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Holley cutting down 60 trees ahead of sidewalk project

Photo by Tom Rivers: Several trees have been cut down recently on Park Place in the Village of Holley. Park Place will be getting new sidewalks. Some new trees will also be planted.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 March 2019 at 3:11 pm

Village has hustled to get the trees down by March 31 deadline

Several trees also have been cut down on Geddes Street.

HOLLEY – Village residents have been hearing the sound of chain saws for about two months as part of an effort to take down 60 trees.

Most of the trees have been removed. A couple more will come down on Geddes Street this week.

The village’s Department of Public Works and Electric Department have taken down most of the trees ahead of a sidewalk and waterline project. A contractor was needed to remove eight trees that were too high for the village’s bucket truck. (Some of the wood will likely be auctioned off.)

Mayor Brian Sorochty said the trees could only be cut down before March 31. Trees in this project, which includes federal and state funding, can’t be cut down after March 31 through Nov. 15 because of environmental protections for bats, which use trees for habitat.

The tree-cutting was approved by the State Historic Preservation Office, as well as a plan to replant new trees, which will be smaller when they are mature.

Holley will be going out to bid in June to replace about 4 miles of sidewalks in the village. Holley also will be replacing about 2 miles of waterlines.

The village has been approved for a $1.78 million grant for sidewalks through the federal Transportation Alternatives Program.

Holley also was awarded a nearly $1.3 million grant 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 trees are being removed because of the sidewalk project. The tree roots are pushing up sidewalks in many spots. Plus the new sidewalks will be wider and closer to the road.

The project will be done in phases with the first focus on South Main and North Main (Route 237), Geddes and Morgan streets. The bid will include alternatives for East Union, East Avenue and Park Place. If the bids are lower than expected, the alternatives could be included as part of the bid to be accepted this year.

The project involves about a third of the sidewalks in the village. They need to be compliant with handicapped accessibility regulations. In some spots that means the village will need to acquire some land to have enough space for handicapped accessible ramps at intersections.

The waterline project includes 9,050 linear feet, nearly 2 miles, and involves replacing 4- to 8-inch water mains with 8- to 12-inch water mains. That project includes portions of South Main, North Main, East Union, Park Place, East Albion and Geddes streets.

In some spots the new sidewalks will go in after the new water lines are installed.

Sorochty said the work will be done in phases over the next two years.

The mayor urged patience while the projects are under construction. He said he is excited for the finished product. In addition, the renovation of the former Holley High School will be done in about a year, and the state Department of Transportation will be repaving Route 237 in the village.

About 10 trees have been cut down on East Union Street in the village. The tree stumps will come out as part of the bid to put in new sidewalks on the street.

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Holley has $130K-plus towards new waterline on Thomas Street

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 March 2019 at 4:50 pm

HOLLEY – The village will use more than $130,000 from a revolving-loan fund that is being closed out. The money for Holley will go towards a new waterline on Thomas Street, said Mayor Brian Sorochty.

Holley is eligible for the money because it is a previous recipient of the Community Development Block Grant. The CDBG was repaid by a local business with those funds going to a revolving-loan fund managed by the Orleans Economic Development Agency.

The state is requiring those revolving-loan funds to be closed down. The communities can direct the remaining funds to projects if they are targeted to increase handicapped accessibility of a public place or if the project serves a low-income area.

The new waterline on Thomas Street, between Route 31 and South Main Street, met the threshold for serving a low-income area, Sorochty said today.

The Village Board last week had a public hearing on using the funds for the project. Holley can use $105,000 from the village share of the revolving-loan fund. The Orleans County Legislature also directed $28,990 from a portion of its share of the revolving-loan fund to the Holley waterline.

Mayor Sorochty said engineering will now get started on the waterline, which serves six homes, the police department, the fire hall, two commercial businesses and the Holley Hotel, an apartment building with 40 units.

Construction could happen later this year on the project. Once the new waterline is done, the mayor said the street will likely be repaved. He would also like to see new sidewalks for that section of Thomas Street.

“We’re looking for more money (for the sidewalks),” he said.

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State Ed names Holley a ‘target’ school district in need of improvement

Photo by Tom Rivers: Brian Bartalo, superintendent of Holley Central School, said the district will push high expectations for all students. He speaks during Monday’s Board of Education meeting.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 March 2019 at 9:27 am

HOLLEY – The school district has been identified as a “target district” by the State Education Department, and will have at least two years to improve student performance.

Holley is in good standing for the elementary and high school. However, it has been identified as a “target district” due to low student scores for seventh- and eighth-graders, said Brian Bartalo, the school district superintendent.

