Archive | July, 2012

Attention Bug owners!

31 Jul

This note will be of interest to anyone who owns one of those classic Volkswagen Beetles, or would just love to own one.

Bug Bust 22, sponsored by the Finger Lakes Region Volkswagen Club, will motor into town this Sunday August 5 from 8 am to 3 pm at Webster Schroeder High School, 875 Ridge Road.

It’s a car show and swap meet specifically featuring one of America’s favorite cars, the classic Volkswagen Beetle.  If you’d like to show your car and vie for some prizes, registration begins at 8 am, and the show itself begins at 9. Awards will be handed out at 2:45, including 1st, 2nd and 3rd places for custom-made cars, a longest distance traveled award and Best of Show. There will also be door prizes, raffles, games, food and refreshments.

Pre-registration is $5 per car, or $8 on the day of the show.  Free admission for spectators.

Click here for more information. But remember, if you’re traveling from the west side, don’t plan to take Rt. 104, because it will be closed to traffic from Friday night through Monday morning.

Laundry can be fun

30 Jul

OK, I want to see some hands, and don’t be shy. How many of you out there just LOVE to hang out laundry?

I mean, I can’t be the only one who sees hanging laundry not as a chore, but as a simple pleasure. It’s a great time to just be alone, to check out from life for a few minutes, and just think. Or don’t think. Just listen to the birds chatting with each other. When you bring the clothes in, they smell great, and that fresh aroma seems to last forever. And it makes me feel good to know that I’m saving a lot of energy and money.

My mother used to hang laundry out all the time. One of the fondest memories of my childhood is the “scritching” sound of her kicking her laundry basket across the driveway as she worked her way down the line. I think about her every time I’m out there.

So I know this dry summer has been tough on farmers and lawns, but it’s been great for line drying.


Blood donors needed — now more than ever

30 Jul

An article in yesterday’s newspaper got my interest. The headline read,

Red Cross: Blood supply at lowest level in 15 years

As a regular blood donor, and someone who regularly encourages others to become donors, I knew I needed to pass this information along.

Donations always slow down over the summer as people go on vacations. But apparently this year the problem is compounded by severe storms in July which forced the cancellation of dozens of blood drives. Plus, since July 4th landed on a weekend, more employees took extended vacations and fewer businesses hosted blood drives.

So they’re at a point where doctors may have to cancel elective surgeries, and even more serious procedures like transplants will have to be postponed.

Fortunately, there are several local opportunities for you to help save a life by donating blood in the next few weeks:

St. Martin’s Lutheran Church
813 Bay Road, Webster
Wednesday August 8, 1-7 pm.

Webster Knights of Columbus
70 Barrett Drive, Webster
Thursday August 9, 1-7 pm

1698 Penfield Road, Rochester
Tuesday August 14, 1-6 pm

All presenting donors this month will receive a coupon for a free Turkey Hill Sun Brew Iced Tea.

If you can’t make any of these, you can always take the short trip down to the Perinton blood center at the Perinton Hills Mall on Moseley Road in Fairport, where they accept donations from 11 am to 6 pm Mondays and Wednesdays and 7 am to 1 pm on Saturday.

Just drop in at your convenience, or schedule an appointment at 1-800-733-2767 (an appointment will get you in and out a little faster).


Webster in the news

27 Jul

There’ve been several interesting tidbits about Webster in the news these last few days. If you haven’t seen these, allow me to enlighten you:

The front-page story of this week’s Webster Post is all about the Friends of Webster Trails and the volunteer crew that does such a terrific job creating and maintaining our local trail system.  In my opinion, these people don’t get enough recognition for the work they do, so I’m very pleased to see them front and center this week.

I can’t seem to find the article online at the Messenger Post website yet, so you’ll have to pick up a hard copy.

* * *

The plan to build a new $5.4 million firehouse on Phillips Road was soundly defeated in Tuesday’s night’s referendum vote. I  think people in general agree that the fire department needs a new station, but think that the proposed one was a bit more than they need.

Back to the drawing board.  Click here to go to the Democrat & Chronicle article about the vote.

