Meet the retired East Texan in charge of the region’s pollen count

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) — Spring has arrived — making the area’s daily pollen even more important for East Texans with allergies. With what appears to be all covered in yellow pollen dust, we wanted to see not just how the region’s pollen count is done, but who is doing it.

“I just come here in my little magic box,” Dexter Jones, a retired UT Health Science Center employee, told Tyler. Jones, who has been doing this for about 15 years, said the process begins with him grabbing his necessary supplies and keys to the roof.

Jones goes to the roof of the building, where he removes a “dirty” rod from the device that helps him count pollen.

“And that’s the one I take down to do the count,” he said.

The rod Jones is talking about is coated in silicone grease, which traps pollen on the rod as the device spins quickly.

The device that spins at rapid speeds – allowing the sticky stem to catch pollen in the air.(Blake Holland/KLTV)

“Nine minutes it turns off, then it turns on and runs for a minute,” he said.

Jones then takes the rod back to what we’ll call “Dexter’s lab.” This is where he places the rod in the solution before putting it under his microscope. He then carefully counts the pollen and records the data on paper.

“When you go out and look at the tree, I’m always fascinated to be able to say, ‘well, I know what it looks like under the microscope.'”

And when it comes to popular pollen under Jones Friday’s microscope, the one that looks like Mickey Mouse.

“The greenish-yellow pollen you see on all the cars and the house is pine,” he said.

The pollen produced by the pine resembles Mickey Mouse, according to Jones.
The pollen produced by the pine resembles Mickey Mouse, according to Jones.(Blake Holland/KLTV)

And while you might consider this Jones’ work, it’s important to note that he’s retired. He started working in hospital food services when he was a high school student in the 1980s. He would later retire from the public affairs department, before becoming the pensioner who counts the pollen.

“We had a scientist doing the count here with some of his students,” Jones said. “And after he left, I was trained by a teacher from TJC, who has extensive knowledge in this area. And so he trained me and I started doing it. It’s been 15 years now that I I have the opportunity.

An opportunity he sees as a labor of love and one that contributes to the quality of life for so many East Texans.

You can see Jones’ pollen count every weekday at 4pm and 5pm on KLTV 7.

Copyright 2022 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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