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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.

 

 

The Final Week of Scheduled Sports Events For A While

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Nov 102020
 

FILE PHOTO

The 2019-2020 sports seasons were destroyed by Covid-19, and although some sports have been able to work through the beginning of the 2020-2021 year, it looks like the growing number of virus infections may put a damper on many sports events in the coming months.

For example, tomorrow, Nov. 11, is the last day where any Amity sports event is scheduled on the official school website for the near future.

Monday, Nov. 9

Boys Soccer v. Notre Dame-West Haven HOME at Amity High School – Field # 3
at 2:30 p.m.

Field Hockey v. Hamden Home Field Hockey Field at 2:30 p.m. W 3-0

Tuesday, Nov. 10

NO EVENTS SCHEDULED

Wednesday, Nov. 11

Field Hockey v. Lauralton Hall Home – Amity Field Hockey Field  at 2:00 p.m.

Boys Soccer v. Foran Away  Foran High School -Turf Field at 3:45 p.m.

Girls Volleyball v. Foran Home  Amity Gymnasium at 5:00 p.m.

Stay tuned for any further developments as the  WINTER Sports season approaches

And The COVID Keeps Coming: Here We Go Again

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Oct 192020
 

On Friday and again today, Amity Supt. Jenn Byars sent “The Letter” out to the Amity Community.

Here’s Today’s version:

On Sunday, October 18, 2020, Amity Regional School District No. 5 was notified that a member of our school community has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The affected person has been instructed to remain home in self-isolation for 10 days and has been provided with additional instructions to follow prior to returning to school. Family members have also been instructed to self-quarantine and get tested.

The last day this person was in Amity Regional High School was Wednesday, October 14, 2020. Anyone who is considered a “close contact” with this person has been contacted or will be contacted by local health officials and provided with instructions on the appropriate steps to take. If you are not contacted by the local health department, then you/your student is not considered a close contact.

To assist the schools and the health district with contact tracing, we are asking parents to please go into PowerSchool to update the PRIMARY contact information. Directions for updating PowerSchool information are included in this SwiftK12 message. For timely contact tracing, it is critical that a primary phone number is a number where a parent/guardian can be reached quickly. We thank you for your assistance with this.

COVID-19 is spread mainly via person-to-person contact through contaminated air droplets from coughing and sneezing by an infected person. As with controlling the spread of other viruses, we urge everyone to discuss the following preventive measures with your children and family members:

• Wash your hands frequently, but especially after using the restroom and before preparing or consuming food. Using soap and hot water, wash for about 20 seconds. Be sure to also wash your fingertips. When soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.

• Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands or in the air. Always try to cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough/sneeze inside the elbow of your arm.

• As much as you can, avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

• Wear a face covering (mask) whenever there is a likelihood that you or your family members will be in the presence of others.

• Maintain social distancing (at least 6 feet) between yourself and others when outside of your home.

Below is the list of COVID-19 symptoms for which everyone should monitor in their family members:

❑ Fever (100.4° Fahrenheit or higher)

❑ Chills or shaking chills

❑ Uncontrolled new cough (not due to other known cause, such as a chronic cough)

❑ Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

❑ New loss of taste or smell

For additional information on COVID-19 symptoms, please see:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

Everyone is reminded that staff and students exhibiting any of the above symptoms, or feeling ill, should remain home and call their medical provider to report their symptoms and ask about testing prior to seeking in-person care at a clinic, physician’s office, or hospital.

For more information on what to do if you or a family member has possible symptoms, a diagnosis, or exposure to COVID-19, please see Addendum 5: Interim Guidance for Responding to COVID-19 Scenarios in Connecticut School Districts, available here:

https://portal.ct.gov/SDE/COVID19/COVID-19-Resources-for-Families-and- Educators/Addendums-and-FAQs

We are closely monitoring this situation and working with the Orange Health Department and Quinnipiack Valley Health District. At this time, health officials are not recommending aclosure of school. We will provide you with updates if the situation changes.

