Treasures Found

When I first moved to Holley back in July of 2008, I reached a crossroad in my life. Divorce, job loss, and poor decision-making led to financial troubles.With two kids now on their own, I was looking for a fresh start. A bit of a distance from family in a community where no one knew me. I was hoping to downsize my life, explore a new lifestyle for myself, and hopefully make a difference.

The first few years after my move were a constant struggle as most of my time was spent either unemployed or picking up temporary work in my field. Self-employed, I was not entitled to unemployment. Having already sold my kids’ childhood home along with some possessions, I started to donate or sell off even more of my possessions. Still not enough, I was genuinely scared of losing my home…again. It was then I learned to rely on the one thing I still had, but had not used in a while. Faith.

Renewing my faith, extraordinary things started to happen. It all started with a local issue I needed to resolve.Walking down to the Holley Police Department, I was introduced to “Officer Christ”. The issue was not only resolved, but I quickly realized God placed me in this charming community for a reason. Soon after, God placed a new man in my life. Our relationship though got off to a rocky start. Struggling to make ends meet much like myself, he was telling me I had to give up how I defined and viewed wealth. Shaking my head, I really had no choice. With $50 in my checking account, I surrendered my pride and walked into the Department of Social Services to apply for food stamps only to be told that the $50 in my account disqualified me. Shortly thereafter, I had just enough money in my savings account to cover the next month’s mortgage payment, but not heat. Surrendering yet more of my pride, I applied for heating assistance, only to be told to come back when my balance dropped to zero. I surrendered yet again as I applied for work outside my field that paid minimum wage. It was at the lowest point in my life a family member came, offering financial support with the condition I did not tell their spouse. While tempted, I declined the offer as I could not keep a secret from a loved one.

Through all of this I was writing this “Visions of Holley” blog, encouraging local residents to “unbury the many hidden treasures” that surrounded them. Ironic as it may seem, this blog turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it helped me to focus on the community where I lived rather than on myself. In the process I discovered a lot of treasures along the way. Treasures came as a series of Angels. The first Angel dropped off a Wegmans’ gift card in my mailbox. Another one was a local church who was a member of the Angel Food Network that provided groceries at a reduced price to the working poor. Other Angels followed — the local food pantry, community-sponsored dinners, the exchange of services among neighbors based on individual talents; and more. There was Peter who lived across the street. A stay-at-home Dad, he had an amazing amount of energy. With that energy, he plowed the neighbors’ driveways without asking for anything. When Peter and his family moved to Virginia, Geert took over where Peter left off. Knowing Geert and Sheryl liked to shop at Aldi’s, gift cards served as a thank you. Using my writing talents, I promoted area businesses, farm markets, and local events. Having surrendered everything,  my hand was empty yet open to accepting whatever came my way.

From there, my life started to turn around. A contract at a local technology company came through. Treasures in the form of community assets were everywhere… the greatest one being Holley’s people. The many neighbors who helped the local diner get back on their feet after a terrible fire; area businesses and a local government who developed a community master plan defining how they envisioned their community’s future; and the series of grants that followed, allowing much needed improvements to the public square. Treasures were found in the new businesses that sprang up; the local construction company who invested time and resources in renovating area buildings; the community servants who were known on a first name basis; the fire department who delivered candy canes door to door at Christmas time and who organized impromptu parades for local sports teams upon winning a tournament; the local teens who offered to help with yard cleanup; the parents who exchanged babysitting services; and the local garden club who planted flowers each spring along the square. Hoping to make a difference in their lives, this small community ultimately made a difference in (and saved) mine. As I used my talents, this lovely community slowly revealed her many “hidden treasures”, enriching my life and those of others in so many beautiful ways.

Thank you Holley for showing me true wealth. You taught me that wealth will never be found in a huge paycheck, material possessions, or through government programs such as paid parental leave, free college, taxing some people more than others, or in the creation of yet another entitlement program. True wealth is found when you surrender your definition, viewing it instead as “the many hidden treasures” that await you in the collective resources and talents found in your own backyard.

