Prepare, Empower, Employ
As Eye See It

July, 2018                                                                           Volume 21      Issue 2

Greetings from the President                                                              By Lerae Olesen

Hello everyone, welcome to summer!! Time is flying by, and I can hardly believe June is half over, at this writing. Your board of Directors has met twice via conference call since the last newsletter was published. A summary of the meetings can be found elsewhere in this issue. We are excited for the upcoming state convention, to be held in Sioux Falls on September 7 and 8 at the Country Inn & Suites. Chelle Hart and her committee have been working hard to plan a full program which will be enjoyable, educational, and motivational. Mark your calendars now. Of course, with our convention, we will have our annual business meeting on Saturday afternoon. The meeting will include election of officers whose terms are two years each, and two Board members whose terms are three years each. Please consider nominating someone to fill these positions, or, better yet, asking someone to nominate you.  As you will recall, especially if you attended our membership meeting last year, we set four goals that we wanted to work toward. I’m glad to say we have not failed on all of them. However, as I, who tend to be a procrastinator, reminded the board, these are goals. We can carry them over to next year if we so choose. The goals include: *Consumer Community Outreach—Implement a program to distribute low tech vision aids to individuals who need them; *Increased communication with members through regularly timed newsletters and electronic communication; *Identify and implement one focused public education campaign; and *Hold two regional meetings, one East River and one West River. These goals were to have been met by September 1, 2018. I’m reminding you of these goals now, so we can think about how to revamp them for next year. While they are good goals, the Board alone CANNOT, nor should they be responsible for meeting them. It takes all of us working together with help from one another. We all need to ask for help now and then from each other and from our sighted friends or family. Sometimes we learn about something that needs fixing when we ask for help. I’ll share this story from just last night, June 14th. I asked my friend, Heather, to come into my apartment to help me with something. It was about 8:45, still light out. When I opened the door, I flipped on the switch to turn on the light and walked in. As she cautiously walked in and I closed the door, she said, “Oh, it’s dark.” I quickly turned on the light in the dining area and with the light coming in through the windows, she was able to see what she needed, and didn’t seem too flustered.  I realized, not for the first time, I need new light bulbs in my hallway. I wonder how long they have been burned out. Of course, now I’ll have to ask for help again, to purchase and install the new bulbs. If I hadn’t needed Heather’s help in the first place, who knows how long it would have been until I got new bulbs. This story may seem like it doesn’t have anything to do with SDAB’s goals, convention, etc. Actually, it’s just a little humorous incident that I wanted to share, and hope you find you can relate to it.   

I hope this newsletter finds you doing well and keeping busy, though not so busy that you can’t be involved in our organization as we Integrate into the sighted world, Educate people as to our abilities, and Advocate when and wherever appropriate. Until next time, let’s continue to work together for the benefit of all of us.





GREETINGS FROM THE PRESIDENT                                                       1

SDAB MEMBERSHIP AND OFFICERS                                                       4

MISSION STATEMENT                                                                                 3

SDAB FAMILY NEWS                                                                                    5

BLIND BLUNDERS                                                                                        5

OUR TRIP TO ISRAEL                                                                                  6

SKI FOR LIGHT                                                                                              9

STATE CONVENTION INFORMATION                                                     9

AS EYE COOK                                                                                              12

EXPRESSVOTE                                                                                            12

UPCOMING AWARDS                                                                                 12

SIOUXLAND NEWS                                                                                     13

SUMMARY OF MEETING                                                                          13

MEMBERSHIP FORM                                                                                  15



SDAB Mission Statement:  To support and advocate for the full inclusion of persons who are blind and visually impaired into all aspects of society.  This is accomplished through public education, peer support, community service, self and systems advocacy, and developing and supporting legislation.




