Editor’s Note: This year’s Chamber Banquet requires more room than we have in this edition. Therefor, this is the first part of a two-part story. 

Part two will be in next week’s paper. 

It was a year to remember.

2018 was prosperous and successful for the city of Waurika.

Those who attended last Saturday evening’s Waurika Chamber of Commerce Banquet were treated to a sample of those accomplishments.

Chamber President Jon Waid served as master of ceremonies and with class and dignity recognized various individuals and businesses who have contributed to the betterment of Waurika during 2018.

Duncan Regional Hospital catered the Italian meal.

Local video production specialist and videographer Tyler Griffin showed two videos he produced.

Roy and Monica Bartling were honored for the tireless leadership during the Smithsonian Exhibit in 2018 and contributions to the advancement of Waurika.

The first video was of the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition, “The Way We Worked,” that was held in Waurika during this past summer.

Monica Bartling, the organizer and coordinator of the Smithsonian tour gave a presentation that recognized those who worked so hard to make it such a resounding success.

Although Monica humbly gives credit to others for the success of the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition, many have expressed that it would never have been a success without her Roy’s faithful leadership.

The Smithsonian venture began in 2014 when Amy Watkins—who was the Library Director at the time—wrote a grant application to the Oklahoma Humanities Council.

The representative from the council fell in love with Waurika and the depot.

Monica Bartling presents an award for Jerry and Virginia Wallace for all their hard work during the Smithsonian Exhibit.
Adam Wallace is not pictured.

Ann Thompson, director of the Oklahoma Humanities Council suggested that it would be good to combine the Smithsonian Exhibit with the 150th Anniversary of the Chisholm Trail.

Waurika was one of the five cities in Oklahoma chosen to display the Exhibit. The other cities were Perkins, Broken Arrow, Grove and Poteau Oklahoma.

The April before the event, Johnny and Rinda Griffin, Pat and Kristie Gaines, Gary and Jane Carter, Gary and Lauren Nitschke, Gary and Becky Gerken, and Everett and Ann Hodges all pitched in by cleaning windows on Main Street, reworking the parking area at the library and cleaning up trees and sidewalks, documenting the history of downtown and adding new life to storefronts that had been covered in white paper or tarps for years.

Glen Hobbs awarded appreciation for his hard work during the Exhibit
Photo by Curtis Plant

Another feature of the Exhibit was what became the “Story of the Boot” that illustrated the history of thirty families who have rich farming and ranching roots in Jefferson County. The stories of these families were on a featured display within the depot alongside the exhibits provided by the Smithsonian.The display was provided by Bobby Taylor, owner of Taylor-Made Welding, who donated his time to create it.

In addition to the Smithsonian Exhibit was the restoration of the Caboose at the depot.

A special thanks was given at the banquet to Jerry, Virginia, and Adam Wallace.

They worked tirelessly on the project.

Their efforts saved $2000 on the original quote. They were also responsible for the building of the stage for the melodrama and provided the farm equipment for the Antique Farm Exhibit as well as securing the chuckwagon for the Saturday event.

The Wallaces also provided the equipment to clear the trees behind the Presbyterial church.

Virginia donated a quilt for a fundraiser to raise funds for all events. Through their efforts $500 was raised.

The opening weekend of the Exhibit there was an “invitation only” celebration on the Friday evening before the big opening of the Exhibit on Saturday.

Thanks to the able talents of local druggist, Biff Eck, there was a Melodrama performed the night of before the Exhibit opening.

Darrel and Carolyn Beaver have been
welcoming diners to the Chamber Banquet for years.
Photo by Curtis Plant

Eck coordinated the play and recruited the actors. The play added to the entertainment and the flavor of the Exhibit.

The actors included Biff Eck, Mary Abernathy, Jessica Coody, Cindy Walker, Gene Chesley, and Brad Scott.

Clay and Lindsey Forst spent two years making a twenty minute video that featured interviews of citizens that recounted the history of Jefferson county. Originally they had 12 hours of interviews and spent a year taking pictures and video throughout the county.

Before the celebrations ever began Glen Hobbs was on hand when the Smithsonian Exhibit arrived in 12 huge trunks. Along with Lodge Scott, Glen was able to put together the exhibit material in eight hours.

Hobbs also assisted with the food preparations. When he discovered that the attendance scheduled for the opening night went up from 150 to 350, he assisted the chuckwagon crew by smoking briskets and helped serve during the event. He also built the rope making machine that the youth used during the display on Saturday.

During that Saturday celebration there was a gospel singing at the First Presbyterian Church. Those  who led the singing was Belinda Bohot, Gaye Leseny and Claudine Smith. Belinda Bohot and Starr Herron cleaned the inside of the church from top to bottom.

A new sign for the church was created by Lauren Nitschke. The new sign was put up by Mike Gaines and Gary Gerken.

Other people who  helped immensely were Tammy Moss Cox and Cross Brand Cowboy Church for providing free water for the Saturday event. The temperature that day was 105 degrees. The water was available at all downtown locations including the Presbyterian Church and the depot. Tammy volunteered her time to get the water, all the ice and the containers in place.

Fire Chief, Stephen Dyer and the Waurika Fire Department helped with every stop of the process and volunteered to cook hotdogs and hamburgers for the Saturday event.

On the day of the opening night, it was discovered that there was not going to be enough tables and chairs.

The Waurika Methodist Church, The First Baptist Church, David & Lisa England and the Waurika Fire Department suppled the tables and chairs.

After awards and thank yous were given, Monica told those at the banquet that the community wanted to keep the energy moving forward.

The Waurika Development Trust is undertaking a series of actions to make Waurika a better place.

She mentioned that Craig Williams had suggested the planting of wildflowers at the entrances and roadways coming into Waurika.

There is also talk of creating a Disc Golf Course at Harman Park.

After Monica’s presentation Jon Waid presented various awards.

One of the new business is “The Shedd Man” portable business downtown. Rev. Jonathan Hunt, the owner, was presented with a plaque.

The new Red River Fine Art Gallery downtown was also recognized. Owners, Jerry and Dee McMahan were on hand to receive a plaque of congratulations.

(Continued next week)