NARFE - West Virginia Federation
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February 2018 Newsletter



February 2018



Steve Sosson

WV Federation President

President’s Ponderings

Let me start by saying that I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and is having a very happy New Year.

There’s a reason the saying “May You Live in Interesting Times” is considered a Chinese curse, and right now we are very definitely living in interesting times. On the plus side, our Annual Meeting is coming up on April 26th and 27th at the Best Western Plus in Bridgeport. A block of rooms has been reserved for $79 before tax and fees. We will have a very full agenda with a number of important topics to cover. These include, among other issues:

  • Reduction the number of Districts from 5 to 3;
  • Election of District VP’s;
  • Chapter Closings;
  • Appointment of Congressional District Liaisons and Senate Liaisons;
  • Legislative updates at the Federal and State levels;
  • The One Member, One Vote Process;
  • FedCon 18; and
  • The Federation Newsletter. 

Speaking of FedCon 18, which is being held August 27-29 in Jacksonville, Florida, this is an updated and improved version of the National Convention. Since we have moved to one member, one vote we are no longer sending delegates to a convention. FedCon 18 is a multi-track conference allowing attendees to select the breakout sessions of the most interest and usefulness to them. I have already registered, and looking at the agenda I am looking forward to a great event. Rooms have been set aside at the Hyatt Regency in Jacksonville, FL. for $99 a night before taxes and fees.

As always, I ask you to periodically check the NARFE website, and particularly the Legislative Action pages. Use the site to send letters to your elected members of Congress. They can be edited if you wish to personalize it to more clearly explain the impacts on you and your family. Work with your Chapter’s leadership to find a way to help members who are not computer literate or just don’t have access to the internet.

Please help NARFE-PAC to whatever extent you can. They are our voice on Capitol Hill and are well respected and considered a knowledgeable source of information pertaining to Federal employees and retirees. If you can, consider becoming a Sustainer, with $10 a month charged to your credit card. NARFE-PAC, to me, is one of the best investments one can make in protecting our earned benefits.

Hoping to see a whole bunch of you in April.



Bill Shackelford 

Region X Vice President

There is an ongoing concern that NARFE Headquarters (HQ) is abandoning the local “grass-roots” Chapters in favor of National Only membership that was established as a result of the decision of the National Executive Board (NEB) to dissolve Chapter 2363 (E-NARFE) and the passage of the Optional Chapter Membership resolution by the delegates in attendance at the 2016 NARFE National Convention. 

According to Bridget Boel, NARFE Director of Marketing, there hasn’t been an effort to increase E-NARFE/National Only members. Instead, there has been a considerable effort to improve the recruitment and retention of NARFE members at all levels. The nuance is really what is important. There has been considerable study/testing in order to determine the offers to which perspective members will respond. Addressing the decades-long membership crisis has been the objective of NARFE HQ. All of your National Officers, NARFE Marketing Department and the members of the NEB, know that there is a high level of distrust in the Chapters and Federations and a perception that HQ is somehow attempting to steal members and close all local Chapters. 

In order to lessen the level of distrust, it’s critical to articulate the intentions. Everyone is only interested in the long term success and viability of our Association. It is a fact that there has been a field recruitment decline over the last many years. There has been both fewer recruiters and fewer recruits per recruiter. The Marketing Department has focused on providing chapters with guidance and materials and the 2018 Operating Plan calls for a focus on Chapter development by focusing on ways to make certain that local chapters are attractive to a new generation of potential members. Our belief is that supporting chapters is the best way to sustain if not improve recruitment in field. In addition, new ways will be found that encourage those who have not opted for Chapter membership to recruit.

The good news is that overall our Association has been able to seriously slow the membership decline. Our greatest success will be our continued focus on creating value in the form of products, programs and services highly relevant to the federal community. There are many new initiatives being planned. Your patience, as development continues and your continued support of NARFE is greatly appreciated. 

REMEMBER: My Region X RVP Fall Report with a summary of the two NEB meetings held in Alexandria, Virginia from October 16–17 and November 28–29, 2017 at NARFE Headquarters can be found on the Region X web page at The next NEB meeting will be March 12–13, 2018.



