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Ponca City Information

Ponca City History

1978

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1978 — WBBZ expanded its sports coverage of the Po-Hi athletic program, broadcasting the entire Wildcat football season, boys and girls basketball games, and wrestling matches. The station continued their commitment to OSU sports, Cardinal baseball and several auto races.

On Jan. 6, a piece of Ponca City’s history came down when the Jens-Marie Hotel was razed after being sold to Ponca City Downtown Corporation. One of the last residents of the old hotel was Lydie Marland, E.W. Marland’s widow.

The city received a $100,000 grant for the development of a clubhouse at Wentz Golf course. Over $190,000 was raised locally.

The Elks built a new lodge on Bradley. It housed conference rooms, a restaurant, and lounge.

Attucks School suffered a fire in 1978. At that time, the school was owned by the city. The city gave the Attucks Association group the property with the stipulation they bring it up to city code standard within 18 months.

Conoco began the renovation and enlargement of its research and development facilities. “R&D West” would consist of 200,000 square feet of laboratories, pilot plants and office space and house 300 employees.

The Po-Hi orchestra was chosen as the “Honor Orchestra” for 1977-78, the highest honor an Oklahoma music group can achieve.

Blaine Stadium was renamed Sullins Stadium. Earl Sullins had been football coach and then athletic director for 38 years. When Sullins quit coaching in 1959, he had amassed a 115-47-10 record in 16 years. He retired in 1971.

James A. Walker of Belding, Michigan, was hired as City Manager.

There were over 90 applications for the job. Leon Nelson had resigned after 18 years in that position. City Department heads were Norman Coffelt, Public Safety; Paul Andrews, Fire Dept.; Gary Martin, Public Works; Charles Hepler, Cultural Affairs; W.D. Walters, City Clerk; Ralph Bowman, City Treasurer; Gene Holmes, City Planning; Lee Knight, Traffic Engineer; Corky Silvy, Public Utilities.

The city received a $230,634 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to build a fire station, taxiway and storm sewer system at the airport.

Madelle Hoffman retired from the school system. She had been at Washington School for 43 years, principal for 28 of those years.

Mayor Robinson proclaimed May 7 as “Madelle Hoffman Day.”

The Fire Department received a Jaws of Life rescue tool, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Paul Davis and the Ambucs, who raised the funds.

In April, there were five candidates for two open positions on the City Commission — Paul Washecheck, Barbara Young, Bob Ferguson, John Wasson, and George Schwarz, Jr. Charles Hollar and Bob Friday had chosen not to run for reelection. Washecheck and Ferguson, both Conoco employees, were elected.

The YMCA baseball program had 230 boys signed up to play, and 60 adults who volunteered to coach, instruct and umpire the youths.

Conoco Chairman and CEO Howard Blauvelt and Governor David Boren were featured speakers at the dedication of Conoco’s new North Tower office building.

The Po-Hi vocal music department was named sweepstakes winner in the State 4A Vocal Music contest. It was the 12th consecutive year that the chorale received a superior rating.

The Po-Hi orchestra received a superior rating in a 14-orchestra competition in Texas.

Po-Hi band was named most outstanding marching band in the state.

The Lady Wildcat tennis team captured its seventh state title in nine years. Julie Cookson and Mary Taylor, seniors, made the All-State team. Coach Wally Smith again was chosen 4A Girls Coach of the Year.

All-Conference second baseman Mark Shupe was the leading hitter on the Wildcat baseball team.

Lavelle Wittmer retired from the High School English Department. She had taught 19 years, and was head of the department for 8 years.

The Pioneer Woman Statue was rededicated, with Will Rogers Jr. as a featured speaker.

Don Nickles announced he would seek the Republican nomination for State Senate. Sen. Roy Grantham was retiring after 28 years in the position. John Heinze, Kay County treasurer, announced he would seek the Democratic nomination. He resigned as treasurer in July.

Dr. Warren Jensen said Conoco planned to spend over $127 million toward the state’s economy in fiscal year 78-79 ... a 17 percent increase. The total included capital expenditures, payroll and estimated taxes. Conoco and DuPont announced a 5-year, $130-million oil and natural gas exploration partnership in Texas.

