Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs may review detention center contract

BY ANN KELLEY and JOHN ESTUS Published: February 25, 2011
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A state agency's board today will consider reviewing a contract dogged by accusations of bid rigging and linked to a state senator and lobbyist's extramarital affair.

Board members for the Office of Juvenile Affairs meet this morning. On their agenda are three items pointing to a potential review of a controversial state contract to build a 144-bed juvenile detention center.

The center would replace the aging, maximum-security L.E. Rader Center in Sand Springs. The contract for a new detention center was awarded in November to an Ada group, but its signing has been delayed twice.

The contract came under scrutiny after it was revealed that Sen. Harry Coates, 60, was having a romantic affair with lobbyist Haley Atwood, 30, whose clients would have benefited from the Ada Youth Academy Authority securing the $10 million-a-year contract.

Atwood represented a Norman architectural firm that would design the center, and Rite of Passage, a Colorado-based company that would operate it.

Coates, R-Seminole, was among several lawmakers involved in legislation last year asking the agency to build a new juvenile detention center.

Board members today are expected to discuss their budget as it relates to the building of a new detention center, whether to conduct an internal review of what went on during the bidding and whether new bidding procedures need to be in place for the future.

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