Sincerely,

Jenn Byars

Superintenden’t Letter: Today’s COVID News From Amity High School

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Oct 152020
 

Corona Virus from CDC.gov

October 15, 2020
Dear Amity Community Members:

On Wednesday, October 14, 2020, Amity Regional School District No. 5 was notified that a member of our school community has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

The affected person has been instructed to remain home in self-isolation for 10 days and has been provided with additional instructions to follow prior to returning to school. Family members have also been instructed to self-quarantine and get tested.

The last day this person was in Amity Regional High School was Thursday, October 8, 2020.

Anyone who is considered a “close contact” with this person has been contacted or will be contacted by local health officials and provided with instructions on the appropriate steps to take.

On behalf of the Orange Health Department and Quinnipiack Valley Health District, I have been asked to remind our entire Amity community about the necessity to act in a responsible and safe manner. This is not limited to our time in school, but also our time outside of school. In social gatherings, the need to practice health safety – including use of face coverings, physical distancing, and hand hygiene, continue to be paramount.

COVID-19 is spread mainly via person-to-person contact through contaminated air droplets from coughing and sneezing by an infected person. As with controlling the spread of other viruses, we urge everyone to discuss the following preventive measures with your children and family members:

  •   Wash your hands frequently, but especially after using the restroom and before preparing or consuming food. Using soap and hot water, wash for about 20 seconds. Be sure to also wash your fingertips. When soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
  •   Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands or in the air. Always try to cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough/sneeze inside the elbow of your arm.
  •   As much as you can, avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
  •   Wear a face covering (mask) whenever there is a likelihood that you or your family members will be in the presence of others.
  •   Maintain social distancing (at least 6 feet) between yourself and others when outside of your home.Below is the list of COVID-19 symptoms for which everyone should monitor in their family members:
    • ❑  Fever (100.4° Fahrenheit or higher)
    • ❑  Chills or shaking chills
  • ❑  Uncontrolled new cough (not due to other known cause, such as a chronic cough)
  • ❑  Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • ❑  New loss of taste or smellFor additional information on COVID-19 symptoms, please see:https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

    Everyone is reminded that staff and students exhibiting any of the above symptoms, or feeling ill, should remain home and call their medical provider to report their symptoms and ask about testing prior to seeking in-person care at a clinic, physician’s office, or hospital.

    For more information on what to do if you or a family member has possible symptoms, a diagnosis, or exposure to COVID-19, please see Addendum 5: Interim Guidance for Responding to COVID-19 Scenarios in Connecticut School Districts, available here:

    https://portal.ct.gov/SDE/COVID19/COVID-19-Resources-for-Families-and- Educators/Addendums-and-FAQs

    We are monitoring this situation and working with the Orange Health Department and Quinnipiack Valley Health District. At this time, health officials are not recommending the closure of the school. We will provide you with updates if the situation changes.

    Sincerely,

    Jenn Byars

Be Aware Of These COVID-19 Rule Updates

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Jul 282020
 

Following is a message from The CT Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner David Lehman:

While we have paused on the Phase 3 reopening of the state to protect the health of all of our residents, we have made some updates to our industry-specific rules after consulting with industry leaders and public health officials.

These updates provide more specific guidance, as well as new recommendations for a broad range of sectors. Highlights include:

New rules for Indoor Recreation and expanded guidance for Outdoor Events.

Changes impacting Offices, Personal Services, Hair Salons & Barbershops, Retail, Libraries, etc.:

Non-essential businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone not wearing a mask.

In the event an employee tests positive for COVID-19, it is recommended the business implement 24-hour passive decontamination and follow CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting.

For bathrooms, the posting of signage encouraging reduced capacity and reminding individuals to wash their hands and wear masks is suggested.

Changes impacting Restaurants:

Servers are no longer required to wear gloves.

