3801 Coco Grove Avenue  
Miami, Florida 33133
FRG NEWSLETTER, 2008 FRG State Convention issue


     FRG President's Message:  Time again to mark your calendar for the FRG State Convention, May 2-4, in the lovely Plaza Ocean Club Hotel in Daytona Beach.  If you have an empty back seat in your vehicle, please find another Blinded Veteran and/or spouse and ask them if they would like to ride along.  We are trying to organize ways of transporting people to Daytona Beach.  Bob Fick, Lakeland, (863) 853-1139 ; Kirk Harmon, Orlando, (407) 380-3371; Paul Mimms, West Palm Beach, (561) 422-5260; and John Thomas, Ft. Myers, (239) 283-1708, are working in their respective areas attempting to set up transportation to the Convention.  Give them a call if you are looking for a ride.  No guarantee, but hopefully, we can match up empty seats to people.  Again, we plan to have a full schedule of events that will be explained elsewhere.  We will of course be having our second annual horseshoe pitching tournament.  I believe all defending champs from last year intend on participating.  Fair warning, I took the trophy for horseshoes at the TEE Tournament last fall for the second year running.  Of course, that didn't mean a hill of beans at the FRG State Convention last year when everyone beat me.  I stand on the theory that lightning never strikes twice.  This year, having learned from last year, we will have portable shade, some chairs, and water and sodas.  Same rules apply as did last year, if we see you cheating we will call you a cheater.  Just a joke!  Lines will be drawn, stakes planted, and the plan is to have the first horseshoe airborne by 9 AM, Friday.  It will be on the beach in back of the hotel, just like last year.  If you would like to participate, call Bill Burgess at (386) 445-4987 and sign up for the tournament.  Be  sure to be there on the morning of the second (Friday) by 9 AM.  Also another lesson learned last year, if you show up late and want to be a party to the fun of throwing horseshoes, don't stand around and wait for a bunch of Blinded Vets to see you standing there.  Speak up and say "Hey, can I get in                        Because of all of the activities, please make your hotel reservations early to insure availability of a room.  As was last year, the morning horseshoe event on Friday needs to be wrapped up in time, so that everyone can make sure they can pick up their Convention registration packet, between 1 and 3 PM.  Following late registration, at 3 PM, the opening Informational Seminar will be held.  Later Friday evening during the Dinner Dance, we'll have the award presentation for the different classes of winners of the horseshoe pitching tournament.  This year, like every year, is going to be very enjoyable.  Remember, our VIST Coordinators and BROS are holding training meetings during our Convention.  This is a very welcome opportunity to meet with your VIST or BROS in a more relaxed and comfortable environment.  As I have traveled around the state this year, attending our District Informational Meetings, I was in awe of the number of people who attend these luncheon events, but don't make it to the FRG Convention.

This year, we varied from 50 to 163 people attending the various luncheon meetings.  Last year we only had 116 at the Installation Banquet at the Convention.  The State Convention is truly the most important event of the year.  For those living within and around the Daytona Beach area, participation would seem to be a given.  After all, we have luncheon meetings around the state, where we meet with our Blinded Veterans to discuss and pass out information.  The State Convention is even more important for us to attend.  Please plan on attending.  I would love to meet with you all.  One last item, we need volunteers to work in the Hospitality Room before and after the Installation Banquet, Saturday evening.  Also, we are looking for a volunteer to store the left over supplies until the next Convention.  If you wish to volunteer, call Bill Burgess or me at the number listed earlier.  Keep the mission alive and help one another to help each other.  Paul W. Kaminsky, FRG President.  (904) 291-0576


     FRG Auxiliary President's Message: Convention - Convention - Convention!  Yes, it's that time of year again when old friends have a chance to get together and catch up on each others' lives and have fun.  Make sure to make your reservations early so you can get in all of the festivities and also receive information about the BVA and our gallant FRG Auxiliary  support service.  Please remember we have a Silent Auction which supports our Scholarship Program.  So, bring your treasures and we will not trash them, but enjoy them...  Come and see what we are all about.  Joyce Thornton, FRG Auxiliary President.        


     FRG State Convention:  The Florida Regional Group State Convention will be held at the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel , 640 North Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach, Florida  32118, May 2-4.  The Plaza Ocean Club is a 190 room hotel directly on the Atlantic Ocean.  Your Convention Committee secured the low rates of only $77 per day, for 1 to 4 persons per room.  All rooms have refrigerators and micro waves.  In addition all rooms have ocean view balconies.  These  low convention rates will be in effect, on a space available,3 days before and/or 3 days after the Convention.  So, you may come early or stay late for an extended vacation.  The low Convention rates are guaranteed for reservations made on or before April 13th.  Reservations made after April 13th, will be at the low Convention rate but on a space available basis.  There will be another group at the hotel that weekend, so rooms will be at a premium.  We urge you to make your reservations soon to insure your accommodations.  You may cancel your reservation and  receive a full refund of your deposit, if you cancel 24 hours before noon on the day you were scheduled to arrive.  You will find a Hotel Reservation Slip at the end of this Newsletter.  Please clip it off and send it to the Hotel along with your check for one night's room rate and tax (the Tourist Development Tax is presently 12.5%) or you may use your credit card number to guarantee your reservation.  Other than your deposit,  the hotel will not accept checks for your remaining charges.  You must have a credit card or cash.  The Hotel toll free reservation number  is (800) 874-7420.  There are 22 Hotels using that reservation number, so  be sure to specify the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel.  In addition, refer to the Blinded Veterans Association-Florida Regional Group as the group which arranged the above indicated rates.    


