SPARK funding could bring tax refunds to Pratt County businesses

Billie Blair
Pratt Tribune
Pratt County businesses could benefit from SPARK funding as the county has met all requirements.

During weekly Pratt County Commission meetings from April 26 through May 10, Heather Morgan, Economic Development Consultant reported that the county has met all the requirements for the Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) funding with no more reporting required as of April 26. On May 3, she stated that she had contacted small towns in the county, except for Sawyer, to assist with federal funds that are available to them. She was asked by County Counselor Tyson Eisenhauer if she had news about SB 286. She said it is being discussed again and could bring tax refunds to businesses that were impacted by COVID-19.

She reported on May 10 that funds had been released for the American Rescue Plan with 35% of the funding set aside for small businesses. These businesses can make claims for revenue loss due to COVID. She contacted effected businesses that could qualify to see if there was interest in these funds. According to Morgan, there is also a rural revitalization tool available to first-time home owners that is a tax-deferred account to save for a home.

As of April 26, there were 4,301 vaccines given to residents of the county, according to Darcie Van der Vyver. The Health Department was awarded the ELC COVID Grant in the amount of $145, 611. Van der Vyver sought a one-time bonus for employees, plus the use of some funds at the Community Center. On May 10, she reported there were no COVID cases in the county and that vaccines are available on Thursdays at the Health Department. She is enrolling in a testing program that will be reimbursed by the State. County commissioners approved closing the health department on June 16 from 9:00 a.m. to noon for WIC training.

On May 3, the county commissioners agreed to recess until May 10 to attend a city/county joint meeting at the Pratt City Building. At this meeting, the LEC agreement was discussed. The county is going to turn over the 911 funds to the City of Pratt, according to commissioner Shriver. There will be a 911 Advisory Board consisting of the city chief of police, city fire chief, EMS director, county fire chief, township fire representative, one city commissioner, one county commissioner and the 911 supervisor. County Counselor Eisenhauer and City Attorney Regina Goff will work on the LEC agreement. They will meet June 11 with changes to the agreement and the resolution to finalize all arrangements before presenting it to the LEC Board, County Commissioners and City Commissioners. Other topics discussed at this meeting included renovation of the evidence room, the progress of the training room and the security of the city and county offices.

Kelly McMurphy, Landmark Architect, explained on April 26 what was included in their bid and what was outside the bid. The erosion landscape was included in the bid. He reported that a decision on the exterior color of the building was needed as soon as possible.

Actions taken by the commission during the weekly meetings from April 26 through May 19 include:

· Catherine Rohrer, SCKCCA Director, having Commissioner Shriver sigh her budget for the state. She also reported the new State program Athena was up and running, yet not working properly.

· Commissioner Jones reported that the stools in the LEC basement need to be replaced.

· Susan Page, CEO and Alan Wait, CFO, PRMC, gave their quarterly financial report while Rich Sanders, Hospital Board Member, brought up the subject of the PRRC building. A request was made to turn off the utilities to save money while a decision is being made about wat to do with the building.

· Scott Harris, EMS Director, reported on May 3, there was an opening for a paramedic. He also spoke about a $25,000 grant he applied for to purchase AEDs for the community. A Region 3 grant was received to purchase body armor, including four helmets which have been purchased. He would like to promote one person on each shift to the level of lieutenant to be able to supervise when the director is not there. On May 10, Harris reported the Board of EMS had done their inspection with one infraction. Dr. Clarkson signed off on the report to take care of the infraction. At this time, Harris also submitted a job description for EMS Lieutenant.

· Rich Sanders, Sanders Insurance, reported on the liability insurance for the Sheriff’s SRT Team.

· Jodi Drake, Pratt County Extension Office, presented their 2022 budget at $295,641.

· Robert Torres, Environmental Services reported on invasive weeds.

· County Counselor Eisenhauer present IRS forms related to the bond insurance for Jack Kennedy to sign.

· Thad Henry, Kent Goyen Paula Blasi and Charmaine Swanepoel with the Pratt Historical Society presented their budget request of $45,000 for 2022.

· Stacy Hanson, Back to Pratt Jamboree, gave a presentation on the activities for October 8, 9 and 10, 2021.

· Chase Galle reported that the wash bay slab is poured at the PSB with all slabs being poured by the end of May. The steel structure for the building is on location.

· Commissioners received a request from Kingman County Commissioners for a letter of support to reinstate their Commercial Driver’s License service in their courthouse. They agreed to do so.

· Mark Graber, IT Director, was asked about the stat of the phone bill. There are several lines not being used but included in the charges. Graber also reported that Microsoft will not support the County’s CIC system as of January 2022 He will contact CIC to get prices on a server.

Commissioners passed the following motions 3-0:

· Approval of payment to Kirkham Michael for services in the amount of $1,753.23.

· Approval of payment to Kansas Gas Service for the gas line to the PSB building for $4,381.09.

· To pay Larrison Mortuary for coroner expenses in the amount of $1,200.

· Approval of the Q11 policy plan after Ryan Powell and Jalaa Miller made their recommendations for the BCBS renewal.

· To adopt plans presented by Tim Branscom Emergency Management/Zoning Director, to reduce members of the Zoning Committee in the by-laws from nine to seven and a quorum from five to four members. Branscom also presented an interlocal agreement with Pratt County, and the cities of Coats and Iuka. The agreement will now be sent to the State for approval.

· Approval of payment to Landmark Architect for invoice #12 for $3,491.25.

· Acceptance of the quote of $212,790 from Foley Equipment to rebuild the CAT 613C Scraper.

· To hire Yuri Ibarra and Michael-Renee Busha to fill the two new navigator positions as presented by Tiffany Ailstock, RSVP Director.

· To pay $325 for dues to KCCA.

· Approval of payment to Farha Construction for the doors/windows project at the jail in the amount of $12,769.03.

The meetings continue to be streamed online with Zoom on Mondays at 2 p.m. To join the meetings, Zoom information can be found on the county website (