2018 South Dakota Association of the Blind


Mailing Address: PO Box 1622 Sioux Falls, SD 57101-1622

Facebook: South Dakota Association of the Blind



President: Lerae Olesen: Sioux Falls - 605-978-9267

Past President: Dave Miller: Rapid City - 605-336-6628

1st V-President: Chelle Hart: Sioux Falls - 605-332-6059

2nd V-President: Seth Sims: Sioux Falls – 605-339-9512

Secretary: Dawn Brush: Aberdeen – 606-229-4129

Treasurer: Steve Hart: Sioux Falls – 605-332-6059

Board Of Directors:

Koni Sims: Sioux Falls – 605-941-9512

Deb Ver Steeg: Sioux Falls – 605-331-2131

Tevan Fischbach: Aberdeen – 7605-226-2574

Doug Puetz: Rapid City – 605-355-0668

Eric Rippentrop: Sioux Falls –  605-261-3117

Nick Pavel: Sioux Falls – 605-661-7707

Committees: (The first person named is the chair of the committee)

Finance: Seth Sims, Lerae Olesen, Chelle Hart, Dawn Brush, Steve Hart, Eric Rippentrop, Doug Puetz, Lisa Rippentrop

Membership: Koni Sims, Tevan Fischbach, Doug Puetz

Program/Social: Chelle Hart, Koni Sims, Seth Sims, Tevan Fischbach, Linda Biffert, Steve Hart

Nominating: Dawn Brush, Dave Miller, Virginia Miller, Casey Trowbridge

Publicity: Koni Sims, Nick Pavel, Dawn LaMee, Deb Ver Steeg, Steve Hart, Helen Hartmann, Chelle Hart

Resolutions/Legislative: Lerae Olesen, Casey Trowbridge, Dave Miller, Marje Kaiser, Linda Biffert

Scholarships/Awards: Virginia Miller, Deb Ver Steeg, Seth Sims

Consumer and Community Outreach: Chelle Hart, Allen Vanderberg, Tevan Fischbach, Kari Lortscher


Newsletter: Koni Sims, Kathy Nelson

SDSBVI Advisory Council: Lerae Olesen

SBVI Board: Koni Sims




SDAB Family News


Hello everyone, below are some notes of interest about some of our members. This column is intended for the sharing of general information of those in our organization.


Congratulations to Tevan Fischbach of Aberdeen for the arrival of her new grandson on June 4. Also, Tevan was honored for 40 years of teaching at SDSBVI. That’s a long time to teach in one place, and she’s still continuing to teach, impacting lives of students. Congratulations Tevan. 


Congratulations to Nancy Michlitsch of Rapid City for her marriage to Tom Main on June 9, 2018. We wish you both a wonderful life together.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Steve and Chelle Hart of Sioux Falls as Steve is experiencing health issues. You have many friends in this organization who care about you both.  We would like to congratulate Steve Kelsey on his retirement from the state.

If you have items of interest—milestone birthdays, anniversaries, concerns, or close family loved ones who have passed away, and you want our SDAB family to be aware of them, please email me at:

Thank you. Lerae Olesen



BLIND BLUNDERS                                                                                        By Chelle Hart

Hello again!  As a person with vision loss, it is sometimes difficult to figure out what is happening in one’s immediate vicinity.  Adventure can be fun, but it can also be confusing.

A couple of years ago, I met two guys at an American Council of the Blind (ACB) Convention.  Let’s call them John and Joe.  Anyway, they had both recently lost some vision and were learning to live with low vision.  This was their first ACB Convention, and they both felt that they learned a lot through the meetings and seminars and of course, the socialization.

The last night of the Conference they decided to get dressed up and go to the restaurant on the top floor of this very nice hotel.  They were seated by the waiter who gave them menus and said he would return for their orders.  Joe and John had a method for reviewing the print menus.  They took out their magnifiers.  One would read the entree while the other would follow the line over and read the price.  This appeared to be the best way for them to use the printed menu.  On this particular night Joe read the first item: “Beef Tips with Mushroom Sauce”.  John then followed the line over to give the price, and the lights went out.  Being very good-humored guys, they just laughed and tried it again when the lights came back on.  Joe read the item: “Smoked Salmon with Dill Sauce”.  Then when John looked for the price, the lights went out again. They could not figure out what was going on.  After about four attempts at this endeavor, they decided to wait and have their waiter help them out.  The most curious thing was why the lights kept going out and then coming back on about fifteen to twenty seconds later.

They asked the waiter about it.  He thought for a moment and then replied, “Oh, I guess you gentlemen don’t realize that you are in a revolving restaurant.  The floor in a revolving restaurant moves so slowly that they did not know they were moving out and under the lights as they tried to read the menus.  They did wonder what would happen if one had gotten up to go to the bathroom as it was not part of the moving floor.  Wouldn’t it have been hard to get back to your table?

