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Middlebury balks at mosquitoes

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By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — Town officials in Middlebury have abandoned the notion of establishing a local mosquito control program this year and will instead survey residents next Town Meeting Day to determine whether there is enough interest to pursue the idea in 2007.

Selectmen made that decision on Tuesday after learning it could cost the town $50,000 to $100,000 to run an effective mosquito control program this year — and that’s with the summer well under way, and with the prime insect hatching period just about over.

“I would not expect we would be able to do this, this year,” Middlebury Town Manager Bill Finger said.

An increasing number of residents in town have asked selectmen to look into ways of putting a dent in the mosquito population, which they say has soared with recent wet weather. The county already includes two insect control districts — the Brandon-Leicester-Salisbury-Goshen district and the Lemon Fair district (covering Bridport and Cornwall). Weybridge voters on July 25 will decide whether they want to contract for mosquito control services.

Finger explained that Middlebury would have to either join an existing mosquito control district or go it alone. He added the state has limited funds to reimburse districts for the larvicide that is spread aerially to kill mosquitoes before they hatch. Finger said his research indicates the state has around $150,000 in larvicide funds this year. That money is derived from motorboat registration fees.

Selectmen said they believed residents could weather this year’s bug season and look at the issue anew next March.

“Mosquitoes have been part of my life for 72 years,” Selectman Bill Perkins said. “Come on folks, live with it; it’s part of life.”

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