At the Spring Valley City Council meeting on August 26, the council heard a request from the fire department, asking for approval to buy a drone. All members were in attendance (Mayor Tony Archer, Luan Ruesink, Chris Danielson, John Dols, Mike Hadland and City Administrator Deb Zimmer).
Brian Danielson explained that the department is interested in buying a drone, which could use regular and thermal cameras, adding, “So, it’s something that we can use both on fires, for looking for hot spots in structures, as well as for search and rescue, for trying to find someone who may have wandered off or somebody that’s missing… We’ve had some significant donations, and we’d like to use some of those funds to buy one large object rather than splitting it up.” The price quote for the drone and related equipment shows a price of $21,500 for the drone and cameras, $1,624 for batteries, $69 for a charging hub, and $200 for shipping, bringing the total to $23,393.
Luan Ruesink asked, “Is this something that the department as a whole voted on?” Danielson said it was, and Mike Hadland then asked how close the vote had been. Danielson said it was approved by an eight to six vote, with three abstaining. According to Danielson, there are a total of 25 firefighters on the crew.
Hadland then asked about the expected lifespan of the drone and equipment, saying, “So that’s why I’m just wondering, in two to three years, you’re going to come back and ask for another $25,000 for another drone?” Danielson replied, “I don’t think so. You could see us upgrading cameras.” He added that he doesn’t know a specific lifespan for the drone itself.
Hadland stated, “I did a little homework today on this, and… you can get some upper quality ones for half that.” Danielson said the model and cameras in the quote are those recommended for fire department use. Hadland asked what are the nearest fire departments using drones, and Danielson said Riceville and Decorah. Council members voiced questions and concerns about the cost and logistics of keeping enough crew members trained to use the drone. Chris Danielson made a motion to approve the purchase, but the motion did not get seconded, so the motion died.
A visitor addressed the council with a concern about the intersection of Highways 16 and 63. He stated, “I would like to see something done about the intersection down in front of Dairy Queen.” He went on to explain that he recently witnessed an accident there when a truck pulled out, causing a motorcyclist to tip over. He added that there have been “countless accidents and close calls there.” He suggested at least installing a flashing light. Mayor Archer replied, “That is county and state, so I would recommend you might want to contact your legislators.” Mayor Archer said the city is aware of the concerns but has no authority regarding that intersection.
Jenny Simon (library director) reported that she plans to hold off until next year regarding any replacement or repair of the exterior (EFIS) surface of the building. She explained that she’s gotten a very large amount of information about the situation, and doesn’t yet know the best course of action. She stated, “The building is safe, the building is stable, it’s not deteriorating, it’s just kind of an eyesore in some areas.”
The council approved Resolution 2019-33, accepting with gratitude the donation from the VFW to help with the purchase of the electronic sign that will be installed on the site of the former tourism center. Mayor Archer said the city recently enjoyed a “really successful Ag Days,” and he voiced thanks for all who helped with the events.
The next regular meeting of the council will be Monday, September 9 at 6 p.m., starting with three public hearings immediately prior to the regular council meeting. As always, the public is welcome.