Graber issues thanks for band show at county meeting

Michael Blackford
Special to the Pratt Tribune
The 35th Division Army National Guard Band from Ft. Leavenworth presented a concert at the Pratt County Veterans Memorial Lake on July 3, courtesy of arrangements made by Eric Killough of the Pratt Public Library and jointly sponsored by the B-29 Museum and American Legion.

Mark Graber issued a special thank-you to Eric Killough and the Pratt Public Library for sponsoring the Army band from Fort Leavenworth to appear and play for the Fourth of July celebration at the lake during the regular June 28 Pratt County Commission meeting. He said thanks also to the American Legion for hosting the fireworks display each year. Donations are accepted by the legion for the fireworks, money collected throughout the year determines the quality and quantity of fireworks they can purchase.  

"Thanks also for the fire department, sheriff's department and all volunteers that made the event successful this year," Graber said. 

Heather Morgan, economic development consultant, reported to commissioners that the first half payment for small cities will be released July 26. Morgan will be meeting with the commissioners to discuss rules on how the money can be used. Morgan will also meet with the small cities to answer questions they have about the money. 

Richard Sanders, Pratt County Hospital Board, reported the remodel of the third floor is underway as well as the replacement of the air conditioners. Sanders discussed the possible uses of the nursing home building once it is no longer used. Sanders said the board has checked into a drug/alcohol treatment facility and asked permission to continue the conversation with Mirror Inc. Commissioners gave Sanders's permission to continue gathering more information. 

Eric Killough, Pratt Public Library, reported attendance in programing has increased greatly this year. Killough is expanding programing and outreach to the schools and other organizations that may benefit from what the library can offer. 

Pam Ford, Hope Center director, reported all money for the center comes from local sources. No federal or state grants are used. The county and city make contributions as well as churches, individuals and businesses. Ford said this works because everyone agrees the Hope Center is beneficial for the community. Ford reported in 2019, 810 people were helped with a budget of a little over $50k, in 2020, 447 people were helped with a budget of a little over $34k. Ford said this year they have seen more people coming with greater needs than in previous years. Ford also reported the top four needs for Pratt County include: mental health services, drug/alcohol counseling and treatment, childcare and affordable housing. 

Anita Twiner, Agape Clinic director, reported they serve 17 to 21 people each month in the clinic and many others who need lesser services. Twiner stated clients can have no insurance to utilize the free clinic and they must meet income guidelines. Twiner said they work on educating their clients and seek to keep them from seeking out help at the Pratt Regional Medical Center emergency room. Twiner stated only herself and Pam Ford, a half-time helper, are paid, all other staff and doctors are volunteers. 

Kate and Mike Cummins, Circles of Hope directors, reported their 101 class will begin in August. Cummins stated funding comes from businesses and individuals in Pratt. Cummins also said they are starting programs for children ages 5-9 to run concurrently with the adult programing. 

Kristina Kaufman, Blythe Fitness Center, reported attendance and use of the facility has increased significantly this year. Kaufman explained they host afterschool programs and tournaments that help keep the building in use. Kaufman said the center will be celebrating its 10th anniversary from Aug. 9-13. 

Brenda Ford, Teen Center, reported they have been operating for over 50 years. Ford said the only guaranteed funding comes from the county and city governments and a little from grants. Ford said they regularly see between 20 and 50 students at a time. Ford also informed the commissioners the building is available for rent for individual parties or business get togethers. The cost is $20 per hour and includes the entire facility. 

Joanne Wondra, Family Crisis Center, reported the FCC headquarters office in Great Bend experienced a ceiling collapse. The Center serves 10 counties and 15-17% of the people served are in Pratt. Wondra stated they lost all computers and printers and many other items. Wondra told Blackford after the meeting that insurance should cover most of the loss, but time and paperwork will reveal more later. Wondra said the office on main street in Pratt is all OK. Wondra says the FCC offers domestic violence programs and has an interview room as part of its child advocacy center. Wondra also stated that money was available to help Pratt create a women’s shelter. 

Catherine Rohrer, South Central Kansas Community Corrections Agency director, reported their funding comes from the justice system. Rohrer stated they provide risk and needs assessments and oversee intensive probation services. 

Darcy Van der Vyver, Pratt County Health Department, reported COVID-19 numbers have remained at zero since April 19. Van der Vyver also shared information from a survey they conducted showing the top three needs in Pratt County: daycare, mental health services and drug/alcohol treatment and services.