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OPINION: Keeping Orange Beautiful: There’s An Ordinance For That

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Jul 112020
 

The town of Orange has a wide variety of personalities in many different types of neighborhoods.
There are some streets with ranch-style homes just blocks away from exclusive hidden cul-de-sacs with beautiful McMansions.
But, no matter what your neighborhood is like, there is a chance that one of the homes or yards may look a little less desirable. A rusty old abandoned truck used as a garden decoration with weeds growing out of the grill and maybe plants in the bed. One person’s idea of beauty may be another person’s definition of blight.
Orange has a blight ordinance and the details of what is considered blight may actually surprise you.
The ordinance covers any building, structure, or parcel of land where at least one of the following conditions exists.
When an appropriate town official determines that a condition exists that poses a serious or immediate threat to the health, safety, or general welfare of the community. Including if the Fire Marshal has determined that a building or structure is a fire hazard.
If the property is in a state of disrepair or is becoming dilapidated causing unsafe or unsanitary conditions or a nuisance to the public and be evidenced by one or more of the following conditions
1) Missing, broken or boarded up windows and doors
2) Collapsing or missing walls or roof
3) Seriously damaged or missing siding
4) Unrepaired fire or water damage.
5) Rodent harborage and/or infestation.
6) Persistent garbage or trash on the property.
7) Abandoned motor vehicle on the premises unless properly permitted as a junkyard.
8) Overgrown brush, shrubs, and weeds.
9) Visible portions of the property characterized by significant unattended bare dirt patches.
10) Parking lots left in a state of disrepair or abandonment.
The overall condition of the property causes an unreasonable impact on the enjoyment of or value of neighboring properties as expressed by persistent complaints from adjoining property owners.
Penalties for offenses
(This is an abbreviated version of the official Ordinance language)
Violations shall be punishable by a fine of $100 for each day a violation exists and continues.
If any violation remains unabated after 10 days, authorized officials will issue a citation to the violator.
The final period for the uncontested payment of a citation shall be 30 days after the mailing or delivery of the citation.
Fines will continue to grow the longer the homeowner procrastinates: instead of a manageable $100 you could face $50,000; $175,000; or even $250,000 in fines — no joke. 
If the property owner does not correct the violations the Zoning Enforcement Officer will file a certified copy of unpaid fines with the Clerk of the Superior Court. The judgment will be in the town’s favor.
The person against whom the judgment has been entered is entitled to judicial review in accordance with the provisions of CT General Statutes.
Why Is This News?
At any time, the town of Orange has about four blighted properties on the books.
For several years there was one resident whose name came up at nearly every Zoning Commission meeting for not just one, but multiple blighted properties and violations and extreme fines for repeatedly failing to fix the problems.
Some possibilities
Some of your neighbors may have difficulty keeping up with others’ expectations of what “clean” is.
Heat and humidity can be unbearable for some people and cleaning up a messy or overgrown yard in the middle of summer without help is nearly impossible for these individuals.
There could be any number of reasons for their reluctance or inability to get it done. Health issues may cause the person to feel ill in certain types of weather. A limited income or joblessness could prevent them from being able to hire someone to mow the lawn or rake the leaves.
The stress of knowing that you are being fined for having a hayfield instead of a manicured lawn (but your lawnmower won’t start and you can’t afford to buy another one) causes your already high blood pressure to go above a safe level.
These are the people that you, as a neighbor, could reach out to and gently do a little investigating to find out why they won’t clean up their yards.
A little empathy goes a long way. Bring over your weed whacker if the old lady next door is kneeling down and using clippers to cut the grass around her mailbox in 90-degree weather.
Know the story before you call the zoning office to complain. You could make a new friend and you will feel good about yourself for doing something selfless for a stranger.
But on the other hand
Let’s face it, some people are just jerks. Able-bodied bullies may do little passive-aggressive things just to annoy you.
If their mess is bringing your property value down, or their actions are ruining your quality of life, then call the sanitarian or zoning official.
If they are truly threatening you, then it’s time to call the police, but having photographic or audio recordings of such abuse is the best way to prove your case so some sort of action can be taken.
Retaliation is not the course to take, abusive neighbors will just wait for you to fight back and that will give them carte blanche to up the ante on making your life a living hell. They’ll even call the police and complain about YOU.
Points to ponder
• To keep the town officials away, keep your property neat and clean.
• If you’re older and don’t have the means to fix a broken window or equipment to mow your lawn and trim the hedges, there is help that you may not know about.
Go to the High Plains Community Center and talk to Denise Stein in the Senior Services office and ask what, if any assistance is available.
Church groups, Scout Troops, or the Salvation Army may have money or programs geared toward helping those in situations such as yours.
• If your neighbor appears to be having trouble keeping up their property, see if you can do something to help before you call the health department or zoning office.
• Ignore nasty neighbors whenever possible. If they are truly abusive and doing something that you can prove, do not confront them on your own, call the police and file an official complaint (and ask for a copy so you have your own documentation in the event that you need to seek legal assistance).

