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Quarterly Meeting Minutes (Thursday, April 8, 2010)

The Terrace Hotel
329 E. Main Street, Lakeland, FL


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

Council Members Present:  Ted Hull, Henry Alexander, Rufus Brown, Sheryl Brown, Ben Grzesik, Paul Kaminsky, Robert Kelly, Bruce Miles, Joe Minichiello, Jay Naiman, Dan O’Connor, Dwight Sayer, Sue, Townsend and Joyce Hildreth.

Howard Bell represented CAP.

Council members absent:  Dawn Saunders, Paul Edwards, Jesus Garcia, Brian Johnson, Jodi Lamm

Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

DBS Staff: Antionette Williams, Wayne Jennings, Mary Ellen Ottman

DBS District Staff: Tony Ames, District Administrator, Geraldine Kressin, Supervisor, Kristine Hires, VRC, Mark Grosskopf, VRC,  Tara Reid, RT

Audience: Craig Kiser, Melody Stewart

District Administrator Report – Tony Ames

  • District Seven has three offices:  Tampa is the District office with two satellite offices in Lakeland and St. Petersburg
  • Three CRP facilities serve the District:
  • Tampa Lighthouse in Winter Haven
  • Pasco/Hernando Lighthouse
  • Pinellas Lighthouse

Tony introduced Gerry Kressin, Supervisor, in Lakeland, to give the District Administrator’s report.

Gerry’s report included:

  • Polk, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus and Hardee are the Counties served
  • 100,000 students enrolled in school system
  • 13 colleges and technical schools
  • Network of public transportation reaches county wide.
  • Tampa –Hillsborough; St. Pete – Pinellas; Lakeland – rural counties of Polk, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus and Hardee.
  • Lakeland staff:  Rob Risavy, IL,  Kristine Hires, VRC, Mark Grosskopf, VRC, Tara Reid, RT and a OPS (temporary) driver for Rob Risavy.
  • Customer Service Specialist recently hired in Pasco, Hernando and Citrus.
  • District Seven serves 1,229 clients.
  • Lakeland serves 260 of the 1,229.
  • Performance goals for VR of 78 have been exceeded with 89 placed.
  • 282 cases open in Tampa Lighthouse
  • 160 cases open in Lighthouse f/t Blind in Brooksville and Port Richey.
  • 189 cases open in Pinellas.
  • The Transition Program serves 91.
  • Independent Living goal is 358 placement and as of the end of March at 87% of goal.
  • The current caseloads in Independent Living:
  • Lakeland - 114
  • Tampa -107
  • St. Petersburg - 127
  • Early Intervention (Blind Babies) caseload – 98.
  • Children’s Program caseload  - 109.

Strategic Plan – John Clarkson via teleconference

Joyce introduced John as the new Deputy Director and gave a brief Bio.

John began by asking the Council to ponder the following question during his briefing.

  • What type of communication regarding DBS progress on strategic initiatives would be of most benefit to the Council?


  • The Council agreed that e-mail was best way to communicate.
  • John will put together a status report each month and email to the Council.
  • Sheryl thanked John for being instrumental in making it possible for the Providers to work at the same speed as the DBS Counselors in AWARE.

Director’s Report – Joyce Hildreth

RSA Visit –

  • RSA conducted an on-site visit in February.
  • Antionette led and coordinated the preparation a few months before the visit.
  • A verbal exit interview was conducted with nothing in writing to date.
  • A few areas were fairly significant but nothing that puts funding in jeopardy.
  • An expectation of all Bureau Chiefs, section administrators and supervisors is to work in concert.
  • This year the Districts will be more involved in preparing and justifying their budgets and accountable for managing their budgets.
  • DBS will be conducting with DOE participation, Cost Allocation studies in the District and will be focusing on time and function. 
  • The Rehab Act states that Older Blind funding (individuals 55 years and older) and Part B funding is for all ages.
  • DBS needs to ensure funds for the Older Blind and Part B funding are allocated according to the program
  • Florida has a unique partnership with the CRPs.
  • Great benefits to services for DBS Clients are consumer groups (NFB Florida and FCB, BVA) and the Vision Caucus.

DBS Reorganization

Joyce sent out a description of the changes made through reorganization to the Council earlier.  She went over the changes with a brief summary of each.

