County needs to spend money to get money back on lake repairs

Gale Rose

It's been a year and a half since the Labor day flood in 2018 that caused extensive damage to the Pratt County Veteran's Memorial Lake and to the road system across the county.

While most of the repair work is complete, getting promised government reimbursement to pay for those repairs is still ongoing, said Doug Freund, county road and bridge supervisor, at the March 9 Pratt County Commission meeting.

Freund, has been working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency since the September 2018 flood to receive payments for work done. The process is complicated and he has been working with Kansas Department of Emergency Management and they have been very helpful. It has taken a long time to get payments sorted out and there are no clear answers yet on when payments will arrive.

"It's been a rough stretch. No one will answer when we will get the money," Freund said.

Freund said he has received payment for debris cleanup and repairs to the fish cleaning station. The major repairs the inlet and outlet valves at the lake have been completed but he has not received disaster payments for those projects.

Some of the smaller projects have been paid for but now there is talk about wiping out those payments. Freund would have to pay back the money he has already received then a bigger check for everything would be issued. Right now, Freund would like to get a check for the inlet and outlet projects.

"I'm going to need to spend some money on the lake to get my money back on the lake," Freund said. "I'd like to stay close to what I quoted to them. I'm trying to simplify. I have to show that I at least spend what I submitted. I have to show the money I spent."

Cost for materials to repair the lake ranged from $33,000 to $35,000.

Roads across the county were damaged and it took months to make repairs. Another flood on March 19, 2019 damaged many county roads again, including some that were damaged in the 2018 flood, that had to be repaired again.

With so much road work to be completed, Freund said he has filed for an extension on road work, partly because his crews need warmer weather to make proper repairs.

In other business:

* Darcie Van Der Vyver, director of Public Health, reported to commissioners that she had ordered COVID-19 testing kits for her office and they are now available in Pratt. She can order more if needed.

Van Der Vyver said her office continues to monitor the situation including weekly webinars from Kansas Department of Health and Environment. She has been sharing information with Pratt Regional Medical Center and will meet weekly with them.

* The sheriff's office is considering purchasing a 2020 Tahoe and trading in a 2017 Dodge Durango. Price for the fully equipped Tahoe is $43,000 minus the trade in allowance, said Pratt County Sheriff Jimmy White.

* Scott Harris, county EMS director, is also working on purchasing a new vehicle. He is also seeking a Tahoe that is a demonstration model. Cost is $46,700 with a $17,000 demonstration discount. Payment for this vehicle would come out of the special equipment fund.

* The Pratt county landfill has now started summer hours, open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.