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Holley mayor identifies locations for new sidewalks

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 20 April 2017 at 11:36 am

Project will be phased in over 3 to 4 years

HOLLEY – Mayor Brian Sorochty is thrilled with the announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday that the village has been approved for a $1,780,000 state grant to construct curbs and sidewalks that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“We are very happy and excited,” Brian Sorochty said. “This is a big one for us to win.”

He thanked the village’s grantwriter, J. O’Connell & Associates for the firm’s work on the grant application.

Sorochty said the village has been discussing how to repair/replace sidewalks for quite some time.

The grant will allow the village to replace about one-third of the sidewalks in the village, he said. That includes sidewalk along Rt. 237 – both north and south of Rt. 31 to the village limits, as well as Geddes Street from Rt. 237 to the Public Square, and all sidewalks north of Rt. 31 and east Rt. 237 – the northeast quadrant of the village.

“That will be a huge amount of new sidewalk that is code compliant and ADA compliant with ramps at intersections,” Sorochty said.

The program phases the improvements out over a three or four year span, he said.The first year will include engineering and planning work and then construction will be completed in phases over a couple of years.

The village Department of Public Works will be completing much of the work and the phases will help to complete the project in, “manageable chunks,” Sorochty said.

As part of the grant application process, residents were asked to submit letters, explaining their need for safer walkability in the village. Those letters were an important part of the village receiving the grant.

“It made a big difference,” the mayor said. “We need the new sidewalk… the current infrastructure has been in poor shape for years.”

Connie Nenni was one of the village trustees who pushed for Holley to apply for the grant.

“I am beyond excited about the village receiving the TAP grant for sidewalks,” Nenni said. “It is such a great thing not only for the village but for the entire community. Many people that do not live in the village use the village to walk or run or trick-or-treat. It will be a huge benefit to so many.”

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Murray highway garage needs roof repairs after wind storm

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 April 2017 at 9:11 am

MURRAY – The powerful wind storm last month blew off numerous shingles and caused other significant damage to the roof on the Murray highway garage.

“Two thirds of the roof came off,” Highway Superintendent Ed Morgan told the Town Board during its meeting last week.

The roof is currently leaking, and needs to be repaired soon, Morgan advised the Town Board.

He is seeking bids on the roof repairs, which could top $15,000.

In other action:

• Morgan also said three canal bridges in the town are due for major overhauls. The bridges on Bennetts Corners, Telegraph and Transit roads are all planned for extensive work by the state Department of Transportation. The projects are expected to cost about $1 million to $2 million each.

One bridge on Hindsburg Road has now been closed about 15 years. Morgan said the DOT has no plans of fixing that bridge.

• The Town Board held a hearing on a moratorium on installation of ground-mounted solar energy systems in the town for six months.

The Town Planning Board wants time to write zoning regulations for commercial-scale solar systems that are ground mounted. The moratorium doesn’t affect residential projects.

The town wants to have zoning in place for removing the solar systems when they are obsolete, and wants to establish setbacks, screening from glare and glint, and address other issues with the projects.

Code Enforcement Officer Ron Vendetti said he expected the regulations would be complete in about 60 days.

• Morgan also reported the town will be receiving $13,500 more in CHIPS funding from the state for road maintenance as part of the new state budget.

• The Town Board passed a resolution supporting a legislative proposal that would limit the SAFE Act to New York City.

• The Board also passed a resolution urging the state to pay any additional costs for probation and other impacted county departments associated with the “Raising the Age of criminal responsibility” from 16 to 18.

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State approves $1.78 million grant for sidewalks in Holley

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 April 2017 at 3:37 pm

Photo by Kristina Gabalski: Holley village officials and residents have been concerned about deteriorating sidewalks, including this one on Geddes Street, which was pictured last September.

HOLLEY – The Village of Holley will get a major overhaul of sidewalks and curbs.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this afternoon the village has been approved for a $1,780,000 grant to construct curbs and sidewalks that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The governor announced $112.2 million in funding for 81 projects in the state that support bicycle and pedestrian enhancements, and also improve air quality across New York.

“This funding is critical to enhancing our infrastructure and paving the way for both pedestrian and bicycle travel,” Cuomo said about the projects. “By improving roadway safety and increasing access to healthy transportation alternatives, we are providing both residents and visitors a chance to experience the state’s natural beauty like never before, while supporting a cleaner, greener New York for generations to come.”

The funding, which will provide up to 80 percent of the cost of each project, is made available through the Federal Highway Administration and administered by the New York State Department of Transportation.

