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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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$17 million rehab of old Holley school gets lots of praise from officials

Photos by Tom Rivers: Many Holley residents, local officials, developers and state agency leaders gathered on the front steps of the former Holley High School for a photo this afternoon during a “Preservation Celebration” for the school, which will be turned into 41 apartments for senior citizens and the Village of Holley offices.

Posted 11 December 2018 at 6:14 pm

Press Release, New York State Homes and Community Renewal

HOLLEY – New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas today announced the start of construction on a $17 million rehabilitation of the historic former Holley High School in the Village of Holley. When complete, Holley Gardens will include 41 affordable homes for seniors and public meeting space and offices for use by the Village of Holley.

The historic Holley High School, located at the intersection of Wright and Main Streets, is a three-story brick building originally constructed in 1931 in the Neo-Classical architectural style. The building served as the community’s high school into the mid-1970s but has been abandoned for many years. Due to its design, prominent location in the Village’s historic district and its severely deteriorating condition the building was named one of the Landmark Society of Western New York’s inaugural 2012 “Five to Revive” priorities.

The newly rehabilitated building will include 41 residential apartments for low- and moderate-income seniors 55 and up. Seven of the apartments 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 of Aging.

The school is in the heart of the community, at the intersection of routes 31 and 237.

The existing auditorium will be renovated for commercial use by the Village of Holley, preserving the existing stage and seating to provide a staging area for board meetings and public forum and the area beneath the balcony will be fitted to house the administrative offices.

Building amenities include a community room, on site management, Energy Star appliances, air conditioning, laundry facilities and computer lab, along with outdoor space. Located in the heart of the Village’s downtown, Holley Gardens is within walking distance to the library, restaurants, churches, bank, hair salon and pharmacy. The developer is Home Leasing in partnership with Edgemere Development.

New York State Homes and Community Renewal’s financing for Holley Gardens includes federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits that will generate a total of $6.8 million in equity for the project, a $1 million Rural and Urban Community Investment Fund award, and an additional $3.1 million in subsidy. Additional financing includes nearly $6.4 million in Federal and State Historic Tax Credits and a Restore NY grant from Empire State Development.

Hom Leasing has started construction on the former school. Construction is expected to be complete in about a year.

The State’s commitment to providing all New Yorkers with access to safe, affordable housing is reflected in the state’s unprecedented $20 billion, five-year Housing Plan. The plan makes housing accessible and combats homelessness by building and preserving more than 100,000 units of affordable housing and 6,000 of supportive housing. The plan is a comprehensive approach to statewide housing issues and includes multifamily and single-family housing, community development, and rent stabilization. Since 2011, HCR has invested $442 million in the Finger Lakes region that has created affordable housing for about 14,650 residents.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said, “The redevelopment and restoration of the beloved high school building has long been a priority for the Holley community, and we have worked together tirelessly to give new life to this building.  At last, this vacant yet historic structure will receive the restoration it has long deserved – as the home to new senior housing and village office space.  It will breathe new life into the Holley community.”

Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey said, “The Holley Gardens project is another great example of how Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits are bringing new life to underutilized buildings in Upstate New York. Investing in historic structures helps lift local economies, encourage sustainable neighborhoods and preserves the heritage of our communities.”

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Transformative projects like Holley Gardens are at the heart of the Restore NY Communities Initiative, supporting redevelopment efforts that revitalize communities and generate new economic growth.”

Senator Robert Ortt said, “Renovating historic buildings into new and functional facilities can inject new life into a community. By revitalizing what was once a deteriorating building, we are preserving a piece of Holley history while also ensuring the character of this local landmark is not forgotten. I am also thrilled that this facility will help provide those with physical disabilities a place to live safely and have access to necessary supportive services.”

Assemblyman Stephen Hawley said, “I am excited to see the construction of Holley Gardens underway and am confident that its affordable housing, office space, revitalized auditorium and other great amenities will be of great benefit to government employees and local residents. Investment in and transformation of previously unused infrastructure proves that Western New York is on the rise and I look forward to continuing to work with officials in the legislature and executive to bring attention and resources to similar local projects with great potential.

Lynne M. Johnson, Chairman of the Orleans County Legislature, said, “It’s a pleasure after all these years to see this very important building in the Village of Holley undergoing a badly needed transformation.  By leveraging public and private partnership across all levels of government, this building will finally see the investment needed to put it back into productive use.”

