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Cell tower height could be changed

Gale Rose
The height of an AT&T cell tower proposed for placement at the Pratt Regional Airport remains a top item of discussion for Pratt County commissioners.

A change in the height of a proposed AT&T cell tower in the area of the Pratt Regional Airport may put it within an acceptable height for construction.

Tyson Eisenhauer, county counselor, updated Pratt County commissioners on the situation at their Feb. 17 meeting.

The proposed tower was originally 260 feet tall and would expand AT&T coverage in the Pratt County area. The Federal Aviation Administration reviewed the AT&T tower request and approved its construction.

However, when the AT&T special application request came before the Pratt County Planning and Zoning Board, they denied the application citing safety concerns about the tower height and its location in the approach pattern for the Pratt Regional Airport.

The Pratt County commissioners have the final say on tower project. At a previous county commission meeting, several area pilots and Glenda Cafer, attorney for AT&T, addressed the commissioners about the tower. A general consensus among the pilots was they had nothing against AT&T improving their coverage but the tower location and height were a serious safety concern.

Pilots asked if the location of the tower could be changed and if so, what impact would that have on the coverage.

Cafer said she would inquire about a site change and get back with the commissioners on the matter. The commissioners decided to table any action on the matter at this time. Eisenhauer said AT&T is trying to find a compromise that will work for everyone.

Eisenhauer said he has spoken with Cafer and she informed him a change in site location would not work but they might be able to reduce the height to 200 feet. Cafer wants to visit with the staff at the airport and pilots on this matter again and will do so at the March 9, 2020 Pratt County Commission meeting.

Eisenhauer reported that he is also working on a road use request from Vestas, a wind energy company, to use SE 100th Avenue to transport wind farm equipment to Medicine Lodge in Barber County. Eisenhauer requested communication with the Vestas legal department on the matter but at this time, he didn't think the road request would work for Pratt County.

After months of work, the new scale house at the Pratt County Landfill is finally ready for action. The new building should be ready to go the first week in March, said Jason Winkel, county landfill manager.

Everything on the inside of the house is complete and there is some dirt work to be completed but other than that, the staff will soon be able to enjoy a facility that is well insulated and will provide plenty of heat in the winter and cool in the summer.

At the recycle center, prices for recycled material continues to be low. But with limited storage space, Winkel had to ship out a load of office pack, magazines and phone books in spite of the low prices.

"The market is still in the dumps. I hope something happens soon," Winkel said.

With other recycle centers closing operations, the number of location options to recycle material is limited. This caused a number of out of county entities and individuals to bring their recyclables to Pratt. Because the prices for recycled material is so low, the added recyclable material was costing the county money so the county commissioners recently voted to only allow Pratt County residents, entities and businesses to use the recycle center.

A resident from Kingman County who wanted to use the recycle center said he spent a lot of dollars in Pratt County and wanted to use the recycle center. Winkel said he knew that people on the county borders do spend a lot of money in Pratt County but the low market value for recyclables was a problem.

"I wish the markets were up where we could do that," Winkel said.

In other business, commissioners approved a $7,969 bid from Main Stream Roofing for repairs to the Pratt County Health Department roof.

Commissioners approved a $5,000 donation to the Vernon Filley Art Museum as a line item. They also approved $325 for a Kansas County Commissioner Association membership.