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Charleston church uses drone to inspect steeple parts

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — What many people think of as nothing but a toy, is being used as an essential tool for work in Charleston. CIS Steeplejacks used a remote controlled drone Thursday to inspect a steeple that needs repair at the Kanawha United Presbyterian Church.

The oldest operating church in the Capitol City, standing since 1885, needs to repair parts of the steeple that fell off last year. To provide clear documentation, CIS Steeplejacks recorded video footage around the top of the steeple so they can evaluate valuable information of what needs to be done.

Using a drone allows workers to look at areas that help settle claims quickly and fairly. Drones also provide safer work environments. Workers do not have to climb ladders or risk slipping off a roof, resulting in workers’ compensation claims.

Mike Hardin, owner of CIS Steeplejacks, said these are several advantages to using a drone, but it comes down to who is evaluating the footage.

“It all depends on the person. It doesn’t depend on the drone. You have to know what you’re looking at. Being in the field for over 30 years, I know what I’m looking for and it gives me an ability to evaluate in a correct way for them,” said Hardin.

The church applied for funding under the Historic Preservation Fund through the West Virginia state office since this is the first year religious organizations could apply. One of the highest priorities of the funding is the stabilization of roofs on historic churches, so Kanawha United Presbyterian Church took advantage of that qualification for the first time.

“Nothing has fallen off this church until recently and we have to get it repaired,” said Richard Hartman, an elder at the church, “Of course we have to repair it in a manner that matches the historic nature of the building. What we do in here is important to us, but what people see outside is important to everybody in town.”

Hartman, who is managing the grant for the church, said he has to submit it by the end of March, so the Historic Preservation Office can review it in late May and announce the awarded grants throughout the state in June.

The church is unsure of how much money is available statewide yet because they are waiting for the legislature to review the budget.

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