Joe and John got a big laugh out of it and shared the story many times with other friends who have vision loss.  Guess we all have to be able to laugh at the situations that sometimes present themselves.  It can happen to the best of us.


OUR TRIP TO ISRAEL                                                                        By Lisa Rippentrop


(in picture: 

Eric & Lisa in Ein Gede)

In February, Eric and I were fortunate to make a trip of a lifetime to Israel.  We went as part of a tour group that was being coordinated by some friends of ours.  Neither of us had ever been overseas before.  We decided that the opportunity was just too perfect to turn down.  We would have a tour guide to lead us around; and traveling with friends who were familiar with Eric’s blindness would help ease some of the stress of trying to keep up with a tour group.  We flew from Minneapolis to Toronto; then from there to Tel Aviv.  The second flight was twelve hours long, which almost drove both of us to the brink of insanity.  I suggested that we just move to Israel so we wouldn’t have to endure the flight back. We were seated right in front of the bathrooms, so we spent the whole flight hearing the constant toilet flushes and door slamming.  Our saving grace was each seat had its own individual television screen where you could watch movies, listen to music, or play games.  Unfortunately they were not visually impaired friendly, so I needed to help Eric navigate them.  Those twelve hours were probably the closest we have ever come to divorce.  With all his interruptions, it took me most of the flight to get through one movie (Eric has the attention span of an infant).

We landed in Israel in the morning and immediately began our first day of the tour.  Our guide, Yeksuk, was fabulous. Every morning he would sing to us in Hebrew.  He was extremely knowledgeable of the history of the country and mixed in personal stories that brought the history to life.  Israel has such a rich in history; everywhere you go there is a story that can be directly related back to the bible.

February is winter in Israel, which meant it was a “chilly” 65 degrees most days.  The landscapes varied amazingly for such a small country.  You could start the day up in the mountains and end up at the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth.  There were areas that were lush and green, and others that were completely desert with no plant life at all.  There was one area in the desert that actually reminded me of the Badlands.  Some of our favorite parts of the trip included a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, Eric floating in Dead Sea, riding camels, seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls and visiting the ruins of a synagogue and Peter’s home in Capernaum.  There was also the village of Nazareth which was built to look authentically as it would have in biblical times.  They had “villagers” wandering around in period costumes.  It really felt as though we had been transported in time. There was even a real wine press that was unearthed during the building of the village that dates back to the time of Jesus. We spent the last three days of the trip in the city of Jerusalem.  This part of the trip was probably the most interesting but also the most emotionally challenging.  Both hearing the specific stories of what Jesus went through in his last days as well as the history of countless wars and fighting that continue to this day, at times felt overwhelming. We went to the Mount of Olives, which I expected to be full of olive trees.  Turns out it’s a huge graveyard, packed full of tombs.  We walked down the Sunday Road, where Jesus entered the city riding on a donkey, and walked around the garden of Gethsemane.  We visited the ruins of the temple, the Wailing Wall, and two different sites that both claim to be the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and burial.

There are a few areas in Israel that are under Palestinian control.  Those areas are considered too dangerous for Israelis to go.  One of those places is the town of Bethlehem.  We did visit Bethlehem, but before entering the city, we dropped off Yeksuk and picked up a Palestinian tour guide.  We had to pass through a checkpoint with armed guards before entering the city.  It was a sad reminder of how fragile the political climate remains in Israel.

One oddity was that there are stray cats everywhere.  Apparently at one point in history the British brought cats to the country to take care of the rat problem and now stray cats wander all over the country.  We even saw them walking around inside restaurants.  One night a rather aggressive cat followed us to our bungalow and stood outside crying when we didn’t let him in. 

The food was amazing.  To keep kosher, dairy and meat are not served at the same meal.  At breakfast there was a large assortment of cheeses, along with vegetable salads and pastries.  For lunch we ate their version of fast food; either falafel, a vegetarian fried ball made from chickpeas or shawarma, which is basically chicken strips, served in pita bread with pickled vegetables. Dinner included more vegetables, salads, and all sorts of meats and stews. Eric was definitely more adventurous than I was in trying the “mystery meats”.

One thing that surprised us was that most places accepted American dollars.  We did not exchange our money when we got there and only found one place where we had to use a credit card since we didn’t have any shekels.

