Monday December 2, 1985
Cedar Valley Times
Monday, December 2, 1985
Key official to attend as committee prepares fight
By J. DAMON CAIN
VINTON— The public meeting at 7:30 tonight on the proposed move of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School from Vinton to Council Bluffs is still on as scheduled at Tilford Middle School, and the chairman of the special action committee fighting the move said he's all the more determined today than he was last week.
The public meeting has also attracted the attention of Wayne Richey, executive secretary of the State Board of Regents and the person in charge of the study to move the Braille school to Council Bluffs.
Morris Eckhart, chairman of the Vinton Unlimited committee to "Save Our School", said he was angered by a report that Gov. Terry Branstad will make announcement tomorrow of a huge plan to downsize and reorganize state government.
Included in the governor's plan is the proposed merger of the Braille school with the Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs. Eckhart will lead a local delegation to Des Moines Dec. 13 to discuss the matter with the governor. Eckhart and his committee were hoping the governor would delay his announcement until after they have a chance to influence Branstad's thinking.
Asked what purpose the Dec 13 meeting with the governor would serve if Branstad makes his announcement Tuesday, Eckhart said, "It kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it. As a matter of fact, I'm sitting here wondering that myself."
According to a copyrighted story in Sunday's Des Moines Register, Branstad will propose a series of cut backs and freezes, the sale of some 80 state liquor stores, the sale of WOI-TV in Ames, and downsizing the number of state agencies to meet a projected $107 million state budget deficit.
Part of the governor's plan, and at issue here in Vinton, is Branstad's expected proposal to join the school for the blind and the school for the deaf into one facility in Council Bluffs.
"I don't know how much input he (Gov. Branstad) has had," said Eckhart, "but I know he hasn't received our report and I know he hasn't received the recommendation of the board of regents. Maybe he doesn't want to be confused with the facts."
Vinton Unlimited's position, spelled out in a paper that will be presented to the public tonight, focuses its concern on the education of the Braille students.
Vinton Unlimited's position paper argues that deaf and blind students cannot be taught as effectively in one facility as they could in separate facilities. The committee has in hand three separate studies that draw the same conclusion.
Richey, who will respond to questions from tonight's audience at the public meeting, has called those studies "self serving."
Eckhart believes the fight to keep the Braille school in Vinton will have to be taken somewhere other than the governor's office.
"It looks to me like we'll have to take this fight to the legislature and it looks to me like Terry Branstad is going to lose the election," Eckhart said.
Branstad is up for re-election this coming year, and Eckhart said the time may be at hand to fight the governor's proposal on a political front.
What concerns Eckhart is that the main focus of the governor is on cost cutting measures and not on the education of the youth.
"The governor's proposal would adversely affect the education of these multi-handicapped children. I'd hate to think that I live in a state that doesn't care for the education of these children."
Asked if he were as determined to keep the Braille school in Vinton after hearing what the governor's plans were, Eckhart said, "All the more so. They've got me mad, now. I was just dedicated to the cause before. I'll fight a long time on an empty stomach.”
Cedar Valley Times
Monday, December 2, 1985
Citizens urged to attend, input key
VINTON—The snow is piled high and the temps are ridiculously low. Bone chilling, in fact.
But rarely have the stakes for Vinton been so high.
Tonight at 7:30 in the auditorium of Tilford Middle School here in Vinton, a public meeting will be held on the proposed move of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School from Vinton to Council Bluffs.
With 117 fulltime employees and an annual payroll of $1.9 million, the economic loss of the Braille school to Vinton would be, as local officials have stated, "disastrous."
That, however, is not the main concern of those closely linked to the crusade to keep the Braille school here.
Their main concern is to maintain quality education for the blind and multi-handicapped students.
Whatever the concern locally, Vinton and Benton County citizens are encouraged to attend tonight's meeting.
Wayne Richey, executive secretary of the State Board of Regents and the author of the plan to merge the school for the blind with the school for the deaf, has been invited to the public meeting tonight and he will be in attendance.
"He said he won't have any prepared remarks, "said Morris Eckhart, chairman of the special action committee to 'Save Our School.' "But I will introduce him and he will answer questions specifically addressed to him."
Eckhart has said a "huge" turnout of citizens tonight would serve the community and his committee's effort well.