Ponca City Information
Ponca City History
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1999 — In January, City Commissioners developed a “Strategic Plan for Ponca City.”
- Complete a long term plan for Capital Improvements.
- Project the City’s
revenue needs and sources for funding.
- Complete Civic
- Continue to implement Economic
Development Advisory Board program and goals.
- Implement an orderly plan of growth management.
public safety a top priority.
- Revitalize downtown
- Provide an excellent service delivery system; i.e. – electric, water, sewer, trash.
- Develop a recreation complex.
a city-wide telecommunication system.
- Make electric
utility profitable and competitive.
- Foster community
relations with public and private groups.
- Include all people of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
Carl and Carolyn Renfro hosted a pre-election reception for Gov. and Mrs. Keating at the Marland Mansion on January 11. Close to 1000 people attended.
Eagle Watch day began at 10 a.m. January 23 with
an indoor educational program at the Kaw City Community
Center and then proceeding on to an eagle watching
caravan near the north side of Kaw Lake.
Six Po-Hi Varsity Senior Cheerleaders were honored at the January 26 basketball game. They included Shea Conner, Romi Foreman, Melissa McCoy, Katie Hampton, Whitney Fredrick, and Ashley Roussel.
In January, City Commissioners Dick Stone and Lyn Boyer both announced their intentions to run for re-election. Marvin Rider filed to run against Dick Stone. Bedford Smith filed to run against Lyn Boyer. The election was scheduled for April 9.
The school board called an election for February 9 for a Public School Bond Issue. The $9.95 million question represented Phase 3 of the school’s long-range plan. Funds from the bond issue would renovate Po-Hi, the Mid High School, the Middle School, and Washington Elementary.
Pioneer Technology Center scheduled a 2-mill building fund levy. They planned to expand facilities for two new health programs and add a Math and Science school. The one-year issue would generate about $415,000.
It was standing room only at the Poncan Theatre to watch the premier of the Main Street Authority’s “Grand Tour.” Billed by the design committee as a “virtual tour” of downtown Ponca City’s history and architecture, the show depicted the growth and development of the downtown area. The group enjoyed the historical trivia such as the fact that the Calkins building at 101 West Grand is nearly 100 years old and was Ponca City’s first three-story building downtown.
Students from the Ponca City Schools discovered the sights, sounds and beauty of America’s first nations through exciting performances by the Great American Indian Dance Company. The professional dance company also presented Native American singing and storytelling that students could relate to.
Cherokee Strip Credit Union announced they planned to build a new office at 1508 E. Prospect, just east of Peter Pan Cleaners. The new building would become the Credit Union’s main office facility, according to Howard Sissel, president.
Leslie Murphy, daughter of Larry and Nancy Murphy, joined Sen. Don Nickles Washington D.C. staff. She had recently graduated from OSU with honors.
City residents went to the polls in March to decide between school board candidates, the mill levies, and a bond issue. The ballot included two board positions being sought by incumbent Andrea Morriss and Don Nuzum for Office 1 and incumbent Marvin Clark and Donna Larrison for Office 5. Also on the ballot was the proposed $9.95 million bond issue (Phase III) to invest in educational facilities and programs for students. In 1999 a total of $2.5 million would be spent renovating the Mid-High, $1.5 million renovating the Middle School, $500,000 to renovate the high school, and a $2.8 million technology lease. Don Nuzum and Marvin Clark were elected, and the bond issue passed by 63%.
Area residents also voted on two building mills to expand and offer new programs at Pioneer Technology Center. Their issue also passed.
The $1 million Standing Bear Trails Enhancement project made another step towards reality as the City Commission authorized an agreement with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for the project. Approval was needed with ODOT to get Federal Surface Transportation Program Funds for 80% of the project. The agreement stated that the City of Ponca City would bear the sole responsibility for the expenditure of the funding in accordance with state and federal law. The city was named as the sponsor for the project, with the co-sponsor being the Ponca City Native American Foundation. As a result of the agreement, $800,000 would be provided through federal funds with the remaining 20% coming from Standing Bear Foundation ($180,000) and the city ($20,000).
