Despite EEE Scare, Grafton Mosquito Control Fails by 10 Votes

  • Comments (31)
Timothy Deschamps, executive director of the Central Mass. Mosquito Control Project, speaks at Grafton Town Meeting.
Timothy Deschamps, executive director of the Central Mass. Mosquito Control Project, speaks at Grafton Town Meeting. Photo Credit: Jennifer Lord Paluzzi

GRAFTON, Mass. — The article to reinstate the town of Grafton into the Central Mass. Mosquito Control program,was defeated last night at Town Meeting by 10 votes.

Town Moderator Ray Mead  took a head count, which came in at 95 voting “no” and 85 voting “yes.” Passage required a simple majority vote.

This is the second time in five years that the town voted not to rejoin the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project, the Northborough-based state-supported agency that conducts spraying, standing water cleanup, and education on mosquito born disease. This vote was much closer than in 2007 due to the record breaking amount of West Nile Virus and EEE in Massachusetts and the country.

Dr. Sam Telford, an expert on mosquitoes and insect-bourne infectious disease at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, said the chemicals used in the spraying, Sumithrin, have been tested to be safe to humans and that the chemicals break down quickly reducing harm to “friendly insects” and plants.

Dick Dion, a beekeeper and cancer survivor was not convinced. He said that he could not believe the spray is not harmful given the health problems he lived through over the years. 

Another resident, who lived near a swamp, said she voted against the project in 2007 but is for it this time.

“The mosquitoes are out of control,” she said.

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Comments (31)

Mosquito control has become one of the important aspects and if this problem will not get reduced then there will be high number of health problems as well.

This is good that to control mosquitos special programs are being held, with the help of this surely people are going to get awareness and can control the mosquitos.

Its amazing, looking at the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you provide. I'll bookmark your blog and visit it weekly for your new posts.

And by the way, yes, I too am worried about people's lives, and especially about our children's lives. I was extremely worried about my little boy's life when he was in the hospital this month having surgery to remove a tumor from his brain that was likely the result of our exposure to environmental toxins. I hope none of your children or my children contract EEE or West Nile, but when there are other many other safe ways of avoiding mosquito exposure (by the way, ErikaS27, not all insect repellants contain DEET, try Jason's Mosquito Repellant for example), I choose to avoid adding one more neurotoxin to our already polluted environment so that hopefully, not one more child in Grafton will have to go through what my son has endured.

Those who voted against this article did it not because they had a lack of knowledge, were merely "hysterical" or had lack of concern for our health and safety, but because they reasoned that the risks of the program outweigh the benefits.

Also, Dura Mater, the finance committee never "blindly" approves anything. They spend hours/days culling over the details of these articles before town meeting. Do all of our BOS do the same?

Ms. Robbins didn't seem to know what the $40k for the Common Landscape plan included. She incorrectly stated that it was for "fixing up the gazebo".

In my opinion, they weren't up to snuff on that particular question.

I'd like to see some focus on the Rt 122/140 sidewalks that are crumbling into oblivion (where there are sidewalks). Or do they not matter because they aren't in the center of town?

The problem here is not mosquitos or signs, the problem is 180 people deciding the fate of the thousands that live in town. It shouldn't even be called a town meeting it should be called 'the usual suspects with nothing better to do meeting'. There really needs to be a better way achieve a better ratio of votes for such important things. I sure do not claim to know very much about politics at all, especially small town nonsense. What I do know is the town meeting was meant for small teensy weenie emerging colonies that had a population of a couple of hundred not thousands. There is way too much going on in peoples lives i.e. kids, getting ready for work, school, family stuff, stuff to wind down from the day etc...that the thought or time or ability to get to a town meeting to listen for hours and hours just isn't realistic. This stuff is way to important to leave it to the dedicated few who do go to every meeting in town. With technology the way it is today I am quite sure something can change, or maybe the structure of the town government or charter or whatever it is, needs tweeking at this point so more voices are heard. Of course you will hear 'go to the meeting' or 'if you want to be heard you need to be there' or what ever I then go back to my earlier statement referring to our lives in this day and age not our ancient ancestors. You all pay taxes here and have nothing to say about where it goes it is almost very convenient...

