December 2017 Chronicle

December 2017 Chronicle

President’s Message

By Denny Huff, President


Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or Happy Holidays!  However, you celebrate this holiday season I hope that you can do it with relatives and friends.  I only have a few items to share with you in this edition of the Missouri Chronicle, but they are hopefully items you will find interesting and useful.

Let me start by saying thank you to the convention committee for a great sixty-first convention this year in Kansas City.  There are so many ingredients that go into making a successful convention that we sometimes overlook the details.  The planning begins the previous year for the next convention and work is done all year long behind the scenes to bring you the final product.  So, thank you Jesuita and your committee and thank you Allied Workers for the Blind for everything you did to bring us what many have said was a great convention.

During the banquet as we do every year, several awards were handed out including the President’s Award.  This is a presentation made to a member of the Missouri Council of the Blind for service they have provided to myself and to MCB through-out the year.  This year I chose a gentleman that always goes above and beyond whatever he is asked to do.  He always seems to recognize when something needs to be done and just pitches in and does it without expecting anything in return.  He is probably getting embarrassed reading this about himself since I am talking about the reader of the Missouri Chronicle, Allan Newsham.  Thank you, Allan, for all you do for MCB.  It’s an honor and a privilege to work with you and your lovely wife Jamie.

The strategic plan has been finalized and approved by the Board and many aspects of it have been put into action.  Thank you, Naomi and your committee, for a job well done.  If you would like to have a copy of the plan, feel free to contact the office and make your request.

As it was announced last month, MCB now has an information line that you can call and receive information about what’s going on within our organization.  We are working on adding to the selections but for now we have the MCB podcast, the Chronicle and the legislative report available.  To access the information line you can call, (773) 572-6387 or if you don’t have unlimited long distance you can call toll free (844) 605-4592. 

As you are most likely aware, the American Council of the Blind’s annual convention will be held in St. Louis next year.  The MCB Host Committee and the ACB Convention Committee met in October to begin planning for this event.

Many people have asked how they can help and although there isn’t a lot members can do, here are a couple of areas in which we always need people to work.

Volunteers!  If you are sighted or have enough vision that you can assist someone around the hotel, your help is needed.  The hotel we will be in, the Curio at Union Station, is a very large facility and navigating it is going to be a challenge for most blind people.

We need a volunteer to work at the help desk.  Again, if you are a sighted person or if you have excellent Braille skills, please consider offering your services at the help desk.

For either one of these volunteer positions, please call the office and give your name to be put on the list.

I hope you will make plans to attend the 2018 ACB convention next year.  I think you will find it informative, interesting and enjoyable.  It would certainly be great if MCB could have 200 people registered for this event.  You can find more information about the convention by going to ACB.Org.

As I mentioned earlier, there were several awards handed out during the convention in October.  The Nathaniel Johnson award was presented to a very deserving person in the name of Yvonne Schnitzler.  Congratulations Yvonne.

I mention her name now because not only is she the Chair of the Member of the Month Committee, but she has also taken on the challenge of being MCB’s historian.  Yvonne has been working on our history for the past few years and taking up from where Alma Murphy left off with the first 25 years.

Yvonne has completed her work up to this point and we are happy to make this compilation available to anyone that would like to have a copy.  There is no charge for the electronic format that can be Emailed to you or downloaded from our website.  However; if you would like to have a Braille copy there will be a charge of $20.00 to cover the cost.  Or if you would like to have a print copy, a nominal charge of $5.00 will be made.  To place your order for the Braille or print copy, please call the office.  They will take orders until January 1 at which time the orders will be placed.  Thank you Yvonne for the awesome job you did in compiling this history.

Well, that’s going to wrap up my part of the Missouri Chronicle for this edition.  As always, if you ever have questions or comments you would like to make, feel free to give me a call at (855) 832-7172 or you can email me at,  It’s always a privilege to serve you in whatever way I can.

Have a safe winter and I’ll catch you in the spring.  May the good Lord bless and keep you.

It's Holiday Time

By Chris Gray, Executive Director

It's always a good time at the end of the year to look back and consider all the things for which we can be thankful.  I have been fortunate enough this year to overcome some serious health issues.  I know that the support and good wishes of so many helped in that process.  For MCB, 2017 has been a good year.  We ended our fiscal year nearly in the black which is a lot better than 2016.  Finally, we should all feel good about the many people who have been helped this past year because of our organization.  That's what MCB is all about and we can all be proud to be a part of that. 

Each year in what I think of as our holiday issue of the Chronicle, I like to share a favorite recipe with readers.  Usually, I have shared confections or holiday drinks.  This year though, I'm sharing a hearty chowder, fit for the coldest wintery day.  Marvelena and I love this dish and cook it at least once a month during the winter.  We hope you will try and enjoy this chowder as much as we do. Happy holidays to all.

