February 2018 Meeting

Our meeting began at 6:10 P.M. with the following members present: Kathy Lyons, Marie Lyons, John Spencer, Paul Jerge, Richard and Karlene Fiorello, Ian Foley, and Gary Wagner who became a new member since last month’s meeting.

Kathy mentioned the benefit for Kelly Blachowicz on Sunday.

The minutes were accepted as emailed.

The treasurer’s report was accepted as emailed and the figures will be included in these minutes.

Pedestrian safety report from Kathy: the round-about in town of Tonawanda is on hold until spring. Marie talked to Janet Barlow who works with Access for the Blind. Marie stated that she has been waiting a year for an accessible signal at Parkside and Hertel.

Fundraising: Paul and Ian are working on the Diva by Diva program. Paul and Ian will plan to attend one of their shows soon.

legislative report: The sample ballot bill has passed the assembly and is now in the state senate and may pass soon. Quomo wants to have early voting. Gary Wagner plans to go to the mid-year convention in Washington this February. ACB and NFB are opposing house of Representatives 620. It amends the ADA to reduce “frivilous law suits”. The vote is next week.

Marie and Ian did a publicity report. Ian is still working on producing a letter to send out to organizations offering speakers from our chapter.

Scholarship committee presented by Richard: think about what should be in the application, who qualifies, how much should the scholarship pay out, and should it be for Braille users only. This will be discussed next month after the committee meets again.

A person from Apple will come in March and someone from rer cross will come in April. Marie also talked to a gentleman named Andrew who works with a peer support group at Olmstead. He will come in May.

New business: meetings at nfta are on 4 at the paratransit number. The next meeting is Feb. 22. Paratransit is planning to have cards similar to debit cards.

Our meeting ended at 7:30 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,
Karlene Fiorello

March 2018 Meeting

Our meeting began at 6:00 PM. The following members were present: Karen Blachowicz, Elaine Eich, Anita Williams, Richard and Karlene Fiorello, Kathy Lyons, Marie Lyons, Paul Jerge, John Spencer, Alex Meister, Gary Wagner, Pat and Linda Olson, and Shain Toth who was our speaker from the Apple store.

Karen gave her report: The state board met twice in the last month. The insurance is not in place yet because the papers have not been signed. That is to be done soon. The website is being worked on. The scholarship committee is being co-chaired by Karen and Mike Godino. The scholarship through the state will now be $1,000.00. NY City is being questioned about their idea of updating signals to be accessible in a small part of Manhattan within 75 years.

Minutes from the February meeting were accepted as emailed. The treasurer’s report was accepted as emailed. It will be at the end of these minutes.

Scholarship committee report was given by Linda. The committee would like to make the following proposals to the membership for a vote: would like to list the counties in which applicants must live; submissions can be braille, email or hard copy; handwritten submissions will not be accepted; the due date for the application is to be October 15 instead of September 15. Applicants can write on 1 of 3 topics: goals, method of literacy, and what does advocacy mean to you? A motion was made seconded and passed to make these changes to the application procedure.

Gary Wagner gave a report on the national legislation conference in Washington. He met with Brian Higgins and Chris Collins concerning HR 2050 concerning visual aids being financed through medicare. Also they discussed HR 1120 and S287 bills to spend education monies more wisely on individual student needs. National library service, independent living, and privatization of federal highways were items discussed. General Motors will have driverless vehicles in 2019 for ride sharing.

Karen mentioned that Richard is not going to the legislative weekend in May. She is going to have a board meeting to discuss money for that weekend.

Richard reported on the NFTA meeting on February 22. Two new vans which kneel have been purchased. Paratransit is working on a new system for payment.

Our speaker took over the rest of the meeting. His presentation was informative on technology and how we should not be afraid of it.



INTEREST + $ .09




Respectfully Submitted,
Karlene Fiorello

September 2017 Meeting

The following members were present: Patrick and Linda Olson, Richard and Karlene Fiorello, Anita Williams, Ian Foley, John Spencer, Paul Jerge, Karen Blachowicz, Alex Meister, and Karen Palau at our meeting which began at 6:10 PM.

