[nfbmi-talk] Kalamazoo Gazette Article and Channel 3 Tonight

J.J. Meddaugh jj at bestmidi.com
Thu Feb 25 02:52:04 UTC 2010

First, Christine Boone will be on channel 3 tonight (Wednesday) at 11.

She may also be on the CW 7 at 10.

Also, here's the article from Wednesday's Kalamazoo Gazette.

Firing over marksmanship program protested: Supporters want former blind training center director reinstated

By Chris Killian | Special to the Kalamazoo...
February 24, 2010, 12:30PM
Protesters, Michigan Commission for the Blind Training Center
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Demanding reinstatement: Protesters march Tuesday outside the Michigan Commission
for the Blind Training Center in Kalamazoo to protest the firing of former director
Christine Boone for her creation of a marksmanship program there.
 Roxanne Mann had never shot any kind of gun until she took a class at the Michigan
Commission for the Blind Training Center last year.
On her second try, she pulled the trigger on her spring-loaded pellet rifle and hit
the bullseye on the target.
"I was amazed," said Mann, 46, who has had vision problems most of her life and has
been nearly blind for the past three years. "I've done more here than I ever thought
I'd be able to do."
That sense of achievement was what brought Mann and several of her fellow students
to a protest at Kalamazoo training center for the blind Tuesday to demand reinstatement
of former director Christine Boone, who was fired for creating the marksmanship program.
The program, conducted in a wooded ravine behind the Oakland Drive facility beginning
last September, was canceled in November and Boone was fired Feb. 4 for allowing
firearms on state property.
"It's a safety-work-rule violation, a serious work-rule violation," Mario Morrow,
director of communications for the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic
Growth, said last week of Boones' firing.
"The class was run safely, effectively and professionally, just like every other
program here," Phill Kelly, 26, who was enrolled in the class before it was terminated
in November, said from Tuesday's protest.
"They took all the appropriate safety measures into consideration. It's not like
we were shooting .22's or shotguns out here."
Boone, who has 30 years of experience in the rehabilitation field, said she saw the
activity as one that empowered students and boosted their self-confidence. She said
she received verbal consent in March to begin the program from Patrick Cannon, director
of the Michigan Commission for the Blind in Lansing, and has appealed her dismissal.
The Kalamazoo Gazette has been unable to reach Cannon for comment.
Several students at Tuesday's protest praised Boone, who became director of the training
center in 2006, for her progressive programs.
Miles Matie, 35, had a career in computer programming before losing his eyesight
four years ago. Although he's only been at the training facility for a month, he
said he's learning a lot thanks to programming that Boone started.
Boone replaced outdated typing classes with computer training, introduced specialized
technology to level the playing field between blind professionals and their sighted
colleagues, and established a peer-support system for blind college students, according
to Matie.
"I'm out here picketing for my fellow students," he said.
"When you get rid of programs, you are subtly saying blind people can't live a productive,
normal life," said Larry Posont, president of the of the National Federation of the
Blind of Michigan, which organized the protest.
"We say the average blind person can do the average job," he said. "We are in the
right and we will continue to fight."
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