  • Not included in the list of changes was that DBS is combining the Independent Living and Children’s Counselor position and will re-allocate and assign staff to the VR Program.
  • Independent Living and Children are primarily outsourced.
  • DBS has an average of 19 vacant positions.
  • DBS is re-evaluating the client services data base (AWARE).

Bruce Miles moved that the Council send a letter to Mike Gunde and Gregg Luther on their retirement.  Jay Naiman seconded the motion.  Motion passed.

Budget Report and Legislative Update – Kurt Ponchak/Evelyn Perkins

Kurt gave the following update:

  • Based on projections DBS will make it through this fiscal year.
  • Administrative needs of the agency are okay this year.
  • The Senate has provided the same level of funding as last year.
  • The House is $298,000 less than the Senate.
  • DBS expects to meet the Maintenance of Effort of $8.4 million this year.  If met then DBS will be able to ask for an additional $3 million in VR dollars and re-allotment.  The process will take place in late July and early August.
  • Next year (2011) the Maintenance of Effort will be $7.9 million and will return to $8.4 the following year (2012).

Gifts and Donations update:

  • March 2009 to February 28, 2010 growth was $222,110.
  • Total funds are $2.4 million with most being in the FBA.
  • Evelyn is revising the procedure for Gifts and Donations.

Evelyn reported:

  • Currently working on the Approved Operating Budget (AOB).
  • Will develop a timeline to share with the Council.


D.S.O. Update – Craig Kiser

  • DSO was created in 2004 by the Legislator without providing funding so it started with a zero balance.
  • The Governor appointed seven members to the board and the Director of DBS serves as ex officio.  The Board appoints successors.
  • The DSO has struggled the past 5 years trying to raise funds.
  • Three years ago Senator Wise was instrumental in including the DSO as one of five recipients to receive 20% of monies raised by the motorcycle tag tax.
  • The original projection was $25,000 - $30,000 per year.
  • As of last year the amount was $61,000.
  • The Able Trust collects the monies from the biker tag and distributes it to the five partners once a month.
  • This year the primary fund raising for the DSO is the Kilimanjaro project.
  • Craig will go to Africa in September to climb Kilimanjaro.
  • The fund raising part is collecting pledges of one penny for each altitude he climbs. 
  • Mt. Kilimanjaro is 19,000 feet making it possible to raise $190,000 with 1,000 pledges.  They currently have 72 pledges.
  • They are soliciting corporate sponsors to cover the projected expenses of $20,000 for the trip.  There are 5 pledges so far.
  • Stevie Wonder has agreed to sponsor the climb and is producing a public service spot for the foundation.
  • Two new members, John Vaughan and Doug Towne, bring the foundation to full strength.
  • DBS put $500,000 of Gifts and Donations money in the account for “show” money.  Due to the economy it is down to $458,000.
  • The account has $15,000 in its spending authority.
  • The foundation has purchased specialized technology for the Division.
  • Two employees (Craig and Denise Marshall) are each paid $15,000 yr.
  • Last year the foundation sponsored several students from the Rehab Center to attend the FCB and NFB conventions.  They will not be able to do it this year.
  • Craig gave out foundation brochures to the Council.
  • The DSO website is:  www.floridablindservices.org

Progress Towards VR Goals – Antionette Williams

Antionette asked Wayne Jennings to give the progress of the VR Goals

  • The Goal is 750 closures and at the end of March is 385.
  • The Goal is 488 for Legally Blind closures and is currently at 205.
  • Goals are set by the state legislature.
  • Training will be in May for new staff.
  • An agreement with DVR to share the Deaf-Blind cases is being affected by DVRs Order of Selection.
  • Looking at a shared position with DVR to help the Deaf-Blind initiative, training, etc.
  •  Would like to put a Deaf-Blind person in the position.
  • Will have providers involved in the training stages.


Meeting resumed at 1:15 PM.

State Plan Review – Antionette Williams

Attachment 4.2 Summary of Input by Council

The input will be revolved around today’s comments and will be updated accordingly.

