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Holley celebrates holiday season with lighted parade

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 December 2019 at 9:14 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – The village celebrated the holiday and Christmas season with a lighted parade and other community events on Saturday.

The Village of Holley DPW carries an inflatable Frosty the Snowman in this float, heading through the Public Square.

This fire truck was decorated in lights, with a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on top.

Girl Scouts from Troop 82204 put  a lot of effort in this float.

The Shelby Volunteer Fire Company paid tribute to the first responders who died in the Sept. 11, 2011 terrorist attacks.

Santa enthusiastically greeted the crowd. He rode in Holley’s bucket truck.

People lined up along North Main Street, Route 31 and the Public Square to watch the floats, including one that brought in Santa.

There were many other activities in the downtown, including children’s programs in the Community Free Library, wine-tasting, food and games at the eastern Orleans Community Center, and holiday music.

There also was a tree-lighting to cap the events.

Paul Strom serves chili at the Eastern Orleans Community Center.

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Holley honors Dan Mawn as Citizen of the Year

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 December 2019 at 8:55 am

Photo by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – Dan Mawn, left, was recognized by Holley’s Deputy Mayor Kevin Lynch as the 2019 Citizen of the Year during Saturday’s “Night of Lights.”

Mawn, a life-long Holley resident, worked 36 years for the Holley water and electric departments, retiring in 2005.

“Even after retirement to say he is an active member of our community is an understatement,” Lynch said.

Mawn is active with the Holley Fire Department, the American Legion, the VFW, and the Murray-Holley Historical Society. In 2003, he received a lifetime membership for the Historical Society for his many years of dedication, including serving as president.

“This year’s recipient exemplifies the award for all of his time he selflessly donates to organizations,” Lynch said. “He is a fixture at just about every community event — spaghetti dinners, Flag Day celebrations, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and the list goes on.”

Holley also turned on the lights for its community Christmas tree in the Public Square. The tree has blue lights again this year in honor of the emergency services and law enforcement personnel.

Many community members purchased memory bulbs in honor of local loved ones. Deputy Mayor Lynch read those names for the crowd gathered at the tree lighting.

The tree was donated by Mike Bower of Erie Way Tree Farm in memory of his late brother, Edwin Bower.

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Holley will celebrate ‘Night of Lights,’ Citizen of the Year on Saturday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 December 2019 at 9:09 am

Photo courtesy of Mike Bower: Matt Campbell and Mike Church from the Village of Holley Department of Public Works came out to Erie Way Tree Farm on Tuesday to bring back a Christmas tree to be displayed in Holley’s Public Square this holiday season. The tree was donated by Erie Way owner Mike Bower in memory of his late brother, Edwin Bower.

HOLLEY – The Village of Holley will continue its “Night of Lights” celebration Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m.

“There will be many activities for children and adults in our village square including the Holley Community Library, Community Center, and at the Legion,” said Brian Sorochty, Holley’s mayor. “Holiday music will be played in the square by Northern Lights DJ and by our Holley Elementary and Highschool Chorus and Bands.”

The event includes a holiday parade at 6:30 p.m., which will be followed immediately by the “Citizen of the Year” award, memory bulb recitation, and tree-lighting ceremony.

There will also be eight wineries and multiple vendors set up in village business storefronts. Wine-tasting tickets will be available for purchase that day at the Village Office for $10.

“We are also continuing our tradition of lighting the tree in all blue lights in honor of our brave emergency services and law enforcement personnel,” Sorochty said. “We have had increasing turnout for this event over the last few years and we are looking forward to seeing everyone back again. Please join us for a fun evening celebrating the joys of the season.”

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Holley grad writes book about finding financial freedom through owning small business

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 November 2019 at 7:51 am

Provided photo: Ariana and Tom Sylvester have co-authored, Lifestyle Builders: Build Your Business, Quit Your Job, and Live Your Ideal Lifestyle.

HOLLEY – A Holley graduate and her husband have co-authored a book, Lifestyle Builders: Build Your Business, Quit Your Job, and Live Your Ideal Lifestyle.

The book, published by Morgan James, is a practical and entertaining guide to living a better life and building a business to support it.

Ariana and Tom Sylvester overcame the obstacles of building three businesses with one spouse still in a 9 to 5 job and working together as a married couple while raising two young kids. They say they have cracked the code and developed a framework on how to successfully do business and life together.

