The West Nile Virus continues to be a public health problem in our community at this time. I feel that the Allen County Health Department has been very proactive in doing everything possible to control this epidemic. It is still important to wear protective clothing such as long sleeves, etc. and to wear mosquito repellent during outside activities—especially during the evening hours when mosquito activity is at it’s peak. There’s been quite a bit of discussion in the media about mosquito spraying in our county. I’ve followed the health department’s decision making process closely since the West Nile problem developed. It appears to me that the department has made every effort to target mosquito spraying as tightly as possible on those sections of Allen County where viral activity was the greatest based on studies of dead birds, mosquito trapping, and human cases. Recently the question came up as to whether spraying should be allowed in our city parks. The city administration temporarily limited spraying due to concerns about risks of using insecticides in our parks and possibility that private firms could use chemicals not cleared by the health department. After some additional discussions last week it was agreed that the safest approach would be to spray for mosquitoes in city parks following the same guidelines used for spraying private residential properties. The entire process will be under the control of the Allen County Health Department, which is eager to cut back on spraying as soon as it is safe to do so from the public health viewpoint. Since the West Nile Virus may be back to visit us next year the health department will spend time this fall and winter planning preventive measures for 2003.

In my Councilman’s Corner column 2 weeks ago there was some information about spending to upgrade our parks, which should be clarified. My point was that the chances are good that many private dollars are going to be poured into our great city park system during the next few years. Our $170 million a year city budget includes $1-2 million a year over a 3-year period to expand and improve our parks based on citizen input as to how those dollars should be used. In addition to those PUBLIC TAX dollars it is likely that 2 PRIVATE CONTRIBUTED dollars will be added to the funding package for every one dollar of tax funds. You’ll hear much more about this great effort to improve our city parks during the next couple of years. Thanks to all of those citizens who are coming forward to contribute to making our parks even better for future generations!

Finally, 2 city employees definitely deserve a big pat on the back for service above and beyond the call of duty. According to Billie Rykard of the Belle Vista Neighborhood Association, 2 badly damaged bicycles were recently found in the Fairfield ditch in the Belle Vista area. Neighborhood representatives were planning to drag the bikes out of the ditch when Steve Edmiston and Bob Heredia of Fort Wayne’s City Utilities Division made a special point to stop by with a grappling hook and took care of the problem which was not “officially ” their responsibility. Thanks to Steve and Bob! Give me a call about any problems or if you have any suggestions. Have a great fall!


Tom Hayhurst
City Councilman 4th District