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Ponca City Information

Ponca City History

1980

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1980 — Essary’s Doughnuts, located just north of the Po-Hi parking lot, sold out. Owned by Roy and Bessie Mae Essary, the donut shop had been in business for 38 years.

In January, for the first time in the history of Ponca City public schools, computerized grade cards were distributed to junior high students.

Plans for the Cann Memorial Gardens were completed. Phase one focused around the Garden Center. Phase two covered the area west of the center to 14th Street. Phase three extended east from the center and included an observation shelter and outdoor meeting area. Jerry Walkup, landscape architect from OSU, created the designs.

Huffy Corporation began interviewing personnel in January to fill job slots for the new bicycle plant.

Phase II of Ponca Plaza included a new building for J.C. Penney, north of TG&Y with a mall in between.

Several businesses changed locations or owners in March. The House of Fabrics moved from 108 E. Grand to 208 E. Grand in the old Ben Franklin Store. Taco Bell opened at 2400 N. 14th. Surely Jeans opened at 324 E. Grand, former location of Faye’s Fashions. Accent Gallery, 417 E. Grand, moved into the former location of England’s Rag Doll at 213 E. Grand. Clark’s Fried Chicken opened on N. 14th Street, across from Howard’s Discount. The Wooden Nickel moved to 123 E. Grand. A convenience grocery store and self-service gas station built next to Sonic drive-In on N. 14th Street. Central Typewriter opened at 116 N. 2nd, and Gordon Holland sold Holland Supply at 211 N. 2nd. Out on Lake Road, the Boat House, next to Ponca Bowl, was nearing completion. Ponca Glass constructed a new building in the 300 block of W. Highland. National Name Brand Clothing opened in the old Elks Lodge at Bradley and N. 14th.

W.D. Beard sold the 1923 ice plant on South Pine to Paul Lawrence.

City officials estimated that surplus from the 1979-80 $5.7 million general budget would total $1.1 million.

In April, Col. Bob Bening, with the Corps of Engineers, told Ponca City leaders that “Your lake has prevented over $4 million in flood damage so far.”

The OCAW union ratified a contract resulting in acceptance of a wage and benefit offer by Conoco Inc. The vote ended a 34-day-old strike, and picketing by the 800-member union ceased.

Gov. George Nigh and other officials from the five-state Ozark Region held a Spring meeting at the Conference Center on the Marland Estate.

By early April, 50 residential building permits had been issued, valued at $2.1 million.

John Raley was elected mayor of Ponca City, receiving 69.5% of the vote. His only opponent was Judy McCurry, who had previously run for commissioner and lost. Mayor Robinson did not seek re-election.

The Marland Estate received $61,196 from the Oklahoma Historical Society for restoration.

Industrial Foundation member Lee Brown suggested that the city consider buying back the Whirlpool industrial site since it appeared that the firm would not ever build here.

Precision Tool & Die wanted to purchase four acres of city-owned land on Ash. They were currently housed in a Darr School building.

Smith-Gruner, at Hartford and Waverly, asked if they could build a 3-acre truck terminal on city-owned land on Ash.

Police Chief Norman Coffelt submitted an unprecedented $1 million budget and requested four additional dispatchers and four new officers.

Maintenance needs at Bogan Pool included replacement of the filtration system, a new pool bottom, and renovated dressing rooms.

The commission examined a $1.23 million Fire Department budget, the largest in the general fund. Exact budget amounts could not be known until the outcome of union contract talks which were currently at an impasse on wages and EMT pay.

In examining the $189,181 Marland Mansion budget, Cultural Affairs Director Charles Hepler said spending would be $100,000 over budget. He proposed raising mansion fees.

A total of $35,000 was approved for city hall repairs including replacement of rotted out wooden windows, a leaky roof and cleaning and painting the exterior.

Conoco reported that they had 4,181 employees here, compared to 3,812 in 1979.

County Extension Agent Von Long aired his last daily farm and crop report on WBBZ, ending nearly 19 years of broadcasting.

A preliminary 1980 census showed population of Kay County had grown by 1.6% since 1970. Ponca City grew by about 1.5% from 25,940 to 26,327.

Ambucs requested permission to sell beer at the Grand Prix sports car races at Lake Ponca. The city denied their request.

An experimental street project by Evans and Associates began in July on a half-block of Queens Avenue. They used fly ash from the OG&E plant for soil stabilization and as a substitute for liquid asphalt. It could keep costs of road construction down, and dispose of the waste product of OG&E’s plant as well.

Mary Steichen was named 1980 Miss Oklahoma National Teen-Ager.

The Board of Education agreed to purchase eleven acres north of Pleasant View School to be used by the vo-ag program. There were over 120 students in the program.

Cablecom requested permission to carry local advertising. The current contract with the city prohibited advertising, but city attorney, Marland Johnson, said it could be amended.

Harold Fisher, first aid instructor-trainer for Conoco, was honored for his outstanding performance in promoting CPR throughout the world.

Oklahoma’s 35,000 public school teachers received the largest ever pay hike, averaging $1,600.

