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Ponca City Information

Ponca City History

1998

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1998 — The Ponca City Art Association hosted a new exhibit of oils, acrylics and pen-and-ink art of John Holbird. His unique railroad theme included paintings, drawings and art prints. Holbird is an avid railfan, and the subject material he draws and paints portrays interesting and detailed early-day and contemporary railroad scenes found in the state of Oklahoma.
 
There were 450 in attendance at the 104th Annual Chamber banquet. Mike Boettcher, NBC News Correspondent was the speaker. Jerry Evans was named Outstanding Citizen, Centerline was the Top Small Industry, and Thorn Apple Valley was the Top Large Industry. Pixie Rowland was Ambassador of the Year, and the Community Service Award went to Paul Prather. Larry Felix was the outgoing chairman, and Scott Dean was incoming for 1998.
 
Anthony’s closed in January. The store had originally opened downtown in 1925.
 
Hobby Lobby expanded their facility.
 
Karen Furman transferred to Ponca City as area manager for Oklahoma Natural Gas.
 
The City Commission increased the speed on 14th Street to 40 miles per hour. A public hearing was held regarding revision of the city code. Commissioners ruled to prohibit commercial trucks from parking in residential areas, except when loading or unloading.
 
In February, four men filed for the mayoral race – City Commissioners Dick Stone and Tom Leonard, city employee Melvin Schoonover, and Mertz employee Carl Balcer.

Mike Kruck and Chris LittleCook were elected to the School Board.
 
Byron Berline and his band entertained the audience at the Poncan with their traditional Bluegrass and Western swing music.
 
The public was invited to the Ponca City Tomorrow’s “Vision Unveiling” at the Poncan Theatre in late February.
 
Kaw Lake Association set up an office at 117 N. Third St., above Barney’s Barbershop.
 
T.L. Walker was named interim project director of the Ponca City Native American Foundation. She replaced Betty Durkee, who had resigned.
 
The Ponca Playhouse Children’s Theater presented “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” a beloved children’s tale by Hans Christian Anderson. The cast included eleven local children.
 
Ponca City Boy Scouts celebrated their 50th Anniversary at the Poncan Theatre. “A Night in the Old West” featured three well-known area western performers: local balladeer Les Gilliam; humorist and storyteller Sky Shivers, with Miss Kitty, the mediocre trick dog; and Will Rogers portrayed by Gene McFall.
 
Ponca City Community Concerts began their 63rd Season with the theme “A Season of Music – A Lifetime of Memories.”
 
The Howell Auditorium at Po-Hi was refurbished with new sound equipment.
 
The school board announced that Po-Hi principal Dr. Don Sjoberg’s contract would not be renewed for the 1998-99 school year.
 
John Young remained in the president’s seat for the Board of Education. Other members were Andrea Morriss, Steve Stalcup, Kyle Keffer, Mike Kruck, Chris LittleCook and Marvin Clark.
 
The Marland Estate Commission approved restoration projects in the amount of $99,100. The projects included continued restoration of Lydie’s cottage, the Artist Studio, and exterior cleaning of the Mansion.
 
A donation to the Mansion from Flo and Gordon Holland was used for restoration of furniture, tapestries and artwork. Part of the funds was used to restore George Marland’s statue.
 
In April, the traveling Vietnam “Wall That Heals” came to Ponca City for four days. More than 600 area citizens and eight school buses filled with students from area schools attended the opening ceremony. The exhibit was open for viewing, free of charge, 24 hours a day at Resthaven Memorial Park Cemetery on East Hubbard Road, thanks to Steve and Terry Huston. Vietnam veterans manned the POW-MIA Watch Fire 24 hours a day during the entire exhibit. The wall is a 250-foot-wide replica of the wall in Washington, D.C.
 
The “Fifth Street Extension” project was completed in April. The 13-month, $1.9 million project included widening the street from two to four lanes from Hartford to Prospect, and connecting Bradley to Fifth Street. The project was funded by city street improvement sales tax money and a federal grant.
 
At the Chamber, Richard Severance took over the chairman’s position for Scott Dean, who was moving to Stillwater.
 
