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Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts
13051 Bell Tower Drive
Fort Myers, Florida  33907

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Meeting called to order at 8:40 AM with the Pledge of Allegiance following roll call.

Council Members Present: 11
Robert Kelly, Mikey Wiseman, Sylvia Stinson Perez, Patricia Lipovsky,  Bruce Miles, Donte Mickens, Robert Doyle, Gloria Mills, Sandra Burke, Paul Edwards, Howard Bell

Council Members via Phone: 1
Lenora Marten

Council Members Absent: 3
Leanne Grillot, Charles Brooks, Jesus Garcia

Council Staff: 1
Selena Sickler

DBS Staff: 29
Wayne Jennings, Robert Lewis, April Ogden, Mireya Hernandez, Brian Michaels, Madeline Davidson, Walter Blackman, Albert Bsales, Ricardo Aponte, Stael Exantus, Michon Barker, Ronald Voltaire, Leigh Ann Bellamy, Bruce Emmerton, Donna Rhoades, Janet Alterman, Juan Carlos Diaz, Pamela Ortiz, Ana St. Fort, Bobbie Howard Davis, Sandra Brown, Michelle Levy, Carolyn Eleby, Ted Pobst, Phyllis Heath, Nancy Brown, Bertha Hyche, Dacia Drury, Tony Pileggi

Attendees: 8
John Pribanic, Andy Schrider, Garrett Mullins, Nancy Marshall, Jill Davidson, Marie Cutieros, Kim Galban- Countryman, Denise Valkema

Paul Edwards made a motion to approve the Agenda. Patricia Lipovsky seconded the motion.  The motion passed.

Robert Doyle presented the following:

Division of Blind Services (DBS) General Update:

  • New Appointments of the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind(FRCB)
  • Paul Edwards
  • Howard Bell
  • Reappointments to the FRCB
  • Lenora Marten
  • Bruce Miles
  •  Division of Blind Services State Office
  • Ana St. Fort  promoted to  Program Administrator
  • Mondi  Azpeitia is Retiring
  • Employment Outcomes this year are 841 compared to 761 last year.
  • Wayne Jennings will be going to the District 2 Tallahassee Office as the District Administrator.
  • The Homemaker Category will be eliminated under the new Federal Regulations.
  • State Office is working on next year’s budget and Legislative Agenda.
  • Legislative Updates
  • DBS has drafted a bill to prevent the repeal of the DSO
  • DBS is looking to ask the legislature to consider work experience clients as employees of the state for Liability Insurance purposes.
  • DBS is celebrating its 75th Anniversary.
  • DBS is working on new amendments for VR and Transition Services Contracts effective October 1.
  • DBS is working to get the Children’s Contract ready to be rolled out by September 1, 2016.
  • DBS received 5 proposals for gifts and donations fund.
  • DBS is continuing to work on reopening the Tampa Building.
  • FEDS authorized use of federal funds if available.
  •  The DSO in conjunction with DBS created a $75,000 endowment to Miami Dade College Foundation for students who are visually impaired.
  • Pre-Employment Program at the Rehab Center
  • The First Cohort of 5 individuals just completed the program and applications are currently being accepted for the October class.  Early reports are very good.  The program is divided into adults, transition program for children ages 14-18 and youth with disabilities ages 18-24.  Director Doyle states that a full report will be presented at the next Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind (FRCB) meeting in Daytona. 
  • DBS target marketing strategies include the Comcast marketing video which is currently online and targeted social media advertising.

Director Doyle stated the meeting between consumer organization, contractors and DBS was very positive and resulted in talks about holding future statewide meetings twice a year. Robert Doyle stated the importance of working together to improve relationships and build partnerships to better serve consumers.  Chairman Kelly stated that it was a positive starting point for all involved to work together and help create a dialogue between CRP’s and DBS.

Employer Recognition
Two Employers were recognized from District 9; Goodwill Manasota and J Lodge/Stateside BPO.  Bruce Emmerton presented the award to Margie Genter, Vice President of Missions with Goodwill Manasota and Albert Bsales presented CEO Andy Schrider with J Lodge/Stateside BPO.

Morning Break (take photos)

VR Goals Update
Wayne Jennings provided an update on VR goals for the 3rd quarter. A summary of the report is below.

