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The Redbud City: It happened in December

Clyde Wooldridge
Contributing writer
The Favorite Grocery Store was one of the thriving businesses on east Main Street in 1895.

125 YEARS AGO – STATEHOOD CONVENTION MEETS IN THE CITY

The citizens of Shawnee got word that a statehood convention was set to meet in the city in early December. Delegations were invited from the counties of Oklahoma: Cleveland, Canadian, Kingfisher, Logan, Pottawatomie, Lincoln, Payne, Washita, Mills, Day, Blaine, Kay, Grant, Woods, Garland, Noble, Pawnee, C and O counties.

The convention was called in obedience to a general request from all parts of the Territory, and for the purpose of re-affirming the demand for early statehood. Arrangements were made for railroad discounts on tickets, allowing accommodations for the delegates travel to Shawnee.

When the convention met on Wednesday, December 4, 1895, it was described as one of the largest and enthusiastic crowds ever held to that point in the Territory. Most of the delegates arrived on the train and were greeted with a hardy welcome by a good-sized group of citizens. They were escorted to the various hotels while being entertained by the local band.

The convention began with the Honorable Sidney Clarke, chairman, calling the meeting to order. The convention listened to several speakers and then appointed several committees before adjourning to allow the committees to go to work on their tasks. Several resolutions were made, such as, the declaration of the convention to urge the U.S. Congress to consider their petition for passing an enabling act to admit Oklahoma into the Union. There were minority reports where certain delegates wished to form the state from Oklahoma Territory, with the addition of the Chickasaw Nation.

 100 YEAR AGO – SHAWNEE FOOTBALLERS SUFFER THROUGH ANOTHER ROUGH SEASON

The Shawnee High School football team suffered through another hard season in 1920, finishing the season with only two wins. Under first-year coach, Hugh McDermott, the team competed in almost every game, but fell a little short in most cases.

The season opened with a 20-14 loss to Henryetta, and then a close lost to the McAlester Buffaloes, 13-12. However, next they hosted Enid and pulled off an impressive 21-7 victory. Things started to look good with a 0-0 tie the next week against powerful Norman. Another tough loss at Oklahoma City by a score of 16-0 did not discourage the locals. Especially the next week when they destroyed Pauls Valley, 46-7.

The momentum continued the next week against perennial power Tulsa High School with a 7-7 tie. However, Shawnee failed to score in its final three games, losing to Sapulpa, 49-0; tied Okmulgee 0-0; and finished up with a 40-0 loss to Lamont. The season record ended at (2-5-3). The season raised the all-time mark for Shawnee High School football to (46-47-12).

 75 YEARS AGO – FLU EPIDEMIC KEEPS 727 STUDENTS AT HOME

More than 700 Shawnee students, pupils of local schools, were absent from classes Tuesday, December 11, 1945, as the current flu epidemic continued to sweep the community with increasing viciousness.

At the county health office, Dr. Charles Haygood estimated that every physician in town was treating an average of 40 flu patients each and said that the situation was “probably worse, certainly no better than last week.”

A survey of all Shawnee grade and high schools by the News-Star resulted in a total of 727 students absent from school with the flu.

 50 YEARS AGO – COMMISSIONERS VOTE ON CITY HALL PROJECT

City commissioners voted Monday night, December 5, 1970, to tie the new City Hall project to an urban renewal, neighborhood development program and submit these issues at the January 12 city election, along with the public housing question.

The commission, in a related action, settled 6-1 on the proposed 9th Street-Broadway-Beard site for construction of the new City Hall. This area included the ground on which the old City Hall and annex stood. The action-studded four and one-half hour session was launched by a joint meeting with the local Housing Authority, at which two controversial public housing sites were eliminated from consideration for low-rent housing construction.

As the January 12 election picture stood, city voters would be deciding, generally, the following questions: (1) Accepting or rejecting the present public housing program; (2) Authorizing or disapproving the city exercising urban renewal powers under state laws; (3) Approval or rejection of the issue of city utility funds for partial financing of the new City Hall and other structures included in a neighborhood development program.

City Manager Bill Frueh recommended submitting the additional questions, along with public housing. Frueh estimated the city could save $150,000 on the new City Hall by tying it in with a federal neighborhood development program. The manager said the additional issues would “give a broader base of appeal” to the electorate than public housing alone.

 25 YEARS AGO – RECALL PETITION READY FOR FILING

A petition calling for the recall of City Commissioners Bill Torbett, Richard Miller, Mike Little and Carl Young was submitted to City Clerk Clara Hurst by CALL co-chairman on Monday night, December 10 at the city commission meeting.

The petition contained 1,300 signatures, said Margaret Davis, the other co-chairperson of CALL. Some 1,500 were needed. The announcement of the petition came at the end of a verbal exchange with Torbett and Miller over a 4-2 commission vote to authorize the interim city manager to spend up to $5,000 on a new sewer line on north Cleveland Street.

There were charges during the discussion indicating that the project particularly benefitted owners of a house being built on Cleveland. Mayor Pierre Taron and Commissioner Robert Pettyjohn voted against it. Dr. Robert Barnard was recovering in a hospital from emergency surgery performed Saturday and was not present.

Mayor Taron said early in the discussion that the proposed extension of the sewer line was contrary to policy that had been in place since 1982. He asked city attorney Brad Henry if historically, the city had done this. “I don’t know, but from a legal standpoint, there’s nothing wrong with the city doing it this way,” Henry replied.

Former city commissioner Buren Wilson also spoke during the citizen participation period. “It bothers me to see a rip-off that took place on Cleveland Street,” Wilson said. “The vote followed the same lines as that in which the city manager was fired.”

 10 YEARS AGO – John Canavan appointed to succeed Combs as district judge

Gov. Brad Henry announced late Monday afternoon, December 27, that he selected John Canavan to serve as Pottawatomie County’s new district judge. “It’s a humbling experience,” Canavan said Monday evening as news of the appointment spread.

He would succeed District Judge Douglas L. Combs, who was appointed by Henry to serve on the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Canavan, who said he was looking forward to a new turn in his career, said a high standard was set with the previous judge as well as the sitting judges in Pottawatomie County, and he was looking forward to working with them.

 FIVE YEARS AGO – Project Safe awarded $450K grant

The Avedis Foundation awarded a $450,000 grant to Project Safe. During the last 30 years, the delivery and types of services offered by Project Safe saw changes, but its mission had always been to support those impacted by domestic and sexual violence and stalking through services focused on safety, self-sufficiency and empowerment.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Avedis Foundation, we are pleased to announce this $450,000 grant for the purchase and remodeling of a building to provide administrative offices, furniture and equipment for Project Safe, the Pottawatomie and Lincoln County Domestic Violence Center,” said Michelle Briggs, Avedis Foundation President and CEO. “The Center does incredible work in protecting and providing shelter to individuals in violent environments. Avedis is proud to support Project Safe’s staff and clients with a healthier and safer administrative environment,” she added.

 ONE YEAR AGO – SGU campus donated to OBU

Hobby Lobby and the Green Family formally announced their donation of the former St. Gregory’s University campus to Oklahoma Baptist University during a special event Wednesday, December 11, 2019. The event took place at the Rockwood Center on the campus of the former SGU, now the OBU Green Campus.

Hobby Lobby purchased the property in 2018 following SGU’s bankruptcy proceedings. St. Gregory’s closed its doors in December 2017. At that time, OBU offered a teach-out agreement to current SGU students, with many of them transferring to OBU to finish their degrees.