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Several are sentenced in county court today
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 December 2018 at 3:29 pm

ALBION – Several people were sentenced in Orleans County Court today, and will spend time in either state prison, the Orleans County Jail or on probation.

Cynthia Lopez Lopez, 40, of Brockport was sentenced to 1 ½ years in state prison. She nearly completed a diversion program, making through 50 of 52 weeks before she was expelled from diversion after allegedly having drugs brought to the county jail.

She was sentenced on her original charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, which carries a maximum of 1 to 2 ½ years in prison as a first-time felon. She was arrested in April 2017 after allegedly selling Suboxone in Albion.

Her attorney Mark Lewis asked the judge not to send her to state prison. Lewis said she has already served 4 months in the county jail.

Charles Zambito, the acting judge from Genesee County, said Lopez Lopez had several violations when she was in the diversion program.

“She was in the diversion program for nearly a year and it didn’t do any good,” he said.

She will have a year of post-release supervision when she is out of prison.

In other sentencings:

A Niagara County woman was sentenced to 1 ½ to 3 years in state prison for promoting prison contraband.

Priscilla Gumpton, 52, allegedly had drugs brought to the Albion Correctional Facility when she was an inmate. She was released on Sept. 11.

Gumpton today tried to withdraw her guilty plea and asked the judge to give her a different assigned attorney, but Zambito declined. He said Gumpton knowingly accepted the plea offer and wasn’t coerced into pleading guilty.

“It appears she is appearing to avoid sentencing at this point,” District Attorney Joe Cardone told the judge. “She admitted under oath that she arranged to have these drugs brought into the facility.”

Zambito said the plea included a “fair” sentence. He gave her the minimum as part of the plea, which is 1 ½ to 3 years in state prison.

Breanna Eaton, 25, of Medina was sentenced to a year in the county jail. She was terminated from a diversion program in September. If she had stayed drug-free and followed the rules of the program, a felony charge would have been dismissed and she would have been sentenced to a misdemeanor with no jail.

She was sentenced for fourth-degree grand larceny, which has a maximum of 1 to 3 years in state prison.

Olivia Holloway, 40, of Shelby was sentenced to a year in the county jail on a forgery charge. She also didn’t complete the diversion program after she was charged in Monroe County with having cocaine.

Ryan Childs, 24, of Hilton was sentenced to three years of probation after he pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired by drugs. He was stopped in Murray on Nov. 17, 2017.

He also was fined $500 and needs to pay $395 in court surcharges. He also needs to do 40 hours of community service and had his license suspended for six months.

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Missing Albion children are located
Posted 13 December 2018 at 3:19 pm

Press Release, Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni

ALBION – Raul S. Cruz, 14, and Jennifer Lauro-Ramierez, 12, whom were reported missing have been located. Both were located in the Village of Albion and both have been returned to their parents.

The Albion Police Department would like to thank the media for assisting in this investigation. Information was provided to the Albion Police because of the information provided by various media outlets. That information led the Police to Cruz and Lauro-Ramierez.

Information was learned after Cruz and Lauro-Ramierez were located that they were attempting to remain missing for an extended period of time.

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No deep freeze in the forecast
Staff Reports Posted 13 December 2018 at 9:05 am

Ralph Smith of Lyndonville sent in this photo he took this morning on Yates-Carlton Townline Road in Lyndonville.

Today is forecast to be partly sunny with a high of 41, followed by a high of 44 on Friday.

The weekend includes a high of 46 on Saturday and 41 on Sunday.

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Town attorney says public vote in Barre about turbines would be ‘meaningless’
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 December 2018 at 8:48 am

7-member Siting Board with 5 state agency leaders makes the decision

Photo by Tom Rivers: Lance Mark, the Barre town attorney, responds to a request from  resident to have a public referendum about a proposed wind turbine project.

BARRE – Town Board members were asked on Wednesday to put a proposed wind turbine project on the ballot, so residents could make their opinion known on the 47 turbines that would peak at about 600 feet.

John Metzler said surveys on the project have only included a small percentage of residents, including some respondents who don’t live in the town.

“Let all the people of Barre speak,” Metzler said at the Town Board meeting. “That’s the only way to bring a fair end to this.”

The town hired LaBella to do a survey, which accepted responses until July 27. Of the 290 respondents, 44 percent said they are supportive of the project, while 39 percent oppose it, 8 percent are neutral and 7 percent need more information.

Apex Clean Energy, which is working on the wind turbine project in Barre, also commissioned a phone survey in July which included 170 responses from area residents, with 52 percent stating they support the project, compared to 22 percent who say they oppose it.

Metzler said the surveys are far short of getting the opinion of the entire town, which included 2,025 residents in the 2010 Census.

He asked each of the five board members if they supported having a referendum on the project. Lynn Hill, Richard Bennett and Larry Gaylard responded no, while Tom McCabe said he wanted to check if that is legal. Town Supervisor Sean Pogue said he would instead favor a larger public forum where Apex could bring in experts to answer residents’ questions, similar to an Oct. 2 meeting in Lyndonville for Apex’s proposed Lighthouse Wind project in Yates and Somerset.

Town Attorney Lance Mark said a referendum wouldn’t be binding because the state has created a Siting Board through an Article 10 process that will determine if the projects are approved or not. The Siting Board has been through one application so far and approved a wind turbine project in Chautauqua County.

“It’s meaningless,” Mark said about a referendum. “It doesn’t control the outcome of siting turbines.”

