COVID-19 cases on the rise in Pratt County

Michael Blackford
Pratt Tribune
Stock photo

Pratt County commissioners learned July 12, at their regular Monday meeting, that COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Pratt County. Darcy Van der Vyver, health department director, reported there were two new cases recorded last week. She said there are only four current active cases in the county. Additional testing is being done to determine if they are any of the variants, but the results of that testing takes time. By press time July 26, there were 8 active cases of COVID-19 in Pratt County. 

In other business, Doug Fruend, roads department director, said the department has begun looking for a new grader to replace their oldest one. The one they will get rid of has over 20,000 hours and is a 2008 model. The commissioners gave permission to order one based on what is in their budget. Delivery of equipment right now is taking longer than normal, Fruend said. A truck was ordered at the beginning of the year and is yet to be delivered. 

Tyson Eisenhauer, county commission counselor, reminded the commissioners the deadline for the economic net neutral deadline was July 20. The commissioners will continue to work on the budget and a recap from last to year determine where the county budget for next year compared to last year’s numbers. 

Soil Conservation District Manager Sheryl Stevenson told commissioners that she will retire at the end of the month. Stevenson was accompanied by Sheri Gatton at the meeting, who will be replacing Stevenson. Gatton said the district was still following federal safety guidelines for COVID-19 protocol. 

Pratt County Fire Rescue/Emergency Medical Services Director Billie Hampton told the county commissioners that one of the trucks in his fleet needs repairs on the turbo. It will need to be repaired and made ready for emergencies. The commission approved this request. 

At the July 19 meeting of the county commission, Heather Morgan, Economic Development Consultant, reminded the commissioners the deadline for small cities to file for the first half of the Covid relief money payment was July 26. Morgan said she has worked directly with a couple of the small cities in county to help them navigate the government paperwork and computer system to ensure they receive what has been set aside for them. Morgan said townships may still receive some money but it has not yet been set on when, how, or how much.

Morgan talked about three new initiatives the Pratt County Economic Development Corporation is looking to start. The first one will create an incentive for retail and restaurant businesses with their buildings and will have a limit for how much they can receive. Incentives to residents and businesses to clean up and beautify their property is the second and the third deals with the loss of some low income grant programs. Morgan reported the medium household income in Pratt County went up 10% last year. This increase places Pratt in the top third of counties in the state. Neighboring counties did not fair as well, Kiowa County is down 12% and others were up 1-3%. Morgan said Pratt County is likely to loose access to some of the low income grant programs for  residents.

Catherine Rohrer, Director Community Corrections Agency, reminded the commissioners that although the first half of 2021 has been abnormally slow, the second half will more than make up for it. Rohrer informed the commissioners that during the Covid court shutdown some of the lesser offences of teens and adults were just dismissed. The more substantial charges may have resulted in probation or in incarceration awaiting the courts to reopen. Morgan said the courts are back open and it will be busy throughout the year. They will be dealing with the backlog first and then the newer cases.

Jason Winkel, Supervisor Landfill/Recycling department. Winkel updated the commissioners on the progress of the scrapper rebuild, it is further along than anticipated. The department inspection was July 22. Winkel said the department does not fear the inspections, they remain ready and keep the paperwork up to date. Winkel indicated Pratt county recycling is going back to old satellite collections sites for household waste to see if anything needs to be done to dispose of or better prepare for collection of household items that need special handling.