Holley is one of 106 school districts out of 733 in the state that are target districts. The state will provide resources to help the districts form a plan to raise student achievement. Holley is the only district in Orleans County on the list.

Bartalo said he is all for raising student performance.

“It can be done,” he told the Holley Board of Education on Monday. “We have to believe in our kids and have high expectations.”

Holley students in seventh and eighth grade overall had low scores in state ELA and math tests from last spring. That is the main factor in Holley being listed as a target district, Bartalo told the board. The previous year, Holley students scored high enough where Holley was listed in “good standing” by the state.

The district also rated low in a new category from the state measuring college, career and civic readiness. The district offers college level and advanced placement classes. Bartalo said the district may need to encourage students to take more of those classes as well as work towards diplomas that are Regents with Distinction.

He travels to Albany on March 26 to meet with State Ed officials on the next steps for the district. State Ed officials also will spend three days in Holley from May 7-9, meeting with staff, students and focus groups. The state officials will also do classroom visits as part of a needs assessment for the district.

Holley will work with a consultant to form a plan that should be in effect to start the next school year, Bartalo said.

The superintendent met with junior high teachers last week to go over the report from the state. Bartalo said he shared a clip from the movie Stand and Deliver, a 1988 film based on the true story of high school math teacher Jaime Escalante. He worked in Los Angeles and his students overcame extreme poverty to excel in calculus. Escalante led his classes with the philosophy of “ganas,” which translates into “desire” or “motivation.”

“It took determination,” Bartalo said.

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Holley teacher honored by SUNY Brockport for welcoming student teachers

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 March 2019 at 10:01 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – Christine Langelotti, a Holley second-grade teacher, is presented with a Soaring to New Heights Award by Brenda Swanger, president of the Holley Board of Education.

Langelotti was recognized this evening by the Holley school district for her recent award by Brockport State College.

She received the Roy Bubb Award for her support of student teachers. She has welcomed many students into her classroom over the years.

Brockport each year recognizes teachers who work with students in preparing for careers as educators.

Bubb, a Clarendon native, worked 25 years at Brockport,  preparing future teachers. Prior to retiring in 1986 he established the Roy Bubb Award, which is administered by the Department of Education and Human Development.

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Holley honors retiring wrestling coach who set state record for wins

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 March 2019 at 9:46 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: John Grillo accepts an award from Brenda Swanger, president of the Board of Education.­­ Grillo is retiring as coach.

HOLLEY – John Grillo was praised by Holley school officials this evening for a distinguished career that includes a state record 796 wins as a wrestling coach.

Grillo’s achievements as a coach are an “unparalleled record as a professional,” said Brian Bartalo, the district superintendent.

Bartalo joined Holley this year after working in the Hilton school district. Even at Hilton, Grillo is well regarded for building such a strong program at Holley, and for his relationships with other coaches and the wrestling community, Bartalo said.

Grillo’s achievements were highlighted during the Board of Education meeting this evening, including 16 times the Genesee Region coach of the year, five times the Section 5 coach of the year, and a finalist for national coach of the year. His teams also won 20 GR league titles and 12 Sectional championships.

But even more importantly, Grillo was a great role model for the athletes and helped many succeed off the mat as well, said Dan Courtney, the school’s athletic director.

“The numbers are mind blowing,” Courtney said about Grillo’s achievement as a coach. “But it’s not just the wins and losses.”

Grillo said he was proud of this year’s combined Holley and Kendall team which won the sportsmanship award for Section 5 for the first time in his career. Grillo said that award is a tribute to the wrestlers, the parents and the fans in the community.

Grillo also thanked the Holley school district for backing the wrestling program through the years.

“Thank you for bringing me in,” he said. “I know I was a pain in the rump at times, but you always supported me in doing what we had to do to build the program. Thank you for all you’ve done for me and your support over the years.”

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Holley woman, 20, embraced an active life, while living with vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

Photos courtesy of the family: Andie Carpenter relished nature hikes. “She was outdoorsy and liked adventure,” said her father, Josh Carpenter.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 March 2019 at 11:58 am

Family and friends establishing memorial scholarship at Holley for Andie Carpenter

HOLLEY – A Holley woman didn’t let vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome keep her from an active student life at Holley Central School and then in college, where she was majoring in a radiological technology program.

Andie Carpenter

Andie Carpenter, 20, passed away unexpectedly on Jan. 31. She was in her last semester at North Country Community College in Saranac Lake. She died after an artery ruptured.

“She was a bright light,” said her mother, Maria Vowles. “She lit up a room.”