JoJo...please do not disparage those of us who take the time to participate in Town Meeting. Even with my 3-hour daily roundtrip commute, I make it a point to attend TM. It is quite enteratining, as well as important. I also try to follow town issues by reading the meeting minutes (a few are actually up to date). And I watch the BoS and Planning meetings on TV. You can do some of these things. You can also email your TA and Selectmen...sometimes they respond. But, if you do not participate, you will be left with what others decide. Perhaps you could offer suggestions on what technology could be implemented to make it more convenient for you to join in.

With all due respect, Madam, most people including me don't have extra time to read minutes that might be up to date (probably not up to date becuse who ever does them doesn't have time), or watch the BOS meetings (so Padgett can show everybody how much smarter he is than everyone else), and especially the Planning meetings (where the only voice that you hear is Hassinger going on and on and on about how "we always did it this way and that way" referring to his earlier days on the board back in the late 1800's. Arguing his point for God knows how long only to vote the way the rest of the Board was voting in the first place hours earlier). I also wouldn't bother the board during their free time either. Ma'am I did put a suggestion in i.e. put things of importance to a town vote, I also mentioned the technology that we have today playing a part in this. Times have changed, parts of this this form of government should change to keep up and to enable the people who have important things to do to do them. I don't want to join in I just want to take a small piece of time to vote on whats important not my entire day. Obviously you are one of those people who like running things and would rather keep them the way they are because you know if the TM importance was lessened and more things were voted on you may lose your influence on this town.

Pardon me, Madam, but it appears that you DO watch all those televised meetings. Otherwise, how could you know that Padgett is engaged, inquisitive and challenging; Hassinger likes to explain the history of decisions so we have the proper perspective, etc. And you also know that the meeting minutes are not up to date. VERY interesting.
But you missed a very important point: Almost everything is voted on at Town Meeting. All the way down to minor accounting transfers. The only thing we do not vote are the individual school budget line items. We vote only for one lump sum. Now, that is something I would like to examine.
And, yes, I AM in control. Just me and a few others who secretly manage everything that goes on in town. We meet weekly at the Post Office Pub. Join us. Learn the secret handshake. Plot secretively for the ultimate control of Grafton's most precious resource: the Police Boat!

Well, well, know it all. I have had the unfortunate pleasure of have to go before the board. Several times. He in fact was the chairman at the time, yes...I again have scanned my previous statements in the last post and can not find any where saying that Padgett was anything except for a know it all. However I should expect someone like you who is imbedded in everything to twist words and spin quotes to your liking. Thank God for guys like Adams and Carlson who will vote for what they believe in, make their explaination to the point, and get on with it. They have lives and work for a living. I have also had to listen to Hassinger in person, while before the Planning board. Yes,Yes...he is quite informative, and another that likes to control everything going on in the room. Let's see...oh yes I remember he continually interupted the Chairman at the time to 'guide him' along the wonderful journey of commonsense. Yes the only human in the room (possibly on the planet) that has first hand recollection about everything there in Grafton AND what killed the dinosaurs is guiding the Chairman. Luckily the Chairman was able to shush Hassinger and get the motion voted on. The dribble about how he was against the proposal and the 900,000 reasons to back it up, only to second the motion that he was against stating why not? Didn't even stand up for his convictions. Moving on to you, yes you yourself stated in your better late than never post the other day that the minutes aren't up to date or something to that effect. So in reality it isn't very interesting at all. Lets get the issues, pros and cons out to the voters and let them vote for them like a regular election. As far as the numbers stuff the talking heads can figure that out and townies can go watch the big boys with the calculators do their thing. And maybe I will come down to see the real Grafton at work down at the Pub

I don't get it - you want more of a voice, but, you don't want to participate?

I'm sorry, I don't think our lives today are anymore demanding than oru ancesstors 100 or 200 years ago. 100 years ago, people toiled all day in the mills and then wen home to tend to their families. 200 years ago they toiled all day clearing the fields, planting and harvesting crops, etc. I don't think people today are any more busy that our ancestors.

We all need to decide what our priorities are - I choose to participate in town government despite the fact that I work 50-60 hour weeks and I am active in my child's life (coaching, etc). Sure, my yard suffers, the "Honey Do" list keeps growing, I feel lucky if I get to watch a baseball playoff game on TV and I don't get to go to the latest shows and concerts, but those are the choices I make.

The alternative to the 180 "usual suspects" is to just let the 5 BOS members do it all. That's the way most of the country works. No thanks. There are two Town Meetings per year, the schedule is well known, I make my plans so that I can be there and participate.

