Livingston Parish wants public's input on mosquito abatement program

LIVINGSTON PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Livingston Parish officials are hoping to soon reinstate a mosquito abatement program in the parish and they're looking for everyone's input.

"We are going to start discussions and fact finding on restarting our mosquito abatement program parish-wide," said Livingston Parish Councilman Maurice "Scooter" Keen.

Keen said Thursday evening they want to hear any issues, good or bad, on whether the parish should try to reinstate the program. For a time, the parish would spray down streets, but many homes in Livingston Parish are well off the roadway, meaning the woods in the back full of water would never get any spray.

Then voters said no to a property tax that would have kept the program going. Now, Keen says instead of being reactive when the mosquitoes return, they want to be proactive. "My constituents are calling me and saying you have to do something about these mosquitoes. They are getting out of hand and that was middle of last year," said Keen.

Keen says they will have someone from the Louisiana Department of Health at Thursday's meeting to explain mosquito-borne illnesses and everything associated with trying to launch the program. The councilman says they have also been in touch with their state senator trying to get a very small fee attached to each property tax that would cover the cost. He says the honor system several years ago did not work.

Last year's mosquitoes in Livingston Parish were truly terrible, some even carrying West Nile Virus, but with no one spraying, there was no way to fight them off. Keen says he realizes Livingston Parish is not like others, which is why he wants input.

"I'm not for or against mosquito abatement at this point 'til we find out if there are better technologies that just target mosquitoes instead of killing the bees, butterflies, chickens, and different things," said Keen. He's open to all ideas as long as he can try to put a dent in the mosquito problem, be it only in the unincorporated parts of the parish or parish-wide.

"They are a nuisance, but I have seen reactions with my own children where they swell up extremely badly from getting a mosquito bite even though it is not West Nile, Zika, or Malaria," said Keen.

The meeting is scheduled for Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Livingston Parish council chambers. It's open to anyone in the parish.

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