Pratt County Commission: Mask mandate lifted and COVID-19 funds to be disbursed

Billie Blair
Pratt Tribune
Pratt County commissioners met every week during the month of April, covering topics such as COVID-19 relief funds and burning directives in the county.

Information shared at Pratt County Commission meetings during the month of April included several presentations by Pratt County Economic Director Heather Morgan. Over the coures of the past several weeks, she shared that the state had lifted the mask mandate and that it is now up to separate entities to decide whether to continue the mandate.

Morgan said that SB 40, a major law overhauling how governments can respond to the COVID- 19 pandemic, was signed by Governor Kelly. She also reported that money has been set aside for Pratt county businesses with large gas bills.

Morgan said as per the American Rescue Plan, that the county will need to set up a new account to receive the COVID-19 Funds which can be used for sewer, water and broadband services with more guidelines being sent out. Commissioners ap- proved her request to contact smaller towns in the county to assist them in receiving these funds.

A discrepancy over who has the right to issue burn priveledges in Pratt County came to head with the Pratt County commissioners. Even though the 911 Dispatch Office is managed by the city commission and not the county commission, commissioner Rick Shriver said that the Pratt County 911 Dispatch Office does not have the authority to tell people they cannot burn, because Pratt County does not have burn permits. Shriver said that dispatch officers may give information on wind speeds, fine amounts if fire depart- ments have to be called, and inform callers that it is necessary to call the township fire chief in the affected areas if a controlled burn is planned. But is was unclear if this directive was a legal degree. Shriver requested that an official burn regulations and Resolution 09-19-11A be placed on the Pratt County website.

In Public Safety Building news, the commissioners heard from County Counselor Tyson Eisenhauer, who said that he had contacted Kelly McMurphy, Landmark Architect, and learned that the electric line was not included in the bid from the City of Pratt. Eisenhauer stated the City of Pratt bill in the amount $64,243.56 should be paid out of the PBC Bond account.

In other business:

* Eisenhauer reported that the tax sale would be April 27 with approximately 27 tracts up for auction.

*Commissioners granted permission to the City of Pratt Fire Department to dump the remains of the fire training house at the county landfill as it was being torn down. After a conversation with Keith Ray, Pratt City Fire Department representative, commissioners agreed to allow use of the landfill at no charge.

*Doug Freund, Road Supervisor, reported that the contractor in charge of the signage in the NW part of the county has moved the starting date to May 3. He also stated that prices from Ergon Asphalt and Emulsions will remain the same this year for county projects and that he will need to purchase culverts. He also said he would like to get quotes on concrete work around the building and the playground at the lake.

*Darcie Van der Vyver, Health Department Director, reported on April 19 that 4,193 Pratt County residents had received their COVID vaccinations. Vaccinations are now available by walk-ins on Thursdays through May.

*Chase Galle gave a progress report on the PSB, stating that they will be meeting every two weeks and that they have discussed landscaping to control erosion. Eisenhauer recommended ask- ing McMurphy to attend a future commission meeting for his input.

* Pratt County Fire and Rescue Chief Bill Hampton said the rural transmitter was back on the D & R tower and that the problems transmitting might be the radios. Mike Tibbetts, Communications, will be asked to check the radios.

*Jason Winkel, Land- fill/Recycling Supervisor stated that CAT had low- ered the price on rebuild- ing the scraper to $212,790 with a five-year

warranty or 6000 hours. He also reported that they had been picking up trash at the landfill and shipping out recyclables.

*Robert Torres, Environmental Director, re- ported that he has been spraying and that he will be ordering a new spray tank.

*Catherine Rohrer, SCKCCA Director, gave a review on the services her department provides to adults and juveniles. She also presented the juvenile and adult FY22 compre- hensive grant forms for signatures.

* On April 19, Mark Graber, IT Director, was asked by Eisenhauer if there were any cyber breaches. Graber reported there were none.

* Commissioners passed motions 3-0 to accept a contract with IMA Bene- fits Consulting Services, Inc., at a flat fee of $31,000 after a presentation by Christy and Ryan Powell that projected a savings compared to the cost of Blue Cross Blue Shield premiums

* Commissioners approved a bid of $850 each for two new dispatch chairs requested by Walt Stockwell, City of Pratt Dispatcher with funds coming out of the 911 Fund.

Pratt County Commis- sion meetings are being live-streamed over Zoom on Mondays at 2 p.m. To join in, the Zoom information can be found on the county website (