Archive | September, 2022

The Joe Obbie Farm Market hasn’t packed up yet

29 Sep

Fall-like weather is upon us once again, which means the Joe Obbie Farmer’s Market will be packing up for the winter soon. But all is not lost; you’ll still find the locally-produced fresh meats, vegetables, fruits, syrups, honeys and more you’ve come to love for a few more weeks.

The market is open every Saturday morning from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Webster Towne Center (Target/Kohl’s Plaza) on Holt Road, near the gazebo.

Now would be a great time to check out the market if you haven’t already. You’ll not only find many of your favorite summertime produce, crafts, cheeses, spice blends, and baked goods, but now the market is really leaning into the autumn season. Need maple syrup and cider? How about pumpkins for your porch? Stop by the market and you’ll be delighted at the selection.

The market will be open every Saturday morning through October 29, rain or shine. Check out the Joe Obbie Farmer’s Market Facebook page for details.

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(posted 9/29/2022)

A sneak peek at upcoming Village events

28 Sep

September’s still here, but October and November are front and center in the minds of the Village Business Improvement District, who are deep into planning for some fun events in the coming weeks.

Lots of details are still being worked out, but here’s a taste of what’s in store so you can mark your calendars:

  • Village Oktoberfest and Beer Walk, Saturday Oct. 15. These two great events will be happening at the same time for double the entertainment. Times for the Oktoberfest are still being finalized, but we do know the Krazy Firemen will be returning to perform on East Main. The Beer Walk will run from 4 to 7 p.m. Tickets will be available soon at
  • Trick or Treat Trail, Saturday Oct. 29, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This event always kicks off with a costume contest at Village Hall from 11 a.m. to noon. And don’t forget to have your pups join in the fun; prizes will be given out throughout the afternoon by judges who’ll be wandering around on the lookout.
  • Bourbon Bash, Saturday Nov. 5, 6 to 9 p.m. at the Harmony House. Good drink, good food, and this always sells out. Watch for ticket information coming soon.
  • And of course, the Village of Webster’s Holiday Extravaganza on Saturday Dec. 3. Lots of details still being hammered out about this event, so stay tuned.

Keep tabs on all of these events on the Webster BID website.

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(posted 9/28/2022)

PTSA/WHEN-sponsored speaker will address social media concerns

27 Sep

I can’t speak for everyone in my generation, but I’ve come to a point in my life where I can’t keep up with the pace of technology. That’s especially the case with the proliferation of social media outlets. I mean, I’m still not even on board with TikTok and Snapchat, which in 2022 are among the elder statesmen of social media.

So I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to have kids right now, who seem to be on their phones every waking moment. Keeping them safe and focused on school and other responsibilities is a formidable task.

A program coming up on Tuesday Oct. 4 is designed to help parents with that task.

The program, sponsored by the Webster Central PTSA and the Webster Health Education Network (WHEN), is called Social Media and Your Kids. It features Mark Stossel, an award-winning poet and filmmaker, who will speak on how technology affects, influences, and makes addicts of all of us.

Stossel is kind of an expert in the field. He ran social media for multinational brands and worked for a social media company where he designed some of the same notification structures to distract people that he now raises awareness about. He has spoken with hundreds of thousands of students, parents, and educators around the world about social media’s impact on our lives and provides a unique and much needed critical perspective on the role of technology in schools and in our society. 

His presentation will illustrate some of the specific ways technology is designed to be addictive and distracting, give an overview of how students are using social media, and give recommendations on how to improve focus and diminish distraction in learning environments. 

Stossel will speak at assemblies at both Webster Thomas and Schroeder high schools, but the presentation on Oct. 4 is meant for the entire Webster community. It will be held at Webster Schroeder High School, 975 Ridge Rd., on Tuesday Oct. 4 beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

For more information on Stossel, go to For more information on his Webster School District presentations, contact Joe Montemaro, district director of educational technology and information, at 216-0123 or

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(posted 9/27/2022)

Webster resident reflects on cemeteries in her new book

25 Sep

I’m a sucker for cemeteries. They’re so peaceful. I love to just wander through them, enjoy the solitude, look at the epitaphs, and think about the lives they’re trying to sum up in just a few words.

So when I heard about a recent book about cemeteries written by Webster resident Jane Hopkins, I sat up and took notice. Then I started reading it, and realized that Hopkins and I are of the same mind when it comes to the power of cemeteries to touch us deeply.

