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Ponca City Information

Ponca City History

2000

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2000 — On January 31, a crowd estimated between 12,000 and 15,000 partied downtown, counting down the time until midnight arrived. Many joined in the countdown and finally, the year 2000 arrived and a new millennium began.
 
Frank Piccirillo was officially named the new Wildcat football coach. He had previously been in Watonga.
 
The Wildcat wrestling team outmatched Enid, with a 51-12 win. The Cats won 10 of the 14 matches, plus made bonus points with four falls, two technical falls, a forfeit and two major decisions.
 
Dr. Bill White was offered the superintendent’s job in Broken Arrow, but opted to stay in Ponca City. He was offered a contract extension for three years to stay here, and he took it.
 
Conoco announced plans to construct an eight million pound-per-year manufacturing plant in Ponca City, the first of its kind to produce the company’s patented petroleum-based carbon fiber. The $125 million plant would be built adjacent to the refinery. Construction was scheduled to begin in the spring.
 
Barry Bickle was named 1999 Outstanding Citizen at the Chamber of Commerce Banquet, and he also became the new Chairman of the Chamber for 2000, taking the reins from Craig Myers. Mertz, Inc. received the Large Company Award, and the Small Company Award was presented to Precision Tool and Die.
 
A group of employees appeared at the January meeting of Pioneer Technology Center Board of Education. They asked that the contracts for Superintendent Dr. Sally Downey and Asst. Superintendent Janet Cox not be renewed. The group claimed that 101 employees had been fired or forced out since the two superintendents had taken charge in 1997. The Board voted to stand by Downey, extending her contract by three years.
 
Alana Smith was named the 2000 Basketball Homecoming Queen. Homecoming King was Jeff Furnas.
 
Local builders announced plans for two major subdivisions, one five-house building project, an apartment complex and housing units for seniors. The housing market had become tight in Ponca City, and with the new jobs being created by Conoco’s carbon fiber plant, it was time to “jump start” construction of some speculative housing, according to Jan Jarrett, Chamber of Commerce executive.
 
January 17 was the official kick-off of a 125-day countdown to Conoco’s 125th Anniversary celebration. At midnight, a 16-foot tall wooden oil derrick, augmented with a specialized digital counter, was set up at the entrance of Conoco’s Houston headquarters. The derrick’s clock would count down 125 days until the May 20 birthday celebration that would take place in 15 countries on five continents.
 
Chip Huston, 1995 Po-Hi graduate, and son of Terry and Steve Huston, was named the assistant men’s golf coach at the University of Houston.
 
Wildcat wrestlers won the district championship, beating Stillwater 47-27, and guaranteeing a berth in the Dual State Tournament. Coach Todd Steidley credited the Cats’ success to the large group of fans. “We’re dedicating this victory to the fans,” the coach said after the dual. Ponca City had more fans in the stands than Stillwater, and the dual was in Stillwater.
 
Commissioners approved a resolution for a proposed $4 million, 60-unit senior citizen apartment complex on East Princeton.
 
Head Country BBQ announced that their sales were up 30% in February, due to the milder weather.
 
John Stanley was elected president of the Ponca City Country Club.
 
Two incumbent City Commissioners, Chris Hand and Keni Ray, filed for reelection. Pamela Johnson announced she would run against Ray.
 
Candidates for the School Board included Vicki Graves and Mike Joosten in Ward 7. Kyle Keffer chose not to run for reelection. Filing for Ward 6 were Norris Frederick, David Kinkaid, Kathy McLemore, and John Pangburn. Steve Stalcup did not run for reelection, as he had moved from the district. Norris Frederick was appointed to fill Stalcup’s position. Vicki Graves won the Ward 7 seat.
 
Ponca City Arts & Humanities Council sponsored the Wichita Children’s Theatre production of “Alice in Wonderland” at the Poncan Theatre.
 
Conoco’s 1999 fourth quarter net income was $324 million, compared to a loss of $263 million in the fourth quarter of 1998.
 
Asst. Chief of Police, Clayton Johnson, was chosen to be a team member of the Group Study Exchange to India, sponsored by the Ponca City Rotary Club.
 
Dr. Joe Surber and Betty Tatum were selected for the Who’s Who in America. Beth Frantz, Pioneer Tech Practical Nursing Coordinator, was selected as the Outstanding Vocational Educator for the Health Occupations Division.
 
