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Law enforcement will use Holley Elementary for training on Wednesday and Thursday

Staff Reports Posted 21 February 2017 at 9:34 am

HOLLEY – The Holley Elementary School, which is closed this week, will be used for a law enforcement training activity on Wednesday and Thursday, Superintendent Robert D’Angelo said in a message to the community.

Law enforcement agencies in Orleans County will be doing active shooter training on Feb. 22-23, from about 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the school district said.

“We want to notify you of this as there will be many police officers at the school and police vehicles on the grounds,” D’Angelo said in his letter to the community. “We emphasize that this is only a training exercise and there is no cause for alarm. During the training exercise, the Elementary School building will be closed to all other activities. No one will be allowed to enter the building during the training.”

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Resident says town’s listing of elected officials’ salaries is misleading

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 February 2017 at 1:57 pm

MURRAY – Town officials were asked why the official postings for elected officials’ salaries often don’t reflect their entire compensation, including stipends that are often several thousand dollars or more.

At least three elected officials at Murray receive additional pay from what is publicized as their salaries.

For example, Town Supervisor John Morriss is paid $8,500 as town supervisor. He also receives $1,500 as budget manager. The official town notice lists the pay for town supervisor as $8,500.

Ed Morgan serves as highway superintendent and the pay is listed as $63,305. However, he also will be paid $21,462 as water superintendent in 2017.

Town Clerk Cindy Oliver is paid $30,152 as town clerk, according to the town notice listing the salary. She also will receive $10,243 in 2017 as water collection clerk and $600 as registrar of vital statistics.

Kerri Neale, a town resident, asked the board on Tuesday why the official notices of the positions don’t list the entire pay for the three elected officials.

Jeff Martin, the town attorney, said the town is following the legal requirement in posting the salaries for the elected positions. The additional duties reflect pay for that additional work.

Town Councilman Paul Hendel said the town notes the stipends for the other work in January during the organizational meeting.

“Why not list everyone’s pay for clarity in one spot?” Neale asked the board. “For a simple person like me, I wouldn’t have to dig around.”

Murray isn’t unusual in listing the the salaries of the elected positions at lower numbers than the total compensation for the highway superintendent, town clerk and town supervisor. That’s how most of the towns list them, putting the salary for the elected position in a legal notice.

But Neale said it’s misleading to the public when the total compensation is often much higher.

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‘Breakfast with Superintendent’ gives Holley students a chance to make suggestions

Provided photos: Superintendent Robert D’Angelo (standing) addresses students as Board of Education members Brenda Swanger and Sal DeLuca listen.

Posted 17 February 2017 at 10:14 am

Student Jerry Kennedy (lower left) addresses the room as Principal Susan Cory (upper right), Superintendent Robert D’Angelo and Board of Education President Brenda Swanger listen.

Press Release, Holley Central School

HOLLEY – Ten students in grades 9-12 had breakfast with Superintendent Robert D’Angelo and discussed their experience at Holley Central School District.

Middle School/High School Principal Susan Cory selected the students to be invited to the breakfast on Feb. 10. Another breakfast will be held in April. Holley Board of Education members Sal DeLuca and Brenda Swanger were also present to listen to the students. The breakfast was prepared by HCSD Food Service Director Vickie Scroger and her staff.

D’Angelo stressed that the breakfast is a relaxed conversation between administration and students. Students were asked to talk about things they thought worked well in their school and they would like to see continue, as well as areas that can be improved upon.

Students said they appreciated the Makerspace events that occur on Fridays in the MS/HS Library; courses that overlapped and aligned subject areas together; and the opportunity to take online courses through Genesee Community College. Students offered up ideas for electives, requested more availability of popular lunch items, and asked for more organized spectator participation at sporting events.

“We’re a professional high school since the renovations,” said senior Kayla Thrower. “We have teachers who really care. We have more opportunities because we’re a smaller district. For instance, we rotate roles in the musical so more students can participate. My involvement in Interact Club helped me gain a better sense of myself and a bigger sense of the world.”

Cory, the school principal, agreed, saying, “We’re providing students with opportunities to become global citizens.”

Senior Jerry Kennedy appreciates the environment at Holley.

“We’re allowed to have our own opinions,” he said. “We’re taught to form our own opinions and stand by them,” said Thrower.

“Holley is a small, tight-knit community that’s fun to be a part of,” said Morgan Cary.

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Murray says it will check whether overpayments made to highway chief for health insurance stipend

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 February 2017 at 2:10 pm

MURRAY – A town official who receives nearly $5,000 a year as a stipend for not using health insurance paid by the town may have been receiving about $3,000 a year too much the past three years.