Seafood Chowder

6 to 8 oz. slab bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces

4 tbsp. butter

2 large onions, diced

1/4 cup flour

3 cups Penzeys seafood stock (or clam broth or juice)

6 white potatoes, peeled and diced

2 tsp thyme

salt to taste

freshly ground black pepper

2-3 pounds seafood (try any or all of the following as you prefer)

1/2 pound shucked clams, 1/2 pound, haddock, 1/2 pound, shrimp, 1/2 pound scallops, 1/2 pound shucked oysters

4 cups half-and-half

fresh parsley for garnish

  1. In a large stock pot over medium heat, cook bacon until brown.  Add butter and onions, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the flour and stir until well combined.
  2. Add 3 to 4 cups of broth and add the potatoes, thyme, pepper and salt and bring to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are almost fork tender, approximately 10 minutes.
  3. Add clams, haddock, shrimp, scallops and oysters and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the half-and-half.  Heat thoroughly but do not bring to a boil.  When finished, add parsley and serve.

Public Relations

By Wilma Chestnut-House

I would like to start this first PR report by thanking MCB members for allowing me to represent them for the next two years.  This will be my last term and I plan to serve you well.

At this time I have done three events for the month of October. The first was the “White Cane Safety” day.  AGAPE was on the northwest corner of Grand at Magnolia Ave.  We had a table with all of our information about MCB, the history of white canes, and the reason and explanation of this day.  We had a sign on the front of our table that read, “Honk your horn for White Cane Safety”.  We got plenty from trucks, cars, and motorcycles. We had quite a few people put on sleep shades and try crossing the streets.  The response was that they did not want to walk on the sidewalk and could not imagine crossing the streets on an everyday bases.  They were all in good humor and took it like champs.  Delta Area, SEMO, and Northern Lights participated in their area.  Thanks MCB affiliates!

The second was a CFC event.  The U.S. Postal workers agree to donate a portion of their wages to the charity of their choice.  I do not know how many people chose our organization, but we had lots of interest.

The third was SLU Delta Gamma Sorority Women’s Awareness Day.  I spoke to them about what MCB does as far as programs, resources, and all our new phone lines.  I left them with brochures to give to others.  I also made some contacts for volunteering at some of our events.

Our MCB secretary took my place at the Task Force in Jefferson City while I did the SLU event.  Thanks very much.

I think that it would be great for MCB to have an all affiliate picnic.  It could be held in a centrally located area.  I am checking on the price for buses to pick up from meeting areas and bringing us to a designated park.  The only cost to the affiliate would be to put in on the cost of the bus.  We would board early morning and return home the same day.  We all bring a dish, meat, drinks, and games.  Most of all, bring laughter.  If your affiliate is or is not interested, please e mail me and say yes or no.  That way I can see how many buses and where they need to pick up.  The only rule is that there will not be any business discussions.  This is for enjoyment!

My e mail address is

AffiliateS Reporting

Tiger Tails

By: Gretchen Maune

Mid-Missouri’s Tiger Council of the Blind is staying warm in our striped coats and gearing up for the holidays! We’ve been working to reach out more to local senior centers, veteran’s groups, and eye care clinics, getting the word out about all TCB and MCB have to offer. Tigers Jannel Morris, DeAnna Noriega, Curtis Noriega, Gretchen Maune, and Kyle Felling had an excellent time at the MCB convention in Kansas City. Thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth to support TCB by purchasing an RFID-blocking card case or one of our unique, handmade fair-trade items from across the globe.

The Tiger Council of the Blind meets on the second Friday of most months at Services for Independent Living in Columbia, MO. For more information, please contact President Jannel Morris at 573-355-3381 or 

Like us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter at

ATI Special Affiliate News

By Darrel Vickers, President

Hello everyone, we held our annual in person meeting at the convention Friday evening. We held elections for Treasurer and Secretary. Beverly Kaskadden Was elected as treasurer by acclamation. Laura De Vries was elected to her second term as secretary also by acclamation.  I thank the membership for allowing us to be a convention sponsor again this year.

Treasurer’s Report:  We have twenty-eight members. Our dues were paid to MCB. Our tax filing and state registration are complete. We currently have $572.06 in our checking account.

Technology Discussion:  We talked about several types of adaptive technologies currently available and others we would like to see. We discussed Seeing AI, (artificial intelligence) a very useful app for IPhones. We pointed out a cool feature. If you ever wished you could read a small LCD screen, now you can. Choose Short text from the menu. Point the phones camera at the screen and often it will read it back to you. (See more below.)

Marty of I. R.A., (Instant Access to Information) came by and talked about their glasses and covered some new features that are in the works. He answered a lot of questions and did an excellent job of explaining how the product works and what it can and can’t do.

Vendor Room:  The vendor room was a complete sell out this year and we had a few new vendors including Orcam and IRA.

Monthly Meeting Call:  When I became president of ATI, I held a monthly conference call to discuss technology, answer questions, and share tips and tricks. I stopped doing them because of a lack of member participation. I am going to try it again, starting in January on the second Tuesday of each month at 7PM. I will send an email out to each member with the call-in information a week before. I hope as many of you as possible will join in in the discussion. Technology changes fast and it can be hard to keep up.

What We Do:  We discuss, support and encourage adaptive (assistive) technology for the blind.  We host the vendor room at the MCB convention.  We have our own website with a plethora of information about technology and how to get the most out of it.

Membership:  I invite anyone with an interest in adaptive technology or who wants to know more about it to join us.  To join, visit and click the membership tab.  Or contact me. Dues are $15 annually.  Because we are an affiliate, if you are a member of ATI, you are a full member of MCB.

