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Fire destroys barn and camper in Holley

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 December 2017 at 5:06 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – Firefighters work in the freezing cold to put out a barn fire in the Village of Holley this afternoon. Firefighters were dispatched to 31 North Main St. at 3:31 p.m. for reports of a barn fire.

The barn and its contents were destroyed from the fire. The dark smoke could be seen more than 10 miles away.

The owners of the property, Steve and Alissa Cole, were away during the fire.

Orleans County fire investigators were on scene to determine a cause of the fire.

Rick Cary, a captain with the Holley Fire Department, helps lead the attack against the fire in Holley.

A pickup truck was also badly damaged from the blaze. The front tires melted from the heat of the fire.

Firefighters get water on the fire. It was 15 degrees outside.

Firefighters, including a recruit in front with the Fancher-Hulberton-Murray Fire Company, battled smoky conditions at the scene.

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John Morriss gets praise as he exits from elected office

Photos by Tom Rivers: John Morriss has a big smile as he opens a present – a plaque – on Thursday during a year-end Town Board meeting. Morriss didn’t seek re-election and Thursday was his final meeting as town supervisor.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 December 2017 at 10:50 am

MURRAY – John Morriss said if you live in a community you should look for ways to make it better.

For 40 years he has been a member of the Holley Fire Department. He also was a member of the Holley Village Board beginning in the mid-1990s and then joined the Murray Town Board. For about eight years, he has been the Murray town supervisor. His combined tenure on the Holley and Murray boards includes more than 20 years.

“We want to take this opportunity to thank you for all of years of service to the community,” Town Councilman Paul Hendel said on Thursday during Morriss’s final meeting as town supervisor.

Morriss didn’t seek re-election. Councilman Bob Miller won a contentious election over Joe Sidonio as the next town supervisor.

Morriss counts an addition to the Town Hall and a new water district (with another to be constructed next year) as significant accomplishments.

Town officials met on Thursday during a year-end meeting at the Town Hall. Pictured from left include Town Councilman Lloyd Christ, Councilman Bob Miller, Town Clerk Cindy Oliver, Town Supervisor John Morriss, Town Attorney Jeff Martin and Councilman Paul Hendel.

At a meeting when Morriss was praised by many of the board members and staff for his service, he went around the room thanking town employees for their dedication every day.

Morriss is a retired special education teacher from the Greece school district. He would leave his house in the village and take Hurd Road to Route 104 when he drove to school. He could count on the highway workers being up early and having the roads clear in the winter.

“The roads are always maintained,” Morriss told Ed Morgan, the town highway superintendent. “Everything looks good. You guys to a fantastic job.”

Morriss also credited Ron Vendetti, the code enforcement officer, for doing a “great job” in a tough position.

Vendetti said Morriss has “certainly given a lot to this community.”

John Morriss holds a picture of himself that will hang inside the town hall with other town supervisors.

Morriss praised other town employees at the meeting, including Town Clerk Cindy Oliver, Deputy Town Clerk Val Mauro and Town Attorney Jeff Martin.

Morriss was commended by Paul Hendel for a “calm demeanor.”

Morriss said he didn’t mind some tense meetings at Town Hall. He welcomed the input by several residents who have attended meetings and asked questions, trying to better understand town policies and spending decisions.

Morriss also thanked his wife of 42 years, Chris, for her patience and understanding. The couple has two grown sons.

Morriss would often stop by the Town Hall, thinking it wouldn’t take long but would find there were many tasks to be completed.

“Now when I tell my wife I’ll be home in a couple minutes, it will be a couple minutes,” he said.

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Holley’s winter sing-a-long includes Christmas songs, ugly sweater contest

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 23 December 2017 at 12:33 pm

Photos by Kristina Gabalski

HOLLEY – Holley Elementary students, faculty, family and community members gathered in the gym Friday afternoon for a Winter Sing Along.

The assembly featured holiday music from the elementary choruses and band.  Here, fourth graders play “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” on recorder.

Members of the chorus sing a Russian folk song – in English.

A selection of Students of the Month and their teachers help out with the always popular performance of “Must be Santa.”

Elementary Assistant Principal Tim Artessa served as guest conductor with the elementary band for a performance of “Frosty and Snowman.”

Band director Hannah Bock also lead the band with a performance of “Up on the Housetop” and “Joy to the World.”

Pre-K student Cheyanne Bowen proudly holds up her “Four Calling Birds” poster during the singing of the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”

Tim Artessa calls participating faculty to the gym floor for the Ugly Sweater Contest.  Surprisingly, Artessa did not win.