On May 1, Sober Brothers began the “selective demolition” of the No. 1 Fire Station, removing the interior walls, leaving only the roof, exterior brick walls and concrete floors.

Ponca City Arts & Humanities Council and the Poncan Theatre presented Ron Radford, a Flamenco guitarist and dancer Tamara La Garabancita.
 
On May 16, the Marland Estate celebrated its 70th anniversary in style with “Oil Boom Day.” Local artists displayed their artwork in the Artist Studio. Musicians were stationed around the grounds and throughout the mansion providing a delightful 1920s backdrop. Apple Cart Catering provided box lunches. On the north porch, there was a repeating stage show about Marland. An afternoon tea was in the Inner Lounge, and guides conducted tours, including the main kitchen and the secret tunnel. That evening re-enactors portrayed E.W. and Lydie Marland at the Costume Ball.
 
Jason Bussey, son of Chuck and Susan Bussey, was selected as the Oklahoma State youth governor for YMCA Youth and Government.
 
In honor of National Volunteer Week, United Way chose Diane Anderson as “The Honored Volunteer.”
 
Elizabeth Dunn and Nick Steichen were crowned Po-Hi Prince and Princess at the Junior-Senior Prom.
 
Ponca Playhouse finished their season with the play “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
 
Mayor Andrews term came to an end in May. During her six years as mayor, she was instrumental in many improvements to Ponca City including the upgrades and renovations to both the water treatment and wastewater treatment plans and expansion of the City landfill. She was in office from construction to completion of the Fifth Street Extension Project. She also witnessed the beginning of the end of the old No. 1 Fire Station as demolition began in preparation for the renovation and remodeling of the building.
 
Nearly 100 people gathered at the steps of City Hall to bid a final farewell to the Mayor. Each City Department head presented her with a “gift” representing their department. Parks handed her a twig. Public Works presented water treatment and wastewater treatment sample. Information Systems gave her a bubble gum pager. Electric contributed a battery-operated lamp. The mayor’s infamous seat cushion, the one she faithfully used at every commission meeting during the years, was encased and presented to her along with a framed caricature. The Po-Hi Band began the reception by playing “Hail To the Chief,” and ended with “I Did It My Way.”
 
Cowboy poet, Baxter Black, appeared at the Poncan Theatre in late May. He was accompanied by the “Sounds of the Southwest” quartet, the only official Western Band from the state of Oklahoma.
 
The mayoral election between Dick Stone and Tom Leonard was May 12. Votes for Stone were five more than those for Leonard. Two days after the election, Leonard filed a petition contesting the results on the basis of irregularities. By law, a registered voter must live within the city limits in a municipal election. Leonard’s petition was based on ineligible voters casting ballots. On May 18, a special judge ordered a third Mayoral election to be held on June 9, and Gov. Keating signed an executive order. The first two elections had cost the city $11,000 and the third one could run upwards of $6,000. Marilyn Andrews would continue as mayor until the election.
 
Republican David Myers announced his candidacy for the District 20 seat in the Oklahoma Senate.
 
Wildcat Head Football coach Rick Sodowsky resigned at the end of May to take a position at the new Norman North High School.
 
Dr. Vic Andrews was named the President-elect for the Oklahoma Dental Association.
 
Friends of the Cultural Center celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the date that the city purchased the building. On hand for the ceremony were former mayor Jim McNeese and former city manager Leon Nelson.
 
