Archive | January, 2021

Elusive finch draws bird lovers to Webster

21 Jan
Male Pine Grosbeak (S. Webster)

Local and regional birders are all atwitter about a rare sighting in our area which has drawn birdwatchers to Webster from far and wide.

The cause of the excitement is a large, plump, colorful finch called the Pine Grosbeak. Typically found in much colder climates like Canada and Alaska, a couple dozen of them have migrated much farther south this winter, and have been spotted at Webster Park and Mendon Ponds Park.

Greg Lawrence, a research scientist from SUNY Brockport and a board member of the Rochester Birding Association, explained that the migration event is unusual because the Pine Grosbeak is an “irruptive” species. Basically, that’s a species that usually only migrates short distances, but will occcasionally move far south in large numbers. He theorizes that’s the case this year because the food supply is poor up in their Canadian breeding grounds.

He added that it’s been eight years since the Pine Grosbeaks last migrated this far south.

Birders have identified two groups of about a dozen birds each, most of them females and juveniles. Apparently, sightings of male Pine Grosbeaks are even more rare, but one has been spotted in Webster Park, an event which Lawrence called “unique.” It’s so unusual that birders have traveled from all over the state and even Pennsylvania in hopes of catching a gimpse of the beautiful finches.

Female Pine Grosbeak (S. Webster)

The stunning images you see here are courtesy Suzie Webster, a local photographer and birder, who has especially enjoyed the hunt.

She wrote,

Some other photographers and I have had so much fun trying to track (the finches) down and get the timing right so they are in a place that they can be photographed to highlight their beauty. … They are a very challenging bird to photograph because they are frequently high up in tree tops and don’t always come down low enough to get a clear image.

Having the opportunity to photograph and view the rare and uncommon Pine Grosbeaks here in Webster and in Mendon has made winter nature photography much more exciting and colorful! Spring and summer were full of brilliantly colored birds to find and photograph such as the Warblers, but winter is a lot more challenging overall. I’m thankful that this year just happened to be an irruptive year for the Pine Grosbeaks and a few other winter species because it has made outings more exhilarating and fun!

According to Greg Lawrence, the Grosbeaks will probably hang around through March or April before heading back north, and perhaps even longer if they can find enough food. So there’s still plenty of time to get out on the trails and try to see one for yourself. A nice hike to appreciate these stunning Canadian visitors would be a welcome diversion from all the negative news which dominates our lives these days.

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What can be done with that ugly West Webster corner?

20 Jan

Every once in a while I remember to log onto the Town of Webster website and check in with Supervisor Flaherty’s weekly column. Usually I find something interesting and perhaps even learn something I didn’t know.

When I was doing that recently, I came across a column he wrote back in September which addressed a thorny issue I’ve thought about often: cleaning up the corner of Ridge Rd. and Gravel Rd. in West Webster.

You know the place: the Jade Palace Restaurant sits on the northeast corner and the old Webster Furniture Strippers on the northwest corner. The restaurant itself is pretty unslightly and overgrown, but the former Furniture Strippers shop is even worse. It’s downright decrepit, an embarrassment to the hamlet.

I had heard for years that the reason the Furniture Strippers shop has not yet been razed was due to environmental concerns regarding the chemicals they used, which seeped into the ground. Basically, the property is a toxic waste site, and no one wants to take responsibility for it.

Supervisor Flaherty goes into a lot of political background in his column about how the owners have defaulted on their taxes, meaning the county can take possession of the property. But because of the environmental issues, the county wants nothing to do with it. You can read all of that background here if you’d like. But I was interested in the bottom line: when will someone bulldoze that building?

Here’s what he had to say about that:

The first part of the plan is to get the DEC reports on the building in the last 30 years and if they show that the environmental issues at the site are “minimal or non-existent,” the County may take title to the property and market it for sale. At that point, a developer most likely would want to buy it if they saw the cost to take down the building was NOT going to have hundreds of thousands of dollars of environmental remediation. If the DEC reports are not definitive enough to have Monroe County take title, we will move on to plan B which most likely entails a phase 1 or 2 environmental study of the property to determine the true environmental risk and what needs remediation.

