Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Continued Meeting

Wednesday, May 02, 2001

May 2, 2001 - 12:00 p.m.
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street

Mayor DeBoer called the meeting to order at 12:04 p.m.

Councilors Laws, Reid, Hartzell, Hanson, Morrison was present, Councilor Fine was absent.

1. Continued Discussion regarding Gypsy Moth Spray program.
DeBoer shared conversations and statements from several citizens. Sandra Slattery confirmed that some kind of insect had been damaging her Madrone trees and that she had identified gypsy moths as the ones flying around her outdoor light. She stated that since the spraying, the moths had not returned and was in support of spraying. Belinda Brown, the health nurse at the middle school and Lincoln Elementary, stated that there was no increase in incidences of health issues in relation to the spraying. Ron Roth, an organic farmer in the area who has used Btk in the past, supports the spraying. DeBoer noted that he received several phone calls in the morning and all were in support of the continuation of the spraying.

Hartzell updated the council on the meeting held earlier in the day with the State Department of Agriculture. She noted the following: 1) alternatives were dismissed as funding is questionable; 2) the method of choice is spraying, as other alternatives are less effective; 3) clarification of health related issues were sparse, as there is uncertainty about the correlation between the spraying and reactions; 4) if spraying went ahead, there would be cooperative effort between agencies to try to mitigate the impact and to warn people; and 5) spraying is in direct response to infestation and there is no way of knowing if more spraying will be required next year.

Jim Shute/1347 Prospect/Commended the Department of Agriculture for informing citizens who live in the spray area. Due to the pollen season, the helicopters may have caused the normal typical pollen to be stirred up more than what is normal. He felt that this may have caused the reported respiratory distress and does not believe that the spraying caused any health problems. He felt strongly that the council should be in full attendance before a decision of this type is reversed. Shute requested reconsideration of the decision to rescind approval for low-flying spraying.

Carol Ferguson/Associate Professor in Entomology at SOU/572 Ray/Reported her experience with gypsy moth devastation. Ferguson stated that the proposed method of spraying is the safest for the application of the pesticide. Many studies have been done regarding the negative health effects to humans and no adverse effects were found. Ferguson urged the council to listen to the experts when making this decision.

Richard Hilton/Entomologist from SOU Extension Office/2085 Knowles Rd, Medford/Agreed with comments by Dr. Ferguson. Spraying Btk is a huge benefit as compared to the devastation caused by gypsy moths. Hilton stated that now is the optimal time for spraying and urged the council to continue the program.

DeBoer read two e-mails submitted by citizens, one in support and the other in opposition.

Susan Hollinsworth/Principal of Lincoln Elementary School/Presented attendance records for the past two weeks. She was not able to compare the numbers to last years, nor was she able to compare with other schools in the area. There were reports from children complaining of allergy-type symptoms (headaches, red itchy eyes), during the week of the spraying. There was a higher than average number of absentees on the day of the spraying, but half the students returned the following day. There was also a three-day, holiday weekend, which created a very high absenteeism rate. A letter was sent home notifying the parents of the planned spraying days. Settling of the pesticide took longer than anticipated. The school had three options: 1) late-start day; 2) no school; 3) washing down playground equipment/lawn areas. Starting late or closing school was not considered because it was possible that the spraying would not happen if it were raining. This would cause a loss in class time for students. Overall there was no mass absenteeism during the spray week.

Rick Kirschner/360 Merrill/Noted that a haze has settled over the valley, but its origin is unknown. He questioned the cause of the reported health concerns. He suggested establishing an annual program bringing awareness of the gypsy moth to the community and reporting any findings. Kirschner does not support the methods currently used by society in solving "big picture" problems.

Councilors Morrison/Reid m/s to continue with the two scheduled gypsy moth sprays. DISCUSSION: Hanson stated that the meeting with Department of Agriculture representatives did not change his mind regarding aerial spraying, however he did have a change of thought about what is happening in Ashland. Hartzell would support the motion only if the City was willing to put funds aside to monitor the situation and to notify the community. Reid is not willing to support using City funds for monitoring; however, she did encourage further research by entomologists. She was concerned that an item was added to the agenda and a decision was made, all without notification to the public for rebuttal. DeBoer suggested providing staff time to gather information from local schools, the university, the community health center, and the hospital after the spraying is completed, and to bring back a report to the council in July or August. Hartzell clarified that funding could be used to provide more notification and to offer health information services. Laws was willing to support more notification and post spraying informational services. Roll Call Vote: Laws, Reid, Hartzell, Hanson, and Morrison, YES. Motion passed.

DeBoer stated that SOREDI is looking for a special liaison from the council and Hartzell volunteered to be the liaison, which was accepted by the mayor.

Meeting was adjourned at 1:03 p.m.

Submitted by Barbara Christensen, City Recorder/Treasurer

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