January 11, 1996
Information about Perry can pop up in the most unexpected places. While waiting to keep an appointment in a Stillwater office the other day, I noticed a copy of the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority's annual report on a table in the foyer. The name of our town on the cover was the first thing that caught my eye. Perry was listed as one of the 34 participants in OMPA's power supply program. Even though it was the report covering 1993, issued in 1994, I flipped it open.
The next surprise was on the first page where the smiling visage of Mayor G. L. (Bud) Hollingsworth appeared in a photo with OMPA Board Chairman William Charles Martin and General Manager Roland Dawson. The occasion was the Dec. 20, 1993, signing of a power sales agreement between this city and the OMPA.
The text for the report was titled "The Pioneering Spirit Continues...." and it was, of course, pegged to the 1993 Centennial celebration of the Cherokee Strip land run. Along with the other picture on page one was a shot of the unveiling of Perry's "Hopes and Dreams" statue on Sept. 16, 1993, in the courthouse park, and a small inset showing the heroic bronze piece after the shroud was removed.
The report devotes a portion of its text to the addition of Perry as OMPA's 34th participant. That addition "will make a substantive contribution to the Authority's fixed charges for the remainder of this decade," the report states. "OMPA looks forward to working with Perry." All of this has been covered in detail previously, of course, but I had never seen this particular report.
Another surprise, to me at least, was discovering that former Perry school superintendent Gene Gower was among the OMPA's board of directors in 1993. He has been on the board since July 20, 1987, representing the city of Tecumseh, where he was a city council member. Also listed as a board member was Charles Lamb, son of the late Mrs. Virginia Malzahn Lamb of Edmond, who was a native of Perry. Charles was a member of the Edmond city council when chosen for the OMPA board on Aug. 12, 1993. Charles owns the Greystone Restaurant property east of Edmond and still serves on the Edmond city council. He is a nephew of Ed and Mary Malzahn.
Here's a bit more from the report concerning Perry: "OMPA anticipates an even greater increase in energy sales in 1994 when the City of Perry begins taking service under a five-year power sales contract. In addition to supplying power, the Authority will provide distribution planning services, cost-of-service rate reviews and facilities engineering assistance. Field work on an analysis of their distribution system has started. Through an agreement with Perry's previous supplier, Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E), OMPA modified and extended its current contract with OG&E by four years. This agreement incrementally increases the amount of power purchased from OG&E and allows the Perry electric system to become the 34th participant of OMPA's power supply program. This additional capacity delays the need for the Authority to build additional generating plants."
On the "System Data" page, the report contains this paragraph: "The City of Perry, a community of 5,000 residents, became a participant of OMPA in 1993. Located in north-central Oklahoma in Noble County, Perry is surrounded by wheat farms and cattle ranches. The Charles Machine Works, Inc., manufacturer of the internationally known Ditch Witch construction equipment, is the city's largest employer with 800 employees." That was in 1993, remember. The number is substantially larger now.
Other towns and cities in this area served by OMPA are Blackwell, Edmond, Fairview, Hominy, Kingfisher, Newkirk, Pawhuska, Ponca City, Pond Creek, Tonkawa and Yale. That's only a partial list, but it does include most of the OMPA participants in this vicinity. You can see from that list that Perry is not exactly pioneering this system. It has been tested and proved by many of our neighbors.
OMPA has transmission agreements with the Grand River Dam Authority, OG&E, Public Service Co. of Oklahoma, Southwestern Electric Power Col., Southwestern Power Administration, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, Western Resources, Inc., and West Texas Utilities.
Even if I was a little late in coming across it, this report does contain some interesting information. Thought I'd pass it along.