Archive | June, 2019

An inside look at the emergency drill

28 Jun

 

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Drill participants were all required to wear a yellow piece of tape on their shoes to prove they belonged in the hot zone.

Yesterday definitely ranks among the top 10 most interesting days of my entire life.

As (I hope) you know, on Thursday, the Webster Central School District (WCSD), in partnership with several local emergency responding agencies, staged a large-scale “aggressively deadly behavior/active shooter” drill at Schlegel Rd. Elementary School. I was fortunate to be invited to participate in that drill.

“Fortunate” might not be a word you’d expect me to use, but that’s kind of how I felt. It was a fascinating experience to be on the inside for one of these drills, and see first-hand the professionalism and tactical skill exhibited by our area police, fire and EMT departments.

For four hours yesterday morning, Schlegel Elementary became Webster High School. A female student, upset that she would not be allowed to graduate, came back to visit the school and took out her frustrations with a gun (which was fake). (The student was played by a law enforcement officer from outside the district.)

When the “shooting” began, the office secretaries immediately tripped the lock-down alarm. Several people were in the halls, and some of them did not survive. Others were just injured. About 60 other “teachers” and “students” were divided among three classrooms spread around the school, safely locked inside their rooms as soon as the alarm was sounded. Still, the shooter was able to tally 13 “victims” before she was overpowered.

It didn’t take long for police officers to subdue her. The classroom I was huddled in was toward the back of the building, so we weren’t really able to hear much in the way of gunshots or screaming, but we could hear officers’ voices outside the door. It seemed less than 20 minutes before they were in control of the scene and they began to clear all the other classrooms to secure our side of the building.

We knew it was a drill, of course. But it seemed real enough when two officers came into our room, (fake) guns raised, told us to put up our hands and escorted us single file to the library. We walked by one bloodied victim still lying in the hallway, and were seated together not far from several other victims with varying degrees of injuries.

Whoever did the makeup, by the way, was pretty masterful. The gunshot wounds were quite convincing. And the staff members who portrayed those victims who were injured but still conscious did a great job of whining, moaning and groaning as they waited for transport to ambulances.

I’m sure you get the sense by now that this was an extremely ambitious event, and it took more than a year to organize. More than 100 WCSD staff members, high school students, student summer maintenance workers and community members participated, acting out a dozen different roles. Five area fire departments alone responded, in addition to the Webster Police Department, Webster Emergency Medical Service, Northeast Quadrant Advanced Life Support, and even the New York State Police. Coordinating such a large response, and making sure all those agencies could communicate with each other was the main purpose of the drill. 

As it turned out, that also proved to be the biggest challenge. Thanks in part to communication issues, things got started a little late, and there were a few re-boots when the scenario had to be re-set. So things didn’t go completely according to plan, but that was to be expected, especially considering the scope of the event and its being the first of its kind in the district.

Despite the hiccups, Brian Zimmer, Webster’s Director of Technology and one of the organizers, said he was “extremely ecstatic” about how well the drill went. “To bring all these agencies together was just a huge win for us,” he added.

“During the drill today we really focused on our communication and our response to a large scale incident,” Zimmer said. “We had a lot of great takeaways from it, we have a lot of good working points and learning points and we’re excited to continue to move forward to make our agency and community even stronger.”

In the follow-up press conference, Webster superintendent Carm Gumina reiterated the significance of the day’s event.

“These drills are important not only for our first responders,” he said, “but also really important for the district to understand our role and all the steps and procedures that we would need to follow in case of an emergency in any one of our 11 buildings.”

I couldn’t agree more.

It’s a sad state of affairs these days that, statistically speaking, a school is much more likely to experience a mass shooting than a fire. We run drills for both, but the shooting possibility is much more frightening.

As a Webster school district staff member, I was comforted to see up-close-and-personally how our staff and students will be kept safe if that were to happen. Glitches or not, district personnel, emergency personnel, officers, firefighters all performed admirably and I left for home that afternoon confident that we were ready.

The district hopes to do another drill in a few years, in a different building with a different scenario. If and when they do, I hope to participate, partly because it’s a unique experience, but also because I like knowing that my small role may someday help keep our schools secure.

