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2017 FRG State Convention Issue

Blinded Veterans Association Florida Regional Group Official Website

          FRG President’s Message:  This 2017 Convention issue is being sent several months earlier than Convention Issues In the past, because we are urging those that are planning to attend the Annual FRG Convention April 27-30,, 2017 at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center in Orlando, to make their reservations as early as possible.  Our contract has guaranteed 50 rooms for the nights of April 27, 28, & 29.  Based on the word going around, there may be a lot more  Blinded Veterans attending.  Therefore, if we learn that there are more reservations made, we have time to obtain more rooms, at the discounted rate.  Don’t forget you may cancel with a full refund if you notify the hotel 72 hours before noon on the date you are scheduled to arrive.  The hotel has gated parking which provides parking security for those hotel residents who drive to the Convention.  The swimming pool and surrounding lounging area are private with a 12 foot wall around the perimeter.  For a large hotel, it is almost like it was designed for visually impaired persons.  Just to point out one example, when you come down from your room on the elevator, all of the function rooms are right there in a line along the corridor.  As you can see in the tentative agenda, this is going to be like no other Convention the FRG has ever had.  There are more speakers, speaking on many subjects and many more exhibitors, plus two full banquets, while enjoying the full benefits of a four star hotel.  All four of our function rooms are set up on Thursday April 27 and will be available the morning of April 28, except for the hospitality room, which will be available on the 27th for Convention Registration beginning at 2 PM.   It will be continuously open for the duration of the Convention for those who would like to visit.  No refreshments will be available during scheduled activities.  The hospitality Room will be open for refreshments at 5:30 PM on April 27 and briefly following the President’s Banquet.  The President’s Banquet will begin at 7 PM on Thursday April 27.  The Guest Speaker is Victor Gomez, a retired Command Sergeant Major.  The opening Business Meeting will begin at 9 AM on Friday April 28.  It will open with the call to order, invocation, pledge to the flag, and roll call list.  The minutes of   the April 30, 2016 Business Meeting will be presented followed by the Treasurer’s Report. Next, the FRG Committee Reports, Old Business, and Nomination of Officers.  The exhibitors will open after the Business meeting.  The first Informational seminar will begin at 1:30 PM and will be over about 5 PM.  The following are only   a list of a few of the speakers  for the Informational Seminars:  Prosthetics, VVIST, BROS, Talking Book Library, VA Benefits, Home Care, Wills, and Power of Attorneys.  Time permitting; the exhibitors may fill in demonstrating their wares.  At present, nothing is scheduled for Friday evening.  It may be a free evening for Convention attendees for what they want to do.  We would like some feedback on what you all would like to have on Friday evening.  AT 9 AM on Saturday, the final FRG Business meeting will be held.  It will include the election of FRG Officers and District Directors, the election and instruction of a delegation to the 2017 BVA National Convention, consideration of resolutions to the BVA National Convention and consideration of FRG By-Law Changes, other new business and any announcements will close the Business Meeting.  Time permitting, Informational Seminars will continue following the Business meeting and again after lunch.  The Hospitality Room will be open at 5:30 PM.  The Installation Banquet will begin at 7 PM  The speaker for the Installation Banquet has not yet been selected.  The Hospitality Room will be open following the Banquet.  This new type of FRG Convention is to combined business, informational, social, and recreational activities.  The hotel is connected to the Florida Mall which has many types of restaurants and stores.  WE shall have access to the coupon book to the mall.  In later FRG Newsletters, I will be listing the various events available in Orlando.  We are also requesting information from our members as to what type of subjects they would like to have at the Convention.  Remember, this is your Convention; therefore, it is important that you let us know what you would think would make for an outstanding and enjoyable event.   In closing, I am urging you all to make reservations at the Hotel, as soon as possible.  Remember the rate we have obtained is good for three days before and/or three days after the Convention dates.  Terry King, FRG President (941) 505-7747 e mail        

     U.S. Legislative Up-Date: We are happy to report that the BVA and PVA have made progress in securing Beneficiary Travel for Blinded Veterans and Spinal Cord Injury Veterans to Blind Rehabilitation Centers and Spinal Cord Injury Centers for BV’s and SCI veterans whose income is above the income threshold.  Although the Veterans   Affairs Committees in the Senate and House never held hearings on S 171 or HR 288, Senator Testor from Montana and Representative Brownley from California succeeded in getting language authorizing such travel in the VA Appropriation.  However, Congress did not pass that Appropriation bill.  Since FY 2016 was to end on September 30, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) which was signed by the President on September 28.  In that CR, authorization was included to provide the Beneficiary Travel.  This CR continues Federal Funding at the FY 2016 level for now.  After the election, Congress will hold a lame duck session and make a decision regarding the FY 2017 Appropriations before December 9.  At that time, they may pass the Appropriation for 2017 or more likely pass another CR until after the new 215 Congress meets in January 2017.  If the Beneficiary Travel authorization is included in that Appropriation Bill the BVA and PVA will have accomplished a goal upon which they have been working for a number of years.  Benefits Increase?  Questions have been asked about any increase in VA and SSA payments for 2017. An increase is approved if there is a sufficient increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).  The  Dept. of Labor (DOL) will determine any such increase between October  and November .  If there is a sufficient increase, itt will take effect December 1 and appear in the checks received in January.  Last year the DOL set the increase in the CPI at 0.99% and that was not determine to be sufficient to warrant an increase in the COLA, so no VA or SSA checks were increased for this past year.       

