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Ponca City Information

Ponca City History

1986

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1986 — Rep. Dorothy Conaghan, Republican from Tonkawa, began her 13th year in the Oklahoma Legislature. Rep. Jim Holt was in his 12th year.

The Midweek Section was introduced in the Ponca City News on the first Wednesday of January.

The Salvation Army took over local commodity distribution.

Crimestoppers received the Improvement Award from the international organization. Since its inception in March 1984, the program, with the aid of private citizens, had been responsible for recovering over $62,000 in stolen property and narcotics.

At the Chamber banquet, Dick Bird was named 1985 Salesman of the Year for the Ambassadors Club. He had signed up 37 new members. Some of his fellow Chamber members got together to give him a trip for two to New Orleans. Larry Hughes was named 1985 Outstanding Citizen of the Year.

City Commissioners agreed to consider purchasing seven acres of industrial property on West Hartford at Ash.

Mild winter temperatures were good news for those participating in the first Groundhog Day 15k run at Lake Ponca.

Cheryl Kinkaid and Elizabeth Poynor filed for the Ward 9 position on the Ponca City School Board. Dan Woolsey and Earl Ball filed for Ward 6, but Ball withdrew from the race, so Woolsey had no opponent. Three candidates filed for Ward 8 – Louie Gibson, Donald Young, and Clyde Hickman. Kinkaid, Hickman, and Woolsey were elected.

Sam Walton came to Ponca City in January to visit the new local Wal-Mart store.

Forty band students from Po-Hi made the Northwest Honor Band for 1986. Ponca City was first in the number of students trying out, making the band and the total number of first chairs.

The school board had to call a school bond issue “re-election”, due to a legal technicality. It was scheduled for March 11.

Carl Balcer, Larry Stephenson, and John Carpenter announced that they would file for the office of mayor of Ponca City. Current Mayor Lee Brown had said he would not run for another term.

Bill Powers, project engineer at Kaw Lake, reported the hydro-power project at the dam would start in November 1986, with the first power generated in April, 1989.

In February, Butterfield Stage Co. at the Ritz Showplace Dinner Theater, 206 W. Grand, presented “Under the Sycamore Tree.” The cast included Annette McClung, Dave Hart, Don Menasco, Dick Jones, Michelle Parker, Kenny Morrison, and Ivery Allen.

John Myers, Chamber CEO, stated that a major priority for the chamber would be travel and tourism, which reportedly brought $28 million into Kay County in 1984.

Ponca City High School placed 20 musicians in the All-State Clinic and Orchestra at Oklahoma City.

At the February school board meeting, Bill Hicks, Po-Hi principal, introduced three students who scored exceptionally well in the National Scholastic Aptitude Test - Matthew Winslow, Ann Baker, and Charles King. The Board opened bids from companies for the demolition of the south part of Jefferson School.

Librarian Steve Skidmore presented a plan for expansion, renovation and improvement of the Ponca City Library. Commissioners decided to fund the $2.36 million project with general revenue bonds.

Two Po-Hi football players received athletic scholarships from major universities. Offensive tackle Rod Balcer signed with New Mexico State and quarterback Chris Smith went with OSU.

A group of downtown merchants and supportive residents, with the assistance of City Planner Harold Harris, worked together to create a plan and submit an application for the Oklahoma Main Street downtown revitalization program. The group raised $118,000 from the financial, corporate, retail, and landlord sector of the community.

Commissioners approved the first-ever local contract between the City and the local Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 103.

Groundbreaking ceremonies for Burger King were held at 14th and Prospect. The restaurant expected to be completed in May.

The Board of Education proposed a $5 million bond issue to build a new elementary school on Union, and make structural and mechanical repairs at several schools. It needed 60% approval to pass. The same election had been held in February, but an omission on the ballot kept it from being an official election. The voters approved the issue by 69%. Students at East and West Junior High and Ponca City High School selected the name, Grand Central Station, for the new teen center at Central and Fifth St.

Golf course lots were cleared at the new site of the Academy Hills subdivision so that construction could begin. The developer of the 18-acre tract was Harold Liddell of Norman, and the builder was Don Bouldin. Single-family homes and townhouses were planned for the area.