* * *
Speaking of the D&C, in today’s Our Towns, columnist Stacy Gittleman featured Joe Gerard, the Camp Bay View camper who’s making and selling bracelets to benefit the climbing tower replacement fund. Scroll down a few days and you can see the blog I also wrote about this exceptional young man. I heard today that Channel 10 is also chomping at the bit to do a story on Joe, but they’ll have to wait until next week, after his family returns from vacation.

Unfortunately, as of right now the D&C  has not updated their website to include Stacy’s most recent column, so you’ll have to read that in hard copy as well until they do.

* * *

Speaking of previous blogs I wrote … back in May I wrote about a new store that had appeared on Ridge Road, called the “Look Ah Hookah Smoke Shop.”  I didn’t say so at the time, but I was kind of wondering about the kinds of things they sell.  Is it really all … well, legal?

Apparently not.

This article from the Webster Post (which is online) reports how the owner of  Lookah Hookah was fined for violating state labeling laws. Specifically, they were selling synthetic marijuana and other designer drugs.  ‘Course, what can you expect from a place where the tagline is “We’ll smoke you up”?



Spiffin’ up the Wegmans

27 Jul

Several days ago I blogged about how they’re constructing a new entrance-way at the Holt Road Wegmans store. Today I turn my attention to the Eastway Wegmans, where they’re also spiffin’ up the place.

It’s probably been finished for a while, but just last weekend I noticed the very nice outdoor eating area that Wegmans has installed outside their Market Cafe.  There’s already a huge amount of seating inside the store at their cafe, and they’ve practically doubled that with their new outdoor patio.  Plus half of it is covered by an awning, so people can enjoy it rain or shine.  Makes me want to go get a sub just so I can relax out there and watch the cars and cart boys.

I was also pleased to see today something that has probably ALSO been there for a while: signs in the main parking lot designating several spaces for the exclusive use of expectant mothers.  What a simple idea, and a great customer service.  Let’s just hope they’re respected by the non-preggers among us.


Hojack Trail extension officially open

27 Jul

Hikers have something to celebrate this evening.

The much-anticipated extension of the Hojack Trail will officially open to the public this evening (Wednesday July 25) with a ribbon-cutting at 7:30 pm,  where the trail crosses Route 250 (South Ave.).

The Hojack Line itself has always passed through the village, of course. But what’s new and wonderful is that the old railroad tracks have been removed in the section from Holt Road east to Xerox, making an already great trail even better.

The project has been in the planning stages for years. Its completion is a result of outstanding cooperation between the Town and Village of Webster highway departments to remove the tracks, prepare the railroad bed for a walking trail and leveling the crossings for automobile traffic. Original plans were to have the new extension ready by July 31.  And look at this — they did it.  So there’s still plenty of time to try it out and hike it this summer and fall.

Many thanks to Webster town and village officials who helped make this happen.  It’s a valuable addition to Webster’s already exceptional trail system, thanks in large part to the volunteers of the Friends of Webster Trails.

If you don’t know the history of the Hojack Line, I recommend you click here to read a very informational piece on the Friends’ website.



Webster Thomas grad is making the world a better place — one hammock at a time

24 Jul

I went to a hammock party the other day.

Never heard of a hammock party? Don’t worry. I hadn’t either, and when I received the invitation I had no idea what to expect. Was it going to be like a Tupperware party? Would there be a bunch of middle-aged ladies sitting around in hammocks, sipping wine and discussing the relative tensile strength of hemp versus kite string?

Fortunately, it was nothing like that. Instead, when I arrived at the party house and walked around to the back yard, I was struck by an amazing sight: Dozens of intricate, hand-woven hammocks hanging all around the yard, bursting with colors as though a rainbow had exploded and doused the entire scene in crimson, blue, green and yellow.

The party’s host was Colin Johnson, a 2011 graduate of Webster Thomas High School who now attends the University of Dayton, majoring in entrepreneurship. Colin is a man with some big ideas who wants to make the world a better place.  And he plans to do it with hammocks.

The party was a grand kick-off event for Colin’s new business, Hammocks That Help. The idea grew from his two-fold desire to start his own business, while at the same time giving back to people in need.

