County commission leaders weigh options for empty PRRC building in Pratt

Michael Blackford
Pratt Tribune
The Pratt Retirement and Rehabilitation Center has been empty for several months now, with the opening of Grand Plains Skilled Nursing Care Center last year. Area residents and county leaders wonder what could be the best use of the facility.

Rich Sanders, Sanders Real Estate Co., brought news to the August 9 Pratt County Commission meeting that a company is interested in the empty PRRC building. Sanders asked if the county would cover the cost of insurance for the building until someone purchases or occupies it. The cost of utilities were discussed as well.

Commissioners Shriver and Adams asked if Pratt Regional Medical Center, which oversees maintenance of the PRRC building, has anyone walking through at least monthly to check for issues.

"Yes they do," Sanders said. "And they can handle the cost of utilities for about a year or so. The hospital will continue to take care of the grounds."

Pratt County Health Department Director Darcy Van Der Vyver, said she had toured the PRRC with a contractor to see if it could be used as a daycare facility. The contractor said it would not be ideal and could get expensive to make it work.

On the issue of rising COVID-19 numbers in the county, Van Der Vyver said positive, active case numbers continue to climb, but vaccinations are available for those wanting them.

"The single dose J&J vaccine is almost out and will not be replaced," she said.

She also said testing is getting more difficult because of the increased numbers and limited staff. She is checking with KDHE about supplying a mobile testing facility. Commissioner Shriver asked if the health department provided testing and vaccines for the jail. Van Der Vyver said that was a yes.

Van Der Vyver also said she has received several grants and is still waiting to hear whether Pratt County will receive several more.

"The latest grant received is for $15K and will be used to replace the tables and chairs for the community center," she said.

Commissioner Dwight Adams, proposed the idea of installing an inground sprinkler system at the court house. Commissioners Shriver and Jones asked Adams to get costs and they would discuss it further.

Pratt Community College President Dr. Mike Calvert attended the August 9 meeting to request funds from the county to help finish paying for the recently constructed track/soccer facility east of Green Sports Complex.

"The track/soccer facility is better than any other small community has and Pratt is lucky to have it," he said. 

The City of Pratt manages the facility, but the community college is responsible for paying for its construction.

“Is it complete or is more coming in the future?” asked commissioner Shriver.

Calvert said it is finished for now, but there will always be more to add.

"We could use additional fencing, bleachers, expanded restrooms, upgraded sound system, and in about 10-12 years the surface will need to be replaced,” Calvert said.

Calvert said the facility is open to the public as long as it is not in use by other groups for practice or an event, the public is welcome to use it for walking and playing on. Calvert did caution that bikes would wear out the surface quicker so he asked the public keep their bicycles off the turf. He also commented that dogs and other animals should not be walked on the surface because of what they would leave on the track. There are other places to walk dogs and ride bicycles in town.

In other business, Robert Torres, county noxious weed director, gave the date for his formal retirement. Torres will be leaving the last day of September. Commissioner Shriver asked County Attorney Tyson Eisenhauer when it would be appropriate to begin advertising for a replacement. Eisenhauer said it would be acceptable anytime since a definite retirement date has been announced. 

Since some COVID-19 relief funds can be used for technology upgrades for the commissioners, Pratt County Economic Development consultant Heather Morgan suggested the commissioners decide if they want to purchase computers and streaming equipment for the commission room. Mark Graber, information technology, said he will present a list of equipment and furniture he would recommend be purchased with the funds.