Led under the direction of Dr. John Stallsmith, choir members entertained their audience by singing Christmas hits such as “Noel,” “Peace, Peace, Peace” and “White Christmas.” Stallsmith gave brief history trivia before each song, along with each song’s composer and/or singer. The choir will continue to have scheduled performances up to Dec. 15.
After saying the collect and pledge, members heard reports from the treasurer and committee chairpersons. Treasurer Charlotte Elkins told members that after making a deposit and writing a check, the association had an ending balance of $2,069.76. Melza McElrath, who heads the membership committee, shared the association’s total membership, which consists of 147 members. WCERA President Gail Alexander encouraged those in attendance to try and talk with educators who are either retired or soon-to-be retired to see if they would be interested in joining the educator retiree group.
“The stronger we are in force, the more we can get done,” Alexander said.
Peggy Hudson, the legislative chairperson for WCERA, said she would be attending an advocacy meeting Monday, Dec. 9, in Cullman and invited present members to go and attend the meeting with her.
“We’re going to need all the help we can get,” Hudson said. “Insurance rates will probably go up in October. They [insurance rates] will continue until next October — that’s the beginning of the year for the state, but the rates will probably go up then because we’ve got a $600 million shortage.”
“We’ve got a hard year ahead of us folks. The legislative session will begin Jan. 14 this year and if some of you have noticed in the news, Gov. Bentley did say he was going to work for a raise for the active members. Retirees, I haven’t heard anything about us,” Alexander said “and the rumor that I have heard, and Jane [Roberts] may have heard this from Montgomery, is they’re working on maybe discontinuing providing insurance for us.
“... If you’re called upon to make phone calls and you don’t know which representative is yours, just call them all. They’ll get tired of hearing us maybe ... and do something for us.”
S.K.I.P (Satisfying Kids Improves Performance) is a statewide community service project. Under that heading, the Walker County association participates by helping the Backyard Blessings organization. Backyard Blessings founder Leneda Jones said they currently are in need of juice boxes and pudding cups for local school children. Alexander said Jones told her that the organization goes through 400 juice boxes a week. Alexander proposed a request for money to be taken up during each WCERA meeting, which is held once a month every other month throughout the year, where they can donate the money to Backyard Blessings so Jones can buy the items in bulk.
Alexander encouraged members to continue volunteering and working on community service hours. She also recognized WCERA member Charles Dean who is in charge of getting volunteers to read to the HeadStart classes at local elementary schools throughout the county. The volunteer reading program is sponsored through the Salvation Army in Jasper. Currently, the members are visiting and reading at the following schools: Carbon Hill and Lupton, Gail Alexander and Joe Briggs; Cordova classes 1 and 2, Wanda Spears and Sherri Brown; Curry, Pat Spears; Oakman, Jan Tubbs; Parrish, Bud Seals; Sipsey, Patsy Gilbert; T.S. Boyd, Jeanette Sherer; Valley, Jane Roberts, Vanessa Evans and Patsy Gilbert; and Sumiton, Jane Roberts and Jackie Guin.
The next WCERA meeting will be Feb. 6, at 10 a.m. in the Community Health Systems Activities Center in downtown Jasper.