It’s been one month since I reported on the low funding and staffing levels at the Mack Alford Correctional Center. And with the Oklahoma legislative session in full swing, it seemed the perfect time to follow up on the story with Sen. Josh Brecheen, after he gave a town hall meeting in Durant Friday.
I talked with Brecheen in-depth about the issue back in February. He expressed concern that the Department of Corrections (DOC) is in desperate need of funding. He said the low salaries for workers is causing an alarmingly high turnover rate for qualified staffers, while not providing enough incentive for potential new-hires:
“It’s a huge problem. And if we are utilizing state resources to train individuals, and they’re leaving at that rate of 60 percent, then we’ve got to do something, because that is not efficient government.”
But he was very hesitant to promise too much the first time we talked. And he still seemed very guarded when we talked again on Friday.
Appropriation discussions begin in May. On Friday, I asked him how he predicted they would play out. He said he ranks funding for DOC as a high priority – but at the same time he was quick to bring up other areas of concern, like education and infrastructure. He said DOC funding is an important public safety issue, but gave very political, “wait-and-see” answers as to how much funding it would get.
In summary, he said he wants to see funding increase for DOC. But he’s also keeping his options open should DOC funding take a back seat when they debate the budget in a couple of months.
We’ll continue to follow this issue closely and keep you updated as the Oklahoma budget starts to take shape.
As the last few hours of February ticked away, a few local organizations ended the month with some last minute February-oriented events. And that’s how I spent my day as well.
It started out with Fred Douglass Early Childhood Center’s “Black History Program 2013: The Dream.” It was a song, dance and skit program put on by kids and teachers. And it was adorable. The tunes ranged from traditional spiritual songs like “Wade in the Water,” to Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” But of course my favorite was the rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World,” which was complete with the glitz, glamour and dance moves of a bunch of tiny MJ’s.
The next stop was Texoma Medical Center’s “Go Red with All Your Heart” event for American Heart month. I learned some tips on keeping a healthy heart (…ok, I actually learned that I’m not very “heart-healthy” when it comes to food. I like salt…a lot). But I did learn how to cook heart-healthy, and more importantly got to sample some delicious “heart-healthy” chicken tortilla soup. I didn’t ask about the calories/carbohydrates, which is the only part I’m usually concerned about. I figure future me might have to deal with the sodium in-take – but that’s another problem for another day. (Take home point: I eat a lot of salt.)
So I’ve revamped the site. It’s now where I’ll post links to my work with KXII News 12 – you can go there to watch my videos and read my stories.
I’ll also use this site to blog, keep you up to date on what’s happening around the Texoma area, and give you background tidbits and information as I uncover the breaking news in the region.
Feel free to post comments, feedback, questions and join the conversation in general. I love to hear from members of the community!