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On Sight  
Second Edition - March 27

Pardon Our Dust!

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A rectangular yellow sign reads: “CAUTION – AREA UNDER CONSTRUCTION.” The words “caution” are yellow and in a black textbox. The remaining text is in black.

Construction Set to Begin for Council Office Front Lobby The renovation of our lobby is scheduled to start on Monday, March 27.   

At this time, our reception staff will not be at their normal working space and will be unable to greet and guide visitors as they enter the building. Please know that Store Manager Brent Perzentka will be keeping an eye out for visitors from his office located at the back end of the store.  

Our store will also have a few select items located on the second floor during this time. Please know that we do have an elevator for those needing assistance. Staff, as usual, will be happy to assist in reviewing products located on the second floor.  

Please be prepared for disruption, noise & dust while visiting. This construction project has a projected completion date of three to four weeks.  

Council Legislative Day returns to the Capitol on Tuesday, April 11;

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Legislative Committee member Patty Zallar (far right) and Council Board Member Tom Peralta (far left)pose with State Senator Jerry Petrowski (center) during the Council Legislative Day 2016. Tom holds his white cane as all three smile, posing for the photo.

Focus on State Budget in Relation to Five Legislative Priorities On Tuesday, April 11, the Council, members of the blind and visually impaired community and sighted allies, will gather at the State Capitol to bring the needs and concerns of visually impaired Wisconsinites to our state representatives.  

The five legislative priorities of the Council are transportation, employment, education, healthcare, and ADA/civil liberties. The state budget will serve as the umbrella for discussion of all these issues.  

“We’re fortunate because Governor Walker has focused his budget around issues that are also important to us,” says Rhonda Staats, Legislative Committee Chair. “He might not have the same perspective as us, but at least we’re talking on the same page.”

The day will offer a way to create dialog between legislators and their visually impaired and sighted ally constituents. Questions and talking points will be prepared in advance, so if you are not sure what you would say, do not worry – the Council will help to prepare you.

“We want to emphasize that the legislative process is a marathon and not a sprint,” says Denise Jess, CEO/Executive Director of the Council. “We are very much in this for the long haul. We want there to be an exchange of information between ourselves and the legislators.”

The session will begin at 10 A.M. with a welcome and agenda review from CEO/Executive Director Denise Jess and Legislative Committee Chair Rhonda Staats. Michael Blumenfeld, the Council’s Legislative Liaison, will provide an overview of the state budget regarding how it applies to the Council’s legislative priorities. Lawmakers likely from the Joint Finance Committee will join the group for additional presentation and discussion.  

After lunch, office visits will take place, where attendees will individually present folders of information and seek conversation with legislators throughout the State Capitol building. The event will adjourn at 3 P.M.

The cost for participation is $10, which covers lunch and coffee. All registrants will receive a packet of information via email to use to familiarize themselves with the state budget and Council issues.  

“The event will be worthwhile for anyone who attends,” Rhonda says. “We’ll talk about keeping the communication with our lawmakers open going forward. One visit to the Capitol is never enough. We want to be in a framework of continued engagement with our legislature.”  

If you are interested in participating, contact the Council to register by Monday, April 3 through calling (608) 255-1166. Registration materials will also be posted at  

Come and be a part of the difference that improves the lives of blind and visually impaired people in Wisconsin!

Big Share Creates BIG Results for
the Council and other Participating Organizations

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A black square features a border with teal, green and plum colored confetti. In the middle top is THE BIG SHARE logo and in the middle bottom is the WCBVI logo. Between the two logos and on a diagonal reads “THANK YOU!” in large green cursive lettering.

On March 7, fifty-five people donated to the Council via The Big Share, a one-day online giving day organized by Community Shares of Wisconsin. Two-thousand seven hundred and thirteen individuals donated $315,305 to make this the largest one-day online giving day in Wisconsin. 2017 was the third year the Council participated in the campaign, along with 66 other local nonprofits. This year, the Council raised $3,249. Donations to the Council through The Big Share will go to fund home rehabilitation visits and the
white cane program.  

“The Big Share is different because the fundraising is done online,” said Lori Werbeckes, Fund Development Director. “All of these people saw us online, and that’s very different from all of the fundraising we do.”

Fourteen people had donated to the Council previously via other methods, but gave through The Big Share for the first time. Twenty people were first time donors. During our “Power Hour” from noon to 1 P.M., supporters raised our total from $400 to $2,000.