Selected through a competitive solicitation process, awardees presented plans that will increase options for non-vehicular transportation, reduce vehicle emissions or traffic congestion, or both. Including additional public and private funding, these projects will leverage nearly $233 million in construction and operational enhancements that will improve air quality, promote walking and biking, expand public transportation access, and boost tourism across the state.

“This massive federal investment will help New York State make important upgrades for pedestrians and bicyclists and, in turn, encourage New Yorkers to travel more by bike or by foot,” said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer. “Increased biking and walking is good for our collective hearts and lungs; it also reduces congestion and helps boost the economy. These transportation improvements demonstrate the types of important local projects that can only be accomplished with direct public investment.”

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House fire knocked down quickly on Route 31 in Holley

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 April 2017 at 11:40 am

HOLLEY – Firefighters were dispatched to a house fire at 11:26 a.m. today in the Town of Murray, and had the fire knocked down within minutes, an Orleans County dispatcher said.

Firefighters responded to 16629 Route 31, which is between the village line and Lake Road.

The dispatcher said no was injured from the fire.

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Murray passes signature threshold for new water district

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 April 2017 at 11:31 am

MURRAY – The town has met its goal in securing enough signatures to move ahead with a new water district.

Water District 3 Extension 1 will serve about 20 homes and 40 parcels. It covers about 3 miles on portions Hindsburg, West Kendall and Center roads.

The extension is off three roads on the western end of Ridge Road in Murray. The project will bring public water to some of the last remaining sections of the town without a waterline.

To move forward with the project, the town needed at least a majority of the homeowners and a majority of the tax base to sign off on the project.

The town has signatures from residents supporting the project from 60 percent of the total tax base owners, and 74 percent of the owner-occupied residences, Town Attorney Jeff Martin advised the Town Board on Tuesday.

“That shows strong support for this proposed water district,” Martin said.

The board set a public meeting for 7 p.m. on May 3 at Town Hall to go over the cost structure of the project. Engineer Paul Chatfield is also expected at the meeting to go over the construction.

Martin said each parcel owner would pay $623.80 annually in debt service for the project. That doesn’t include buying water.

The Town Board thanked Art Knab of Hindsburg Road, Bob Beisang of West Kendall Road and Highway Superintendent Ed Morgan for going door to door and securing some of the signatures needed for the project.

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Holley Elementary Student Council continues clever fundraising

Photos by Kristina Gabalski: Brenna Embury voted for a baby goat to be born on March 27 and that is the day that Hershey gave birth to Millie, making Brenna winner of the “Kids-terry” fundraiser. She was also able to pick a plush goat toy as a prize. The real goats - Hershey and Oreo - are owned by Karen Clark and Fran Gaylord, who also provided the plush toy goats for prizes. 

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 12 April 2017 at 6:49 pm

Kindergartener Eli Sample won for his selection of April 6 as a date for baby goats to be born. Eli holds the plush toy goat he selected as a prize. Third grader Gianna Brown also won for the second birth date, but was not in school Tuesday. Gianna will also receive one of the toy goats and a certificate.

HOLLEY – Members of the Holley Elementary Student Council continue to come up with innovative ways to raise funds for local community projects and school programs.

Their most recent effort was “Kids-terry” – a lottery to guess the birth of baby goats. The effort raised money to support After School Friends.

Elementary Student Council advisor Sally Martin says the After School Friends program encourages positive social interaction and the forming of friendships.  It is a safe place with a structured environment for students in grades 4-6 which helps them to form friendships through interactive play, craft making, and exploration of new ideas.

Special guests from the community are also invited to help students learn the importance of working together and being part of a community.

The baby goat lottery helped raise funds through purchased “votes” for the date and number of kids that Oreo & Hershey – two mother goats – would have. Each vote cost 50 cents.

“The event raised $100 for ‘Kids-terry,’” Martin says.

An additional $200 was raised through collection boxes placed throughout the Holley community.

Last year, the Student Council raised funds for restoration work on the Hillside Cemetery chapel through the “Chancellor of the Chapel” fundraiser in which votes were purchased to select an animal “Chancellor” for the historic sandstone structure.

Posters were placed around Holley Elementary School during the “Kids- terry” fundraiser.  This poster shows the first kid born – Millie. Mom, Hershey, is in the photograph on the right.

Another poster shows mom, Oreo, who gave birth to her kid on April 6.

A photograph of Oreo’s kid shortly after being born. The baby was not yet named as of Tuesday morning.

Fran Gaylord, who owns the goats along with Karen Clark, poses with Oreo’s kid on April 6.

