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NC Department of Health and Human Services Division of Services for the Blind

Commission for the Blind Meeting Minutes

March 10, 2007

Call to Order, Invocation, and Pledge of Allegiance

Chairman Tom Winton called the 289th meeting of the NC Commission for the Blind to order at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 10, in the conference room of the Division of Services for the Blind, 309 Ashe Avenue, Raleigh, NC.  Members joined in the pledge of allegiance.  Mr. Graham Watt offered the invocation. 

The following members were present:  Tom Winton, Debbie Jackson, Stacey Milbern, Anita Heath-Cunningham, Sandy Foster, Graham Watt, Kathy Brack, and Kellie Hightower-Spruill.

Others Present:  Carla Parker, Julie Kagy, Dan Bernstein, Joe Wiggins, Sally Syria, Laura Gropper, Mary Flanagan, and Dave Arthur.

Members Not Present:  John Miller, Jay Williams, and

Cheryl Whitley (unexcused absences).  Russ Stinehour (excused absence).

Tom Winton introduced Julie Kagy.  Ms. Kagy is now the State Consultant for Visually Impaired and Assistive Technology formerly the position held by Tom Winton.   She has an extensive background in serving students with visual impairments, and we look forward to working with Ms. Kagy. 

Chairman Tom Winton welcomed everyone and reminded members of the Ethics Awareness and Conflict of Interest order.  If any board member has any known conflict with respect to any matters coming before the Board, please identify the conflict or appearance of conflict and refrain from any undue participation in the particular matter involved.

Approval of Minutes

A motion was made by Graham Watt and seconded by Kathy Brack to approve the minutes of December 9. 2006. 

Committee Reports:

Public Relations Committee—No Report

Intercommittee Relations Committee—Stacey Milbern

The Statewide Independent Living Council is setting up public hearings around the State.  These will be held in 5 or 6 cities and due to transportation issues, a teleconference may be held. 

Advocacy Committee—Tom Winton

The Advocacy Committee is continuously looking at bills in the legislature that may have an impact on blind and/or visually impaired citizens in NC.  NewsLine has a bill in legislation for funding for another year--The Division of Services for the Blind administers this statewide accessible electronic information service.

Personnel Development Committee—Tom Winton

On February 16, the Advisory Board at NCCU met. 

Tom Winton requests input from members regarding any training opportunities that our Personnel Development Committee can help advertise.  Retention of professionals is as important as recruitment.  Tom Winton informed the Commission about two upcoming programs which will be offered by DPI:   

  • Summer Institutes for teachers or perspective teachers in visual impairment.
  • Statewide Exceptional Children’s Conference in November—This attracts approximately 3,000 people from across the State which includes Orientation and Mobility Specialists, VI teachers, and braillists.

Graham Watt inquired about general problems that  professionals at DSB encounter.  One of the biggest problems is difficulty in recruiting people in the Rehabilitation Counselor area.  There is a requirement that the person have a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation or Counseling.  DSB’s Human Resources Manager is very interested in trying to help recruitment efforts.  She attended the job fair at the CIAA tournament and also plans to attend a similar fair at UNC-Chapel.  DSB is very willing to attend outreach opportunities if we are made aware of the event.   

Since the Orientation and Mobility Specialist classification was moved out of the “teacher” classification, DSB is fully staff with O & M Specialists. 

Director’s Report—Debbie Jackson

Governor’s Expansion Budget:  DSB submitted 3 expansion requests to the Department of Health and Human Services.  These 3 requests were approved by the Department and the Office of State Budget.  The 3 requests are now in the Governor’s Budget for consideration.  These requests are:  1) Change the economic needs scale for Vocational Rehabilitation Employment Program and our Independent Living Rehabilitation Program (under 55) along with additional case service money for our Vocational Rehabilitation Employment Program,  (2) Change the economic needs scale for the Medical Eye Care Program along with additional case service money, (3) additional case service money for Independent Living Rehabilitation Program along with 9 additional positions—These positions include 3 Independent Living Rehabilitation Counselors, 4 staff to provide assistive technology services, and 2 additional clerical support staff. 

For the VR Program, DSB requested $317.928 (State money); Medical Eye Care Program $347,256; and Independent Living Rehabilitation Program requested $1,418,000. 

DSB, VR, and Deaf and Hard of Hearing are requesting expansion items.  This year, as an opportunity to inform legislators about our Divisions, the DHHS Secretary provided the 3 Divisions a time to make presentations to a subcommittee and provide scenarios on how each Division collaborate with each other to assist clients.   Also, a Technology Day is scheduled at the General Assembly on March 28 from 10 a.m. til 2 p.m.  This Technology Day will also center on these 3 Divisions plus the Division of Public Health. 

Renovations—Milsap Dorm is under renovation and is scheduled to be completed in late August. 

While major heating and air conditioning work is being done in Crockett-Peeler, all staff is located downstairs.  Classes will continue and staff anticipates being in this temporary space for approximately 3 months. 

Question was asked if there are any projections on how the “baby boomer” population would affect DSB in the future.  DSB is currently working on a fact sheet with these projections that will be shared with the General Assembly and available at the Technology Day display. 

Consumer Advocacy and Advisory Committee

Tom Winton reported in Tim Jones absence.   Since Tim Jones is in Denver at a Business Enterprises meeting, the CAAC meeting was held by conference call.  Highlights of the conference call included possible money for a new facility for the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Gary Ray is retiring March 30, VI Conference on March 22-24 held on GMS Campus--for more info go to: , Jennifer Talbot reported on an Eye Screening Commission rather than an Eye Exam Commission for all incoming kindergarteners. 

Professional Advisory Committee—Dr. Wiggins

Although the Medical Eye Care Program is operating within budget, the PAC is hoping that the expansion item request is approved so the Medical Eye Care Program can serve more people. 

Old Business


New Business

Several appointments will be expiring at the end of June 2007.  These members include:  Anita Heath Cunningham, John Miller, Tom Winton, Russ Stinehour, Graham Watt, Kathy Brack, and Sandy Foster.

Members who have finished two terms are John Miller, Tom Winton, Kathy Brack, Sandy Foster, and the position formerly held by Angela McCants—law states that members are eligible to serve 2 consecutive 3 year terms.  Law also states that the Commission must have a representative from the Client Assistance Program (CAP), Commission on Workforce Development, and DPI.  Another requirement is the majority of the members must be visually impaired. 

Debbie Jackson will be contacting eligible members to see if they are interested in being re-appointed for a second term. 

If anyone knows of anyone that may be interested in serving on the Commission for the Blind, please contact Debbie Jackson, Tom Winton, or Carla Parker. 

Adjournment of Commission for the Blind Meeting

The Commission for the Blind meeting adjourned at 11:15.  The next meeting of the North Carolina Commission for the Blind is scheduled for June 9, 2007.

Respectfully Submitted,

 Tom Winton, Commission for the Blind DHHS/DSB                          
Debbie Jackson, Division of Services f/t Blind


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