Larsen Bay buzzing over Knowles veto

Posted: Tuesday, July 02, 2002

KODIAK (AP) -- Gov. Tony Knowles' veto of mosquito-killing machines for Larsen Bay is bugging residents to no end.

The idea for buying Mosquito Magnets came from City Clerk Tammy Aga, who spotted the machines in a catalog on an Alaska Airlines flight.

''It's a big letdown for everyone,'' Aga said. ''Until someone comes here and sees how bad it is, they have no idea.''

Larsen Bay is a community of more than 100 on the northwest coast of Kodiak Island, 60 miles southwest of the city of Kodiak.

Heat and no wind have made the bug problem especially bad in the past three days. Aga described it as a ''haze of bugs'' that must be seen to comprehend.

Aga suggested that Knowles and other critics visit Larsen Bay.

''We would have a 20-minute chat with them outside and maybe a picnic on the beach.''

Suzanne Hancock, an aide to Sen. Alan Austerman, called the cut one more example of the urban-rural divide.

''People in big cities have no concept of what it is to live in a village,'' she said. ''The people of Larsen Bay had a good idea to improve their lives. It is a health issue. If they were suffering from malaria there would be some kind of relief.''

Carol Murdock, Larsen Bay's billing clerk, suffers from asthma and is allergic to insect bites. She tries not to be out more than necessary and said the bug problem seems to be getting worse.

''We're really disappointed with the decision, but we're going to try and find some other way. The bugs are terrible already,'' Murdock said. ''Every summer it so bad that people can't go out and enjoy the beauty here.''

Spraying has come up as a solution but has been deemed environmentally unsafe.

As for the machines, ''We received e-mails from all over the state from people who have these, and they say that they work,'' she said. ''We were really encouraged.''

The Mosquito Magnets were among items vetoed from the budget by Knowles. The governor said the state could not afford the $20,000 expense.

''While recognizing the abundance of mosquitoes in Alaska, asking the state to pay for 'Mosquito Magnets' cannot be justified,'' Knowles said.

Murdock is adamant the machines are needed.

''Just walking from the airstrip to the city buildings would convince anyone that something needs to be done.'' she said.

''People have no idea how bad it can be. Other communities have similar problems.''

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