Elementary Student Council President Katelyn Randall (left), a 6th grader, and Vice President Maggie Skehan, a 4th grader, hold a coin collection box for the ongoing “Pennies for Patients” fundraiser. Advisor Sally Martin says the Holley Elementary School Student Council participates in the fundraiser each year, which is part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Student Series and Philanthropy programs.  The fundraiser collects coins to help people in their battle against blood cancers.

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Murray raises water rates by 25 cents

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 April 2017 at 10:44 am

Revised policy stipulates only town employees can hook up water meters

MURRAY – The Town Board approved higher water rates on Tuesday, an increase from $4.25 to $4.50 per 1,000 gallons.

The town raised the rates “based on our increased costs,” said Ed Morgan, the highway and water superintendent.

He said the rates were last increased in 2014. The town’s primary water supplier, the Monroe County Water Authority, has steadily increased its rates to the town, currently charging Murray $3.25 per 1,000 gallons plus an additional meter charge, Morgan said.

“That doesn’t leave much margin for water loss and operations and maintenance,” Morgan told the board.

He said the average residential water customer uses 9,400 gallons per quarter. Raising the rates by 25 cents will cost the average user an extra $2.36 every three months, Morgan said.

“I don’t believe it’s a hardship on anybody,” he said about the higher rates.

The new rate structure also includes $4.50 per 1,000 gallons for water haulers and $4 per 1,000 gallons for agriculture/farm users.

Morgan and the Town Board also declined to charge users a quarterly water meter fee.

The board also approved revisions to policies and procedures in the water department. Water meters now must always be hooked up by town personnel at hydrants.

Some residents complained last year that some meters used by farmers and other users were put on by the users, and not town employees.

The town will now put on all meters and won’t charge the users the first time. However, there will be a $50 charge each time thereafter the meter is put on.

Some farmers will use public water during dry spells. They might then want the meter back on again a few days or weeks after irrigating a field.

They will now have to pay the $50 to have the meter put back on, or they can keep the meter on at a hydrant for several days or weeks.

However, if the meter is stolen, the farmer or other user will be responsible for paying the town $1,500 for a replacement. Morgan said a meter has only been stolen once, about 20 years ago.

The new policies and procedures give the town more control in the water system, and follows state health regulations, Morgan said.

Morgan and the Town Board were praised by resident Joe Sidonio for the revised procedures.

“I think it’s admirable,” Sidonio said about the changes. “Thanks for hearing our voice.”

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Murray town attorney says no overpayments to highway superintendent

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 April 2017 at 10:07 am

MURRAY – The town’s $4,985 annual payments to Ed Morgan, the highway superintendent, in lieu of health insurance are “proper,” Town Attorney Jeff Martin told the Town Board on Tuesday.

The board on Feb. 14 was urged to look into the payments by resident Joe Sidonio, who believed the payments were too high.

Sidonio said Morgan should only be getting $2,000 a year for not taking a two-person health insurance policy through the town.

The $4,985 amount was set for employees hired before 2012. The local law said if there was a break in service for a longer-term employee, the health insurance payment would drop to $2,000 and not $4,985.

The Murray local law states that current employees receiving the the stipend shall be considered new employees at the lower stipend level if they have a break in employment by not getting reappointed, not being re-elected “or otherwise.”

If they then return to employment with the town, “such employees shall be regarded as a new employee and subject to the limitations on payments in lieu of health insurance applicable to new employees,” according to the town law, which Sidonio read from on during the Feb. 14 meeting.

Morgan has served as town highway superintendent since Jan. 1, 1990. He has been elected to seven 4-year terms.

Morgan “retired” for a one day, Dec. 31, 2013, to be eligible to begin collecting his pension through the NYS Retirement System.

Sidonio said that one-day retirement should represent a break in service, with Morgan considered a new employee when his new term started on Jan. 1, 2014.

Sidonio said Morgan may have been overpaid $2,985 annually for three years for the health insurance stipend.

But Town Attorney Jeff Martin said Morgan never had a break in service. Morgan didn’t resign. He never submitted a letter of resignation.

The town law requires an elected official to take the oath of office within 30 days of the start of a new term. Morgan took the oath on Jan. 2, 2014, the first day the town hall was open to start the new term.

Martin said Morgan never left his office, and only took off a day to be eligible to collect his pension, which Martin said is common for many long-term elected officials in New York.

“He has had continuous service since Jan. 1, 1990,” Martin said. “The payment is proper. We’re not in violation of our own local law.”

Sidonio attended Tuesday’s Town Board meeting and thanked Martin for looking into the issue.

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Holley school budget would raise taxes 1.35%

Staff Reports Posted 12 April 2017 at 7:41 am

HOLLEY – The Board of Education on Monday approved a $24,500,000 budget for 2017-18, which represents a 0.41 percent spending increase over this year.

