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Ponca City Information

Ponca City History

1996

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1996 — In January, law enforcement agencies across the county arrested 32 people in a major drug raid ordered by District Attorney John Maddox. The operation also uncovered a burglary ring and cleared up at least 12 pending area burglary cases.
 
The Ponca City Police Dept. started the Citizen’s Police Academy as a way of involving private citizens in the support and understanding of law enforcement in the city.

Commercial building had led the construction effort in Ponca City during 1995. The two largest projects were the power plant repowering project, valued at $40,015,000 and the Thorn Apple Valley project that totaled $22,500,000.
 
On Jan. 22, Ponca City became the first Kay County community to form an agreement with Sheriff Marion Van Hoesen’s department so city police officers can assist sheriff’s deputies in emergencies.
 
The last weekend in January, close to 400 people flocked to Kaw Lake to watch for the bald eagles.
 
Rep. Jim Holt announced that he would not run for re-election to the state House of Representatives. He had occupied the seat since 1975.
 
Tickets to the annual Chamber banquet sold out, and the event had to be moved from the Hutchins Memorial to Conoco in order to accommodate everyone. Argus Hamilton, humorist and Ponca City native, was the speaker for the evening, with Foster Johnson as emcee.
 
The City Commission agreed with the Marland Estate Commission that work needed to begin immediately to restore Lydie’s Cottage. No city funds would need to be used.
 
Voters in every community across the county approved emergency, local support and building fund levies.
 
Personnel at the Pioneer Woman Museum began packing and cataloging artifacts, which would be moved to a storage area while the museum was being expanded. Since the old display cases were not going to be used in the new museum, they had been donated to Karen Dye for the Newkirk Museum.
 
The Board of Education voted to decrease the size of the board to seven members. The change took effect in January.
 
Tim Burg was name the new chairman of the Ponca City Chamber of Commerce. He was vice president and treasurer of T-N-T Construction, in partnership with Terry Pollet.
 
The Oklahoma Dept. of Commerce awarded a $200,000 community development block grant to construct sewer lines in the north part of the city, specifically for Lowes Home Improvement Center.
 
On Feb. 21, Ponca language classes began at White Eagle to help preserve and perpetuate the tribe’s official language.
 
The schools received $350,000 to help improve the Alternative Education program. In the first year of the program, the number of dropouts decreased by 50%.
 
Attorney D.W. Boyd was sworn in as district judge for the Eighth District, Kay and Noble counties. Gov. Keating appointed Boyd.
 
The annual report on Ponca City Tourism showed many increases. Almost $4.3 million was recorded as new money due to tourism. The total tourism tax collected from motels was $113,535, a 12% increase from 1994, and the highest since the tax was created in 1987. New signs and brochures used the slogan, “Ponca City…Where the ’20s Still Roar.”
 
Construction began on the new Lincoln Elementary School in April.
 
Commissioners voted to keep the 5% emergency telephone service tax in effect, which would enable the city to upgrade communications equipment.
 
Several churches had building projects in 1996. Northeast Baptist built a new worship center to seat 650. Grace Episcopal added a 7700 square foot two-story church school building. First Baptist renovated the auditorium of the former sanctuary. Central Baptist built a new auditorium and nursery facilities. Longwood Baptist built an addition for a fellowship hall and classrooms.
 
April 4 marked the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Marland Mansion to the public.
 
In Kay county, 64% of the voters voted no on the controversial State Question 669, which proposed to roll back taxes to 1993 levels.
 
The Board of Education hired Dr. John Scroggins as the new assistant superintendent.
 
Marvin Clark became a new member of the Board of Education. No one filed to run against him, so he automatically won the seat.
 
At the Oklahoma Community Theatre Association’s conference, Ponca Playhouse received the two most coveted awards – Theatre of the Year and “OCTAVISION.”
 
Ruslyn Hermanson, president, accepted the awards. Ponca City was selected as the site of the next statewide conference in 1998.
 
John’s Apparel held a grand opening at their new store in the renovated historic bus depot at Second and Grand.
 
Curves for Women, a 30-minute fitness and weight loss center, opened at 914 E. Highland.
 
Western Sizzlin’ on East Prospect underwent a major remodeling.
 
Grand Central Station, and their sponsoring organization, Pro-Teens, celebrated the 10th anniversary of the teen center, honoring Jan Merrifield, founder and director.
 
Flags were at half-mast and all government business halted for 168 seconds on April 19 to commemorate the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing a year earlier. Locally, citizens attended a ribbon-tying ceremony at the Memorial Tree located west of the Post Office building and a memorial service was held at Centennial Plaza.
 
In the City Commissioners election, Dick Stone defeated incumbent Bill McCann. Lyn Boyer was elected to fill Hubert Watt’s position. Watts had chosen not to run for reelection.
 
