Tahlequah Daily Press

Z_CNHI News Service

November 1, 2013

NODA ending DHS contract for senior services

ENID, Okla. — Northern Oklahoma Development Authority will discontinue its role as an Area Agency on Aging because of the cost of housing the program, NODA’s board president said Friday.

The announcement of the separation came in a statement from Department of Human Services, which contracts with 11 entities in the state to provide free services to Oklahoma seniors through the Area Agency on Aging program.

NODA’s status as an AAA will end Dec. 6. The statement said DHS was notified Wednesday of NODA’s decision.

The decision was made because of cuts in state aid to the program, said NODA Board President Dea Kretchmar. If NODA continued holding the AAA contract, she said, it could have cost $20,000 next year.

“It seems like all the programs that come down from the federal or state level — their budgets are being reduced and reduced every year,” said Kretchmar, who also serves as Medford city manager. “NODA just didn’t feel like we had the funds to put into the program.”

NODA is an association of local governments. It pools and shares resources for the benefit of all its members. Those members include counties, cities, rural fire districts, school districts and other political subdivisions.

There are 11 agencies on aging across the state, and all but one are affiliated with either the local council of governments or economic development authorities. The agencies provide free services to seniors and also employ ombudsmen tasked with advocacy on behalf of the elder population.

The money to continue those services largely comes from federal grants.

Kretchmar said NODA will meet with DHS staff Wednesday to finalize the end of NODA’s stewardship. Local officials already have another entity in mind that could take over the AAA, but Kretchmar declined to name the organization. She did, though, say it is based in Enid.

In the announcement Friday, DHS recognized NODA’s history of service with its AAA contract.

“Our staff is actively working to develop a plan to ensure the seamless continuation of services to the area’s seniors,” said DHS Aging Services Director Lance Robertson.

An announcement about the future of the program in western Oklahoma will follow once a plan is finalized. Kretchmar said she doesn’t expect a gap in services.

NODA AAA serves seniors in Alfalfa, Blaine, Garfield, Grant, Kay, Kingfisher, Major and Noble counties. Its headquarters is in Enid.

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