Attachment 4.10: CSPD

  • Based on RSA recommendation DBS will update the educational requirement deadline.  (The staff member who is the furthest away from meeting the requirement.  This year it’s 2015.)
  • Assure that Comprehensive System of Personnel Development is spelled out.
  • Update the number of personnel who are employed by DBS who are providing VR services in relation to the number of individuals served.
  • Update the Grid on page 3 indicating the number of job titles, total positions, Current vacancies and projected vacancies over 5 years.
  • On page 4 & 5 will update the information related to the institutions of higher education in the state that prepare VR professionals.
  • Intend to update the Data Base for tracking current educational status of personnel as well as their progress towards complying with the CSPD.
  • Intend to update and secure the in-service training grant received from RSA.
  • Intend to review the CSPD policy itself (12.12) as required to be done annually.

Council Comment:

Ted Hull asked if the policy covered newly hired VR staff not having adequate education.

DBS Response:

  • The candidate must ensure that they have the course work required within two years of being hired (allowing date adjustments based on an academic year).

Attachment 4.11b: Annual Estimates of Individuals to be Served and Costs of Services

  • Covers Federal Year October 1, 2008 thru September 30, 2009.
  • To reflect FY2010, intend to update the estimated number of individuals to be eligible in the state and served.  Of this same number of individuals will update the approximate number of individuals provided services under Title VI Part B.
  • Update the estimated cost per person for the provision of traditional VR services under Title VI under the State General Revenue and Client Services.
  • Update the number of individuals served by DBS under Supported Employment and also include successful closures.

Council Comment:

Council wanted to know what fiscal year was being updated.

DBS Response:

The current federal fiscal year.

Attachment 4.11(c)(4): Goals and Plans Regarding Distribution of Title VI, part B Funds.

  • Intend to update the total number of contracting community rehabilitation programs providing Supported Employment Services during FY2009.
  • For areas not covered in a contract, Intend to update the estimated costs to provide Supported Employment Services using Basic 110 dollars.
  • Intend to verify the number of individuals served during the Federal Fiscal Year.
  • Intend to update the number of persons served and successful closures by the CRPs.

No comments or questions from Council

Attachment 4.11(e)(2): Evaluation and Reports of Progress VR and Supported Employment Goals.

Based on RSA’s visit in February, last year’s Goals were not measurable.

  • DBS intends to update the action completed relative to meeting the Goals and is expected to rewrite the Goals with actual outcome measures.
  • DBS should ensure that the action listed under each goal is current and reflects meeting those goals.

No comments or questions from Council

Attachment 4.11(c)(3): Order of Selection

  • Based on the RSA’s recommendation during the February visit, DBS will remove the procedure under the Order of Selection.
  • DBS will ensure there is no conflict between what is in the DBS Manual and what is stated on the State Plan.
  • Since DBS was not under an Order of Selection RSA felt the procedure did not need to be included.

Council Comments:

  • Brian suggested clarified language on one of the statements when some services such as mobility training still being offered consumers even when under Order of Selection (OS). 
  • Brian was informed that if someone was under OS they would still be able to get training.
  • Brian was informed the minimum wage of $6.40 was based on the current amount at the time.

Certifications Regarding Lobbying - just need the Commissioners signature.

Memorandum to Commissioner - will be updated to include the actual required attachments.

DBS will now incorporate the comments into the State Plan and Phyllis will update attachment 4.2 Council’s comments.

Paul Kaminsky moved that the Planning Committee have final draft approval of the State Plan comments.
Jay seconded the motion.
Motion passed.

Bruce had a comment concerning the unemployment rate being 68.9% nationally and DBS at 68.2%.

Joyce informed him the unemployment rate for the visually impaired was 70% and also, the visually impaired are the highest educated of the disability population.  She also pointed out that blind and visually impaired individuals required “life skills training” and DVR clients did not necessarily need life skills training.

Policy Reviews – Antionette Williams (presented at this time because Silvia Perez had not arrived for her presentation)

Policy 2.24 Participants Requesting New Training

The purpose of the policy is to provide guidelines regarding previously trained and/or successfully closed participants request for new or additional training.

Antionette read the policy to the Council.

