Spokane Countdown Begins in Earnest

by Dale Stamper and Christina Hitchcock

Official Notice


Pursuant to the provisions of Section 3b of Article IX (National Convention) of the BVA National Bylaws, all members of the Blinded Veterans Association in good standing are hereby notified that the BVA 68th National Convention will be held at the Red Lion Hotel At The Park, 303 West North River Drive, Spokane, WA 99201, from Tuesday, August 20, through Friday, August 23, 2013. Periodic updates regarding the convention will be posted regularly to the Convention page on the BVA website.

The host regional group for the 68th National Convention is the Spokane Inland Empire Regional Group. The Convention Chair is Dale Stamper.

BVA members in good standing who wish to vote by proxy may request a form by writing or calling the Administrative Director at BVA National Headquarters no later than 45 days before the opening day of the 68th National Convention. Because the convention's opening day is August 20, the deadline for requesting a proxy form is July 6, 2013.

In compliance with Section 2c of Article IX, the proxy form must be completed and returned to BVA National Headquarters (Attn: Administrative Director). To be considered valid, the envelope containing the form must be postmarked no later than 21 days before the opening date of the convention. The due date is therefore July 30, 2013.

Join Us in The Lilac City!


If you have never attended a BVA Convention, this is the year to join us.  We have a full agenda with important issues to discuss, and a newly developed orientation program to welcome first-time participants and brief all members about BVA's accomplishments and its future. Our Exhibit Hall is destined to be full of useful resources, new technologies, tools, and other information.

The Garland Theater was the premier movie house in the west and some 20 years ahead of its time when it first opened in 1945. Photo courtesy of Ben Tobin, Visit Spokane.
The Garland Theater was the premier movie house in the west and some 20 years ahead of its time when it first opened in 1945. Photo courtesy of Ben Tobin, Visit Spokane.

In addition to our invitation to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, we have some excellent speakers lined up for the Thursday morning Forum and we are honored to have a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient accept our invitation as the Father Carroll  Luncheon keynote speaker.

Spokane is a great convention city.  It has hosted many diverse groups and events, including the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, the American Council of the Blind convention, the National Ice Skating Championships, and recently the 61st National Square Dance Convention.

Spokane, Washington, "the Lilac City" and Coeur D'Alene, Idaho "the Lake City" form a large metropolitan area in a beautiful setting. The numerous rivers and lakes make it a popular summer vacation destination. The moderate average temperature in August of 69 degrees allows visitors the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities and the many parks and recreational facilities. 

The cultural diversity of the area includes museums, historical mansions from the early part of the last century, and tours of old gold mines. A great place to visit is the historical Davenport Hotel. This hotel, built in 1914, has been restored and renovated during the past ten years. It is a great example of European architecture in the Pacific Northwest. It would be a worthwhile experience to tour the hotel and then enjoy an excellent dinner at the Palm Court restaurant in the grand lobby.

The Bing Theater, honoring native son Bing Crosby, and others bring in entertainers throughout the summer months.

For those who choose to arrive a day or two before the official start of the convention, the many rivers and lakes in the area provide great opportunities for water sports and recreation. It is possible to go kayaking, jet skiing or even take the scenic gondola ride across the Spokane River near the Spokane Falls.

Simply put, there is something for everyone. Convention attendees searching for a little excitement could visit the Silver Wood Theme Park. It features great attractions such as the log run, but be prepared to cool off splashing into the pool at the bottom of the run. The number one feature is the "Timber Terror" a wood frame roller coaster or, for those wanting tamer experiences, they can ride on the narrow gauge train winding through the forested park.  If games of luck or chance appeal to you, The Northern Quest Casino would make a great evening get away.

If America's original favorite pastime is more your style, Spokane has a minor league baseball team that will be in town Monday, August 19, and Thursday, August 22.   You may also want to build in some time to play a round of golf at one of the four courses within 10 minutes of the hotel.

The Red Lion Hotel has been selected to host the convention. It is located on the Spokane River on the edge of Riverfront Park, originally developed as the venue for the 1974 World's Fair.  The hotel is centrally located downtown just 15 minutes from the airport and has a very nice in-house restaurant and cafe.

Downtown Spokane boasts a great variety of restaurants in easy walking distance of the hotel, which also offers free shuttle service within a two-mile radius for those not wishing to walk. Because of the location, it would even be possible to make arrangements to take the short drive to Idaho and enjoy a Coeur D'Alene Lake dinner cruise in the evening.

Alaskan Cruise


BVA members who have never experienced an Alaskan cruise may soon discover how to do so in conjunction with the 68th National Convention.

Highlights of such a cruise include travel up the west coast of Canada and Alaska while visiting interesting ports of call with names associated with the Klondike Gold Rush. A visit to Glacier Bay is also included.

Cruise lines are based in Seattle and leave from there. Because the convention this year concludes on a Friday evening, a post-convention cruise becomes an even more logistically feasible bonus to an exhilarating national convention.