Liberty Elementary School’s reading specialist, Mrs. Eleanor Childs Kurtz, was named Teacher of the Year.

Ponca City’s American Legion baseballers made their final home game a spectacular one, as they beat Eldorado 11-3 in five innings.

When Sen. Henry Bellmon announced his retirement, 19 candidates filed for his position. Don Nickles, 31, was the youngest of the office seekers.

Ponca City Jaycees held their River Raft Race on the Arkansas River below Kaw Dam, with 32 watercrafts participating, and plenty of “land lubber” spectators cheering them on.

Groundbreaking ceremonies for Schuck Industries were held at the Airport Industrial Park on North Ash. The new industry would produce cushion hitches and heavy equipment movers.

Huffy Corporation announced that it achieved record results for fiscal year ended June 1980. Net sales increased 18% to $237,512,000. The local plant was producing between 1,000 and 1,200 bikes per day and they planned to add another shift in the fall.

Three sessions of day camp and a series of specialty mini-camps for canoeing, high adventure and sailing were held at Camp McFadden in mid August.

The city appropriated $100,000 in matching funds to repave 14th Street from Otoe to Bradley. State road funds of $300,000 would match the city’s money.

Two new assistants were added to the Wildcat football coaching staff. Dale Chapman moved over from West and Chet Mongold transferred from Central State University.

The Civic Improvement Committee of the Chamber dedicated the historical marker recognizing the Indian Nations. The new downtown marker recognizes the 19 civilized Indian tribes. There are a total of seven granite stones placed on the corners of Grand Avenue. Each tells a part of Ponca City’s history. The project was sponsored by Pioneer Historical Society.

The Big “V” Ranch, a neighbor to the 101 Ranch in the heyday years, was represented in the 101 Ranch Rodeo parade. A covered wagon carried four great-great-grandchildren of the founders of the Big “V”, Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Vanselous. Sitting in the back, waving as they went, were Amy and Beth Goldman of Honolulu, also Trey and Travis Edwards of Lubbock, Texas. George W. Badley was the driver and owner of the wagon.

Construction began on the restaurant area of the Kaw Lake Marina at McFadden Cove.

The 1980-81 school year got underway, with enrollment figures showing 5,012 students in the public schools. Allen Robson began his 16th year as Superintendent of Schools. Bob Ford, assistant superintendent, was starting his sixth year.

The D.A.R. organized a $14,000 fund drive to repair the 1925 memorial fountain at the civic center. It had five sets of sprays with six different colored floodlights. The fountain could shoot water 16 feet in the air, and at one time, was home to 150 goldfish.

Cablecom aired a Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, sponsored by the city’s firefighters. Children dressed as clowns to collect donations. Total raised was $16,000.

Miss Oklahoma, 21-year old Susan Powell from Elk City, was named Miss America.

A new fire station was located at the airport’s north end with a crash-fire rescue vehicle as well as regular firefighting equipment.

In a September runoff election, Republican Don Nickles and Democrat Andy Coats each won nominations for the U.S. Senate race.

Northern Oklahoma Development Assn. informed Kay County officials that, unless the 1927 county jail was upgraded to meet state standards, action could be taken to shut down the facility. Sheriff Johnstone suggested a bond issue to build a new jail.

Lucinda Shurtz was named 1980 Po Hi Homecoming queen.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled a liquor-by-the-drink petition was unconstitutional.

The library and the art association co-sponsored a special exhibit of Birger Sandzen paintings. The exhibit featured the library’s permanent collection plus oils, watercolors and lithographs on loan from the Sandzen Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg, Kansas.

Reviving an old tradition, an outdoor ceremonial was held in North Park, celebrating the 70th anniversary of Camp Fire Girls.

Ernest Wiemann Iron Works of Tulsa began work on the wrought iron handrails at the Marland Mansion.

Off-duty firemen began picketing at all four fire stations after their request for a 9.5% pay hike was denied. The union was asking for a 10.5% increase.

After 14 years of development, Kaw Reservoir was near completion. The reservoir, which covers 62,600 surface-acres of land, has camping facilities for 226 vehicles, 73 of those with electrical hookups, along with 190 picnic sites, 12 picnic shelters, three swimming areas, complete with change houses, and 13 boat ramps. A prairie dog town was planned for an area close to the wildlife department headquarters, near the dam.

City Commissioner George Schwarz Jr., the commission’s informal overseer of streets, said $860,000 in street projects had been completed in the past year and $250,000 was budgeted for future projects. Most noticeable was the $143,500 preventive maintenance program, where 345 blocks of residential streets were resurfaced and 230 blocks were overlaid with slurry seal.

Pioneer Area Vo-Tech added five new shop areas, adding 25,000 square feet to the existing 74,500 square feet.

More than half a million dollars worth of construction and 15 miles of new pipeline were Oklahoma Natural Gas Company’s way of keeping up with Ponca City’s growth.

The new 6,000 square foot Lew Wentz Golf Clubhouse opened on Labor Day weekend.

The $320,000 building included a pro shop, snack bar, lounge, and locker rooms. It was financed with a $200,000 Bureau of Outdoor Recreation grant, and the rest from citizen donations.

