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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, 2011

Due to budget restrictions, this meeting was held by conference call.  The out-of-town members were connected via telephone while the Raleigh-based members met in the conference room of Fisher Building in Raleigh, NC.

Call to Order, Invocation, and Pledge of Allegiance
Chair Butler called the 305th meeting of the NC Commission for the Blind to order at 10:05 a.m. on Saturday, March 12, 2011.  Dr. Graham Watt offered the invocation.  The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

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.

Present in the Conference Room:  Eddie Weaver, Mary Flanagan, Lin Taliaferro, Cynthia Speight, Gary Ray, Dr. Bernstein, Dr. Fleming, Julie Kagy, Dave Arthur, Tom Acker, Michael Holland, and Carla Parker

Connected by Conference Call:  Joann Wood, Beth Butler, Dr. Wiggins, Alan Casey, Ruth Haines, Graham Watt, and Brenda Savage

Eddie Weaver, Director of the Division of Services for the Blind, thanked the former members that continue to serve on the Commission.  The former members will continue on the Commission until the new recommendations have been appointed.  Ethics training is required for the members serving on the Commission for the Blind and it is now available online. At this time, all recommendations are under review by the Governor’s Office.

Allen Casey was appointed as Parliamentarian.

Chair Beth Butler will be participating on the business panel at the upcoming CSAVR meeting as a representative from Lowes Home Improvement on April 11.  Mary Flanagan and Cynthia Speight will be attending the NCSAB part of this conference on April 12. 

Chair Butler will also speak to a group of middle school VI students. 

On March 17, a Transition Night will be held by the NC Business Leadership Network and CMS.  Service providers will meet with parents to learn about services available in the community and demonstrate that businesses in the community support the employment of people with disabilities.

Approval of Minutes
As we do not have a quorum, we are not able to approve the minutes.  Approval of minutes will be held at the June meeting. 

Report of Entities:

Public Relations Committee
Eddie Weaver reported that on March 16, a radio and TV campaign will begin alerting people about Services for the Blind.  This will air for 6 weeks. The radio ad is being offered in English and Spanish.  Also, a 3-minute Employer video is being developed for staff to show potential employers the advantages of hiring someone with a visual disability

Inter-Committee Relations—Ruth Haines
No Report

Advocacy Report
No Report

Personnel Development Committee—Julie Kagy
NCCU has a full TVI program and is doing very well. 

NCCU along with several other organizations pulled together the State vision partnership.  The next meeting will be held during the NC Visual Impairment and Blindness conference in April. 

Along with NCCU, Dr. Wormsley, DPI, and Mrs. Kagy, a grant request has been submitted for a project promoting Dr. Wormsley’s functional braille curriculum.  This will develop a practice guide and train TVI’s within the state on using this curriculum. 

Director’s Report—Eddie Weaver
The legislature is back in town and the budget process in underway.  The Medical Eye Care program was reduced by $198,000.  This is the only reduction we have had so far. 

Fiscal research is proposing consolidating Services for the Blind, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Division of Aging. On March 16, the joint subcommittee will present its proposal.  At this time, we believe this recommendation came from fiscal research and not from the Department. 

DSB’s Case Management System, BEAM, is underway with computer-based online training for staff.  In April, we will have face-to-face training with the system developers. 

DSB’s annual Rehabilitation Program audit occurred in December.  There was one finding.  The Rehabilitation Program does not currently verify income.  Before we can start verifying an applicant’s income, a rule change will need to be made and this takes some time. 

Our Purchasing Officer retired at the end of February.  Since she was a department on one, this has left us with no one to process bills, contracts, etc.  The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) is familiar with our process so we collapsed that position over to DVR. Transitioning has gone well. 

The NC Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness Conference will be held April 8-9 on the Governor Morehead School.  The theme is “Learn from the Past, Work for the Future”. 

A “Raising Cane 5K” Race is being planned for March 26 on the Dix campus.  This unique race is designed for persons with a visual impairment.  Guide runners will be present to assist the visually impaired by running behind the visually impaired person giving oral commands.  At this point, 77 people are registered.  If anyone is interested in participating, please go to www.raisingcane5K.com.

DSB Program Chiefs and Budget Officer will be participating in an Executive Leadership Training.  This will develop a “vision” and “strategic plan”. 

Maria Spaulding, DHHS Secretary, joined the meeting at this time.  Mrs. Spaulding thanked everyone for their continued service.  The Governor is reviewing all of the boards and commissions.  This is one of the reasons why it has been so difficult to get the appointments approved. 

The legislative session has begun and each Division is responding to fiscal research regarding questions they have about our services.  Mrs. Spaulding will continue to track to see how things are going financially as well as organizationally.

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee—Gary Ray
The “merge” issue has raised its ugly head again this year.  The Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee will take a position opposing any further consolidation of the blind and deaf agencies into VR.  The CAAC is not opposed of consolidating administration and administrative functions. 

The Governor issued a list of boards and commissions that she wanted the legislature to review.  Mrs. Spaulding will email this list to Mr. Ray.  If either the Commission for the Blind or the Consumer Advocacy and Advisory Committee, the blind of North Carolina will fight it. 

On June 1, the 3 residential schools will be transferred from DHHS to the State Board of Education and DPI.  The legislators did the basic work on this but many items need to be clarified.  The CAAC will be monitoring legislation to assure a smooth transition.

A transition plan was develop by SBOE and DPI and presented to the legislators before Christmas.  There is a part of this plan that the CAAC and advocates were very concerned about.  Currently, there is a system within DHHS that set up Human Rights Committees that protect the rights of students.   The CAAC took a position in December to assure that the Human Rights Committees will continue as they were while under DHHS.

Library Services and Technology Act is where grant money from the federal money comes to the States to support the libraries.  The Library for the Blind is considered a library.  The Library for the Blind in NC is totally state funded except for special grants.  If Congress cuts back these funds, this would affect the library system.

After 38 years of employment with the Library of Congress, Mr. Frank Kurt Cylke retired from employment in February 2011. He served as director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) until shortly before his retirement.  Mr. Cylke’s tenure in office represents the most successful management of Library Services for the Blind that has ever existed.

Professional Advisory Committee—Lin Taliaferro
Dr. Wiggins did not have a report and apologized for not being able to attend this meeting. 

Ms. Lin Taliaferro, Chief of Medical Eye Care Program, report on the financial aspect.  The total MEC budget for the fiscal year is $2,138,334; total expenditures as of 2/1/11 is $1,275,644; bills on hand as of 2/1/11 are $265,048; encumbered $63,396; $335,627 for BEAM; left a balance of $198,619; checkwrite on March 1 for $99,982.05; balance of $98,636.95. 

Old Business
Dr. Fleming inquired as to how we propose to approve minutes in the future with the pending appointments.  Mr. Weaver responded—we would have had a quorum today but 3 of our regular members were unable to attend today’s meeting. 

Gary Ray suggested to Chair Butler that perhaps making personal phone calls to members reminding them of an upcoming meeting may help in obtaining a quorum.

New Business
None

The Commission for the Blind adjourned at 11:25 a.m.

 

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