Stacy presents program on Commemorative Air Force at Huajilla TRTA meeting

Sam Dubberly presents an appreciation gift to special guest, TRTA District 20 President Barbara Soto, and Irene Dubberly presents an appreciation gift to Larry Stacy who presented a program on the Commemorative Air Force at the Huajilla Unit’s January meeting.

On January 22, fifty-one members and three guests gathered at the United Methodist Church Hall in Devine for the monthly meeting of the Huajilla Retired Teachers. After Irene Dubberly called the meeting to order, Lewis Stroud offered the opening prayer and blessing, followed by the group reciting the pledges to the American and Texas flags. Members then shared birthdays, anniversaries and family celebrations, milestones and events.
Tables were decorated with SWT/TxSt and A&M memorabilia and members were attired in their university alma mater apparel, including Texas A&M, the University of Texas, Texas Tech, Sul Ross, University of Tennessee, UTSA, and the most represented was Texas State, although all these members actually graduated from Southwest Texas State University…some loyalties never die!
A short candle-lighting memorial service followed, in remembrance of deceased member Gordon Mechler and member Diana Bush’s father, M. J. Trammel, followed by singing “Amazing Grace.”
Minutes were made available to members, followed by Sam Dubberly’s Treasurer’s report. The report was approved for filing.
Kathy Carlson, Public Relations Committee has sent several cards and we have information that Charles Carlson, who is currently nursing an injury to his foot, is preparing materials to disseminate to local high schools for the Huajilla Unit Scholarship.
Informative and Protective Services and Health Care Committee printed information was distributed to members in attendance.
Lola Hill reported that Huajilla Unit collected enough funds to distribute almost 800 books to the Blue Santa, the Brown Santa, the Women’s Advocacy Center and Child Protective Services Children’s Advocacy group. She recognized Ruth Davis, Lewis and Marsha Stroud, Kathy Carskadden, Bertha Benedetti and others, and thanked the members for their generous monetary donations which accomplished a successful Book Drive.
Additionally, as Community Volunteer Services chair, Ms. Hill requested that members submit their volunteer hours since these reports are due to District 20.
Ken Hanson, Legislative Chair, had some grim facts related to TRS. There are 1.5 million active and retired members of TRS, so contacting TRS has become more difficult, especially with the health care changes and benefits; wait time has increased from 5 minutes to 23 minutes, so members are feeling frustrated. The TRS Board will meet in McAllen in February to discuss the pension fund, health care and other TRS matters. TRS reported just under 13% return on investments and that signals concerns. Additionally, with the increased premiums which came with changes to health care because the state is no longer subsidizing non-TRS family member coverage, about 15,000 to 18,000 members dropped coverage, with some now recognizing a need to return. TRS is considering this dilemma. Members are asked to examine their February statements because they might be in for “sticker shock!” Benefits which some older members were accustomed to are no longer available. Brian Guthrie, the interim director of TRS, is knowledgeable and experienced in his interpretation of the law, but extremely conservative and leaves little “wiggle room” to deal with new issues facing retirees and that causes concerns as well.
Huajilla Unit is desperately looking for volunteers to serve as officers for the coming year since some officers have chosen not to run for re-election and another officer has resigned. All current officers are willing to working closely with any new officer to help in the transition.
Huajilla Unit TRTA continues to post information and photos on Facebook and members are invited to “friend” us.
President Dubberly serves on the state Membership Committee, and informed that a new membership drive challenge is being prepared by the state. Currently, of the 86,200+ members, fully 50% are not part of a local unit. Moreover, TRTA membership represents only about 23% of the 375,000 members of the Teacher Retirement System.
As District 20 1st Vice President-elect, Dubberly also serves on the District 20 Bylaws committee and this committee recently completed a revision of District 20 bylaws for review by its members.
President Dubberly then introduced District 20 President Barbara Soto who had more facts and information about the importance of active and involved membership in TRTA. She also briefed the members about the upcoming TRTA State Convention to be held at La Cantera in San Antonio on April 8, 9, and 10, and the role of District 20 volunteers at the convention. In light of this, the Huajilla Unit nominated and approved Irene Dubberly and Lola Hill as delegates to the State Convention, and the unit will be looking for another volunteer to attend the convention as a delegate.
Larry Stacy, a veteran of the Air Force National Guard, and highly involved as unit leader for the Tex Hill Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, based at historic Stinson Airport in San Antonio, provided an extremely interesting history and insight into the creation of the Commemorative Air Force. Stacy related exclusive stories from his connection to veteran pilots, including the rarity of two female pilots, and historic information discovered while restoring planes for the CAF and new discoveries about the history of Stinson. Stacy has developed a video history of the Hondo Army Airfield, from its construction during WW II through the Korean conflict and is currently working on a video history of the China-Burma-India theater during WW II and provided hints about how new technology will make this come alive.
The next meeting will be on February 26 beginning at 10 AM at the Braden-Keller Center in Castroville. The meal will be catered by Bill Millers and the program will be presented by Amanda Rothe. Members are asked to dress comfortably, as there may be some physical activity involved.
Prior to adjournment, Irene and Sam Dubberly presented appreciation gifts to Larry Stacy and Barbara Soto, and later drew names for door prizes.