KASCOE - Kentucky Association of FSA County Office Employees
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KASCOE News

Benefits

Summary of the April 27, 2017, Directors Meeting

Official minutes will be posted at a later date when approved, but the following is an informal summary of the recent KASCOE Directors Meeting. 

  • Membership is currently 82% of permanent COF Employees.  Currently, there are 19 Associate Members. 
  • Scholarship Committee report resulted in two state scholarships being awarded.  The winners are Cheyenne Perry (Traditional), and Kassandra Hamilton (Open).
  • Because national scholarship program rules and categories have expanded over the past couple of years, it was evident that Kentucky needed to update our state-level policy.  For future years, the state will award one $500 Traditional Scholarship, one $250 Associate Scholarship, and consider other scholarship applications only if there is additional funding available.  As is currently policy for Traditional/Associate scholarships, Kentucky will follow NASCOE rules for any categories that are considered at the state level, in the future. 
  • Programs Report reflected 15 Programs Suggestions have been sent in this year from the Southeast Area, with 6 being from Kentucky.  All employees were encouraged to continue to utilize this process through the NASCOE website. 
  • Benefits Committee report announced that Holiday World is a new discount available to KASCOE members, with the discount code released in a 4/26/17 membership email. 
  • NAFEC Committee report included announcement that there are 29 COC members from Kentucky who participate in NAFEC, currently.  Coy extended appreciation for Debbie Wakefield having recently sent a state-wide email to COF's asking them to present the info to COCs.
  • Publicity report announced that the March Madness Bracket Challenge winners were Gidget Cropper, Jennifer Farmer, and Patricia Estes.
  • Dawn Ovesen gave a report from the SEA Rally.
  • Kenni Crane gave a Legislative Update and discussed the need to distribute the White Paper info that was recently sent out to members by KASCOE email to all federal legislators in the state.  There was a discussion that some had already been contacted, but all congressional offices need to receive the information.  It will be posted to the KASCOE website.
  • Convention Planning was discussed.  Participation in a State Convention has been down recently, so the Directors decided to forego a state convention this year, and plan to host the SEA rally in spring of 2018.  Preliminary ideas were to have in Lexington in April, in order to offer Keeneland as an activity to draw participants from the Area. 


Report from SEA Rally

Southeast Area Rally April 6-9, 2016
Savannah, Georgia
 
Savannah, Georgia was the beautiful location of the 2016 SEA Rally which was sponsored by GACOE (Georgia), SCASCOE (South Carolina), ALASCOE (Alabama), and FASCOE (Florida).
 
Kentucky was well represented with the following present and retired employees attending: Henry Ford, Emerson Rider, Roger Swatzell, Joyce Logsdon, Jeanie Williams, Laura Howell, Mildred Scarborough, Barry Allen, Dawn Ovesen, Dana McKinney, Micki Crider, Diane Dunn, Gera Ferguson, Marcinda Kester, Jenni Blandford (and family).
 
Friday meetings began with a welcome from SEA Executive David Curtis. We then heard from 5 SEA SEDs, who each gave some ag statistics and history for their state and then sang the praises to FSA employees for the awesome job they do daily serving producers and going above and beyond in their duties. Speaking were: Georgia SED, Dr. Fred Harrison, Jr.; South Carolina SED Wilfred Pace; Alabama SED Daniel Robinson; Florida SED Rick Dantzler; and Louisiana SED Craig McCain.
 
Speakers from the National Office included: Greg Diephouse, DAFO (Deputy Administrator for Field Operations); Brad Pfaff, DAFP (Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs); and Mark Rucker, Deputy Administrator for Management (DAM).
 