WHAM-TV Channel 13 was there for the post-event press conference. Click here to see their story.

 

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The post-event press conference with school district and emergency responding agency representatives.  

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Three upcoming opportunities to donate blood

27 Jun

blood dropBlood donations tend to drop off precipitously in the summer as people start taking vacations or decide they’d rather hang by the pool. But the need for blood does not. That’s why it’s especially important to try to make one of these drives coming up in the next few days:

Tomorrow, June 28, there are two drives not far from us here in Webster.

  • One is at St. Ambrose Academy of Peace of Christ Parish, 31 Empire Blvd. (across the street from Donuts Delite) from 2 to 7 p.m.
  • A second one tomorrow is at the Penfield Community Center, 1985 Baird Rd., from 2 to 7 p.m.
  • On Monday July 1, there’s one even closer to home, at the American Legion, 818 Ridge Rd. in Webster, from 1 to 6 p.m.

You can make an appointment by calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or just walk in. They’d love to see you either way.

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Please help spread the word: It’s ONLY A DRILL

25 Jun

The following is a re-posting of the blog I wrote last week about a MASS CASUALTY fire truckDRILL planned for THURSDAY which you’ll want to know about if you live or work or drive anywhere near northeast Webster.

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On Thursday June 27, Town of Webster emergency response agencies in conjunction with the Webster Central School District will be running a large-scale emergency drill at Schlegel Rd. Elementary School.

What that means is that beginning sometime between 8 and 8:30 a.m. you’re going to be hearing all kinds of sirens and see lots of fire trucks, police cars and ambulances descending on the school.

Don’t worry. It’s only a drill. School will be out for the summer, and while there will be students and adults there, they will be acting out pre-determined roles to simulate an actual emergency.

During the drill, Webster CSD, Webster Police Department, Webster Volunteer Fire Department, West Webster Volunteer Fire Department, Webster Emergency Medical Service, and Northeast Quadrant Advanced Life will simulate and respond to a large-scale school incident to test these agencies’ coordinated response. Several other area fire departments and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department will also be involved, and the New York State Police will be on hand to provide support.

Schlegel Rd. will be closed and Special Police will be diverting traffic from 7:30 a.m. to noon to assure the safety of the actors and emergency responders. Local resident access will be allowed.

Please help spread the word to friends and neighbors.

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Trying to stem the tide

21 Jun

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A quick shout-out this morning to some unsung heroes.

My friend Jim Lockwood sent me this photo a few days ago of several members of the New York National Guard unit from Queens, helping out at the lakefront. He wrote,

I watched these young National Guard soldiers sandbagging along the shore of Shipbuilder’s Creek lake outlet ( Forest Lawn) this morning. The sandbags really get heavy! The work is hard and the morning sun was getting warm. These young and some not so young troopers eagerly continued with today’s mission to shore up creek to prevent further flooding. I did chat with them for a minute, they are glad to be here and able to help.

These fellow were among many others helping out Wednesday. Thank you for all you’re doing!

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Webster will run mass casualty drill next week

20 Jun
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(Photo: S. Rosenberry)

If you live, or work, or even find yourself driving around the northeast corner of town with any regularity, please pull out your calendar right now and make a note about this important event.

On Thursday June 27, Town of Webster emergency response agencies in conjunction with the Webster Central School District will be running a large-scale emergency drill at Schlegel Rd. Elementary School.

What that means is that beginning at around 7:30 a.m., you’re going to be hearing all kinds of sirens and see lots of fire trucks, police cars and ambulances descending on the school.

Don’t worry. It’s only a drill. School will be out for the summer, and while there will be students and adults there, they will be acting out pre-determined roles to simulate an actual emergency.

During the drill, Webster CSD, Webster Police Department, Webster Volunteer Fire Department, West Webster Volunteer Fire Department, Webster Emergency Medical Service, and Northeast Quadrant Advanced Life will simulate and respond to a large-scale school incident to test these agencies’ coordinated response.

Schlegel Rd. will be closed and Special Police will be diverting traffic from 7:30 a.m. to noon to assure the safety of the actors and emergency responders. Local resident access will be allowed.

Please help spread the word to friends and neighbors.

