard over the last year, with the help of Brian Miller and my former colleague Cindy Murphy, to develop a comprehensive site that is easy to navigate. Our goal is to provide up-to-date information regarding all things pertaining to our organization and our struggle to maximize retirement benefits. Get the latest news about STRS meetings, the two active lawsuits versus STRS, the ORTA Pension Defense Fund, local Chapter news, ORTA activities, educational opportunities, and financial savings. If you are not “online”, you can access the site on a computer at your local library. A librarian will be happy to assist you, I’m sure.

If you are a member of ORTA, you also belong to AMBA and can take advantage of its many services, including discounts, educational webinars, financial / investment planning, insurance plans, and Medicare planning. ORTA is working with AMBA to develop liability insurance coverage for active teachers and retired educators who substitute. The new “Passport” app from AMBA is free, easy to access, and offers many savings to members. Use the activation code “ambasavers” to access the program.

As many of you know, ORTA recently established the Pension Defense Fund. The fund was initially created to support STRS Board Member Wade Steen contesting his removal from the STRS Board by Governor DeWine. Mr. Steen has been a steadfast ally and advocate for our pensions and benefits. The Fund has already paid out over $20,000 in legal fees. Our PCRTA Executive Board recently approved a donation of $500 to the Defense Fund. Individual donations to the Fund can be made through the ORTA website.

Our local PCRTA Chapter is having an impact on our local community as well as on the lives of our members, while ORTA is working hard to advocate on our behalf. The bigger our membership – THE LOUDER OUR VOICE! Thank you for your continued membership and please spread the word to former colleagues, family, and friends and encourage them to join us,

August 2023

We had an incredible turnout for our Akron Aero’s event, 37 people attended the ballgame on PCRTA Night. A special shout-out to Phyllis Spangler for bringing 14 to the game and to Wendy Cooley, who brought 11! The more the merrier, as it was a beautiful evening, with great weather, an Aero’s victory, and capped off with an awesome fireworks display. Hope you can join us for our upcoming visit to Michael Angelo’s Winery in September and our nature walk in October.

In Columbus, Dr. Rayfield says the matter of injunctive relief in the Wade Steen dismissal should be heard this week. ORTA’s advocacy continues on our behalf. Visit the ORTA website for details on how you can support the Pension Defense Fund.

Once again, we need your support in proctoring exams at NEOMED. This activity is the lifeblood of our Scholarship and Grant funds. Jean Nolte needs more volunteers to fill the proctoring spots for the many exams at the school. Tasks are much more easily accomplished with many doing a little, rather than depending on a few to do a lot. Give Jean a call soon at (330) 608-3764 to lend a hand. Many thanks to NEOMED for their continued support of PCRTA’s scholarship fund, which will increase in the coming year! This was announced at an appreciation and update gathering hosted recently by NEOMED. There is no better way to show our appreciation to NEOMED than to increase our support by providing more proctors.

Hope everyone is having a great summer!


June 2023

It was wonderful to see another great turnout for our May luncheon! Thank you for supporting our Chapter and the efforts of our Scholarship and Grant Committees, as well as the student and teacher recipients. I really think Jim Montaquila should be a television show host. He does a fantastic job at this event! Mr. Rogers has nothing on him. We appreciate your kicking it up a notch with this month’s community service project; it was nice to see the table filled with donated items.

We hope everyone will find at least one Social Committee event to attend, as they are varied in their subject matter and cost. Remember, these outings are not exclusively for members only. Please feel free to invite family, friends, and former colleagues (prospective members) to join us. The more the merrier! A big shout out to Phyllis Spangler, who has 14 family members planning to attend the Rubber Ducks outing! In addition to the Rubber Ducks game, coming events include the musical “Ragtime” at Weathervane, a visit to Michael Angelo’s Winery (with great food), and a nature walk.

I am re-posting information from our ORTA Regional Liaison, Carol Kinsey, who was kind enough to provide a link to help in identifying and contacting your state and federal legislators: your legislator/. Put in your address, and it brings up ALL your Reps. This will aid your voice in being heard regarding pension and education-related legislation. Remember, one letter/email from 50 people has a greater impact than 50 letters/emails from one person. It would also be a great idea to drop a line to our governor, Mike DeWine.

On the advocacy front, the active teachers came through with a landslide victory for the ORTA-endorsed, reform-minded candidate, Pat Davidson. The joy and effect of this victory were tempered, however, by Governor DeWine’s eleventh-hour intervention: removing his appointee, the reform-minded Wade Steen. Absent this move, the reform-oriented STRS Board members would have outnumbered the status quo members 6 to 5, opening the door for possible changes. I would refer members to the, STRS Ohio Watchdogs Facebook and web pages and the Ohio STRS Members Only Facebook page for more information, details, and up-to-the-minute updates. For those without a computer, Dr. Robin Rayfield has indicated that ORTA will attempt to provide ORTA newsletter information in written form, albeit abridged, that local leaders can make available to members. I would recommend calling the ORTA office at (614) 431-7002 for more information in this regard.

Finally, we need your support in proctoring exams at NEOMED. This activity is the lifeblood of our Scholarship and Grant funds. Jean Nolte needs more volunteers to fill the proctoring spots for the many exams at the school. Tasks are much more easily accomplished with many doing a little, rather than depending on a few to do a lot. Give Jean a call soon at (330) 608-3764, as there usually is a brief training session before the start of the new school year.

Have a great summer!

April 2023

It was wonderful to see such a great turnout for our March luncheon! It was our largest gathering in several years. In addition to a great meal, we had a very meaningful remembrance of our members who passed in 2022. Connie Evans and Karen Balog once again created an outstanding program celebrating the lives of our late friends.

Joe Maddalon from Association Members Benefit Advisors (AMBA) gave an overview of some of the services AMBA makes available to our members, as well as highlighting the role of AMBA to our membership.

John Kerstetter announced a variety of social activities for this year. Our Social Committee has been hard at work to develop a program of activities that offers something for everyone. Remember, these outings are not exclusively for members only. Please feel free to invite family, friends, and former colleagues (prospective members) to join us. The more the merrier! Coming events include music, dance, baseball, theater, the great outdoors, and good food, all with a hearty helping of fun and fellowship.

Our ORTA Regional Liaison, Carol Kinsey, was kind enough to provide a link to help in identifying and contacting your State and Federal legislators.

That link is your legislator/.

Put in your address and it brings up ALL of your Reps. This will aid your voice in being heard regarding pension and education-related legislation. Remember, one letter/email from 50 people has a greater impact than 50 letters/emails from one person.

February 2023

As we enter 2023, it is time to take a look at the challenges that lie ahead in the coming year. Frankly, we are at an inflection point. We must grow and participate in our PCRTA Chapter, or face a curtailment of our Chapter activities and services, and possibly the eventual dissolution of our Chapter. Unfortunately, this has become a reality for several Chapters around the State. Yes, there are Chapters that no longer meet, have no leadership teams, no longer serve their communities and ORTA members, and have been forced to donate their treasuries to another designated nonprofit.

Our luncheon meeting attendance has been hovering at about 30 or so, about half of pre-pandemic levels. If this doesn’t improve our Executive Board will have to consider changing the number, nature, cost, and location of those meetings as we really can’t sustain the current offerings.

If PCRTA is to survive and if it is important to you, we need YOU to attend our luncheons, participate in our Social Committee’s offerings (and bring a friend), volunteer to proctor, and donate to our community service projects. We also need people to step up and become involved in our leadership team. Many members of this hard-working team are filling several positions and/or serving multiple terms. YOUR help is also needed in recruiting, retaining, and reinstating our membership.

Tell your teaching friends, family, and former colleagues of the good works we do in Portage County, the information we provide, and our efforts on a state-wide basis to ensure the well-being of the Ohio State Teacher’s Retirement System, for retirees and those still active in the profession.

Please invite someone to attend one of our luncheons and join PCRTA! Keep informed about Ohio STRS through PCRTA, our new and improved ORTA website, and ORTA Facebook page. There is also a great deal of information on the “STRS Ohio Watchdogs” website and Facebook page, and the “Ohio STRS Member Only” Facebook page. For example, are you aware that STRS just purchased a building in downtown Dallas, Texas, paying the most per square foot of any building in Texas?

Let’s all work together to make 2023 a year of forward progress for PCRTA!


November – December 2022


Chris DeMarco, President

Chris DeMarco, President

As we approach the end of another year, and the 75th Anniversary of founding of ORTA, we can look back on successes of which our State and Portage County Chapter can be proud.

The granting of a three percent COLA; retirement with 35 years of service, without an age requirement; the initiation of a Special Audit Task Force by State Auditor Keith Faber; and the successful election of three new, ORTA endorsed, STRS Board members are all a result of the grassroots effort of retired Ohio teachers, including ORTA members, the efforts of the Ohio STRS Member Only Forum and the STRS Ohio Watchdogs.

ORTA is working hard, with the axiom in mind that no matter how thin you make the batter, there are two sides to every pancake, and our role is to provide you with a view of each side of the STRS pancake. The lesson that I have taken away from the last few years’ events is that it is incumbent on me, and all retired and active teachers, to be informed and vigilant regarding our pension to ensure that the money we earned, and which was invested on our behalf, is being used for the welfare and benefit of the retirees, first and foremost.  The sentiment that, “I am happy just to receive a check each month,” is one that is very pernicious, indeed. 

Be proud of what we have accomplished and what we are doing for retired teachers, our local community and our individual members.

As the new year approaches, be well and enjoy your Holiday Season. I look forward to seeing you at our November and December luncheons. Don’t forget to reach out and bring a friend, former colleague and/or a family member.


