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Gem State Milestones Winter 2014

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Gem State Milestones EditorGEM STATE MILESTONES

Winter 2014

A Publication of the



Dana Ard, Editor


 President’s Report


My NFB of Idaho family,

I hope that your holiday season is wonderful and peaceful.  I would like to add my Christmas/Holiday wishes to you and your loved ones.  I hope you are all healthy and happy and that this continues into the delightful New Year of 2015.


Dana Ard has put in 36 years as a Senior Rehabilitation Counselor at the Idaho Commission for the Blind, and will retire on December 31, 2014. Her retirement party will be held December 9th at ICBVI.  Congratulations to Dana, we appreciate your example!


Our legislative dinner will not be held in January 2015, because we have no critical issues that would justify the expenditure.  I will be sending each of the legislators a letter briefly explaining the positions of and requests from our organization. Some of the items I will be touching upon will be statewide transportation, education of blind children, additional braille instructors as well as the technological needs of the blind.


Our 2015 State Convention will be held in Boise on May 8th and 9th, at the Boise Hotel and Conference Center on Vista Avenue. The room rates will be $57.00 per night plus 13 % sales tax for a total of $64.41. If you note the dates you will see the convention will only be held on Friday and Saturday. Sunday the 10th of May is Mother’s Day. If this causes an inconvenience for you please remember that there will be more Mother’s Day’s when Convention is not on the same weekend.  There are many factors that I have to take into consideration in booking and planning a convention. We avoid dates such as Palm Sunday, Easter, and the LDS conference. I worry about travel conditions.  In fact, after a serious accident in 2006 on the return trip from Moscow the Board voted to do everything possible to plan it as late as possible in April.  Since I have been President I have tried to take everything into consideration. First and foremost is the safety of our members and then the cost of the convention to the membership and the organization.  The dates planned represent the very best facility, cost, and time available in Boise.  The convention will conclude Saturday night with the Banquet.  It was announced in the newspaper that the Boise Hotel and Conference Center has been sold, but I made sure that this possibility was covered in the contract that I negotiated with and signed with the hotel. I have since personally called and talked with the hotel management and received assurance that our contract cannot be changed by new ownership.  In fact, the hotel will be under remodeling the first part of the year, and the good news is that since we will not be there until May the new construction should all be completed before we arrive. We will be among the first to enjoy this incredible newly configured hotel!!



Vickie BatemanMeet the Federationists

By Vickie & Larry Bateman


I was born and raised in Shelley, Idaho, the town that my great grandfather, John Franklin Shelley founded.  Larry was born in Gooding, Idaho.  He spent his early school years in Gooding and then moved to New Meadows where he graduated from high school.  We were married in 1982.  Larry adopted my son, Dustin and together we had two more sons, Ryan and Delynn and a daughter, Valerie.  Larry has another son, Dion and daughter, Michelle from previous marriages. We have seven grand-children, all in Utah.  We enjoy sports events, the theater, music, church activities, the outdoors, traveling and spending time with our children and grandchildren.  Larry has worked in road construction as a superintendant for over 35 years.  He was also vice-president of operations for Momentum Medical in Murray, Utah for five years.  At this time, we have and enjoy our own independent business on the side that we do together regarding residential and business services.  We have lived in Shelley, Idaho for most of our married life and lived in Sandy, Utah for five of those years.

In 1977, I was in an industrial accident where I lost my right leg up to mid-thigh.  I had an attitude that I could do anything I put my mind to with or without my leg.   But after losing my sight in 2000, I felt like I was truly being held back from doing everything I wanted to do.  The combination of being an above the knee amputee and being legally blind was scary for me.  Through the NFB, I have found a new strength in independence.  I still walk with caution on uneven or unfamiliar ground, because my knee can buckle and I may fall.  I know my limits and at times it is frustrating, but I take one day at a time and appreciate all that I still can do.  Deep down I still have that attitude that I can do anything I put my mind to and can be very stubborn at times.


Larry and I were first introduced to the NFB in August of 2003 when the NFB of Idaho, with Larry Streeter as president, came to Idaho Falls to develop a chapter.  During the election of chapter officers, there were two others who were nominated for the position of chapter president, but they declined.  Then I was nominated and even though I knew very little about the NFB, I felt that I could not decline.  I was very overwhelmed, but Larry Streeter was a great mentor to me.  Colleen McFadden lived in Pocatello, but was elected as our Treasurer and promised to help with our chapter for the first few years.  Kevin Pirnie had been in the NFB most of his life and I have appreciated his input and support in our chapter throughout my presidency.  My husband has always been there to support me. We feel like our chapter is like family.  We have some really great people that we have become very close to.


