The first quarter of a year frequently sets the stage for what will come later, and 2011 was no exception. The final chapter of several stories was written later and some are still unfinished. Groundwork was laid for a wind farm in Pratt County, the ethanol plant gained a new owner but is not yet producing fuel and discussion about what to do with Pratt Regional Medical Center is on-going.


The first quarter of a year frequently sets the stage for what will come later, and 2011 was no exception. The final chapter of several stories was written later and some are still unfinished. Groundwork was laid for a wind farm in Pratt County, the ethanol plant gained a new owner but is not yet producing fuel and discussion about what to do with Pratt Regional Medical Center is on-going.

January

A law prohibiting texting while driving took effect Jan. 1.

Lazaro Garcia, Emporia, was a passenger in a pickup that skidded on ice, left the roadway northeast of Preston and rolled three times on Jan. 2. Garcia was dead at the scene, but the driver was nowhere to be found. Javier Sanchez is still being sought by the Sheriff’s Office in connection with the accident.

A Hospital Review Committee was looking at building or remodeling the existing Pratt Regional Medical Center, doing nothing, or selling the hospital. Discussions continue.

Legendary Coach Floyd “Smoky” Ford died Jan. 6. He was the first baseball coach at Pratt High and coached the American Legion 86ers for more than 25 years. A baseball field at the Green Sports Complex was named in his honor in 2006.

A federal district court ordered Nash Oil & Gas, L.D. Drilling Inc. and Val Energy, Inc., to shut down a total of 25 gas wells because of a containment suit filed by Northern Natural Gas.

A new four-story Holiday Inn Express and Suites opened for business Jan. 14, with the expectation that they would employ a staff of 25.

Kansas joined other states in challenging the constitutionality of federal health care reforms.

Prattans James Bardot and Alisha Stevenson died in a one-vehicle rollover accident Jan. 23 near Coats.

Pratt Regional Medical Center reported a profit of $288,934 and an increase of $873,617 in assets for 2010 at a meeting of the Pratt County Commission.

Do It Construction walked away from the Maple Street extension project over a dispute over equipment ownership with primary contractor Middlecreek. Klaver Construction was hired to finish the job.

Gov. Sam Brownback signed an executive order making tourism part of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

Temperatures changed drastically from a high of 55 on Jan. 29 to 10 degrees on Feb. 1.

February

USD 382 hired Justin Burke as high school football coach on Feb. 7. A week later, Burke opted to decline the position and stay at Chaparral High School.

Pratt County Commissioners signed a licensing permit with Indeck Wildcat Wind LLC to build a wind farm west of Iuka. The county was expected to receive up to $200,000 per year once the plant goes into full operation.

A winter storm dumped 8 to 10 inches of snow on Pratt County on Feb. 8.

The Pratt High wrestling team won first place in the Central Kansas League tournament.

The County Commission rejected a proposal by a group of concerned citizens to use the Pratt County Health Department as a free health clinic one day a month, but later expressed its support for the concept. A clinic for uninsured people became a reality in October at Pratt Community College’s Chandler School of Nursing.

Scoular Company closed a deal to purchase the shuttered Gateway Ethanol Plant and expected to have it producing ethanol at full capacity before the end of the year. Currently, Scoular is buying and selling grain, but is not yet in production.

Pratt High qualified five wrestlers for the state tournament. In his third appearance, Taylor Baird earned the gold medal in the 171-pound class.

March

The South Central Community Foundation moved into new quarters at 114 W. Fifth.

Pine wilt continued to spread in Pratt. There appears to be no cure for the disease that kills pine trees, other than to remove them when they begin to show signs to slow the spread of the contagion.

The Pratt High School Marching Band performed in the Disney World Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Fla., in mid-March.

Pratt Well Service, Inc. celebrated 65 years in business.

The average cost for an acre of high quality Kansas farmland was $3,500, according to a Farmers National Company survey. Pratt County seemed to be following suit.

Forrest Mazey was hired as Pratt High’s new football coach. He was credited with turning around a losing team at Atoka, Okla.

The USD 382 Board of Education passed a final resolution to close Haskins Elementary School at the end of the 2010-11 year.

Skyline School honored Lothair Dauner for his 62 years at the timekeeper’s table at basketball games.

Five people filed for two positions on the Pratt City Commission. They included incumbents Bill Hlavachick and Willy Peltier, former commissioner Karen Detwiler, first-time filer Nelson Burrell and Luke Kumberg, who also ran in 2010.

A candidate forum sponsored by the Pratt Tribune and Pratt Area Chamber of Commerce was well attended and interest in the campaign was mirrored in increased attendance at twice monthly City Commission meetings.