Joe Sidonio, a local resident, reviewed the town policy for payments in lieu of health insurance. Sidonio believes the town has made a mistake in paying Ed Morgan, the highway superintendent, $4,985 as annual stipend for getting health insurance elsewhere.

The town has been paying $4,985 for full-time employees who could receive a two-person health insurance policy. The town in 2006 approved a policy where the town agreed to pay half of what the health insurance premium would cost for employees receiving health insurance elsewhere. In 2012, the Town Board revised the policy to cap it at 2011 levels – $4,985 for a two-person policy, $6,007 for a family policy, and $1,742 for a single policy.

However, for new employees hired after the effective date of the local law (first adopted on Sept. 12, 2006 and then amended in 2012), the maximum health insurance stipends would be $3,000 for a family plan, $2,000 for a two-person plan, and $1,000 for a single person policy.

The way Sidonio sees it, Morgan should be considered a “new” employee because he had a break in service when he retired for a day on Dec. 31, 2013. Morgan, like many long-time elected officials in the state, can “retire” for a day and then begin collecting their state pension, as well as their full salary. (Among elected highway superintendents in Orleans County, Larry Swanger of Clarendon and Roger Wolfe of Yates both “retired” briefly so they could receive their pensions, as well as full salary.)

Sidonio first asked the Town Board in February 2016 if Morgan had retired as superintendent, and if Morgan was receiving his pension and also the health insurance stipend.

Sidonio submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the town, and Town Clerk Cindy Oliver on Feb. 22, 2016 sent a letter to Sidonio, saying the town did not have any records of Morgan’s retirement.

Sidonio sent a FOIA to the state comptroller, which sent a letter on March 31, 2016, saying that Morgan had retired on Dec. 31, 2013 and was receiving a $3,114.18 a month for his pension.

Town Supervisor John Morriss, during the April12, 2016, Town Board meeting responded that Morgan had not actually retired, but was receiving his retirement, according to minutes from the meeting.

However, Sidonio said Morgan did retire, even if for a day, based on the paperwork with the comptroller.

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 Tuesday.

He believes the town has overpaid Morgan nearly $9,000 from 2014 to 2016, with a new year now begun of excessive payments.

“I would respectfully ask the Town Board to look at that and let us know what is happening with that,” Sidonio told the Town Board. “If retirement is not considered a break in service, I don’t know what is.”

Town Supervisor John Morriss and Town Attorney Jeff Martin said the town would look into the matter.

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Holley takes next step in brownfield grant

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 15 February 2017 at 10:02 am

Village also presses for more state AIM funding and bank for community

HOLLEY – Village Board members on Tuesday evening took the next step in the process to obtain grant funding under the State Department of State’s Brownfield Opportunity Areas (BOA) Program, which provides financial and technical assistance to municipalities for turning dormant and blighted parcels into productive, catalytic properties.

Trustees voted to authorize Mayor Brian Sorochty to submit an application to the BOA program for a Step 2 grant. A public hearing was held on the application prior to the vote.

The village is seeking a grant not to exceed $200,000 for the development of a Nomination Study. A scope of work was prepared by the village with the help of a steering committee as part of the grant application process.

The scope lists eleven tasks including the preparation of a Nomination Study for the BOA with an updated existing conditions analysis; a Community Participation Plan; a Light Industrial Market Analysis and Strategy; a Residential Development Strategy; and Future Land Use and Conceptual Designs which focus on strategic sites identified in the Step 1 Pre-Nomination Study. Those sites include the former Diaz site; 51 State St.; the site of the former (Save-A-Lot) grocery store; 89 Public Square; and the old Holley High School.

“With significant investment potentially occurring at the Village of Holley High School site, public interest in the future of the Diaz site and the community’s support for a revitalized downtown public square, active and continuous community engagement will be imperative to ensuring recommendations are consistent with the community’s vision and goals,” the Scope states.

In other business Tuesday evening, Orleans County Legislator Ken DeRoller addressed trustees, bringing them up-to-date on a number of issues.

DeRoller noted infrastructure improvements at the county level which include ongoing bridge and culvert repairs totaling $33 million; the efforts of a lobbyist hired by Orleans County to, “make our message known,” on a state level; and the NYS Department of Transportation’s plan to spend $13 million for canal bridge improvements in Orleans County.

Trustee Connie Nenni asked DeRoller if the county’s lobbyist might be able to help with an effort to get the state to overhaul its AIM (Aid and Incentives to Municipalities) funding for villages and towns. Currently 90 percent of that money goes to cities.

“It’s something to take a look at,” DeRoller said. “Sales tax allocations are starting to erode, but AIM is the target we need to go after.”