The division served 3714 consumers;  The total number of closed cases is 680; the number of unsuccessful closures is 349;  the number of unsuccessful closures after receiving services is 174; the number of successful closures is 331; the number of partially or legally blind consumers successfully closed is 154; the number of other visually impaired individuals closing successfully is 79; the number of totally blind individuals closing successfully is 34; the number of clients closing successfully as a result of restoration is 63.  This brings our Rehabilitation Rate to 66%.

Interim Report – Increasing Participation of the Public Forum
Mikey Wiseman presented a summary of the Public Forum Committee Conference call held on July 1, 2016.

  • Florida is on par compared to other states when it comes to participation and publicizing the public forum.
  • Created the Public Forum Champion as a designated person to take the lead in helping to advertise the public forum.
  • The Committee will hold a conference call one month before the next quarterly meeting.
  • Include Walter Blackman as a source for hot topic items.
  • FRCB Council Members accept a personal responsibility of promoting the public forum.

Federal Regulations
Director Doyle presented highlights of the council’s comments to RSA. The advanced version of the final regulations were released on June 30 however they are not official until they are published in the Federal Register. There will be two effective dates; thirty days after publication for Vocational Rehabilitation portion and sixty days for the Joint Rules.  Director Doyle discussed the Comprehensive System of Professional Development (CSPD), Narrowly Defined Employment Outcomes, Pre-Employment Transition Services, Order Selection, Extended Evaluations and Subminimum Wage.

Director Doyle recommended the council should determine how they want to review the regulations going forward. Chairman Kelly asked the council for feedback on how to proceed for reviewing Regulations.

There was a discussion related to goals, common performance measures and sanctions for failure to reach goals across the system, and the strengths of specialized services for the blind. The meeting adjourned at 11:30 A.M.

Friday July 29, 2016

Meeting called to order at 9:03 AM with the Pledge of Allegiance following roll call.

Council Members Present: 11
Robert Kelly, Mikey Wiseman, Patricia Lipovsky, Sylvia Stinson- Perez,   Bruce Miles, Donte Mickens, Robert Doyle,  Gloria Mills, Sandra Burke, Paul Edwards, Howard Bell

Council Members Absent: 3
Leanne Grillot, Charles Brooks, Jesus Garcia

Council Staff: 1
Selena Sickler

DBS Staff: 6
Bruce Emmerton, Janet Alterman, Leigh Ann Bellamy, Albert Bsales, Ronald Voltaire, Ricardo Aponte

Attendees: 5
Doug Fowler, Andy Reeves, Kim Galban-Countryman, John Pribanic, Linda Brown

District Administrator’s Report
Bruce Emmerton presented a report to the council.  A summary of the report is below.

  • District 9 encompasses nine counties in Southwest Florida; Manatee, Sarasota, Desoto, Highlands, Charlotte, Lee, Hendry, Glades and Collier Counties. 
  • District 9 consists of two offices; one in Palmetto and one in Fort Myers.
  • The Fort Myers office recently moved to its new address at 5256 Summerline Commons Way, Suite 201-202, Fort Myers, FL  33907.
  • Current Staff Members include 1 District Administrator, 2 Supervisors, 6 Rehabilitation Specialists, 1 Employment Specialist, 2 Rehabilitation Technicians, 2 Rehabilitation Specialists, 1 Administrative, 2 Senior Work Processors, 1 Word Processor, 1 OPS Reader Driver Position.
  • The District closed 99 VR cases during FY 2015-2016.
  • The number of cases being served in VR is 625.
  • The number of totally blind closures was 3.
  • District 9 is served by three Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRP); the Lighthouse of Manasota; Lighthouse of Southwest Florida and the Lighthouse of Collier. 
  • The number of successful closures outside of VR in total for all three CRP’s is 198 for Independent Living Program, 14 for Blind Babies, 14 for Children’s Program.
  • District 9 contributes their success by focusing on good customer service.

Lighthouse of Southwest Florida, Inc.
Douglas Fowler presented a report of the council.  A summary of the report is below.

  • The Lighthouse of Southwest Florida’s (SWFL) mission is to enable people of all ages living with a visual impairment or blindness to remain independent, active and productive in society.
  • The Lighthouse of SWFL employs a staff of 17 multicultural, multilingual, sighted and unsighted persons.
  • The Lighthouse of SWFL serves people living in Lee, Hendry, and Glades Counties.
  • Beginning in January 2015, the Lighthouse of SWFL attained a goal of providing services to all ages in the service area. 
  • The Lighthouse of SWFL provides a comprehensive range of Vision Rehabilitation Services which include skill training, social networking, and music and art programs.
  • The Lighthouse of SWFL Inc. name was adopted in 2012 increasing recognition.
  • The Lighthouse of SWFL received a major grant from the Florida Department of Transportation which resulted in a new fleet of vehicles.
  • The Lighthouse of SWFL held its annual Dining in the Dark Fundraiser in which over 410 attended.

