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.

It was then that I started 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. When struggling to make ends meet, 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.

Update: Main Street Grant

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Village of Holley was awarded a $250,000 Main Street Grant, which provided through New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) program. This funding will be used to assist the village with rehabilitation and revitalization of a number of commercial and residential properties in the mixed-use business district of the Public Square area. More specifically, proposed projects will include renovations to the interior and exterior of buildings, facades, building systems (HVAC, plumbing, electrical), structural, roofing, windows, and other interior upgrades.

A kick-off meeting to discuss how grant money will be used is scheduled for Monday March 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm in the Holley Elementary School Cafeteria. Check out the Village of Holley website for a detailed agenda.

Too much candy???

Don’t know what to do with your leftover Halloween candy? Once again, local dentist, Dr. Stephen Thompson is part of a nationwide effort called “Operational Gratitude.” Now in its sixth year, he and his dedicated staff are collecting Halloween candy, paying area residents $1.00 per pound for distribution to our US Service Troops as a “thank you” for keeping us safe.  Just bring in your excess Halloween candy (limit 10 lbs per person) at 42 Public Square in full costume on November 1 from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Dr. Thompson and his team will then give you cash as well as ship the candy to our troops overseas along with toothbrushes and floss.

New this year… Dr. Thompson is collecting candy from November 5th through 8th in the Holley Central School District with a classroom challenge. The classroom bringing in the most candy receives a pizza party! So join in the fun and feel good about putting smiles on the faces of our local troops! For more information, contact Dr. Thompson at 638-5435,  stop by his office at 42 Public Square, or visit his office on the web at

For more even great ideas on how to support our troops during the holiday seasons, check out the “Great Ideas” page of the “Operation Gratitude” website (

Join the fun…

The Murray-Holley June Fest 2012 will be held again this year on Saturday, June 2, 2012. For more information, check out the flyer, visit the Village website, or contact Sandy Heise.

“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
― Fred Rogers

Be the change you want to see…

Do you want to see Holley change for the better? Are you tired of the same people doing everything? Here’s your chance to get involved and be the change your want to see. The Village of Holley Board of Trustees election will be held on Tuesday, June 19, 2012. This year, there are (2) Trustee seats and the Mayor seat up for election.

Terms for these positions are (2) years each. Independent Nominating Petitions may be obtained at the Village of Holley Clerk’s Office, located at 72 Public Square, beginning Tuesday April 3, 2012. To qualify as a candidate for either of the open seats, 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. A minimum of 50 registered voters from the village must sign the petition to qualify. Signed petitions will be accepted by the village clerk’s office beginning Tuesday, May 8 until Tuesday, May 15, 2012. Petitions can be delivered to the clerk’s office during normal business hours 8:00 am to 4:00 pm with the exception of Tuesday, May 15th when the office will remain open until 5:00 pm to accept nominating petitions as required by Election Law.

Incumbents are Mayor John W. Kenney, Jr. and Trustees David Dill and Donald Penna.

“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
― Fred Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember

Holley’s Revitalization

It’s been three years since I moved to Holley, seeing and feeling her potential even if she did not see it in her own self.  In taking a step back these last few months from regular posts on this blog and to a lesser degree community involvement, I had a chance reflect on where Holley and I have been; where we are now on our journey; and where we wish to go from here. Learning a great deal from this reflection, I discovered that Holley may have taught me more than I taught her.

Rather than chasing after love, Holley taught me to simply love; all that I hoped for and more followed. Rather than downsizing my life, Holley enriched my life with her humble beginnings, many new friendships, and a future brighter than any one of us can imagine. Rather than yearning to belong and to find a place that felt like home, Holley made me feel safe, very much welcomed, and demonstrated to me in countless ways that home is not a place, but rather about accepting the good and the imperfections found in each one of us. Rather than seeking God’s presence, Holley showed me His presence is everywhere and in everyone, in good times and in challenging times. Rather than growing my business making a difference, Holley taught me to make it my business to make a difference. Finally… rather than getting Holley to see the potential others saw in her,  she instead handed me a much-needed mirror. It was only when I took a closer look that Holley showed me what so many others have been trying to get me to see and feel… what potential REALLY looks like. Not hers; OURS. You see… while I may have moved to Holley to revitalize her, the truth is … Holley revitalized me.

