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September 18, 1995

It took a little cooperation from the weatherman, but our annual Sept. 16th Cherokee Strip celebration was run off without a hitch on Saturday. The parade, always a highlight, again featured outstanding floats, bands, marching girls, tiny tots, mounted rider, funny cars and rain clouds hovering overhead. There may have been a drop or two of rain but certainly not enough to cause a problem. Congratulations to all who helped make this year's celebration possible. The county fair also was an enjoyable experience, and even our Perry high school Maroons joined in the spirit of the week by dousing Blackwell, 20-6, Friday night on the Blackwell gridiron. Way to go!

Some folks were reminiscing last week about weather problems at Cherokee Strip celebrations in the past. Jean Koch remembers the one in 1969 very well. It sleeted that September day in Perry. Jean was pregnant at the time so she has no problem in recalling what year it was.

Some of you may remember a Perry Cherokee Strip celebration about 30 years ago when rain insurance was purchased to protect the celebration committee's investment in parade prizes, fees for entertainers, a carnival and all the other expenses connected with putting on one of these annual spectacular events. My memory is a little hazy on the subject, but I think Harold Scovill was celebration chairman that year and the insurance was partly a publicity stunt, but it worked. Perry received some valuable notoriety in state newspapers because of the chairman's ingenuity, and the rain stayed away. Next year, however, the celebration committee decided insurance was just an expensive item they could do without, and it's never come up again since then.

Another reason Perry can rightfully claim the title "Queen City of the Cherokee Strip" is our unbroken record of celebrating that historic event every year since the original run on, Sept. 16, 1893. Ponca City and Enid have done that, but Perry has never missed an opportunity to honor our pioneers on this anniversary date of the run. We should never forget that Perry was the choice of more homesteaders by far than any other city in the Cherokee Outlet. Doesn't matter that our population is smaller now than some of the others. We're still the choice site.

A lady who knows what she's talking about tells me there was an election in Noble county last Monday, Sept. 11, but no one in Noble county was eligible to vote. Few even knew about it. The election was called by the Ponca City vo-tech school district, and that includes a narrow strip of Noble county land up in the Marland area. No qualified voters live in the strip, but we had to go through the motions and expense of an election anyway. The cost in this county was $700 for an election in which they knew no one could vote. I'm told the school is making an effort to correct this weird problem.

Volunteer workers have made a real transformation in the basement of the Foucart building on the east side of the square. The building, owned by the Perry Development Coalition, provides office space on the upper level for the Chamber of Commerce and the Perry High School Alumni Association. The basement houses offices of the Coalition and the Perry Main Street Program. When the building was first acquired by the PDC, considerable work was needed just to make the main floor usable, but volunteers got the job done and it looks fine now.

The office of the Coalition and the Main Street program in the basement, however, was another story. The original brick walls had become badly exposed when plaster had pulled away or had been knocked down, painted areas were faced, miscellaneous junk clogged pathways to the point that some areas were simply not accessible, and dust and cobwebs adorned virtually everything. After several months of chipping away at the mess, volunteers once again have rescued a major portion of the historic old building and converted it into an attractive business space. The exposed brick has been cleaned and glazed and new paint covers the old.

Cheryle Leach, manager of the C-C, works with Karen Wilcox and Betty Warner, co-directors of the Coalition, in scheduling a large number of meetings in the upstairs conference room, and cooperation is needed because all three organizations have committees which meet there at least once each month.

The entrance foyer also has been renovated with the removal of a drop ceiling and the installation of a "new" light fixture suspended from the original high ceiling. The fixture was donated by Anna Lou Randall who salvaged it from the old Methodist church when it was razed a few years ago to make way for a new edifice. The style of the chandelier harmonizes well with other appointments in the Foucart building. Which reminds me -- I've heard several comments about the neon sign in a window on the second floor of the building. It does not blend in very well with all the restoration efforts that have been undertaken there. Perhaps the sign could be removed.

If you haven't dropped by the Foucart building for business dealings with the C-C, the PDC, the Main Street Program, or the Alumni Association, go take a look at what's been done. They're not through with it yet, but you'll be pleased with what you see now.