Nelson Leenhouts, Chairman & CEO of Home Leasing, said strong community support from Holley, and work from local, county, state and federal officials were critical in the project.

John DeFilipps, Orleans County Legislator – At Large East, said, “It’s projects like this that revitalize our communities, create more access and grow our local economy. Holley Gardens shows what we can achieve when we work together. I want to express my gratitude to the many partners who have worked together to make this project a reality.”

Village of Holley Mayor Brian Sorochty said, “On behalf of the Village of Holley we are so thankful for all of the hard work, dedication, and cooperation that has gone into making this project a reality. For over 3 years the Village has worked with Home Leasing and Edgemere Development as well as all levels of our government and a variety of funding agencies to bring this endeavor to this point. Most importantly, the adaptive re-use of this historic structure will preserve its rich history while providing affordable, accessible housing for seniors as well as an updated and handicap accessible office space and meeting room for the Village of Holley. Thank you to everyone for their support and efforts!”

Nelson Leenhouts, Chairman & CEO of Home Leasing, said, “We are excited to get started on the rehabilitation of Holley Gardens which will provide 41 affordable homes to seniors in the Village of Holley. We are grateful to New York State Homes and Community Renewal, the Village of Holley, and all the partners we have in this project for their commitment and dedication to making this project a reality.”

Charlie Oster, VP of Real Estate Development, Edgemere Development, said, “Edgemere Development has worked for many years to bring about this critical project. We wish to thank our partner Home Leasing, the Village of Holley and countless supporters at the local, state and federal levels for their unwavering commitment. Holley Gardens represents the very best of what is possible through public and private partnership.”

About Home Leasing

Rochester-based Home Leasing specializes in the development, construction and management of high-quality apartment communities. Founded in 2006 by veteran real estate developer and former co-CEO and co-Chairman of Home Properties Nelson Leenhouts, the company is owned and operated by three generations of the Leenhouts Family.  Home Leasing today employs over 120 people who provide support to or are directly involved in the day-to-day operations of affordable, mixed-income and market rate residential communities across New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

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GCC recognizes outstanding fall students, instructors in Albion, Medina
Posted 11 December 2018 at 4:25 pm

Press Release, GCC

Genesee Community College’s Albion and Medina Campus Centers have announced the Fall 2018 Instructors and Students of the Semester.

Each semester, one instructor and one student from each campus center are recognized for their outstanding instructional and/or academic performances. For several weeks, the campus centers collect nominations from fellow teachers, colleagues and students and a small committee led by James Simon, associate dean at Medina and Albion Campus Centers, determines the winners.

Albion Campus Center

Mike Raisch

Mike Raisch has been selected as the GCC Albion Campus Center Fall 2018 Instructor of the Semester. New to GCC faculty this semester, Raisch was nominated by several students who credit him with bringing out their “creative side” by introducing an inspiring learning environment and a willingness to “help students be successful.”

One student noted, “I think Professor Raisch deserves to be Instructor of the Semester because he pushes his students to do their best, and he’s just a cool guy all around.”

Raisch graduated from North Tonawanda High School, continued his education at SUNY Fredonia, where he earned a BA in Halloween Entertainment Business, and then a Master of Science degree in Creative Studies from Buffalo State College. He currently teaches Creative Problem Solving at GCC.

In his insights on the Albion Campus Center he shared: “As an expert in creativity, I’d say GCC Albion Campus nails the creative physical and psychosocial environments with clean and tidy spaces, top-notch technology, and compassionate/intelligent faculty and staff.”

Michelle Stupnick

It’s easy to see the creativity connection in Mike’s hobbies, which include art, music, board games, theme parks, photography and business creation. His most rewarding endeavor is teaching, however. “Being nominated for this award is a humbling milestone. I just love teaching and I’m passionate about creativity. I’m honored to be recognized for my first semester doing what I love!” said Raisch, who resides in North Tonawanda.

Michelle Stupnick of Middleport has been selected as the GCC Albion Campus Center Fall 2018 Student of the Semester. Michelle is pursuing a degree in Business Administration with expected graduation in Fall 2020. She has a long-term goal of starting her own business. Michele says that the thing she most enjoys about college is learning something new each and every day. She also enjoys meeting new people and feels “the possibilities are endless.” She credits paying attention in class and making time to study as key to her success, and she advises others to “show up, study and pay attention – it will make a difference.”

