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Belchertown High School reschedules all evening athletic events due to EEE

This 1997 file photo shows a mosquito, which is a known carrier of eastern equine encephalitis. Belchertown High School is rescheduling all night athletic events due to a critical threat of EEE.

This 1997 file photo shows a mosquito, which is a known carrier of eastern equine encephalitis. Belchertown High School is rescheduling all night athletic events due to a critical threat of EEE. Purchase photo reprints »

As the epicenter for this summer’s threat of Eastern equine encephalitis, Belchertown is faced once again with altering its fall high school sports schedule.

Belchertown High School principal Christine Vigneux confirmed on Thursday that the school will change the starting times for all scheduled home night games until the first frost. For the Orioles, the sports affected are football, boys and girls soccer.

Last fall, the football team had to adjust most of its home schedule. Games originally scheduled at 7 p.m. Friday were pushed up to 5.

According to Vigneux , games from Sept. 1 through Sept. 15 need to end by 7 p.m. After that point the deadline becomes 6:45.

“It’s pretty hectic right now having to deal with this while also preparing for school to start,” Vigneux said. “It’s unfortunate this threat has popped up again this year.”

The threat level in Belchertown for the mosquito-borne EEE is critical following the deaths of a pair of horses due to the disease.

The first horse died from EEE on July 26, roughly one month earlier than when the disease killed the first horse last year.

The second Belchertown horse died from EEE this week and was close to the Amherst line, resulting in the threat level for Amherst being raised to high.

Amherst Regional athletic director Rich Ferro could not be reached for comment. Amherst, Frontier Regional and Northampton all rescheduled night games last year.

The University of Massachusetts is closely monitoring the situation, according to assistant athletic director John Sinnett.

The first frost of 2012 didn’t occur until mid-October.

NEW AD — Vigneux also confirmed that athletic director R.J. Marchewka has left the school to take the same job at East Longmeadow.

Belchertown will be holding interviews for a replacement next week.

Michael Wilkinson can be reached at mwilkinson@gazettenet.com.

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