Through the years, we have had some great experiences because of the NFB.  Larry and I received the Frank Smith award in 2004 and were able to attend the National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia.  I have only attended two national conventions, and loved both of them.  I have been able to attend the Washington Seminar in Washington D.C. once and have gone to the Jernigan Center in Baltimore three times. I have learned many things to help me be a better leader and a better person.  I have met many people and made many friends because of this organization.  I appreciate the philosophy of the NFB.  It has helped me to be more independent and not rely so much on others. There are so many amazing people that I admire and I have gained from other people’s examples in this organization.  I served as president in the Snake River Valley Chapter for 11 years.  I was pleased to hand that position over to Sandy Streeter who is doing an excellent job!  I am holding the office of Treasurer at this time in the chapter and 1st Vice-President of the State Affiliate.



My National Scholarship Opportunity

By Alana Leonhardy


Hearing that I had been selected as a 2014 NFB scholarship winner was a huge shock.  I’d applied upon the urging of my VR counselor, but didn’t expect to win. After all, there are 500-700 applicants annually.  However, I worked hard on my application and hoped for the best.


Convention week was a whirlwind of new ideas and experiences.  Our days were packed full of scheduled and strongly encouraged activities.  We had a new mentor every day, who spent time with us and showed us the federation ropes. These mentors were also from the selection committee, whose function it was to select who got which amount of money.  It’s hard to be a shy recipient, because you are required to give three brief introductory speeches.  The mentors who don’t get to meet you only have your introduction to go by.


I’ll be honest, the money is a pretty exciting part of winning, but it wasn’t the most important thing I brought back home with me. I brought back a budding confidence that I had been lacking since I lost my eyes, and I brought back the ability and desire to help better the lives of blind people in my own community. The NFB took a chance on me, and I’m honored they did.


Sandy StreeterSummer program helps visually impaired children. IDAHO FALLS, Idaho

Information from: Post Register


In a quiet classroom at the Idaho Falls Activity Center, 8-year-old Mei Mei Hill plastered zebra-print sticky material, tie-dye duct tape and eyeball foam stickers onto her brand new cane. “I like the eyeballs because they make it look sort of scary,” said Mei Mei, who lives in Pocatello. Once her newly razzled and dazzled cane was complete, Mei Mei, along with the other campers in this year’s Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning BELLsummer program, practiced swinging, tapping and exploring the halls of the empty building with their brand new mobility tools. That was a cane decorating activity on the first day of the two-week summer program designed for blind and visually impaired children. The program, in its second year, is run by the National Federation of the Blind. This year, six students are enrolled, up from four last year. “(The camp) is important for the kids, just because of the socialization,” said Nancy Luth, who works with most of the children during the school year through the Gooding-based Idaho Educational Services for the Deaf and Blind. “For blind students, there really aren’t many of them. To get them together in a group where they can talk about things that are important to them, and challenges they (share), that’s super important. The eastern Idaho camp started last summer when officials in the Snake River Valley Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind identified a need. The eastern Idaho camp followed the successful debut of a Boise camp the year prior, spokesman Sean Malone said. “For a lot of these kids, by the time they’re in their teens or early 20s, they may be completely blind,” Malone said. “So this is confidence for them. They don’t feel so left out or behind because by the time they’re in their 20s, they can’t read regular print any more. When they finish high school, they’ll be a step ahead. Throughout the program, kids practice a variety of activities designed to help them in daily living. Those include reading and writing braille, using a cane and learning non-visual techniques such as pouring liquids into a ‘cup’ or making cookies. Structured learning is coupled with field trips, including a trip to iJump trampoline park, miniature golf and a visit to a nearby candy shop. Allison McCracken, 12, signed up for the camp with her brother, Ashton McCracken, 8, for the first time this year. Both live in Idaho Falls. Allison said she’s most looking forward to the group iJump outing. Ashton said he’s most excited for a self-defense activity on Wednesday, in which the campers will learn a series of self-defense techniques. While those activities are fun, the daily braille reading is also helpful, Ashton said, because it gives him more opportunity to practice. “Practicing helps,” he said. “(Because) braille is hard sometimes, I can’t (always) tell each letter apart. The camp is funded this year with money from the Idaho Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired as well as a $1,000 grant from the Idaho National Laboratory. Money goes toward pay for a certified braille teacher, as well purchasing supplies – each camper receives a free cane and a free slate and stylus (a braille writing tool). Costs last year ran about $3,500, and this year, are expected to run slightly higher, to accommodate additional students. Officials hope to see more students participate in coming years. They’re also looking into expanding the program to a third location in future years, which would likely be in northern Idaho. “We know these students are out there,” Malone said. “Hopefully next year and as we continue to do this, we’ll get more and more of them to come. Mei Mei is a returning camper this year. She recalls her favorite activity last summer was visiting a fire station when the group took an outing to Idaho Falls Fire Department Station 3 and met firefighters. She said daily practice reading braille last summer has also helped her better learn the written language. “More time to practice gave me more time to be a good reader,” she said. “It was easy at first, now, it’s getting a little harder, but after practicing, I’m doing great.


