Veterans and family members share stories at Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project event

Left to right: Marylyn Howe is interviewed by Carol Menton while Liz Speer and Sheri Smargon write.

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) hosted a fourth Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project initiative on Oct. 13 at the Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA) annual conference held in Orlando, Fla. The interviews will be transcribed and submitted to the Library of Congress for its Veterans History Project (VHP).

Volunteer court reporters, captioners, and interviewers captured seven new interviews of U.S. war veterans, including the story of Maj. Gen. Charles W. Sweeney, the only American Air Force pilot to fly on both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic missions during World War II. Sweeney’s story was shared by his daughter, Marylyn Howe, of Savannah, Ga.

Howe shared how her father’s career as a pilot evolved in the U.S. Air Force, that he had earned a Silver Star for his service, and that he also wrote a book called War’s End about his experience on the last atomic mission. Now out of print, Howe said the book will be updated with photos and other materials and reprinted in 2018. She also noted that her late father was instrumental in founding the Massachusetts State Air Guard and was actively involved in helping to establish such volunteer groups throughout all states.

Left to right: Cheri Frady shows a picture of her husband while Laura Landerman writes. Marylyn Howe interviewed Frady, and Georgia Rodriguez also wrote.

“It is very meaningful that veterans with hearing loss are being recognized and able to share their stories,” said Howe, an audiologist who has worked with veterans suffering hearing loss. “Many people don’t realize the hearing problems related to service and what a significant impact it can have on lives.” Howe also serves as co-chair of ALDA’s Publicity Committee.

Howe provided a copy of her father’s book that will be included with the final transcript in the Library of Congress.

Howe’s husband, Brian, a retired U.S. Marine Corps captain and pilot who suffers hearing loss from long-term exposure to jet engines, shared his story about his service in Vietnam. He also volunteered to interview U.S. Army veteran Ron Walker, SP4, from Merry Hill, N.C. During his interview, Walker shared that he earned the Purple Heart Award and two Bronze Stars for his service in Vietnam.

Cheri Frady, St. Petersburg, Fla., the widow of Teairlton Frady, who served as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, shared letters he wrote home as well as a number of entries from his journals. These materials will be submitted to the Library of Congress with the final transcript. Frady also shared that her late husband was a Native American Onondaga and that he suffered health-related issues caused in part by his exposure to the powerful herbicide and defoliant Agent Orange used during the war.

Other veterans interviewed included:

  • Paul Morris, Clearwater, Fla., U.S. Army SP4, who served between the Korean and Vietnam wars
  • Harvey Rothman, Kissimmee, Fla., U.S. Army, SP4, who served in Vietnam
  • Gary Talley, Petersburg, Va., U.S. Navy, PN3, who served on the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy (CV-67)

Left to right: Brian Howe interviews while Michelle Pulido Stubben writes Ron Walker’s story, seated next to Irene Walker.

“It is an honor for me to do this. My son is a U.S. Marine, and I am proud of all of our servicemen,” said Nancy Rivera, RPR, a freelancer from Valrico, Fla., who volunteered to take down a veteran’s story at the event. “I was touched by the first time I did this. It hits home for me. I like to hear their stories and the emotion. It means a lot to them, and it means a lot to me.” Rivera noted that this was the first time she had participated in a live VHP event. The first time she volunteered for a VHP event was online.

“This was the first time I participated in one of these events, and I had no idea what to expect,” said Laura Landerman, RMR, CRR, a freelancer from Altamonte Springs, Fla. “Most reporters don’t provide realtime or captioning, and since I can do both, I volunteered. I would do it again. I liked that I could provide captions to aid the interviewer,” she added.

Nancy Rivera writes while Liz Speer interviews Harvey Rothman

Liz Speer, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CRC, a freelancer from Apopka, Fla., who volunteered to transcribe as well as interview, said participating in the event was especially meaningful to her because her own father had served in the U.S. military.

“The timing was just right. I lost my dad two months ago. He served in two wars, and he would have loved to have been interviewed. That’s the primary reason I volunteered. It’s also exciting to read those stories already down and know they are at the Library of Congress,” she added.