Teachers in the Ugly Sweater Contest line up for judging.

6th Grade teacher Crystal Elliott reacts to winning the Ugly Sweater Contest.

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Murray passes new property maintenance law despite objections at public hearing

Photo by Kristina Gabalski: Joe Sidonio, standing at left, questions Murray Code Enforcement Officer Ron Vendetti, standing at right, during a public hearing in Murray on Tuesday evening regarding a new property maintenance law for the town.  The meeting was well attended and most residents who spoke told Vendetti and Town Board members they are not in favor of the new law.

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 20 December 2017 at 8:02 am

MURRAY – Town Board members Tuesday evening unanimously adopted a new property maintenance law following a public hearing during which many residents expressed opposition to the measure.

An initial public hearing on the law was held more than a year ago, in November 2016, at which time strong opposition was expressed by residents concerning the law. The Town Board decided not to take action on the measure at that time, but last month Code Enforcement Officer Ron Vendetti asked the board to re-introduce the measure because of a change at the state level which now allows for a single, unlicensed car on an individual’s property.

The new Murray law reflects the New York State Property Management code and was adapted for the town by Vendetti from a similar municipal law in the Town of Greece. The Town of Murray law varies slightly from the state code in that it stipulates that garbage cans be brought in from the road, and violations, which in the state code are considered misdemeanors, are lowered to violations in the new town law.

Vendetti has said that the new law will help consolidate property maintenance into one general code format which can be easily accessed and followed.

The Village of Holley has had its own property maintenance law in effect for several years.

During the public hearing, Vendetti first took questions from residents, in order to clarify the law, and then residents were able to comment to board members.

Joe Sidonio questioned Vendetti about the necessity of the new law.  “This is what alarms me,” he said, “we have the New York State codes, why do we need a new law? It makes no sense to me.”

Sidonio requested that the board not pass the property maintenance law until its full impact on agriculture is known. He noted the Town of Murray is very different from the Town of Greece, and that most areas outside the village do not have a high-density population.  He said as the legislative body, the town board should have written the law.  “I’m opposed to it in its entirety as it is today,” Sidonio said.

Kerri Neale said that when a law is proposed, its future impact should be considered.

“A lot of people are not against the codes, but the potential mishandling of how it is enforced,” said Neale, a local resident.

Concerns that the local law would give the code enforcement officer too much power and broaden the scope of the code officer’s authority were expressed when the law was first proposed a year ago and again Tuesday evening.  Several residents accused the town of “picking and choosing who gets into trouble.”

“I don’t want to see individuals pinpointed,” Art Knabb said. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

He said the law should be enforced fairly across the board.

Two town officials noted that they, too, have been cited in the past by Vendetti for violations, arguing that there is no selective enforcement in the town.

Town Attorney Jeff Martin said he had received a letter from Vendetti 7 or 8 years ago, when his law office building in thePublic Square in Holley was out of compliance due to winter damage to the brick and mortar exterior. No one, “is above the law,” Martin said.

Town Supervisor John Morriss said he, too, had be notified he has been in violation of property codes.

“I’ve gotten into trouble with Ron with a deck,” Morriss said. He explained that spindles on the deck had been placed one-quarter inch too far apart. Morriss said he had the contractor fix the spacing.

Several residents told the board they feel the property maintenance laws infringe on their personal freedoms and interfere with the use of their own property. They asked Town Board members to consider the fact that Murray is not densely populated like the Town of Greece or even the Village of Holley.

Council member Paul Hendel moved the resolution to adopt the property maintenance law following the public hearing after stating that the Town Board, residents and code enforcement should work together for fair, equitable and reasonable enforcement of the new law.

“With some small exceptions, we are not adopting anything new,” Hendel said.

Council member Bob Miller, who will become town supervisor on Jan. 1, supported the new property maintenance code.

“I would rather be strict in law and reasonable in enforcement,” he said prior to the vote.

When the vote was taken around 8 p.m., many residents attending had already left the meeting.

Morriss praised for service as town supervisor

With the exception of the year-end meeting for Dec. 28, Tuesday’s Town Board meeting was the final one for outgoing Supervisor John Morriss, who decided not to run for re-election this year.

“It’s time to go,” Morriss said.

He thanked Town Board members, attorney Jeff Martin, Town Clerk Cindy Oliver, support staff, Highway Superintendent Ed Morgan and Code Enforcement Officer Ron Vendetti for their help during his years as supervisor.

“You’ve done an admirable job,” Vendetti told Morriss. “You are one of the best supervisors I have ever had.”