Greg Diephouse spoke about SED priorities and that he had recently shared the following should be the top 5 priorities for SEDs in their states: (1) Pay attention to customer service and programs (2) In addition to our programs, look toward innovation and how we can provide more. Bridges to Opportunity is in 20 states now, with positive results from both producers and state users. (3) Find new customers- Where do we want to be in the future? (4) Emphasis on workforce. A happy employee makes a happy customer. How can we make a more pleasant and positive work environment for our employees? We need to provide more opportunity, needed training, and awards. (5) Gears should be oiled and operations efficient. IT function improvement is a high priority.
 
Other speakers on Friday included:  Sarah Baker who represented the Southeast United Dairy Association, and Micki Linehan who represented RASCOE.
 
NASCOE President, Wes Daniels shared issues that were discussed during the negotiations meeting with management the week of March 28th. He pointed out that one of the hot issues with the agency was IT performance. He shared that recently management has hired a new Chief Information Officer, Darren Ash. We have high hopes for Mr. Ash. Though he has no farming background, he has extensive IT operating system background. Some of the ideas for improvement that he shared were that offices that have slower band width could be going to satellite in the future. States should send concerns to SEA Executive, David Curtis for the newly formed IT steering committee. David will then share these with NASCOE’s representative on the committee.
 
New workload tool is being developed by BPMS. The tool was shared with the negotiations team. The report will be at the county level in the near future, and we expect the initial numbers will appear low in the beginning.
 
Bridges to Opportunity was discussed by both Greg Diephouse and Wes. NASCOE will be supporting the Bridges to Opportunity (BTO) initiative. BTO is currently in 20 states and has positive reports from county offices that are using it. Darvin Collins, who a Texas CED of a shared management arrangement and is also the SWA Executive, has it in his office and has shared with us that he feels it will increase our workload. He has very positive things to say about BTO. This is exciting to hear from an employee who is actually using the software.
 
Handbook 22-PM will soon be updated to include RASOCE as the “official” retired employee association and retirees will be given information at retirement on how to join.
 
Banquet on Friday evening had surprises for KY! We were so proud! Scholarship winners announced were : Traditional scholarship for the SEA was Luke Estes from KY!! His mom is PT Patricia Estes in the Madisonville Service Center. (Woo Hoo!) Open continuing winner was Kristen Garrett from North Carolina. Distinguished Service Award winners were: DSA Service to FSA/Ag winner was John David McBryde II from North Carolina. DSA Service to NASCOE was Lindsey New from Kentucky!! (Woo Hoo!) DSA Service to Community winner was Donny Green from Tennessee.
 
Saturday we heard from SEA Presidents: Darby Hall from Georgia, Hugh Hunter from Florida, Renee Boykin from South Carolina, and Olivia McCray from Alabama.
 
JM Marketing gave a presentation, followed by Dillards Financial Solutions.
 
We then heard SEA Committee reports. Key issues shared: *New benefit called Working Advantage which gives discounts for apparel, theme parks, etc for NASCOE members, Contact your State benefits chair or President for the membership number *There will be an associate member scholarship in 2017 of $500, * Legislative Leadership training will be conducted in September, States can send up to 2 members for the training, * Emblems totals during the rally were $2200.  Also, $2800 from Live Auction and $2500 from Silent Auction *Please share NAFEC with your COCs.  Pam Rhodes will be happy to meet with them by phone during a meeting if you contact her.
 
The Rally was very information and enjoyable. Plans for next year are currently to have an All South Rally, with both the SEA and SWA in San Antonio, TX in 2017.

Notes from KASCOE Directors' Meeting; Meeting with STC

On February 17, 2016, KASCOE Directors met at Residence Inn in Lexington, KY.  Full minutes will be shared at a later date, when approved.  The following is an overview of items addressed.

  • Membership Report - We have 82% membership of all current COF employees.  Also, 19 Associate Members.

  • Scholarship Report:

4 Traditional and 2 Open scholarship applications were received -- all from deserving candidates!  Sufficient funds are available to award all applicants a scholarship.  The Directors voted to fund all 6.  Check back later on our Scholarship page for more info!

