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

Commission for the Blind Meeting Minutes

March 12, 2005

Call to Order, Invocation, and Pledge of Allegiance

Chairman John Miller called the meeting of the Commission for the Blind to order at 10:05 a.m. on Saturday, March 12, 2005.  The following members were present:  John Miller, Debbie Jackson,  Tom Winton, Anita Cunningham, Allen Moore, Ron Huber, Sandy Foster, and Russ Stinehour

Members Not Present with Excused Absences:  Graham Watt, Annette Clinard, Angela McCants, and Catherleen Thomas

Others Present:  Dave Arthur, Jan Fesperman, Sally Syria, Laura Gropper, Dr. Fleming, and Carla Parker

Allen Moore offered the invocation.

Appointment of Parliamentarian and Remarks by Chairman

A motion was made by Tom Winton, seconded by Ron Huber, and carried to approve the minutes of the December 11, 2004 meeting. 

Committee Reports:

Public Relations CommitteeRon Huber

Due to adverse weather, the Mid-Winter Convention in Greensboro had very poor attendance.  A display table was set up but not many calendars or brochures were distributed. 

Intercommittee Relations—Allen Moore

SILC had a meeting in Durham on February 11.  Six new members were introduced.  Joanne Wilson, RSA Commissioner, has resigned as of March 1.  Debbie Jackson gave the DSB report.  SILC now has 20 voting members.  Four members were sent to the SILC Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.  Goals and strategies were discussed.  SILC’s next meeting is in Burlington. 

Advocacy Committee—No Report

Director’s ReportDebbie Jackson

Federal Legislation

The House of Representatives has passed its bill to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act including the VR Act—HR 27.  There were possibilities for amendment to the bill during committee and floor debate that would have consolidated funding for nine job training programs including that of VR.  Due largely to the efforts of advocates, the amendment was not introduced at either point.

The House Bill has a great deal of language regarding additional emphasis on services to transition students.  It also changes for position of RSA Commissioner from an appointed one to one that would be hired by the Secretary of Education.  Because the RSA Commissioner is the highest level position that deals with services to people with disabilities, this is viewed as a very unfavorable move by advocates.

A Senate Bill has not gone to committee yet.  It is expected that their bill will be introduced in a few weeks and once passed a conference committee will work on the differences.

President’s Budget

The funding consolidation issue is also seen in President Bush’s budget.  This consolidated funding is seen as something that the administration wants very much.

Also in the President’s budget is a provision that would eliminate fifty to sixty positions, most of which are in RSA.  The plan would be to close down all RSA regional offices. All RSA functions would be handled out of its Washington office.  It is our understanding that this step can be taken by the President even if the provision outlined in his budget is not passed. RSA seems to be moving ahead with plans to close the offices.

RSA Commissioner

In February, Commissioner JoAnne Wilson resigned from her position at RSA effective March 1.  She has been replaced by Acting Commissioner Troy Justesen.

Governor Easley’s Budget

Although DSB’s Expansion Budget request progressed from the DHHS level to the Office of State Budget, the request was not included in the Governor’s Budget.  The request would have added case service money to the ILR case service budget as well as several positions that would have benefited ILR and VR consumers.

The good news is that no cuts were recommended for DSB in the Governor’s Budget.  Of course, the final outcome will not be known until the General Assembly has passed its budget.

DSB Radio Spots

In late March or early April, DSB will be airing two radio spots that will hopefully help to address the common observation that people don’t know DSB exist.  Our target stations will be those in rural areas, African American stations, and Spanish speaking stations.  The spots will be very general, hopefully, providing enough information for a person to make contact with us if they are having vision problems that impact their functioning at home or work.

Other Items of Interest

Both the Wilmington and Charlotte DSB offices will be moving in May or June. Space has been identified for both offices.

DHHS Deputy Secretary Lanier Cansler will be leaving on April 15 to pursue a consulting business.  We do not know who will be named as his replacement.

DSB’s report from RSA’s monitoring visit that took place in July 2004 has not yet been received.

Work on the renovation of the dorms for adults will hopefully resume in mid-April with a new contractor to complete the elevator installation project at Cox Dorm.  And, by May or June hopefully, the major renovation work inside Cox will be underway with students placed in temporary space on Campus. We will not have room for as many students in the temporary space so the number of consumers that can be served at the Center will be decreased during the renovation period.  We will do all that we can do to move students through their programs as quickly as possible and minimize the waiting period for those who need training.