Karen welcomed us. Secretary’s minutes were read. The treasurer’s report was given. Our treasury has $285.35 in the paypal account, $1,151.07 in the scholarship account, and $5,544.94 in the checking account. The checking account spent $900.00 for state convention expenses for Karen Blachowicz, Ian Foley, and Richard Fiorello. The reports were both accepted as given.

Fund raiser: Wednesday September 13. We have 12 baskets. There will also be a 50-50 raffle. Alex will help with selling tickets for the baskets and the raffle. The menu for Helium is on line and Ian will email it to the ACBWNY list. There were 25 tickets sold with $325 received by the treasurer as of this evening.
Ian gave a legislative report. State legislature has been on recess.

Pedestrian safety: The service dog walk was briefly discussed. Karen Palau, Richard, John Spencer, and Karen Blachowicz will attend this event on September 16. On September 15th there will be a presentation of a model of the round-about at the Tonawanda Town Hall at 1:30. NFB and ACB will be at that meeting. Linda and Patrick went to see the round-about which is considered to be a mini round-about.

We talked a little about the upcoming convention in Utica. Karen, Kathy, Ian, Richard, Karlene, and Linda are going to attend.

Karen talked about our board meeting. She mentioned that the board recommends that Ian represent the chapter in Washington for the national Office legislative convention. A vote was taken and that recommendation was accepted by the membership.

Our meeting adjourned at 6:57 P.M.

Respectfully Submitted,
Karlene Fiorello

April 2017 Meeting

Our meeting began at 6 PM. We held our meeting a week early because of Good Friday. The following members were present: Richard and Karlene Fiorello, Marie Lyons, Douglas Whitford, Anita Williams, John Spencer, Ian Foley, Alex Meister, Kathy Lyons. Linda Olsen joined us by telephone. Because Karen Blachowitz could not attend, Kathy Lyons presided over the meeting.

Kathy announced that the summer picnic will be at Karen Blachowicz’s house on June 17 instead of a meeting at the Placa. Please let Karen know what you are bringing so she doesn’t make duplicates.

Secretary and treasurer’s reports were given and accepted. The treasurer’s report stated that our checking account contains a balance of $6,389.94. Advances of $300 each were given to Ian Foley, Richard Fiorello and Karen Blachowicz for the legislative weekend. Kathy gave a brief pedestrian committee report. She is on the national environmental access committee with national ACB.

Richard gave an NFTA committee report. NFTA says they are getting new vans. They are trying to make the subway ticket machines and the paths to the trains more accessible. They are also trying to make the subway doors more accessible.

Ian talked about issues for the legislative weekend. 1 Funding for aid to blind and deaf students which will include readers, interpreters, and additional needed adaptive equipment up to $6,000.00 per student per year; (a6515 and s4831) are the bills; 2 licensing of OandM and rehab instructors; 3 voting accessibility; and 4 making the funding for newsline be limited to actual expenses demanding accountability. Marie Lyons stated that she has not had a reply to her letter about audible signals. New business: Kathy stated that the Town of Tonawanda is planning a traffic circle at Decator and Parker Avenues. She believes our chapter should call the town trying to discourage this circle. Marie suggested that a letter should be written to the newspaper addressing both audible signals and traffic circles. Marie will work on the letter. Ian mentioned the gift baskets for the legislative weekend. Money can be given to either Richard, Ian, or Karen.

We briefly discussed whether out of area residents should be eligible for our scholarship. This issue will go back to the scholarship committee for further clarification.

Our meeting adjourned at 7:20 PM.

Respectfully submitted,
Karlene Fiorello

May 2017 Meeting

We began our monthly meeting at 6 PM. The following members were present: Karen Palau, Marie Lyons, Karen Blachowicz, Ian Foley, Anita Williams, Douglas Whitford, Sylvia Santos, Linda and Patrick Olsen, Paul Jerge, John Spencer, Alex Meister, Richard and Karlene Fiorello, and Kathy Lyons. Sylvie became a new member. Welcome, Sylvie!

Karen welcomed everyone and mentioned birthdays in May. Our picnic will be June 17 at Karen Blachowicz’s house. We will have chicken. The picnic will replace the June meeting. The minutes were summarized and accepted. Alex gave his treasurer’s report: $6,402.94 is in the checking account. It was accepted as presented.
Committee reports: Marie gave the pedestrian report. She wrote a letter concerning the status of signals in Buffalo. She wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper. Patrick read that letter. She finally got a reply from the traffic engineer. Less than 5% of accessible signals have been installed. They hope to reach 50% by the end of 2021. Linda stated that the DOT is working on similar problems in Batavia.

