AVANGRID Offers Safety Tips for Extreme Cold Weather

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Jan 112021

Weather Advisory Issued to Customers of United Illuminating, Southern Connecticut Gas

AVANGRID a diversified U.S. energy company, and its subsidiaries in Connecticut and Massachusetts are urging customers to take measures to stay safe and warm during the bitterly cold weather that’s forecast for New England.

The risk of fire, carbon monoxide poisoning and other hazards can increase as residents try to stay warm during the extreme cold. As this extremely cold weather settles in, the companies encourage customers to look around their homes and make sure they’re able to keep themselves and their families warm and to identify any potential safety risks that must be addressed.

Staying Warm

If you are unable to keep your home safely and comfortably heated, call Infoline at 211 for resources that can help you and your family.

Exposure to extreme cold can cause serious medical conditions including hypothermia and frostbite. To avoid them, stay indoors if possible and wear warm clothing, including head covering and gloves or mittens.

For information about frostbite, hypothermia, and other concerns, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/index.html.

Fire and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Incidences of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning rise during cold weather, as a result of malfunctioning appliances, poor ventilation, and improper use of heat sources. Place smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home, outside of sleeping areas, and inside each bedroom. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors monthly to make sure the batteries are working, and replace the batteries at least twice a year.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless toxic gas. It is a product of fuel combustion, and a buildup can result from a furnace or space heater problem. Symptoms of CO poisoning can mimic flu, so make sure the CO detector is functioning.

For more information about fire and carbon monoxide dangers, visit the National Fire Protection Association, https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/News-and-media/Press-Room/News-releases/2016/Winter-weather-months-prompt-heating-and-carbon-monoxide-safety-warnings.

Stove and Range

The stove, range, and other kitchen appliances are designed for cooking, not heating. Use them as specified in the manufacturer’s instructions. In addition to creating a fire hazard, a natural gas stove or oven can present a carbon-monoxide risk when used for heating.

Space Heaters

Use only space heaters that have been tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and never use a device designed for outdoor use indoors. Place the space heater on a level surface away from foot traffic, at least 3 feet from combustible materials. Inspect the cord for fraying, and after plugging it in, periodically feel the cord near the outlet to make sure the plastic is not getting hot. Do not run the space heater cord under a rug or carpeting, and never use an extension cord for a space heater. Keep children and pets away, and turn off the space heater when you leave the area.

More space heater safety information can be found on the U.S. Department of Energy website, at https://energy.gov/energysaver/portable-heaters.

Heating, Hot Water, and Plumbing

Keep the furnace area clear of flammable materials and keep vents clear to provide a good air supply to your heating system to ensure proper combustion.

Water pipes that are exposed to cold temperatures may freeze and burst. Don’t ignore drips or odd noises from your heating system — call your heating company to investigate. Wrap exposed pipes in your basement with pipe insulation to help them retain heat and avoid freezing.

The American Red Cross offers additional tips for avoiding frozen pipes at https://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/winter-storm/preventing-thawing-frozen-pipes.

FDA: Coronavirus Variants May Lead To False-Negative Results

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Jan 102021

The U.S. drug regulator said on Friday genetic variants of COVID19, including the one found in the UK, could lead to false-negative results from some molecular COVID19 tests, but the risk of the mutations affecting overall testing accuracy is low.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it has alerted lab staff and healthcare providers to the possible false-negative results and has asked them to consider such results in combination with clinical observations, and use a different test if COVID19 is still suspected.

In a letter to clinical laboratory staff and health care providers on January 8, 2021, the FDA warned, “The SARS-CoV-2 virus can mutate over time, resulting in genetic variation in the population of circulating viral strains. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is alerting clinical laboratory staff and health care providers that false-negative results may occur with any molecular test for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 if a mutation occurs in the part of the virus’ genome assessed by that test. The FDA monitors the potential effects of genetic variation in molecular tests that have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and has been doing so on an ongoing basis throughout the pandemic.”

The more contagious variant of COVID19 that has swept through the United Kingdom has been reported in at least five U.S. states, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins said this week.

Scientists have said newly developed vaccines should be equally effective against the new variant.

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc’s TaqPath COVID19 combo kit and Applied DNA Sciences’ Linea COVID19 assay kit were found to have significantly reduced sensitivity due to certain mutations, including the B.1.1.7 variant or the so-called UK variant, according to the agency.

However, the detection patterns of both tests may help with the early identification of new variants in patients, the FDA said.

The performance of Mesa Biotech’s Accula test can also be impacted by the genetic variants, the health regulator added.

Mesa said its test would tolerate the genetic variation presented by the new strain and that it should not have an impact on the clinical performance of the test.

Britain said in December rapid lateral flow tests being deployed in the country’s mass-testing program can identify the variant, while Roche said its molecular test for COVID19 was unlikely to be affected by the mutant strain of the virus.

