Eyes in the sky

County purchases four drones

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Austin County took a flying leap into the 21st century Monday morning by approving the purchase of four drones.

The remote-controlled flying cameras were purchased with grant money from Rebuild Texas Fund and will be used by three of the four precincts. Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Rinn said he couldn’t see a use for them and only agreed to vote for the purchase if his went to the county’s emergency management office.

“I don’t see the use of it,” Rinn said. “One for the whole Road and Bridge I can see.”

Precinct 4 Commissioner Chip Reed was thrilled to be getting a drone.

“On our end, we have beaver dams and things that are hard to get to,” Reed said, adding “We use drones a lot.”

He currently pays a drone operator to perform inspections under bridges and in hard-to-reach places.

County Judge Tim Lapham said there will have to be licensed operators to use the drones.

“I’m only going to put two people on it,” said Precinct 1 Commissioner Mark Lamp.

Precinct 2 Commission Randy Reichardt was absent from the meeting.

The Yuneec Typhoon H Plus drones cost $2,756.98 each and the bid went to Vertigo Drones of New York.

The drones were the second purchase of the day made using Rebuild Texas grants. The commissioners approved the purchase of two generators and switches to be used at the Bellville and Sealy Emergency Medical Service stations. That grant was for $45,000.

In other action, the commissioners helped Sheriff Jack Brandes throw out the trash. They declared 10 old desks and 12 used vehicles as surplus.

“A few of (the desks) came over on the Mayflower when George Washington was a boy,” Brandes said.

He also quipped that the “mighty fine automobiles” were taking up valuable storage space and needed to go. They will be relocated to the Precinct 1 Road and Bridge yard for later sale at auction. The desks will be thrown away.

The commissioners began the meeting with a proclamation declaring June 14 as Flag Day in Austin County in conjunction with a presentation by Woodmen of the World.

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