December 2016 Chronicle

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Letter from the President

By Denny Huff

Greetings!

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is almost here again, but here we are right in the middle of the 2016 Holiday Season.  I hope that you are making plans to be with your family and friends this Christmas season and the love and good cheer that seems to be so abundant this time of the year will carry on throughout the next year.

Although we have a lot of plans in the works right now, many of them are in the early planning stages and there isn’t a lot of information I can give you at this time.

One of those projects is the Youth Conference being planned for later next summer.  I have a good committee together that has met a few times already and they are beginning to lay the groundwork for what we hope will be a really great youth conference.

Another project that has been a while in getting together is our strategic plan.  I doubt if many of you realize the amount of work that goes into putting something like this together but believe me, it is more work than one or two people can do by themselves. That is why we are asking for help from each one of our affiliates in putting together this plan.  Some affiliates have already sent me names of their representatives but most affiliates have not.  I have sent a notice to each affiliate president to ask them to appoint a representative to be on the strategic planning committee and if you haven’t done that yet, please do so by the end of this year.  Our first conference call will be in January and I am asking, if possible, that your representative have access to email since most of our communication will be done in that venue.

One of the speakers at our convention this past year was Janet Matthews with TrailNet.  Janet spoke about pedestrian safety and the laws surrounding that topic.  Since that time, Chris, Chip Hailey, Robyn Wallen and I have met with Janet to discuss a possible partnership with TrailNet to have stronger legislation on pedestrian safety.  This includes stronger laws concerning distracted driving and more severe penalties for infractions against the white cane law.  We will be making a proposal to the Education and Advocacy Committee for their input and recommendations concerning these issues.

I have met several times with the Resource and Development Committee over the past couple of months and they are coming up with some good ideas for fundraising projects.  I hope that once these projects are implemented you and your affiliate will support them in whatever way you can.  It’s going to take all of us working together to maintain the level of service that MCB now offers to their members and all legally blind people in Missouri so please step up and show your support in any way you can.

I hope that many of you will take time to listen to the MCB Podcasts that we are making available to you.  Recently we have been featuring some of the sponsors that supported our 2016 MCB convention.  Go to http://moblind.podhoster.com to listen on your PC or smart phone.

Speaking of the MCB convention, I thought the last one we had was one of the best.  Of course in order to have a great convention it takes a lot of work from a lot of people.  My thanks to the host affiliates, Tower and UWB for the work they put into this convention.  Also, thanks to Jesuita Tabor, our Convention Committee Chair for her work in getting it all put together.  I am looking forward to working with the Allied Workers affiliate for the convention next year in Kansas City.

I want to say thanks to the membership of MCB for your support in electing me to be your president for the next two years.  It is my pleasure to serve you in this capacity and I really do appreciate your trust and support.  If there is ever any concerns, question or suggestions you have for me, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  My phone number is 855-832-7172 and my email is dhuff@moblind.org

Let me also say congratulations to the other elected officers, Mike Keller as Vice President and DeAnna Noriega as Secretary.  I am looking forward to working with them along with our Treasurer, Robert Vaughn, the three directors and the 23 affiliate representatives over the next two years.

That’s going to wrap up my report to you for this edition of the Chronicle.  Again, I want to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

 


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Missouri Council of the Blind Defends Right to Vote by the Blind

By Christopher Gray

MCB has worked for years to promote the use of talking voting machines and the availability of voter information in an accessible form.  In both of these areas, we have scored major victories leading up to the November 8, 2016 election. 

Regarding accessible voter information, for the first time the office of the Secretary of State created a fully accessible web page on their site this year for use by the blind and visually impaired.  Using contacts that Chip, Denny and I made earlier this year, I created text files of the information available on the general Secretary of State website demonstrating its inaccessibility.  I shared them with staff who had never really understood the issues of how inaccessible their information was to our community.  I clearly demonstrated to them that there was no way for example to match an office reliably to those seeking that office.  After seeing the evidence, Julie Allen, Deputy Chief of Staff to Jason Kandor, consulted with MCB and Paraquad and then assigned the work of creating an accessible page for us to use.  You can view the page at voteroutreach.sos.mo.gov.  There is a current commitment to update this page on an election by election basis.

At the same time web accessibility was on the front burner, the use of talking voting machines was at risk in St. Louis and St. Charles County.  Both counties decided not to allow the use of accessible machines in early voting in their municipalities.  It's a long story, but basically this was due to some language in an opinion regarding Absentee ballots having to be mailed from the user. 

Both myself and the Law Clinic of St. Louis University immediately contacted these voting districts and ultimately entered a motion in federal court to create a restraining order against the action of the city.  This lead to discussions with the city which ultimately ended up in the city deciding not to disallow use of the talking voting machines.  In and of itself, this was a great victory for MCB whose Board of Directors voted to enter as a party into the request for a temporary restraining order.

When all was said and done and the city considered the issues of accessibility and their responsibilities under the Help America Vote Act, the Election Board released a resolution affirming that they would allow use of the talking voting machines in early voting locations and at all polling places.  Even better than that was their agreement in the resolution to offer talking voting equipment at municipal elections as well as Federal elections.  This is a huge step forward.  We plan to distribute this resolution as a model and as encouragement to all election districts in the state of Missouri.  This should provide real incentive always to have talking voting machines available for all elections. 

Here is the resolution from the St. Louis Board of Elections.

RESOLUTION OF THE ST. LOUIS CITY BOARD OF ELECTION COMMISSIONERS

BE IT RESOLVED, that The St. Louis City Board of Election Commissioners has determined that it will make touch-screen voting machines available to absentee voters who are disabled. The Board intends to do so for the November 8, 2016 General Election and the Municipal Elections in 2017 and thereafter, regardless of whether there is court order in place requiring that it do so. After January 1, 2018, pursuant to House Bill 1480 from the 2016 Missouri legislative session (98th General Assembly), touch-screen voting can be available to non-disabled persons. See Section 115.291.2 in HB 1480.

This matter is before the Board as a result of an opinion issued on September 13, 2016, by the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, in Franks v. Hubbard, No. ED104797. The Court of Appeals held that state law requires the use of envelopes for absentee voting. As a practical matter, that meant that touch­ screen voting could not be made available to absentee voters.  The decision was not final when issued.

