by Marcia N. Dresser

The ACB board of directors' midyear meeting was held on Feb. 19 in Arlington, Va. Since Marlaina Lieberg was unable to attend the meeting due to illness, Ray Campbell acted as secretary.

President Mitch Pomerantz convened the meeting at 9:05 a.m. The proposed agenda for this meeting and the minutes of the Dec. 15, 2009 board meeting were both approved unanimously.

Pomerantz reported that he recorded a three-minute interview with Sky Radio, which will be seen on the business channel on 29,000 American Airlines flights in May. In addition, a fully produced, 30-second public service announcement about ACB will be carried on CNN Airport TV at 44 airports around the country. This PSA and Pomerantz's interview are posted on the ACB web site and can be used as we see fit. Carla Ruschival is now co-chair of the ACB Store committee because Kim Venable has increased personal commitments. At the annual RSVA meeting, Pomerantz met with Lynnea Rutledge, the new commissioner of RSA. Pomerantz reported that 80 percent of the ACB conference/convention is set. There will be panels on radio reading services and ACB Radio; categorical services; and exercise, fitness, and nutrition, among others. The banquet speaker will be Mike Armstrong, who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

Chris Gray, chair of the Internet Management Oversight Committee, reported that despite the significant, disruptive server crash last October, ACB lists have been reorganized and restored, using Mailman as the new listserv management software. To the best of Chris' knowledge, no data was lost. A subcommittee of the Internet Infrastructure Committee drafted a disaster recovery plan. We need more than one kind of backup for the system. We will have a redundant server at another location with significant redundancies built in. This will cost about $300 a month. Bids will be solicited from several places, including those with virtual servers.

Executive director Melanie Brunson reported that the plaque honoring those who donate $100,000 or more to ACB is on display in the national office. Several applications for grants have been submitted, and more may be forthcoming. Barbara LeMoine is compiling state by state resource lists to distribute to people and affiliates later this year. In closing, Brunson announced that the legislative seminar will be dedicated to the memory of Pat Beattie.

Following a short break, comptroller Lane Waters reported on activities at the Minnesota office. Michelle Mueller resigned to take a job closer to her home, and receptionist Alisha Clausen is now in training to assume Michelle's full-time responsibilities. A part-time receptionist has been hired. The Minneapolis office received software which allows tracking of volunteers, newspaper advertisers, and exhibitors; also, the different types of donations are now in one database. In closing, Waters announced that the new ACB thrift store in Louisville has opened, and plans are under way to move the Knoxville store.

A motion was made by Brenda Dillon, seconded by Billie Jean Keith, to approve the staff reports. The motion passed unanimously.

Treasurer Mike Godino reported that ACB currently has total assets of $1,677,324. Kim Charlson made a motion, seconded by Dillon, that the board authorize necessary funds up to $29,000 to the convention account. David Trott made a motion, seconded by Dillon, that ACB proceed for audit. Both motions passed.

Next, a discussion ensued regarding the recommendation to change all occurrences of the word "convention" to the words "conference and convention" in the constitution and bylaws. Gray moved to defer this matter until the next board meeting so that the auditors and parliamentarian Don Stevens can be consulted about the possible ramifications of this change; Trott seconded. The motion passed.

Gray next reported that the database project is proceeding according to plan. Several state and special-interest affiliates have been chosen to complete their 2010 certification on this new system as a beta test. If this is successful, the system should be ready for use by all affiliates at the end of 2010. A motion to accept this report was made by Godino and seconded by Cammie Vloedman; the motion carried.

The meeting recessed at noon, and the board convened in executive session at 12:10 to discuss a matter concerning an affiliate and a personnel issue. A motion was made by Gray and seconded by Michael Garrett to return to open session. The motion passed, and the meeting resumed at 1:37 p.m. Pomerantz announced that no action had been taken regarding the two matters discussed in executive session.

Marcia Dresser presented a draft of a policy statement crafted by the board of publications regarding ACB's presence on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Following board approval of several changes in the wording, Gray moved, and Jeff Thom seconded, a motion to refer the document back to the BOP for further tweaking, incorporating these amendments. The motion carried. Dresser announced that nominations for the Ned E. Freeman, Vernon Henley, and Hollis Liggett awards are welcome. The BOP is developing parameters to measure the effectiveness of ACB Radio and ACB's web presence.  Work on the re-design of ACB's web site is progressing. A motion to accept the BOP report was made by Godino and seconded by Charlson.  The motion passed.