Noteworthy Apps:  Seeing AI from Microsoft is a free app that narrates the world around you. Designed for the low vision community, this research project harnesses the power of AI to describe complete multiple tasks with one app.  Switch between channels to tune the description of what’s in front of the camera.  People, Text and Objects

* Short Text speaks text as soon as it appears in front of the camera.

* Documents provide audio guidance to capture a printed page, and recognize the text, along with its original formatting.

* Products give audio beeps to help locate barcodes and then scan them to identify products.

* Person recognizes friends and describes people around you, including their emotions.

* Scene is an experimental feature to describe the scene around you.

*Identify currency bills when paying with cash (coming soon).

Free download from the App Store. For more information: next time,

Phone 636-667-3176 or e-mail

Southeast Missouri United Blind

By Mary Hock

Hello to everyone from SEMO Blind in Poplar Bluff. We were contacted about a little boy, Alex, who was in need of glasses, and his parents were unable to purchase for him.  Our club purchased the glasses for Alex.  Now Alex loves school, and his mom says his grades have improved.  You go Alex! 

Our club has been meeting at different restaurants around town, wearing our club t-shirts, to help people of the community become more aware of the blind in our area.  We have been approached by many, and we let them know about our club, and especially MCB. 

Our President, Lee Young, planned the White Cane Walk. The Walk was a great success.  Our club was joined again this year by the Delta Area Blind of Sikeston.  Thanks for joining us for a successful walk. 

Our club has two new members; Judy and James Lashley.  Welcome to MCB.  Tony Pickrell was chosen for the MCB member of the month for February.  Congratulations, Tony. 

Our club had five members travel to Kansas City for the Missouri Council of the Blind Convention.  A good time was had by all. 

We would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. 

St. Charles County Council of the blind

By Marjorie Petrofsky

Hello, I hope everybody had a nice summer and to all of my fellow Jewish members, I hope you had a Happy New Year.  Our September meeting was informative and full of ideas.  We were introduced to our newest member who happens to have four legs.  He is Denny Huff’s new guide and friend, named Sounder.  The only problem is he won't let me pet him yet, which I understand.  Of course, and everybody who knows me knows I did it anyway.  I told Sounder not to tell anybody but I guess now the cat or dog is out of the bag. 

Our social outing for the month was a trip to the winery in Defiance Missouri.  I was told the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful, with the vineyards and greenery.  We had lunch, talked and of course tasted a variety of wine.  The blind and visually impaired people had a wonderful time.  The drivers had an okay time too. 

The October meeting was mostly a discussion about fundraisers and the Christmas party, I can hardly believe it’s that time of year again.

Our October social outing was also a fundraiser at Texas Roadhouse, on Mexico Road in O'Fallon, Missouri.  The restaurant is giving 10% of the profits from everyone who ordered dinner and showed them the handout.  It was a fun evening of good conversation, great food and we also made a little money. 

I would like to wish everybody a happy and healthy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, happy Hanukah, Chronicah, Kwanza Happy New Year and a very generic Happy Holidays! 

Delta Area

By Wanda Matlock

Hello from Delta Area of the Blind!  On October 5-8, three Delta Area members attended the 2017 MCB Convention in Kansas City.  We thought the hotel staff and volunteers did an excellent job assisting us in any way they could.  Thanks to the Convention Committee for all their hard work to make the convention a great success.  We would also like to congratulate everyone that was elected for positions at the convention this year.

We are proud of two of our members for receiving the honor of being chosen as Member of the Month; Andrew Ormsby and LaWana Copeland.  LaWana was also the lucky winner for Member of the Year.

On October 14, Delta Area Blind and SEMO United Blind Club participated in the White Cane Walk in Poplar Bluff.  We had a total of 19 people present.  Mayor Ed Degarious read the proclamation and officer Parks read the White Cane Law and led us on the walk. 

At our monthly meeting on October 24, we discussed having our Christmas party on November 30 at the China King Buffet in Sikeston.  We invited our friends from River City Workers of the Blind and SEMO United Blind Club, along with some other special guests.  We hope everyone can come and enjoy the day with us.  The members of Delta Area are also planning a trip to St. Louis on December 6 to go shopping at the Service Club for the Blind and have lunch afterwards.  We have tried to make this trip an annual event.  We will not have business meetings in November or December, just fun!  We will be back hard at work in January, 2018.

From our affiliate to yours, we hope each and every one of you has a very safe, healthy and happy new year.

AGAPE Council of the Blind

AGAPE’s next activity will be a Black History Program entitled, “Welcome to Hitsville, USA (The History of Motown). This program will be done karaoke style.  Each participant will sing one song and have the option of singing another.  The songs have to be of Motown origin.

The audience will be the judges.  The singers will be judged on stage presence (attire), showmanship, and singing ability.  1st prize $150, 2nd prize $100, and 3rd prize $50.

Bring your friends!  There will be dancing!

Little known facts about Motown and the Motown family will be shared throughout the evening.  Bring food for your table and we provide snacks. 

Where:  Missouri School for the Blind, 3815 Magnolia Ave.

Time:  7:00 pm-10:30 pm.  Doors open at 6 pm.

