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Big sale today in Holley to benefit 4 families affected by fire

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 January 2020 at 9:42 am

Provided photos

HOLLEY – The former St. Mary’s school in Holley on South Main Street is hosting a sale today with proceeds going to the four families affected by a Jan. 5 fire in Holley.

That blaze destroyed a 4,000-square-foot house at the corner of routes 237 and 31. The house had four apartments that were home to 11 residents, including five adults, three elementary school children, a high school senior and a baby.

Heidi Causyn, pictured, IS the lead organizer of today’s benefit from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. People are encouraged to bring their own bag. They can fill a grocery size bag and pay $5 for the items. Larger bags – up to 13-gallon garbage bag – that are filled are $10.

The sale also includes blankets, pillows, and baked goods.

“Bigger items that won’t fit in a bag we will make deals on them,” Causyn said.

The community responded in a big way with donations for the sale today, Causyn said.

Causyn also set up a GoFundMe (click here) with the funds to be shared among the four families.

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David Knapp recognized for 18 years as county fire investigator

Photos by Tom Rivers: David Knapp, center, is presented with gifts from the three fire investigators in appreciation for Knapp’s 18 years as county fire investigator. From left include Cole Hardenbrook, Justin Neiderhofer and Steve Cooley. Knapp retired on Dec. 31 with Hardenbrook succeeding him in the position.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 January 2020 at 12:14 pm

KENDALL – David Knapp for the past 18 years has served as a fire investigator in Orleans County, with most of his tenure as the county’s senior investigator.

He retired from the part-time position on Dec. 31. The former Holley fire chief was recognized on Monday during a combined meeting of the Orleans County Fire Chiefs Association and the Orleans County Fire Advisory Board.

“It’s been an honor to work with all of these volunteers and to serve the people of the county,” Knapp said.

He said he enjoyed great relationships with the other fire investigators. For most of his tenure he worked with Walter Batt and David Clary as fire investigators. More recently, Steve Cooley and Justin Niederhofer joined the county as fire investigators. Cole Hardenbrook of Kendall replaced Knapp on Jan. 1.

“We melded really well together,” Knapp said. “It’s good to have more than one set of eyes.”

Dale Banker, the Orleans County emergency management coordinator, presents a certificate of appreciation to David Knapp from the Orleans County Legislature for Knapp’s 18 years as a fire investigator. The award was presented during a combined meeting on Monday at Kendall of the Orleans County Fire Chiefs Association and the Orleans County Fire Advisory Board.

Knapp has worked the past 25 years in the construction business. He currently drives a ready-mix concrete truck and would like to retire in about a year.

He joined the Holley Fire Department in 1977. He was just out of college when he was at a restaurant and saw a group of his friends leave to respond to a call. That piqued his interest and he then joined the fire department.

Knapp quickly rose through the ranks. Besides serving as fire chief in Holley, he was a key leader in having the new fire training tower built in Albion on West Countyhouse Road.

Knapp welcomed the chance to serve as a fire investigator.

“It’s very interesting,” he said. “It’s like a mystery. You have to go through a methodical process to determine the cause and origin of a fire.”

Knapp shared some advice for preventing fires. First off, he said to clean chimneys and maintain wood-burning appliances, such as stoves and furnaces.

And don’t overload power strips. “If you overdraw them, that’s where fires start,” he said.

Knapp urged people to keep their houses and garages tidy, and to make sure they have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

He also urged the community to appreciate their firefighters.

“The people you have right now are one of the county’s greatest resources,” he said.

David Knapp is presented with a special award from the emergency management staff for the county. From left include Dale Banker, Emergency Management coordinator; Fran Gaylord, deputy coordinator; Knapp; Jerry Bentley, deputy coordinator; and David Hydock, deputy fire coordinator.

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Excavators put to work in clearing out old canal loop in Holley

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 January 2020 at 10:25 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – Wayne Krull, a lead motor equipment operator for the Orleans County Department of Public Works, runs an excavator today that took down trees and cleared out thick brush in an original section of the Erie Canal.

This photo was taken in the bottom of the muddy ditch that was the original Erie Canal, which was completed in 1825 and stretched 363 miles across upstate.

The Holley DPW put this sign on a tree several years ago. There isn’t much fanfare noted this 2,000-foot long section is the only remaining piece of the original Erie Canal west of Rochester. It is just west of Bennetts Corners Road and east of the lift bridge.