The book is titled Cemetery Reflections, and it was sparked in part by a single, simple headstone. Hopkins was taking a walk in a historic cemetery in Canada a few years ago and came across the grave of a young child. The epitaph read, “Step Softly, Here lies a dream.” A much larger monument which stood nearby detailed the death of four children three weeks apart, and their father several months later. Hopkins writes in her book, “I thought about the dreams of these parents for their children, and the harsh reality that comes to many of us who experience an early death in the family.”

As Hopkins continued to wander the cemetery, she contemplated the deep grief expressed in the words on the child’s headstone. It compelled her to explore more cemeteries, perhaps, she wrote, “looking for a workable philosophy of loss and afterlife ─ including my own death ─ and how to  make it easier for those left behind.”  

The result of those wanderings is the new 206-page book, Cemetery Reflections, a visual journey through notable cemeteries, illustrated by stunning black and white and color photos. Historic poetry and beautiful prose accompany the photos, giving the book a free-flowing feel similar to what one would experience on a cemetery walk. 

You can meet Hopkins yourself and learn more about her book at a talk she’ll hold on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. in  the Gleason Auditorium at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, 115  South Ave., Rochester. The talk is free and open to the public.

Copies of Cemetery Reflections are available for $44.95 at   

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(posted 9/25/2022)

Florence Kinney, Webster’s “Mrs. Claus,” approaches amazing gift-giving goal

24 Sep

It’s only the last week in September, but Florence Kinney is already thinking about Christmas.

Actually, she’s been thinking about it and working on it for the last nine months, purchasing and preparing the thousands of gifts she’ll be delivering to children this holiday season.

Florence Kinney — or as some know her, “Mrs. Claus” — is the driving force behind a grassroots ministry which she calls “Santa’s Workshop,” dedicated to bringing presents to children who might not get many gifts, or anything, for Christmas.

The effort began very simply in December 1989, when Florence read a story in the Democrat and Chronicle about two brothers who were going to be spending their Christmas at Rochester General Hospital. After reading the article, she asked her husband Charles if they could go to the store and buy a toy truck for each little boy. He agreed; just one toy.

But after dropping the trucks off at the hospital, something kept nagging at Florence. So she asked Charles, again, if they could go out and get just a few more toys. He agreed, again, and they headed out to shop.

They came back with 400 gifts, which they delivered to 400 more children at the hospital.

That was going to be the end of it, Florence said. But word spread and they started getting calls from other hospitals, and a reporter called to do a story. When they told him they had no plans to continue, he encouraged them to pray about it.

“It was a very emotional moment for us,” Florence remembered. She and Charles stood in a corner of their kitchen and prayed. “Next thing we knew, this heat just rose right up from our feet, right through our body. We both started crying our eyes out, and I looked at (Charles) and said, ‘This is a calling.’”

Santa’s Workshop was born, and has grown every year, even after Charles passed in 2003. The agencies it serves have expanded well beyond RGH to include the Ronald McDonald House, Williamson Community Center, Cure Cancer Association, House of Mercy and a half dozen others, and the number of children and adults who receive gifts every year numbers in the thousands.

Last year, Santa’s Workshop delivered 4,889 gifts, bringing the total number of gifts since the first year to 97,506. This season, which marks the 33rd year, Florence only needs another 2,500 gifts to reach an incredible goal: 100,000 gifts delivered.

What’s especially amazing about what Florence does is that she receives very few donations. She basically goes out and purchases the thousands of toys and clothing items herself, with her own money.

Thanks to raging inflation and supply chain issues, purchasing enough gifts this year has been especially challenging. Money doesn’t go anywhere near as far these days, and it’s been difficult buying games in bulk quantities. But she’s persevered, and several rooms in her Webster home are already piled high with games, stuffed animals, dolls, books and toys, ready for the workshop to “open” in November, when her team of dedicated volunteers will start sorting, packing and delivering the gifts.

But Florence is still looking for bargains and buying gifts, because she’s bound and determined to reach her goal. “If we can make that 100,000, I will feel very good about it,” she said.

Last year when, Florence told me she was so close to her goal, I asked her if she’d be retiring once she reached it. She answered, “The only way I could do it is if God tells me that. He called me to it, he’ll call me away from it. I know that in my heart. It will be his decision to make.”

