Archive | April, 2013

Mr. Ahlquist goes to Washington

29 Apr

Webster Thomas High School social studies teacher Greg Ahlquist had the opportunity to meet President Obama last week on a trip to Washington D.C.  The honor was one of many that Ahlquist has received after being named New York State Teacher of the Year for 2013.

Since receiving the honor last October, Ahlquist has spent much of this school year traveling around the country as an ambassador for the state and the school district.

The two shots below are from the photo op with President Obama and all of the nation’s Teachers of the Year. Ahlquist can be seen in the back row on the left in the first photo — he’s the tall one next to the flag. In the second photo, you can just see his face peeking out from behind at top right (he’s wearing glasses).




Two invitations from the school district

29 Apr

Today I pass along a few notes straight from the school district:

The first is an invitation to join a Strategic Planning Committee Forum next week. In extending the invitation, Superintendent of Schools Adele Bovard wrote,

The district is in continual need of our community’s input as we keep building on the strategic planning process that began three years ago. Those beginning phases of the strategic planning process focused on parent engagement, technology, and communication within the district. Community members are now invited to share input with the district’s strategic planning group to help answer the question, “What does it mean for a Webster student to be college, career, and community ready?” Activities to help answer that question will include focus groups during this forum and, in the near future, an updated survey of the community.

The forum will be help on Tuesday, May 7  from 7 – 8:30 pm at Webster Thomas High School’s South Cafeteria, 800 Five Mile Line Road.  If you’re interested in attending, contact Krista Grose, WCSD Public Relations Coordinator, at 216-0013, or

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The Webster Central Schools PTSA has just announced that its 2013-2014 PTSA Calendar Cover Art Contest has officially begun.

Any WCSD student in grades K-11 is invited to enter. There will be two winners, one for the smaller size calendar and one for the larger size calendar. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card from Barnes and Noble and have their art work reproduced on more than 2000 calendars sold by the Webster Central PTSA.

Entries must be submitted by Friday May 31 (no late entries will be accepted), and the artwork will not be returned.  Entries must conform to the rules below and will be judged on their artistic merit and the ability to reproduce the work on the calendar.  The subject of the drawing must relate to education.Here’s the fine print:


  • be hand drawn in black ink or black marker on white paper no larger than 11” high by 14” wide (or smaller than 8 ½ X 11″); landscape format preferred;
  • must not include copyrighted characters or images such as Snoopy or Mickey Mouse;
  • must not be folded;
  • must not include the name of a specific school or teacher, and must not contain any misspelled words;
  • must have the following information printed on the back of the artwork: student’s name, current school and grade, and home telephone number;
  • Artwork should reflect education and/or positive youth values (such as the 40 Developmental Assets).

Artwork must be submitted to your school office or library by Friday May 31. For any questions contact your school’s PTSA Chair or Terri Edwards at 872-3993 (tme



Two ways to help support the Webster Comfort Care Home

23 Apr

There was a very nice article on the front page of the local section of yesterday’s D&C about one of Webster’s finest community service organizations, the Webster Comfort Care Home. (See the article online by clicking here.)

The home, located at the corner of Holt and Klem roads, provides free hospice care to the terminally ill of our Webster community. This year they’re celebrating their tenth anniversary with a series of events beginning with a fund-raising concert this Saturday night, which was prominently featured in yesterday’s article.

The concert is called “An Evening With The International Guitar Duo and Petar Kodzas” and will feature a candlelit cabaret atmosphere and “world-class” musical artists playing classical, pop, jazz and country music. Bakery items and beverages will be available for purchase, including wine and beer. There’s no admission charge, but a a minimum $10 per person donation is suggested. Tables for 8 can be reserved for $80 by calling Craig Pratt at 585-347-4202.

It takes place Saturday night April 27, beginning at 7 pm, at the Webster Recreation Center, 1350 Chiyoda Drive. For more information go to Or click here to see video clips of International Guitar Duo:  and classical guitarist Petar Kodzaz:

WCCH Fashion Show

Finally, don’t forget about the The Webster Comfort Care Home’s annual Spring Fling Fashion Show fundraiser on Saturday, May 18 at 11:30 am at the Penfield Country Club.  Fashions are being provided by Stein Mart and the event includes a delicious luncheon and silent auction. Cost is $27 per person.  Reservations are required and can be made by calling Mary Ann at 872-6568.