As stated on The Big Share website: “Thank you to everyone who gave to and supported The Big Share on March 7. You showed that when the community comes together, we truly can change the world.”  

We would like to extend a special thankyou to those who gave before the actual day of The Big Share as “Council Visionaries” on our social media. Our “Council Visionaries” were Denise Jess, Loretta Himmelsbach, Debby Meyer and Monica Wahlberg.  

The mission of Community Shares of Wisconsin is “together with its donors and member nonprofits, to addresses social, economic, and environmental problems through grassroots activities, advocacy, research, and public education. CSW represents many people, many dreams, and one community.”

Whatever amount you decided to give and whenever you submitted your gift, we thank you for your support. We wouldn’t be able to provide the programs that enhance the lives of blind and visually impaired people if not for donors like you.  

Council Staff Participate in Cycle for Sight

Cycle for Sight photo

Council staff and friends pose for a photo at the annual Cycle for Sight event. From left to right: Board member Kelsey Tiradani, Store Manager Brent Perzentka, Administrative Project Manager Justin Lemke and Jennifer Brown.

On Saturday, March 11, Council staff and board participated in “Cycle for Sight,” an annual indoor cycling fundraiser organized to benefit the McPherson Eye Research Institute at UW Madison.  

This year’s event hosted 250 participants, which is the highest to date. Supporters had the option of riding indoor spinning bikes at the UW Natatorium, UW Southeast Recreational Facility or the Princeton Club West. Walking was also offered at the Princeton Club location. An additional option of riding or walking during a time outside of the March 11 date that worked best for the participant was also made available.  

A total of approximately $47,000 has been raised through Cycle for Sight this year for the McPherson Eye Research Institute to continue it’s important eye related research. Donations for Cycle for Sight can be made through mid-April. So far, the Council Team has well exceeded its $500 goal and has raised $820, with the bulk of the funds raised by Store Manager Brent Perzentka. Additional thanks to Council staff Justin Lemke, Lori Werbeckes, Gale Hellpap, and Denise Jess for participating on the WCBVI team. Additional thanks to Jennifer Brown for joining the Council team, Jean Kalscheur for participating with the RP group and board member Annika Konrad for additional representation.  

To learn more about Cycle for Sight, click here to view a Channel 3 interview featuring Annika Konrad:  

Wise Old Buck

This Month’s Featured Story on living with vision impaired from The
Outlook From Here

By Steve Johnson 

The wise buckThe “Wise Old Buck” of Steve Johnson’s epic winter adventure lies on the snowy ground surrounded by fallen pine needles. There is a rope tied around his antlers and is pulled to the right side of his body. The deer lays sullen with his eyes shut and nose pointing downward.

It was a late, cold, snow-covered Friday afternoon the 2nd weekend in December, and a group of hunters with varying abilities along with their mentors, gathered for the last deer hunt of the season.  The managed hunt took place in the steep coulees of Vernon County, and the hunt sponsor asked that the 10 hunters with their mentors start a day early as there was a severe snowstorm making its way toward the Coulee Region with forecasts predicting up to 10 inches of snow.  Now, I don’t consider myself a wuss, but hunting in December has it’s pluses and minuses with the latter being the potential for brutal cold, and that’s exactly what we were going to face those cold mornings and late afternoons.   

This was actually my 3rd deer hunt this year, and my goal for my entire life, has been to harvest a “braggin’ buck.”  After I lost my sight in 1986, I never dreamed that I would ever be able to deer hunt again, but through legislation passed in 2003, this law allowed legally blind hunters who possessed a DNR-issued Class-C disabled hunting permit, to use a laser sighting device to harvest game with a firearm or bow/crossbow.  The concept is that the assistant, which is required under this law, can direct the hunter onto the target as they are holding the weapon, allowing the legally blind hunter to independently maneuver the weapon.   

My hunting partner and I managed to get out to the pop-up hunting tent by about 3:15 on that Friday afternoon which gave us only about 1.5 hours to hunt.  Fortunately, I had a one pound propane heater which really helped to cut the chill.  We got settled in, lit the heater, and nestled against a steep hill.  We could see up and down the old approximately 8 foot wide logging trail, down into the gully, and up onto the ridgetops.  It was a quiet evening, and after a hard day of work for the both of us, the warmth of the tent gave us that tryptophan effect as we struggled to keep our eyes open.

