The Select Board approved a resolution, tabled another, heard an update on mosquito spraying and continued a review of permit fees.
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — A swath of the town was sprayed this week after West Nile virus was detected last week in the Cross and Pecks Road area.
"We don't want people to panic, we are addressing it," said Town Administrator Carl McKinney. "We only have three tools in the toolbox: education, the [larvicide] doughnuts and the spray. ... Those are the only tools we have and we've used all of them."
McKinney updated the Select Board on Wednesday with an overlay of where the Berkshire County Mosquito Control Project had sprayed: from West Cross down to Hayden Hill, and from the town line on Middle Road to Horrigan Road and Musterfield Heights.
The spraying was from Sunday evening into Monday morning. McKinney said he'd done his best to knock on the doors of some 50 or so households in the spray area to notify them.
The town is also asking residents to remove standing water such as in bird baths and tires, and to wear long sleeves and pants and use repellent in the evenings. Should any dead birds be observed, residents should not touch them but instead contact the Mosquito Project at 413-447-9808.
This is the first time in years the town has used the spray option. It had discarded the adulticide spray in favor of larvicide — the so-called doughnuts that are placed in standing water — over health concerns several years ago. More recently, it had considered leaving the control project.
The town has 32 areas of standing water that are monitored on regular basis. A bacterial agent is used that poisons the mosquito and black fly larvae but not other organisms.
"We do the larvicide because it's effective and we haven't had West Nile for a while," McKinney said.
However, the West Nile finding, the first in some time, and reports of dead birds or birds acting strange lead officials to call in the spray trucks. More tests have been done but the results are not back yet.
"If we have another finding of West Nile, I suspect there will be another round," McKinney said.
Resident Art Lemaire, who had come on another issue, asked about individuals having their yards sprayed. That had always been an option, but Lemaire said he and others were unaware it could be done until he contacted the project's Berkshire County manager Chris Horton.
The board thought it should have Horton in again to speak to them about the mosquito control program.
In other business, the board voted to table a request by North Adams resident Vincent Melito to take a stand for the Paris Climate Accord, a voluntary concordance of nations committed to reducing carbon output. The Trump administration has stated it would pull out but a group of states and cities are forming to commit to the accords.
Chairman Jeffrey Levanos said he was convinced of climate change but was uncomfortable of the idea making a decision on the town's behalf, particularly one that went against the president.
Board member Carlyle "Chip" Chesbro Jr. agreed. They determined that the petition should be presented to town meeting for a vote instead. Board member Kim Goodell was absent.
• They did, however, endorse a resolution to make the town more bee-friendly and to call on legislators to give communities more control over the use of neonicotiniods, insecticides linked to bee hive collapse.
The resolution is based on one presented to the city of Minneapolis and is largely an encouragement to practice bee-friendly policies like planting wildflowers and not using pesticides. McKinney said the town does not use pesticides now, unless it's a public health issue.
"I think is is more an advisory for residents not to use neonicotiniods," he said. "No farmers, no food; no bees, no farms. We do have a significant agricultural tradition in Berkshire County."
Plus, he said, up to 12 percent of the state's produce comes from Berkshire County.
• The board also began review of fee changes but decided to continue it after questioning some of the elements; and had a long conversation with Lemaire over delinquent payments to the sewer enterprise account.
Lemaire said he understood paying more for future improvement and maintenance but he and others on the system were irked that they had to cover $12,500 in unpaid bills to North Adams.
Levanos said the town did get it back, some were delinquent, some because of people who had died. But he understood, he said, the frustration of essentially paying someone else's bill.
McKinney said the town does send demand notices and liens property but it takes time to get the money back.
• Chesbro asked about switching out the stop signs at the Cross Road bridge to yield signs. The bridge was reduced to one-lane because of structural issues and stop signs placed on both sides.
Some people aren't noticing the stop signs — Chesbro said police had stopped eight drivers in an hour on Sunday — and possibly because the line of sight is so clear on both sides.
McKinney noted the bridge is directly west of Stoneybrook Drive, which could cause a mishap if drivers don't see a car exiting until too late. He said he would speak to the highway foreman about possibly placing a yield sign on the east said.
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