Archive | October, 2012

Halloweening at the schools

31 Oct

You know it’s a pretty cool high school when the staff members there are encouraged to dress up for Halloween.

Webster Thomas principal Glenn Widor not only encouraged staff participation, he suggested a theme — zombies — which is why the Thomas hallways were filled with the walking dead today.  The administrators in particular really got into it, so much so it was disturbing having to talk with them face-to-face.

Believe it or not, these zombies are Assistant Principal Mike Smith, AP Mary Kidd, Principal Glenn Widor, AP Sue Clark and AP Brian Weller.

But Thomas was certainly not the only school where the staff got into the act. My friend Sarah King at Plank North sent me these photos of some of the teachers over there:

Mr. Heveron is a tall penguin.

Mrs. Weinmann the pirate.

Principal Dave Peter was the game “Operation,” complete with a pair of tongs.

Mr. Schoff is … one scary dude.

Mrs. Fuss is “Smarty Pants.” Clever.

Mrs. Pawluk as candy corn.

Ms. King the witch.

Webster withstands Hurricane Sandy

30 Oct

Downed trees block Five Mile Line Road in Penfield. (Screen capture from D&C video by Jamie Germano.)

It could have been much worse. And I dare say, I think we were all expecting Sandy to hit us harder than she did.  But fortunately — as is often the case — the predictions of gloom and doom were not completely fulfilled.

Not to say things aren’t bad out there this morning, for thousands of Webster residents. Especially along the lake shore, there’s water in basements, trees are down, lines are down, and thousands are without power. And since the problem is so widespread, it may take a long time for everyone to get it back again.

But for most of us away from the lake, aside from some extra detritus in the yard and a leaky roof or two, we fared pretty well. After all, I got a day off of school, most of the leaves are down from the trees now, which will allow me to finish up my yard work weeks ahead of time, and the outlet bridge got swung into place a few bonus days ahead of schedule (boy, did THAT little bit of news light up my blog!). We’re also pretty fortunate that this all blew through last night and not Wednesday night.  And thank goodness it wasn’t snow.  Yikes.

Still, take care when you’re out on the roads today, because several of them are closed and more branches may yet come down.  Here’s an update from the D&C of the roads that are closed this morning:

As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, the following roads are closed: Stone Road, between Castleford and Willis in Greece; Latta Road, between Silver Fox Lane and Castle Creek in Greece; 5 Mile Line Road, between Whalen and Route 286 in Penfield; Lake Road, between Pellet and Baker in Webster; Holt Road, between Nestwood and Shoemaker in Webster; East Avenue, between Anita and Sweden Walker Road in Sweden; Roosevelt Highway, between Route 260 and Hamlin Parma Town Line Road in Hamlin; and, True Hickory Drive, off of Hemlock Woods Lane in Greece.

The Webster Recreation Center is also closed to the public today, as it has been designated an emergency shelter. The Webster Lunch 60 Program will also no run today.

How did you and yours survive the storm? Did you have any significant damage to your home?  Feel free to comment and share your stories, and send along some photos for my blog if you’d like.


An anniversary party to remember

30 Oct

The Barry’s gang, all dressed up for the occasion.

The Village of Webster came together in a big way Saturday night to congratulate Danny and Jessica Barry on a very successful first year of business for Barry’s Old School Irish.

The little pub on the village’s four corners was standing-room only all evening as friends old and new came to lift a pint and help celebrate. Several special guests were also in the crowd, including Mayor Elder and his wife Pam, board member Jude Lancy and “Village Focus” writer Carol Klem.

The reason everyone wanted to be there was simple: Barry’s Old School Irish has done wonders to revitalize this village. Danny and Jessica Barry are not only two of the nicest people I’ve ever met, they have created a place where anyone who comes through the door feels like family. My friend Chris summed it up perfectly when he said, “Coming here has always felt like coming to somebody’s house; somebody’s living room, kitchen.”

