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Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council Minutes

May 17, 2007


Members Present:   B.J. Nevels,  Marilyn Burr,  Kathleen Kennedy, Doug MacMillan, Kim Nickerson, Milissa Gofourth, Jon Ringlero, Pat Casey, Sabrina Ware, Sue Williams, Tim Parrish, Glenda Farnum, Jack Roper, Cindy Gallup, Linda Jaco, Director Linda Parker

Members Absent:  Cathy Bates, Randy Buettner, Alisa Robertson, DeLorna Strong,

Other Present:  Syedah Islam, DRS VR Administrator, Ray Turner, DRS Project Coordinator, Chuck Gressler, DRS Field Coordinator, Marcey Tosto, DRS Scribe, Suzanne Randall, DRS Commission Secretary, Linda Jaco, ABLE Tech, Melinda Fruendt, DRS,

Interpreters Present: Darine Stallings and Patricia Mills

Remembrance & Moment of Silence for Hugh McCrabb

Call to Order and Roll Call

BJ Nevels called the meeting to order at 10:00 am.  Program Manager, Theresa Hamrick called roll and a quorum was established. 

Approval of Minutes:

Approval and acceptance of the 2-15-06 minutes, Marilyn Burr offered motion to accept the minutes, second by Kim Nickerson, motion carried.

Committee Reports:

Transition and Employment Committee: Kim Nickerson, chair,

  • T&E Team has been working with DRS staff in development of the State Plan.  We are waiting to see the document in it’s final form. 
  • Have been working on the Transition Institute which is next month.
  • Once Transition institute has been completed we will work on implementing goals and objectives set forth in the state plan.

Policy & Legislative Committee: Milissa Gofourth, chair,

  • Really busy quarter for the P&L Team, working on sections in the State Plan with DRS and on the public comments as well attending all the public hearings for the plan.  We outlined the activities of the policy legislation committee to be included in next years State Plan.  That will give the committee a real direction for next and the next couple years to have a lot of work to move forward in.    
  • We were very active in the Disability Awareness Day at the Capitol in the planning and implementation of the events. Several committee members were mentor tour guides for individuals with disabilities as they went down halls and knocked on door and told legislators and/or staffers how important employment services are for individuals with disabilities.
  • We are working on national level on policy issues as it is related to the CSAVR. At the spring conference held in Bethesda, Maryland in April, Jean Jones, Linda Parker, Ray Turner, Theresa Hamrick and I were in attendance.

            Capitol Hill visits: Met with Oklahoma representatives both the house and the senate. The policy committee put together an information packet, including all the success stories for each congressman, how departments partner with many entities across the state to ensure a better quality services for Oklahomans with disabilities, a handout from CSAVR on the important of the re-authorization of the Rehabilitation Act.  .  We felt like those were very successful visits.

  • We attended the Public Hearings for the policy issues in the spring and there was some comment back from that and some answers.

Planning and Program Evaluation Committee: Doug MacMillan, chair,  

  • We discussed the customer survey and when that will be going out.  We discussed suggesting have a survey created by a on of the university research group. 
  • We have discussed the state plan and looking forward to the start of the State Plan.

Native American VR:  None

Department of Rehabilitation Services Update:

Linda Parker, Director,

  • We are reaching that critical time in the state and we hoping to have a budget soon; however, we don’t have a budget at this point in time. Meetings are still happening.  What I can tell you is that likely there won’t be anything specifically that will impact the vocation rehabilitation program this year. We did not specifically request anything other than some funding for our deaf programs and that would be 100% state dollars for deaf programs and 100% state dollars for independent living programs. We are fully matched so there wasn’t a need to request this year. However, we do anticipate that we will be requesting dollars for 2009.
  • We are in decent shape as far as our funding is concerned for VR/VS.  However, only Priority Group 1 is open.  Things are now under control and we  are going to come in at under budget. We are now projected to come under our client services budget approximately a million dollars or so. So that is putting us in a position to be able to look at whether or not we can do something different around July 1st or just shortly after; possibly start working a waiting list or open priority group 2.  

Syedah Islam, VR Division Administrator,

  • I have asked Ray Turner, DRS Project Coordinator for Division of VR to attend and to represent me and listen to the reports and answer any questions that the committee may have; I have also asked my Field Coordinators to rotate and all 3 positions are filled. 
  • The VR Technology Center has now opened at Shepard Mall.  We have all of our equipment in now and we plan to have an Open House. We are going to be able to work with employers to demonstrate the technology and give them some idea what type of technology that can be used for persons with disabilities.
  • We also have a lending lab for our consumers; but, it can be used by anyone that wants to come in for demonstrations and to lend to them. As we get a date established we will certainly let the committee know and to visit the lab. We are hoping to expand to Tulsa and have an assistive technology lab there as well.
  • We are working OESC to use their website to look up jobs. We are partnering with them to get more information about what jobs are out there statewide. We are trying to move forward and improve the way we do things.

Jane Nelson, VS Division Administrator, read by Sue Williams,

  • Visual Services Center at Shepard Mall is finally open for business; we are however, waiting on equipment and on furniture so we have opened with the bare minimum.
  • The ABLE training is scheduled to begin in July at the OSB in Muskogee. We are again going to have four sessions. We are also in the midst of finalizing the plans for our summer BFIT program. We are having a BFIT program in OKC as well as initiated a program in Muskogee this year. Once again we will be having a summer work experience for the students involved in this transition program.
  • The AIM center is continuing to provide Braille material for students across Oklahoma. We have been very appreciative of the funds given to by the State Legislature and the Department of Education.