The Board was concerned that the lack of touch-screen voting could make it difficult or impossible for certain disabled voters to vote confidentially.  For instance, persons with visual impairments or manual dexterity impairments may be unable to complete a paper ballot without assistance from another person.  That could require such voters to disclose their choice of candidates to election officials or others. On the other hand, touch-screen  voting machines can be adapted to have  an audio feature with headphones that would allow the visually impaired to vote confidentially. As another example, some disabled voters may not be able to vote by filling in circles on paper ballots because of manual dexterity impairments. But such voters may be able to touch a knuckle to a touch-screen voting machine.

The Board brought these concerns to the attention of the Missouri Court of Appeals in a Motion to Modify the Court's non-final opinion, which the Board filed on September 28, 2016. In addition to pointing out these practical concerns, the Board's Motion pointed out that federal law protecting rights of the disabled would appear to require the availability of touch-screen absentee voting for the disabled, despite the language in state statutes.  Relevant federal laws include the Help America Vote Act1, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act2, and/or the Americans with Disabilities Act3. Pursuant to the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, these laws require the Board to allow qualified disabled voters access to a non-visual voting machine and an opportunity to vote in private without assistance. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld access to electronic voting under the Americans with Disabilities Act held earlier this year. Nat 'l Fed. of the Blind, et al. v. Lamone, et al., 813 F.3d 494 (4th Cir. 201 6).

Two days later, on September 30, 2016, the Court of Appeals modified its opinion to add the following footnote:

This Court is mindful of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal's decision holding that the Americans with Disabilities Act and federal regulations required access to electronic voting to avoid discrimination of disabled persons in Maryland. See Nat 'l Fed. of the Blind, et al. v. Lamone, et al.,  813 F.3d 494, 505-506 (4th Cir. 2016). The parties did not brief the issue of whether or not federal law requires the disabled have access to touch-screens when voting absentee. Therefore we decline to address this issue. However, nothing in this opinion should be construed to prevent election authorities from complying with federal law.

Franks v. Hubbard, ED104797, page 16, note 12.

The Board considers this modification sufficient for the Board to allow the use of touch-screen machines by absentee voters who have a disability that prevents them from voting confidentially when using a paper ballot and who would be able to vote confidentially using a touch-screen voting machine.

On the same day that the Court of Appeals modified its opinion, a federal court issued a Temporary Restraining Order requiring the Board to "make touch­ screen voting machines with audio and all other accessible voting technology available for persons with disabilities during the absentee voting period for the November 8, 2016 election."  See Temporary Restraining Order, Christopher Gray v. St. Louis City Board of Election Commissioners, No. 4:16-cv-01548-AGF, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.  A preliminary injunction hearing is set for October 13, 2016.

ACCORDINGLY, The St. Louis City Board of Election Commissioners has determined that it will make touch-screen voting machines available to absentee voters who are disabled for the November 8, 2016 General Election and the Municipal Elections in 2017 and thereafter, regardless of whether there is court order in place requiring that it do so.  After January 1, 2018, pursuant to House Bill 1480 from the 2016 Missouri legislative session (98th General Assembly), touch­screen voting can be available to non-disabled persons.  See Section 115.291.2 in HB 1480.

APPROVED BY THE ST. LOUIS CITY BOARD OF ELECTION COMMISSIONERS ON OCTOBER 1 2, 2016.

 

Erwin 0. Switzer, Chair

Al W. Johnson, Secretary

Benjamin M. Phillips, Sr., Commissioner

Paul M. Maloney, Commissioner


I 52 U.S.C. § 20901-21145

2 29 U.S.C. § 794

3 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.


 


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Affiliate Affairs

Over, around and across Missouri. Let's find out what's happening where.

Agape Council of the Blind

We had a sad year and a great year.  We had two of our members pass away.  Murlee Kelly and Kathy Parson and they are missed.

For our annual Gospel fest, we had a group of children that participated.  For prizes we gave 1st place a $100 savings bond, 2nd place got a $50 savings bond, and 3rd place got $25.  It was a very successful fund raiser.

Next year we will be hosting our annual Black History Program at Missouri School for the Blind.  The address is 3815 Magnolia.  The program will be held on Friday, February 17.  The time is 6:00 pm for refreshments and the program starts at 7:00 pm.  The tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.  If you would like tickets, please contact any Agape member.

As most of you know, Agape Council and The StL Firing Squad hosted the first Camp Abilities-St. Louis (a sports camp for blind children) at MSB.  It was a great success.  Next year, the dates are July 9 thru July 14.  We will have transportation for campers.  The transportation will be provided by MSB and will do the usual pick up spots as if they were going to school.  Our sports for next year are beep baseball, track & field, goal ball, ballet, tumbling, and martial arts.  We will also have swimming and bowling in the free time.  You can go on our website and check out our pictures from our first camp.  The address is campabilities-stlouis.org.

If you would like to volunteer or know some children that would like to participate, go to the same web page and print out the application.

If you would like to donate, the checks should be made out to USABA.  The mailing address is on our web page.


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St. Charles County Council of the Blind

Greetings,

By the time the Chronicle is distributed, my next statement may sound out of place.  I love this weather!  I am sitting outside writing this report, and that does not happen too often this time of year.  I did sweep off the deck before I started, but leaves are falling all around me.  There is so much yard work to do this time of year, but I love it.

Now as far as what is new with St. Charles Council, we have big news!  We have a new member, and possibly another new member next meeting.  We would like to welcome Carol Baker from Warrenton.  She has already jumped in to work on the Social committee.  I will inform you of the other possible new member after the next meeting.

Speaking of our Social outings, it was arranged for a dinner and an evening of playing trivia at an establishment in O’Fallon.  Eight attended from SCCCB, and guess who won 1st place?  That was an accomplishment since some of the questions were difficult to understand what was announced, but we did it!  Now we have to go back to use our prize of a gift card.  Thank you to Carol and Jody for setting that up.  You never know what they are going to come up with for our outings…how about horseback riding?

Several of our members attended the annual State convention, which is always informative.  I was so pleased to hear one of our member’s remark, “I learned a lot from attending the meeting”.