Indoor performances are now allowed (with the exception of musical vocalists).

Hotels are now permitted to provide non-essential services and amenities (e.g., valets, ice machines).

These and other sector-specific updates go into effect immediately. Businesses and non-profits that have already completed the self-certification process as part of Phases 1 or 2 do not need to re-register, but must comply with any new rules for their sector.

Thank you for continuing to comply with these enhance protocols as we find new and better ways to get back to work safely.

Sincerely,

David Lehman, Commissioner

 

 

 

 

Get Ready To Wear Your Masks At Local Retail Stores

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Jul 192020
 

We’ve seen what happens when states open too early, and when large crowds gather without taking the necessary precautions such as social distancing and, of course, wearing a mask.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said he has “no doubt” that Americans who aren’t wearing face masks, especially in large crowds, are increasing the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Currently, you are required to wear a mask in grocery stores for the safety of others and yourself, but starting this week many local large retail stores also will enforce mask mandates to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Beginning on Monday, Walmart will become the biggest US retailer to require masks, along with CVS Pharmacy and Kroger.

On Saturday, Aug. 1, Target’s mask rule will go into effect in all stores. In a release, the company said, “This builds on the more than 80% of our stores that already require guests to wear face coverings due to local and state regulations.”

Target said it would provide disposable masks at its entrances for any customers who don’t have one. Another large retailer that announced a mask requirement is Best Buy.
These companies’ measures go beyond US federal mandates on Covid-19 safety. Although no federal mandate to wear a mask exists, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says everyone “should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public.” The CDC said that “face coverings are meant to protect other people.

AVANGRID Companies Resume Customer-Facing Work

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Jun 192020
 

As Connecticut enters Phase 2 of reopening  United Illuminating, Southern Connecticut Gas and Connecticut Natural Gas announced they will begin resuming customer-facing work that has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since March, the subsidiaries of AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) have been deferring certain non-emergency tasks that require employees to enter customer premises. As they resume these activities in the weeks ahead, employees will continue to take measures to protect themselves and the public.

“We will continue to put the health and safety of our customers and employees first as we resume the work that was deferred or otherwise impacted by COVID-19,” said Tony Marone, President, and CEO of Avangrid Networks, the parent company of UI, SCG, and CNG. “As an essential industry, much of our work has continued despite the pandemic, with our focus on continuing to ensure safe and reliable delivery of energy to customers. Today’s news will expand our work to include important customer-facing tasks that improve the customer experience.”

For UI electric customers, the work includes indoor work related to metering that requires an employee to enter a customer’s home or break social distance barriers. For SCG and CNG natural gas customers, it includes indoor leak and corrosion surveys, indoor gas meter replacements and meter relocations, as well as any required maintenance activities that will result in the temporary disconnection of gas supply and will require technicians to enter the customer premises to relight gas-burning appliances.

Employees will only work when they are able to do so safely and have the appropriate personal protective equipment. They will continue to follow practices recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and adhere to all applicable state requirements. To keep customers and employees safe, the following company protocols will remain in place:

  • Employees will engage in physical social distancing from customers and one another, and they will wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) whenever maintaining distance is not possible.
  • Appropriate PPE will be provided to employees along with guidance surrounding its use.
  • Health and safety checks will take place before employees start their shifts.
  • For work that requires entering a customer home, customers will be contacted to ensure no one in the household is showing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • When necessary, the company may partner with other emergency responders to enter the location.

The timeline for resuming the work will be guided by continued assessments of needs, state guidelines, and the safety of customers and employees.

In-person Home Energy Solutions energy audits remain temporarily suspended. However, the companies are offering no-cost virtual pre-assessments for residential customers, in which qualified energy experts can conduct a virtual walkthrough of the home to identify ways to save energy. Participants will receive a bundle of energy-saving products by mail, as well as information about potential rebates on upgrades and low-energy appliances. When in-home assessments resume, customers who have received the free pre-assessment will be able to schedule one at no cost. For information, call 877.WISE.USE (877.947.3873).

