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The Redbud City: It happened in June

Clyde Wooldridge
The Favorite Grocery Store, located at 200 east Main Street, was a going concern in June of 1895.

125 Years ago - The new Board of Trustees passed Ordinance No. 19 on June 18, 1895, that granted to the railroad the right to go through Shawnee and vacated 7th Street from Market to Bell, for railroad right-of-way.

It was about this time that the infant city succeeded in securing the C.O.&G. Railroad and developed a boom. This vigorous growth repeated itself through the years. This precipitated a great legal battle between Shawnee and Tecumseh. It was a contest to compel the said railroad to build to the respective towns, and though Tecumseh failed it was said she put up a gallant fight.

100 Years ago – “A message with a punch,” was the way one man described Billy Sunday’s address given at the Elk’s Flag Day celebration on June 14, at Convention Hall. Another citizen, who was previously heard to remark that he wouldn’t walk across the street to hear Sunday, because he does not approve of his evangelistic methods and was completely won over, and said he wished he could hear him every day. Whether a steady diet of Sunday would work was a question for debate. However, the fact remained that Sunday had a power which won and held his audience.

75 Years ago – Doyle Parrack, one of the greatest guards turned out by Coach Hank Iba’s basketball mill at Oklahoma A&M in the past eight years, signed a contract to coach the Shawnee Wolves’ cage team for the 1945-46 school term. Parrack would also assist Coach Ray LeCrone in football duties and would teach social studies. “We’re very pleased with Parrack,” said Superintendent A.L. Burks. “He has an outstanding record and the change should strengthen our sports program.” Parrack would stay only one year at the helm of the Shawnee Wolves’ basketball program. He would later go on to coach at the University of Oklahoma.

50 Years ago – Over 500 people withstood hot June temperatures Sunday afternoon, June 7, 1970, to see the new Gordon Cooper Vocational-Technical School dedicated. Area residents, including many distinguished dignitaries saw Shawnee-born astronaut, Colonel Gordon Cooper, cut the 3,000-foot red ribbon that surrounded the new $1.6 million Vo-tech school. Before dedicating the five-building complex, Cooper expressed his appreciation for being the school’s namesake. “I am very honored to have this school bear my name,” Cooper remarked. “Now we must all back the school thoroughly.”

10 Years ago –Chuck Mills, president of Mills Machine Company and former mayor of Shawnee, was elected June 15, 2010, to serve on the Executive Committee for the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce. He was also elected as the Chairman of the International Committee. The term was for one year starting July 1.

At the same meeting, former resident David Rainbolt, CEO of BancFirst Corporation of OKC was elected to serve as Chairman of the State Chamber. Mills was also recently appointed as Co-Chair of the OK State Youth Council which was a standing committee for the Governor’s Council on Workforce and Economic Development (GCWED). The State Youth Council’s mission was to support current initiatives and design new pathways to prepare our youth for employment.

Five Years ago – The Ward 1 seat remained vacant after two possible remedies failed to garner majority support at the Monday night, June 1, 2015, Shawnee City Commission meeting. Prior to unsuccessful motions for a special election and for the appointment of a successor, Rep. Justin Wood urged the commission to fill the position.

“It has been well over a month with no action, and you have so many tools to do so,” he said. “And personally, I don’t care how you do it, but I believe Ward 1 should have a voice, because it’s rightfully theirs to have.” When discussion of a special election arrived, Commissioner Linda Agee addressed a concern of the opposition. “I know it’s been said that the Citizen Potawatomi Nation will buy the election, but if every time one candidate had a bigger campaign chest than their opponent, if we cancelled or suspended that election, we’d have very few elections at the local, state or national level,” she said.

Agee expressed the appointment process proved unproductive. “Let’s let the democratic process go to work here and have an election,” she said. “Let the people decide who represents them.” Commissioner Lesa Shaw made a motion to hold a special election. With supporting votes from only Agee, Shaw and Micheal Dykstra, the motion failed.

Commissioner Keith Hall then made a motion to appoint Dell Kerbs, one of four Ward 1 applicants. With supporting votes from only Hall, Mayor Wes Mainord and Commissioner James Harrod, the motion failed. Tailing the 3-3 voting pattern, Agee said she wanted to dispel the idea Ward 1 residents lacked representation. “If anyone in Ward 1, until this position gets filled, has a question or issue, contact any of us and I think we’d all be glad to help you,” she assured.

One Year ago - A few weeks earlier, Assistant City Manager Chance Allison announced the hiring of Shawnee’s new fire chief. Rodney Foster, formerly of the Midwest City Fire Department, joined Shawnee’s firefighter team during the week. Monday, June 11, 2019, officially was the start of Foster’s duties as chief, and Shawnee Forward organized a reception so residents could welcome him to the area.

Dozens took time out Tuesday afternoon to greet Foster and his family at the Shawnee Forward office downtown. Deputy Chief Andy Starkey had been serving as interim chief since Dru Tischer retired in December.

(These stories and hundreds more appear in the six-volume history of Shawnee, entitled “REDBUD CITY.” They can be purchased at the Pottawatomie County Historical Society. However, due to the current health crisis in the United States, they have limited hours. They are opened Tuesday-Saturday, 10-12 a.m.and 1-2 p.m. If you cannot obtain a copy, you may call me at (918) 470-3728, and I will mail you a copy. The first three volumes are currently available, and hopefully, the fourth is coming out this fall. The price is $30 per volume. Because of the current closing of research centers, I am stuck at 1981 in volume four, (1970-89).