“Did you hear that?” I whispered to Randy.  

“Yep,” said Randy. “It’s a lone turkey making its way up the hillside, scratching for acorns or whatever other snow-covered morsels it might find.”   

As we watched it crest the top of the hill to the front and right of us, the turkey disappeared, and the dense woods quickly became silent once again.   

A few minutes later, we both said, “Did you hear that?”  It was a “slow, crunch, crunch, pause,” and then “crunch.”  Randy whispered, “Yes, but I can’t see anything.”   

We continued to hear this same sound for the next hour, and still couldn’t see whatever it was, but were convinced something was out there.  We were on high alert as we were losing time and daylight quickly, and knew the season would be ending soon.  

Suddenly, Randy whispered, “I see it. It’s a deer making its way up the deep gulley.” A few seconds later, he whispered in an excited voice, “I see horns!”  

We estimated this deer to be at least 150 yards out, but the hills and valleys can be deceiving, so this was a guess at best.  The buck, which we still couldn’t tell much about, slowly made his way up the hill toward the logging road in front of us.   

Randy excitedly whispered, “He is going to cross the logging road, and when he does, we are going to take a shot.”  He said, “Shoulder your gun, and get ready!”

I use a Remington .270 semi-automatic rifle mounted with a high-power military green laser sight.  The key to using such a device is to make sure it is kept warm otherwise the green laser will fail; chalk that one up for experience!  So, I had brilliantly taken a fresh hand warmer, and put it in an old wool sock as the warmers need to breathe, and put it snuggly over the laser like a mitten, so when the time came, all I would need to do is gently pull the sock off.   

Now that time was here!  Randy and I have hunted previously with much success, so we were comfortable with my shooting style, and he knew how to quickly get me on the intended target.  Randy would tell me to turn on the laser, which is operated by a tiny mouse-like switch, and almost simultaneously he would have me click my gun’s safety off.   

The buck started to break the woods line, and cautiously entered onto the logging road.  We quickly got the laser sight on the buck, and Randy whispered, now!  The thunderous kaboom of the .270 echoed throughout the hills and valleys, and we weren’t sure if he was ours or not.  We let the woods settle down for about 5 minutes or so, and as we quietly talked about what might have just happened, we both agreed that we thought we heard
him run off (Crap!).   

As I stayed back in the hunting blind, Randy slowly made his way up the logging trail through the 2 or so inches of snow, and I waited for some confirmation.   


Then he suddenly let out a woot!  He came back to the pop-up tent, and said, “He’s a beast!  He’s a 7-pointer, but one of the biggest bodies he had ever seen on a deer.”   

He said he was graying, and probably on the downside of his life, and had managed to survive through at least the previous 5 seasons or more of deer hunting in Wisconsin.

After tagging the buck, we made our way back to camp to get some help because we definitely needed it.  We drove the Kawasaki Mule to the spot where the buck laid, and had to winch the buck to the logging road as he had actually slipped about 30 yards back down the hill, and there was no way the 3 of us would be able to pull him up onto the logging road.  The wise old 7-point buck measured an amazing 20-inch inside spread, and the
estimated dressed weight had to be close to 250 pounds!  It took everything we had for the 3 of us to eventually lift this monster onto the Mule!   

After sitting back and realizing the magical beauty of this animal and moment, it suddenly dawned on me that he was indeed that wise old buck that I had dreamt about harvesting for the past 40 years. Yep, he was finally that braggin buck!

Featured Council Contributor Q & A:
Heather Buggs – Program Assistant

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How long have you been working at the Council?

9 ½ years 


What is the most rewarding part of your job? How do you think the Council makes the greatest impact on the community?  

I enjoy seeing and hearing stories of clients being satisfied and happy in successfully finding a product that helps them with daily life. I find rewards in being able to be a part of that happiness and success when I am able to be a part of that process.

I really appreciate being able to help people on the phone as well.

I feel that the Council has made a great impact on the community by fulfilling the mission statement of helping blind and visually impaired people to have dignity and stay independent in their home or in life in general. I find that the Council has helped to break down barriers and stereotypes of how people think blind and visually impaired people act or think as well.

I enjoy having conversations with people about how blind and visually impaired people can do anything they set their mind to.


What do you like to do for fun outside of work?  

My hobbies are reading and participating in outdoor activities - most of all I enjoy participating in activities in the warm weather.