Public Works got it done in 2011

ALBANY, Ga. -- It's spring in Southwest Georgia and that can only mean one thing.

Mosquitos are coming.

The villainous horde of wretched winged creatures has already descended into backyards, fishing holes and neighborhood parks throughout Southwest Georgia.

Exacerbated by an unusually mild winter, the pint-sized blood suckers are already feasting on any poor soul unfortunate enough to step outside.

So, at the end of the day, what stands between these vile creatures and your unprotected skin?

If you live in the unincorporated parts of Dougherty County, that would be the county's Public Works crew.

"We'll start spraying shortly, which is about two weeks ahead of schedule," Public Works Director Larry Cook told the Dougherty County Commission Monday. "We've already started getting complaints."

According to Cook, who gave the commission a recap of the Public Works department's 2011 activities, the organization sprayed 2,403 acres with 988 gallons of pesticide last year, all in hopes of keeping the mosquito population in check.

"We try and focus on areas that have historically had problems with West Nile and things like that," Cook said. "And we respond when complaints come in."

Mosquito eradication is just one of Public Works' many responsibilities, but is, perhaps, one of its most visible.

Much of what this county department does happens with little or no response from the public, until a major disaster strikes or a street floods.

By the numbers, Cook said public works cleared 20 overflow canals that help divert water to and away from the Flint River, demolished three blighted houses and completed five storm drainage improvements to neighborhoods that have had issues with flooding during heavy rains.

The group helped take 13.6 tons of litter to the county landfill, repaired 143 driveways in the unincorporated area of Dougherty County, installed another 17 driveways, patched eight roads and graded more than 100 miles of dirt road last year.

"The importance of what public works does is hard to overstate," Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff "Bodine" Sinyard said. "They're literally the engine that keeps Dougherty County turning."

In addition to doing the heavy lifting on those projects, Public Works crews are also responsible for maintaining the county's vehicle fleet.

Cook said that the department maintained 487 vehicles last year, performed 57 field service calls for repairs and handled 895 different work orders.

And somehow, Public Works personnel managed to do all of this short four staff positions.

"It's a balancing act, but, like everyone else, we're doing the best we can with what we have," Cook said.