The ball atop of the Polk County Courthouse does not reach above the stars, but it might as well have for a Business Record reporter and photographer who wanted an up-close and personal look at what’s happening with the renovation of the historic building’s exterior.

So, we took the next best approach and asked NAI Optimum to send its drone up for a look.

The West Des Moines commercial real estate brokerage has been using a four-armed unmanned aerial vehicle for a few months now. President Kurt Mumm was quick to jump on the chance to get some video and still photographs of the work in progress on the courthouse, which is receiving an exterior touch-up under the guidance of Neumann Bros. Inc.  Watch the video: bit.ly/1oEsFE4

Eight people have been giving the limestone exterior a thorough cleaning and finding and fixing chinks in the mortar since May. The job should be completed by November, said John Rowen, deputy director of the Polk County General Services Department.

It was Rowen who delivered the bad news that the reporter and photographer wouldn’t get to scale the spiderwork of scaffolding that leads to the ball at the top of the courthouse, an exact 202 feet from the street, according to Robbie Howard, the site superintendent for Neumann.

Liability insurance is the reason.

Didn’t matter. The reporter and photographer acted as de facto directors as the NAI Optimum’s Dylan Verhoef maneuvered the drone in and around the courthouse. Matt Lundberg, a licensed pilot and vice president at the brokerage, provided additional technical support. Workers had been warned that the little machine, which arrives with the buzz of a swarm of bees, might be circling nearby. We didn’t want any accidents.

Howard remarked that the courthouse had weathered the years in good form.

“It’s in pretty good condition for being over 100 years old,” 
he said.

Take a look and see if you agree.