My England Experience

By Dana Ard


This past Summer I had the opportunity to visit England as a member of St. Michael’s Cathedral adult choir. We had a residency at Winchester Cathedral, which means that we would provide music for services during the week of August 4-10, while the resident choir was on holiday. We had known about the trip since 2012, and had raised half the needed funds for the trip largely through the generosity of the church congregation.  The goal to go to England had been a dream of the choir for several years.


My preparation for the trip actually started at a chapter meeting.  We had been told that we would have to bring our choir robes, shoes, music, and black pants in a carry-on.  This was to insure that they wouldn’t get lost.  If we didn’t have these items, we couldn’t sing.  When I learned this information, I became concerned. I couldn’t imagine trying to keep up with everyone wheeling a suitcase and trying to use my cane.  I don’t walk straight with my cane, and I was afraid I might slow people down or worse, trip someone.  I brought up my concerns during a chapter meeting discussion that we were having.  Mary Syms-Pollot spoke up and advised me to get a back pack, pointing out that people backpack around Europe all of the time. That was all the help I needed. I borrowed a great backpack from one of our chapter members. It proved very useful, not just for a carry-on, but to transport music to and from the cathedral for my roommate Molly and me. I got some great wardrobe advice from a close friend in my Chorister group, who has taken many trips to Europe.  I was ready to go.


The trip to the U.K. takes over 7 hours from Minneapolis.  It was made much more enjoyable, when I found out the woman who sat next to me, was the daughter of a good friend from my days as a student at St. Olaf College.


We arrived in London around 9:00 A.M. We got our luggage and boarded our tour bus for Windsor Castle, which was one of three castles we visited. The others were Carisbrooke castle, and Arundel castle.  I found it difficult to visualize these castles as a totally blind person, whose concept of a castle is what you made in the sandbox at age five or six. All castles have walls and places where weapons can be fired to protect the castle. We bought a pastry from a side walk vendor for lunch. After the tour, we boarded our coach for Winchester.


Each day, we had some type of a tour.  In addition to the three castles, we visited Salisbury cathedral and Chichester cathedral in addition to having a full tour of Winchester Cathedral.  Each cathedral had a tactile model so I could see the differences among them.  Although all cathedrals are built in the shape of a cross, they are different from each other. My roommate, who was usually my tour guide, explained architecture and other visual information by using items that I could feel. My favorite tour was Stonehenge.  There were models of Stonehenge showing different periods of development.  There was a huge stone roped to a sled-like device, showing how the stones were moved from their original location to become part of this monument.  We were able to visit the Isle of Wight, where we toured Osborne House, which was the summer home for Prince Albert and Queen Victoria.  I visited the museum at Carisbroke castle, where I heard a recording of a reed organ built in 1602, and saw a short movie about Jack Sealy and his horse Warrior, who was the last horse to be involved in a war effort.


Food in England was wonderful, contrary to what I had heard.  I had the best chicken pot pie I’ve ever eaten with cheese in the crust, wonderful Indian food, excellent pizza, and of course, fabulous fish and chips.


Singing in the cathedral was amazing.  There was a seven second reverberation.  I had to listen to the choir members around me and not to the organ to avoid getting behind the director.  In addition to singing the eight services, I attended a service at the cathedral honoring England’s entrance into World War I.  They entered the war on August 4, 1914.  The music, prayers, and presentations were very moving.

This was truly a trip of a lifetime and an experience I will treasure forever.


Voting Independently with the Auto Mark Ballot Marking Device

By Dana Ard


I have been voting independently in federal elections since the AutoMark was introduced in Boise. I usually vote at our neighborhood location, but have voted at locations offering early voting options. Since I use a computer with a screen reader, I have found using the AutoMark quite easy and intuitive. Poll workers have always been able to help with problems.  I greatly appreciate the opportunity to vote in private.  Considering the cost of these machines, I would like to see them used in all elections. Even if a person had to go to a designated location to use the machine,  I believe privacy in voting is an American right and it should be for everyone, including the blind or disabled. I believe that some people with disabilities may be intimidated by the machine. Perhaps more opportunities to try it out should be available prior to election time.  Events, such as our county fair, could provide opportunities for people to try the machine and educate the public about its availability.