On March 7, Pioneer Technology Center celebrated 25 years with an Open House Celebration. Activities for the day included a mini health clinic, a classic car show, tool show, computer imaging photos, career games, flower arranging, financial aid workshop, typing races, and tours of all program areas.
The school had officially opened Aug. 26, 1974, 3 ½ years after Kay County voters approved the $2 million project. More than 725 students had enrolled in the first semester of classes at Pioneer Tech, including high school and adult students. Since then, PTC had more than doubled in daytime enrollment, short-term training, and the client-based programs in the Business and Industry Service division. “Honoring our educational institution’s history and development is exciting,” said Dr. Sally Downey, in her second year as the superintendent of Pioneer Tech.
On March 27, the 101 Ranch Old Timers Association and Brace Books & More sponsored a book signing at the original site of the historic 101 Ranch. Michael Wallis had just released his latest book, “The Real Wild West – The 101 Ranch and The Creation of the American West.”
Plagued by a product recall, a Department of Agriculture criminal investigation, and repercussions of the failing Russian economy, Thorn Apple Valley (TAV) announced that it had filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11. With plants in Michigan, North Carolina, Arkansas and Oklahoma, TAV had over 3,000 employees. Locally, the company employed 540. “This action was necessary to allow us to move forward and we expect plant operations to continue with no significant cutbacks or layoffs. The Ponca City plant as well as others will continue operations. This is only a financial reorganization,” TAV Executive Vice President Louis Glazier reported.
Only minutes after learning of the shocking development, Vice-President and General Manager of the Ponca City plant, Doug Moore, tried to remain optimistic. “The important thing is that this will not affect our employees here, neither their pay nor their benefits. We are not closing and will stay here and continue to employ here.” During their second quarter, the company had reported a $12.4 million loss due mainly to a reduction of Russian exports. According to one news source, the company had been selling approximately 1.5 million hot dogs a week to Russia. TAV was forced to take a loss on 11 million pounds of frozen hot dogs bound for export. A voluntary recall, earlier in the year, caused the company an additional reported $7-8 million loss.
Progress was being made to get the new University Learning Center open at the Conoco Complex. Sponsored by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the pilot project was designed to bring upper level and graduate programs to Ponca City. Courses leading to degree programs were accessible through Interactive Television, the Internet, or on-site instructors. Plans were to open the center in the Fall of 1999.
City commissioners finally decided what to do with Waverly Street, and voted to rebuild a portion of the highly traveled thoroughfare. The three-year project would involve reconstructing the two-lane street into a four-lane roadway in the amount of $ 2.75 million — money well spent, according to City Traffic Engineer Mike Lane.
“Waverly is the most heavily traveled north-south, two lane street in Ponca City. It also has a lot of truck traffic,” Lane said. “From a safety and capacity standpoint, it will be a great project.”
A full house gathered in Conoco’s Atrium Cafeteria for the annual Chamber Banquet in March. Archie Dunham, president and CEO of the recently independent oil company, entertained and informed the audience. Following his introduction by Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin, Dunham told the group, “It’s great to be back home in Oklahoma and to have this opportunity to visit Ponca City. After nearly a century, Ponca remains the heart of our company. It’s the headquarters of our Mid-Continent business unit and the home of one of our largest refineries. Our employees in Oklahoma are committed to Conoco and they believe in working hard and playing hard.”
Highlighting the evening were presentations to a number of award winners. Top prize of the evening went to David Mills of Home National Bank, who was named “Outstanding Citizen.” Other awards included Community Service Award to Jon Kennedy; Larry Hughes Leadership Award to Pixie Rowland; and Ambassador Club Award to Debbi Weatherly. The Large Business Appreciation Award was presented to Mid-America Door Company, and the Small Business Appreciation Award went to A To Z Machining.