The family lives in Gates. Ariana and Tom Sylvester have run a real estate, a small wine and liquor store, and an online coaching and training for entrepreneurs.

“We are helping people to figure out their business,” Ariana Sylvester said. “There is a lot of noise, people telling you how to live your lives. It’s really your choice.”

The former Ariana Cuadrado graduated from Holley in 2006. She is in the school’s athletic hall of fame. She played three sports for Holley – soccer, basketball and track, and qualified for the state meet in the long jump.

She went to Oswego State College to play soccer. That’s where she met her future husband, a Perry native who also played soccer.

They graduated together from Oswego in 2006, with Tom earning bachelor’s in computer science and Ariana with bachelor’s in zoology. They married in 2008. They now have two young children.

They have run a real estate company, Sylvester Enterprises, the past 12 years. They have owned Warsaw Wine and Spirits for 7 years. Since 2015, they have been helping entrepreneurs. The past two years they have been Lifestyle Builders, helping people find careers they are passionate about, while maintaining a life balance.

The 285-page book has six sections: Plan With a Purpose, Find Your Freedom, Concept to Cash, Setup & Scale Your Systems, Quit Your Cubicle, and Stop Self Sabotage.

Lifestyle Builders incorporates the often-missed aspect of entrepreneur books: how to prepare your personal life for entrepreneurship. Tom and Ariana show adults seeking a career change how to create their ideal life through entrepreneurship.

“What is needed is having more open conservations with young people that there are a lot of path to what you’re passionate about,” Mrs. Sylvester, 34, said in an interview. “It doesn’t have to be a straight and narrow path.”

The Sylvesters provide a systematic approach to creating a successful business which includes visualizing personal goals, mapping out business financial details, and planning out daily expectations and realities of running a business.

Co-written to provide perspectives from both spouses on building a business while raising a family, Lifestyle Builders shares the Sylvesters’ personal experiences as a model for those seeking the entrepreneurial lifestyle.

Tom and Ariana teach fledgling entrepreneurs how to organize and run their business by providing steps that men and women seeking financial freedom can implement immediately. They explain how to unlock the secrets to making the ideal life a reality, even for those who are busy and seriously lacking time and money.

For more information on the Sylvesters and their book, click here.

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Holley has new village logo, ideas to revitalize sites

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 October 2019 at 5:00 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – The Village of Holley unveiled a new logo last week that will be displayed on signs, the village website and other promotional materials.

Holley developed the logo with assistance from Bergmann Associates. The logo encourages active exploration of Holley – “Walk It. Bike It. Boat It.”

The village received a $165,600 state brownfield grant last year to develop revitalization strategy for the downtown business district, and other parts of the community.

Brian Sorochty, mayor of Holley, said the project is a planning grant for the village, and a chance to promote assets with the trail system, canal and waterfalls.

“This is a chance to revision Holley,” he said.

As part of that revitalization effort, Bergmann and village officials displayed renderings of possible projects in Holley, and asked people last Thursday to place stickers on concepts they support.

The village has been without a grocery store since Save-A-Lot closed on Sept. 17, 2016. Many residents say the community needs a grocery store. Bergman presented two concepts – a vastly remodeled store building or one where the current building is knocked down for a new build as a town center.

Village officials want to show the concepts to developers, who may be more interested in the project once they see a more modern look for the building.

The store is in Holley’s Brownfield Opportunity Area, which provides tax incentives for investment.

Holley would also like to add amenities by its canal park, including a facility where people could rent kayaks and bicycles. The park could also have spaces reserved for food trucks.

Some downtown improvements could include streetscape amenities (benches, crosswalks, trash, trees, etc.), facade upgrades, more signage that directs people to businesses, public parking and attractions. Additional parking could also be added to the Public Square area.

The village will work with Bergmann to see which projects have a good chance for grant funding and private investment.

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Holley gets a glimpse of apartments, offices taking shape at old high school

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 October 2019 at 4:52 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – Home Leasing offered tours on Thursday afternoon to community members interested in the transformation at the old Holley High School.

Home Leasing is turning the school into the “Holley Gardens,” which will have 41 apartments – one studio, 35 one-bedrooms, and five two-bedroom apartments.

The Rochester company started construction last November. It is pushing to have the offices ready for the Village of Holley government on Feb. 1 with the apartments ready to be moved in by Feb. 15.

