The City of Pratt held a public hearing to field comments from constituents about using IRBs to fund construction of an NCAA-certified track and field project proposed by Pratt Community College.

There were questions and answers about the proposed track and field facility under consideration as a joint project between Pratt Community College, the City of Pratt and local schools at the Pratt City Commission public hearing on the matter Monday. But mostly there was affirmative support spoken for a facility that could bring more athletes, families, college students and economic boon to the community.

"This is something that will benefit the city, Pratt Community College, Pratt schools and Skyline in many ways," said Jenny Mueller, PCC volleyball coach and student success specialist.

She mentioned the recruiting benefits for the college as they attract more student-athletes who bring their families to spend time in Pratt.

Donna Meier-Pfeifer, a Pratt resident since 1980, said she had served on economic development committees for many years and saw the creation of a track, field and soccer facility as a very important piece of economic development for Pratt.

"Soccer is a growing sport locally, regionally and nationally," she said. "We have no place for our kids to go after the recreation program. We need to expand our soccer programs in our schools as this is what families are looking for when they come to town. I totally agree that this would benefit us all in so many ways."

Other speakers in favor of the track project included David Swank, Kent Adams, Darrell Shumway and PCC track coach Jamal Barns.

PCC President Dr. Michael Calvert stepped up to the podium to answer questions proposed in a two-page anonymous letter, as well as answer the lone, unidentified, negative comment from the audience as to why money was not being spent at PCC on the rodeo program.

"We were willing to try and make it work for PCC to host an annual rodeo," Calvert said. "But the financials just didn't work out, the facility wasn't meeting safety standards, and the leadership was tired. It was a lot of work and the people who were hosting the rodeo were also the ones expected to compete in it. I am happy to share the financials with anyone interested. We looked at it from all angles."

Pratt Mayor Doug Meyer thanked those in attendance for their participation and comment- ed it would be nice to have this kind of record turnout for budget hearings.

The public hearing was a required step in moving forward with cooperative funding options for the proposed track and field facility to be built east of town next to the current Green Sports Complex, if approved. The facility would include an NCAA- certified track with bleachers, interior space for soccer fields and outlying development areas.

A live recording of Dr. Calvert's comments on the benefits of such a facility is available online at the Pratt Tribune Facebook page.