It is back to business at the November meeting, and planning the Christmas activities.  I pray that everyone has blessed holidays.


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Joplin Service Club of the Blind

By Mary Coe

The Joplin Service Club has been very busy during the past few months!

In August, the Jasper County Clerk demonstrated the new voting machines for the disabled, blind and visually impaired at our Support Group meeting.  Members of the Support Group tried out the new machines and gained some confidence in using them to vote in November.  We enjoyed our monthly Thursday evening dinner, served by the Fellowship Masonic Lodge with entertainment provided by our local celebrity, Duke Mason. 

Several of our members attended the Carl Junction Bluegrass Festival in September and had a great time.  St Paul’s United Methodist church provided a delicious meal for our Thursday evening dinner.  Flu shots were given by a local pharmacy at our September 27th luncheon.  And sadly, we lost one of our dear members, Janet Hill.  Janet was 97 and an inspiration to all of us.  She will be greatly missed. 

A representative from Oxford HealthCare came to one of our October luncheons to give a presentation on steps to take to prevent falling and memory sharpening.  We enjoyed a time of answering trivia questions and found we knew quite a few of the answers.  St Peter’s Catholic Church served our Thursday evening meal.  Entertainment included patriotic songs provided by a quartet from the church, with the Service Club singing along.

On November 10th the Joplin Association for the Blind held the annual Chili and Soup Feed, which included a Silent Auction.  Dinner on Thursday evening was homemade chicken and noodles provided by Fairview Baptist Church, with entertainment by a group from the church.  The Joplin Service Club of the Blind would like to wish everyone a very blessed holiday season!


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Southeast Missouri United Blind Club

By Mary Hock

Hi to everyone.  We have another new member, to report.  His name is Cletus Frost.  Welcome to MCB.

There were 4 members from SEMO Blind Club that attended the convention this year.  We all had an excellent time.  The White Cane walk was a great success again this year.  Thanks go out to Lee Young for a job well done.  We were joined by Delta Area Blind.  We had over 25 walkers who participated, in the walk.

Our Christmas party is planned for Saturday, December 3rd this year, and all are welcome.  Nora, our lifetime member plans and cooks the main course, and we each contribute salads, vegetables, and desserts. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to all of you.


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Blind of Central Missouri

By Joe Morgan, President

Hello from Sedalia!  I hope everyone had a good summer, and now it feels more like fall today. We elected officers and board members during our September meeting.  We are having a celebration during our next meeting on November 10th for one of our charter members, Carl Franklin who received the Nathaniel Johnson award at the convention banquet in October. President Denny Huff will be attending our meeting and will present the award to him. We are also having our annual Christmas dinner/party on Sunday, December 4th. Now some sad news Richard Howard passed away on October 26th. Until next time keep smiling!


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Hello to Everyone From Delta Area

By Wanda Matlock, Presdent

The last couple of months have been very busy for the members of Delta Area.  We thought that the MCB 60th anniversary convention was one of the best ever.  The meetings were good and the vendors were very helpful in answering questions about many issues that affect the blind and visually impaired.  The craft room was one of the best I have visited in a while.  We would like to say congratulations to the new officers of MCB!

On October 15, several members from Delta Area joined the SEMO United Blind Club for the White Cane Walk.  There were 25 people in attendance.  The Mayor of Poplar Bluff, Missouri, Mr. Ed Degarius, read the proclamation and the president of SEMO, Tony Pickrell, did a demonstration of how to properly use the white cane.  At 9:00 we started the white cane safety walk.  After the walk, hats were given away and grab bags were passed out.  We would like to say good job to Lee Young for his great organizational skills and a big thank you to the SEMO United Blind Club for allowing us to be a part of the walk.  As president of Delta Area, I want to give all the Delta Area members a big pat on the back; everyone worked hard getting donations for the walk this year.  I am very proud to be working with this fine group of people.

Our members have decided to combine our Thanksgiving and Christmas party together this year on November 29 at the China Buffet restaurant in Sikeston, Mo.  We hope for a great turn out.

On December 6, we will be traveling to the Service Club for the Blind in St. Louis for a day of shopping and a great lunch. 

On October 25, elections were held for Delta Area.  The results are as follows:

Wanda Matlock, President & MCB Board Representative.

Tony Blurton, Vice President

Denise Reed, Secretary & MCB Board Alternate

LaWana Copeland, Treasurer & Strategic Planning Committee

Jim Taul, Education & Advocacy Representative

From our affiliate to yours, we wish everyone a blessed Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas!


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Greetings from Northern Lights Council

By Steve Schnelle, President

What a great convention this year! I want to thank all of you for making our Northern lights members feel welcome and thanks to everyone that bought something at our table in the craft room. As a result, we raised $84 for Northern Lights. Thanks to Loretta Welch for always trying to accommodate everyone's needs. Hopefully there will be another craft room in Kansas City and we’ll load the gipsy wagon again with interesting items that you just can’t live without.

Our White Cane walk was a big success! Twelve of our members walked down to the Ferguson farmers market, where we had a short ceremony and the White Cane law was read. A short meeting followed and the membership voted to adopt a foster child with a visual impairment for Christmas; providing him with clothing and other items. During the winter we will be working on our 501c3 status and planning fundraisers for next year.

By the time everyone is reading this we will be well into the holidays; so let me wish all of you on behalf of STNLC a happy Thanks giving and a blessed Christmas!


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ATI Special Affiliate News

By Darrel Vickers, President

Hello Everyone, I want to take this opportunity to let everyone know what we are doing.

Financial Information: Note: all figures are as of close of business on October 25, 2016.  Our checking balance was $557.90.

Members:  As of this writing ATI has 30 members. We gained 4 new members this year, but we also lost a couple. Linda Russell passed away and our thoughts and prayers go out to her family.

MCB convention highlights:  We did a fundraising raffle at this year’s convention. We had a cash prize of $100. We sold $151 worth of tickets so we had a net gain of $51. Special thanks to Kim Hallows for helping me sell the tickets. Congratulations to our winner Ruthie Clark.

Vendor Room: As you know ATI hosts the vendor exhibit room at the convention. This year’s room was very successful. It was completely sold out and was very busy.

