Residents: Swarms still bugging town

COLLOMSVILLE — A steadily increasing infestation of flies has continued to swarm the homes of residents of a Limestone Township neighborhood despite their best efforts and a partnership with Lycoming County commissioners.

On June 26, residents who had been dealing with swarms of flies around their homes, some for three years, had met with Commissioners Tony Mussare and Rick Mirabito to talk about possible solutions to the problem.

According to Shari Ulsamer and Nancy Waldman, two homeowners who have fought the flies at their homes for years, the infestations have not improved since they started meeting with the commissioners.

“Every year it has got worse. People have it farther and farther down Collomsville,” Waldman said.

Many of the neighbors believe the flies come from a local chicken farm that they say does not consistently keep up with cleaning procedures.

“I live in a farming community; the chicken barns don’t bother me. But they have to be clean,” Waldman said. “I’ve lived here for 40 years and my husband has lived here his whole life, and it’s not fair that they can change our lives in four years.”

During the first meeting between the commissioners and the residents, a committee was created to oversee the problem and to speak with the farmers who they believed were affiliated with the issue.

“With that first meeting, we heard the foundation of the campaign. I thought that first meeting was productive and informative,” Mussare said.

On July 17, all three commissioners, a dozen neighbors and the owners of another local chicken farm, met to discuss the issue and how it could be fixed. Also in attendance at the July meeting was the next owner of the Alderfer Eggs-affiliated farm who recently purchased it from Sam Stoltzfus III. Many of the neighbors believe that farm is the source of the flies.

After the meeting, the commissioners went to the farm with its current owner, Stoltzfus, and saw the amount of flies at the farm were low. They then visited some of the homes of the local residents and were shocked at the numbers of flies.

“If he knows they are coming, he cleans it up,” Ulsamer said.

Mussare said he was stunned at the amount of flies in the neighborhood. However, according to the homeowners, that week the fly population had been lower than during other weeks.

“When I am there and I see as many flies as I saw, even though it was not a lot to them, it was a lot to me,” Mussare said. “To live under those conditions is intolerable.”

Both the residents and the commissioners believe they have exhausted many of their options.

According to Mussare, the commissioners have contacted a variety of state departments dealing with such issues and, according to the Department of Environmental Protection, the farmers are within their legal rights.

“If the agricultural department and conservation district don’t take a side, then it needs to be looked at from a health issue,” he said.

Mussare said the best bet may be to wait for the new farmer to gain ownership of the farm, since he already has proven to be more willing to talk to the community than Stoltzfus allegedly was.

“There is going to be a new owner here and he does say he does the best practices,” Mussare said. “I think our best bet is to give it a chance because the current farmer will be leaving.”