Essential employees keep city services running smoothly in Pratt

Staff Writer

Even with COVID-19 restrictions in place, Pratt city employees are continuing to provide all essential services Pratt City Manager Bruce Pinkall assured Pratt City commissioners at their regular meeting Monday, April 20. The meeting was conducted via Zoom video conferencing session.

“I’m very proud of how they’re working. They’re setting a good example,” Pinkall said. “Without them, things would come to a screeching halt.”

Pinkall said that, despite playgrounds and restrooms being shut down, city parks were being used.

“Plenty of people are using parks in unique ways to spend time outside and get some exercise and still be safe with social distancing,” Pinkall said.

Mayor Gary Schmidt presided from Pratt City Hall Commission Chamber, while commissioners Doug Meyer, Don Peters, Jason Leslie and Zach Deeds attended remotely as did City Attorney Regina Probst, Police Chief Nate Humble, Building Inspector Brad Blankenship and Director of Electric Utilities Jamie Huber.

Pinkall was present at City Hall, along with City Clerk LuAnn Kramer, Finance Director Diana Garten and Public Works Director Russ Rambat.

Completing a two-item agenda before hearing staff reports, commissioners approved an ordinance to adopt the 2020 edition of the National Electrical Code and updated an additional four ordinances to remove the dollar amount pertaining to each ordinance, replacing the specific fee with the wording “specified fee,” with the dollar amount for each ordinance to be recorded in a Global Ordinance Fee document.

Commissioner Meyer questioned if the updated electrical code would place an undue burden on electrical contractors and Blankenship said it would not.

The ordinances amended are Ordinance 2039 Breath Testing Fees, Ordinance 2040 Inspection Fees, Ordinance 2041 Copying Fees and Ordinance 2042 Prepayment of Fees.

During staff reports, Blankenship told commissioners he had noted a recent upswing in permit applications for fences and sheds.

“Stimulus checks must be coming in,” Blankenship said.

Police Chief Nate Humble reported that recent crime statistics were showing a decline.

“It’s nice to see,” Humble said. “It’s pretty slow and hope it stays that way.”

Commissioner Peters countered that the statics he had seen showed an increase, rather than decline, in police activity, with Humble responding that the way calls were recorded could be confusing.

“Officers have been very proactive,” Humble said.

Peters also queried Garten regarding the Pratt Economic Development Committee being able to provide any financial assistance to local businesses who are losing revenue due to COVID-19 shutdowns and Garten replied that could be a “last-resort” option.

Commissioner Deeds commented that he had noticed an influx of vehicles with Ford and Reno County plates at some Pratt businesses. Probst commenting that intra-state travel is not prohibited.