Annual Meeting:

1. Elections

Darrel Vickers was unopposed and elected president.  Laura De Vries was also unopposed and was elected secretary.

2. We amended our Bylaws to change our member annual dues from $10 to $15. It was unanimously passed.

3. Denny Huff demonstrated some of the new features in Jaws version 18.

4. We discussed some new Apps for the IPhone and had a question and answer session.

Featured Product:

I thought I would start featuring an adaptive technology product in each new article. 

i.d. mate Galaxy® by Vision America, from the Manufacturer.  i.d. mate Galaxy is a portable “all-in-one” talking bar code scanner that aids visually or print impaired individuals with the identification of items via the product’s bar code or UPC. Using text-to-speech and digital voice recording technologies, it allows users to access an on-board database of product descriptions, along with a tailored set of recorded voice messages.

With i.d. mate Galaxy, the user can quickly add additional voice recorded information to existing products or to items not found in the database.

Additional bar code labels are available to label any product or item that does not already have a bar code. Adhesive, tag, and clothing labels can be placed on nearly anything. Simply scan the bar code and add a voice recording.  And with i.d. mate Galaxy, you have an additional mode of identification and information access through wireless Internet connectivity, which provides for an extended database.

Technology:

Text-to-speech and digital voice recording technologies allow the blind or print-impaired user to access items in their environment with a simple scan of a bar code.

This talking bar code scanner provides instant identification of products, access to information, and affords a more independent life. Programmable bar code labels are provided to label any item that does not already have a bar code.

Built-in database items include grocery, health & beauty, pets, cleaning, vending, and CDs & DVDs. Extended information such as instructions, ingredients, and warnings are included for many items. This multi-million item database is just the beginning; it can be tailored to personal needs by adding items.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity make the database truly infinite. With direct access to numerous Internet resources, the user can update the database, as well as search unidentified items online.  MP3 capabilities allow the user to store and access music and audio files.

Main Features

  • New, More Ergonomic “Wand” Design
  • Laser Scanner – quick, reliable scans
  • Lightweight & Portable – 7 ¾ inches, 11 ounces
  • Micro SD Memory Card – 8GB capacity
  • Memo Recorder – record, play, and erase messages
  • Rechargeable Battery – high-capacity LiPo battery
  • Earphone Jack – amplification and privacy
  • Alternate Connectivity – Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • MP3 Capability – music, audio storage, and access
  • Multiple Languages – English, German, French, and Spanish
  • Date & Time – international time zones

Instant Software Updates – download

Price: $1,299.00

http://www.envisionamerica.com/store/

Note: This product qualifies for the MCB Adaptive Technology Grant Program.  This is one of my favorite devices I own. Not only will it read the name on a product bar code but in most cases the cooking directions and ingredients as well as health information. If you happen to buy a product not already in its massive database you can add it. A simple record button allows you to add the item with any other information you want, such as directions.  Until next time, take care.


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Queens City Council Report

By Marilyn Tuso

Our first line of business at our October meeting was to vote in Robert Ash as our Board Representatives for another term with Nicole Hanlin as the new alternate.  We also had a guest speaker, Wendy Jackson, from Vision Rehabilitation Center and she talked about the Brain Port for blind people. On October 15, several of us met at the Independent Living Center for the White Cane Walk, we ended up having beautiful weather for the walk. After our walk we all met inside the center to draw the winning raffle ticket and eat lunch which was provided. Queen City Council ended up making 300.00 plus donations!

In November we are planning our Thanksgiving celebration dinner at Lambert's Cafe in Ozark, Missouri and our Christmas dinner will be a potluck dinner with all the fixings at our normal meeting place.

Not much else is going on so we want to take the time to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year's since no more Chronical Report's until 2017.


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Committee Reports

Adaptive Technology Grant Committee

By Darrel Vickers, Chairman

Hi Everyone, I want to take a minute to give you an update on our technology grants and provide an overview of this great program for those of you who might not be aware of it and how it works.  Each year MCB sets aside grant money for blind persons of Missouri to help with the purchase of adaptive equipment.  Following is a summary for Adaptive Technology for the year ended August 31, 2016.  We had 47 applicants; 40 members, 3 non-members and 4 children.  We approved 45 and denied 2 applicants.  We granted $24,855.72 from our $25,000.00 budget.

Items purchased included eye Pal Solo, Braille Note taker, i-phones, computers, Victor Reader, magnifiers, CCTV, tablet, id Mate Quest and EZ Blaze book player.  We were able to convert several non-members to new members of MCB.

In August the MCB Board approved $25,000 for fiscal year 2017.  As of October 28 we have approved 12 grants. I can't give you any dollar amounts because many of these were approved this month and it takes a while for the money to clear our system. I will be able to give an approximant number in the Spring issue.

Purpose:  The MCB technology grant is a matching grant to help Missouri blind and low vision persons obtain all types of adaptive technology. The Missouri Council of the Blind (MCB) created this Adaptive Technology Grants Program to help fulfill its mission of enriching the lives of legally blind Missourians. Adaptive technology can be very expensive so MCB understands why many legally blind Missourians are not benefiting from its use. For the purpose of this grant program, adaptive technology is considered hardware, software, electronics, equipment, etc. that is standalone or works in conjunction with a computer that makes it possible for blind people to do things that sighted people can already do without using adaptive technology.

Coverage:  The Adaptive Technology Grants Program widely covers both hardware and software based adaptive technology, including upgrades and maintenance agreements, and narrowly covers computer systems as required by or used in conjunction with accompanying adaptive technology, such as screen magnification software, screen reader software, or a scanning system. Purchase of a computer along with or for use with accompanying adaptive technology is only eligible for up to a $400 matching funds grant. Only new adaptive technology and computers are covered, including adaptive technology upgrades to newer versions.  Used or previously owned adaptive technology and computers are not covered.

Note: A full copy of the grant guidelines as well as an application can be found on our web site at: http://moblind.org/programs/adaptive_technology_grants or by contacting the MCB office at (314) 832-7172. You can also contact me anytime.

