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Ponca City Information

Ponca City History

1985

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1985 — The School Board voted to rehire Superintendent Dr. Larry Robinson for the 1985-86 school year. They also rehired the three assistant superintendents – Charles Callum, Dr. Joe Surber, and Dr. Bob Ford.

 Speaking of Robinson’s, a News reporter noted that there are three John Robinson’s in town – John Robinson, a telephone company employee; Dr. John R. Robinson, the dentist; and John A. Robinson, managing director of Ponca Playhouse.

Prospect Avenue opened from 14th Street west to Union in January. It had been under construction for seven months. The street became four lanes, the intersection at Union was completely overhauled, and new signals and improvements were made at the railroad crossing. The project came in under budget and three months ahead of schedule.

Wickes Lumber on Prospect sported a trailer sign reading: “Loneliness is a closed road. Happiness is having the road open.”

Julie Brandt was crowned Junior Miss for 1985. She received a $500 scholarship, a $1000 savings bond, and diamond earrings.

Two new School Board members were elected – Virginia Carey and Bob Chance.

Five members of the Po-Hi Chorale were selected for the 1985 All-State Choir – Patricia Sanders, Tammie Thompson, Curt Castillo, Jennifer Chavez and Kathy Bourke. Approximately 1,800 students statewide auditioned, with 180 students being selected.

The Chamber of Commerce supported a proposal to improve the eight-mile road from Ponca City to Kaw Lake and to request it be named as a memorial to the late Sen. Roy Grantham.

The DuPont Company announced it would offer a special one-time incentive that would make voluntary early retirement more attractive for Conoco employees, and the company would save more than $225 million annually. The company expected between 4,500 and 6,500 employees would take advantage of the “Early Retirement Opportunity.”

Noble Mears was selected as “1984 Legionnaire of the Year” by the American Legion Oklahoma Department. He had been active in the local Legion for 23 years.

Norma Casad was named 1984 Realtor of the Year, and David Gentry received the “Realtor Associate of the Year.”

J.C. Penney in the Ponca Plaza completed a $290,000 remodeling project.

City Commissioners Charles Casey and Richard Welborn said they would not seek re-election to a second three-year term.

Peachtree Landing launched a fund-raising campaign for a new building at 500 N. First St. The agency served homeless Kay County families during a time of transition.

School Superintendent Dr. Larry Robinson recommended that the district do a feasibility study to determine the condition of the eleven buildings in the district. The cost of renovation versus new construction would be a major part of the study.

According to Commissioner Casey, there would not be an election in the spring to extend the Cablecom franchise. The City would wait until April for the FCC to make a ruling concerning cable systems in general.

Pioneer Vo-Tech had an open house as part of vocational education week. The Machine Shop passed out souvenir key chains, Health Service careers gave blood pressure tests, Auto Body showed off a newly painted Jaguar and a refurbished Volkswagen, and Electricity students checked the wiring on the mock-up of a house.

Harold Harris, City planner, worked with a group of OSU architectural students who created three different models showing ideas for updating downtown Ponca City.

The Ponca City Area Crime Stoppers program helped solve 24 criminal cases in the first 11 months of its existence. They had processed 55 calls, recovered $6000 worth of property, and gave $1200 in rewards.

Marilyn Andrews and Joe E. Burns filed for the two City Commission openings. Nobody filed against either candidate, so they both won by default.

Exec Express Commuter Airlines started air service in Ponca City in March.

Representatives of the St. Joseph Hospital facilities in Ponca City and Blackwell announced that the one in Blackwell would be redesigned as a 24-hour out-patient facility and emergency care unit.

Governor Nigh signed Oklahoma’s first liquor-by-the-drink law one day after it passed the Legislature. The bill provided for county option sales.

Pioneer Area Vo-Tech masonry students built new baseball dugouts for Ponca City High School.

WBBZ Radio received the best performance award from The Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters. They also won first place for their sports coverage.

Ralph’s IGA, owned by Ralph Stout of Stillwater, took over the former Humpty Dumpty Store at 115 E. Highland.

The City purchased a new $100,000 trash compactor, just in time for the annual clean-up month in March.

The North Central District of Oklahoma Garden Clubs held their spring convention in Ponca City at the Cann Garden Center.

Northpark Shopping Center officials broke ground at Prospect and Fifth Street in late March. One of the $2.5 million shopping center anchor buildings will be a four-plex theater with the capability of adding two more screens.

A commercial building permit was issued for Wal Mart, to be built on North 14th.

The local Boise Cascade Building Materials at Hartford and Union was acquired by the Lowe’s company on April 1.

The Grand Gallery of Fine Art opened at 101 W. Grand, the building that had housed Calkins Mercantile for many years. Building owners were Gallagher Rule, Clarence Vaughn, Erwin Lebeda and Gerald Cooley.

Two new Ponca City School Board members, Dan Woolsey and Louie Gibson, were sworn into office in April.

At their April meeting, the Marland Estate Commission approved spending $4000 to landscape the mansion grounds.

