The local Sheriff's Department received approval from the Grand Forks County Commission to accept a donation of two unmanned aerial vehicles.
The Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department will now move forward with acquiring the two Draganflyer UAVs from Draganfly Innovations Inc. after getting approval at a meeting Tuesday. The UAVs are worth a combined total of $33,990.
Sheriff Bob Rost said the department will most likely come into ownership of the machines around July 1, when UND, which the department had been leasing the UAVs from for $1 annually, will end its agreement with Draganfly.
UAVs, which are also sometimes called drones or unmanned aerial systems, are remotely controlled aerial machines that oftentimes have cameras or other monitoring equipment attached to them.
The Draganflyers have a multitude of applications, including monitoring chemical spills, train derailments and searching for missing or wanted people.
Rost said he sets aside $10,000 every year in the budget for maintenance and pilot expenses on the UAVs and while that amount will be adequate for now, he might have to look at increasing it in the future.
"Maintenance is very minimal on them," Rost said. "It's just batteries and things like that."
In December, County State's Attorney Peter Welte announced plans to step down from his position after serving in it for more than ten years. He plans to open a new office with Vogel Law Firm in early February, so the commission is moving forward with interviewing four applicants from within the state's attorney's office who applied to replace him.
"We want to move quickly on this," Commission Chairwoman Diane Knauf said.
The interviews will the full commission will take place Jan. 23 and Welte will be present to answer any questions the group might have, though he won't have any say concerning who is ultimately hired.
"I think you'll be of great value to us," commissioner Gary Malm said.
Welte and newly appointed commissioner Tom Falk took their oaths of office at the meeting.