     Convention Registration Fee:  The Convention Registration Fee will be $35 per person (for each BV, family member, or friend attending).  However, an early registration fee of only $30

per person will be in effect for registration received on or before April 13th.  The registration fee will cover general Convention activities, including the dinner-dance on Friday night, the Hospitality Room, and Banquet on Saturday night.  Please make your check payable to the BVA and send it to:  3801 Coco Grove Avenue, Miami, FL 33133.  Please include the first and last name of each person registering, so that we will be able to make name tags prior to the start of the Convention.  It will be helpful if you will send your registration fee in advance.

This will greatly speed up the late registration at the Convention.  Remember to send your hotel reservation slip and deposit to the Plaza Ocean Club in Daytona Beach and your Convention Registration Fee to the BVA in Miami.


     Convention Schedule:  The Convention Late Registration Desk will open at 1 PM on Friday, May 2.  If you have not pre-registered, you may pay your late Registration at that time.  If you have pre-registered, stop by the Registration table in the Hotel Lobby and pick up your name tags and Convention Program. 


     The Convention will begin at 3 PM on Friday, May 2 with an Informational Seminar for Blinded Veterans and their families.  At 7 PM on Friday evening, a Dinner-Dance will be held in the Ballroom.  This will be an evening for  good food, good times, good fun, and good music. 

     The Annual Florida Regional Group Business Meeting will be held at 9 AM on Saturday, May 3, in the Ballroom.  At that meeting, reports regarding FRG activities for the past year will be made.  A legislative up-date will be presented.  Plans for FRG activities for the coming year will be discussed.  Any  proposed amendments to the FRG By-Laws, will be considered.  The elections for FRG Officers and  District Directors for the coming year will be held.  The election of a Delegate and Alternate Delegates to the BVA National Convention in Phoenix, Arizona, will also be held.  Proposed resolutions for presentation to the BVA National Convention will be considered.  All BV's in Florida are encouraged to attend this Business Meeting and assist in planning the direction the FRG will take in the coming year.


     The FRG Auxiliary will hold its annual meeting in the Osprey Room at 9 AM on Saturday.  FRG Auxiliary Officers are planning their meeting for the State Convention.   Spouses, family members, and friends of the  BVA should plan to attend this FRG Auxiliary meeting.  At that time, the Auxiliary will plan their activities and elect Officers for the coming year. 


     At 2 PM on Saturday, a second Informational Seminar will be held.  The Convention will close with the Installation Banquet on Saturday evening.  There will be a period of socializing in the Hospitality Room before and after the Banquet. 


     US Legislative Up-Date:  The President's Fiscal Year 2009 Budget was sent to Congress on February 4.  It contains $93.7 billion in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs for FY 2009.  It includes $52.3 billion for the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA)in mandatory funding (Compensation, Pension, training, home loan guarantees, etc.) and $41.4 billion in discretionary funding (Health care, cemeteries, etc.).  The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) will receive $34.1 billion for medical services and $4.7 billion for medical facilities construction and renovation.  The VHA  budget includes an additional $2.5 billion for medical services from third party receipts (medical insurance, co-payments, etc.).  There is no guarantee that the VHA will receive that amount from third party payments.  The Memorial Affairs Administration (cemeteries) will receive $181 million in FY 2009 funding.  On the surface, this appears to be a significant increase in VHA funding.  However, there is some question where some of the increase will be found.


     FRG District Meeting:  Prior to the FRG State Convention, a FRG meeting will be held at the Flaming Pit Restaurant, 1150 North Federal Highway in Pompano Beach on Saturday, March 1.  The meeting will begin at 11:30 AM with a period of Socializing followed by lunch at noon.  For lunch you may have either Ground Sirloin of Beef or Broasted Chicken and salad, potatoes, vegetable, rolls and butter, iced tea or coffee and dessert.  FRG Vice President Terry King will preside at the meeting following lunch.  The price of the lunch will be $5 per person, including tax and tip.  Come join us.  For information or to make reservations, write  to George Stocking, 3801 Coco Grove Ave, Miami, FL 33133 or call (305) 446-8008.  The restaurant needs the number and choices of lunch desired to prepare properly for the meeting.   


Hotel Reservation Slip

Blinded Veterans Association                                                                   Plaza Ocean Club Hotel
Florida Regional Group                                                                           640 North Atlantic Avenue
State Convention                                                                                      Daytona Beach, Florida  32118  


Name____________________________________ Telephone no. ___________________________

Street                                                                                            Date of            Date of
Address__________________________________________Arrival_______  depart__________

City______________________________________________ State______Zip__________

Complete this Reservation Slip and send it with your check in the amount of $77  plus 12.5% tax or your credit card number to the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel before April 13th to guarantee your reservation.  Or call, Toll Free (800) 874-7420.  Be sure to notify the hotel you will attend the BVA FRG Convention at the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel, to insure the low Convention rates.