Tahlequah Daily Press

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January 16, 2014

Legislation would allow NORCE campus to be sold

ENID, Okla. — Two state-run facilities for the developmentally disabled could be sold after they are closed under legislation authored by Enid state Sen. Patrick Anderson.

Senate Bill 1598 would allow the state to sell the campuses of Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid and Southern Oklahoma Resources Center in Pauls Valley to the respective municipalities for $100,000.

SORC is set to close in April and NORCE in August 2015. Residents at both facilities are moving to for-profit group homes in the community.  

“The end result is going to be two empty, state-owned properties,” said Anderson, R-Enid. “These campuses contain wonderful facilities that have been constructed for the specific purpose of caring for the special needs of their unique populations. It would be a shame to let these facilities sit empty and not be utilized.”

The Oklahoma Constitution does not allow the state to give the properties to a municipality, Anderson said, but does not prohibit the state from selling them.

“If the local municipality choses to buy the property, the municipality would control the property and could elect to lease it to a private contractor who could operate the facility for the benefit of the current residents,” Anderson said. “This would give the residents’ families true options as to where they want their loved ones to reside.

“It would also support the local economy in each community by keeping the facilities open and saving the jobs of the men and women who work there. This proposal would be good for the state, good for the communities and great for the families whose loved ones are currently cared for in these facilities.”

The decision was made in 2012 to close NORCE and SORC, the culmination of a protracted battle before the now-defunct Oklahoma Commission for Human Services.

Some lawmakers have talked about introducing legislation in the session that begins in February to keep at least one of the facilities open, but Gov. Mary Fallin has been steadfast in her desire to close both.

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