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Murray had highest turnout among 10 towns for primary

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 July 2019 at 11:51 am

MURRAY – Republicans in Murray had the highest turnout for the primary last Tuesday .

Primaries don’t tend to bring out the voters en masse. But Tuesday’s turnout wasn’t too far off a local general election.

The turnout countywide was 32.3 percent or 3,487 voters among the 10,789. That doesn’t include 137 absentees and seven affidavits. When they are included the overall turnout is 33.6 percent or 3,631 voters. That also means more than 7,000 registered Republicans didn’t vote in the primary.

Here is a breakdown of turnout at the 10 towns last Tuesday.

Community Voters Registered Percent Voted
Albion 405 1,319 30.7
Barre 194 618 31.4
Carlton 349 946 36.9
Clarendon 337 1,118 30.1
Gaines 307 825 37.2
Kendall 248 812 30.5
Murray 512 1,306 39.2
Ridgeway 491 1,714 28.6
Shelby 431 1,307 33.0
Yates 213 824 25.8
County 3,487 10,789 32.3

Source: Orleans County Board of Elections; Orleans Hub calculations.

Board of Elections staff had ballots printed for a 50 percent turnout in towns with town elections, as well as a hotly contested sheriff’s election between Chris Bourke and Brett Sobieraski. Elections printed ballots for a 45 percent turnout in towns without town positions on the ballot.

Murray not only had the sheriff’s race, but a battle for town supervisor Robert Miller and Joe Sidonio, as well as three people seeking two spots on the Town Board. The councilman candidates included Neil Valentine, Lloyd Christ and Dirk Lammes.

Murray also had the biggest turnout about two years in the Republican primary at 42.2 percent. Sidonio and Miller again squared off in that primary, which didn’t include a countywide race.

Yates had the lowest turnout at 25.8 percent. That town didn’t have a primary for any town level positions.

Ridgeway had the second lowest turnout on Tuesday, despite a race for town supervisor and two other seats on the Town Board. Ridgeway, at 28.6 percent, and Yates were the only towns below a 30-percent turnout.

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Sidonio is the winner for Murray town supervisor

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 July 2019 at 10:25 am

Joe Sidonio

ALBION – Joe Sidonio is the winner of the Republican primary for Murray town supervisor. Sidonio had a 1-vote lead over Bob Miller, the incumbent, after Tuesday’s vote tally.

After the absentees ballots were counted this morning, Sidonio’s lead grew to 14. He had 24 absentee votes to 11 for Miller.

After the votes were counted this morning, Miller shook Sidonio’s hand and congratulated him.

Twice before in the Republican primary in September 2017 and then the general election in November 2017, Sidonio had small leads over Miller. But when the absentees were counted, Miller passed Sidonio.

This time around Sidonio said he was more aware to encourage people to use absentees if they weren’t around on primary day.

“I’ve learned how government works,” Sidonio said after the votes were counted this morning at The Villages of Orleans, the former county nursing home where the Board of Elections has its office.

Sidonio said the recent close elections showed him many in the public wanted change in the town government. But it was a challenge. He wasn’t the endorsed Republican candidate.

“I am going to take a deep breath here,” he said. “I want to thank my wife and daughter. I’ve had their support and encouragement the entire time. I want to thank God for being able to have this opportunity.”

Sidonio also is the likely winner of the Independence primary for town supervisor. Miller had 5 votes and Sidonio had 6 write-in votes. There is a chance more absentees could come in. Tuesday is the count-off date. The final results will be certified later this week, the Board of Elections said.

Sidonio won a seat on the Murray Town Republican Committee in a September 2016 primary. But he was unable to get a seat on the Town Board, not only losing to Miller but last November to Neil Valentine for town councilman.

“I represent change,” Sidonio said this morning. “I’m the first to take on the establishment, the Murray Republican Committee, and win. It takes courage, effort and time to bring change to the entrenched establishment. My change will be inclusiveness rather than exclusiveness.”

He was upset when the Town Board didn’t reappoint him as the town representative on the Orleans County Planning Board about two years ago after he served in that position for 12 years.

He wants to hear from everyone who has ideas and a willingness to make Murray a better community.