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Summer events really get going this weekend

19 Jun
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You’ll find farm-fresh produce at the Joe Obbie Farmers’ Market (photo courtesy the market’s Facebook page)

The Town and Village of Webster’s summer events calendar really starts this weekend, with the beginning of the Friday night concert in the park series, the Summer Celebration and the third week of the Joe Obbie Farmers’ Market.

Now the details:

The Village of Webster’s Friday Night Concert series begins this Friday June 21 at 7 p.m., when Steve Bartolotta takes to the gazebo stage in Veterans Memorial Park on North Ave.  Bring a blanket, quad chairs, and a cooler, and enjoy some music, absolutely free.

These weekly concerts run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. through the summer, except when events like the Jazz Fest and Firemen’s Carnival get in the way. The rest of the schedule looks like this:

  • June 28: The Thigh Masters, a Rochester-based party band offering a high-energy mix of classic, alternative and dance.
  • July 26: Gallows Road, classic soft rock
  • August 2: the 22-piece Rochester Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, playing big band tunes
  • August 9: The Germano Bros., an acoustic blend of classic rock, soft rock and blues songs.
  • August 16: Burnt Cane

The Tuesday evening Movies in the Park series begins July 9, and the always great Webster Jazz Fest will return on July 19 and 20. Stay tuned for more information about both of those. You can also keep up to date by visiting websterbid.com.

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summer celebrationThe Town of Webster’s annual Summer Celebration takes place this year this Saturday June 22 at Webster Parks and Recreation, 1350 Chiyoda Drive.

This family-friendly event kind of serves as our town’s Fourth of July celebration, including fireworks. It begins at 4 p.m. and features live music from Brass Taxi and State Line, food trucks, games, crafts, inflatables and more. The fireworks will begin at about 9:45 p.m.

For more information, click here.

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The Joe Obbie Farmers’ Market is up and running for the 2019 summer season. You’ll find it every Saturday through the fall at Webster Towne Center (Target/Kohl’s Plaza), featuring locally grown fresh produce, baked goods, jams and jellies, honey, maple syrup, fresh meats, plants, spices and crafts.

Special events this year include live music, balloon fun with Mr. Wally, the Christmas in July celebration on July 20 (Santa will be there), and more.

I’ll be highlighting several of these special events as they draw near, so stay tuned.

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One last tasty event to add:

St Martin Lutheran Church is holding a Pulled Pork Drive Thru BBQ on Saturday, June 22  from 4:30 until gone at the church on 813 Bay Road, Webster.  Pull into the parking lot, place your order, and the dinner will be delivered to you in your car.

The take-out dinner  includes pulled pork, roll, salt potatoes, cole slaw and cookie for $9.00.  Proceeds support the church’s annual Christmas Stocking Project reaching over 500 children and teens in Monroe and Wayne  counties.

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Homeless pups benefit from Eagle Scout project

18 Jun

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Even dogs appreciate a good playground, and thanks to a local Eagle Scout candidate, they have a new one at Pets Stop Here in Spencerport.

Justin Karnisky from Troop 110 in Webster recently completed his Eagle Scout project for the Spencerport-based nonprofit organization Pets Stop Here. Called a Rescue Dog Playground, it’s an agility playground for pups.

Pets Stop Here, Inc. is a volunteer dog rescue organization committed to rescuing domestic companion animals primarily from the Rochester area. Pets Stop Here  provides a safe and secure refuge for abused, unwanted, and neglected animals through foster homes or lodging at The Pup Stop while they await adoption.

Proud mom Karen, who also sent me these photos, reports that

Justin completed the fundraising and design of the project over the past few months, created a miniature model of the playground, and gathered several of his fellow Scouts to complete the assembly. As part of the project he is also doing a supply drive for the organization.

Attached are some pictures of the Scouts and of Justin with Dawn Saunders, who owns Pets Stop Here, Inc.

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You’ll want to bee at this event

17 Jun

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Bet you didn’t know that this week is Pollinator Week!

I learned about this internationally recognized celebration the other day from Amy Stringer at The North Bee, and since I had never heard about it before, I went looking for more information.

This is a real thing. According to the Pollinator.org website, the week was officially designated 12 years ago by the U.S. Senate as a “time to celebrate pollinators and spread the word about what you can do to protect them.” They call it a

necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Pollinator Week has now grown into an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles.