All of which means this issue is STILL not going away anytime soon. But Supervisor Flaherty does assure us that he’s still working on it, writing,

I am not comfortable just throwing my hands up and saying “oh well… nothing we can do. It’s Monroe County’s decision.” Fact is, the property is IN Webster. It is an eyesore at best, and a safety risk at worst. It also is impeding the development of that corner and all neighborhoods that spawn off of it.

Let’s hope his commitment stays strong. West Webster deserves better.

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Journalist collaboration means more news and insights for Webster residents

18 Jan

I’m very excited to announce today a new collaboration which will go a long way to keep Webster residents entertained and informed.

Beginning later today and every Monday, you’ll find a link to one of my blog posts on the (relatively) new website,

Webster Online was established early last year by Anna Hubbel, whom you might know as the editor of the weekly Village of Webster newspaper, the Webster Herald. Designed as a totally independent enterprise from the Herald, the site’s original purpose was to keep the Webster community informed during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More recently, Anna has been trying to broaden the site’s horizons, offering more community-oriented content including opinion pieces and features about cooking and books. And now, my Webster on the Web community blog.

While Anna will continue to focus on keeping her website updated with local news and information, my weekly “column” will provide a more personal look at the people and events here in our town and village. You won’t find links to ALL of my blogs there (I don’t want to lose you as a reader completely!) but once a week we’ll choose one blog to cross-post to the website. Today, for example, you’ll find a link on Webster Online to my recent blog about Dan Johannson, a 2013 Webster Thomas grad who’s making news in North Dakota.

I’m look forward to working with Anna on this new partnership, and offering the Webster community easy community access to a pair of accurate, informative and positive places to find news and features.

So log onto Webster Online and check it out for yourself. You’ll also find a link to the website on the right side of this page.

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Webster community mailbag

16 Jan

Here’s a great socially-distanced, outdoor activity that everyone in the family will love.

It’s a Scavenger Hunt hosted by the Webster Recreation Center on Saturday Jan. 23. Children and their adults are invited to participate in a fun morning of searching, exploring and discovering one of our local parks.

The event, held at the Rec Center at 1350 Chiyoda Dr., is designed for children of all ages, with three different levels of scavenger hunts (under 5 yrs old, 5-8 yr olds, and 8-12 yr olds). You can sign in anytime between 9 and 11 a.m., work together to find the clues around the park, and record your answers in the special scavenger hunt answer key. When you’re all done, return your answers to earn a fun prize.

Cost is $5 per child or $20 per family. Pre-registration is requested (register the children only), but payment will be taken at the event. To register, visit the Webster Parks and Recreation website and search for program #101205-A. All proceeds will be donated to the Friends of Webster Trails for maintenance and improvements of trails in Webster.

So bundle up and have some fun!

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The Webster Public Library will host a Webster Area Preschools “Open House” from January 25 to 29.

During that entire week, during their regular hours, the library will have a special display set up in front of the community room with information about Webster area preschools, including brochures, registration information, and virtual events. If you have any questions, contact Jason at (585) 872-7075 x6119 or

The library is also offering several adult programs via Zoom this month. Still coming up are Meditation and Self Love on Jan. 20 and Recycling 101 on Jan 26. Registration is required. For class descriptions and registration links, visit the library’s website, choose Events and Classes and find the class you’re interested in on the calendar.

February will also be a busy month at the library. Here’s a visual gallery of some the programs that are coming down the pike:

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Finally, here’s an opportunity to show off your inner photographer.

The Webster Museum is putting together a gallery of “favorite spots in Webster.” This is a follow-up to the museum’s popular holiday photo gallery last month.

This time, they’d like you to take a photo of your favorite Webster spot, then email it to to be included in the gallery.

Check back at the website often, because they’ll be updating the gallery as submissions come in.

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Businesses helping businesses during this difficult time

15 Jan

A ripple of kindness is quietly spreading through the Webster community.

It’s called Webster Business Pay it Forward, an effort begun by businesses almost a year ago to help their fellow small business owners weather the Covid economy.