— By Vishwadha Chander 

A Reminder of Bike Rules For the Racebrook Tract

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Jan 082021

The Orange Conservation Commission (OCC) decided in 2016 to restrict bicycle riding on the trails at the Racebrook Tract from November 1 to May 1 of each year.  This will allow the unauthorized trails that have sprung up throughout the area to re-establish new growth and return to their natural condition.

As a reminder, Racebrook Tract is currently closed to all bicycle riding. When it re-opens on May 1, 2021, the OCC reminds users that bike riding is only permitted on OCC-designated trails.

Unauthorized trails have caused erosion, destroyed sprouting undergrowth, and harmed the overall beauty of this piece of Orange Town Property. It is the hope of the OCC that this closure, along with more thoughtful use of the area in the future, will allow this valuable piece of Open Space to recover.

The OCC asks everyone who uses the Racebrook Tract, as well as other Town Open Spaces to continue to be good stewards of these beautiful pieces of land by staying on OCC-designated trails, picking up litter, cleaning up after your dogs, and notifying the OCC of fallen trees or other trail obstructions.

Please see us on Facebook – Orange Conservation Commission, leave a voice mail at 203-891-4768, or contact any member of the Commission with your observations or concerns.

Masks Up: Covid Variant B.1.1.7. Is Here!

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Jan 072021

Governor Ned Lamont announced that a COVID-19 variant first found in the United Kingdom and said to be more easily transmitted is now in Connecticut after the state confirmed two cases today (Thursday, Jan. 7).

The variant, known as B.1.1.7 was found in two people between the ages of 15 and 25 who live in New Haven County, according to the state. One of them recently traveled to Ireland while the other traveled to New York State.

Due to the easy transmission of this newer strain, please be wary and wear a mask to protect not only yourself but everyone else, in case you are infected and don’t yet have any symptoms.

Sure, there are vaccines now, but not everyone is vaccinated yet, and unless you are on the frontlines you may not get one before it’s too late.

After seeing several people I care about suffer from Covid — and four families that I know went through the holidays without their loved ones who died from this terrible virus.

No matter what your political beliefs are, Covid does not pick and choose. It will latch onto you, squeeze your lungs and give you a fever so high that you will pray for death just so it will be over I was told.

Families suffer because unlike the good old days – back in 2019 – you can’t visit your gramma, or dad, or son in the hospital while they often die alone with only a sweet angel that they don’t know (a nurse or doctor) holding their hand.

Just wear a mask! They are not expensive, they are not in short supply anymore, they are not uncomfortable. Dammit, you CAN breathe! There’s no excuse.



Breaking: Town OVNA Will Soon Offer Covid Vaccinations

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Jan 052021

Orange First Selectman Jim Zeoli made this important announcement today:

The Town of Orange Visiting Nurse’s has applied to the State of Connecticut for Covid vaccine.

The State has acknowledged the request, as soon as we are made aware of when the vaccine will arrive the OVNA will be planning a clinic at High Plains Community Center like the flu clinics.

Please be patient and wait to see what rules to the game the State requires.

All requirements to be accepted as a provider are being met, a special freezer, special phone line, special alert alarm if the power goes out, new generator, and connections! We are prepared!


Come On People, Clean Off Your Cars

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Jan 042021

We had a little bit of snow this weekend and it appears that the next snowfall may happen next week on Tuesday.

Now, I have an SUV. I’m 5’5″, and I’m a senior, yet, before I leave my driveway my vehicle is totally cleared of snow and ice. Is it easy? — not always, but I know the importance of having a “clean car” after a snowstorm.

My daughter, granddaughter and I took a day trip to Massachussettes on Sunday and I was disgusted by the drivers whose cars were hemorrhaging ice and snow missiles on other drivers on I-95. It’s not only dangerous, but it’s illegal!

Today I left my house very early in the morning when the temperature was hovering just above freezing, but I cleared off my Forester before I ventured out.

On my way back home I was shocked to see several SUVs with 20 and 30 -something’s driving that were barely touched. One guy didn’t even think about making an effort to clean his vehicle off. He just got in, turned on the windshield wipers, and drove.

Come on people, clean off your cars! If this old lady can do it, certainly you young ones can. There is no excuse!

I mentioned that it’s illegal, well, yes, it IS the law, and if you don’t clean off your car you can be fined at least $75. If the falling debris from your vehicle causes injury or property damage, you can be charged up to $1,000 per incident. (Commercial drivers could be charged up to $1,250) How’s THAT for incentive?

New Laws in Effect In 2021

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Jan 012021

Five new laws took effect in Connecticut on Jan. 1, 2021.