Village and county officials have talked for several years about clearing out the original section of the Canal, thinking it would add to Holley’s park system and also be a tourist attraction.

The canal was widened and deepened from 1905 to 1918 as part of the expansion into the Barge Canal system.

A mild winter so far this year has freed up some county DPW and village DPW workers to work on clearing the canal section. They started clearing the canal bed on Tuesday. Here, Krull uses the excavator to carry a knocked-downtree down the path to a pile of brush and trees.

Krull uses a chainsaw to get one of the trees ready for a takedown with the excavator.

Ryan Hill, an Orleans County DPW motor equipment operator, uses a mini excavator to removes some of the brush and small trees.

Ken Vendetti, an MEO with the Village of Holley DPW, uses the Bobcat to move some of the trees and brush into a big pile.

The original canal loop curved and veered towards the Public Square. The canal was later straightened near Holley. One section of that original loop remained and was never filled in.  Holley officials think it could be a bigger community asset once it’s cleared.

(Click here to see a video of excavator in action today at the canal loop.)

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Holley plans to move village offices to former school on March 16

Photos by Tom Rivers: Contractors work on installing windows at Holley Gardens, the former Holley High School. Home Leasing is turning the building into 41 apartments for senior citizens, and also the village offices.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 January 2020 at 8:46 am

Apartments expected to ready in February at ‘Holley Gardens’

New windows go into the former Holley High School.

HOLLEY – The village offices will move over to the former Holley High School on March 16, Mayor Brian Sorochty said Tuesday during the Village Board meeting.

That is about a month later than planned. The school is undergoing a $17 million renovation. Home Leasing in Rochester is doing a major overhaul of the building that was largely dormant for more than three decades.

“In a project this size there are bound to be some delays,” Sorochty said on Tuesday.

Pushing back the move-in date by a month really doesn’t affect the village offices, the mayor said. The village will continue operating out of 72 Public Square.

Home Leasing started construction in November 2018 on the $17 million transformation of the former Holley High School, turning it into 41 apartments and the village offices for Holley. The apartments will include one studio, 35 one-bedrooms, and five two-bedroom apartments. Those apartments for senior citizens are expected to be ready next month.

The village offices will be in the former auditorium space. Sorochty said the project will be a major uplift for the community, offering affordable housing and a stunning makeover of one of Holley’s most prominent buildings at the corner of routes 31 and 237.

For more information about the apartments, click here.

The Holley Village Board met Tuesday evening on the second floor meeting room of the Village Office, 72 Public Square. Holley will have its village offices at the site for about two more months. Pictured from left include village trustees Rochelle Moroz, Connie Nenni, Mayor Brian Sorochty, Deputy Mayor Kevin Lynch and Trustee Jim DeFilipps.

Police station could move to current Village Office

Holley Police Chief Roland Nenni suggested the Police Department move from 8 Thomas St. to the current Village Office after the village offices move to the former high school.

The Thomas Street site needs a new roof and windows, as well as brick repairs. Nenni said the Village Office could be repurposed at far less cost than it would take to update Thomas Street.

The police chief and Dave Nenni, the DPW superintendent, are going to present the Village Board with cost estimates for the project.

The Public Square site has a back door to a parking lot where Holley police cars could be kept. The front door might need some alterations to be fully handicapped accessible.

The village put a new roof on 72 Public Square about five years ago, and also recently put in a new furnace.

The building would work well for offices for police officers, with space for record keeping and storing evidence, Roland Nenni said.

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Trees, heavy brush being cleared from old canal loop in Holley

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 January 2020 at 10:14 pm

Holley has only original section remaining west of Rochester

File photos from October 2015 by Tom Rivers: A small sign on a tree in a ditch in Holley notes that this was part of the original Erie Canal loop that meandered to the Public Square area of Holley.

HOLLEY – For several years it’s been talked about as a hidden gem in Holley, a potential tourism draw that can also enhance Holley’s trail system.

Today, the Orleans County Highway Department brought an excavator to Holley and started to clear out the only remaining original canal loop west of Rochester. The remaining original section of the canal is about 1,000 feet long. Trees have sprouted in the canal bed, as well as other heavy vegetation, including invasive plants.