Holley’s Latest Luminaire

When I first came to Holley six years ago, she lay dormant with many worn out buildings and abandoned storefronts. As she continued to sleep, many thought Holley’s days were numbered, failing to see the life and untapped potential that still resided within her. Slowly though… as Holley started to awaken it’s been heart-warming and inspiring to see her transformation — a transformation brought about a caring community of people who remembered her former beauty and still saw potential in her.

Her transformation started towards the end of 2010 with a team of Planning Board members and community representatives who worked with consultants in developing a Comprehensive Master Plan that defined a vision of Holley’s future. Soon after Sam’s Diner got a facelift. Then in February 2012, Jerome Pawlak opened a Save-A Lot grocery store after the community was without a grocery store for nearly six years. First Niagara Bank followed soon after investing in the community where they conducted their business. In May 2013, the Landmark Society of Western New York announced the Old Holley High School building made their “Five to Revive” list, saying that the building is an “irreplaceable historic resource.” In being named to the list, the Landmark Society of Western New York is now working collaboratively with owners, municipal officials, and developers to facilitate investment and foster rehabilitation of the site so that the building will once again play an active role in the community.

Holley’s transformation continues thanks to a $250,000 Main Street grant that the Village was awarded from the state back in December 2013, providing matching funds for building projects in the downtown area. As a result of this grant, work is now underway to improve several sites in the Public Square area. For instance… Dan and Monica Seeler are doing extensive work converting the first floor of the former Tagg’s Tavern into a steak and seafood restaurant, called the “Holley Falls Bar & Grill”, which is scheduled to open sometime this fall. Meanwhile the second floor is being converted into high end apartments. Then Jonathan’s Pastry Shop is getting a new façade and Lisa’s Dance Boutique is having the second-floor windows replaced and portions of the roof repointed. Other projects include VP Supply who is working on a vestibule for its Geddes Street building and Nancy Penna who may be renovating apartments on Thomas Street in the near future.

The good news gets even better! The Village was also awarded a $15,000 grant for streetscape improvements. Word has it that Village officials plan to use that money to refurbish the fountain in the center of the Public Square that was built in 1914 as well as add new benches. In addition, they are open to ideas from community residents on how to spend the remaining grant money.

Projects such as these not only go a long way in giving Holley a much-needed facelift, but it also encourages other building and business owners to invest in her too! By the time all of these projects are complete, Holley will be transformed into a beautiful, vibrant community to match the beauty and vibrancy she’s had within her all along. For that… Visions of Holley’s latest luminaire is not one person, but rather the entire community of Holley… without you there wouldn’t be any Visions of Holley!

6th Annual Murray-Holley June Fest

Hats off to David Dill and the entire June Fest Committee who are once again planning the 6th Annual Murray-Holley June Fest. Scheduled for Saturday, June 7, 2014, the annual event grows each year, enriching the community of Holley along with area businesses, as well as attracting the young and young at heart all over Orleans and surrounding counties. The roster of activities includes:

  • A village-wide yard sales at 9 am. So start cleaning out the attic and garage.
  • The Jim Ferris Memorial 5K Race at 9:30, with registration forms available on the Village of Holley Website at www.villageofholley.org.
  • At 10:30, a grand parade kicks off, featuring a host of marching bands from area school districts along with the 2014 World Champion Ghost Riders Mini Corps, Mighty St. Joe’s Alumni Corps, Sabers Drum & Bugle Corps, Hamburg Kingsmen Drum & Bugle Corps, Mark Time Marchers Band, Kendall Lawn Chair Ladies along with many floats represented by service organizations and fire departments from around the area. The parade route runs from the VFW on 8 Veterans Drive, towards Batavia Street, then down Public Square to White Street, East Avenue, and concluding at the entrance to the canal park.
  • St Mary’s Catholic Church will be featuring their savory Chicken BBQ starting at 11:00 am until they sell out.
  • From 12:00-3:00pm, the Community Action Center at 75 Public Square will be serving up a local favorite… “Garbage Plates” at $5.00 a plate.
  • From 9:00 am-5:00 pm, the Canal Park will be host to a variety of craft vendors, delicious food, games and entertainment for children, wine tasting booth, farmers market, and musical bands.
  • The Murray-Holley Historical Society will be holding their annual bake food sale at the Museum. So be sure to stop by for sweet treats and a cup of coffee. Or stop by Sam’s Diner, Jonathan’s Pastry Shoppe & Café, or the many food booths in the park.
  • Back by popular demand, the evening events kick off at 5:00pm at the Woodlands Soccer field with our own version of “Holley-wood” Idol. Contestants can sign up at 1st Niagara Bank, Public Square. See Nancy Manard for details.
  • The free Drum & Bugle Corp Show begins at 7:00pm with an all-star line-up this year, including the award-winning Holley High School chorus followed by the musically talented Lawn Chair Ladies, the Kendall – Holley marching band, the Hit Men Brass Band, Ghost Riders Mini Corps, Mighty St. Joe’s, and finally the Hamburg Kingsmen.
  • The evening concludes with the spectacular fireworks display by Young Explosives Inc. So be sure to bring your lawn chair.