More Police Accountability

While several provisions of the Act Concerning Police Accountability, which was passed in the summer, have already been enacted, more changes are now in effect

Beginning on January 1, officers who make arrests or interact with the public on a daily basis must also prominently display their badge and name tag on the outermost layer of their uniform.

Every officer must submit to a behavioral health assessment every five years, performed by a board-certified psychiatrist or psychologist experienced in diagnosing and treating traumatic stress disorder, to their unit leader.

The membership structure of the Connecticut Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) council also will change. The overall number of members will increase to 21, with the addition of the Connecticut State Police Academy’s commanding officer), gubernatorial appointments will be reduced from 17 to 11, and six legislative appointments will be added.

Efforts to recruit, retain, and promote minority police officers must be reported to the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.

Read the full bill here.

Help For Diabetics

In the new year, diabetics will now be allowed one emergency diabetes-related prescription per year that covers insulin, glucagon drugs, and diabetes devices such as insulin syringes and blood glucose test strips.

The new law requires pharmacists to dispense a 30-day, price-capped emergency supply of diabetes-related drugs and devices for patients who have less than a one-week supply of insulin or related equipment.

It also limits costs to the patient’s insurance plan copayment. If the recipient doesn’t have insurance, the pharmacist must charge the typical price.

Lowering taxes on pension income

Beginning Jan. 1, seniors will be able to claim 28% of pension and annuity income received in 2020 as a deduction on their Connecticut adjusted gross income. That is twice the amount they were able to deduct in 2019 (or 14%).

In 2022, the deduction leaps to 42%, with the eventual goal of 100% reached in 2025.

It’s all part of the state’s six-year plan to phase out taxes on pension and annuity income for individuals earning less than $75,000 a year or married couples earning under $100,000 a year.

For more details click here.

Increased regulation for electric utilities

In October, lawmakers approved a bill that puts the pressure back on utility companies to perform better during emergency situations.

By Jan. 1, each electric utility must report to PURA and the legislature’s energy committee on how it prepares and responds to hurricanes, snowstorms. and other emergencies.

From there, PURA will set minimum staffing requirements for each event.

From the state website.

Half-percent payroll tax for FMLA

Many Connecticut workers will receive slightly smaller paychecks — a decrease of up to 0.5% — due to Connecticut’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Act.

— Sources State of CT website, and WTNH

Obituary: Raymond R. O’Connor, 87, Beloved Father, Grandfather, Veteran

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Dec 312020

Raymond R. O’Connor, 87, of Orange, died on December 29, 2020.  He was the husband of Diana W. O’Connor.  Ray was born in New Haven on February 24, 1933, the son of the late John P. O’Connor and Hannah Leahy O’Connor.

He lived in Orange for the past 50 years.  Prior to his retirement, Ray was a Vice President of the Empire Insurance Group and its Director of Internal Audit.  Previously he had his own accounting practice and had been Director of Special Audits at the Olin Corporation.  He was a life member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Connecticut Association of Public Accountants.  Ray graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1960, after serving four years in the United States Air Force.  Ray served for several years as Chairman of the Orange Water Pollution Control Authority and during the construction phase of sewers of the Post Road.  Ray was a member of the University of Connecticut Alumni Association and a parishioner of Holy Infant Church.

Besides his wife Diana, he leaves a daughter, Patricia Ann O’Connor (Huston Dawson) of Brooklyn Heights, New York, and twin granddaughters Riley and Hallie,  a sister Mary O’Connor (Peter) Mongillo of Cheshire, and sister-in-laws Gwen O’Connor of North Branford, CT, Barbara O’Connor of Grasonville, MD, Agnes O’Connor of Omaha, NE and Dr. Barbara A. Cummings of Henderson, NV as well as twenty-one nieces and nephews.  Ray was predeceased by brothers Captain John E. (Dorcas) O’Connor of Wakefield, RI, Captain Joseph (Agnes) O’Connor of Old Lyme, CT, Robert F. (Barbara) O’Connor of Grasonville, MD, and Harold (Gwen) O’Connor of North Branford, CT.

Family and friends may visit Keenan Funeral Home, 238 Elm Street, West Haven, CT on Sunday, January 3, 2021, from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, January 4, 2021, at 11:00 a.m., Holy Infant Church, 450 Racebrook Road, Orange, CT.  Interment to follow at Orange Center Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Ray’s name can be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Donation Processing, P.O. Box 5014, Hagerstown, MD, 21741-5014, https://www.michaeljfox.org/donate.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Raymond R. O’Connor, please visit our floral store.

Opinion: The Worst Year Ever, What’s To Come

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Dec 312020

This past year started with a plethora of hopes and dreams, New Year’s Resolutions, and the promise of a state championship win for the best Amity Wrestling Team in years, and the ever-popular Amity Spring Musical! Hard-working students looked forward to graduating and going off to college.