Richard Severance, who finished the year as Chamber chairman for Scott Dean, who had moved to Stillwater in mid-term, turned the gavel over to Craig Myers. Severance received a rocking chair as an appreciation gift from the Chamber.
Thorn Apple Valley obtained interim financing that allowed it to meet its projected cash needs while operating under the protection of Chapter 11. The banks agreed to provide Thorn Apple Valley with a credit line of $7 million to allow it to continue to operate as it reorganized under Chapter 11. The interim order was to be in effect through June 1. Thorn Apple Valley also planned to introduce a new company logo, new packaging designs, as well as new improvements to the flavor and taste of its meat products.
A one-year dream became a reality as the west side entrance into Ponca City was transformed from an “eye-sore to an “eye-land” full of beauty. Crews installed the donated automatic sprinkler system. “We were happy to donate the installation of this system because I felt landscaping this entrance into our city is an important project,” owner of Rainmaker Sprinkler Company David VanBuskirk said. Karen Furman of Oklahoma Natural Gas (ONG) had spearheaded the lengthy project. “This has been a real volunteer project with ONG, the Ponca City Council of Garden Clubs, Bridgeway, Conoco, Ponca City, the Chamber of Commerce and Evans and Associates donating workers,” Furman said.
Bill Ziegenhain and others were honored by the Pioneer Genealogical Society for their monumental efforts to microfilm thousands of Kay County and funeral homes records dating from 1893 to the present. The volunteers worked with representatives of the Latter Day Saints Church of Utah at the Kay County Courthouse to microfilm the records. As a result of their hard work on the project, chaired by Ziegenhain, the PGS earned 472 rolls of microfilm that are duplicate copies of all the records. The group donated the microfilm to the Ponca City Public Library Genealogy Department for public use. The Kay County Courthouse and each area funeral home also received microfilmed copies of the records.
Albertson’s Food & Drug Store entered into a purchase agreement with Julie’s Drug, effective March 31. After 48 years of service to the Ponca City community, Berman said he had made the decision to “slow down, but not retire.” He turned over his customer list to the Albertson’s pharmacy, where he continued to serve his clientele.
The “Fetching Affair” dinner/dance benefit for the Ponca City Humane Society was held April 30 at the Moose Lodge. The Imposters provided entertainment, performing rock and roll classics. Pet lovers participated in a tail waggin’ contest hosted by the Ponca City Humane Society. The three top waggers were featured at the Fetching Affair.
Cricket-eating was a hit at the Bug-o-Mania charity auction at Parker Pest Control in April. Proceeds were given to Peachtree Landing and Domestic Violence. More than 300 people watched as contestants, with chopsticks in hand, ate as many deep fat fried crickets as possible within 60 seconds. Winners Terry Moyer and Eddy Clark each gorged a total of 66 crickets and received a $100 cash prize.
Two awesome prizes were given away at KawFest ’99 in June at Sandy Park on Kaw Lake - a Tracker two-man fishing rig, donated by the Boat House and Tracker Boats, and a trip for two to Cancun for four days and three nights provided by Kaw Lake Association.
In June, the City had several city projects going on all over town. Construction at the fire station included plumbing and electric work, the ceiling of the equipment bay area was sheet rocked and the bottom brickwork was laid. Rick Scott Construction was the contractor, funded by the fire station sales tax. The Street Department reported that Union Street, from Hartford to Prospect, would soon be open to traffic. Sidewalks and sodding remained to be completed. Evans and Associates did the paving, funded by federal monies and the local street sales tax. The Ash-Hartford realignment and signalization construction contract was also an Evans project, funded by the street sales tax.
City Commissioners thanked everyone who helped make the Union Street project such a great success story. The community had tried for more than 20 years to get it paved, and it was only possible after a 1/2-cent sales tax earmarked for street improvements was approved. That allowed the city to obtain state matching funds for the $2 million street construction. The next big project was to be Waverly Street improvement, from South Avenue to Highland.
