Archive | January, 2013

WWFD benefit events continue to raise money for families

25 Jan

It is truly heartwarming to see that, almost a month after the Christmas Eve ambush, local businesses and organizations are still hosting special events  to benefit the West Webster Fire Department.

And I’m talking A LOT of organizations and businesses, and not just here in town, but all across the state, from Niagara Falls to Syracuse. There are so many events that it’s hard to keep track of them all.  Fortunately, you’ll find many of them on the West Webster Fire Department’s website.  As of this writing, a dozen of them are listed, starting this weekend, so check it out if you’re still looking for a way to help.

here are a few others which are not yet listed on the WWFD website:

This Sunday January 27, the Rochester Lancers soccer team will host a “First Responder Appreciation Day” at the Blue Cross Arena at their 1:00 pm match against the Missouri Comets. Several in-game and pre-game tributes will be dedicated to first responders in our area.  Injured firefighter Joseph Hofstetter will be Honorary Captain for the game, and all local first responders will be invited onto the field for a special ceremony.  The Lancers will wear black tribute jerseys, which will be auctioned after the game, and there will be performances by the Fire Department Band and the Keystone Pipe and Drum Band.

In addition, the Lancers will be offering a limited edition t-shirt honoring the memory of the fallen firefighters and all first responders.   Each T-shirt purchase will also include one ticket to the game.  Local orders for t-shirts can be picked up with the free ticket at the Lancers’ ticket table in the main lobby of the Blue Cross Arena on game day.  Distance orders will have their t-shirts mailed to them FREE of charge, compliments of Spinning Webs Internet & PC Services.  All proceeds from the sale of the t-shirts will go directly to the WWFD and the families impacted by the Christmas Eve tragedy.

Click here to find out more information about the game and to order a t-shirt.

After the game, stop by Larijames Salon and Spa, 2038 Empire Blvd., where they’ll be holding a “cut-a-thon” this Sunday January 27 from 1 to 6 pm.  Haircuts are $25, cash or check only, including a shampoo and blow-dry. No appointments will be taken. Proceeds will benefit the West Webster Fire Department fund.

Proceeds from the “cut-athon” will be presented at a benefit raffle for the families of Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Koczowka from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 29, at the Webster Applebee’s, 1955 Empire Blvd.  Tickets for that raffle can be purchased for $5 each at Empire Academy of Combat Sports and Fitness, 1150 University Ave. Winners do not need to be present at the drawing.

Don’t miss the Webster Thomas vs. Schroeder Faculty Basketball Game on Saturday, February 9 at 7 pm in the Schreoder gymnasium, 875 Ridge Road, Webster.  Tickets are $5 and all proceeds will benefit the families of Tomas Kaczowka and Michael Chiapperini.  The highlight of the evening will be at halftime, when Webster Thomas Assistant Principal Sue Clark, Librarian Trish Warren, and Schroeder AP Jeremy McBride will have their heads shaved — if they can raise $5,000 before the game.

Tickets are expected to sell out before the game, so it’s best to get yours early.  They’ll be available at both high schools the week before the game.

If you would like to donate directly to the “going bald challenge,”  you can send a check made out to the WTHS Student Council, Webster Thomas High School, 800 Five Mile Line Road, Webster, 14580.

Finally, on Sunday February 10, plan to have lunch or dinner at Flaherty’s Three Flags Inn, 1200 Bay Road in Webster. From 11 am to closing, Flaherty’s will donate 20% of your tab (not including tax or tip) to be split between the West Webster Fire Department and the Webster Community Chest to aid the families from Lake Road who lost everything.

Memorial t-shirts and wrist bands will be offered for sale and there’ll be a 50/50 raffle. Organizations are also encouraged to sponsor a table.  Call Flaherty’s at 585-671-0816 for more information.

You can keep Florida. I like my Webster.

25 Jan

A family sledding trip to Webster Park. Photo by Kim Runnells.

Winter in Webster is kind of a boring time of year. Around December first, we all retreat into our homes for three straight months, venturing out again only when we hear birds chirping and see blue sky.

