BLINDED VETERANS ASSOCIATION
Chartered by the United States Congress
FLORIDA REGIONAL GROUP
3801 Coco Grove Avenue
Miami, Florida 33133
FRG Web Site: www.bvafrg.org
2014 FRG State
Message: May first second and third, easy dates to remember, and yes that the dates of our
FRG annual state convention, and it's not too early to make your reservation before all of
the choice rooms are taken. For those that are coming by cars, and have an empty back
seat, try and locate veterans that would like to come, but just don't have any
transportation. The annual State Convention is one of the most important meetings for the
FRG. Here is where you can make a difference. Besides all the fun and information, our
general meeting which is on Saturday morning is where you, the blinded veteran of Florida
can vote for board members that you feel can represent you the best in the following year.
At the business meeting besides the elections of new officers we also vote on many other
issues of importance, that is why it is so important for you to attend the convention on
May 1st 2nd and 3rd. There will be a lot of interesting and new information that might be
of great Interest for you. For those who never attended the State Convention, let me take
you on a guided tour. First of all the hotel is a Florida land mark. It was once called
the White Hall Hotel. This hotel is right on the ocean and walking distance to the famous
boardwalk. Here you will find restaurants, a very long fishing pier with souvenir shops,
and even an amusement park. At the hotel, many of the rooms have a refrigerator, a
microwave and most of all, your own private balcony where you can sit with your favorite
gal at your side, listening to the birds, the waves or for those who have sight the stars,
with you holding a cool drink in your hand. What more could you ask for.
The hotel has a lounge, a restaurant and don't forget your swimming suits for those who want to step into the surf, go into the pool or just sun bathe. During the convention, step into the hospitality room for different activities. See you in Daytona Beach. Terry King (941) 505-7747 e mail email@example.com.
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 1-4. The Plaza Ocean Club is a 190 room hotel directly on the Atlantic Ocean. Your Convention Committee secured the low rates of only $80 per day, for 1 to 4 persons per room. Many 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 basis,3 days before and/or 3 days after the Convention. So, you may come early or stay late for an extended vacation. These low Convention rates are guaranteed for reservations made on or before April 17th. Reservations made after April 17th, will be at the low Convention rate but only 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 (855) 212-3224. Be sure to tell the reservation clerk that you are attending 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 17th. 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-FRG 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 2nd. 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. We need for all Conventioneers to check in at the reservation desk so we can provide a final count to the food service manager for the Dinner-Dance on Friday night and the Banquet on Saturday.
The Convention will
begin at 3 PM on Friday, May 2nd 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 3rd. 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 and instruction of a Delegate and Alternate Delegates to the BVA National Convention in Reno, Nevada, will also be held. Proposed resolutions for presentation to the BVA National Convention will be considered. All Members (M) and Associate Members (AM) in Florida are encouraged to attend this Business Meeting and assist in planning the direction the FRG will take in the coming year. At times, in the past, BV's who were not active Members, Life Members, Associate Members or Associate Life Members have attended and voted at the FRG Convention Business Meeting. This is contrary to the BVA and FRG By-Laws. Consequently, we are requesting that all BV's who think that they might attend the FRG Business Meeting contact the BVA-FRG in Miami at least 10 days in advance of the Convention, so that their active status can be verified. A roll call vote list will be compiled and only those on that list will be able to vote. This is consistent with the procedure in operation at the BVA National Convention.
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: At the writing of this Newsletter, there is little to report on positive action which has been taken in Congress regarding veterans' legislation. Senator Sanders who helped the BVA-PVA legislative initiative on beneficiary travel has collected a number of veterans' benefits measures into an omnibus veterans benefits bill S 1850. Later, that bill was revised into S 1985 and contains a number of veterans benefits measure including the BVA-PVA beneficiary travel bill. The BVA-PVA measure would authorize the VA to pay beneficiary travel to Blinded Veterans and Spinal Cord Injured Veterans, whose income is above the income threshold, to receive travel expenses to Blind rehab Centers or Spinal Cord Injury Centers for specialized rehabilitation training. To date no action has been taken on S 1985. The BVA-PVA beneficiary travel measure is HR 1284 and has not had any House action taken to date.
