County OKs funds for safety aids

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Several times a year, Bonner County Marine Deputies are dispatched to help errant boaters or kayakers whether or not they are in an emergency situation. In order to provide aid quickly, Marine Division Lieutenant, Douglas McGeachy appealed to county commissioners to approve a grant request for forward looking infrared cameras.

FLIR, as they’re called, will be gyro-stabilized and mounted on county vessels that serve Priest Lake and Lake Pend Oreille. Gyro-stabilized means that the cameras can compensate when the vessel is pitching and rolling with the waves.

“These cameras will allow us to search for people and boats when needed, and is better than using lights,” McGeachy said. “And, they aren’t just used at nighttime. They also help in fog, and would have helped a lot last year when we had low visibility because of forest fires.”

McGeachy said that his crew would also be able to aid other agencies, such as fire fighters and Idaho Fish & Game. The commissioners approved the $17,780 matching funds which will come from boat registration fees.

Keeping another eye on safety, Parks and Waterways Recreation Director, Nate Demmons requested approval to upgrade navigational aids on Priest Lake. This grant will provide funds to replace the old wooden pilings that Demmons said are rotting, with steel ones and to replace the lights with Bluetooth bulbs that would enable workers to check function status remotely during the day.

“At some point we’d like to replace all lights on our waterways,” Demmons said. And, in answer to an attendees question about replacing pilings on the river Demmons said, “The river already has steel pilings, so they don’t need replacing.”

Officials voted unanimously to approve the Priest Lake grant’s match of $8,000 and the Garfield Bay grant match of $5,000.

On the subject of safety, Road and Bridge Director Steve Klatt told officials that there are several gravel roads that are deteriorating and in immediate need of repair.

“We need relief on these roads. The potholes are the worst I’ve seen in sixty years,” he said. “Extraordinary measures are needed to stop the degradation of roads.” Klatt estimated the immediate need at between $10,000 to $15,000.

“The problem is that these potholes are full of water and you can’t just put gravel into them, you need to get the water out first. It wouldn’t surprise me if fixing all the roads cost as much as $50,000. But, there’s difference between going over the top and going totally nuts.”

The county commissioners will not meet next Tuesday, February 4, but will resume their regular meeting schedule on Tuesday, February 11 at 9 a.m. at the Bonner County Administration Building, 1500 Highwayy 2, on the third floor. The agenda is posted 48 hours prior to the meeting at bonnercountyid.gov. Public comments are currently suspended.

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