Salem County Board of Chosen Freeholders
94 Market Street. Salem, N.J. 08079

CONTACT: Curt Harker
Deputy Clerk of the Board

ext. 8203

September 9, 2002


Salem -- The County has destroyed 270,000 abandoned tires, exceeding its goal by 30,000, to reduce a major source of wet breeding grounds for mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus, Freeholder Sue Bestwick said today.

"We built on our success of working with farmers last year, when nearly 115,000 car tires were brought in during an amnesty period. They exchanged the tires holding down tarps on feed bunkers for recycled tire strips which don't hold water," said Bestwick, who chairs the Health and Social Services Committee.

An initial State grant of $400,000 allowed a two-track attack on West Nile Virus. The first was for the Salem County Utilities Authority to remove and grind up abandoned tires. Secondly, the remaining $75,000 was used for pre-emptive mosquito pesticide application."

"The Mosquito Commission spray requests have increased by over 500%. In 1997 we had 149 requests. Last year we received 802 requests for spray. Grant funds enabled the Commission to respond to every spray request," said Freeholder Michael Facemyer, who serves on the same committee.

"We've worked hard to protect Salem County residents. The County has a West Nile Virus public awareness campaign. Every breeding site is inspected before deciding if spraying is necessary. And, each morning staff checks 19 light boxes around the County to monitor mosquito populations. State entomologists then examine the captured mosquitoes for signs of West Nile Virus," said Facemyer.

A special task force the County created brings together the Agriculture Extension Service, Department of Health, Salem County Utilities Authority, County Engineer, Roads and Bridges, other departments, and Cumberland County representatives. The group meets regularly to trouble-shoot problems and devise a coordinated plan of prevention to the spread of West Nile Virus.

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