A vote by the Department of Human Services commission to close
two treatment facilities for adults with developmental disabilities
is drawing fire from an Enid-area state senator and the state's
public employees' association.
Last week, the Oklahoma Commission for Human Services, which
oversees the DHS, voted to close the Northern Oklahoma Resource
Center in Enid and the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls
The vote could displace 231 special needs residents and dozens of
employees, said Sterling Zearley, Oklahoma Public Employees
Association executive director.
"OPEA is disappointed that the commission is taking action on an
issue of such importance a few days before this board might be voted
out of existence via State Question 765," Zearley said. "After all
that has transpired in this and other issues, we were under the
impression that the culture had changed to that of inclusion and
Zearley said the vote to close both facilities was unexpected.
As recently as June, the plan was to close only the Pauls Valley
center, with the transfer of most of those residents to Enid. This
last-minute change has kept everyone from being able to respond to
the commission in a proper manner, he said.
Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, agreed. In a media statement,
Anderson criticized the commission and its chairman, former Oklahoma
County District Attorney Wes Lane.
Anderson said Lane was responsible for placing a vote on the Nov.
1 commission agenda to close both the Pauls Valley and Enid centers.
"For months now, the governor has intervened and directed that
the commission not vote on a previously presented plan to
consolidate the facilities into one," Anderson said. "Now, with no
warning, the governor has clearly given the direction that a vote
take place on a new plan that would close both facilities. Clearly
the governor wants the commission to take the blame for the vote so
she can avoid taking responsibility for this decision."
Senate leaders and Republican Gov. Mary Fallin praised the
State Sen. Brian Bingman, Senate pro tempore and R-Sapulpa, said
the commission's vote to close the centers would ensure that
Oklahomans living with disabilities receive the highest quality of
support, while refusing to let dollars go to the brick-and-mortar
maintenance of aging, vacant facilities when those same dollars
should go to the direct care of the people Oklahoma serves. …