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Caught In The Swarm
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I try not to get too caught up in sensationalism.

In the day and age of Social Media, I’ve learned that common sense is no longer common and the old adage “don’t believe everything you read” has lost its luster.

Not to be misunderstood, I’ve shared my views on this forum before; there are a number of positives to Social Media as a tool. In the news business, however, we have to remain a bit skeptical or wary, recognizing that just because it’s ‘posted’ doesn’t make it gospel.

One of my biggest pet peeves as a journalist is hearing or seeing Social Media cited as a source by news media. Better yet, making a Social Media topic a ‘Top News Story.’ I guess I’m just old school. Granted the world wide web has made the job of a journalist a bit easier in the way of confirming information, finding photos and even a simple thing as verifying proper spelling of a name.

It has also (in my opinion) allowed some to be a bit more lazy and careless in their work, forgetting the leg work it takes to bring in the story.

Last week however, I found myself in a unique position. One which quite honestly I wish I weren’t privy to in the way of firsthand experience.

The experience comes in the way of mosquito bites … lots of them. So many in fact that the day after sharing the story with our staff, colleague Rich Paloma stated I looked as if I had the cooties. Yes, we’re also medical professionals in the Oakdale Leader Newsroom.

Photos of my extremities did not make Social Media feed. My experience however was shared on my personal page, after realizing the grave effects the incident had on other community members.

Last Wednesday after dropping my kids at school I did what I do almost every Wednesday of the school year … I went for a run. This would be my first Wednesday morning run for the 2016-17 year, as the week before was their first day.

I have a few routes I prefer. This particular day, I can honestly say, I wish I had opted to run a different one.

As I made my way around the southwest end of town, I was greeted by what I thought was a cloud of gnats, normal. Only to realize as I swatted at my legs they were mosquitos. These were little buggers, lying low on my skin and in multiple numbers. I told myself to keep running, I must have hit a bad spot, but the bad spot continued down the block, which prompted me to cut the run short and run back toward home.

What surprised me most were a few things. First, midway through my trek home I was stopped by a city employee, whom asked if I was okay and had I been bitten. He was quick to reassure me they were not West Nile mosquitos. If being honest at the time, all I could think was, I just want to finish my run in one piece. When posed with the questions, was the City spraying and should I call to report this area? I was informed that spraying was happening weekly but, “it’s harvest.”

Twenty four hours later I learned that the City was adjusting its water schedule and providing mosquito wipes to the pint sized soccer players showing up for Opening Day at T.L. Davis that Saturday. Apparently T.L. Davis has also experienced a large number of incidents in the way of mosquitoes.

One friend shared that the parks were so overwatered she literally sinks into the lawn.

Here’s where I come up empty, from personal experience not social media. Granted the bites are a pain, itchy and uncomfortable, but what about the water?

What troubles me is the recognition of overwatering by the City as action was being taken to adjust the schedule. This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned this problem in this space. In September 2014 I wrote a column about the excess of water found throughout the City gutters and water draining through the Bridle Ridge Trail.

I have no issues with our City officials; actually I happen to like them. They’re good people.

And for those wondering, yes I contacted the City on both past occasions, multiple times. The problem was corrected, eventually.

Two years later and with a drought still looming, how are we still being plagued as a city by watering problems? A problem which has now resulted in mosquito swarms. I’m baffled, but then again I’m also itching and irritated.

While I don’t expect our city lawn areas to be left to go brown, I don’t quite understand how two years later this adjustment problem remains.

A home owner would have been fined by now for excessive use, as well as faced with a hefty water bill. It seems a little “do as I say, not as I do.”

Time will tell I guess, or has it already? Truthfully I’m not sure.

The City has reported that spraying has increased in multiple areas and that’s great. My focus however remains on the water and hoping that, just like a plaguing back pain which can be properly adjusted, so too will this watering situation. Here’s hoping.


Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.