Tickets:  $10 in advance, $15 at door

Vendor tables: $20

Pictures (6X4): $5

You will have a great time!  There are limited slots available for participation.  Get your group signed up!  Call Wilma at (314)873-9022.

AGAPE Council has a new Facebook page to go along with the new web page.  Our Facebook name is “AGAPE Council of the Blind.  You can like or dislike, but we are not asking for friends.  We will be updating regularly.

Camp Abilities-St. Louis

On October 21-22, 2017, some AGAPE members and some team mates from “The StL Firing Squad went on a 50-mile bike ride and camp out.  It was a fundraiser for the camp. We did not reach our goal but we had lots of fun.  We had other riders so that added to the fun.  We had three visually impaired riders, myself, a lady named Erika, and a guy named Josh.  We started at the Family Arena in St. Charles and camped at Klondike Park.  Thirty minutes into the ride my captain flipped us over.  Fortunately, that was the only mishap and no one was hurt. 

Due to the rain that night and the next day, we had to all pack up into the U-Haul truck that we carried the bikes in and head back home.  The evening was a lot of fun.  Out of this, we are going to start a tandem bike group.  On November 11, 2017, we are going to ride around the lake at Creve Coeur Park.  The ride will start about 10:30 AM.  It is a six mile ride and will last about two hours.  By the time this issue goes out, the ride will be over.  But if anyone is interested, we are going to continue this next year.  I will post future rides about a month in advance.  Keep watching out!  We would also like to thank the affiliates that help sponsor this.



Committees Reporting

Summer Camp

By Beverly Kaskadden

Missouri Council served a total of 142 participants of the Summer Camp program this past year.  We had 23 attendees in June with several new members.

In July there were 61, again not only with new attendees, but several that were first time participants from last year who returned again this year.  In September we had 58 attend.  I would like to thank the proprietors of Cobblestone Lodge for accommodating the needs of our members.  They go above and beyond for their guests.

The cost this year was $528.50 per adult for the week long sessions, and $267.85 for the extended weekend.  Our members pay $85 for the week and $60 for the weekend.  Next year the rate will increase to $100 for adults for the week sessions and $75 for the weekend.  This was decided by the MCB Board.  The Cobblestone rate for adults will increase also to $549.00.

MCB Summer Camp program is very fortunate to receive a grant from the St. Louis Lighthouse.  It can vary from year to year.  This year we received $25,000 from the Lighthouse and with the participant’s fees of $10,459.25, the net amount that MCB had to pay was $21,024.75.

This program has a $70,000 budget and with this income; we come well under our budget.  Our former Resource and Development Director, Lowell Newsom is to be credited for going to St. Louis Lighthouse and getting this annual donation.

The dates for next year are, June 3, July 29, and September 6.  My committee consists of Celita, Sam White, and myself, Beverly Kaskadden.  Thank you for letting me serve MCB.

Bylaws Update

By Janelle Edwards Bylaws/Resolutions Committee Chair

Adopted Bylaws Changes

The fiscal year will now be November 1 through October 31. A new fiscal year began November 1 this year.

Wording was changed to accurately reflect who serves on the convention committee.

The health benefits program has guidelines and will be administered by the office. The health benefits committee no longer exists.

A copy of the updated bylaws is available on the website in PDF format. To obtain a copy in any of the customary formats, contact the office. 

To Affiliate Presidents, if you have not submitted the name of a representative to this committee, or your representative changes, please contact the office so your affiliate will be represented at next year’s convention.

Convention Committee

By Jesuita Tabor

The Kansas City Convention was wonderful. There were many items for sale at the marketplace and the vendors were plentiful. The banquet speaker was awesome.

The general assembly was informative and inspirational. Everyone enjoyed the tour of the city. The hotel staff was helpful and the food was excellent.

Special thanks to everyone who attended, host committee and the volunteers. See you in Jefferson City in 2018.

Member of the Month

By Yvonne Schnitzler

Congratulations to the Members of the Month recognized at the 2017 MCB Convention. Each winner was mailed a $25 gift card when they won and received a framed appreciation certificate and box of Russell Stover candy at the banquet.  LaWana Copeland’s name was drawn from among the 12 winners to represent MCB as the Member of the Year. She received an extra $100 gift card. MCB is blessed to have many dedicated people working for and promoting the activities and programs of MCB. 

August, 2017 award winner, DeAnna Quietwater Noriega, is a founding member of the Tiger Council of the Blind. Current Secretary of the MCB she has served as First and Second Vice President, and as a Director. Since the 1980’s, DeAnna has provided leadership and countless hours of service to the American Council of the Blind.

Gretchen Maune, who nominated DeAnna said, “When I went blind 10 years ago as a senior in college, I was lost, feeling scared to leave my apartment, and angry at a world I no longer understood. DeAnna listened to my fears, letting me cry on her and her guide dog Olson’s shoulders. As she took me under her gentle wing, she provided me with hope. She showed me that the resources I needed were within reach, and that I had the strength to adapt and ultimately thrive in my new life.”

Besides mentoring, DeAnna has devoted herself to improving the lives of those with vision loss; from teaching a young blind girl how to tie her shoes, to starting the first school for the blind in Samoa through the Peace Corps. For several years, she was the legislative liaison for Services for Independent Living in Columbia, Missouri. DeAnna taught others to advocate for legislation to help people with all types of disabilities. When proposed bills would rip our rights and services away, she would fight them like a steadfast and peaceful warrior princess. DeAnna is a role model of strength and grace for all she meets.

