BREAKING: Zeoli Releases Information On The Racebrook Country Club Offer

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Jan 132021


To the Residents of the Town of Orange,

 The Town of Orange has been presented with a unique situation.  The potential for purchasing the Racebrook Country Club property.  The purchase price is $8.5 million for 287 acres of land which equates to $29,600 per acre.  The purchase would include the 27-hole golf course, the 23,000 sq ft clubhouse, the 9,000 sq ft maintenance facility, the driving range, two private homes, the multi-mile irrigation system, and several other improvements.  This is unique in that the Town would own the entire facility as a business investment and would lease it to Racebrook Country Club, who would pay the Town of Orange rent.  The Town has the opportunity to preserve a living legacy that has been part of the Orange landscape since 1912 by protecting approximately 290 acres of land while being maintained by a leasing entity.  The Town of Orange will not be operating a golf course.

This potential purchase offers the preservation of continued recreational use and habitat for varied wildlife.  This allows the Town of Orange to ultimately control the destiny of the future of Orange.

The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a review of Racebrook Country Club to consider the viability of a lease.  A complete review of the business operations has been completed.  The Board of Selectmen also unanimously approved a full appraisal of the property to support this type of investment.

This purchase will not be the same debacle that the Town of Woodbridge had.  These buildings have been maintained and continue to operate.  The business plan of Racebrook Country Club is strong.  The Town of Orange is not buying and planning to operate a golf and banquet facility.  The Town is also not planning to put in a third-party management company to operate on our behalf.

The bond indebtedness over twenty years will be approximately $10,300,000 to return on a lease of approximately $10,600,000.  The Town of Orange would begin receiving rent in September of 2022 starting at $250,000 per year for the first six years, and then an escalation clause to increase the rent every five years for the life of the forty-year lease.  You may ask what happens at the end of forty years?  Those in office will then be able to renegotiate for the Town and Racebrook.

The entire Board of Selectmen recognizes that this is a very rare opportunity to safeguard almost 300 acres and yet have someone pay to maintain and operate the property.  This is seen as a business and preservation action by the Board of Selectmen.  

There will be a referendum held Tuesday, February 16, 2021, at High Plains Community Center.  Absentee ballots must be requested by contacting the Town Clerk at 203-891-4730.  Absentee ballots must be received by the Town Clerk by February 16, 2021.  Any questions can be emailed to the First Selectman’s office at jzeoli@orange-ct.gov.  

The Board of Selectmen wants each vote to be counted, and this is a chance for you the voters to decide the direction.  


James M. Zeoli

First Selectman

Whatever Happened To Elf Mama’s Bench?

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Jul 242020

It’s now almost one year since Orange’s “Elf Mama” Annie Davis passed away (Sept. 2019).

Immediately following her death, Orange Live began collecting money with which to purchase a bench in her memory.

We were joined by the Orange Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) — primarily member Ken Lyke who has stayed on top of the matter for months.

The last update came in the midst of the early stages of the pandemic in February with the CERT voting to have the bench located at fire station number one on the Boston Post Road.

Here’s the most current information:

We never dropped the ball on this, and will never forget that many wonderful people donated money toward the purchase of the bench.

Ken and I met with First Selectman Jim Zeoli on Wednesday and showed him space at the Orange Fairgrounds where we would like to place the bench, even though we’d been told that the grounds were saturated with benches and it would not be allowed up there.

The three of us discussed the situation while standing in the desired spot and came to an agreement that fulfilled each of our particular personal requirements.

I wanted a place that was rather shady. Ken hoped for a place close to the CERT/First Aid Tent area where Annie spent time during the Country Fair and Firemen’s Carnival. Jim wanted a space where a bench may be useful and not in the way of foot or vehicular traffic during public events.

After our conversation, we were given the blessing to order the bench and we will announce the date and time of a brief dedication ceremony for the friends and donors to attend in the very near future.

Thank you all for your patience and of course, for helping us make this memorial a reality. I think Annie would be pleased.

Officers Sworn In At Volunteer Firemen’s Dinner (With Correction)

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Mar 142020

Submitted Photo

Following is a press release from the Orange Volunteer Fire Department: It contained one error, naming Associate Firefighter Andrew Pol as having been deceased in 2019. We have corrected it to state “Associate Firefighter LARRY Pol.” Andrew is alive and well. 

With friends, families and officials from area departments looking on, First Selectman James Zeoli administered the oath of office to the officers of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department.

The department’s annual dinner, attended by about 180 firefighters, families and representatives of other departments, kicked off a year-long celebration of the department’s 95th anniversary. In addition to celebrating new officers and future goals, guests remembered three people important to the Orange Volunteer Fire Department who died during 2019.

Fire Chief Vaughan Dumas recognized three firefighters for outstanding service and Auxiliary President Jillian Gagel acknowledged the service of several auxiliary members.

In addition to Zeoli and other members of town government, state legislators joined the celebration. State Rep. Kathy Kennedy, R-119; State Rep. Themis Klarides, R-114; and State Sen. James Maroney, D-14; thanked the firefighters for their service.

