Don’t Be A Victim! Lock Your Car!

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Nov 252020

An important message from the Assistant Police Chief:

The Town of Orange, as well as most surrounding communities in and around the state, continues to see a rise in the number of thefts from motor vehicles as well as the theft of motor vehicles themselves. A common denominator in almost all these incidents is that the vehicles have been left unlocked.
Besides the theft of personal items, this has also led to the theft of many vehicles with the keys left inside. In addition, within the last two weeks, we have also had three vehicles stolen from local businesses in which the owners had left their vehicles running and unoccupied for a short period of time.

The Orange Police Department would like everyone to be safe and to follow these simple tips: • Do not leave vehicles unattended, both at commercial establishments and in your own driveway. As the weather gets colder, people are tempted to start their vehicles to warm the engine up or keep the engine running when they make a quick stop.

• With the holiday right around the corner, please do not leave packages visible inside your unoccupied vehicles as you do your shopping. Unfortunately, history has shown us that there are people who roam parking lots this time of year looking for easy targets.

• Lastly, please remember to remove keys and valuables from your vehicle and make sure all doors are locked. We encourage everyone to call the police if they see any suspicious activity in their neighborhood. Please do not approach nor confront suspicious persons.

Assistant Chief Max Martins 

Orange Police Department

Future Firefighters, Here’s Something For You

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Nov 162020

The Orange Volunteer Fire Department is accepting applications for its Junior FireFighter program for teens ages 16-18.
This is a great opportunity to get involved in your community and start a rewarding future in the fire service and set yourself up for a possible career in Fire and EMS. NOTE: Inclusion in this public service looks great on a college application.
For more information, and links to the application, visit https://orangevfd.org/juniors/

Surprised-Looking Pumpkin Wins First Orange Pumpkin Blaze

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Nov 152020

A surprised, one-eyed pumpkin won the People’s Choice Award at the Orange Volunteer Fire Department’s first pumpkin-carving contest.

Adria Boyle won the top prize. She carved the face into the surface of the pumpkin. And to make it just a little more Halloween-scary, the missing eye – a chunk of stringy pumpkin – sits on the bench in front of the winning gourd.


Other winners included:

Brynn Panapada, Happiest pumpkin

Kate Panapada, Cutest pumpkin

Chloe Clemens, Prettiest pumpkin

Helene Flynn, Best traditional pumpkin

Silas Hill, Most hungry pumpkin

Kaury and Ian Kucera, Most intricate pumpkin

Zoe Kucera, Most adorable pumpkin

Melissa Parniawski, Spookiest pumpkin

Orange Children’s Dentistry, Most unusual pumpkin

Mia Quoka, Most athletic pumpkin

Greyson Fatone, Most team-spirited pumpkin

All winners received a certificate and more importantly, had fun.

“We created this contest to give people a little extra fun during a Halloween season during which the nouveau coronavirus prevented a lot of traditional activities,” said Rob Panapada, the Orange firefighter who created and coordinated the program. “All the participants said they had a good time. We hope the Orange Pumpkin Blaze will become a new Orange tradition.”

Even The Coronavirus Can’t Stop Orange From Honoring Veterans

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Nov 112020

The town of Orange has always respected its veterans and honored the brave men and women who served and secured our freedom especially on Veterans Day.

Due to the highly infectious coronavirus and the vulnerability of the town’s treasured Vets who fought in the Korean War, Vietnam, and perhaps some battles prior to these, it was important to observe social distancing to fight for their well-being as they had so selflessly fought for ours.

This year’s gathering was small, with metal chairs spaced out on the grassy side of the Veterans’ Walk in front of High Plains Community Center. A wooden podium set up near the flagpole and only the American Legion Honor Guard was on hand to present the colors — Usually, the Orange Police Department Honor Guard and the Orange Rotary displays a Giant American Flag.

First Selectman Jim Zeoli, Legion Historian Jim White, and Police Chief Robert Gagne addressed the gathering.

What Covid stole from us this year was a local talented singer performing the National Anthem, but thankfully, the American Legion Post 127 was able to find a way to responsibly honor our local heroes on this special day.

Thank you to all of our veterans both here in Orange and around the world for your service and sacrifice.


For The First Time In 26 Years There Is No Santa’s Helper in Orange

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Nov 102020

A classic file photo from a previous Santa’s Helper visit. Little Cindy Lou Hoo, who is a teenager now.

With an uptick in COVID-19 cases in town and too few reindeer masks for an extra trip to Orange, Santa has asked members of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary to cancel the annual Santa’s Helper fund-raising event.

“This is usually the time of year when we start planning the event that brings Santa and firefighters to homes all over town to deliver gifts,” said Jillian Gagel, president of the Auxiliary. The Auxiliary supports the Orange Volunteer Fire Department through fund-raising and other means. “Unfortunately, with the rise in coronavirus cases, it’s dangerous for our members to do the work they have to do to make the event happen and it’s equally dangerous to residents to have people they don’t know enter their homes.”

Santa’s Helper has been a treasured tradition in Orange for the past 26 years, run by the Auxiliary and spearheaded by “Elf Mama” Annie Davis, who passed away on Sept. 23, 2019, prior to the landmark 25th Anniversary event. Sadly, Annie looked forward to leaving the command center for the first time and joining the firefighters for the first time to experience the joy of Santa’s Helper last year. We knew she was with us in spirit.

The Orange Fire Chief called the cancelation an added disappointment to the Orange community and for the Fire Department.

“This is the second annual tradition that we have had to cancel due to the coronavirus pandemic,” the chief said. “We are very thankful that the Orange community has been wonderfully supportive with the $50K Fire Truck Challenge and other contributions but the health and safety of our members, the Auxiliary, the First Responders, and the community must come first.”