The budget would increase property taxes by 1.35 percent, which is below the district’s tax cap, the district said in a news release.

The budget goes before voters on May 16, when they will also elect members of the Board of Education. Voting is from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Holley Middle School/High School Foyer.

Budget information will be available soon on the district website at and in the budget newsletter mailed to residents in May.

“I thank the Board for approving the 2017-18 budget, and I am also appreciative of the collaborative effort put forth by the Board and the administrative team,” said District Superintendent Robert D’Angelo. “Our goal was to create a budget that was both educationally sound, as well as fiscally responsible, for the community, and we certainly accomplished that.”

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Holley’s Geometry in Construction allows students to apply math to building project

Photos by Kristina Gabalski: Holley students work together to clean up and put away materials as the school day draws to a close while they worked on a building project on Monday.

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 5 April 2017 at 4:45 pm

Learning to use power tools is part of the experience offered by the Geometry in Construction class. Here, Tim Rogers guides a student working with a power drill.

Photos by Kristina Gabalski

HOLLEY – There is no lack of enthusiasm in the Geometry in Construction class at Holley Middle School/High School.

“It’s a fun class, it makes the end of the day more fun,” said sophomore Amanda Valerio.

Amanda said she loves math, but was uncertain early in the year how the class would work.

“Now I know I definitely can do both,” she said of the hands-on, as well as the textbook side of the class.

This is the first year the class has been offered and is structured to help students learn how math concepts can be applied to real-world problems to create solutions. Skills learned may open the doorway to future jobs or help them maintain or build their own homes someday.

“It’s cool, we get both the math side and the construction side,” freshman Mikaela Auch says.

Sophomore Elijah Stanton gives the teachers of the class, Tim Rogers and Russ Albright, much praise.

“They are the best,” Elijah said.

All 13 students in the class have pitched-in on their main construction project – a service project creating a small house for Second Wind Cottages in Newfield, NY, a rescue mission which provides one-man shelters for homeless men as they work to turn their lives around.

Members of the Holley Middle School/High School Geometry in Construction class raise the wall of a small house Monday afternoon. The class is being offered this year for the first time and mixes Regents Geometry with real-life construction skills. The house will be donated to Second Wind Cottages in Newfield, NY.

“The home is going for a good cause,” Valerio said of the project. “We don’t want to mess it up.”

The class began raising walls on Monday afternoon and students are working to mount the structure on a wooden base they also constructed. They will then learn to panel the interior walls.

In early May, the class will transport the small home in sections to the grounds of Second Wind Cottages where it will be re-assembled and anchored on a concrete pad. They will complete the project on site.

Teacher Tim Rogers – in yellow construction hat – works to set the newly raised wall in place. The class learned while working Monday afternoon that the plans provided to them did not exactly match the wooden base of the structure, but Rogers says such “things happen” in construction, and it is not unusual to have to come up with alternate solutions when difficulties arise.

The fact the small house is going to someone in need gives the students an added sense of purpose and accomplishment.

“We have used a lot of math concepts and it is cool someone will live in this,” Mikaela Auch said.

Tim Rogers and Russ Albright, along with the students, say the class has bonded students who might otherwise have not worked together.

Tim Rogers holds a model of the small house the class is building. Students teamed up to make the model, which involved learning and utilizing the geometry concepts of ratio and proportion.

“I’ve learned a lot of people skills,” Elijah Stanton said. “It’s good to learn the construction side, there are many valuable skills.”

He said several students are now thinking about careers in construction, something they never considered before.

Rogers and Albright said construction is a growing field in need of good workers including people such as masons and plumbers.

The students will take the NYS Geometry Regents in June.

“We have to cover the same material as traditional Geometry classes,” Tim Rogers said. “The Geometry in Construction class brings more real-life situations to students.”

The hope is that the class may help students who typically struggle with Geometry learn more easily.

Both Rogers and Albright said they feel the class is going very well. They say in addition to math and construction skills, the class also builds teamwork and leadership skills, so vital to the real-world workforce.

“They have to work as a team,” Rogers said, “and they have done that.”

“They find the skills they are best at and that helps them become leaders,” Russ Albright explained. “They become leaders as they become comfortable with the tools.”

Rogers and Albright say they are looking for a similar construction-related service project for next year’s class and hope it might even be in Orleans County. They have had some difficulty finding a project near home due to a number of issues including insurance and the age of the students, but they are open to suggestions from the community.  They could also continue with Second Wind Cottages in the future, they said.

Members of the Geometry in Construction class work to stabilize a newly raised wall on a small house they are building for the homeless.

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