         FRG Convention:  The Florida Regional Group Annual Convention will be held at the Florida Hotel and Convention Center April 27-30, 2017.  The FRG Board has approved a contract with low rates of $119 per night plus 12.5% tourist development tax.  These   low rates for a convention in Orlando will be in effect, on a space available basis, 3 days before and/or 3 days after the Convention, only on a Space available basis.  So, you may come early or stay late for an extended vacation.  These low Convention rates for Orlando are guaranteed for reservations made on or before April 10th.  Reservations made after that date will be at the low Convention rate but only within the FRG 50 room nights per day as indicated above.  If your reservation is not received before the room availability is closed, the rates will return to the regular hotel rate which is about $50 per day higher.  We urge you to register early, so we may be able to increase our room block at the low Convention rate.  As indicated above, you may cancel your reservation and receive a full refund of your deposit, if you cancel 72 hours before noon on the day you were scheduled to arrive.  You will find a Hotel Reservation Slip at the end of the print copy 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 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 reservation number is (800) 588-4656.  Be sure to tell the reservation clerk that you are attending the Blinded Veterans Association-Florida Regional Group Convention, as the group which arranged the above low indicated rates.  Convention Registration Fee:  The Convention Registration Fee will be $50 per person (for each BV, family member, or friend attending).  This registration fee must be received on or before April 10.  This hotel catering department requires firm numbers very early.  So, only those who send their registration fee in advance will be able to attend the two banquets.   This registration fee will cover the 2 banquets and the general Convention activities, including the hospitality room.  The total cost of the 2 banquets at previous FRG Conventions never exceeded $47 for both banquets.  The cost of each of the 2 banquets at The Florida Hotel will exceed that $47.   The cost for each of these banquets will run between $45 and $ 65 depending on the meal selected.  It is too early for us to get a definite cost at this time; however, it will cost the FRG at least $100 per person for the two banquets.  Please make your check payable to the BVA-FRG and send it to:  3801 Coco Grove Avenue, Miami, FL 33133, before April 10.  Again, the FRG will not be able to accept late registrations for the meal function due to the requirement of the Florida Hotel Catering Department.   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.  Remember to send your hotel reservation slip and deposit or call with your credit card number to the Florida Hotel in Orlando and your Convention Registration Fee to the BVA-FRG in Miami.

     Convention Schedule:  The Convention Registration Desk will open at 2 PM on Thursday, April 27 to pick up your Convention Packet which will include your Convention Program, Name Tags, and tickets for the 2 Banquets.  You must pick up your Convention Packet on the second floor of the Hotel.  We need for all Conventioneers to check in at the registration desk to have your tickets for the Banquets.  You will not be able to get into the Banquet without a ticket. 

     The first Business Meeting will convene at 9 AM on Friday, April 27. Following introductions,   the  invocation will be given,, pledge to the flag  and roll call voting list.  This will be followed by the Minutes from the April 30, 2016 Business Meeting, Treasurer’s Report, Committee Reports, FRG Activities for the past year, and Nominating Committee Report.  Informational Seminar for Blinded Veterans and their families will follow the Business Meeting.  The exhibit Room will be open on Friday April 28.  At present, there is no formal activity on Friday evening.   

     The Second Florida Regional Group Business Meeting will be held at 9 AM on Saturday, April 29.  The meeting will open with the report of the Nominating Committee.  Additional Nominations from the Floor may be made.  This will be followed by the elections for FRG Officers and District Directors for the coming year.  The election and instruction of a Delegate and Alternate Delegates to the BVA National Convention will be held.  Proposed resolutions for presentation to the BVA National Convention will be considered.  Proposed amendments to the FRG By-Laws will be considered.  All Members and Associate Members of the Florida Regional group are encouraged to attend this Business Meeting and assist in determining   the direction the FRG will take in the coming year.  Other New Business will be considered At present additional Informational Seminars are scheduled following the Business Meeting.  The Convention will close with the Installation Banquet on Saturday evening at 7 PM.  There will be a period of socializing in the Hospitality Room at 5:30 before and again after the Banquet.    Please plan to attend the FRG Annual Convention in Orlando in April 2017.

     FRG District Meetings:  Prior to the FRG Annual Convention, in Orlando April 27-30, there will be three FRG District Informational Meetings earlier in 2017.  The first will be at the Hilton Hotel in Ocala on Saturday, January 7; the second will be at the Columbia Restaurant in Tampa on February 4; and the third at the Tropical Acres Steak House in Ft. Lauderdale on March 4.

     FRG Meeting Schedule
January 7, 2017   FRG Central North District Informational Meeting Ocala Hilton 
February 4, 20     FRG Central West Meeting Columbia Restaurant in Tampa
March 4, 2017      FRG Southeast Meeting Tropical Acres Steakhouse Ft.

April 27-30, 2017 FRG Annual Convention Florida Hotel in Orlando


Newsletter Staff
Terry King                                President
George Stocking                       Newsletter Editor