Po-Hi Wildcats and Lady Cats had a spectacular year. The Wildcat baseball team pulled out some whopping upsets in the regional tournament. Po-Hi wrestlers Matt and Mark Dodgen, both with a state championship to their name (Mark in ’96, Matt in ’97), headed to the state meet looking to stamp the name Dodgen in the record books. As expected, both rolled to the final round. However, after Mark defeated Jeff Wilson of Midwest City, Matt fell in a controversial, 8-6 decision to Brian Elgin of Muskogee. The Dodgens’ accomplishments garnered them All-state recognition. Phillip Gelino and Nick Steichen also qualified for state. With a 392 stroke total, the Lady Wildcat golfers missed the state team cut by a scant 20 strokes in the Regional Tournament. All-conference Jenni Nimmo, freshman, did make the cut as an individual, and finished with a respectable 194 total in 36 holes at the state tournament in Edmond. The Lady Wildcat tennis team finished second in state competition and garnered all of the votes by News Sports Writers. After finishing the regular season with a near-perfect record, the Lady Cats swept the Frontier Conference title, winning in both No. 1 and No. 2 doubles and placing second in both No. 1 and 2 singles. In the state tournament, Romi Foreman and Melissa Collogan won the Big One in No. 2 doubles, staying up past 1:00 a.m. to topple Enid, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0. Natalie Lindsay and Abby Frick took fourth in No. 1 doubles, while No. 7 seed Ashley Roussel prevailed for a fifth place finish. Foreman, Collogan and Lindsay each received All-state honors.
 
The Wildcat tennis team also had a measure of success, taking third in the regional tournament. Matt Stuemky and Jason Nigh finished second in No. 1 doubles, while Micha Alexander and Tim Frick finished second in No. 2 doubles. In the regional baseball tournament, Jay Bentley pitched the Cats to a 3-2 win over defending state champion and No. 2 ranked Jenks. A day later, the Cats got a 3-run homer from J.T. Thomas and a command performance from pitcher Chris Koenig to beat No.6 Muskogee, 6-3, in 8 innings. Baseball and softball coach Roydon Tilley, girls tennis coach Don Lambring, wrestling coach Pat Young and football coach Rick Sodowsky all resigned at the end of May. Their replacements were Jenks’ Mike Krehbiel in softball/baseball, Todd Steidley in wrestling, Todd Kimrey in football, and Stan Wheeler in tennis.
 
The Warren Corporation of Oklahoma City came to town, planning to drill for oil. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission granted the company a “pooling request” for 640 acres within the city limits of Ponca City. Residents from South Avenue to Highland and 14th St. to Union received leases in the mail, giving them an option of a royalty or a bonus or both, in case oil was found on their property. Each entity opted for the higher royalty and no bonus. John Warren leased 1800 acres, including land owned by the city and county. It was the first time since 1906 that permission had been granted for directional drilling within the city limits.
 
The 4th Annual Relay for Life on June 5 & 6 drew 260 people on 22 teams, who raised $37,100 toward a cure for cancer.
 
On June 10, Tom Leonard won the mayoral revote by a margin of 184 votes. Finally, after four months of campaigning and three elections, it was finally over, and Mayor Andrews could step down.
 
Sen. Muegge and Representative Newport reported that tax cuts in several areas were one of the major accomplishments of the recently adjourned Legislative session.
 
Holiday Inn completed their $2.2 million remodeling project. There were 139 rooms that were refurbished. Hero’s Grill and the Spirits Bar each had a new look as well.
 
Because Leonard was a city commissioner, there was now a vacancy, so an election was scheduled for August 25.
 
Phyllis Kennedy was named chairman of the Marland Estate Commission.
 
June rolled around, along with election filings. Sen. Don Nickles announced plans to seek a re-election bid for a fourth term. State Sen. Paul Muegge filed for re-election and David Myers of Ponca City filed to run against him. Rep. Jim Newport did not draw any opponents.
 
The City Commission approved a 15% hike in sewer rates. The increase was necessary to finance $12 million of wastewater improvements.
 
Sen. Don Nickles kicked off his campaign for reelection. The assistant Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate was seeking his fourth term.
 
Thorn Apple Valley had 600 employees and was looking for 90 more. The plant was producing about 1.4 million pounds of product a week, including 4-by-6 sliced ham, turkey breast, turkey ham, smoked boneless ham, spiral sliced bone-in hams, and ham steaks.
 
In July, Keni Ray filed for the city commission seat that Tom Leonard had left when he was elected mayor. Ray drew no opposition, so automatically won the seat, and the city did not have to pay for an election.
 