Major influences in her life are: “Mom, always guiding me to do the right thing” and the support of great teachers at GCC. Her nominating instructor says she can always count on Michelle to participate in class discussions, hand in assignments on time and act as an example to others in the class. “Michelle has returned [to GCC] and has found her place as a leader in class.” Outside of school, Michelle enjoys acquiring and selling antiques in her spare time.

Medina Campus Center

Tracy Ford

Tracy Ford was selected as the Fall 2018 Instructor of the Semester at the Medina Campus Center. He has taught Composition Natural & Social Sciences for the last 10 years in Medina and at the Batavia Campus and the Albion Campus Center. The student who nominated Ford stated, “There has not been one day where I regret taking his English class.” Another student said “His enthusiasm and passion while teaching really adds to the overall class. He makes you think and question everything!”

When asked about one piece of advice he would give to new instructors, Ford said “Smile when you want to scream and never take yourself too seriously.” When asked about his feelings regarding GCC Medina Campus Center, he said, “I feel amazingly lucky to be allowed to teach at the Medina Campus. Best place! Best people!”

Ford earned his BA in English, MA in Literature, and Master’s degree in the Teaching of Writing from Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA. He enjoys photography, genealogy, reading, kayaking, fishing and bird watching. Recently, Ford tapped into his “inner actor” and he began working in tandem with GCC History Professor Derek Maxfield to showcase an historic Civil War era meeting in a unique program entitled, “Now we stand by each other always; A conversation between Gens. Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman.” Ford plays the convincing role of General Sherman. In the past, he monitored and banded spotted owls in old-growth forests of Oregon. He is married and has two children, as well as a spoiled kitty named Poly, all residing in Albion.

Erin McDonnell

Erin McDonnell has been selected as the Student of the Semester at the Medina Campus Center for the fall 2018 semester. Erin is a full-time student majoring in Liberal Arts and Science: General Studies and pursuing an Associate in Science degree. She anticipates graduating in May 2020. After she completes her degree, she plans to transfer to SUNY Brockport to major in Special Education and minor in Business.

Instructors who nominated Erin expressed that she is prepared, dedicated and enthusiastic. She also consistently volunteers for classroom activities and positively contributes to class discussions.

When asked why she decided to attend college, she stated that she wanted to better herself and provide a life for her daughter. Erin also shared that her father, her daughter and her GCC advisor, Mrs. Karen Krieger, have been major influences in her life. As a full-time mom and student, she finds she doesn’t have a lot of spare time! When asked what advice she had for new students, she said “Be yourself, never be afraid to ask questions or lend a hand.”

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State boosts funding for Sheriff’s marine patrol in canal
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 December 2018 at 11:51 am

Photo by Ginny Kropf: The schooner Lois McClure is accompanied by the Orleans County Sheriff’s marine patrol in August 2017. They are rounding the bend under the State Street bridge in Medina.

ALBION – The State Canal Corporation is increasing the funding it gives the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office for marine patrol services in the Erie Canal.

The county will be paid $12,500 for marine patrols on the canal in 2018-2019. That is up from $10,000 the previous year. The county first received $8,000 for patrols by boat in 2016.

The agreement also includes patrol services on canal trailways.

The County Legislature approved the agreement between the Canal Corp. and Sheriff Randy Bower. The agreement is retroactive and covers the time period from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019.

In addition to patrolling the canal, Bower said the funds allow the Sheriff’s Office to bring in deputies for special events along the canal, including the recent Parade of Lights in Medina, which was preceded by fireworks from the canal.

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Medina may add banners to recognize Hometown Heroes in military
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 December 2018 at 9:46 am

Photos courtesy of Mary Woodruff: The late Willis Burr Woodruff, a former Medina resident, is honored on one of the banners in Alfred and Almond in Allegany County.

MEDINA – The Medina community next year may have portraits of veterans lining streets as a celebration of Hometown Heroes who served in the military.

Mary Woodruff, a Ridgeway Town Board member, is pushing for the displays. Her father-in-law is honored on a banner in Almond and Alfred, an Allegany County community that unveiled banners of soldiers this spring.

The late Willis Burr Woodruff served in World War II. He later ran the local Agway plants in Knowlesville and Batavia. He grew up at Alfred Station.