Orange Police: Woman Arrested On DUI Charge

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Jul 092020
 

Orange Police were dispatched to Derby Avenue at Orange Center Road for a car accident on July 2 at 10:14 p.m. in which the vehicle at fault evaded responsibility.

According to the report, a witness followed the evading driver into a nearby parking lot until officers arrived.

Investigation revealed that Christine M. Cirillo, 29, of Derby, smelled like alcohol and was swaying and slurring her words.

Officers administered standardized field sobriety testa and Cirillo was taken into custody and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

She was released on a $500 bond and given a court date of Sept. 8.

Orange Police: Man Fled With Stolen Merchandise

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Jul 062020
 

Orange police were dispatched to Home Depot, 440 Boston Post Road, on Saturday, June 27 at 9:29 a.m. on a complaint that two men fled the area on foot with $199 worth of stolen merchandise.

According to the report, both males were detained moments later. Investigation revealed that one of them, identified as Mark A. Pereira, 42, of New Haven, was responsible for taking the merchandise.

He was taken into custody and charged with sixth-degree larceny.

Pereira was released on a promise to appear in court on Aug. 12.

Orange Police: Man Punched A Hole Through Car Windshield

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Jul 062020
 

On Friday, June 26, at 9:12 p.m. Orange police were dispatched to the area of 378 Boston Post Road (an office building is located there) for a dispute between two people that turned physical.

Investigation revealed that Santiago R. Moreno-Ruiz, 31, of West Haven reportedly punched and broke the windshield of a vehicle.

He was taken into custody and charged with second-degree breach of peace and second-degree criminal mischief.

Moreno-Ruiz posted a $2,500 bond and given a court date of June 29.

OVFD Changes Response Procedures During COVID-19 Crisis

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Jul 052020
 

Members of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department have modified their response plans and procedures to protect themselves during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The most important thing residents should know is that if you call 9-1-1, we’re going to respond with the same efficiency we always have,” the fire chief said. “Depending on the type of alarm, you may see our firefighters take a few extra precautions as we work to avoid being exposed to the virus while providing service.”

He said residents will see firefighters and apparatus arrive quickly at their home or business. But for many calls, a single firefighter, often an officer, will come to the door and ask about the health of those in the home. If anyone in the home has a fever, flu-like symptoms, or has traveled to certain areas, that firefighter will take an extra minute to take precautions, such as putting on an air mask. He or she will then attempt to resolve the problem without having other firefighters enter the building.

“Obviously, those other firefighters will help if needed,” he said. “And if we see an immediate life hazard, such as fire, we’re ready to go right into action as usual.”

Firefighters also have been issued instructions for additional cleaning of fire stations, equipment including their protective clothing, and apparatus.

“We are in touch with local, state, and federal experts on a daily – in fact, hourly – basis, and we are following their advice,” he said.

The chief also asks residents not to hesitate to call 9-1-1 if they need help, but also to let the dispatcher know if anyone in the home is under mandatory or self-imposed quarantine due to possible or confirmed COVID-19 exposure. The dispatcher can then relay that information to first-responders so they can take steps to avoid exposure.

He also suggested placing a sign or note on the front door of your home to notify police, fire, and EMS personnel to take infection-prevention precautions.

“These steps will protect OVFD (https://www.orangevfd.org/) crews so they can continue to meet the emergency needs of our community,” he said. “You’re not only helping our crews by complying with these requests, but you’re also helping your neighbor because we’ll be able to stay healthy and respond to the next call for help.”

Orange Police Note: Millwork and Repaving On State Roads

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Jul 032020
 

The Orange Police announced the following roadwork that is currently taking place. Be aware of these projects and plan your detour routes accordingly.

State Route 121 (Grassy Hill Road / North Street) is being milled down and repaved from RT34 (Derby Avenue) in Orange to RT1 (Boston Post Road) in Milford. Road milling is being accomplished this week from 6:30 am – 4:00 pm.

Expect delays and use alternate routes when possible.

