After hearing about West Nile virus cases in Louisiana, Livingston Parish councilman Scooter Keen said he hopes some of his colleagues have a change of heart on the mosquito abatement program.
The Livingston Parish Mosquito Abatement program is currently defunct because residents voted against a tax that would pay for it. Since that time, councilman Keen and councilman Garry Talbert created a mosquito abatement district for the area they represent, district two and district three.
To start up the program, Keen and Talbert planned to use money leftover from the parish-wide abatement program that no longer exists. Keen said, to his knowledge, that leftover money has to be used for mosquito abatement or it will just sit there.
Their plan to move forward with the mosquito abatement program in district two and three hit a roadblock when the council voted against asking the parish president to grant the leftover funds to the project.
The Louisiana Department of Health confirmed there have been six cases of West Nile virus in parishes in Louisiana, including Livingston Parish.
Councilman Keen said the Louisiana Department of Health has not disclosed where the case occurred in Livingston Parish, but he said it is a health concern people need to take seriously. Some residents are already speaking up about their desire to bring the mosquito abatement program back.
“We were very disappointed as residents here because we have had a lot of problems with mosquitoes and I’ve noticed that since they stopped it, they’re just getting worse. I am very concerned,” long-time resident Carolyn Turner said.
David Miller was shopping at the Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs Thursday morning buying outdoor gear with his son. He said he spends a lot of time outside, so he always makes sure to keep bug spray on hand. While he said he takes precaution to protect himself from West Nile virus, he thinks the parish should do the same.
“It’s something we are all concerned about and I think abatement would be good,” Miller said.
While some are pushing to bring the program back, others are against it.
“I think sometimes when the people come spray around the neighborhood, that makes it worse sometimes,” shopper Rodrick Goodwill said.
Councilman Keen said he was upset the council vote blocked startup funding for an abatement program in district two and three, but he is going to keep trying. Moving forward, Keen said he is considering asking the people for donations to help fund the startup process.
Keen also said he thinks some of his colleagues are starting to rethink their decisions to block the funds now that there is a report of West Nile virus in the parish.
For more information on the symptoms of West Nile virus and how to protect yourself, check out our previous report.