Thank you one and all for these incredible three years! Because of you… today and every day is a very happy Holley-day!



Does Holley really have a plan?

Residents often ask, “does Holley have a plan?” The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, we have a very detailed master plan that is available for viewing at the Village Offices, at the Community Library, and even online by clicking here. One look at you’ll be very impressed… and excited for what is in store for our quaint village.  But to be successful,  we need your help. To  develop a thriving community, “it takes a village”.  So join your neighbors and get involved.

Let’s get back to the basics

Normally, I only publish good news. However, I feel so strongly about the school’s proposed budget for the coming year that I am inclined to forgo my philosophy momentarily. If you attended last week’s Board of Education meeting or read one of our local newspapers, you probably heard that Holley Central School District has many residents upset. With a $3.2M budget gap due in part to 13% or $1.5M less in state aid, the District is scrambling to narrow that gap. The solution? Layoff 17 teachers and 11 staff members to save $1.2M. Eliminate all sports and extracurricular activities, and save an additional $900K, narrowing the gap by $1.29M.

Still that is not enough to break even. There’s more. It’s not until you include $500K reserves, $422K federal stimulus, $200K inter-fund transfer from capital project, no raises for administrators ($24K), move alternative high school back to district ($24K), a potential restoration of state funding ($300-500K), and raise tax rate by $1 per $1,000 of assessed property($286K) that we actually break even – barely.

Phew! That is really digging deep into our pockets. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize our district is over their heads, with the results affecting our quality of life … not only in the short term, but for years to come! In the short term, the deficit results in higher taxes and less money in our wallets for our family’s essentials. It also has long lasting affects in the programs and services our children receive or do not receive. This not only impacts our children’s future, but their children’s future too.

It certainly makes you wonder how did this happen? Even if we are getting less in state aid, where does remaining deficit come from? Why are school costs escalating far in excess of the general rate of inflation? In part, the answer lies in the growth of consumerism, the need to keep up with the latest technology along with a sense of entitlement to a full array of programs and services. But what are we really getting for our money? Has teacher and student performance increased? Thankfully, recent reports indicate that our children’s test scores are rising in recent years. Click here.

Nevertheless, with spending out of control along with our quality of life and that of our children’s future at stake, we need to re-evaluate our priorities and get back to the basics. It starts by asking yourself two very important questions: What programs and services do you WANT for your children? What programs and services do your children really NEED? There is a real difference in the two questions here. The answer to your first question is the “nice to have” programs and services the District must cut. The answer to your second question is the “must have” programs and services the District must save. For example: school sports. No offense, but there was a time when businesses such as the local diner or pharmacy sponsored the baseball, soccer, and football team; not the districts. So perhaps we have come full circle and should consider creative sources of funding once again.

Our district’s mission is to educate our young, not babysit and entertain them too. Let’s get back to the basics. It starts by attending two upcoming budget workshops that the Board of Education has scheduled. The first is being held on Monday, April 4 and the second on Wednesday, April 6.Both will be held in the Elementary School cafeteria at 5:30 p.m., with the public invited and strongly encouraged to attend. Remember… it takes village to raise our young right.

Our latest issue is now available…

Check out the latest issue of our “Visions of Holley newsletter by clicking here.

If you know of a local treasure that needs to be unburied, or have a vision of your own for Holley, contact me at and be sure to visit my website at to find out how I can help.

Saving big…

Another way to save money on your next purchase is to buy products when their prices are the lowest then pair that sale with a coupon for even greater savings. But how do you know when products are at their lowest price? Check our our article on shopping the sales cycle on our Penny-wise page.