Mountain Park’s population has hovered around 400 for more than a century; Mayor Adam Ney and a handful of townspeople are striving to build stronger community connections to help expand the town as well as the region.
Though records show the population has remained fairly consistent since statehood, Ney believes that through cleanup efforts, development of outdoor activities and partnering with adjacent communities, citizens will see a great potential for growth.
Recently, Ney, along with a number of the town’s volunteers, rolled up their sleeves in an area clean up effort to restore a sense of pride and connection within the community.
“Several families have really worked toward the goal of beautifying our town- particularly the older generation,” Ney said. These residents “volunteered countless hours of their time” helping haul off loads of debris.
Beautification isn’t the only improvement that Ney has in mind to help the area thrive. With some added amenities, he believes nearby Tom Steed Lake, which offers fishing, boating and camping to families, could attract more businesses to the region.
“The lake’s nice,” Ney said undeniably. “But if you don’t fish or have a boat, there’s not a lot to do yet. I’m hoping that one of these days we’re able to develop a little more out there.” His hopes are that the lake’s appeal would draw development to the area and broaden the horizons of the region. This link could attract the attention of new residents.
In addition, Ney and Mountain Park community leaders have worked with the Southern Kiowa Chamber and neighboring towns to schedule festivals. “Snyder, Mountain Park and Roosevelt are all part of the Southern Kiowa Chamber, so we help each other out,” he said.
While Snyder holds its annual fall festival, Mountain Park hosts a community Easter egg hunt and is home to Christmas in the Park. This Christmas festival is chocked full of free entertainment and refreshments. Mountain Park has made it a town tradition. Though too early to determine how the coronavirus’ wake will affect this holiday event, Ney and a “handful of core volunteers” remain cautiously optimistic. “Christmas in the Park is a lot of fun,” said Ney. “I hope we can have it this year.”
Donating time to the welfare of the community, Ney also lends a hand to the local food pantry.
“A few years ago, the Southern Kiowa County Food Pantry needed a place to store and disperse food to those in need,” said Ney. “Around the same time, due to lack of funding and participation, our Senior Citizen’s Meal Program came to an end leaving our community building empty. Rather than seeing it remain empty the majority of the time, we made arrangements to move the Food Bank to Mountain Park.”
Since then, Ney has steadily volunteered for the Food Bank and has sat on the board. He estimated that the food pantry was able to provide meals to more than 50 families last month.
Ney is a lifetime resident of Mountain Park. Raised in the region, he continues to love the area and hopes to see it prosper. His father also served as mayor in the 1980s.
This 1999 Snyder High School valedictorian has served as mayor in Mountain Park previously (2003- 2005) and was re-elected in 2014.
Ney admits that he “fell in love with histology” (the study of microscopic tissue structures for pathologists and physicians). Beginning his career with Dr. Joy Snell at Lawton’s Advanced Pathology in 2010, Ney later became a histotechnician for Jackson County Memorial Hospital, a position he held until late February.
Ney owned the town’s only café before becoming a manager for Murphy Oil Corporation in 2002. He also served as a police officer in Snyder.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, and Governor Kevin Stitt’s “hold on elective surgeries” was put in place, Ney has been unable to resume his work in the medical field.
He continues to live in his hometown with his wife Misty and their seven wonderful children. Although he enjoys spending quality time with his family and working with the community, Ney said he is eager to go back to work.
“Gradually there will be a need for surgeries,” he said. “A lot of things have changed over the past few months. And it will just take some time as we adjust to our new normal. We never know what God has in store.”