Cole Fredendall, 9, of Holley checks out one of the apartments in the former school, which offers a view of St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

George DeRue is the construction superintendent for Home Leasing. He stands next to blackboards from the school which will be repurposed in the apartments. DeRue said residents will find the blackboards handy to write notes.

Community members get a tour of one of the apartments under construction. Most of the apartments are about 700 to 800 square feet.

The construction project is a $17 million transformation of the school, a building that has been vacant for more than two decades. The building opened in 1931 and closed in 1975 as a school. It was last used by Liftec Manufacturing until it went bankrupt in the mid-1990s. Holley village officials tried many times to revive the site, but previous deals fell apart and the building kept deteriorating, to the anguish of many in the community.

Home Leasing is turning the auditorium in the village offices and meeting room.

Connie Nenni, a village trustee, was on the tour on Thursday. She said it was her first time in the building. She said it will be a huge asset to Holley when it is done, offering more residential opportunities and boosting the neighborhood with a well cared for building.

DeRue, the construction manager, said some of the original seats will be put back in the auditorium space. Removing thick layers of pigeon poop from the area was a big challenge with the project, DeRue said.

“It was terrible,” DeRue said of the pigeon excrement. “There was so much of it.”

Most of the windows are currently offsite and are being refurbished by a company in Lancaster.

Home Leasing is pushing hard to have the parking lot paved before winter. It has lots of work ahead to get the apartments furnished and ready for tenants in about four months.

The building is across from the Post Office and the American Legion on Route 31.

This group heads down one of the hallways.

The scope of work includes the conversion of the auditorium into office space and meeting space for the Village of Holley, the abatement of hazardous materials, window refurbishing and replacement, roof repair and replacement, and interior wall reconfiguration.

Two new elevators will be installed as well as new mechanical, electrical, plumbing, HVAC and sprinkler systems, new water, sewer, electric and gas services, fire alarm and intercom system.

Site work will consist of underground utility work, driveways, parking lots, sidewalks, lighting and landscaping.

Some of the locker doors are being saved and placed along the hallway for ambiance.

These two women observe the work near the entrance of the former auditorium.

For more on the project from Home Leasing, click here.

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Holley will offer tour of former high school on Oct. 17 as part of fall festival

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 October 2019 at 10:32 am

Village also wants feedback on logo, projects

HOLLEY — The village will be hosting a fall festival on Oct. 17 that also includes a chance to tour the old Holley High School, which is being turned into apartments and the offices for the village government.

The fall festival will be at the front lawn of the former school, 1 Wright St., from 3 to 7 p.m. Tours of the building will be on a first come, first served basis from 4 to 6:30 p.m.

Home Leasing, a Rochester company, started construction in November 2018 on a $17 million transformation of the former Holley High School, a building that has been vacant for more than two decades.

Home Leasing is turning the site into 41 senior apartments as well as the offices for the Village of Holley. The village expects to move the village offices into the former school in January.

Village officials also want to hear from the community about revitalization projects in Holley, as well as a new logo and tagline to promote the community.

The festival also includes a scarecrow decorating contest, with people encouraged to bring their own materials to dress a scarecrow between 3 and 6 p.m. Judging will be at 6:30 p.m. Participants need to preregister by Oct. 10 at

There also will be pumpkin decorating at the festival, with cider and donuts available.

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7 canal bridges getting repaired will be painted black

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 October 2019 at 11:12 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – The canal bridge on Bennetts Corners Road in Holley was repainted from green to black as part of the bridge’s recent upgrades.

The state Department of Transportation is spending $10.7 million on the seven bridges in Orleans County. All of them will be repainted to black.

The DOT has a contractor currently working on Telegraph Road in the Town of Murray, Transit Road in the Town of Murray, and Densmore Road in the Town of Albion.

The DOT will also work on three more bridges – Gaines Basin Road in the Town of Gaines, Bates Road in the Village of Medina, and Marshall Road in the Town of Ridgeway.

Here is how the bridge on Bennetts Corners Road in Murray looked last December before it was painted black.

Besides the new paint color, the work on the seven bridges includes installing high-strength galvanized steel to replace steel floor systems, low chords, gusset plates, and truss elements. Bridge railing and guide rail on the bridge approaches also will be improved.

The  seven single-lane truss bridges were constructed between 1909 and 1914.