NC Central University VITPTom Winton

VITP currently has a faculty opening that they are trying to fill. 

VITP was very involved with the NCCVIB conference--They had a booth, participated in planning and hosted a website for the conference.   VITP has teamed up with AER to have more recruitment materials present at job fairs to show the 5 different professions in the VI and Blindness field. 

An interim provost has been hired to fill in while a permanent provost is hired.  Everything is going really well with the interim provost. 

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee—Debbie Jackson

No resolutions were passed at the CAAC meeting yesterday.  Reports were given from each entity present.  Tim Jones was re-elected as Chair and Ron Eller was re-elected as Vice-Chair of the Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee.

Professional Advisory CommitteeDr. Laurel Gropper

As of the third quarter, the Medical Eye Care Program is in good shape financially. 

Old Business

Harm or Hinder Law--Kathy Brack

Senator Walter Dalton will be sponsoring this Bill.  A Bill number has not yet been assigned.  This bill will enact harsher penalties to those who harm/injure any service animal and/or police dog.  

New Business

David Arthur and Mary Flanagan will be presenting to the Exceptional Children’s Directors information about the Transition positions and services the Division offers to students who are of transition age. 

John Miller’s new e-mail address is

Three terms will be expiring at the end of June—Allen Moore, Catherleen Thomas, and Annette Clinard.  We are looking for people to fill those slots and open for suggestions. 

Adjournment of Commission Meeting

Following an adjournment motion, a second, and a vote, the meeting adjourned at 11 a.m.  The next meeting of the Commission for the Blind is scheduled for June 11, 2005.

Respectfully submitted,

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




Call to Order of the State Rehabilitation Council

Following the Commission meeting, John Miller opened the State Rehabilitation Council meeting at 11:10 a.m.  The following members were present:  John Miller, Debbie Jackson (ex officio), Allen Moore, Ron Huber, Tom Winton, Kathy Brack, Sandy Foster (ex-officio), and Anita Heath-Cunningham.

Others Present:  Dave Arthur, Jan Fesperman, and Carla Parker

Approval of Minutes

A motion was made by Allen Moore, seconded by Kathy Brack, and carried to approve the minutes of the meeting on December 11, 2004.

Committee Reports:

Policy and Procedures—Sandy Foster & Kathy Brack

A motion was made by Kathy Brack, seconded by Tom Winton, and carried to approve the policies and procedure changes in Homemaker and Post-Employment.

Consumer Information Committee—Dave Arthur

The revised Satisfaction Survey has been mailed out and they are starting to be returned.  The criteria was changed from having 5 measurements to 3 which are “satisfied”, “somewhat satisfied”, and “unsatisfied”. 

State Plan—Kathy Brack

The committee is planning on having 2 public hearings—Winston-Salem and New Bern—and 3 Focus groups—Pinehurst, Elizabeth City, and Morganton

The dates and times are:

Morganton—March 28 (2 – 4 p.m.)

Southern Pines—March 30 (1:30 –3:30 p.m.)

Elizabeth City—April 1 (10 til 12 noon)

Winston-Salem—March 29 (10 til 12 noon)

New Bern—April 4 (10 til 12 noon)

Old Business

RSA Training—Dave Arthur

Dave Arthur and Graham Watt attended the RSA training in Atlanta.  The training was mainly for Rehabilitation Council members.  Various topics were discussed including:   Federal overview, Council being created in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Structure of the Council, Presentations from various State’s Rehabilitation Council. 

John Miller received a memo requesting topics for the 32nd Institute on Rehabilitation Issues.  Memo will be distributed to Program Chiefs by Debbie Jackson. 

VIP Fishing Application—There were some policy changes that needed to be added to the application but should have to Sally Syria the week of March 14. 

Jan Fesperman thanked Mr. Miller funds received from the Wharton Trust.  With matching funds, the Rehabilitation Program has received approximately $143,000.

Adjournment of Meeting

Following an adjournment motion, a second, and a vote, the meeting adjourned at 12 noon.  The next meeting is scheduled for June 12, 2005.

Respectfully submitted,

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


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