With some notable exceptions, all of the festivals and outdoor music and special events in the village also go on hiatus for winter. Business owners put away their patio furniture. It’s easy to find a parking spot on Main Street  (when they’ve been sufficiently plowed, that is).

Yup, winter in Webster is cold and miserable.  But only if you look at it that way.

Webster winters are also incredibly beautiful.  The lake shore at this time of year is spectacular.  A walk in any of our parks when there’s snow on the ground is like strolling through an enchanted forest, so peaceful and so quiet that you can actually think.  For that matter, you just have to look out your window into your front yard to enjoy the simple beauty of snow-covered trees and bushes.

And there’s even still plenty of things to do around town during the winter months, both indoor and outdoor. There’s free ice skating at the Rec Center, for example.  A snowmobiling event for children with special needs. The White Christmas in the Village Holiday Parade of Lights. Sledding at Webster Park.  Library events. Church concerts.  If you’re looking for something to do, just ask anyone who had kids home from school over Christmas Break.

I was thinking about all this this morning as I wrote an email to a friend who’s lounging on a beach in southern Florida. Naturally, I was pointing out the differences in temperature we were experiencing. But I stopped short of whining about it.

Right then, I realized that I don’t mind the cold so much. I COULD do without the snow, thank you, at least on the roads. (People drive so stupid.) And I don’t even mind shoveling. I look at it as a good workout, and I much prefer it over raking leaves.

No, I think we’re fortunate to have four distinct seasons. Springs that come back to life with flowering trees and baby birds; warm and sunny summers that invite outdoor concerts and romantic evening walks along the lake; autumns that explode with color; and yes, winters that aren’t afraid to be winters, with just enough snow to go sledding and snowshoeing, and every once in a while a bonus day off of school.  And funny thing about our seasons: they’re just long enough so that one comes to a close, we’re ready for the next one.

No, I’ve pretty much decided that going to Florida occasionally might be nice, but I wouldn’t give up living here in Webster for anything.


From the Town of Webster to everyone: Thank you

21 Jan

I am pleased to post the following letter from Webster Supervisor Ron Nesbitt to the Webster community, and everyone else who so selflessly gave their time, talents, and prayers during the very difficult events of Christmas Eve and the weeks that followed:

After the senseless tragedies that happened in the Town of Webster on Christmas Eve where Lieutenant Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka where gunned down and where Joseph Hofstetter and Theodore Scardino were seriously injured, I wanted to come out and personally thank the communities in Monroe County and beyond.

The outpouring of support and caring from all over the community, the United States and the world has been a great inspiration to me and the community of Webster. I, along with the Webster Police Department and the West Webster Fire Department, have received words of sympathy and wisdom from as far away as Australia and world wide.

Locally, County Executive Maggie Brooks stood by with county-wide assistance with any and all help available from county government.  My Supervisor colleagues, mayors, and many other government agencies state wide offered to come to Webster with any and all support necessary to lessen the burden of this tragedy.

On that tragic day I saw firsthand from the command post established on Bay Road just how dedicated the first responders where to this horrific criminal act. New York State Troopers, Sheriff’s Deputies, Border Patrol and other police agencies within Monroe County and New York State worked in tandem to assist with and coordinate the investigation.  Our own Webster Police, devastated with the loss of one of their own, continued to work and assist in doing their jobs in the face of uncontrollable grief.

Fire fighters from the West Webster Fire Department, quite visibly shaken by the loss of two of their fellow firemen, continued to stand by to put out the fires on Lake Road and to be of assistance at the scene. Fire fighters from all over Monroe County assisted West Webster in back filling the station plus providing support where needed.

The Webster Central School District was outstanding in allowing the Webster Police and West Webster Firemen access to Schroeder High School for the calling hours of our fallen heroes and the service for Lt. Chiapperini.  The attendance of the world wide support and lines of grieving community members were testimony to how loved Chip and Tomasz where to everyone in Webster.