Colin spent much of his first year at school figuring out exactly how to accomplish both those goals.  He really wanted to delve into some kind of service project, but finding the right one proved difficult.  Finally, after months of research, hundreds of emails, and a trip to Latin America, he landed on the perfect solution. It was an idea, he said, that would have a “larger and longer impact, would benefit a local Nicaraguan business, and give me the entrepreneurial experience I was looking for.”

That idea was Hammocks That Help.

The hammocks themselves come from a very talented craftsman in Masaya, Nicaragua, whom Colin met with personally to arrange the deal. Colin plans to import 100 hammocks at a time for resale here in the States. And this is where the “giving back” part comes into play (and it’s really cool).

Through his research, Colin learned that Nicaragua is the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere after Haiti, and the lack of safe housing there is a huge problem.  He witnessed the deplorable living conditions himself during his travels through the country last spring. “Pretty much their houses are four posts, with plastic wrap wound around them,” he said, “and their roofs are anything they could get their hands on.”

Felix, Margarita and their daughter Seylin will benefit from the first house built with funds from Hammocks That Help.

So Colin has partnered with a non-profit organization called the 4 Walls Project, which is dedicated to helping change the lives of families in the rural town of El Sauce, Nicaragua, by building homes. The group has already constructed 14 or 15 simple homes, but their funding has run dry. Colin has pledged to get that funding stream going again by donating half of his proceeds from the hammock sales.

For every 100 hammocks sold, one complete new home will be built. The first one will be for a young couple, Felix and Margarita, and their one-year old daughter Seyling.  So when you buy one of those first 100 hammocks, it’s like you’re making a little investment in that family’s future.  That’s pretty sweet.

The hammocks come in medium, large and family sizes, and start at $70. Find out more at, and if you’re interested in purchasing one, you can email Colin at

Entrepreneur Colin Johnson relaxing in one of his hammocks.

A look inside of Felix and Margarita’s current home.


Each new hammock owner gets a unique laminated card explaining which tells the “Hammocks That Help” story.

Young camper weaves his way to fundraising success at Bay View

22 Jul

The remains of the climbing wall the day after it was destroyed by vandals.

Here’s a nice little story that I ran across recently at the Bay View Family YMCA.  It’s about Joe Gerard, a young camper who has almost single-handedly raised more than $1,000 for Bay View’s climbing wall replacement fund.

A little background first.  In the early morning hours of June 24, the day before summer camp was to begin, vandals burned down Bay View’s popular 40-foot tall climbing wall. It was a very sad day for the Y, and especially for all the kids who climbed that wall every day at camp.

Insurance will not completely cover the cost of replacing the wall and its high-tech hydraulic auto-belay system, so several fund-raising efforts are in the works. Most of them are being coordinated by Bay View itself.  But 12-year old Joe Gerard decided that wasn’t enough. He wanted to do something, too.

Joe Gerard (black shirt) with his mom and dad Wendi and Mike, and brothers Daniel (blue shirt) and David. Daniel’s wearing an assortment of bracelets.

It began one day several weeks ago when Joe wore a bracelet to camp.  He had woven from a kit his mother bought him for Christmas. His fellow campers loved it, and they all wanted one. Turns out they wanted one so badly they were willing to pay Joe to weave one for them.

One turned into many, and many turned into hundreds.

In just a little more than two weeks, Joe has sold more than 200 hand-woven bracelets at $5 each, already raising more $1,000 for the climbing wall fund.

Close-up of one of the bracelets.

Joe’s brothers David and Daniel have helped some with the weaving, and his parents Wendi and Mike have bank-rolled the cost of supplies, so it’s kind of a family effort. But Joe’s really the mastermind behind it all. And even though he’s reached his original goal of $1,000, the demand is there to keep going and keep selling. (More importantly, Mom is telling him he should.)

If you’re interested in purchasing a bracelet  for $5 to benefit the Bay View YMCA Climbing Wall Replacement Fund, stop by the Camp Bay View office any weekday (behind the branch next to the Aquatic Center).  Or call the office at 341-4001.  They’re high-quality, colorful bracelets, cobra-stitched with para-cord, with durable plastic clip closures.

