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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, 2012

The Commission for the Blind met in the conference room of the Fisher Building on Friday, March 10.  The budget now allows for out-of-town members to attend in person if they wish and get reimbursed.  If not, members may join the meeting by conference call.

Call to Order, Invocation, and Pledge of Allegiance
Chair Butler called the 309th meeting of the NC Commission for the Blind to order at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 10, 2012.  Chair Butler offered the invocation.  The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

Present in the Conference Room:  Beth Butler, Carla Parker, Brenda Savage, Erica Nail, Dr. Tom Ackers, Gary Ray, Mary Flanagan, Dr. Chris Fleming, Dr. Dan Bernstein, Dr. Royster Chamblee, David Arthur, Cynthia Speight, John Marens, Verdina Simms, Eddie Weaver and Dr. Shree Kurup.

Connected by Conference Call:  Dorothy Frye, Brenda Montforti, Tony Ferrita, Richard Oliver, Steve Harris, Lin Taliaferro, and Kim Lambert.

Mr. John Marens was appointed Parliamentarian.

Chair Beth Butler 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 Brenda Savage, seconded by John Marens, and moved to approve the minutes of the December 8, 2011 meeting.

Committee Reports:
Public Relations—John Marens and Mary Flanagan

DSB’s video is now on their website.  The Department has agreed for DSB to start social media and they would like to develop it to its fullest. 

Inter-Committee Relations—Dorothy Frye, Brenda Savage and Julie Kagy
No Report

Advocacy Committee—Steve Harris
The letter the Committee developed to send to legislators has been drafted.  The committee is not sure which legislators to send this letter to.  Mr. Weaver stated the letter has been drafted and if the Commission for the Blind approves the letter, it will be sent to all 100 legislators in North Carolina.  The Commission discussed the draft and made a couple of changes.  A motion was made by Richard Oliver, seconded by Dorothy Frye, and carried to make the discussed changes and send the letter to all 100 legislators, DHHS Secretary, and the Governor.

Personnel Development Committee—Brenda Savage
No Report

Director’s Report—Eddie Weaver
DHHS has a new Secretary, Mr. Al Delia.  Mr. Delia was appointed February 1 and he will serve until a new Secretary is appointed at the end of the year.  Mr. Delia is very interested in meeting our staff and he will be visiting the Rehabilitation Center and attend one of our Leadership Meetings. 

Merger:  Mr. Weaver along with Jan Withers and Linda Harrington have met with Maria Spaulding, DHHS Deputy Secretary, about the merger.  Several ideas have been discussed.  Mrs. Spaulding hopes to have a plan in place by April.  There are advocacy groups that oppose this consolidation measure and they are trying to get a bill introduced that will repeal Executive Order 85, part 7b. 
Executive Order 85 is budget neutral.  No positions or revenue will be reduced at this time.

Budget:  The Department gave us a target budget.  DSB’s part is approximately $250,000 in reductions.  Several ideas have been presented to the Department in ways to make this reduction.

Our Business Enterprises warehouse lease expired in February.  The location the warehouse is currently located was not the lowest bid so the BE Warehouse will be moving from Garner to 70W near the Angus Barn.

GMS—The Governor Morehead School will become a satellite school.  The administrative functions of GMS will be merged with the Eastern School for the Deaf.  All three residential schools will remain open but they have to come up with $5.5 million dollars of reductions.  That is hoped to be achieved by leasing space on all 3 campuses.  This will impact DSB on the GMS campus.  Some staff will be moved to Fisher Building in order to free up space for GMS so the space can be leased.  All of the moves must be made by August 1. 

Strategic Plan—DSB is in the process of developing its Strategic Plan.  Objectives have been created.  An Action Plan needs to be developed.  Mr. Weaver will keep the committee informed on its status. 

BEAM—the new case management system for DSB, DSDHH, and DVR is moving along.  A Project Plan has been developed by the Department and it will be followed. 