With this year’s theme being “It’s Fun to Grow Up in Holley”….I thought it would be fun to start June festivities a bit early. Especially since it has been such a long winter! So be sure to write me in care of Visions of Holley and let me know why you think growing up in Holley has been so much fun. I will then forward your comments onto the June Fest Committee.

Upcoming Elections

It’s that time of year again to think about village elections and who you want to represent you. In years past, vacant Village office seats were often decided beforehand as local candidates had the luxury of running unopposed. When this happened, many area residents were left at a huge disadvantage, with their interests and needs largely unmet. Then last year, the tides started to turn as area residents elected two new faces to the Village Board… Brian J Sorochty and Stanley ” Skip” C Carpenter. With local positions running in two year cycles, the remaining Village seats are now subject to our vote this June…. that of Mayor John Kenney, as well as those currently held by Trustees Donald Penna and David Dill.

If you’re interested in holding any of these positions, independent Nominating Petitions may be obtained at the Village of Holley Clerk’s Office, located at 72 Public Square. To qualify, you must be at least 18 years old; a resident of the Village of Holley for 30 days or more preceding the election; and a citizen of the United States. In addition, a minimum of 50 registered voters from the village must sign the Nominating Petition.

The following are key dates and deadlines in accordance with established Election Law.

February 17, 2014 – First day Village Clerk may accept absentee ballot applications

April 1, 2014 – First day individuals may sign independent nominating petitions

May 6, 2014 –  First day to file an independent nominating petition

May 13, 2014 – Last day to file independent nominating petitions for an office to be filled at the general election

May 14, 2014 – Last day to file written objections to independent petitions.

May 16, 2014 – Last day to file certificate of acceptance or declination of an independent nomination for an office to be filled at the village election.

June 6, 2014 – Last day individuals may register with the county board of elections to be eligible to vote.

June 10, 2014 – Last day for Village clerk to receive applications for absentee ballots to be mailed to qualified voters.

June 17, 2014 – ELECTION DAY – VILLAGE OFFICE – 12:00 PM – 9:00 PM

This is your chance to share new ideas or innovative approaches in handling problems facing our community. This is your chance to see the actions outlined in the Comprehensive Master Plan come to fruition. Finally… this is your chance to elect three fresh faces to the Village Board who are accountable to you and the needs of your family. Together we can be the change you want to see, revitalizing Holley with your ideas, your voting power, and most of all…your involvement in local government.

CSA Starting Up

Lori’s Market Basket is pleased to announce that they have officially started their CSA Program for the 2014 season.  If you are interested in being a shareholder, there are a number of ways of signing up. They are offering 100 shares for this years’ crop season with a full share priced at $550 and a half share at $300.  Each full share consists of a large box (about the size of a bushel) of seasonal produce, while half shares are a half box to be picked up every week for …twenty three weeks, between the second week of June and the third week of November. After contacting Lori, they provide you with an information / customization sheet, where you can tell them the type of produce you would like (or not like) as well as contact information and program details.  For additional information visit their http://www.localharvest.org/loris-market-basket-M62612. To join the program, contact them at 585-638-8940; via  email at LorisMarketBskt@aol.com, or simply reply to them on Facebook.  Also check out her flyer on Pinterest. Your inquiries are quickly answered, and they hope to hear from you soon!

