In OPEA’s continuing efforts to save the L.E. Rader Center, staff members Haley Blood and Deputy Director Scott Barger presented employee concerns to the Sand Springs City Council.
Barger addressed the Council regarding the potential relocation of Oklahoma’s only maximum security facility for juveniles if the city fails to fund renovations at the L.E. Rader Center. Due to increased operational costs caused by design, function, and legal problems, the state Office of Juvenile Affairs has put out a request for information (RFI) to potential bidders for the cost to construct/renovate and staff a new maximum security facility.
Barger stressed the importance the L.E. Rader Center has not only to the state but also to Sand Springs. “The state of Oklahoma and its troubled youth benefit from the experience of the employees of the L.E. Rader Center. If the facility is relocated new staff will have to be trained to do jobs Rader Center employees have already mastered,” Barger said. He also stressed the City of Sand Springs will lose the benefits of a 12 million dollar payroll in their community. “Employees of the L.E. Rader Center make several purchases in Sand Springs and the local economy will feel an impact if the center is relocated,” said Barger. “The fight for the L.E. Rader Center is not over, but you as a city council must take the initiative to fund the center and you must do it soon,” Barger stated. “Please step up and do the right thing for your community and the troubled children of Oklahoma.”
Councilman Ward Sherrill said he agreed with Barger’s comments. As the former principal of the L.E. Rader Center’s on-site alternative school, Sherrill said he has personally witnessed the hard work and dedication of employees at the L.E. Rader Center. He also validated Barger’s comments of the monetary impact the city will feel by sharing personal stories of seeing Rader Center employees at local Sand Spring businesses.
The RFI’s for those interested in building a new center were due April 15th. OPEA will be requesting to review all the proposals as quickly as possible.