“It would be fantastic if we could get even half of what the cities get,” Trustee Skip Carpenter said. Additional AIM funds would help villages and towns with projects like sidewalk and street repair, he noted.

DeRoller also brought trustees up-to-date on efforts to find a new tenant for the former First Niagara Bank branch in the village’s Public Square.

Petitions in support of the effort are still available around the community – at the Village Hall, local businesses and town offices in Murray, Clarendon and Kendall.

“We are in a bank desert,” DeRoller said of the east side of the county. He has been working to reach out to players in the marketplace and said the petitions will provide additional “leverage” in the effort by showing there is an interest in having banking services available in the village.

Village Clerk Deborah Schiavone said there has been a “very good response” to the petitions.

DeRoller said Key Bank has the lease on the building until September and that, “a couple of parties are interested in purchasing the property…. it’s taking time, but everybody’s working on it.”

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Murray councilman urges support for NY Constitutional Convention

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 February 2017 at 9:41 am

Convention will be on the ballot in November

Photo by Tom Rivers: Murray Town Councilman Paul Hendel, right, speaks during Tuesday’s Town Board meeting while Councilman Ed Bower listens.

MURRAY – A Murray town councilman is urging the public to educate themselves on a state-wide ballot proposition in November – the New York State Constitutional Convention.

Paul Hendel, the Murray councilman, said he is voting for the convention and he hopes it leads to some changes on how the state is operating, especially with how it treats local municipalities with land use powers.

Hendel said he is concerned about the state’s growing clout in taking away “home rule” from local governments. The state has infringed upon local communities’ home rule or their power with local zoning and land use, especially with large-scale wind energy projects, Hendel said.

“We’ve already seen a pull back (in home rule) with energy systems,” Hendel said during Tuesday’s Town Board meeting. “I am nervous the state will want to pull back that even more.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing a “Clean Energy Standard” that will require 50 percent of New York’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030. That means more land, especially upstate, will be needed for those large-scale projects.

Sttae Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, has been promoting a “two New Yorks” proposal, where ultimately he would like to see New York City and upstate be separated. Hendel said he favors that secessionist push.

“I would never ask someone how they would vote but I would vote ‘yes’ on that one,” Hendel said at the Town Board meeting.

The Constitutional Convention comes up every 20 years on the state-wide ballot.

It gives voters a chance to hold a convention to change the state constitution, which was first crafted in 1777. If voters approve the convention, delegates are elected by the public in November 2018 and they would convene in April 2019.

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Murray needs more signatures to move forward with water district

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 February 2017 at 8:26 am

MURRAY – More residents in a proposed water district extension need to sign a petition in support of the project if it’s going to move forward, town attorney Jeff Martin told the Murray Town Board on Tuesday.

Several residents have already signed petitions, backing the Water District 3 Extension 1. The project would cover about 3 miles on portions of Hindsburg, West Kendall and Center roads. It would serve about 20 residences and 40 parcels.

It would bring public water to some of the last remaining sections of the town without a waterline.

“This might very well be the last water district for the town,” Martin said.

The extension is off three roads on the western end of Ridge Road in Murray.

The town had an informational meeting on Jan. 24 for the project. The project includes assessed values of $3,935,900. The property owners representing at least half of the assessed value, $1,967,950, need to sign petitions supporting the project. Martin said the town is about 42 percent of the way to that goal.

It also needs at least 50 percent of the owner-occupied houses, which represents a total assessed value of $3,050,700. Martin said the signatures so far represent $789,900, which is short of the $1,525,900 threshold for the the project to move forward.

“Hopefully people are out there pounding the pavement getting those signatures,” he said.

If the town passes the 50 percent threshold for the district, Martin said Murray can move forward with legally creating the district.

For more information on the project, call the Town Hall at (585) 638-6570, or click here to be directed to the Murray town website.

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Holley school district approves new trap shooting team

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 14 February 2017 at 8:19 am

Photo by Kristina Gabalski:  Ryan Frank and Kameron Walch pose with Holley Elementary School Principal Karri Schiavone. Schiavone presented the two sixth graders with a district Soaring to New Heights Award Monday evening during the Board of Education meeting.
“Kameron and Ryan have both been taking an active role in stopping bullying around the school, especially at school recess,” Schiavone said. “When they see bullying happen, they talk to the targeted student, and help remove that student from the situation and tell the bully to stop. Both boys are great role models on what a good friend looks like, and great role models to stop bullying in the sixth grade.”
Schiavone said the boys’ efforts show that they practice great character traits even when no one is looking.

District also working on policy for bed bug issues

HOLLEY – The Board of Education members unanimously approved the formation of a new district trap shooting team during their regular meeting Monday evening.