SOTS Merrill’s Response To Reps’ Questions About Mail In Ballots

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Jun 082020
 

On June 3 we published a letter from State Reps Themis Klarides and Vincent Candelora to the Secretary of the State with questions regarding mail-in ballots.

Here is SOTS Denise Merrill’s detailed response:

Dear Representatives Klarides and Candelora

Thank you for your letter. I share your view that the right to vote is a fundamental right and the foundational basis of our democracy. Like you, I am also concerned about the administration of an election that will necessarily take place under challenging, virtually unprecedented circumstances. As you know, the COVID19 virus presents unique challenges to election administration. It is a highly communicable virus that passes via direct persontoperson contact, and disproportionally affects people over 65 and people with fairly common pre-existing health conditions (more here). This directly affects voters, poll workers, and local election officials alike, as it does the layout and operation of Election Day polling places and the availability of local election offices leading up to Election Day (we have shared the CDC polling place guidelines with local election officials and have used it to guide our planning. You can find it here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019ncov/community/election pollinglocations.html)

My staff and I worked hard to address these circumstances when we developed the plan for Connecticuts 2020 elections, and have worked with the leadership and the membership of ROVAC and the Town ClerksAssociation to determine what they need to hold safe and successful elections in August and in November. As I have said from the beginning of the crisis, the most important job of election administration in the face of the COVID19 crisis is to protect the health and safety of voters and poll workers, and to ensure that no voter has to choose between their health and their right to vote

The plan is available on my offices website, or directly at myvote.ct.gov/2020plan. The answers to the questions that you posed are below

Can you provide details regarding the cost implications of your plan to the state budget? Do you anticipate costs to the state that exceed those covered by the federal government

There is no cost implication of the 2020 election plan to the state budget. The plan is 100% paid for by the three tranches of federal funding we have received for both cybersecurity and COVID 19 relief (as I indicated in a letter to the legislative leadership of March 28, 2020, the CARES Act funding that was specifically granted to expand vote by mail options and to protect the health and safety of Election Day poll workers and voters has a 20% state match, roughly $1.08 million. The match must be met within two years, but there is still some uncertainty as to what will qualify for the match, and I and my fellow Secretaries of State from both parties have reached out to our respective congressional delegations to request that the match be lowered or even eliminated in the next round of COVID19 relief bills)

How will you choose the vendor to assist with the administration of the new ballot boxes? How will you determine which mail house to contract with to mail out the absentee ballots

The vendor we chose, American Security Cabinets (more about them here: https://americansecuritycabinets.com/), is an existing provider of secure dropboxes for elections with several California counties and other states that have more widespread use of voting by mail and already use secure dropboxes (NCSL has a list of the states that use secure ballot drop boxes here. Our main concern when we chose a vendor was to find someone with a track record in providing states with these secure drop boxes. As you know, existing Connecticut state contracting procedures allow Connecticut state agencies to do business with companies through the existing state contracts of other states

The mail house vendor is not yet finalized, but we are looking at vendors that have a track record of providing this service for states that are at least as big as Connecticut, and are already a Connecticut state contractor and/or are approved for state contracting in Connecticut via reciprocity from another states contract

Can you please describe the security procedures for the new ballot boxes? Hocan we ensure a proper chain of custody for the ballots deposited in these new boxes

The secure dropboxes are specifically designed for elections (more here and to meet Californias stringent ballot box design and security standards (those standards can be found here. They are designed to be permanently installed, just like a USPS mailbox, or a UPS/FedEx dropbox

The absentee ballots that are delivered via the secure dropbox will be considered a return by mail. Only the Town Clerk will have the keys to open the dropbox. The federal Department of Homeland Security/Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency promulgated Ballot Dropbox Guidance (can be found here that we will provide to the towns as well