Mayor Brian Sorochty credited former County Legislator George Bower of Holley for pressing the issue. Bower the past two years has urged Sorochty and the village to clear out the trees, brush and weeds from the canal bed, and make it a bigger asset for the community.

The Holley mayor thanked the county crew for working on the project as part of a shared service with the village.

Sorochty said the first goal is to get the canal bed cleaned out and the banks reformed. Longer-term he could see a pedestrian bridge with a display about the original canal loop. Perhaps the section could be rewatered with the canal supplying the water, Sorochty said.

This map displayed in the office of Dr. Dan Schiavone, shows the Holley Loop. It linked back to the canal just west of Bennetts Corners Road.

The original loop was created when the state veered the canal from a relatively straight line in 1823 due to the high banks and engineering challenge in dealing with Sandy Creek.

There was an unusually deep ravine formed by the east branch of Sandy Creek, which presented a difficult engineering problem for builders of the original Erie Canal in the early 1820s, according to display on the north side of the canal by the Holley lift bridge. The State Canal Corp. put up that display about “The Holley Loop.”

Rather than try to build the canal on the ravine, engineers opted to take a sharp turn near the current lift bridge and cross over a relatively narrow section of the creek.

“The sharp curve required boaters to slow down, which made a promising location for canal-oriented businesses,” according to the state display. “The Village of Holley grew at this bend in the canal.”

The canal was widened throughout the 363-mile-long system from 1905 to 1918 and much of the original canal was replaced by the wider and deeper canal.

But in Holley, some of the original remained because it wasn’t touched as part of the Barge Canal widening in the early 1900s.

The state in 1854-61, decided the original loop needed to be straightened out in Holley to create a shorter, more navigable waterway. A new section of the canal was built over a very high and long embankment.

“Because state law did not allow canal sections to be abandoned in villages or cities, the old loop was still used for several decades to serve local businesses,” according to the state display about the Holley Loop. “Canal traffic no longer stopped in the village, however, and eventually the loop was drained and eliminated. Traces of the original canal can still be seen east of the Public Square.”

The original canal bed has trees and lots of thick vegetation that will be cleared out.

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Weak water pressure hurt efforts to fight fire in Holley

Photos by Tom Rivers: A 4,000-square-foot house burns on Sunday night in Holley at 46 West Albion St. Clarendon had its ladder truck in front of the building, but couldn’t get steady water on the house due to a watermain break on Route 31.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 January 2020 at 11:24 am

HOLLEY – Firefighters at the scene of a massive fire on Sunday night were hampered due to low water pressure.

A watermain owned by the Monroe County Water Authority on Route 31A broke earlier in the day. Holley Fire Chief Harris Reed didn’t know about the watermain break.

When firefighters started arriving to the scene of the fire at about 11 p.m., they hooked into hydrants near a 4,000-square-foot house with four apartments.

But the water pressure was weak, far short of what was needed to stop a fire tearing through the house.

“Unfortunately it happened at a time when we needed it the most,” Reed said about the watermain break.

The Kendall Fire Department brought its new pumper-tanker to the scene. The truck at right could carry water and has a nozzle in front to spray the water. The truck had to leave the scene and come back several times to get refilled with water.

If Reed had known about the watermain break, he would have right away put out a mutual aid call for tankers, the fire trucks that typically carry 1,500 to 3,000 gallons of water. He didn’t think the tankers would be needed in the village with fire hydrants. Tankers are typically used in rural areas without hydrants.

When the water flow trickled from the hydrants, Reed put out the call for tankers. But firefighters lost precious time in getting water on the house at the corners of routes 237 and 31.

He praised the Village of Holley Department of Public Works and Town of Murray Highway Department who tried to up the pressure in other water lines near the site.

Firefighters stand back while the house burns. They weren’t able to get much water out of the nearby hydrants. The water from up high from Clarendon’s ladder truck didn’t have much water pressure or volume, said Harris Reed, the Holley fire chief.

Reed said village and fire department officials are discussing the experience and learning from it. They will develop a procedure for notifying the fire department whenever there is a waterline break that could affect the water pressure and volume.

“We will have better procedures because there was a lot of miscommunicating,” he said. “All the way around it was a learning curve for everybody. This has never happened in the village before (with a watermain break during a fire).”

Even if there hadn’t been a watermain break, Reed said the house would have been badly damaged. Perhaps the front one or two apartments could have been saved, he said.

