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10-03-2019 Health Departments inform about mosquito spread EEE virus; 128,000 acres sprayed, includ

MCFARLAND USA” RUNNERS VISIT HARTFORD… Hartford High School Cross Country runners were privileged to be visited by Thomas Valles and Johnny Samaniego on a promotional tour of Michigan for the Walt Disney Studios film starring Kevin Costner, “McFarland USA”. The film is the story of a predominantly Latino high school in California’s Central Valley and its running team’s incredible work ethic and commitment to their team developing a group of novice runners into champions. Valles and Samaniego ran on that team. Far from movie stars themselves, they now travel the country sharing their personal story of overcoming adversity with high school student athletes. Pictured (from the left): HHS boys -Francisco Medrano, Aurelio Delgado, Hunter Bloom, Jacob Morales, Aldo Acevedo, Joseph Lehmkuhl; joined by Thomas Valles & Johnny Samaniego; along with HHS’s ladies – Katherine Sanchez, Yovana Naranjo, Asuzena Loera, Jasmin Janicki, Jamie Smith, Brianna Bailey, Esther Ugalde, Katalina Soria, Jasmin Garcia and Mayra Naranjo.

Health Departments inform about mosquito spread EEE virus; 128,000 acres sprayed, includes Berr. County where mosquito virus found

By Annette Christie

Local and state health departments have provided public information regarding the recent reports of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Michigan.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is a rare virus that is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. As of September 30, there are two confirmed cases of EEE in Berrien County. There are seven confirmed cases of EEE throughout the State of Michigan in 2019. The Berrien County Health Department states that although there have been elevated numbers of EEE cases in Michigan this year, the illness remains extremely rare.

In a news release on September 18, the Berrien County Health Department stated that with the increase in cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, they continue to emphasize that residents take personal precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

Not all mosquitoes are capable of transmitting the virus, and not all cases of EEE result in severe symptoms. Mosquitoes that can carry the EEE virus tend to favor woodland and/or swampy habitats. Individual cases of EEE are more likely to occur in those over the age of 50, under the age of 15, or those who may have a weakened immune system from an underlying medical condition.

At the present time, the Berrien County Health Department is not recommending that community groups cancel outdoor evening events, such as sporting events. If practical, groups can consider relocating outdoor events to an indoor space. The Berrien County Health Department is working collaboratively with leadership at Berrien County school districts to take actions where needed and communicate directly with students and families.

The Berrien County and Van Buren County health departments have both provided the following recommendations for the public:

When outdoors, apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency registered product to exposed skin or clothing and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.

Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.

Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.

Residents should empty water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused kiddies pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes may lay eggs.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Bureau of Laboratories has confirmed Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in nine individuals in Michigan, including three deaths.

“The increasing geographic spread and increasing number of EEE cases in humans and animals indicate that the risk for EEE is ongoing,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “We continue to urge Michiganders to protect themselves against mosquito bites until the first hard frost.”

Additionally, testing at the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has identified EEE confirmation in 33 animals from 15 counties including Berrien and Van Buren. There is an EEE vaccine available for horses, but not for people. Additional animal cases are under investigation.

The MDHHS is encouraging local officials in the affected counties to consider postponing, rescheduling or cancelling outdoor activities occurring at or after dusk, particularly activities that involve children. This would include events such as late evening sports practices or games or outdoor music practices. The MDHHS recommendation is being made out of an abundance of caution to protect the public health and applies until the first hard frost of the year. They state that EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States, with a 33 percent fatality rate in people who become ill.

Signs of EEE include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches which can progress to severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma and death may also occur in some cases.

Over the weekend, aerial spraying treatment to specific parts of the State of Michigan was supposed to take place; however, with the stormy, rainy weather it was necessary to delay the treatment. Beginning September 30, the aerial treatment to combat the Eastern Equine Encephalitis began with coverage of 128,000 acres according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. That coverage was to include portions of Berrien, Van Buren, and Cass counties.

The product being sprayed is Merus 3 which is EPA registered, organic, and botanical adult mosquito insecticide. It is being sprayed over parts of Berrien Township, Pipestone Township, and the Village of Eau Claire in Berrien County and in parts of Marcellus Township, Antwerp Township, and Bloomingdale Township in Van Buren County.

Local schools use cautious approach

Hartford Public Schools did post on their Facebook page that they were going to follow the State Health Department recommendation to end games before dark. On September 18, they notified families. Their Friday night football game last week was moved up to 5:00 p.m.

On their athletic page, they said that beginning immediately they would be moving all JV and Varsity Football games up to 5:30 or earlier until further notice.

