Archive | May, 2022

Thomas drama students inaugurate new outdoor stage with original one-act plays

31 May

The Webster Thomas Drama Club normally likes to stage their annual production in the fall. But this year, due to COVID restrictions, they decided to postpone it until spring in the hopes of being able to perform in front of a live audience.

Their efforts have paid off big time. Not only will the audience be treated to a live show, but will also see it performed outside on a brand new stage built by the GeoTech class in the school’s Gold House courtyard.

This inaugural Thomas Courtyard Stage production, called The Neighbors, is a collection of one-act plays written by Thomas students, all set in a townhouse complex (the two photos are from rehearsal). The show will include:

The Party, by Giuliana DiTullio:  Five college seniors wake up in their trashed apartment after a night of poor choices.  With family on the way, can they clean up their act in time?

The Will, by Kilian Laird:  A dysfunctional family comes together for the reading of Grandma’s will.  Can the estranged sisters set aside years of petty bickering?

The Heirloom, by Frank Russo:  A sibling rivalry blows up, and Dad’s precious family heirloom is caught in the cross-fire.  Can Freddy prove his innocence?

The Ghost, by Jenna Dow:  Rosalind and Charlie come home for her mother’s funeral, but strange things are afoot. 

The Mouse, by Catherine Magaw:  Moving to take care of an elderly mother is hard enough, but Christine and George weren’t planning on a little houseguest. 

The show will hit the stage on Thursday June 9 and Friday June 10 at 7:30 p.m. each evening. General admission tickets, available at the door, will be $10. Signs around the building will guide theater-goers to the new stage, but it’s easiest to park in the northeast parking lot by the Field House.

Director Mark Stoetzel and his students are very excited about the new stage. It’s been in the works for months, and is very sturdy and attractive, complete with a pergola. I’m certain the school will get a lot of use out of it in years to come. Below are a few photos from the design and construction phase.

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(posted 5/31/2022)

Webster community mailbag

30 May

The Webster Marching Band’s first Bottle and Can Drive of the summer takes place this Saturday, June 4. And the exciting news is that the band is once again offering curbside pickup in addition to their regular drop-off option at Webster Schroeder High School.

You can drop your returnables off at Schroeder (875 Ridge Rd.) between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., OR you can place them at the end of your driveway this Saturday morning, and someone will be by to pick them up.

If you won’t be around on Saturday it’s easy to schedule a pickup at your home. Log onto, fill out the short form and someone will be in touch. The next drive will be Aug. 13, so put it on your calendar now.

Challenger Miracle Field of Greater Rochester will be hosting the highly respected Disability Dream & Do Sports Camp (D3Day) on Saturday June 4.

The Disability Dream and Do (D3Day) sports camps were created by Dave Clark, the only pitcher in professional sports history to pitch on crutches, and Doug Cornfield, a former NCAA medal winning runner at Georgia, who himself had a child born with no arms. These camps allow professional players to interact with children with special needs in various drills and compete in sports with no limitations. 

D3 participants have an opportunity to hit, throw, catch and run the bases with instruction from the best regardless of anyone’s limitations. 

Lunch is provided for all participants, their family members and caregivers.

Space is limited, so be sure to sign up soon. There is no cost to D3 participants and their families. Click here to register and find out more. And if you’d like to read more about this outstanding program, click here.

The Joe Obbie Farmers Market returns for its summer season on Saturday June 11.

As every year, the Farm Market will be open every Saturday through Oct. 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Webster Towne Center (Target Plaza), near the gazebo.

This year the market is introducing something new as well, “An Evening in the Park.” Every Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. in July and August the market will also set up at Charles Sexton Memorial Park (formerly North Ponds), between Rt. 250 and Holt Rd.

Make sure to stop by every week for locally-produced jams, meats, eggs, honey, maple syrup, fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers and crafts.

For more information, visit the Joe Obbie Facebook page and website.

Also on Saturday June 11, kick off your summer at Webster’s Summer Celebration, scheduled from 4 to 10 p.m. at the Webster Recreation Center, 1350 Chiyoda Dr. State Line and Brass Taxi will be performing, plus there’ll be food trucks (including Bay Vista Taqueria, Macrollin’, Nancy’s Fried Dough, Pub 235, Terry’s Tips and Beef, Tuscan Wood Fired Pizza and Wraps on Wheels) lots of family activities and fireworks to end the evening.