August – September 2022

The Ohio Retired Teachers Association (ORTA) is 75 years old!

To honor its many accomplishments in those years, ORTA is hosting a celebration at the Doubletree Inn at Worthington, Ohio, on October 12, 2022. All of the members of PCRTA are invited and welcome to attend! The tentative schedule is as follows:

4:00 – Social Time

4:30 – Grazing stations (complimentary light snacks, soft drinks, beer and wine. Cash bar for spirits)

5:00 – Welcome by President Chris DeMarco – History of ORTA, Introduction of ORTA Liaisons and Guests     

5:30 – Speakers: Senator Fedor (former teacher), STRS Board members Wade Steen, Rudy Fichtenbaum and Steven Foreman

6:30 – Social Hour


Rooms to stay the evening are available at a discounted rate. We hope you will join us for our celebration. Please RSVP to ORTA, by August 31, 2022; by phone at (614) 431-7002 or by email at


Congratulations to Karen Balog and Connie Evans on a very meaningful tribute to our members who have passed. Also, thank you to Jim Montaquila and the Scholarship and Teacher Grant Committees


June – July 2011

The long-awaited summer has finally arrived! If you missed our PCRTA outing to the Warther’s Museum, you missed a very fascinating and enlightening tour and a wonderful Amish lunch, with joyful conversation. I’m pleased that we have 24 members, families and friends joining us for what promises to be a fun evening at Canal Park on July 8th, complete with fireworks. I hope you will consider joining us for our annual Porthouse pilgrimage (West Side Story) and our visit to the 1875 Winery, October 1. The reviews have been spectacular. These opportunities mean a great deal to the health and vitality of our organization. They are also ideal ways to expose our former teaching colleagues to our PCRTA Chapter.

Membership is always “Job One” for every PCRTA member. We need to have a strong turnout at our luncheons to continue this activity. Invite a friend, colleague or family member to attend with you. All are invited to come to Columbus, October 12, to join the celebration on ORTA’s 75th anniversary. Watch for details in the future.



April – May 2022

The coming of spring brings the promise of new life and growth. Hopefully, like the tulips and daffodils, we can emerge from this cold and snowy winter, enjoy the sunny warm days and leave the repression of Covid behind.  I am thrilled beyond measure by the prospect of receiving my first “raise” since my retirement in 2013. Make no mistake, this is happening due to the efforts of your organization, ORTA, and others, who have provided information regarding the policies and practices of STRS, thus bringing pressure to bear on the STRS Board. 

The new 3% COLA will be added to our monthly check for the remainder of our benefit, like a “step-raise” added to our salary when we were working. It is not a “stipend,” that is a single payment, made one time, not out of the goodness of their hearts, but by the persistence of many stakeholders.  It is critical that you vote in the current STRS Board election, by mail, email or phone, to bring onboard new members who are objective and independent thinking, who will exercise their independent judgment and oversight in guiding STRS. ORTA has endorsed Liz Jones for the Retiree seat. Please use your influence with friends and family to promote the election of Steven Foreman and Julie Sellers for the Active seats. These individuals were endorsed because they are of a mind to look at STRS policies objectively and at least question the status quo, rather than act as rubber stamps.

 The term “one-time,” as often used regarding this enhancement, refers to the fact that another, additional amount will not be added automatically next year. However, there was a commitment from the STRS Board to revisit this issue again next year.

 We can hope that the investments remain productive, but we must also continue to make our voices heard. Make no mistake, this didn’t come about out of the kindness of their hearts, but by the persistence of many stakeholders.

It is critical that you vote in the current STRS Board election, by mail, email or phone, to bring onboard new members who are objective and independent thinking, who will exercise their independent judgment and oversight in guiding STRS. ORTA has endorsed Liz Jones for the Retiree seat. Please use your influence with friends and family to promote the election of Steven Foreman and Julie Sellers for the Active seats. These individuals were endorsed because they are of a mind to look at STRS policies objectively and at least question the status quo, rather than act as rubber stamps.

Now, it’s time to get together, enjoy a wonderful lunch and fellowship at our beautiful new venue and celebrate and honor our scholarship recipients


February – March 2022

Hopefully we will be turning the page on COVID, as we turn the page on our calendars to 2022. Unfortunately, we will be getting off to a bit of a slow start, as it was the decision of our Executive Board, in an abundance of caution, to cancel our March luncheon meeting due to COVID concerns.

However, things are already beginning to show signs of improvement on the COVID front. It is my understanding that hospitalizations in Ravenna are down very significantly.

 The rapidly changing events and information related to COVID, has underscored the need for timely communication with our membership regarding PCRTA activities. It is vitally important that all of us make use of our contemporary means of communication, including email, our web site and our Facebook page. Also be sure to visit, and the ORTA Facebook page for late-breaking advocacy news.  Our newsletter is a wonderful publication, but it has limitations for disseminating late-breaking news, due to publication deadlines and bimonthly publication.

Social media and the internet are no longer novel means of communication or just for recreation. They are crucial communication tools that allow virtually instant avenues of communication, as important to our everyday lives today as the telephone or the postal service.  Make it a habit to check-in regularly, and, officers and board members, please help us to keep these up to date. There are also two additional important Facebook pages, “STRS Ohio Watchdogs” and “Ohio STRS Members Only Forum”.

I am very excited about our new luncheon venue, the United Methodist Church of Kent. It is beautiful, spacious, clean, bright, easily accessible and very inviting. If you did not attend the December luncheon, treat yourself by attending the May luncheon! And don’t forget to invite a friend!


October – December 2021


With another year coming to a close, I have to say it was great back together, in person, again! For those unable to attend our last meeting, you missed a wonderful program with mystery author Randy Overbeck. Our next meeting is November 18th, and I not only look forward to seeing you, but also encourage you to bring a guest (or two). Bring your spouse, a retired teacher friend, family member,or anyone, to raise awareness of our organization. The invitation holds true for our social events, the more the merrier! We always have a great time.

We are still in need of a Treasurer. You don’t need to be an accountant or a mathematician to do this job; a willingness to learn, a computer and attention to detail (something all teachers have) is all that is necessary. I’m sure Dave Gynn will help show you the ropes. Hiring a professional for this position would be expensive and cost prohibitive. THIS POSITION MUST BE FILLED, for the continued operation of our organization.

To quote Dorothy (Bea Arthur) of The Golden Girls, “Sometimes good things happen, sometimes bad things happen, but if you don’t take a chance, NOTHING happens.”

I look forward to seeing you, for our delicious holiday feasts, prepared by Guido’s, and the interesting and entertaining programs scheduled by Helena Parry and our Program Committee.

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy Holiday Season!


September – October 2021

Chris DeMarco, President

Chris DeMarco, President

Soon you may see some of our PCRTA members sporting Polo shirts that have the insignia PCRTA embroidered on them. Our President Chris DeMarco arranged for members to order them in a variety of colors as one way to advertise our organization and as a help to promote interest in membership.

Membership numbers count! We are constantly reminded that person-to- person contact is the most effective way to gain new members for any organization. There are several ways to accomplish this.

Do you have a friend whom you might invite to our September luncheon meeting? Our featured speaker, author/retired Ohio teacher Randy Overbeck, writes in several genres and most recently has published highly acclaimed thriller novels. His presentation promises to be an event not to be missed. Looking ahead, in November we will enjoy a program on Christmas at the White House.

So wonderful to see everyone at our recent luncheon, live and in person! Jim Montaquila and Dave Gynn and did great work recognizing our grant and scholarship recipients. Jim has a real knack for presenting inspirational, yet entertaining, programs for our future teachers.

We have an opportunity to bring in some fresh leadership talent, as we have several positions open on our Executive Board. Openings exist for Treasurer, Recording Secretary, Nominations Chair, and Public. The need for new people to step forward to fill these positions is real and critical to the successful continuation of our Association. I will say, without an ounce of hyperbole, that this is a situation that could quickly escalate to an existential crisis. It is time to step up, and serve the Portage County Retired Teachers Association!

Thank you, to all who do so much to make our luncheon and other projects successful. Show your pride on PCRTA, and help spread the word about our good works, by purchasing and wearing a PCRTA polo shirt. Please don’t forget to bring a friend to our next luncheon and social event! See you on Senior Day at the Randolph Fair.


July – August


Chris DeMarco, President

Chris DeMarco, President

It’s wonderful to begin to once again get out and about and do some “normal” activities. My wife and I have been enjoying reconnecting with friends face-to-face, eating in a restaurant and even seeing a movie in a theater!

So, it’s time to get together, in person, with our PCRTA family. I am eagerly anticipating seeing and visiting with all of you at our July luncheon at the Kent American Legion. Come out and enjoy fellowship and Guido’s delicious food and help us honor and celebrate our scholarship and grant recipients. Your presence and support are important to the success of our organization. I’ll see you there, and please bring a guest!

Feb-Mar 2020

Greetings! I hope this finds all well and thriving. Hopefully the COVID vaccination

process has either started for you or is around the corner. As you will see, we are planning to go forward with a virtual meeting for our members, on our regularly scheduled date and time, the third Thursday of March (18th) at 11:30 am, on Zoom. You can access the meeting on a computer, tablet or smart phone. While not the same as meeting in person, it is still an opportunity to see one another, and we plan to have a Celebration of Life program for the recently deceased members. As a Board we will be discussing ways to ease back into sense of normalcy to serve our membership, and I hope we can find ways to still serve the community organizations that benefit from our support, as their needs continue, in some cases, greater than ever before. I would like to think that we may be able to greet each other in-person later in the year. (See page 2 for joining Zoom.)

