During her last month in office, Jan McTier experienced nothing but victory.
Mrs. McTier, the 2005-06 president of the Tri-County Retired Educators Association, attended the Georgia REA Convention where she learned of recent GREA success stories in legislature, as well as awards earned by the local group. President-elect Clara Roberts and member Georgia Hobbs also attended the convention with Mrs. McTier.
"Once again we distinguished ourselves with a number of awards from the state. As president, I want to congratulate the members who worked so diligently to achieve them," Mrs. McTier said in a newsletter.
Earned awards include Units of Excellence in History Participation, Public Relations, Handbook, Newsletters, Scholarships, Essay Contest, and Contributions. The local group also received an Award for Excellence for their scrapbook, which was created and maintained by member Betty Terry.
In the legislature, Mrs. McTier said retired educators have been waiting five years for House Bill 400 to pass. The bill increases monthly retirement payments to certain retirees who retired with 20 or more years of service before July 1, 1987. Mrs. McTier said she was thrilled to watch Governor Sonny Perdue sign the bill at the convention on May 3.
"It was just so exciting when he walked in, and to watch him sit down and pick up that pen... How thrilling," she said.
Another legislative victory came when GREA lobbyist, Charlie Roberts, found a glitch in Senate Bill 427 two days before it went through the senate. Mr. Roberts noticed that Teacher Retirement System funds were being "put in the pot" with other public retirement funds to be used for Venture Capital projects. Mr. Roberts said the problem with Venture Capital is the funds are invested and may not show any return for 18 to 20 years. Mr. Roberts was able to have the phrase "eligible large retirement system" shall not include the Teacher Retirement System of Georgia" added before the bill was read in the Senate. The bill was passed in the Senate, but was tabled by the House one month later.
"So if it weren't for GREA, present teachers would have lost some retirement funds in the legislation. Now isn't that a reason to pay $2 a month and join (GREA)?" Mrs. McTier said as she recapped the incident during the May 11 meeting of Tri-County REA.
The Tri-County group has been busy during the months of April and May going to each school in Glascock, McDuffie and Warren Counties to award certificates to active personnel with 25 or more years of service.
"They were so appreciative. Some even said they would frame their certificate, because they had never received anything like it before," said member Nettie Roberson.
Each year, the association also gives a $500 scholarship to a local high school senior who will pursue a career in education. This year's scholarship went to Brittney Lazenby at Thomson High School.
New officers for the 2006-07 year were installed at Thursday's meeting. Clara Roberts is president, Ruth Wallace and Jessie Wilson are secretaries, and Mary Frances Gibson is treasurer.
After a summer break, the association will resume meetings at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 7 at the White Columns Inn. The featured speaker will be the new GREA Legislative Chairman, Carlos Lankford.
"He's a real character who gets things done and can explain stuff in (simple) language...the time for us to be aware of legislation and its consequences to us is year round," Mrs. McTier said.
All retirees are invited to join the local association by sending a check made out to Tri-County REA for $10 to Mary Frances Gibson, PO Box 282, Thomson GA 30824. All retirees are urged to join the State Retired Educators Association by contacting Anne Poss, 706-595-2613, for a membership application card.