That ear-splitting storm siren test that occurs every Monday noon may be happening less often in the near future.
The Pratt City Commission approved the purchase of three new sirens at a meeting Monday. One is needed for immediate replacement of a siren near the intersection of East Sixth and Country Club Road that failed due to a lightning strike. Electric Utility Director Kelly Hemphill said two more haven't failed yet, but are old and need to be replaced. Those locations are near West Fourth and Illinois and on Maple Street between Larimer and Welton. Buying three at once, for a total cost of $56,820.06 saves nearly $2,500 over purchasing them separately. Funds are available in the 2013 capital outlay budget.
In May, the commission authorized the purchase of a new siren to replace the one at the Municipal Building that is worn out. The temporary siren is in place in a new location, at the north side of the fire department building on Jackson Street.
Once the new sirens are in place, commissioners hope that a monthly test will be sufficient.
Approval was given for the purchase of a new pick-up for the water department, accepting Lanterman Motors low bid of $24,752 plus taxes, more than $5,000 under a bid from Doug Reh Chevrolet.
The pick-up will replace a 2003 model that was passed down from the Police Department a few years ago, and which will now be handed down to city meter readers.
"We try to get the most out of everything," Public Works Director Russ Rambat said. "We try to use them as best we can, 'til they don't drive any more."
The department had earmarked $28,000 in its budget for a new vehicle.
Approval was also given for a $201,893 chip seal project for streets in the northeast section of Pratt. Rambat recommended the use of a quartzite aggregate that is a little more expensive but will produce less dust than what has been used previously. Hi-Plains Sand of Kanopolis will do the project for $201,893.32. An annual sealing project is funded from the quarter-cent sales tax designated for streets, Rambat said.
The commission approved a request by First Assembly of God to use a portion of Lemon Park on Aug. 18 for a "Backpacks to School" project.
Pastor Billy Simar said the church plans to give away at least 300 backpacks filled with school supplies and is making arrangements for free haircuts and dental hygiene services, as well as free food and bounce house fun.
The church can fund 300 backpacks, and they would like to be able to provide 600, Simar said. He has already received some inquiries about donations to fund the project.
Commissioners reviewed paperwork from the Kansas Department of Transportation reaffirming their plans to go forward with a streetscape project, and approved a contract with EBH for design engineering, at a cost of $83,300.
Design engineering is not covered in KDOT's 80 percent of the $1 million project.
Recreation Director Bruce Pinkall informed commissioners that Pratt will host the state 4A-Division II softball and baseball tournaments on May 29 and 30, 2014, with softball played at Green Sports Complex and baseball at Pratt Community College. The city will get a portion of gate receipts, program and T-shirt sales and 100 percent of concession stand profits.
"It's our chance to showcase this town, and if they have a good time it could be a regular event," Pinkall commented.