Andie wasn’t diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos until she was 15. That diagnosis followed years of doctor visits when Andie and her family knew something was wrong. She bruised easily. Her skin stretched far more than a typical person’s. She slept with her eyes open.

These are tell-tale signs of Ehlers-Danlos, which doesn’t have a cure. Ehlers-Danlos weakens the connective tissues of the body. It also can weaken blood vessels and organs.

Andie and her family were grateful for the diagnosis, and Andie refused to lay low in life.

“She didn’t like to be called fragile or delicate,” said her stepmother, Mandy Carpenter. “She didn’t want to be thought of as weak. She was a strong girl. She never let anything get in her way.”

Andie was strongly urged by doctors not to play contact sports. Even a small collision could turn into a big bruise.

So she ran cross country, a demanding sport where the races are 3.1 miles with training runs even farther. She ran hard, even with swollen feet.

“She liked being a part of the team and the friendship,” said her father, Josh Carpenter.

Andie also played tennis and briefly tried basketball for Holley. She gave up basketball after tearing ligaments in her knee.

Andie Carpenter was well liked for her friendly personality and her determination.

She enjoyed photography and taking hikes in nature. She wanted to be a 46er, climbing all of the mountain peaks in the Adirondacks. She was partway on that goal.

Andie researched her college major, and picked the rigorous radiological technology program, which includes taking CAT scans. Only 22 students get into the program at North Country Community College, and many don’t get through the program, which includes 1,500 hours in clinical training and work on site at radiologic technology departments across the North Country.

Andie did her training at the Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown, Canton-Potsdam Hospital and the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake.

“She worked hard and focused on her studies,” her mother said. “She was three months from graduating.”

She was living in an apartment. She was a responsible adult, making sure all of her bills were paid. She was looking forward to starting her career.

Andie wrote this in her memoir about living with the disease:

“Even though I found out that I have (vascular) Ehlers Danlos, I still act like the same person I use to be. I still participate in many activities and enjoy life. You either accept the fact that you have the disorder and go on with your life like a normal person or worry about what could happen and not enjoy life at all. I chose to accept that I have it and go on with my days without worrying about it.”

About 400 people attended her calling hours last month at a Brockport funeral home. The family is thankful for the outpouring of support.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of love from the Holley community,” Mandy Carpenter said.

The family is establishing scholarships in Andie’s memory and is planning upcoming fundraisers.

The first event will be June 9 at World Gym in Rochester, 1717 East Ave. Participants can donate in a fun and challenging workout. Andie’s mother is a member of this gym.

There will be a 5K fun run/1-mile walk on July 13 in Holley. The course will go by the Holley Waterfalls and is similar to the route for the Holley cross country team, a course she ran hundreds of times. The 5K starts at 10 a.m. with the walk beginning at 10:10 a.m. Check in is at the Holley gazebo by the canal park.

More information about those events is available at the Adventuresinlove4Andie on Facebook. Or, you can email

The North Country Community College is establishing a memorial scholarship for Andie Carpenter. The scholarship descriptions says, “Andie was a bubbly person who made everyone smile a bit more each and every day. This award is given to a hard-working, determined, and driven to succeed graduate, who is always willing to go the extra mile to help others. The recipient of this award is a lot like Andie; he or she has a positive outlook on life, who is always making those around them happier.”

Andie’s family and friends also are creating a scholarship through the Holley Central School. They are accepting donations to the Andie Mae Carpenter Scholarship Fund, Holley Central School District, 3800 North Main Street, Holley, NY 14470.

The family also is raising money for the Center for Vascular Ehlers- Danlos Syndrome Research, c/o Hal Dietz, MD, Institute of Genetic Medicine fund for Johns Hopkins Medicine, 855 North Wolfe Street, Rangos 550, Baltimore, MD 21205. (

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Firefighters contain blaze at home in Murray

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 March 2019 at 11:22 am

Photo courtesy of Holley Fire Department

HOLLEY – Firefighters were dispatched to Norway Road in Murray on Sunday morning for reports of a chimney fire. Once on scene, firefighters realized the fire wasn’t in the chimney, but in the partition in the house, Holley Fire Chief Harris Reed said today.

Hamlin, Kendall and Holley firefighters were on soon after the call went out at 5:09 a.m.

Reed said the homeowner had a smoke detector which alerted the residents to the fire. The chief thanked the firefighters for their speedy response, which prevented the fire from spreading and doing more damage.

“It was a really good stop,” Reed said. “Minutes later and the house could have been on the ground.”

The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined yet.

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Holley performing Godspell as spring school musical season gets underway

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 March 2019 at 10:32 pm

Jesus is a Yankees fan, while Judas favors the Red Sox in Holley’s show

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – Matt Skehan, a senior at Holley, has the lead role of Jesus in the school’s performance of Godspell. He is shown during a rehearsal today.