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In the past ten years, the Webster Comfort Care Home has hosted more than 290 of our friends and neighbors, providing them with compassion and comfort as they ended their life journey. There is no charge to residents or their families for these hospice-like services, and they receive no government assistance to help defray their operating expenses, nearly $190 thousand annually. Instead, all of the agency’s funding comes by way of corporate, business and individual contributions, and fundraisers such as these.

Webster Presbyterian Mission Team helps our Southern Tier neighbors

22 Apr

This super-friendly looking group just returned from a service trip helping rebuild homes in the Southern Tier.

This is a nice story from the folks at the Webster Presbyterian Church, who recently returned from an Adult Mission Team Trip in the Southern Tier.

Sixteen church members participated in the week-long service trip, in which they helped three homeowners in the Endicott-Binghamton area make repairs to their homes, which were badly damaged in the awful flooding that took place there in September 2011.

Mission Committee member Laureen Anthony-Palmer reported that the group worked on drywall and did some painting for a house in Vestal, did “lots of painting” and hung a door on a house in Owego, and installed vinyl siding on a home in Barton. “All three homeowners were extremely grateful for our help and were very helpful to us the entire week,” Laureen added.

This is the second time a service group from the Webster Presbyterian Church has traveled to the Binghamton area. Last October a team spent a week rehabilitating two homes in Johnson City.  One of the homeowners was an 86-year old widow named Betty, who had spent the previous year living upstairs in three bedrooms and a bathroom.

Laureen was pleased to report that this month’s Mission Team members went back to visit Betty to see how things were going.  “It was not only great to visit with her again,” Laureen wrote, “but also to see that the renovations on her home are now almost complete and she is once again able to live on both floors of her home.”

The Webster Presbyterian Adult Mission Team’s visit was hosted by the First Presbyterian Church in Endicott, who reported that the work down there is far from done.  As of last fall, there were still about 1000 in the greater Binghamton area in need of repair, and they expected to be sponsoring work teams for at least the next two years.

I particularly love this story because I feel a very personal connection with it.  Owego is my hometown, and I was heartbroken when I saw the devastation caused by the floods.  On a recent visit I was glad to see that the beautiful little town has rebounded well, in part thanks to the efforts of fine folks like these.

So may I add my personal thank you for your kindness and generosity of time and talent.


New website is designed to bring Webster together

21 Apr

Webster resident Joe Harmon wants to bring our town closer together, and he wants to do it through a website.

It’s called We Are Webster, a virtual community — Joe calls it a “town square” —  where Webster residents can gather to find information about local news, organizations and upcoming events.

The main portion of the page is devoted to a news feed which Joe keeps updated with local and national news. In the sidebars, visitors will find the @We_are_Webster Twitter feed, a blog, an events calendar, links to community organizations, and more.

But Joe hopes the website will become much more than just another calendar of events page. He wants We Are Webster to become a resource for residents to engage with one another and the community, a gathering place for people to share ideas and information, organize support for causes, and become part of a social network devoted to helping one another.

He’s seen this happen before, in the days and weeks immediately following the tragic events of Christmas Eve. He wrote,

As the community was trying to come to grips with the horrific events, a Facebook page was created almost immediately to help provide community members with critical information and a digital memorial for the fallen heroes. As the Webster community began to grieve, they also came together to provide, food, shelter, monetary donations and many other acts of kindness. The idea of “pay-it-forward” was being felt not only in our small town but across the region and even across the country. A “virtual” community space led to so much good being done for the families of the heroes as well as fellow firefighters and first responders.

Then he took those thoughts and went a step further, asking himself,

Why does it take a tragic event to bring a community together? Shouldn’t we all be doing more in our own community? How do we find this information? Where can I go online to find opportunities to help my community?

So Joe put his significant web-design skills to work and came up with We Are Webster, which he hopes will become that community resource. He continued,

If the events of Christmas Eve taught us anything, it was that Webster volunteers and residents are always willing and able to help each other in good times and in tragedy. We should never be afraid to offer assistance to our neighbors or come together to improve our community. As the old saying goes – we are all in this together!

“We Are Webster” is not just a phrase, it’s a way of life. There is a reason why our town motto is “Where Life is Worth Living.” And together, we will continue to build a stronger community!

Click here to go to the We Are Webster website, join that community, and help make Webster stronger.  You can also check out their Facebook page by clicking here.


