Archive | December, 2017

School 17 says Thank you, Webster

31 Dec

Here’s a very nice end-of-the-year feel-good fuzzie, which I received in my email this morning. It’s a video thank-you to the Webster community from School 17 for helping bring Christmas to the children, many whom wouldn’t otherwise get even one present, let alone anything else resembling Christmas.

Click on the image to see the video. May the new year continue to bring more instances of people helping people, every day and in both big and little ways.

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Webster’s new Ploty’s Tavern strives for hometown feeling

29 Dec

bar 3

There’s a new tavern in town, and from the looks of it, its going to be a pretty popular place.

It’s called Ploty’s Hometown Tavern, and it’s located at 27 West Main Street, where the Vino Lounge used to be, in the lower level of shops behind The Coach and Mozzeroni’s.

eric and kourtney

New tavern owners Kourtney and Eric Plotzker

The unusual name is derived from the last name of the new owners, Eric and Kourtney Plotzker.  Both are Webster natives, and are excited about the opportunity to become an integral part of their hometown.

Kourtney said that owning a bar has been a long-time dream for Eric, who is stepping into the role after working for 11 years in the beverage industry with Pepsi. 

“Every year he’s been saying he’d like to do his own thing,” she said. “He’d always wanted to have his own local bar … in Webster. We have a lot of family and friends here.” 

They’d been looking around for about three months for just the right place, when one day a friend told them that the Vino location had been listed.

That’s when “the stars aligned,” Eric said. It was a great location, a nice size, and it came furnished. It was a done deal. 

Those who frequented the old Vino Lounge will see that Eric and Kourtney have pretty much changed everything to make the new tavern their own.

Everything is much brighter and …well, homier. The wall of dark curtains has been replaced with a hand-built wainscoting made from pallets. The new paint job throughout features pastel colors, and new lighting makes it easier for patrons to see each other while they chat.

True to its name, Ploty’s Hometown Tavern also has much more of a bar feel than the Vino. There are two dart boards and seven TVs, mostly featuring sporting events. There’s also a wall-mounted “Touch Tunes” digital juke box.

And of course there’s beer; 10 rotating taps hosting a variety of domestics and imports, lots of bottle beers and IPAs, and a wall filled with whiskey and spirits.

But as much as Ploty’s is a bar, Eric and Kourtney have made great efforts through the decor to give the place a hometown, rustic feel, in ways to help it create its own identity separate from Burke’s, The Coach and Barry’s.

“I wanted it to be a very comfortable place,” Kourtney said. “We wanted to be local and hometown and familiar. You come in and feel like you know people (and) feel at home.”  

Ploty’s Hometown Tavern will celebrate its official grand opening this weekend with three days of special events and special drink prices.

On Saturday December 30, Matthew Stephens, lead guitarist from the Zac Brown Tribute Band will play beginning at 9:30 p.m., and patrons will enjoy $2 Genny Lite bottles, $2.50 well drinks and $3 drafts, plus free appetizers.

Sunday will be their New Year’s Eve Hometown Bash with drinks and free appetizers from 5 to 8 p.m., a special cocktail menu featuring whiskeys and martinis, and a champagne toast at midnight.

Monday is NCAA Bowl Game Day. Bloody Marys and mimosas will be served beginning at noon, pitchers will be just $6 and pizza and wings will be served.

You can read more about Ploty’s and get more details about their grand opening weekend festivities at their Facebook page and website.

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Webster CSD to study school start times

28 Dec

If you’ve ever had to cajole, whine, plead, yell at, or pour water on your high-school aged child to extract him or her from bed in time for school, you’ll be interested in this news: the Webster school district is going to take a serious look at changing the high school start times to something more reasonable.

To that end, I share with you this column written by Webster Supervisor Carm Gumina:

“I think it’s time.” Those are words I shared with the Webster CSD Board of Education during its November 2 meeting. I had just returned from a conference on mindfulness and neuroscience, and the topic of school start times came up once again in a forum filled with scientists, educators, and most importantly, individuals who really care about the overall health and wellness of young people.