“That’s definitely the largest fire I’ve ever seen in this village,” said Reed, who has been a firefighter with Holley for more than 20 years.

Dale Niehous of the Carlton Volunteer Fire Company speaks with Harris Reed, the Holley fire chief, at the scene. Reed asked nearby fire departments to bring tanker fire trucks to the scene that carry water.

He said firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to two neighboring residences and a garage. All 11 residents in the house safely got out and none of the firefighters were injured, Reed said.

There were 13 fire departments and about 50 firefighters who responded to the scene, with additional help filling in at other fire halls. The Wyoming Correctional Facility also brought a crew of inmates to help roll hoses and clean up fire equipment once the fire was under control. The inmates arrived about 3 a.m. and stayed about three hours.

Firefighters set up dump tanks to fill with water on Route 31. Normally a dump tank is used in a rural area without a public waterline or hydrant.

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Holley fire ruled accidental, cause not determined

Photo by Tom Rivers: Dave Smith of the Holley Fire Department, a past chief of Fancher-Hulberton-Murray, stands on a fire truck on Sunday night while a large house burns at 46 West Albion St.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 January 2020 at 10:53 am

HOLLEY – Fire investigators have been sifting through the rubble from a massive fire Sunday night at a 4,000-square-foot house at 46 West Albion St.

The fire has been ruled accidental but investigators haven’t been able to determine the cause, said Justin Niederhofer, one of the county fire investigators.

Investigators say they believe the fire started in the kitchen at one of the four apartments. The fire caused extensive damage to the building.

“When the damage is that severe the cause of a fire is often undetermined because there is so much damage and you can’t rule things out,” Niederhofer said this morning.

The Orleans County Highway Department had an operator on site with an excavator on Monday, slowly lifting and moving debris to help investigators try to pinpoint a cause in the fire.

Niederhofer said the investigators have more interviews to do, and they will be looking at photos from early in the fire at the back side of the house to see if those images offer clues to what caused the big blaze.

Niederhofer and Cole Hardenbrook, two county fire investigators, were at the site on Monday with three fire investigators from the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control.

The fire displaced 11 residents, including three elementary school children, a high school senior and a baby.

The house was built in 1880 and is owned by Stanley Passarell. Tax records show it is assessed for $105,800 and lists the address as 1 South Main St., which is the corner of routes 237 and 31.

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Fundraisers set up for families who lost home in Holley fire

Photos by Tom Rivers: A building burned to the ground on Sunday night in Holley at 46 West Albion St. The structure had four apartments where 11 residents were living. The Red Cross is providing temporary assistance for the residents.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 January 2020 at 6:10 pm

HOLLEY – The Holley community is rallying to assist the residents of a 4,000-square-foot building that was destroyed in a fire Sunday night.

The fire displaced 11 residents, including three elementary school children, a high school senior and a baby.

None of the residents were injured, but they lost their possessions in the blaze. Three cats and a dog also died in the fire, that broke out about 11 p.m. and quickly tore through the house owned by Stanley Passarell.

The Eastern Orleans Community Center and St. Mary’s Catholic Church are both accepting donations for the residents affected by the fire.

Four GoFundMe fundraising accounts also have been set up.

Allona Macey was one of the residents in the building. She lived there with her boyfriend and their 4-month-old daughter. Macey has created a GoFundMe (click here).

“Tonight we lost everything,” she wrote on GoFundMe. “Furniture… clothes. Many things that can never be replaced. A fire started in my neighbor’s apartment and spread to the whole building. Unfortunately we don’t have renter’s insurance. We left with the clothes on our back. I literally don’t even have shoes. A neighbor was kind and gave me some but they are too small. We are trying to raise money to replace our things and get a new home. Prayers are needed I’m just so overwhelmed I even left without my glasses. Any donations are very much appreciated.”

Linda Geer is organizing a GoFundMe for her high school classmate, Tina Cairns and Tina’s daughter Tori. (Click here for more information).

“Tina Cairns and her daughter Tori who lost everything – their home, vehicle, all belongings, and three beloved cats – to a horrible fire on Sunday. No one should ever have to go through this. Whether you know this family or not, imagine losing everything. Thankfully, they were able to get out without injury but let’s help this family get back on their feet. Any amount helps. I believe in love and giving when people need it most. And while in this world, it is hard to control the atrocities that go on, this is a chance to help a fellow sister in need.”