Both the chief and Miss Gagel expressed optimism that they would be escorting Santa to homes for the 2021 holidays.



Orange Police Honored Three In Ceremony On October 8

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Oct 122020

Krystle Edwards pins her husband’s badge on him during the ceremony.

On Thursday, October 8, Officers William Edwards and Sean Bartley were sworn-in as the Orange Police Department’s newest Sergeants, and Officer Eric Ristaino was recognized as the department’s newest officer as an official ceremony could not be held in early spring due to COVID.

Sgt. Edwards joined the department in 2008 as a patrol officer and served as a field training officer and Intoxilyzer instructor.
He lives in Oxford with his wife and children. He will be initially assigned to the evening patrol division.
Sgt. Bartley joined the department in 2012 as a patrol officer and served as a field training officer.
He lives in Milford with his wife and children. He will be initially assigned to the overnight patrol division.
Officer Ristaino graduated from UCONN in 2018 with a BA in Psychology and is a certified EMT. He started the police academy in November 2019 and had to finish his training virtually.

Retired Orange Sergeant William Bartley pins on his son’s Sgt badge during last week’s ceremony.

Julie Ristaino pins her son’s OPD badge on him during last Thursday’s ceremony.

Letter: Stealing Political Signs IS A Crime

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Sep 302020

Joint Statement from the Orange Democratic and Orange Republican Town Chairs”
Every election season, we have issues with signs being destroyed or stolen.  This year seems particularly excessive.  Destroying, degrading, or stealing of signs or personal property is punishable by law.  Neither party condones nor encourages this behavior and, we believe, many of the culprits are just out to do mischief.
As chairs of the respective main parties in the Town of Orange, we are asking everyone to respect their neighbors’ property and right to display political signs for the candidates they support.  If you see anyone defacing or vandalizing signs, please call the local police and check your security cameras for any tape, so these people can be apprehended.
In the end, we are all neighbors who live together, whose kids go to school and engage in extra-curricular activities together.  Let’s all get along.
Thank you,
Jody Dietch, chair, Orange Democratic Town Committee
Pio Imperati, chair, Orange Republican Town Committee

Criminal Activity Prompts Removal Of Mail Boxes

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Sep 292020

Last week, the two conveniently placed mail drop-off boxes in the rear of the Orange Post Office at 36 Old Tavern Road, along with others around town, suddenly disappeared
Some may think it’s one of Donald Trump’s “evil” plans to interfere with the upcoming election, as was expressed on social media. (Police and the First Selectman denied this rumor).
What Actually Happened?
A couple of local Facebook posts reported that checks had been stolen from the boxes, were washed, and rewritten (on the real owner’s account) for a different amount.
But Old Tavern wasn’t the only location from which this occurred.
This was verified by First Selectman Jim Zeoli, who stated that a town employee had dropped mail off at 8 a.m. outside of Town Hall and by 10:30 a.m. someone was trying to pass fraudulent checks from his account, adding, “There have been multiple cases from post office drop boxes.”
Zeoli said the mail theft prompted the removal of these boxes and “They will be replaced with a more secure version.”
Asst. Police Chief Max Martins said the department has received several complaints since last week, and that the same thing is happening throughout the state.
“Some checks are being cashed locally, but they’ve also been used out of state,” he said.
This is an ongoing investigation on which several agencies are working to solve.
For the time being, Martins suggests bringing your mail inside the post office building or handing it to a postal carrier directly when you need to send something, even though it may not be as convenient as a drive-by mail dropbox or leaving it in your mailbox for pick up.
He added that the new, more secure models should be installed soon, which would bring you back the convenience and the sense of security when paying bills, sending important paperwork, or returning your mail-in ballots.
Good Advice
On the You Know You’re From Orange Facebook page, resident Mary Hurley suggested that everyone “Follow up with your bank statements. Look for checks cashed by unknown Payees or for different amounts than intended. It might also be a good idea to follow up with intended recipients to make sure they received the checks (ex: look up your utility bill online and make sure they show your check posted).
“If you discover any fraud, get copies of the cashed checks from the bank. File a police report. You can also file a report with the postmaster if you believe the fraud happened through the mail,” she wrote.
Editor’s Note:
2020 was a very strange year, between the virus that kept us locked up at home for several months; disrupted our children’s educational routine; forced the cancellation of every traditional event (fairs, carnivals, plays, etc.) in town, and brought us to cast doubt on the way our country is being run, it was natural for the first thought on the mailbox removal to be that the Trump administration and his distrust in mail-in ballots (even though he votes by mail) was the reason for their sudden disappearance just weeks before the election. – Not the case, though.
Be assured that the Postal Service and several police departments throughout the state are working on this situation, (Orange is NOT the only town affected)

Smith’s Name Added To Firefighters Memorial

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Sep 282020


On Sunday, Sept. 27, the late Orange Fire Marshal Tim Smith’s name was added to the Connecticut State Firefighters Memorial in Windsor Locks.

Smith passed away following a motor vehicle accident on January 19, 2020.

His daughters accompanied members of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department to the memorial this weekend.

Orange Police: Resident Arrested Following Assault

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Sep 252020

Orange police responded to a complaint of an argument that became physical at 482 Luba Drive at 1:20 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 22. 

Investigation revealed that Jinli Li, 58, of Orange struck another person, leaving visible marks and bruises. 

According to the report, he was taken into custody and charged with third-degree assault, disorderly conduct, and risk of injury.

Li was held on a $10.000 bond and given a court date of Sept. 23 in Milford.