Editor's Note: It's time for our annual look back at the top stories of 2019. The first six months are presented here, the next six follow next week.
Old lights to shine again on North Main - Jan. 3, 2019
The historic North Main Street lights will shine again in Pratt —but not immediately, according to city electric utility director Jamie Huber, who said Wednesday that plans are in place to restore lighting to North Main from Blaine Street north to Hancock, which is across the street from the Pratt Senior Citizen Center.
The lights have been off since mid-October 2018 when they were darkened by malfunctions that affected the lights on both sides of the street for four blocks.
“They were series street lights, possibly the only ones left in Kansas,” Huber said. “In series lighting, if one goes out, they all go out.“
Most cities in the state converted from series lighting years ago, according to Huber.
“We’ve just been babying these along,” the city utility director said of the North Main Street lights he believes were originally installed in the late 1930s.
Repairing the original wiring is not an option, so the plan is to replace them in two phases over two budget years.
The lights on the west side of North Main will be replaced first and will be converted to 120 volt LED lighting, Huber said.
Swift makes history for Pratt - February 12, 2019
Livia Swift made history as the first entrant from Pratt High School in the girls state wrestling tournament held Saturday in McPherson. She became the first placer at state in the girls division for the Greenbacks, winning 3rd in her weight class.
This is the third year that McPherson has hosted an unofficial state tournament for girls wrestling. While it is still not sanctioned by the Kansas State High School Activities Association, McPherson head wrestling coach Doug Kretzer said that status will be changing soon.
“Girls wrestling in Kansas is exploding,” Kretzer said. “I feel really good that the proposal to a girls postseason series will pass at the KSHSAA level in April.“
Pratt drug dog already making an impact - March 4, 2019
Fenrir, whose name reflects back to a monstrous wolf in Norse mythology, is neither monstrous nor Norse.
Fenrir is the Pratt Police Department drug dog and has been on duty with his handler Corporal Jon McCarley since last fall, following seven weeks of intensive training at the Kansas Highway Patrol training center in Topeka. Fenrir is a 46-pound, two-year-old canine whose breeding is half Dutch Shepherd and half Belguim Malinois.
“I think Fenrir’s a great asset to the community,” Police Chief Nate Humble said. “Jon’s doing well and the successes we’ve already seen have been meaningful.“
Fenrir and McCarley, who joined the Pratt Police Department in 2011, work the 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift and their patrols often include doing random checks of parking lots and halls of area motels, in addition to fielding any calls that come their way.
Fenrir is not a “bite” dog, McCarley said. His job is to sniff out drugs and he’s very good at it by McCarley’s accounts. Fenrir’s missions to find drugs are called deployments.
Since going on active duty, Fenrir has had some 50 deployments with 15 arrests to his credit. While they are deployed, McCarley said, “I’m relying on him. We each have a job to do.“
Mostly, Fenrir has used his acute sense of smell and intensive training to sniff out and find “meth”, which McCarley said is the predominant illicit drug problem in Pratt.
Ground-breaking ceremony for new track - April 4, 2019
Pratt Community College, along with the PCC Foundation and the City Pratt held an official groundbreaking ceremony for a new college-level certified track and field complex on April 4, 2019 just east of the current Green Sports Complex on the east side of Pratt.
In addition to serving the local high schools and PCC, the track will be available to host such events as AAU and Special Olympics meets. It will also serve as a health and exercise venue for the public.
Velma Simmons celebrates 105 years - April 10, 2019
Parkwood Village resident Velma Rose Simmons celebrated her 105th birthday Saturday with four generations of family members, numbering about 60, joining her for lunch and lots of photo ops at the First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, co-hosted by youngest daughter Nancy Neelly of Pratt.
There were balloons, cake and the womenfolk sported a variety of hats to set a festive mood for the celebration which included a smorgasbord luncheon.Velma and other Rose family members’ lives are chronicled by family member Carrie Vahsholtz in a self-published volume, “Velma Rose Family History,” where, as a new bride, Velma is pictured in swimsuit and high heels riding the pig that was their wedding present.
Velma credits her longevity to a lifetime of healthy living.
“I worked hard, never drank and I didn’t smoke,” Velma said. “I had two good husbands.” I couldn’t have done any better.”
Lanterman named PCC Outstanding Alumnus of the Year - May 7, 2019
On May 10, the Pratt Community College Foundation will honor Linda Lanterman, as the 2019 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. The Outstanding Alumnus of the Year award was established in 1966 to honor PCC alumni who have made contributions to career and community.
Lanterman grew up in Pratt, KS. She began her college career at PCC, where she played volleyball her first year before taking a short break from school. She returned and received her Associate of Science in Accounting degree in 1988. While at PCC, she enjoyed attending events such as basketball games and wearing her beaver blue. She also enjoyed working part time at Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. After graduating from PCC, Lanterman attended Wichita State University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Administration and Accounting in 1991. She worked for Emprise Bank in Wichita before doing what she said she never wanted to do while growing up – move back to Pratt, Kansas.Lanterman’s hard work and dedication to her occupation and community has not gone unnoticed, as she has been recognized with many awards.
During the free time Lanterman has, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling, attending sporting events, fishing, and visiting state parks. Her advice to the graduating class of 2019 is to work hard to achieve their goals in life.
“I feel like you have to persevere,” said Lanterman. “Whatever you do in life, you just need to stick it out and complete it. If PCC is the end of your education, then make your next goal a goal in your work environment and work hard to achieve it.“
As the 2019 PCC Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, Lanterman will give the keynote address at the commencement and nursing pinning ceremony 2 p.m. Friday, Lesh Arena.
Siemens celebrates 30 years of Stitch By Stitch - June 3, 2019
Thirty years ago, Joni Siemens, decided to do sewing and alterations pretty much as a full-time job. Siemens took sewing in high school, loved doing design and costuming for plays and then when in college worked part-time at a men’s clothing store where she became well acquainted with the store’s alterations lady. She uses many of those skills today. She began her sewing business in the two bedrooms of her house in Pratt, but soon became evident that she needed to be closer to customers in town and have more and different space. The first location was the north side of what is now Memories. (That was also the location of the very first Rag Bag fabric store.) She soon outgrew that and eventually landed in her current space, 108 South Main.
Approximately 20 years ago Siemens added accessories and then small lines of clothing to the store. She hoped these items would add some income with a little less intensive work, and it did.
She demonstrated to all that a single mom raising two children could make it work. In addition to working long days at her store, she teaches yoga three times a week and works as a waitress three evenings a week.