How it works:  For MCB members, MCB will match dollar for dollar for most types of adaptive technology with a $3,000 limit over any five-year period. Any blind resident of Missouri who is not a member of MCB can also receive a grant but we will match 25% of the total cost with the same $3,000 limit.  This is a wonderful program and I encourage you to take advantage of it if you need to.

The Committee: The Adaptive Technology Committee is made up of three members; Darrel Vickers, Ruthie Clark and Donna Giger.

If you have any questions about the program please contact me via email at darrel@ww4b.org or call 636-667-3176.  Until next time, take Care.


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Summer Camp Report

By Beverly Kaskadden

Summer camp for the year 2016 is complete.  We had a great year thanks to all those who participated.  The June week was small and quiet, at least in the dining room.  It was good to hear the cheers at the pool and on the River from those who were having so much fun.  If you are looking for a quiet and sedated week, you might consider attending Cobblestone in June.

We called the second session the July week, but it started on July 31 this year and ended on August 7.  You would think this session would be the hottest, but I believe the June week was hotter this year.  No matter the weather, we always find time to spend at the pool.  It was so nice to have several new people attending camp this year.  My highlight was meeting a new blind member named Peyton.  She is 5 years old, and so adorable.  I am smiling just thinking about her enthusiasm and spirit.  Our talent during this week was incredible and Peyton joined right along.

September is always delightful.  Yes, it did rain, but usually at night.  Rain never hampers the enjoyment.

If you are on the fence about attending camp, just give it a try.  The dates for 2017 are, June 4, July 30 and September 7.   The applications will be mailed out to the affiliate Presidents in March.   If you have any questions, please contact me.  I hope to see you at Cobblestone.  Happy Holidays.


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Convention Coordinator

By Jesuita Tabor

A Big thanks to everyone who attended the convention.  The Memorial Breakfast was a success and the tour was excellent.  A special thanks to Peggy Smith who coordinated the volunteers for our 60th anniversary, we could not have done it without you.  Thanks also to our co-host, UWB.  Thank you to all the sponsors for your support during the convention and to the musicians who played on Friday night and have been invited to play at the ACB convention in 2018. The color guard were amazing; a very special thanks to Joe for recommending this troop. See you in Kansas City in 2017.


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What Happened to Good Manners?

By Mary Hale, Chair

When we were all young, we were taught to say please, thank you and your welcome.  Also, to be polite and respectable. To respect others and not talk when someone else is talking. We learned this from our parents, family and even our teachers at school.

So why is it that when MCB has a convention, that many people forget all about these common sense, proper ways of behaving?  I have heard many complaints about all the disruptions of those who seem to think it is ok to talk and have side conversations while a meeting is going on and someone is speaking at a microphone.  It is especially embarrassing when people disrespect our guest speakers.  What does that say about MCB?  There is a time and a place for socializing and during a meeting while someone is talking on a microphone is not one of them!

There have been suggestions that in all future MCB conventions, that a Sargent of Arms be established.  This would be a good idea if it is done properly.  For instance, there should be at least three. One for each side of the room and one at the door at all times.  Many have said this problem exists in the back of the room and yes it does, but it also exists throughout the room, even near the front. The other issue would be that the individuals who are empowered to be the Sargent of Arms, needs to have the confidence to follow through to enforce the offenders to leave the room and stay out unless they are willing to conduct themselves properly.  To the many offenders of this, you know who you are!

I am looking forward to the next MCB convention being conducted properly without the continuous offenders ruining it for others again. This is not just a problem for those with a hearing loss but everyone!


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Education and Advocacy Report

By Chip Hailey, Chair

Hello fellow MCB affiliate legislative reps and advocates.  I would like to first of all make several comments and observations about the past completed 2016 Veto Session and what lies ahead in state government.

For all practical purposes, the Veto Session brought an end to Missouri’s 98th General Assembly.  The legislature successfully overrode thirteen vetoed bills.

When lawmakers come back in January 2017 to begin the 99th General Assembly, many things will be different.  Because of term limits, the make-up of the legislature will certainly change.  House members can serve four 2-year terms, and Senators can serve two 4-year terms, for a total of sixteen years for any person serving in Missouri’s legislature.  Not only will the membership of the House and Senate change, but this fall Missourians would have elected new people to 5 of the 6 statewide offices.

The unique thing about this is that all individuals coming into these offices will be new to their jobs.  We will have a new State Treasurer, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor, and a new Governor.  Only the State Auditor will remain in office.

Earlier this summer, the governor finished taking action on the numerous pieces of legislation sent to his desk by the Missouri General Assembly.  The governor had until July 14 to act on each of the measures. When the governor considers the bills sent to him by the legislature he has the option of signing a bill into law, vetoing it to prevent it from taking effect, or taking no action on a bill, which allows it to go into law without his approval.

During the 2016 legislative session House members filed more than 1,600 pieces of legislation, and members of the Senate filed more than 600.  Of those measures, 82 bills and joint resolutions from the House made it across the finish line.  The Senate saw 57 pieces of legislation receive final approval from the General Assembly.  The governor then took action by signing 115 bills into law; allowing three bills to take effect without his signature; vetoing 23 measures; and using his line-item vetoes on two budget bills.

Article 3, Section 32 of the Missouri Constitution requires the General Assembly to hold an annual Veto Session in order to give legislators a final opportunity to enact legislation that was passed during the regular session but was vetoed by the Governor.

On Wednesday, September 14, the Missouri House and Senate reconvened for the 2016 Veto Session.  Approximately 19 pieces of legislation were to be considered and just before the session would begin, members of the majority caucus were surveyed to see whether there would be the required number of votes to override the Governor's actions.

In the regular legislative session, bills pass through the House or the Senate by a simple majority; however, to override a governor’s veto, it takes a two-thirds majority of both chambers, or 109 votes in the House and 23 votes in the Senate.

When the House and Senate had returned for the General Assembly’s annual Veto Session in September, members of the two chambers had 23 vetoed bills and two line-item vetoes in the state operating budget to consider.

Below is a brief overview of some of the issues that were to take center stage during the Veto Session.

Voter ID (HB 1631)  While Missouri voters would have the opportunity in November to decide if citizens should be required to show a valid form of photo identification in order to vote, the governor vetoed the bill that would have put such a system in place if the constitutional change were to be approved.  If the constitutional change is approved by voters, Missouri would then implement a system of voter identification.  The bill would require voters to present a specified form of identification in order to vote in a public election.

