By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Board members have been appointed to a newly created public trust that will oversee Canadian County’s new domestic violence center.
District Attorney Mike Fields said Canadian County’s new Cardinal Point family justice center will “open soon” once construction is finished at the Canadian County Children’s Justice Center.
Cardinal Point will occupy a renovated 5,000 square foot space inside the juvenile center, 7905 E Hwy 66 in El Reno.
“This has been the culmination of two years of work,” Fields said. “We’ve seen the community involvement from the very beginning. We saw the interest the community had in this project.”
Canadian County is beneficiary of the new public trust.
“We hope to pay tremendous dividends to the citizens of our county,” Fields added. “We really look forward to the great work we’re going to do.”
Canadian County will have Oklahoma’s fourth family justice center to help survivors of domestic abuse, child abuse, sexual assault, and stalking.
Cardinal Point Director Kristie Chandler and her staff will work with resource partners to provide services to help Canadian County survivors.
Joining Fields as members of Cardinal Point’s first trust board are District 2 Canadian County Commissioner Dave Anderson, Canadian County Undersheriff Kevin Ward, Jacqueline Steyn, and Heidi Oliver.
Canadian County District Judge Jack McCurdy administered the oath to the five trustees during the Oct. 12th county commissioners meeting, where the trust document was approved. Cardinal Point’s appointed and designated trustees are appointed to one-year terms.
DA Fields selected Steyn, a licensed professional counselor with more than 30 years of experience as a victim/service provider, as a trustee. Steyn has worked for the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office.
“Her willingness and her desire to serve on the Cardinal Point public trust speaks to not only the excitement around this program but also to the potential of what it can be,” Fields said. “Jacque is a preeminent expert in the State of Oklahoma in the area of victim/service delivery to victims of domestic violence, including children, as well as to survivors of sexual assault.
“She’s trained law enforcement, prosecutors, attorneys, and advocates. We just could not have gotten someone any stronger in that area to help guide us, to make sure the services we’re delivering to survivors are top-notch.”
Oliver, a domestic violence survivor, was appointed as a Cardinal Point trustee by the Canadian County Commissioners.
“Heidi is an incredible person and an educator for many, many years,” Chandler said. “She herself survived domestic violence at a young age … and we know that women 18 to 24 experience the highest rates of domestic violence.
“Heidi survived that and found herself in a healthy marriage. She really held on to the hope that she had for her life and for her daughter’s life. She’s now ready to ‘come out of the shadows’ and help other survivors become aware of what domestic violence is and encourage people that they can have a healthy life afterward.”
Before the trust was created, Oliver and Commissioner Anderson had served on Cardinal Point’s advisory council.
“I do have a big interest in seeing this succeed,” Anderson said as the county commissioners’ initial trust designee. “I see this as a revolving responsibility on the board.”
Anderson thanked the DA’s Office, Assistant Attorney Tommy Humphries and Chandler for their efforts to make Canadian County’s new family justice center a reality.
“They’ve done the lion’s share of the work involved in this,” Anderson said. “I appreciate that work.”
County Commission Chairman Marc Hader said forming Cardinal Point has been a “collaborative effort by the whole community.”
ADA Humphries explained why a public trust will oversee Canadian County’s Cardinal Point domestic violence center.
“We’ve had an amazing partnership with public entities, and we want more private entities,” Humphries said. “We think a trust is the perfect governing entity with all the support we have from the county commissioners and other public partners.”
County commissioners have included $94,000 in the county’s FY20-21 general fund budget as “seed money” to help Cardinal Point kick-start operations while its board awaits more grant funding.