Pulled Pork Your Passion? This Is What It Takes To Prepare It For the Fair

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Sep 142016

Roasted pork butts for the fair.

Roasted pork butts for the fair.

The Orange Country Fair is known regionally as a very nice family event with tractor, oxen and horse pulls; animal exhibits; pig races; children’s activity area; and contests for baking, photography, children’s crafts, artwork, biggest pumpkin, tallest sunflower and so much more.

Some people look forward to something else entirely — the food! You can find all the traditional favorites in the main food tent under the pavilion including Hot Roast Beef au jus on a hard roll; Philly Cheese Steak Sub; LONGHINI Chicken Sausage & Pepper Sub; fried dough; Clam chowder and more. Then there’s the satellite tent on the lower fairgrounds where the aroma of roasted meat beckons you to stop by for a sandwich. This is where the first selectman can be found cooking up food for the majority of the two-day fair.

Preparing for the fair

While visiting the High Plains Community Center on Tuesday, I was drawn down the hall toward the Senior cafeteria by the amazing smell of “Sunday Dinner” coming from the kitchen. The ovens were filled with large covered roasting pans and I couldn’t help but stand there and take in the aroma — Ah, roast pork — It was unmistakable.

As I was leaving, First Selectman Jim Zeoli walked in through the back door and headed for the kitchen. What could I do, I had to follow him and find out what his role was in the process. (Click HERE for Video)

Many years ago, Zeoli and resident Ron Ruotolo came up with the idea of a satellite food tent to feed the fairgoers who were enjoying the activities on the lower fairgrounds. Here they’ve been serving hearty sub sandwiches and meals with roasted meats, and this location is famous for its pulled pork.

Every year, Zeoli prepares pork butts (Provided by *Napoli Meats out of New Haven), seasoning them with his special blend of shredded onions, brown sugar, hot pepper and several other spices.

The pork is so popular that in 2016, he decided to roast 606 pounds (70 pounds more than in 2015) of boneless pork butts, which he began cooking on Tuesday morning. Each tray holds two pork butts, and each oven holds 6 trays. The meat roasts at a moderate heat for 7 hours, then Zeoli returns in late afternoon to remove them from the oven, drain the pans and allow them to cool before a group of women come in at night to rake (pull) the pork. This process continues every day until the fair opens on Saturday.

The Satellite Tent also serves roast pork (if you don’t care for the pulled version); a sausage that has broccoli rabe and garlic inside the casing served on a sub and topped with roasted garlic and broccoli rabe; rib eye steak; lollipop lamb chops; a sauteed vegetable sub; and fried pickles and jalepeno chips served with a chipotle sauce. All of these specialties are cooked with love by dedicated fair volunteers.

“We try to provide fair supporters with the highest quality, most delicious food and we’re very proud of what we do,” Zeoli said.

The Orange Country Fair runs this weekend at the Orange Fairgrounds, 525 Orange Center Road, Saturday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

*An Orange resident owns Napoli Meat and Sausage Company.

Photos: 2016 Memorial Day Ceremony At the Gazebo

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May 292016

It was a sunny, breezy hot day on the Orange Fairgrounds for the 2016 Orange Memorial Day Ceremony.

IMG_0945Robert Mirto, Esq., was the Master of Ceremonies, and he and all of the honored guests kept their addresses short, so there were no medical emergencies and the parade stepped off earlier than in some past years.

US Senator Richard Blumenthal, and First Selectman Jim Zeoli made brief comments, and two students from Orange Elementary Schools read short poems.

One woman who was honored at the ceremony was Magdalen Cronin, 100, who has crafted a wreath for the Memorial Day service at the cemetery for many years, and hopes to continue doing so as long as she can. “I enjoy making the wreath,” she said.

The Parade Committee did a fine job choosing the following parade recipients and keynote speaker.

Grand Marshal Arnold J. Casola is a U.S. Army, World War II Veteran – T5 Corporal – who served from 1944 to 1946. He was awarded the European African Middle Eastern, Good Conduct and Victory Medal. He is a member of theAmerican Legion Post 127 and a past Sergeant-at- Arms.

Honorary Chief of Staff James T. Dallas is a U.S. Army Korean War Veteran – Corporal – who served from 1950 to 1952. He served in the National Guard from 1948 – 1950 and at the Camp Pickett, Army Hospital for 2 years. He was a member of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department for 26 years now retired. He has been a member of the American Legion Post 127 for 55 years and worked for the Town of Orange Highway Department for 27 years now retired.

Keynote speaker Emily Dewey Trudeau, is the Deputy Assistant State’s Attorney, Judicial District of Fairfield and a Bronze Star decorated Veteran. From 2005-2006, she was a Special Assistant United States Attorney, United States Attorney’s Office District of Utah; from 2006-2012, she was an officer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, United States Navy; and she is currently Chair of the Military and Veteran’s Affairs Committee, Connecticut Bar Association.