First of all the alternative is a town vote not a town meeting.
Second, if you are stating that 100 to 200 years ago life was as hectic as it is now then I don't know what to say. I am quite sure that that period of time was easily a simpler time, with a lot less distractions and I am including the "it is all relative" theory with that. I am also quite sure that 100 to 200 years ago the electronic sign debate wouldn't take hours and hours of discussion in the little town church. I'm sure it wouldn't because after using up all of the valuable daylight 'toiling' in the fields planting and harvesting, they were alloted only so much oil for the lanterns and couldn't spend it on all of the very important articles of the meeting for that year plus the mosquitos would be reeking havoc on them. Right? When they did get down to business, I would bet the issue was read and then voted on. These ancestors were more efficient with other people's time and I would believe didn't waste a lot of time on motions, commitees, commitees to check on the other comitees, and whatever. Our ancestors looked at the issue and resolved it right then and there based on what was best for the majority.
Third, other than Padgett what is wrong with the BOS? They were chosen by vote, they are careful with the Town's interests, nobody is going to agree with everything they do. There is a variety of personalities on the Board.
I do think that some of the stuff on the town meeting agenda should be put to a town vote instead. Even with the disgraceful voter turnout that occurs, the ratio and over all turnout is still better than the 179 usuals and you WBM.

Town Vote, but not at Town Meeting. Hmmm...

I am not familiar with that form of government. Perhaps you could get yourself onto the Charter Review Committee next time it comes up and propose your "Town Vote but not Town Meeting" form of government. If enough folks like your idea, it will be adopted. We could call it the "JoJo" form of government.

Oh - I'm sorry, I forgot, you want changes but you don't want to participate. Never mind.

Yes...hmmmmm, that is interesting you have never heard of a town vote. I am sure I have seen that fact yes I am sure I have heard of this alien procedure somewhere. Oh well it will come to me...and no I dont want to be on a commitee to review other commitees or town procedures, because the way Grafton's works now is we can find change and discuss it for 3 or 4 years only to have it take another 3 or 4 years for all of the other talking heads to decide on what to do with the ideas. Then we can pay for an outside consultant to give thier unbiased opinion at 2 or 300,000.00, at which point we can have some more discussion on thier findings. Of course there will be a town meeting to decide on it, or 2 or 3 and we would then be right back to the whole point which is you WBM and your 179 other friends will be deciding everyones fate.

I am also straining to find where I said I would not participate in a vote where change could happen. I would be happy to and I am sure there are a lot more than the 1% of the town that is currently running things that would also partake in a vote instead of doing the WBM method of wasting our time with bloviating about everything under the sun in order to hear themselves be heard.

Only those who bloviate at TM get to see and hear themselves on TV. That's worth the price of admission right there!

Even the library vote overwhelmed the process, and just a fraction of the town's registered voters actually voted. I am sure more people would be involved if the process was more efficient.

How about this: let people vote before Town Meeting, without listening to any of the debate. Just show up at 7PM, vote, and leave. BUT, if you want to hear the pros and cons, wait until after the debating is done, then vote. Whaddya' think?

We shouldn't rely on the govt to solve all our problems. Pull your boot straps up, do what you and your family need to do, and stop thinking that the govt programs are going to help you.

This vote was disappointing. The arguments in opposition didn't make much sense to me, and seemed emotionally driven without factual basis. Suggesting that the scientific evidence presented about the safety of the program's last option -spraying - doesn't account for the potential long term risks (not yet identified despite studies) seems to defy logic when coming from the same individuals advocating for the use of insect repellant when Deet's potential hazards are well documented...particularly since the latter is applied directly to an individual's skin, whereas the spraying only occurs after dusk while families and pets remain inside.

The financial argument that it was too expensive while repellant is cheap also seemed weak when the real cost of the full program in this town of almost 18,000 would have been about $3.50pp, never mind the non-human beneficiaries of fewer disease carrying Mosquitos. We spent about 10x that amount just to get through to this point in the children's fall sports season...little over 1 month. Even then, Mosquitos bite through clothing and manage to effectively target any spot you may not have been able to reach. Thankfully Friday night's frost seems to have ended this year's season, but as one proponent mentioned the growing need for detention ponds will only continue to exacerbate the problem.

