Newport and Jonesboro Mosquitoes Face Off

NEWPORT, AR -- The city of Jonesboro has been battling mosquitoes for years, but just down the road in Newport, which is surrounded by rice fields and the Cache River bottoms, their mosquito problem is a different story.

Although the town of Newport is much smaller than the city of Jonesboro, their efforts to control their mosquito population seem to be working much better.

The old saying that in the Arkansas summertime mosquitoes can carry you away doesn't seem to really apply to Newport.

"Six nights a week we sit outside after dark. The mosquitoes have been a minimum. I see a vast improvement in it daily," says Kenneth Adams, a longtime resident of Newport.

And he's not the only resident here that seems more than satisfied with their mosquito control program. Unlike many other cities, Newport does not contract their mosquito control work out to an outside company. City employees like Kenneth Grady take on the job themselves.

"Right now there are six trucks and six machines on the road six nights a week. We take off on Sundays," says Kenneth Grady, the Director of Newport's Mosquito Control Program.

They spray certain areas two to three times a night, covering the entire city each time their machines fire up. With their trucks and their aerial sprays, it's a strong approach they feel like is really working.

"Mosquitoes come to town every night and every night they come to town we want to kill them," says Grady.

In 2001, the city started charging $5 per water meter, which equals about $20,000 a month in income or $240,000 a year for their mosquito control budget, all for a city with a population of about 7000 people at most.

"The City of Jonesboro allotted $300,000 this year for 60,000 people," says Grady.

And that's not the only thing that's different from Jonesboro's plan compared to Newport's.

"Jonesboro is trying to sample water and figure out where their heavy mosquito population is. We feel like our heavy mosquito population is anywhere within the city limits of Newport," says Grady.

And he says regardless of who they choose for the job, it's the strategy that really matters, and that's where the citizens have to decide if it's worth their money.

"It's going to take for Jonesboro over a million dollars for them to be able to handle their mosquitoes. I'm not talking about mosquito eradication. You're going to have a few. They cannot do what we're doing here unless they raise a lot more money," adds Grady.

People around town told us they don't have any problem swimming at night or even sitting out at their ballparks after dark in Newport.