The Norman Transcript

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May 14, 2013

County battle continues over youth shelter funding

NORMAN — Supporters of Crossroads Youth and Family Services and supporters of a tighter county budget battled Monday in a public hearing before the Cleveland County Budget Board.

Tempers flared between Norman City Council member Dave Spaulding and a member of the audience after a negative comment was made about Spaulding. Budget Board Chair Rod Cleveland quickly got the meeting under control and a Cleveland County deputy on security duty appeared quietly in the back of the room.

Emotions were high as some Crossroads supporters accused elected county officers serving on the budget board as being poor examples of Christianity and recited or read verses from scripture.

For newly elected County Commissioner Darry Stacy, those personal attacks went too far. A retired police officer with a long career in law enforcement, Stacy told the Transcript in a private interview that he knows the importance of the youth shelter, but he believes it receives enough state funding from the Office of Juvenile Affairs to continue operating without the $225,000 in funding the county stripped from its proposed FY 2014 budget.

Crossroads Finance Director Patricia Wiggs said the shelter has been impacted by the same budget cuts that have trickled down to every other state agency and the organization will have some tough decisions ahead as the agency is forced to make $200,000 worth of cuts.

Former Cleveland County Judge J. David Rambo spoke on behalf of the youth shelter. Rambo is credited with founding the shelter. As the juvenile judge at that time, Rambo knew the need.

“We opened a juvenile shelter on Feb. 1, 1969, with the collaborative efforts of civic groups, Cleveland County officials, state government and the Department of Human Services,” Rambo said. “The support of our county commissioners was critical to the success of the shelter.

“As time passed, our board, volunteers, all of our employees and the staff that was loaned to us from DHS repeated these efforts statewide and created a similar service of care and protection for youth across Oklahoma.”

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