Mikey asked about the relationship between SWFL Lighthouse and the Advocacy Groups. Doug Fowler indicated some of the difficulties he had experienced but also stated his goal was to put people together and build partnerships.  Mikey stated that he was a strong supporter of building partnerships and believed there was room for growth.

Lighthouse of Manasota
Andy Reeves presented a report to the council.  A summary of the report is below.

  • The Lighthouse of Manasota’s mission is to promote independence, enhance the quality of life, and empower people affected by vision loss.
  • The Lighthouse of Manasota serves 5 counties including Sarasota, Manatee, Desoto, Highlands and Charlotte.
  • The Lighthouse of Manasota is participating in the new Children’s program and is working closely with their local DBS office and school district.
  • The Lighthouse of Manasota has provided 7,700 hours of billable services within the last 8 months.
  • The Lighthouse of Manasota has achieved success with a new fundraiser event “Art in the Dark”.
  • The Low Vision store “Peepers” has been rebranded and relaunched.
  • Counseling services are now being offered thru the partnership with Tidewell Hospice.
  • The Lighthouse of Manasota has built strong relationships with local advocacy groups in the area and continues to build those relationships by open means of communication.
  • A video was presented to the council which depicted a happy and smiling young girl who is currently thriving due to the assistance of the Blind Babies Program.

Council Business
Paul Edwards made a motion to approve the May 2016 meeting minutes.  Sylvia Stinson-Perez seconded the motion.  The motion passed.

Agenda Items for October 19 – 21, 2016

  • Report from the Library – Paul Edwards
  • Vocational  Evaluations – Mikey Wiseman
  • 1st Employment Program Young Kids – Paul Edwards
  • WIOA Update –  Mikey
  • Votran – Mikey Wiseman
  • Conklin Center Report- Robert Kelly
  • Rehab Center Report – Robert Kelly
  • Center for the Visually Impaired, Inc.- Robert Kelly
  • Client Satisfaction Survey Subcommittee Report – Paul Edwards/ Bruce Edwards

Bruce Miles stated that Council Members whose terms had expired are still allowed to sit on Committees.

Location and Date of July, 2017 Meeting
Bruce made a motion to have the meeting in Fort Lauderdale. Paul Edwards seconded the motion. The motion passed. Paul Edwards made a motion for July 26, 27 and 28.  Mikey seconded the motion.  The motion passed.

FRCB Meeting Planning Protocol-Proposed Amendments

  • Completed Meeting Minutes should be sent to the Council Chair for Approval.
  • The draft agenda should be sent to the council chair for review.
  • Bruce suggested and the council agreed that an Action Items List would be distributed to the council NO LATER THAN SIX WEEKS after the meeting.

Bruce Miles made a motion for Selena to attend the National Coalition of State Rehabilitation Councils (NCSRC) on November 5th and 6th.   Mikey Wiseman seconded the motion.  The motion passed.

Old Business
Chairman Kelly asked the council members if they had reviewed the Cooperative Agreement between The Division of Blind Services (DBS) and the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind. Mikey Wiseman made a motion. Paul Edwards seconded the motion.  The motion passed.  The Cooperative Agreement was signed by Director Doyle and Chairman Kelly.

New Business/Open Discussion
Mikey Wiseman stated the FRC meeting would be in two weeks in Gainesville.

The council had a discussion regarding the concerns of some of the attendees of the Public Forum on July 27 who did not get an opportunity to speak.
Director Doyle suggested setting up a publically noticed meeting by phone with FRCB Council Members and District Staff present to listen and address issues.  Paul Edwards made a motion to hold the meeting by phone.  Howard Bell seconded the motion. The motion passed.

Bruce Miles stated he would like for future Community Rehabilitation Programs reports to include number of employees, number of employees who are visually impaired and number of open clients in each category.  Bruce also stated he would like the District Administrators Report to include examples of occupational placements.

Sylvia Perez made a motion to adjourn and Donte Mickens seconded the motion.
The motion passed.

The meeting adjourned at 11:30 A.M.