The Norman Transcript

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May 14, 2013

County battle continues over youth shelter funding

(Continued)

NORMAN —

The Cleveland County Juvenile Shelter was the first emergency youth shelter in the state. Out of his own pocket, Rambo purchased the first shelter facility at 110 E. Eufaula St.

The shelter evolved over time and, in 2002, the Cleveland County Youth & Family Center ceased to operate as a branch of county government when its advisory board transformed the agency into a nonprofit agency named Crossroads Youth and Family Services Inc.

Currently, Crossroads sponsors 27 locations of Head Start and Early Head Start in Cleveland, Comanche, Pottawatomie and Seminole counties.

As the organization served more areas, the overall budget increased, but state and federal money is strictly designated. Head Start money cannot be used to operate the shelter, Wiggs said.

Also at dispute has been Executive Director Lisa Winters’ salary. Winters’ full compensation package includes a salary of $104,852, health insurance benefits of $5,405 and a 4 percent 401k match of $4,194, according to information provided by Crossroads.

Winters does not have an expense account or a company vehicle, but she can seek mileage reimbursement when appropriate.

Supporters say the need for the shelter is even greater today than it was in 1969.

“The need for services was great back then and greater now with thousands more people living in Cleveland County,” Rambo said. “To damage such a system, whether intended or not, is not morally defensible or fiscally responsible. The development of the shelter program and related agencies has brought tens of millions of dollars to residents in salaries and services.”

Spaulding spoke in favor of Crossroads as an agency, but said the county budget board is doing the right thing by striking the item from its budget. He said people should support the nonprofit through donations.

Bruce Parker said the county should not pick charities, and if it is going to give to charity, it should have a charity review board.

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