OPEA Email Limited This Afternoon
The OPEA Office is undergoing a much-needed computer server update today at 2 p.m. This means that staff will not be able to send or receive email with their @opea.net address. The office is open and staff may be reached at 405 524-6764. We expect the updates to be completed today and we will have regular email capability tomorrow, Thursday October 1. Thank you for your understanding.
Two Candidates Vying For Retiree West Regional Director Seat
Retiree members in the Western Region will soon be receiving ballots to elect a retiree regional director for a two-year term beginning January 1, 2016.. This position represents retired members in approximately the western half of Oklahoma. Two candidates, Cheryl Horsley and Jann Ensz are running for the position which also represents Western Region members on the OPEA board of directors.
Voting may be done by telephone or online. Instructions will accompany the ballot or voters who have questions may contact Trish Frazier at 405 524-6764. Below are the candidate biographies that they submitted to OPEA when they filed for the race.
Education: Bachelor Degree in Music, worked at NORCE for 38 years; retired in 2014.
OPEA Awards: Volunteer of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award
Current Chair of the Policy, Procedure and Platform Committees.
Previous member of various other committees for OPEA, including Executive Committee.
Held various chapter offices and served as a Board Member for Region 3/DHS Council for over six years.
I have been a long time, very active member of OPEA since the early 1980s. I have years of experience working in and with OPEA—most of those years as a leader/officer. I have given countless hours of my time to further OPEA’s agenda and have attended lobby days at the Capitol and have worked in legislative campaigns to further OPEA’s influence in the Legislature.
My priority is to get our retirees active and involved in OPEA. We have many issues that need to be addressed by the legislature and will need a very strong retiree voice in order to accomplish this goal. My main goals will be to work on obtaining cost of living raises, increasing the insurance subsidy and ensuring that our retirement system stays financially sound.
I am Cheryl Horsley your current Retiree West Director, a position I have held for the past five years and wish to continue. I have been retired for over 20 years so am well aware of the concerns of recent and older retirees. I have met with and continue to meet with legislators on behalf of state retirees, trying to increase and preserve retirement and insurance benefits. I was instrumental in the formation of and getting board approval for a Retiree Committee within OPEA. I have attended all Board Meetings, OPEA Conventions and Lobby Days during my time as Retiree Director as well as many other area meetings around the state. I will continue to represent state retirees in our fight to improve retirement benefits. I encourage any retiree with ideas or concerns to feel free to contact me. I am your voice on the OPEA board and want to:
· Return control of retiree cost-of-living increases to the OPERS Board.
· Encourage more state retirees to become involved in the legislative process.
· Inform state retirees of issues that arise, in order to move forward with a united front.
· Retirees can be a force to be reckoned with.
What Services Will Be Cut in 2016?
If next year's budget is as bad as leaders are saying, maybe it's time to look at raising revenue. Some forecasters say that the state's 2016 budget shortfall could be around one billion dollars. State agencies have had their budgets slashed the past several year and have reduced services and overhead to meet the budget. There is no more room to "cut" many state agencies unless critical services are eliminated.
It may be that Oklahoma is past the point of reducing services and to the point of eliminating services...so, lawmakers may have a tough choice to make. Does Oklahoma stop services to the elderly, the disabled, vulnerable children? Do we stop repairing roads and bridges? Do we cease services to veterans or close state parks that bring people and dollars to towns across Oklahoma? Do we reduce the number of troopers and other law enforcement officials who watch our streets and highways? Do we stop incarcerating violent offenders because we can't pay for the correctional centers or stop monitoring offenders who are on parole? Do we stop inspecting restaurants or other businesses that impact our lives?
These are just some of the scenarios that lawmakers must consider if the budget remains bleak and they choose not to find a way to increase funds in the state coffers. It is time for all state employees and retirees to find their state senator and representative and have this conversation on a face-to-face basis. Get to know your lawmakers and have this discussion soon. Ask them the tough questions, they work for you.
Steve Paris Presented OPEA Lifetime Achievement Award
Long-time OPEA member Steve Paris was presented the OPEA Lifetime Achievement Award at the association's 40th annual convention last Saturday. Paris, who recently retired after a long career in state service, is a former OPEA president and currently serves as chairman of the OPEA Political Action Committee. Paris also sits on the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System advisory board.