The 381st Replacement Battalion of the Army Reserves in Ponca City was ordered to prepare for mobilization in support of American troops in Bosnia.
 
Northern Oklahoma College had a grand opening on April 27 for its 527-seat Performing Arts Center. Dr. Joe Kinzer dedicated and named the building’s new gallery and arts gallery for 1931 alumna Eleanor Jones Hayes.
 
On May 10, area residents escaped to the movie theaters to see their own backyards at the premiere of the big budget movie, “Twister,” filmed in and around Kay County in 1995.
 
In the second major drug raid of the year, Kay County law enforcement officers arrested 15 individuals on Sept. 23 from Ponca City, Newkirk, and Blackwell, culminating a three-month investigation.
 
Mayor Andrews appointed a Blue Ribbon Committee to target several city buildings and make recommendations regarding their renovation and upkeep. City Hall, Civic Auditorium, No. 1 Fire Station, Public Safety Center, Hutchins Memorial and the Cultural Center were included in the review.
 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined that bones and casket materials on the shores near Coon Creek Cove, northwest of Kay City, were leftovers from a cemetery that existed prior to construction of Kaw Lake in the 1970s.
 
The Kay County Courthouse, which earned national attention by being completely paid for before it opened, celebrated its 70th birthday.
 
In July, the Industrial Arts Building at the high school was bulldozed, and construction began on the new Math/Science/Business Center. The Board of Education toured the new Vo-Ag building at 344 Pleasantview Road.
 
City Commissioners awarded a contract for Phase 2 of the Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvements in the amount of $14.6 million. They also approved purchase of a golf course irrigation control system.
 
The City sold some of their property on Ash Street to Center Line, Inc., Leach Paper Co. and Mitchco, Inc.
 
Phase I of the Waverly Street and Sykes Boulevard paving improvements project was completed. It included a four-lane road with a left turn bay.
 
In July, upgrading and new paving began at the junction of U.S. 60 and Hwy. 177, near Standing Bear Native American Memorial Park.
Spring Village and Woodridge Place were annexed into the City.
 
Effective July 1, the Ponca City Municipal Court received jurisdiction over youths charged with misdemeanor crimes of vandalism, shoplifting, trespassing, and assault and battery. The court was now able to develop and implement programs to impact youth.
 
Ponca City was chosen to receive the “1996 Learn Not to Burn” Champion Award from the National Fire Protection Association, one of 70 cities nationwide that were selected.
 
The Airport Industrial Park received a $1.665 million grant from the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The grant funded the construction and improvement of infrastructure to support expansion of the park.
 
In August, commissioners called a special election for an additional half-cent sales tax for the Economic Development Foundation. Voters defeated the measure.
 
The City leased the Marland Estate Conference Center and Hotel to Monumental Enterprises, Inc. MEI took over the property on September 1.
 
The 22-foot bronze statue of Chief Standing Bear was unveiled October 25 at Standing Bear Native American Park. A colorful 60-foot diameter circular viewing court is located at the base of the statue. It contains large sandstone boulders around its perimeter, each affixed with the official brass seals of the six area tribes – Osage, Pawnee, Otoe-Missouria, Kaw, Tonkawa, and Ponca. The names of eight clans of the Ponca Tribe are inlaid in the floor of the plaza in earth tone colors. A center pool reflects the sky and at its center, the eternal flame of “grandfather fire” burns on a large round sandstone pedestal. The developed portion of the 63-acre park encompasses more than eight acres with off street parking, a one-acre pond with central arrowhead island, and a walking trail winding through native grasses and wildflowers.
 
In October, the Oklahoma Conference of Mayors named Mayor Marilyn Andrews the 1996 Oklahoma Mayor of the Year.
 
Commissioners authorized the calling of an election to issue $8.75 million in general obligation bonds. The proposition would renovate and expand the city complex and the police station, construct a new No. 1 Fire Station and purchase emergency response vehicles for the police and fire departments. Renovation and repair of the spillway at Lake Ponca was included. The voting took place in December, and all propositions were soundly defeated.
 
In the November election, Jim Newport defeated Bernie Jackson to become the new State Representative for District 37.
 
The Oklahoma Department of Commerce awarded a $550,000 grant to expand the landfill, adding 15 acres and extending the life of the landfill by 20 years.
 
Angels were everywhere in Ponca City during the 1996 Festival of Angels Lighting Celebration. A thirty-foot lighted angel, placed at the Pioneer Woman Circle, was one of the new exhibits. The large displays were now at Lake Ponca Park instead of the Marland Mansion, where traffic had been a problem. A host of heavenly activities was scheduled during the five weeks of the Festival including a lighted downtown parade, a performance of “The Nutcracker” at the Poncan Theatre, the Christmas Gala at the Marland Estate, a Candlelight Historic Homes Tour, a children’s Christmas Show by Ponca Playhouse and a Christmas Tree Collage exhibit on display at the Art Center.