Exciting news! ORTA has been successful in raising the $75,000 necessary to engage Ted Seidel and his firm to perform a forensic audit of STRS. He is set to begin work on February 1, 2021, and he estimates that his work will take four months to complete. I would like to thank you for your personal contributions, the contribution of $75.00 by our Executive Board on behalf of PCRTA and your questions and input to this endeavor. This process is no guarantee of a restoration of our COLA, nor is it an allegation of wrong doing on the part of STRS. However, it is an opportunity to have an outside pair of eyes take a look at the practices and procedures of those entrusted with our retirement funds. As a person once said, “No matter how thin you make the batter, there are always two sides to every pancake.” It will be interesting, and give some peace of mind, to see the other side of the STRS “pancake,” rather than just the side they wish to serve to the public. I look forward to seeing you soon.  Stay well and safe!



Hello again, everyone!  As we head in to this fourth month of the Covid-19 pandemic, it seems that so much is the same; yet, on the other hand, so much has changed. Unfortunately, we will still have to wait a while longer to get together and break bread and visit face to face. Although we are all anxious to get back together, return to our comfortable and usual routine and enjoy our PCRTA fellowship and continue our good works in the community, our ages alone place us in the “vulnerable” category. Some of us have other conditions and afflictions that require us to be especially mindful of the situations in which we place ourselves.

With that in mind, the Executive Board has decided to cancel our July Luncheon Meeting. At our July Board Meeting, we will revisit the issue, as we decide the fate of our September Luncheon Meeting, considering the current conditions and bearing in mind the welfare of our membership.

I would like to thank Jim Montaquila and his scholarship team for their devotion to our future educators by finding a way to get their task accomplished, in spite of the adverse circumstances.

We have all become a little more comfortable with today’s technology. Zoom is a wonderful thing! If you haven’t tried it, it is a wonderful way to get together and visit with a group of friends online. My wife and I have been using it for business and to schedule social get togethers. So grab an ice cold beverage and a snack and Zoom some friends or family you haven’t socialized with for a while. It will do your mind and spirit good!

Stay well, and I hope to see everyone soon!

The President’s Corner April – May 2020


I hope this finds everyone well and securely sheltering in place. These are challenging times for sure. We are fortunate that many of us have the means to distantly communicate with others, be it through the phone, FaceTime, Facebook, Instagram, Zoom, etc.
Keeping busy and engaged is important for our mental and emotional health. Moving about, either outside or in our home, helps to stay on top of things physically. It’s a great time to make some music, try some new recipes (or enjoy old family favorites), take on a home project.
We’re painting the bath and bedroom, here. It’s also a great time to enjoy a hobby, put together a puzzle, play a game, watch some movies or some old family videos. It’s also an ideal time to reach out to friends or family members you have not spoken with in a while.
Getting things organized and throwing out some junk can also be a cathartic experience!

The President’s Corner February – March 2020

Chris DeMarco, President

Chris DeMarco, President

As we begin a New Year, it is a time to reflect on the previous year and look ahead with optimism to what can be accomplished in the coming year. General Eisenhower demanded smiling faces and optimistic attitudes from his commanding generals at a staff meeting at the time of the Battle of the Bulge, as it was to be looked on as an opportunity.

We should take satisfaction in our service to our profession and our communities in the past year: scholarships, the establishment of teacher grants, the opening of a Facebook page, the volunteerism and community service projects and enjoyable luncheons and programs, which are entertaining and informative. Thank you for a job well-done!

The challenges for the coming year are to expand our membership and to not “hide our light under a bushel,” but let it shine brightly in our community. Getting the word out as to what we are about is important in the community of retired teachers and the community as a whole. My conversations with (non-member) retired teacher friends indicate little knowledge of our Advocacy, Friendship and Service missions and the wonderful work we do. Discussions regarding the topic of the COLA have uncovered a great deal of misunderstanding, misinformation, a great of lack of information and, unfortunately, more than a little complacency. Increasing our membership will aid the dissemination of information, as well as enhance our Advocacy, Friendship and Service missions.

I challenge each of you to help spread the word about our good works. Invite a retired teacher friend to be your guest at our luncheon. Bring a non-member friend(s) along on one of our social outings. Attending one of PCRTA outings was my introduction to the organization.  EVERY MEMBER GET A MEMBER is a great slogan borrowed form ORTA! Let’s make 2020 the best year ever for PCRTA!


The President’s Corner August – September 2019

A special thank you to our scholarship committee and those involved in preparing our scholarship recognition luncheon.  Jim Montaquila, Ron Snowberger, Kay Wise, Jan Fencl, Dave Gynn, Ria Mastromatteo and Darlene Fetterhoff put considerable effort and thought i
nto screening and selecting our recipients. Kudos to Connie Evans and Karen Balog for their contributions to the technical aspects of the presentation. We also appreciate the musical talents of Lenny Suzelis and the uplifting songs he contributes to our luncheons. Our organization should be very proud of our contributions to these outstanding young people and to the future of the teaching profession. 

On another note, we all must be mindful of submitting our luncheon reservations in a timely manner, observing the stated deadline. This contributes to good relations with our caterer and venue and ensures a smooth and successful event. Thank you, in advance, for your consideration.



You can make an impact on future generations of teachers by including a bequest in your Will or Living Trust to the PCRTA Scholarship. Discuss how to do this with your attorney or estate planner. You can help to ensure that we can continue our scholarship and teacher grant mission for years to come.

On May 20, President Chris DeMarco and Past President Ron Snowberger attended the ORTA Northeast Ohio Regional Meeting at the First Christian Church in Alliance, hosted by NE Liaisons Kendra Berger and Carol Kinsey. The program included State Senator Kirk Schuring, Chairman of the Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC). Also on the program were Saudi Nararine, Regional Vice President of AMBA, and Dr. Robin Rayfield, ORTA Executive Director. Dr. Rayfield gave the Official ORTA Statement on Disbursement of Money for Teacher Grants and Scholarships.

THE PRESIDENT’S CORNER  February – March 2019

I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year, and express my gratitude for the hard work and dedication of our Officers, Executive Board and all of our members in the

past year. Our Chapter could not be the active and effective organization that it is without the efforts of so many. I also appreciate the warm and welcoming nature of our membership, not only towards myself, but to each other and our guests

As we move into this new year, I feel that our biggest challenge is to expand our membership and visibility in the community.

In a housekeeping matter, I would ask everyone (including yours truly) to be more mindful of sending in your luncheon reservations by the published due date. This will ensure that we can give the caterer and the venue set-up crew an accurate count.


THE PRESIDENT’S CORNER  October – November 2018


On Tuesday, September 25, 2018, PCRTA Executive Board members Helena Parry, ChrisDeMarco and Ron Snowberger attended the ORTA Oho Regional Presidents Meeting at Das Dutch Haus Restaurant Columbiana, Ohio.  Carol Kinsey, North East Regional Liaison, presided over the meeting, with contributions by Dr. Robin Rayfield, ORTA Executive Director. Others in attendance included representatives from Alliance, Columbiana, Geauga, Stark, Trumbull and Lake County Retired Teacher Associations. Alissa Burton, ORTA Newsletter Editor, was present to document the meeting, taking numerous photos.

After a delicious brunch, a round table discussion ensued. Discussions of Chapters’ practices and experiences were described.  Membership concerns, such as types of membership status, challenges and successes along with ideas and strategies to encourage membership growth, were contributed. Ideas for programs, including a description of each chapter’s “best program” from the last two years, were shared, as well as input concerning honoraria for programs.

Also addressed were ways for local Chapters to connect with their community and schools, student scholarships and teacher grants. Chapters also had an opportunity to share exciting, interesting and successful recent activities. Director Rayfield provided insight into current STRS and legislative matters. Finally, there was a chance for Chapters to describe how the Regional Liaison or ORTA could assist local Chapters. It was a day filled with many practical ideas and food for thought, as well as body. Many thanks to Carol Kinsey for organizing this get-together, Dr. Rayfield for his contributions and ORTA for the delightful meal!



Helena Parry, President

Helena Parry: President

Webmaster, Connie Evans, and Assistant Webmaster, Karen Balog, presented a wonderfully crafted power point memorial during the March luncheon. This memorial was to honor and remember those PCRTA members who recently passed away.  Relatives of the deceased, Chris Kitchen and Larry Cole, were able to attend this meeting. Thanks, Karen, Connie, Judy Hendershot and Dave Gynn and others for providing information and research for this project.

I will have completed six years as President of PCRTA by Jan. 2019.  I plan to retire as President of PCRTA in 2019. We need a new president by Oct. 2018 so that he or she can be installed at our November 2018 meeting.  The person would take over in Jan. of 2019. The Board is a hard working board which helps make the President’s job easier. Please consider this position and help our Nomination Committee of Jan Fencl, Saroj Sutaria and Dan McCombs fill this upcoming vacancy.

In May, Judy Morgan will be contacting some of you to see if you can bake and help serve at the GED ceremony on June 7 at Maplewood Career Center. Call Judy at 614-309-4893 if you can help.

Become an Election Official for Portage County!    The Portage County Board of Elections is looking for individuals who would like to be part of the democratic process by becoming precinct election officials. To become a PEO, you must be registered to vote in Portage County, attend a training class and have transportation to your assigned polling location.  Election Day hours are 5:45 a.m. until after the close of polls at 7:30 p.m.  Those that serve as PEOs receive $120.  The elections for 2018 occur on May 8th and November 6th.  To sign up or for more information, please contact the Portage County Board of Elections at 330-297-3512 or 330-297-3515 or visit our website:

The Liberty Camp for Kids is asking for volunteers for a week-long summer camp at the Portage County Historical Society. Contact Anne Kaczmarek 440-227-1210.  Check out the PCRTA web for other volunteer positions.