“You make our lives safe and you keep our families together,” said Klarides, who also got loud applause when she promised to continue fighting for a regional fire school.

Zeoli swore in the new Orange fire officers after expressing his appreciation for the work done by the department.

“Every person here has someone who is concerned about you when you leave the house,” he said. “We appreciate what you do for this town each and every day. I’m behind you 110 percent.”

A former firefighter, Zeoli promised to support the needs of the fire department. Firefighters cheered when he said preliminary discussions about a new firehouse were under way.

Fire officers sworn in were:

  • Vaughan Dumas, fire chief
  • Charles Sherwood, deputy fire chief
  • Dan Cole, assistant fire chief
  • Eric Auscavitch, assistant fire chief
  • Joe Duplinsky, captain
  • David Tufano, captain
  • Dan Abrams, lieutenant
  • John Gagel, lieutenant
  • Leo Moran, executive board representative
  • Charles William Laudenslager, executive board representative
  • Peter Daniels, recording secretary
  • Lisa Kaplan, corresponding secretary
  • Burt Gallant, treasurer
  • Art Williams, assistant treasurer

Each officer took the oath of office and had their badge pinned on their uniform coat. John Gagel, a third-generation Orange firefighter, received his grandfather’s lieutenant badge.

Firefighter Tom Astram received an award for responding to the most calls. Firefighter Drew Panapada was recognized for his leadership.

Dumas also remembered Associate Firefighter Larry Pol and OVFD Auxiliary Member Annie Davis, both of whom died suddenly during 2019. Dumas then turned his thoughts to 2020 and beyond.

Dumas said the department responded to 634 calls during 2019, its highest call volume ever. Active firefighters put in 325 hours of service each at fire calls. Adding in clean-up from calls, training, fund-raising, work around the firehouses and other duties, brings that figure to more than 500 hours of service by each active firefighter.

Accomplishments during 2019 included taking delivery of a new truck, improving the radio system, exceeding the department’s financial goals and completing some station renovations.

For 2020, goals include celebrating the department’s 95th anniversary and beginning work on other long-range plans including replacing its 85-year-old station on Orange Center Road and replacing a ladder truck. Dumas also talked about continuing to build close relationships with the police department and fire marshal’s office.

“Information sharing is growing, and we appreciate the positive impact of working cohesively with the police and other town agencies,” he said.

— submitted by Doug Fenichel OVFD

Meet The New Orange Fire Marshal

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Mar 132020

Orange Fire Marshal Jamie Vincent.             (Submitted Photo)

The town of Orange has a new Fire Marshal, James “Jamie” Vincent, who served as Deputy Fire Marshal for the past 20 years, was administered the oath of office at the annual Firemen’s Dinner on Tuesday, March 10, with his family by his side.

After swearing in all of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department’s officers, the mood shifted as First Selectman Jim Zeoli again rose to the podium to swear Vincent in as the town’s new fire marshal.

Although the fire marshal is a town employee, the venue for the ceremony recognized the close relationship between the Fire Department and the marshal’s office.

It was an emotional few minutes as first Zeoli, then Vincent, spoke fondly about Tim Smith, Vincent’s predecessor and close friend, who died earlier this year. Vincent took the oath as Orange officers rose to attention.

Vincent began working in the fire marshal’s office as a part time fire inspector in June of 1998. He became a full time employee and the Deputy in August 1999.

Whenever Tim Smith spoke to me about retiring, he would say he had full confidence that the office would be in good hands with Jamie.

Zeoli said he waited to appoint Vincent until he (Jamie) and the town had some time to heal from the shock of Tim’s death — he passed away in a car accident on January 19.

Vincent is fully qualified and well trained for his new role. He said no extra training is required as he’d already taken the necessary courses when he joined the office.

Of his new position, he said, “I couldn’t ask for better people. Jim Zeoli, the Fire Department and the staff in the Fire Marshal’s office are all supportive and have been great.”

We wish you many good years in your new position, Jamie. We know everyone will feel welcome when they see your smiling face in the office.


Pix And Video From The Orange Inauguration

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Nov 182017

On Friday, Nov. 17, the town of Orange hosted its Inauguration Ceremony for all newly elected officials.

Although some of them could not attend, a majority of these fine folks were in attendance to be sworn-in. State Rep. Themis Klarides administered the oath of office.

Now going into his seventh term as First Selectman, James Zeoli gave a nice speech, praising his fellow public servants and giving a nod to his former challenger Margaret Novicki for her hard work during the campaign.

Here is a VIDEO of that speech – For some reason, the 18-minute video cut off after 5 minutes… I will work on fixing that.



Orange Inauguration Ceremony Slated

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Nov 152017

The 2017 Town of Orange Inauguration Ceremony will take place at High Plains Community Center on Friday, November 17, 2017, at 2 p.m.

All of Orange’s newly elected officials will be sworn-in for his or her designated term.

All are welcome to attend.

Dottie Berger’s Endorsement Speech for Incumbent Jim Zeoli

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Jul 262017

The Orange Republicans hosted their caucus at High Plains Community Center on Wednesday, July 19. 