The Tourism Authority approved a $3000 grant for the grand reopening of the Pioneer Woman Museum. They approved another $3000 grant for the Kaw Challenge Mountain Bike Race. This was a new event that would take place on OktoberFest weekend at Burbank Landing on Kaw Lake.
 
The Literacy Council received a $1700 grant from Laubach Literacy, to be used for family literacy classes.
 
On July 4, Erin Rutherford was named Young Miss America at Universal Studio in Hollywood.
 
Roy Clark appeared at the Poncan Theatre for two concerts on July 24.
 
Helpline Director Pat Hand resigned since she and her husband were moving out of town. The Board hired Lori May for the position.
 
The Board of Education voted 4-3 to have two middle schools for the 1999-2000 school year. Students from Liberty, Lincoln, Trout, and Union would go to West. Garfield, Roosevelt, Washington, Woodlands, and McCord students would go to East. Ninth graders would be moved to Po-Hi in the fall of 1999. The long range plan included bringing the sixth grades into both sites as soon as the buildings could accommodate them, probably in 2001.
 
The popular rock event, “1964: The Tribute,” returned to the Poncan in August. The tribute to the Beatles was a sellout, and patrons danced in the aisles during the performance.
 
Meals on Wheels celebrated 25 years of community service. Church Women United had initiated the program in August of 1973.
 
The 101 Ranch Old-Timers celebrated their 30-year reunion. They also dedicated a cornerstone to honor Bill Pickett, famous 101 Ranch bulldogger, which was placed downtown at the intersection of Third and Grand.
 
The Friends of Education Foundation received a $33,150 contribution from the Ponca City Retail Merchants Association and the Ponca City Credit Bureau. The donation was used to support the Great Expectations training programs along with teacher and administrative educational programs.
 
The Dallas Children’s Theatre brought “Jack and the Giant Beanstalk” to the Poncan Theatre.
 
City Information Director Rick Myers resigned to open his own business.
 
The City purchased a new Airport Rescue fire truck. Its appearance is different from other fire trucks. It has “monster truck” tires, is a lime and yellow “neon” color, and looks like the “rovers” that traveled over the craters on the moon. The $300,000 vehicle cost the city $30,000, thanks to a federal grant. Firemen were specially trained on the new piece of equipment.
 
Kelly Kay was hired as the new executive director of the YMCA. He came to Ponca City in April from Weatherford. The YMCA took over the after school Kids Activities Program that was previously operated by the school system. It would still be housed in the schools, but under the direction of the YMCA.
 
Senator Nickles toured Conoco’s vacant space in the Research and Design building. Conoco has approximately 95,000 square feet of “State of the Art” laboratories and related office space. An additional 135,000 square feet is prime office space in the Towers. The senator said he hoped to work with Conoco to market the available space on Ponca City’s behalf.
 
Sgt. Joe Allen, newly retired police officer, accepted the lake patrolman position at Lake Ponca Park.
 
“Idols of the King,” a show about Elvis and his fans, came to the Poncan on Saturday, September 12. Presenters were from the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.
 
Clayton Johnson was promoted to Assistant Police Chief.
 
Former Ponca City High School football standout Chad Hacker, now a back-up wide receiver at the University of Central Oklahoma, helped the unbeaten Bronchos to the No. 3-ranking in NCAA Division II. Hacker, a 5-9, 165-pound sophomore, is fourth on the team in receptions.
 
Governing Magazine,” a respected, national trade publication that covers federal, state and municipal governments across the country, named state Senator Paul Muegge of Tonkawa “Public Official of the Year”. Muegge was the only state legislator honored this year and is the first Oklahoman to receive the national recognition.
 
After two attempts and two dry holes, the Warren Corporation finally struck oil in Ponca City. About 25 local residents, as well as Conoco, shared the royalties with the oil exploration company.
 
Big Sky Airlines, based in Billings Montana, became the new carrier servicing the Ponca City Airport.
 
“Diva,” a 15-piece all woman jazz band, performed at the Hutchins Memorial. It was the first concert of the season for Community Concerts.
 
Fire Chief Larry Mullikin resigned to take the job of Fire Chief in Stillwater. He had been in Ponca City since 1995. According to City Manager Gary Martin, Mullikin had brought modernization to the fire department, increased training and raised professionalism.
 
