The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

January 17, 2013

Still fighting: Bills could continue NORCE, SORC services; e-mail outlines animosity

ENID, Okla. — The fight to save Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid and Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley continues with the hope of pending legislation.

Department of Human Services Director Ed Lake, who recently appeared in Enid to meet with parents and guardians, said the decision was made before he became director last fall.

“That decision was made by the governor,” Lake said, referring to Gov. Mary Fallin.

However, two bills by Sen. Susan Paddack, D-Ada, aim to continue the services of the two facilities and keep residents within 60 miles of them.

Senate Bill 303 by Paddack calls for saving at least 50 beds open at both NORCE and SORC and for services to continue to be provided there. Other individuals who live in community-based settings can receive language, medical, occupational and physical therapy there.

The proposed legislation would make the facilities true resource centers. The bills say those living in group homes may continue to use the facilities for services.

State Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, said he is “definitely” in support of keeping NORCE running. Anderson said he is concerned by a need to continue to maintain two facilities with just 50 beds each. It would be easier to maintain one facility in Enid, but some families residing in the southern part of the state may have difficulty traveling to Enid for services.

“It is certainly a proposal we ought to consider,” Anderson said of the legislation.

Anderson said all of the residents at NORCE are severely disabled and will find it hard to find a place to live if the facility is closed. He said the number of beds proposed in Paddack’s legislation meets the required safety guidelines.

SB 304 states that if a resident is moved from either facility, they must be placed within a 60-mile radius of the parent or guardian of the individual. It is tied to SB 303, Paddack said.

Anderson said both appear to be reasonable bills. He is very supportive of Paddack in the effort to get her bills heard.

“I will assist any way I can to make sure there is a hearing on them,” Anderson said.

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