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History of the Compton Creek Mosquito Abatement District

Since the beginning of time, mosquitoes and the life destroying diseases that they transmit, have bewildered and provided much consternation for man. It wasn’t until about 200 years ago that the causes of the deaths of so many people were connected to mosquitoes and to provide a history of the Compton Creek Mosquito Abatement District, one must look at this discovery and the relation to the District to fully understand the history of the District and its objectives.

Going all of the way back to the first settlements in Los Angeles and its surrounding areas, it was noted of the flying insects that were in abundance throughout the summer months and how they affected the settlers way of life, even forcing them to relocate to other areas.

More than 100 years later, thousands of men were dying from an unknown source while working on the construction of the Panama Canal. It was in the late 1800’s that Dr. Walter Reed and Associates identified mosquitoes as the vector (carrier) of malaria and yellow fever. The discovery was not only important to the workers of the canal, but to Californians as well because some of them had contracted malaria. Not only were mosquito a nuisance, they carried diseases as well.

In California, mosquito abatement activities in the early 1900’s were focused on controlling the mosquito that carries malaria and reducing the number of nuisance salt marsh mosquitoes. Before 1915, mosquito control in the state was financed by subscription and donation. In 1915, a bill was passed through the legislature and signed by the governor that provided for the formation, organization and financing of mosquito abatement districts. This bill is known as the Mosquito Abatement Act.

In January 1927, flood waters coming from the Compton slough, as the Compton Creek Flood Control Channel was then called, inundated large sections of Compton, particularly on the west side of town, and the area resembled a lake. The citizens were not happy with the situation.

After the spring floods subsided, mosquitoes in huge numbers appeared and the people couldn’t enjoy the evenings. Citizens demanded relief and plans for Mosquito Control District developed. On June 21, 1927, the Compton City Council adopted a resolution asking the County Board of Supervisors to include Compton within the proposed District.

The District’s first Trustees were Mr. Ernest Spurlock, a prominent insurance agent who was appointed by the City of Compton and A.H. Cox who represented the City of Long Beach. Mr. J.O. ‘Jim’ McDonald was the main driving force to create this District and the two Trustees named him the District Superintendent. The first location of the District was located at 200 W. Artesia Blvd, which was the home of Mr. McDonald.

The passing of Mr. McDonald in 1957 was a turning point into acquiring a permanent site for the District’s Headquarters; another was that the old site at 200 W. Artesia Blvd was on the proposed right-of-way for the Artesia Freeway. In 1957 Mr. Wayne Wallace was named Superintendent of the District to fill the vacancy left by Mr. McDonald.

In 1958, County Counsel ruled that the Board would have to be increased to five members. One of the members appointed was Mr. Torval M. Hansen, a longtime resident of Compton. Mr. Hansen was a Trustee until his resignation in October 1961 when the Board named him Superintendent of the District upon the passing of Mr. Wallace in October 1961.

In 1961, the District moved to the property in which it currently resides to this day. Seeing how mosquito control was evolving and expanding, the Board elected to raze the existing building and replace it with the building that currently exists today. Mr. Hansen served as District Manager for 10 years until his passing in May 1971, when Mr. Gabriel Alvarado, who was the District’s Inspector-Operator, was asked to also perform the daily functions of the District Manager. Mr. Alvarado was named District Manager in 1974.

Many new technologies for mosquito control were being formulated and utilized during this time and Mr. Alvarado was able to incorporate many of these new techniques, pesticides and methods into the District’s mosquito control program keeping it current with the times and by using new safer pesticides that were not harmful to the environment or to any other animal or insect found in the state. In 1988, Mr. Alvarado retired and the District’s Inspector-Operator, Mr. Mitchel R. Weinbaum was asked by the Board to perform the daily functions of the District Manager. In 1989, Mr. Weinbaum was named District Manager and he currently holds this position.

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