In 1980, John Lennon was assassinated, the Pac-Man video game was released and Bill Sanderson started working for the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District.
“My boss said, ‘Here’s the truck, boy. Go find some mosquitoes,’” Sanderson recalled on his last day of work, his office stripped of all personal mementoes. “Of course, back then we used to spray diesel fuel on the water. That’s what we had, so that’s what we used. Today, they’d bury me under the jail for using that!”
Sanderson is retiring after 35 years of service, having achieved the rank of lead inspector, with five full-time and two part-time employees reporting to him.
“We’re going to miss him,” said FKMCD’s Michael Doyle. “He has a wealth of institutional knowledge, including mastering all the different control techniques we’ve employed over the years.”
With the recent rains, there’s been a full workload with little time to reflect on how the methods have changed.
He remembers that after the diesel method, the agency employed altosid briquets to inhibit mosquito populations. Now, of course, Mosquito Control has a variety of methods to kills skeeters ranging from adulticides to larvicides. Sanderson said the technology continues to improve.
“We’re already testing automated traps that can both catch and count the mosquitoes. The future will probably be drones, where we can treat areas that we can’t reach easily right now,” Sanderson said.
Other than volunteering three days a week at the Florida Keys Country Club so he can tee off the same number of times, Sanderson doesn’t have a very detailed plan for retirement.
“My wife, Bonnie, and I are going on a four-day cruise to the Bahamas,” he said.
Bill and Bonnie have one daughter, Rachel, who is 21 years old and recently moved back to the Keys.