Sonya Looper, a Ponca City woman, brought home three silver medals from The Tenth Special Olympics World Summer Games held in North Carolina in June. The event, for athletes with mental retardation, was the largest multi-sport event in the world in 1999 and the biggest international sporting event in North Carolina history. The motto of the Games was “It’s all about attitude.” More than 7,000 special athletes from over 150 countries attended. Looper competed in the deadlift, combination bench and deadlift and the bench competitions. According to her mother, Carol Looper, she is the first woman who has participated in the powerlifting event and the first from Oklahoma to attend the Games.
The City Commission approved a lease agreement with Golden Villa Adult Day Care for Angela Hall, at the Marland Estate. The agreement is a five-year lease to begin August 1, at a monthly rate of $2,000. The United Way agency was responsible for maintaining the building.
In July, the Planning Commission approved the special zoning necessary for the 200 and 300 blocks on North Sixth, so the area was designated an Historic Preservation District.
In July, the Marland Estate celebrated the restoration of Lydie’s Cottage and the Artist Studio with a Grand Opening on July 9, 10, and 11. Both of the original buildings had been completely renovated and would be open to the public for the first time. A unique aspect of the restoration project was the use of volunteer construction superintendents at each building. Professionals were hired where code requirements needed to be met, but dedicated volunteers performed much of the demolition, painting, and finishing touches, contributing a total of 2200 volunteer hours. The original estimate for restoration was $386,000. Grants were received from the Peel Foundation, Sarkey’s Foundation, and the Marland Estate Foundation. The total project cost for Lydie’s Cottage and the Artist Studio was $224,500.
The original chauffeur’s cottage had been remodeled in 1939 for E.W. and Lydie Marland’s living quarters, following his term as governor of Oklahoma. Lydie stayed in the cottage after E.W.’s death in 1941, living a fairly reclusive life until she left Ponca City in 1953. Following her return to the city in 1975, she moved back into her cottage and lived there until her death in 1987. Since then, it had become known as Lydie’s Cottage. The cottage was now open for guided tours, and also housed a Marland family history exhibit.
The Artist Studio was originally built for sculptor Jo Davidson, who lived and worked there while he created the three Marland family statues and one of the models for the Pioneer Woman Statue. The timbers from one of Marland’s first oil well derricks were used for the interior vaulted ceiling in the two-story great room.
Several changes were made in the Administrative Staff for the schools. Randa Bloomfield was named principal at Garfield, Pat Morris became Special Ed Director, and Dr. Patty Ladd was the Director of Elementary Curriculum.
The 4th Annual United Way Parade was in early September. That same day the Masonic Lodge held a Pancake & Sausage breakfast, the Ponca Roadrunners had a 5K run/walk, the Cherokee Wheelmen Bike Club organized a Family Bike Ride and they all rode in the parade.
Progress was being made to get the new University Learning Center open at the Conoco Complex. Sponsored by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the pilot project was designed to bring upper level and graduate programs to Ponca City.
The University Learning Center opened on the Conoco Complex in September. Well-known educational leaders from across the state gathered in Ponca City to pay tribute to the first such education delivery service in the nation. The Learning Center allows “place-bound” students to complete undergraduate and graduate programs or sometimes just take a course. Interactive Television, the Internet, or on-site instructors deliver programs and classes. There are courses at the Learning Center from OSU, OU, Cameron and Langston University.
Students sitting in the Ponca City classroom are able to see and hear the instructor, just as if they were sitting in the class at one of the universities, and the instructor can see and hear them. Students in Ponca City complete homework just like the students on campus, then send it in through electronic mail or by fax. They take the examinations just like on-campus students do, at the same time.
Hans Brisch, Chancellor of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, said, “When we talk about education excellence, we can look at the model we have in Ponca City, which is a partnership model.” The Regents Office had granted $400,000 in funding for the Learning Center.
Dr. Joe Kinzer, President of Northern Oklahoma College, the coordinating institution, explained the mission of the ULC, saying, “The main thing we are trying to accomplish is to provide an opportunity for the people here in Ponca City who need additional academic work and cannot travel to where it is currently being offered.”