We send our love and continued support to fire fighters Ted Scardino and Joe Hofstetter for a continued and speedy recovery.  Thank you also to Greece Police Officer John Ritter for your quick actions on behalf of the Webster community.  I want to reiterate to these brave men that if there is anything that they and their families need, there is more than just the Webster community ready and willing to help them in any way possible.

To the families who lost their homes on Lake Road to the horrific fires – we stand ready to help you rebuild your lives and homes. The Town Board will waive all fees needed to rebuild and many other agencies have offered support and assistance to you in this trying time for you. A complete list of helping builders, electricians, engineers are available at Town Hall. Please contact us for any and all assistance that you need going forward.

Thank you to the many volunteers who donated their time and resources in support of these heroes and their families.  From setting up vigils, to coordinating food efforts and fundraisers; thank you for the support to all the families involved.

Webster’s motto is, “Where Life is Worth Living”, and I wouldn’t change a thing about living here.  However, I do need to thank everyone for coming together in our time of need with your outpouring of support and love for the Webster community – thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.

Our town continues to grieve but we will move forward.  We are a resilient community and while we will never forget Chip and Tomasz, the support of our extended community has helped us all to move forward.  Once again, thank you.

Ronald W. Nesbitt, Supervisor

Town of Webster


Flu season creating greater need for blood donors

20 Jan

So have you been hit with the flu or that awful cold that’s been going around this year?  If you haven’t, you’re one of the lucky ones. And if you haven’t, I encourage you to consider making some time to donate blood this week.

The American Red Cross is really hurting for donations this winter, because so many people have had to cancel their appointments and so many others are hesitant to donate for several reasons.  I got this email just a few days ago which I am pleased to pass along:

As the number of flu cases grows, there may be a notable decrease in the number of healthy blood donors available to help sustain the blood supply. We are asking that healthy donors keep their appointments to donate blood in the coming weeks.

Donating blood will not cause you to be more susceptible to the flu. Also, there is no waiting period to donate blood after receiving a seasonal flu vaccine, as long as you are feeling healthy and well the day of donation. Neither the flu shot nor the intranasal form of the influenza vaccine is cause for a blood donation deferral because there is no risk of transmitting influenza after receiving the vaccines.

All blood types are currently needed, with an urgent need for types O negative and B negative.

Please make an appointment to donate and help save lives now by visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Hospital patients are counting on the generosity of donors like you.

As a special thank you to our donors, Dunkin’ Donuts is providing a voucher for a free pound of coffee to all presenting donors during the month of January. The vouchers are redeemable at all participating Dunkin’ Donuts Restaurants.

What a great way to support our community and pay it forward. Plus you get free coffee.

Your next two local opportunities to donate are:

Tuesday January 22, 8:15-1 pm, Visiting Nurse Service,  2180 Empire Blvd

Saturday January 26, 9 am – 2 pm, Masonic Lodge, 30 Orchard Street


Webster Mailbag (weekend edition!)

18 Jan

Before I get to some news about upcoming events, here are a few other notes of interest:

Earlier this week I posted a blog announcing that the defunct Mobil gas station at the corner of Five Mile Line and Ridge has a new owner. An Express Mart is scheduled to move in, with construction possibly beginning as early as this spring.

I found out yesterday from Supervisor Nesbitt that the coffee shop it will include will be a Tim Horton’s.  I’m gonna like having one of those on the way to school.

* * *

Good news for book lovers: as of the first of the year, the Webster Public Library has resumed Sunday hours from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. This service was terminated a year ago because funding was tight and cuts were needed to continue overall operations of the library. The Library Board of Trustees was able to find the needed revenue to reopen on Sundays from personnel changes that have taken place at the library in the past year.

Let’s keep this going — the library’s Spring Book Sale takes place in May, which is one of their best fund-raisers.  Keep an eye out for more details about that. In the meantime, drop your used books off during regular library hours (which include Sunday again!)

* * *

The new outdoor ice skating rink is up and running again at the Webster Recreation Center on Chiyoda Drive (off of Phillips). There’s no charge to use this facility, and it’s lit into the evening hours. Thanks to this winter’s capricious weather, you’ll want to call ahead to make sure the ice is frozen (585-872-2911). But wouldn’t this be a great family activity when the kids are off of school on Monday?

