Archive | May, 2022

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. I know I’ll miss you.

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 American Legion Cottreall-Warner Post 942 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 Legionnaires 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)

Webster community mailbag

18 May

Webster Parks and Recreation has a great family-friendly event coming up this Friday, May 20 at Challenger Miracle Field, 1000 Ridge Rd.

It’s called the Family Fun Night. From 6 to 8 p.m., there’ll be food trucks, concessions, and tables set up by local community groups. It looks like it’s going to be a very nice night weather-wise, so bring the whole family! Registration is NOT required.

Speaking of Webster Parks and Recreation, I got some news a short time ago that the Rec Center’s awesome Mud Run will be back again this September.

Last year’s first-ever Mud Run was so well received, they started making plans almost immediately for this year’s event. They promise it’s going to be even bigger and better (that might mean messier) than the first. It’s scheduled for Saturday Sept. 17, with the first wave going off at 10 a.m.

Here are a few pictures from last year. Stay tuned for more details, but make sure to get this one on your calendar now!

Don’t forget about Saturday’s Webster Wine Walk, from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Village of Webster. Glass pickup will be at Webster Interiors, 975 Ebner Dr. from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Tickets are $15 (plus sales tax and fees) and are available here. For more information, visit the Webster BID website.

The Friends of Webster Trails invites concerned nature-lovers to join them for a Trail Work Day this Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at Four Mile Creek Preserve, at the corner of Phillips and Lake roads.

They’ll be working on creating a new trail in the preserve. If you have them, bring along a shovel, wheelbarrow, lopper and/or mattock. Make sure to wear gloves, long sleeves and long pants.

Also this Saturday, don’t forget about the second annual Duck Derby hosted by Webster Comfort Care Home.

You can read this blog for more details, but basically, participants purchase rubber duckies for $5 each, and each has a number on it. At the appointed time, the ducks are dumped into Mill Creek, where they leisurely float down towards the lake. The “owners” of the first three ducks to cross the finish line win cash prizes.

Because the ducks take a while to meander downstream, there will be other activities to keep everyone busy while you’re waiting.

The race will begin at the Webster Park Beeches Pavilion at 10 a.m. on Saturday May 21. There’s plenty of parking. Ducks can be purchased online here, by calling 585-872-5290, emailing, or by stopping by the Webster Comfort Care Home at the corner of Holt and Klem. Payment is accepted by cash, check or credit card, and PayPal online. Tickets are available now.

Need pancakes? The Williamson Flying Club’s annual Pancake Breakfast takes place this Sunday, May 22 from 7 a.m. to noon at the club, 5502 Rt. 104, rain or shine.

In addition to a great breakfast, there’ll be airplane and helicopter rides. Cost for $6 for kids, $10 for adults. Presale tickets are available by clicking here.

You can fly in or drive in, but if you drive, please enter from Centenary Rd.

Godzilla has come to the Webster Museum.

You’ll want to enter the museum very cautiously for the next few months, because Godzilla is waiting to greet you in a BIG way.

He’ll glare at you (and perhaps even growl at you) from a striking poster provided to the museum by Lenny Schwartz, long-time manager of the much-missed Empire Drive-in theater. In the new exhibit, you’ll learn more about Lenny and the drive-in, and read memories of Webster residents who took their pajama-clad kids to the drive-in from March through December in years gone by. (Maybe you were one of them?)

Check out the impressive exhibit at the Webster Museum, 18 Lapham Park in the Village of Webster. The museum is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 2 to 4:30 p.m.

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(posted 5/18/2022)

The Memorial Day Parade is back!

17 May

For the first time in three years, Webster’s Memorial Day Parade will once again be winding its way down South and Main streets on Memorial Day, Monday May 30.

The parade is organized every (non-COVID) year by the Cottreall-Warner American Legion Post #942. Charlie Klauck, co-chairman of the Memorial Day Committee (and this year’s parade Grand Marshal) confirmed the details, which have not changed much from years past:

  • 9:00 a.m.:  All groups participating in the parade will assemble at Spry Middle School on Sanford Street. All active duty and ex-service men and women are invited to take part in the parade. Any veterans who would like to ride in the bed of an Army truck are asked to be at Spry by 9 a.m.
  • 9:30 a.m.:  Parade moves out from Spry, down South Avenue, turning west on Main Street and proceeding to Webster Rural Cemetery.
  • 9:50 a.m. (approx.): Parade arrives at Webster Rural Cemetery.
  • The Remembrance Ceremony will begin at approx. 10:15, or whenever everyone arrives and gets settled.