Please speak with your travel agent or search online for assistance. If both alternatives are impossible or inconvenient, please contact Dale at dstamper@roadrunner.com.

Live Auction


Because of the success and enjoyment provided by the live auction last year, a similar component is planned for the BVA 68th National Convention.

We are letting everyone know well in advance so that they will have it on their personal agendas to attend. We are also requesting items to be donated for the auction so please contact me, Dale, if and when you come across such items.

As just one example, please consider the possibility of donating time to be spent at a vacation home or a timeshare condominium as one of the more upscale prizes.

Bidding on a Future BVA Convention


Some of our members, both longtime members as well as those who recently joined, are not fully aware of the procedure for the selection of national convention locations. 

As the organization has grown, conventions and the process for their selection have also changed considerably. The current procedure for bidding on a convention has been added to the revised regional group manual that can be located on the BVA website.

Regional groups interested in learning more about hosting a national convention should contact Christina at chitchcock@bva.org. She will go over the procedure to ensure that a regional group bid eventually secures the full consideration of the BVA membership. It is preferable for bids to be submitted prior to the mid-winter Board meetings, thus providing sufficient time for site visits to the prospective hotels.

BVA is currently accepting bids for the conventions in 2014 and 2015.

Important Dates and Deadlines


BVA National Headquarters distributed notices in January regarding nominations for Certificates of Appreciation, the Maas and Diener Awards, the Wilburn H. Long Employment Award, and the David L. Schnair Volunteer Service Award. These actions also occurred in compliance with articles within the BVA National Bylaws.

A reminder will also be mailed to regional group presidents and secretaries on March 19 regarding the due date for submission of bylaw amendments for consideration at the convention. A mailing to all BVA members in good standing and residing in Districts 3 and 4 will also occur on or before March 23 (150 days leading up to August 20). The mailing will call for nominations for District Director.

Three copies of the credentials form will also be mailed on April 12 to all regional groups.

Both regional groups and individuals should refer to the following timeline in preparing for the convention. Items listed include actions required of the Association's national headquarters, regional groups, and individuals. Questions can be addressed by calling BVA National Headquarters at 800-669-7079. Asterisks indicate actions required by the BVA National Bylaws.
  1. March 19*--National headquarters sends reminder to regional group presidents and secretaries that proposed bylaw amendments to be considered at the 68th National Convention must be postmarked no later than 90 days before the convention (May 22).

  2. March 23 (no later than 150 days before convention)--Mail call for nomination of Directors of Districts 3 and 4 to members in good standing from each of the two districts.

  3. April 12*--Mail credentials forms to regional group presidents, vice presidents, secretaries, and treasurers (three copies each).

  4. April 22*--Nominations for BVA Certificates of Appreciation, the Melvin J. Maas and Irving Diener Awards, the Wilburn H. Long Employment Award, and the David L. Schnair Service Award all due at national headquarters.

  5. Mid-May*--68th National Convention pre-registration package prepared and sent to printer.

  6. Mid-May*--68th National Convention proxy forms mailed but only by request of national headquarters Administrative Director.

  7. May 10 (no earlier than 100 days before convention)--Earliest date to mail pre-registration package and official convention notice to potential attendees (two days prior to actual required date since May 12 is a Sunday).

  8. May 22 (no earlier than 90 days before convention)--Earliest date to distribute ballots for Districts 3 and 4 elections to district members.

  9. May 22 (no later than 90 days before convention)--Envelopes containing proposed bylaw amendments must be directed to national headquarters and postmarked.

  10. May 22 (no earlier than 90 days before convention)--Earliest date to mail proposed bylaw amendments to members in good standing.

  11. May 22 (90 days before convention and 60 days following original mail call referred to above)--Nominations for regular elections of Directors of Districts 3 and 4.

  12. June 6 (no later than 75 days before convention)--Latest date to mail pre-registration package and official convention notice from national headquarters.

  13. June 11 (no later than 70 days before convention)--Latest date for national headquarters to mail ballots for regular elections of Directors of Districts 3 and 4.

  14. June 15*--National headquarters mails annual financial report forms (three copies) to treasurers of regional groups.

  15. July 5 (no later than 45 days before convention)--Ballots for regular elections for Directors of Districts 3 and 4 must be postmarked no later than midnight (one day prior to actual required date since July 6 is a Saturday).

  16. July 5 (no later than 45 days before convention)--Latest date to mail proposed bylaw amendments to members in good standing.

  17. July 11 (no later than 40 days before convention)--Regional group meeting notices to elect convention delegates must be mailed to group members. A copy of the notice must also be mailed to national headquarters at the same time it is mailed to the group membership.

  18. July 16 (35 days before convention)--National headquarters counts election ballots for regular election of Directors of Districts 3 and 4.

  19. July 30 (21 days before convention)--Completed delegate credentials forms and proxy forms must be postmarked no later than midnight.