Metzler said a referendum would still be beneficial for residents.

“It’s not a legal requirement,” he said about a public vote. “I’m looking to give everyone a fair voice.”

The seven-member Siting Board has five state representatives including the chairman of the Department of Public Service, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, commissioner of the Department of Health, chairman of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the commissioner of Economic Development.

The Siting Board also includes two representatives from the project area. Robin Nacca of Barre has been appointed to the Siting Board while the other local representative hasn’t been named yet.

Nacca attended Wednesday’s meeting and she said the local sentiment for or against the project is a factor in the Siting Board’s decision.

“The Siting Board has to be unbiased judges and listen to both sides,” she said. “However, the Siting Board doesn’t want to go against the majority.”

Mark agreed the Siting Board will consider community sentiment. He said a citizens’ group, Clear Skies Over Barre, has been recognized by the state to raise concerns from the community.

As part of its preliminary scoping statement for the 200-megawatt project, Apex needed to provide $350 per megawatt or $70,000 in intervenor funds for the local community to hire experts to review the Apex proposal. A judge determined the Town of Barre would receive $40,000 in those funds and Clear Skies Above Barre would have $30,000. That will allow the groups to hire environmental attorneys and experts to review the Apex submission.

Kerri Richardson, Clear Skies president, said Clear Skies wanted $78,000 “to do the job we wanted to do.” The $30,000 has been spent, she told town officials on Wednesday.

She said the town and Clear Skies should have worked together to maximize the funds. The town should be advocating for residents, too, and not expecting Clear Skies to do all of that work, Richardson said.

She told the Town Board she was disappointed it met in executive session on Tuesday with two representatives from Apex. That meeting was only posted on the door of the Town Hall, without many residents knowing the meeting had been called.

Pogue, the town supervisor, was asked by residents what the meeting was about. He said, “negotiations,” and declined to give more details.

“I’m not going to get into it,” Pogue said. “It was an executive session.”

Richardson questioned if it was a legal executive session. If Apex and the Town Board were discussing proposed changes to the town’s zoning for wind turbines, including setbacks, that should have been a public discussion, Richardson said.

Pogue and Mark said if there are any proposed changes in the ordinance there would be a public hearing and residents could provide feedback.

Pogue said the Town Board is pushing to have a draft of a revised wind turbine ordinance done next month, with a public hearing to follow.

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Schumer: Farm Bill is good for upstate crops, communities
Posted 13 December 2018 at 7:43 am

Press Release, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer revealed the details of the newly-released 2018 Farm Bill, Conference Report, which passed the Senate by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 87-13.

Schumer said the bill will benefit key Upstate New York agricultural communities. Senator Schumer detailed several major areas in which the Farm Bill will be a major boost to Upstate farmers, growers, food-needy families and producers, as well as other New York businesses.

Schumer said the newly announced bill reflects a variety of different priorities he pushed for on behalf of the New York agricultural community. Schumer lauded the months-long bi-partisan process to craft the Farm Bill and congratulated committee leaders Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Republican Chair Pat Roberts, as well as committee member, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, for their assiduous work.

“The Farm Bill is a major victory for Upstate New York and its large and vital agricultural community,” said Senator Schumer. “Ensuring the passage of a Farm Bill is vital for New York’s agricultural community and our economy as a whole. The bill makes further investments to help Upstate New York dairy farmers, boosts the rapidly-growing organic sector, builds on New York’s burgeoning industrial hemp industry, expands rural broadband, strengthens crop insurance, and protects our most vulnerable hungry families and seniors from harmful cuts. While the bill does not contain everything that we fought for, it is ultimately a win for the farmers that are the heart of Upstate New York.”

Dairy:

The newly introduced Farm Bill includes major victories for Upstate New York dairy farmers and producers. The newly introduced Farm Bill invests in programs to help give much-needed relief to Upstate New York dairy farmers and producers. The Farm Bill includes a variety of helpful reforms including, an investment of $100 million to help improve the Federal dairy insurance program to help make the program work better for small to medium dairy farms, a provision waiving administrative fees for beginning, veteran, and underserved farmers, a provision continuing the vital changes made in the Omnibus Budget bill that allowed for the creation of new dairy insurance tools in the future, and a program that would provide funding to dairy organizations who chose to donate their products.

Rural Communities:

This Farm Bill focused on investing in our small rural communities across New York State and nationwide. One example of this was the establishment of a new grant program that will target high-need, rural areas seeking to undertake broadband internet projects. These projects will help connect our most in need areas and upgrade to more modern internet access. Additionally, the Farm Bill made important investments in programs that help grow our rural small businesses, as well as those that help to fight the opioid crisis.

Organic Farming:

The newly introduced Farm Bill establishes mandatory funding of $24 million over FY19-23 for the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (NOCCSP), which helps support farmers who want to become involved in the organic market by providing reimbursements of some of their annual fees for United States Department of Agriculture organic certification – it includes an increase in critical funding for organic research through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative from its current level of $20 million to $50 million by FY2023. Finally, the Farm Bill increases the authorization for the National Organic Program (NOP). Schumer has been a major supporter of this program that helps USDA protect farmers from having to unfairly compete against fraudulent organic imports while also helping to maintain consumer confidence in the USDA certified organic brand. This bill increases the authorization for the NOP to $16.5 million in FY2019, $18 million in FY2020, $20 million in FY2021, $22 million in FY2022, and $24 million in FY2023.

