Voss sworn in as Pratt County Clerk

Gale Rose

New Pratt County Clerk Lori Voss officially began her duties at the April 27 meeting of the Pratt County Commission after being sworn-in by 30th Judicial District Court Judge Frank Meisenheimer. Voss took over for retired clerk Sherry Kruse.

In an update of COVID-19 response, Tim Branscom, Pratt County emergency Manager, said the state now has a system that can decontaminate up to 80,000 masks a day.

Branscom said the state will pick up the masks, take them to Topeka for decontamination and return the same masks to the same location.

"What we send in, we will get back," Branscom said.

The state is working on the logistics on picking up and delivering the masks. The turn around time is being worked out but Branscom said he expects it to take a minimum of three days at least. Only masks that are in clean, can be contaminated. If a mask is torn, or soiled or has blood on it, it cannot be cleaned, Branscom said.

Because PPE items are so scarce during the COVID-19 crisis, when they become available, it would be beneficial to the county if those items could be purchased without having to wait for the commissioners to vote on the purchase and take the chance of losing out on the item, Branscom said.

"There's going to be stuff that's time sensitive that we have got to get now," Branscom said. "We want to be able to get it and come back with communication next week."

Branscom, Director of Public Health Darcie Van Der Vyver and EMS Director Scott Harris would be making these purchases. Van Der Vyver said these items can be used county wide.

If the funds to purchase the equipment comes from grant or stimulus, its OK to go ahead with the purchase but if the purchase has to come out of budget money, Commissioners have to approve the purchase beforehand.

Reimbursement funds are available for items related to COVID-19. The county would get a 75 percent reimbursement but it may take up to a year to receive those payments, Branscom said.

"We don't want to lose out on something if we can get it," Branscom said. "We would have to justify it for COVID-19."

A new storm shelter could be in the future for the City of Iuka while a proposed storm shelter at the Pratt County Veterans Memorial Lake is not going to happen.

Doug Freund, county road and bridge supervisor, said he has not gotten the answers he wanted for funding for the shelter at the lake so he wants to Iuka to take over the application process because the state wants to get the project rolling.

Pratt County and the City of Iuka both applied for the same Kansas Department of Emergency Management grant to build a shelter. The grant was offered to the county first. Location of the shelter at the lake and who would be responsible for unlocking the facility in the event of an emergency were concerns about taking the grant. The grant is 75-25 with Federal Emergency Management Agency

Tim Branscom, county emergency manager said if Iuka gets the project, it would probably do more good out there. He will contact Iuka Mayor Marcia Giggy about the matter.

Sheriff Jimmy White said the Pratt County Jail is open and arrests in cases are still being made in spite of rumors to the otherwise.

Spec sheets for bids on doors and windows for the Law Enforcement Center are available at the county clerks office. Exterior doors and windows are being replaced as part of an ongoing upgrade of the LEC.

Freund said he wants to purchase some smaller sized culverts to help maintain the stockpile. Repairs to county roads after the 2018 Labor Day flood required replacing culverts. Freund said he probably won't get a lot because he is trying to watch the budget.

Plans are underway to reopen the Pratt County Recycle Center but for the time being, the facility remains closed. Jason Winkel, landfill manager, said he is working on getting face masks available for the staff and that masks are being made.

Communication specialist Mike Tibbetts said he would like to install the Power Phone software for dispatch. Power Phone would provide automatic prompts for the dispatcher during 911 calls. Right now, those prompts are on cards but with Power Phone, the prompts would be on the screen.

Cost of software, installation, training and maintenance is $50,800. It qualifies for 911 funds.

Several first responders will meet to discuss the software purchase and report to the commissioners at a later meeting.