Gene Thorpe, of Osceola, Iowa, was named the city’s new assistant city administrator. His duties included personnel policies, supplies and purchasing procedures, and property accountability.

Mark Detten, 18, was named a State 4-H Hall of Fame winner for outstanding achievement in 4-H and leadership and citizenship activities. An OSU freshman, Detten had a 4.0 and planned to make a career in agriculture.

The IYF (Invest in Your Future) one-day Chamber of Commerce membership drive netted 49 new members.

Toni Gibson assumed ownership of Sander’s Westside Rexall drug store June 1. Located at 301 W. Grand, the store was renamed Toni’s Westside Drug.

Lt. Governor George Nigh formally launched his Democratic gubernatorial campaign to a group of 1,000 supporters at the Lincoln Plaza Forum. He said he intended to become the first candidate to file for election by petition, and was confident he would have at least 50,000 signatures.

In June, Cablecom announced it would expand programming via a new satellite receiving station.

Republican incumbent Jim Holt announced he would run for a third term as a representative in the legislature. Mary Layne Raley also filed.

Construction on the underground water storage tank at Donner and Bradley was progressing. The tank would hold two million gallons of water.

Trustees of St. Joseph Medical Center opened a time capsule that was sealed inside the 1925 cornerstone of “The Hospital on the Hill.”

Contents included a statuette of St. Joseph enclosed in a copper casing, an aluminum medallion, a copy of the deed, signed by E.W. and M.V. Marland, and two editions of the Ponca City News from Feb. 1, 1925. The building was being demolished.

Vacu-Maid Inc. received national recognition from the Disabled American Veterans as Outstanding Small Employer of the Year for its efforts to employ qualified disabled veterans. Vacu-Maid manufactures central vacuum cleaning systems. Of their 52 employees, 12 were veterans and six were veterans with service-connected disabilities.

In August, the City Commissioners allocated $25,000 for the new Wentz golf clubhouse construction.

Patrick Ozment was appointed the city’s new Parks and Recreation director. He came to Ponca from Bartlesville.

The YMCA opened their three new handball-racquetball courts, built at a cost of $153,000.

Commissioners passed an ordinance banning the possession or drinking of 3.2 beer on city streets and public areas.

The new American Legion Huff-Minor Post 14 building, at 407 W. South Ave., was dedicated in September, with Sen. Roy Grantham as featured speaker.

The Pioneer Woman Statue was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Pioneer Woman Museum.

In October, two members from the class of 1908 held their 70-year reunion. Dr. Cad W. Arrendell and Clair A. Nickles were able to attend. They were the first graduating class from the four-year Ponca City High School, with 14 graduates. The class of 1928 held their reunion at the same time.

The Ponca City News was awarded First Place in Advertising in the Better Newspaper Contest at the Oklahoma State Fair.

There were 34 blocks in the southeast side Street Improvement District that were resurfaced in October. The district was from Third Street to 14th Street, and Central to South Avenue.

Bob Long was appointed acting chief administrative officer of the Chamber of Commerce. He was to continue as executive vice president of the Industrial Foundation.

A three year one-cent sales tax issue was on the Nov. 21 ballot. The ballot outlined that 75 percent of the funds would be spent for major road improvements and reconstruction, 15 percent for capital equipment for the Fire Department, and 10 percent for new fire hydrants. The issue was defeated by a 13.4 percent margin.

On Nov. 1, The Huffy Corporation, largest manufacturer of bicycles in the U.S., announced plans to construct a plant here. Groundbreaking was December 6 at Waverly and West Hartford. The plant would be housed in a 408,000 square foot building, where 6,000 bicycles will be built per day.

Chuck Lessert was named new director of the Marland Mansion and Estate. He was to be responsible for the operation of the mansion, including maintenance, supervision, scheduling and coordinating activities.

The Wildcats were named district football champions, beating Enid.

Three weeks later, they won the Indian Nations Conference title, defeating Tulsa Washington 26-14.

The Compound, a shopping mall located in the former Montgomery Ward building at 417 E. Grand, held a grand opening in November. There were 24 shops in the mall.

Speed limits in existing school zones were lowered from 25 mph to 20 mph.

The Kress store at 105 E. Grand closed on Dec. 31. It had opened in 1929.