Some ambitious folks began working on their crafts, photos, and other entries for the Orange Country Fair. Committees were working hard on making this year’s ceremonies and festivals the best they could be. Wedding plans were being finalized, A big bright future lay ahead for everyone … and then, Covid.

By mid-march, America had heard about the virus’s severity from trusted scientist immunologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Schools were closed and students began to absorb the art of distance learning, while teachers, God bless them, had a crash course in effectively teaching their students outside of the classroom setting.

Mask wearing became the new normal. Businesses began to suffer as more people self-quarantined as a precaution. Restaurants started to figure out how to stay alive by offering call-ahead, curbside pickup meals, and although it didn’t work for everyone, many Orange establishments are still open thanks to smart management practices and carefully following all the constantly changing rules handed down from the state.

Slowly, we began to emerge from our homes again. Locally, most people followed the rules and wore masks when they went out in public. I don’t recall seeing any arrest reports for obstinant violators, though, across the country there are some real “winners” out there.

I really enjoyed learning how to make really awesome triple layer masks for adults and kids and sharing them with those I care about. My design has a single loop that goes around the back of the head and won’t interfere with hearing aids or earpods. (They don’t slip down off your nose like the ear loop models often do either).

What saved me though, was the Hallmark Channel and its wonderful idea to run Christmas movies all summer long, and then carry new movies in the fall and winter. My late mom and I used to watch the Christmas in July movies together, and seeing some of the old ones from her last year with us brought me back to those days. I’d tell my granddaughter, “Gramma loved this one.” Thanks, Hallmark!


Even though we’re learning to cope with living in the disappointing world of COVID-19, we now have the added fear of several mutations invading the US — the UK variant is already here. The first case of the UK variant B.1.1.7 was discovered in Colorado, then California, and now, a young man in his 20s with no history of travel has it in Florida. This strain reportedly is more easily transmitted and little more is known at this early stage.

The vaccines are now available, but sadly, they are just not being distributed fast enough.

Around 2.6 million Americans have received their first dose, the C.D.C. said, far short of the goal of 20 million by the end of 2020.

CNN medical analyst Leana Wen, M.D. gave this insight, “Here’s the math: If the goal is to reach 80% of Americans vaccinated with a 2-dose Covid-19 vaccine, it will take 10 years at our current pace. We are at 1 million vaccinations a week. To get to herd immunity by June 2021, we need to be at 3.5 million vaccinations a day.”
How many more people have to die before the current administration and everyday Americans take this virus seriously? We have so many Orange and Amity residents mourning the loss of loved ones to this terrible illness. I won’t forget their pain and suffering, and I will continue to follow the safety recommendations of the CDC and Dr. Fauci to keep myself, my brother, granddaughter, daughter, son, ex-husband, and friends healthy.
Today is New Year’s Eve. If you don’t have to go out — and you DON’T — then please, stay home. Watch the Christmas Movies on the Hallmark Channel. Sit back with your pets and enjoy the solitude. Think about all the wonderful things you can do next New Year’s Eve, the family gatherings you can enjoy — but it can’t happen if you are reckless and go out into a potentially dangerous atmosphere because you don’t feel like staying home.
You’ll take off your mask to have a drink, and hug a stranger when the clock strikes midnight, and you could contract the virus from someone who has no clue they’re sick until tomorrow or next week.
Ask yourself, is it worth it?
I say, NO. This virus isn’t going away until everyone is vaccinated and even if it’s done right, that could take most of the following year.
Stay home, call those you care about, Facetime, Zoom, or send an e-mail blast. But whatever you do, Please Stay Home.
Respect the experts, and then we’ll definitely see you next New Year’s Eve. And with some luck, maybe even at one of the traditional Orange events or festivals a little earlier in the year.
I wish you all a very safe, happy, and healthy New Year’s Eve and 2021.

What Do You Know About December’s Full Moon?

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Dec 292020

December’s Full Moon has many nicknames, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac: Drift Clearing Moon; Frost Exploding Trees Moon;
Hoar Frost Moon; Little Spirit Moon; Long Night Moon; Mid-winter Moon; Moon of the Popping Trees; Moon When the Deer Shed Their Antlers; Snow Moon; Winter Maker Moon; and the Full Cold Moon.

“This is the month when the winter cold fastens its grip and the nights become long and dark,” the Almanac said.

Moonrise is at 4:07 p.m. and, fun fact: December’s full moon shines above the horizon for a longer period of time than most full moons.

This full moon reaches its peak at 10:30 p.m. tonight, Tuesday, Dec. 29. The skies should be clear, so get out those telescopes and cameras, and don’t forget to put your healing crystals out on your window sill to soak up the full moon’s energy.

The next full moon will be the Full Wolf Moon on Thursday, Jan. 28.