* * *

Plans are in motion for the 2013 Schlegel Road Elementary School Artisan Craft Fair, scheduled for Saturday March 2 from 10 am to 4 pm.  Organizers are looking for artisans interested in having a table at the fair.  Email Nicole Noon at For more information, check the event’s Facebook page by clicking here.

* * *

Our friends at Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church invite everyone to their annual Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative (EROI) recital on Friday, January 25 at 7 pm.  The EROI strives to share great organ music with the greater Rochester area. One way it does this is by having organists from the Eastman School of Music give community recitals at local churches. Free will donations will go towards the student travel fund for the organ students at Eastman.

The Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church is located at 131 West Main Street in the village of Webster, at the corner of Daniel Drive. Parking is available behind the church accessed from Daniel Drive. More information at or through the church office at 585-872-5180.

* * *

A big raffle to benefit the West Webster Fire Department will be held on Tuesday January 29 at Applebee’s, 1955 Empire Blvd. The event will take place from 5-7:30 pm, and feature dozens of items donated by local artists and business owners.  Tickets are $5 each and can be purchased at any firehouse in Webster and at the Webster Police Department, 1000 Ridge Road. All proceeds will go to the families of the shooting victims.

* * *

Hallie Barrett as Sebastian, rehearses “Kiss the Girl” with cast from Disney’s Little Mermaid, Jr

Webster’s Willink Middle School is hard at work putting the final touches on their spring musical, Disney’s Little Mermaid Jr.

The energetic and enthusiastic cast of 113 sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students have been diligently running their lines and practicing their dances since October.  Madison Fulton will play Ariel and Max Bucci will bring Prince Eric to life. Additional cast members include Kelly Barry as Ursula, Haley Barrett as Sebastian, Bridget Lasky as Flounder, Noah Swain as King Triton and Sarah Crumley as Scuttle.

Everyone already has seen the movie and loves the music, so you know that this will be a wonderful production for the whole family.

Disney’s Little Mermaid Jr. will be performed on the Willink Middle School stage, 900 Publishers Parkway, Webster on Friday, February 1 at 7:30PM and Saturday, February 2 at 1PM and 7:30PM.  Tickets are $9.00 adult; $6.00 students and seniors and are available at the door.

* * *

The 3rd Annual Snowmobile Rides for Kids With Special Needs will take place on Saturday February 2 from 1-4 pm, at the Webster Recreation Center on Chiyoda Drive.

This special winter event is open to children with special needs and their families. Kids under18 will get the opportunity to be a passenger on a snowmobile and enjoy the thrill of a ride around the Webster Recreation Center winter wonderland. Bring along your ice skates and sleds and make it a day! Hot cocoa and snacks will be available.

The event will take place if there is at least 8 inches of snow. (Last year there was none.)  You can check the Webster Recreation Center website for updates.

Educators going bald to benefit firefighters’ families

17 Jan

Sue Clark

Three Webster educators have pledged to go completely bald a few weeks from now, if they can raise $5,000 for a very worthy cause.

Webster Thomas vice principal Sue Clark, Thomas librarian Trish Warren, and Webster Schroeder vice principal Jeremy McBride will all go under the razor on Saturday, February 9, during halftime of a Thomas vs. Schroeder faculty benefit basketball game.  But it will only happen if they can raise $5,000 before the game, which will then be donated to the families of fallen firefighters Tomasz Kaczowka and Michael Chiapperini.

The decision to go hairless for the cause was actually Clark’s idea. It’s her personal way of paying it forward for an incredible gift her family received eight years ago.

In 2004 her husband Rick was fighting a losing battle with Fabry Disease, a rare kidney ailment, and needed a transplant. Lynn Early, one of Sue Clark’s teaching colleagues, offered to donate one of hers. Six months later, Rick Clark had a new kidney and has enjoyed good health ever since.  Ever since that day, Clark has been looking for a way to thank her friend for that extraordinary gift.