Other volunteer reporters and captioners included:

  • Michelle Pulido Stubben, Orlando, Fla.
  • Georgia Rodriguez, RPR, freelancer, Jacksonville, Fla.;
  • Sheri Smargon, RDR, CRR, CRC, broadcast captioner, Riverview, Fla.

Other volunteer interviewers included:

  • Carol Menton, case manager for Metro North/Northeast Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, in Boston, Mass., and an ALDA member
  • Larry Littleton, Oahu, Hawaii, a member of the ALDA Publicity Committee

NCRA and NCRF were also present on the ALDA expo floor, where NCRA members volunteered by providing captioning and CART demonstrations and answering questions from attendees about their services. Volunteers at the booth included:

  • Jamie Chancellor, CRC, broadcast captioner, Orlando, Fla.
  • Amie First, RDR, CRR, CRC, CPE, CART captioner, Orlando, Fla.
  • Maria Rodriguez, RPR, freelancer, Tampa, Fla.

Jamie Chancellor demonstrates captioning at the NCRA booth at the ALDA expo

Other NCRA members attending the ALDA conference included Pat Graves, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner and agency owner from Monument, Colo., who chairs ALDA’s CART committee; and committee members Tess Crowder, RPR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner and agency owner from Tampa, Fla.; Anthony Trujillo, RMR, CRR, a freelance captioner from Kissimmee, Fla.; and Rita Meyer, RDR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner from Orlando, Fla.

NCRF’s Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project initiative specifically seeks to interview veterans with hearing loss with the help of CART captioning. Hearing loss is among the most common service-related injuries due to constant exposure to loud noises in training and in combat, and it tends to worsen over time. In addition to preserving these veterans’ stories for the VHP, the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project introduces CART captioning, which is a service that may benefit these veterans in their daily lives.

NCRF launched the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project at the Hearing Loss Association of America’s headquarters in Bethesda, Md., in February, where five veterans with varying degrees of hearing loss chronicled their service experiences. In June, seven veterans were interviewed during the 2017 Hearing Loss Association of America’s Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah.

NCRA members have been listening and taking down veterans’ stories since NCRF partnered with the Library of Congress in 2003 to have court reporters transcribe veterans’ stories from their collection of now more than 100,000. In 2007, members were asked to preserve the stories of veterans who hadn’t yet recorded their histories through personal interviews and VHP Days. To date, NCRF has submitted more than 4,100 transcripts to the Library of Congress.

NCRF’s Hard-of-Hearing Heroes initiative is supported by an Innovation Grant from the American Society of Association Executives Foundation. For more information, please visit NCRA.org/NCRF, or contact April Weiner, Foundation Manager, at aweiner@ncra.org.

Former NCRA Board member Arlene Sommers passes

JCR logoThe Heritage Florida Jewish News posted an obituary on May 19 for Arlene Phyllis Sommers, past president of the Florida Court Reporters Association and a past NCRA Board member.

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NCRA member named SBA Florida District 2017 Woman-Owned Small Business Person of the Year

SBA Awards 5.3.17-01674

Christine Phipps, third from the left, at the SBA South Florida District 2017 Awards

Christine Phipps, RPR, owner of Phipps Reporting, West Palm Beach, Fla., was recently honored with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s South Florida District 2017 Woman-Owned Small Business Person of the Year Award. Phipps also serves on NCRA’s Board of Directors. The award recognizes her personal efforts and achievements in not only business but also advocating and advancing business ownership for Florida entrepreneurs.

Each year since 1963, the U.S. President has issued a proclamation calling for the celebration of Small Business Week during which SBA recognizes outstanding small business owners and advocates for their personal successes and contributions to the nation.

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Closed captioning brings clarity to people who are hard of hearing at Forest Oaks Lutheran

jcr-publications_high-resThe Tampa Bay Times posted an article on Feb. 21 about how court reporter Cindy Braun, RPR, brought closed captioning into her church.

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On-air Collier County, Fla., Commission meetings now captioned

jcr-publications_high-resThe Naples Daily News, Naples, Fla., posted an article on Jan. 18 that announced closed captioning of Collier County Commission meetings that are aired on local television. “I was amazed at how much [the captioners] put into this. I’ve been very impressed with how much they pick up,” said Troy Miller, manager of television operations for the county.

