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Juvenile center provides beds to other counties

EL RENO – The Canadian County Children’s Justice Center will continue to offer services to several counties in Oklahoma.

County commissioners approved an agreement Monday that allows the center, which is funded through a countywide sales tax, to offer beds to other counties for juvenile services.

Monday’s agreement is with 13 counties – Blaine, Bryan, Creek, Garfield, Grady, Kingfisher, Love, Major, Marshall, Pittsburg, Seminole, Texas and Tillman counties.

The commissioners approved the contract 2-1, with District 1 Commissioner Marc Hader voting against the agreement.

Hader said after Monday’s meeting that he is unsure where the county has the authorization to house juveniles from other counties.

“I’ve always struggled with the idea that this was created by Canadian County citizens to serve Canadian County children and I don’t know where the authority came from to house out of county children. It’s not that I don’t have a care and compassion for kids, but I just don’t see where the authority comes from,” Hader said.

He also said that he has always voted against the proposal. “I try to stay consistent. If it is for our kids, I’ll vote for it, if it’s not, then sometimes I don’t,” Hader said.

Juvenile center director Dr. Bill Sharp said the county has approximately 10 beds that serve as regional beds, meaning they can be used by counties other than Canadian County.

However, those beds also can be used by Canadian County if they are needed.

Sharp said the facility provides services to about 21 counties. Several additional contracts are expected to be up for consideration at next week’s meeting. All have been approved in previous years.

Monday, the county held 11 juveniles in its detention center. Of those, three were from outside of Canadian County.

Sharp said the agreements are financially beneficial to the county because the counties as well as the state help pay for the cost of facility.

Sharp said the counties pay 15 percent of the costs set by the county. The state Office of Juvenile Affairs pays 85 percent of a rate set by state.

“This has been done for many years. We make money on those beds and those monies help defray the costs. Otherwise, it would just be sales tax money. What they pay may not be the correct number, but we do get some money to defray the costs,” he said.

Funding for the center has been under debated for the past few years.

Last week, an Oklahoma County district judge approved a permanent injunction that allows money from a sales tax passed in 1996 to be used to pay for operations at the center. County commissioners had previously argued the money from the tax could only be used for construction of the facility.

The decision was based on an attorney general’s opinion.

A group of citizens, including then-sheriff Randall Edwards, sued the county to maintain the funding.

The commissioners had sought a ruling to make the judge’s earlier temporary order permanent.

Also Monday, the commissioners:

  • Acknowledged receipt of an investment activities report related to two retirement accounts;
  • Approved a single payment to the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma for liability and property insurance. The county’s total deductible is $200,000. The premium is $422,702;
  • Approved an on-demand engineering agreement with CEC Corp;
  • Rejected bids for rock and concrete services. One bidder failed to provide all information required in the bid packet; another bidder is located too far away to be reasonably accessible, the commissioners said. The county will seek new bids;
  • Approved action taken by the board of trustees for the Oklahoma Environmental Management Authority to accept a financing bid of $6,715.05 per month for 60 months. The sanitation service will use the funding to purchase a new sanitation truck.
  • Approved an agreement with AT&T for the relocation of utilities for work on the Calumet Road project.
  • Accepted a 2017 REAP Grant to help pay for an asphalt overlay on SW 59 Street between State Highway 91 and Choctaw Road. The grant is for $95,499.60.
  • Approved a contracted with Atlas Construction for the construction of the Maple Road Project in Union City. The project will offer access to the new high school gymnasium. Work on the project is expected to begin this week and could be completed by the end of July.
  • Approved a proposal with CEC Corp. for laser surveying work.
  • Approved a software agreement with LandMarkGSI;
  • Approved a contract with CEC Infrastructure for on-demand engineering for the assessor’s office.
  • Approved a contract with Cathy Montgomery for services as a licensed dietician at the juvenile justice center;
  • Approved a contract with Bob Danaher for psychological services at the juvenile facility;
  • Approved a contract with Jordan Tillery for work at the health department.

Commissioners call special meeting

The Canadian County commissioners are expected to meet Wednesday in special session to select an independent investigator to look into allegations filed against the co-director of the Canadian County Juvenile Justice Center.

The lone agenda item is the possibility of engaging the services of a special investigator to perform an independent investigation into an EEOC complaint filed against the Canadian County Children’s Justice Center.

The county commissioners voted last week to suspend Bill Alexander after a complaint was filed against him with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In a statement released after Alexander’s suspension, which followed a lengthy executive session that involved Assistant District Attorney Paul Hesse, the commissioners said they are taking the allegations against Alexander seriously.

The meeting is set for 9 a.m. Wednesday at the county courthouse in El Reno.

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