Edith Scott announced that she will retire in July, 2018, as the scheduler for the Proctoring Program. We need someone to take over this very important volunteer position, which she has done for twelve years.  Please call Edith at 330-297-1812 or Helena Parry at 330-673-0577 if you can help.  The proctoring program stipend allows us to be able to give several scholarships.  WE NEED MORE PROCTORS AS WELL. Call Edith to become a proctor.

There is a Proctor Appreciation Program Thursday, May 24, 2018 at 10 a.m. at NEOMED in the Regula Training Room 106 for PCRTA proctors. The guest speaker will be Christine Crish Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

THE PRESIDENT’S CORNER  February – March 2017

As we enter into a new year of activity and challenges, I would once again like to thank all of the dedicated Executive Committee Members for their outstanding and diligent work to keep the PCRTA moving forward. The President’s job becomes easier when there are so many good folks chairing the various committees of the Executive Committee.  I am so pleased that many chair people have agreed to remain.  We would like to thank Barb Cribbs as outgoing Corresponding Secretary and welcome Denise Craig as our new Corresponding Secretary, who has already been at work for PCRTA. Thanks to the Brocketts for their past work as the Pre-Retirement Chair people.

We are very fortunate that we can provide so many scholarships to our young people interested in the teaching profession.  Thanks so much to all of you who proctor and to Edith Scott who manages the schedule.

We would like to welcome Saroj Sutaria to our Nomination Committee as Co-Chair, along with Jan Fencl.

Thanks to  Dave Gynn, Ron Snowberger, Connie Evans and  Karen Balog who helped me secure a new meeting place for  PCRTA.  The Elks became too expensive for us as we would have needed to charge at least $17.00 to cover the $75.00 per hour expense plus the cost of the dinner.

We need to thank Dave Gynn and Ron Snowberger for attending several meetings in Columbus to help insure our voice in  ORTA, our connection to the state and STRS, on behalf of the PCRTA.  Helena Parry also attended  meetings at ORTA.


Happy New Year!  I would again like to thank all of the PCRTA officers, committee chair people, volunteers, luncheon attendees and supporters for making 2015 a successful PCRTA year.

There are some exciting and interesting things planned for 2016 with Dave Gynn as the chairperson of the PCRTA 50th Anniversary Committee. You will be able to enjoy at our luncheons a new “Fifty Years or So of Collecting” display.  Ron Snowberger will display some of his stamps at the March luncheon, along with Pat Gynn, who will display her frog collection. If you are interested in displaying a collection or hobby at a luncheon, please contact me at

We will add non-monetary prizes to the 50/50.  We want 50 new members.  We want 50 more volunteers to report their hours to Judy Morgan.  We want 50 people willing to edit the newsletter! We want people to donate to a 50th Anniversary Legacy Scholarship. (more to follow)

Perhaps we can offer 50 people donating to Habitat Restore and offer more help to Habitat. Ron Snowberger will coordinate the events for PCRTA with the Portage County Habitat Office.

I am looking forward to working again with PCRTA for 2016!


Helena Parry

Helena Perry, President

The Executive Board is a wonderful group of people who make the PCRTA flow along in an productive, informative, helpful, and entertaining way. In the committee reports in the November minutes you can find listed the leaders of each committee.

As we begin a new year the Executive Board will again serve in the same position as last year with the exception of the treasurer, the membership chairperson, and the newsletter editor. Dave Gynn, the former Membership chair, has become the PCRTA Treasurer while Darlene has become the Assistant Treasurer.

Well, I have become the default newsletter editor for now. We are still searching for someone to take on the challenge. I have had to learn some new skills with my new Word 2013 program. I was able to copy, paste, and change the font on an article sent to me for this issue. I’ve met Matt, who gets the newsletter printed, puts on the labels, and sends it out to those who still want a hard copy of the newsletter. To save costs we are still asking members to sign up via email for newsletter.

President’s Corner – Thanks to Many!

Greetings my fellow retirees,

Recently I attended our District XI Presidents’ Meeting in Girard. There are 9 county chapters in our District. We voted for a District Director who will be Jean Slicker from the Stark County RTA. Other business discussed was the need for a tax exempt status, ways to let the public know who we are, and about directing people to answer health care questions.

In addition to meeting the other Presidents, I also met Don Ullmann, who is currently our Eastern Area Vice-President and soon will become the President of ORTA, and his wife Deloris, the ORTA Webmaster. We all had a pleasant lunch together and time to chat. Don will be coming to the November meeting to install our new officers.

I am pleased to announce that Pat Farley and Ehrman Armstrong have stepped willingly into the position of taking reservations. We would like to sincerely thank Marleen Strebler for her service for the past couple of years to the organization in this capacity.

We owe Darlene Fetterhoff bunches of gratitude as well. She has been our PCRTA Treasurer for 9.5 years. She has worked tirelessly to have our new 501(c)3 Scholarship Program become a reality. We are fortunate in having Dave Gynn willing to take over as Treasurer. Thanks again so much, Darlene!

This is the last newsletter for 2013 and the last one that Pat Gynn will be editing. So we are looking for someone to volunteer for this position. Pat has done an outstanding job with the newsletter, and we owe her a big thank you. She says she will be willing to help mentor someone if they want. Judy Kirman will still handle the email newsletter distribution, and we will keep the same printing service that we have now. The officers and committee members write their own articles.

I would like to see the newsletter to still be sent out five times a year in February, April, June, August, and October, in order for people to get them the month before each luncheon to tell about the luncheon meeting. A new editor can choose any format for the newsletter. Contact Pat Gynn at 330-6787-8423 or at or me, Helena, at 330-673-0577 or at for more information. Who’s up for a challenge?

I hope to see many of you at the November and December luncheons. Good health and cheer to each and every one of you. Also, I would like to thank all of our Executive Board members for their diligent and dedicated service to our PCRTA, and hope that many of you will continue in your current positions for 2014.


How would you answer these questions?

On behalf of the PCRTA, I would sincerely like to thank our Scholarship Committee of Kay Wise, Lowell Myers, Jan Fencl, Dave Gynn, Norm Park and committee chair, Jim Montaquila. The students selected seemed sincere, intelligent, well spoken, and well educated. The process for selection is a planned and methodical method, which consumes many hours of the committee’s time.

Then, how encouraged and delighted I was to meet the scholarship winners at our last two PCRTA luncheons. During the July luncheon meeting, everyone seemed to enjoy the recipients’ answers to several questions asked of them during a panel format. The answers to many of these questions are found in the minutes of the July meeting written by Ruth Weigand. (Look on

I thought that you might be interested in hearing some of our own membership respond to the same questions asked of the scholarship recipients. Here are their answers:

Why did you choose the school you did?

Georgia Darrah: I chose Kent State University for both my undergraduate and graduate work because they had an outstanding reputation for training teachers; and I wanted the experience of living on campus, but not be hours away from home.

Ruth Weigand: I chose KSU because I received a four-year tuition scholarship which I gave up to attend the cadet program, a two-year and two-summer training program at KSU which enabled me to begin teaching while finishing my degree.

Helena Parry: I, too, believed that KSU had a great teacher training program in the 60’s, and I received a $360 scholarship from the Junior Chamber of Commerce which paid for six quarters of tuition.

Jim Montaquila: I attended Ashland College (now Ashland University) for my B.S. degree because it was a small school and they provided the personal care I needed at that time. I received my M.S. degree and further advanced education from the University of Akron. It had the programs I needed and wanted and was convenient to me.

What was your most memorable high school experience?

Georgia: It was being a part of the Alliance High School Marching Band. We worked very hard under our leader’s direction, and we knew that hard work paid off.

Ruth: My most memorable experience was being chosen to go to Ohio Girls’ State.

Helena: I had two things that were really hard to choose between: getting the Womanhood Award as a senior and being Miss Portage County Queen in 1961. Jim: At my high school graduation, I received the School Spirit Award. It was one of the two highest awards presented to graduating seniors, and I had worked for it during my entire high school career.

Which teacher had the greatest positive influence on you?

Georgia: My band director taught us to set high goals and then work to achieve them. He instilled a work ethic in them and allowed us to see what we could accomplish with hard work and dedication.

Ruth: My ninth grade Latin and English teacher had a huge influence on me because she convinced my mother that I needed eyeglasses.

Helena: My most influential teacher was my first grade teacher who allowed me to tutor others and to help a needy student to get organized.

Jim: Ray Brannon was my high school football coach. He always spoke of giving that “second effort.” In one word, that meant persistence.

Why did you choose to go into education?

Georgia, Ruth, and Helena: All three women said they knew they wanted to be a teacher from when they were very young. Georgia played school with her friends; Ruth taught her brothers and sisters; and Helena played school with her dolls lined up on the stairs to the second floor.

Jim: I loved social studies and felt that the teaching of history and government would be something that I would truly enjoy. As a young man, I remember my mother encouraged me to go into education and get my teaching certification. She said it would always be something that I could fall back on. Well, I certainly did that.

Still working with kids for the five years after I have retired and spending thirty-four years in schools, I think I accomplished what my mother suggested. There is no profession that touches as many people as does education. Both in the classroom and in administration, you have a permanent effect on everyone.