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Wealth & Finance Magazine recognizes Phipps Reporting in 2016 Business Awards

jcr-publications_high-resA press release issued recently by Wealth & Finance International announced that it has awarded Phipps Reporting “Best Reporting & Transcript Services Company 2016 – Florida.” Wealth & Finance International is a monthly publication dedicated to delivering high quality informative and up-to-the-minute global business content.

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Phipps Reporting merges with Everman & Everman

jcr-publications_high-resIn an early November press release, Phipps Reporting, Inc., announced the acquisition of Everman & Everman, a 40-year-old West Palm Beach court reporting firm. Everman & Everman is led by Judy Everman, RPR, CMRS (Ret.), who began her court reporting career in 1965 and opened her own company in 1976.

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Robert E. Harrington, Elkhorn, Wis., and Naples, Fla., passes away

jcr-publications_high-resThe GazetteXtra reported on Nov. 11 that retired NCRA member Robert E. Harrington, RPR, passed away Nov. 9 in Elkhorn, Wis. Harrington worked as an official court reporter for more than 30 years in both Wisconsin and Florida.

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Phipps Reporting acquires Weathers & Associates

JCR publications share buttonIn a press release issued June 30, Phipps Reporting, West Palm Beach, Fla., announced that it has acquired Weathers & Associates, one of the oldest firms in Palm Beach County. Established as B&R Reporting in 1972, the firm has specialized in all types of litigation reporting. The acquisition is expected to bring a substantial client list to Phipps including sizeable law firms, solo practitioners, and legal clients.

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NCRA Director Rick Levy, RPR, honored with FCRA’s highest award

NCRA Director Rick Levy accepts the FCRA Distinguished Service Award

NCRA Director Rick Levy (left) accepts the FCRA Distinguished Service Award from FCRA Past President Cathy Phillips

Rick Levy, RPR, a firm owner from Miami, Fla., was recently named recipient of the Emily Mann Distinguished Service Award by the Florida Court Reporters Association (FCRA). The award is FCRA’s most prestigious award and recognizes the recipient for his or her exceptional qualifications and experience in the field of shorthand reporting while contributing in a meritorious manner to the welfare of the association. Levy also serves on NCRA’s Board of Directors.

Levy, a firm owner since 2003, previously worked as an independent contractor for Mudrick, Witt, Levy & Consor, where he handled reporting assignments, including worker’s compensation, personal injury, commercial litigation, and construction defect cases both in depositions and hearings, as well as numerous jury trials.

“Rick has served the board in every position, including as president,” wrote FCRA member Holly Kapacinskas, RPR, CRR, a freelance reporter from Debary, Fla., who nominated Levy for the award. “He has always stepped up to help any committee, board member, or FCRA member when asked because, as he says, ‘I know how hard it is to get someone to say they’ll help, so I’m willing to help.’”

Kapacinskas also noted in her nomination of Levy that he has worked tirelessly in his passion to encourage, mentor, promote, and sponsor students. She said that Levy also actively gives presentations at court reporting schools, bar association meetings, and to law school students.

“To be selected by one’s own peers to be awarded my state association’s highest award is the ultimate honor and one I will cherish forever,” Levy said.

“Being chosen to receive the Emily Mann Distinguished Service Award this year is very humbling as I hold the past recipients of the award in the highest esteem and am honored to now be among them. To be recognized by your state association for all your time, hard work, and true dedication is very appreciated and validates the many hours I have given to FCRA over the many years,” he added.

At the national level, Levy has also served on NCRA’s Nominating and Elections committees, the Freelance Community of Interest, the New Markets Task Force, and as Chair of the Firm Owners Executive Conference.

“Rick, in his quiet manner, is always encouraging and promoting reporters and the court reporting profession and has contributed greatly to the welfare of FCRA over a sustained period of time, which is what this award is about,” Kapacinskas also wrote in her nomination of Levy.

The FCRA Distinguished Service Award is named in honor of the late Emily L. Mann, a longtime member of the association. During her career as a court reporter, Mann also led presentations at NCRA events, taught court reporting to students for more than 40 years, and authored a number of textbooks about court reporting. She passed away in 1999 at the age of 88.