To make a direct donation to Bay View to help replace the climbing wall, click here for information.

* * *

While we’re on the topic of Bay View, I was there yesterday to watch a very neat event, a cardboard regatta. Participants were challenged to build a boat completely out of cardboard which could successfully navigate a 300-yard route into Irondequoit Bay, around a buoy, and back to the dock.

Fourteen “boats” of varying buoyancy were launched, holding anywhere from one to three sailors each.  Several of them actually survived the voyage. Many others sank immediately or shortly after heading out into the bay, leaving their crewmen no option but to physically drag the ailing vessel out to the buoy and back.

Fortunately, points were handed out for creativity and spirit in addition to seaworthiness.

It was a fun event and a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon, sitting on the bay with a nice breeze, watching the birds fly and the boats sink.  It didn’t seem to matter how well their boat sailed or how wet they got, everyone seemed to be having a great time. Plus it raised money for three great organizations: the Hillside family of agencies, Rochester General Health System and the YMCA.

I’ve posted a few photos here, and a few more in a gallery. Click either of the photos to go there.

Empire Grill: A small place with a big feel

22 Jul


It took me a while, but I finally stopped by to check out the new Empire Bar & Grill which opened about a month ago on Empire Blvd.  I’d driven by it many times, and every time I saw that the parking lot was packed.  I wondered how such a small place could fit so many people. Any why was it always so busy?

So last week I stopped in to find out what was so great about the place. That’s when I discovered that “small place” really wasn’t so small inside.

The Empire Bar & Grill — just like its name implies — is really two establishments. On the left side of the building is a very well-stocked bar, which seems to stretch almost the length of the building. It features two dart boards and 12 large-screen TVs, each tuned into a different sports channel, talk show or newscast.

On the right side is the grill (i.e., restaurant), separated enough from the bar that you won’t feel like you’re in a pub when you’re dining. It holds a lot more people than you’d think when you’re looking from outside. There are a dozen or more small tables and a booth along one long wall, allowing for seating of about 40 people. Plus there’s a nice stamped-concrete outdoor patio which can accommodate another 30 or so.  The restaurant side also has four more large-screen TVs in case you tend to get bored while you’re eating.

I chatted for a few minutes with Kelly Fiorini, the day manager, to find out what’s so special about the place that makes it so popular, only a few weeks after opening.  At first she mentioned their wings, but they’re particularly proud of their meatballs and sauces, which are all homemade. And their seafood bisque, she says, is “phenomenal,” with big chunks of seafood including whole steamed clams.

Before I left, I asked her point blank why the parking lot is always so crowded. She looked at me matter-of-factly and said, “Our food is really good.”

So check it out for yourself. It’s a nice little neighborhood bar and grill where both families and the late-night drinking crowd would feel comfortable.

Empire Bar & Grill is located at 2014 Empire Blvd. at the corner of Seabury Blvd. (the former Phuket Thai Cuisine location). They’re open from 11 am to 2 am Monday through Saturday, noon to 2 on Sunday. They serve lunch and dinner, from a surprisingly diverse menu including appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, quesadillas, burgers, pasta and a huge fish fry. Click here to see their menu.

Holt Road construction news

18 Jul

I’ve had a couple of people ask me recently if I knew anything about the huge construction project in progress on Holt Road just north of 104.  After a little bit of digging through Planning Board minutes (thank you Dave) I found out what it’s all about.

What’s going on there is a project called North Ponds Village. According to the Planning Board minutes, it’s a senior housing complex that will include one 66-unit, three-story building and two 24-unit, three-story buildings. Plus offices in a smaller building at the front of the property.

No word on a completion date.

And since we’re on the subject of Holt Road, a few of my readers also mentioned the construction going on right now at the Holt Road Wegmans store.  I popped inside yesterday to get the skinny. The lady at the service desk told me they were simply enclosing the vestibule,  but couldn’t provide any more details.  Sounds like when they’re done they’ll have an entrance-way resembling the one at the Eastway Wegmans. I hope they relocate the bottle return out there when they’re done.