“I look forward to working with the board and the town,” he said. “It’s time for the community to come together and work together.”

Miller’s term as town supervisor continues until Dec. 31.

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Absentees will again determine close race between Sidonio and Miller in Murray

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 July 2019 at 8:12 am

ALBION – It’s the third close race between Bob Miller and Joe Sidonio in less than two years for Murray town supervisor, and again the absentee ballots are needed to determine the winner.

In Murray, 36 absentee ballots were taken out for last Tuesday’s Republican primary. The absentees will be counted this morning in the Orleans County Board of Elections office.

After the polls closed at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Sidonio had a 1-vote lead over Miller, 255 to 254.

Sidonio has been there before, with a slight lead over Miller when the polls closed. In both cases, Miller would overtake him with the absentees.

In September 2017, Miller and Sidonio squared off in the Republican primary for town supervisor. Miller was behind Sidonio by 7 votes after the polls closed. But when the absentee ballots were counted on Sept. 18, 2017, Miller emerged as the victor for the Republican line, getting 19 absentees to 5 for Sidonio.

The two would face each other again on Nov. 7, 2017 in the general election. Sidonio stayed in the race with the Conservative and Independence lines.

Sidonio had a 16-vote lead, 558 to 542, when the polls closed. However, Miller had 26-vote lead in the absentees, 47 to 21 for Sidonio. The final tally was 589 votes for Miller, 579 for Sidonio.

Today’s absentee count will also finalize the primary for Orleans County sheriff. Chris Bourke has a 99-vote lead over Brett Sobieraski with 139 absentees out.

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Holley’s Class of 2019 celebrates commencement in the sunshine

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 June 2019 at 4:44 pm

Rain stayed away for outdoor ceremony at Holley

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – After the graduation ceremony this morning at Holley Hawks Stadium, the 63 members of the Class of 2019 gathered near the scoreboard and tossed their caps high, an annual tradition after commencement.

The rain stayed away the ceremony was able to be outside.

Clarence Moyer, a member of the Class of 2016, was on stage for the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem. His brother Dalton is a 2019 Holley graduate. Abrianna Kruger (back left) is the class president who welcomed the crowd for commencement. Michaela Williams, right, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Moyer is shaking hands with Brian Bartalo, the district superintendent, and Susan Cory, the high school principal.

William Lavender crosses the stage to accept his diploma today.

Holley administrators, teachers and Board of Education members (wearing the black robes) lead the Class of 2019 to the Holley Hawks Stadium this morning. The ceremony used to be held at the Woodlands soccer field, but is now at the Holley Hawks Stadium where there is more seating.

The students take their spots at the start of commencement. From left include Emily Bibby, Ethan Bibby, Jocelyn Cervone and Jocelyn Chilton.

Xi Lin stands to be recognized after winning the award for the graduate “who showed the biggest heart, enthusiasm for high school, and brought happiness and laughter to all those around them.”

Matt Skehan and Brian Bartalo, the district superintendent, embrace after Skehan was presented his diploma. Skehan won several awards during graduation including one of the new $512 scholarships in memory of Floyd Hanes, a fiery Holley soccer player who wore No. 12. Haines passed away on May 24 at age 43.

Kory Puente is recognized with one of the awards. Holley presented about $25,000 in awards and scholarships today.

Anastasiya Yaroshchuk smiles after being presented her diploma by Susan Cory, the high school principal. Matt Hennard, middle-high school social studies teacher, is the announcer.

Aaron Strathearn, the class president, announces the class gift of $500 for flowers and trees in memory of Holley students and alumni who recently passed away.

Abrianna Kruger, the class salutatorian, gives her speech. She will be majoring in political science at Geneseo State College.

She congratulated her classmates on their achievement of finishing high school. They are all starting from the same position for the next stage of their lives, she said. They won’t be defined by their grades, or misses or “lates.”

She urged them to go out and gain new perspectives. She quoted from Dr. Seuss in, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

Shawna Lusk gives the valedictory address. She is headed to Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester this fall to major in nursing.

She thanked parents and teachers for helping the graduates attain success in high school.