In spite of dual disabilities, long-time member Andrew Ormsby, nominated by Delta area Blind, has not let his disabilities slow him down. He earned several degrees and worked as a rehabilitation teacher for R.S.B. in Sikeston. Now that he is retired, he attends most of the Delta area meetings participating in activities when his health allows. Andrew is happy to demonstrate new adaptive equipment to help members learn how to use the new technology. He and his wife Mickie are very devoted members of Delta Area Blind and MCB.

John Weidlich is October Member of the Month. John was born blind and graduated from Missouri School for the Blind and St. Louis University. He worked a short time in the news department for Channel 11 in St. Louis and for more than 30 years at Minds Eye Radio in Belleville. John served as Program Director working with volunteer readers and staff. Perhaps his greatest impact on the Blind community was his Talk Back radio show. It was important especially for newly blind people to understand how to cope with their problems and feel that special connection with other blind people. When we lost father Boni at age 102, we remember how much he loved John and admired his work at the station.

John served MCB as Secretary, Director, and Chronicle editor and UWB as President and Secretary. He revised the MCB and UWB Bylaws and his knowledge of parliamentary procedure has contributed to the organizations. John has willingly shared his leadership qualities and musical talent. He is a wonderful role model for blind youth encouraging them to develop Braille skills. John has spent much time in service to his church and community. Don and Beverly Shockley nominated John for the award.  Thanks to those who make the effort to nominate a member. What better way to show appreciation than recognizing how very special they are.

Adaptive Technology Grant Committee

By Darrel Vickers, Chair

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.  Missouri Council knows how life changing, certain types of technology can be to a blind person. We are also aware the cost of this type of technology can be expensive and may be out of reach for some people.  Therefore, MCB provides the adaptive technology grant.  Each year MCB sets aside funds for technology that blind persons of Missouri can apply for to help offset the cost of adaptive technology.

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 (5) 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 $3000 limit.

Updates for 2017-2018:  Our budget was increased from $25,000 to $30,000 for the 2017–2018 fiscal year.  So far in September and October, we have approved 19 grants for a rounded total of $16,800.

At this year’s convention, the membership voted to change the dates for our fiscal year to begin on November 1 and end on October 31. This added two months to our grant year. To compensate for the extra two months our budget was increased 1 sixth to $35,000. After subtracting the money we already spent, this leaves a balance of $18,000, (in round numbers), to last until October 31, 2018.  We want to thank the board for this consideration.

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: or by contacting the MCB office at (314) 832-7172. You can also contact me anytime.  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, Nancy Lynn and Donna Giger.  If you have any questions about the program please contact me at (636) 667-3176 or by email at

Emergency Preparedness

By Bunny Maginnis

Greetings, it is my pleasure to once again serve MCB as Chair of the Emergency Preparedness Committee. I wish to thank President Denny Huff for giving me this opportunity.

I will do my best to keep you informed of any emergencies. In a whirlwind world such as we live in today, it is necessary to be prepared for just about anything. My goal is to establish self-defense training classes throughout the state. I will need your help in making this happen. There is already much interest in St. Louis, but I need to know if that is true in other parts of the state. I plan to start training at the MCB building after the holidays. We possibly have a certified trainer who will conduct these classes.

It is good for us to become acquainted with the first responders in our area. In many areas there are forms you can fill out to enable qualified people to call you in case of any kind of disaster. In my neighborhood, we not only have a watch, but, we watch each other’s houses when someone is out of town.  As always your input and suggestions are not only welcomed but requested. Be safe, and, don't be scared. Be prepared.

Board Meeting Minutes

August 8, 2017

President Denny Huff called the meeting to order at 7:05 P.M.

Chip Hailey led the group in prayer.

Secretary Noriega called the roll.

All officers, directors, Affiliate Representatives and the executive director were in attendance with the exception of the representatives for Pony Express Association of the Blind and the Queen City Council of the Blind.

Linda Gerken served as representative for The Blind of Central Missouri in the absence of their regular representative, Joe Morgan.

Tyler Kavanaugh moved approval of the agenda as distributed and the motion carried.

Brian Hallows moved acceptance of the May 9th minutes as distributed and the motion passed.

President Huff presented the concept of a membership information line. He explained that the line would have 9 lines at a cost of $29.95, and an additional $5 for a toll free line for the use of those who lack unlimited long distance. He explained that line 1 would contain the latest MCB podcast. Line 2 would provide an audio version of the Chronicle. Line 3 would provide advocacy and legislative information. Line 4 would provide updates from the thrift store. Line 5 would give a list of affiliate information such as the time and date of meetings and a contact number. This would leave 4 additional lines to be used for other uses. The main number is 773-572-6387. Since it is difficult to know how many would use the toll free line, President Huff suggested adding $500 as a line item to the budget. Mr. Kavanaugh moved to setup such a line and to add the $500 to the budget and the motion carried.