Mystery checkerboards

21 Apr

Have any of these turned up in your corner of Webster?

In two places along Hatch Road, someone has pasted checkerboard posters on utility boxes. There’s no identifying marks or political statement of any kind, just the posters.

As you can see from the photos, someone has tried their darndest to rip them off, with little success. They’re stuck on there good.

Has anyone seen them elsewhere? Does anyone have a clue to what they mean or who the artist is? Maybe it’s that skeleton-artist guy who was decorating the Phillips Road overpass, deciding to branch out a bit.


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Can you help with cleanup at Case Park?

19 Apr

Milton R. Case Park is overdue for a facelift, and Ian Fike is on the job.

If you’ve never heard of Milton R. Case Park, don’t feel too bad. It’s been in such a sad state for so long that it doesn’t get much use, or attention. Plus, its main entrance on South Avenue is tucked between two houses and it doubles as a driveway, so it’s easy to miss when you’re zooming by on 250.

But it’s a great little park once you get to know it. It boasts 14 acres of woods and several nature trails. And it’s right in the village, so it’s really easy to get to. It’s just a little … shabby.

Ian Fike, a Life Scout from Troop 163 (St. Rita Church) wants to do something about that. For his Eagle Scout project, he decided to tackle the challenge of improving Case Park.

His plans include repairing the trails, installing new trail head signs, and removing debris and trash. One of the things I like best are his plans to improve the trail and trail head access from Spry Middle School. Perhaps that will encourage more exploration by the students and staff there.

It’s going to be a big job, and he can’t do it alone. So Ian has sent out a request for help from the community. He’s looking for donations of materials he’ll need for the project, and volunteers for his work crew on Saturday April 27.

Here are some details:

Ian Fike’s Case Park Eagle Scout Project
Work Day: Saturday April 27, 9 am to 2 pm
click here to sign up to work or donate materials:

Check out the photos below of some of the jobs Ian wants to accomplish:


The park definitely needs new signs.

All this debris needs to be cleared.

Here’s where Ian wants to create a better path from Spry to Case Park

One of the low areas that needs to be filled.


Thursday Webster mailbag

18 Apr

The Webster Thomas Odyssey of the Mind Team poses with principal Glenn Widor.

Get a great dinner Friday night and benefit a good cause.

A Webster Thomas High School Odyssey of the Mind team won the state championship in their problem and division, “It’s How You Look at It”, and will advance to the World Finals to be held May 22-23 in Lansing, Michigan.

To defray the cost of getting to Michigan, team members Brystol Cook, Sarah Kennedy, Abby Wezelis, Andrea Saitta, Rachel Crumley, Allesandra Suchodolski, and Lizzie Hart are hosting a series of fundraisers, so come grab a bite to eat and support the team.

The first is a chicken barbecue on Friday April 19 beginning at 4 pm.  The barbecue is provided by Tastebuds Catering, and will take place at Webster Thomas High School, 800 Five Mile Line Road. The release I received said that pre-orders would be taken until two days before the event. That was yesterday. If you’re still interested, you can email thomasOOTM19@ or ThomasOOTM26@ to see if they’re sold out yet. Cost is $10 for a marinated half-chicken, mac salad, coleslaw, bread and butter.

If it’s too late to sign up for this weekend, they’re having another one next Friday April 26. You can definitely get in on that one.

Community Arts Day is back

One of my favorite events of the school year takes place this weekend, when Community Arts Day returns to Webster Schroeder High School this Saturday April 20 from 10-4.

This is great family-friendly event which celebrates the many artistic and musically talented students in our schools. Samples of artwork from every school in the district will be on display, and entertainment by dance troupes, martial arts schools, music groups and more are scheduled throughout the day. The entire first floor of the school is packed with performers, artwork, and community displays. There’s a children’s area with crafts, baked goods and refreshments, and the YMCA Carnival set up in the gymnasium with games, prizes, a bouncy house and inflatable obstacle course.

I tell you folks, this is a great inexpensive way to entertain the kids all day.

Admission to Community Arts Day is free. Proceeds from food, craft, and carnival booth sales will benefit cultural arts programs within the Webster Central School District.  For more information, visit the Community Arts Day website. You can also click here   to see the full performance schedule.

Webster Theater Guild Proudly Presents…

After a fun day at Community Arts Day, consider  taking in a family-friendly evening of music, dance and drama presented by the Webster Theatre Guild.

