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Published: Wednesday, 7/5/2006

Allen County sheriff s copter being repaired

LIMA, Ohio The Allen County sheriff s eye in the sky, which took a beating when last month s devastating storm destroyed the hangar that housed the Schweizer 300C helicopter, will be repaired and returned to service.

Sheriff Dan Beck said a repair facility in Columbus recently retrieved the damaged helicopter. Repairs are estimated to cost between $60,000 and $100,000.

The county has used the helicopter for 13 years, patrolling for marijuana, backing up deputies, finding lost people, and keeping an eye on retail parking lots during the Christmas holiday shopping season. We ve eradicated a tremendous amount of marijuana with it, Sheriff Beck said. It s really been an asset for us.

He said insurance will cover most of the repair costs. We ve paid insurance on it for 13 years. My attitude is, I just want to get my money back.

Two days of storms in late June, including four tornadoes that touched down in Allen County, uprooted trees, tore roofs off buildings, and flattened a hangar at the Lima-Allen County Airport in Perry Township, severely damaging six small airplanes.

The sheriff s office obtained the Schweizer after trading in two government-surplus Huey helicopters. The chopper carries a pilot and an observer. It is used an average of once a week.

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