Robert Hardesty

Past Federation President 

There has been a sigh of relief from federal employees and retirees, because the proposed budget appears to have spared the federal community from any targeted cuts. However, there is still a goal of cutting $32 billion from federal benefits over the next decade, and some of the ideas being floated to do this are quite troubling. 

Among those ideas are the elimination of the FERS retirement plan, with a possible increase in federal contributions into the Thrift Savings Plan as a substitute. In addition, the various proposals for “tax reform” could see tax increases for at least some employees and retirees. It is important that you be aware of these proposals as they are presented and be willing to raise your concerns with you congressmen and senators.

In addition, it appears that our state legislature has approved a measure which will exempt all military retirement benefits from state taxes. The problem with this is that this benefit has not been granted to federal retirees or other public retirees. This is ILLEGAL, based on two prior decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court. We may need your help to lobby your state legislators during the next legislative session to remedy this inequality. 



Dan Duckwall 

First V.P. (Membership)

It is imperative to each NARFE member, and to our organization, that each of us be a NARFE recruiter. Remember, as has been stated many times, if each member will recruit just one new person to become a member, we could double our membership.

At the October Federation Meeting, it was approved to assist in recruiting new members. The Federation approved paying $ 20.00 toward a new NARFE membership. This would be on a first requested, first approved basis. A chapter officer would contact the Federation 1st Vice President at 304-258-2778 to request the $20.00 payment. There would be a maximum of ten (10) members assist for the year ending 31 October 2018. It was requested each chapter consider paying the remaining $ 20.00 dues.

Hope everyone had a good and happy holiday season and we all have a healthy new year.    



Barbara Kuennecke 

Second V.P. (Legislation) 

The budget battle remains a broken record. To stop the shutdown, our members of Congress were only able to reach an agreement to fund the government for another three weeks.

Please write or call your representative and our two Senators. If you call or write your own letter or e-mail, please let the Legislative Action Center know what you have done and when. If you use the letters already drafted in the Action Center, you can shorten them if you find them too wordy.

Even more importantly, you can add a few sentences on how you are or will be hurt by the budget proposals. Federal employees and annuitants have already made major contributions to reducing the budget. We have done our part; now is the time for other areas to be cut.



Judith Cross


OFFICER ELECTIONS: It’s that time again! Time to elect and install new officers. And time to submit new F-7s. The form can be completed online at the NARFE web site. Or you can complete a paper copy and send to NARFE headquarters. Remember to send me a copy as well. Send to or mail to:

            367 Turquoise Drive

            Hedgesville, WV 25427 

ANNUAL MEETING: The WV Federation annual meeting will be held on April 26th and 27th at the Best Western Bridgeport. There will be a lot to learn about and share—look for more information soon. 


     April 26 and 27, 2018

     July 26, 2018

     October 25, 2018 



Shirley Campbell 


“Per Capita” letters have been sent to all chapter treasurers. If your treasurer did not receive a letter, check to see that the name and address on file at national is correct. Contact me (304-925-3935 or if you need a copy of the letter to be sent elsewhere. All checks should reach me by February 28, 2018.

Although the IRS 990-N (e-Postcard) is not due until May 15 of the current year, it can be filed now. Go to If you have any trouble, ask your District VP for help. Most have experience in filing. I would recommend that you make screen prints as you fill in the form for a guide to be used next year. If the e-Postcard is not filed timely your chapter stands to eventually lose its non-profit status.

The Federation checking account balance at the end of our last convention was $13,308.69. We have received income of $4,839.89 and disbursed $6,522.05. Our balance as of January 18, 2018, the last Federation Board meeting, was $11,626.53. Our savings account remains at $10.03.



Bill O’Field

Public Relations 

NARFE’s “Recruiting & Retention Journal” made the following recommendations for making our newsletter the “face” of our organization in the article “Engaging Newsletter = Engaged Members” by Cherry Ung, Retention Program Manager, published in September 2017:

  • Set the right tone – Keep your message short, concise and positive, because it is highly effective when engaging readers to continue reading.
  • Include a calendar listing – Showcasing two or more months’ worth of activities for members to look forward to will entice them to participate in meetings and activities.