Community groups scheduled to perform include the Neighborhood Acting Company, the Bowties, Rochester Gay Men’s Chorus, Greater Rochester Repertory Companies, The Women of Note, St. Paul’s Church Choir, JCC Center Stage, the Webster Thomas/Schroeder Show Choir, and of course the Webster Theatre Guild.

The event will take place in the cafetorium of Willink Middle School, 900 Publisher’s Parkway, beginning at 8 pm. There’s no charge, but donations will be accepted, all benefiting the West Webster Fire Department and the Webster Community Chest.

Dig into Your History

The Webster Museum will host a genealogy talk on Sunday April 21, called “Searching For Your Family History.”

Gabriel Pellegrino, a long-time Webster resident and director of music at Holy Spirit Church,  will present a talk on how to use the public library, the Internet, church records and newspapers to find your family history. Bring your questions and he may be able to point you in the right direction.

While you’re there, be sure to check out the museum’s new exhibits on “Life in the 1920s and 1930s.”  You won’t believe how different — and colorful — the kitchens were back then.

The talk will run from 2-4 pm. The Webster Museum is located at 18 Lapham Park in the village. Check their website for more information.

Local Cub Scouts caring for the environment

14 Apr

Earth Day is still a week away, but Webster Cub Scout Pack 108 got a head start yesterday, when they cleaned up Veterans Memorial Park in the Village of Webster.

Cubmaster Amy Schell wrote that this is the third year the Pack 108 cleaned the park. “We had nine Cubs, first graders through fourth graders from State Road School help,” she said. “Also helping were two siblings and nine parents. This is one of our favorite service projects. We collected 10 bags of garbage, had fun and got some fresh air.”

The effort was sponsored by Delta Laboratories and Friendly’s restaurant.

Amy also snapped the photos you see here.

Super job, kids!  You’re a great example of why Webster is such a wonderful place to live.


A new era in village politics begins

14 Apr

The newly constituted Village Board: (l-r) Trustees Al Balcaen and Jerry Ippolito Jr.; Mayor John Cahill; Trustees Darrell Byerts and Jude Lancy

I was in the audience with more than 30 others on Thursday night for the first Village Board meeting presided over by newly elected mayor John Cahill.  I think I was not the only one who wanted to see how well things — and the new board members — settled in after a rather acrimonious campaign and election.

And I’m pleased to say they seem to be settling in rather well.

Mayor Cahill opened the meeting with a very nice thank you to village staff members who have make the transition a smooth one, and to the village residents who put him in office.  He also reassured those residents that the new board would immediately address the water issue. “It is a pledge I will work to make a reality,” he said, with the warning that it would be “major, long-term effort.”

This first meeting of the village political calendar is always the annual operational meeting, filled with a litany of procedural housekeeping items necessary to keep the village running. But a few small, yet very important, issues kept the meeting hopping.

The first was the resolution authorizing the mayor and a village trustee to begin negotiations with Monroe County Water Authority. Mayor Cahill asked for a “rising” vote rather than the standard voice vote, and to their credit, every single board member stood to indicate their “yes” vote for the resolution.   No matter what personal position each board member has on this issue, it’s clear what village residents want, and voting to work with the MCWA was the right thing to do.

The second was a resolution to reinstate the Village Board salaries to their previous level. This was necessitated by a vote taken by the previous Village Board at their last meeting of the year to reduce the salaries of the mayor and village trustees. Their rationale was that since 25% of the board members’ salaries is for their service as commissioners of the village water department, and since the current board has pledged to eliminate the water department, that portion of the salary should also be eliminated.

Former mayor Peter Elder was in the audience and took to the podium to defend the board’s decision, to no avail. Current Board members quickly approved the resolution, reversing what most consider a petty move.

Personally, I was pleased to hear in Mayor Cahill’s opening remarks that his administration would not be focused exclusively on the water issue, that he recognizes the importance of maintaining a strong village in ALL its aspects. In particular, that includes improving cooperation with the town, renewed attention to code enforcement and expanding special events.

It was obvious that Mayor Cahill is still learning the ropes of his new office, but despite bungling a few Roberts Rules of Order, things appear to be off to a strong start.  So, as Mayor Cahill concluded in his opening statement, “Let’s roll our sleeves and get to work.”