Leaders break ground for new Pratt County Public Safety Center

Fran Brownell
Pratt Tribune
Wielding shovels at the December 7 groundbreaking ceremony for the new $6.3 million Pratt County Public Safety Center at NE 20th Avenue and U.S. Route 54 are, staggered from left: Pratt County Commissioner Joe Reynolds, Pratt County Counselor Tyson Eisenhauer, Pratt County Commission Chairman Tom Jones, Pratt City Manager Bruce Pinkall, Pratt County Commissioner Glenna Borho, LANDMARK Architects PRESIDENT Kelly McMurphy, Harman Huffman Construction Group President Greg Harmon, Public Building Commission Chairman Jack Kennedy, Pratt Emergency Medical Services Director Scott Harris, Pratt County Fire and Rescue Chief Billy Hampton, Pratt Emergency Management Director Tim Branscom and Pratt County Communication Department Rep. Mike Tibbetts.

After months of debate, discussion and deliberation, ground was broken Monday, December 7, for the new $6.3 million Pratt County Public Safety Center at NE 20th Avenue and U.S. Route 54.

Principal funding for the new facility is wind-farm revenue, $1.5 million annually.

Pratt County Commissioner Glenna Borho, who was appointed project liaison for the project for the county, opened the groundbreaking ceremony with a moment of silence to honor U.S. Troops stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii who perished or were injured in the 1941 early morning surprise attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service forces, as well as in memory of all those who have lost their lives to the coronavirus in 2020.

Also participating in the groundbreaking, each spading a ceremonial shovelful of earth awaiting heavy equipment to begin the serious groundbreaking, were Pratt County Commission Chairman Tom Jones and Pratt County Commissioner Joe Reynolds and Pratt Public Building Commission Chairman Jack Kennedy.

In September 2020 bids were received from 10 general contractors.

“There was only an 11 percent spread from low to high of all the bids,” Borho said. “That’s very, very unusual to have a bid with 10 bidders come in that close. It showed we had really good prices from our contractors.”

Harman Huffman Construction Group of Kechi, Kansas was awarded the contract with the low bid of $6.3 million.

Others participants manning shovels bedecked with purple ribbons were Harman Huffman Construction Group President Greg Harman, Pratt County Counselor Tyson Eisenhauer, Pratt Emergency Medical Services Director Scott Harris, Pratt Emergency Management Manager Tim Branscom, Pratt County Fire and Rescue Chief Billy Hampton, Pratt City Manager Bruce Pinkall, Harman Huffman Project Superintendent James Talley, Landmark Architects President Kelly McMurphy and

 Mike Tibbetts, Pratt County Communication Department.

Borho said the new facility, including lagoons, will occupy about 23 acres of the 82 acres purchased by the county for the project in 2018.

Completion date for the 31,000 square foot Public Safety Center with 12 bays for fire and emergency vehicles with heated floors is fall 2022.

Branscom said he is looking forward to the day his Emergency Management office is moved from its current cramped quarters on Main Street to the new facility.

“While certain aspects of a disaster can be handled virtually, the best operations occur in person when agencies are able to sit down together and get a common operating picture of what is happening,” Branscom said,  “Just having a facility with the meeting room capacity available without having to rely on the availability of facilities belonging to other entities is invaluable.” 

Borho, who is retiring from Pratt County Commission when her second four-year term ends January 11, said as she feels grateful for the opportunity she had to work with the architect, engineers and county department heads in the design of the building.

“I believe the residents of Pratt County will be very proud of the finished project,” said Borho who will retire from her District 2 commission seat January 11, 2021.

Pratt County Commissioners held a public meeting last June 22 at the Pratt Municipal Building and also on Zoom to present information about the proposed

Pratt Public Safety Center and to give those attending in person or via Zoom opportunity to ask questions and make comments.

Borho said it was intended to be held in March, but due to COVID restrictions it was postponed to June 22.

The 125-page transcript of the meeting is available for public view at https://prattcount.org//Document Center/View//264/6-22-20-Pratt-Safety-Meeting.