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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • 2012: Drought and development in final quarter

  • The area benefited from some development in and around Pratt during the fourth quarter of the year; an elk created a stir when it wandered across a Pratt County road, and another year ended with a lack of rainfall.
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  • October
    The Blythe Family Fitness Center named its basketball court in honor of the late E.W. "Red" Wade, after a months-long Honor Red Wade campaign by friends and former students.
    Area grain cooperatives reported good yields, due to the prevalence of irrigation in the county; however, statewide, grain production was down substantially from 2011, which was also a drought year. Food prices are expected to rise as a result.
    Results from a survey by Great Plains Development, Inc., that Pratt city officials hoped would qualify them for a Kansas Department of Commerce grant to upgrade fire equipment, proved disappointing. Only 9 percent of survey respondents reported an income in the low- to moderate-income range. The rate of return was good, but City Manager Dave Howard speculated that the survey did not reach its target audience.
    Leadership changed at South Central Community Foundation, when Angela Runnion resigned to pursue other interests, and Lynn Perez was hired as director.
    The Pratt County Planning and Zoning Board invited small towns to join in forming a joint city/county planning commission. A concern was the development of so-called crew camps that follow oil and gas exploration and wind energy development.
    Wind speeds reported at 40 to 45 miles per hour on Oct. 18 caused some damage to a young wheat crop already struggling to survive in dry conditions.
    A state-operated sting resulted in charges of selling alcoholic beverages to minors at four Pratt businesses. A patron in one of the businesses was charged with attempting to provide marijuana and beer.
    November
    Arrowhead West, a not-for-profit organization serving people with developmental delays, announced plans to build a combination office and activity area in the Prairie Parkways Business Park north of Pratt Community College.
    Pratt Feeders general manager Jerry Bohn said the company would close its feedlot at Hays, citing back-to-back drought years that increased grain prices and reduced pasture grass.
    In the only two local contested races, Glenna Borho defeated write-in candidate Dwight Adams for a seat on the Pratt County Commission, and County Attorney Ken Van Blaricum handily defeated Democratic challenger Tom Black. County voters gave overwhelming support to the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan.
    Pratt County had several confirmed sightings of wild elk. A Wichita driver was involved in what she assumed was a deer vs. vehicle accident east of Pratt on U.S. 54. A Haviland photographer caught an elk in the camera lens in western Pratt County, and a custom harvester reported having seen an elk in the Preston area. Still, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism said elk are rare in the county, although habitat is favorable.
    Page 2 of 2 - In mid-November, volunteers gathered to set up the annual Lemon Park Lights display and a new 12 Days of Christmas display in Sixth Street Park.
    City officials announced intentions of moving forward with development in the Sandy Creek addition and requested exploratory bids for utility bids in the proposed housing area.
    Irrigated cotton produced a good crop in the county, but dryland fields were hit or miss, according to Roger Sewell at High Plains Cotton Gin.
    A fire in the popcorn popper closed the Barron Theatre for a few days in late November.
    City officials announced the construction of a walking trail around Green Sports Complex beginning in 2013 that will connect the sports complex the the Green Walking Trail along the Ninnescah River, east of Country Club Road.
    December
    Walt Stockwell, founder and CEO of Pass It Forward Charities, reported that he was helping three homeless families in Pratt.
    The Pratt City Commission approved $50,000 to replenish funds for the Pratt Airport Authority, which had taken money from its reserve for construction of a warehouse for airport tenant McJunkin Redman, a pipe and supply company.
    City sales tax revenues were projected to top $2 million for the year, with a healthy increase over previous years due to oil exploration in surrounding counties. Pratt's hotels and restaurants have benefited from workers in the area. Two local paving projects also brought additional workers who stayed, ate and shopped in town.
    The Pratt City Commission was asked to repeal its ordinance against pit bulls and other dangerous breeds of dogs, but held firm.
    Pratt Community College trustees approved the creation of a new Wildlife Enterprise Management program, only the second in the nation for two-year colleges. Students may begin enrolling during the spring semester and will be prepared to transfer to a four-year school — Kansas State University has the only program in the nation — or work in the industry.
    Pratt County United Fund coordinators reported they were $6,000 short of the goal to help 11 programs benefiting the Pratt community, but were hopeful the additional funds could be raised. Donations are tax deductible.
    Toys for Tots and the Angel Tree programs wrapped up another successful year, helping more than 300 children in 147 Pratt County families.
    Law enforcement officers were posted in local schools, when a text message sent to a Kiowa County resident contained a threat against schools. No incidents were reported in either county.
    Kansas gas prices averaged $3.06, 18 cents lower than a week ago and 2 cents higher than for the same period of 2011.
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