The Henderson County Office of Emergency Management came to Tuesday morning’s Fiscal Court meeting and showed off its new equipment, a recently purchased Matrice M-30T drone bought with a $15,689 grant received from the Community Foundation of West Kentucky.
Kenny Garrett, the local emergency management director, said the drone, called “Doc,” can climb to heights of 400 feet and has a radio range of nine miles, though it’s not recommended to move the device more than three miles away.
He said if the drone strays more than nine miles, it has automatic controls to take it back to where it lifted off from.
It takes about one minute for technicians to prepare the drone for takeoff, and it has about a 40-minute flight time, Garrett said. It can travel at more than 50 miles per hour and can fly in up to 35 mph wind speeds, he said.
The drone also has the capability of taking infrared photos, and this function has been utilized in several incidents since it was obtained in July. In one, the drone was able to be used to search a cornfield for a person who ran from police. The person was not detected from above, so police knew they were able to move the search, said Jill Ward, the director’s assistant with emergency management.
In other news, emergency management also pitched a plan to the fiscal court to obtain three or four emergency trailers from the state’s emergency management agency. Garrett said the trailers were used during the flooding emergency in eastern Kentucky last summer and that the state emergency management agency director was offering them for free.
The trailers could be used as command, staging and rehab posts, allowing for different work to occur at each and for the chaotic nature of emergencies to proceed more smoothly, Ward said.
In support of obtaining the trailers, Ward mentioned the late May hunt for the escapee in Henderson in which one command post was set up near Hays Boat Ramp. She said it was too crowded when police officers came into command post to cool down. She also said there are problems with confidentiality when people are shuffling in and out of a command post.
The added trailers “will certainly make a big difference,” she said.
The costs associated with them would be a bit more than $3,000 in insurance fees, Ward said. A storage area has already been identified, Garrett said.
In other news:
- The Fiscal Court heard first reading of an ordinance that would establish a permitting process for vehicles with weights more than posted limits on county roads. Henderson County Judge-Executive Brad Schneider said companies building solar farms in the future will have to bring in equipment exceeding weight limits on some county roads. This ordinance would establish a method to collect fees or surety bonds to pay for any damage that may occur from overweight or over-dimension vehicles. County Engineer Nick Stallings, who spoke about the ordinance, said his main objective with this is to limit times when overweight vehicles can travel, such as when rains have saturated roads, making them more susceptible to damage.
- The Fiscal Court gave preliminary approval for an ordinance to set the tax rates for 2023-2024. The tax rates haven’t changed in seven fiscal years, said Schneider. It was first reading. A second reading and final vote will occur Aug. 22 at the next scheduled Fiscal Court meeting.
The rates, based on $100 of assessed value, are as follows:
- Real Property, 12.8 cents
- Personal Property, 18.4 cents
- Motor Vehicles, 8.5 cents
- Public Service Co. Real Estate, 11.8 cents
- Public Service Co. Personal, 17.5 cents
- Water Craft, 8.5 cents