His family paid $200 to have him be recognized on one of the banners in Alfred and Almond, one of about 100 veterans who are highlighted.

Mary Woodruff said the banners are a powerful display. She wants to have a similar program in Medina.

“There are so many unsung heroes,” she said. “It’s something I want to see to honor veterans.”

She discussed the project with the Medina Village Board on Monday. Woodruff said she is willing to coordinate the effort. She would like assistance from the Village Clerk’s Office and the town clerks in Shelby and Ridgeway for people to fill out forms and pay to have a banner, which would include the hardware to have the banners be attached to a utility pole. The Village Board could create a Hometown Heroes account for the funds, she said.

The Medina Department of Public Works and the highway workers from Shelby and Ridgeway also would likely be needed to help hang the banners just before Memorial Day and then have them removed after Veterans Day in November, Woodruff said.

The Medina banners wouldn’t be on Main Street in the downtown business district. Woodruff said she would like to start with Park Avenue, a popular parade route, and also Pearl Street by the former Armory, North and South Main Street (away from the downtown), Orient Street by the VFW, and West and East Center streets.

Medina Mayor Michael Sidari said the Medina DPW could use help from the Ridgeway and Shelby highway workers if the project moves forward. He wants to check with National Grid to see if the company would allow banners on its poles.

Woodruff said she will finalize more details for the program, including a cost for the banners and how the money will be handled. She said she would present the project next month to Medina, Shelby and Ridgeway officials and look for their official support.

She would like it to honor veterans, current and past. She said the first year could start small with perhaps 25 banners and then grow.

“I think it will be pretty popular,” she told the Medina Village Board.

Three sons of Willis Burr Woodruff are shown with his banner. The sons include, from left: Roger, David and Paul Woodruff.

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MAAC starts sorting gifts for annual Christmas giveaway

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Volunteers at the First Methodist Church of Medina sort hats, gloves, scarves and socks which will go to every family who receives Christmas boxes from MAAC.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 11 December 2018 at 7:43 am

Medina firefighters Aaron MacKenzie and Tim Miller deliver filled red barrels to the First Methodist Church on Monday.

MEDINA – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the First Methodist Church of Medina, where on Monday volunteers began sorting toys and gifts for MAAC’s annual Christmas giveaway.

This year, 75 families will receive toys, gifts and free Christmas dinner, thanks to the generosity of the Medina community.

Each year in early November, Medina firefighters distribute nearly two dozen red barrels to local businesses, churches and organizations, where they are filled with donations.

On Monday, those firefighters returned to collect the barrels and deliver them to the First Methodist Church, where up to 25 volunteers will work for the next three days to sort and pack holiday boxes.

Each family who applied and was approved will receive gifts, hats, mittens, scarves, socks and Christmas dinner, said Sherry Tuohey, who took over coordinating the project from Sue Metzo, after four years as a volunteer.

In addition to a ham, potatoes, vegetable, stuffing and dessert, other food items will also be included.

Eligible families who live in the Medina School District applied before Thanksgiving at Calvary Tabernacle and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.

MAAC also accepts monetary donations, which are used to buy meat.

Holiday boxes will be delivered to applicants’ homes by Medina firefighters between 9 a.m. and noon on Saturday.

Sherry Tuohey, left, and Sue Metzo, organizers of MAAC’s Red Barrel program wait for Medina firefighters to bring back the red barrels to the First Methodist Church in Medina, where donations will be sorted.

Chris Horgan, left, and Hal Goodwin assemble boxes at the First Methodist Church of Medina, which will be filled with food and gifts for needy families.

Pastor Chad Wirth of Faith Covenant Fellowship in Medina delivers a red barrel full of donations to the First Methodist Church in Medina on Monday, where volunteers began packing holiday boxes.

Sherry Tuohey, coordinator of MAAC’s Red Barrel Campaign, accepts a check from Don Marchner on behalf of Jr. Wilson’s Sportsmen’s Club. The money will be used to buy hams and other food for Christmas dinner for needy families.

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Man recovering from stabbing Sunday in Medina
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 December 2018 at 9:31 pm

MEDINA — A man is expected to recover after being stabbed in the abdomen at about 8:30 p.m. in Medina, Captain Matt Jackson of the Medina Fire Department told Village Board members this evening.

