Archive | February, 2017

Sad news about Sweet Ben

28 Feb


Last July I wrote an East Extra column about a very special young man, 12-year old Ben Matthews, who was battling cancer. Earlier in the year, doctors had given Ben only weeks to live. His family decided to make the best of the time he had left by renting an RV and taking a cross-country trip to visit family and see the sights.

I met Ben at a lemonade stand he had set up in front of his aunt’s house in Webster. His spirit moved me, and his mother’s positive attitude inspired me. It was a day I will not soon forget.

Sadly, I read today that Ben passed away peacefully Tuesday morning. His aunt Linda wrote on Facebook,

Dear Webster friends, especially those who remember our Sweet Ben and his lemonade stand this past summer, I am so saddened to share this post from my sister-in-law with you: This morning at 1:20 a.m. our Ben ended his time with us here on earth. He will continue to shine in our hearts until we are reunited in the future. Love you always my dear boy.

It is definitely a sad day, but we can take a small bit of comfort in knowing that Ben enjoyed a full life, one more than a year longer than even the doctors had predicted. He brought many smiles to family, friends and the many strangers who crossed his path.

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Town Board gets new digs

28 Feb

Somewhere in the back of my brain I knew that the Town offices were getting a face-lift, but I didn’t realize how much until yesterday. Basically, they’re benefiting from maintenance and upgrades that have been needed for a while, and they’re going to look AWESOME.

I learned the details from Supervisor Nesbitt’s most recent column, in which he announced that this Thursday’s Town Board meeting will be held in the brand new board room in the Van Ingen Building (old-timers like me will remember the Van Ingen building as the old library).

According to Nesbitt,

The space is larger to accommodate those times which require more resident participation may be needed. There is new video and audio technology that has been installed that will allow Cable Channel 12 to do more in the way of streaming live and not having residents walk up to the podium when needing to speak.

The Van Ingen building also has a new roof, two new air-conditioning and heating units, a new indoor paint job, and improvements to the Special Police space. Come spring, the Highway Department will be putting in a new sidewalk and curbing and redoing the surface of the parking lot.

You can check out the upgrades yourself by stopping in this Thursday, or watch the board meeting on TV, televised  by Channel 12 at 7:30 p.m.

The improvements are part of a two year town-wide project to update the Town of Webster’s government facilities.

Town Hall is next on the schedule for an upgrade. While work is being completed, all regular Town Hall business will be moved to the Van Ingen building for about 6 months. More details to come about that.


Towards the end of Supervisor Nesbitt’s column, he added a note about the blue recycle bins. Apparently people are calling him to complain about trash blowing out of the bins on windy days and littering their neighborhoods.

Really? This is something that you need to call the supervisor about?

It’s really not the supervisor’s job to remind everyone to weigh down their recyclables on windy mornings, or wait until early morning to put the bin by the curb. He’s got more important things to worry about, and so do we. If trash blows into your yard, pick it up. It’s really not that big a deal, and if that’s the only aggravation in your life these days, count your blessings.

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Go blue for Jack on Monday

24 Feb



All of my school district colleagues are being encouraged to Go Blue for Jack on Monday February 27, and I wanted to pass along that challenge to everyone else as well.

Jack James Heiligman would have celebrated his 4th birthday this Sunday. I first learned that from my friends at Schlegel Road Elementary School, where Jack would have eventually attended school.

Jack passed last October in a tragic accident, but his irrepressible spirit lives on through the Jack Foundation, established in his memory.

In honor of Jack’s birthday, and to continue to spread the positive message championed by the Jack Foundation, all of us in the Webster Schools will be wearing blue on Monday. Please join us and help spread the word to your work colleagues to do so as well!

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Webster PTSA presents program on Internet safety

20 Feb


The Webster Central PTSA will be sponsoring a program in March that every parent should consider attending.

Jesse Weinberger, a nationally recognized speaker about Internet safety, will present a program called “Internet Safety for Parents” on Wednesday March 1 from 7 to 9 pm in the Willink Middle School cafetorium.

Jesse will share with Webster parents the ways in which kids are at risk on their personal devices, and concrete steps we can take to minimize those risks. Learn the affects of exposure to adult content on children, the facts on cyber-bullying and how to avoid it, the truth about sexting and how predators engage with children online. Participants will leave with action steps to keep kids safer.

This FREE presentation is appropriate for an adult-only audience, as the content will be direct and specific. Please make arrangements for child care. The presentation cannot be recorded, so make sure you can see it in person.

