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Quarterly Meeting Minutes (Thursday, January 21, 2010)

Crowne Plaza Jacksonville Riverfront
1201 Riverplace Blvd., Jacksonville, FL


Approved April 9, 2010

Ted Hull, Chair called the meeting to order at 8:45 AM.

Council Members Present:  Ted Hull, Henry Alexander, Rufus Brown, Sheryl Brown, Paul Edwards, Jesus Garcia, Ben Grzesik, Brian Johnson, Paul Kaminsky, Robert Kelly, Jodi Lamm, Bruce Miles, Joe Minichiello, Jay Naiman, Dan O’Connor, Sue, Townsend and Joyce Hildreth.

Council members absent:  Dwight Sayer, Dawn Saunders (joined by teleconference after lunch).

Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

DBS Staff: Michael Elliott, Wayne Jennings, Wendy Hoss, District Supervisor

Audience: Becky Simpson, ILAB Project Coordinator

Election of Officers

Joyce Hildreth asked for nominations for Chair.

Rufus Brown moved that the current officers be nominated as a slate and remain serving in their positions.
Paul Edwards seconded the motion.
Motion passed, unanimously.

FRCB Officers for 2010 are:

Ted Hull, Chair
Paul Edwards, First Vice Chair
Brian Johnson, Second Vice Chair

A brief Bio was given by each officer.

Director’s Report – Joyce Hildreth

Strategic Plan

Mrs. Hildreth gave an overview and update of the Strategic Plan.  A summary was previously emailed to the Council.

  • Seven Goals identified were:
    • Improve the Business Enterprise program (BEP).
    • Expand Community Outreach.
    • Maximize Resources through Advocacy and Collaboration.
    • Develop Job Opportunities for Clients.
    • Improve Counseling.
    • Improve Employee Satisfaction.
    • Improve DBS Infrastructure.
  • Twenty-one Objectives were identified with Projects to obtain the Goals and Objectives.
  • 160 survey responses were received and from the responses Goals were identified then 21 Objectives and a number of Projects to achieve the Objective.
  • Sponsors were identified for each Project and an action plan has been developed by the sponsor.
  • In March the action plans will be review to make the final selections.
  • Everything on the list will not necessarily be selected.
  • The Strategic Plan is viewed as the map for the future.
  • Development of the Plan will be tracked routinely to make sure progress is being made.
  • The group working on the Action Plan for each Project will identify the milestones, the due date and the completion date.
  • DBS Staff, Clients and Stakeholders will all be involved at some point.

Update on Florida Outreach

Bill Findley reported via teleconference.

  • A contract has been developed in conjunction with Bobbie Howard-Davis, District Ten Administrator, Carolyn Lapp, Executive Director of Florida Outreach Center (FOC) and at least one member of its Board to provide Peer Group Counseling services. 
  • The contract amount is $25,000 of Stimulus money funded for an 18 month period and paid monthly.  It is the same amount of money DBS paid previously under purchase order.
  • The contract begins February 1st and is through July 31, 2011.
  • Peer Group Counseling Services will be provided for 18 different eligible individuals over the 18 month period.
  • FOC has provided DBS with its policies and procedures manual and at least most other documentation required.
  • Based upon review by DBS staff it was determined that enough things were in place that a contract for Peer Group counseling could be offered.
  • FOC was encouraged to look for other funding after the 18 month period.
  • Monitoring standards have been developed for FOC to be used by the DBS Operations and Compliance Monitoring staff as well as the contract manager.
  • Services by FOC are for Peer Group Counseling only and only in Palm Beach County.
  • The other CRP, Lighthouse of the Palm Beaches, provides a full spectrum of services at its center in West Palm as well as itinerant services in the five county area.

Joint Meeting in July

  • The Hilton Hotel in Ocala will be accommodating FRCB, DBS District Administrators, and FAASB.
  • The Joint meeting will take place Wednesday afternoon, July 28, 2010.
  • Robert Kelly, Tom Walsh, Michael Elliott, Ted Hull and Phyllis Dill will work together on an agenda.

Policies Discussion – Michael Elliott

Policies sent out to the Council for review were:

6:18 Replacing Equipment
6:19 Returning Participants
8:18 Eye Medical Services
2.21 Qualification Requirements for performing VR assessments
Dog Guide Policy

Discussion on Dog Guide Policy

  • Would like to see the Policy used Nationwide.
  • The Policy will be shared with the FCB and NFB.
  • This Policy is a little less strict concerning personal dealings with the Dog Guide yet maintains understandable guidelines and expectations for safety and sanitary handling of the dog while at the Center.

