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Palmer Considering $63K Mosquito Prevention Plan

PALMER, Mass. (WGGB) — Towns in Western Massachusetts had their fair share of mosquito problems this summer. With West Nile Virus and EEE threat levels “critical” in many local towns, officials were left scrambling — changing sports schedules and implementing curfews to keep residents safe.

Luckily, Palmer made it out of mosquito season unscathed. But, this summer was definitely a wake up call.

Now, town officials are trying to figure out how to keep their residents safe before the mosquitoes return.

“Certainly it has been kind of a concern — that we’ve seen more and more cases of these dangerous viruses turn up in mosquitoes,” says Charles Blanchard, Palmer Town Manager. “So it does seem to become more prevalent in moving up into this area.”

This coming summer, Palmer hopes to take a more proactive approach. They’re considering joining the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Program.

The group monitors conditions in 40 Baystate towns and cities and it provides mosquito control if a town’s threat level gets too high.

The program is one of the most comprehensive ways to keep towns safe and keep residents’ minds at ease — but it comes at a price.

“It would be approximately $63,000 per year and it’s a three year commitment,” says Blanchard.

Palmer Town Council thinks it’s a worthy investment, but right now they’re proceeding  with caution.

“As we move forward with our FY14 budget, we would try to budget for this,” says Blanchard. “So we would put the $63,000 in there as a cost of our budget, and as we move forward, we would see if we could keep that expense in there.”

Town officials hope to finalize the FY14 budget by March.