Halfway through the evening, several patrons accepted the invitation to come up and tell the Danny and Jessica – and the assembled crowd – what Barry’s has meant to them. After that, the entire pub serenaded the young couple with a song written especially for them.

You can check out videos from both events by clicking on the images below.

Jess and Danny Barry listen as pub patrons tell them exactly what they think of their little pub. (Click on the photo for a video)

Barry’s Crossing performs “The Ballad of Barry’s.” (Click on the photo for a video)

Photos from Halloween in the Village

30 Oct


Click here to see a gallery of photos from Halloween in the Village

The worst of yesterday’s weather held off until the afternoon, allowing hundreds — perhaps thousands — of children and their parents to enjoy Webster’s annual Halloween in the Village event. When things got started around 11:30, there were so many people it was hard to even walk down the sidewalks.  Even the spitting rain which began around 1 pm didn’t keep kids from their candy rounds.

What’s so great about this event is not only that it’s a great thing for the kids, but it’s also a great reason for people to come into town, see what the village has to offer and meet some of the business owners.  It’s too bad the weather wasn’t better, but I was pleased to see that it was a success nonetheless.

I’ve posted a few photos here. Click on any one of them or the link above to redirect to a Facebook gallery of many more.



Barry’s Old School Irish celebrates a year of good food, good drink and great friends

27 Oct

My friends Tom and Jill were among the big Friday crowd at Barry’s last night.

This evening, Barry’s Old School Irish Pub and Bakery on Webster’s 4-corners will celebrate its one year anniversary. In anticipation of that happy event, I sat at my computer last night, poised to craft the perfect blog about what has become my very favorite Webster hangout.

Fingers at the ready, I started to think. What exactly IS it about Barry’s that makes the place so special? The beer?  The to-die-for Guinness chocolate cake?  The live music?  There are just so many things about Barry’s that make it a pleasant place to be. But what is it that makes Barry’s unique?

It took me a little while, but finally it dawned on me. I realized why I go back there every Friday night. And some Saturdays and Wednesdays. And the occasional Sunday afternoon. It’s Mary Jane and Mike. Tim, Jerry and Robyn. Debbie, Sarah, Chris and Julie. Ken and Kim, Mac and Maura, Brendan and Gordon. These are the people of Barry’s, and every single one of them has become part of my extended family.

Funny thing about these extended family members, though, is that I couldn’t tell your most of their last names. Plus, I didn’t know ANY of them a year ago. But thanks to Barry’s, I’m now closer to these people than to most of my “regular” extended family members.

You see, any Irish pub can serve a Guinness. Any restaurant/bakery can serve up great dinners and desserts. But there aren’t many places where you can walk in and immediately feel like family.

Danny and Jessica Barry on the weekend they opened.

But that’s the way it is at Barry’s. The feeling in this little place is just … different. It’s like everyone there is only a stranger because you haven’t met them yet — but by the end of the night you probably will.  I’ve heard people refer to it as a “family bar,” which is a really weird phrase, but sums up the atmosphere perfectly. Just like the pubs in ol’ Ireland, Barry’s Old school Irish has become a community gathering place, in the mornings for coffee, scones or breakfast buffet (bring the kids!), lunchtime for some incredible Shepherd’s Pie, and evening for a pint and some live music.

Which is why I’m going to be there tonight, and I’ll probably get there early for dinner and to get a good seat for the performance by Barry’s Crossing** (featuring my son on fiddle, just so you know).  There’s going to be some good food, good drink, and great friends, plus a few surprises Danny and Jessica don’t even know about yet.

Oh, yeah, totally forgot to mention the momma and papa of this extended family of mine. Danny and Jessica Barry own this little slice of Ireland in the middle of the village. If you ask me, when they moved in and transformed what used to be a very ugly and embarrassing “Living Waters” property, they transformed the village of Webster as well. I am blessed to be able to call them friends. Tonight I will not be toasting their success as much as thanking them for being a part of our lives.

