The Pratt County Commissioners have approved a new road widener that will eliminate the drop off at the edge of blacktop roads in the county.

Sharp drop-offs on the sides of county paved roads will become less treacherous with the addition of a new road widener to the county fleet of equipment. The purchase of the widener was approved at the regular County Commission meeting on June 4.

Doug Freund, county road and bridge supervisor, said the widener would attach to a skid steer or small loader and run dirt and sand flush against the edge of asphalt and then fan out so there would be a gradual slope and not a sharp drop-off as the side of the pavement.

The equipment is designed so the fill material doesn’t touch the sealed top of the pavement.

Cost of the widener from VanKeppel of Wichita is $48,400.

Freund also presented and received approval for a road crossing permit from the Haviland Telephone Company.

Tim Branscom, county emergency manager, presented his proposed budget for the next fiscal year. The new budget is$131,000 and that is about $16,000 more than last year. There were costs last year that Branscom was unaware he would be responsible for and he re- quested the increase to cover those costs.

Among those extra costs were two ATT lines going into the Law Enforcement Center and tower rental at the weather tower at Belvedere.

In an effort to upgrade communication capabilities in Pratt County among all emergency services and first responders, Branscom wants to purchase new radios that can handle both digital and analog signals. He wants to keep the analog option because of mutual aid agreements with surrounding counties that still have analog. If the county went completely digital, it would difficult to communicate with counties that didn’t have digital capability.

The majority of radios in the county do not have digital capability and that is they direction communications is headed so he wants to be ready.

All counties also have 800 megahertz radios at their dispatch that can be used for communication if there is a problem between analog and digital.

Commissions were concerned that the county would spend a lot of money on radios that could handle both analog and digital signals then further down the road have to spend the money to get new radios again just for digital.

Branscom said radios that can handle both analog and digital wouldn’t have to be replaced because they already have digital capability. He will continue to research the matter and report to the commissioners at a later meeting.

The commissioners signed the official plat for the Sewell Pointe addition located on K-61 highway across from Pratt Community College. The eight acre site is the future home of an Americare Senior Living facility. LuAnn Kramer, city clerk, presented the plat for the commissioners to sign at the start of the meeting.