Pratt County Commissioners move forward to request bonds for $7.8M project

Gale Rose
Pratt Tribune
A floor plan from Landmark Architecture shows the layout of the proposed Public Safety Building that will house Pratt County Fire and Rescue, Pratt County EMS, Pratt County Emergency Management plus support offices as well as a large and small conference room and an emergency generator.

The next step in the creation of a Public Safety Center is now in the hands of the Pratt County Public Building Commission. Pratt County commissioners voted unanimously at their regular meeting Monday to request the PBC to issue bonds for the proposed $7.8 million project, despite public objections expressed at a meeting on June 22. 

The members of the PBC, Doug Reh, Ryan Lunt and Jack Kennedy, have the option to issue the bonds for part or all of the project. The maximum authority for bonds, which they are not to exceed, is the estimated $7.8 million, said Pratt County Counselor Tyson Eisenhauer. 

The PBC will meet to discuss the project, determine what they want to do then report to the County Commission at a later meeting. Prior to the vote, Commissioner Glenna Borho read the entire resolution requesting the PBC to issue the bonds. All three commissioners, Borho, President Tom Jones and member Joe Reynolds voted in favor of passing the resolution. 

While the resolution allows for a maximum of $7.8 million in bonds, the final project may not cost that much. Eisenhauer said the Commissioners didn’t want to undershoot the cost of the project so they more than they think the project will cost. The PBC does not have to issue the entire $7.8 million, but will issue bonds to meet the needs of the project. 

Eisenhauer said local banks would be contacted during the bond process. 

The PBC met during the week of July 5 and is scheduled to present information to the Commissioners at their July 13 meeting. The public is always welcome to attend the county Commission meetings. 

Prior to the commission vote on July 6, Kelly McMurphy of Landmark Architects, presented a description of the facility with displays of the floor plan of the building, the footprint with locations of parking lot and generator plus a rendering of the exterior of the building. He said he estimated construction cost for the building is $6.5 million. Those numbers could and probably will change. McMurphy said he didn’t want to put out bids until every plan for the building is stamped and sealed. Estimated construction time is from 16 to 20 months.

A hand full of visitors were present to listen to the presentation and the commissions discussion. Some questions were asked about the building. McMurphy said Landmark wants to use as many local businesses as possible during the construction of the project. 

“I want all the local contractors and subs, as much as possible, to stay in our (Pratt) county,” McMurphy said. 

He said he has from six to eight general contractors who want to be notified when bids go out and feels he can get a good, competitive price for construction. McMurphy said he wants to stick to the design to save costs and any changes will have to be approved. 

“If someone has a change order, it will have to go through me,” McMurphy said. 

The building was designed so it could be expanded on both EMS and fire ends. The EMS is on the south end with six parking bays, a washing bay plus all the necessary living quarters and supply rooms for the 48 hour shifts.

The fire department will be on the north end with seven bays (three drive through) including a washing bay plus bunker gear locker room and storage for equipment and supplies. 

The center of the building will feature a large conference and meeting room, a smaller meeting room, department head offices, storage rooms, communications room, restrooms, a hardened room that can withstand 250 mph tornado winds and hold from 35 to 45 and mechanical operations room.

A small, hardened building outside the facility will house an emergency generator. 

The tornado room at Public Safety Building is for the people that work in the facility. It is not designated as a public tornado shelter. At present, there is no place in Pratt County that is no Federal Emergency Management Administration approved public tornado shelter, said Pratt County Emergency Manager Tim Branscom.

This building is metal and designed to very utilitarian to save construction costs. 

“It’s not fancy,” McMurphy said. 

The department heads worked well together and were practical in what they needed and what they could live without to keep the costs down, McMurphy said.