Conoco announced that they would pay for a total renovation of the Petroleum Museum in the north wing of the Artist Studio at the Marland Estate. Plans were to create a Marland Oil Museum. This project was one of the many ways Conoco celebrated their 125th anniversary.
 
Ponca Tribe civic leader Genevieve Pollak died in mid February.
 
United Way collaborated with the Po-Hi Service Learning classes, two 5th grade Garfield Academy classes, and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program to provide tutoring for pre-school children.
 
The United States Air Force Band of the West performed for a full house of citizens, sponsored by the Ponca City News and poncacity.net.
 
Louise Abercrombie, business editor for the Ponca City News, got her first ever hole-in-one at the Ponca City Country Club.
 
Construction on the new No. 1 Fire Station continued during February. Commissioners approved a change order in the amount of $11,004.
 
Andrew Cooper, a graduating senior at Po-Hi, was named one of more than 2,600 candidates in the year 2000 Presidential Scholars Program.
 
Sen. Don Nickles announced that Rory Peterson had been appointed to the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs.
 
Former Ponca City High School head football coach Keni Ray was inducted into the University of Central Oklahoma Athletic Hall of Fame.
 
In February, Don Nuzum was elected President of the Ponca City Board of Education, replacing John Young. Contract extensions were granted to Jeff Denton, chief financial officer; Dr. John Scroggins, deputy superintendent; and Dr. Joe Surber, assistant superintendent of operations.
 
In March, Pamela Johnson defeated incumbent Keni Ray for the City Commission seat.
 
Former D.A. John Maddox was given 30 days to pay back $17,400 in embezzled state funds. He received a two year deferred sentence as part of a plea agreement.
 
The Ponca Playhouse production of “A Few Good Men,” opened in March.
 
Oklahoma Secretary of Education Floyd Coppedge approved changing to the trimester scheduling at Ponca City High School.
 
Two Po-Hi swimmers, Rory Peterson and Shannon Mersman, were named to the All-State Swim team.
 
The Po-Hi Robotics Team placed 4th out of 38 teams at the Regional Competition in Houston. The local team was the highest ranked rookie team. They later attended the national competition in Orlando, Florida.
 
Luann Harris, Liberty Elementary teacher, was named District Teacher of the Year.
 
On April 12, after much debate, Pioneer Tech board members voted 3-2 not to renew the contract of Dr. Janet Cox, deputy superintendent. On April 19, Superintendent Sally Downey and two board members resigned. On April 30, the board appointed Bruce DeMuth as interim superintendent.
 
The City of Newkirk was honored with one of the nation’s five Great American Main Street awards. Karen Dye is the director.
 
The school system hired Chuck Bayha as principal of the Alternative High School.
 
Kristi Hayes, education editor for the Ponca City News, received a Marshall Gregory Award for Outstanding Year-Round Excellence in Education Reporting by members of the Oklahoma Education Association.
 
The Ponca City Fire Prevention Advisory Council held a “Risk Watch” Safety Carnival at Lowe’s Home Center for children kindergarten through eighth grade.
 
Due to a new School Board policy that required students to read at their grade level, and attend classes 90% of the time, 620 kindergarten through 8th grade students were required to attend summer school.
 
The Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission’s monument and time capsule were moved from the Pioneer Woman Museum to the Marland Mansion grounds in May. Oklahoma Secretary of Energy Michael Smith was present for the dedication ceremony.
 
More than 50 performers appeared in the Ponca Playhouse production of “Carousel.”
 
The Lady Wildcat golf team participated in the state tournament and finished seventh. Team members were Jenni Nimmo, Kelli Waddell, Ashley Mott, Heather Staires, and Caley Snell.
 
The new pre-Kindergarten program in the public schools was helping four year olds adjust to going to school.
 
The Ponca City Literacy Council was seeking volunteers to help those who want to learn to read.
 
The Wildcat track team qualified seven students for the state meet. The boys were Billy Broughton, Michael Kirby, Jared Brashears and Kyle Henderson. The girls were Jessica Jorgensen, Kendra Love, and Kassandra Coldiron.
 
City Commissioners approved the plans and budget for the extension of North Fifth Street to Prospect Ave., and the improvement of L.A. Cann Drive around Lake Ponca.
 
Josh Pitts and Sterling Foy were the regional doubles tennis champions, and Daniel Lee and Tim Frick placed third.
 