What is the reasoning for utilizing ballot boxes when the United States Postal Service is available

Many voters who have voted by absentee ballot in the past have done so by physically dropping their ballots off in the Town Clerksoffice in their town. Unfortunately, Town Clerksoffices are currently largely closed, we do not yet know when they will reopen, and even when they do, some voters may feel trepidation at entering their town hall to deliver their ballots. The secure dropboxes will allow a contactless delivery of absentee ballots at town hall for those voters who would feel more comfortable delivering their absentee ballots by that method

Will absentee ballot applications be sent out to inactive voters

No. Only Active voters are eligible to vote by absentee ballot, so absentee ballot applications will only be sent to Active voters. In order for an Inactive voter to vote by absentee ballot, they must first fill out a form to rejoin the Active voter roll

Do you intend to send absentee ballot applications to a targeted set of voters if so, what will the criteria be (i.e. age)

No, absentee ballots will be sent to all eligible, Active registered voters

Will municipalities be required to designate a machine for only absentee ballots

No, they will use current law to process absentee ballots. The tabulators will continue to provide separate totals for polling place ballots and absentee ballots, as they do in every election

When will absentee ballots be tallied on Election Day or as the ballots come in or nightly

The absentee ballots will be tabulated on Election Day

What is the screening process should a voter arrive in person at the polls on Election Day who has already voted by absentee ballot

The screening process is the same as it has been for prior elections as current law already addresses this situation (see Connecticut General Statutes Title 9, Section 140c. The Election Day checklist will be premarked with those voters whose absentee ballot is received prior to Election Day and those voters will not be allowed to vote in person. Any absentee ballot that arrives on Election Day is held until after 8:00 pm when the absentee ballot is compared to the official Election Day checklist; if the voter has appeared in person in a polling place, the absentee ballot is rejected

Will absentee ballots received after 8 PM on Election Day be counted

No, under Connecticut General Statutes Title 9, Section 140b, all absentee ballots must be received by 8:00 pm on Election Day in order to be counted

Please let me know if you have any other questions that come up. I am heartened by our ability to work together in a bipartisan fashion to ensure that no Connecticut voter is prevented from voting due to the COVID19 pandemic and that no one is forced to choose between protecting their health and casting their ballot

Sincerely

Denise Merrill Connecticut Secretary of the State 

 

 

 

 

Oh No! Not The Country Fair Too!

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Jun 042020
 

Important Message regarding the 2020 Orange Country Fair:

The Orange Country Fair Committee is officially announcing that we will be postponing the Orange Country Fair slated to be held on September 18 – 20, 2020 to September 17 – 19, 2021.

After much consideration for the safety of the Volunteers, Vendors, Spectators, and the General Community and the uncertainty of what we would need to do to host a fair (social distancing, deep-cleaning, etc), the Committee reached the heartbreaking decision to cancel the fair.

We thank all our Volunteers, Vendors, Sponsors, and YOU, the general public, for your continued support over the years.

We look forward to seeing you in 2021 for our amazing comeback!

Orange Country Fair Committee

When Will The Library Open Again?

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Jun 032020
 

The staff at the Case Memorial Library, 176 Tyler City Road, Orange posted this notice on its website for all of those inquiring minds wondering when they’ll be able to return to one of their favorite town buildings:

Dear Library Patrons,

The Case Memorial Library staff is eager to open its doors to the public, but our number one priority is the safety of our patrons and staff.

We are working diligently behind the scenes to implement protocols that will allow us to restore some library services to our residents. We know that some libraries have started implementing curbside services for their residents and we plan to provide this service to Orange residents in the near future as well.

We will update you on Facebook, Orange Live, and our website as soon as we have firm dates and more information about this service. In the meantime, please keep your library materials at home; late fees will not accrue while we are closed to the public.

Stay safe.

Sincerely,

The Case Memorial Library Staff