A new regional code enforcement office should be operational by January.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Lawrence County municipalities are being asked to help combat the West Nile virus.
Janice Alberico of the Penn State Extension office, the county's West Nile virus coordinator, told local officials that they need to set up a system to collect dead birds next year.
Alberico met with officials Wednesday at the monthly meeting of the Lawrence County Council of Governments.
State officials have found seven dead birds and one mosquito pool infected with the virus in the county.
"This isn't going to go away. It will hit harder next year," Alberico said.
Alberico also asked officials to work this fall and winter on ordinances banning junked tires, a breeding ground for mosquitoes who transmit the virus.
Health officials have advised residents to eliminate all stagnant water to keep the mosquito population down.
Alberico told municipal leaders that ditches are also a breeding ground for mosquitoes and should be kept clean.
Alberico said the West Nile problem should subside this year after the first frost because most mosquitoes will be dead, but officials will have to continue working on it next year.
She also advised officials not to ignore dead birds that aren't being tested by the state. State officials are testing only crows, owls, hawks and blue jays.
She said if enough other species are reported dead, state officials may expand the types of birds they test for West Nile next year.
In other business, COG members are still working on guidelines for the countywide regional code enforcement.
A steering committee creating the code enforcement guidelines is still trying to determine if one person will be hired or an agency, said Robert Callen, COG executive director.
Callen said they expect to charge $22.50 per hour for the services.
Callen noted that the code enforcement office will be responsible for enforcing new building codes that the state is expected to implement next year and any other municipal codes including junkyard enforcement and problems with absentee landlords.
The new regional code enforcement should begin sometime in January, he said.