Board member Melissa Ierlan said a meeting is planned Feb. 28 at the Holley Rod and Gun Club at which time students can learn more about the team and sign up. Safety training will then begin during the month of March.

Board members discussed forming the team during their January meeting, but members of the administration requested more details.

Middle School/High School Principal Sue Cory said information gathered over the past month has helped her to decide that forming the team is, “very good, very beneficial. I think it’s a great option.”

School attorney Jeff Martin said he will draft a waiver for parents and guardians of students on the team to cover any liability issues, although club activities will take place off-campus at the Rod and Gun Club.

In other business, Board members discussed the creation of a district procedure regarding bedbugs. Bedbugs were found in an elementary classroom in January and again last week.

John Sherman, director of facilities, reported that exterminators treated two rooms last  Friday and no more bugs have been found. “We are in good shape,” Sherman said.

Board President Brenda Swanger noted that the building has been thoroughly searched.

“I witnessed you myself crawling all over the place on your hands and knees,” Swanger told Sherman.

Swanger said she wants the district to prepare a written policy for dealing with bug-related issues. “I don’t care if no one else has one,” she said of the policy.

Superintendent Robert D’Angelo said a policy will be drafted for board approval at the next regular meeting.

Board member Melissa Ierlan questioned what the State Education Department recommends. “People think we can do things we can’t do,” she said.

The district does have a policy for dealing with head lice, administrators said, and noted the bedbug policy could be similar.

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Holley students, teachers and principals will take polar plunge

Photos courtesy of Dan Courtney: Holley Middle/High School Principal Susan Cory (center) gets ready to jump in Lake Ontario last year as part of the Polar Plunge.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 February 2017 at 9:17 am

Holley held a pep assembly last Friday for the Polar Plunge, which benefits the Special Olympics.

HOLLEY – About 30 students, several teachers and two principals at Holley Middle/Senior High School are planning to plunge in the cold Lake Ontario on Sunday to raise money for Special Olympics.

Students organized a Polar Plunge assembly last Friday, to generate excitement in the school for the event this Sunday at noon at Ontario Beach Park.

Two Holley principals, Susan Cory and Dan Courtney, took the plunge a year ago, part of a Holley team that raised $1,300 for the Special Olympics.

The effort has a bigger following this year, with Cory and Courtney joined by several teachers and at least 30 students. Only one student took the plunge last year.

“We should have a big turnout,” said Courtney, the assistant principal and athletic director.

Students have been promoting the Polar Plunge. The school has a Youth Activation Committee that pushed for Holley to take the Polar Plunge last year.

The YAC committee is part of the Special Olympics UNIFY Project, where students work throughout the year to develop strategies promoting inclusion of people with and without intellectual disabilities, Courtney said.

The district last year started a unified basketball team that includes students with and without disabilities.

“The unified sports brought a good feeling to everyone,” Courtney said.

He remembers feeling some dread before jumping into the cold water a year ago.

“It wasn’t as bad as I expected,” he said. “The anticipation and waiting was worse.”

To contribute to the Holley team participating in the Plunge, click here.

Holley students and staff participated in an assembly last Friday to kick off the fund-raising effort for the Polar Plunge. More than 30 students and several teachers and principals plan to participate this Sunday.

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Holley Interact students help at Open Door Mission

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 February 2017 at 1:06 pm

Provided photos

The new student organization at Holley Central School, the Holley Interact Club, spent Thursday helping at the Open Door Mission in Rochester.

The Interact Club is sponsored the Rotary Club and includes high school students.

The Interact Club formed after two Holley students, Jessica Mandigo and Makenzie Ferranti, attending a Rotary sponsored youth conference last year.

Evinn Neadows, a Holley art teacher, is the Interact advisor. She was the Interact president when she was in school at Lewiston.

Students helped make sandwiches at the Open Door Mission.

Jessica Mandigo, the Holley Interact President, posted this statement on the Holley Rotary Club Facebook page:

“Today I had the opportunity to go to Open Door Mission with our school’s Interact Club, and it was truly such an eye-opening experience. I am so very grateful to have been given the chance to volunteer at such an amazing place and make over 50 lunches that they necessarily wouldn’t have without the help of volunteers. Doing what I did today makes me appreciate the things that I have like food, heat, hygiene products, a place to sleep, etc, so much more now.

“We take everything for granted because that is just human nature. Take a minute and really appreciate the things that you do have because they are things that, unfortunately, not everyone has. Go out and volunteer at a place like Open Door Mission. It costs nothing, and means more than the world to people who don’t have the things that we take for granted.”

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