The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office has received permission to purchase five drones and a side-by-side all-terrain vehicle.

During their March 20 meeting, Wayne County’s commissioners approved up to $85,000 for the purchases, allocating the money from the county’s opioid settlement distribution. The county recently received more than $345,000 from its 2023 settlement total of $442,308.30, according to the Indiana attorney general’s calculations.

Sheriff Randy Retter asked that his request be expedited so the department could have access to the ATV for the April 8 total solar eclipse. The department was deciding whether to purchase a second ATV with commissary funds, said Major Alan Moore, the department’s chief deputy.

Moore said an ATV could provide access during traffic congestion to deliver fuel or medical assistance to motorists, for example. Beyond the eclipse, the ATVs provide better access to wooded areas and the Cardinal Greenway and can be utilized at large events, such as the 4-H fair.

One larger drone would map vehicle crash scenes. Software weaves drone photos into a map that makes distance measurements easier. Four smaller drones would be assigned to the patrol division’s four sergeants. The drones could provide visuals of a scene if supervisors were uncomfortable sending in officers, Moore said. They also would have thermal capabilities to track down fleeing individuals.

Retter also will purchase two cars and a van. Wayne County Council and commissioners during the joint evening workshop session March 20 approved spending $105,537 from American Rescue Plan Act dollars for one of the cars and the van at the recommendation of the county’s fleet management committee. The commissary fund will purchase the second car.

The $105,537 will join another $900,000 the county has saved by using ARPA money on budgeted expenditures in a special projects fund. Spending that money will require a majority approval of commissioners and a majority approval of council.

Bridge actions

During workshop, council appropriated $856,695.21 from remaining jail bond funds and transferred that money into individual bridge funds, replacing money that was used to pay an invoice to begin tree clearing for the South G Street bridge project in Richmond.

Brandon Sanders, the county engineer, said the tree clearing had begun that day. The Indiana Department of Transportation requires trees be cleared before April 1 while Indiana bats remain inactive.

Commissioners earlier approved the plans for this year’s Sample Road bridge project.

Courthouse fix

Porcelain flooring that resembles the courthouse’s marble will replace damaged marble inside the courthouse’s east entrance.

Commissioners approved spending $11,422 for the area between the two doors by the security station. Using the porcelain there saves extra original marble pieces for replacements in more visible locations.

Share this:

A version of this article appeared in the March 27 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.