Joe Sidonio, who lost a very close race for supervisor to Bob Miller in November, thanked Morriss during the public comment at the end of the meeting for his years of service.

Morris said he began serving on the Town Board in 1999 and before that was a member of the Holley Village Board.

Morriss thanked Sidonio for engaging more town residents in town government.

“It used to be you could hear crickets during the meetings, but now the public is engaged,” Morriss told Sidonio.

Morris said he is looking forward to life with fewer responsibilities.

“I will be able to sleep through the night Jan. 1,” he said.

Holley district recognizes dentist and student for good deeds

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 19 December 2017 at 10:17 am

Photo by Kristina Gabalski: Dr. Daniel Schiavone accepts a Soaring to New Heights award from Brenda Swanger, president of the Holley Board of Education.

HOLLEY – A young student and a Holley Central graduate were honored with Soaring to New Heights Awards at the Holley School Board of Education meeting Monday evening.

Elementary Principal Karri Schiavone told board members she nominated fourth-grader Sheelsy Gonzalez, who eagerly stepped up to help last week with two new students at the school. The two new students are sisters, in grades 5 and 6, who have come to the Holley School District from Puerto Rico in the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Maria, Schiavone said.

The two girls do not speak or understand English and Sheelsy, who came to Holley from Mexico at the age of five, is helping the girls to adjust by translating for them and explaining how the school day works in Holley.

Schiavone said Sheelsy has shown the girls how to navigate the cafeteria and has, “attached herself to the girls,” helping them in any way she can.  Additionally, other students have taken the girls, “under their wing” and are making sure they feel welcomed, said Schiavone and Tim Artessa, assistant elementary school principal.

Sheelsy was not able to attend the board meeting to receive her award.

Board President Brenda Swanger presented the second Soaring to New Heights Award to Daniel Schiavone, a Holley Central High School graduate and dentist in the village, for his generosity to the Holley Days of Shopping and Food for Families programs.

Schiavone thanked Swanger for the award and noted that he is one of many people in the Holley community who give to those in need.

The 2017 Holley Days of Shopping took place Dec. 7 and 8 in the Elementary School primary gym. Parents and guardians were welcome to come and select a limited number of gifts, free of charge for their child. The program allows one parent or guardian to shop per child and all parents/guardians in the district are welcome to take part.

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Holley Rotary gives gift cards to school to help families in need

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 19 December 2017 at 9:55 am

Photo by Kristina Gabalski: Pictured from left includes Elementary School Principal Karri Schiavone, Board of Education member and Holley Rotarian John Heise, Holley Elementary Assistant Principal Tim Artessa and Jeff Martin, school district attorney and Holley Rotary Club member.

HOLLEY – John Heise, Holley School Board of Education member and member of the Holley Rotary, Monday night presented Holley Elementary Principal Karri Schiavone with $900 in $100 Wal-Mart gift cards to be distributed to students whose families are in need this holiday season.

The $900 in gift cards are part of a $1,600 donation the Holley Rotary is giving to families in the community this holiday through the school. Heise said one $100 gift card has already been presented to a local family, who could not afford to by groceries because of a needed car repair. Heise says he will be presenting Schiavone with the remainder of the gift cards in the near future.

School social workers spoke to the Holley Rotary in early November regarding the needs of families in the district, Heise said.

“The social workers do a tremendous job,” he added.

Schiavone thanked Rotary members for the donation.

“We have very giving students and families in the Holley community,” she said.

She and Heise noted the need seems to be greater this holiday for families who are struggling to make ends meet.

“This is a very generous community,” said Sue Cory, Middle School/High School principal. “The Wal-Mart cards are going to be a godsend. The spirit of Christmas is really alive and well here.”

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Holley library events were opportunities for service

Staff Reports Posted 17 December 2017 at 3:42 pm

Provided photos: More than 30 people attended a recent event at the Community Free Library to make Christmas cards to send to veterans at the Batavia VA.

HOLLEY – The Holley Community Free Library has offered numerous opportunities recently for residents to give back to their community.  Library Director Sandra Shaw says the past few months have been busy.

On Oct. 28, more than 35 people came to the library to paint rocks for soliders serving in Kuwait. Small rocks were colorfully painted to brighten the lives of service men and women serving in Kuwait. The library provided materials and sent finished rocks to the troops.

Santa and Mrs. Claus visited the library on Dec. 2.