The YMCA opened a new Women’s Fitness Center.

Steve Parr and Chris Browning led the Po Hi cross-country team to a conference championship in Tulsa. Five Ponca City runners finished in the top ten.

Susan Brookshire was crowned Ponca City Junior Miss. There were 23 girls competing in the 22nd annual Jaycees pageant. Shelli Mounts won the creative and performing arts portion of the pageant.

The Wildcat Marching Band earned a superior rating at the regional marching contest at Sullins Stadium.

The commission approved the installation of a Disc Golf Course in Hutchins Park. Kiwanis funded purchase of the equipment.

Don Nickles, 31-year-old freshman state senator from Ponca City, won a surprising easy victory over Andy Coats to become the youngest Oklahoman ever to win a U.S. Senate seat. Nickles succeeded Henry Bellmon, who retired after two terms in the Senate. In the same election, Ronald Reagan was elected President. More than 80% of registered voters in Kay County voted. Nickles said he would work to repeal the windfall profits tax and the inheritance tax.

Eva Smiley, Kay County Superintendent of Schools, decided not to seek re-election. Lavelle Wittmer, Republican, and Martha Rodrigues, Democrat vied for the position. Wittmer outpolled Rodrigues by 89 votes.

The city hired a firm to repair the flood damaged 46-year old Lake Ponca spillway. The company proposed to repair the bottom end and the voids underneath the spillway floor with Gunite, a cement like substance that hardens quickly after being applied under pressure.

For the 13th consecutive year, United Way went over goal. With Charles Casey as campaign chairman, the 600 volunteers raised $448,259.

For the first time since the Marland Mansion opened to the public in 1976, the estate showed a profit.

The Wildcats took the first step in post-season football playoff chances by beating Tulsa McLain 21-6.

Pioneer Vo-Tech students in the construction trade classes built a house at 2516 Oriole. Students in the air conditioning and refrigeration course, masonry class, and heating and air conditioning group all participated in the project.

In November, Kay County commissioners requested technical assistance from the state on the possibility of building a new jail for the county.

 They were concerned that the current jail might be closed for failure to comply with current jail standards. A new county jail could be built just north of the courthouse, with part of it underground. A leak from the trustee shower stall in the jail, located on the top floor of the county courthouse, had caused the law library ceiling to fall in.

The Ponca City police department initiated a K-9 Team with Patrolman Hurschel Thomas and German Shepherd Deke.

New Christmas lights were installed downtown, a project of the City, Downtown Action, Chamber of Commerce and the Ambucs.

Workmen installed a new radio antenna north of town for KLOR FM Radio, tripling their area coverage. The 300-foot antenna replaced one on the Community Building.

On opening day, three candidates, Tom Leonard, Bill O’Connor, and George Schwarz Jr. filed for the District 20 State Senate seat formerly held by Don Nickles. The following day, Kenneth Holmes, Tom Eads, and John Heinze filed.

Steve Lamb joined WBBZ Radio as Sports Director.

The city commission gave the go ahead to begin plans for a $2.5 million renovation of the water treatment plant. The 1934 plant had not been expanded or renovated since its capacity was doubled in 1955, following voter approval of a $400,000 bond issue.

Five Wildcat football players were named to the All-Indian Nations Conference team – Brett Brown, Greg Abington, Rocky Hilton, Curtis Adams, and Ron Duckwall.

Wildcat wrestlers placed all 13 team members in the Big Four tournament in Blackwell, showing a 76 point lead between them and the second place team. The five champions were Doug Hall, Ricky Thomas, Steve Rein, Lance Crowe and Todd Alexander.

Ponca City opened their swim season with an important 48-33 victory over Stillwater.

After ten months of talks marked by arbitration hearings, picketing and discontent concerning ambulance duties, union firefighters unanimously accepted a contract proposal in December. The city agreed to a 9.5% increase in base pay and $40 a month extra to certified Emergency Medical Technicians. The union’s last contract had expired on June 30, and pay hikes were retroactive to July 1. A fireman’s workweek would be reduced from 56 hours to 50 hours. They would still work 24 hours on and 48 off.

Frontier Federal Savings and Loan and Lincoln Center Savings and Loan of Ardmore merged, with Frontier acquiring all of Lincoln Center’s accounts.

Retiring U.S. Senator Henry Bellmon arrived at his farm near Billings, driving a rental truck with his family’s furniture. After 12 years in Washington, D.C., Bellmon had chosen not to run for re-election. Mrs. Bellmon drove the family car and pulled a trailer on the 1,300 mile trip home.

Bill O’Connor and Johnny Heinze emerged victorious in the primary election to decide who would serve the remaining two years in Don Nickles’ state Senate seat. The general election was scheduled for January 13.

Construction of the two new Public Works Buildings was completed in late December, one to house the Solid Waste and Traffic Engineering Departments, the other to house the city motor pool. Located at West Prospect’s dead-end, the two pre-cast concrete slab buildings were financed by a $1.4 million bond issue plus $350,000 to be paid off with sanitation income.