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Sagebrush 2007

By Jeana Martin-Hanlon, California Vendor

The 2007 Annual NTCBV (Sagebrush) Convention kicked off on Monday, February 5, 2007 at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas Nevada. Monday's agenda included various Board meetings and on-site registration.

On Tuesday, the program began with an excellent panel discussion on planning for the adoption of the Randolph-Sheppard proposed reform legislation. The moderator of the panel was Ms. Melanie Brunson, ACB Executive Director. Other panel members included Robert Humphries, Esq., Mr. Terry Smith, Director of Tennessee Services for the Blind and Chair of the NCSAB Randolph-Sheppard Committee, and Ms. Catriona Macdonald of the Blind Entrepreneurs' Alliance The proposed legislation was cited and plans were discussed on how to eliminate the negativity of the Kennedy HELP Committee and push for positive improvement of the Randolph-Sheppard priority. The afternoon session continued with further discussions of this extremely important topic. The day's work was, of course, topped off with a relaxing Nevada Luau reception; and vendors were able to meet new friends, as well as share food, drinks and laughter with old friends, and listen to the ukulele being played by our own stars Filo Tu, David Hanlon, Bob Humphries and Warren Toyama.

Wednesday morning we enjoyed a welcoming address by Charles Glaser, RSVA President, as well as a continental breakfast. By 9:00 a.m. all of the participants were back to work, hearing first hand from Mr. Ray Hopkins how the new plan without regional offices is working for the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). Mr. Terry Smith, NCSAB, and other State Licensing Agency participants held a panel discussion with questions and answers for the convention participants. Ms. Melanie Brunson, then presented a talk entitled, "The Legislative Perspective with Democrats in Control of the House and Senate".

On Wednesday evening, the Randolph-Sheppard vendors of California hosted the annual auction and social mixer with guest auctioneer, Hazel Harmon, along with her band of helpful vendors, including California vendors Jeana Martin-Hanlon and Tom Evans. Vendors attending purchased over $6,800.00 in items and enjoyed all the added camaraderie, snacks, drinks, etc. RSVC extends its heartfelt thanks to all who participated either with donations or purchases to make this our most successful fundraiser auction for RSVA.

The highlight of Thursday's presentations was an in-depth discussion by Mr. Steve Leavy of the United States Postal Service and the "Mini Texas" USPS Contract, which is being utilized by several states presently, and is being presented to all states. Mr. Leavy assured the vendors that the proposal is in the best interests of the Randolph-Sheppard priority program and actually creates more vending machine commissions for vendor programs. He also stated the USPS is no longer mandating large cafeterias for building populations of less than 850 employees and is instead preferring snack bars with grills.

Mr. John Gordon gave an update on the issues of Illinois, particularly the actions of the Governor in relation to soda contracts. Mr. Mike Lee, co-manager of the Fort Benning Contract then held a question and answer session open to the participants regarding DOD, rest areas, USPS, etc. Exhibitor presentations then followed.

Thursday afternoon was reserved for exhibits. Many new items were shown, allowing vendors to learn about new machine styles, new food/beverage products, and even new surface protection products and remote machine monitoring systems. The exhibitors and participants were treated to a great reception and luncheon sponsored by Red Bull Corporation, with cash and prize drawings as well.

Friday morning, after the usual introductions and announcements, Mr. Gary Goyke, former State Senator from Wisconsin and lobbyist, etc., gave a great presentation/motivational speech, as well as shared a lot of history about the Randolph-Sheppard program. There was also a vendor panel discussion, which was extremely informative concerning "happenings" in other states.

The Annual Awards luncheon was then held which included a speech by Chris Gray, ACB president. The luncheon was followed by a performance of a comedian, which was enjoyed by all!

We are looking forward to seeing everyone at the 2008 Sagebrush Convention in Las Vegas next year!




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