APM Mosquito Control representative, Chuck Mullins, speaks with the Tawas City Council about the company’s 2019 efforts in the community. Voters previously approved a mosquito control millage, with the four-year contract for the services starting up in 2017.

TAWAS CITY – Among other business during its Nov. 18 meeting, the Tawas City Council received a 2019 activity report from Chuck Mullins of Advanced Pest Management (APM) Mosquito Control, Armada.

“It was pretty mild. It was a very cold, wet spring,” he started.

Mullins said APM has traps on Lake Street, as well as near the city’s soccer field. Rainfall at the soccer field site totaled 13.6 inches, from about May 20 through Aug. 28. “Almost seven inches of that was before the 30th of June. And then after that it kind of just backed off.”

He noted that the highest female mosquito counts in Tawas City this calendar year were at the soccer field on Aug. 12, with eight females, and at the Lake Street site on Aug. 19, with seven females.

Additional information from APM representative Benjamin Seago reads that, after the initial hatch of Spring Aedes, mosquito activity remained low due to lack of summer rainfall.

He stated that APM crews applied a total of 119 pounds of bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) in 2019, targeting larval mosquito populations.

Adult mosquitos became active approximately the second week of June, with the first ultra low volume (ULV) truck fogging application occurring on May 22.

“A total of 126.23 miles of roadways were sprayed throughout the 2019 season,” Seago added, also noting that the catch basin treatments – 205 in all – were completed June 12.

According to Seago, all six CDC/dry ice trap collections were submitted to Michigan State’s mosquito lab and tested for West Nile Virus, with all results coming back negative.

Mullins told the council that APM has completed the third year of its four-year contract with the city, and he was at the meeting that night to see if there were any questions or concerns from officials.

Mayor Pro Tem Brian McMurray shared that he spent a lot of time in Tawas City this year, and, “I didn’t have any issues with mosquitos, so I think you guys did a great job.”

Mullins noted that there were concerns in the southern half of the state, however, regarding Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, EEE virus is a rare cause of brain infections. Approximately 30 percent of people with EEE die, and many survivors have ongoing neurologic problems.

Mullins said there were 10 human cases of EEE in Michigan in 2019 – which is about the average that is seen nationwide each year. “So we were hit pretty hard.”

He explained that the breeding areas of the particular mosquito responsible for EEE are not as common around Tawas City as it is in other locations.

“I never want to sound an alarm, but mosquitos are a deadly insect,” Mullins warned. “West Nile Virus is the primary thing you see around the Michigan area.”

He said that, normally, the dryer a year is, the more West Nile Virus cases there will be. This is due to the water pools used by mosquitos becoming more stagnant and, therefore, allowing the insects to produce more rapidly.

Mullins also said there are areas of phragmites in Tawas City, which some disease-carrying mosquitos are drawn to, with the insects being most active in the evening.

“So if you start getting those in those particular areas of phragmites, somebody needs to give us a call so we know to make sure we’ve got a truck in that area,” he noted.

“There’s not a whole lot you can do to treat the larvae. They over winter as larvae,” Mullins explained. They hatch in September, burrow down into the roots of the phragmites and breathe through the tube/reed system, not surfacing again until they are adults. “So we’ve got about a two-week window to treat larvae.”

“Part of our treatment of the phragmites is we burn them in the wintertime. Does that take care of that?” asked Tawas City Manager Annge Horning.

“That will help tremendously,” Mullins answered.

He said this is because when the adults come out of the water the following year, they won’t have a place to go back to. “They’re going to go back to that same area to lay their eggs again. And, like I said, those eggs just lay there. They also emerge as adults in cycles, over about a five-week period, which is why you see a wave.”

Mullins reiterated that there are a lot of different diseases which mosquitos carry, and people should be cautious. When the insects become particularly bad, he suggests wearing long clothing, applying deet and contacting APM if needed. “Give us an opportunity to try to come and knock them down for you.”

As previously reported, a mosquito millage was placed on the ballot for Tawas City voters, which passed when 517 constituents voted in favor of the proposal. There were 321 people opposed.

A price of $24,000 per year was given by APM Mosquito Control for a four-year contract, which is the term of the millage. The amount is .47 mills for four years, so each taxpayer is contributing 47¢ for every $1,000 of taxable value on his or her property.

APM’s offer is for the 2017-2020 mosquito seasons, but extension of the contract is available at the discretion of the council.

Tawas City contracted with APM to develop and implement an effective mosquito abatement program, based on best practices of Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

The program features all phases of an IPM strategy against mosquitoes, consisting of adult mosquito monitoring/disease testing, breeding site inspections and larviciding, ULV adulticide applications and perimeter barrier adulticide applications.

In other business, the council held a public hearing to receive input on proposed Ordinance No. 322 to repeal Ordinance No. 132, Vehicles for Hire.

“At the last council meeting, we introduced a proposed new ordinance to repeal our vehicle for hire ordinance, or, our taxi cab ordinance,” Horning said.

She reminded officials that the state has put out new regulations to oversee vehicles for hire, making the city’s ordinance obsolete.

Part of the process to repeal the ordinance requires that a public hearing be held, for which there were no comments received.

Officials then unanimously adopted Ordinance 322 to repeal the city’s Vehicles for Hire ordinance.

In separate action, the council accepted a $61,000 offer from the Burleigh-Reno-Whittemore (BRW) Fire Department, to purchase the Tawas City Fire Department’s (TCFD) 1996 Pierce Saber pumper truck.

“The Council previously approved an agreement with Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus to advertise nationally to sell the truck with a 10 percent commission paid to them upon completion of the sale,” Horning stated. “Because this proposal was received outside the scope of the agreement with Brindlee, we do not have to pay them a commission.”

She noted that the truck is currently advertised for sale on Brindlee’s website for $70,000. “So, if it sold for that, their commission would be $7,000, so we would take $63,000.”

Horning also said that, because the BRW department is located close to Tawas City, the truck will be available for mutual aid calls as needed.

TCFD Chief Steve Masich and the fire department’s officers recommended that the council accept the proposal from the BRW Fire Department, and to transfer ownership at the earliest convenience for all parties.

Consensus was given by officials that approving the proposal was a no-brainer, they were happy to help out another nearby department and they were pleased to learn that the vehicle can be used in the Tawas City service area if necessary.

“It will benefit us; it will benefit all the communities,” augmented BRW Fire Chief Rick Farrand.

In other matters, the council approved hiring Corby Energy Services to line and do spot repairs on several sections of sewer mains.

“The total quote is $59,616, and we have $60,000 budgeted for this project in the current fiscal year,” Horning pointed out.

“The City is a member of OMNIA Partners, which is a nation-wide cooperative purchasing organization dedicated to public sector procurement,” she explained. “Our membership allows us to take advantage of a competitive bid process that has already been completed. OMNIA Partners solicited proposals for trenchless technology rehabilitation and related products and services through 17 media sources and websites.”

The proposals were evaluated based on products/pricing, performance capability, qualification and experience, and value added, Horning said.

“Based on the responses they received, contracts were awarded to Corby Energy Services, Inc., which is based in Michigan, and SAK Construction, LLC, which is based in Missouri,” she went on, adding that Corby has done work for the city in the past, and the company was outstanding.