PRESIDENT’S CORNER — Keep Rolling Along MayJune 2013

Kathy Baker, a writer, a motivational speaker, wife and mom, recently had an article published in the Record Courier about taking lessons from the river. She put the river into personification mode and then compared our lives to the old river. She advised us to keep rolling along in spite of trouble, turmoil, peace, calm, raging, or whatever our predicament.

I think this is clever advice since we seem to be having more and more turmoil from both some citizens and Mother Nature as well. What can we do as members of the Portage County Teacher’s Association? What can we do as citizens of the United States of America? What can we do in Ohio, or in Portage County, or in our city of residence, or in our own homes?

Well, we as a group must keep ever vigilant of the changing work in Congress. Now it seems just after we got the word that the public pension plan was safe for a few years, we now received word that there is a new bill being introduced at the federal level which could once again make changes to the public pension system.

Our Legislative Chair, Dan McCombs, can explain this bill in more detail; however, we must think about the advice of Kathy Baker and keep rolling along in spite of turmoil and danger. We must do what we can to let our elected officials know how hard we have worked to keep our pension system intact and how much it could cost the government if they want to support us instead of us being taken care of by our own pension system.

For example, in my case, if I were to lose my STRS pension, then the government would need to switch to paying to me social security benefits to which I qualify through my former husband, or switch to paying me my own full social security benefits which are now also off-set by my STRS pension.

I’m thinking that perhaps there are many other folks in a similar situation to mine concerning pensions. We need to remind the government that because we are pensioned enough, we can volunteer in many situations and even donate to some causes, which would cost the government even more without donations provided by citizens. So, Kathy thank you for the advice. We shall keep rolling along.

PRESIDENT’S CORNER — A Memorial Meeting 03-21-13

When I called my brother, Bob Winkler, from NEOMED last month, his wife Dolores answered and told me they were just going out the door to get to the PCRTA luncheon. “Hold on a minute,” I quipped. “I need a flag for today’s program.”

She questioned her husband to see if he could bring his flag and stand. Telling her how far I had to walk to get to the main entrance to NEOMED, I suggested that perhaps he just bring the flag. Well, about a half hour later, in walked Bob with his flag and stand; and he placed it to the right of the speaker’s stand. How very moving it was at the opening of our meeting to have our members and guests present who were veterans join with Bob and lead the Pledge of Allegiance for our PCRTA Luncheon.
Later, our featured speaker, Jan Merrick, emotionally moved our crowd with the details of how Honor Flight Cleveland offers an all-expense paid trip to Washington for WW II and Korean veterans. Our members donated over $450 to this program on site that day , and many others took cards with the address as to where to send donations. At one time or another, our own John Lilly, Norm Park, Art Fesemyer and Tom Campana took the Honor Flight trip.

It was also the day for our Memorial Service to honor our deceased members of PCRTA/ORTA. Dee Smith and Pat Mazzer did a wonderful presentation with a poem and told something about PCRTA members who died in 2012 or 2013 thus far. They placed little tea light candles upon each table near the patriotic-colored pinwheel arrangements created by our Vice-President, Georgia Darrah; and they had several memory booklets printed about the deceased members.

This luncheon meeting of March 21st was my first as President of the PCRTA. It was most enjoyable to mingle in a crowd of 70 people all gathered in a common denominator, but we would like to have more of you join us at our next luncheon meetings.

It is important to support PCRTA/ORTA and help protect our benefits and pensions. Bob Stein from the STRS Board was present with us to reiterate the importance of the voices of retired teachers.

If you have any ideas or suggestions for our group please call or email me. Thanks.



Happy New Year to all of you; and may blessings, good health, wealth, cheer and happiness follow you this year. With so many tragedies left behind us now, the effects will linger forever. As a changing culture, it seems that we need some changes that will restore values that relate to the worth and dignity of human beings. What these changes could be might take some time to resolve, but we seem to need to begin somewhere.

As a group of retired teachers, what can we do? Should we add to our continued mission and goals of providing our volunteerism to many causes, providing a trustee at the state level to be our voice in our ever-changing government, providing socialization activities for our members, and keeping tabs on our pensions and health care plans? If you have any suggestions as a possible new goal for PCRTA, please email or call me.

I asked the Executive Board at our January meeting to be thinking of examining our mission and goals as well. Should it be that we individually email or write to our government officials at the local, state and federal levels more, or should it be that we each volunteer, if able, just one more place where we can make a difference in the life of a child or needy adult? Should we encourage joining Silver Sneakers for more personal exercise? What should or could it be? Should we have more plays like the one we had at our Christmas Party? Should we individually lend a hand to our local schools and join a levy committee? Let me hear from you.

One of my personal goals as your new PCRTA President is to email our legislators more and to keep a more astute eye upon the changes at the local, state and federal levels. For example, I recently received a 28-page document from ORTA Director Ann Hanning via Dave Gynn with the topic National Council on Teacher Retirement Federal E News. ( Dave warned me that this document was heavy reading.) Also, I recently reviewed all the changes Governor Kasich has on his agenda: severance tax, lowering state income tax, turnpike tolls, school funding reform, and others.

Another goal is to give ample time to be the President of the PRCTA and to continue to lead and work with a very capable Executive Board. I hope this commitment to be President does not take too much time away from my family, other friends, choir, garden clubs, cooking, knitting, housekeeping, floral design, facebook, care for my dog and more.

Regarding the position of a trustee to ORTA is the fact that we only have the privilege to do so if we continue to be one of the top ten chapters in numbers of dual memberships in both ORTA and PCRTA. The top ten are not figured on the population of your local but just plainly the top ten in numbers of each local retired teachers’ organizations across the state.

Well, I want you to be well aware that our own David Gynn, outgoing ORTA President, and Dan McCombs, our most recent past trustee (due to term restrictions), spent many hours in Columbus lobbying for us. David announced at the December luncheon meeting that it was stated that, if it had not been for the retired teachers’ groups, we would never have maintained the defined benefit pension.

So you see, we are not a political organization; but as a group we can have some influence upon our political system. Folks, membership in both ORTA and PCRTA are vital to our cause. Please ask a retired teacher friend who is not a member with us to please spare $40 of their budget and join us. Also, please think about how you can further your personal involvement in the PCRTA and think about our goals and our mission.

Contact me with your ideas: 330-673-0577 Helena

The Prez says – Thanks for your Support! 10-10-2012

Ron Snowberger, President

Ron Snowberger, President

The past two years as president of PCRTA have been just great. Thanks to members’ supportand the fantastic board support you have representing you, my job has been a joy. I know each of you will support the incoming president in the same manner you have supported me. I will remain the ORTA trustee representative in Columbus for 2013.

Much has been accomplished this year. ORTA and PCRTA’s work (especially Dan McCombs, who is our legislative chair) in protecting our pensions, our COLA, and our defined benefits were finally approved by the legislature in Columbus.

All of our board committees have come through this year with shining accomplishments. I want to call your attention to Judy Morgan and our many community activities.
And what would we do without Edie Scott and NEOMED? What a great way to accumulate volunteer hours. Speaking of volunteer hours, we are so close to a record-setting 10,00 hours, please report your hours to Judy and help push us over.

I may be missing some names, but I know I saw some recipes in the new ORTA Cook Book from Pat Gynn, Edie Scott, Dottie Emerick, and Georgia Darrah. The books have arrived and I will bring them to the November meeting. For those of you 37 who ordered books, please have your $10 each payment ready. We have 8 extra books left; call me if you would like one.

Please remember your reservations for the November meeting. Marlene will appreciate an early response. Along with an excellent speaker for November, Dave Gynn will install our officers for 2013.

Our Christmas luncheon and program of musical entertainment is planned for December. Then everyone will regroup in March of 2013. In the meantime, please contact any new retiree you know and invite them to become a member of one of Ohio’s best organizations-PCRTA and ORTA.

The Prez Ses -Reflections and Beginnings 08-16-12

Recently I was fortunate to drive to Florida with my daughter and grandchildren (flying Jan met us there). During the drive, some of the kids’ comments caused me to reflect: comments such as “I gotta pee,” with daughter saying “You just have to hold it, but I remember when I was small Dad made us go in a small potty at the rear of the station wagon.” As the kids groaned “Jewooo,” I thought how times have changed.

Now as the last days of August are just around the corner and teachers are excited about returning to the classroom, many of us can reflect on our past achievements in our classrooms. I am certain the new retirees are wondering “What will I do with all the time on my hands?”

Do you remember how some teachers were able to control their classes with a very light rein and have no disciplinary troubles, while others had to shout and plead and threaten and yet they still got nowhere with certain students? You might agree that knowledge was not enough, technique was not enough, and mere experience was not enough. The art at the bottom was the ability to “tune in to each student’s wavelength.”

As the beginning of a new school year approaches, we need to review our emotions, look back at reflections and look ahead at new beginnings so that every day is a happy day, and a productive one.
And so…

If I feel depressed, I will sing.
If I feel sad, I will laugh.
If I feel ill, I will double my labor.
If I feel fear, I will plunge ahead.
If I feel uncertain, I will raise my voice
If I feel poverty, I will think of wealth to come.
If I feel incompetent, I will volunteer.

Thanks to every leader who volunteers at the many places you are needed. Judy Morgan collects your hours as we aim to meet our goal of 10,000 hours for 2012. Remember, “The best helping hand you’ll ever find is at the end of your own arm.”

Just a reminder to continue to keep a check on Columbus. Your comments to our legislators are really needed, especially when matters of concern affect retired educators. I’m looking forward to the September luncheon meeting and program…

Prez Sez Keeping Busy!

When I asked my 2nd grade teacher-daughter for some words of wisdom for this column she simply said, “Tell the retired teachers to sleep in….they deserve it!” I keep reminding her that when we retire we just get more busy.