The annual SAVVY program at the Rehabilitation Center will be held July 8-August 3.  The program is for visually impaired students.  It consists of 3 components:  1) College Prep, 2) World of Work, and 3) Youth Transition. 

The Bell (Braille Enrichment Literacy Learning) Program will be held July 16-27 on the GMS campus.  This is for students 5-12 years of age. 

The NCCVIB Conference will take place March 16-17 here on the GMS campus. 

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee—Gary Ray
As you know, the NC legislature voted that one of the residential schools would be closed by the Department of Public Instruction--School for the Deaf in Morganton, Eastern School for the Deaf in Wilson or the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh.  After many discussions and public hearings, it was agreed that GMS would be administratively closed.  The Superintendent of Public Instruction, June Atkinson, believed there should be a residential program for the blind in Raleigh so she figured out a way to meet the legislative mandate and keep a residential program on the Governor Morehead School.  The administrative functions of GMS will be merged with the Eastern School for the Deaf.   Ms. Atkinson believes she has the support of both the House and Senate in this endeavor.  The legislature has cut the budget by $5.5 million dollars for the 3 schools.  Wake County Schools will be leasing some of GMS’s buildings and bring approximately 200 students to the campus.  The other 2 schools are looking at ways to lease space and other cutbacks.

The Governor Morehead School Human Rights Committee met last night and raised concerns about how GMS is going to handle 200 sighted kids and 50 visually impaired kids on this campus.  The Human Rights Committee voted to draft a letter to Superintendent Atkinson and Mr. Tata to raise their awareness of these issues and to assist them as much as possible.

The blind community and advocacy groups will support the Superintendent‘s efforts to keep a residential program on the GMS campus. 

Merger:  We are still trying to find someone to introduce a bill into the legislature doing away with Executive Order 85 Section 7b.  This is not likely to happen.   We will be working with Maria Spaulding, Secretary Delia to try to ensure the best for the blind people of NC.   We must maintain a separate State Plan, a separate stream of money, and assure that the people that work with the blind are qualified.

Mr. Ray thanked the Commission for the Blind for the letter that they will be sending to each legislator. 

Newsline—Senator Purcell will be introducing the Newsline Bill, and we are hopefully that will be funded.

Senator Corman from Ohio introduced an amendment to the transportation bill.  Amendment 1724 would give the State’s the authority to commercialize the rest areas on interstate highways throughout the country.  If this is passed, it would be devastating to the blind and visually impaired citizens whom support their families with these vending locations.  I am encouraging members of the CAAC and anyone else interested to make phone calls to Senator Burr and Senator Hagen’s offices and ask them to oppose Amendment 1724 introduced by Senator Corman. Chair Ray will send the information to Carla and she will email pertinent information to members of the Senator Hagan’s telephone number is 202-224-6342.
Senator Burr’s telephone number is 202-224-3154.

Professional Advisory Committee—Lin Taliaferro
The certified budget for the Medical Eye Care Program for SFY11/12                                                       $2,154,754

Expenditures as of 2/28/12            $    354,867

Net Encumbrance                           $    310,598

Balance as of 2/28/12                     $1 ,489,289

Effective 2/1/12, the Medical Eye Care Program began providing routine eye exams and glasses if needed.  The Medical Eye Care Program will continue this until funding is exhausted or until the end of SFY11/12.

Please note the guidelines below apply only to the Medical Eye Care Program and will be in effect until further notice:

Eye-related surgeries of an emergency nature such as surgery for retinal detachment, eye emergencies when vision loss is imminent or temporal arthritis, eye medications for glaucoma and eye drops for treatment of acute infection, cataract surgery when visual acuity is 20/50 or worse in the first eye and 20/70 or worse in the second eye, laser surgery for diabetes and retinal tears, follow-up for glaucoma or surgery for glaucoma. 

Old Business

New Business
A motion by John Marens, seconded by Richard Oliver, and carried to change the date for the Commission for the Blind’s meeting in September from September 8 to September 15,


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