As a district, we strive to educate the whole child in all that we do both inside and outside the classroom. There is an abundance of undeniable scientific evidence supporting the fact that our middle and high schools start too early for teens whose changing biological sleep patterns require them to sleep later in order to maximize their ability to learn. Medical studies also show that a lack of sleep for older students can negatively impact their physical and their mental health. That fact alone got my attention and the attention of so many of us in the district who care for your children.

The possibility of later start times for secondary students in our district is a critical one that deserves a mindful, in-depth study. The science is convincing regarding sleep research and the biological and neurochemical effects that adequate rest has on the physical and emotional states of our teens. That said, Webster CSD, along with other districts throughout our region, state, and country, still grapple with the challenges of changing school start times. This will be a year-long process of exploration, study, and problem-solving, and it involves all of us in the One Webster community.

During that November 2 meeting, the board of education asked me to design a process and gather feedback that would explore this important issue. I invite any of you who are interested in learning more to attend an initial Webster CSD Start-Time Study Group meeting on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. at the Spry Middle School auditorium, 2nd floor, 119 South Avenue, Webster. We’ll hear from a University of Rochester researcher, local pediatrician, and district administrators during that initial meeting so you can begin to learn more. If you would be interested in attending, please RSVP by e-mailing Mr. Wahl is WCSD’s coordinator of strategic initiatives and will be leading the group’s work.

In all honesty, I have no idea what conclusions and solutions will come from this study group’s formation; I can tell you this is not a short-term study. If the group determines that changes in our district are necessary and possible, those changes wouldn’t take place until fall 2019 or 2020, however, it is important that we begin to research this critical issue.

Again, I do think it’s time.

Once again, that informational meeting is Tuesday January 9 at 4 p.m. at Spry Middle School, 119 South Avenue.

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Letters to Santa

24 Dec

Many of you know that I have a direct line to the North Pole. Santa and I are kind of on a first-name basis.

His name is Santa Jim, and he’s Webster’s resident head-elf, appearing at functions all over town, in both winter and summer. He’s also been the Eastview Mall Santa for years.

I got to know Jim when I interviewed him for my East Extra column three years ago. I have since come to know him as a kind, generous soul, befitting his alter-ego. So I wasn’t surprised when he emailed me a few days ago, saying,

Each morning when I arrive at the Eastview Mall Santa site I empty the Santa Mail box that sets next to the big chair. I usually sit for a few minutes before work and read a few of the letters the children have given to Santa from the day before with all their Christmas wishes and hopes. … They are so cute.  

Santa Jim the kind elf thought of me as he was reading those letters, and packaged up several of them for me to look at, and share with my readers. He wrote,

There isn’t anything special in them. It’s just a peek into the hearts, minds and eyes of these precious little children who truly believe in Santa Claus.

But they are special. Some were typed on a computer, others were fill-in-the blank forms that looked like they were done in school. Others were neatly printed, and a few were clearly penned by the parents, with the child providing a scribbled signature. Many had multi-colored words, holiday sketches and portraits of Santa.

They asked for a lot of the “hot” toys, like Hatchimals and Legos, but more than one requested that Santa make sure that other children in need would have their wishes fulfilled. One child had slipped “dad to be happy” on his list in between a Fitbit and an X-box controller. And a few of them asked after Rudolph.

Here are some of the things the children wrote:

  • Dear Santa, I’m writing for my little brothers. The boys have been perfect angels except for their non-sleeping-at-night-ness. 
  • I want some makeup PLEAS. And Santa ALL the kids are counting on you! 
  • Please have the elves pick me something nice! 
  • I would love it if for Christmas I could have a drone. You know, the things you fly with a remote-control. I would love for it to have a camera, but I totally understand if it’s too big and expensive. 
  • Good presits for the por. Good presits for my family and evrey body els. eny thing you thingk I wod like.

Thank you, Santa Jim, for reminding us what it was like when believing in Santa Claus was one of the best things about Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all my readers. May it bring you simple joys and happiness.

