Sen. Patrick Anderson has authored legislation that would enable the state to sell the campuses of the Southern Oklahoma Resources Center (SORC) in Pauls Valley, and the Northern Oklahoma Resources Center (NORCE) in Enid. Both facilities, which are slated to be closed by the state, provide care for the severely mentally disabled. SORC is set to close this April and NORCE in August, 2015.
Anderson said that after the 2012 decision to close the facilities, residents are now being forced to relocate to for-profit group homes.
“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.”
Senate Bill 1598 proposes that the campus locations be offered for sale to the municipalities where they are located. Under the Oklahoma Constitution, the state cannot give these properties to a municipality, but can instead sell them. Anderson’s measure proposes that each campus be offered for sale to the Enid and Pauls Valley communities for the sum of $100,000.
“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.”