Policy 6.18 Replacing Equipment

  • Dwight Sayer sent an e-mail stating concern that the policy didn’t cover accidental damage.
  • After discussion it was determined that the policy did address accidental damage.
  • A suggestion was made to change the Subject for the policy to “Replacement of loss, stolen or damaged Equipment”.

Policy 6.19 Returning Participants

  • Council had issues and concerns with the way the Policy was written.
  • DBS will readdress Policy.

Policy 8.18 Eye Medical Services

  • Council accepted the Policy as written.

Policy 2.21 Performing Vocational Assessments

Council suggestions:

  • Have a panel to review providers and not just the Consultant.
  • Require Continuing Education Credits every 5 years.
  • Require that Evaluators have experience working with visually impaired individuals.
  • Consider allowing someone with a Bachelor Level Degree to do evaluations and being supervised by a Master Level.

Michael Elliott reported the following:

  • To date, 230 individuals have been closed successfully in employment.
  • 142 individuals are legally blind.
  • The average wage is $11.45.
  • 158 current individuals are eligible for closure in the next 10 days.

Budget – Marta Copeland reported  for Kurt Ponchak via teleconference.

  • DBS expects to continue with the same type of current funding beginning FFY July 2010.
  • DBS has requested $901,030 in General Revenue for match and maintenance of effort to meet match requirements for 2011.
  • Funds for the Blind Babies Program have also been requested.
  • Approximately $2 million currently invested consist of: 20% in cash, 40% in stocks and 40% in bonds.
  • In accordance with Florida Statutes, a fee is paid to the State Bank.
  • The State Bank informed DBS that it cannot give advice on investing the funds.
  • Presently there is not a manager for the funds.
  • The Strategic Plan includes an objective under the Infrastructure to review all DBS resources to make sure they are appropriately managed.
  • There have not been any disbursements this past year of the $2 million.
  • The $2 million does not include the $500,000 in the DSO.
  • Every year the Director of DBS has to sign a statement that the intent of the Statutes is being met concerning the DSO.


District Administrator Report – Wendy Hoss, Supervisor District Three

Five VR Counselors and she serve the following:

Clients served....

BB - 84
CP - 72
IL - 114
VR -389 (66 are in transition)

Closed Employed - 37
Expected Closures - 25
Required - 96

Jay Naiman suggested they start including data on the number of individuals closed successful who are totally blind.

Local CRP – Independent Living for Adult Blind – Becky Simpson

  • Funding:
  • IL, VR, and VRT DBS Contracts, City of Jacksonville, St. Johns County.
  • Fundraising: 
  • Annual giving, Wine Tasting, A State of Vision tag.
  • Counties Served:  Baker, Nassau, Duval, Clay, St. Johns.
  • Overview of Services:
  • First Quarter Stats:  Total served 156
    • Served 73 – IL
    • IL Referrals up: 54 plans written this year compared to 23 DBS referrals last yr.
    • Served 45 – VR
    • Served 38 – VRT
  • Staff: 
    • 10 instructors, 2 clerical support, 2 Drivers, 1 Coordinator
    • Soon to add 2 FT instructors and 1 PT instructor for intake, home instructions and transition.
  • VR Stimulus:
    • Public Awareness & Technology
  • Relationship with DBS:
    • Policy or procedure questions go to Randy Morgan or Wendy Hoss
    • New VR staffing for AT instruction:  scheduled with DBS, client and instructor at post-assessment and post training.
  • Accolades:
    • Retirement in the future for two valuable ILAB instructors:
      • Trink Hollett, CVRT 12 years
      • Rose Reaves, CVRT 19 years

Ms. Simpson read a testimonial by a client and gave out copies of a brochure and the newsletter ILAB GAB.

Needs Assessment – Joyce Hildreth

  • Mississippi State University prepared the last Needs Assessment in 2008.
  • The next Needs Assessment is due January 2011.
  • DBS would like to continue with MSU requesting they use the requirements included in the RSA template.

Paul Edwards moved to continue using MSU for the Needs Assessment.
Motion received a second.
Motion passed.

Lunch Break

Meeting resumed at 1:00 PM.  Dawn Saunders joined by teleconference.

Committee Break-Outs did not occur.  Council met as a whole.

Michael Elliott informed the Council that DBS was reviewing the Strategic Plan to make sure the Goals were consistent with the State Plan.   He stated that the State Plan would be sent to the Council shortly for review.

Evaluation Committee

  • The proposed Client Satisfaction Survey Agreement between FSU and FRCB was sent to the Council for review.

Robert Kelly moved to accept the Agreement and continue with FSU conducting the Survey.
Paul Edwards seconded the motion.

  • Robert Kelly summarized the Agreement for the Council.

Motion to accept the Agreement passed.

Client Satisfaction Survey Questions

  • Robert Kelly read the Survey questions Dr. Stutzman finalized from the previous Council meeting.  The Council made corrections and additions as agreed.