Specialty Crops:

The Farm Bill contained a number of provisions beneficial to Upstate farmers, but especially to farmers of specialty crops. New York produces a wide range of specialty crops (fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, herbs and spices, maple syrup, Christmas trees, etc.) that rank highly nationwide in terms of both production and economic value. The Senate Farm Bill, according to Schumer, provides vital funding to key programs that aid specialty crop producers, such as the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and the Specialty Crop Research Initiative. These programs help provide support to New York’s specialty crop industry in the form of robust research funding.

Maple:

The Farm Bill reauthorizes Schumer’s original legislation known as The Maple Tap Act, which Schumer said is now officially called the Acer Access and Development Program. This provision will continue to help maple producers in the Hudson Valley and across Upstate New York boost their production and become more competitive with places like Canada, which produces 85 percent of the world’s maple product. Schumer said, specifically, this provision provides an authorization for USDA grants to states that create programs to encourage individual and private landowners to open up their trees to maple tapping. Schumer’s legislation would also provide grants to states to support market promotion, maple industry research and development, and education through leading institutions, like Cornell.

Hemp:

Another important provision Schumer fought to include was the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. Schumer, a cosponsor of the Hemp Farming Act, said the provision could help unlock industrial hemp’s full potential as an agricultural commodity across Upstate New York by removing hemp from a federal list of controlled substances. Schumer said the bill will do four important things for farmers nationwide including in New York State:

Remove industrial hemp from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act

Empower states to be the principal regulators of hemp

Allow hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Make hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance

Most importantly, Schumer said this important provision would allow for New York’s agricultural community to grow industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity if they so choose, allowing New York growers more flexibility

Barley:

The Farm Bill requires the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service to record all barley production in New York State. By ensuring that this critical information is accessible for barley farmers, they will be able to better determine any future plantings. Additionally, the provision would give crop insurance providers access to this essential information, which could spur them to expand coverage and potentially even offer a malting barley endorsement.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP):

Schumer explained that he fought to protect SNAP from any cuts in the Farm Bill. Schumer said that he also was able to push for other provisions to help those most in need. First, the Farm Bill creates opportunities for job training for some of the most in-need New Yorkers who participate in SNAP, to help them find and keep good-paying jobs. Second, the Farm Bill simplifies paperwork for New York seniors who participate in SNAP to ensure they get the nutritional assistance they need and deserve as quickly as possible. And lastly, the Farm Bill creates the “Farm to Food Bank” initiative, which will help provide New Yorkers using SNAP with locally-grown, New York produce and other food.

Conservation:

Schumer said the Farm Bill funds key environmental programs that are essential to farmers, like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).  These programs are voluntary conservation initiatives that farmers can utilize through the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to help them continue to be good stewards of the land.

PAWS:

The newly introduced Farm Bill also includes a vital provision called the Pet and Women Safety Act (PAWS) Act, which Schumer is currently a cosponsor of.  This bill would help give victims of domestic violence and their pets greater access to safe sheltering options, as well as provide stronger legal protections to pets. According to the Humane Society, up to one-third of domestic violence victims delay leaving a dangerous situation, because they fear for the safety of their pets, and up to one-fourth return to an abuser due to concern for their pets.

Local Food Programs:

The Farm Bill creates a new Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) by combining the Value Added Producer Grants Program and the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program. The value-added producers grant program helps dairy farmers that start producing artisanal cheese or apple growers that enter the hard cider industry. The grants administered through the new LAMP program will continue to support strengthening our local food systems from rural farmers to urban consumers.

Water, waste disposal, & wastewater facility grants:

The Farm Bill provides funding to support and strengthen rural water infrastructure.  Funding to Rural Development programs like the Water, Waste Disposal, and Wastewater Facility Grant program will help families and businesses across Upstate New York and nationwide continue to have access to clean drinking water.

Community facility investments:

The Farm Bill supports Community Facility investments to continue to help provide resources to construct hospitals, improve schools, while also improving fire and police stations across small towns in New York State.

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Canal Corp. will waive tolls for recreational boats the next 3 years
Posted 12 December 2018 at 10:24 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: A boat heads west on the Erie Canal in Albion on Oct. 5, 2017.

Press Release, NYS Canal Corp.

The New York State Canal Corporation Board of Directors today approved a continued waiver of tolls for recreational vessels through 2021, following two years of toll-free travel that saw increases in canal traffic.

The tolls, $25 to $100 depending on the size of the boat, had been waived in 2017 and 2018 to celebrate the Erie Canal bicentennial and the 100-year anniversary of the New York State Barge Canal, now known as the New York State Canal System.

“We had initially waived the tolls for special occasions, but the increased patronage of the canals is also a cause for celebration,” said Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO of the New York Power Authority, which oversees the state Canal System. “Come spring, we hope even more boaters will find out why the canals make for a unique experience on the water.”

Tolls will continue to be collected for commercial vessels.

Motorized pleasure boat traffic on the state Canal System increased 3 percent over last year as boaters took advantage of tolls being waived. Such vessels—the most-common type on the canals—were recorded traveling through Canal System locks and lift bridges 71,529 times during the 2018 navigation season, compared to 69,362 lockings in 2017.

The figures account for each time a boat goes through a lock or under a lift bridge, not the actual number of boats. If a boat travels through several locks it would be counted as locking through each time.