The Po-Hi Band received a superior rating and the outstanding performance award at the Dixie Classic Festival in St. Louis.
 
United Way of Ponca City was chosen to again sponsor the America Reads Challenge (ARC) Summer Associate VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program in Ponca City, working in collaboration with the Ponca City Public Schools. ARC is an eight-week summer program that matches up volunteers with children to help raise reading levels. The program is aimed at helping kindergarten through third grade students who are reading below grade level in school.
 
Wildcat golfer Matt Waddell was named to the East All-State golf team.
 
Ponca City police had new uniforms, gray shirts and dark blue pants, replacing the old brown uniforms.
 
Nine Po-Hi seniors received Conoco Scholarships. They were Brianna Bennett, Andrew Cooper, Michael Goddard, Heather Herard, Charvek Karpe, Jerrod Merle, Scott Mitchell, Rory Peterson, and Claire Sonnichsen.
 
By mid-May, work had begun on Phase II of the Standing Bear Native American Memorial Park.
 
On May 22, Conoco celebrated its 125th Birthday with a party for thousands of current and former employees at the Conoco complex.
 
Po-Hi members of the All State Musicians were Lacy Goodger, Maria Simpson, Emily Jack, Robert Hwang, Jerod Merle, Tim Connelly, Katherine Paschal, Karalyn Eyster and Jacque Salmons.
 
City Commissioners approved plans by Lewis & Associates Architects for the Civic Center Renovation Project.
 
In June, local gasoline prices soared to $2.13 per gallon.
 
A new 14-lot subdivision at the southeast corner of Pecan Road and Homestead, known as Deer Place, caused some controversy among area residents and the city commission. City Planner Todd Kennemer assured the board that all concerns had been addressed or met.
 
In June, construction of the new 54-unit Copper Ridge apartment complex began at Highland and Waverly.
 
City officials announced that plans for building a 1,000-foot, $3.5 million runway extension at Ponca City Regional Airport would soon be a reality. Initial planning for the project had begun in 1993. In September, funding was approved, including a $1.9 million grant from the FAA.
 
A dedication ceremony for the city’s new $22 million Wastewater Treatment Plant was held on June 23. Mayor Leonard said that the city had been working on the project for nearly ten years. The facility was built on the plant’s original site.
 
Miller Market, 904 S. Fourth Street, closed its doors on June 30, and reopened its doors the following Monday as the second United Supermarket store in town. Miller Market had operated in Ponca City for 64 years. The Millers opened as a fruit stand at 408 East South Avenue. It was the first grocery in town to have self-service meat and also the first to use scanning cash registers.
 
Ponca City golfer Rod Murray qualified for the U.S. Senior Open in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania at the end of June.
 
Dr. Doug Major began his new job as superintendent of Pioneer Technology Center on July 10.
 
Jamie (Graves) Burtner, former Lady Cat’s basketball star and all-stater in 1990, was named the new Lady Cats basketball coach.
 
Gov. Keating earmarked an additional $800,000 for the proposed Standing Bear Cultural Center.
 
Queta Henderson, Po-Hi math teacher, was selected as a state finalist in the 2000 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching program.
 
In early July, Conoco initiated an increased sulfur recovery program at the Ponca City Refinery, which would mean cleaner air in the area. This was the first step towards stabilizing the refinery’s future by making it more competitive.
 
Dr. Ellis and Pam Oster donated an office building to the Bluestem Council of Kay County Girl Scouts.
 
Sharon Scroggins was named principal at East Middle School, following the resignation of Richard Dale.
 
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation proclaimed Ponca City as the winner in the Trash-Off program. The City was presented with a hubcap trophy for most trash collected in a city of more than 16,000. City Commissioner Lyn Boyer accepted the award.
 
Ponca City Heat, sixth grade basketball team, won the Mid-America Youth Basketball League national championship in Manhattan, Kansas, with a perfect 6-0 record, and beat Midwest City, 54-47 in the finals. Team members included Grey Mongold, Bradley Council, Caleb Wynn, Eric Caughlin, Bryce Thistead, RaShawn Parker, Chambray Parker, Josh Johnson, Kyndall Orange, and Ben Cleveland.
 
At the airport, work began on hangar No. 6 to relocate Big Sky Airline’s maintenance facility.
 
There were 87 potential football players at the first practice with new coach Frank Piccirillo.
 
