Clarke County’s drone investment now off the ground and running


OSCEOLA – Drones can produce high quality, expansive video, and it’s all from a bird’s-eye view. They’re becoming increasingly popular among law enforcement nationwide. Clarke County is the latest in Iowa to have the tool right at its fingertips. They’re hoping their trailblazing investment may end up as a life-saver in the long run.

“It’s significantly sped up the process where it takes several people man hours working through a corn field or timbers, and a drone can cover a lot of areas really quickly,” said Byron Jimmerson, the emergency management coordinator for Clarke County.

Clarke County was one of the first in all of southern Iowa to begin using drones. They realized its necessity after a group of hunters went missing in the eastern portion of the Stephens State Forest, and were found in the nick of time. 

“That was kind of the, ‘aha’ moment,” said Jimmerson. “It was time to get serious and start fundraising for the project.”

Group after group started giving to the cause, giving Clarke County the $15,000 they’d need to get that drone, complete with thermal imaging capabilities, off the ground. 

Jimmerson is one of only two people in the county who are qualified and certified to operate the drone now. They’ve trained with it by searching corn fields, hovering over icy ponds and much more. Its primary purpose will be looking for missing people.

It can also help with storm or damage assessment, and can even capably help police out, if a suspect tries to run away.

The groups that donated are these: Clarke County Organization of Philanthropic Service donation, Clarke County Organization of Philanthropic Service Grant, ICAP Safety Grant, South Central Iowa Community Foundation Grant, Clarke Electric Cooperative Grant, Osceola Rotary Club, the Schildberg Foundation, Walmart, American Legion Post 69, DSLR Grant, Alliant Energy Foundation and Clarke County Development Corporation Pillars Grant. 

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