Orange’s Loss is Shelton’s Gain: Saying Goodbye to Paul Grimmer

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Mar 242016

IMG_1441The town of Orange will suffer a great loss on April 29: Paul Grimmer, the Executive Director of the Economic Development Corporation is leaving to take a job in Shelton.

Former First Selectman Mitch Goldblatt, Selectman Peach Reid and Frank Pifko from the United Illuminating Company interviewed Grimmer for the job of building several aspects of economic development in Orange.

“That was 14.5 years ago. They saw something in me and I got the job,” Grimmer said. “For this I am grateful.”

Grimmer became the town’s first full time executive director in September 2001.

The job, he said is building the town through business recruitment and retention. “I’m fortunate to have been able to do things beyond that, including introducing the first Orange Business Expo 14 years ago and the Orange Life Magazine, now in its sixth year.”

The Orange Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) is a not for profit organization to support the town’s economic development efforts.

Many other communities have their own economic development office and need to pay staff, maintain the office and provide healthcare. Orange is fortunate to have the EDC acting as the support to the town. The town provides the OEDC with $60,000 of it’s (approximate $200,000) yearly operating budget, then it’s up to the OEDC to get the additional resources by fundraising. A significant portion of income is obtained through ad sales for the Orange Life Magazine and the business expo generates a good income, according to Grimmer. The magazine and expo also promote town businesses and highlight the good work of people of Orange.

Grimmer said through his position, he’s been able to work with amazing companies like UI and participate in bringing some great companies to town.

One of his best memories of his tenure is seeing the completion of the Edison Road extension, which was on the books in the Orange Industrial Plan since 1963.  Grimmer spent a good part of an 8 year period piling up both state and federal grants and slowly but surely the extended road created business opportunities.

“Before Aurora Products moved here, they wanted to know if the road would actually be extended,” Grimmer said. “I assured them it would, and now the company is on its third expansion since coming to town.”

Grimmer said the town has benefited from the teamwork of the OEDC. “I have some awesome leaders: First Selectman Jim Zeoli; Alan Fischer, always steady at the wheel; and Armand Cantafio who I can always bounce ideas off of.” he said. “The critical element to my success here is the tremendous leaders I’ve had behind me.”

The Farmer’s Market is not an OEDC activity, but in this case, Zeoli expressed interest in having one in Orange and Grimmer said, “I’ll do it.” He confessed that he always stepped up because it was important to participate in community and business activities.

The key to his longevity at the OEDC was that the Board of Directors gave him the rope to go out and participate in community organizations and activities like the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club of Orange.

“It made my job more enjoyable because of the personal contacts I’ve made over the years,” he said.

Zeoli said losing Grimmer is happy and sad. “We became good friends and he does an outstanding job for the town. It’s unfortunate that he’s leaving after 15 years, but I fully understand. This is an advancement for him and a step up. He’s going back to where he started. I wish him good luck.”

“It’s going to be hard to replace him,” Zeoli said. “People don’t realize how much he does: The Artisan Festival, Rotary Lobsterfest  and Rose Sale,The Business Expo and the Chamber of Commerce. He’s the driving force behind the Farmers Market and he excels in reaching out to property owners.”

Zeoli said Grimmer has town information embedded in his brain. “When you ask him something, he knows the answer in minutes.” — Orange Live can attest to this. When we asked how long Edison Road was in the works, he seamlessly turned to a crowded bookshelf and took out a small folder from 60 years ago. 

Zeoli said it will be a huge challenge to replace him after 15 years of experience on the job. “He’s leaving a huge void, but for his personal career, it’s a step up and in these tough economic times every step up makes life easier.”

As far as leaving Orange, Grimmer said he feels good that he did his best here and noted that he is leaving a lot of friends behind.

A New Opportunity

Grimmer’s last day with the OEDC is April 29. Until then it’s business as usual with him working feverishly on getting the May issue of Orange Life ready and preparing for the Orange Expo.

On May 2 he is starting his new career as the Shelton Economic Development Commission President and COO of the organization.

[NOTE: On May 2 he will become the vice president of the Shelton Economic Development Commission, then, on Aug. 3 will replace the retiring James Ryan as President.]

The job description is different from what he did in Orange — there will not be a “Shelton Life” Magazine. His focus will be on grants administration, revitalization and Brownfield Remediation along the river front.

Grimmer, 50, is a Shelton resident and began working in the Shelton Community Development office as an intern in 1987 while attending Penn State University — so he really is “going home.”

The town of Orange has some huge shoes to fill in finding a replacement for Grimmer, but the search will go on and a notice will be posted in the near future.

