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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Second quarter sparks a variety of conversations

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  • In agricultural areas, the weather is always a topic of conversation, and there was plenty to talk about in the second quarter, when April was colder than normal and May was wetter than average. Another hot topic was the continuing debate over a proposed wind farm. The crowning of Miss Kansas gave state and then national media something to talk about in the coming months.
    April
    Sales tax receipts for the first quarter of 2013 beat the same period in the record-breaking year of 2012 by $56,454. Building permits had been approved for $9 million in construction so far in the year, compared to $1.6 million and $2.6 million for the previous two years. The hospital renovation project was not included at that time.
    Incumbent city commissioners Gary Skaggs and Jeff Taylor were returned to office, beating Victor Graf and Nelson Burrell by handy margins.
    The USD 382 Board of Education approved a free summer lunch program, at minimal cost to the district.
    Pratt Community College celebrated its 75th anniversary with several activities. Pratt Junior College opened in 1938, moved to its own campus in 1968 and currently offers 30 academic programs, 16 technical programs and a dozen nursing and allied health programs.
    The Pratt County Zoning Board continued to debate whether BP Wind Energy would be allowed to build a wind farm in southeast Pratt County.
    April 2013 was reported as the third coldest in Pratt since the state started keeping statistics in 1895, with an average temperature of 48.2 degrees. The coldest April in Pratt was in 1898 and second coldest was in 1983.
    May
    A light dusting of snow covered the ground on May 2, one of the latest snowfalls ever reported.
    Pratt High School named three valedictorians, Connor Reh, Sam Eastes and Alexus Bishop and one salutatorian, Jonathan Schotte, for the Class of 2013.
    An early morning fire was confined to one unit of Walnut Grove Apartments. There were no injuries.
    Sheriff Vernon Chinn reported that jail occupancy was running up to 80 percent of capacity from a previous average of half-full. Average length of stay increased from two to five days to up to 30 days. Chinn blamed social decay and lack of positive support from families.
    Pratt City commissioners approved the sale of a two-acre portion of the Sandy Creek addition for a Hampton Inn.
    East Hall at Pratt Community College was renamed in honor of retiring president William Wojciechowski.
    A rollover accident on K-61 claimed the lives of Craigjohn Vanzandt, age 2, and Nevaeh Smallwood, 5, of Turon. Their mother, Ginny Coates, and a sister were treated and released at Pratt Regional Medical Center.
    Teachers of the year, Michael Nelson at Skyline Schools and Pam Branaman at Southwest Elementary School, were honored.
    Sgt. Jimmy White was promoted to undersheriff and Sgt. Dan Ailstock was named jail administrator. The action on May 13 made official the roles the two had been filling on an interim basis.
    Page 2 of 2 - May showers dropped about an inch more than the average for rainfall on the county. Byers had the most precipitation, 7.54 inches for the month, with a single rainstorm contributing 4.5 inches. The county total was 4.46 inches for May, compared to an average of 3.69.
    June
    Twenty-five young women came to Pratt the first week of June, all with hopes of becoming Miss Kansas 2013. That honor went to Theresa Vail of Leavenworth, who garnered national publicity as an outdoorswoman and Army National Guard soldier. In September, she placed in the Top 10 at the Miss America Pageant and was voted as America's Choice.
    Skyline School announced that every student in grades 5-12 would be issued an iPad mini, acquired through a one-year lease program and funded through the district's textbook fund.
    Bekki Pribil became the executive director of South Central Community Foundation, replacing Lynn Perez.
    The Pratt City Commission approved a plan to redesign downtown sidewalks, paid for by a $1.1 million Kansas Department of Transportation grant that requires the city to pay 20 percent of construction costs. Implementation of the project has been pushed into 2014.
    The Pratt County Commission modified a resolution, allowing wind energy companies to meet requirements for a wind farm in two stages instead of all upfront.
    Cannonball Trail Chapter of the American Red Cross hosted a Kansas Disaster Training Institute at Pratt Community College, bringing Red Cross workers and volunteers in from Kansas and other states to learn how to plan for disasters before they strike.
    The Pratt Area Chamber of Commerce instituted a Third Thursday, with stores open late, music on the street and other special activities to entice shoppers downtown.
    Kansas Children's Service League announced it would close Head Start facilities in Pratt on July 31. Thirty children had been enrolled in preschool classes and three more had received in-home services. The organization, which relies on federal funds, was charged with cutting its budget by 5.2 percent. About 500 Head Start preschool slots were lost statewide.

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