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Spray plans stir no outcry

In a farming community like Galt, pesticides are nothing new.

So, when the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District hosted an informational meeting on spraying for mosquitoes this week, the response wasn't the alarm or outrage seen at similar forums in Davis and Elk Grove.

In fact, some Galt residents told officials they wanted more spraying.

The district began spraying earlier this month to stop the spread of the West Nile virus, which is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Although many areas of the county have been sprayed by plane, Galt has had only ground spraying.

"Why haven't you been more proactive in establishing a spraying policy?" asked 56-year-old Dennis Richardson, who complained he had trouble getting information from the district about what to do with some dead birds he found on his property.

The Galt forum was nothing like last week's raucous session in Davis, where aerial spraying opponents commandeered the meeting after several government leaders left in frustration, or a tamer meeting in Elk Grove, where a few people complained about the district's communication with residents.

About 55 people attended the Monday meeting at the Chabolla Community Center, including City Council members, city staff, vector control officials and media representatives.

Questions centered on the effects of the West Nile virus on chickens and their eggs, the best ways to clean up standing water and where to get mosquitofish.

Nobody asked about the safety of residential spraying to kill off mosquitoes.

"I haven't heard any negative comments at this meeting," said Cliff Loftin, a 57-year resident of Galt. "Maybe there's more down-to-earth people here."

The vector control district already has treated with ground spraying the west of side of Galt, from south of Twin Cities Road to just south of New Hope Road along Christensen Road.

District spokeswoman Jennifer Benito said Tuesday the district was planning ground spraying for rural areas just outside the Galt city limits on Wednesday and Sept. 8, but noted that sort of spraying was routine.

She said the district is considering future spraying within Galt's city limits, but it has not yet been scheduled.

District manager Dave Brown, who's faced a tidal wave of criticism for his handling of the aerial spraying in Sacramento County, called the residents of Galt "refreshing."

"I think it's a community that has a better understanding of the risks of pesticides - or the lack of risks," he said.

Brown told residents the district would do a better job of letting them know when and where it will be spraying.

After the meeting, Brown said he made those comments with some frustration. He said the district has been talking about the perils of West Nile virus for years, and when the district had to act quickly to initiate aerial spraying earlier this month, the media unfairly portrayed the district's actions as sudden and irresponsible.

Some Galt residents agreed. Freda Rothenberger, 73, said she attended the meeting to show her support for the spraying, which she said was good for the community.

Some residents said they didn't understand why the rest of the county was so upset about the aerial spraying. A few said the hubbub was coming from young city people who didn't know anything about pesticides or life on the farm.

"I live on a big ranch. We always spray for mosquitoes," said Ida Denier, 67. "What's the big deal?"

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