Kentucky will offer a $250 Scholarship to Associate Members' children/grandchildren beginning in 2017.  NASCOE will be offering a similar program, and Kentucky's will match those forthcoming rules.

  • Kentucky plans to send 2 representatives to a Legislative/Leadership Conference to be conducted by NASCOE.
  • A March Madness Bracket Challenge will be held again this year.
  • Members are invited to attend and help with the upcoming KACS Zone Meeting.
  • Kentucky will now offer Member Benefits of Kentucky Kingdom and Louisville Zoo discounts.
  • Dana McKinney will serve as Kentucky's delegate at the SEA Rally, April 6-9 at Savannah, Georgia.  Several members plan to attend.
  • 2016 National Convention will be in Cedar Rapids Iowa, August 3-6.
  • State Convention planning for 2016 is underway.
  • Director Elections will be held this year, in September. 
  • Follow-up to communications meeting at CRP training was discussed.  Marcinda indicated that the reports calendar remains a priority that she nearly has this completed to share with COF users.
  • A new NASCOE Emblems provider is being announced and is linked to NASCOE.org website.
  • 2 DSA Nominations have been submitted from Kentucky.
  • Kevin Whitaker was presented with the Spirit of KASCOE Award.

On February 18, 2016, KASCOE had opportunity to meet for about 1 hour with the STC, SED, AO, FPC, and Administrative Specialist, Mitch Dunn.  The following issues were addressed.

  • Appreciation expressed to STC for authority to hire many new employees over the past year.
  • We presented the need for additional Mesonet stations, particularly in StrikeForce Counties.  SED and FPC will follow-up with partners to discuss this. 
  • KASCOE requested the STC reconsider the decision that CED's are not authorized to attend the upcoming COC Orientation sessions.  Concerns noted were attendance of COC members expected to be less if carpooling with CED doesn't occur.  Also, CED's feel like it is important for them to hear the same information concerning administrative matters and appeals.  The STC/SED will give consideration to our request.
  • Need for retirement training was discussed.  All-PT meetings will include presentations from Mark Stivers.  KASCOE suggested that additional trainings for new employees, mid-career employees, and those near retirement be held.  The STO agreed to evaluate the possibility of this, and to look at putting out a Notice with recommended resources for employees to access concerning retirement. 
  • KASCOE presented a concern from the field regarding timely processing of COC members' applications that have to go before the STC for approval. 

Notes from recent NASCOE Conference Call

Find out the most up-to-date news about issues NASCOE is working on in your behalf.

Read the report HERE.

Retirement Planning Sessions offered by KASCOE in partnership with Dillard Financial


Benefits Update: Six Flags Tickets

MESSAGE FROM NASCOE BENEFITS CHAIRPERSON

Please share the following information with the membership as soon as possible: 

Due to an un-met goal on ticket sales last year, Six Flags is not going to renew our agreement for this year. 

We needed to sell 100 tickets nationally to qualify for the discount agreement for 2013. NASCOE members purchased exactly 50 tickets.

At this time I suggest using this link (http://www.sixflags.com/national/index.aspx) to access Six Flags web site and get the best deal available by selecting the park you would like to visit. I apologize for this, but it is hard for us to guarantee the sales of such a large number of tickets and the loss of the benefit for one year is the result. Our contact within SF is looking at what alternative they can offer, but I cant guarantee they will have that to us by the end of the week. 

The Six Flags logo/link on the benefits page is still good for accessing other discount options. 

Let me know if you have any questions. 
Phil Morton
NASCOE Benefits Chairperson

Benefits Alert! Bluegrass Cellular Discount

Bluegrass Cellular offers discounts to KASCOE members through Government Discount program!
 
Glenn Thomas, the SEA Benefits chair, checked it out, and they do, in fact offer a discount.  It is for all government employees, same as Verizon and the others: 15% off services and 25% off accessories.
 
If you have difficulty getting definite answer locally about it, contact the Manager in the Glasgow Office, Ryan Duff, can answer questions.  270-646-0032
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