What a great attendance we had at the May meeting. I’ve received many compliments on the table decorations….thanks go to Georgia Darrah. Regina Brett, an excellent speaker, reminded us of miracles that occur every day in our lives. We had 120 members in attendance, and three guests from NEOMED.

I trust that we will have another great attendance in July as we recognize our scholarship students for 2012. Jim Montaquila and his committee have worked very hard with the evaluations, and will present another great program. Jim and I were on the same stage last month at Kent Roosevelt High School as he presented the PCRTA Award and I presented the Garden Club of Kent Award.

Thanks to Edie Scott our partnership with NEOMED has provided the necessary monies for several scholarships each year. The coordination and organization of the proctors is priceless. If you haven’t volunteered to proctor, you are missing out on the time of your life. And you thought the tests you gave were tough! Your help is always needed; image all the volunteer hours you can rack up.

Judy Morgan will be extra proud of you as you turn in your hours. Many of you probably know someone who retired from active service this year. Please consider inviting them to the luncheon in July and because of your caring, we just might have a new member join us. Remember to add them to your reservation or call Maureen Strebler. You truly are special as you work your daily miracles and they are continuing. It is so important that we continue to strengthen our membership and continue to have a voice in legislative concerns through PCRTA and ORTA.

With a little break in the weather, I hope that you have been able to get out into your flower and vegetable gardens. Most of us find our gardens an enjoyable place, and the exercise doesn’t hurt us either. Looking forward to our meeting in September, we have been able to obtain a district representative from the Silver Sneakers Program, along with a local trainer. This will be a program you won’t want to miss. What a great way to stay fit and healthy.

In the meantime, please remember to keep up to date on legislative matters, which I sometimes call “The Columbus Games.” I think you will enjoy scanning the web sites of PCRTA, ORTA, and STRS. Thanks for accepting me as your president, and thanks to our wonderful board members; they make the president’s job so easy. See you in July!


PREZ SEZ: You Are Somebody Special!

As a volunteer, YOU are somebody special. Thanks to everyone as you continue to add to PCRTA’s total volunteer hours for 2012. I know Judy Morgan is very happy to record the hours you are reporting.

Richard and Mary Ann Brockett are to be congratulated for organizing the very successful pre-retirement workshop. There were 38 educators in attendance, plus the PCRTA helpers-Ria Mastromatteo, Georgia Darrah, Saroj Sutaria, Pat Gynn, Barb Cribbs, Edith Scott, and Helena Parry. Thanks to Ria for providing the 45-49 studios for the presentations. PS: The pizza and cookies were great, too.

Ten members of PCRTA were apprised of ORTA and STRS happenings when they attended the recent ORTA Northeastern Area Conference in Canton. The participants heard from an STRS speaker who reminded us to keep informed on pension reform plans. STRS must make several assumptions regarding such factors as inflation, investments, salary growth, and mortality rates.

A group of panelists in the morning spoke about several volunteer opportunities, such as Habitat, Junior Achievement, Hospice, and AARP. During lunch, the keynote speaker spoke about teachers as heroes. His company is looking for teachers to nominate as being heroic. Know anyone to nominate? After lunch, attendees participated in workshops of their choice.
As your trustee, I attended ORTA workshops in Columbus which included legislative and public relations. ORTA President Dave Gynn gave his expectations for this year, which is being called “The Year of the Volunteer.”

Our next executive board meeting is May 10, 9:30 at the Kent Free Library. You are also welcome to attend…and you may be inclined to serve on one of the committees. Also say hello to Dee Smith and Pat Mazzer. They have volunteered to co-chair the Memorial/Sunshine Committee. Thanks, Dee and Pat.

Georgia Darrah has arranged to have copies of Regina Brett’s two books available at the May 17 luncheon meeting. You may want to consider a copy for yourself as well as for a friend. Please make your reservations with Marleen Strebler as soon as you can-we expect a large attendance. See you in May.

We had a very successful 2011 year within PCRTA. How lucky we are to have so many active educators.

Dave Gynn, our own ORTA President, has named 2012 “The Year of the Volunteer.” I was able to report to ORTA that our PCRTA members produced 6,608 volunteer hours in 2011. That was great, but I know we can do more (and we probably did had everyone remembered to turn in their hours to Judy)

For 2012, my challenge to our members is to exceed 10,000 volunteer hours! Judy Morgan does a fantastic job with the community services committee, and she will be thrilled to receive updates from you as your volunteer hours increase.

Volunteer hours cover an array of areas: church participation, PCRTA, school events, nursing and retirement home services, social services, county clothing center, helping the elderly with gardening, meals on wheels, deliveries, rides for medical needs, your good will helping a neighbor, community services, reading to a child, reading for the blind, and many, many more unending acts of kindness. Let’s make the “hours” this year a banner one for Dave’s home chapter.

The powerful force behind volunteering is the social change that is made through the inspiration of people to make a difference to help those in need. Organizations like PCRTA really cannot function without the energy and input of volunteers like you!!

February 8 found Dave Gynn and me at the ORTA office in Columbus attending a work session on legislative concerns, along with an executive board meeting in the afternoon. We should have a report for you at the March meeting.

Many thanks to Georgia Darrah for arranging the programs for this year. They all sound exciting; especially the May program with Regina Brett. I believe this will be well attended as I have talked with several other RTA’s and REA’s in the area and some of their members have expressed a desire to attend this luncheon.

Marleen Strebler has new “over the neck” name tags for you this year. We will use them at our luncheons.

Thanks for staying involved in your PCRTA organization. Please plan to involve a non-active member or encourage a new member this year? “Yes” is much easier to say than “I don’t have time.”

And, please remember to keep abreast of the “happenings” in Columbus by using our web site (, as well as ORTA’s ( See you at the luncheon in March at NEOMED University.

Prez Sez: A Time for Some Changes November-December 2011

With summer and fall coming to a close, we know that winter is not far behind. As with the changes in weather, also come several changes in PCRTA happenings.

I am pleased to inform you that we will be changing dining venues for the November and the December luncheons. PCRTA has been supported financially by the Northeast Ohio Medical University in return for proctoring services. Now we will be able to enjoy great luncheons at a special price for us served at the Ralph Regula Conference Center at NEOMED.

Linen table cloths and napkins will greet us with a salad and water at the tables. Coffee and tea will be served at the tables. Fast moving buffet tables will be laden with two entrees, side dishes, hot rolls with butter, and a dessert table. All this for only $12 per luncheon.

Les Bennett is no longer able to take the reservations, since he has moved into Kent Ridge at Golden Pond. Marleen Strebler volunteered to take his place accepting the reservations for our luncheons. A HUGE Thank You goes out to Les for all the years he has volunteered taking care of the reservations and making nametags. Les has also served as our music leader. You will be missed very much, Les!

Please note that the reservations for the November luncheon must reach Marleen’s home NO later than November 9. It would be helpful if you are able to make both the November and December reservations at the samte time… and save yourself a stamp, too.

Please take note that the December meeting time had to be changed to December 8, due to our move. So the reservations for that luncheon need to be in by November 30.

Also, the Board meeting will be November 10. We will meet at the Reed Memorial Library in Ravenna at 9:30. Invite a newly-retired teacher to a luncheon-each one should have received a letter with a coupon for a free lunch, but they will be more comfortable coming with someone for the first time. Let’s make this an over-the-top attendance day.

As the year ends, many many thanks go to Ken and Nancy Granville who have served as our dual Vice-Presidents for the past two years. Georgia Darrah and Jan Snowberger have volunteered to run as Co Vice-Presidents at our November elections.

Most everyone is aware of Issue 2 on the November election to vote NO to repeal Senate Bill 5, but we must also keep our eyes on the status of HB 136 which would expand education vouchers. This will have a direct affect on school district funding and will take more dollars from the public schools. Send your state representative a message on this important issue.

Prez Sez: Reflections on PCRTA and ORTA Activities

September-October 2011

What a wonderful program we had in July! Many thanks and congratulations to scholarship chair Jim Montaquila and his committee. Meeting the seven awardees and listening to their comments should make us feel good for public education in the future as these students enter our profession.

A new school year is quickly approaching, and as many principals have said, “It is time to forget last year and how the students performed last year; this year is a new beginning and we should take every opportunity to move on to even higher achievements.” I believe that this year is also an opportunity that each of us cannot let slip by.

With all the changes occurring nationally and within our state, please remember to keep in contact with our state representatives and senators. Check the July issue of The Desktop if you need phone numbers and addresses.
Many items are being placed on the “back burner” in Columbus. We need to keep the burners burning with our concerns, comments, and suggestions. They will listen, but only if we speak-as individuals as well as a group!

I like the quote of the new Ohio State football coach as he said “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” This is our opportunity to make sure that growth is successful and in the best interest of all-retired teachers, soon-to-be retired teachers, current teachers, and students striving to be teachers.

We hope to see all of you at the September meeting. School supplies are needed, and this is our community service project for the month. September is also a good time for us to welcome new members.

The ORTA Fall Quarterly is planning to feature member volunteerism and community service. Please call PCRTA Community Services Chair Judy Morgan (330-653-8174) with any service hours you would like her to report to ORTA. ORTA is also planning to send a list to each chapter that would contain the names of new retirees. Wouldn’t it be great to have these new retirees as our members before their names are published. You can help do this; invite a new retiree to a meeting as your guest. Thanks in advance for all your support.

As a side note, we will no longer be able to have the cash 50/50 drawing at the church. If you have some ideas how we can supplement these donations, please share your thoughts with any board member. Enjoy the summer days, and we hope to see you in September.

