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Economic director gives SPARK update to Pratt County commissioners

Gale Rose
Pratt Tribune
Pratt County commissioners meet every Monday at 4 p.m. at the Pratt County Court House. These meetings are open to the public and can be watched by Zoom online by following a link and instructions at prattcounty.org.

Distribution of Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas funds in Pratt County continues to move forward. Heather Morgan, county economic development director, told the Pratt County Commissioners Aug. 10 that the SPARK aid and reimbursement plan had been submitted. Now its up to the State to review the submissions and approve the requests. 

“We just have to wait until they do something,” Morgan said. 

The minute the funds are approved, everything on the list that has not already been purchased should be purchased immediately. There may be a problem with items being in stock. 

Once SPARK funds have been approved, the county will have to go through an audit who will examine documents and receipts to verify the funds have been spent on COVID-19 related expenses. All SPARK funds have to be spent before Dec. 30. 

A second round of SPARK funds is in the works. Kansas will receive $61 million that can be used for business grants. Grant applications should take no more than 15 minutes and they will be on a first-come first-serve basis. 

Commissioners agreed that businesses and non-profit organizations have to have an office in Pratt County to be eligible to apply for the second round of SPARK funds. Businesses with five or fewer employees could qualify for 

While the court system is gearing up to resume trials, other elements of the legal system have already gotten back to work. 

In the community service program, workers have fulfilled their hour requirements by helping at the Pratt County Landfill, Senior Commodity Distributions, Pratt Area Public Transportation, Pratt County Food Bank, Pratt County Health Department and Pratt County Court House. A crew of 10 pickup up spent fireworks after the July 4 celebration at the Pratt County Veteran’s Memorial Lake, said Nancy Smith, Community Service Work coordinator. 

Workers have also assisted with DCF Commodity Distributions and Public Produce Distributions at the Pratt Senior Center as well as help with set up and take down for the Aug. 4 primary election. 

The recycling route has resumed for the county offices on Friday mornings. However, they cannot work at the Recycling Center due to COVID-19 restrictions, Smith said.

The response to complete community service hours has been good during the COVID-19 crisis because people want to get their hours completed. 

There are currently 43 open community service files including 13 from the Pratt County Attorney, 13 for South Central Community Corrections and 17 for Court Services. 

In other Commission action, the Commissioners approve the purchase of a 2020 model road grader from Foley in Great Bend. 

As of Aug. 10, Pratt County has 35 cumulative positive COVID-19 cases with three active and two pending, said Darci Van Der Vyver, director of Public Health. By August 17, there were zero active cases in the county.

The health department office will be closed from noon to 1 p.m. to allow staff more time to complete necessary paper work, Van Der Vyver told commissioners.