In a related move, the New York State Canal Corporation today announced the navigation season dates for recreational vessels for 2019-2021. Each year, the season will begin the Friday of the week before Memorial Day and end the Wednesday after Columbus Day. For example, the 2019 season will run from May 17 to Oct. 16. The dates are in line with the navigation seasons for the last two years.

“We sought to have a more predictable schedule for the thousands of boaters who use the canals,” said Brian U. Stratton, Canal Corporation director. “Announcing the dates now will provide mariners, communities and business interests along the canal corridor with ample advance notice to plan itineraries and events.”

The navigation season is designed to optimize conditions and productivity for critical maintenance and capital work that can only be performed when canals are closed. Traditionally, the canals have been kept open later in the year when very little boating occurred, forcing Canal Corporation employees and contractors to compact work schedules and work in more dangerous conditions.

The new schedule allows for increased productivity, while continuing navigation during periods when the overwhelming majority of boaters have historically used the canals – with the greatest usage between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The Canal Corporation also announced it is reviewing the hours of operation during the navigation season in response to feedback from recreational boaters, vessel operators, and canal businesses. Operating hours for 2019 will be announced in April.

The dates are subject to change based on weather conditions and water levels.

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Farm Bill provides needed help for dairy farmers, Collins says
Posted 12 December 2018 at 9:44 pm

Press Release, Congressman Chris Collins

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) celebrated the passage of H.R 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. H.R. 2 includes critically important dairy policy reforms that will strengthen and grow the Western New York dairy economy that in recent years has faced significant challenges.

H.R. 2 provides greater coverage to dairy farmers through the Margin Protection Program (MPP), and will allow farmers to participate in both the livestock and dairy protection programs. Additionally, the program will be rebranded as the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) Program .

“I am extremely proud to see the 2018 Farm Bill make it to President Trump’s desk,” said Collins. “For too long, dairy farmers in Western New York have struggled to keep the agricultural industry alive because of inefficiencies in past programs and the overall decline in the dairy market. The reforms passed in H.R. 2 will provide a significant boost to farmers right here in Western New York by allowing them to better utilize this program.”

This legislation will also help strengthen trade enforcement, promote the research and development of specialty crops, ensure funding to help farmers locate new global markets, significantly increase investment in organic research, and offers cost-sharing assistance to help farmers transition into organics.

“The agriculture industry is the backbone of New York’s 27th district,” Collins said. “Protecting Western New York farmers will always be a priority of mine, and I’m committed to doing what is best to help them succeed. While we still have a lot of work to do to turn this industry around, H.R. 2 is a huge step in the right direction, and I’m pleased to see it pass today.”

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Kendall FD uses grant for 8 new defibrillators
Posted 12 December 2018 at 9:16 pm

Photo and information courtesy of Kendall Fire Department

KENDALL – The Kendall Fire Department, and by extension the Kendall community, was honored recently when the Greater Rochester Health Foundation (GRHF) awarded the department a  grant for $8,795.

The grant program was established by GRHF to make funds available for non-profit and volunteer organizations dedicated to promoting health, well-being and rescue services to their communities.

Kendall will use the grant towards the procurement of new equipment critical to the resuscitation of victims of cardiac arrest and for the CPR training of department and community members alike.

Eight new cardiac defibrillators and supportive equipment were obtained as well as new American Heart Association mandated technology required for our four CPR training mannequins.

Collectively, this new equipment will better position the dedicated members of your community fire and EMS agency to continue their goal of being there for you, when it counts, day or night.

CPR classes are available as a public service, free of charge, to anyone within the community that wishes to obtain this most important life-saving skill. We encourage you to contact the department at 659-8082 to obtain information regarding future classes.

In closing, it has been and will continue to be a privilege serving the community of Kendall. We are very pleased to be able to share this recognition with all of you. We want also to thank the Greater Rochester Health Foundation for its critical role funding our health care initiative.  Lastly we acknowledge and appreciate the continued support that you, the Kendall community have shown us.

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Medina approves $800K agreement with firm for work on sewer plant
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 December 2018 at 4:59 pm

MEDINA – The Village Board has approved a $799,200 contract with the Wendel firm for construction management, design work and bidding services for an upcoming construction project at the wastewater treatment plant.

The board on Monday approved the contract, which is part of an estimated $5.4 million project at the sewer plant.

The village last month was awarded a state grant for $1,331,545 for the project through the Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017.

Medina’s sewer plant upgrades will include a new Rotating Biological Contractor (RBC) and aeration and blowers; grit classifier replacement; pretreatment system (micro screens) replacement; gravity thickener building improvements; HVAC improvements in the main control room; and miscellaneous sewer line improvements.

Wendel will design the project components, prepare contract documents, submit design packages, submit drawings and updated reports to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, prepare final bid documents, conduct a pre-bid meeting, respond to prospective bidder questions, conduct the bid opening, review and tabulate buds, conduct pre-award meetings with apparent low bidders and prepare recommendation of award letters.

Those pre-construction services total $399,750.

The construction services total $399,450 and include issuing notice of award to contractors, reviewing contractors’ bonds and insurances, preparing contracts, issuing notices to proceed letters, conducting pre-construction meetings, conducting monthly progress and coordination meetings at the sewer plant, have staff on site to monitor construction, provide consultation during construction and issue necessary interpretations and clarifications of contract.

Other services include reviewing and responding to technical questions from contractors and the village, review contractor progress payment requests, support construction coordination between village and contractors, engineer in charge with visit site to ensure phases of construction are in compliance, conduct interim and final inspection of construction, prepare a certificate of project completion for the village, work with village and the village’s financial advisors for documentation and technical assistance to support loan and grant requirements through the NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation.