Skehan suffered a fractured growth plate in his wrist during a basketball game about a month ago. The injury hasn’t kept him off the stage.

Skehan said the lead roles had to learn long lines, more so than in other shows, and they needed to be in sync with each other on stage to get the comedic timing down.

He has been in the musicals since seventh grade.

“There’s not a day it isn’t joyful,” Skehan said about the musicals. “It’s like one big family. Everybody cares for everyone.”

Holley will perform the show for the community at 7 p.m. Friday, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Middle/High School Auditorium. Tickets can be ordered online by clicking here.

Callie Updike plays Judas, a disciple who betrays Jesus.

“He deals with the emotional turmoil of betraying a trusted friend,” Callie said about her character. “It just rips you apart.”

Dan Burke is the director of the show. Burke, a science teacher at the school, also is the varsity baseball coach and a New York Yankees fan. Burke has Jesus wearing a Yankees shirt, while Judas wears the jersey for the archrival Red Sox.

Burke likes that the show allows the kids to have personalities and express themselves (and gives the director some leeway in the costumes).

There are 50 students in the cast, plus another 20 behind the scenes.

Burke has wanted to do Godspell for many years, and believes he has the right cast for the show this year.

“Godspell is a very difficult show to do,” he said. “There is timing and the actors have to tell stories on stage. It’s a powerful message.”

Mike Stoll plays John the Baptist and sings, “Prepare Ye The Way of the Lord.” Stoll enters the auditorium from the back of the room and walks down one of the aisles, turning to face the crowd. He then baptizes cast members on stage.

There are many high-energy songs and dances in the show. Allyson Skehan, left, and Lexianne Seewagen are among the cast members.

Matt Skehan as Jesus shares one of the parables from the Bible. Jesus urges kindness, tolerance and love.

Burke said the musical brings people from many backgrounds together in the school.

“If you want to get rid of bullying in schools, make them do musicals,” he said.

Adrianna Kruger stars as Robin and sings, “Day by Day.” Many of the cast members get solos in Godspell.

Tickets for the shows can be ordered online by clicking here or by going to the MS/HS main office.

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Nearly 300 students perform in All-County Music Fest

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 March 2019 at 5:22 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – A group of elementary students sing during today’s All-County Music Festival. There were nearly 300 students who performed in this afternoon’s music festival at Holley. The event was organized by the Orleans County Music Educators’ Association.

Albion, Holley, Kendall, Lyndonville and Medina all had students performing in the festival, which included 111 students in the elementary chorus, 75 in the middle school band, and 103 in the high school chorus.

Michael Conte, an instrumental music teacher at Williamsville North High School, leads the middle school band.

Sophia Cardone of Medina sings a solo during “How Can I Keep From Singing,” one of four songs performed by the high school chorus during today’s All-County Music Festival.

Zach Busch, a band teacher at Holley, welcomes the crowd to the musical festival and introduces Michael Conte, the guest conductor for the middle school band.

Elementary students were led by Shana Kohler, a choral director and music teacher at Hilton. The students sang four songs, “The Tailor of Gloucester,” “Al Shlosha D’Varium,” “To Music” and “Kokoleoko.”

Shana Kohler, the guest conductor, was high energy in leading the elementary students.

Daniel Reisdorf, a music teacher at Pembroke, leads the high school chorus. The group sang “And the Glory of the Lord,” “How Can I Keep from Singing,” “Indodana” and “Swinging with the Saints.”

The high school chorus performs in the Holley school auditorium. There are two All-County Music Festivals each year in Orleans County. The concert last month included the elementary band, middle school chorus and high school band.

The middle school band performed “Rough Riders,” “Morning Reflection,” “Overture for the Winds” and “Shackelford Banks.”

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Holley Rotary serves up 225 spaghetti dinners

Staff Reports Posted 24 February 2019 at 3:35 pm

Photos courtesy of Holley Rotary Club

HOLLEY – These members of the Holley Interact Club at the school helped the Holley Rotary Club serve 225 spaghetti dinners on Saturday evening at the VFW.

The proceeds each year are used to support local families in need because of illness, death or disaster. The club gave $1,000 each to two families. One was to help with immediate expenses when a husband/father died suddenly. The other was to a local family with a child fighting cancer.

The VFW was a busy place for the dinner. There were 14 members of the Interact Club helping the Rotary Club with the event. The Interact Club also receives a small percentage of the proceeds.

Holley Rotary Club member Jeff Martin works in the kitchen, ready to serve spaghetti.

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