Orange Live wishes Paul the best of luck and a lot of happiness in his new venture. Orange’s loss is Shelton’s gain. Let’s hope his replacement can continue putting out a quality Orange Life Magazine — the BEST hard copy news resource in the town of Orange.

The Swearing In Ceremony of Orange Elected Officials (with Video)

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Nov 142015

12235131_10208117297195012_71258649443185035_nOn Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, the newly elected Orange town officials were sworn in at the High Plains Community Center. A rather large crowd filled the gymnasium.

Republican Town Committee Member Craig Stahl presided over the proceedings.

Senator Leonard Fasano administered the Oath of Office to everyone from the Town Clerk and Tax Collector to groups of constables, Board members and finally First Selectman Jim Zeoli (VIDEO).

(Still photos by Amy Williams and Vin Marino, published on Faceboook)

You will find the full video on OGAT Video on Demand.





Town of Orange Celebrates Veteran’s Day — Indoors This Year

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Nov 122015


The annual Orange Veteran’s Day ceremony took place at High Plains Community Center on Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m.

Many of the town’s veterans attended the event, emceed by Vicky Grande, which was highlighted by the presence of the Orange Police Department Honor Guard and a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem performed by three fine young choir singers from West Haven High School.

First Selectman Jim Zeoli read the names of every veteran in attendance.

Legion Auxiliary president AnnaMay Geipel-Pieger laid a wreath crafted by Margie Cronin, 89. Cronin, a long-time auxiliary member has been making the wreath for this occasion for more than a decade, and she is not showing any signs of slowing down.

The ceremony was brief (and dry) inside the Community Center. And moments after it’s conclusion, the sun broke through the clouds and illuminated the Veteran’s Walkway outside. The Auxiliary wreath was brought outside and placed at the flagpole where it belongs.

Ron Davis video taped the entire ceremony for OGAT.  You will be able to find it on the “on demand” site soon.

(Orange Live will provide its own clips as soon as they are edited)

Looks Like Orange Will Have A Supermarket Again

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Aug 172015

grocery-cartOn Nov. 14, 2013, Orange Live broke the news that Stop & Shop would be closing its doors in Orange. Then on Dec 3, 2013, the company sent out an official announcement stating that it was indeed moving out.

The building has been vacant for quite some time, and for nearly two years First Selectman Jim Zeoli has been working behind the scenes trying to get a desirable grocery store to take its place.

An environmental study has been done on the site and reportedly came up clean, so this opens the door for the plans to move forward.

The negotiations are confidential, so we won’t reveal which store is expected to come in until it is official, but rest assured, Orange, if everything goes according to plans, you will soon have a grocery store in town again.

Sad News: Frank Zeoli, First Selectman Jim Zeoli’s Father Passed Away Today

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Feb 212015

OrangeCTHPIt is with heartfelt sympathy that I inform you that Frank Zeoli, husband of Pat Zeoli, and father of our First Selectman Jim, his sister Melissa and brother Micheal Zeoli passed today.

Our prayers and thoughts go out to the family.

Further information concerning arrangements will be forth coming.

Thea Torrenti Honored at Orange Ceremony on Monday

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Oct 212014

Thea Torrenti and her family.

Thea Torrenti and her family.

For more than a decade, the town of Orange has been observing Breast Cancer Awareness Month with what I call the Pink Ribbon Wreath Ceremony. 

Click link for a VIDEO of this event

Town resident, Anita Pol crafted a straw wreath festooned with little pink ribbons on which safety pins are attached so they can be removed and worn by anyone who would like to show their support for survivors and victims of breast cancer. 

Each year, even as she grows older, Anita still replenishes the ribbons so the wreath that adorns the front door at Town Hall is full and beautiful and ready to share with the public. 

The Pink Ribbon Wreath Ceremony grew over the years to include cancer survivors from Orange as the honorees, usually one person who shared her story (Angela Booth and Debbie Davis are among the past honorees), but a few years ago several honorees, including a man, were chosen to share what they’d endured from discovery to treatment and some, being declared cancer free. 

The 2014 honoree is Thea Torrenti, who, in 2007 was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer after her sister insisted she go for her first mammogram. 

Thea said early detection is key, a positive attitude and a good support team are what got her through. Last year she again was diagnosed with cancer, but instead of letting it get her down, she said, “I forged ahead, knowing I would get through this.”

First Selectman Jim Zeoli read a proclamation, then Thea and Karen Goldberg hung the wreath on the front door. 

This year’s ceremony was well attended, with Thea’s family support group, her fellow survivors from the “Boob Crew,” State Rep. Paul Davis, Town Hall employees, and several residents.

The First Selectman’s office and Town Clerk’s Office are accepting donations and selling items to benefit the Susan G Komen Cancer Organization.



PHOTOS: Memorial Day Ceremony 10:30 a.m.