Paul Edwards moved to approve the Survey questions as amended.
Jay Naiman seconded the Motion.
Motion passed.

  • After the corrections and additions are completed the revised document will be sent to Dr. Stutzman to be used as the Survey questions.

New Council members were appointed to serve on a Committee as follows:

  • Planning – Ben Grzesik and Joe Minichiello
  • Evaluation – Jesus Garcia and Dan O’Connor

Planning Committee

  • Michael Elliott will set up a teleconference with the Planning Committee to review the State Plan after the information has been sent out.

Meeting adjourned at 2:30 PM

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ted Hull, Chair called the meeting to order at 8:35 AM.

Council Members Present:  Ted Hull, Henry Alexander, Rufus Brown, Sheryl Brown, Paul Edwards, Jesus Garcia, Ben Grzesik, Brian Johnson, Paul Kaminsky, Robert Kelly, Jodi Lamm, Bruce Miles, Joe Minichiello, Jay Naiman, Dan O’Connor, Sue, Townsend and Joyce Hildreth.

Council members absent:  Dawn Saunders, Dwight Sayer

Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

DBS Staff: Michael Elliott, Wayne Jennings, Wendy Hoss, Supervisor

Approval of October Minutes – Phyllis Dill

  • Council unanimously approved the October minutes.

Agenda Items for April 2010 meeting in Lakeland – Phyllis Dill

  • Report on D.S.O. – Craig Kiser
  • Joint Meeting Update – Robert Kelly
  • Budget Report – Kurt Ponchak will join via teleconference
  • Vision Summit – Robert Kelly
  • State Plan – Michael Elliott

On-Going agenda items:

  • Director’s Report to include:
    • Strategic Plan
    • RSA Update
    • Policy Reviews
  • District Administrator’s Report
  • Local CRP Report
  • Approval of January Minutes
  • Agenda Items for July 2010 in Ocala
  • Committee Break-Outs
  • Committee Reports

Paul Edwards moved to have a Public Forum at the April meeting in Lakeland.
Motion received a second
Motion passed.

Location of January 2011 meeting – Phyllis Dill

  • Suggested locations were:  Miami, Ft. Myers and Pensacola

Council voted by show of hands:

  • Majority chose Miami with 9 votes
  • Ft. Myers received 3 votes
  • Pensacola received 4 votes

Vision Summit – Robert Kelly

  • Vision Summit will begin with a Legislative breakfast at 7:30 AM Tuesday, February 9, 2010 on the 22nd floor of the Capitol building.
  • The General Session will be held in the House Chambers at 9:00 AM.
  • Several Council members are part of the event.
  • Invitation was given to all Council members. Name tags will be provided for those letting Mr. Kelly know today.
  • Council members are also invited to an informal dinner the evening before the event.  Dinner will take place at Andrews Restaurant at 7:00 PM.
  • The Summit Agenda will be sent to the Council.
  • There are 71 members of the Vision Caucus headed by Representative Kurt Kelly.
  • It is the largest special interest Caucus in the history of the Florida Legislature.
  • Representatives from all consumer groups will attend including the new consumer group representing Deaf-Blind.
  • DBS will again provide bags with information packets.

Sunshine Law – Charles Pellegrini, Legal Counsel

Mr. Pellegrini went over Section 286.011 of the Florida Statutes relating to public meetings and records.

  • The Sunshine Law was enacted in 1967.
  • Each member of the Council is a public officer.

All meetings of any board or commission of any state agency or authority or of any agency or authority of any county, municipal corporation, or political subdivision, except as otherwise provided in the Constitution, at which official acts are to be taken are declared to be public meetings open to the public at all times, and no resolution, rule, or formal action shall be considered binding except as taken or made at such meeting. The board or commission must provide reasonable notice of all such meetings.

Florida's Government in the Sunshine Law, commonly referred to as the Sunshine Law, provides a right of access to governmental proceedings at both the state and local levels. 

  • meetings of public boards or commissions must be open to the public;
  • reasonable notice of such meetings must be given; and
  • minutes of the meetings must be taken.

Advisory boards created pursuant to law or ordinance or otherwise established by public agencies are subject to the Sunshine Law, even though their recommendations are not binding upon the agencies that create them.

The law is applicable to any gathering, whether formal or casual, of two or more members of the same board or commission to discuss some matter on which foreseeable action will be taken by the public board or commission.

The use of a telephone to conduct such discussions does not remove the conversation from the requirements of section 286.011, Florida Statutes. 

The Sunshine Law is applicable to meetings between a board member and an individual who is not a member of the board when that individual is being used as a liaison between, or to conduct a de facto meeting of, board members.