Carolyn Berry received the Partners for Excellence award from the Oklahoma School Public Relations Assn. for her efforts as teacher, school bond coordinator and public school foundation director with Ponca City Schools.

In March, Neal Beekman, attorney and longtime Ponca City municipal judge, was sworn in as the new associate district judge for Kay County. Max Berry was named municipal judge.

Former U.S. Senator and past Oklahoma Governor Henry Bellmon hosted the 10th annual Renaissance Ball at the Marland Mansion. Jerrie Cobb received the 1986 Pioneer Woman award. A native of Ponca City, she was an aviatrix and the first American woman to train with NASA to be an astronaut. Howard Blauvelt, former Chairman of the Board of Conoco, was named the 1986 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award.

In a “too close to call” mayoral election on April 1, both Carl Balcer and Larry Stephenson received 46% of the votes, with John Carpenter receiving 8%. A runoff election was scheduled for April 23.

Dick Bird was appointed the new president of Kay Office Equipment Co.

State Senator Bill O’Connor announced that he would not seek reelection.

Eric Wilson, two-time state champion wrestler at Po-Hi, signed a national letter of intent to attend OSU in the fall.

Rusty Benson was named head coach of the Wildcat Football team.

Pioneer Coins and Jewelry on East Grand celebrated their grand opening in a new location.

Conoco named Gene Thomas as general manager, U.S. coordination and government affairs for the Midwest Area. He replaced Warren L. Jensen, vice-president and regional coordinator, Midwest Area.

City Commissioners Don Linder and Hubert Watts submitted results from an investigation of the Police Department that began in 1985. They reported that the department was made up of an enthusiastic group of young men who are more than eager to supply the police needs of the city. There were some problems in administration and communication, which Watts said could easily be corrected.

In the runoff election April 23, Carl Balcer was elected mayor, beating Larry Stephenson by 326 votes.

In April, the Planning Commission approved a plan review for a new C.R. Anthony store on East Prospect, and the City Commission gave the go-ahead to start building.

lin Branstetter, Allen Robson and Don Kinsinger announced their candidacy for the District 20 Senate Seat. Bill O’Connor had announced he would not seek re-election.

Grand Central Station, the new teen center at Fifth and Central, opened in April, with two dances and an open house.

Opportunity Center clients and students received trophies and awards for bringing in $8000 in their annual Membership Drive.

After 57 years, Smitty’s Boys and Menswear had a Quitting Business Sale.

In May, the Po-Hi golf team won the state title for the second year in a row.

El Chico restaurant opened in May in the new North Park Shopping Center.

The City fathers passed an ordinance annexing about 160 acres north of the Pleasant View community into the city limits.

Midwest Wrecking of Oklahoma City demolished the south portion of Jefferson School, at Ponca and South Osage.

It had been 20 years since the groundbreaking for Kaw Dam. Over 3,000 people had attended the dedication ceremony.

A total of 121 workers showed up at the 7th Annual Kaw Lake Clean-Up, sponsored by the Corps of Engineers, B.C. Jeffries, and KLOR. The first 50 received “Kaw Clean-up” T-shirts. The volunteers cleaned up 16 miles of roadway and 3 miles of shoreline. In three hours, a total of two tons of trash was turned in, including 6,576 cans.

Landers Pontiac-Cadillac-GMC was named by Pontiac as one of the top ten dealers in the U.S. in service, customer relations, quality, delivery, and service management.

Merrifield Office Supply, a new business in Ponca City, held their grand opening at 122 N. First Street.

Olin Branstetter and Dr. Allen Robson filed for the state Senate post currently held by Bill O’Connor, who chose not to seek re-election.

Head Country introduced the new Smokey Head Country Bar-B-Q Sauce.

The Po-Hi golf team won their second consecutive class 5A state golf crown, helped considerably by Scott Leming’s hole-in-one.

Jerry Jantz was named Teacher of the Year and presented a plaque of appreciation. He had been teaching at Ponca City High School in the field of biology, zoology and physiology for 17 years.

According to Jerry Runyan, Po-Hi Athletic Director, the 1985-1986 school year was one of the best overall sports seasons ever. The Wildcats and Lady Cats finished a strong second in the official All-Sports computation, trailing Jenks by only 8.5 points.