The Food for Fines program collected two boxes of food for the Community Center in November, and nearly 200 people attended the annual Community Christmas Party on Dec. 2.  The event coincided with this year’s tree lighting and holiday parade celebration in the village. The library event featured carols, snacks, movies and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

On Dec. 9, Assemblyman Steve Hawley and more than 30 people came to the library to write Christmas cards for veterans. The library provided a selection of cards from which to choose and participants wrote messages of thanks as well as holiday wishes for local veterans. The cards were delivered to the VA Hospital in Batavia.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley joined Library Director Sandra Shaw and other patrons in writing Christmas cards.

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Holley picks engineering firm for water, sidewalk projects

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 13 December 2017 at 8:05 am

HOLLEY – Village Board members on Tuesday evening authorized Mayor Brian Sorochty to sign engineering agreements pertaining to the village’s upcoming sidewalk and water improvements projects.

The village will contract with Wendel Engineering of Williamsville for both projects. Wendel will act as an engineering consultant for the sidewalk reconstruction project.

For the water improvements project, Sorochty will sign an Owner Engineer Agreement with Wendel for the Water System Improvements Grant.

The village will pay Wendel $167,675 for its work on the water system improvement project. Chatfield Engineering also submitted a proposal to the village at a cost of $189,430.

Sorochty said the village was not required to request proposals for the engineering work on the water project, but, “we had two very qualified engineers and we felt it was in the best interest of village residents to put out a request for proposals,” he explained.

The sidewalk and water projects, “mirror each other exactly,” Sorochty noted, and having the same engineering firm for both will create, “both practical and operational savings.”  He said Wendel is, “supremely qualified to do the work.”

The village received a TAP grant of $1.78 million to construct curbs and sidewalks that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Additionally, the village received nearly $1.3 million from the state for upgrades to the water system through the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act, as well as the Intermunicipal Water Infrastructure Grants Program.

In other business Tuesday, trustees approved spending $25,950 for the purchase of a transformer by the municipal electric department.

The purchase is being made for the thermal treatment of contaminated soil and water at the former Diaz site in the village. Sorochty said the village will be reimbursed by the Diaz site bursar for the purchase.  Once the remediation work is done, the transformer will become the village’s asset, the mayor said.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency is overseeing the remediation project.

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Holley students help collect toys for 250 children

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 December 2017 at 9:46 am

Provided photos

HOLLEY – Holley Central School organized a free Day of Shopping for community members. Students were led by school social workers Kelly Bates and Stacey Braley and counselor Wanda Farrell. They organized the effort which included new and gently used donations.

The following businesses also donated money to us to help make the day successful:  Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes, Clarendon Lions Club, Holley Rotary Club, Crosby’s, Dr. Daniel Schiavone and The Whole Approach. Through this event more than 250 kids are helped.

Members of the Holley Rotary Interact Club unload the donations.

Families come to the school and each child in the household can receive the following: one toy, one stocking stuffer, one stuffed animal, one game, one movie and one book.

“The Holley community is so generous in always donating to this event,” said Samantha Zelent, a school social worker.

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Holley Rotary donates to help family that lost house in fire last week

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 5 December 2017 at 2:29 pm

Photo by Kristina Gabalski: Marge Dale, left, accepts a $2,000 check from the Holley Rotary Club. Rotarian Krista Wiley-Neale presented the money this morning.

HOLLEY – Marge Dale says she knows the goodness of the Holley community, but she never realized just how generous and caring her neighbors can be until now.

“We are so grateful for the outpouring of support,” Dale said Tuesday morning at the Holley Community Free Library where Holley Rotarian Krista Wiley-Neale presented her with a $2,000 gift check from the Holley Rotary.

Marge and her husband, Jim Dale, lost their home, all their possessions, and one of their dogs in a fire at their home on Fancher Road on Nov. 28.

“You never know what’s going to happen when you leave for work in the morning,” Marge Dale said.

The Dales are staying with family while the extent of their loss begins to sink in and they contemplate the overwhelming task of starting over. Additionally, Marge lost her dad just this past weekend.

Dale said the community has responded with clothes, household items, cash and more to help them get back on their feet.

Krista Wiley-Neale said the Holley Rotary voted Monday evening to make the donation to the Dales to help them recover. She said Rotary is always looking to help those in the community.  The donation to the Dales is in advance of the Rotary’s February fundraising spaghetti dinner.

Those interested in helping the Dales can go to the Holley Rotary Facebook page for additional information or contact Early Sunrise Realty in Holley. There is also a GoFundMe set up. Click here for more information.

Photo by Tom Rivers: The fire on Nov. 28 spewed smoke on Fancher Road.

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