Desiray Appoloney is organizing a GoFundMe for her friend who was one of the residents in the Holley building, living there with her fiancé and their three children. (Click here for more information.)

“Last night my best friend her fiancé and their 3 children lost everything in a house fire,” Appoloney writes. “With it being so close Christmas and the New Year’s, you can imagine how devastating this would be. They are going to need help with not only finding a new home but refurnishing as well. She also lost her vehicle in the fire so that is one more giant loss. Any form of donation is so very appreciated!”

Heidi Causyn created this GoFundMe (click here) with the funds to be shared among the four families that are now trying to find another place to live.

“Looking to raise money, donations of clothing, house hold items and anything else to help 4 families who lost everything in a major house fire tonight in the village of Holley!!!!!” Causyn writes. “We will get sizes and genders of all members involved shortly. We know children were involved from the ages of 4 months and up. One family lost their dog!! As a community let’s help these families out. All money and donations will be split between each family. If you would like your donation to go to a certain family please say so in the comments of your donation!!!!”

Firefighters had a long night Sunday battling the fire.

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House reduced to rubble in Holley after Sunday night blaze

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 January 2020 at 10:49 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – Fire investigators are at the scene of a house that was reduced to rubble last night at 46 West Albion St.

The house at the corner of routes 237 and 31 had four apartments and 11 residents, including children. They all were able to safely get out of the house after a fire broke out in the back of the building before 11 p.m. The Red Cross is assisting the residents.

The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined yet. Three fire investigators from the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control are on scene, along with two county fire investigators, Justin Niederhofer and Cole Hardenbrook. Leaders of the Holley and Clarendon fire departments also are at the site along with the Orleans County Emergency Management Office.

The house was built in a balloon style without fire stops, which allowed the fire to quickly spread through the structure, said Dale Banker, the county’s emergency management director.

The house was a landmark building with a cupola at a prominent corner in Holley.

Tenants owned these vehicles which were ruined from the fire. A neighboring house was damaged with melted siding.

The Orleans County Highway Department brought an excavator to the site last night to push in some of the walls. The other walls will be knocked in after fire investigators complete their work.

Fire investigators look through the debris to try to determine the cause.

Holley Central School was opened as a shelter for residents of the building last night. The school also made a bus available to transport residents to the school.

While the residents are all OK, three cats and a dog perished in the fire.

A GoFundMe has been established to assist the families affected by the fire. Click here for more information.

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Fire destroys apartment house in Holley, displacing a dozen residents

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 January 2020 at 2:22 am

Building with cupola was a landmark at corner of Rts. 31 & 237

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – A landmark building at the corner of routes 237 and 31 was destroyed in a fire that broke out just before 11 p.m. on Sunday.

The fire displaced about a dozen residents in four apartments, where the address is 46 West Albion St. Several of the residents are children, including a baby.

All the people and two dogs made it out safely, but one resident said he feared three cats and a dog were killed in the fire.

There were numerous fire departments at the scene, with many bringing tankers with water. A village water transmission line broke before the fire, which forced the Holley Fire Department to request as many tankers as possible. Those trucks were able to be refilled at a hydrant at Holley’s Business Park.

One of the tenants of the apartment building said the fire started in the back of the building and quickly spread. One of his neighbors pounded on the door, telling him to get out.

The resident said the building is owned by Stanley Passarell, who treated the residents well, giving them a nice place to live at an affordable price.

Earl Jenks of the Clarendon Fire Company operates the hose up high on Clarendon’s ladder truck.

Two vehicles owned by the residents were also badly damaged by the fire.

The Red Cross is expected to help the displaced residents find short-term shelter.

Orleans Hub has five videos from the fire.

Click here to see the first video.

Click here to see the second video.

Click here to see the third video.

Click here to see the fourth video.

Click here to see the fifth video.

The cupola is engulfed in flames and would collapse within the building.

The building was breaking apart and collapsing not long after midnight.

These firefighters get water on the back of the building, where a tenant said the fire started.

Several fire departments brought tankers full of water near the scene and folding water tanks were set up so firefighters had water to direct at the building. This photo is on Route 31, just west of the fire. A watermain break in the village cut the water flow to hydrants.

Firefighters had several hoses on the fire before the watermain break reduced the water pressure.

A tire swing hangs by the side of the house next to Route 31.

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