In August, Pioneer Technology Center received the Oklahoma Vocational-Technical Education Council’s Gold Star School Award during the Tulsa Summer conference. Larry Buck, PTC board president, accepted the award.
 
Jon Hoover became the Ponca City Country Club men’s golf champion, winning a playoff with Bruce Newman and Matt Waddell.
 
Wayne Leven was elected Kay County Commissioner, District 2 position.
 
Ponca City Superintendent Dr. Bill White was named the Oklahoma Administrator of the Year and represented the state at the national conference.
 
Conoco announced plans to build a supercomputer, a powerful Intel-based geophysical computer for seismic exploration.
 
Activities throughout September included the Country Harvest Antique and Craft Show, Cherokee Strip Chili Cookoff, Fine Arts Festival, United Way parade, Standing Bear
Powwow, Cherokee Strip Golf Classic, and Kay County Free Fair.
 
The Oklahoma Municipal League named Gary Martin City Manager of the Year. He was recognized with the 2000 Don Rider Award.
 
Kay County Health Department applied to build a 17,000 square-foot public health facility at a cost of $1.5 million. The building would be on Fairview Avenue.
 
The New York Times named Patrick Jordan, Ponca City News employee, a freelance co-editor for its daily crossword puzzle.
 
Catherine Haynes was named one of 50 finalists for Oklahoma’s Woman of the Year award which recognizes excellence in business and community involvement.
 
The Vietnam Veterans kicked off a project to help fund the creation of a POW-MIA memorial at Resthaven Memorial Park.
 
Joe C. Miller Jr., 95, died on September 15. Joe Jr. was born on the 101 Ranch and was the last surviving grandchild of the first 101 Ranch owners.
 
Ponca Playhouse opened its season with the play “Sylvia,” directed by Jo Ann Muchmore.
 
Chris Henderson was named the new director for the city’s community development department, formerly known as the planning and code enforcement department.
 
State and local dignitaries gathered in Ponca City to honor Chief Standing Bear and dedicate the completion of Phase II of Standing Bear Park. Shallimar Plumley recited the Lord’s Prayer in sign language during the ceremony. A walking trail, two orientation courts, and the six tribal courts were unveiled, each representing one of the six area tribes.
 
Karley Merrifield was crowned 2000 Po-Hi Homecoming Queen by Student Council President Michael Martin.
 
Po-Hi hosted the regional cross country meet, and the local girl’s team qualified for state for the first time ever.
 
The Wildcats football team beat Sand Springs 28-10. It was their only victory of the year.
 
Southwestern Bell introduced its high-speed DSL Internet service, enabling customers to access the Internet at speeds up to 200 times faster than standard analog modems.
 
Michael Varnum was named the new executive director of the Poncan Theatre, replacing Kenn Wessel.
 
Beth Purvis was hired as the new Business and Industry Services Coordinator at Pioneer Technology Center, responsible for customized computer training for area business and industry.
 
Chad Morris was hired as assistant director of the Public Works Department.
 
In November, Foster Johnson, Managing Editor of the Ponca City News from 1982 to 1999, returned to the News and resumed his former duties.
 
Public Works Director Ken Parr resigned to accept a similar position in Texas.
 
Parade marshals for the Veterans Day Parade on November 11 were Korean War era veterans.
 
Angel Central opened in November, ready to offer holiday items for sale and to serve as the information center for the seventh annual Festival of Angels.
 
Jan Prough, manager of the Pioneer Woman Museum, announced she would retire on January 1, after 23 years of service.
 
Gary Puckett, one of the most famous singers and songwriters of the 1960s, performed at the Poncan Theatre on Dec. 30.
 
University Learning Center offered a new bachelor’s degree in E-Commerce through Northwestern State University at Alva. This degree is one of the first in the nation.
 
Sen. Nickles and Rep. Istook secured $4.7 million for the Ponca City bandwidth project. The funding allowed the city to increase its technology capabilities.
 
Eight Po-Hi seniors met the rigorous requirements to be eligible for Academic All-State Scholars. Students chosen were Sunita Chahar, Raisa Durrani, Katie Homp, Michael Keen, Mark Keller, Andra Nuzum, Eric Whitebay and Ryan Yeakley.
 
Mayor Leonard was appointed to the board of directors of the Academy for State Goals.
 
John Raley was named assistant municipal judge. Raley filled the vacancy left by the death of Judge John Northcutt.