County board considers using drone to assess damage to ditches

Published 8:12 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2019

How to assess the damage to Freeborn County’s ditches following recent storms was at the forefront of the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday.

The board is considering using a drone to assess the damage, as was done in 2016.

Drainage inspector Winston Beiser said he searched out different providers of licensed drone operators and presented hourly charges of those operators. He recommended splitting up the work through utilizing the Sheriff’s Office drone, the Shell Rock River Watershed District drone and Olson Excavating. Estimated costs were $60 an hour for the Sheriff’s Office drone, $45 for the Watershed District drone and $50 an hour for Olson Excavation.

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Other companies ranged from $100 or $120 an hour to $140 per mile to $168 per mile.

Commissioner Dan Belshan questioned whether all of the organizations could provide quotes of how much they would charge per mile to take video of the damage.

Beiser said there are about 300 miles that need to be completed, and he hoped the footage could be given to him on a flash drive for more detailed review.

The documentation would double as ditch inspection required by state statute.

The board voted 5-0 to table the consideration of the use of the drone until after the board’s next workshop May 14.

In a separate action item, the board voted 3-2 to allow overtime for work completed by Bieser in recent weeks, who said he has had an extreme workload. Bieser also asked about hiring an additional drainage inspector to help with some of the work.

The commissioners asked Bieser to bring back options about hiring additional staff for the ditch inspector for a portion of the year to prevent overtime and get work done quicker.

In other action, the board:

  • Amended a resolution amending the development agreement with Freeborn Wind LLC to include Shellrock Township designating Freeborn County Public Works Director Sue Miller to act on its behalf.
  • Accepted the resignation of Freeborn County Veterans Services Officer Ron Reule, effective June 29. The board voted to refill the position.
  • Approved a resolution to approve a 120-day contract with Charity Floen to fill the Department of Human Services director vacancy, effective Tuesday. Human Services Director Brian Buhmann has accepted a position in Wabasha County.
  • Appointed Kevin Learn and Mark Chrz to the Board of Adjustments.
  • Placed license center staff member Travis Drescher on regular full-time status.
  • Approved the 2020 budget calendar.
  • Set a workshop for May 14.