The consistently heavy rainfall of the past few weeks has increased river flows and fended off drought conditions.

The consistently heavy rainfall of the past few weeks has increased river flows and fended off drought conditions.

All that moisture has also brought mosquitos, lots of them, as the season for mosquito-borne illnesses approaches.

County Mosquito Control director Mark Cothran told the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday that rains of recent weeks have dropped more water on the county than when rains caused rivers to flood on the north end of the county in February.

The mosquito count, in turn, has exploded.

“We have a lot of mosquitos,” Cothran said. “We have only two (certified) sprayers but under this kind of conditions we couldn’t handle it with 20 people.”

According to the Florida Forest Service, the combined rainfall amounts at the county’s four Forest Service stations – Odena, Overstreet, White City and Wetappo – is nearing 47 inches in July, with still a week remaining in the month.

The combined rainfall amounts at four stations during June – primarily the final three weeks of the month, Cothran noted – were 28 inches.

That compares to the 38-inch mark in February, with two of the three months prior to June recording combined amounts under double digits at the four stations.

Rainfall amounts in July for Overstreet are nearly 18 inches and more than 12 inches at Wetappo.

“We have double the mosquitos that we had in the spring” as a result, Cothran said.

Mosquito Control’s report of nightly trap averages show that in July the average number of mosquitos found in traps per night is 67 – no other month this year averaged as many as 30 per night.

Cothran said his department would be ramping up spraying over the next three weeks.

He said they will spray seven days a week, with a shift in the morning and another at night, weather permitting.

“There are a lot of mosquitos and there will be a lot of spraying and a lot of chemicals,” Cothran said. “In three weeks we will see where we stand.”

Cothran urged county residents to assist by dumping any standing water in containers or buckets on their property.

“It will help,” Cothran said. “Also, we are entering the season for mosquito-borne illnesses such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis. So if you haven’t had your horses vaccinated, you should think about it.”

Beacon Hill sign

Commissioner Joanna Bryan asked that commissioners reexamine the situation with the former Beacon Villa/Bay Medical sign in St. Joe Beach.

County code enforcement tagged the sign as out of compliance early this year and during the prior meeting former commissioner Bill Williams appeared before the BOCC about the sign.

Williams claimed ownership of the sign and requested time to determine options for the sign, suggesting the Tourist Development Council could use the sign for promoting the county.

Bryan said her research showed that the owner of the sign, when the permit was originally issued in 2003, was Bay Medical, not Williams, and that the sign was not placed in the permitted area, was on the highway right-of-way and should come down.

The neighbors and the new owner of the existed living facility Williams constructed there also wanted the sign down.

“The consensus is it is a large commercial sign in a residential area and it is quite large in scale,” Bryan said. “There is also a concern when it is lit at night about turtle lighting.”

Commissioner Carmen McLemore said the BOCC should allow Williams an opportunity to come back before the board, but Bryan argued that sign should come down now and moved for board approval.

“It isn’t really his sign,” she said.

Lee Collinsworth with the Building Department supported Bryan’s claims, saying nothing his department could find in researching the matter indicated that Williams owned the sign.

Collinsworth added that the sign was not in compliance with the permit.

The BOCC voted to provide a 10-day period for notifying Williams for response and unless he demonstrates legal standing on the sign it will be brought down.

Americus ditch

St. Joe Beach resident Bill Koran spoke to the board about the Americus Ditch and drainage around Americus Avenue.

Koran said recent rains had again demonstrated that the project – undertaken by the county several years ago at nearly $1 million in costs – was faulty, with pipes not conjoined properly and improper construction.

He posed a series of questions for commissioners to respond to in the future, including how the project was bid out, who designed it, who signed off on it and who was contracted, and sub-contracted, for the work.

“That is our $1 million pipe that doesn’t work,” McLemore said.

Pledge of civility

Following the prior meeting’s discussion about her communication with constituents, Bryan produced her phone records for the period in question, showing among other things that Williams’ father, as he stated at the prior meeting, had not called her, a call the elder Williams claimed was not returned.

She received the promised list of complaining constituents from McLemore, sans phone numbers, and noted of the five names on the list two had clearly not called her.

She also said the BOCC should stop wasting time on such issues and return to a previously stated pledge of civility among commissioners.

“I am for that,” said Commissioner Warren Yeager. “We have to have heated debates on issues we don’t agree on, but we need to go back to being civil to each other and work for the better of the community.”

Wewahitchka medical service

With Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf not yet open at the Wewahitchka Health Department facility, McLemore and Commissioner Ward McDaniel emphasized the importance of public attendance to a town hall meeting 6 p.m. CT on Monday at the Honeyville Community Center where Sacred Heart and the Health Department are to provide updates.