Bedbug Talk Dominates County Meeting

Last week, Larry Mattison alerted the Saline County Commission about the increasing frequency and cost he is experiencing as a landlord, with an increasing number of tenants having bed bugs.  Mattison is especially concerned about tenants who move and likely bring the bed bugs with them, to likely infect another residence.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioners heard from Health Department Director Jason Tiller and Jason Hutchinson, who represents Tox-Eol Pest Management, Inc.

Tiller described bed bugs as:

  • Being Red or brown
  • 1 mm to 7 mm in length
  • Feeding on the blood of humans and animals
  • Who are transported to new locations through travel

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has labeled bed bugs to be “public health PEST”.  Bed bugs are not known to spread disease.  Tiller said, “The presence of bed bugs is not determined by the cleanliness of the environment” and noted that bed bugs are found in five star establishments.

Bed bugs often hide in mattress seams, headboards and bedding.  They have also been found in the crevices of dresser drawers and tight spots in furniture and flooring.  They have even been found in electrical outlets, baseboards, loosened wallpaper and cracks in plaster.

Tiller says that when he first walks in to a motel room, he puts his luggage in the bath tub.  He may spend 15 minutes or more with a flashlight looking for dark spots, and red or rusty dots.  He checks any place he thinks a bed bug could possibly hide.  Sometimes, his self-inspection process can last an hour.

Tiller referred individuals to  Tiller said individuals can do the work themselves, or hire professionals.  There are chemical, non-chemical and heat options.

As best as Tiller has determined, there are no city or county ordinances related to bed bugs.  He did find two State regulations dealing with lodging residences.  Tiller said there are no grant funds available to help with eradication.

Tiller also suggested:

Citizen Judy Larson told Commissioners she had an exterminator to her home.  She said the $700 price is “lightyears above what she can afford to pay”.  She has the bites and swelling.  She added, “what I don’t have is $700?”

Hutchinson said, “The treatment is so expensive as the problem is so expansive”.  He suggested individuals remove their clothes as they enter their homes and place those clothes in the dryer, which is running at the highest heat setting for 20 minutes.

Hutchinson said that if second hand clothes aren’t thoroughly washed and dried at the highest heat setting, they can retain bed bugs—as can bringing in any secondhand furniture.

Hutchinson suggested sending out informational literature with utility bills, though not all apartment dwellers have utilities in their own names.  Hutchinson added that treating “public transportation is not practical”.  He added “public education is more useful in controlling the spread of bed bugs”.

Mattison said that one of his tenants had removed a bed and box spring because these were infested with bed bugs; the tenant even wrote a note alerting handlers to the presence of bed bugs.  The mattress was picked up and likely put to use.

Chairman Monte Shadwick said that “increasing public awareness is the next step”.  Shadwick asked Tiller to continue to look for ordinances and for public education messages.  Commissioner Robert Vidricksen asked Tiller to get a consensus from other State Agencies on best practices for dealing with bed bugs.  Tiller said that he could use a “list serve” to get responses.  Tiller said he will be posting additional information on the Health Department’s website at


Sheriff’s Office Assisting in Texas

 County Administrator Rita Deister said the Sheriff’s Office Rescue crew has gone with the Salina Fire Department to provide mutual aid assistance.  Their target destination is College Station, Texas.  The Sheriff’s Office is sending two staff members, one truck and one rescue boat.  They plan to be gone for about a week.

Sales Tax is Up

 Deister suggested that “back to school shopping” may be responsible for a 1.93% increase in August 2017’s sale tax of $395,108, in comparison to July’s sales tax intake of $379,455.  Year-to-date, through August 2017, the County collected $3,074,097, compared to the year-to-date August 2016’s collections of $3,101,752.

National Recovery Month Events

Commissioners declared September National Recovery Month, as requested by Don Greene, at Central Kansas Foundation.  Greene said that all are welcome to attend a “Strength in Families” gathering on September 9th, from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM, at Oakdale Park.  Greene said 120 pounds of sloppy joes will be served along with other foods, games and fun.

In other matters, Commissioners met for at least 30 minutes In executive session regarding a personnel matter.


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