I first heard about the program from one of my readers (thanks, Nancy!) who saw a Facebook post from Ric Thomann of Webster Interiors. Ric had purchased ten gift cards and long-stemmed roses from Kittelberger Florist, which were to be given out free to the first ten customers who visited Kittelberger and mentioned the program. Not only did the gift card purchase benefit Kittelberger, chances were good the patrons who used them would be spending even more than that in the store.

The roses were just an extra special touch.

Ric was able to give me a little background, particularly that the movement was spearheaded locally by Dr. Joe Manza of Wellness For You NOW Chiropractic on North Ave.

Ric wrote,

During the earlier stages of Covid, Joe went out to a few businesses and pre-paid for some products from the Webster businesses and then splashed what he did on his and Webster Facebook group pages to encourage the community to take advantage of his generosity and hopefully bring additional awareness and customers to those businesses.

The Webster BID, the Village of Webster’s business association, got wind of the idea and started spreading it through the village, benefiting almost a dozen small businesses to date.

Dr. Joe, however, refuses to take credit for the original idea, saying that the concept began with a business growth group he belongs to called Black Diamond Club. He started the ball rolling “early on in the apocalypse” by opening a tab at the Lake Road Country Store for $150 worth of fish frys for anyone who had lost work and needed a hot meal.

He wrote,

Not too long after I posted this offer on Facebook, a high school friend of mine who operates a very small musical instrument repair business jumped in and added to my tab. That made my heart melt! Later on, I did another one at Knucklehead Brewing. I bought ten growlers for any first responders, nurses, fire, police … as a thank you for their hard work.

And he didn’t stop there, paying it forward to Performance Hobby, The Goodie Shoppe, Kiss Me Cookie and The North Bee. Come February, he’s planning to do it again, to benefit another local business, Barbells & Body Fuel.

The big idea is that it is absolutely necessary to support our community in as many ways as possible. Too many people have been negatively impacted by the virus and the lockdown. Job loss, reduced incomes, business closings, depression, and so forth have become the side effects of this situation.

I have heard personally that this little initiative has helped so many people and businesses which makes me hope others are inspired to contribute to the cause, just like my friend did by adding to my tab. If we can come together to serve our community by giving just a little bit more or extra – if/when possible – so that life is a little less of a struggle and a bit brighter for those in need then we are all better off.

The Webster Business Pay it Forward initiative is still going on. The wave of kindness continues to spread, so you’ll want to keep an eye out for it, for your opportunity to help support our local businesses.

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Local athlete makes a splash in North Dakota

14 Jan

I received a Proud Momma email the other day from one of my most faithful readers, AnnMarie Johansson, who knows I like to highlight Webster’s young people and their accomplishments.

AnnMarie wanted to let me know that her son Dan, a 2013 Wester Thomas graduate, is making a name for himself as the equipment manager for the University of North Dakota.

The local newspaper there, the Grand Forks Herald, recently featured Dan in a long article on the front page of its Friday sports section. It describes how the very physical job keeps him in constant motion, leads to a lot of late nights and early mornings, and very few days off.

Ann Marie wrote that back in the day, Dan played a for the Webster Cyclones youth hockey association and “maybe a year or two for JV,” adding, “He was never ‘good enough’ for varsity.”

She and her husband Eric are, naturally, very proud of their son.

Click the “Download” buttons below to check out the article yourself.

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Library, Hope House collaborate on successful clothing drive

13 Jan
HOPE Ministry Director Margery Morgan with a carload of donations. (Photo provided)

The Webster Public Library and HOPE Ministry joined forces recently to bring a little bit of happiness and warmth to local families during the holidays.

The organizations teamed up to host a two-month long winter clothing drive to benefit the families who rely on Hope House, located at Holy Trinity Church, for food and clothing.

The library hosts this giving event every year, and library patrons and staff members always come through in a big way. This year, enough hats, mittens, scarves, coats and socks were collected to fill a large SUV floor to ceiling.