Paving will follow and will be accomplished from 7:00 pm – 5:00 am. The entire project will take a few weeks. Please use caution, be patient, and drive safely.

Wait, What? A Popular Orange Police Sergeant Retired This Weekend

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Jun 292020
 

Chief Gagne presents Sgt. Aquino with his retirement badge.

Over the past 25 years, I’ve gotten to know a lot of our local police officers. Naturally, after all this time, I’ve seen so many of them retire and move on. Some, I’ve stayed in touch with, others are just gone with the wind. But I still remember each and every one of them.

Pre-pandemic I most likely would have gotten a heads-up and had an opportunity to say goodbye, but this weekend that didn’t happen and one of my absolute favorite members of the OPD left without even the slightest hint.

There was only one other time that I cried when one of my boys in blue left, and that was back in 2012, soon after opening Orange LIve when Asst Police Chief Ed Koether retired after 30 years on the job.

So, who is the second Orange cop that made me cry? Believe it or not, Sgt John Aquino, 53, one of the kindest, friendliest, most understanding, and professional officers I’ve ever had the pleasure to have known.

Over the past 25 years, I always looked forward to seeing his smiling face at the Orange Country Fair, Firemen’s Carnival, Senior Health and Safety Fair, parades, and numerous public events. When my granddaughter was little and I was clueless about the newer child safety seats, it was John who helped teach me how to install it properly.

If I locked myself out of my car, which happened a lot, I was never embarrassed if he was the responding officer.

John served in the Patrol Division from 1995 to 2007 and was the  Youth and D.A.R.E. Officer from 2007 until his promotion to Sergeant on July 5, 2013.

I remember how amazing it was the day Detective Aquino was sworn-in to the rank of Sergeant, before a standing-room-only crowd of family, friends, fellow officers, and the three Orange elementary school principals. See VIDEO HERE.

He was then assigned to the midnight shift as a Road Sergeant. 

Then, this past Saturday, June 27, Sgt. Aquino worked his last shift with the Orange Police Department after 25 years of dedicated service to the Town of Orange.

Without much fanfare, John retired with Chief Robert Gagne presenting him with a plaque and his retirement badge.

Community Minded Officer

John was a member of the ATV unit, many times he participated in the Special Olympics Torch Run, as the D.A.R.E. Officer, he drove the Easter Bunny to the Lions Easter Egg Hunt at the Orange Fairgrounds, and he participated in the DEA’s Drug Take-Back Day for several years. 

In November 2016 he was one of the Orange police who took on a scruffy look to raise money for the Jimmy Fund in Chloe Clemens’ name. It was the last time I can remember when the members of the department were allowed to go unshaven – but only for a month.

 

BIO

Sgt Aquino, 53, was a 25-year veteran of the Orange CT Police Department.

He graduated from the University of Bridgeport in 1989 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and an Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies.

He was appointed as a probationary officer in Orange on June 23, 1995.

He was assigned to the patrol division from June 1995 to February 2008.

The Aquino Family in 2013 (Sgt. Swearing-in)

In February 2008 the was assigned to the Investigative Services Unit, serving as the Youth and DARE Officer and in the capacity of School Resource Officer.

Sgt. Aquino went to school to become a child safety technician (installing child safety seats in vehicles).

He and wife, Francine have been married 25 years (on July 19) and they have two sons, John and Michael.

Congratulations John, thank you for your service and your friendship over the years. I wish you only happiness and success in your future endeavors. You are already missed.

Happy Anniversary to you and Francine.

 

 

Fireworks Are Still Illegal and Dangerous: Read on, Orange

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Jun 242020
 

It’s that time of year again, people have already begun lighting up fireworks across the state, as the Fourth of July approaches, fireworks vendors are beginning to sell their wares.

Sparklers are dangerous, they can reach a temperature of 1,800 degrees and burn your hands and/or clothing.

We all look forward to the summer weather and celebrating the opportunity to be outdoors at picnics, barbecues, and other events.  At many of these smaller than usual gatherings, the use of fireworks, both legal and illegal, is on the rise. When used legally and safely by professionals, fireworks can be enjoyed.  Unfortunately, numerous incidents of injuries, fatalities, or accidental fires caused by the private use of fireworks are reported each year across the United States.

Several years ago, the State of Connecticut made it legal for any person sixteen (16) years of age or older to possess, sell, or use any sparkling device.  The use of any type of sparkling device by a person under the age of 16 is illegal.