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Medina votes to seek $250,000 grant for skate park upgrades

Photo by Tom Rivers: Jeremy Brandenburg, 24, of Medina goes up a ramp and does a 180-degree turn during the Skate Jam on Sept. 15 at Butts Park.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 December 2018 at 1:32 pm

MEDINA – The Village Board is seeking a grant for up to $250,000 through the Tony Hawk Foundation and Ralph C. Wilson Foundation.

The Medina Skate Society will write the application and do the fundraising for the local match for the grant, said Alex Feig, who is leading the effort to upgrade the skate park at Butts Park. (The Orleans Renaissance Group, a non-profit organization, has agreed to accept any donations for the skate park.)

He told the Village Board on Monday that $22,000 has already been pledged for the project from a local business owner who requests anonymity.

Feig, 32, said other fundraisers and donations, as well as grants can meet the local match. The grant through the Hawk and Wilson foundations requires a local contribution of at least $50,000. Medina’s grant, if approved would range from $50,000 to $250,000, depending on the local contributions Feig said the community would have a year to raise the local share from when the grant is announced.

Feig has highlighted deficiencies at the current skate park, which is used by skateboarders and scooters. Feig said the skate park has aging equipment and cracks in the asphalt surface. He wants to reduce the size of the skate park, and put in a concrete surface and obstacles.

Feig was the lead organizer of a Skate Jam on Sept. 15. He used the event as an opportunity to survey skate park users and highlight the need to upgrade the site. The skate park was built on a former tennis court and has 20-year-old ramps, ledges and quarter pipes. The asphalt is prone to deterioration.

He told the Village Board an improved skate park would appeal to people who aren’t tied to traditional sports. He said it would also draw people to the community.

Tony Hawk is one of the most famous skateboarders in the world, and Ralph Wilson is the late founder and owner of the Buffalo Bills. Feig said the two foundations are embracing skate parks to promote recreation.

“It may well be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Feig said about the grant funding. “An impressive new skate park will increase the quality of life for residents of all ages while attracting new visitors to our community.”

If Medina is successful with the grant application, Feig said the Medina Skate Society will lead public meetings to see what features the community would like at the park.

The current skate park is 13,200 square feet, about twice the size of other skate parks in Western New York. Feig would like to see a skate park with a surface of 4,000 to 10,000 square feet. He would like public seating, new landscaping, and a stormwater management system in the new design.

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Gillibrand wants Farm Bill to invest in rural businesses
Posted 12 December 2018 at 11:39 am

Press Release, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today announced that her bipartisan bill, the Rural Jobs and Investment Act, has passed the Senate as part of the final conferenced version of the Farm Bill.

The legislation now heads to the House of Representatives for a final vote. Gillibrand’s legislation would expand access to much-needed resources and investment for rural entrepreneurs in Upstate New York to start and expand local businesses. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 57 percent of rural communities throughout New York State saw more businesses close than open from 2012 to 2016.

“We have incredibly talented entrepreneurs in rural communities all over our state, but too many of them have had enormous difficulty getting access to the capital they need to turn their ideas into new businesses,” Gillibrand said. “That’s why I introduced and fought to pass the Rural Jobs and Investment Act, which will make this process much easier for our rural entrepreneurs and go a long way toward rebuilding our Main Streets and bringing jobs back to our rural communities. Now it’s up to my colleagues in the House to quickly pass this legislation and send it to the President so it can be signed into law. I will always fight for our rural workers, and I am very pleased that this good bill is now on the cusp of becoming law.”

Gillibrand’s legislation creates a new grant program to invest in local efforts to launch new companies and create new jobs in New York’s rural communities. The grant program would invest up to $2 million per award to community-driven initiatives to help improve the local economies of rural areas by doing the following:

• Helping rural entrepreneurs and businesses connect to new markets;

• Providing skills training to prepare workers for quality jobs and providing businesses with the workforce they need for success;

• Investing in infrastructure upgrades required to support new business growth, including the deployment of high-speed internet service;

• Turning more research and development at universities and other research institutions into new companies and business growth; and

• Revitalizing downtowns with new innovation centers to serve as spaces for mixed-use housing, business development, training and co-working.

This bipartisan legislation would also expand the use of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Community Facilities Program to invest in business incubators, makerspaces, and job training centers to provide additional resources for communities to support their entrepreneurs. The Community Facilities Program provides direct loans, loan guarantees, and grants to improve public services and public facilities in rural communities.

In addition, the bill would expand access to capital for rural entrepreneurs by encouraging investment in rural areas. Currently, the USDA has one program to help address these capital challenges, the Rural Business Investment Program, but this program is limited in the types of industries that it can invest in, as well as the amount of capital it can attract. Gillibrand’s amendment would improve the program to allow investments across all industries, encouraging more capital to be invested in rural entrepreneurs.

This bipartisan bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), and has been endorsed by the American Farm Bureau, Farm Credit Council, National Association of Counties, National Association of Development Organizations, National Cooperative Business Association, and the Rural Community Assistance Partnership.

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Community support has been critical in saving old Holley school

Photos by Tom Rivers: Dave Nenni (front left), Holley DPW superintendent, and Matt Campbell, Holley’s electric and water superintendent, hold a 97-pound stone that will be placed at the renovated old school next year when contractors transform the building.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 December 2018 at 9:43 am

An original cornerstone is at the front of the former Holley High School.