Todd Kennemer was hired as the new city planner. Debra Fralix began her new position as the city’s human resource director.
 
The Attucks Community Alliance received a $10,000 donation from the Bank of America to help remodel and renovate their Community Center. The money will be used to get the plumbing and electrical work started.
 
On October 22, Conoco President and CEO Archie Dunham rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange when Conoco stock went back on the market. Conoco employees watched the ceremony live in Ponca City through a satellite transmission in the company’s gymnasium. Conoco retirees joined the festivities at a private party at the Fourth Street Clubhouse.
 
Lt. Creighton Holt, son of Jim and Mary Ann Holt, graduated from Flight School for the second time, and will be flying jets. The first time in Flight School, he learned to fly helicopters.
 
In the November elections, State Senator Muegge defeated David Myers by 87 votes. Incumbent District Judge D.W. Boyd won with 71% of the votes. Dee Schieber was re-elected County Commissioner.
 
On November 18, Archie Dunham, President and CEO of Conoco, Inc. and Executive Vice-president of DuPont, was inducted into the 1998 Oklahoma Hall of Fame.
 
The first Westside 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament, sponsored by the Ponca City Police Department, was held on October 31 at Albright United Methodist Church. There were 48 participants and 13 teams entered in the competition. Westside Project was started in 1997 by the PCPD to reduce crime in the high-risk west side area of Ponca City. Officers Brad Fultz and Tom Burg were assigned as full-time officers to the area and maintained the Lincoln Community Center, where area youth met daily to enjoy various activities. They also patrolled the neighborhoods daily, on foot, and helped organize neighborhood coalitions for the residents to monitor their own safety. As a result of the Westside Project, crime in that area of Ponca City was reduced significantly.
 
Using lights, muscle, bolts, cranes, trucks, guy wires, manpower and womanpower, the Angel Host was placed back in its usual Christmas habitat on the Pioneer Woman circle.
 
A gathering of dedicated volunteers assisted in sliding, clamping, and bolting the 30-foot angel together. Activities contributing to the actual erection of Angel Host are the loading and unloading of the many sections, placing the sections in their proper order — not unlike putting a jigsaw puzzle together — and bolting those sections together. The angel is attached to its stand and the lights are all checked for broken, burned out or missing bulbs. Then it is slowly lifted into place by the top of its head, with the final bolts securing it to the stand. The Angel Host itself consists of approximately 1,000 lights, uses 36 bolts to fasten the sections together, and 12 guy wires to hold the angel secure against the Oklahoma winds. Volunteers on site were Ralph Throop of Throop Construction, with their crane which was used to lift Angel Host into place; Roy Sullivan of Sullivan’s Trucking Co., with a truck to haul sections of the display back and forth; Stan Combs of Ranch Drive Wrecker Inc.; Eldon Felix, Cindy Bays, and Mark McGlone, Dusty Rhoades, Mike Ellis, and Tom Muchmore of The Ponca City Publishing Company, corporate sponsors of Angel Host.
 
“The Lettermen” appeared at the Poncan Theatre in December, the first concert in the 1998-99 membership season. Upcoming events were Glen Campbell, Hank Williams III, John Mueller as Buddy Holly, and Asleep at the Wheel.
 
Ben Dickey, son of Brad and Sandra Dickey, received his Eagle Scout Award.
 
In December, the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System selected Brian Hermanson to represent Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols.
 
The classic “Wizard of Oz” original movie was re-released for the first time in 25 years. It had been digitized and the color was enhanced.
 
The 6th annual lighted Christmas Parade was the biggest ever.
 
A Sunday Afternoon Holiday Open House featured the Marland Mansion, L.A. Cann House and the Cultural Center, all decorated and lit for the Christmas season.
 
The City hired Gary Denny as the new fire chief. He had 21 years experience with the Sedgwick County, Kansas Fire Department.
 
United Way of Ponca City and the Ponca City Alliance for Youth chose Michele Jean as the annual Americorps Promise Fellow.