The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 17, 2013

NORCE fight is far from finished

Enid News & Eagle

— We were disappointed to see Rep. Mike Jackson’s bill to keep Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid open did not receive a hearing in the House.

However, we are heartened to hear Jackson, R-Enid, say the fight to keep NORCE and Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley open is far from over.

The since-abolished Oklahoma Commission for Human Services voted in November to close NORCE and SORC and move their clients into community-based group homes. The facilities care for developmentally disabled state residents.

Jackson’s bill failed for a few reasons. One was a numbers game. It got caught up in a late rush to get bills out of their house of origin. Second, there was, Jackson said, some hesitancy in the Senate over the bill. And, finally, there was opposition to the bill from Gov. Mary Fallin’s office.

Fallin wants NORCE and SORC closed, and was able to appoint a majority of the members of the Oklahoma Commission for Human Services before the vote was taken to close the facilities.

Jackson plans to keep up the fight to reverse the closure order. And, he has a good reason to continue.

The plan to close both facilities is short-sighted. Right now, no one believes there are enough community-based group homes to house all the clients from NORCE and SORC. Closing them would leave the state without any safety net for these vulnerable people.

We know Sen. Patrick Anderson and Rep. John Enns, both Enid Republicans, will get involved, too. We hope enough other lawmakers — and the governor — come around and realize the move to close both NORCE and SORC was a bad idea.

It’s time to right a wrong.