George Paczkowski, Ponca City Conoco Refinery Manager, was named President, Conoco Asia Pacific Sdn Bhd, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He had been refinery manager in Ponca City since 1994. Paczkowski joined Conoco in 1974 at the Wrenshall, Minn. refinery. He moved to Ponca City in 1975, where he worked for four years in Process Engineering. He later held various positions at company refineries in Denver, and Lake Charles, La.
Nicholas D. Spencer transferred to Ponca City to become refinery manager. Spencer had been refinery operations manager for Conoco’s Gulf Coast business unit in Lake Charles, La. since 1996. He relocated to Ponca City and reported to Richard Severance, General Manager, Mid-Continent Business Unit. Spencer is a native of Great Britain, with a “first class honours degree” in Chemical Engineering from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.
Entries at the NMA Grand National Motocross races at Jack Blevins Park were up 30% over 1998. There were 1,600 entries and at least three people traveled with each entry. Annually a miniature city springs up at the Ambucs Motocross Track, on Prospect, home of the National Motocross Association (NMA) Grand National Motocross Finals. The motorized rigs, used to house the contestants and their families, range from recreational vehicles, miniature-mobile homes and converted buses. Chamber of Commerce Chairman Craig Myers said “The Motocross has the single most economic impact of any event in Ponca City on an annual basis.”
During Motocross the local motels are filled, adding dollars to the general fund plus the 3% motel tax that supports the Tourism Authority. The motel tax is used to promote more visitors to Ponca City, which generates more tax dollars for the general fund.
On August 26, IBP, Inc., headquartered in Dakota Dunes, S.D., completed the acquisition of Thorn Apple Valley (TAV). The plant here primarily processed pork including ham, smoked boneless ham, spiral sliced bone-in hams, steaks and four-by four-luncheon meats. Employment here was around 500. Doug Moore, Ponca City plant manager commenting about the proposed sale, said “I am very, very pleased. This means that employees here have very solid job security.”
The Wildcat football season opened with a new coach, Rusty Benson. Benson was the third head football coach in three years. There were 66 players ready to suit up for the first game of the season.
Two Po-Hi seniors, Scot Mitchell and Claire Sonnichsen, and Emily Lewis, home school senior, were named semi-finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program.
On September 15, nearly 600 Ponca City students gathered for the National “See You At the Pole” observance.
Dr. Thomas Cowley was inducted into the Oklahoma Community Theater Association Hall of Honor at its 30th Anniversary Awards Gala in Oklahoma City in September.
The Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC), an organization representing governors of 37 states, returned to its birthplace on September 16 for their quarterly meeting at the Marland Mansion. The organization was founded in 1934, led by Gov. E.W. Marland. The first two meetings were hosted in Ponca City in 1934 and 1935, when the group was formed. At that time, the governors were concerned about rampant over-production of oil. The IOGCC promotes the conservation and efficient recovery of domestic oil and gas resources while protecting health, safety, and the environment. During the meeting in Ponca City, the group erected a monument at the Pioneer Woman Museum, telling of the history of the Compact. At that time, they also buried a time capsule.
Art Mires, president of Pioneer Transit, Inc., announced that the new door-to-door transit system would be in operation by October 1. The director was Laura Corff. More than 60% of the funding of the new business was assisted by state and federal grants. With the advent of a city-wide system, the Salvation Army and St. Joseph Medical Center reported that they would get out of the transportation business.
District Attorney John Maddox announced his resignation, citing recent stressful family situations and the uncertainty of the duration of an ongoing investigation into alleged travel claim discrepancies. Maddox stated that what was best for his office, his friends and his family was also very disappointing to them all.
Mark Gibson was named to replace Maddox. Gibson had been the assistant district attorney in Noble County for almost ten years.
The new owner of Thorn Apple Valley is IBP, one of the largest meat packers in the nation. The sale became official with a ruling of the Federal Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. IBP Inc. was purchasing the company for $115 million.
