Pratt County hears news about the release of stimulus funds

Michael Blackford
Pratt Tribune
A flag waves in downtown Pratt, heralding Flag Day and the coming 4th of July celebrations in the community.

Pratt County commissioners met June 7, 2021 and found several reasons to celebrate. Fourth of July celebration plans at the Pratt County Lake are moving forward, jury trials are beginning again in August, and COVID-19 stimulus funds are being released to counties in the state.

According to information announced at the meeting, Pratt's annual 4th of July celebration and fireworks will be on Saturday, July 3 this year at the Pratt County Veteran's Memorial Lake. The Ft. Leavenworth army band will provide music for the event this year and fireworks will be synchronized with the music. The American Legion is working to get food vendors to come to lake to serve the community. Any donations collected this year at the lake drive entrance will help pay for next year’s celebration.

Pratt County Attorney Tracey Beverlin reported to commissioners that she was happy jury trials can begin in Pratt in August. She said she expects to be very busy between now and the end of the year trying to catch up with the cases that have piled up. Beverlin said a drug forfeiture of $42 thousand was recently turned over to the Pratt Police Department.

Commission members heard from Pratt County Economic Development Director Heather Morgan about the final COVID-19 stimulus funds being released to the state and counties. Morgan said that in addition to the county, the City of Pratt and surrounding smaller cities in the county will receive their own funds.

"Kansas is a unique state, along with a couple of others, who have townships that provide a level of government also and they will receive some funds too," she said. "This stimulus can be used for associated costs occurring after March 3, 2021. This money can also be used for premium pay during the COVID-19 crisis, even retroactive payments."

Morgan said that if money was used to cover premium pay, it should be done with priority given to lowered-paid employees.

Commission members heard from department heads who are bringing their budget proposals for the next fiscal year. A budget meeting will be coming after all departments have submitted their requests and the commissioners have reviewed them.

A handful of non-elected personal issues were discussed by a couple of departments and the council had to go into closed executive sessions each time to handle those matters.

In other business:

* The county landfill has a scrapper out for rebuild. It currently is disassembled and awaiting repairs and reassembly. It may be a few months before it is completed and returned to the county. Director of Solid Waste Jason Winkel reported the free disposal week went smoother than it has any other week he has been in charge. He said he was very happy about how well it went and the amount of waste handled throughout the week.

* Noxious Weed Department Director Robert Torres said some equipment in his department is nearing the end of its useable life and will need to be replaced over the next couple of years.

* Pratt County Health Department Director Darcie Van Der Vyver reported that there have been no new cases of COVID-19 recorded in the county since April 19.