President Huff presented the difficulty and the resultant indebtedness we incurred when the visually impaired youth Conference was canceled, due to a lack of interest. He proposed that rather than losing any benefit from the cancelation, the money owed to the hotel be utilized to host a leadership conference. Each affiliate would be eligible to send a person to attend for two nights along with presenters. MS Morris made the motion to proceed with hosting a leadership conference in November with $20,000 being allocated to cover the expense. Mr. Vickers offered an amendment to the motion requesting that a final vote be postponed until the Convention pre-board meeting to give time to develop an agenda for the event. His amendment didn’t receive a second and died. MS Morris’s motion passed.

Mr. Kavanaugh moved that MCB add $2,000 to support The Children’s Vision Summit to be held in Jefferson City in late October. The motion passed.

Treasurer Vaughn gave a treasurer’s report. He also summarized the status of the MCB investment funds ten years, five years and a year ago showing a steady diminishment of our capital.

Beverly Kaskadden moved that we hold the cost to members of attending summer camp at current levels. She felt that we might not be able to meet the level of participation if the fees were to increase. A voice vote was deemed inconclusive by some in attendance and a roll call vote was called. There were 13 no votes, 10 yes and 1 abstention. The motion failed.

Treasurer Vaughn presented the budget for 2017-2018 line by line. There was one adjustment to add in the $2,000 for the Children’s Vision Summit and this was offset by a $2,000 reduction in another line item. Mr. Vickers moved acceptance of the budget as adjusted and the motion passed.

Several people mentioned upcoming events for their affiliates.

The meeting adjourned at 9:55 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted by Secretary, DeAnna Noriega

August 23, 2017

President Huff called the meeting to order at 7:01 P.M. by conference call.

Beverly Kaskadden offered a word of prayer.

The roll of those in attendance was called by Secretary Noriega. All board members were in attendance except:

Director Darrel Vickers, and Representatives for the Ozark Association of the Blind Joe Dobbs, Pony Express Association of the Blind Phyllis Zirkle, Rite for the Blind Bunny Maginnis, and Springfield Service Club of the Blind Kenny Norton.

The agenda was approved.

Michael Keller Presented changes to the scholarship policy. The main requirement was that all scholarship winners would be required to be fulltime students.

Board Representative Schnelle moved that changes to the scholarship guidelines be postponed until the next board meeting since not all board members had received a copy. The motion carried.

Chris Gray presented figures indicating the amount MCB had been receiving from the Ballmann Trust for several years.

The Missouri Council of the Blind has been receiving a yearly distribution of funds from the Ballman Trust from approximately 1993 when the fund was formed.

The funds we have received since 2007, as far as our tax records go back, are as follows:

2007 $75,000, 2008 $72,500, 2009 $50,000, 2010 $62,500, 2011 $65,000, 2012 $67,500, 2013 $70,000, 2014 $72,500, 2015 $68,250, 2016 $67,500, and 2017 has not yet received, we expect it in November.

The Trust distributes funds to 26 separate trustees. Some trustees receive 2.5%, some 3.0%, some like MCB receive 5.0%, and others receive 7.5%. Trustees include such organizations as the Salvation Army, Shriner's, Deaconess Nursing, Barnes Nursing, and St. Andrews Service, just to name a few.

When the fund was created, its value was approximately $9 million. Today, its value is approximately $30 million. As you can see from the figures above, the distribution to MCB has not increased as has the value of the overall fund. In fact, the single largest distribution to MCB occurred in 2007.

For the management of the fund, U.S. Bank, the fund holder, is allowed by the trust document to charge basis points against the fund each year. Put simply, a basis point is equal to one-hundredth of one percentage point, or 0.01%. For the total fund in 2016 this amounts to charges of $99,200. This represents approximately 20 basis points.

In the past year, U.S. Bank has modified its investment strategy to use Puts and Calls as its primary trading strategy. These Puts and Calls have associated fees and U.S. Bank has also begun adding other undefined fees that they remove from the fund. In 2016 this amounted to a total of $231,630.00. Thus, U.S. Bank's cost to administer the Ballman Trust in 2016 was $330,830.00.

U.S. Bank has been contacting beneficiaries of the trust regarding a number of changes the bank proposes to make for 2018. Many trustees have become alarmed upon examining these changes. We have held several meetings to discuss the changes and the overall management of the trust and distribution of funds from the trust. We have identified several issues of concern.


1. U.S. Bank proposes to increase the number of basis points from 20 to 60 in 2018, and to raise the basis points to 75 over the next five years.

2. None of the beneficiaries or their attorneys understand the basis for distribution from the fund or what fees may and may not be allowable under fund provisions. We are all very concerned that a fee of $231,830.00 has been charged against the fund in 2016 with no relatively obvious means of understanding on what the funds were spent.

3. Several trustees question a strategy of Put/Calls for managing the stock held by the fund. They believe it is just a means by which the bank can extract fees.

4. There are many other fees that need clarification. Just one example is that in 2016, U.S. Bank charged $16,000 to prepare the annual tax return for the fund.

5. It is difficult to understand how the fund has risen in value from $9 million to $30 million with no relative increase in funds distributed to recipients.

Next Step

Those of us who have met together recognize that we do not have the expertise to understand many aspects of how the trust is administered. The document defining it is approximately

450 pages long and leaves many questions unanswered. We also realize that we need legal representation if we are to contest any of U.S. Banks' proposed changes before the judge assigned to this matter. It would be sensible to have one attorney represent all of the beneficiaries rather than for each organization to pay their own attorney.