During their regular meeting, the Ponca City Board of Commissioners formally called an election for October 12, to extend a half-cent sales tax to renovate the balance of the 80-year old Civic Center Complex. The project would include new commission chambers, community meeting rooms and centralized departmental and administrative offices. If approved, the complex would be updated to provide a “one stop shop” for all administrative offices.
The Bryant Baker Studio opened to the public in the Artist Studio at the Marland Estate. The sculpture collection had been on display at the Cultural Center since 1970, but officials made the decision to switch the 101 Ranch collection and the Baker collection. The Baker display included 40 statues and busts, and numerous photographs, divided into four areas of interest: the President’s Gallery, British Subjects, Mythological Creatures, and Pioneer Women. Jo Saylors assisted staff and volunteers in mounting the exhibit. She also created a mannequin facsimile of Baker with tools in hand.
Oktoberfest celebrated its 19th year on the Marland Estate grounds. In addition to the great food, arts and crafts, and entertainment, a new aspect was the Sports Area and Tailgate Tent, where college and professional games were telecast. The tent was near the food and beer garden for the convenience of the football fans. On both days, there were open houses at Golden Villa in Angela Hall, Lydie’s Cottage, Artist Studio and the newly installed Bryant Baker Studio. A special exhibit was a display of the works of local sculptor Jo Saylors in the Artist Studio.
St. Joseph Regional Medical Center unveiled its new Birth and Family Center in October. The latest advances in labor and delivery care and medical technology were now available to Ponca City, Kay County and the surrounding area. The 20-room, 15,238 square foot unit featured a central monitoring system and an advanced infant security system — two pieces of equipment not available in this area before.
On October 12, voters approved a three year, half cent sales tax to raise $4.8 million for the renovation of the east wing of the Civic Center complex. In 1997, citizens had said “yes” to rebuilding the Number One Fire Station by passing a two year half cent tax, and that project was near completion and under budget.
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation in Las Vegas announced that they had awarded a $3 million grant to the American Legion Children’s Home (ALCH) in Ponca City. The award was one of only seven charitable causes awarded throughout Oklahoma, Arkansas and Nevada. The grant enabled ALCH to construct a 26,260 square foot building, housing a gymnasium, recreational and dining facilities and space for arts education and therapeutic activities. Additionally, a kitchen and concession area will be available to teach independent living and employment skills to the 50 children who call the Ponca City facility home. ALCH is the largest children’s facility of its kind in the state not affiliated with a hospital. Established in 1928 as an orphanage for veterans’ children, the Ponca City facility is the American Legion’s only children’s home.
Local Conoco artist Rod Bailey designed a limited-edition, keepsake poster in recognition of the upcoming Millennium. He selected photos and utilized images to create the photographic montage. Images of historical landmarks such as the Marland Mansion, the Poncan Theatre, the Pioneer Woman and Standing Bear are specially placed. The poster portrays a sense of passage of time and coincides with the local millennium theme, “Reflect on the Past ... Imagine the Future.” Proceeds from the sale of the poster helped fund activities for Millennium Night, the huge entertainment celebration planned for New Year’s Eve.
On December 3, Ponca City turned out for the Millennium Parade. Craig Myers, Chamber Chairman, called attention to the fact that Ponca City is the first Oklahoma town to be declared a Millennium Community.
In December, the National Service Corporation selected Ponca City’s United Way/ AmeriCorps program as a Service Site for an AmeriCorps Leader. The program was matched with former member, Christy Gonterman. She would begin her duties as an AmeriCorps Leader in January with two weeks of extensive training in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. Christy was a liaison among the members, helping with training, member recruitment and development.
On December 31, the 1999 Leadership Ponca City Class buried an historical Millennium Time Capsule at Centennial Plaza. The capsule was made of stainless steel, placed inside a 12-gauge steel vault, and buried 6 to 8 feet beneath the plaza. It contained photos, stamps, programs of community events and newspapers, all pertaining to 1999-2000. It will remain underground until December 31, 2099. A granite marker on the plaza identifies the capsule’s location.
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