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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • 2012: County impacted by development in the area

  • Pratt's position as a regional hub for an area experiencing an upsurge in oil drilling was both an advantage for some local businesses and a topic of concern for officials. Changes were expected in Pratt's business community and there was some increase in economic development.
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  • January
    Robert Schmisseur officially retired as judge of the 30th Judicial District on Jan. 3. He currently serves as Pratt County counselor, an advisory position to the Pratt County Commission.
    One in five Kansas children were living in poverty, according to Kansas Action for Children, and 44 percent of Pratt County students qualified for free or reduced lunch prices.
    The USD 382 Board of Education granted Dr. Glen Davis' request for retirement as superintendent, and immediately named his assistant, Suzan Patton, as his replacement. Davis still serves the district as financial director.
    The Pratt County Register of Deeds office became a busy place, as oil and gas representatives moved to tables in the halls to do their research. The county recorded more than 770 new mineral leases early in 2012, compared to a total of 125 in 2010. Development of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques made companies take a second look at Pratt County lands that were not profitable for drilling previously. Local hotels and restaurants were reaping the advantages of additional drilling in surrounding counties and officials began looking at how Pratt could be impacted.
    After serving more than a year as interim chief, Gary Myers was sworn in as chief of the Pratt Police Department.
    The Pratt County Sheriff's Department reported that crime had decreased substantially during the previous year, except for sexual offenses, which increased from two to six and registered offender violations, which increased by five to a total of 12.
    February
    The Riney Art Gallery moved out of the Benson Education Center at Pratt Community College, relocating to the Riney Student Center. The space previously occupied by the art gallery was converted to a Sports Hall of Fame, which inducted its first 25 honorees in early March.
    Wind generators went up in the local Walmart parking lot, with the expectation that the eight turbines would power parking lot lights. The turbines were removed later in the year, and are back in place at year's end.
    The Pratt City Commission annexed property that Dale Withers is developing into a 50-acre industrial park on U.S. 54 north of the Walmart store.
    Police Chief Gary Myers called for more aggressive enforcement from his department and that resulted in a 58 percent increase in cases filed in municipal court and 85 percent increase in district court. Calls to the Law Enforcement Center jumped by 64 percent over 2010, which Myers attributed to a poor economy leading to stress at home, stealing to make ends meet, people out of work having more free time and mild weather.
    City police cars were equipped with video cameras and officers began carrying Tasers.
    The Kansas Senate approved redistricting plans that moved Pratt County out of the predominantly rural Big First District and into District 4.
    Page 2 of 2 - March
    Gov. Sam Brownback appointed Francis Meisenheimer as judge for the 30th District Court of the State of Kansas. A 1980 graduate of the Kansas School of Law, he had been Kingman County counselor, a municipal judge, county attorney and in private practice.
    First Baptist Church celebrated 125 years of ministry in Pratt.
    Pratt County Republicans followed the state lead, and gave their support to presidential candidate Ron Santorum. Locally Santorum received 106 of 192 votes in the Republican caucus. Mitt Romney was a distant second in the county, with 38 votes. He trailed Santorum by about 9,000 vote statewide.
    K-State Research and Extension named David and Paula Blasi with a Kansas Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemaker Award.
    Maurices clothing store announced it would leave downtown Pratt for a new building on East First. Hibbett Sporting Goods, Inc., based in Birmingham, Ala., announced plans to build in Pratt. The two stores are neighbors in a new building across the highway from Walmart.
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