“We should always embrace our Holley roots and the supportive community we have here,” she said.

Lusk urged her classmates to find contentment, even in difficult situations.

“Find joy in all circumstances,” she said. “If you focus on the positives nothing will get you down.”

Shawna Benzn, a special education teacher, was picked by the Class of 2019 to deliver the commencement address. Others on stage include from left: Suzanne Lepkowski, a high school English teacher, is the class advisor; Brenda Swanger, Board of Education president; Brian Bartalo, district superintendent; and Susan Cory, the high school principal.

Shawna Benzn gives the commencement message, and urges students to face their fears. Benzn said she is honored to give the commencement speech, but it also terrified her. She said she wanted to show the graduates they should put themselves out there, even when they are scared or nervous.

Shawna Benzn said she was honored to give the commencement address, but had to overcome some fears to give the speech.

They could be asking someone on a date, pursuing a promotion, or learning a new skill. That doesn’t mean they will always get what they want, she said.

She offered a four-step plan for overcoming fears:

• Evaluate your fear: “Does that thing you fear really have the power to hurt you?” she asked.

• Find your cheerleader: She said her husband told her she should accept the request to give the speech and that she would do great. The Holley students have supportive friends, staff and teachers they can always reach out to for a pep talk.

• Don’t think “What if?” but instead think, “What will I be missing out on?”: Don’t just imagine bad outcomes with something that makes you fearful, Benzn said. Consider a scary situation instead as an opportunity for personal growth, a chance to make new friends, or perhaps more money.

• Look backward to look forward: Holley students have already conquered many fears, from getting on a school bus when they were 4 or 5 years old, to learning to read and write, perform on stage or on the athletic field.

They came to school in prekindergarten or kindergarten knowing few people and were surrounded by hundreds of strangers. They would go on to make lots of friends.

Some of the students have been on school trips outside of the state and country. Three international students in the Class of 2019 came to Holley after leaving their families and familiar surroundings for nearly a year. Those students include Janne Grasshoff and Teresa Szcepanski of Germany, and Basile Guillo of France.

“Some of you have dealt with trauma and loss and you still got here every day and did what you needed to do,” Benzn said.

These three relax after receiving their diplomas. They include, from left, Damyan Famoly, Garrett Farrow and Braden Ferranti. Ferranti received one of the biggest scholarships today. He and Ethan Bibby each won the $5,000 “Make All The Difference” scholarship.

Cade Aina, left, and Erik Balys move over their tassels after the district superintendent said the class met the standards of graduation.

Matt Hennard, middle-high school social studies teacher, high-fives students as they make their way towards the scoreboard for a group photo.

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Holley will miss retiring teachers and staff

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 June 2019 at 8:22 am

Photo by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY — The Holley Board of Education recognized retiring teachers and staff at the board meeting on Monday. Pictured from left include Maureen Christian, an instructional aide in fourth grade for 23 years; Toni Barber, kindergarten aide for 30 years; Dan Orbaker, chemistry and physics teacher for 34 years, as well as varsity boys soccer coach; Jolynda Elsenheimer, second grade teacher for 33 years; and Denise Johnstone, special education teacher for 28.5 years.

The board also recognized Tim Rogers, who is retiring as the technology teacher.

Barber joined the staff as a kindergarten aide when her daughter, Jenna, started kindergarten. Barber decided to work for the school after 18 years as a secretary at a Brockport manufacturing plant.

She is sad about retiring full-time at the school, and expects she will stay on as a substitute next year.

“I just love the kids,” Barber said. “I focus on the kids who need me the most.”

Orbaker joined Holley after a year at Lyons. He was praised by district superintendent Brian Bartalo for helping students to excel in the classroom and on the sports field. Orbaker-led team won two state championships and have had a winning record every season the past 30 years.

“I have no regrets,” Orbaker said. “I never had a day I didn’t enjoy here.”

He said 135 of his Holley players went on to play at the next level in college.

The Board of Education also recognized Brenda Swanger, who is retiring from the board after 15 years, including the past six as president.

She praised the retirees, the other teachers and staff, and her colleagues on the board.

“I’m really proud of everything you’ve done,” she said. “You’ve all been working very hard.”