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Group wants to hear ideas for capitalizing on canal in Orleans County

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Holley Canal Park is pictured in June. 2018 The site includes a gazebo, public bathrooms with showers, boat tie-ups and camp sites.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 October 2019 at 2:43 pm

Hoag Library will host Oct. 29 open house for Local Waterfront Revitalization Program

ALBION – A steering committee working on a plan to better utilize the Erie Canal in Orleans County welcomes input from the community.

There will be a 7 p.m. open house on Oct. 29 at Hoag Library for the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program for the canal communities in Orleans County.

There will be maps on display and community members are welcome to propose ideas for how the canal can boost the local economy and quality of life.

This will be the first public outreach meeting as a steering committee works on a waterfront development plan for seven Erie Canal municipalities.

Orleans County received a $62,000 state grant in December to develop a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program for the canal communities outside the Village of Medina. That includes the towns of Shelby, Ridgeway, Gaines, Albion and Murray, and the villages of Albion and Holley. Medina has been working on its own LWRP.

The county has hired LaBella as a consultant for the plan for the seven municipalities. The steering committee has met twice.

Each of the municipalities has a representative who is tasked to weigh in on current strengths and weaknesses of the canal, and opportunities to make the historic waterway and towpath a bigger asset.

The state is looking to spend more money to promote the canal and make it a better resource for the canal communities. The canal’s new caretaker, the New York Power Authority, also has shown a commitment to improving the canal infrastructure, County Legislator Ken DeRoller said.

The steering committee for the LWRP will be looking for ways to improve trail access, perhaps by adding a boat or kayak launch. The committee wants better signage (mile markers and information about services) and also wants to identify economic development projects with businesses near the canal.

That plan can be used to help the municipalities pursue grant funding through the state.

The steering committee members include: Ken DeRoller, Orleans County; Jake Olles, Town of Albion; Samuel Robinson, Village of Albion; Tyler Allport, Town of Gaines; Mark Bower, Village of Holley; Chris Van Dusen, Town of Murray; Mary Woodruff, Town of Ridgeway; and Ed Houseknecht, Town of Shelby. Natasha Wasuck, Village of Albion, and Brian Napoli, Town of Ridgeway, also have recently joined the committee.

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Holley gears up for $4.5 million water, sidewalk project

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 October 2019 at 11:06 am

File photo: An upcoming project in Holley will replace deteriorating sidewalks, including this one on Geddes Street.

HOLLEY – The Village of Holley will soon be seeking bids from contractors to replace sidewalks and water lines in the village, a combined project that is estimated to cost about $4.5 million.

The village is accepting bids until 1 p.m. on Oct. 24 for the sidewalks and waterlines.

The village has been approved for a $1,780,000 federal TAP grant (Transportation Alternatives Program) to construct curbs and sidewalks that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The grant will allow the village to replace about one-third of the sidewalks in the village.

That includes sidewalk along Rt. 237 – both north and south of Rt. 31 to the village limits (from the water tower to the elementary school), as well as both sides of Geddes Street, both sides of Perry Street, both sides of Morgan Street and the west side of East Avenue.

The TAP grant is an 80/20 federal matching program. Some of the village’s 20 percent ($455,000) could come from in-kind services from the Department of Public Works.

Holley also has bonds lined up to help cover the local share of the sidewalks and also the water improvements, which is a 60-40 grant.

Holley was awarded 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.

The waterline project includes 5,800 linear feet, just over a mile, and involves replacing 4- to 8-inch water mains with 8- to 12-inch water mains.

That project includes portions of South Main (from the water tower to Batavia Street), South Main from Jackson Street to West Albion Street, water service transfers only along North Main from West Albion Street to the high school, the northerly side of Geddes Street from Van Buren Street to Public Square, along with connections to existing waterlines at ends and side streets.

The village is also seeking bids for alternates and could do more waterline and sidewalk work. Alternate 1 includes a waterline on the westerly side of Park Place from East Albion Street to Perry Street. Alternate 2 includes a waterline on the southerly and westerly sides of East Union Street from North Main to Perry streets.

Alternate 3 includes sidewalk replacement on both sides of Park Place. Alternate 4 includes sidewalk replacement along both sides of East Union Street.

The projects are being bid together with one contractor to tackle both the waterlines and then the sidewalks.

Brian Sorochty, Holley mayor, said he expects the Village Board will award the bids for the contract in early November with construction starting soon after. The contractor has one year to get all of the work done.

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