Meetings between a voting member of a board and a non-voting member, who serves as a member of the board in an ex officio, non-voting capacity, are subject to the Sunshine Law.

Members of a public board or commission are not prohibited under the Sunshine Law from meeting together socially, provided that matters which may come before the board or commission are not discussed at such gatherings.

Section 286.011, Florida Statutes, specifically requires that minutes of a meeting of a public board or commission be promptly recorded and open to public inspection. 

For further review of the Sunshine Law go to:  www.Myflsunshine.com

The Administrative Procedures Act requires that all public meetings should be noticed at least 7 days before the meeting.

Voting by Council members must be open and not secret.

Charlie Pellegrini’s contact information:

Office:  850-245-0442
E-Mail Address:  charles.pellegrini@vr.fldoe.org

Mr. Hull gave a brief overview of his trip to Phoenix, AZ and attendance at CSAVR in November 2009.

Orientation for New Members – Phyllis Dill

  • Phyllis went over the travel section, expectations and housekeeping rules with the Council.

Mr. Hull informed the Council that justification for the new representative position for Deaf-Blind was being put together and interested individuals will be contacted.


Open Discussion

  • Joyce informed the Council that DBS would only be able to cover Mr. Hull’s expenses to attend the Vision Summit this year.
  • She suggested that the Council may want to coordinate the Council meeting next year with the Vision Summit.

Paul Edwards moved to replace the Miami location with Tallahassee and combine the Vision Summit with the Council meeting in 2011.
Motion received a second
Motion passed with majority (9) voting yes.  Five voted no.

  • Mr. Hull informed the Council that he would be working with Wayne Jennings on obtaining a similar PA system with more microphones for the meetings.

RSA Representative – David Jones

Mr. Jones is a VR Program Specialist with the Rehabilitation Services Administration.

Had a couple of questions about the partnership between DBS and the general DVR agency.

His first question was how the Order of Selection DVR is under impacted services to DBS consumers.


  • Still lacking on the partnership where it involves consumers that have a hearing impairment.  DVR is supposed to provide interpreters and work jointly with DBS but it falls through sometimes.
  • DBS begins working with transition kids at 14 years old.   When DVR has a kid with visual and hearing impairment, they wait until they are ready to graduate to begin transition services.
  • When DBS refers a duel client to DVR they are put on a waiting list
  • Over the years DBS has sent several clients to Helen Keller for additional training.  DVR has only sent one.
  • Getting DVR to participate in the processing of the VR Development plans since the Order of Selection now takes between 3 to 6 months before any additional services are provided.
  • The Council appreciates DBS taking a pro active step in developing and preparing, for the Council’s consideration and potential editing, its version of an Order of Selection should it be needed by the Division.
  • There is a substantial difference between the openness to provide the type of services college students require between DBS and DVR that has only been exacerbated by the introduction of Order of Selection.
  • The Agreements of Understanding need to be made to do as much as they can afford.

Mr. Jones second question concerned recruitment of qualified staff and the impact of the low salaries.

  • Counselor’s who are being trained by DBS are leaving for federal jobs that pay more.
  • The same is true of the CRPs not being able to compete with the federal government’s salaries.
  • Specialized training for individuals who are blind is very difficult because many universities that provided the training programs are being shut down; plus, there are more incentives to go into more highly paid fields thus making the salary paid to individuals working in the visual field an issue.
  • DBS is proactive in insisting that staff hired acquire training that is specific to blindness.
  • Based on the funding DBS receives it is limited on what it can and cannot do with salaries and benefits.   DVR has a little more latitude in that regard.
  • DBS is being required by RSA to hire individuals with Master’s Degree in Rehab Counseling.
  • Would like for RSA to give states money to hire and recruit individuals with more qualifications and requirements since making the decision Counselors would have Master’s Degrees by 2009.
  • A lot of Counselors went to the School Board where a Bachelor’s Degree salary paid more than the required Master’s Degree with DBS.
  • Concerned with having 120 days to develop a plan when it could be developed in less.  DVR is taking the full 120 days before beginning services, even if the plan had been developed.
  • DVR doesn’t start the clock ticking until the individual goes in and signs the application.

Paul Edwards offered three challenges:

  • Recommend that RSA look at what has been done in Florida in building partnership between agencies that serve individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
  • Something needs to be done at the federal level to create incentives that will enable individual institutions to encourage students to enroll in programs that will provide training for those who will serve low incidents populations.
  • The federal government needs to take a stronger leadership role in supporting advantages and relevance of blindness specific service delivery.

For further questions are concerns, you may contact Mr. Jones at:

Rehabilitation Services Administration
550 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20202
Phone: 202-245-7356
E-mail: David.Jones@ed.gov

Meeting adjourned at 11:35 AM.