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Ponca City Information

Ponca City History

1974

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1974 — The Ponca City Industrial Foundation reported that expansion had begun at Titus Manufacturing in the Airport Industrial Park. The new firm was adding 30,000 square feet to their space in Hangar No. 1 at the Darr Complex.

Mayor Trout urged citizens to call the city’s BOOST number if they had complaints about the Cable Television Company’s service.

The Arcade Hotel at First Street and Grand Avenue was razed in January. Many famous millionaires and cowboys had stayed there, including Lew Wentz and E.W. Marland. The original structure dated to pioneer days when it was located at Cross.

Oklahoma Gas & Electric revealed that a new plant would be built south of Ponca City and east of U.S. 177. Named the Sooner Generating Station, the area included a 5,000-acre lake known as Sooner Lake. The project is the first big industrial plant specifically located to take advantage of water available from the Kaw Reservoir.

The spillway and second stage embankment at the Kaw Dam reservoir were 80% complete; six of the eight gates in the spillway were nearing completion; and five of the twelve public use areas were started.

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on the site of the first residential subdivision on the new Kaw Lake area in early March. Known as Highland Meadows South, consisted of 17 one-acre building sites.

A city charter change approved by voters in 1973 provided for two additional city commissioners, increasing the board to five. Those filing in February included David Burrows, Joe Dempewolf, John Johnson, and Bob Friday. Dempewolf and Friday were elected.

Concerns about the Hutchins Auditorium included smoking and alcohol during conventions. Commissioners also noted the three main problems in the building were the stage, acoustics and sound, and that the building was not designed for what it was being used for.

The new Highway 119 crossing the Kaw Reservoir was completed in February. Work had begun on resurfacing four miles of I-35 from the Kansas line south.

wo lawsuits against the city, stemming from the four-year job of removing oil, gas and hydrocarbons from south-side properties were decided in favor of the city.

Sidewalk construction was approved for War Memorial Park, Johnson Park and the Cultural Center.

Camp Fire girls and their fathers planted 1,000 trees at the new Camp McFadden site.

Ponca Playhouse presented “You Know I Can’t Hear You When the Water’s Running” at Country Clubs in Ponca City, Bartlesville and Blackwell. The traveling company included Don Bishop, Loyd Bishop, Tom Cowley, Agnes Yozzo and JoAnn Muchmore. Production assistants were David Young, Elard Haden, Sandra Bishop, John Raley and Bill Galloway.

In March, the legislature passed a speed limit reduction bill, lowering speeds to 55 miles per hour. State workers changed 5,000 signs across the state.

Ball fields at Willow Springs Park were scheduled to be finished by July. The new area for model airplane flyers was located at the old landfill near the river.

Mayor Trout announced he would not run again for mayor. Candidates registering included Kenneth Holmes, Orville Perciful, William James (Bill) Miller, and T.N. (Tiny) Farha. One of the four candidates had to get a majority of votes to avoid a runoff.

Dena Gordy, daughter of Travis and Rita Gordy, was named 1974 Oklahoma Junior Miss.

The camping area at Lake Ponca was increased from 40 to 92 sites.

Mrs. J.L. Kilkenny, Administrator at the Opportunity Center, was commended for her successful completion of a $125,000 construction grant. Bill Valenta was elected president of the center’s council.

Ponca City Hospital was designated a regional hospital after a multi-million dollar expansion.

Kenneth Holmes was elected mayor. A local attorney, he had served previously as an assistant city attorney and municipal judge. He took the oath of office on May 6.

A Teen Center was opened in Building No. 16 at the Darr School. A joint effort of the city and the Student Chamber, it was open on Friday for junior high students and Saturday for senior high students.

The Ponca City High School Chorale, Girls Chorus, and Boys Chorus received superior ratings at the Crescent City Chorale Festival in New Orleans. Robert Moore was director.

In May, construction of five public use facilities began at Kaw Lake, including restroom buildings, service roads, camp facilities, and exterior utilities. Together, the recreation areas will have 114 campsites and 117 picnic sites. The Kaw Lake project as a whole was 66% complete.

Security Bank held an all-day festival on May 9 in celebration of the 100th anniversary of E.W. Marland’s birth. Marland and his associates organized Security Bank in 1917. Festivities included an art show in the bank’s gardens and an Oklahoma Symphonette concert on the bank’s plaza.

The Ponca Playhouse production of “Mr. Roberts” featured a live goat. Susie was a halter-trained milk goat belonging to Jack Crissup.

Some senior boys at Po Hi papered every tree and bush on the campus and installed a sign across the school entrance that read “The Senior Class of ’74 Will Live as a Legend Forever and Evermore.” Two privies faced the entrance and a public notice sign proposed the start of a nudist colony. Real estate signs offered the building for sale, and the Sirloin Stockade steer bore signs on both sides.

The Jens-Marie Hotel sold to a new owner from California, who changed the name to Grand Hotel. The hotel had originally opened on Feb. 1, 1924.

The city purchased new automatic barrel-emptying trash and garbage collection trucks.

A fire at the Conoco refinery forced the company to slash May gasoline allocations to many dealers in the Midwest by 17%.

By mid-May, fund raising for the new indoor community swimming pool was within 15% of its goal. $334,000 was needed to match a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The pool was to be built at Grand and Eighth Street, adjacent to the YMCA, calling for closing Eighth Street from Central to Grand Ave. A number of citizens opposed the street closure. By early June, commissioners adopted an ordinance to close the street.

Ponca Military Academy held its final graduation, with two seniors and 15 eighth grade students. Opened in 1940, the school was founded by Col. William V. Cox. More than 4,000 youths from nearly every state and many foreign countries had lived and studied there. The last exhibit of the crack drill team and the drum and bugle corps preceded the final dress parade at 12 noon on May 26.

