City promotes mosquito control in quest for ‘Healthiest Hometown’

The city of Forest is promoting its mosquito control program during the summer as part of its Healthy Hometown initiative. The city is applying for a $25k grant with Blue Cross & Blue Shield Mississippi Foundation. The city of Morton won the grant for the year of 2016 and was named “Healthiest Hometown.”

The process of application is year-long. Forest officials wanted to establish a unique theme to each month through the year that highlights its programs. About 20 persons are on a committee which meets once a month at the Colbert Commons building on Main St. to discuss and document their work for application.
Forest did not apply for the Healthy Hometown grant during the 2015-16 year. If the city is awarded the grant for $25k, the city will then progress on to the competition at the annual Mississippi Municipal League conference where they will be entered for a chance to earn a second grant for an additional $50k and the title of Healthiest Hometown for 2017.
The foundation will award four grants. The municipalities are divided into three categories based on the size of the communities:
• Large towns: 15,000 or more residents
• Medium towns: 5,001-14,999 residents
• Small towns: 5,000 or fewer residents
Only one town will be awarded the title of Healthiest Hometown. Towns that receive the $50k grant are ineligible for application for three years following their reception of the grant. Towns which are awarded the title of Healthy Hometown may submit applications only for the Healthiest Hometown grant for a three-year period. If after three years, a Healthy Hometown winner does not win the Healthiest Hometown grant, the city may once again apply for the Healthy Hometown award.
The grant must be used to improve the city’s health initiative and/or facilities.
Winners will receive a congratulatory ad from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation in both local and statewide publications. The winning city will also receive a plaque for City Hall and/or a promotional road sign at the entrance of the town.
Forest has branded its mosquito control and prevention program Avoid the Bite. The city’s central concern with the mosquitos is viral transmission of West Nile and Zika viruses.
Patsy Nicholson, Main St. Director, said, “The first priority is avoidance and prevention.”
The city website provides suggestions from the Center for Disease Control. The city of Forest urges individuals to be vigilante in protecting themselves with mosquito repellent and avoid peak times or areas where the insects are prevalent.
Mosquitos tend to live near bodies of water like streams, lakes, and ponds; and the insects are most active at dawn and dusk when the temperature is lower. If going into areas where mosquitos are prevalent, wear long sleeves and long pants which reduce the amount of skin exposed.
Sanitation Supervisor, Edward Patrick said, “It’s important to empty any standing water in flower pots or tires.” Patrick added that residents with bird baths should empty and replace the water regularly.
The city is spraying weekly, picking up discarded tires, and dropping larvicide tablets into the streams to reduce breeding. Forest has divided up the city into 4 zones for spraying each week this summer from 5 p.m. until 8.
The city has placed signs in town promoting their pest awareness and prevention.
The city has supplied individual wipes containing repellent at the splash pad at Gaddis Park. The website for the city of Forest warns parents to not use repellent on babies younger than 2 months.
If applying repellent to a child’s face, spray your hands and then apply to the child. Do not apply sprays to the hands of children as they may place their fingers in their mouths or wipe their eyes. If using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first.

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