**Sarah and Sean of Barry’s Crossing got their start in the pub, so when they officially formed their duo, they named it after Barry’s Old School Irish. It’s kind of an interesting story. You can read it on their website here.


A special tree made even more special

25 Oct

A year ago Tuesday, 11-year old Simon Harris lost his courageous battle with neuroblastoma. Simon was a student at Plank Road North Elementary School, where last May the staff members planted a tree in his memory. (Click here to read my blog about that nice ceremony.)

On Monday, to remember that sad anniversary, Plank North staff members dressed up the tree for Halloween, complete with a Jack-o-lantern sporting a Fedora (Simon’s signature headwear) and notes from his teachers.  They chose to do the decorating on a day with good weather so that Simon’s little brother Manny — who still attends Plank North — would be sure to see it.

Webster Thomas students making a difference

23 Oct

“But now,” says the Once-ler, “now that you’re here, the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear. UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

In honor of USA Weekend‘s annual Make a Difference Day coming up this Saturday, I bring you a nice story about some Webster Thomas High School kids who are, indeed, making a difference.

For example, there’s Avery Maltman, Cara Macaig and Miranda Cain, who teamed up to clean up Kent Park.  And Scott Skarzynski, who’s collecting used toner cartridges and electronic gadgets for recycling. And Julian Zehr, who’s organized a shoe drive for the needy in Africa. And Mia Klasner, Emma Schaefer, Sarah Ball, Sarah Hurlburt, Ellie Songer and Danny Gresens, whose bottle and can drive is raising money for postage to send those shoes to Africa.

All of these kids are students in Cathy Anne’s Enriched Earth Science Class at Webster Thomas, and while they’re helping our world, they’re also doing their homework.

It’s all part of Anne’s “Pop the ‘Me’ Bubble and Make a Difference” project, a three-month long assignment where students have to come up with some sort of project to help the environment. It could be anything from planting trees to writing letters to Congress.

Anne began the unit with a movie: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, which chronicles the plight of the environment and how one grumpy little creature fights for it.

After watching the movie, Anne explained,

we talked about how the Lorax represents the conscience of a person and that we need to listen to our conscience and put aside our greed for the greater good.  We need to think past ourselves; pop our “me” bubbles. If we don’t start making a difference now, it will be too late.

The students were given a short list of possible ideas, and they ran with it.  The variety of projects the student devised and their depth of commitment is impressive, as illustrated in this email I received from Nathaniel Tsai:

Our assignment … was to help clean the world and make a difference. If one person wants to clean the world just that much, then in future, it could make a greater impact…Our class was given the choice to pick one activity out of a small list to do each month. The activities consist of planting trees, collect bottles/cans, start a recycling project, research alternative energy, and write letters to congress possibly about Hydrofracking, waste in the Pacific Ocean, etc.

We were also given the choice to do any other idea that we could think of. This is what I jumped on. For my “Make A Difference” project, I am doing all of those activities. But not only am I just doing them, I am recording my actions as well. This way, I can make a small video at the end of the project that I hope will influence others. My video will have some slight humor in it, but it will also be very impacting on others to help save the world. Even if it just is little by little.

This is the first year Anne has assigned a long-term project like this to her Earth Science students. But judging from their response, it will certainly not be the last.

“I was very impressed with how my students took to this project,” she wrote. “They came up with ideas and plans that are much more involved than I imagined. It shows you that these kids do care, about many things, and when they were given the opportunity to make a difference they embraced it and ran with it. It also shows that they are mature, responsible young adults who are more than just data — a test grade — and success can be measured in several different ways.”

Photos below are from the Kent Park clean-up effort by Avery Maltman, Cara Macaig and Miranda Cain


Climbing wall fundraising update (Have you bought your bracelet yet?)

22 Oct

I know a lot of my readers have been closely following the story about Bay View YMCA’s efforts to raise funds to replace the climbing tower which was destroyed by arson at the beginning of the summer.  Today I’d like to share an update on those efforts.