Prez Sez: Reflections June-July 2011

Alert!! Do you remember the challenge I gave you earlier? July is the month to bring your guests as they join PCRTA. Remind them when they join in July their dues are paid through the 2012 year. Since we have maintained our membership at a high level, we will retain our trustee position in Columbus. Help us keep up the good work.

As we welcome our seven scholarship winners this month, perhaps it is appropriate to reflect on PCRTA teachers’ achievements in our teaching past. As these future teachers reflect on their school years, I am certain that we represent some of the teachers who meant the most to them in their school life. It may not be necessarily those who knew the most; but those who gave out the fullness of themselves; who confronted them face to face, with a humanhood that awoke their senses and called them to take hold of their own existence. We trust that these students’ teaching future will be as bright as our careers were.

Prez Sez: Don’t Be a Frozen Turnip! Stay Active and Strong!

April-May 2011

As an avid gardener, I was too late in digging some turnips. Turnips may be left in the ground until the soil begins to freeze solid. I guess that I should have checked them sooner as when the soil freezes the turnips deteriorate quickly.

I wonder if that lesson should be applied to us as retired educators…if left inactive too long, do we also begin to deteriorate? Well, I say that will not happen to this great membership of PCRTA. We are active, effective, and we produce good quality… that’s why I know we will all help our membership grow.

Our March meeting saw nearly 100 people in attendance. What a great reception for Mr. Lincoln. Perhaps with your bringing a guest, we will acknowledge over 100 at our May memorial program. As you encourage these retired educators to join PCRTA, remind them when they join at the July meeting their dues payment carries over through the year 2012.
I hope each of you reads with attention the ORTA Spring Quarterly, especially the articles by Executive Director Ann Hanning where she mentioned Dave Gynn’s and ORTA President Karen Butt’s testimonies given at the hearings for HB69 in Columbus recently.

With all the attention that the newly passed SB5 is getting in the local newspapers, it behooves each of us to keep abreast of all the developments as it progresses to a probable referendum on the November ballot.

Our chapter is not inactive-we are vital and growing. By the time you read this, Dave Gynn and I will have attended the NEOEA Spring Conference on April 13. Three new members, Kathy Lawson, Sue Dyett, and I completed the learning session for “proctoring” at NEUCOM last week. Thanks to Edith Scott, for the super job she does with scheduling for this program.

I believe that successful retired educators have developed the quality of relaxation. They don’t allow themselves to be pressured, and they don’t give in to a feeling of strain and stress. We have learned to take things in stride.

So, as we prepare for our memorial program in May…..Take time today to write or call your friends. Don’t ever say, “Not now; some other day.” It well may be you cannot make amends. Because those friends of yours are called away.


Prez Sez: Setting Forth the Challenge January-March 2011

First and foremost, let me take the opportunity to thank all the members for allowing me to take the reins of PCRTA for this year. Second, thanks so much to all the Board members who agreed to remain for this year (and hopefully many more). Welcome to the new Board members, and thanks to Art Fesemeyer for the effective work he did as Membership Chair.

Some of you suggested that I provide a little of my background. Reluctantly here goes…. after four years with the Strategic Air Command of the Air Force and college, I began teaching business education at Ravenna High School. This began a 38-year career there encompassing positions as a teacher, a librarian, an assistant principal and a principal, then business manager for eight years. Fortunate to earn some degrees at Kent State University, I had the privilege of teaching on campus and at a branch campus for several years. Leaving Ravenna and serving with the Stow City School District for three years led to retirement… until now.

People usually get to be leaders because they were good “doers.” They were good teachers, counselors, coaches, and administrators. You, as a member of PCRTA, are a leader. You are a leader as you cause others to want what you are doing to accomplish the work of the PCRTA.

Many members of an organization, especially those who care deeply for the organization, have a collective sense of its underlying purpose. Including every person at every level is a job for each of us. This call for supporting a creative process in which the members need to know that they have real freedom to say what the want about purpose, meaning and vision, with no limits, no encumbrances or reprisals. Each of us needs to actively involve ourselves in the vision, mission and purpose of PCRTA.

With that I leave you with the challenge I made when you accepted me as your new president. It is imperative that PCRTA retain and increase its membership. We must keep our numbers in the top ten in the state in order to retain a trustee in Columbus. Help your organization do this. Ask a retired educator or a soon to be retired educator to join PCRTA; bring forth a new member this year.

See you at the March meeting.

Cheers, Ron

PREZ SEZ – reMEMBERing By Dave Gynn

November-December 2010

Dave Gynn

Dave Gynn

The other night I had this wonderful dream. I was reMEMBERing the PCRTA MEMBERS andevents of the past several years. I thought of how things have changed in PCRTA and in ORTA and how those changes have positively affected retired teachers.

During my dream I had this thought: What if there were no PCRTA? What if nobody volunteered in September 1966 to form this important chapter of Ohio Retired Teachers Association?

We would have missed many wonderful programs and luncheons. Portage County would not have had collections for food, clothing, or school supplies for social agencies. More than 70 future teachers would not have received financial and emotional support through PCRTA scholarships. Retiring teachers may not have eased into a new retirement lifestyle without the support and the encouragement of earlier retirees. Deceased members may not have been remembered.

My great dream started to become a nightmare as I pondered: What if there were no ORTA? What if nobody volunteered in 1947 to begin the state organization to work exclusively for Ohio’s retired teachers.

Teachers retiring before 1947 would never have received pensions without ORTA. Annual cost of living adjustments, health care benefits, prescription drug options, spouse coverage, and supplemental checks would not have happened without ORTA’s legislative influence. Leadership training and chapter development would not exist.

But it was just a dream. PCRTA and ORTA continue to be strong and vital because of volunteer MEMBERS. We continue to need new MEMBERS. Since ORTA is the voice of retired teachers dedicated to preserving retirement and health care, we need the loud and clear voice of everyone who receives STRS benefits.

We are excited about the recent increase in PCRTA membership. Because of a change in the ORTA bylaws, we will lose our trustee seat if we are not one of the ten largest chapters. We are close, and we need just a few more MEMBERS to continue our influence at ORTA. Every MEMBER should influence one or two retirees to join. Everyone is on the MEMBERship committee.

Retired teachers are looking at difficult times ahead. An unsympathetic legislature will soon consider a revision to our retirement program during a time when Ohio has a huge budget deficit. ORTA will represent all the retirees. All retirees should be MEMBERS.

In a June 1955 letter sent to the ORTA QUARTERLY, Harry Singer said, “I would say to each and every school teacher and educator in and from Ohio, ‘You are going to get what you deserve in the same degree you go after it. Nothing is going to be handed to you’.” He could have been speaking to us today.


September-October 2010

When you began teaching, did your fellow grads or your friends envy the salary you would be earning as a teacher?

Did your friends and family envy your teaching position as they saw the work load you carried home nights and weekends?

Did your close friends envy your job as you struggled to find an approach to assist that very difficult-to-reach child?

Did anyone envy you as you returned to college for additional education or to participate in workshops and seminars?

We entered the education profession with different goals – money was not a motivating factor in our decisions to teach. We taught and hoped to make a difference in the lives of children and the world.

We accepted a relatively low salary, and we knew there would be adequate retirement benefits. Contributions from our salary and from our employers (an employee benefit) were deposited to the STRS system. Their investment of the funds added to our earned retirement.
When we retired, STRS presented us with several options of how we could receive our defined retirement income. We knew how much we would receive each month and planned our retirement activities with that knowledge. With the confidence of a set monthly income, we can contribute to the community by volunteering for organizations, supporting school and library levies, and serving on boards and committees. We do not usually need to rely on any additional employment, thus leaving jobs available for younger workers.

Who knew our retirement benefits would become the envy of many people, often with misinformation about the STRS program? People with a defined contribution retirement program (like a 401K) feel the sting of reduced benefits and now envy our system.

Legislators trying to balance the State budget forget that the STRS funds are not State funds and envy that potential income source.

Many Ohio newspapers have done a disservice by reporting incorrect information about retired teachers‘ benefits. STRS is not funded by the State. The benefits have been earned by teachers.

Our legislature will soon be drafting a plan to change the rules governing all five State retirement plans. Please contact your representatives and tell them we must continue the defined benefits retirement plan for all teachers. Give them a personal example of how this program lets you plan your retirement with security.


June-August 2010

Have you crafted your elevator chat?

An elevator speech or elevator pitch is a concise, carefully planned, well-practiced description about your cause. Some people think of it as a brief, easy-to-understand message a person would comprehend in the time it would take to ride up an elevator.

Sales people rehearse their elevator presentations. They stress the importance of how their product or service will meet the needs of potential clients-in just the time it takes to ride up in the elevator.

I hope you will use your elevator speech or elevator chat to encourage PCRTA and ORTA membership. What do you say when you meet a non-member-a recent retiree or someone who just hasn’t joined yet?

Your prepared elevator chat will pop into your head, and you will talk confidently about their need to participate in the only retired teacher organization in Ohio working to improve the benefits of retired educators.

Your chat should mention that Ohio legislators will soon be making changes to the retirement system, and future retirees may not receive the benefits we are enjoying. We need to speak in one loud, clear voice that our STRS system must not go to a 401K-type retirement plan.
All STRS recipients must let Columbus know that retirement without health care is not retirement. Retirees should remind legislators that our annual cost of living adjustment gives us the security needed in retirement.

A goal of your elevator chat should be to have non-members sign UP for membership. We need to bring our membership numbers UP to become a more significant voice for all active and retired teachers.