NFTA committee report was given by John. There is an increase of trips booked by telephone. Some trains are being repaired at south street station and they do not take passengers. May meeting will be in Niagara Falls. There are more no-shows.

Legislative committee report was given by Ian. He summarized the weekend and the actual visit to the legislature on Monday. State board meeting report was jointly given by Karen B. and Richard. The board talked about how we need to seek younger members. They formed a committee to see how social media could be used to increase state membership. The membership is down so we have 7 votes at national instead of 8 as we had in the past. Liability insurance was discussed. The state can get the insurance but if we have a fund raiser which needs insurance we have to give 20% of our profit from that fundraiser to the state as “payment”. Our chapter agreed that the state should purchase this insurance. Richard will propose that the required percentage be lower than 20%.

New Business: Linda attended the Lunch in the Dark at NYSSB. Our meeting adjourned at 7:30 PM.

Respectfully submitted
Karlene Fiorello

January 2017 Meeting

Our meeting opened at 6:00 PM The following members were present: Ian Foley, Karen Blachowicz, Douglas Whittford, John Spencer, Annita Williams, Karlene andRichard Fiorello, Kathy Lyons, Marie Lyons, Alex Meister, Paul Jerge, Linda and PatrickOlson, Karen Palau. Edna Rouse by telephone.

Karen B. welcomed everyone and gave announcements: She stated how proud she is to have her members elect her president. She thanked the other officers for being willing to be officers. Our chapter is at a crossroads. We need goals and need to decide how to reach them. Doug Whittford lost his dad late in December.

Secretary report was given. The November minutes were approved and accepted as summarized by the secretary. The treasurer gave his report. It was approved as presented. Patrick graciously Brailled the treasurer’s report. A motion was made by Kathy and seconded by Linda that the convention account be closed and the money moved to our general checking account.

Richard gave a report of the state board meeting: state is still attempting to get insurance which will cover all state chapters. State wants to work on the web site. The Legislative meeting is May 6-8. The state convention will be held in Utica October 19-22.The leadership seminar will be an evening meeting instead of a morning meeting. The Same convention committee will plan 2017 and 2018. The convention in 2018 will be in Rochester. The national convention will be in Rochester in 2019. Karen was asked to be on a national education committee and she is glad to serve on that committee. The committee is working to keep schools for the blind opened. We spent some time discussing this topic. Karen Palau stated that Teachers of the visually impaired often are general education teachers and do not even know Braille.

Committees: Paul is sergeant at arms, scholarship Karen Palau and Richard Fiorello,fund raising is Paul as chairman, Ian and Karen Palau, Pedestrian safety is co-chairmen Paul and Kathy no one else is on that committee, sunshine Alex and Peach, nfta committee Karen B. will attend meetings, but as yet there is no committee. Karen gave a fund raising report. We need the candy orders by Feb 28 so they must be in by next meeting. We still have candy bars which could be sold at a grocery store or someplace like that. Pedestrian safety report by Kathy: nationally the committee works on signals.Locally work is being done on Delaware Ave. Some signals are handled by the state and others are handled by the city. Some are installed by the state and repaired by the city. Linda stated that independent living in Batavia is working on 5 signals in Batavia.

New Business

Budget: Kathy took over this part of the meeting. The state does not give money to any first time attendance of the national ACB. Alex read the budget which is proposed by the board. The total is $3,650. Linda stated that this is not actually a budget because it is not showing income sources but just expenses. Richard moved that the budget be accepted and Paul seconded that motion. Ian suggested that there be an allowance for the president to also attend conventions because she is required to be there as vice-president of the state organization. Linda stated that she questions having an amount designated for the Christmas party. She also stated that the discretionary fund should not be $500.00. The reasons for that amount should be listed. Patrick wanted to vote on each individual item. There was a role call vote to do that. Patrick wants to delete the Christmas party and summer picnic. Alex took over for the raising of hands voting on each budget item. Each budget item passed as originally presented by the board. Alex Moved that the dollar amount in items 1 and 2 be divided by the number of representatives we are sending. That motion was seconded and passed.

