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Hephzibah man sentenced to jail for mosquito-breeding swimming pool

Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013 8:02 PM
Last updated Friday, Sept. 27, 2013 7:28 AM
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About two years after Richmond County Mosquito Control advised Andre England to clean or fill in a neglected swimming pool, the Hephzibah homeowner was sentenced Thursday to 60 days in jail for not doing so.

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Magistrate Judge William Jennings handed down the maximum sentence possible for England, who had been cited for an environmental health violation for breeding mosquitoes in standing water. The judge’s sentence was the stiffest punishment this year for such an offense.

“I am very concerned about the health dangers these pools constitute in Richmond County,” Jennings told The Augusta Chronicle after the court session. He added that England’s sentence, like any that Jennings imposes, should establish guidelines for other people.

England is the landlord for a property on Richards Road where Richmond County Mosquito Control Operations Manager Fred Koehle said England was given several chances to return the pool to working order or fill it in with dirt.

An extremely wet summer contributed to a big mosquito population, but the increased number of complaints mostly reflects the public’s heightened awareness for reporting mosquito problems, Koehle said.

In recent months, the county’s mosquito control has been trying to eliminate swampy pools found to be breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes. Many of the pools are at abandoned or foreclosed houses, but when the responsible property owners can be found, Koehle is trying to hold them accountable.

“Fix the pool or call us if there’s a problem,” Koehle said. “If you have a good reason (for not maintaining it), we’ll do everything we can to help somebody.”

England was first notified that the pool needed to be cleaned in September 2011, Koehle said. By that November, an inspection was conducted and the pool had been returned to working order.

In January, mosquito control inspected the pool again after a complaint was registered with the county. The pool was treated with larvicide, and England was sent a letter giving 30 days’ notice to correct the issue. The homeowner tried covering the pool with a tarp, but it collected large amounts of standing water.

Koehle told the judge that England was given information in March on how to fill in the pool. In summer, he was given more notice and an extension to fix the pool.

England told the judge he had not received notices recently, but Jennings had him verify the mailing address.

Swimming pools that are not treated with chemicals or don’t have a working filtration system to keep water circulating can breed mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus, Koehle said. England’s swimming pool could potentially produce 500,000 mosquitoes in a season, he said.

Koehle said he appears in court once or twice a month for swimming pool violations. Sometimes, people who receive a subpoena start filling in the pool with dirt before the court date. Two people have gone to jail this year, receiving sentences of five and 10 days, Koehle said.

Twenty-three mosquito species are known to breed in the Augusta area, and, of those, 22 carry West Nile, Koehle said.

Mosquito Control began its program to inspect and treat swimming pools in late 2009. Since then, 240 pools have been inspected. Of those, 190 pools were returned to an operational state or filled in, and 12 were recently treated with mosquitofish that eat mosquito larvae. The remainder are correcting the problems or the owners are being notified.

This year, Mosquito Control has received nearly 1,800 complaints for mosquito problems at residences. Koehle said. In 2012, 1,425 complaints were received, and in 2011, 525.

WEST NILE VIRUS

The Georgia Department of Public Health has recorded just one confirmed case of West Nile virus this year for the Augusta area. That case was in Columbia County in August. Four total cases were reported in Georgia.

Four cases of the virus, however, were treated at University Hospital in the past four to five weeks, said Dr. Craig Smith, the hospital’s medical director for infectious disease. He said the cases were reported to the state.

The discrepancy in the numbers is likely because of paperwork processing, said public health spokeswoman Nancy Nydam. Before confirming a West Nile case, the public health department conducts an investigation that includes testing, follow-up labs and physician and patient interviews, she said.

It’s unclear whether the confirmed Columbia County case was one of the four University cases. Smith said the four patients’ symptoms, including a high fever and neurological syndromes, were worse than he typically sees in West Nile cases. About 75 to 80 percent of people infected with West Nile never experience any symptoms.

Comments (5) Add comment
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nocnoc
41269
Points
nocnoc 09/27/13 - 07:16 am
4
0
May live in Hephzibah

But according to Google,
the house is located in Augusta near Lumpkin Rd. & US-25

seenitB4
85643
Points
seenitB4 09/27/13 - 08:21 am
2
0
Richards Rd

Is next to Lumpkin & a busy area.....if it is the same road.

Dangerous situation.....for kids & adults.

Bizkit
30741
Points
Bizkit 09/27/13 - 11:35 am
2
0
Good grief why two years to

Good grief why two years to finally penalize this person-after 6 months to a year they should have nailed him with stiff fines and jail time. And people worry about gun control.

Darby
25080
Points
Darby 09/27/13 - 10:51 pm
1
0
The extremely wet summer has made it more difficult

than usual to maintain a pool. I know from experience.

On the other hand, looks like this fellow wasn't even trying.

Darby
25080
Points
Darby 09/27/13 - 10:51 pm
1
0
The extremely wet summer has made it more difficult

than usual to maintain a pool. I know from experience.

On the other hand, looks like this fellow wasn't even trying.

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