Trish Warren

The perfect opportunity to do that – to pay it forward – came out of the tragic events of Christmas Eve, when Kaczowka and Chiapperini were shot and killed when responding to a fire.

“This idea of paying it forward is very important to me,” Clark said. “Giving my husband a kidney was a huge act of kindness. There is no way to repay someone for that. (Lynn) simply said to me that someday I would know when it was my turn to do something for somebody else.”

“She was right.  Now is the time.”

Almost $2,000 has been raised so far, partly through small cash donations students and staff members have stuffed in boots located in the school libraries and main offices.  Educators from around the state have also sent larger checks.

Jeremy McBride

Still, there’s a long way to go and only a few weeks to raise the money. If you’re interested in donating, you can send a check in care of the WTHS Student Council, 800 Five Mile Line Road, Webster, NY 14580.



Marching Band more than just a band marching

17 Jan

I went to a very nice family dinner party last weekend. Like most good dinner parties, there were lots of kids running around, plenty of food and drink, creative table decorations, a kids’ table (actually, several of them) and an abundance of good company.

About 200 people packed the Willink cafetorium for the banquet.

But unlike your average family dinner party, this one hosted about 200 guests.

The occasion was the Webster High School Marching Band’s annual awards banquet, held to celebrate another successful year, and to honor the exceptionally talented musicians — and dedicated adults — who worked so hard to make it so.  I attended at the invitation of Janet and Gerry Sander, whose daughter Kristen performs with the band’s color guard, and who have been involved with the band for countless years.  They are extremely proud of this organization, what it has done for their children, and what it has done for Webster.  They wanted to share that pride with me, so that I could see firsthand what Marching Band is about.

And what I saw was one big, noisy, musical, laughing, happy family.

Now, I’ve been involved in any number of organizations and clubs and attended all sorts of awards banquets.  They’re all pretty much the same.  The organization’s president/chairman/head coach leads off, glowing things are said about the star performers, trophies/certificates/letters are handed to those who earned them, there’s polite applause, coffee and tea are served, and then everyone goes home.

This gathering followed that pattern exactly. Well, up to the first part, where band director Brian Wilt introduced the evening’s events. But after that, things got out of step (so to speak) just a little bit.

It’s a tradition that every senior create a poster for the awards banquet, with images from the year. This one was made by clarinetist Hannah Harrison, who was named to the All-American Marching band this year.

Every student in every unit was invited to the stage to receive recognition.  And all the adults who selflessly gave of their time to support the band all year were recognized — the equipment crew, medical staff, chaperones, board of directors, bottle and can drive volunteers, Autumn Fanfare organizers, boosters.  And here was a switch: the kids gave gifts to the staff members. (My favorites were the Mario backpack, a huge plastic tarantula and the New York Yankees hat for the Red Sox fan, which all the unit members signed so he had to wear it.)

Towards the end of the evening all of the seniors came up on stage for special recognition and a gift bag which included a beautiful Marching Band blanket for their college dorm room.  When they all went back to sit down, you could see the balloons tied to the gift bags all gathered around one table. These kids weren’t sitting with their parents. They were sitting with the friends they made in marching band.

That is family.

The evening ended with a moving, 35-minute video (put together by the Sanders’ older daughter Jen) spanning the entire year of practices, competitions, trips, band camp, and just the serial craziness that went on behind the scenes. It included personal messages from the seniors, in which they tried to put into words what Marching Band meant to them. And they all said pretty much the same thing:

“It’s the friends you make and the fun you can have,” said one senior.  And another added, “Marching Band is the best sport in high school.”

I think I get it now.

P.S. The Marching Band is introducing a terrific new rogram for young children this year, called the Webster Kidets Marching Band. It’s a parade band for children grades 4-6, designed to teach children the basics of music and motion.  It’s a one-month program, one night a week that will end with a performance in the annual Fireman’s Carnival Kiddie Parade. Click here for more information.

Pasta dinner will benefit WWFD

17 Jan

I received this press release earlier today, and wanted to pass the information along as soon as possible, so everyone had plenty of time to mark their calendars.