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(posted 5/30/2022)

Photos from Webster’s Memorial Day celebration

30 May

I can’t remember when we’ve had a more beautiful day for our Memorial Day Parade and Remembrance Ceremony. It was as if Mother Nature was also happy to see the parade again after its two-year hiatus.

As in previous years, the parade participants started gathering around 9 a.m. at Spry Middle School, stepping off onto South Ave. at 9:30 and winding a little more than a mile north to Main Street, then west to Webster Rural Cemetery.

The crowds lining the streets seemed much smaller than in previous years, despite outstanding weather. That surprised me; I figured everyone would be really excited about the parade’s return. The number of participants also was smaller this year. Perhaps that can be attributed to lingering fears of COVID. I especially missed all of the Girl Scouts and Brownies.

Regardless, the ceremony at Webster Rural following the parade was moving and meaningful as usual. I was especially touched by the remarks made by Sean Miller, Commander of the Ridge Webster VFW Post 9483. He reminded us what a day in the life of a servicemember is like, and how we take our regular meals, comfortable beds, long weekends, and even our daily commutes for granted, compared to the hardships our men and women in the service face every day.

As usual, I took a lot of photos. Click here to check out my Facebook gallery. If you have any you’d like me to add to the gallery, feel free to email them to me at

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(posted 5/30/2022)

Mock DWI scenario taught Webster Thomas students a sobering lesson

27 May

Anyone who happened to drive by Thomas High School Wednesday morning might have been alarmed to see dozens of firefighters, police officers, EMTs and their emergency vehicles swarming around what appeared to be a horrific accident that had just occured in front of the school.

But they needn’t have worried. The realistic accident scene was actually a very carefully arranged and pre-planned mock DWI scenario. It’s organized annually by our local emergency responders as a training exercise, and hosted by the school district during prom and graduation party season as a serious, real-life lesson for our students.

The scene imagined a two-car accident occurring just down the street from the high school, at the corner of Five Mile Line Rd. and Publisher’s Parkway. About 700 juniors and seniors watched from bleachers in the parking lot as School Resource Officer David Herrle described what happened.

It was prom night, and the young driver of one of the cars had had too much to drink. The other driver, distracted by the friends riding with him, didn’t see the drunk driver bearing down on him as he made the turn. He was t-boned.

Somebody called 911, and emergency vehicles started arriving. First a police car, and then a second. Finally, after what seemed like a very long time, an ambulance, two fire trucks from West Webster, and two more from the Webster Volunteer Fire Department pulled up.

As the officers and firefighters surveyed the scene, they found that the distracted driver, who was not wearing a seatbelt, had been ejected. He was lying on the sidewalk nearby, dead. Firefighters placed a sheet over him. Another student in the car suffered a broken ankle and, after getting out of the car, hobbled to the ambulance.

The drunk driver was unscathed, and with some assistance was able get out of her car. Her three passengers, however, had to be removed with the help of the Jaws of Life, an agonizingly long and fightening process if you’re trapped and hurt.

As the firefighters were removing doors and cutting the roof off the car, the young lady who was driving drunk was taken aside by a police officer, given a field sobriety test and arrested.

The whole scenario only took about 45 minutes, but for those who were taking it seriously, they might be among the most important 45 minutes of their lives.

Acerin Menough, a Thomas High junior, was especially surprised by how long it took to get everyone extracted. After the presentation, she told me,

It took a lot longer than I thought it was going to take. I thought it would take maybe like ten minutes for them to get everybody out of the cars but it took an entire block, like 45 minutes to an hour. That was pretty scary, knowing that I could be totally fine driving and then somebody could hit me, and I could end up dying because of it. But I also found it very interesting seeing how they opened the cars and how hard it was to get into the cars.

But Acerin was also bothered by how some of classmates were behaving. When I asked her if she thought everyone else would take it seriously, she said,

“Probably not. A lot of them weren’t paying attention or messing around on their phones, which is really upsetting, because this could save their lives. A lot of them just don’t care and they don’t understand the impact of that.”