Our next topic was on the new law that Cable Companies have to provide accessible cable boxes to the visually impaired. Patrick stated that he had an extensive discussion with his cable co to get the box to talk. Peach said that she got TWC to work through her iphone. The technicians brought her a laptop which did not work for her.

Marie Lyons talked about a talking pill reminder that Walgreens gave her and she was supposed to record her own information on it. Kathy will check with national office about what is available for blind persons. Paul moved for adjournment at 8:03 PM

Respectfully Submitted,
Karlene Fiorello, Secretary

November 2015 Meeting

A meeting of the American Council of the Blind of Western NY was held on Friday, November 13th 2015 at The Plaka Restaurant.  The meeting was called to order at 6-30.  Present were Karen Blachowicz ,Kathy Lyons, Lynn Lum, Alex Meister, Anita Williams, Paul Jerge, Linda and Patrick Olson, Rich and Karlene Fiorello, Doug Whitford, Ken Cooper, and Peach Rouse on the phone.

The minutes of the Oct.  meeting were read by Secretary Lynn Lum, a motion to accept them was made and seconded and the motion was carried. Alex Meister read the treasurer’s report.  The scholarship fund had a balance of 501.30.  The PayPal account had a balance of 284.35.  The checking account balance was 2051.  A motion was made and seconded to accept the treasurer’s report and the motion was carried.

Karen and Alex reported on the 2015 ACBNY convention.  Alex described the audible traffic signals demonstrated at the pedestrian safety meeting.

Karen stated we need to select a delegate for the nominating committee for the 2016 ACBNY elections and strongly recommended that Kathy Lyons be chosen as delegate.  A motion was made and Kathy was chosen as the nominating committee delegate.

Our bid to host the ACBNY 2016 convention was accepted.  The first organizational meeting regarding the convention will be held on Friday Nov.  20th at approximately 6-45 following the board meeting.

The new paratransit policies for cancelations and suspensions were briefly discussed, they will go into effect in January 2016.

The Christmas party on Dec.  11th at the Royal Restaurant was discussed.

A motion was made and seconded to adjourn the meeting, it was approved and the meeting was adjourned at 8-05.

Respectfully submitted,
Lynn Lum Secretary ACBWNY

October 2015 Meeting

The monthly meeting of the American Council of the Blind of Western NY was held on Friday October 9 2015 at The Plaka Restaurant. The meeting was calling to order at 6-30 by President Karen Blachowicz. Present were Bernadette Johnson, Gracey Chambers Paul Jerge Lynn Lum Karen Blachowicz Alex Meister Edna Peach Rouse James Porcher Richard and Karlene Fiorello John Spencer Anita Williams and Dennis Donaldson. We celebrated the 1-year anniversary of our affiliate with a special dessert provided by Karen and Alex.

The guide dog walk was a success and we have accomplished a great deal in our first year.

The minutes of the September meeting were read by secretary Lynn Lum, Paul made a motion to accept the minutes, Karen seconded it and the minutes were approved by the group as read. Alex gave the treasurer’s report. Our account balance is 2782 dollars, the scholarship balance is 501 dollars and 22 cents and the PayPal account balance is 259 dollars and 35 cents. Peach made a motion to accept the treasurer’s report, Anita seconded the motion and it was approved by the group.

Regarding the NFTA meeting, there has been no movement on the premium service program. The possibility of working in cooperation with the NFB on this matter was discussed. Paul made a motion for Karen to submit a bid on our behalf to host the 2016 ACBNY annual convention here in the Buffalo area. Anita seconded the motion and it was approved by the group. The committee will consist of Karen John Spencer Alex Kathy Paul and Lynn. The insurance issue will be discussed at the board meeting at the ACBNY convention this year.

We will explore options for this year’s Christmas party and make contact with the members of the group with the information before the November meeting. Paul moved to adjourn the meeting at 8 P M, Alex seconded the motion and the meeting was adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,
Lynn Lum Secretary ACBWNY

September 2015 Meeting

The monthly meeting of the American Council of the Blind of Western New York was held on Friday September 11 at the Plaka Restaurant. The meeting was called to order at 6-34. Present were Karen Blachowicz, Alex Meister, Lynn Lum, Karen Palau, Rich and Karlene Fiorello, Paul Jerge, Bernadette Johnson, Gracey Chambers, and Doug Whitford.

