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

Commission for the Blind Meeting Minutes

June 14, 2012

The Commission for the Blind met in the conference room of the Fisher Building on Thursday, June 14, 2012.  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 310th meeting of the NC Commission for the Blind to order at 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 14, 2012.  Chair Butler offered the invocation.  The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

Present in the Conference Room:  Lin Taliaffero, Cynthia Speight, Mary Flanagan, John Marens, Gary Ray, Brenda Savage, Joann Wood, Clay Pope, David Arthur, Julie Kagy, and Carla Parker

Connected by Conference Call:  Beth Butler, Eddie Weaver, Verdina Simms, Richard Oliver, Tony Ferrita, and Dr. Bernstein.

Mr. Richard Oliver 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 John Marens, seconded by Verdina Simms, and moved to approve the minutes of the March 10,  meeting.

Committee Reports:
Public Relations—John Marens and Mary Flanagan

A request has been made by DSB to the Department to have some sort of presence in the social media.  VR has made the same request.   The Department is very leary of this for many reasons and one being what it may open itself up to on this public site.  Mary Flanagan has received a request for Public Affairs to put together an Outreach/Communication Plan.  This was sent to all DHHS agencies.  The Secretary wants it to become a Department-wide plan.  DSB began working on the plan this week.  The Secretary wants to communicate to the public what each agency does in a more sufficient way.  The Plan is due to DHHS on June 22. 

Chair Butler asked for comments.  Social media is positive as long as it is used in an appropriate manner and not abused. 

Nebraska has used social media for a couple of years and they find it quite successful.  They also have a Facebook page. 

Social media is a great idea but you are opening yourself up to all types of feedback.  You will need a dedicated staff to respond and keep it running.  Social media creates some issues but it also resolves some issues. 

Inter-Committee Relations—Dorothy Frye, Brenda Savage, and Julie Kagy
Dorothy Frye reported that at the next SILC meeting training will be provided.

Advocacy Committee—Julie Kagy
Julie Kagy report that the NCCU Program is doing very well.  A FASTRACK Program will be held on GMS campus.  The NCCU Program is in the process of moving from GMS campus to the NCCU campus. 

Director’s Report—Eddie Weaver
Eddie Weaver thanked everyone for their prayers and concerns during his recent surgery.

DSB does not have any items in the House and Senate’s budget; that means no reductions.  The Department as a whole has been charged to abolish 50 positions.  These are positions that have been vacant for at least 2 years.  DSB has not had any positions vacant that that length of time.

In both House and Senate, Newsline has been funded through our agency for $75,000.

In both House and Senate, there are 2 resolutions to do away with Executive Order 85.  For agencies that have not already merged as the present time as a result of the Executive Order will not merge if either one of those 2 resolutions are adopted. 

Mr. Weaver thanked all of the consumer groups, organization groups, and anyone else that had a part in stopping the merger.  It was a tremendous effort. 

Last year, the Commission for the Blind was on the list to be abolished.  A couple of weeks ago, the Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee appeared on the list.   Senator Purcell introduced an amendment for the CAAC to be removed from the list.  We thank Senator Purcell for all of his efforts in assisting the visually impaired and blind community. 

DSB’s staff on the top floor of Simpson Building will be moving to the basement of Fisher Building.  Construction of the basement should start within the next month. 

BEAM is still moving along.  Staff continues to work many hours to get BEAM up and running.  The projected go-live date is October 1, 2012. 

The BELL Program will be held in July and activities will be in the Haywood Building. 

The SAVVY Program at the Rehabilitation Center will be July 8-August 3.  This year we have a waiting list. 

DSB has a new Business Coordinator, Mrs. Kathy Davis.  Mrs. Davis came to DSB from Illinois.  She will working with staff on job placements and standards. 

Preston Jones, Area Rehabilitation Supervisor in Asheville, will retire August 1.

Consumer and Advocacy and Advisory Committee—Gary Ray
The Chair updated the committee of four matters that have been of interest to this committee over the years. 

  •  The Governor Morehead School—a year ago the legislature mandated that one of the residential schools be closed.  After a study was completed, it was announced that GMS would be closed July 1, 2012.  Secretary Atkinson worked out a deal the legislature to maintain a residential/ educational program on this campus.  The legislature is now about to reverse this decision by a special provision and GMS will remain open.  The residential schools will have to return some money…At this the amount is undertermined. 
  • NewsLine:  Funding of $75,000 has passed. 
  • Merger:  Governor Perdue issued the Executive Order 85 which combined all of the disability VR units into a single super agency effective July 1, 2012.  If the House passes the resolution which modifies this order, the merger will not take effect. 

The Client Assistance Program is federally funded.  Currently, CAP is under DHHS, but some believe this program should be under DRNC.

Professional Advisory Committee—Lin Taliaferro
MEC Budget Update

State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2011-2012 Certified Budget Amount
$1,654,754.
Total Expenditures paid as of 06-14-2012
$851, 270.
Net Encumbered
$579.363.
Balance as of 06-14-2012
$803,484. 
The Medical Eye Care Program started the SFY with a Certified Budget of $2,154,754. Recently, $500,000. was transferred from the Medical Eye Care Program to the Division of Medical Assistance (DMA).  It is anticipated that an additional $100, 000 will be required and will be transferred from this program.
The Division of Services for the Blind’s Medical Eye Care Program continues to provide:

  • routine eye exams and glasses if glasses are prescribed (until funding is exhausted or until the end of the State Fiscal Year, June 30, 2012)
  • eye related treatment/surgery of an emergency nature such as surgery for retinal detachments.
  • eye emergencies when vision loss is imminent and temporal arteritis.
  • some eye medications such as glaucoma medications and eye drops for the treatment of acute infections.
  • cataract surgery when the 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, and filter surgery for glaucoma. 

These guidelines will apply until further notice.  (Please note, this letter applies to the MEDICAL EYE CARE PROGRAM ONLY and not to our DSB Vocational Rehabilitation Program.  All other services provided by other programs will continue to be fully available to those who qualify.)  

Dr. Bernstein asked if we do not use the funds available, does funds carry-over til next year.  These funds are reverted and Medical Eye Care did not receive any reductions for next year. 

Old Business:
Gary Ray inquired about the ARRA funds.  Eddie Weaver does not anticipate any fall outs from not having those funds available. 

New Business:
It’s time for elections.  Beth Butler has served 2 terms so she is not eligible for another term.  Chair Butler asked for nominations  for Chair.  Julie Kagy nominated Richard Oliver, seconded by Verdina Simmons, and carried for Mr. Oliver to become the Chair.  Mr. Oliver accepted the nomination as Chair. 

Chair Butler expressed her gratitude as being the Chair of the Commission for the Blind for her two terms. 

Our next Commission for the Blind meeting is Saturday, September 15, 2012, at 10 a.m.

 

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