Speaking as a mother, I hope the message being shared that day sunk in at least a little bit with everyone. But I know that’s wishful thinking. Young people these days tend to think they’re invincible. Bad stuff like that can happen to someone else, but never to me.

But I couldn’t help thinking back to one of these mock DWI presentations I watched many years ago when I was working at Thomas. In addition to the student actors, the school had brought in the mother of the driver who “died.” She was standing on the school’s front walk when a police officer told her that her son had not survived. As any mother would when given that news, she collapsed with grief. As I watched, I found it easy to imagine how devastated she was, to feel the searing pain of losing a child. I cried, too.

I don’t imagine many high school students read this blog. But if you have one, or know of one, perhaps you can present him or her with that perspective: you might think it’s OK to be cavalier with your life, cut corners and take chances. But think what the news of your hospitalization — or death — would do to your parents.

Thank you to all of the organizations who joined forces to stage this important demonstration: the Webster Police Department, Webster Volunteer Fire Department, West Webster Fire Department, Webster EMS, Northeast Quadrant ALS and Webster Central School District. Thanks also to Wilbert’s U-Pull It for donating the vehicles and Barth Towing for getting the vehicles to and from the accident scene.

The entire scenario will replayed at Webster Schroeder on Thursday June 2 in the back parking lot.

Here’s a slideshow of photos from the event:

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(posted 5/24/2022)

Craft as therapy for veterans, courtesy Crafty Christy’s

26 May

When Christina Barnum opened her adorable Crafty Christy’s Boutique last October, she had a few simple goals.

She wanted her shop to be unique. She wanted to specialize in vintage clothing, handmade jewelry and artisan pieces designed “for the flower child in all of us.” She endeavored to recycle, reuse and recreate as much as she could in the items she made and sold.

And especially, she wanted to support the military, reflecting her own service in the Marines. One of the ways she hoped to accomplish that was to offer craft therapy classes for veterans.

Last weekend, Christina held the first of those classes, and reported that it was a “huge success.”

She wrote,

Eight ladies came last Saturday and all had a great time. I am proud of myself for reaching my goal of reaching out to the community. My thanks go out to the generous donation that enabled me to give each veteran a gift certificate to pay it forward to other veterans. All the ladies are looking forward to attending more classes.   

Here are a few photos from the afternoon:

In her own small way, Christina Barnum is making the world a little better for our veterans.

Crafty Christy’s Boutique is located at 7 West Main St. in the Village of Webster, in the lower parking lot across from the gazebo. Find out more on her Facebook page and website. You can also click here to read the blog I wrote shortly after the shop opened.

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(posted 5/26/2022)

Webster community blood drive returns (with ice cream!)

25 May

The bi-annual Webster Community Blood Drive returns next week, on Wednesday and Thursday June 1 and 2, and it’s coming at a critical time.  

The American Red Cross is facing a national blood crisis, its worst blood shortage in more than a decade. As a result, doctors have been forced to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait until more products become available. Blood and platelet donations are critically needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments. 

So Webster, that means next week we really need to step up to the plate.   

The two-day drive will be held Wednesday June 1 and Thursday June 2, from noon to 7 p.m., both days at the Firemen’s Exempt Building, 172 Sanford St. 

Regular Community Blood Drive donors will be pleased to know that Bruster’s will once again be offering a coupon to every presenting donor, good for a free small cone or dish of ice cream.  The Red Cross will also be giving all donors a $5 e-gift card, good for use at a merchant of their choice. (Make sure your donor account is up to date so you can get the email.) 

Walk-ins will be accommodated, but it’s always best to make an appointment. Visit and enter “webstercommunity” to schedule your appointment. Or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). And make sure to fill out your RapidPass on the day of your donation to save at least 15 minutes. 

This is also your last opportunity to have your blood tested — for free — for COVID antibodies, which will be done for every donation through June 3.  

This is always one of the best-attended drives of the entire year, and the Red Cross really has come to count on our community in times like these. Let’s not let them down.

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A sad farewell to the Special Police

24 May

In the years I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve met countless wonderful people; business owners, residents, special event chairpeople, grass-roots organizers. Together, they comprise the fabric of our community.

Through those years, and all those people, there’s always been one constant: the Special Police.

