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April 20, 2001

A thoughtful, but anonymous, friend has supplied me with a fragile portion of the Daily Oklahoman dated September 12, 1929. The piece contains several things of interest, but the principal item from our point of view is a letter to the editor of the Oklahoman from the late Frank F. Ritthaler of Perry, who at the time was the Noble county assessor. Mr. Ritthaler probably was a bit perturbed and was taking exception to a news article about Noble county's property values that had been printed earlier by the Oklahoman. Mr. Ritthaler thought the article was unfair and he offered information to set the record straight. Like any good newspaper, the Oklahoman was pleased to print his rebuttal. Here's a portion of the story that disturbed Mr. Ritthaler, as he quoted it in his letter:

"PERRY, Sept. 4 - (Special) - With the setting of the valuation of Noble county by the state equalization board at $14,128,517, a decrease of $6,000,000 has been shown over a period of three years. Action of the state board in raising the land valuation of farms in Noble county was rescinded."

To which Mr. Ritthaler replied as follows:

"I wish to state that the above article is misleading and just as unfair to the individual and commercial interests of Noble county as can be. The author of the above article evidently grew weary too soon and failed to remember that we have a few pipe lines, railroads and telegraph companies, high lines, etc., which are assessed by the state board of equalization and pay taxes on an ad valorem basis. The evaluation of the aforesaid should have been added to the $14,128,517 the same in 1929 as in the former three-year period referred to.

"Honestly believing that my farm lands were assessed higher than other counties, I did work hard to have the proposed 5 percent raise in valuation set aside and I personally went before the board of county commissioners of Noble county and asked them to adopt resolutions protesting said raise. They granted me the resolutions, and sent them to the state board of equalization. The state board set aside the proposed 5 percent raise. When the amount of $4,600,700 is added to the amount quoted in the special article, the author can then make a comparison."

The assessor went on to show the comparison that he called correct. Longtime residents of Noble county who remember the years when Frank Ritthaler presided over the county assessor's office on the second floor of the courthouse probably will agree that he was a completely fair, reasonable and even-tempered county official until his retirement in the 1960s. Some may also remember that after his retirement he became rural circulation director for The Perry Daily Journal, and in that position he continued building friends throughout Noble county.