Karen Blachowicz reported that Rob Blachowicz resigned as Vice President and that Kathy Lyoys was chosen to be Vice-President.

The board voted at its last meeting that we should file for our own 501 C3 status. Rich Fiorello moved to accept the board’s recommendation, Paul Jerge seconded the motion and it was carried unanimously. The board voted to donate 100 dollars to the American Council of the Blind of NY in appreciation for the use of their 501 C3 authorization. Alex moved to accept this recommendation, Karen Palau seconded the motion and it was passed by the group with one no vote. The board also voted that the 350 dollars which will be given to the scholarship winner would be replaced with proceeds from the fundraiser. Karen moved to accept this motion Doug seconded it and the motion was approved by the group. The minutes of the July meeting were read, Alex moved to accept the minutes as read, Karen seconded the motion and it was approved by the group. In the treasurer’s report, Alex stated that the previous balance was 2016 dollars, the current balance was $2482, the scholarship balance was $501.18 and Paypal balance was $259.35. Rich moved to accept the treasurer’s report, Paul seconded the motion and the reported was accepted by the group. Alex found an attorney from the Free Lawyers Project who agreed to help us complete the 501 C3 application free of charge. The attorney asked to meet with some members of the group as part of the process.

The children’s event on Oct. 3rd was discussed. We will be submitting a bid to host the 2016 ACBNY convention. Paul reported that a law requiring auditory crossing signals will be going into effect in the future. Karen Alex Bernadette and Gracey will be attending the next NFTA meeting.

Alex moved to adjourn the meeting at 8 PM, Paul seconded the motion and the
meeting was adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,
Lynn Lum

June 2015 Meeting

The monthly meeting of the American Council of the Blind of Western New York was held on Friday, July 10, 2016 at The Plaka Restaurant.  The meeting was called to order at 6-32 PM.  Present were Walter Gramza, Kathy Lyons, Karleen and Richard Fiorello, John Spencer, Alex Meister, Mindy Bess, Robert Blachowicz, Kelly Blachowicz, Anita Williams, Bernadette Johnson, Paul Jerge, Karen Blachowicz, Doug Whitford, Lynn Lum, and  Edna Rouse attending by

Karleen Fiorello offered the invocation.  Rob Blachowicz read the minutes of the June meeting; Kathy Lyons moved to accept the minutes as read, Wally seconded the motion and the motion was approved by the group.  Alex gave the treasurer’s report.  The account balance was 2016 dollars with 501 nollars and 14 cents in the scholarship fund.  Lynn Lum moved to accept the treasurer’s report, Kathy seconded the motion and the motion was carried by the group.

Several group members were working on getting donations for our August 7th fundraiser at Rob’s Comedy Playhouse.  The fundraiser committee planned to meet on Monday July 20th at 6-30 at The Plaka Restaurant with any member who wished to help welcome to attend.  In the matter of pedestrian safety, an audible signal will be installed at Lake Ave.  and Route 5.  This intersection was identified as problematic by a member who travels there regularly using fixed-route metrobuses. New member Bernadette Johnson mentioned that there are poorly lit intersections in Niagara Falls.  John Spencer asked if there is a way we can be notified as to where construction is taking place because noise and obstacles can make independent travel difficult for blind and visually impaired pedestrians.  John will join the pedestrian safety committee.

Rob reported on the community involvement committee.  He has been in contact with Frank Camarata from the Gie County Office for the Disabled.  Lynn Lum will attend meetings of the Erie County Senior Outreach Committee when notified of them.  We are on the contact list of the city of Buffalo ADA coordinator.

President Karen Blachowicz reported on the monthly outreach meeting of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.  Some consumers are reporting problems in using the new phone system for fix-route buses.  The contact person for anyone having problems in NFTA matters is Vivian Rogers 716-855-7286

Rob Blachowicz moved to adjourn the meeting, Anita Williams seconded the motion, the motion carried and the meeting was adjourned at 7-55 PM.

Respectfully submitted,
Lynn Lum
Secretary, American Council of the Blind of Western New York