Electric Rates to Rise

At last night’s Village Board meeting, village officials told Holley electric customers to brace  themselves for “sticker shock” as big increases will be seen in upcoming electric  bills starting in March. Apparently, Holley’s municipal electric department.buys its power from three sources (New York Municipal Power  Agency, National Grid, and the New York Power Authority). All three are passing along huge increases onto what the village has been paying. As a result, the village will  have to charge more to its customers. For more information, check out the full article on Orleans Hub.

Holley Hosts All-County Music Festival

Music is alive and well in the Holley Central School District as they hosted this year’s All-County Music Festival on February 7 and 8 at the Holley Middle School/High School auditorium. Students from schools throughout Orleans County participated. A panel of music teachers selected students based on their musical achievement, effort, and attitude with performances in the areas of elementary chorus, junior high band, and high school chorus.

The All-County Music Festival is presented by the Orleans County Music Educators Association — a volunteer organization consisting of music teachers from Orleans County schools. The mission of this organization is to further the cause of music education in Orleans County and to provide significant, challenging, and rewarding musical experiences for talented students

Biggest Winner

Are you and your family interested in getting fit in the new year? The Holley Central School District has a fun way to do so. Once again they are partnering with area businesses to host its annual “Biggest Winner” weight loss challenge. A more positive spin than the TV version, this competition is presented by the district’s Wellness Committee and focuses on healthy living. Open to the Holley community, adults and students ages 10 and up can participate.

The challenge begins on Feb 11th with a 6:30  p.m. meeting at the Holley Elementary School and runs  through June. The Biggest Winner challenge requires participants to weigh  in monthly at the school and attend at least four out of  the five monthly seminars that take place at each weigh-in session. Each seminar focuses on healthful eating, exercising and tips for weight loss success as well as a grab bag prize at the end of each meeting.

At the end of the challenge, a grand prize is given to the  participant who has lost the largest percentage of body weight. Last year, the  grand prize was a 50-inch large screen Samsung TV! Stay tuned for this year’s prize.

Interested? Register by picking up a form in the Elementary School office or by attending the first meeting on Feb. 11 at the Elementary School. Good luck to all those who participate!

Infrared Camera Program

The Holley Electric Department has purchased an Infrared camera, which will be used to inspect village lines and substations for hot spots in need of repair. In addition, they are initiating a local Infrared Project, whereby they can come to your home; take snap shots of the exterior; then use these photos as a basis of a report determining whether your home is experiencing any heat loss. While this report is provided by the Holley Electric Department for informational purposes only, the report can serve as a basis of further investigation in the event heat loss is reported. By correcting problem areas of your home, you can minimize further heat loss, conserve energy, and ultimately save money / reduce the cost of your utility bills.

 If you are interested in participating in this project, a sign up sheet is located at the Village Office. The service is being provided free of charge and there is no scheduled date for the service. Rather, Holley Electric will be out taking photos on cold, cloud-covered days. Once photos are taken, they will put together and mail a report, which will include the pictures, a disclaimer form, and an information sheet.

Want to know more or have questions? Contact the Holley lectric Department at (585) 638-6587 or e-mail them at holley.electric.water@gmail.com.

Holley Falls Bar and Grill Coming Soon

As you may have heard around town, area residents Dan & Monica Seeler are working on transforming the former Tagg’s Tavern into a steak and seafood restaurant. Current plans call for the Holley Falls Bar & Grill to open sometime in October or  November of this year. In addition to doing extensive renovations to the building, they are also working with the village in securing additional parking in the Public Square area for their customers. They have set their eyes on a chunk of land next to Hair  Affair, which could be used for 12 parking spaces. Currently, the village owns the land. At a recent Village Board meeting, Mayor John Kenney told the Seelers that the Village  is open to selling the land, but that the land would need to be cleared. As of this writing, the Seelers and Village Attorney, John Sansone are negotiating a price for the  property. Stay tuned!