Several beneficiaries recommended an attorney, Greg Zitko, to assist us in these matters.

He has a 12-year background in trust litigation. In a meeting where he was introduced, he seemed very knowledgeable, indicates that he has worked with the judge assigned to this case, and is acquainted professionally with the firm representing U.S. Bank.

The Board must decide if it wishes to negotiate terms on which the Ballmann Trust is administered by U.S. Bank, and whether it wishes to do so with an attorney representing many others receiving funds from the trust.  An attorney representing several recipients has their fees split between all the recipients being represented.

Accountant Jerry Nichols and Attorney John Greider answered questions.

Treasurer Vaughn moved that we join the pool of recipients of the fund hiring Greg Zitko to act on our behalf in dealing with this matter. A $5,000 cap was put on what MCB will authorize to cover our part of the fees to join the 11 beneficiaries of the fund wishing to work together. Several of the larger organizations receiving payments from the fund have in house lawyers. The motion passed.

Beau Barnhart of Look Media tendered his resignation as webmaster of the MCB Website.  We needed to make a decision quickly as he didn’t give us much time to transfer our web page and email lists to another company. Brian Hallows moved that we hire CatchFrayz on a $300 per month for 3 year contract. This company handles the web page for the Thrift store. The motion carried.

Chair of the Personnel Committee Shirley Brokaw requested we go in to close session.

The board voted a 4 percent raise for Eleanor Coyle, our part-time clerk.

Wilma Chestnut House requested that all affiliates either sponsor a rider for the upcoming CampAbilities bike ride or a $75 donation. She also suggested that several affiliates team up for fundraiser walks. Membership Chair Jannel Morris requested volunteer mentors for first timers coming to the state convention. The meeting adjourned at 8:57 P.M.

Respectfully submitted by secretary, DeAnna Quietwater Noriega.

October 5, 2017

President Huff called the meeting to order at 7:00 P.M. at the Holiday Inn, Country Club Plaza in Kansas City Missouri.

Joe Dobbs led the group in the pledge of allegiance.

Wanda Matlock offered a word of prayer.

Secretary Noriega called the roll: Treasurer Robert Vaughn was absent due to the illness of his wife Kim.

Linda Gerken represented Blind of Central Missouri.

All affiliate representatives were present except those for Pony Express and Route 66. Both first time members were also present.

President Huff offered thanks to Terry and his wife Kay for getting the P.A. system up and running with only an afternoon to get familiar with the equipment.

Tyler Kavanaugh moved approval of the agenda.

Shirley Brokaw moved acceptance of the Minutes from the August 8 and August 23 meetings.

Brief reports were given by President Huff and Executive Director Chris Gray.

Director Darrel Vickers presented the treasurer’s report in the absence of Mr. Vaughn. This included the end of year 2016-2017 audit.

A motion was made to use Stopp VanHoy as our auditor for the 2016 2017 fiscal year.

Naomi Soule, Chair of the Strategic Plan Committee presented the outcome of their efforts.

The Board accepted the strategic plan as presented by the committee.

Michael Keller presented the proposed changes in the scholarship guidelines. They were approved after a few questions as to why some of the changes were necessary.

Mr. Keller then brought forward the proposed motion that all of the Executive Board be required to undergo a background check annually. This was approved on a 13 to 10 vote of the Board.

Mr. Keller then brought forward the Policy Committee’s proposed changes to the Public Relations Guidelines.  There was lively discussion over how to achieve a committee that would cover the whole state. The portion of the proposed guidelines that would limit the types of items that the public relations chair could order was struck and the portion of the guidelines that designated that the Public Relations Chair should choose three additional committee members from different parts of the state was passed by voice vote.

Shirley Brokaw, Chair of the Personnel Committee, gave her report on completing the Executive Director’s yearly evaluation. She thanked Chris for making himself available by phone as he was on vacation at the time for his evaluation.

President Huff presented the idea of forming a new committee to be chaired by Patty Schonlau. This committee would develop materials for providing sensitivity training to be offered to organizations to help them provide services in a manner to visually impaired individuals that will meet their needs while maintaining their dignity. He wanted this committee to also represent coverage for the whole state.

Shirley Brokaw moved the formation of a Sensitivity Training Committee to work on materials and come back to the board in April for review of what they have put together. The motion carried.

Tyler Kavanaugh moved acceptance of the appointment of Patty Schonlau as Chair of this newly designated committee. The motion passed.

President Huff asked that we provide a one-night stay at the St. Louis Curio Hotel for the 2018 ACB Convention to the ACB Radio Auction.

The motion was made and seconded and duly passed.

Jannel Morris moved that Chris Judd be appointed as the Internet Chair as our former chair has resigned.  The motion carried.

Brian Hallows moved that Bunny Maginnis be appointed as Emergency Preparedness Chair after the resignation of Merle Long. The motion passed.

Shirley Brokaw moved the Board move in to executive session.

When the Board came back in to open session, they reported that personnel matters were discussed.