The invitation committee for the Marland Renaissance Ball sent an invitation to Mrs. Lydie Marland. She returned it with regrets, but sent $65, the price of the ticket. At the Ball, Skip Healey, great-grandnephew of the late Lew Wentz, accepted the National Petroleum Hall of Fame Award in his uncle’s name.

Joe Thompson, a two sport All-Stater at Ponca City High School, signed a letter of intent to wrestle for OSU. Thompson had won the Class 4A state heavyweight wrestling title after being named All State as an offensive tackle in football.

“Greater Tuna,” a two-man comedy about the mythical third-smallest town in Texas, opened at Ponca Playhouse on April 19. Johnny Franklin and Terry Heagy were the two energetic actors who portrayed 20 citizens of Tuna.

Bob Long, executive vice president of both the Ponca City Chamber of Commerce and the Ponca City Industrial Foundation since 1967, resigned in April.

Smith-Gruner reduced their workforce by 30 people due to the phasing out of the petroleum bit production.

Chuck Rager was named as Scout Executive of the Will Rogers Council, Boy Scouts of America on May 1.

Allen Robson, former superintendent of Ponca City Public Schools, was named Interim Chief Administrative Officer of the Ponca City Chamber and the Industrial Foundation.

May 1st was the first day of retirement for over 500 Conoco retirees who had chosen to take the early retirement opportunity. The catering services, bakeries, and restaurants did a land office business due to retirement parties. Patticake House had prepared some 400 cakes in the last ten days. Retiree gifts included personalized T-shirts, with messages such as “I Retired Early” and “ERO Graduate of ’85.”

Craig Vannest was waiting for his plane at the Wichita airport when another plane landed and Mohammad Ali climbed off. Craig was able to get the champ’s autograph, which he said was for his son, Chad.

Mayor Brown named Sunday, May 5th as Roberta Newman Day. Mrs. Newman was retiring from her curator position at the Pioneer Woman Museum where she had worked for 26 years.

St. Joseph Regional Medical Center opened their newly expanded and remodeled Outpatient Surgical Center in early May.

 major expansion at Shawn Manor Nursing Home added 30 patient units, increasing the capacity to 86.

Wildcat golfers won their first-ever state high school golf championship. Team members were Johnny Flegler, Todd Lessert, Robby Coon, Corey Kinzie, and Scott Leming, coached by Dale Chapman.

Three Po-Hi seniors won four-year National Merit Scholarships - Shawn Graham, Donna Hughes, and Curt Wells. In 1985, 5,700 National Merit Scholarships, worth more than $20 million, were awarded.

The Wildcat golf team won the state championship. Team members were Corey Kinzie, Johnny Flegler, Robby Coon, Todd Lessert, and Scott Leming.

Tina Skinner and Travis Pardee dressed as the Pioneer Woman and her son for the VFW Loyalty Day Parade. They used bronze makeup and wore bronze costumes.

Senior centerfielder Kirk Norris and senior pitcher Darin Kirchenbauer were chosen for the All-Frontier Conference baseball team.

Governor Nigh dedicated the new Kay County jail in Newkirk on May 30.

Sandy Hudack, kindergarten teacher at Garfield for 23 years, was named Teacher of the Year by the Association of Classroom Teachers.

Eleven Po-Hi students attended the two-week Quartz Mountain Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute. They were chosen by competitive audition. Students were Jim Brooks, Steven Graham, Bill Munsell, Eric Gratz, Hope Hoffmeyer, Michele Parker, Shari Putnam, Shelby Robinson, Chad Steffey, Todd Waggerman, and Kristin Martin.

Wal-Mart began construction on their building at 14th and Prospect in June, slated for a fall opening.

The Wildcat volleyball team, coached by Lloyd Gelmers, won the state title for the 11th time since 1969. Team members were Curt Wells, Gary Wilson, David Clarida, Jay Hildebrand, Denny Gearhart, Glen Collins, David Geubelle, Shawn Graham, Kevin Mohler, and David Youngblood.

Garfield students ended the school year with a day of swimming at the newly opened Ambucs Pool.

The school board decided not to reopen Jefferson School in the fall because of structural problems that made the school unsafe for students. Temporary quarters were arranged at the Mertz Training Center.

P.C. Cats Old Time Drive-In opened at 217 N. 14th where the old A&W Root Beer Drive-In had been.

On July 1, Ponca City began receiving its electrical power from the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority, the state’s newest power supplier.

Bill Lacey resigned from the City Commission. He had accepted a transfer by Conoco to Houston.

On July 26, the Westminster Village opened to more than 30 residents.

The Ford Motor Company recognized Jack Bowker Ford for his 25 years as a dealer.

The Brass Buckle opened in the enclosed mall of Ponca Plaza.

A multimillion-dollar processing unit was installed at the Conoco refinery, allowing an increased production of higher value light oil products, including gasoline and diesel fuel.

The Huffy Corporation sold their 10-acre complex in mid July. The building was to be owned by the Jewel Companies, who would lease the building to Skaggs Alpha Beta for a distribution center. In addition to the 419,000 square foot building, the sale included 90 acres of land. The building had been vacant since June 1983.

