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

Commission for the Blind Meeting Minutes

March 11, 2006

Call to Order, Invocation, and Pledge of Allegiance

Chairman John Miller called the 285th meeting of the Commission for the Blind to order at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 11, 2006 in the Conference Room of the Division of Services for the Blind, 309 Ashe Avenue, Raleigh, NC.  Members joined in the pledge of allegiance to the flag.  Mr. Allen Moore offered the invocation.

The following members were present:  John Miller, Debbie Jackson, Anita Heath-Cunningham, Allen Moore, Angela McCants, Sandy Foster, Kathy Brack, Tom Winton, and Graham Watt.

Not Present:  Ron Huber, Russ Stinehour, Cheryl Whitley and Kellie Hightower-Spruill (all had excuses absences).

Others Present:  Mary Flanagan, Dr. Laura Gropper, Dr. Daniel Bernstein, Sally Syria, Jan Fesperman, Dave Arthur, and Carla Parker

Appointment of Parliamentarian and Remarks by the Chairman

Graham Watt was appointed Parliamentarian.  

Approval of Minutes

Motion was made by Graham Watt, seconded by Tom Winton, and carried to approve the minutes of the December 10, 2005 meeting. 

Committee Reports

Public Relations Committee—No Report

Inter-Committee Relations Committee—Allen Moore

SILC met in Burlington on February 10.  The chair of SILC welcomed the members, introductions were made, the revised agenda was approved, Mission statement was read, and  changes are being adopted. 

SILC is exploring becoming a 501C3 and the steps involved in obtaining this.  Former chair, Debbie Baldwin, was presented with a plaque for her dedication and leadership.  The Governor's Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities (GACPD) will be holding a disability rights conference at the Hilton University Place in Charlotte on April 21-22, 2006. 

Debbie Jackson reminded the group that the Commission is required by statute to have a representative on SILC to also serve as a Commission for the Blind member.  Mr. Moore has continued to serve on the Commission until we could identify a representative from SILC. We have now identified a person from SILC and will be submitting that name to the Governor’s Office for approval.  If not in June, certainly by September, the Commission for the Blind will have a new person appointed to serve as our SILC representative. 

Advocacy Committee—John Miller and Tom Winton

Recently, the Advocacy Committee has been involved in issues centered on the Visual Impairment Training Program at NCCU.  As a follow-up to our discussion in December, John Miller, Deborah Hatton, Tom Winton, and Catherleen Thomas visited with several legislators about the University’s lack of support of the VITP.   On February 7 the Advisory Board, along with several Commission members and agency members, met with the administration of NCCU.  At the meeting, the chancellor, deans, and provost gave their verbal support of the program.  The provost detailed a very impressive plan for the VITP Program at NCCU.  Also, Debbie Jackson and Dennis Thurman hosted a reception welcoming Julie Barden. 

A motion was made that an adhoc committee be created under the Advocacy Committee and called the Personnel Development Committee.  

This Committee will monitor the ability of agencies to fill key specialty positions in the field of visual impairment and blindness including, but not limited to, VI teachers, orientation and mobility specialists, and rehabilitation counselors; identify resources for helping to address recruitment problems; advocate with external partners including, but not limited to, the General Assembly, UNC System, Community College System and others to develop and maintain high quality education programs that offer degrees in areas relevant to the field of blindness and visual impairment; and report to the Commission for the Blind on a quarterly basis its observations, activities, and needs for full Commission involvement.

Motion was made by Tom Winton, seconded by Angela McCants, and carried to approve an adhoc committee, Personnel Development Committee, under the Advocacy Committee.  Tom Winton, Angela McCants, Anita Heath-Cunningham, and Kathy Brack will serve on this adhoc committee. 

Director’s Report—Debbie Jackson

RSA will be visiting DSB next week, March 13-17.  Thomas Dolan, Team Leader, and his supervisor, David Esqueth, will spend next week with DSB and DVR.  This will be a “get acquainted” visit rather than a monitoring visit. 

Cox Dorm renovations are continuing and, hopefully, will be back in the dorm in July or August.  After Cox in complete, work will begin on the Milsap dorm.

On April 1, a Braille Literacy Day will be held.  Braille Literacy Day will raise the awareness of and recognize the need for the braille.  There will be a number of sites around the State where people will be reading Braille and we are hoping there will be good media coverage.

Leadership Development Program—Our first session was held in February in Burlington.  We have 15 participants and GA State is providing the training. 

Dennis Thurman, Superintendent of GMS, has expressed interest in obtaining the Crockett-Peeler Building for their use.  Currently, the building is shared between GMS and the Rehabilitation Center.  The Rehabilitation Center occupies the top floor and one area of the basement.  GMS has programming in the rest of the basement.  Mr. Thurman proposes for GMS to occupy the entire building and move DSB into two other buildings located on campus.  Neither of these proposed buildings would be large enough to house DSB’s total program.  Also, Crockett-Peeler has classrooms that provide kitchen instruction and a facility that trains our BE operators.  The two proposed buildings do not offer this and would require major renovations. 

Debbie Jackson has spoken with DHHS and they will be touring all the buildings under discussion so everyone can see what we have now and what is proposed.  Debbie Jackson will share information as she receives it.

Consumer Advocacy and Advisory Committee—No Report

Professional Advisory Committee—Dr. Bernstein

The Medical Eye Care Program continues to be on schedule.

The “Governor’s Vision Care Program” is understudy.  The State of Kentucky developed a program that works well.  The program in North Carolina deserves merit but has many logistical issues.  No consumer groups were contacted before being established for their input. 

 Old Business


 New Business


 Adjournment of Commission for the Blind meeting

Following an adjournment motion, a second, and a vote, the meeting adjourned at 11:20 a.m.  The next meeting of the NC Commission for the Blind is scheduled for June 10, 2006, at 10 a.m.

 Respectfully Submitted,

John T. Miller, III, Chairman, Commission for the Blind        
Debbie Jackson, Director, Division of Services f/t Blind DHHS / DSB    


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