The news is very good.  The original fund-raising goal was $100,000. Thanks in part to some very generous anonymous gifts — including two recent donations of $40,000 and $5,000 — Bay View is only $1,000 away from that goal.

Joey Gerrard with his bracelets at the Food Truck Rodeo in September.

The YMCA expects to hold an official press conference soon to announce the overall status of the campaign and present more details about the rebuilding plans.  But we already know that what will rise from the ashes will be more than just a climbing wall, but a much larger, handicap-accessible climbing complex, including a bouldering wall and dual zip line.  And most exciting of all, it will all be ready when the kids return to Camp Bay View next June.

And do you remember Joey Gerrard, the young man who has almost single-handedly raised thousands of dollars by selling bracelets? (See an earlier blog about Joey by clicking here.)  Joey has about 400 bracelets left and is committed to selling them all. Here’s how you can help him do that, and help chip away at that last $1,000.

This Saturday, Joey will have a table at the annual Courage Bowl, which begins at 2 pm at Webster Thomas Varsity football stadium. This is the final game for the YMCA’s All Star Flag Football program, designed for children with special needs. At the Courage Bowl, these kids get a chance to play in the spotlight on a real varsity football field in front of hundreds of fans.

So come by the game, pick up one of Joey’s bracelets for $5, and support both a great cause and some great kids.

The Great Dishwasher Detabe

22 Oct

Earlier this week I came across a very interesting column by Craig Wilson in USA Today. In his column, Wilson discussed marriage, sharing housework, and loading dishwashers. All three topics are, of course, deeply intertwined.

Specifically, Wilson cites a study from the folks at Bosch, a high-end dishwasher company, which found that 40% of couples fight over how to load the dishwasher.

I found that statistic very interesting. For starters, I don’t understand the concept of arguing over how to load the dishwasher. Seems to me, the simple answer is, “You don’t like the way I do it, do it yourself.” Problem solved.

But that aside, I agree that every dishwasher presents infinite options when it comes to loading.  Do you put the small plates with the large ones, or next to the bowls? Which way do you face the bowls? When should an item go on the top rack instead of the bottom? Where do the long utensils go when they don’t fit in the silverware caddy?

There are so many potentially wrong decisions that I don’t even try to help load the dishwasher at a friend’s home, and I don’t want people to help me with mine.

What I really liked about Wilson’s column, though, was how he touched on my two biggest dishwasher pet peeves: 1) do you place silverware face down or face up, and 2) do you have to pre-rinse the dishes?

To me, both answers are clear.

1) Face down, obviously. If you put spoons and forks in the caddy face up, you have to touch the goop on them as you do. Put knives in face up and you risk impaling yourself when you reach in to add that last fork from dessert.

2) Don’t rinse. That’s just redundant, like vacuuming the house before the cleaning lady comes.

I wish Wilson’s column had gone one step further and found studies showing the actual percentage of people who put their silverware face down (the right way) or face up (the wrong way).

And don’t even get me started on toilet paper.


Webster clarinetist earns national honor

18 Oct

Once again a Webster resident has been recognized as being a stand-out in her field. In this case, a playing field.

Photo courtesy Democrat and Chronicle

In yesterday’s Democrat and Chronicle, the lead local story featured Webster Schroeder High School senior Hannah Harrison, who was recently named to the All-American Marching Band.  Hannah plays clarinet for the Webster High School Marching Band, and is one of only 130 musicians selected for the national honor.  She’ll travel with the All-American Band to San Antonio Texas in January, where they’ll play at halftime at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, a national high school football all-star game.

Read more by clicking here for the on-line story.

You can watch Hannah perform for yourself this weekend when the Webster High School Marching Band hosts OPERATION BLUE, a day-long open house culminating with the annual Autumn Fanfare field band competition at 5:30 pm. Students interested in joining the band are encouraged to bring their instruments and participate in the day’s events. Parents will have plenty of opportunities to ask questions as well. Click here for more information.