By Loné Beasley
Oklahoma’s State Senate initiated an investigation Wednesday of a state contract for a youth academy recently awarded to Ada, according to The Oklahoman. Sen. Harry Coates, Seminole, and Haley Atwood, a lobbyist for the firm set to operate the juvenile facility, are accused of having an affair and unduly influencing the process.
“Allegations being made regarding the recent Office of Juvenile Affairs contract are serious,” The Oklahoman quotes Senate Pro Tem-elect Brian Bingaman as saying in a statement.
Atwood represented Rite of Passage, the Nevada based firm set to operate the facility.
A contract signing ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at the Council on Law Enforcement and Education Training (CLEET) facility in Ada. Local officials who worked on the project say the $10 million youth academy will be constructed on 65 acres located near CLEET at Egypt Road and Hwy 99. It will provide 115 jobs with an average pay of $46,000.
Ada Mayor Darrell Nemecek said the additional jobs will be a boon for Ada’s economy. “This is excellent news, as the academy will make a tremendously positive economic impact on our community,” he said.
It will house children between the ages of 14 and 21 who are in the custody of Office of Juvenile Affairs, none of whom will be violent offenders, according to Dr. Steve Turner, Ada Youth Academy Committee member.
“These are kids who might have done some type of vandalism,” Turner said. “This might be a kid that drove off in a car. These are kids who have done something but not something serious.”