  • CAPs comments:
  • DBS needs to have an exception policy that covered any unforeseen services not covered by the policy. 
  • Also need to include if something prevents the client from returning to that kind of work.
  • Underemployment conveys the wrong connotation. 
  • DBS needs to advise the client that they can appeal the decision.
  • If there is concern about the client needs to provide written justification for training if they are returning.
  • DBS concurs with CAP comments and will incorporate into the policy.

Sheryl moved to approve Policy 2.24 with CAPS comments incorporated.
Jay seconded.
Motion passed.

Policy 2.21 Qualifications and Requirements for performing vocational assessments

The purpose of the policy is to provide minimum acceptable standards for those individuals whom the Division utilizes for vocational assessments who are not Certified Vocational Evaluators and gained the Certified Vocational Evaluator, CVE, designation. 

Antionette read the policy to the Council.

Council Comments:

  • Ted asked if DBS was having trouble finding qualified staff.
  • Dan suggested sharing the policy with existing evaluators and perhaps getting their feedback.

DBS response:

  • Currently the certification is not available.
  • All current evaluators are qualified and procedures are being given to those evaluators that cannot be recertified.
  • Joyce thinks it’s a good idea to share the policy with the evaluators.

Dwight moved to approve Policy 2.21.
Sheryl seconded
Motion passed.
Policy 2.23  Interns

The purpose of the policy is to provide direction and guidance to the districts when utilizing interns.

Antionette read the policy to the Council.

The requirements that are attached include:  Orientation, Disability etiquette, Overview of DBS, and Observation and Counseling .

Comments from Council:

  • Paul Kaminsky recommended that a confidentiality clause be added.
  • Dan suggest that interns not be allowed to make any determination
  • Robert suggests limiting interns to someone working on their degree and not just out of high school and that they at least have a Student Visa or I-9 form.

DBS response:

  • The requisite for confidentiality will be spelled out better.
  • Language will be incorporated that states they are observing and not determining the final eligibility.
  • Language will be added concerning interns having a Student Visa.

Sheryl moved to accept Policy 2.23 with the additional recommended changes.
Motion received a seconded
Motion Passed

Comment from Joyce:

Joyce informed the Council that even though the Council approves and accepts Policies, etc. the Division will do everything to honor the input however, the final decision will be made by the Division.

Policy 2.22  Staff serving as an advocate for family member(s)

The purpose of the policy is to provide direction and guidance to staff who serve as an advocate for family member(s) during the rehabilitation process.

Antionette read the policy to the Council.

Joe Minichiello moved to accept Policy 2.22 as read.
Motion received a second
Motion passed.

Lighthouse Pasco/Hernando – Sylvia Perez

  • The lighthouse is exceeding its numbers this year.
  • A Public Awareness Specialist started March 1st.
  • A Job Readiness specialist started March 15th.
  • Purchased two new vehicles after receiving $315,000 in a bequest.
  • Transportation is an ongoing issue.

Meeting adjourned at 2:30 PM

Friday, April 9, 2010

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

Council Members Present:  Ted Hull, Henry Alexander, Rufus Brown, Sheryl Brown, Ben Grzesik, Paul Kaminsky, Robert Kelly, Bruce Miles, Joe Minichiello, Jay Naiman, Dan O’Connor, Dwight Sayer, Sue, Townsend and Joyce Hildreth.
Howard Bell represented CAP.

Council members absent:  Dawn Saunders, Paul Edwards, Jesus Garcia, Brian Johnson, Jodi Lamm

Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

DBS Staff: Antionette Williams, Wayne Jennings, Mary Ellen Ottman,

DBS District Staff: Tony Ames, District Administrator

Approval of January Minutes – Phyllis Dill

  • Council unanimously approved the January minutes.

Agenda Items for July 2010 meeting in Ocala – Phyllis Dill

Phyllis informed the Council of a Joint Meeting between FRCB, DBS and FAASB on July 28th at 4:00 PM.  The 28th is the travel day for the FRCB meeting not the 27th.