More than 40 Boy Scouts and leaders from the Will Rogers Council attended the 1985 National Scout Jamboree in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Hubert Watts and James Conner filed for the City Commission seat vacated by Bill Lacey’s resignation. Hubert Watts won the election for City Commissioner.

Dennis Beets won a new car during Disneyland’s 30th anniversary celebration. Every 30,000th visitor to the Magic Kingdom was a winner. Beets’ prize was a 1985 Chevrolet Cavalier CS Sedan.

The 101 Ranch Rodeo celebrated its 25th anniversary in August.

Farm Fresh Dairies announced that its Ponca City dairy processing plant would build a new plant in Chandler. The local facility would stay open until the plant construction was complete.

The Good Ole Okie Flying Society (GOOFS) held its third annual radio-controlled helicopter competition in August. Flyers came in from eight neighboring states.

Raymond Ham, chief investigator for the Kay and Noble County district attorney’s office was named outstanding investigator for Oklahoma by the Oklahoma D.A.’s Association.

The School Board scheduled an election on September 24 for a $5 million bond issue to construct a new elementary school and renovate buildings throughout the rest of the district.

The Ponca City Citizens for Education was formed to promote the $5 million school bond issue. They created a slide show identifying the architectural problems in the school buildings. Superintendent Robinson made speeches to many groups in the community. In September, the bond issue was approved by 76% of the city’s voters.

Law officers raided five establishments that had illegal gambling machines. They recovered $50,000 from the video “poker machines” and made 23 arrests.

An impasse was declared in contract negotiations between the City of Ponca City and the Fraternal Order of Police. They had been meeting for over three months.

The City Commission approved annexation of the intersection of Waverly and South Avenue, Flormable, and part of some city owned property.

John Myers of Lawrence, Kansas was selected as the new CEO of the Chamber.

Plans were revealed for a new subdivision known as Academy Hill. There would be 26 home sites developed on the site of the old Ponca Military Academy.

There were 2700 people at the Conoco retirees annual luncheon. Four large tents were set up at the high school baseball diamond to accommodate the largest retirement event ever.

The Trant family purchased the ElPalacio restaurant on N. 14th. They already owned Taco Grande, Taco Stop, and Bob’s Beef and Ribs.

The Poncan Theatre closed in October.

Bill and Carolyn Horst purchased the Morrison Music Company on East Grand.

The Po-Hi Big Blue Band, under the direction of Steve Workman, won its 37th straight marching superior rating.

Pryse Monument completed its 50th year of operation. The new plant and office facility was built in 1973.

The Twentieth Century Club celebrated its 81st year. It was the city’s oldest club.

Head Country was producing 1,250 cases of barbecue sauce a month, up 8% from the previous year. The sauce is the number one seller in Oklahoma.

Northpark Four Theater opened in the new shopping center at Fifth and Prospect.

An adult literacy program began at Pioneer Area Vo-Tech following the training of 20 tutors.

The Wildcats won their first football district title since 1980, with an 8-2 season. They then defeated Tulsa Rogers, 17-15, and Tulsa McLain, 3-2. In the third playoff game, they lost 21-0 to Midwest City. Eight players were named to the District 5A-5 All-Star Team - Chris Smith, Quincy Roland, Vince Jouret, Rod Balcer, Kenny Morrison, Jon Burns and Stephen English, and Stacy Knight.

On Nov. 11,Wal-Mart manager, Leon Ward, cut the ribbon for the new Ponca City store’s grand opening.

Voyle Graham, Po-Hi science teacher, took his pupils to the roof of the Anderson building to view Halley’s Comet on a large telescope donated by Conoco.

The Ponca City Civic Orchestra, conducted by Dolan Bayless, opened its fifth season.

Commissioners approved the removal of downtown parking meters for a six-month trial period.

The new Buy For Less grocery store opened on December 1 in the former Howard’s Discount Store at 2405 N. 14th.

Bernard’s, Too opened in Ponca Plaza. The center now had a 94% occupancy.

The United Supermarket store at 14th and Prospect opened next to the new Wal-Mart.

The Alano Club renovated the former Salvation Army Citadel on South Third Street for a central meeting place for Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and other related groups.

The American Legion Children’s requested $150,000 from citizens as the first step toward requesting $7.3 million from the Legion national offices to renovate old and build additional buildings.

Fire gutted the Ponca Floral Co., at 420 S. Ash on Dec. 6. Owned by Linda Burnam, it had been at its present location since 1939.

The City Commission annexed another area, known as Study Area No. 4. It included the area bordering the city limits on the north, bounded by Hubbard Road, Waverly and West Lake Ponca.

Walter Beam, Conoco Vice president, was elected chairman of the Chamber of Commerce for 1986.

Parker Pest Control received a patent on a “revolutionary” bug-killing machine. It had been three years since Dick Parker had applied for the designation.

After nine months of negotiating, the local Fraternal Order of Police and the City reached an agreement on a new contract.