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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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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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Groundbreaking celebration on Tuesday for old Holley High School

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 December 2018 at 12:34 pm

HOLLEY – State and local officials will celebrate the groundbreaking for the renovation of the old Holley High School on Tuesday.

The “Preservation Celebration” begins at 2 p.m. The $17 million project will turn the former school, which has been vacant for about two decades, into 41 apartments. The existing school auditorium will be renovated to be used by the Village of Holley as meeting space and administrative offices.

Officials will gather at the American Legion at 5 Wright St. That building is across the street from the former high school. Students of the school, which closed in the mid-1970s, are welcome to attend the event.

Home Leasing LLC, a Rochester company, is leading the renovation of the former Holley High School.

Some of the attendees at the 2 p.m. ground-breaking include: Nelson Leenhouts, Chairman & CEO, Home Leasing; Holley Mayor Brian Sorochty; Assemblyman Steve Hawley; Orleans County Legislator John DeFilipps; Lenny Skrill, Upstate Development Director for New York State Homes and Community Renewal; Daniel Mackay, Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; Wayne Goodman, Executive Director, The Landmark Society; Charlie Oster, Development Manager, Edgemere Development; and Jaime Tuozzolo, Vice President & Senior Relationship Manager, Key Community Development Lending.

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Holley parade adds more lighted fire trucks, floats

Posted 2 December 2018 at 8:46 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – Holley’s Nights of Lights was Saturday and was bigger than in recent years. There were about 15 floats and fire trucks lighted up in a parade down Route 31 through the Public Square.

The top photo shows the first place winner, the First Responders Group through Holley Central School.

The Clarendon Volunteer Fire Company brought a ladder truck with a Minion on top.

Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower and his confidential secretary, Clara Martin, added some holiday cheer to the parade.

The Holley DPW gave Frosty the Snowman a lift in the parade.

The Flow family and friends had a float with a message of “Peace on Earth.”

The Head Start program through Community Action of Orleans & Genesee joined the procession through the Public Square.

The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office gives a friendly snowman a ride in the parade.

The Hamlin Fire District decorated a truck for the event.

Santa rode in the bucket truck for the Holley Electric Department.

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Holley lights blue Christmas tree for first responders

Posted 1 December 2018 at 10:58 pm

Garden Club named ‘Citizen of the Year’

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – The Village of Holley held a tree-lighting celebration this evening in the Public Square and for the second straight year lighted a blue tree in honor of first responders.

The tree was donated by Erie Way Tree Farm in memory of Ed Bower.

Mayor Brian Sorochty served as master of ceremonies for the tree lighting. Sorochty  read a long list of names for the Memory Bulb ceremony. The tradition began in 1982 with community members purchasing “memory bulbs” in honor of deceased loved ones. All names are read before the tree is lit.

The mayor urged the community to thank the firefighters, police officers and other first responders for their sacrifice and service.

Holley also recognized its “Citizen of the Year.” That honor was started last year. This time the village accepted nominations from the community. There were 15 suggestions from residents. The Myron Holley Garden Club was picked for the award. Sue Persia, the club president, accepts the award from Mayor Sorochty.

The mayor said the club is in its 20th year and has been very active beautifying the Public Square with plants and flowers. The Garden Club last year also was instrumental in helping to start a community garden at a park on the east side of the village.

Community members have an opportunity to rent raised beds in the garden, and also tap into the knowledge of the Garden Club in growing plants, vegetables and flowers.

The mayor praised the group for bringing a passion to improving Holley.

Some of the Myron Holley Garden Club members include from left: Debbie Smith, Dee Langfitt, Diane Patterson, President Susan Persia, Joyce Potote and Greg Lawrence.

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Retired Albion principal will fill in at Holley until February

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 November 2018 at 3:51 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: This photo from October 2014 shows Dan Monacelli portraying “Forgetful Frank,” a character in a mystery where students tried to determine who robbed the Pig E. Bank. It was an exercise to help Albion Middle School students with Common Core tests, making them observe, have deductive reasoning and make a compelling case in their writing.

HOLLEY – A retired Albion Middle School principal will fill in at Holley Junior-Senior High School until February, Holley school officials announced today.

Dan Monacelli retired form Albion in June 2017. He will serve in an interim basis at Holley while Susan Cory, the principal, is on a leave of absence to address some medical needs and family responsibilities. Said Brian Bartalo, superintendent of schools for Holley.