We are Still of Value

By Vel Slotten

President, NFBI Senior Division


We are senior citizens so we are told,

But we have something that youth do not;

Something that over time was begot;

Wisdom and knowledge planted within;

Watered by trials that seed did begin

To grow and mature taller each day

As we live our lives along the way.

We are not born with this in full bloom;

It takes a lifetime for it to be groomed.

Listen well and to this hold fast;

Our value, unlike our youth, has not passed.

Like good wine and beautiful art,

We, like they, have a lot to impart.

So until we are able,

Until our strength is gone,

We will move forward;

We will march on.

God is with us. Bless you all.




Every year, I try to feature recipes in our winter newsletter. This year Shelley Newhouse has provided recipes that she grew up with. I will add a couple of dishes that I enjoy as well. Happy eating!


Cheese, Pineapple, Marshmallows, and Bananas

By Shelley Newhouse

Shelley says that her father used to serve this on Sundays as an accompaniment with pork roast.

2 c. grated cheddar cheese

Place the cheese in a salad bowl. Pour over the cheese either 1 20 oz. can pineapple chunks, or pineapple tidbits. Add 2 c. miniature marshmallows. Just before serving, add 2-3 sliced bananas. Stir and enjoy.


Sauer Kraut and Sausage

This comes from Shelley’s mom’s side of the family

Crumble 1 lb. bulk sausage in a skillet and brown. Drain 1 15 oz. can of sauerkraut and add to sausage. Add 1 Tbsp. brown sugar and stir together. Cook until kraut is warmed through.


Carrots and Hamburger

Peel and grate 4 carrots and set aside. In a skillet, brown ½ lb. hamburger. Salt and pepper to taste. Add carrots and add more salt and pepper. Place 1 Tbsp over carrots. Add ½ c. water. Turn heat down and cook, stirring occasionally until mixture is done.




Crockpot Creamy Chicken and Barley

By Jeanne Corcoran, modified slightly by Dana Ard

I found this recipe in a taped publication I receive called the Newsreel. I did one slight modification. This recipe gets better the more it sits. It freezes well too.

1 c. uncooked barley

4 celery stalks chopped

1 onion chopped

Sliced fresh mushrooms to taste (I used 8 oz. sliced)

23 oz. can cream of chicken soup

14 oz. can chicken broth

½ c. white wine, (optional)

5 meaty drumsticks

Put barley on the bottom of the crockpot or slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients, except drumsticks. Stir to combine. Lay drumsticks on top. Cover. Cook, covered, on high 4-5 hours. Remove meat from drumsticks. Return to crockpot and stir to combine.


Yula’s Brownies

Yula Austin was a long-time friend who recently died

Yula gave me this recipe when I needed a different brownie recipe for a chapter bake sale. These are easy, and most of the time, you have the ingredients at hand.

1 c. butter (no substitutions)

2 c. sugar

1 6 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 t vanilla

4 eggs

¾ c. cocoa

1 c. flour

½ t baking powder

¼ t salt

1 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2 inch baking pan. In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter on high in the microwave. Add sugar, chips and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time beating well. Add remaining ingredients, except nuts and beat well. Add nuts if desired. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until batter pulls away from the pan and looks dry. Cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into 36 squares.



Romona WalhofMini Gems

By Ramona Walhof


Senior Division and Central Idaho Chapter Picnic:  August 9 the Central Idaho Chapter and the Senior Division got together at Rock Creek Park in Twin Falls for a pot luck picnic.  Grace Jacobson drove over from Pocatello, but most of the picnickers came from the Magic Valley and the Treasure Valley.  Co-chairs, Shelley Newhouse and Chris Jones planned a delightful afternoon so that people who don’t know each other well had a chance to eat and play together.


Elections:  Several chapters held elections this fall.  Central Idaho Chapter: President, Chris Jones; Vice President, Donalyn Jorgenson; Secretary, Judy Jones; Treasurer, Jacque Whiting.  Snake River Valley Chapter: President, Sandy Streeter; 1st Vice President, Kevin Pirnie; 2nd Vice President, Carla Teczon; Treasurer, Vickie Bateman; Secretary, David Jolley; Board Members; Sylvia Bernert and Wanda Jolley.  Treasure Valley Chapter: President, Dana Ard; 1st Vice President, Susan Bradley; 2nd Vice President, Earl Hoover; Secretary, Jennie Facer; Treasurer, Mike Gibson; Board Members: Susan Ford, Jan Gawith, Vel Slotten, Daniel Solis, Alison Steven, and Ramona Walhof.


