The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

November 4, 2013

Not surprised, disappointed: Fallin remains opposed to keeping NORCE open

ENID, Okla. — We can’t say we are surprised, but we are disappointed.

During a recent appearance in Enid, Gov. Mary Fallin reiterated her support for a plan to close both state-run facilities for the developmentally disabled.

Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley is scheduled to close next year while Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid is set to close in 2015.

Residents of both facilities will transition to community based group homes.

Many clients already have moved, but some people think it would be better to keep NORCE open to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable residents of the two facilities.

State Rep. Mike Jackson, R-Enid, has talked about introducing legislation to keep NORCE open, but Fallin remains opposed to such a plan, saying community based homes are the best option for current NORCE and SORC clients.

We’ve never been comfortable with the process that led to the decision to close NORCE and SORC. Politics played a role, we believe.

The six members of the now-defunct Oklahoma Commission for Human Services who — in a surprise vote late last year — voted to close both facilities all were appointed by Fallin.

We never thought a plan proposed by OCHS member Michael Peck, an Enid optometrist, to keep NORCE open was given fair consideration.

A vote on the so-called Peck Plan was repeatedly delayed.

We really would like to see more discussion on the situation involving NORCE and SORC.  That will have to come in the Legislature when it meets again in February.

And, we’d like to see Fallin participate in the discussion with an open mind.

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