Family Fights For Pesticides to Stop Mosquitoes
KREX News Room
DELTA COUNTY, Colo.- After dealing firsthand with the West Nile virus, Georgia and Jim Hopper say they can't let it happen again. The two have lived in their house in Delta County for over 40 years.
"My only purpose is to protect my family. We have family, we have grandkids here, we are raising an autistic granddaughter," said retired farmer Jim Hopper.
Georgia became extremely ill from the West Nile virus in 2006. She said, "I was in ICU for six days and in the hospital for another 12 days. And I remember nothing of it."
Georgia says the virus still affects her today. "I've been lost in a Wal-Mart and I didn't even know I was in Wal-Mart. It affects the mind."
"I haven't even used pesticides until the West Nile came to our end of the country," said Jim.
Jim sprays his lawn to prevent against the mosquitoes.
In 2010 his neighbors, Gordon MacAlpine and Rosemary Bilchak, took him and his wife to court in an effort to get them to stop their spraying. MacAlpine and Bilchak cited several reasons, including the fact that they owned at organic farm that could be harmed by pesticides.
However, Jim Hopper says that's not the case. "They claim they are organic. They have never been organic," he said.
Lawyers for the Hoppers point out that although Gordon MacAlpine and Rosemary Bilchak may have thought they had organic status, they never actually have. The Colorado Department of Agriculture has never granted them organic certification.
"They sold their produce to a man in Paonia who claims to be the largest organic dealer in Colorado," said Georgia.
The judge made a ruling. Jim can still spray but there are some regulations.
"We have a swampy area that we can spray over there, but we can't spray this area," Georgia said.
Since they do have some spraying privileges, the Hoppers see the ruling as a victory.
NewsChannel 5 spoke with Gordon MacAlpine and Rosemary Bilchak on Sunday. They said, "In the state of Colorado, you can be an organic farm even if you are not certified. We have sold crops as an organic farm and we are actively seeking certification. Every time Mr. Hopper sprays and gets drift onto our property, he delays our certification by three years."
The Hoppers cannot use the pesticide within 150 feet of the farm.
The judge also ordered the Hoppers to only use the pesticide when winds will not cause it to drift to their neighbors' farm. They have a farming tool that allows them to know when the winds are favorable for spraying.