Click here for more information and if you have any questions, email 

Willink Middle School is located at 900 Publisher’s Parkway, Webster.

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Get your team together for the annual SEPTA bowling tournament

18 Feb


Dust off those bowling balls and shoes and save the date for an enjoyable afternoon of bowling, all for a great cause!

On Sunday, April 9, Webster’s Special Education Parent-Teacher Association (SEPTA) will hold its annual bowling fundraiser to raise scholarship funds for graduating Webster Schroeder and Webster Thomas High School seniors who are part of the district’s special education family.

Join Webster’s special education faculty and staff, students, parents, and Webster families from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at AMF Empire Lanes in Webster on Sunday, April 9. Your donation of $30 includes two hours of bowling, shoe and equipment rental, a t-shirt, pizza, soft drinks, and even free raffle tickets for prizes.

We are looking for teams to show off their hidden talents of striking and sparing! Dress in a theme to win awesome prizes (past themes have included: The 50’s, Ballerinas, Outer Space, Nerds and The Rainforest).

For more information and/or to reserve a spot for your team, contact Webster Thomas High School special education teacher Dina Malboeuf at

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Vote for the Warrior Crew NOW!

16 Feb


You may recall a few days ago when I posted a blog about Webster Schroeder’s Warrior Crew. That’s what the school’s uber-peppy student fan section calls itself. Last year the Crew took first place in the annual New York State Public High School Athletic Association “Battle of the Fans” competition, which recognizes top student cheering sections.

Well, the contest is on again and the Crew is once again a finalist, hoping to become the contest’s first-ever back-to-back winners.

Voting is now in progress and only runs through noon tomorrow (Friday). I’m told that it’s a pretty tight race right now, so every vote counts.

You vote by “liking” their entry on social media — Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Here are the links:

So get online (wait, you already are.) So click through and make your vote right now!

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The Yellow Brick Road leads to Spry Middle School this spring

14 Feb


The spring musical season continues in just a few weeks when Spry Middle School presents The Wizard of Oz on March 10 and 11.

Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion will all be there, searching for the Wizard and the glowing Emerald City. Adapted from the famous movie starring Judy Garland, the stage version incorporates all of your favorite songs, like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “If I Only Had a Brain,” and “King of the Forest.” Plus, you’ll also enjoy a rarely-seen dance number, “The Jitterbug,” which was cut from the original movie.

The production is based on the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, with a book adapted by L. Frank Baum. The story is a familiar one: When a tornado rips through Kansas, Dorothy and her dog, Toto, are whisked away in their house to the magical land of Oz. They follow the Yellow Brick Road toward the Emerald City to meet the Wizard, and en route they meet a Scarecrow who needs a brain, a Tin Man missing a heart, and a Cowardly Lion who wants courage. The Wizard asks the group to bring him the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West to earn his help.

The Wizard of Oz will be presented in three shows, Friday March 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday March 11 at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m., in the Spry Middle School auditorium, 119 South Ave. Tickets are $7, and these shows often sell out, so it’s a good idea to get your tickets early. They’ll be available beginning Feb. 24 at If any tickets remain, they will be sold at the door.

Bringing The Wizard of Oz to the Spry stage would not be possible without the hard work of Artistic Director Bill Ambler, Production Manager Tricia Mungo, Choreographer Jackie Collins, and Music Director Ron Strong.

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Boy Scout Troop 110 introduces newest Eagle Scout

13 Feb


Boy Scout Troop 110, sponsored by St. Martin Lutheran Church in Webster, has announced that Ian Kuebler has earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

Ian’s project involved revamping the back entrance of Holy Trinity Church. During the summer of 2016, he put in new plants (trees and flowers) and replaced the old, outdated plants to make the church look more inviting. Also, the project entailed placing a stone bench for reflection, staining a AC unit fence and washing a retaining wall from mold and dirt. He completed his project last summer with help from 32 volunteers, putting in more than 290 hours.

Ian Kuebler is currently a high honor role senior at Aquinas Institute. He plays ice hockey, lacrosse and golf. In addition, he’s a member of the Principals Club at Aquinas and has earned the Hands of Christ Award.

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The Warrior Crew needs our help

13 Feb


I received a very well-written and impassioned email the other day from a representative of the Warrior Crew, Webster Schroeder’s student fan section.