The parade is dedicated each year to a deserving group of people. This year, Charlie said, it’s being dedicated to the American people as a whole, “for what we’ve all been through these last two years.”

This is always a very nice parade, and the ceremony that follows it at Webster Rural Cemetery is always moving. I highly recommend bringing your children to see both the parade and the ceremony, so they might begin to understand the huge debt we owe our servicemen and women.

The Legion always dedicates the parade to a deserving group of people. This year, Charlie told me, the Legion has dedicated it to all of the American people, “for what we’ve been through for these last two years.”

This is always a very nice parade, and the ceremony that follows it at Webster Rural Cemetery is always moving. I highly recommend bringing your children to see both the parade and the ceremony, so they might begin to understand the huge debt we owe our servicemen and women. The last two years, the ceremony was necessarily smaller and more subdued due to COVID. This year it’s back to its full significance.

Click here for a gallery of photos from Memorial Day 2019, the last time we had a parade.

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(posted 5/17/2022)

Senior Luminary Walk honored the class of 2022

16 May

Last May, when we were still hip-deep in the pandemic, the Webster Thomas PTSA, Webster Schroeder PTSA and Webster Teachers’ Association (WTA) came up with a creative, socially-distanced way to celebrate out graduating seniors: the Senior Luminary Walk.

In a year when special events had to be canceled one after the other, the PTSAs and WTA wanted to do SOMETHING to make sure our seniors felt special and celebrated for their achievements. The Luminary Walk was perfect; a stroll along the one-mile long Chiyoda Trail behind the Webster Recreation Center, which volunteers had lined with white luminary bags, each one inscribed with a senior’s name and school. 

Organizers expected it to be a one-time event, replaced this year with more traditional end-of-year activities and celebrations. But the families who came last year had other ideas. Shortly after the event had concluded, families started asking the PTSA if there were plans to do it in 2022 for the next graduating class.

So the Senior Luminary Walk returned this year, even bigger and better than before.

Like in 2021, students and family members were greeted by the Webster Schroeder and Thomas mascots as they began their walk along the Chiyoda Trail, which almost completely encircles the Recreation Center property on Chiyoda Drive. Volunteers had placed luminary bags along the entire length of the trail, 580 in all (330 for Webster Thomas seniors, and 350 for Schroeder, including GOAL students). Twinkling lights strung along the bushes here and there made the scene even more spectacular as the sun set.

Enthusiastic teachers were stationed all along the path, cheering and congratulating the students as they passed. One family after another would pause periodically for photos, and sometimes the parents’ proud smiles were even bigger than the students’.

As the students returned to the Rec Center at the end of the walk, each was handed a lawn sign to display at their home — prompting even more proud-parent photos.

Many thanks to the volunteers who worked for hours Sunday afternoon placing the bags along the path and stringing the twinkly lights, who manned the tables, or who were just there to cheer on the students.

I think it was a pretty special night for the volunteers as well. Cathy Falbo, and 8th grade teacher at Spry Middle School, helped to hand out lawn signs with her son. She said,

I think it’s a nice opportunity for families to celebrate their seniors, a nice way for the community to come together. I feel like these special moments are important to celebrate and recognize and I think it’s important to bring the community together.

I’ve seen these kids grow, known them since kindergarten. It’s really special to see them come by. I’ve had some of them as students. For me, this is a really special opportunity to recognize them, congratulate them and greet them again after many years.  

What was especially neat about the evening is how it was really and truly a One Webster event. Webster Thomas and Schroeder PTSAs worked hand-in-hand since last fall to plan it. Both mascots were there, and Webster Schroeder Principal Paul Benz, Webster Thomas Principal Glenn Widor and GOAL Director Rebecca Saiff were on hand, passing out the lawn signs.

“That’s the nice thing about Schroeder and Thomas doing it together,” Webster Schroeder PTSA vice-chair Stacie Peters said. “A lot of families really truly enjoy that because a lot of people are friends, whether they are a Warrior or a Titan.”