Some of the challenges Eric faced during the traveling, mostly involved the uneven terrain. This included bumpy dirt or rock paths, steep hills, and lots of stairs.  There were a few times when the terrain was so rough, he had to stay behind in the bus.  Eric of course used this time to strike up a friendship with our bus driver.  Even in the city, the roads and sidewalks were not smoothly paved the way they are in America.  There was a lot of cobblestone and steps to navigate.  The marketplace in Jerusalem was by far our biggest challenge.  It was so packed with people pushing their way through.  Eric ended up folding up his cane and just hanging on to my backpack, with me shouting back to him every time we reached a step.  I was trying desperately to keep up with our group as we kept getting pushed further and further back.  I found the experience at bit frightening, while I think Eric was more frustrated than anything. In the end I think it all came down to attitude.  Eric’s ability to find humor in almost any situation, kept our spirits high.  At times he had the whole bus roaring with laughter.  It was definitely an experience of a lifetime and we both agree that we would do it again in a heartbeat. 



(In picture, view of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives)





SUMMER SKI FOR LIGHT                                                                             By Doug Peutz

The Black Hills Regional Ski for Light will be holding their Summer Light event held at Camp Bob Marshall, located in the heart of the beautiful Black Hills, six miles east of Custer on the northeast shore of Bismarck Lake. This year’s event will be held Friday, August 24 – Sunday, August 26.

Some of the activities include trout fishing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, and tandem bicycling.

For more information contact them at 605-341-3626 or visit their website at



            This is an invitation for you to join us at the South Dakota Association of the Blind (SDAB) State Convention to be held Sept. 7th & 8th here in Sioux Falls.  Details of the Convention appear elsewhere in this newsletter.  I can assure you that it will be fun, entertainment and education.

This year SDAB has put forth a little money to assist those who may need financial help toward expenses to the Convention.  It is not a lot of money but will help those who wish to come but do not feel they can afford to do so.

If you would like to join us and could use a little financial boost to do so, please send a short letter or note  to: South Dakota Association of the Blind  PO Box 1622 Sioux Falls, SD 57101-1622.

Please get your request sent into the SDAB by August 7th.  A Committee of SDAB will then review the letters and let you know if you are chosen for a stipend.  Thanks very much.  We are looking forward to hosting as many people as possible.  Happy Summer!

Chelle Hart
SDAB Program Chair  


SDAB 2018 State Convention
Country Inn & Suites
Sioux Falls, SD 57104
September 7th & 8th, 2018
“Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”

Friday September 7th

Registration – 12:00-12:45

1:00 Posting of Colors

1:05 Welcome from SDAB President – Lerae Olesen

1:10 Welcome from the Mayor

1:20 Introductions of members

1:30 Read minutes from 2017 business meeting – Dawn Brush

1:40 Keynote Speaker – Dr. Pat Kelly, MD

2:20 Dress for Success – Julie Dresbach & Koni Sims

2:50 Break

3:15 Walk

4:00 Public Forum – Gaye Mattke

5:00 Dinner on your own

7:00 Social Time

Saturday September 8th

Registration – 8:00-8:30

8:30 Laughing Yoga – Dan & Jill Johnson, Joyful Living

9:30 Sharing how your vision hasn’t stopped you from you from participating in the sighted world - Shelly Pfaff (moderator))

10:00 Break

10:15 Transportation Panel – Shelly Pfaff (moderator)

11:15 Break

12:00 Luncheon

            Sweet Adeline’s – Sound Cascade Chorus

            Gus Zachte Award – Virginia Miller

            Auction of SDAB traveling bear

            Announce winners of silent auction

1:30 Break

2:00 SDAB annual business meeting

6:00 Adjourn

Registration Fees

Yearly dues $15
Convention Registration $25
Luncheon $20
Total = $60
Room Rates

Blocked reserved til 8/7/18 at this rate.




AS EYE COOK                                                                                             By Seth Sims


Here is an alternative way of making hard boiled eggs!

You need a muffin tin.

1 dozen eggs

Put one egg each muffin cup. Preheat oven to 350. Bake 20 minutes. Take out and let cool in muffin pan. You have hard boiled eggs! Easy to peel.

You will need a muffin tin. Lightly spray each cup with pam. Line each cup with a slice of bacon. Using a liquid measuring cup beat one egg at a time and pour into muffin cup. Preheat oven to 350. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool before transferring to container or eat right away. We can reheat in microwave for 30 seconds or longer depending on watts of microwave.