Valid forms of identification would include photo IDs issued by the state, the federal government or the military.  The bill also would require the state to pay for individuals to obtain a valid ID if they do not have one, or to obtain documents necessary for an ID.

Additionally, the final version of the HB 1631 contains a provision that would allow a voter without a valid photo ID to vote with a regular ballot by showing another form of identification.

Supporters of the voter identification system say it is important to protect the integrity of the elections system.  They say requiring a photo ID will prevent voter fraud at the polling place by requiring each voter to prove that they are who they say they are.

They also note the provisions of the new law make it easy for anyone without an ID to obtain one.  Opponents of the measure say a system of voter identification will disenfranchise voters who do not have a photo ID, or the means to easily obtain one.  They also say there are no proven cases of voter fraud to warrant the creation of a voter ID system.

Senate Bill 607 will allow the state to more efficiently verify applicants and recipients of welfare programs. The bill will authorize the Missouri Department of Social Services to hire an outside service provider to conduct the verification process for applicants of the state’s various welfare programs.

In addition to screening applicants, the independent company will also re-verify current enrollees.  This provider will work to ensure that the recipients and the applicants are, in fact, eligible for programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Childcare Assistance Program (CAP), and Missouri HealthNet.

In cases where the service provider finds or suspects fraud, it will then notify the Department, which will begin an investigation.  SB 607 legislation is meant to help the Department of Social Services ensure the accuracy of the distribution of welfare benefits, a process in which the Department has readily admitted to falling behind in when performing their duties.  The new law has the potential of saving the State an estimated $20 million over the next three years by just eliminating waste and fraud from the system.

Missouri lawmakers say that other states have passed third-party vendor legislation to help in screening their welfare programs and are showing good success with it.  They state as a result of the programs, their taxpayers have saved millions of dollars.

Another one of the bills overridden was SB 608, which was sponsored by Senator Sater.  This bill includes a number of health-related provisions, but is notably known for imposing copayments on Medicaid beneficiaries who use the ER for non-emergency situations and for allowing Medicaid providers to implement missed appointment fees.

There are still questions as to whether these changes, specifically the missed appointment fees, would be approved by CMS.  The bill also contains health care price transparency provisions requiring hospitals to publish the charges for their 100 most common diagnoses.  The previously mentioned bills are just a sampling of the vetoed bills that the House and Senate had revisited as they had moved through the Veto Session.  In addition to the legislative overrides, Governor Nixon announced that he would be imposing additional budget withholds of $57.2 million.  These withholds come after the initial restrictions of $115 million in July.  In closing, I would like to announce that next year's Disability Rights Legislative Day (DRLD) will be Wednesday, March 15th, and we will once again be working in conjunction with other disability legislative groups.

 I also hope you will take the opportunity to join the Education & Advocacy list by sending a blank e-mail to ew--join@moblind.org.  If I can be of service to you or your affiliate regarding any of these matters or other legislative issues please don't hesitate to contact me.  Wishing all of you a wonderful Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.


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Wolfner Report

By DeAnna Quietwater Noriega

I represented you at the Wolfner Library Advisory Council meeting on Friday, October 21st 2016. The new chair, Peter Altschul as well as Darla Rogers from Kansas City, and Bob Jaco from St. Louis were present in person. Three additional people attended by conference call, including Wolfner Director Donna Reigal. She was home fighting pneumonia. We heard her report delivered by Assistant Director, Abbey Rimel.

The staff present delivered reports on the success of their targeted outreach to underserved areas of the state. Adult patrons were up by 11 percent and children’s enrollment increased by 39 percent. We learned from Youth Services librarian, Lisa Hellman that the highest participation on record for the summer reading program for children and youth was reached. One hundred and four participants registered and seventy-one young readers turned in their records of minutes read.

A new program has been started called Racing to Read, an early literacy program to provide birth to age six materials to parents and care givers. Six kits have been designed to help young children prepare to read braille. Each kit contains items to develop a pre-reading skill. Kits include a book, activity sheet and toys to work on a new skill. The first kit works to teach touching and sensing. Kits follow to teach rhyming and singing, playing with books, letters and dots, telling a story, and finishing with Words Everywhere.

A poetry contest for youth from age thirteen to eighteen which will run from October 15th through December 12th has been instituted. Submissions can be submitted in print or braille, by mail, E-mail, or faxed. Winners will have their winning poems published in the Wolfner newsletter Missouri poet laureate, Walter Bargen is the celebrity judge of the contest.

Amy Nickless, outreach librarian, has attended 14 health fairs and six additional engagements in the southeastern part of Missouri.  This area has a statistically higher level of vision loss with a lower use of Wolfner services than most of the state. Wolfner staff will be attending PowerUp next spring and are preparing other outreach efforts to continue to increase Wolfner patronage. They are preparing an overview of their accomplishments to submit to the new secretary of state after the November elections. They are also preparing for the Adult Winter Reading program. The theme will be, Passport to adventure.

Collection development has added new large print titles, more audio described DVD’s and some new braille games.

The Library could use consumer advocacy to gain cosponsors for Senate Bill 3391 which is a bill for library funding. Wolfner depends on this funding to provide its excellent services. There isn’t much time left in this legislative session to get this bill moving. 51 percent of the statewide library funding comes from the federal government. Wolfner gets its share as a statewide program.

BARD is now providing 80 percent of the book circulation for Missouri. A new Juliet 120 braille embosser will be taking up the challenge of meeting braille production needs for Wolfner. It is replacing an ancient embosser that was simply worn-out. Wolfner has had to depend on outside vendors for large braille production such as the legislative roster.

Two positions have opened up on the staff and will be filled shortly. One is a circulation clerk and the other is the reader advisor handling the institutional accounts. Marcia Posz has had to leave due to ill health.

There will be focus groups soon to work on future plans for the direction patrons wish the library to pursue. Keep tuned for further details.


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MCB Scholarship Grant Report

By Wanda Matlock, MCB Scholarship Chair

The recipients for the 2016/2017 MCB Scholarship Grant were Danny Lawrence, Chontelle Wilson, Breck Campbell and Stephanie Walker.  Each of the recipients are MCB members and received the full MCB Scholarship Grant.