Garrett next gave the ACBES report. Store managers are being assisted to adjust their budgets based on the ACB budget. They are expected to increase their advertising and control labor costs. Increases in minimum wage over the past few years have added over $100,000 to payroll costs, and the stores have had to adjust pricing to reflect this. A motion to accept the ACBES report was made by Campbell and seconded by Godino.  The motion carried.

Convention coordinator Carla Ruschival reported that convention planning is on track. Each affiliate or committee planning to host an event should have one person subscribed to the convention e-mail list. New people have called requesting exhibitor information, and Margarine Beaman is personally contacting former and potential sponsors. All entities booking one premiere booth will receive a free insert in the registration packet, a $250 value. Sally Benjamin is busy recruiting volunteers. The adjustments to the afternoon schedule have been well received; time slots are 1:30 to 3:00, 3:30 to 5:00, and 5:30 to 7:00. There will be a new contract for guide dog relief area services, and this is the last year of the photography company's contract. Convention registration will be done on line or by telephone. Paper forms will only be sent out upon request, which will save thousands of dollars in mailing expenses. Finally, Ruschival said she has received convention bids for 2013 and 2014, but will ask that they be re-submitted due to high proposed costs for catering and audio-visual services. A motion to accept this report was made by Trott and seconded by Keith; the motion passed.

Charlson reported on the Audio Description Project, which is managed by Joel Snyder. Snyder provides monthly reports on his activities. The content from the former Audio Description International web site is being moved to ACB. The ADP has a Facebook page profiling the award winners from last summer's ADP Institute. Plans are under way for the 2010 summer institute, which will be held in conjunction with the ACB conference and convention. Nominations for the six 2010 ADP awards are currently being accepted. The Described Captioned Media Project is partnering with ACB through the ADP. "I can describe that" is an opportunity for teenagers to try their hand at writing audio description. Folks can now take an audio-described tour of the White House, which the ADP was instrumental in crafting. Very soon, the ADP will submit a grant proposal to the Department of Education for funding for audio description. The audio-described DVD of "The Miracle Worker" is available through the ACB Store and on If items are purchased on Amazon, ACB will receive a percentage of the sale price. Thom moved to accept this report, and Trott seconded. The motion carried.

Berl Colley reported that a task force consisting of Ardis Bazyn, Denise Colley, James Edwards, Chris Gray, and Marlaina Lieberg is working to resurrect the Idaho affiliate. They are working on newspaper ads and PSAs and developing a contact list of former and potential members. The director of the Idaho Commission for the Blind has agreed to send out a mailing. Other contacts include the principal of the Idaho School for the Blind, AER, and the Blinded Veterans Association, which is the largest group of blind people in the state. Members of the task force will meet with prospective members in Boise in May. The board approved the motion, made by Campbell and seconded by Vloedman, to accept this report.

Brunson and Charlson reported that the board handbook should be ready in time for the conference/convention in Phoenix. It will include such things as the constitution and bylaws, the presidents list, minutes of board meetings and financial reports for the preceding year, an explanation of ACBES, and expectations of board members. Brunson is seeking funding sources and organizations to assist in developing a new long-range plan for ACB, and will bring recommendations on how to proceed to the pre-convention board meeting. Godino moved to adopt this report; Vloedman seconded. The motion carried.

Each officer serves as a liaison to several national committees and, at this meeting, they reported on the work that these committees are doing. Debbie Grubb is now chairing the environmental access committee. A motion was made by Campbell and seconded by Dillon to accept the officer liaison reports. The motion passed.

As the last order of business of the day, Garrett made a motion that funds originally collected for the Hurricane Katrina relief effort be re-allocated to provide assistance to blind people in Haiti, divided equally between the Haitian Society for the Blind and the school for the blind in Port-au-Prince. The motion, seconded by Gray, was unanimously adopted.

With no further business to conduct, the meeting adjourned at 5:05 p.m.

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