Michael Keller moved adjournment



From the lower left-hand drawer

By John Weidlich

Before we delve into the drawer to see what it contains, I would like to thank people for their kind comments about my article about Father Boni. I loved writing it and am glad that so many of you enjoyed it. Not too many items this time but I give you what I have found.

Do you have something you no longer need that you would like to sell or trade?  Is there something you are looking for? Do you provide a service that might be helpful to others? Then check out the Blind Mice Swap Shop, the place for sellers, traders and buyers. It's a new email list where you can post items to sell or trade, items you would like to buy, information about services you offer, or announcements about upcoming events. The service is free. To join, send a blank email to  Please note that the symbol before the word subscribe is a plus sign, not the usual hyphen.

Sermons by Phone: If you want to hear a sermon anywhere, any time, not just on Sunday morning, call Sermons on the Phone at (773) 572-6206.  There are several options from which to choose and you hear a list of the available sermons when you call. I think the sermons are updated monthly and you can also hear archived sermons. The sermons are from a variety of famous pastors. While listening, you can pause and speed up the reading without changing the tone of the voices. You can also bookmark a sermon and have it resume where you left off if you get interrupted and need to call back to finish what you are listening to.

Horizons for the Blind offers a monthly magazine called, Seeing It Our Way, which includes craft instructions, recipes, helpful hints, sports information, games and other articles. It is available in braille and large print for a yearly subscription fee of $30. To order a free sample or to subscribe, contact Horizons for the Blind by phone at (815) 444-8800 or send an email to

This has been around for a really long time but you may not know about it. Newsreel is a monthly audio magazine containing information recorded by Newsreel readers, and articles from other publications. Readers talk about their experiences, comment on what others have to say, and even send music. Back when I got the magazine, it was on cassette but I am not sure about the current format. There is a subscription fee but you can get a free three month trial subscription by calling (614) 469-0700 or sending an email to

There is always something new from National Braille Press. Go Where you Wanna Go: Using GPS by Judith Dixon describes 17 of the most useful accessible GPS apps for the iPhone. The book helps you choose the right app for specific situations, whether you want to know how to get to a precise location or go exploring to see what places are in a particular area. The book costs $12 in various formats, $14.50 if you want it shipped to you on a USB drive. Another new offering from NBP is Ten Thousand Steps, Cane Not Included, which gives accessible physical fitness resources. It covers audio programs, accessible exercise apps, and fitness trainers such as the Fitbit. There is also information about relaxation, meditation, and sleep. This book also costs $12, $14.50 if you need a USB drive. Formats include hard copy braille, Daisy format download, electronic braille or Word file. to purchase these books or any of the other books from NBP, contact National Braille Press at (888) 965-8965 or visit

HumanWare is releasing a new Version of the Victor Stream which combines the Victor Stream reader with a GPS device. It was shown at national conventions but I am not sure if it is available for purchase yet. I heard a podcast about it but I don't remember the price.  If you are interested, call HumanWare at (888) 723-7273.

The VFO Group, that's the company formed recently through the merger of several companies, has announced that there will be no future upgrades of the Window-Eyes screen reader, and sales of the product have ceased in the US. JAWS 18 is being offered as a replacement. VFO will honor existing Window-Eyes product purchases and software maintenance agreements.

Guidelights and Gadgets is a New England-based company which sells a variety of accessible products, many of them imported. The company has a talking power bank, rated at 10,000 milliamps called the Secretary for $60. Information about the company's many products is available online at or by calling (617) 969-7500.

Blind Bargains sells a new, simple to operate digital recorder called the Micro-Speak Plus. Recorded files can be downloaded to another device via the USB port. The device has 4 gigabytes of memory, which provides several hours of recording time even when using the WAV audio format. It sells for $54.95 and is available at

The VFO Group is now shipping the ELBraille, a small Windows 10 computer.  A braille display and screen reader comes as part of the package, if needed. The pricing here is a bit complicated. If you already own the company's Focus 14 Braille display and a JAWS screen reader, you pay $1,800 for the ElBraille screenless computer. If you need a Braille display and/or a screen reader, the selling price is around $3,000. For more information call the VFO group at (800) 444-4443 or go to

Triumph Technology offers a range of accessible products that includes the Actilino and the BuzzClip.  The Actilino is a 16-cell Braille display for reading or notetaking. Your typed notes can be sent to a smartphone or computer using Bluetooth. The built-in microphone allows making phone calls with skype, FaceTime or WhatsApp.  The price is $2,295.  The BuzzClip is a small wearable device that uses sound waves to detect obstacles in the user's path. Feedback is provided to the user through vibrations. It operates hands-free. The cost of the BuzzClip is $249. Contact the company at (651) 636-5184.

The Blind Independence Diabetes Group is a website for blind and visually impaired people with diabetes.  It offers training, products, support and more. For more information, visit

Amazon now offers described movies and some Amazon-produced TV shows. To see a list of available TV shows and movies, go to

GoGoGrandparent is a new service that allows people without smartphones to access Uber and Lyft apps. Dial a toll-free number and speak with an operator who will arrange an Uber or Lyft pickup. The service costs 19 cents a minute, which is added to the cost of the trip. To learn more about this service, call (845) 464-6872.  I hope that title doesn't mean you have to be a grandparent to use the service.

That's it for this time. We'll get together again, next year.