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

Commission for the Blind Meeting Minutes

September 13, 2008

Call to Order, Invocation, and Pledge of Allegiance

Chair Beth Butler called the 295th meeting of the NC Commission for the Blind to order at 10:05 a.m. on Saturday, September 13, 2008, in the conference room of the Division of Services for the Blind, 309 Ashe Avenue, Raleigh, NC.  Members joined in the pledge of allegiance.  Graham Watt offered the invocation. 

The following members were present:  Beth Butler, Debbie Jackson, Julie Kagy, Ruth Haines, Jay Williams, Eddie Weaver, Kathy Brack, Allen Casey, Terri Meyers, Anita Heath-Cunningham, Graham Watt, and Tommy Jenkins.

Others Present:  Dr. Holland, Dr. Fleming, Dr. Bernstein, Dr. Wiggins, Gary Ray, Cynthia Joos, Jan Fesperman, Joann Wood, Mary Flanagan, David Arthur, and Carla Parker.

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.

The Commission has a couple new members, Ms. Ruth Haines, representing the State Independent Living Council, and Ms. Kathy Brack, representing the Client Assistance Program. 

Approval of Minutes

A motion was made by Graham Watt, seconded by Julie Kagy, and carried to approve the minutes of the June 14, 2008 meeting. 

Committee Reports:

Public Relations Committee—Allen Casey

The committee would like to present to the Commission a plan wherein the committee raises public education and awareness of DSB and its services; reach out to the medical community making them more aware of DSB services; PSA’s across the State; educate schools, civic organizations, businesses, and employers of services offered by DSB.    

Debbie Jackson suggested looking at the final report from RSA to determine Division priorities. 

DSB will be participating in the NC State Fair, October 16-26.  If any Commission members would like to volunteer to work at DSB’s booth, please contact Mary Flanagan. 

Inter-Committee Relations—No Report.  Ruth Haines will chair this committee as she is replacing Stacey Milbern, State Independent Living Council (SILC).  The next SILC meeting will be held October 10 in Burlington. 

Advocacy Committee—Tommy Jenkins

No Report

Personnel Development Committee—This committee discusses the NCCU Program and recruitment efforts of hard to fill positions.   Debbie Jackson reported two Vocational Rehabilitation interns working in the Winston-Salem Office; 1 practicum student working in the Raleigh District Office. 

Director’s Report—Debbie Jackson

DSB did receive funding to continue the Newsline service.  The merger issue was re-introduced during the short session.  Advocates for the Division did defeat this issue.  Debbie Jackson thanked everyone for their efforts.  Ms. Jackson would also like to know what efforts were made so when this comes up in the future, we can act immediately.  A commission member suggested that direct contact be made to members rather than a general e-mail.    The Commission needs to be prepared to react when this issue comes up again since it is always time sensitive. 

RSA Monitoring Visit—A draft report has been written and DSB has responded.  When the final report is on-line, we will send each Commission member an e-mail with a link to access the report.

Using the money left over from 2007, which is approximately $1.5 million, Services for the Blind will  spend about $600,000.  The remainder will be available to Vocational Rehabilitation.  Some of the items that will be purchased include:  2 new vehicles for the Rehabilitation Center, renovate the kitchen facility at the Rehab. Center, assistive technology, and a couple of Braille display units.

A couple of new transition programs are in the planning stages—one in Buncombe County and a program in the East which will be in Edgecombe, Nash, and Wilson counties.

Summer Programs—The Rehabilitation Center served 29 kids; Youth Mini-Centers served 32 kids; Community-based employment employ 30 kids.

Consumer & Advocacy Advisory Committee—Gary Ray

The Consumer & Advocacy Advisory Committee is a committee set up to advise DHHS and all of State Government about blind-related issues.  Members include the 2 consumer organizations, the professional organization, DPI, and the Lions Club.  The CAAC meets the day before the Commission for the Blind meets. 

Gary Ray passed around a raised-line paper replica of the new Louis Braille Bicentennial Memorial Silver Dollar that will be available next year. 

Congress is limiting the amount of money to fund the digital conversion.  Due to advocacy, the House passed a budget allowing for $37 million a year.  It has not made it to the Senate yet. 

NewsLine has been funded for another year.  A newspaper has been added.  We now have Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh—Greenville may be added. 

Professional Advisory Committee—Dr. Wiggins

Dr. Wiggins reported that the Medical Eye Care Program has less money to work with but more people eligible.  The MEC is directing the money to where it is most needed. 

Debbie Jackson reported that DSB is addressing both the short-term and long-term issues.  DSB is addressing the Department through several ways--an expansion budget request, critical needs item, and possibly slightly changing the income scale. 

Old Business


New Business

Mary Flanagan explained that the Business Enterprises Program is requesting 2 rule changes.  The proposed changes were e-mailed to each Commission member prior to this meeting.  The initial step was to present the changes to the Department, then publish the changes in the NC Public Register for public comment.  No public comments have been received but the comment period does not end until September 15.  The next step is for the Commission to discuss and approve the rule changes. 

The three changes are:   

1)   No consumer entering the BE Program have a felony conviction

2)  If a person is offered a vending site and rejects the offer, the person may reapply—(formerly they had to wait a year to reapply).

3)  Financial analysis is completed every 2 years. (formerly it states an analysis will be conducted every 2 to 2 ½ years)

It was suggested that after the 15th the Commission have a conference call to discuss and vote on the changes.  Beth Butler, Chair, suggested that an e-mail be sent to members and a vote obtained in this method.  All members agreed this would be more convenient.   Ms. Butler requested that DSB e-mail each member after the 15th, pending no public comments, and each member submit their vote by e-mail. 

Other:  Ruth Haines presented a conference brochure announcing an expo of assistive technology.  It will be  held on December 4-5 in Raleigh at the North Raleigh Hilton.

The floor was open for Vice-Chair.  Allen Casey and Ruth Haines were nominated A recommendation was made that we have a 1st vice chair and a 2nd vice chair.  It was determined that this is not permitted in the bylaws.   A motion was made and seconded that nominations be closed.

Votes were made for each nominee.  Allen Casey was voted in as Vice-Chair of the Commission for the Blind. 

Beth Butler reminded the group that October is National Disability Awareness Month. 


Following an adjournment motion by Tommy Jenkins and seconded by Anita Heath-Cunningham, the Commission for the Blind meeting adjourned.

Respectfully Submitted,

Beth Butler, Chair Commission for the Blind                
Debbie Jackson, Director Division of Services f/t Blind


 An e-mail was sent to each Commission for the Blind member on September 16 requesting their vote on the Business Enterprises Program rule changes.  Copies of the proposed changes were included in this e-mail for their reference. 

The following members responded to the e-mail and voted “Yes”:

Graham Watt
Allen Casey
Kathy Brack
Ruth Haines
Beth Butler
Richard Oliver
Julie Kagy
Tommy Jenkins 

There were not any members that voted “No”. 

The majority of the members voted “yes”; therefore, the rule changes will be adopted, September 22, 2008.


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