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Public Relations Report

By Wilma Chestnut-House

One of the “White Cane Safety Walks” was held in Tower Grove Park on October 15 this year.  While it was not as successful as I would have liked, some good things came out of it.  If your affiliate participated in your city, you have until December 12 to turn in money that you raised.  The first place affiliate will receive a plaque.

With as many members as we have in the St. Louis area, I thought that we would have a little more participation.

One person that attended suggested a way to attract young people to our organization would be to have a class in breaking down computers and putting them back together.  We will be working on the rest of the plan as time permits.  Most young people are really up on technology and this is something that might get their attention.  It will be a MCB project.  We have to work out the kinks and I will keep everyone posted.  The way that you can help is by donating a desk top computer that you are no longer using and is in working order and virus free.  I am trying to get at least ten.

This will bring the young people in, teach them, make them marketable in the work force, and bring them into MCB.  They can also tell their friends about what is happening with our organization.  At a young age, they need a little more than meetings and conventions.

By the time this article is out, I will have gone to Kansas City to cook dinner for Melvin Smith and three other people.  He won the bid on my catered dinner for four.  Congratulations Melvin and I hope that you enjoyed the dinner.  They will have a before dinner drink, a beef roast with gravy, oven roasted garlic potatoes, and creamed corn.  He wants a triple chocolate cake made from my special recipe.

Once again, if you have something going on in your community, please let me know.  As long as I know early enough in advance, I will try to attend.  Feel free to contact me.


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Member of the Month

By Yvonne Schnitzler

Congratulations to Gretchen Maune honored as the MCB Member of the Year. Congratulations to Member of the Month winners Linda Intelmann and Tammie Schnelle.

At the 60th anniversary banquet, the MCB honored Gretchen Maune as the MCB Member of the Year. Gretchen was a newly blind college student when she first joined MCB. She currently serves on the Women’s Concerns Committee and the Access to Information Committee at the national level. Gretchen represented Missouri in Washington D.C. as a delegate to the ACB legislative workshop. She is active in State Legislation presenting MCB’s positions with enthusiasm and professionalism. Involved in her community, Gretchen acquired funds for audible traffic signals in Columbia and founded an organization to improve access for people with disabilities in the mid Missouri region. Her energy, determination, and advocacy skills are an asset to MCB. Gretchen is a prime example of what growing young leaders can accomplish. She is active in the LUM, ATI, and MGDU.

Linda Intelmann was chosen August Member of the Month. For many years, she has been a guide and provided transportation for members of the Blind of Central Missouri. Involved with Public Relations, Linda attends Health Fairs and other gatherings highlighting the work and programs of the BCM and MCB. Linda is active in the Sedalia/Pettis County community, the United Way, and volunteers at the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art in Sedalia.

Although she likes to stay behind the scene, September’s honoree Tammie Schnelle certainly makes a difference in her community and the MCB. Tammie spends the time needed to successfully complete tasks. She provides transportation, and is readily available as a guide at conventions, camp, and other activities. To fulfill the dream of her husband Steve, Tammie presided over the initial meeting of the Northern Lights Council of the Blind when he was sick. Tammie is a peacemaker, a thoughtful, fair, negotiator of disagreements. She is a friend.

Please consider nominating someone deserving this recognition.

 


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Vets News Line

By Darrel Vickers, USN AMM Third Class

I want to take a moment to talk about benefits for veterans who have or are losing their site. If this is you or you know a veteran, this information could help so please share it with them.  As some of you may know I am a Navy vet. I began losing my sight while I was in the service. Over a twenty year period I lost my sight except for a little light perception.

My eye condition is not service connected so I thought I was unable to receive medical VA benefits.

Then a friend, Denny Huff, put me in contact with another Vet like myself. After talking with him I realized the VA wanted to help me even though my condition was not service connected. At the time I really did not think the VA could do anything for me. But Morris encouraged me to just contact the VA anyway.

So I got the name of what the VA calls a Vision Coordinator and got the process started.  After I had a full physical, eye examination and a chest x-ray I was placed on the schedule to go to the Heine's Blind Rehabilitation center in Chicago.  This was one of the best decisions I have made.  Heine's is a first rate facility and every member of the staff is great.  Each program is customized to the Vet's needs and desires. In my case the number one thing I wanted was orientation and mobility training. I had a cane but never had any formal training.

I was there for six weeks. I always thought I could get around pretty well. I soon realized after a short time I was wrong. I met a couple of guys who had recently lost all of their sight. Although I had been using a cane for at least fifteen years, they were helping me get around and they had only been using a cane for a few weeks.  By the time I left I was helping other people.  They will purchase equipment such as a computer and other adaptive devices.

Another thing, all your health care costs are paid with no co-payments.  Please do not let fear prevent you from taking advantage of this wonderful facility.  They have a very comprehensive rehabilitation program including O and M, computers, living skills and so on. They have a full woodworking shop, machine shop, music classes, etc.

It is not just all work and no play. I attended a Cubs game, went sailing, played golf and many other things.  I also made some new friends and even after five years a couple of guys and I are still very close.

I could go on and on but I need to keep this article short.

Following is a list of VA facilities with a Vision Coordinator in Missouri:

Kansas City VA Medical Center, 816-861-4700.

St. Louis John Cochran Division, 314-652-4100 or 800-228-5459, extension:54121.

Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans' Hospital, Columbia, 573-814-6000.

John J. Pershing VA Medical Center, Poplar Bluff, 573-686-4151 or 888-557-8262.

Remember your loss of sight does not have to be service connected. You served your country.  Please call me at 636-667-3176 if I can answer any questions.


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Thank You Note

By Janet Dickelman

Thank you MCB for inviting me to your state convention. Everyone was so welcoming and helpful. You have a great convention coordinator in Jesuita Tabor, she made sure everything ran smoothly and kept me informed every step of the way.  President Denny Huff was as always very warm and helpful, and I’m glad I got to spend a little time with Chris and Marvelena. Thank you Library Users of Missouri for inviting me to your breakfast and Braille Revival League I really enjoyed presenting at your lunch.  I met so many other nice people if I start mentioning names I’ll never be finished and I’d surely forget someone!