This completely student-run pep squad shows up at Schroeder sports contests, cheering on the teams with an unparalleled energy and volume. And that’s not just an opinion — the Crew actually came in first place last year in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association “Battle of the Fans” competition, which recognizes top student cheering sections.

Believe it or not, they have a chance to win that contest again this year, and be the first-ever back-to-back Battle of the Fans champions.

The Warrior Crew has been named a finalist in the 2016-2017 competition, and NYSPHSAA judges visited the school recently, during the school’s basketball game against Bishop Kearney. “It was a fantastic experience, and we think the judges had just as much fun as we did,” the email said.

But now comes the hard part: getting the votes, as the eloquent emailer pointed out.

“Although we feel that the Warrior Crew impressed many people, and also proved that it is still the best in New York, this battle does not come down to a decision from the judges… We deserve to win again and become the first ever back-to-back Battle of the Fans Champions, but we need your help in order to accomplish this goal. The representatives from NYSPHSAA will post a picture for all four finalists on three different forms of social media: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Each “like” on those posts is equivalent to one vote cast for that school. The student section with the most votes wins.”

The Crew is asking that, once the links are posted, everybody go online and on Instagram and cast a vote by “liking” the Webster Schroeder entry.  Voting will start this Wednesday, February 15 at noon, and end on Friday at noon. Stay posted to my blog and I’ll let you know what the links are as soon as I find out.

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I would be remiss if I stopped there. The email went on to give some background on the Warrior Crew and how they have expanded their focus from sports to the entire school community and beyond.

We pride ourselves on dedicated support of our classmates. We have created an awesome family atmosphere over the years, which, these days, is rare at high schools. We are proud of the fact that we are able to unite all aspects of our school into one Crew. We draw from rich tradition, but also innovate and improve each year. Last year, we were named NYSPHSAA “Battle of the Fans” champions after our senior leadership culminated their high school careers with the remarkable feat of uniting our school like never before.

This year, we have continued the traditions of being loud, positive, and supportive at athletic events, but also branched off into other areas within the school (music, technology, art, etc.), and even in the community. We strive for having a great time cheering on our Warriors, inclusion, unity, and constant support of others. With these goals in mind, and using our great platform as reigning NYS champions, we launched the “Warrior Crew Cares” campaign this past Fall. Through a t-shirt fundraiser we were able to support other teens at the Rochester Center for Youth. Just as important as our donation to the Center, were the ideas about the importance of giving to others that spread through our school after that.

You can connect with the Warrior Crew on Twitter @WSWarriorCrew, on Instagram @thewarriorcrew, and their website,  Also, check out this video for a good idea of what they’re all about.

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Great Webster news (and not so great)

12 Feb

Webster’s own Kate Lee on stage at the Grammys. (Provided photo)

I have some great Webster news to share with you this morning.

If you saw this morning’s paper, you saw a big story about local phenom fiddler Kate Lee, a 2010 Webster Schroeder graduate. This is an exciting day for Kate and her bluegrass group The O’Connor Band, because they have been nominated for a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album.

I have had the honor of knowing Kate for many years. She attended Schroeder with my son, and they occasionally played together  at musical events. She was an amazing talent those many years ago and has only gotten better.

Click through to the D&C website to read Jeff Spevak’s story about Kate’s rise to fame, and sample some of the top-shelf music created by her and her O’Connor Band-mates. Then make sure to stay tuned this afternoon for their performance at the pre-ceremony, and then the award announcement later this afternoon, both of which will be streamed live.

Kate posted some details on Facebook this morning with the above photo from their rehearsal:

Here’s a picture of O’Connor Band sound checking this morning for our performance at the Grammy Premiere Ceremony tomorrow! You can watch us perform if you visit around 1:10p Pacific Time to stream the pretelecast live from Microsoft Theatre in LA! And the Best Bluegrass Album category will be announced around 2:45p Pacific Time!!

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Here’s another recent article from the D&C that might interest you, but this time the news is not so good.

After trying to make it a go for a little over a year, the Original Mac and Cheez restaurant on East Main Street has closed.

Saturday was the last day of operation for the storefront, but co-owner David Piergiacomi assures everyone that the very popular food truck will be back on the streets in April.  Read the whole story here, written by Tracy Schuhmacher.

As another East Main Street business bites the dust, that end of the village has become a ghost town. I swear there are more closed storefronts down there than there are open ones. Something needs to be done, and done soon, to start attracting more small businesses to town before Webster stops becoming a destination altogether.

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