All the bids for two county road projects came in under the engineer’s estimates.

The bids for CRs 800W and 1000W were opened Tuesday at the Kosciusko County Commissioners meeting. The projects are being funded in part by state Community Crossings grants.

Highway Superintendent Scott Tilden said the 800W project is approximately 6.5 miles from Ind. 19 south to U.S. 30; and the 1000W project is about 3 miles from 700S to 1000S.

Bids for the 800W project included Niblock Excavating Inc., $1,521,321; Phend & Brown Inc., $1,186,352.40; and E & B Paving Inc., $1,535,220.60.

Tilden said the engineer’s estimate for the 800W project was $1,623,482.40.

Bids for the 1000W project included Niblock Excavating, $478,656.20; Phend & Brown, $420,348.76; and E & B Paving Inc., $509,128.76.

Tilden said the engineer’s estimate for the 1000W project was $596,643.

Tilden will make recommendations to the county commissioners at the 9 a.m. May 28 meeting.

Earlier in the meeting, Kosciusko County Emergency Management Director Ed Rock asked for permission to apply for a 2019 State Homeland Security Program Unmanned Aircraft Systems (drones) grant for $90,000. The county council approved the application at its meeting Thursday.

Rock said the county wants to add three to the one that is in the county thanks to the prosecutor’s office. The grant also will pay to have people trained to operate the drones.

“With some new federal laws that have gone into effect recently, (they) need to be trained operators and if they’re going to do nighttime operations, there’s an additional waiver that has to be done. In reality, the training on this is costing just about, not as much as the equipment but it is significant,” Rock said.

Besides putting the cost of the drones and training into the grant application, Rock said he included all travel, per diem and other expenses. “Because it may mean we need to travel for the training,” he said.

Commissioner Bob Conley asked if the drones could be used by any department.

“That’s the intent. It will be managed under the sheriff’s department program, which is already in place, rather than reinvent the wheel,” Rock responded. “We just augment that system, build on it. The operators do not have to be law enforcement, but obviously with 536 square miles, we want to be able to cover this, and when you’re going to need one of these, it’s going to be, usually, right now.”

He said the drones will be spread out over the county for a quicker response time should the need arise.

Rock said the grant is reimbursable, which means if the county receives the grant, it spends the money first and then gets reimbursed for those expenses.

Before making a motion to approve the grant application, Conley said he could see the need for the drones, but his biggest concern was the drones being used inappropriately. Rock said part of the training covers specifically that and procedures that have already been written.

“The public privacy is a huge aspect of it,” Rock said.

Conley said he’s seen drone videos and some of them are “very disturbing.”

In other business, the commissioners approved:

• County attorney Chad Miner to proceed with the vacation of the north/south and east/west alleyways at the Kosciusko County Justice Building parking lot.

Commissioner Cary Groninger explained the county is trying to make the parking spaces there more efficient but need the alleyway space to do that.

• For the county prosecutor’s office to apply for a $20,000 Senior HUB grant. The county council approved the application at its Thursday meeting.

County Prosecutor Dan Hampton said the county has received the grant for a couple of years and it is offered through the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council.

“This is offered to Kosciusko County as we’ve been recognized to assist senior prosecutors in the northern Indiana counties when a prosecutor is necessary to be appointed as a special prosecutor for IV-D cases in any counties in northern Indiana. It is necessary that they have administrative support and the Prosecuting Attorneys Council recommends that Kosciusko County to be the most sufficient and effective to help those senior prosecutors and so they’ve asked that we submit this grant to pay personnel, office supplies, that sort of thing,” Hampton explained.

• Signing a contract with Pyramid Consulting for the business to review and assess the county’s public safety communications system. The two services Pyramid will provide, including reimbursables, will cost under $28,000. The commissioners approved the contract at their last meeting in April.

• The annual report to the state for the Congressional School Fund, as requested by county auditor Michelle Puckett.

“These are dollars that the state gave us a long time ago and we collect interest off of these and distribute them to different schools in the county,” she said.

It was the last annual report the county will receive for the fund as at the end of May, when the investment is due, the dollars will be sent back to the state, which will distribute the funds going forward, she said.