As individual, no-beekeeper people that most of us are, there’s not much we can do to show our support for the important job these creatures do, aside from learning more about them and respecting their role in our world. There’s no better place to do that this week than at The North Bee, one of Webster’s newest and cutest shops, located on North Ave. in the village.

north beeOwner Amy Stringer is celebrating the occasion all week, with an extra special event planned for this coming Saturday June 22. At her Pollinator Party on the Ave., Amy will be set up in a tent outside her shop with her observation beehive, pollinator information, activity sheets for the kids, and soil, seeds and pots for the kids to plant some pollinator seeds. Plus, she’ll have a real extractor, so kids (and adults) can try their hand at spinning out some honey, and you can even try honey straight off the frame right out of the hive.

The event will run from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday June 22, and is sure to be educational and fun for kids and adults alike.

The North Bee is located at 27 North Ave. in the Village of Webster, across the street from Veterans Park and the gazebo. For more information about the event and The North Bee, click here.

There is a event posted on Facebook. Pollinator Party on the Ave. Saturday the 22nd at The North Bee from 12-4.

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A great event for a great cause

16 Jun

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It was a rather dreary late spring day yesterday. That is, everywhere but under the tent set up outside Ploty’s Hometown Tavern, where laughs and smiles brightened the day for several hours yesterday afternoon and evening.

Hundreds attended a very special and heart-warming fund-raising event yesterday in support of Bella’s Bumbas, an incredible Webster-based organization that is changing the lives of children all around the world.

IMG_20190615_165812734_BURST000_COVER_TOPBella’s Bumbas is a non-profit organization run by Webster residents Marty Parzynski and Rebecca Orr, dedicated to building miniature wheelchairs for children with a wide variety of mobility issues. To date they have shipped 850 chairs to children in 27 countries, often adapting the chairs for each child’s individual needs, and charging the families only for shipping.

You can read more about this great cause in this blog I wrote back in 2017, and this follow-up blog.

And if you really wonder if this organization is truly making a difference, consider this: parents of Bella, whose diagnosis with spina bifida inspired the creation of the first Bella’s Bumba, were told she would never even sit up. Today, thanks to the strength she has gained from her Bumba, she is not only using a walker, but has even taken several steps on her own.

Folks who attended yesterday’s event were treated to pizza, drink specials, DJ music, and lots of raffles, including SO MANY GIFT BASKETS spread on tables inside and outside the tavern that I couldn’t even count them all. 

I’ve put more photos from the event on a small gallery here. Thank you so much for Eric at Ploty’s Hometown Tavern for hosting!

If you weren’t able to make yesterday’s event but love with what Rebecca and Marty are doing to change children’s lives, you can still help to provide some much-needed cash to keep their cause rolling (so to speak).  

Visit their GoFundMe page to read more about Bella’s Bumbas and throw them a little cash. Because they really ARE changing children’s’ lives.

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Running for fun at Plank North

14 Jun
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And they’re off!

Wednesday was a glorious day for a marathon!

At Plank Rd. North Elementary School, the entire student body came out to cheer on the school’s pre-K and kindergarten students as they completed their first-ever marathon.

The young racers have been working on the daunting distance since the beginning of the school year, running as much as a quarter mile every time they went outside. On Wednesday, they finally finished the whole 26.2 miles by running 1/8-mile laps around a coned-off track (one lap for pre-k and two laps for kindergarten).

In addition to having hundreds of fellow students and parents cheering them on, each runner was given an official numbered bib provided by Fleet Feet and — like real racers — began and ended their laps under an official Fleet Feet inflatable starting gate. Plus, each one received a medal after they completed their laps.

It was an exciting day for the whole school, but especially for these youngsters who are just now learning about the joys of running and the importance of staying healthy and fit. (I’m glad I wasn’t racing them. Some of them were REALLY fast.)

Here are a few more photos from the day:

And before I forget again, here are a few photos, courtesy Maureen Throumoulos, from the Special Olympics Annual Track and Field competition hosted at Webster Thomas High School last week.

About 500 athletes from nine area school districts took part in the event, which Webster hosted for the second year in a row.

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