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Media Articles - 1990s

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Narconon Vows To Stay, Hikes Staff Training

By Michael McNutt

Daily Oklahoman
February 4, 1992

NEWKIRK - Although under a court order to move its patients out next week, Narconon Chilocco New Life Center is staying put in Kay County, the president of the drug and alcohol treatment center said Monday.

Gary Smith said his facility will comply with a court order if it is not reversed by a Feb. 10 deadline to remove its remaining 13 patients.

"Narconon's not moving," Smith said. "Our bags are far from packed."

But he said the center will step up its program to train staff workers in the drug and alcohol treatment field.

Narconon Chilocco had 16 people in its training program Monday, Smith said. The facility could train up to 125 people at one time, he said.

Meanwhile, Smith said efforts are under way to find a way to keep the center open to treat its remaining patients and to find a way to admit new patients.

Options include appealing to the state Supreme Court to order another district court hearing or to test the state's authority to enforce its laws on Indian land. Narconon Chilocco is leasing the old Chilocco Indian school north of Newkirk.

"Our lawyers are busily working out the next plan," Smith said.

"There was some serious legal powwows over the weekend. The only feedback I got is that it looks like they got a real good direction they're going to go in. I have confidence in our legal staff." Narconon's lawyer, Harry Woods Jr., was out of the office and unavailable for comment Monday.

Smith said perhaps two or three of the 13 remaining patients at the center could be finished with their treatment program by next Monday's deadline.

Of the 13, six have paid an average of $21,000 for a three-month course and the other seven are Indians who are being treated free.

Narconon Chilocco's lease agreement provides it set aside 25 percent of its beds to Indians for free care.

District Judge John Amick last week set the Feb. 10 deadline for the center to stop treating people for alcohol and drug abuse.

Earlier, Narconon Chilocco lost a bid to stay open while it appealed a denial of its treatment program by the Oklahoma Board of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

However, Smith said Narconon Chilocco can remain open to train staff.

By increasing the number of people being trained, Narconon Chilocco, with the help of donations, could generate enough revenue to stay open until May 15 when its appeal is scheduled to be heard in Oklahoma County.

But a Kay County court hearing is scheduled later this month on a request from state health officials to close the center.

Narconon Chilocco began accepting patients in February 1990, and did not seek state certification until after state officials filed papers in Kay County District Court to close it down.

Narconon Chilocco was able to get court orders allowing the facility to operate.