Newkirk Officials Want Review of Drug Treatment Center
August 20, 1989
Fearing state officials may have been misled, Newkirk officials are asking for a review of how a drug treatment center scheduled to open next month north of here got its initial license.
The proposed Narconon center, being developed on the old Chilocco Indian School campus, could be used as recruiting grounds for the Church of Scientology, according to a letter written by Mayor Gene Bilger, chamber of commerce president Stephen Houser, and Newkirk school board president Jana Shafer.
The letter was part of a 50-page packet sent to Gov. Henry Bellmon, state agencies and federal officials.
Bellmon asked Robert Fulton, state secretary for social services, to look into the matter, said Sam Armstrong, the governor's press aide.
Bilger and the others claim a certificate of need issued by the Oklahoma Health Planning Commission in January for Narconon International was done with little research.
The mayor told The Oklahoman Friday that a state official told him his research consisted of one telephone call.
"We would like for the entire process to be reviewed and see if there have been some errors somewhere along the way," Bilger said.
"We just feel like maybe they were like we were at the very beginning a little too eager for something new started in the state."
It wasn't until after January's public hearing that local residents learned Narconon may be linked to the Church of Scientology.
Bilger said a detailed check would have shown that connection and that many Narconon International workers are Scientologists.
He said Scientology documents show that Narconon is an entity within the Scientology organization.
John Duff, president of Narconon, has said the 23-year-old agency is not directly connected with the Church of Scientology.
Before Narconon can open and accept patients, it still must be licensed and certified by the state. The state Department of Health first must determine if the facility meets building codes and regulations.
Then, the state Department of Mental Health will review the center's program to see if it complies with state guidelines, said Leroy Bridges of the mental health department.
"An awfully lot of the residents are starting to make up their mind this isn't what we need in our area," Bilger said.
At first, the Narconon facility at Chilocco will use five or six of the 80 buildings on the campus in developing a 75-bed facility.
Renovation costs are expected to be at least $400,000, Duff has said.
Narconon is leasing about 165 acres from Indian tribes that make up the Chilocco Development Authority.
Narconon initially said the tribes could earn $16 million over the next 25 years of the current lease, but an article in a Scientology newsletter said Narconon will pay the tribes 10 percent of its gross income.