Scholarship:  Alana Leonhardy from Moscow was selected by the scholarship Committee of the NFB as one of 30 winners of 2014 national scholarships.  She won $4000 cash plus several electronic items that will be useful in her college education and an expense-paid trip to Orlando, FL to attend the NFB Convention.  She is a sophomore at the University of Idaho where she is majoring in psychology.


New Job:  December 1st Susan Bradley began a new job as Technical Records Specialist I at the Commission on Aging.  She is relieved to be finished with the job search and begin real paid work.


New Chapter:  November 1st was the beginning of a new NFBI Chapter in Canyon County.  Members of the Treasure Valley Chapter traveled to Nampa and assisted with the adoption of a Constitution and the election of officers.  The President is Mike Gibson; Vice President Joe Grover; Secretary-Treasurer, James Nealey.  This group plans to meet at Smokey Mountain Pizza on the 2nd Thursday of each month.  A snowed-out meeting on November 13 will not discourage them.


Saturday Kids Club:  Alison Steven is leading a Saturday Club for blind and visually impaired kids the 2nd Saturday of each month.  They call it Braille Enrichment and Skills Training or BEST Club.  It is being held at the Boise activity Center at 690 Robins Road.  Blind adults and parents of these children are assisting.  There will also be some activities for parents separate from the kids.  In September the kids made kites, and in October they made clay dishes and dogs.  In November they glazed these creations.



Retirement:  Dana Ard has been employed first as a teacher and for the last few decades as a rehabilitation counselor for the Idaho Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  She is planning to retire at the end of 2014.  She will be missed by her customers and colleagues at the ICBVI, but she is looking forward to new and old projects in her next life.


Holiday Parties:  Treasure Valley Chapter is planning its Christmas luncheon and party Dec. 6.  Snake River Valley Chapter is planning their Christmas party on December 13.  Other chapters are planning holiday parties for members, friends, blind children and their families.


Death:  Brek Erickson has been an active member of the NFBI for nearly 20 years.  Although he experienced some health problems in recent months, his death last August came as a shock for his friends and family.  At the memorial service for Brek, many spoke of his determination to help friends and church colleagues learn about the abilities and techniques of the Blind.


Programs for Rotary Clubs:  Al Schneider has led an effort of the Treasure Valley Chapter to provide a program on blindness to each of the six Rotary clubs in Boise.


Luggage Straps:  The Treasure Valley chapter is selling bright orange luggage straps which show the NFB whozit logo for $7 each.  New members receive one when they join as long as the supply lasts.


Summer Buddy Program:  11-year-old Emilia Lane traveled to Minneapolis to participate in a three-week summer program for kids conducted by Blind Inc.  She gave a great presentation to the Treasure Valley Chapter about her experience.


State Convention:  The National Federation of the Blind of Idaho will hold its next Convention May 8 and 9, 2015 at the Boise Hotel and Convention Center.  It is time to begin planning to attend.


Learning about Birds:  Steve Bouffard is offering to lead blind people on hikes along the green belt and to help them learn about the sounds made by local birds.  Watch for dates and times for these events.


Barnes and Noble:  The Snake River Valley Chapter distributed information about blindness at Barnes and Noble again this year.  A small percentage of each purchase was donated to the chapter, and they were quite pleased with what they received.  They express their thanks to Barnes and Noble for inviting them back.


Interview:  Chris Jones, President of the Central Idaho Chapter, has accepted an invitation to be interviewed on News Radio 1310 at 9:00 a.m., December 29.


BELL:  Two two-week Bell programs (Braille Enrichment for Learning and Literacy) were held in Idaho last summer.  One was in Boise, and the other was in Idaho Falls.  A total of 14 children participated.  Blind adults and several certified teachers of blind children worked together to make this a wonderful program.  Alison Steven led the Boise BELL program, while Vickie Bateman and Sandy Streeter co-chaired the one in Eastern Idaho.  Many others helped in both locations.  Watch for further information about Idaho BELL next year.


Seven’s Hero:  Joe Grover, Elementary School teacher in Caldwell Public Schools and Vice President of the new Canyon County Chapter of the NFBI, was recognized by KTBV Channel 7 the week of November 17, 2014.  Joe supervises a lunch group for young boys to help them learn formal and adult behaviors for situations that are not casual.  We add our congratulations to Joe for this work and this recognition.


Graduation:  Earl Hoover will receive his Associate degree in Multidisciplinary Studies on December 19, 2014 from Boise State University.  He will be continuing on with his bachelor’s degree next semester.





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