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May 252014

Master of Ceremonies Robert Mirto

Master of Ceremonies Robert Mirto

The 2014 Memorial Day Ceremony went without a hitch. The weather was nice, and although a couple of people had to break rank because they didn’t feel well, there were no medical emergencies as in past years.

Bob Mirto served as master of ceremonies, and Diane Raikis, accompanied by the Amity Senior High School Band, sang the National Anthem.

Mirto kept everything moving along, introducing First Selectman Jim Zeoli; Grand Marshal Laurence Czajkowski; Chief of Staff Peter MacDonald; Honored Veteran Joswph Blake; and Keynote Speaker Philip Grande, Sr. and three specially selected student readers from each of the elementary schools: Tessa Graham (Peck Place); Brenner McKinley (Race Brook); and Conlan O’Rourke (Turkey Hill).

Lewis Merritt, Commander of the American Legion Post 127 presented the general orders for the parade.

Mirto read the names of Orange veterans who’d passed away since last Memorial Day.

Amity High student Eli Baum,  played Taps, and then everyone headed for the parade route.





In A Nutshell: Here’s What Happened At Today’s Special Selectmen’s Meeting

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Feb 242014

Goldblatt and Carangelo (file photo)

Goldblatt and Carangelo (file photo)

I was hoping to walk away from today’s special meeting of the Board of Selectmen with a complete spreadsheet of tasks and costs to get Peck Place School back up and running, but it may have to wait until sometime after tonight’s Board of Finance meeting (7:30 p.m.)

Nearly $2 million  is being requested to do all the necessary work, including replacing floor and ceiling tiles, insulation, cabinetry, painting, lighting, plumbing etc. and it is not something the members of the Board of Selectmen (BOS), Board of Education (BOE) or later, the Board of Finance (BOF) take lightly.

The BOS has been dealing with this issue for more than a month and the BOE has been on it since Feb. 6, when a water pipe burst and caused damage – some major – to 12 rooms at the elementary school.

Everything moved quickly from that day forward, the children were immediately split up and placed in the two other elementary schools so their learning process would not be interrupted. Then they were moved to the YALE Campus off of Marsh Hill Road, and to their credit the teachers and children adjusted to their new situations flawlessly. Most of the kids even enjoyed the adventure.

First Selectman Jim Zeoli commended the BOS for doing their due diligence and bringing their thoughts and suggestions to the table.

In a nutshell, ALL of the numbers and specifics did not come out as many of Orange Live’s readers had hoped, but I can give you the answers to some questions that you’ve asked.

Insurance will cover just the Phase 1 where damage occurred

BOE Business Director Kevin McNabola said the amount is in the six figures, but it will not ALL be covered (This could mean $100,000 to $900,000) the exact amount of reimbursement is unknown.

Air Quality – there have been 153 air quality tests done and 34 of those were specifically  for mold.

Why so expensive – The cost to build a new school would be about $300 per square foot. The refurbishing of the existing Peck Place School averages $32 per square foot.

Why not put jobs out for bid – Selectman Mitch Goldblatt said in no uncertain terms that he did not feel it was fair that one general contractor who helped the school out when it was in peril, is getting the lions share of the work. He insisted that some of the work, such as painting, should be bid out to try to find a lower cost.

Zeoli said The BOE acknowledged there are things, like cabinetry, that can be bid out, but the process has to move forward in a continuous flow so it will be done in time.

After much discussion, Selectman John Carangelo said these are extenuating circumstances so he had to disagree with Goldblatt, and that if the BOE could bid out for some work, that would be good.

Selectman Ken Lenz said he didn’t want to delay school because they put jobs out to bid to save 5% on the cost (ballpark figure).

Timeline – Selectman Ralph Okenquist said he would like to see a specific timeline showing a schedule of all the work, including overlaps in certain projects, not to exceed the total recommended cost. He said there are only 4 months and 3 weeks left before the students would need to return to the school and if there is no schedule, they would be looking at problems.

Difference in the two Phases — 

   Phase 1 is the area affected by the water — asbestos abatement has been done.

Phase 2 is all the other rooms, store rooms, etc.

Lighting — There is an estimated $20,000 difference between getting new lights and revamping the rooms. The UI offers incentives and these could possibly save the town up to 50% on costs.

Penalties — Carangelo said there should be some sort of clause included in the contract paperwork finning the vendors if the work is not completed on time.

The BOS voted to recommend the projects to the BOF so work on Peck Place can commence with the exception of cabinetry and univentilators, which will go out to bid.

Tonight at 7:30 p.m., the BOF meets at Town Hall.

The Board will review and decide if they will approve it.

If they do, the money would come out of general fund so the BOE can move forward with the work.

Then the BOF can decide the wisest way to fund the project (bonding, etc.)