Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Casey Stevens on Feb. 4 discussed the importance of moving toward a drone program for search and rescue. He said the drone could detect body heat or smoldering structure or forest fires, take sharp photos from 200 feet away, or see items in dim light.
Stevens said that, due to the cost of drones of this type, he is seeking Homeland Security funds. He said other agencies, such as Knox-Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District, could use the drone when the county isn’t using it. EMA would work with Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Todd Brackett said three deputies are now certified or working toward certification via the Federal Aviation Administration, as required for piloting large drones. Two of the deputies are helicopter pilots and one is a fixed-wing pilot. The drone must be flown in sight at all times, Stevens said. That can mean numerous people would be in contact with the pilot.
Stevens did not request funding, but Brackett said it is possible one of their budgets would include a small training drone for between $300 and $500.
Stevens also discussed a possible piece of legislation that would let towns and the county declare a state of emergency – which now only the governor can issue unless the towns have emergency declarations in their ordinances. Most don’t, he said.
The emergency doesn’t always rise to a statewide emergency. “There could be a fire, or a local weather event,” he said. “Imagine a blizzard that has gone on for a few days and the towns are running out of money to pay plow drivers and need to take money from another line item.” He said declaring an emergency would allow the towns to pay for needed materials, housing, meals and overtime.
Brackett announced the receipt of an anonymous $10,000 donation for the Heidi Memorial K9 fund, which helps train dogs for use with LCSO. The fund began in the early 1980s, and is named after “legendary” search dog Heidi, who “always got her man,” Brackett said. Over the years, many small donations have been made, including funds schoolchildren raised, and Brackett said this large donation was timely, because the current K9 officer, Duke, is 9 and starting to have symptoms of old age, including arthritis and a general slowing down. He will be permitted to retire to live out his life with his fellow officer, Kevin Dennison, with whom he has worked since 2013. The donation will help train Duke’s replacement and perhaps a second K9 officer.
Brackett received approval to pay Karen Clarke for contractual services for the Alternative Sentencing Program at Camp Wavus at the end of April. The program used to be run by Maine Pretrial Services, but it bowed out of the program last summer. The total cost for Clarke’s services is $3,000, and there will be a small cost for food. Camp Wavus waived the cost of rental of the site. Brackett also received approval for one of his deputies to take an accident reconstruction class in Massachusetts for several dates in March, April and May, for $3,285; approval of an online training system for the department for $3,350; and the upfront costs of the bicentennial badges for $4,681. Deputies will pay back the cost of the badges. Commissioners approved a $4,474 invoice for Hillside Collision’s repair of a cruiser that ran off the road on Eddy Drive in Edgecomb during a blizzard and hit a guard rail. They also approved renewing the Hillside contract for another year. Four vehicles were sold by sealed bid, for a total revenue of over $5,000. Commissioners approved the sale.
Commissioners approved the final job description for the District Attorney’s Office Supervisor, and will hear from County Administrator Carrie Kipfer about her suggestions for the promotion, as well as which subordinate job will have to be advertised. Commissioners approved a purchase order for brownfields assessment at AD Gray School in Waldoboro. The funds are part of an Environmental Protection Agency grant.