The City Library launched its annual Summer Reading Program, with the purpose of encouraging children to continue reading throughout the summer. The theme was “Celebrate Liberty,” honoring the completion of the Statue of Liberty restoration.

John Heinze announced his candidacy for re-election as Kay County Assessor.

On July 30, city voters overwhelmingly passed a 3% hotel room tax to generate revenue for promoting Ponca City tourist attractions.

Construction of the new elementary school began in mid-August. The 46,000 square foot school was to be built on a 30-acre tract, and had room for a 19,500 foot addition in the future.

School board members approved leasing the remaining segment of the old Jefferson School to the Child Development Center for $1 per year. An architect had estimated it would take three months to get the building ready for occupancy, at a cost of $100,000.

Brown Optical observed their 40th Anniversary in June. Dewell Brown started his business here in 1946. His son, John, started working for his father in 1968, and purchased the business ten years later.

Gary Edwards, Conoco vice-president, reported that the entire downstream operation enjoyed record profits in 1985, and the Ponca Mid-Continent operation had substantially exceeded the performance levels of previous years.

The long awaited resurfacing of Lake Road from Pecan to Kaw Lake began in June.

Dale Zehr of Evans & Associates said they anticipated the project would last three months.

John McFadden decided to seek re-election as Kay County commissioner, District No. 1, for a second four-year term.

Ken Sims was honored as the Special Olympian of the Year in Oklahoma City. He was recognized at the Sooner State Games, Oklahoma’s Amateur Sports festival. A client at the Opportunity Center, Ken was selected over the other candidates “due to your determination and courage, your ability to work hard, and your 15 years of support to the Special Olympics, and your ability to be a “good sport.”

Patty Coatney, Ponca City golfer, won her 5th tournament at the 68th annual State Women’s Open Championships at Shangri-La on Grand Lake.

The new S&H Green Stamps store was taking shape on North Union, next to the Triple T Quick Stop No. 4.

Titus employees supplied the air distribution products to upgrade the heating and air conditioning system of the famous 100-year-old Statue of Liberty, plus its administration building and museum.

In July, the State Health Department closed Lincoln Pool at North Palm and Chestnut after officials determined the facility did not meet public standards of safety. A week later, the commission voted to spend $7,100 to bring the pool up to standard by installing new equipment.

Durfee Door, Inc. purchased the building on the northwest corner of Hartford and Ash in mid-July. Formerly occupied by the Eagle Plating Corp., the building would now house Durfee Door’s manufacturing section of the company’s line of residential and commercial garage doors.

In the new fiscal year budget, the city earmarked a portion of a $7 million utility authority surplus for the renovation of several city facilities. The commission could approve up to $1 million for street projects. They were also considering an extensive $80,000 renovation of the Hutchins Memorial.

City officials contracted for the total renovation of its 35-year-old traffic signal system. The $2.1 million project updated all 33 of Ponca City’s signalized intersections, connecting them to an automated monitoring station. The project also included extensive widening and renovation of intersections at 5th and Highland and 14th and South Ave. The renovation was funded mostly by federal revenue-sharing dollars.

Peachtree Landing had their 3rd annual Pie and Bluegrass Festival in North Park, a fundraiser for the shelter’s new building. Two weeks later, they broke ground at First and Hazel.

The Chamber of Commerce initiated its first class of Leadership Ponca City, with 16 young business professionals.

Dr. Larry Robinson, superintendent of schools, told the school board that the district could expect a 14% budget cut for the coming year.

Rita Pace and JoAnne Taylor opened the Holiday Haus at 314 N. 9th Street, the old Ninth Street Grocery.

The City allocated $1.56 million to renovate several city facilities, including Hutchins Memorial, Wentz Golf Course and Pool, and the Marland Mansion and Conference Center.

The Butterfield Stage Company presented Annette McClung in a one-woman musical show, “For the Love of Cole,” featuring the music of Cole Porter.

Scenes from the Ambucs National Motocross Races held in Ponca City were featured on USA Network’s “Motorworld.”

Carl Holliday, El Reno area Oklahoma Natural Gas manager, transferred to Ponca City. He replaced Milt Heartsill, who had retired.