On-Going agenda items:

  • Director’s Report to include:
    • Strategic Plan
    • RSA Update
    • Policy Reviews
  • District Administrator’s Report
  • Local CRP Report
  • Visit CRP when possible
  • Approval of January Minutes
  • Agenda Items for July 2010 in Ocala
  • Committee Break-Outs (if needed)
  • Committee Reports (if break-outs)
  • Old/New Business – Action Items  
  • Update on VR Goals

Additional Agenda Items for July:

  • Needs Assessment Update
  • Client Satisfaction Survey Report and Agreement for 2011
  • Fla Statutes on DSO
  • Contract Management Services – Lee Nasehi
  • Cost Analysis Per Client at Rehab Center
  • Newsline Demo – Dwight and Joe

Robert Kelly gave a summary about the Joint Meeting:

  • At the Council’s request a co-locating meeting with DBS Administrative Staff, FAASB and FRCB will occur during the July meeting.
  • On July 28th FAASB will meet during the day.
  • A joint meeting will occur July 28th from 4:00 PM until 5:00 PM between FRCB, FAASB and DBS Administrative staff with a brief Agenda.
  • FRCB will meet all day the 29th which includes a public forum from 3:30 to 5:00 PM.
  • FRCB will also meet on the 30th from 8:30 AM to Noon.

Location of April 2011 meeting – Phyllis Dill

  • Dates are April 7 & 8, 2011

Jay Naiman moved to have the April 2011 meeting in Miami.
Dwight seconded the motion.
Motion passed.

Action Items –  Phyllis Dill

Phyllis sent the January Action Items to Council earlier.  She read the document to the Council.

Tampa Lighthouse/ Polk County– Winter Haven –    Sheryl Brown

  • The Tampa Lighthouse established the Polk County Office in 1992 after several failed attempts by different groups.
  • It is a satellite office of the Tampa Office but has its own funding and account.
  • Services offered are: independent living, computer training, supported employment, placement and vocational evaluations for teens to adults.
  • The Polk County Lighthouse has a year round transition program for 14 year olds and up and an early intervention program for 0-6.
  • Polk is the largest land area county in Florida.
  • Transportation and fundraising are its biggest challenges.
  • The Tampa Lighthouse will be breaking ground in August for a new 8,000 square foot facility in Winter Haven.
  • It should be completed in time for next year’s summer teen program.

Vision Summit – Robert Kelly

  • Summit was a big success.
  • First year the Deaf-Blind organization was part of the Summit.
  • The next Vision Summit is February 8, 2011.
  • The Vision Summit is a big part in beginning the legislative session.
  • It is the largest special interest Caucus in the history of the Florida Legislature.
  • There are 71 members of the Vision Caucus headed by Representative Kurt Kelly.
  • Robert encouraged everyone to make basic contacts with their local legislators all year long.

Jay Naiman moved to invite Representative Kurt Kelly to the July meeting in Ocala.
Joe Minichiello seconded the motion.
Motion passed.

Advocacy Booklet

  • Phyllis explained what the Advocacy Booklet was about.
  • The booklet will be posted on the web site after it has been updated.
  • Phyllis asked those responsible for updating a group to do so as soon as possible and send it to her.

Deaf-Blind Rep Justification – Phyllis Dill

  • There are 4 applicants Questionnaires for the position.
  • Suggested that the Council create a Resolution stating why there needs to be a Deaf-Blind representative on the Council.
  • Suggested that a letter from the Chair recommending the individual from the applicants deem should serve.
  • If representative is appointed Phyllis will add another responsibility to secure an interpreter to the District Administrator’s list of responsibilities.

Dwight Sayer moved that Ted Hull and Paul Edwards create a Resolution and letter for the Deaf-Blind representative to go with the packet to the Governor.
Joe Minichello seconded the motion.

Ted asked Dwight to also assist.

Motion passed.

Open Discussion

Joyce made suggestions for structure in handling the Public Forum:

  • Have available for consumers at the forum a document with contact information for the local DBS office, plus the CRPs with their designated counties.
  • When an individual is told “I’ll get back with you” make sure to get their contact information.  Possibly designating a person at the meeting to get the info.
  • The advocacy groups should also have their local chapter information.

Dan spoke about a problem in districts concerning assessments determining certain things (attention deficit, autism, etc.) and that the typical provider is not able to do if the individual is totally blind. 

Sheryl read a letter from a consumer having such a problem as Dan mentioned.

The Council was informed that this was on the DBS Strategic Plan.

Meeting adjourned at 10:05 AM.

Respectfully submitted,

Phyllis Dill, AAII, Council Staff