I'm thrilled to see so much excitement about the 2018 ACB conference to be held at St Louis's Union station.  For those of you who have never attended a national ACB convention here is just a bit of what the convention features. 

There will be approximately 300 various events including workshops, seminars, exhibits, and tours.  There are programs for students, teachers, parents or professionals; people in business or retired; young people in college; or senior citizens just losing their vision.

There are new products in the exhibit hall and new ideas for your chapter or affiliate.  There are tips on adaptive technology and issues to discuss on rehabilitation, transportation, education, health, and much more.  Lots of things to discover for kids too.  Field trips, crafts, and games! 

The convention will begin with our first tours on Friday June 29, 2018 and culminate with our banquet on July 5th.  I know that the 2018 convention is on the minds of everyone in Missouri however I hope that many of you are also able to attend the 2017 ACB conference and convention June 30th in Reno Nevada at the Nugget Casino and Resort.

To stay up to date with the latest convention information you can subscribe to the convention announce list.

To subscribe to the list send a blank e-mail to

acbConvention-subscribe@acblists.org

Please feel free to contact me with any convention related questions at (651) 428-5059 or via email at Janet.dickelman@gmail.com.  Thank you again for your hospitality MCB!


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MCB Board Minutes - August 15, 2016 Board Teleconference Call

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM by President Denny Huff.

Joe Morgan led us in prayer.

Recording Secretary Joe Morgan called the roll. Members in attendance are at the end of this report.

Denny welcomed Executive Director Chris Gray, online listeners, and guest Linda Gerken, Youth Services Chair.

The agenda was approved with the following changes: Added Health Benefits Chair; a change to affiliate grants; the fiscal year change was removed; a phrase added to our guidelines about an appeals process; and a first-timer issue.

The Minutes for April 23-24, 2016 were approved.

Sabrina Fowler moved that the Policy Committee add an appeals process to our guidelines to appeal to the Board. The motion was adopted.

Joe Morgan moved to accept Susan Sanderson as the Health Benefits Chair. The motion was adopted.

The Policy Committee recommended changing the Health Benefit Guidelines to help only those who are employed and lost compensation due to illness or injury and is not covered by sick leave or Workman's Comp.  This was considered a motion with a second from the Policy Committee and the motion was adopted.

A request was made to change the Youth Services Guidelines. Currently the guidelines state that no more than $200 can be spent on a young person up to the age of 18 per year. Youth Services Chair, Linda Gerken spoke on her reasons to increase the amount to $300. This request was made to the Policy Committee and at their recommendation a motion was brought to the Board to only increase the amount to $225. Discussion followed and Michael Keller offered an amendment to keep the amount at $200. A roll call vote was taken and the amendment failed and the Policy Committee's original motion to increase the amount to $225 was adopted.

Treasurer's Report:  Robert Vaughn gave the Treasurer's Report. He did not have the investments amounts so he emailed them to the Board the next day. According to that email, our balances are $49,856.55 at BMO Checking, $2,469,068.28 in Raymond James Investments and $1,010,994.20 in US Bank Investments. He read the proposed 2016-2017 budget line-by-line.

The affiliate grant was discussed.  The Budget and Finance Committee felt that the affiliate grant should be given to only new affiliates; we have one new affiliate. Wanda Matlock moved to let all affiliates continue to apply for the $500 grant. Discussion followed. A roll call vote was taken and the motion was defeated. The motion for new affiliates to receive the $500 grant and new special interest affiliates would receive $250 for three years was adopted.

The First Timer’s Program was discussed. Jannel Morris, Membership Chair, asked that all six applicants be accepted. Darrel Vickers moved that expenses be covered for six applicants for the First Timer’s Program. The motion was adopted.

The proposed budget for 2016-2017 was considered a motion from the Budget and Finance Committee and the motion was adopted.

Denny talked about some events that will be happening during the 2016 MCB convention.

A motion was made to adjourn. The meeting was adjourned at 9:23 PM.


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MCB Board Minutes - October 6, 2016 Pre-Convention Board Meeting

The 60th annual preconvention Board meeting was called to order by President Denny Huff at 2:00 PM.

Wanda Matlock led us in prayer.

Steve Schnelle led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Denny welcomed Executive Director Chris Gray, and special guests Eric Stopp and James Pohlman.

Recording Secretary Joe Morgan called the roll. Members and guests in attendance are at the end of this report.

Denny welcomed online listeners.

The agenda was approved with one addition; a change was added to the Youth Services guidelines.

The Minutes for August 15, 2016 were approved.

President's Report

Denny said that he would give the President's Report at the convention tomorrow.

Executive Director's Report

Chris Gray offered a motion to affirm that the Missouri Council of the Blind wishes to enter as a party in the litigation requiring the use of talking voting machines in all elections in Missouri. Ruthie Clark moved to accept Chris' motion. The motion was adopted.

Eric Stopp, the MCB auditor, talked about the 2014-2015 audit.

Jim Pohlman and Hunter Barnier from Raymond James talked about MCB investments.

Treasurer's Report

Robert Vaughn made a correction for some numbers that were incorrectly reported in the January 28, 2016 Board meeting. The correct amount for Raymond James is $2,281,532.99.  Steve Schnelle moved to accept this amount and to have it corrected in the January 28, 2016 Minutes. The motion was adopted. The Raymond James investment balance as of August 31, 2016 was $2,470,326.36.  The account balance for BMO checking was $10,644.50 and the US Bank balance was $1,014,529.71 as of October 3, 2016. The total of all investments is $3,495,500.57.  Robert said that Eric Stopp could do our audit for 2015-2016 for $8000. Beverly Kaskadden moved to have Mr. Stopp do the audit for MCB. The motion was adopted.

Youth Services Guidelines

Wanda Lentz read the portion of the Youth Services guidelines that the committee wanted to change. Sabrina Fowler moved to accept the change to the guidelines. The motion was defeated. Joe Morgan moved that we go in to closed session. The motion was adopted.

The Board rescinded the freeze on employee salaries.

Being no further business the meeting was adjourned at 3:42 PM.


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