Contact: Rita Shade Simpson
Clerk of the Board/Administrator
Salem County Board of Chosen Freeholders
92 Market Street. Salem, N.J. 08079
Freeholder Sue Bestwick 678-9105
Freeholder Mike Facemyer 769-8187
County Battles West Nile Virus
July 27, 2001
Mannington -- Salem Countys aggressive, multi-faceted program to control West Nile Virus is paying dividends, according to Freeholder Michael Facemyer.
"Calls from residents in Salem County requesting mosquito spraying are up dramatically, staff is vigilantly monitoring mosquito populations to do pre-emptive spraying strikes, and farmers are replacing tens of thousands of tires commonly used on feed bunkers with environmental-friendly tire strips," said Freeholder Facemyer.
Facemyer said that in 1999 the County Mosquito Control Commission received 446 calls for spraying during the March through October season. After the County launched a public awareness campaign, calls jumped to 701 last year. During the first half of this years mosquito season, the County has received and responded to 601 calls for spraying.
"Our staff is working diligently and there is no backlog. Every site is inspected before deciding if spraying is necessary," explained Facemyer. "Also, each morning, our staff checks 19 light boxes around the County to monitor mosquito populations. State etymologists then examine the captured mosquitoes for signs of West Nile Virus."
Freeholder Susan Bestwick said the cornerstone of the Countys successful program is a special task force the County created to bring together the Agriculture Extension Service, Department of Health, Salem County Utilities Authority, County Engineer, Roads and Bridges and other departments. The task force also brings Cumberland County to the table.
The group meets regularly to trouble-shoot problems and devise a coordinated plan of prevention.
Bestwick said the County recently stepped in to help growers in Salem County make the switch from using car tires to recycled tire strips to hold down tarps covering ground-level feed bunkers. The flat strips do not hold water, which significantly reduces potential mosquito breading areas.
"Dairy and grain farmers were very interested in using the strips, and Agriculture Extension Agent David Lee found a source where farmers could buy the recycled product in volume and exchange the car tires at the same time," explained Bestwick.
But then they ran into a logistical problem.
"We brought various County administrators to the table and worked out a solution. The Utilities Authority agreed that the County landfill could be used as a staging site. The vendor delivers the tire strips on pallets by the tractor trailer load, and the growers bring in their car tires, which the dealer then takes away."
Bestwick said that earlier this year, Salem County farmers brought in nearly 115,000 car tires during an amnesty period.
Facemyer and Bestwick said the Countys efforts to prevent West Nile Virus from becoming a public health problem will not run out of steam.
"Salem County is receiving a $400,000 grant from the state to heighten our already successful efforts,"said Bestwick.
Both Facemyer and Bestwick worked with Senator Ray Zane to lobby for the $400,000 to be inserted into the July 1 state budget.
State West Nile Virus Website
Freeholder Sue Bestwick discusses issues in removing tires from private property.
Freeholder Mike Facemyer explains the danger to the public of the tire dumps.
Quinton Mayor Loufik (2nd left) joins the County and State cooperative effort to remove the tire dumps.