Steve was nominated for the award by former OPEA director Pat Hall and was joined at the banquet by many friends as well as his wife and daughter.
Steve Paris Accepts His Award as Pat Hall Look On
Lynn Hodges Selected Past Presidents Award as 2015 Retiree of the Year
The 2015 "Past Presidents Retiree of the Year" is Lynn Hodges. Lynn is retired from the Oklahoma State Department of Health and has been extremely active in and supportive of OPEA’s retiree committee. As a member of the committee, Lynn has followed retiree issues in Oklahoma and all surrounding states. He has also researched and followed legislation and litigation nationwide allowing the committee to be well-informed regarding any issues pertaining to state retirees. Lynn has attended all retiree committee meetings, several OPEA board meetings, legislative days and met with Rep. Jon Echols, OPEA staff, and board members and was instrumental in obtaining Rep. Echols’ support to author OPEA retiree legislation last session.
Lynn Hodges accepts the award from OPEA President Jess Callahan. Also pictured are Don Keenan, Dixie Jackson, Cheryl Horsley, Connie Stockton and Steve Paris.
Brandi Poage Chosen 2015 Gaines Stout Member of the Year
The 2015 Gaines Stout Member of the Year award was given to Brandi Poage at this year's annual convention. Brandi is president of the Tulsa Oklahoma Employment Security Commission OPEA chapter and has worked hard during the past year to revive the OESC Chapter after it had gone dormant in the last few years. Previous to serving as president, she was vice president and assumed the responsibilities of president when the chapter president left the agency. Brandi planned several activities for the chapter such as donation drive for the John 3:16 Mission. She has also been active statewide and participated in the convention each year. At her workplace, she has organized several membership recruitment events over the past, and a grievance training workshop.
This annual award is given in honor of one of OPEA's founding members, Gaines Stout, who was instrumental in the founding of OPEA in 1975.
Region Eight Director Tracey Ritz, Brandi Poage and OPEA President Jess Callahan
Frances Mayanja Selected as 2015 Pat Hall Volunteer Of the Year
OPEA member Frances Mayanja an employee of the Office of Juvenile Affairs' Central Oklahoma Juvenile Treatment Center in Tecumseh was selected as the 2015 Pat Hall Volunteer of the Year. Francis works as the Client Advocate of the facility and his dedication to Oklahoma’s troubled youth led him to continue this work at COJC when the Rader Center closed.
Pat Hall (left) and OPEA President Jess Callahan (right) Present Francis Mayanja with the 2015 Volunteer Of The Year Award
As a long-time OPEA member while employed at both facilities Francis has been involved in working with OPEA to resolve issues for employees and the youth they serve. He is willing to work after hours to ensure the success of the chapter and OPEA. He has attended board meetings, OPEA Day at the Capitol and assisted with chapter activities including a cookout for legislators and employees.
In Memory of Commissioner Mark Costello
Members and staff of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association join our fellow Oklahomans in mourning the tragic death of Labor Commissioner Mark Costello.
Commissioner Costello was a tireless worker and was firm in his beliefs. He frequently traveled across the state to meet with business owners and employee and was always willing to sit with OPEA to discuss issues important our state’s working men and women.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, his colleagues in state government and the employees of the Oklahoma Department of Labor. He will be missed.
OPEA TO Hold Special Election
A special election is being held for Regional Director Seats for Region 11 and Retiree West on the OPEA Board of Directors. The candidate filing deadline is August 31 at 5:00 p.m. with the election to be held in September.
The term of office is January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2017. Candidates must have been an OPEA member for at least one year and live in the designated region. Region 11 in the southeast part of the state and is comprised of Choctaw, Latimer, LeFlore, McCurtain, Pittsburg, and Pushmataha counties. The Retiree West Region comprises of counties west of I35, with the exceptions of Logan, Cleveland, and Garvin.
The board meets in Oklahoma City approximately eight times during the year on Saturdays. In addition, Board members must attend OPEA statewide events, such as convention and OPEA Day at the Capitol. Expenses are reimbursed by the association. Regional directors also work with staff to oversee and develop activities in the region. If you have any questions, email Trish Frazier or call her at 405-524-6764 or 800-880-6732.