At every one of our town’s special events, I’d invariably see these dedicated volunteers helping with crowds and traffic control, and directing traffic at accident scenes. I’ve always appreciated their expertise, professionalism and good nature.

That’s why I was saddened to hear that Webster’s Special Police Department was being eliminated.

I heard rumors a while ago that such a decision was in the works, but I guess I was hoping I’d heard wrong, or at least something could be worked out with the Town to salvage this important service. But then, a few days ago, I got an email from Michael Charland, the most recent Chief of Special Police, confirming that the department is truly gone.

Michael gave me some background about how the whole thing went down. I’m not going to get into detail about that and the politics that were involved. (To read more of the story, check out the letter to the editor in last week’s Webster Herald.) But he did include some history which I thought was interesting.

He wrote,

Our unit began as the Webster Auxiliary Police under NYS Civil Defense guidelines back in 1953, and evolved into a Special Police organization in 1997 when the NYS Town Laws were changed. We generally had about 25 volunteer officers that served the Webster Police Department in law enforcement roles whenever called upon to do so. All of our officers were trained at the Monroe County Public Safety Training Facility and certified as NYS Peace Officers.

The town never fully utilized all of the powers that NY State granted to us over the years. Typically they utilized our members to do more routine duties such as traffic control, some patrol details, or provide security at large public gatherings, which we were happy to do. Other duties included providing court security to the town justice court, and 24/7 emergency response to fatal MVAs, storms, crime scenes, etc. where we generally provided a secure perimeter for the WPD to conduct their work. 

I’m going to miss not seeing Special Police officers at our special events. Like the upcoming Memorial Day Parade; they’d always be there in force, on bike and on foot, and they were always happy to smile for my camera.

Thank you for your service, Special Police officers.

Here are some of my photos from previous blogs, and a few provided by Michael.

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(posted 5/24/2022)

Local organization shares Moonshadow’s Spirit to help those with eating disorders

23 May

I learned something the other day, a fact that just blew me away: eating disorders — specifically Anorexia Nervosa — are the second leading cause of death for mental illnesses.

That was just one of the many eye-opening things I found out last week when I sat down for a conversation with Sharon Mathiason to talk about Moonshadow’s Spirit, the Webster-based nonprofit organization she and her husband David created to honor the memory of their daughter Jennifer.

Jennifer struggled with an eating disorder for 10 years, which began when she was just a teenager. She eventually recovered, but she also suffered from extreme depression, which often accompanies eating disorders, and passed away in February, 2009 at the age of 26.

Jennifer was very proud of her recovery, and had become committed to sharing her story. She spoke to junior high school classes and through online forums — using the pseudonym “Moonshadow’s Spirit” — encouraged other sufferers to seek out treatment and fight the tough fight.

After Jennifer passed, one of Jennifer’s closest friends told Sharon and David that their daughter was worried people couldn’t get treatment because they didn’t have insurance or couldn’t pay for it. After hearing that, figuring out a way to honor Jennifer’s memory wasn’t a huge leap. Moonshadow’s Spirit, Inc. was born, its mission to offer financial assistance to individuals with eating disorder diagnoses who are seeking treatment.

Just one year later, in March 2010, Moonshadow’s Spirit presented its first financial award, and has continued to hand out awards every year since. (They actually just celebrated their 100th donation.) The checks have gone to treatment centers all over the country, helping patients as young as 11 and as old as 60.

The awards, handed out quarterly, have ranged from $500 to $7,000 depending on need and how much money the organization has on hand. They’d like to hand out even larger checks, but raising funds, Sharon said, is slow going.

“Raising money is not easy for a nonprofit,” she said. “If we were helping dogs and cats we’d raise ten times more money than we do trying to help people. That’s kind of blunt but it’s true…. It’s hard to get people interested in eating disorders.” 

Sharon has recently expanded the organization’s mission to include education. She speaks at schools as far away as Hamburg (near Buffalo) and LeRoy, and twice every year visits the health classes at Webster Schroeder and Thomas high schools, accompanied by young people who are in recovery. They share their stories and some frightening facts about a disease which is too often hidden from view.