Johnny Heinze, County Assessor, and Joe Wideman, District Attorney, both were elected in the Primary Election. Heinze won over Janice Presson of Newkirk. Wideman faced no opposition.

Eastman National Bank, Kay County’s first financial institution, marked their 93rd anniversary.

Universal Travel Agency opened in the lobby of American National Bank.

The BIRP (Beverage Industry Recycling Program) recycling center, owned by Mickey Stavinsky, opened at Ponca Iron & Metal Co.

City departments were consolidated from 14 to eight by merging several departments. Changes included the creation of the department of public safety and civil defense to oversee police, fire, animal control, and civil defense services. The city engineering department combined city engineering, traffic engineering, city planning, and code enforcement. The library was moved into the cultural affairs department, and the airport became part of the public works department. All other departments remained the same.

Winners in the Runoff Primary Election were Olin Branstetter for State Senate, defeating Don Kinsinger; and Jim Reese for State Representative, District 38, defeating Aubrey Kelle.

Ponca Playhouse opened their 28th season with “West Side Story.”

The House of Hobbies at 318 E. Grand, owned for 14 years by Bert and Agnes Hatlelid, was sold to Van and Fannie Treat.

In September, the Army Corps of Engineers drained the basin below the Kaw Dam to inspect and clean out debris that had accumulated over ten years. In the process, they brought up thousands of fish by the truckload from the basin. Tons of fish were given away to hundreds of people, some of them shoving and scuffling with one another, and grabbing fish weighing as much as 60 pounds.

Pilot Club held their Cherokee Strip Chili Cook-Off at Lake Ponca Park, a fund raiser for Hospice. Ambucs put a satellite dish in their booth so they could watch the OU-Miami football game. The Police Department’s booth featured the Jailbirds, complete with a wire jail, striped costumed cooks, a uniformed police dog and a fireplug.

All downtown parking meters were removed permanently, and all downtown merchants were happy.

Larry Logan was named Chief of Police in October. He was a 20-year veteran of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. Norman Coffelt, former chief, was named Director of Public Safety for the city.

In October, a week-long storm dumped 19 inches rain. Kaw Lake was 30 feet above normal. The Corps of Engineers was forced to open floodgates to avoid a spillover. Up to 40,000 cubic feet of water per second was released. Damage expenses to roads and bridges in Kay County reached $3.5 million.

During Fire Prevention Week, Conoco unveiled a Children’s Safety House, designed to teach children how to make the right choices in case of a fire.

The new Anthony’s store opened at 1201 E. Prospect. They closed their downtown store.

Ponca City High School Homecoming court for 1986 included sophomores Adam Arrington and Nikki Weisenborn; juniors Jeff Linder and Tina Prado; Student Council President Mike Bourke, Homecoming Queen Carrie Highfill, and seniors Chip Schula and Kim Bridwell.

Street construction on South Fourth and Lucas meant that the 60-year old bricks were coming out. Citizens could purchase the bricks for 16 cents each. Not a bad price, since new bricks were 37 cents apiece…and they weren’t historic. City officials figured they had about 200,000 bricks to sell.

City commissioners approved an ordinance calling for a tax increase on telephone service. The increase was needed to finance the installation and operation of the 911 emergency telephone service, so an additional one-year five percent tax was levied on basic monthly telephone rates.

Governor Nigh and several other state officials were present at the dedication of the Roy Grantham highway on October 9.

Vacu-Maid was one of eleven businesses honored by Gov. George Nigh and DHS for providing employment for mentally retarded adults.

According to Steve Skidmore, city librarian, Ponca City’s public library is as good or better than any other in the state, based on standards set for Oklahoma towns of 25,000 or more.

Over half of Ponca City’s residents had library cards.

In celebration of its third year in Ponca City and the 21st anniversary of the Headstart program nationwide, the children and staff of the Ponca City Headstart program launched a barrage of balloons in the schoolyard.

Republican Don Nickles won a second term in the U.S. Senate after a solid victory over Democratic U.S. Rep. James R. Jones.

 Henry Bellmon was elected Governor. The 65-year old Bellmon, elected the state’s first Republican governor 24 years ago, beat back a determined challenge from David Walters, a political newcomer.