HOLLEY – The renovation of the former Holley High School is a dream come true for the Holley community. For the past two decades residents have had their hopes raised as developers pitched plans to turn the building into apartments.

Those projects never came to fruition – until Home Leasing, a Rochester company, started construction about a month ago.

“We are blessed,” said Marsha DeFilipps, the Holley and Murray historian. “The school is right in the center of the village. It will be a highlight of the community.”

DeFilipps attended a “Preservation Celebration” on Tuesday for the former school. She graduated from the school in 1965. The building closed in 1975 as a school, but would be used by Liftec Manufacturing until it went bankrupt in the mid-1990s.

“A lot of kids went there,” she said. “There are a lot of great memories. We had a lot of fun in that school.”

A sign directs people to the American Legion for a Preservation Celebration on Tuesday. The former Holley High School is in back.

The Liftec bankruptcy created a challenge with getting a clear title for the property. That issue put the brakes on previous attempts to acquire the property for apartments, including a serious push from Catholic Charities.

David Schubel, who recently retired as county attorney, was praised during the Preservation Celebration for figuring out a way to get clear title on the project. An LDC was created to hold the title. None of the local governments wanted the title because they didn’t want to be in the chain of liability for the property.

The county also forgave back taxes on the property and helped to resolve issues with the mortgage.

While the property sat in limbo for about two decades, the Village of Holley mowed the grass and kept vigilance at the site. Holley also agreed to move its village offices to the building as an anchor tenant. The village also agreed to continue to mow the lawn and take ownership of an parking lot that will be upgraded by Home Leasing.

These four sit in the front row in the American Legion during Tuesday’s Preservation Celebration. They include, from left: Holley Mayor Brian Sorochty, County Legislator John DeFilipps (a 1975 Holley graduate), Landmark Society executive director Wayne Goodman, and Nelson Leenhouts, chairman and CEO of Home Leasing.

The actions by the village and county resolved barriers that could have stood in the way for the $17 million renovation, Home Leasing officials said.

“This is a story of team work,” said Kimberly Russell, executive vice president for Home Leasing.

She has worked on the project for five years.

“We are proud to be here,” she told a group in Holley’s American Legion on Tuesday during a Preservation Celebration. “We are honored to be here.”

Besides the efforts from local government leaders, state and federal officials pushed to make the project a reality. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer was at the school property on Nov. 11, 2016, stating his support for tax credits for the project.

Home Leasing was able to put together a complicated deal with tax credits to make the school renovation possible. The company is leveraging $12 million in tax credits – $6.8 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity and $5.1 million in Historic Tax Credit equity – which are critical in making the project financial feasible.

The school will be turned into 41 apartments for senior citizens, with about 6,000 square feet set aside for the village offices for Holley.

Nelson Leenhouts has been working in the real estate development business for a half century. He is the chairman and chief executive officer of Home Leasing.

Leenhouts said the community’s enthusiasm for the project kept him and Home Leasing focused on the Holley Gardens, the senior apartments that will be created at the former school.

He recalled a public forum on Sept. 27, 2016 at the Holley Junior-Senior High School Auditorium. Home Leasing went over its plans for the property.

More than 100 people showed up and they shared their gratitude to Leenhouts for his persistence and vision for the property.

That kind of public support isn’t the norm, Leenhouts said.

Nelson Leenhouts, chairman and CEO of Home Leasing, speaks to a crowd Tuesday at the American Legion. The community’s enthusiasm for the project, and the building’s prominent location in Holley, were among the factors pushing him for the renovation.

Home Leasing first became interested in the former school after it was included on the inaugural “Five to Revive” list by the Landmark Society of Western New York. That list was unveiled on May 16, 2013, and was widely publicized in the Rochester area media.

The five sites were picked for their importance to their communities, and for the potential transformational impact they could have in their neighborhoods. All five were in desperate need of investment.

Home Leasing is working on the school project with Edgemere Development. The Five to Revive designation caught Edgemere’s attention, said Charlie Oster, development manager for Edgemere.

He also cited the community support for the project, including the forum in September 2016.

“It was welcoming, it was warm,” he said about the community reaction to the project.

Charlie Oster, development manager for Edgemere, said persistence and community support helped with the redevelopment of the school.

The school posed environmental, financial and historic preservation challenges, Oster said.

“Holley Gardens is a story of community, complexity and ultimately perseverance,” he said during the celebration Tuesday.

County Legislator John DeFilipps was Legislature chairman when the county agreed to forgive the taxes and work out creating the LDC for the title. DeFilipps also graduated from Holley in 1975, the last class to complete its senior year at the school.

He has toured Home Leasing properties, including the renovation of the former Eastman Dental Dispensary, which was built by George Eastman in 1917 to address a community need for affordable dental care. The building was vacated in 1978, and sat idle for nearly four decades. It is now the Eastman Gardens with 52 apartments for people 55 and older.

“The Home Leasing properties are all very well done,” DeFilipps said.

The Eastman site was also on the initial Five to Revive in 2013. Wayne Goodman, Landmark Society executive director, praised Leenhouts and Home Leasing for taking on the project in Holley.

“This project needed a lot of miracles to happen,” Goodman said. “It has taken incredible support from so many people – the Village of Holley, the Town of Murray, Orleans County and the State of New York. It has been an incredible collaboration.”

