The Pratt County Commissioners have authorized an application for a USDA Rural Business Grant.

Pratt County businesses may soon have access to grant money from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Pratt County Commissioners agreed to allow Heather Morgan, economic development Project 17 director for the Kansas State University Advanced Manufacturing Institute, to apply for a USDA Rural Business Grant. The grant is designed to help develop rural businesses. Commissioners held a phone conference with Morgan at their regular weekly meeting April 16 to discuss the grant.

Morgan will put the grant application together. Businesses eligible for the grant have to have fewer than 50 employees and less than $1 million in revenue. Morgan needed the approval of the commissioners to move forward with the application.

Silver Haired Legislator Jerry Keene addressed the commissioners and announced he is resigning as Pratt County SHL Delegate effective March 31, 2019. He is also resigning from the South West Kansas Area Agency on Aging Board effective June 30, 2018 because of health reasons.

Keene presented a summary of the SHL Spring Issues Forum to the Commissioners. Included in that summary was a list of five issues for the Kansas Silver Haired Leadership to promote. The issues are: more funding for the SHL; increased funding for the Senior Care Act and the nutrition programs in Kansas; Rural transportation concerns; Increased support for the ombudsman position across Kansas and to include administrative support; Changes in the homebound policies under the Medicaid program to address the issue of social isolation.

Robert Torres, county environmental services, said he was sending out questionnaires for updating the county sanitation code. Torres and the commissioners have been working for several weeks to update the code because it has been several decades since it was updated.

His department has finished spraying in the county but has yet to start on bindweed. Normally, he would already be fighting bindweed but the weather this year has prohibited growth. But the bindweed will show up eventually and his department will be ready, Torres said.

Jason Winkel, landfill manager, said an inspector from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment had made an inspection and found no issues. There was some blowing litter but considering the strong winds, it was not a problem and the landfill got a good report.

The landfill loader that was being repaired was tested and it was discovered it still had a leak. The drive motor appears to be the issue and has been sent to Topeka for tests. In the mean time, the landfill is using the older loader and getting the necessary work done.

Recycle prices continue to be low and freight is at the highest level it has been in a long time, Winkel said.

Winkel said he has purchased eight 50-gallon recycle containers and plans to use them at the Green Sports Complex ball fields. This is a first run to see how the containers will be used. If it proves to be successful, he wants to put the containers at the football field.

Doug Freund, road and bridge supervisor, said he was going to lose three grader operators at the end of the month and will be looking for replacements.

Freund has been working with NextEra Energy and the county consulting engineers Kirkham Michael on the Pratt Energy wind farm project. The road heavy use map is done for the project that will be located in the south west quadrant of the county. The map is subject to change. The map for the Ninnescah Energy wind farm project was modified three times, Freund said.

They have been in discussion about the roads they will need to use to bring a transformer to the substation site.

Commissioner Glenna Borho and County Counselor were absent from the meeting.

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