Butterfield Stage Co. moved from the Ritz Showplace, 206 W. Grand, to 218 W. Grand, formerly an antique store, next to Peter Pan Cleaners.

City commissioners gave the go-ahead for the proposed storm water retention pond near North Union. The proposed plans were designed to eliminate the flooding problem in that area.

Eight Ponca City teachers were awarded grants by the Ponca City Public School Foundation for teaching projects at both elementary and secondary levels.

Trout Funeral Home celebrated their 50-year anniversary. They were founded in Ponca City in 1936.

Vince Orza, chairman and president of Eateries, Inc., announced plans to open a Garfield’s Restaurant and Pub in the Holiday Inn.

Officials from Conoco, Oklahoma Department of Health, and the City of Ponca City met to discuss groundwater pollution problems in south Ponca City. In early November, hydrocarbon gas fumes were detected in some homes in south Ponca City. Tests indicated that the fumes had reached explosive levels at two locations.

In mid-November, Conoco officials took steps to improve south Ponca City’s gas leak problem. Authorities believed that the heavy October rains caused the condition to re-appear by raising the water table. Conoco workers began using an underground pumping subsystem to lower the groundwater level.

The 1987 United Way Fund Drive came to a successful conclusion. The goal of $536,070 was met and exceeded by raising $592,542.

Forty volunteers were trained as tutors for adult reading students. The workshop involved ten hours of training at the Ponca City Adult Literacy Council training workshop.

Senator Don Nickles’ seniority in the upper chamber enabled the Oklahoma Republican to gain a seat on the Senate Appropriations committee, where he could make certain Oklahoma received a fair share of federal spending.

Cookshack, Inc., local manufacturer of smoker ovens for barbecue, completed an order in December for 198 smokers for the Steak & Ale Restaurant chain. In addition to the smokers, Cookshack also provided recipe development and training services for Steak & Ale.

In December, St. Joseph Regional Medical Center announced an updating of its Alcoholism Rehabilitation Center (ARC). The new name was New Life Alcohol and Drug Dependence Treatment Program. New Life provided 30-day inpatient treatment for alcoholics, drug addicts, and co-dependents.

The Chamber established a Convention and Tourism Authority, with revenue from a three percent motel tax that had passed in August. The director, when hired, would be an employee of the Chamber.

Commissioners approved hiring an assistant city manager.

Rimco, an industrial insulation contractor and maintenance company, elected to stay in Ponca City and moved two other operations here under the same roof. The company contracted to insulate piping and other equipment for refineries, gas plants and paper mills. Two of their larger customers were OG&E and Conoco.

Six members of the Wildcat football team were named to the All-5A-4th District team. They were part of a 39-man team composed of the top players in the eight team district.

Wildcats on the offensive team were Danny Merciz, Robby Tatum, and Doug Adams. The three defensive stars were Jason Jouret, Lance Rodgers, and Chris Mahon.

The City Commission approved the hiring of Tom Short as new assistant city manager. Short, who had a Masters degree in business administration, would assist city manager Gene Thorpe in financial management and economic development. He also looked into obtaining available federal grant money for the city. His background in risk management, labor management relations, community development and personnel made him a valuable asset to the city management team.

The Ponca City Art Association acquired “Working Blocks,” a painting by Larry Kent Stephenson.

Jim Rosenbaum was named new executive director at Westminster Village. He and his wife, Elsie, moved to Ponca City from Socorro, New Mexico. He has a Masters degree in health services administration.

In December, Frontier Federal employees sponsored a community food drive to help the Salvation Army provide food for needy families in Ponca City.

Helpline, a Ponca City referral agency, coordinated the distribution of home-cooked meals to the elderly and homebound on Christmas. Ponca City residents who were preparing Christmas dinner in their homes could volunteer to share their meal by calling Helpline. Those homebound and elderly desiring a home cooked meal on Christmas Day were encouraged to call Helpline.

On Christmas Eve, WBBZ Radio aired Handel’s “Messiah,” performed by the Independence Messiah Choir. For 69 years, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints had sponsored the performance of Handel’s great oratorio. It was broadcast on more than 100 stations.

Charles Hollar was elected 1987 Chamber of Commerce Chairman.