Judging from the number of cars filling the Rec Center parking lot and overflowing onto the shoulders and parking lot across the street, this year’s Luminary Walk was as well received as last year’s. Families started arriving well before the scheduled 7:30 start and for almost two hours, the trail and Rec Center property were swarmed by thousands of happy students, parents, grandparents and friends.

I suspect that the Senior Luminary Walk will be back again next year.

Click here for a gallery of photos from the evening.

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(posted 5/16/2022)

Dessert trucks 

The ReTree Nursery is up and running

15 May

Regular readers of my blog already know how much I love the Friends of Webster Trails. This is an amazing group of volunteers who create and maintain the many miles of beautiful trails that snake through our town.

But their commitment to our town’s natural beauty does not stop there, evidenced by the group’s most recent project, which they call ReTree Webster.

Basically, ReTree Webster is a program born from recognition that Webster’s forests are under attack from insects and disease. As thousands of ash, hemlock, oak and beech die, they’re replaced by invasive and, usually, non-native trees.   

The Friends of Webster Trails has come up with a plan to fight back. They first completed tree surveys along many of the trails to record the kinds of trees present and how many of them there are. Then, after removing some of the invasive species, new trees will be purchased or grown from seedlings and planted.  

Plans are continuing apace. The Friends recently completed their new ReTree Nursery, located adjacent to the Webster Parks and Recreation maintenance building on Webster Rd. A few weeks ago, volunteers planted 100 Sweet Gum, Red Pine, White Spruce and Nine Bark seedlings in the nursery, many purchased from New York State and Monroe County, and others raised from locally collected native plants.

When these baby trees grow to a healthy height, they’ll be planted in Open Space areas throughout the town to replace trees lost to insects and disease.

To find out more about this amazing ReTree Webster project, to volunteer or donate to the effort, send a message through the Friends of Webster Trails’ website contact page.

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(posted 5/16/2022)

The tale of the Wandering Box Spring

15 May

I bring you a short modern fairy tale today about loss, but ultimate redemption.

Our story begins last summer, when a lone box spring appeared in the wooded area along the pleasantly shady and tree-lined path known to local residents as the Trail of Bike. It rested comfortably along the north side of the Trail, only several feet from where cyclists and walkers would pass. It probably would have found its way deeper into the brush had a metal chain-link obstruction not halted its progress.

Clearly, the poor box spring had lost its way ‘twixt the small brick village nearby and Ye Olde Dumpstre.

One day, as I took a stroll along the Trail of Bike, I noticed that someone (a Box Spring Fairy?) had taken pity and extracted the wayward box from the wooded area, placing it on the grassy yard near the small village’s courts of tennis. Surely someone would notice it lying there and return it to its home — or at least help it finally find ye olde dumpstre.

Alas, the poor box lay there through the rest of the summer, through the the cold winds of autumn and blustery snows of winter, still lost and alone. And three weeks ago, as the spring flowers returned to the trees, it lay there still, filled with water from the melting snows.

One day, the Box Spring Fairy apparently took note, pushing it closer yet to the the courts of tennis. Perhaps finally some administrator from the small village would see it and take pity.

Huzzah! It did get moved one day! The laborers assigned to trim the grassy yard moved it aside … then moved it back.

Last week, the Box Spring Fairy tried once again, flipping the box head over heels several times until it came to rest standing against the fence surrounding the courts of tennis.

Today, it is gone. A happy ending.

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(posted 5/15/2022)

Oak Tree Award winners announced

13 May

Congratulations to this year’s Webster Central School District Oak Tree Award recipients, announced earlier this week.

This year’s winners were Michele Parry, a fourth grade teacher at Plank South Elementary School, and Denise Warren, a special education teacher at Webster Thomas High School.

Parry and Warren were greeted by representatives of the Oak Tree Committee, teaching colleagues, and others with flowers and a cookie cake. Each recipient will receive a $500 stipend, a hand-lathed pen, and an acorn pin. The honorees were also congratulated by the Webster CSD Board of Education at its May 3 meeting. 

Thirty-eight educators were nominated by students, teachers, and community members for this year’s award.

The Oak Tree Award spotlights excellence in teaching at the elementary and the secondary levels and is jointly sponsored by the Webster Teachers Association and the Webster PTSA. The first Oak Tree Award was presented in 2000 and is a once-in-a-career honor.

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(posted 5/13/2022)