Hillside Family of Agencies Hosts Community Pasta Dinner to Benefit

West Webster Fire Department

The Hillside Family of Agencies is hosting a community pasta dinner on Friday January 18 at its Halpern Education Center, to raise money for the West Webster Fire Department.  The youth day treatment facility, located at 659 Bay Road in Webster,  was used as the command center during the tragedy that occurred on Christmas Eve.

For more than 175 years, Hillside Family of Agencies has been a strong fixture in our region, helping the community achieve great success. This fundraiser is a way for Hillside to honor and thank first responders for their commitment and support.

The pasta dinner will be provided for a minimum donation of $10 per person and all money will be donated directly to the West Webster Fire Department.  A limited number of tickets will be available at the door, so it is recommended that reservations be made by visiting or by by calling 585-256-7515.

Dinner will be served from 5:30-8 pm. Organizers hope they are able to serve at least 2,000 people and raise more than $20,000 for the department.  Let’s everyone help them hit their goal.

Halpern Education Center is located at 659 Bay Road, Webster.

How the world responded to a simple request for snowflakes

14 Jan

If you “like” my Webster Blog Facebook page, you’ve already seen this story.  I posted a link to it yesterday pretty much as soon as I heard about it, because I knew it was something that everyone had to see.  So today’s blog is especially for those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook.

You may remember in the week before Christmas I posted a letter from the Sandy Hook Elementary School PTA in Newtown, CT. It introduced what they called the “Snowflake Project,” an idea which came about in the wake of the tragic shooting that occurred there on December 14.  The letter read, in part,

We are asking your students to make and decorate a snowflake. We will hang them in the hallways of the stark, new building where the Sandy Hook students will be returning.

It was a way for people to help bring some happiness into a very sad situation. I know that many individuals and schools in Webster answered the call.  As well as individuals and schools all around the state. And the country. And the world.

But you can see for yourself. Click here to see a story that CBS News did about the incredible response the Snowflake Project received.


High school journalist scores online interview with Glee star

14 Jan

Imagine having the opportunity to chat face-to-face with one of the biggest stars of one of the most popular shows on television today. Plus, you get to ask him two questions.  What would they be?

That was exactly the situation Catherine Osadciw found herself in when she was chosen to participate in a live video chat with Chris Colfer, who plays Kurt on Fox’s hugely popular television show Glee.

Catherine, a freshman at Webster Thomas High School, is a student journalist for the school’s online newspaper, The CourierLast fall, the newspaper’s host site,, sent out a notice about an interview opportunity with Colfer, who was promoting his new movie Struck by Lightning, which he wrote and stars in.  Newspaper Club adviser Mary Heveron-Smith saw it and first offered the interview to another student.  He turned it down. Then she asked Catherine, who jumped at the chance.

The chat was scheduled for mid-December. By then Catherine had watched the movie (the students were sent a link to preview it before its official release) and knew what questions she wanted to ask.  She and her dad made sure all the computer hook-ups were working perfectly on her end. She was ready.

But that’s not to say she wasn’t nervous.

“I’d never done anything like that before,” she said.  It didn’t help that she was only one of only eight student journalists from around the country who were participating. “I expected it to be a big thing,” she said.  And then she found out that she’d be starting off.  “Oh, my gosh, you have to be kidding me,” she thought.

After some technical difficulties on Colfer’s end, the chat finally got rolling, and Catherine asked her questions (“How was this different from a typical film about teenagers?” and “Was it harder writing or starring in the movie?”).  Everyone had their chance to talk with the star, then the interview was over.  It only took about 15 minutes. But that was plenty long enough to leave a lasting impression on Catherine.

“(Colfer) was really fun, really nice to everyone,” she said.  “I liked that he was very humble and passionate about what he did.”

“I was impressed, definitely impressed.”

Click here to go to the Webster Thomas Courier, where you can read Catherine’s interview with Chris Colfer, and her review of Colfer’s new movie, Struck by Lightning.