The Edmond Sun

Opinion

September 28, 2013

OUR VIEW: Thank you Supreme Court

EDMOND — All Oklahomans received good news this past week when the state Supreme Court ruled that the University of Central Oklahoma can legally use the Master Lease program from the State Regents of Higher Education to pay for bonds to build a new Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office.

For more than two years, the ME’s office has worked without national accreditation in deplorable conditions and with significant turmoil among its leadership ranks. The leadership issues seem to have been addressed with the medicological board’s most recent chief medical examiner hire, but the dire problems resulting from a lack of funding and staffing continue to plague the department’s ability to serve the people of Oklahoma.

The ruling allows UCO, the state and the City of Edmond to bring to fruition the promise of a better future for the Medical Examiner’s office. UCO is home to the nation’s premier forensic science degree program. This program is lead by some of the fathers of American forensic science and they are building an incredible academic program that brings in the highest-caliber of national and international experts in their field to teach students. This stellar program is bolstered by the location of the Oklahoma State Bureau if Investigation laboratory just across Second Street from the W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute. The collaboration among professionals and students creates a unique experience not truly duplicated elsewhere in the U.S. Add to that UCO’s funeral services degree program — the only one in the state — and anyone can see why co-locating the state’s leading medical investigators next to these programs is a good idea. The synergy this will create will bring benefits to everyone in Oklahoma.

UCO’s forensic science program and its connection to the OSBI lab are already bringing economic impacts to Edmond. And with a future conference center along Interstate 35, UCO will have even more opportunity to fill up its meeting spaces with premier conferences attracted by these programs.

Allowing what’s already in state law to go ahead and happen — building a new Medical Examiner’s Office on the UCO campus — just makes sense. It’s time to provide the ME’s office with the ability to function and improve upon its mission — serving Oklahoma families in their greatest time of need after the tragic death of a loved one.

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Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

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