That fact I led my blog with? That was just the tip of the iceberg of the surprising things I’ve learned in the last few days. For example:

  • 11 million people in the United States have an eating disorder.
  • Almost half of all Americans know someone with an eating disorder.
  • 11% of high school students have been diagnosed with an eating disorder.
  • About 30% of diagnosed eating disorders are in males. Most males are probably undiagnosed; they tend to over-exercise, which is a form of bulimia, but not all doctors see it.
  • Only 30% of medical schools offer eating disorders as an elective.

Visit the Moonshadow’s Spirit website for more information about this surprisingly common and deadly disease. You’ll also find a link there where you can donate to help fund the fight. And if you’d like someone to come to your meeting or organization to talk about eating disorders, email Sharon at

It’s a party!

Sharon and David and the Moonshadow’s Spirit team would like to hold a small party to celebrate handing out their 100th check. They want to get a cake and share it with everyone at some community event. If you have any ideas on where they might be able to do that (without having to jump through too many hoops), please email Sharon at

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(posted 5/23/2022)

Weirdness along the highways

22 May

I’m pleased to bring you another of my East Extra Afterthoughts installments today.

Afterthoughts is a completely separate blog, where I’m reposting some of my favorite columns from when I was the Our Towns East Extra columnist for the Democrat and Chronicle.

This particular column just came out of thin air, probably when I was grasping at straws for something to write about that particular week. But it was fun, and helped me take a look at our towns in a different way. It was originally published on Aug. 2, 2013.

What do we have to entice out-of-towners?

Today’s column has an audience participation component. Keep reading and I’ll let you know when your part comes.

A few weeks ago, I took a road trip to Kansas City with my sister and father. On the way out, as we cruised along the highway, we noticed a billboard advertising the “World’s Largest Wind Chime” just a mile off the road in little Casey, IL.

Anxious to put the two-day, 20-hour drive behind us, we didn’t stop.

But somehow, we just couldn’t forget about that wind chime. So after our visit concluded and we headed home, we aimed straight for Casey, determined to see what this attraction was all about.

Click here to go to Afterthoughts and read the rest of the post.

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Honoring our veterans, one flag at a time

19 May

Every year for more than 50 years, in the weeks immediately preceding Memorial Day, members of the Webster VFW Post 9483 in Webster have performed a solemn obligation. They visit each of Webster’s five cemeteries — Holy Trinity, West Webster, Webster Union, Webster Rural and Union Hill — and place a flag beside each veteran’s gravestone.

It’s a simple act, designed to honor and remember our nation’s veterans on Memorial Day, whether they served in wartime or peacetime.

For the last several years, the effort has been coordinated by Charlie Klauck, who updates the burial lists and cemetery maps, rounds up volunteers and schedules the placement times. He likes to begin visiting the cemeteries two weeks before Memorial Day, allowing plenty of time for rescheduling in case of inclement weather. Over a period of five days, he and his volunteers visit every cemetery in succession, methodically working their way up and down the lines of gravestones, regularly pausing to place a flag.

And they have to pause a lot. This year, Charlie and his crew will place 2,230 flags, including more than 600 in Webster Union Cemetery alone, and more than 900 in Webster Rural.

You might think planting more than 2,200 individual flags would be a very slow and tedious process, but it’s clearly a labor of love, and the volunteers have it pretty much down to a science. One pushes the cart of flags, another reads the names off a list, a third locates each stone on a map, and the last one plants the flags. If enough volunteers show up, Charlie can even get two or three teams going at once.

That’s especially helpful in a cemetery like Webster Rural, which is so large that Charlie likes to get a head start. He explained,

Webster Rural takes hours. I schedule it for Wednesday night, but if we try to do it all Wednesday night, there’s no way we’d be able to. We’d be there until dark.  So I start up there (earlier) and do a lot of the smaller sections and the old sections and save a few of the big ones for Wednesday night.  

Two of the members are Scout leaders, so sometimes they bring along a contingent of Scouts for some extra hands.

“We encourage them to help out,” Charlie said, “because someday they may have to do it for us.”

By the end of this week, flags should be in place at Union Hill, Holy Trinity, West Webster and Webster Union cemeteries. Next Wednesday, the teams will head to Webster Rural Cemetery. If you notice that a veteran has been missed, call Charlie Klauck at 585-671-2302.

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(posted 5/19/2022)