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

Commission for the Blind Meeting Minutes

December 12, 2010

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 304th meeting of the NC Commission for the Blind to order at 10:05 a.m. on Saturday, December 11, 2010.  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, Lin Taliaferro, Cynthia Speight, Joann Wood, Mary Flanagan, Gary Ray, Julie Kagy, Tom Ackers, Graham Watt, Dr. Gropper, Dr. Fleming, Dr. Bernstein, Dr. Chamblee, and Carla Parker.

Connected by Conference Call:  Beth Butler, Tommy Jenkins, Allen Casey, Ruth Haines, Kathy Brack, Kim Lambert, Terri Meyers, Brenda Monforti, and Brenda Savage.

Mary Flanagan introduced Ms. Lin Taliaferro, Chief of Medical Eye Care/Independent Living Service.  Ms. Taliaferro replaced Ms. Cynthia Joos.

Allen Casey was appointed as parliamentarian.

Approval of Minutes
As we did not have a quorum at the September meeting, minutes for the June 12 and September 11, 2010 meeting needed to be approved.  Motion was made by Graham Watt, seconded by Ruth Haines to approve both sets of minutes with one correction.  In the minutes the date of September 10, 2010 should have been September 11, 2010. 

As of December 3, Chair Beth Butler resigned from Wells Fargo and on December 6 started a new position as Director of Diversity and Inclusion with Lowes Home Improvement. 
Mrs. Butler will forward her new contact information to Carla Parker for her distribution to the members of the Commission.

Mrs. Kathy Brack announced her retirement effective February 1. 2011 so this will be her last Commission for the Blind meeting.

Public Relations Committee—Kathy Brack
No Report

Mary Flanagan gave an update on DSB’s media campaign.  A contract is in place with Horizon’s Video Productions in Durham.   Plans are to begin shooting the videos in January and then the media part will start in March or April.

Inter-Committee Relations—Ruth Haines
No Report

Advocacy Report—Tommy Jenkins
No Report

Personnel Development Committee—Julie Kagy
The Visually Impaired Teachers Program at NCCU is doing great with 30 students enrolled.  Applications for the spring session are now available.  The Fast Track Program will continue this summer. 

Director’s Report—Eddie Weaver
Each agency has been asked to give a 5, 10, and 15% reduction proposal.  DSB has submitted their proposals to DHHS.

Mr. Weaver attended and presented at both the NFB State Convention and ACB State Convention.

The vendor for DSB’s new case management system is Liberia.  Staff with Liberia has spent time with the 3 agencies, DSB, DSDHH, and VR.  Liberia already has in place a system that fits most of our needs.  Other division requirements will be incorporated into Liberia’s existing system. 

In October, Mr. Weaver attended the NC VIP Fishing Tournament with over 500 participants and 300 volunteers. Staff from DSB participated in various ways.  DSB’s Aids and Appliances section attended selling low vision items to participants.  

Mr. Weaver attended the CSAVR and NCSAB in San Diego in November. 

A number of DSB retirements are coming up.  Hopefully, these positions can be filled as they are direct service personnel. 

The supervisor position in Wilmington is once again filled by Mr. Rick Poe.  Mr. Poe has a background in Vocational Rehabilitation and Veteran’s Administration. 

GW Micro provided training to DSB’s assistive technology staff on Window Eyes.  This was a 3-day training held on the GMS Campus.

Consumer and Advocacy Advisory Committee—Gary Ray
The legislature passed a bill to move the residential schools from under DHHS to DPI and instructed the State Board of Education to submit a transition plan to the appropriate legislative committees. 

The transition plan has been submitted to the legislature.  In that plan it calls for 8 new positions at DPI.  The CAAC has concern over the setup of the Human Rights Committees as it will not protect the rights of the children at the residential schools.  Disability Rights North Carolina also has the same concerns. 

At the CAAC meeting yesterday, a motion was carried that the CAAC work with the legislature to insure the protection of the human rights of students at each of the 3 residential schools by continuing the makeup of the Human Rights Committees along its current lines and insuring an independent ombudsman position for the 3 schools. 

Another motion was carried for the CAAC work with the legislature to assure a smooth transition in moving the residential schools to DPI.

Yesterday, the Governor released her plan for re-organizing State Government.  She is recommending merging 14 departments into 8 departments.  At this time, DHHS is not in this list. 

The Governor has appointed the legislature to review all Boards and Commissions. 

All consumer and professional organizations need to stand ready to approach the legislature and work proactively with the legislature to insure services for one of the smallest disability groups in North Carolina is maintained at the high level as years past. 

Professional Advisory Committee—Lin Taliaferro
MEC Budget Update

State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2010-2011 Certified Budget Amount
$ 2,313.334.00
Total Expenditures paid as of 11-30-10
$ 979,156.86
Expenditures Encumbered of 11-30-10
$ 576,663.39
Balance as of 11-30-10
$ 757,514.48

An initial budget hold back to the reduction to the Medical Eye Care Program of approximately $175, 000 was proposed.  This proposed turned into a 5% requested budget reduction of $419,456 resulting in the need to reduce some of the program services.  A letter was sent out on October 25, 2010 to the eye care providers to advise that the Medical Eye Care Program will be providing the following services, effective November 1, 2010.

  • basic eye exams
  • eye-related treatment/surgery of an emergency nature
  • some eye medications, such as glaucoma medications.  (This does not include injections such as Avastin, Lucentis, and Kenalog except under special circumstances on a one-time basis.)  

As a result of additional budget reductions to the Medical Eye Care Program and so that we would not exceed funding, a second letter was sent out on November 19, 2010 to the eye care providers to advise that the Medical Eye Care Program would need to take a number of steps in our eligibility process and to establish priority in the services we could provide. The steps include placing a temporary hold on services so that the program would not exceed funding.  Effective immediately, the Medical Eye Care Program would provide the following services.

Additional steps include the reduction of the eligibility income limit from 125% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 100% of FPL effective December 1, 2010.  Reducing the income limit will result in a decrease in the number of individuals eligible for and receiving services.

The remains the prospect of additional budget reductions for the next year at a proposed rate of 10% and or 15%.  We are taking steps now to prepare should this become reality and the Medical Eye Care Programs continues to provide services without the benefit of increased funding to support those services.

Old Business:

New Business:

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


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