Therefore, in order to increase participation, include your meeting dates. Readers would also like to know when, where, and what time upcoming chapter meetings will be held and the speaker(s) for the meeting. Members may be encouraged to attend the meetings if they knew more about what will take place at the meetings.

When writing about chapter meetings, articles should include the meeting date, the speaker’s name, and a sentence or two about the topic presented and discussed. Sharing this information can also help other chapters with program planning.

Ung recommends that our newsletters should be readable and interesting to all of the Federation’s chapter’s members in order to keep them engaged in the local federal community and the chapter’s role in NARFE’s mission. 



John Sheely

WV Federation Service Officer

When I write my Service Officer (SO) report for the Federation Newsletter, it is my intention to make sure the SO for each chapter is aware of important information in hopes they will pass it on to their chapter members. If a chapter does not have an SO, then I hope the chapter President will disseminate this information. Each of you may be aware of the information that I write here but, I have no way of knowing that for sure just like you don't know if your members know. As officers of NARFE it is our duty to keep all members informed of benefit information.

Open Season for making changes from one Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) plan to another, closed on December 11th. If anyone wanted to make changes to their health care coverage but didn't, for whatever reason, it may not be too late. OPM allows changes under certain conditions throughout the year. One of those conditions that most Federal employees and retirees know about is referred to as "Life Events". Life events are death (of a spouse, child, or annuitant), divorce, marriage, etc. Any time one of those events occurs a change can be made without waiting for another Open Season.

However, there is another lesser known reason that allows changes outside of an Open Season. At any time during the year any Federal employee or retiree can change to another FEHB plan, no matter the reason, as long as the new FEHB plan costs less than their current plan.

For instance, during the year, a federal retiree with Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Self Only Standard Option (enrollment code 104) with a monthly premium of $245.18, becomes Medicare eligible and decides to sign up for Medicare parts A and B. That retiree may now feel the BCBS Self Only Basic Option (enrollment code 111) with a lower monthly premium of $159.74, will provide all the necessary supplemental coverage he/she needs. Because the retiree would be changing to a lower cost FEHB plan he/she is eligible to make the change at any time. That person would simply contact OPM, as during an Open Season, fill out the proper forms and the change will be made. 

You do not have to stay with the same carrier. Going from any FEHB plan to any other lower cost FEHB plan is the only requirement. In the example above the change from Standard Option to Basic Option could be made even if the person decided not to sign up with Medicare. 

On another note, as is usually the case there are some new changes to BCBS for 2018. But, probably, the most significant change involves BCBS members that have Basic Option and also participate in both Medicare parts A and B. BCBS will set up a Medicare Reimbursement Account (MRA) to reimburse those members up to $600 of their out-of-pocket Medicare premiums. This reimbursement does NOT apply to those with Standard Option even if they have both Medicare parts A and B.

BCBS participants should have received a Quick Start Guide (QSG) for setting up a MRA sometime in January of this year. Again, the MRA is only for BCBS members that have Basic Option and participate in both Medicare parts A and B. If you did not receive a QSG contact me and I will email you a copy. I would suggest that each SO or chapter President, even if you are not a participant of BCBS, know the steps for setting up the MRA so you can assist any of your members.

If you have questions on this information or any other benefits, please contact me at the address shown at the bottom of the newsletter. If you email me put "NARFE question" in the subject line. 



Robert Hardesty

Alzheimer’s Chairman

Once again I am sad to report that we have not been receiving very many chapter donations to Alzheimer’s research. Out of our 15 federation chapters, I have received donations from only five since our convention last year. The total contributed by the West Virginia Federation so far this year (the contribution year runs from July 1 through June 30) is $5,363.62. However, more than $4,700 of this has come from the fund-raising efforts of the Charleston chapter.

As I explained during the convention last year, there are a number of organizations which are willing to assist various charities with fund-raising efforts. The key to this is two-fold: (1) make contact with those organizations; and (2) BE WILLING TO PUT IN THE TIME AND EFFORT! 

I do hope that all chapters are, at the very least, collecting for Alzheimer’s at each chapter meeting or event. After all, this is the only charity supported on a national basis by NARFE, and we are hoping to surpass the $13 million mark in donations soon. 