Teachers are natural story tellers. They need to be prepared when the see non-members and deliver their elevator chats. Membership will go UP. Our influence will go UP. Our elevator should always go UP.

Your chat should mention that Ohio legislators will soon be making changes to the retirement system, and future retirees may not receive the benefits we are enjoying. We need to speak in one loud, clear voice that our STRS system must not go to a 401K-type retirement plan.

All STRS recipients must let Columbus know that retirement without health care is not retirement. Retirees should remind legislators that our annual cost of living adjustment gives us the security needed in retirement.

A goal of your elevator chat should be to have non-members sign UP for membership. We need to bring our membership numbers UP to become a more significant voice for all active and retired teachers.

Teachers are natural story tellers. They need to be prepared when the see non-members and deliver their elevator chats. Membership will go UP. Our influence will go UP. Our elevator should always go UP.


April-May 2010

They say “April showers bring May flowers.” We usually expect and prepare for the annual rainy season. So – when did Noah plan to build his ark? Before it started to rain.
We know we need to plan ahead and review our homeowners’ and auto insurance before an accident or loss. We know it is important to review our estate planning.

As former teachers, we all know the importance of planning. Well-planned lessons yield great results. In retirement, we have many things to plan-pack the suitcase before the vacation and fill up with gas before the indicator reads empty. Here are a few planning suggestions for PCRTA members.

When should we make our PCRTA luncheon reservations? Now, before we forget. And-call a friend to join you.

When should we contact our legislators about our retirement system? Before they enact legislation which could change our retirement system to a 401K-type (defined contribution) system.

When should we talk to active and retired teachers to encourage membership in PCRTA and ORTA? Our loud, clear voice is more important now than ever, and the strength of our membership is very important.

When should we speak up about the importance of our COLA (the annual cost of living adjustment to our retirement benefits)? Do it today. Our legislators need to know how important our COLA is the future.

When should we step up to a leadership position in our association? Don’t wait for the nominating committee to ask. Plan now to spend an exciting year or two on the PCRTA executive committee. You won’t regret your investment of time and energy.

*Be like Noah.
*Plan ahead.
*Do things that may seem impossible.
*Don’t whine about wet weather – learn to dance in the rain.



January-March 2009

Snow is melting. Days are getting longer. Spring will be here soon. This is the beginning of a new year for PCRTA. This is the time to plan for our best year ever. Let’s all make some new year’s resolutions:

RESOLVE to attend a few luncheon meetings. Nancy and Ken Granville, our new vice presidents, have an exciting line-up of programs to appeal to all interest areas. Ideas? Call them at 330-626-2154.

RESOLVE to volunteer a little more this year. Research shows us that active seniors live longer and are happier than those who don’t volunteer. Judy Morgan and the community service committee offer many volunteer opportunities.

RESOLVE to track and report your volunteer hours. When totaled, retired teachers volunteer a huge number of hours. Be sure yours are included in the count. Check out the “Give A Day – Get A Disney Day” program.

RESOLVE to ask fellow retirees to join. Art Fesemyer and the membership committee will give you flyers and follow up on your leads. Our organization becomes stronger as our membership grows.

RESOLVE to speak out for our defined benefits retirement program. Dan McCombs, our legislative chair and the chair for the ORTA legislative committee, will keep you informed on this very important issue.
RESOLVE to check out our websites: and Both sites have a great deal of updated information for retired teachers. Visit regularly.

RESOLVE to contact PCRTA committee chairs with your good ideas. Our Executive Committee represents you well and would like your comments and ideas. Really – give a call now while you are thinking about it.

RESOLVE to have fun! John and Sandy Kerstetter, our social/travel committee will plan a bus trip and other local activities. Call them at 330-673-0129 and tell them where to go (literally, of course).

This will be an exciting, challenging, and rewarding year for PCRTA. Exciting because of the many opportunities for retired teachers; challenging because of the threat to our retirement system which we MUST address; and rewarding because so much can be accomplished when everyone just does a little bit.



November-December 2009


Ray Troxtell

Ray Troxtell

In early September, STRS submitted their plan and recommendations to the ORSC (OhioRetirement Study Council). All five Ohio public retirement systems provided plans to bring each system into financial compliance and solvency.

STRS has been diligent in keeping us informed about their recommendations and ideas to the ORSC. The legislature will make the final decisions regarding revisions to each retirement system. There is already resistance and criticism to the STRS proposed increase in contribution to the STRS by working educators and Boards of Education.

ORTA and each of us must plan and work hard to educate our political leaders that a new retirement system need not be created, but some changes will solve and meet federal solvency guidelines and provide needed retirement benefits to each working educator.
Each of us should be alert to recruit new members and assist in talking with and educating legislators as to the necessity in keeping our great pension system functioning to meet the retirement needs of present and future retirees.

November is the time to evaluate and make changes to your health care plan. STRS has made some changes and adjustments to reduce health care costs. It would be wise to check the STRS website to obtain information in order to select the best health care plan for yourself and your family.

STRS will welcome your phone calls and inquiries. They will be glad to assist you in making the best decision for you and your family. Good planning based upon sound information generally will help to prevent misunderstanding and unhappiness. The new health plans will start January 1, 2010.

Prez says: If Anyone Does Just a little August-September 2009

Any organization becomes stronger when each member contributes just a little more. PCRTA is a volunteer organization where members and officers take some responsibility for the work of the group. When everyone helps just a little, the job is not too great for any one person.
Perhaps you read where PCRTA members proctor tests at NEOUCOM to earn money for our scholarship fund. Perhaps you thought about signing up for a session or two. But you only thought about it.

Maybe you learned that PCRTA has a new social committee. Maybe you like to plan social activities for others-and you would be good at it, too. But you only thought about it. Possibly you know about the retirement planning seminar we offer to teachers who will retire soon. Possibly you could make a short-term commitment to help plan or conduct the seminar.
But you only thought about it.

Thinking is good-but acting is better. Only thinking about becoming involved is not becoming involved at all. The greater involvement we have, the stronger our PCRTA will become, the more people we can serve, and the louder voice we will have. Look at the committees listed on page 2 of the newsletter; call the committee chair and volunteer to do just a little. Research shows us that spending time helping others is one of the most selfless things you can do. But, you may be surprised to find out that you’ll get more than you could ever expect from the experience. Whether you experience a feeling of joy or accomplishment, there’s no doubt that volunteering will affect you in a big way. You will also receive these benefits:

• Volunteering makes you feel needed.
• Volunteering can lead to new learning skills.
• Volunteering can help you deal with some of your personal problems.
• Volunteering helps you meet new people and breaks down barriers of mistrust, fear, and misunderstanding.
• Volunteering can create new contacts which may enhance your life.

So…keep thinking, but give a thought to actually acting on some of those thoughts this time.


Facing Pension and Health Care Reform by Ray Troxell

June-July 2009

We are being confronted with a number of financial issues today as a result of the longevity revolution, rapidly rising medical costs of healthcare, and a drop of investment value and income.

Here in Ohio, our five public retirement systems pay out $800 million monthly to retirees plus $8 million daily for health care for members. This is big business even by Washington D.C. standards. STRS pays $69 million plus annually to retirees in Portage County.

The average STRS retiree lives 26 years in retirement. Their personal contribution pays for three years of retirement income, and the contribution from their school’s Board of Education pays for six years. The balance is paid from investment income.

Our Ohio Legislature is presently preoccupied with the budget for the next two years. We are receiving information that they are now ready to turn their attention to reforming the pension systems of Ohio.

Some of the ideas regarding STRS are:

Reducing the amount given for COLAs — cost of living adjustments
Extending the age of retirement to 60 or older
Reducing the 35-year incentive back to what it was before
Reducing the cost of health care to the pension system

There is nothing that is not subject to their interest. We need to be vigilant and not be closed minded, but be willing to be flexible. The public is full of “pension envy.” Remember that politics has nothing to do with what is logical or rational. Politics will win most of the time.
We have been seeking a stream of revenue to fund our rapidly declining health care stabilization fund. There have been some health care plans introduced in Congress, and they should appear on the floor by July, 2009. A simple majority in each house is all that is needed to pass the bill in Congress.

The question appears to be whether it will be a public plan or a privately-administered plan. We have not any idea of the impact on public and private health plans and their payrolls. Polls indicate that most people think that a health plan with prescriptions for a family should not cost them more than $100 dollars a month.

The best way to communicate with the legislators is through E-mail followed by a phone call to let them know that you have Emailed your thoughts to them. Since the threats of anthrax, letters are generally thrown out without ever being read.

We must educate legislators on the issues they are facing. We need to be part of the solutions or they will control our retirement funds. A “No Way” attitude puts us at a great disadvantage. Do not threaten or try to intimidate them. It just doesn’t work.

The proposed repeal of the Social Security Pension Offset Provision has many sponsors in both the Senate and the House. Despite the large number of sponsors each year, it never makes it out of committee. The increased costs of Social Security and Medicare fuels the idea of mandatory Social Security coverage for everyone.

The idea of forced mandatory coverage for everyone would destroy many public and private plans due to the costs to every state. Every state has pockets of non-mandatory coverage—usually police and fire pension plans. The real issue for repeal is one of equality. Under Social Security, a spouse who has not contributed to Social Security may draw half of the spouse’s benefit; and upon the death of the spouse, they receive the full benefit. This is not true of our pension plans.

We will try to keep each of you informed, but the situation in Washington, D.C. is fluid and changes almost daily. Call us if you have questions or concerns.

On a more uplifting note…the NRTA has presented 15 national awards and ORTA chapters have received five of them. Congratulations!