The residents’ support stands out, Goodman said, and so has the tenacity of village officials, including Mayor Brian Sorochty.

Home Leasing has started work on the school. It is first focused on removing asbestos and pigeon droppings. The windows will all be replaced and then Home Leasing will start creating apartments in the second floor and then work on the first floor. The auditorium space will be transformed into the village offices. The building will have new utilities.

The wooden trim inside will be taken out, revived and put back in.

Home Leasing currently has eight employees working at the building.

George DeRue, Home Leasing’s vice president of historical preservation, is working on the Holley project. He has 30 years with Home Leasing.

“Next year around this time it will all be done and it will be a nice, gorgeous building,” DaRue told a happy crowd Tuesday in Holley.

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Missing Medina man has been located
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 December 2018 at 8:57 am

MEDINA — The Medina Police Department said this morning that a missing Medina man has been located.

Heriberto “Roberto” Torres, 57, was living on West Avenue and hadn’t been seen by family for about six weeks.

They filed a missing person’s report. The family was concerned after he didn’t return to where he was staying, and left his clothes and medication behind.

No other information is currently available.

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KeyBank providing nearly $22 million in financing for Holley’s former school project
Posted 12 December 2018 at 8:13 am

Press Release, KeyBank

Photo by Tom Rivers: Jaime Tuozzolo, vice president and senior relationship manager for KeyBank’s Development Lending, speaks during Tuesday’s Preservation Celebration for the former Holley High School. She said the bank is pleased to be part of “a very special project for Holley.”

HOLLEY – KeyBank Community Development Lending & Investment has provided $21.9 million in total financing to Home Leasing, LLC for the historic preservation and creation of affordable housing in the former Holley High School in Holley.

KeyBank provided a $9.9 million construction loan, plus $6.8 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity and $5.1 million in Historic Tax Credit equity.

Holley Gardens is an adaptive re-use project that will preserve the former Holley High School and transform it into a mixed-use and mixed-income property offering 41 units of housing for low- to moderate-income seniors. There is also 6,080 square feet of planned commercial space leased to the Village of Holley.  The community is located within steps of the local library, restaurants and services. The project breaks ground today in a preservation celebration.

“KeyBank is proud to partner with Home Leasing and Edgemere Development to preserve and transform Holley High School into this mixed-use space,” said Rob Likes, national manager of the CDLI team. “Importantly, the preservation celebration demonstrates our commitment to making safe and decent affordable housing available in the communities we serve.”

“Our mission at Home Leasing is to improve the lives of residents in the communities in which we work,” said Nelson Leenhouts, Chairman & CEO of Home Leasing. “KeyBank’s partnership, along with broad community support will establish Holley Gardens as a welcoming, thriving senior community in the heart of the Village of Holley.”

Upon completion, there will be a total of 41 multi-family units ranging from studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments targeting seniors at rent levels at or below 30%, 50%, 60% and 80% area median income levels. Seven of the units will be available for households where at least one member is a person with a physical disability who will have access to supportive services through the Orleans County Office on Aging.

“KeyBank’s CDLI team is committed to making more affordable housing options available across the country,” said Jaime Tuozzolo, vice president and senior relationship manager on KeyBank’s CDLI team. “The preservation of local space like the former Holley High School is critically important to this effort. The local support for this development was impressive. We are honored to celebrate the commencement of Holley Gardens with our partners today.”

Tuozzolo worked on the financing with Ryan Olman, vice president and senior relationship manager on KeyBank’s CDLI team.

Additionally, New York State Homes and Community Renewal has provided a $3.1 million Housing Trust Fund loan, a $1 million Community Investment Fund loan and a total of $668,515 in annual tax credits to support the Holley Gardens project. New York State Empire State Development has provided a $1 million RestoreNY grant.


Holley mayor thanks a big team that worked on school project

Photos by Tom Rivers: Holley Mayor Brian Sorochty welcomes a standing-room only crowd to the “Preservation Celebration” on Tuesday at the American Legion. The mayor said many people worked diligently on a $17 million renovation of the former Holley High School, which closed in 1975.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 December 2018 at 7:29 am

‘Our community never lost hope, never gave in to thoughts of demolishing it. We kept our focus on what was important to us, which is the commitment to the revitalization of the old Holley High school.’ – Holley Mayor Brian Sorochty

HOLLEY – Mayor Brian Sorochty praised the teamwork that is making a $17 million renovation of the former high school a reality.

Home Leasing of Rochester has started construction on the former school and will turn the building into 41 apartments for senior citizens, and the village offices. The project has been a long time coming, and Sorochty said residents and village officials refused to give up on the building and have it be demolished.

The mayor delivered this speech Tuesday at the American Legion during a Preservation Celebration:

Good afternoon everyone and what a great day today is, not just for the Village of Holley but also for our surrounding communities and all of Orleans County. To pull together a project of this magnitude, the revitalization of this historic landmark, takes an entire team firing on all cylinders and in constant cooperation with each other and that is what happened to make this project a reality. For being able to be a part of that effort over the last 3-plus years I am so proud and happy to be standing here before you, representing the Village of Holley. By far this is for me personally the most satisfying moment I have had as Mayor or Trustee!