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DeFilipps, Moroz re-elected in Holley

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 June 2019 at 10:20 pm

HOLLEY – Two incumbent village trustees, Jim DeFilipps and Rochelle Moroz, were re-elected to two-year terms as village trustees today, while three write-in candidates also had a good showing at the polls.

DeFilipps led all candidates with 98 votes, followed by 81 for Moroz.

Shawn O’Mara, who ran for mayor a year ago, had 56 write-in votes, followed by 40 for Alexa Downey, who was on the ballot for village trustee a year ago.

Kerri Neale also received 23 write-in votes for village trustee.

The new terms start on July 1.

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2 village trustees will be elected today in Holley

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 June 2019 at 11:07 am

HOLLEY – Village residents will go to the polls today from noon to 9 p.m. to elect two trustees to the Village Board.

Jim DeFilipps and Rochelle Moroz are the incumbents. They are the only names on the ballot, although resident Kerri Neale has been running a write-in campaign.

Candidates don’t run under a major political party. They can pick an independent party. DeFilipps chose the “People Party” and Moroz picked the “Rochelle Moroz Party.”

Voting is at the Village Office at 72 Public Square.

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Holley will use state funds to provide laptops to students in grades 1, 5 and 9

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 June 2019 at 9:29 pm

HOLLEY – State officials have approved about $540,000 in the first phase of Holley’s technology upgrades through the Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014.

Holley has $1,311,463 in state funds through Smart Schools. The district was notified today that the state approved Holley’s plan to offer touch-screen laptop computers to about 225 students in grades 1, 5 and 9.

Holley also will replace SMART boards with 33 touch-screen flat panels that are “Smart TVs.”

The district will also upgrade existing security cameras and add more of them, as well as updating software for the cameras.

The district is working on its plans for phase 2 and 3 of Smart Schools, and wants to eventually make laptops available for students in grade 1 through 12. For now, Holley is focusing on grade 1, 5 and 9. Those computers will be available in 2019-20. The students will be assigned computers for four school years.

The plan is to offer laptops to students in grades 1, 5, and 9 each of the following three years. That way, after four years, all students in grades 1 to 12 will be covered, said Karri Schiavone, the elementary school principal.

The schedule could go faster if the state approves the Smart Schools plans in a timely manner or if other funding becomes available. Holley had to wait more than a year for phase 1 to be approved.

The district will provide training for teachers in grades 1, 5, and 9 over the summer, and the district will develop a plan and policy for student use of the laptops.

Schiavone said she would like to see the laptops stay at school for the elementary students, while Susan Cory, the high school principal, backs 9th-graders having the option of bringing the laptops home.

One issue for some students is a lack of high-speed internet access at home, Schiavone said.

The district will likely try to determine how many students don’t have internet access at home, and see how that issue can be addressed.

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Holley Flag Day tradition includes big parade, citizenship awards

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 June 2019 at 5:24 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – Maizy Ehrhardt, a Holley fifth-grader, is all decked out in red, white and blue during the elementary school’s Flag Day celebration this morning.

More than 500 elementary students walked from the elementary school to the Historical Society depot past the Public Square. Students sang patriotic songs and the elementary school band also performed the “Star Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful,” and “My Country ’Tis of Thee.”

Lindsay Cooper, a kindergarten teacher, joined her students in wearing red, white and blue on the patriotic day.

Holley has been celebrating Flag Day with a parade through the community for 62 years. It is one the highlights of the year for the school and community.

Ryker Knight, a fifth-grader and a Boy Scout, served as one of the student emcees for the program today.

The program included the presentation of the Catherine B. Press awards, which went to fifth graders, Grant Smith and Caydence Merkley. This is the highest good citizen award at the school district. It was started by Catherine Press, a school secretary. The award goes to students who display character, respect, citizenship, kindness and responsibility.

A student in each classroom was recognized with a “Good Citizen” award. Those students include:

• Pre-kindergarten – Keyana Vicens, Nora Restivo and Emma Marquez.

• Kindergarten – Noah Heller, Isabella Roselli, Alivia Dorland and Aryanna Mogle.