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A day of remembrance

24 Dec


Today is a day of mourning in Webster. Today marks the 5th anniversary of the morning we lost two of our local heroes, West Webster firefighters Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka, when a madman took their lives as they rushed to put out a fire on Lake Road.

As you celebrate the holiday today and tomorrow, hold your family close and hug them a little tighter. And don’t forget to say “I love you.” Then say a prayer for Thomas, Mike and their families.

Here’s the link to a video the D&C put together from the service held this morning at the Lake Road memorial.

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Here we go a’caroling…

20 Dec

group shot

The streets of Webster were alive with the sound of music earlier this week as two separate groups strolled the neighborhoods, caroling at businesses and houses along the way.

The first of the musical meanderings took place Monday night, when BID president Robyn Whittaker hosted almost 30 friends, business acquaintances and assorted other local residents on her second annual village caroling party.

And a party it was. Participants first gathered at The Coach, where Robyn had provided plenty of soda, beer, hot cider (spiked if you wanted to) and pizza. When 7 p.m. rolled around, everyone filed out of the pub, and that took a while because there were about 30 of us. First stop was for a group photo in front of the Coach. Then it was off to do some singing.

The stops were pretty much determined on the fly, depending on what businesses were open and what homes seemed to be occupied. In about an hour, the tuneful group had visited the Webster Barbershop, Rubino’s, Brimont Bistro, and about a dozen homes. The business owners were tolerant; some of the homeowners were hesitant to come out, but most others happily stood on their cold porches — occasionally with small babies or children in tow — to enjoy the music.  But no matter who the group was singing for (or not singing for), the enthusiasm and the singing never waned, continuing even as everyone walked from house to house on the streets and sidewalks.

The very next evening, I joined the Chorus of the Genesee for their annual Soup & Carol Night. Unlike Robyn’s event, which is brand new, the Chorus has been hosting this evening of caroling for at least 24 years. There were also a whole lot more people at this event. I counted about 60 men, women, children and dogs. I was told that it was more than double what the Chorus usually draws. It helped, I think, that the weather was pretty pleasant.

Everyone gathered at the Harmony House, enjoying coffee and cookies, sheets of music and Santa hats were handed out, and when 7 p.m. rolled around, everyone filed out into the street.

The first stop, as it has been every year, was Webster Eyecare Associates, which is pretty much across the street from the Harmony House. The folks there have come to expect this annual visit by the Chorus carolers, and this year — for the first time — had donut holes and hot chocolate for the chilly singers.

I hope you had a chance to enjoy, or even participate in, one or both of these caroling events. This is what small-town life is all about.

This is truly Webster.

family 2

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Garlic Fest checks presented

20 Dec
Miracle Field

Representatives from the Webster Garlic Festival and the Kiwanis Club present a check to Miracle Field for $2,000. Miracle Field would also received an additional $14,000 from this year’s proceeds. 

I was honored to be present last Saturday when representatives from the Webster Garlic Festival distributed the proceeds from this year’s festival to three very deserving local agencies.

As in the previous two years, the festival’s three organizing agencies — the Rotary Club, Lions Club and Kiwanis — planned to donate the majority of the proceeds to Challenger Miracle Field.  In addition, however, this year each club also chose a different community agency to receive a check.

So, on Saturday morning, Hope Ministry received $2,000 from the Rotary Club; the Webster Community Chest received $2,000 from the Lions Club; and Miracle Field received $2,000 from the Kiwanis Club.

Following that presentation, representatives from all three clubs presented Miracle Field chairman Ron Kampf with an additional check for $14,000.

The Webster Garlic Festival has grown quite a bit from its first year in 2015, when it poured pretty much nonstop for both days. In the last three years it has become one of the town’s most popular festivals, and has raised $43,5000 for local charities.

Organizers are looking for more volunteers to help the festival continue to grow. Planning has already begun, so if you’re interested in lending a hand, contact Richard Comins at recomins

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Holiday fun at the elementary schools

19 Dec

Holiday time at the elementary schools is always a fun time for both students AND staff


Schlegel Road teacher Bill Ambler the Jolly Elf. 

members. And since I have the pleasure of working in two different elementary schools, that fun is kind of doubled.