Former First Selectman Dottie Berger gave the following speech to endorse incumbent First Selectman Jim Zeoli for the upcoming municipal election: 

Good Evening.

Charles Dickens wrote = “It was the best of times it was the worst of times.”

Today we are in the times of uncertainty. That is one of the major challenges to be faced by our towns and cities. However, in our town, I see one man who is prepared to address that uncertainty. — That person is James Zeoli, He’s started already. 

Just as Joseph stored the grain for his people in Biblical times and just as the farmer of today maintains a strong hand on the tiller keeping a straight forward line. Jim has done so in governing our town by storing in the barn a healthy fund balance. 

With foresight over the past years, town expenditures have been closely monitored. 

The guiding word for spending town funds is NEED. In an orderly fashion, the town departments’ NEEDS are met. 

As I reviewed the town budget and bond projects it appears that every department received needed funding to maintain the quality of town services expected. 

People make things happen. Jim’s appointments are of those who are knowledgeable and who best will serve the town of Orange. 

Jim’s knowledge of the demands of town operations – trust me he knows – is uncanny. 

Ask about a truck – don’t because for the next 10 minutes he will talk about what it can do; concerned about the habitat at the conservation sites – prepare for a lecture on flora and fauna – and who else finally could get the flag pole painted while the church steeple was being tended. 

At the same time, he is diligently working with Economic Development seeking to improve the tax base with quality businesses. 

So important for this allows the community to maintain an outstanding school system, the leading priority in our town forever. 

He is Johnny on the Spot. He possesses the “common touch” Rudyard Kipling wrote of. He is a roll up the sleeves person. He is committed to providing the best services to the young, the elderly and those in between – through the support of those “helping hand special places” – Case Memorial Library, Community Services, Park and Recreation and Visiting Nurse Association. 

He has provided for the safety and security of the community. He has kept pace in the ever changing business world of electronics and computers. 

He is dedicated to providing a quality of living in our town that we take for granted. He doesn’t take it for granted. He is on the job 24-hours a day making it happen. 

He is proud of our town and his mother and I are proud of him. He grew where he was planted and through his efforts he has produced a better Orange each year of his time in office. 

Without reservation, it is my privilege to nominate James Zeoli for the office of First Selectman of the Town of Orange. 

NOTE: Richard Cenami seconded the nomination and said a few words as well. 

Standing Room Only Crowd At The OVNA Celebration

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May 112017

The Orange Visiting Nurse Association was established in 1937. During the past 80 years, the organization has provided care and comfort to those who need their services.

First Selectman Jim Zeoli said the OVNA offers services to the towns of Orange, Woodbridge, and Milford, and Orange is truly fortunate to have them under the town umbrella.

“There are very few communities, and this includes cities that provide home health care and home aid services to their residents,” Zeoli said. “So we are truly blessed to have had them for all these years.”

He added that the OVNA is not as well known as it should be.

Back in 1937, the OVNA had a nurse who performed in-home pre-school screenings of the town’s youngsters.

With a staff of 30, the OVNA offers a wide range of health care services, including a full-time school health program, home health aides, skilled nursing therapies and so much more.

The OVNA office, 605A Orange Center Road, is open when you need it, someone will be happy to answer your questions and offer their assistance whenever possible.

Here is a Video of the presentations.

The open house on Wednesday, May 11 attracted so many residents, including former school nurses, clients, and well-wishers.

Thank you OVNA for your dedicated service to the town.

OVNA Celebrates 80th Anniversary Of Service To The Community

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May 102017

The Orange Visiting Nurse Association, 605A Orange Center Road, will host an open house commemorating 80 years of service to the town of Orange, on Thursday, May 11 from 12 – 4 p.m.

The celebration begins with a Proclamation Ceremony with First Selectman James M. Zeoli at noon, followed by refreshments.

Here is an opportunity for you to learn more about the OVNA and everything they do for the community.


And Your Orange Volunteer Firefighter Of The Year Is….

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Mar 092016

IMG_1151On Tuesday evening, the Orange Volunteer Fire Association held its annual dinner, during which service awards were presented along with the announcement of the Firefighter of the Year.

One dedicated volunteer who joined the department in September 1960 and recently retired after 55 years of service, was honored as the oldest, active member of the Association.

That person is Elfo (Al) Pol, 90, who with his wife (Anita)’s blessing served the town and continued to do so until his retirement.

He served as a Captain and Treasurer in the department, and he dedicated a lot of IMG_1160time to community service: He was Chief of Staff for the 2006 Memorial Day Parade and Parade Marshal; He served as a volunteer firefighter and Legionnaire, Treasurer of the American Legion Post 127 and was a WWII Army Veteran. He also was named an Orange Living Treasure in 2015.

He will still be involved with the Firemen’s Carnival.

In recognition of all his service, First Selectman James Zeoli declared March 8, 2016 as Elfo “Al” Pol Day in Orange.

Chief John Knight presented Anita with a bouquet of flowers and thanked her for IMG_1193her generosity and understanding during Al’s half century of service.

That said, the time came to present the Firefighter of the Year award. The nominating committee chose Al Pol for the honor.

Congratulations, Al, and Thank You for your service.