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City council, take a more serious swing at the removal of the bats from the public safety building

Our county has forever had a laid-back feel to it. That is one of the many reasons why our residents call this corner of paradise “home.”
In Sylvania, you can live your life without a tedious 30-mile metropolitan city commute to work that takes an hour-and-a-half because of bumper-to-bumper traffic. Homeowners aren’t awaken in the wee hours of the morn by police cars speeding by with their sirens blaring as they head to yet another crime alert.
It is quiet here, but unfortunately being lackadaisical can actually put a community and its emergency personnel in peril.
Judging by how long it is taking the Sylvania city council to remove the bats from the public safety building, you would figure our local government is being paid rent by the bats for their occupying the space above the firefighters and police officers.
After the city council decided to postpone action on the bats at its Aug. 17 meeting, the bats were not even deemed important enough to be listed on the Sept. 7 council agenda. City Manager Carter Crawford said after the meeting earlier this month that two bat removal companies have been asked to submit new bids, but neither had gotten back with the city.
The businesses were requested by council to re-bid, this time stating the expense for only the removal of the bats so city workers could seal holes in the public safety building to block the bats re-entry.
Now it would be easy for the city to say something like “We are doing everything we can, but the bat removal companies are stalling.” That could be said. It isn’t entirely true, but it could be said.
Hundreds of small black bats at dusk and dawn zip around the inside and outside of the facility that houses the fire department and police department on Mims Road. The bats’ nest is in a brick column on the front of the building and when the sun goes down they stream out of a hole in the roof.
Having an issue with only a dozen bats is a problem that one would figure just recently evolved, but we have a much bigger problem. Triple-digit bat numbers certainly did arise overnight. A mother bat will give birth to only one baby, or pup as they are called, in a litter.
Nothing says “public safety” like bats pooping everywhere and zooming erratically around like furry winged gliders over the heads of the men and women whose responsibility is to keep us safe.
Fresh bat droppings can contain the histoplasmosis fungus, according to health officials. Bat droppings do not need to come into contact with soil to be a source of the disease. Anyone working at a job or present near activities where contaminated material becomes airborne can develop histoplasmosis if enough spores are inhaled. After exposure, how ill a person becomes depends on the number of spores inhaled and a person’s age and susceptibility to the disease.
Although no one has conducted ears-to-feet physicals on the bats, none of them reportedly have visible signs of rabies. That certainly is a good thing, but our city council is risking a lot by unnecessarily putting its own hired employees around hundreds of possible disease carriers.
While the percentage of bats with rabies is very low according to experts, bats can become carriers of rabies. Within the last month, a rabid bat was found in Lumpkin County, in the mountain area of northern Georgia. Raccoons, like some infected ones located earlier this week in neighboring Bulloch County; skunks; and foxes are common carriers of rabies, but bats present another set of safety rules.
Health officials say bats’ teeth are so small that a person may not feel a bite by the mammal. If untreated, rabies typically is fatal.
During the early 1990s, tennis great Andre Agassi promoted the Canon camera company with the statement “Image is everything.” When it comes to having bats producing unhealthy fecal matter faster than one of Agassi’s patented return of serves, local officials don’t be of the false impression that people aren’t snickering at you. Trust us, when we say “They are.”
Would you rather be known for the exceptional downtown landscaping Sylvania or bats in the belfry? By the months you have delayed the removal of the bats, at this point we are becoming more and more assured you seem to want the latter. City officials, just a reminder that the phrase “bats in the belfry” refers to someone who acts as though he or she has bats careering around his or her head. That’s not good if your constituents, AKA registered voters, have such an impression of you.
Again, “image is everything.”
We cannot help but wonder if the bats were flying through the darkness in another city facility other than the public safety building, would you care more? If it were city hall, assuredly the bats would have been exiled to Transylvania probably quicker than it takes a person to watch a “Batman Begins” rental DVD.
It is easy to make light of having bats in the public safety building. Jay Leno could have a field day with the concept, but the reality is those bats pose a serious health risk for anyone who works in or visits the facility.
Please expedite the safe removal of the bats from the structure. We would much rather have our citizens bedazzled by the wondrous beauty of our downtown flowers and not driven batty by a colony of unwanted flying potential infection carriers.