Chartered By the United States Congress
FLORIDA REGIONAL GROUP
3801 Coco Grove Avenue
Miami, Florida 33133
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2015 FRG State Convention Issue
FRG President's Message: As we enter into
2015, there remain 2 District luncheons, Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale, before we are back to
Daytona for the FRG Convention. Along with the many attractions Daytona offers in the
beginning of May, the opportunity to spend some time with our fellow Blinded Veterans (BVs)
and the issues that concern us makes attending the convention a priority. My personal
experience after living over 40 years without vision, there arent that many
opportunities that are focused on my needs as a BV. I can contribute, voice my opinion,
and hears others views about the direction of the FRG and BVA. Daytona is a happening
town. The last of April and the first of May is an off season. The sports car,
motorcycle, and NAS Car crowd have come and gone before we get to Daytona. At the FRG
Convention, you can enjoy the worlds most beautiful beach at hotel rates that are
much less than the racing fans pay. Additionally, the weather in early May is typically
alluring for beach goers. It is a great place to include the family and invite the
grandkids along. Young children are welcome. The opportunity to meet other BVs in
such a congenial setting, if not enjoyed, is to be envied. Having the opportunity and time
to discuss matters of concern to others with similar challenges, can be of great benefit.
The FRG Convention allows VA officials and other service providers to BVs (including
vendors) to reach a large number of us at the same time. This benefits BVs at the
same time it does those who would meet with our group. We can and do have the opportunity
to tailor the convention to our immediate or long term needs. We have time to address the
Scholarship Program, By-Law changes, and hold elections. If you have suggestions for the
upcoming 2015 FRG State Convention, contact one of your FRG Officers or Directors as soon
as possible. This is your opportunity to make a convention for and by BVs to be
better for BVs. Our Guest Speaker for the Banquet is an Army helicopter pilot who
has been inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame. There were lots of reasons for
having been so honored. This pilots attendance at our Banquet will, I predict, be a
highlight of our Convention. Additionally, we are planning a demonstration of the Victor
Reader Stream, new generation, and other special demonstration of interest to BVs.
Begin making your plans now to join us at the FRG Convention to join in the fun and
conduct the business of the FRG. Mike Taylor, FRG 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, April 30-May 3. 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 15th. Reservations made after April 15, 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 Assoc.-FRG Convention, 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 15. 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: There will be a Pizza party in the 2 floor Hospitality Room from 6 to 9 PM on Thursday, April 30. Please indicate with your reservation check whether or not you will attend this Pizza party. The Convention Late Registration Desk will open at 1 PM on Friday, May 1. 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 registration 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 1 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. A cash bar will be available for liquid refreshments. 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 2. 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 Louisville, Kentucky, 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.
National Legislative Up-date: The Senate and House of Representatives reconvened in early January and the two 2 parties elected the Committee chairs. Jeff Miller R Pensacola is Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and Corrine Brown D Jacksonville is Minority Leader. This is the first time the Committee has had the Chair and Minority leader both from Florida. In the Senate, Johnny Isaackson R Georgia is Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and Richard Blumenthal Connecticut is Minority Leader. Rep. Julie Wesley D California and Sen. John Tester D Montana have reintroduced the beneficiary travel bills the BVA and PVA worked on in the past Congress. Look for further information in future FRG Newsletters.
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 21. 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 Francaise (chicken in lemon butter sauce) and garden Salad, mashed Potatoes, green beans, Rolls and Butter, Iced Tea or Coffee, and Black Forest Cake for dessert. The price of the lunch will be $5 per person, including tax and tip. Beer, wine, and mixed drinks will be available for an additional charge. 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 (954) 748-9428 Email email@example.com. In addition, you may call: Roberta Goldstein, Miami VAMC VIST Coordinator at (305) 575-000 ext. 3607. April Barnes, Broward
VA Outpatient Clinic VIST, Coordinator at: (954) 625-8730, or John Getz West Palm Beach VAMC VIST Coordinator, at: (561) 422-8645. Please be sure to make your reservations on or before March 18, as the restaurant needs this information in order to plan properly for our meeting. Kathy Romero, Recreational Therapist at the WPB BRC will bring a van from the WPB VAMC to the luncheon. BVs in the WPB area, who desire to travel on that van, should call John Getz at
(561) 422-8645 to make arrangements.
New WPB BROS: Lauren OFarrell has joined Joy McGraw the BROS at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center for the past several years, as a second BROS to serve the Blinded Veterans in the WPB catchment area. Lauren was born in Rocksprings, Wyoming. Following graduation from high school in Casper WY., she worked for several years. Then, she moved to Tallahassee where she enrolled at Florida State University. Following graduation with bachelors degrees in Studio Arts and Humanities, she enrolled in graduate school. Subsequently, she earned dual Masters degrees in Orientation and Mobility and Rehab Teaching. As part of her training, she interned as an O & M instructor at the VA Blind Rehab Center (BRC) in Tucson, Arizona. Upon completing that internship, she was employed at the Augusta, Georgia VA BRC, where she worked 3 years as an O & M
instructor. In 2012, she transferred to the WPB BRC as an O & M instructor. When the additional BROS position opened at the WPB VAMC, she was selected for that position. During the past several months, she has been taking cross training in Computer Access Technology and Adaptive Equipment Technology. She anticipates taking up her duties as the second WPB BROS in February. She enjoys woodworking and art. In addition, she enjoys outdoor activities such as: swimming, hiking and kayaking. On behalf of the FRG-BVA, we welcome Lauren OFarrell to her new position as a BROS at the West Palm Beach VAMC. We look forward to working with her for many years in the future.
Total Homestead Tax Exemption: In the January FRG Newsletter, 2 total homestead Tax Exemption Statutes were described. FS 196.081 provides Total Homestead Tax Exemption to 100% service connected 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 of $27,732 for 2015. If you qualify, take your documentation to your County Tax Appraiser's office before March 1st.
At the end of this Newsletter, you will find a copy of a reservation slip for you to use if you plan to attend the 2015 FRG State Convention in Daytona Beach. You may use that reservation slip or call Toll Free (855) 212-3224.
FRG-BVA Meeting Schedule
March 21 FRG Meeting Tropical Acres Steakhouse Ft. Lauderdale
April 30-May 3 FRG State Convention Plaza Ocean Club Hotel Daytona
August 17-22 BVA National convention in Louisville, Kentucky
FRG Newsletter Staff
Mike Taylor FRG President
George Stocking FRG Newsletter Editor
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
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 15 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.