I want to thank all of those that have provided support, hard work, and cooperation on behalf of our Village and this project. I am going to ask that when your name is mentioned you please stand and remain standing until the end of this list

• Governor Cuomo

• U.S. Sen. Schumer – Chris Zeltman, Schumer’s regional director

• State Sen. Robert Ortt

• State Assemblyman Steve Hawley

• NYS Homes and Community Renewal – Lenny Skrill and his team

• Empire State Development – Vinny Esposito and his team

• Finger Lakes Region Economic Development Council – CoChairs Bob Duffy and Anne Kress

• Landmark Society of Western New York – Wayne Goodman

• NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation – Daniel Mackay

• Orleans County Legislators and County Staff – Chairperson Lynne Johnson, legislators John DeFillips and Ken DeRoller

• Orleans County IDA – Jim Whipple & Paul Hendel

• County Office for Aging

• Holley Community Free Library

• Holley Central School District

• Town of Murray

• Village of Holley Board of Trustees and staff – Deputy Mayor Kevin Lynch, Trustees Connie Nenni, Jimmy DeFilipps, Rochelle Moroz, former mayor John Kenny, our staff and supervisors

• Home Leasing and Edgemere Development (Nelson Leenhouts, Kim Russell, George DeRue, John Oster, Charlie Oster and their entire team)

• And of course, all of our residents and business owners who have provided support for this endeavor.

Mayor Brian Sorochty is interviewed by the media in front of the former school on Tuesday.

Please take one moment and look around the room…while there is a lot of work and heavy lifting to do yet before the doors open…the efforts, cooperation, and support from everyone in the room this is what has taken to get to where we are today. Please give yourself a round of applause.

This has been a long journey for the Village since the building was left vacant almost 30 years ago. Our community has seen a few potential developers come and go over the years and none could quite seem to pull all of the pieces together to make this project happen. Still our community never lost hope, never gave in to thoughts of demolishing it…. we kept our focus on what was important to us, which is the commitment to the revitalization of the old Holley High school.

‘To pull together a project of this magnitude, the revitalization of this historic landmark, takes an entire team firing on all cylinders and in constant cooperation with each other and that is what happened to make this project a reality.’

The desire for this project is not just with our residents, but it has also been a focus for our past and present Village Board and mayors. All have kept the saving of this landmark as an objective. I specifically want to mention Mayor John Kenney, who is my predecessor and who was the sitting Mayor when the Landmark Society named this building as one of the Five to Revive in 2013, which I believe was the first real turning point for this project. He is heavily involved with the Murray-Holley Historical Society and I know this project was near and dear to his heart. I want to thank him as well because throughout his years as mayor he kept the hope for this project alive.

The overall commitment that our community has whether it’s from our residents or our local government towards saving this landmark is one of the main reasons we are here today.

The former school will be turned into 41 apartments for senior citizens and also the village offices for Holley.

The community support for the revitalization of this historic building was documented in our planning documents, our Village Comprehensive Plan and our Revitalization Plan (which is our step one BOA nomination study). When we held our public meetings, this was number one on our residents’ minds. The number one question was what was going to be done with old school. We finally have our answer!

These documents which indicate our community’s long-term desire for an adaptive reuse of this building, as well as affordable and accessible housing for seniors have been instrumental in the applications for funding. I am proud that the Village had the foresight to go through the process, obtain community input and prepare these documents because it has made a difference.

With all the will and desire that the Village may have, none of this could be accomplished by us alone, it takes a team. A team made up of a marriage between public and private organizations, political and community leadership at all levels of government, and a development team such as Home Leasing and Edgemere Development who are experts in their field, all striving for one goal. The people and organizations I thanked in the beginning of this speech are that team. Let me give you a couple specific examples of this:

Shortly after the Landmark Society named this building as one of the Five to Revive the Village worked closely with them, obtained a grant to create an historic district which covers the Square and this property. This also helps to strengthen these applications, helps with obtaining tax credits and other funding sources. On a side note, we have another one of our buildings listed on the 2018 Five to Revive list, the Odd Fellows Hall at 89 Public Square. We want to again thank the Landmark Society for all the great work they do and hopefully in a couple years we are back here again with another preservation celebration for the restoration of that building.

Another example is our work with Home Leasing and Edgemere Development over the last 3+ years. Throughout this entire process they have been wonderful to work with. They are consummate professionals in their commitment to this project and bringing it to life.

In looking at the renovated space and how it can be used, there are not too many tenants out there that need auditorium space along with their office space and the restoration of the auditorium was critical to the overall application. The Village being able to utilize that space and stepping up as a tenant is a key to this project.

‘Everyone has stepped up in the true spirit of cooperation and truly shown what can be done when everyone works together towards a common goal.’

The Village is excited to be their commercial anchor tenant, we will now have up to date, handicap accessible office space and a beautifully restored meeting hall.

I really cannot say enough good things about Home Leasing and Edgemere Development and their team. They are more than just experts at what they do, they are professional and I truly believe that they care about the communities they are working in and it has shown throughout this entire journey. I want to thank them again.

So, I was asked to say a few words here today, coming up with just a few words that describe, what this process has been like and what this means to our community is very difficult. The best way for me to sum this up simply is that everyone has stepped up in the true spirit of cooperation and truly shown what can be done when everyone works together towards a common goal.

It takes time, longer than most of us wanted. Some of this effort is like planting seeds and waiting for them to grow. But when you put it all together, with all the building blocks in place and get together the right team for the job, it is amazing what can be accomplished.

On behalf of the Village of Holley I want to say again thank you to everyone who made this possible, this is truly a great day for the history we are preserving and for all of the great things yet to come!


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