EXPRESS VOTE UPDATE IN PENNINGTON COUNTY                             By Doug Puetz

Pennington County has obtained ExpressVote voting machines. These are available at all voting sites in Pennington County. Unfortunately there was a statewide computer glitch that made these machines unusable for the primary election held June 5th. The auditor’s office is planning to do their best to have the machines up and running at every poll site for the general election, November 6th. If you live in Pennington County and have any questions please call the auditor’s office at 605-394-2153.



Again, this year, we will be presenting an award for someone in our organization or community who has done outstanding work to support individuals with vision loss.. This person can be from a business, another organization, or SDAB.  Please email or phone me (Virginia Miller) to make your nomination.  This nomination should include their name, a little bit about their background, and why you feel they are deserving of this award..

Nominations  must be received, no later than August 1 to allow time for the committee to make a final decision.

Virginia Miller


SIOUXLAND NEWS                                                                                   By Lerae Olesen

The Siouxland Chapter of SDAB continues to meet regularly. Since the last newsletter, we met on April 21 and May 19. In April, as pictured in the previous issue of As Eye See It, Tom Greco, the city Clerk of Sioux Falls, came to talk about and demonstrate the ExpressVote, which replaces the AutoMark, allowing blind, visually impaired, and others who cannot mark their ballots, to be able to cast their votes independently at the polls. Several people at the meeting tried out the machine, using a sample ballot with various items from which to choose. Also at the April meeting, one of our new members who has joined SDAB, Yeshua Prestan, brought coffee from his Columbian Coffee business for us to sample. His daughter told us all about their family business and a bit about their lives. I am pleased to note that we had 15 people in attendance at the April meeting, including the speakers. At the May meeting, 12 people attended. Eric and Lisa Rippentrop told us about their trip to Israel this past February. Neither of them had been there before, and it was interesting hearing about Eric’s experiences as a visually impaired traveler. Some of our chapter members are involved with the planning of the annual white cane march in October. Also, the suggestion was made that we compile a letter of improvements we would like to see in our city, to be sent to the newly elected mayor, Paul TenHaken.

We generally meet on the 3rd Saturday of the month at the downtown public library. If you have any questions or would like to attend one of our meetings, please contact Koni Sims. Her contact information is listed with the SDAB Board of Directors elsewhere in this newsletter. 



Hello everyone. The Board of Directors has met twice via conference call, on April 30 and June 4. At both meetings, Chelle Hart and Koni Sims gave updates and information regarding the upcoming state convention in September. The amount of $100.00 was approved for the entertainment at the banquet/luncheon. Sweet Adelines Sound Cascade Chorus will be singing. Program ideas were shared and will appear elsewhere in this newsletter. Due to financial and other circumstances among the board members, DAB will not be represented at the ACB convention in St. Louis, Missouri in July. At the June 4th meeting, there was positive feedback from members and the board regarding the newsletter with the new editors. Pictures were a positive addition for those who can see them.

In discussing membership, the suggestion was made to raise the membership dues by $5.00. An amendment to the Bylaws will be proposed to this effect and will be voted on during the business meeting at the convention. This change would take effect for 2020.

At the April meeting, goals from last year’s membership meeting were reviewed. (See President’s Greetings for a summary of these goals).

The pre-convention board meeting will take place on August 27 at 7:00 central time.  For a complete copy of the minutes of these meetings, please contact our Secretary, Dawn Brush.














SDAB 2018 Membership Form

One name per form





Phone: Home:____________________ Cell:_______________________________

___Fully Sighted   ___Blind/Visually Impaired

Are you a student?  ____Yes ___No

Membership dues are $15.00 per person. Dues are for the 2018 membership year. Please make checks payable to SDAB.


Your membership entitles you to receive a copy of our newsletter. If you are interested in receiving any or all of the following formats please indicate:

___Large print   ___Braille   ___E-mail    ___None

SDAB is an affiliate of the American Council of the Blind (ACB). Your membership entitles you to receive their publication, the “Braille Forum.” Please indicate the format you wish to receive:

___Large print   ___Braille   ___E-mail    ___Cassette  ___CD  ___None

                 Mail to:         

                                         SDAB Membership

                                         PO Box 1622

                                         Sioux Falls, SD 57101-1622