As if we did not have enough to worry about in life, a recent article in the Journal of American Medical Association Neurology has posted the results of a study that there is a 28% greater chance for developing Alzheimer’s Disease if you come from certain states. Those states are: Alabama; Alaska; Arkansas; Louisiana; Mississippi; Oklahoma; South Carolina; Tennessee; and West Virginia.

I just read where the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated $100 million to Alzheimer’s research. Fifty million dollars will be dedicated to “outside the box” research projects, and the other $50 million will go toward research into early detection of dementia and the root causes. The father of Bill Gates is suffering from this, and Mr. Gates has expressed determination to resolving this problem. 



DISTRICT I (Formerly District V)

Dan Duckwall 

District I Co-Vice President

As District V Vice President, I attended the 6 December meeting of Berkeley County Chapter 1236. Brandy Shepherd, Blue Cross Representative, was present with the updates for coming year -2018. I did the installation of the newly elected chapter officers for 2018. President John Sheely, 1st VP Delmar Barrett, 2nd VP Steve Sosson, and Secretary/Treasurer Judy Cross.

On 19 December, Morgan County Chapter 2263 held the Chapter’s Christmas get-together lunch at Cacapon State Park. Following the luncheon, Federation President Steve Sosson performed the installation of new officers for 2018. President Barb Kuennecke, 1st VP David Harden, 2nd VP Iris Jean Duckwall, Secretary Sherry Michael, and Treasurer Lois Walton.



David Nicholson

District II Co-Vice President

The only Chapter I have attended since the last Federation Meeting is Chapter 1579 of which I am President.

Chapter 0174 (Parkersburg) 

Chapter 0174 meets at Jimmy Colombo’s Restaurant at 1236 7th Street, Parkersburg, WV on the fourth Tuesday of each month except December. Chapter will not meet again until March Which I plan to attend to install the officers. President is to ask Secretary/Treasurer to send Form F-7 with the new officers to Judy Cross.

Chapter 1579 Central WV (Clarksburg)

Chapter continues to have a monthly luncheon meeting with a speaker at the Eat n Park Restaurant in Clarksburg on the second Tuesday of each month. A Christmas luncheon was held in December with members bringing a dessert or appetizer. Officers were installed and committees appointed for the oncoming year.

Chapter 2287 Tygart Valley (Elkins)

Chapter 2287 Acting President, Virgil Tacy is contacting potential members to serve in the position of Vice President and Secretary/Treasurer. Hopefully these positions will be filled in the near future. Randolph County 911 Director will be the speaker at the January 25 meeting which is their regular meeting. I plan to attend. 


DISTRICT II (Formerly District I combined with District II)

Jeff Merz

District II Co-Vice President 


Chapter 1023 – Fairmont program was Brandy Sheppard, the Blue Cross Blue Shield representative. She informed members about Health Plan changes. Members from Chapter 1614 were invited and six attended 


Chapter 1614 – Morgantown held an election for officers for 2018. The usual suspects were re-elected.


The program for Chapter 1614 in Morgantown was a presentation by Felicia White, Claims Specialist from the Clarksburg Social Security office. She informed members and guests about the new Medicare identification, Social Security changes for 2018, and protecting our investment in Social Security.

Chapter 1023 in Fairmont held elections for officers and District co-VP Jeff Merz conducted the installation ceremony. Congressional and state legislative proposals and actions were discussed.


The program for Chapter 1614 in Morgantown will be by LeJay Graffious, a director of the Old Hemlock Foundation, will talk about the Old Hemlock Estate. The house is located on Old Hemlock which was built in about 1815 and is the oldest preserved residence in Preston County, West Virginia. Old Hemlock was the home of George and Kathryn Evans. Mr. Evans was a noted artist, author, outdoorsman, and dog breeder. The Foundation maintains the property and its other purposes include charitable, scientific, and educational initiatives.

The West Virginia Rural Development Employee Association has invited Chapter 1614 to speak at the Zone C meeting on February 21 – 23, 2018 at Lakeview Resort & Spa in Morgantown, WV. We will have information to pass out to the attendees.


DISTRICT III (Formerly Districts III and IV)

No report.