In June, Whirlpool Corporation announced that they planned to locate a plant here.

Plans were made to build a fine arts building and fieldhouse on the Senior High campus, and a wrestling room addition to East Junior High. The contract was $1.7 million.

More than 2,500 people passed through the serving lines at the Police Department’s annual fish fry at the Municipal Airport. The hosts served 1200 pounds of fish and 900 pounds of chicken, plus all the trimmings.

Mayor Holmes named 29 citizens to serve on the city’s Bicentennial Commission to plan and coordinate activities and programs to celebrate the 200th birthday of our nation.

The School Board voted to close McKinley School, and transfer those students to Garfield.

A groundbreaking was held for a new McDonald’s at 2124 N. 14th St. in June. Completion was expected in September.

Plans for a high-rise low rent housing facility for the elderly were finalized, with construction scheduled to begin in July. The building would have 105 residential units in an eight-story structure, located at the corner of Broadway and Third Street. Construction was already started at another HUD project near West Junior High. There were 72 low-rent duplexes under construction in various stages of completion. In July, 22 completed units were finished.

Church Women United met to vote on relocation of the Child Development Center to the Attucks Library. The center is for children three to six years old whose parents are employed, and is an agency of the United Way.

Wentz Pool was renovated at a cost of $74,963. Originally built in 1930, the pool was a gift to the city from Lew Wentz, oilman philanthropist.

Paul A. Long Sr. celebrated 50 years in the oil and gas business. Paul A. Long and Sons Oil Company opened in 1924 at Osage and Highland when gas sold for 22 cents a gallon.

A new stone bridge with an old style was constructed in War Memorial Park. Bud Jordan had mixed mud for the old rock bridge in the early 1940s, and he helped with the new one too. He was assisted by two youths who were employed by the park department through the Neighborhood Youth Corps.

In August, word was received from Washington that the Kaw Dam project had been fully funded at $11.1 million for completion.

The Felician Sisters celebrated 100 years of service in America during 1974. As a part of the observance, the sisters at Assumption Villa on Monument Road invited the people of Ponca City to an open house.

The 101 Ranch headquarters, including the White House foundations, were to be sold at auction on August 10. Included in the sale was the home built by the late Jack Webb, a 101 Ranch show performer, a horse barn and corrals, and two hay barns. A second tract was where the famed White House stood. A few buildings still stood including the former blacksmith shop, a dairy barn, a silo and a frame structure. Total acreage offered was 300 acres of Salt Fork River bottomland.

Construction was completed at the Pioneer Area Vocational-Technical in late June. County high schools could refer students to the technical school. Areas of instruction included hotel housekeeping, food service and commercial sewing for girls; lawn management, greenhouse, minor equipment and building maintenance for boys. The school opened for classes on August 26. They had 400 daytime students, and an additional 325 adults and high school students enrolled in night courses.

Meals-on-Wheels celebrated one year in operation. Eighty volunteers had driven 1,500 trips and delivered 7,000 meals to the elderly and sick.

East Junior High won the top entry in Band Day at the State Fair. They also were awarded a first division “superior rating.”

In September, the Felician Sisters announced that they had named Dick Sturdevant as the designated exclusive real estate agent to sell the Marland Mansion and all of their other buildings in Ponca City.

Conoco’s Board of Directors met in Ponca City for the first time in 17 years. Dr. Warren Jensen was named a vice president of the company.

The City leased the empty McKinley Elementary School for use by the Recreation Department. They had a recreation director, arts and crafts director, and sports director. There was also a meeting room for senior citizen activities.

Welborn Electric moved into the former Monsour Grocery building at 300 South Third.

In October, citizens donated 8,500 pounds of food and medical supplies to hurricane-stricken Honduras. Mayor Holmes, Civil Defense Director Paul Andrews plus two missionaries rode on the delivery plane.

A new look for the Municipal Airport was Arrowhead Aviation, Inc., which took over fixed base operations. The firm, in cooperation with the City, completed extensive remodeling of offices located north of the airport terminal. Owners of the local corporation were William L. Davis, president’ Gerald L. Nield, vice president; Kay L. Motz, secretary-treasurer; Allan J. Lundeen, and Don L. Coffelt.

Expansion on the airport, which had begun in August, 1973, was completed in October. The main part of the project was a 1,600 foot extension of the runway, which would allow heavy aircraft with turbo-jet classification, including 727 jets and DC-9 jets, to land here.

The United Way Drive, led by David Beard, collected $252,205, going $4800 over goal.

More than 10,000 letters announcing a recycling program for all of Ponca City were mailed to residents. On October 5, the City initiated the program. City trucks collected 50,000 pounds of paper. Two weeks later, cans of all types – tin, steel, aluminum – and glass of all shapes, sizes and colors were picked up. Volunteers picked up the items, took them to the collection center, where they were bundled and shipped out to a recycling plant.

At the Northern District Marching Contest held at Blaine Stadium, the Big Blue Wildcat Marching Band received a superior rating in inspection and marching and playing ability.

Auto Electric, 118 W. Grand, celebrated their 50th Anniversary with an Open House on October 2nd.

Child Development Center moved into a new home at 1615 S. 12th Street. The combined efforts of the City Commission, Church Women United, United Way and numerous individuals made the new home possible. The former Community Library had become a spacious, light and airy, two-story day home for 35 lively children, ages three to six.

On December 10, commissioners signed a contract to build the indoor swimming pool at the YMCA. Financing came from a HUD grant and matching money donated by citizens. Groundbreaking ceremonies were Dec. 17.

Construction began on the new Ponca City News building in the 300 block of North Third.