The Pratt Pilot Club is planning an evening of games, activities, food and music at the annual Western Day from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7 at Sixth Street Park. The centerpiece of the annual event is the Pilot Express train rides.
Proceeds from food and drink sales and train rides are used for upkeep of the train and grants to other community organizations and school projects.
Pratt city workers have made some necessary repairs to the train tracks, and the Express is ready to run, Pilot Club member Jeanette Gaider said.
In August, a delegation from the club asked the City Commission to consider replacing the entire track, and presented an estimate of $59,014 from a Wichita company that did a similar project in Wichita's Watson Park. Commissioners and City Manager Dave Howard though the job could be done at a lower price by city workers or a local contractor.
At a city commission rescheduled to Tuesday evening because of Labor Day, building inspector Brad Blankenship said he was "starting from ground zero" to find the best option for railroad ties. The railroad standby, creosote-coated lumber, is going out of production. Other materials available include chemically-treated lumber, concrete and steel.
"We haven't found all the components," Blankenship said, although he has found a local source for the railroad spikes that have been recommended in place of the bolts used in the 2004 installation.
Commissioner Karen Detwiler, also a Pilot Club member, acknowledged that, "we kind of did it on a shoestring," and have learned a lot during the nine years the train has been in operation.
The city owns the train and track and the club is responsible for operation.
Kurt McAfee, athletic director at Pratt Community College, made a request to use Sixth Street Park for soccer practice from time to time and apologized for not making the request prior to some practices there earlier this summer when the soccer field at PCC was being aerated.
The college teams have used the park ball diamonds in the past, and he made an assumption that it would be okay to use them again, he said.
Mayor Jeff Taylor commented on the need to coordinate with the recreation department, and the majority of commissioners agreed to the occasional use.
"PCC gets $5.5 million in property tax; surely that's enough to find a spot out there," Detwiler argued.
McAfee countered that the city had opened its facilities in the past, and the college has done the same, making Stanion Field available for tournaments at Green Sports Complex and providing space when air conditioning at the Pratt Municipal Building did not work.
City Attorney Ken Van Blaricum reported that, in light of an increase in juvenile crime, he is researching teen curfews in other towns.
In other business, commissioners:
• approved a 2013 cereal malt beverage license for Woody's Sports Bar and Grill, which will be reopening soon.
• awarded the bid for audit services for years ending December 2013, 2014 and 2015 to Adams Brown, Beran and Ball, Chtd. The Great Bend firm has provided audits for the city for the past six years and presented the lowest of three bids. Local firms, Kennedy and Coe and Patton, Cramer and LaPrad, did not respond to bid requests.
• approved a resolution for a hearing on an unsafe or dangerous structure at 904 Garfield. The structure is a mobile home that is not repairable, according to Blankenship. Contact has been made with the lending company in California and with the owner, although there is not a current address for the owner. The city has been mowing the property that he termed an "eyesore" and not fit to move off the lot. The resolution sets a hearing date of Oct. 21. The owner, agent or lienholder can appear and show cause why the structure should not be condemned and ordered repaired or demolished.
Blankenship reported that the same process will be used for a property in the 400 block of South Main, unless a rumored sale and subsequent repair project go through. There are a couple of other properties for which he is "getting complaints" that will have to be cleaned up.