NO OTHER TYPES OF FIREWORKS ARE LEGAL UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF PUBLIC ACT 00-198!  This includes, but is not limited to, devices known as “M-80’s,” “Cherry Bombs,” “Bottle Rockets,” and any device that is explosive or aerial such as ground displays or roman candles.  While the use of sparkling devices is legal in Connecticut, they can be dangerous if not used properly.

The Orange Fire Marshal’s Office asks that you remember the following safety guidelines.

•   When handling a sparkling device, wear protective goggles and gloves.  Sparklers can reach temperatures of up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit once they are lit and many burns and eye injuries have been reported as a result of improper use.

•    Do not use ANY open flame devices when dry ground conditions are present. The Fire Danger Level is available at their website, www.orangefiremarshal.com or by calling the Fire Marshal’s Office at 203-891-4711.

•   Be aware of your surroundings.  Be sure others are a safe distance away before igniting any sparkling device.

•    DO NOT ALLOW CHILDREN TO HANDLE ANY TYPE OF SPARKLING DEVICE.

•    Always have a source of extinguishment.  A garden hose or fire extinguisher can quickly put out a small fire before it gets out of control, only if it is close by.  Anytime there is a fire or other emergency, do not hesitate to call 911.  A delay in a call can make a tragic difference in the outcome.

The local and state fire officials want everyone to enjoy the summer season.  Please keep these tips in mind to ensure that it is a safe one.  If you would like more information, call the Orange Fire Marshal’s Office  Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm at 203-891-4711.

Obituary: Elfo “Al” Pol, 94, Beloved Father, Grandfather, Town Treasure, Veteran

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Jun 232020
 

Elfo “Al” Sante Pol, 94, of Orange, husband of the late Anita De Mio Pol, passed away June 18, 2020, at his home surrounded by his loving family.

Loving father of Raymond Pol of Orange, Kenneth (Linda) Pol of Meriden, Andrew Pol of Milford, Michael (Laura) Pol of Onset, MA, Daniel (Laura Schumann) Pol of Washington, DC and the late Lawrence Pol. Brother of William F. Pol of Canoga Park, CA.

He also is survived by 7 cherished grandchildren and a great-granddaughter. Al was born in New Haven on January 2, 1926, a son of the late Pietro and Adele Fullin Pol.

After attending Boardman Trade School in New Haven, Al proudly served in the U.S. Army, 65th Infantry Division during WWII as a heavy machine gunner, cook, and divisional instructor in electricity and electronics and participated in the Rhineland and Central European campaigns.

He worked as an electrician for the New York-New Haven-Hartford, Penn Central, and Conrail Railroads for 40 years while also establishing an electrical contracting business. After retiring in 1985, he became the Town of Orange electrical inspector for 32 years, until retiring in 2018 at age 92. Al and his late wife Anita had never-ending civic pride for the Town of Orange, the place they called home for over 60 years.

He was an elected constable, rose early to work the election polls, and volunteered at the Orange Country Fair and Firemen’s Carnival. Even into his 90s, you could find Al marching in the Memorial Day Parades, typically as a Parade Marshal.

Al was a member of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department for 55 years, retiring at age 90 – after serving as a Captain, and more than 30 years as treasurer. A member of the American Legion Orange Post 127 for 56 years, serving many years as their treasurer and receiving the Legionnaire of the Year award in 2019.

Al played card games weekly throughout his life with family and friends. At the Orange Senior Center, he taught his favorite card game, bridge. Along with his passion for cards, he would enjoy a good book, a great movie, crossword puzzles, and Sudoku.

An avid sports fan, he enjoyed attending NY Yankee games and watching NY Yankees and NY Giants games with his sons.

Friends may call at the PORTO FUNERAL HOME, 830 Jones Hill Rd., West Haven, on Thursday, June 25, from 5-8 p.m., and are invited to go directly to Holy Infant Church Friday morning for a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. Interment with military honors will follow in St. Lawrence Cemetery, 280 Derby Ave, West Haven.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Legion Post 127, 630 Grassy Hill Rd., Orange CT 06477. Sign Al’s guest book online at www.portofuneralhomes.net

Wake And Funeral Service Information For Al Pol

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Jun 232020
 

The wake for Al Pol will take place on Thursday, June 25, from 5 – 8 p.m. at Porto Funeral Home, 830 Jones Hill Road, West Haven.

The funeral service will be on Friday at Holy Infant Church, 450 Racebrook Road, Orange, at 11 am.

The Orange Volunteer Fire Department’s Engine 1 will be used as the caisson.

Burial will be at the St. Lawrence Cemetery, 280 Derby Ave, West Haven, immediately following the mass.