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Pratt County Commission: County asked to verify wind tower setbacks  

Credit:  By Gale Rose | Pratt Tribune | Posted Jun. 7, 2016 | www.pratttribune.com ~~

The setback location of some of NextEra Energy’s Ninnescah Energy wind farm towers is the latest request on the project that is changing the Pratt County skyline.

Tim Branscom, Pratt County emergency manager, notified the Pratt County Commissioners of the request at their regular meeting Monday.

Branscom said the request had come through the Freedom of Information Act. He wasn’t sure why the request was made but he thought it was just to verify the towers were being erected according to the NextEra agreement on setback location.

County Counselor Bob Schmisseur said he wasn’t sure the request falls under the Kansas Open Records act but would check on it to make sure.

As far as verifying the tower locations, if Branscom could verify the locations using Google Earth, that should be good enough. But if there was a tower that was close to the edge of the setback limits, they could get County Appraiser D.J. McMurry to verify the locations to a much closer number.

With Google Earth, the location of the tower could be verified within about 200 feet but McMurry could verify the location within 10 feet.

Schmisseur said he would guess NextEra has already verified all tower locations. If they would be willing to share that information, that should take care of the matter.

Reid Bell, Pratt Regional Airport Manager, presented an appeal to the commissioners for some financial assistance to cover airport operations costs. The Airport Authority is requesting 0.5 mil that is currently worth about $72,500.

Following the loss of a tenant at the airport, the airport authority approached the city for an additional mil. Now the airport has lost another tenant, Precision Ag Solutions, that has defaulted and will be out of their building soon, Bell said.

The airport had to buy the building and lost the income so they need some additional revenue until the oilfield industry rebounds. They are advertising for a lease but would consider selling the building but not the land.

Reid said the county benefits from the airport and hopes the commissioners would approve the request. Taylor Briggs, Airport Authority vice chair will prepare a detailed expense list for the commissioners that will make a decision on the matter at a later meeting.

After three years, the Pratt Regional Medical Center addition and renovation project has basically come to an end.

Mike Patton, PRMC manager of plant operations, said everything was open and done. The boiler room is 96 percent complete and there are a few touchups and some punch list items to finish up but other than building the Kerr Gardens and some landscaping around the back parking lot, the project is complete.

More dirt has to be brought in to bring the level of the Kerr Gardens up to the appropriate level. There will be some dirt left over and Patton offered it to the county. Commissioners eagerly accepted the dirt because they are currently low on dirt for projects. This saves construction money since they don’t have to pay to have it hauled away and the county saves money because they don’t have to buy it from someone else.

Patton said this project was the hardest one the contractors had ever seen. There were many times when unexpected construction and utilities that were not on the available blueprints caused crews to rework their plans. These unexpected construction additions also added extra dollars to the cost of the project.

Sales tax revenues still continue to exceed estimated levels. Last months sales tax revenues were $151,000 and that is $40,000 higher than predicted.

So far, sales tax receipts for the entire project have exceeded projected totals by $1.17 million, said Susan Page, PRMC president and chief executive officer.

Page said since the new facilities have been in operation, the hospital satisfaction scores have gone through the roof.

During hospital construction and renovation, Page and Patton have made monthly update reports to the commissioners. Now that construction is ending, Patton said they would like to go back to quarterly reports as before.

The commissioners passed a resolution committing $9,000 to the Rural Opportunity Zone program that helps pay on student loans for people that return to Pratt after going away to school. There are currently three people in Pratt County taking advantage of the ROZ program.

The commissioners approved a three-year contract with Varney and Associates of Manhattan to conduct the county audit. The contract payments are $15,500 in 2016, $15,700 in 2017 and $15,900 in 2018.

Source:  By Gale Rose | Pratt Tribune | Posted Jun. 7, 2016 | www.pratttribune.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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