FRG District Meeting:
Prior to the FRG State Convention, a FRG Southeast District meeting will be held at the
Tropical Acres Steakhouse 2500 Griffin road in Ft. Lauderdale, on Saturday, March 22nd.
The meeting will begin at 11:30 AM with a period of Socializing followed by lunch at noon.
For lunch you may have either Sliced Sirloin of Beef or Breast of Chicken and salad,
potatoes, vegetable, rolls and butter, iced tea or coffee and dessert. The price of the
lunch will be $5 per person, including tax and tip. There will be an Informational Meeting
following lunch. Come join us. For information or to make reservations, write to George
Stocking, 3801 Coco Grove Avenue, Miami, FL 33133 or call (305) 446-8008 e mail
firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact Southeast District director Jim McCoy at
email email@example.com. In addition, you may call: Roberta Goldstein, Miami VAMC VIST Coordinator, at (305) 575-7000 ex1- 3607, April Barnes, Broward VA Outpatient Clinic VIST Coordinator, (954) 625-8730, or Jackie Yoshimura West Palm Beach VAMC VIST Coordinator, at: (561) 422-5260. Please be sure to make your reservations by March 18, as the restaurant needs this information in order to plan properly for our meeting. Jackie Yoshimura and Roberta Goldstein are attempting to arrange transportation to the meeting from Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties, respectively. This transportation will leave from the West Palm Beach and Miami VAMC. If you need such transportation, contact Jackie or Roberta at the numbers listed above.
Total Homestead Tax Exemption: In the January FRG Newsletter, the Total Homestead Tax Exemption available under FS 196.081 and 196.101 were described. FS 196.081 provides Total Homestead Tax Exemption to 100% service connected disabled veterans and has no income limitation. FS 196.101 provides Total Homestead Tax Exemption to individuals who are restricted to a wheelchair or who are legally blind. This statute has a total household income limitation for eligibility. For 2014, that income limitation has been increased to $27,289. If you qualify, take the necessary documentation to verify your eligibility to your County Tax Appraiser's office before March 1st.
Jacksonville VIST: In
the February FRG Newsletter, it was reported that the VIST Coordinators position in
Jacksonville, was still vacant and the opening had not been advertised. When Louise
DiGennaro retired on August 31 2013, the position was advertised and a candidate selected.
However, when Gainesville VAMC Human Resources delayed scheduling a starting date, that
candidate declined the position. In late January, the FRG contacted the office of
Gainesville VAMC Director Thomas Wisniski and worked with his Executive Assistant
regarding the lack of an announcement for that position. We are happy to report that on
February 3rd, the position was announced. The closing date for applications is February
24th. The applicants will be screened and a selection made. At that time, Human
Resources(HR) at the Gainesville VAMC must submit the packet to be boarded by the Blind
Rehab service (BRS) at the VA Central Office before starting work. The BRS has assured the
FRG that they will complete the Boarding process in a week. Then, the Gainesville HR may
establish a starting date for the new Jacksonville VIST Coordinator.
FRG-BVA Schedule of
March 22 FRG S.E.
District meeting Tropical Acres Steak
House, Ft. Lauderdale
May 1-4 FRG State Convention Plaza Ocean Club Hotel
August 19-23 BVA National Convention in Reno, Nevada
FRG Newsletter Staff
Terry King FRG
George Stocking FRG Newsletter Editor
Below is the hotel reservation slip which is in the print copy of the FRG Newsletter. For those of you who do not receive the print copy, you may use the information on the reservation slip and call the hotel to make your reservation.
Hotel Reservation Slip
Blinded Veterans Association Plaza Ocean Club Hotel
Florida Regional Group 640 North Atlantic Avenue
State Convention Daytona Beach, Florida 32118
Street Date of Date of
Complete this Reservation Slip and send it with your check in the amount of $80 plus 12.5% tax or your credit card number to the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel before April 17th to guarantee your reservation. Or call, Toll Free (855) 212-3224. 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. We look forward to meeting you at the FRG
State Convention in May for an informative and enjoyable weekend.