What was disappointing was the presentation and promotion of this article by the BOH. I don't recall any other article where the first few people to speak were the opposition, and then the sponsors of the article finally spoke up. Did the BOH really expect to just place the article on the warrant and everyone fall in line and support it?

The scientist who spoke was pretty good - I just wish his presentation was more prepared and organized. The executive director person (who I suspect is also the primary "sales" person) was not much more than an after thought. He should have been on stage with a detailed presentation of what the program was about, the documentation saying it was safe, etc.

This article was reminiscent of the first Honeywell proposal - poorly presented and naturally it lost.

Lastly - I wonder if it would be possible or useful to be part of the program but with a prohibition on spraying? Would that satisfy some of those who spoke against it?

I went back and checked the articles. The BOH was not the sponsor this time, it was the Town Administrator. My guess is it was a joint effort between the Town Administrator, BOS and BOH this time around.

Seemed like the Board of Selectmen had lots of (our) money to spend last night but not a mere $60,000 to take care of a health crisis.

Where's the common sense?

The vote for Honeywell should have been a counted vote and I am disappointed the the Board of Selectmen did not listen to their own Finance Committee. The Town meeting style of government does not let all participate. It was a travesty to have the meeting drag on until close to midnight. Most residents were not going to stay that late so they were disenfranchised.

And many do not agree with the way money was "slushed" around last night without concrete figures.

3 out of the 5 Selectmen voted for the Mosquito Program. It's not SOLEY up to them.

if you want to blame someone, blame THE ENTIRE FINANCE COMMITTEE. Only 5 more votes were needed to pass this. There were 10 right there!!

Yet they blindly approved spending $40,000 for a "landscape plan" for the common and that's only inside the fence!!

All we have left is hope? I think our situation is a little less desperate than that. First of all, spraying Sumithrin does not guarantee that no child or elderly person in Grafton is going to die from EEE or West Nile. Second, there are many options available for those who want to reduce their risks of exposure: individual insect repellant, wearing long clothing, even installing plants that encourage dragonflies and bats, which are mosquito predators. You are perfectly free to install a butane tank mosquito trap in your own yard if you are concerned about your risk.

On the other hand, I encourage Grafton residents (if they haven't already) to do a little research on Sumithrin. Just because a government agency has labeled it "safe" does not mean it is not without risks to our health. For a quick read, for example, you might read the following fact sheet: or the EPA's analysis:!documentDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0140-0046. Weighing the risks of the treatment to the risk of going without it is not hysteria, it's reasoned decision-making.

It's not JUST the spraying but the program had several proactive measures as well.

I don't know about you..but I don't really feel like sitting out on a hot muggy night in long sleeves!

The government sold me a bill of goods in 1969 telling me the spray they used in the jungle was harmless. Fool me once shame on you - fool me twice shame on me.

I choose to take precautions in my way. Thanks for not spraying your harmless crap into my lungs.

I was disappointed this effort failed. Lost in the vote was the fact that if next summer we have a serious threat from EEE or West Nile infected mosquitos, the Town will not have the money allocated. And even of we could find the money, we have a "thumbs down" Town Meeting vote which would effectively "prohibit" us from spraying or taking any protective actions.

I just got a flu shot to protect me from the flu this winter since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure... unfortunately there is no vaccination shot for EEE or West Nile Virus, so controlling mosquitos was our only defense. So... I guess we will cross our fingers and hope the Mosquito expert was wrong.

This is an absolute disgrace for the town. Worrying more about the $53.00 and Bee's over a Human's life.. Wake up people! Hopefully your loved ones don't contract it

I would recommend you make some personal choices (bug spray, long sleeves, go in at dusk) next summer. The salesmen will likely be back in a couple years to town meeting and you can stand up then and make your voice heard.

It's too bad this went down to hysteria. I'm pretty sure all the towns around us spray so they all can't be wrong!

What is this town going to say if a child or elderly person (those at higher risk) dies from EEE? Suddenly, that $53/year expenditure doesn't seem so bad, does it Grafton! I just hope it's not my child!!!

And shame on the Finance Committee for voting it down. I understand they may have had a problem with the $ and cents of it but really?? all 10 of them are against it personally? I find that hard to believe.

Like I said....all we have left is hope at this point.....I'm hoping my loved ones aren't affected from EEE. Especially since there were some very logical things that could have been done to reduce the risk! I guess our citizens just feel lucky.