Question – D. MacMillan, is there any thought about inviting post-client or post-consumer to view your equipment/load/demo centers? To have employers come see what is available now to give them some ideas and see what people with disabilities can do.

Answer – There is an open house and all the public is welcome. The BEST Unit will travel all over the state to demonstrate the equipment.

Letter from Jane Nelson read by B.J. Nevels, Chair, “I feel very badly that the choices that you have given me are not really not what I would like to do or can do. I enjoyed ORC very much and fell that as an Administrator of VS I need to be very involved with the ORC. I have always looked forward to my participation and presenting to ORC; but with the choice you have given me I feel very conflicted. My preference would be to continue as we have in the past, with me giving a report right after Linda Parker and then leave to attend my duties of the day; I simply not able to spend the whole day. I field coordinators who will attend to represent me either Mark or Susan. If the choice must be made; then I will have a representative. Please express to the ORC that it is not my choice.”  Signed Jane Nelson

Chuck Gressler, VR Field Coordinator,  

  • We now have 3 Field Coordinators for the state and they are Lori Estep, she will have Region A, which will be the eastern part of the state; Wayne Pamplin, he will have Region B, which is the western part of the state. I will have the central part of the state.
  • We have something new on the horizon, we have a new employment contract to provide supportable employment services and job retention services to consumer who live in rural parts of the state. This contract allows a counselor to hire an individual to work with our consumers. The individual job coach is still required to attend the employment training through the University of Oklahoma. It will be a real asset for people in the rural parts of the state that haven’t had the opportunity to have supported employment services available to them. Field representatives with employment support services at Shepard Mall will monitor statewide, this contract as well all the other contracts that they monitor involved with the Milestone programs.
  • We have a DRS Social Security Re-imbursement/Ticket-to-Work Unit and that has been doing fantastic.. Jason Price is running this program and traditional re-imbursement is well over one million dollars. Ticket-to-Work/Milestone payments that we are reimbursed exceed one hundred thirty thousand dollars.
  • The field as a whole, is doing very well; we are able to pass all of our performance indicators except one.  This indicator compares the number of successful closures to the entire number of closures.  I just wanted to mention we are on track and we are doing much better than we have in the past. There is a certain bench mark rate that we are looking forward to succeeding and trying to climb that mountain.
  • There is some training for medical and non-medical authorizations to limit our over payment and try to get the vendors paid timely.
  • Although we are to separate divisions; we are working together on a program down in Lawton; which is part of the “NISH” program (National Industries for the Severely Handicapped) What we are doing is there is a provider out of Texas area called the Work Services Cooperation; who is subcontracted for about one hundred-fifty jobs at Fort Sill in Lawton.  Some of those jobs are any where from $9.00-$11.00 an hour with benefits. We had a meeting on April 10th; they have all of our Milestone contracts. Our new Field Coordinator Wayne Pamplin is very much involved with this and Bill Hayes, Program Manager, is involved as well.

Question- Do you see an upward trend toward closures?

Answer- I think one thing that happened to us, that we cleaned a whole lot of case loads; and when we did that there was a lot of unsuccessful case closures. They had been sitting there for along period of time. We have made a concerted effort with some training involved to beef up comprehensive assessments and really taking the steps to be able to come up with an IPE that is a successful one.   

Jean Jones, DRS Legislative Liaison,

  • Bills at the state levels that might affect us or the people that we serve.
  • Senate Bill 485-basically directly affects DRS by permitting us to provide an incentive/bonus or financial incentive essentially to our counselors and rehab techs who get people on SSI and SSDI to work.  The agency is reimbursed by Social Security for the cost of their rehabilitation. This was a piece of legislation that the brainstorm of Jason Price with our agency.  It is one of those rare bills that has gone through with virtually not a hitch. It is now law as it was signed by the Governor yesterday. In November that will go into effective.
  • Office of Handicap Concerns-is now the Office of Disability Concerns. It is just a name change, but I think it means a lot to consumers. It will be effective November 1st. We will probably use it in advance so we can get use to it.
  • Agrability bill is in conference today.

Unfinished Business:


New Business:

  • A list of re-appointments was distributed.  DeLorna Strong and Randy Buettner will term out.  Everyone will be submitted for reappointment unless you notify Theresa.  BJ cannot be re-appointed when his term is completed.
  • After the CSAVR Capitol Hill visits in April, Milissa, Theresa and Jean Jones de-briefed about the success of the visits.  They decided to visit our Congressional offices locally and get to know the representative in these offices.  We will also add them to our mailing list. Theresa will be meeting with Director Parker to discuss the role she would like DRS to play such as a Commissioner attending and/or Jean Jones attending.  We may be calling on members to attend in your area.  This is an effort to let them know that we are a resource for them.
  • We had a re-treat date set in October.  We need to move it to create a plan to accomplish the goals set forth in the state plan.  The state goes into affect in October.  The date was set for Thursday, August 2, 2007 9:00am – 5:00pm. I will e-mail everyone the location.

Consumer Comments:



Meeting adjourned.