The fate of the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center is still as uncertain as it has been for the past few years, though a request by Gov. Mary Fallin to temporarily suspend voting on remaining open or closing will at least allow some to breathe easier.
It was late Thursday night when the Oklahoma Commission for Human Services followed the recommendation to not allow a vote at the upcoming commissioners’ meeting Tuesday, July 24, according to Ann Dee Lee, public information officer for the Developmental Disability Services Division (DDSD) for DHS. However, the matter will still be on the agenda for discussion with the governor’s appointment of two new commissioners.
“There will be no item voted on pertaining to this,” said Lee. “They decided to late last night because we will have two new commissioners at the meeting.”
As a result, this will allow Brandon Clabes and Myron Pope, who were appointed to the commission after the departure of Steven Dow and Anne Roberts to be brought up to speed on the status of both SORC and NORCE, said Lee. At said meeting everyone connected to both facilities from the Parent Guardian Association to the Oklahoma Public Employee Association and officials with DDSD will each be given 10 minutes to speak on how things should proceed.
While the mission to make sure repairs like immediately installing sprinklers in residential buildings at the SORC campus is still a major goal, PGA President Ken Tally did note how he was pleased about this positive step. They still will present plans originally created as a response to Commissioner Michael Peck’s June report recommending closure with emphasis on moving forward with improvements.
“They want to know more about this issue and what can be done,” said Talley, speaking of the governor’s intervention and how Peck’s plan was not the way things needed to be handled. “We thought that was unusually rushed.”
Along with those improvements, the PGA plan also requests DHS prepare a report checking up on former clients of SORC, NORCE and another facility called Hissom documenting over a period of time how their transition into a community setting went versus care in institutional setting. A third step asks that DHS appoint a decision making group made up of DHS staff, family members or guardians and employees of both facilities to consider long term plans.
“We’re still saying they should put sprinklers in those buildings,” said Talley, speaking how it’s a vital safety issue. “We have money to do it, just can’t get clearance through DHS.”
The public meeting will be held at 9:30 a.m. where commissioners meet at the Sequoia Building in Oklahoma City. For more information contact Lee at 405-521-4972.