On Monday I was at Schlegel Road Elementary, where silly outfits were the order of the day. We also enjoyed a  concert by the Webster Show Choir, comprised of outstanding vocalists and dancers from both Schroeder and Thomas high schools. I was told that it was the first time in 16 years the choir had visited Schlegel.

Later that afternoon, Show Choir traveled to Plank Road North later that afternoon for another performance. Here are a few photos from that concert, courtesy Sarah Rosenberry:

I’m not sure the link will work, but try clicking here to see some video from that concert.

And here’s some icing for the holiday cake: A holiday video created by Schlegel Road staff members. Click here to see it. It’s kind of fun.

video slide


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The Knuckleheads celebrate another anniversary

16 Dec

The Knuckleheads are having a birthday party, and the entire beer-loving public is invited.

Knucklehead Craft Brewing turns three years old this month, and they’re planning an appropriate celebration, complete with a special brew, treats from their kitchen and live music.

The party takes place on Saturday December 23 from 3 p.m. till midnight. There’ll be a special food menu, featuring house-roasted sirloin on fresh kimmelweck rolls topped with horseradish aioli. Live music will be provided by Marty Roberts and Donny C. from 7:30 till 11:30 p.m.

Knucklehead’s award-winning Tainted Haze IPA will be on tap, and one of the pub’s most decadent beers will make its annual return for the party: their Russian Imperial Stout.

Webster’s own craft brewery has grown up a lot since it opened in 2014. They updated their kitchen and expanded their menu, added lots of great merchandise, more equipment to streamline their brewing process, more staff, and regular live music.

Check it all out for yourself at Knucklehead Craft Brewing’s third year anniversary party, Saturday December 23 from 3 p.m. to midnight, and wish the Knuckleheads a happy birthday!

Knucklehead Craft Brewing is located at 426 Ridge Road, at the corner of Bay. Check out their webpage here at and their Facebook page here. They’re open Wednesday and Thursday 4 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 3 to 11 pm, and Sunday 2 to 7 p.m., and the kitchen is open every day.


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Blood drives will honor Jack Heiligman

15 Dec

posterTwo blood drives coming up next week in our area are being held in memory of 3-year old Jack Heiligman.

Jack, you may remember, lost his life in a tragic accident in 2016.  Since that awful day, Jack’s parents Anne and AJ have worked hard to keep their son’s happy spirit alive by spreading laughter, happiness and love to other families, and encouraging others to pay it forward.

They work through the JACK Foundation, an organization they created, dedicated to giving back to the community through acts of kindness. The foundation also raises money to build dinosaur-themed playgrounds. Their first playground, Jack’s Place, opened at Rothfuss Park in Penfield last August 2017.

This holiday season, one of the ways the JACK Foundation is giving back to the community and promoting acts of kindness is by hosting two blood drives in Jack’s memory. These will be held on Thursday, December 21 at Kent Park Arboretum in Webster and Friday, December 22 at the Penfield Community Center.

“The JACK Foundation has really helped keep Jack’s memory alive for our family and friends,” Anne said. “We miss our Jack every moment of every day, but being a part of caring and kind acts in Jack’s name has helped bring us peace and comfort. We hope we are making our Angel Jack proud.”

The two drives are especially significant at this time of year, near the holidays, when blood and platelet donations often decline due to everyone’s busy schedules. Here are the details:

Thursday, December 21, 2-7 p.m.
Kent Park Arboretum
1700 Schlegel Rd., Webster

Friday, December 22, 2-7 p.m.
Penfield Community Center
1985 Baird Rd., Penfield

As a thank you for showing your support for these special blood drives, all presenting donors will receive a Red Cross long-sleeved t-shirt, while supplies last.

Appointments are appreciated and will help you get in and out faster, but walk-ins are also welcome. To make an appointment, log onto or download the blood donor app. Please use sponsor code JACKFOUNDATIONWEBSTERPENFIELD.

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