50 years ago: Mosquito control and dynamite

In the Aug. 23, 1967 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, an article titled “Assembly Shown M.R.C.U. Dyke Building Project” informed the community about important work being done in the community.

“The four members of the Assembly, Messrs, Anton Bodden, A.B. Bush, B.O. Ebanks Jr., and S.A. Ebanks and the two newspaper reporters who accepted the invitation of the Mosquito Research and Control Unit to inspect their recent achievements were well rewarded on Friday last when they were taken on an informative and interesting tour.

“Starting at the Lab, the party were given some facts and figures by Dr. Giglioli, using as a visual aid an interesting chart. This indicated that 6,120 feet of dyke had been built which was 18 feet wide and 3/4 ft. high at an average cost of 4/9d. per foot, which totaled £1,473. This had taken 142 days. but from this had to be deducted the 32 days on which no work had been done due to absence of the operator, repairs to machinery or non-arrival of spare parts etc.

“They had to dynamite 150 ft. and this alone had cost £60. 26 nights of fogging West Bay and George Town would cost the same amount but, Dr. Giglioli pointed out, there would be no permanent result whereas the dyke would provide a bed for an additional road; 85 acres of mosquito breeding ground would be removed; a seal wall is provided and also land drainage on the back dyke, all of which would be of value in the future development of the island.

“Two new draglines are now on order, which are hydraulic machines with a heavier bucket than fitted to the mechanical dragline now in use, which has needed constant repair. The new equipment would be fitted with special attachments for dealing with the hard crust of rock encountered in many places, which had proved difficult to handle and had held up progress considerably.

“Also on order was a complete line of spares worth £4,000 which should ensure that in future the Unit will not constantly have to wait for delivery of replacements for broken parts.

“Future plans were outlined and the members asked many questions. Returning to the lab, Mr. Armstrong gave the group an indication of the type of experiment he is carrying out with insecticides.

“There was no doubt but that the Assembly members were very impressed with the progress made since they last visited, and they were most interested in all that had been shown to them. Also very apparent was the energy and efficiency of the Unit and its obvious concern to get full value for every penny spent.

“It was very disappointing that more were not able to be present to take the scenic tour through the mangrove swamp to see the Pawpaw growing quite profusely away in the ‘bush’ and the beautiful ferns and wildflowers blossoming by the side of the dyke. They would also have been quite intrigued with the ‘home-made’ wind and tide recorder in the North Sound. A maxim of the Unit’s staff seems to be ‘If you can’t buy it, make it.’ They must have all been to ‘Do It Yourself’ classes!”

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