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

Commission for the Blind Meeting Minutes

June 12, 2004

Call to Order, Invocation, and Pledge of Allegiance.

Chairman John Miller called the meeting of the Commission for the Blind to order at 10:10 a.m. on Saturday, June 12, 2004. A roll call was conducted and the following members were present: John Miller, Norma Krajczar, Tom Winton, Catherleen Thomas, Russ Stinehour, and Debbie Jackson (ex-officio)

Members not present: Ron Huber, Allen Moore, Kathy Brack, Annette Clinard, and Sandy Foster--excused absences. Terry Wethington and Anita Wayne were not present--unexcused absences.

Others present: Carla Parker, Mary Flanagan, Sally Syria, David Arthur, Jan Fesperman, Dr. Michael Holland, Dr. Laurel Gropper, Clay Pope, Joann Strader, and Preston Jones

Norma Krajczar offered the invocation.

Appointment of Parliamentarian and Remarks by Chairman

Tom Winton was appointed Parliamentarian.

Mr. Miller introduced and welcomed Carla Parker in her new role as Executive Assistant with Division of Services for the Blind and secretary to the Commission for the Blind. Mr. Miller also introduced Russ Stinehour as a new appointee.

Another new appointment is Ms. Angela McCants who represents the Parent/Training organization and replaces Anita Wayne as of July 1.

Reappointments of Tom Winton and John Miller were made. Norma Krajczar term has expired and Terry Wethington’s appointment ends this month--June. Mr. Miller reminded the members of the importance of serving on the Commission for the Blind. The Commission consists of 2 ex-officios and 11 members appointed by the Governor to serve and to meet 4 times a year.

Approval of Minutes

A motion was made by Catherleen Thomas, seconded by Norma Kracjzar, and carried to approve the minutes of the March 13, 2004 meeting.

Committee Reports

Public Relations – No Report

Inter-Committee Relations – In Allen Moore’s absence, Debbie Jackson reported that the Statewide Independent Living Council is working with DSB and DVR, designated State units, on the development of a State Plan. There have been money issues that have slowed the development of the Plan. The goal is to have it completed by the end of June and signed by the Director of VR and DSB and Chair of the SILC.

Advocacy – John Miller

The Randolph Sheppard Act that authorizes feeding in military facilities by blind or visually impaired was in jeopardy of changed wording to where no opportunities for blind or visually-impaired to serve in that capacity would exist but substitute language was comprised and the Randolph-Sheppard Act stays intact.

Mr. Miller provided an update on the Wharton Trust which is money given to Governor Morehead Foundation in 1993 to be used for post-secondary educational needs for students in NC. It was in excess of a half million dollars and over the years given to DSB so they could meet the unmet funding needs of students. There was approximately $130,000 left in the fund and GMF was looking for a way to dissolve the trust. GMF was convinced to keep the trust as is and will be spent on unmet needs and will go to those students who are in the 16 colleges in the NC university system to make up the difference between tuition/room and board that is not paid by DSB. A set-aside of $32,000 will be used for whatever needs DSB has this year. This could be used as a reimbursement on what has already been spent or as an estimate on what will be spent. Any special requests would need to be made directly to the GMF.

NCCU-VITP Advisory Board—Commission referred complaint received and discussed at last Commission meeting from Ray Dragon to the VITP Advisory Board. In the future, any issues need to be presented in writing so the issue may be referred to the appropriate person. If there is an university procedure already in place, which would resolve the issue, the grievance will be referred to the University.

Director’s Report – Debbie Jackson

If all appointments are in place by September, we will provide training that will familiarize the new appointees with the agency and the role of the Commission for the Blind.

Budget

Division—A small-proposed cut in our Special Assistance for the Blind Program ($30,000) has been recommended. If this happens, it should not cause an adverse impact on consumers. The number of consumers requiring this service has decreased over the past several years and the money would be reverted back to the State anyway.

Department—A recommendation in the House proposes DHHS cut about $3 million in positions. Many of DHHS positions are a combination of State and Federal funding so in order to obtain $3 million of State dollars, this could involve a large number of positions and federal money. If such a cut should occur that would have to be passed down to the agencies. This proposal has not yet been passed to the Senate.

Another proposal would require the Department to turn back state appropriations and use prior year earned revenue. This means the money the Department some times uses during the year to meet critical needs would not be able available. This has not yet reached the Senate.

Agency Budget—We have been able to move money around so we can continue to pay bills and issue authorizations throughout the end of year.

Legislation—Left on Red has not been passed and not much discussion on it this year so far. Senate Bill 1069, sponsored by Senator Katie Dorsett, provides ongoing funding for Newsline services ($75,000)—Not sure if this may pass as a stand alone bill or folded into the budget.

Transition Cooperative Agreements

The Division is in the process of obtaining Transition Cooperative Agreements with a couple of school systems--Durham County and Charlotte/Mecklenburg--(2 positions in Charlotte and 1 in Durham)

Upcoming RSA Review

Rehabilitation Services Administration will do their annual review the first week of August. They review finances in program areas and review case files.

Charlotte District Office

Staff in our Charlotte District Office will be moving some time this summer. Definite time and place are uncertain at this time.

Business Enterprises Program

For a number of years, the Elected Committee of Vendors has wanted the supervision of BE Counselors to be shifted from the area rehabilitation supervisor to the Chief of BE. An arrangement has been worked out that would shift the policy interpretation over to the Chief of BE but the day-to-day operations would remain with the Area Rehabilitation Supervisor. This would provide greater consistency in policy interpretation

Outreach Opportunities

The agency has recently participated in a number of outreach activities—1) Native Americans in Burlington and another scheduled in the Lumberton area in the Fall; 2) Hispanic population in Cary; 3) Conference for parents of deaf/blind children. Every effort is being made to do as much outreach as possible.

Report of the Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee – Tim Jones was not present.

Report of the Professional Advisory Committee– Dr. Holland indicated the Medical Eye Care Program is still serving those meeting the MEC guidelines. In regards to finances, the Medical Eye Care Program has a budget of 1.5 million dollars and the Program to date has spent 1.74 million dollars, which is approximately $240,000 over the budgeted amount. Shifting funds around and using money from "Other Vending" has made up the difference.

Old/New Business

Since a quorum did not exist without contacting two members by conference call, Annette Clinard and Terry Wethington were contacted to participate in this part of the meeting. Two items required a vote by the members: (1) BEP Set Aside— A motion was made by Annette Clinard, seconded by Norma Krajczar, and carried to do away with the 50 percent set-aside in the Business Enterprises Program. This item was considered by the Commission at the request of the Elected Committee of Vendors; (2) Election of Chairperson for the Commission for the Blind—Following a nomination motion to re-elect John Miller as Chair, a second, and a vote, the Committee re-elected John Miller as Chairman of the Commission for the Blind.

Adjournment of Commission Meeting

Following an adjournment motion, a second, and a vote, the meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m. The next meeting of the Commission for the Blind is scheduled for September 11, 2004 at 10 a.m.

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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