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Media Articles - 1990s

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Narconon Certification Decision Delayed

By Michael McNutt, Enid Bureau

The Daily Oklahoman,
16 October 1990

State Mental Health Board action on a certification application from a Kay County substance abuse center has been delayed, authorities said Monday.

Action on Narconon Chilocco New Life Center, which has been operating without state approval since February, was scheduled for this week. But officials said the item was stricken from Thursday's board agenda after they determined staff members would be unable to make a recommendation in time for the board to review it before the meeting.

"We need more time," said Rosemary Brown, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Mental Health Department.

About 400 people attended Monday's public hearing. Many Newkirk residents have said Narconon Chilocco should not be certified by the state because it is affiliated with the Church of Scientology. Some fear it could be a recruiting arm for Scientologists.

It is uncertain whether the mental health board will schedule a special meeting to deal with the 1 application or discuss the matter at its next regular meeting, set for Nov. 8 at Western State Hospital in Fort Supply, she said.

Mental health staff were trying to comply with a judge's order that Narconon Chilocco's certification be taken up by the State Mental Health Board at its October meeting.

The meeting was pushed back one week. But that still was not enough time, Brown said, for staff to review transcripts of last week's 4 1/2-hour public hearing. Staff members also were looking over documents submitted at the hearing and reports from inspectors who twice visited Narconon Chilocco, located on the grounds of the old Chilocco Indian school north of Newkirk.

"We have accelerated the process a lot in response to the judge's order," she said.

District Judge Neal Beekman last month ordered the mental health department staff to push up its scheduled review of Narconon Chilocco so a decision could be made this month. He made his ruling during a hearing in which the Oklahoma Department of Health sought a temporary restraining order to close Narconon Chilocco because it was accepting patients without certification or licensing.

Beekman allowed Narconon Chilocco to stay open, but barred the facility from accepting new patients.