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Ponca City Information

Ponca City History

1976

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1976 — Groundbreaking ceremonies were held January 15 for a $1.4 million Public Safety Center.

On January 16, dedication ceremonies were held at the Marland Mansion and Estate, followed by an Open House. More than 1,000 visitors kept up a steady stream through the Mansion.

The City presented a cast bronze statue, a replica of the Pioneer Woman, to Howard Blauvelt, Conoco CEO. Conoco executives were feted with an “appreciation banquet” in the ballroom of the Marland Mansion. Conoco had donated half of the purchase price for the city’s acquisition of the mansion. The company was also celebrating their 100th year in business.

Dr. Warren Jensen, vice president of Conoco, and new president of the Chamber of Commerce, announced that Conoco was taking bids for a new eight-story office building to be located on South Avenue.

Gov. Boren presented Mayor Holmes an award from the Oklahoma Heritage Association. The honor was for the citizens of Ponca City for acquiring the Marland Estate and for “an outstanding sense of community spirit in the realm of historic preservation.”

Ponca Playhouse helped the city celebrate the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in its production of the musical comedy “1776.”

Kenneth Ray, Norman High School assistant coach, described as the “most outstanding coaching prospect in Oklahoma,” was officially named as new head football coach for Ponca City High School.

Ken Bellmard became the first Ponca City champion in a regional wrestling match in Tulsa.

The new Ponca City Community Pool was dedicated on February 25. Charles Casey was master of ceremonies. The project had been initiated in 1972.

Wildcat girls basketball team won the regional championship.

In her will, Elsie Cann Brown bequeathed ten acres of property at Grand and 14th Street to the City of Ponca City. To be known as the “Lester and Mary Cann Memorial Gardens,” in honor of her parents. She also provided a trust fund of several hundred thousand dollars, with the understanding that $25,000 was to be paid to the city annually for continuous improvement and upkeep of the property.

In March, Joe Dempewolf announced he would seek reelection for city commissioner. John Carpenter filed to challenge Dempewolf. Lee Brown’s term was also over, but he chose not to run again. Bonnie Phillips filed for Brown’s post. She had been executive director for United Way. J.T. Busche also filed. Phillips and Dempewolf were elected.

Mrs. Phillips was the first woman to serve as a city commissioner.

The Marland Mansion and Estate officially opened to the public on April 4. Part of the ceremonies included seven living tableaus portraying scenes from “Salad Days Fantasia,” arranged by Jo Ann Muchmore, and authentic music of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Guides were posted throughout the building.

In April, Wildcat girls won their division of the Wildcat Invitational Tennis tournament.

Vandals set the old Souligny house afire. First located at Grand and 7th Street, the 1890s house had been moved by John Maker to a lot on the west side of town. He had planned to convert it into a museum.

Ken Bellmard qualified to win a berth on the state wrestling team that traveled to Japan.

The Marland Estate Commission voted to apply for a federal grant that would pay for air conditioning the mansion, install exterior security lighting, remodel the Novitiate to provide hotel rooms on upper two floors, and restaurant and lobby on lower floor, and construct a parking lot and roadway through the estate. In the first two weeks the mansion was open, there were 5,102 visitors.

Wally Edwards expanded his Massey Ferguson Equipment Co. with four new buildings on a 15-acre tract west of the city on Highway 60. He was celebrating his 30th anniversary as a Massey Ferguson dealer.

The Kaw Dam Dedication was held on May 22, culminating 19 years of planning and work. More than 3,000 cars visited the Kaw Dam and Lake Overlook that weekend. The bridge across the dam was still under construction.

In fiscal year 1975-1976, new construction permits, plus alterations, repairs and additions permits accounted for $24,410,356 spent in Ponca City.

Construction was underway on the Sooner Generating Station, 18 miles south of Ponca City. Water from Kaw Lake would supply cooling water for the multimillion-dollar power plant plus water for the 5,000-acre Sooner Lake.

District Attorney Joseph A. Wideman appointed Mike Collins the first fulltime assistant D.A. in Kay County history. Collins had formerly served as Kay County public defender.

A new 50,000-gallon milk-holding tank was hoisted into place at the Farm Fresh Dairy Plant at Union and Cleveland. The wholesale plant processed, packaged and delivered dairy products throughout the state.

Brad Parker opened a new type of store, “The Plant Explosion,” on Lake Road.

Mark Detten was elected president of Northwest District 4-H clubs.

Brown Optical, owned by Dewell E. and John L. Brown, celebrated 30 years in business.

Albright Insurance, in Ponca City and Newkirk, commemorated 50 years of service.

On July 4, just in time for the Bicentennial, waters of the swollen Arkansas River began pouring through the Tainter gates of the Kaw Dam for the first time.

Jim Holt announced he would seek reelection as representative to the State Legislature from Ponca City.

The Ponca City Municipal Band performed in Pioneer Park in July. Directed by Ed Rodgers, the theme for the concert was “An Evening of Marches.”

Over 100 people attended dedication ceremonies for the historic Big Spring at 13th and South Avenue. In the early days, farmers, cowboys, and travelers always stopped to get a drink or water their horses at the spring.

The British Royal Air Force memorial at Runnymede, England was the setting for a reunion July 7 of RAF veterans who had trained at the old Darr School in Ponca City in 1942 – 1943. Lillian Taylor, former Link trainer instructor at Darr, attended the reunion, along with two former cadets at the Darr School, Harold Cogman and John Barrington. The Ponca Citians presented the War Memorial with a painting of the Number Six British Flight Training School Emblem done by Ponca City artist Walt Harris.

The Jens-Marie Hotel closed the upper floors of the building, the first time the hotel had been closed since opening Feb. 1, 1924. Built at a cost of $400,000, the 125-room structure had been remodeled from time to time. The lobby and the 101 Club on the lower level stayed open.

Hundreds were on hand for the grand opening of K mart on April 25th. The 320 car parking lot was full with many shoppers.

Jim Eatherly, 1977 campaign chairman for United Way, recruited 400 volunteers for the annual fund drive. Goal was $289,587. They raised $303,733.

In August, the Ponca City Airport received a $154,659 grant for expanding and strengthening the airport parking apron.

Six months after the Community Swimming Pool opened, records showed that over 7,000 patrons had used the pool for open swimming. The YMCA operated the pool for the City on a lease agreement.

A new 3,000 pound antenna pole for the newly constructed Ponca City Police Department and Emergency Operation Center was hoisted into place on Oct. 1st. The 150-foot, free-standing pole sits on a 20-foot deep steel reinforced concrete base. Atop the pole is a 20-foot antenna.

Larry Stephenson, Marland Estate Chairman, announced that a capsule would be placed in the wine cellar at the Mansion, to be opened in 100 years. The capsule contains descriptions of activities in obtaining former Marland property and other events.

The road across the Kaw Dam officially opened in mid-October.

George Marland’s statue was returned to the Marland Mansion after being excavated from the backyard of the Donahoe home. It was placed among the hedges at the Mansion entrance.

There were 655 babies born at St. Joseph Hospital in 1976.

Permits for new construction in 1976 represented $13,793,830. Permits for additions, alterations or repairs accounted for $956,937 for materials and labor. A total of 180 new homes were built, estimated at $9,793,830. Businesses, with 22 permits issued, spent $2,886,720 for construction or remodeling.