“There was just SO much,” said Margery Morgan, Director of HOPE Ministry. “A lot of it was hand-knitted and hand-crocheted,” she added, and seemed especially pleased with all of the socks and brand new items they received, items they can’t always offer to their clients. All of the donations will be distributed to low-income Webster families during the Hope House’s regular food distribution hours.

This year’s clothing drive has ended, but the Hope House continues to accept donations of personal hygiene items, cleaning items and food. The need is especially great as the pandemic continues to devastate families’ lives. Illness and unemployment have driven many people into a place they never dreamed they’d be: needing assistance just to put enough food on the table.

If you’d like to help out, visit the Hope House website or Facebook page to see a wish list of items the ministry especially needs. Contact-less drop-off for donations is available. And if your family needs the kind of support the Hope House provides, give them a call at 585-265-6694 to discuss your situation, or stop by during their normal hours of operation.

“We’re here because we want to help people,” Morgan said. “Nobody should be hungry.”

Hope House is located at Holy Trinity Church, 1450 Ridge Rd., Webster. Hours are Monday 4 to 7 p.m, Tuesday 9 a.m. to noon and Wednesday 2 to 5 p.m.

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Girls on the Run needs you!

8 Jan

A couple of years ago I volunteered for a short time with the Girls on the Run team from Schlegel Elementary School. I fancy myself a runner, so thought I could use my positive experience with running to encourage these young ladies, some of whom had never run any distance before.

What I discovered is that the program is about so much more than running.

For sure, the girls do a lot of running. But what really impressed me about Girls on the Run is the program’s focus on life skills, confidence, positive self-image and personal and community connections — all while encouraging physical activity.

The eight-week program is for girls in 3rd through 8th grade, and is run entirely by volunteer coaches who follow a structured curriculum and engage their teams with fun, interactive lessons. Teams meet twice a week in person or virtually, and the season culminates with everyone participating in a 5K. The year I helped out, that event was held at MCC. It was a huge party with lots of teams and hundreds of girls coming together to celebrate their successes.

Right now Girls on the Run needs more coaches to help bring this inspirational program as many young ladies as possible. Coaches do not need to be athletes but must be at least 18 years old to serve as an assistant or 21 to serve as a head coach. All volunteer coaches must complete a background check and attend a virtual training session.

It could be a life-changing decision for everyone involved. As one coach said,

“It was so rewarding to be part of the girls’ journey to becoming empowered women. And I can’t begin to describe how changed I am as a person by learning the curriculum alongside them.”

For more information about coaching and Girls on the Run of Greater Rochester, click here.

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Where has Missy been?

7 Jan

This blog thing can be a capricious beast. Some weeks I have so many blog ideas that I have to make a list lest I forget something. Other times — like these last few weeks — those ideas have been few and far between. Now that the holidays have passed, there seems to be little going on, at least that I’ve been told about.

Finally, though, something came across my dining room table/office desk that sparked my interest: the latest edition of the Webster Today.

You may know this publication as the former Town Times, what it was called during Supervisor Nesbitt’s tenure. This is the second edition of this new and improved quarterly newsletter. The first was published in October and I was immediately impressed by its glossy, full-color layout and the clean and organized way it presented information.

This latest edition continues to impress. Some of my favorite features, again, include

  • a table of contents right on the front cover
  • a complete town government directory on the inside cover, perfect for tearing off and putting on the fridge
  • photos of the town board members
  • LOTS of information about the Rec Center
  • handsome photo illustrations and colorful charts

There’s also a nice visual spotlighting several of the positive things that happened in 2020, including opening of the outdoor ice rink at the Rec Center, the re-imagined Summer Celebration and the Parade of Lights. There’s even a fascinating 2-page feature compiled by the Webster Museum highlighting almost two dozen Webster residents who fought in the Civil War and are buried in town cemeteries.

Every home and business in the town received a copy of Webster Today this week, so if you haven’t gotten yours yet, keep an eye out for it. And if you tossed it in the recycle bin without even looking at it, I recommend you rescue it and take a closer look. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

And by the way, if you know of anything going on in town you would like me to blog about, please email me!!!

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