School officials in the Watervliet School District said they have been building a safety plan with the assistance of the Berrien County Health Department and other school superintendents in the county. The district fogged all practice fields, blew away any and all standing water on their grounds, provided insect repellant to all students who have a signed release from their parents, and if recommended by the Berrien County Health Department would postpone, cancel, or re-schedule their games as appropriate. They provided the Berrien County Health Department Statement on the situation to all households in the district.

Coloma School District officials have also been keeping their parents and families informed of updates. Their grounds were sprayed for mosquitoes last week. They are also providing insect repellant to students and encouraging families to use similar precautions when being outside.

Ric Seager, Watervliet Schools Superintendent inducted by the Paw Paw Lake Rotary

Margie Haas, Rotary District Governor inducted the newest member of the Paw Paw Lake Rotary Club recently, Ric Seager, Watervliet School Superintendent. Margie Haas said there are 54 clubs, in 15 counties in Southwest Michigan, two satellite clubs, and two Rotaract Clubs. The Rotary theme this year is “Rotary Connects the World”. One of her goals is to grow membership by emphasizing projects and services. Such as Paw Paw Lake Rotary providing uniforms for the Miracle League, helping with the Methodist Church coat drive, and providing food baskets to overseas service members. She said it’s important to increase the number of young people and diversity in the clubs. It’s also important to create younger leadership by encouraging them to take on projects and leadership roles within the club.

NEWEST MEMBER… Pictured (from the left) is Ric Seager, Watervliet School Superintendent, Margie Hass, Rotary District Governor, and Brian Smith, President Elect Paw Paw Lake Rotary.

October 2 was World Polio Day. With the help of Rotary, polio has been eradicated in all but two countries. The district’s project is called “WASH”, Water and Sanitation Hygiene, which provides latrines in the Dominican Republic. Rotary helped to charter the United Nations and they will be celebrating their 75th Anniversary on November 9. November is Rotary Month. Paw Paw Lake Rotary meets Wednesday’s at 12:15 p.m. at Lakeland Hospital Watervliet.

Watervliet City Commission works through agenda items; includes insurance contracts, parks and recreation plan; planning commission working on special land use permit and ordinance revisions

By Annette Christie The Watervliet City Commission had several action items to address at their regular meeting held Tuesday, Oct. 1.

Insurances City Manager Tyler Dotson recommended the renewal of the city’s insurance policy through Decker Insurance in the amount of $36,730 which includes municipal general liability, public officials liability, law enforcement professional liability, property coverage, etc. While the contract approved does not end until next August, Dotson hopes to get with other insurance companies for comparison in the spring to make sure that they are getting the best value for the amount of insurance. The City Commission also approved the program for the Accident Fund – the city is required to carry Workers’ Compensation and Employer’s Liability Insurance. The total coverage cost is $19,474, a net increase of $379.

Finances With the audit being completed, the City Commission approved a payment to their auditing firm, Maner Costerisan, for audit fieldwork in the amount of $14,400. Maner Costerisan recently completed their audit fieldwork for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019. Dotson commended staffers Christa Townsend, Melanie Marvin, and Barb Schofield for their extra work in the preparation of the audit. Dotson said he hopes to have a draft audit very soon. The City Commission also approved the second installment for the Asset Management Plan work to Wightman & Associates. The Commission approved the proposal from Wightman & Associates in March to develop the City’s Asset Management Plan, conduct an infiltration analysis, and work toward a USDA Rural Development loan application in the amount of $186,130.00. This amount will eventually be paid back to the City via receipt of the loan. This second installment is $65,145. Dotson asked the City Commission to approve a standard annual mileage reimbursement for the Clerk who makes several trips to the City’s bank in Coloma, as well as other errands for the City. The City Commission approved the amount of $754.

Parks and Recreation Plan Following a request by the Commission to obtain estimates for the Parks and Recreation Plan update, they moved forward with a selection at this week’s meeting. Three proposals were received. Commissioner Deah Muth, Parks & Recreation Committee Chairperson, made the motion to approve the proposal submitted by Abonmarche. The current plan is set to expire January 2020, with submission due at the state in February in order to be considered for Parks & Recreation Grants.

Special meeting set The Commission did approve a request for a special meeting to be held on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m. Agenda topics include the Police Chief Contract Discussion/Approval, website approval and budget amendments.

City Hall closed Oct. 11 Dotson announced that on October 11 he will be shutting down city hall to the public so that the re-organization of city hall may occur. He is looking to move the treasurer downstairs with a possible conference room upstairs.

Special Land Use Permit Dotson shared that the Planning Commission is working diligently on a Special Land Use Permit request for a church and community center on Main Street. He said they are working on that subject, ordinance revisions, recreation marijuana ordinance, and accessory building ordinance.

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