Medina firefighters were able to treat the man on scene. He was then taken to the Erie County Medical Center.

“The individual will be fine,” Police Chief Chad Kenward told the board.

Medina police are investigating the incident. No arrests have been made. Kenward said police are seeking more cooperation from the victim.

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Jackson Hewitt opens office in downtown Albion
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 December 2018 at 3:39 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce and the owners of a Jackson Hewitt franchise in Albion celebrated the grand opening of the tax preparer’s office on Main Street.

Jackson Hewitt is at 33 North Main St., the site most recently used by the former U-Need-O Burrito in Albion.

Pictured from left include Kelly Tardera, tax preparer; David Gagne, board member for Chamber of Commerce; Adam Johnson, Chamber vice president; Cyrus Chubineh, co-owner of Jackson Hewitt in Albion; Diane Goodier, tax preparer and office manager; Kathy Blackburn, Chamber president; Albion Mayor Eileen Banker; and Becky Charland, executive director of Chamber.

The Jackson Hewitt in Albion is owned by Cyrus Chubineh and his mother Farideh Chubineh. They also run Jackson Hewitt sites in Batavia, Lockport and Newark.

They owned the site in Albion when it was in Wal-Mart. There they only had room for one tax preparer. The site in downtown Albion has room for three tax preparers.

The Main Street site will be open full-time from Dec. 17 to Dec. 24, and from Jan. 4 to April 15. After that it will be only one day a week and by appointment. Call the Albion office at (585) 283-5082.

The inside of 33 North Main St. has been changed from a kitchen and dining room into an office for the tax preparation business. Pictured from left include: Diane Goodier, tax preparer and office manager; Cyrus Chubineh, co-owner of Jackson Hewitt in Albion; and Kelly Tardera, tax preparer.

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130 wreaths will be placed on veterans’ graves in Medina on Saturday
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 December 2018 at 2:54 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: Wreaths are shown on veterans’ graves at Boxwood Cemetery in Medina last January.

MEDINA – Boxwood Cemetery will be part of Wreaths Across America on Saturday for the sixth time, and this year will include 130 wreaths, double the previous high.

There will be a ceremony at noon on Saturday at the cemetery on Route 63, north of the village. Assemblyman Steve Hawley will join local veterans in the presentation.

Community members and volunteers are welcome to the ceremony and then to help place wreaths on veterans’ graves, said Kathy Blackburn, the organizer and president of the Boxwood Cemetery Commission.

She thanked the community members and several local organizations for buying the wreaths at $15 each. The American Legion, VFW, Junior Wilson Sportsmen’s Club and Sacred Heart Club all bought wreaths which will be displayed throughout the winter.

Blackburn has organized the event since 2013, and it debuted with seven with colorful red ribbons.

“We started with seven and it has just kept growing,” Blackburn said.

For more on National Wreaths Across America Day, click here.

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Clarendon buys old stone store for historian’s office, records storage
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 December 2018 at 1:28 pm

File photo: The Town of Clarendon is buying the former stone store building, at the corner of routes 237 and 31A.

CLARENDON – The Town of Clarendon is buying a historic building at the corner of routes 31A and 237 to use for the historian’s office and also for records storage, Town Supervisor Richard Moy said this morning.

The town has submitted an offer for $47,000 and that has been accepted by Joe and Sue Fertitta of Hilton.

The town is cramped at the current town hall and was considering an addition at $80,000 to $100,000, Moy said.

That addition would have been smaller than the 3,200-square-foot stone store building, Moy said.

He praised the Fertittas for their work the past five years in renovating the site, putting in new electric, plumbing, a furnace and many other upgrades.

“They did a fantastic job rehabbing it,” Moy said. “It made sense for us to keep it. We were short on space. We know it will be kept up.”

The building only a few years ago seemed headed for the wrecking ball when it was in disrepair and neighbors complained to the town about rodents at the site.

Other residents insisted the building was important and needed to be saved. The building goes back to the 1840s. The 3,200-square-foot building was used as a store up to 1975. It is a rare surviving example of a 19th century general store. The Landmark Society of Western New York and the town were successful about five years ago in getting the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Fertittas acquired the property and rented out the top floor as an apartment and the first floor for commercial space.

Moy said the first floor will be used by Town Historian Melissa Ierlan and the top floor will be used for records that need to be kept by the town.

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