“As of now, Mrs. Cory is planning to return to work following the February recess,” Bartalo said in a message posted on the district’s website. “In order to support her and the school during this time, we have hired an interim principal.”

Monacelli grew up in Albion. He started his teaching career in Elba, and returned to Albion as a Correction Room specialist. Then he taught health before getting into administration at Pembroke and the Niagara Academy. He was hired as high school principal at Albion in 2007 and then moved over to lead the middle school.

“Please join me in welcoming Mr. Daniel Monacelli to Holley MS/HS,” Bartalo said. “Mr. Monacelli has vast administrative experience, including being a middle and a high school principal, an assistant principal and an athletic director.”

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Holley will host holiday parade, tree-lighting on Saturday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 November 2018 at 2:17 pm

File photo: Holley’s Parade of Lights passes through the Public Square in December 2013. The parade returns on Saturday

HOLLEY – The Village of Holley will once again be celebrating the “Night of Lights” this Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m.

There will be many activities for children and adults in the Public Square including the Holley Community Library, the Eastern Orleans Community Center, and at the Friendship Bible Baptist Church, 32 Public Square. Holiday music will be played in the square by Northern Lights DJ and the Holley Elementary and High School chorus and bands.

There will also be six wineries and multiple vendors set up in downtown storefronts, said Mayor Brian Sorochty. Wine tasting tickets will be available for purchase on Saturday at the Village Office.

The annual Holiday Parade begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by the Citizen of the Year award, memory bulb and tree lighting ceremony.

“We are proud to continue our tradition from last year and we will be lighting the tree in all blue lights in honor of our brave emergency services and law enforcement personnel,” Sorochty said. “We had a tremendous turnout last year 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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Community shows up in a big way for Evan Valentine

Provided photos: Bob Miller, the Murray town supervisor and a neighbor of the Valentine family, reads a letter from Diane Valentine thanking the community for its support the past month since her son Evan was diagnosed with leukemia.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 November 2018 at 8:15 am

600 buy dinners, 220 donate baskets at fundraiser

Evan Valentine makes a surprise visit to the Clarendon Rec Hall on Sunday for a fundraising dinner.

CLARENDON – There was a big turnout from the Holley community on Sunday for a spaghetti dinner and basket raffle to support Evan Valentine and his family.

Evan, 15, was diagnosed with leukemia on Oct. 19. He has completed his first round of chemotherapy. On Sunday morning, his cell counts were high enough where doctors encouraged him to leave the hospital and attend the fundraiser.

The parking lot at the Clarendon Rec Hall was nearly full before the doors opened for the fundraiser at 1 p.m. Inside there was a sea with people wearing orange T-shirts, many saying “Evan Strong.” There were about 600 dinner tickets sold, 160 pounds of pasta cooked “and trays and trays of meatballs,” said Trina Lorentz-Lang, a family friend.

The community also donated 220 baskets and 10 silent auction items. So far, 800 orange shirts have been printed by B&T Creations with all profits donated to Evan.

Local businesses and organizations that contributed to the dinner include Sam’s Diner, Jimmy Z’s, the Albion Running Club and many other community members, said Lorentz-Lang.

Sue Rowcliffe was instrumental in organizing the dinner and volunteers. Jennifer Morgan and Kerry Lonnen organized the basket raffle, and Troy Kingdollar arranged the use of the Clarendon Rec Hall, secured donated food for the benefit and spent several hours in the kitchen. Clarendon firefighters also cooked food and donated the space for the benefit.

“We literally have an army behind us,” Diane Valentine said in a letter read by family friend and neighbor, Bob Miller. “Without all of you, your kind words of support, your love, your prayers, all of this here tonight, we would be lost.  You have helped us more than you know. The doctors and staff at Golisano are second to none. We are so very fortunate to have such incredible health care so close to where we live.  A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting with Evan and I told him that a lot of people go through their entire lives and never know all the people they have touched. I told him that he has been given a gift because at 15 he definitely knows the people he has touched. You are a gift he will carry with him.”

Heather and Steve Kelley and their children attended the benefit on Sunday. Frank and Sharon Gurzynski are seated next to them.

The Valentine family – Neil, Evan and Diane – are pictured with Breanna Girgangaya, who helped out at the dinner. Many people also signed a board to support Evan.

The Clarendon Rec Hall was a busy place on Sunday for the benefit dinner.

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