• First grade – Yliazit Cortes, Lauren Fredendall and Savanna Antram.

• Second grade – Jayden Miller, Angel Vazquez-Mendoza, Carsyn Mogle, Cayden Vangelder and Zakkerya Jenks.

• Third grade – Brianna Pellegrino, Max Milazzo and Kailyn Robinson.

• Fourth grade – Haidynn Mullins, Oliver Fox and Isla Schultz.

• Fifth grade – Landen Goodrich, Ryker Knight and Grant Smith.

• Sixth grade – Chris Mosier, Frances Caraballo-Vazquez, Cora Hudzinski and Donovan Hendrick-Hayes.

These students make their way down Route 31 during the parade.

Albion and Holley Police Chief Roland Nenni, left, and Albion Lt. David Mogle helped direct traffic during the parade that passed through the intersection of routes 31 and 237.

These students wave flags while walking through the Public Square.

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Simulation sends message to students about tragic results from drunk driving

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 June 2019 at 3:56 pm

‘I want you guys to fun tonight but please make good decisions.’ – Roland Nenni, Albion and Holley police chief

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – Peyton Sargent lays on the front hood of a vehicle this morning during a drunk driving simulation at Holley Junior-Senior High School.

Peyton and her classmates have prom this evening at The Plantation House in Spencerport. First responders in the Holley community created the simulation this morning to send a message about the sometimes fatal consequences of drunk driving.

The time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is considered the “100 Deadliest Days,” the period when teen driver-involved crashes rise 14 percent compared to the rest of the year.

Braden Ferranti was a passenger in a vehicle involved in the crash. A Holley police officer, Dillon Black, checks on him. Holley students were told that Ferranti and Kory Puente both suffered serious injuries.

Cade Aina was the driver in the mock accident. Here he is given a test to see if he is impaired. George Barton is the Holley police officer.

Scott Schmidt, an Orleans County coroner and funeral director, was called to the scene. He would declare Peyton deceased and helped put her body in a hearse.

Rachel Sargent, Peyton’s mother, is giving the tragic news about her daughter. Rachel said she reacted with grief because she wanted to send a message to her daughter’s classmates about how serious the consequences can be to driving drunk or impaired.

After the crash simulation, students went into the school auditorium where there was a mock arraignment and sentencing for Aina. Joanne Best, the public defender is at left. Dillon Black, the Holley police officer, leads Aina away in handcuffs.

If this was a real case, Aina would have been charged with first-degree vehicular manslaughter, which carries a maximum of 15 years in prison, and vehicular assault, which has a seven-year maximum.

Orleans County Court Judge Sanford Church used to be Aina’s Little League coach in Albion. He said Aina had a spotless record until the crash. The judge asked the students how many would sentence Aina to the maximum of 15 years in prison. No one put up their hand. The students favored a lesser sentence and Church said he would likely give someone in a similar case a sentence of 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison.

Aina, in that scenario, might not be out of prison until his mid-20s and then would be on parole with supervision. He would see his job prospects severely diminished and would have to pay court fines and attorney fees, Church said.

Roland Nenni, the Albion and Holley police chief, urged students “to be courageous” and not ride with a drunk driver or someone impaired by drugs. In back are Judge Sanford Church, District Attorney Joe Cardone, and Public Defender Joanne Best.

People impaired or drunk shouldn’t drive and Nenni told them to call 911 if they feel stranded and can’t get a ride. Nenni said he has authorized Holley and Albion police officers to give teens a ride if they are impaired or drunk, or don’t want to ride with someone who shouldn’t be driving. Nenni said they wouldn’t face criminal charges in those instances when they need help. (Albion also has its prom tonight at Hickory Ridge Country Club in Holley.)

The police chief is also a former Holley fire chief chief. He has responded to many fatal accidents. Those tragedies happen too often because of bad choices from drivers, Nenni said.

“I want you guys to have fun tonight but please make good decisions,” he told the Holley students.

District Attorney Joe Cardone also told students he has prosecuted many cases where a drunk driver killed someone or caused serious injuries, “due to a few moments of a bad decision.”

“Maybe you think it can’t be you, but it can be you,” Cardone said.

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