County Considers Drone for MCEM

Having a drone to survey and access situations could protect first responders from entering areas where hazardous chemical may be present, Mason County Emergency Management Director Tim Nolder told county commissioners Tuesday.

A drone could also assist in search and rescue efforts when needed by providing views of otherwise unreachable areas, Nolder said.

While the city of Maysville does have a drone which could possibly be utilized in an emergency, its flight time is less than Nolder would prefer and its range is only about a mile, within the “hot zone” for some chemical spills, he said.

Anyone piloting a drone for the county is required to be licensed as a commercial entity and the drone registered with the Federal Aviation Administration. Nolder is a licensed drone pilot, he said.

Cost of the drone, shared by the city and county, would be less than $1,000 each, according to Nolder.

“We may never use it,” Nolder said, “but we can’t wait until after its needed and say we wish we had one.”

Despite the potential benefits of a drone, the Kentucky Association of Counties, through which Mason County is insured, does not currently offer drone insurance, officials said, and that is a cause for concern.

Mason County Attorney John Estill suggested the county work out an agreement with Maysville to allow a drone to remain under its control, since the Kentucky League of City, to which Maysville belongs, offers drone insurance.

“We can’t be in a business that doesn’t have liability insurance,” Estill said.

Commissioners and Judge-Executive Joe Pfeffer agreed to table the issue until conferring with the city and investigating possible grant funding.

Commissioners also heard an update on plans for the Cummins Nature Preserve from Director Grant Felice.

As he makes plans for the coming season, Felice said the biggest challenge the preserve faces is from the emerald ash borer, a beetle that is responsible for the destruction of tens of millions of ash trees in the United States.

The insect has taken a real toll on ash trees in the preserve and he has spent time since the end of February clearing fallen trees and branches that have been affected.

The court approved securing prices for running water lines from the restroom area of the preserve to a picnic shelter area and eventually to the campground. Felice said increased use of the park has meant a greater need for water in the shelter area. Commissioners agreed and suggested securing costs for both water lines to the shelter and to the campground.

Also Tuesday, the court:

Get breaking news sent instantly to your inbox

— Heard from Christy Burch of the Women’s Crisis Center about the Green Dot program and passed a resolution in support.

— Met Maysville Mason County Industrial Development Authority Director Owen McNeill.

— Approved reports from the Road Department, Animal Shelter, Sheriff, Landfill, Recycling Center and Solid Waste, Detention Center and Treasurer.

— Accepted the excess fee settlement for $13,278 from Sheriff Patrick Boggs.

— Heard a proclamation declaring April 3 as the National Day of Service.

— Appointed Karen Biddle to serve the unexpired term of Bill Tolle on the Mason County Extension Board.

— Approved surplus property including analog radios from the sheriff. County agencies will have first choice of the radios and then they will be offered to volunteer fire departments. [Click for More]