Letters - November 10, 2006

Benefits and earnings changing for NARFE

This year, the fall is an important time for federal retirees. The was an announcement that the Cost Of Living Adjustment, COLA, for Civil Service Retirement System and Social Security pensions/annuities will be increased by 3.3 percent beginning in January 2007. The increase will probably offset the 5.5 percent increase in the Medicare B premiums.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has announced that the Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) will be available to federal and postal employees, retirees and their eligible family members on an employee-pay-all basis.

This new program will allow dental and vision insurance to be purchased on a group basis, which means competitive premiums and no pre-existing conditions limitations. Enrollment will take place during the upcoming Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) open season, Monday, Nov. 13, 2006, through Monday, Dec. 11, 2006. Coverage will be effective Dec. 31, 2006.

Eligible individuals can enroll in a dental plan and/or a vision plan on a self-only, self-plus one, or family coverage. Eligible family members include spouse and unmarried children under the age of 22, or if age 22 or older and incapable of self-support. The plans will be available to anyone eligible for the FEHBP program.

There will be an extensive informational campaign prior to the Open Season. Questions may be e=mailed to FEDVIP@opm.org or call (202) 606-0745.

OPM has announced the lowest FEHBP premium increase in 11 years. The overall Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) premiums will increase by 1.8 percent for 2007. It should be noted that the 1.8 percent increase is the average increase of all the FEHBP plans, not the increase for any particular plan. Blue Cross/Blue Shield Standard premiums will actually be lower.

Our costs could have been even lower had the OPM applied for a 28 percent subsidy available to all employers, including the federal government, under a law that created the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. That subsidy was included in the law to assure that employers would continue to offer prescription drug coverage to their employees and retirees.

Our Sen. Carper and Rep. Castle have told us that we need not worry that OPM would drop or decrease our prescription drug coverage because of this subsidy. To date, OPM has declined to apply for the subsidy foregoing $2 billion. FEHBP prescription drug coverage, on average, is much better than that offered by Medicare Part B but we must stay active and alert to assure that we do not lose it to Congressional budget cutting.

Walt Berwick, President
Delaware Federation of NARFE Chapters

November the month for caregivers

Yearly, November is designated as National Family Caregiving Month. It is one month, 30 days that have been set aside to honor, thank and give recognition to those selfless persons who squeeze the time to care for a loved one or friend-in-need into already very busy schedules.

You know who you are. Maybe your caregiving began as visiting once a week to just “check in on” Mom or Dad or Aunt M. or neighbor Ted. Maybe it progressed to cooking the week’s meals to be sure they were receiving some quality nourishment or driving to the never ending stream of doctor’s appointments.

Just when it was that they moved into your home or you theirs may now have become a blur — and really not too important. Oh, but to be sure, when the caregiving began to include bathing, dressing, and maybe incontinence care as well, is etched in your memory. The sleepless nights, or missed days at work, or “staying in” instead of “going out” have been accepted as a part of providing loving care.

As the manager, care coordinators, and caregivers of the Sussex County office of Griswold Special Care, we know many of you and we know firsthand the sacrifices you make each and every day. We are honored to be of assistance to you, and your loved ones by being your eyes, ears and hands when you need to be at work, away for much needed respite, or just unable to provide hands on care.

We want you to know one month — 30 days — is not enough time to thank you for all you do. Please know we honor, respect and salute you. Please call (302) 644-6990 if we can be of assistance to you.

Happy National Family Caregivers Month.
Cheryl Jankowski, Manager
Staff and caregivers
Griswold Special Care

LABCON appeals for public support

Are you disturbed by the rampant development overtaking our once pristine region? Do you want to help protect and preserve what natural resources we have left? If so, then please consider becoming a member of the Little Assawoman Bay Conservancy (LABCon).

LABCon is a small, grass-roots environmental organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of the Little Assawoman Bay Watershed and surrounding region. We are a group of concerned citizens that comprise one voice meant to be heard at all levels of local, county and state government. Please take action by joining our group and letting your voice be heard, because the louder we are the stronger we’ll be.

Our next meeting will be Wednesday, Nov. 29, at 6 p.m. at the Woodsong Country Inn, located on Dirickson Creek Road, just west of the Assawoman Wildlife Refuge. For further information, please contact Ann Hobbs at hobbsnoon@netzero.com or David Kramer at dkramer11@netscape.com.

Little Assawoman Bay Conservancy

Lioness Club tabbing new charity monthly

The Lord Baltimore Lioness Club is making a difference by supporting a different charity each month. In September, the club adopted a local child and provided supplies needed for the school year. In November, the club is helping the local Head Start program. In December, the club will donate non-perishable food items to the Food Bank.

The Lord Baltimore Lioness Board wishes to thank all the members for their contributions. The club would like to invite anyone who wishes to make a difference to join us. For information, call 537-4877.

Lord Baltimore Lioness Club

Nicholas Sowa family offers thanks

We wish to express our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all our friends who sent cards, thoughts and prayers in our time of sorrow. It means the world to us to know how much you care.

Chris and Lisa Delgado and the Sowa family


Susan Lyons
Coastal Point

Last week we ran a photograph on the front page depicting a severe auto accident. It was controversial, to say the least. The decision to run it was not one that was made lightly.

It was not an actual accident. It was not a photo that we staged. It was a photo that reported what a local church had done for Halloween. We got quite a few e-mails and some phone calls.

We knew we were going to get them, and I was dreading them. However, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that we got many more positive responses than negative ones.

At a time when most churches ignore or condemn the celebration of Halloween, the Church of God in Dagsboro decided to take this holiday and use some “scared straight” tactics to send messages to our youth, and maybe even to some of our adults.

Instead of using the traditional ghosts and goblins, they used real-life scenarios — things like drinking and driving, teen suicide and drugs.

Real life is way scarier than fiction. We applaud them. They made it look very real and definitely scary. It took a lot of time and effort on their part and it sent some powerful messages that our youth needs to see and hear.

I am a parent of three children, who are now all in their 20s. And as every other parent, over the years I spent many a sleepless evening, tossing and turning until that last child walked in the door at night.

We have been very blessed to have three children that got into relatively little trouble during their teenage years. But I still worry about them, as I know you also worry about your children. Even the best child can make a bad decision — a decision that in a split second can change the rest of their life forever.

Too many of our local police, fire fighters and paramedics have seen the actual consequences of a bad decision. And too many families and friends have suffered needlessly.

It is not only drinking and driving that is an issue here. Accidents caused by inattentiveness while using our cell phones are continually on the rise, from fender-benders to horrendous crashes caused merely by not paying attention to what we are doing. We are so easily distracted in this day and age of technology.

In general, for a community newspaper, we run very few accident photos — and never would we run an actual photo depicting such blood and gore. We run pretty pictures of nature, of kids on the beach and sometimes write funny captions. Our goal is to inform and entertain our readers. This photo happened to inform.

During the week of Halloween, the movie “Saw III” outsold all four of the other top movies put together. We sit back in our easy chairs every night to a watch an episode of “CSI.” Both of these are much gorier than this photo. And we do that for the sake of mere entertainment.

The Church of God was able to send a valuable message to a few of our parents and youth. We were able to assist them in sending that message to so many more. If that photo keeps one person from getting into a car after they have been drinking, then we have done our job. We have made a positive difference.