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

Commission for the Blind Meeting Minutes

December 8, 2011

Due to the 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 308th meeting of the NC Commission for the Blind to order at 10 a.m. on Thursday, December 8, at 4 p.m.  Chair Butler 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. 

Last week, a conference call was held as a training session for the new members.    

Present in the Conference Room:  Eddie Weaver, Mary Flanagan, John Marens, Brenda Savage, Cynthia Speight, Gary Ray, David Arthur, Joann Wood, and Carla Parker.

Present on the Conference Call:  Beth Butler, Tony Ferrita,  Kim Lambert, Steve Harris, Dorothy Frye, Brenda Monforti, Richard Oliver, Erica Nail, Dr. Bernstein, and Tom Ackers.

Brenda Savage was appointed Parliamentarian.

Approval of Minutes:
A motion was made by Richard Oliver, seconded by Dorothy Frye and moved to approve the minutes of the September 17, 2011, meeting.

Committee Reports:
Public Relations—John Marens and Mary Flanagan

Mary Flanagan reported on the 3 minute video that DSB has been working on that targets employers and DSB’s consumers.  It is now on DSB’s website. 

DSB’s commercial campaign which ended in June and was very successful.  DSB received over 700 telephone calls inquiring about services.  Some stations are still running the ad as a PSA.  As an added value, WRAL gave DSB a free booth at their health fair and some stations gave us added airtime.  A gospel radio station interviewed Cynthia Speight and Deidre Dockery.

New members were appointed to Committees.  (Committee List is attached).

Director’s Report—Eddie Weaver
About 6 weeks, the hiring freeze was lifted so DSB has been able to fill vacancies that have been vacant since March. 

We continue to have staff retirements.  The hardest hit is in our Greenville District Office which has 3 retirements this month—an area rehabilitation supervisor, rehabilitation counselor, and a nursing eye care consultant.   In our Wilmington District Office, an Assistive Technology Specialist is retiring.

Governor Purdue’s Executive Order 85 is still in effect. This order combines all 3 divisions (DSB, DSDHH, and DVR) into one Division effective July 1, 2012.  Maria Spaulding will be meeting with the 3 division directors to have further discussion about the merger.  PCG, consulting group, will be involved in this discussion. Mrs. Spaulding attended the CAAC meeting held earlier today and she remains committed to maintain the separate identity of the disability groups we presently have.   Supervisors and met in Raleigh in November to discuss the Strategic Plan.  Goals have been established, objectives are being developed, and then the Action Plan will be written.
Mr. Weaver updated the committee on the collaborative efforts that has taken place with the other 2 Divisions (DVR and DSDHH) since September of last year with the new case management system, BEAM.  We were anticipating that the system would go live in January 2012 but that’s just not going to happen.  There have been some delays with the vendors.  It’s taking longer than we anticipated but it’s going to be a very good program when it gets up and running.

Business Enterprises underwent an audit this year.  The Elected Committee of Vendors met in November and formed a committee to address the audit findings and to take further correction action.  DSB is in the process of taking action as requested by the auditors.
DSB received recovery monies from the Federal government.  All of these funds needed to be spent by the end of September 2011.  Due to the availability of these funds, DSB renovated, updated, and modernized the Rehab Center.  Equipment was ordered for various stands in our Business Enterprise Program.   We were able to purchase equipment for staff.  We created positions for our transition coordinators.  That was a very successful outreach event in terms that they actually went to all 100 counties and all the LEAs across the state and talked to the exceptional children’s coordinators or TVI program in all those counties.  The Independent Living Rehabilitation Program used the ARRA dollars to purchase aids and appliances.  Recreational aides were hired to assist at the Rehabilitation Center during the SAVVY Program held during the summer. 
Dates to remember, The NCVIB will be held on GMS Campus March 16-17, 2012 and the Raising Cane 5K will be held March 31 on the Dix Campus.

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee—Gary Ray
The CAAC met this afternoon.  There are 2 issues to be reported on today:  1) The recent decision to close the official Governor Morehead School and merge with Wilson School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing but there will a satellite program out of Wilson held on the GMS campus.  At this time, we are unsure what that means, 2) the three divisions merging—The advocate groups have been unable to reach the Governor.  The only option is convincing the legislature to pass a bill to either negate part or all of the Governor’s Executive Order 85.  We should know in approximately 60-90 days if we are going to get any assistance. 
This biennial session of the legislature may go down as a dark day for blindness in North Carolina.
Richard Oliver made a motion that the Advocacy Committee, within the Commission for the Blind, draft a letter stating their commitment that DHHS should maintain 3 separate divisions and negate merging the divisions into one, Brenda Savage seconded the motion, and it was carried.  John Marens will set up a conference to discuss the details that should be included in the letter.  Members that will be included in the conference call are John Marens, Eddie Weaver, Richard Oliver, Steve Harris, Beth Butler, Kim Lambert along with Gary Ray, CAAC Chair.  The letter will be written, sent to other members for their input, and then finalized. 

Professional Advisory Committee—Mary Flanagan
In Lin Taliferro’s absence, Mary Flanagan presented the PAC report.
Certified Budget as of July 2011: $2,154,754
Total Expenditures as of Dec. 5:       125,084
Total Encumbrances as of Dec. 5:     276,649
Balance of:                                1,753,819
As of October 1, 2011, Medicaid changed their policy and no longer cover the cost of eye exams, glasses, and prescriptions for eyeglasses for adults.  That has a great impact on our Medical Eye Care Program.  As of November 1, 2011, DSB’s Medical Eye Care Program no longer purchases eyeglasses for adults (21 or older) but we are now approving cataract surgery, treatment of other procedures, eye medications, and emergency treatments. 

New Business:
Eddie Weaver reported that effective with the March meeting, the travel restriction to attend the Commission for the Blind meetings is being lifted.  Any out-of-town member that can or would like to attend the Commission for the Blind meeting in person will be reimbursed for travel.  It is harder to have a successful working committee if the committee doesn’t meet face to face. The conference call will also be available for anyone that cannot travel to Raleigh. 

Meeting was adjourned at 5:15. 

The next meeting for the Commission for the Blind is Saturday, March 10, at 10 a.m.



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