VALDOSTA -- Chairman Rod Casey was back at the helm of the Lowndes County Commission Tuesday after missing the last three meetings for chemotherapy sessions as part of his battle with leukemia.

Casey said he will have to continue travel back and forth to Emory Hospital in Atlanta for treatment, but was happy to be back home in the interim.

"I'll still be going back and forth," he said. "I'm working hard to try and see what I can do here (at South Georgia Regional Medical Center). ... I'm back this week recovering, and that's the way it's going to be for a while."

He said doctors are still optimistic that they will be able to return the disease to remission through chemotherapy. A bone marrow transplant is another possibility, but not until Casey finishes the current round of chemotherapy. He has two more three-week treatments remaining.

While he kept up with county affairs as best he could while in Atlanta, Casey said he was glad to be able to conduct business in person again.

"This is what I'm here to do, and I'm going to do it as best I can," he said. "Hopefully I'll be back full-time pretty soon."

The Commission unanimously approved a mosquito control plan for the county on Tuesday. The $25,000 program focuses primarily on controlling mosquito breeding by spreading larvicides and working to eliminate prime mosquito habitats.

County Manager Joe Pritchard said some adult spraying was a possibility, but that targeting adult populations was inefficient and costly -- especially for the decentralized population of unincorporated Lowndes County.

Should adult spraying be necessary, Pritchard said program costs could escalate, though not substantially.

Another important part of the program is public education, and county officials plan to compile and distribute a pamphlet on eliminating standing water on private property that mosquitoes often use as breeding areas. Scrap tires, trash cans, pots, ornamental ponds and bird baths all are potential breeding areas.

Residents will be able to pick up larvicide briquettes at the Lowndes County Fire headquarters on Madison Highway for use around their homes, and the county is purchasing a sprayer to disperse another larvicide in ditches and other instances of standing water on county lands.

To contact reporter Bill Roberts, please call 244-3400, ext. 245.

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