Turns out, she got that message. A couple of times. She told me,

A few weeks ago I was praying about it. I was led to go get one of my devotionals. When I picked it up and opened the page, you won’t believe what it said. The title was “Retirement?” It was all about how you never retire from the Lord’s work.

Before that hapened I was eating breakfast, looking out the window, and thinking about the last year. All of a sudden I heard “I have not called you from it. I called you to it.”

Sounds like Santa’s Workshop will be hanging around a little while longer.

(Click here to read more about Florence in the blog I wrote about her last year.)

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(posted 9/24/2022)

Webster community mailbag

23 Sep

I’d like to lead this week’s mailbag with a huge THANK YOU from the Webster Museum.

The recent Museum Barn Sale, held Sept. 15 to 17, was a tremendous success, reportedly the best ever. Museum volunteers would like to thank the Webster community for all the donations, purchases and “delightful company.”

Your support for this — the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year — assures that the Webster Museum will be with us for another year, carefully preserving our town’s rich history.

The Webster Museum is located at 18 Lapham Park in the Village of Webster, and is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 2 to 4:30 p.m.

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, the Webster Public Library brings these two events your way:

  • Hispanic Heritage Month Night, Thursday Sept. 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. Celebrate the month with a culture-filled evening of food, dance, music, crafts and more. All ages are welcome, and registration is requested. (Click here)
  • Hispanic Heritage Month Crafts, Saturday Sept. 30, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All ages are welcome, drop in anytime and no registration is required.

Also from the library, their big Fall Book Sale is right around the corner.

It happens Thursday through Saturday Oct. 6 to 8, with the best deals saved for Friday and Saturday. Check out all the details in the flyer below.

If your kids are REALLY into fire trucks, then you’ll want to mark these dates on your calendar.

The West Webster Fire Department will hold their open house on Sunday Oct. 16 from 1 to 4 p.m., and the Webster Volunteer Fire Department will hold their open house on Saturday Oct. 29 (during Halloween in the Village). These events offer much more than fire trucks, too. There are demonstrations, giveaways, a chance to check out all sorts of emergency equipment and talk to real first responders. But of course, there’s definitely plenty of opportunities to take a picture of your young firefighter sitting in a real fire truck.

The West Webster Fire Department is at 1051 Gravel Rd., and the Webster Volunteer Fire Department is on South Ave. in the Village of Webster. These events are both free and open to everyone.

Gleason Orthodontics, on South Ave. in the village, will be hosting a winter-wear donation drive from Oct. 1 through Nov. 20.

You can drop off adult and youth-sized coats, hats and gloves at the office, 246 South Ave., during regular business hours.

The Webster Recreation Center, Webster Central PTSA and Webster Teachers Association are also hosting a Concert Apparel and Coat Drive. They’re looking for any size (toddler through adult) of the following items in good condition:

  • Winter coats, jackets, pants, boots and accessories
  • Concert apparel: white and black tops, shoes, bottoms and accessories

Collection boxes are loated at each Webster Central School building through Oct. 27.

On Saturday Oct. 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Webster Recreation Center, 1350 Chiyoda Dr., anyone who needs winter or concert gear can come “shop” for gently-used items for free.

The Webster Aquatic Center will be hosting a Blood Drive on Tuesday Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Aquatic Center, 875 Ridge Rd.

Call 1-800-RED-CROSS or log onto to make an appointment.

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(posted 9/23/2022)

Chamber of Commerce gets a beautiful upgrade

22 Sep

I’m discovering that among the many benefits of my retirement has been having extra time to work on my blog — to track down more stories, meet more interesting people, and discover places in Webster I’ve not seen before. Basically, I now have more time to become better connected with my community.

I especially want to improve my connection with our local businesses. I took the first step in that direction last night when I attended an open house at the Webster Chamber of Commerce. Chamber president Barry Howard had invited members to the offices for drinks and hors d’oeuvres and to show off some recently completed renovations.

I was very kindly invited to attend by Steve Conger of Spectrum Business. Steve reached out to me a few weeks ago, hoping to lay the groundwork for a stronger relationship between the Chamber and my blog. I jumped at the opportunity.

Not surprisingly, I saw several familiar faces at the event (Webster is a small town, after all), but also met some business owners, handed out several business cards, and introduced people to Webster on the Web.

Basically, I started making those connections.

I always love meeting new people, but last night was doubly enjoyable because I got a good look at the Chamber of Commerce’s new digs. Well, they’re not new, actually. The office hasn’t moved from its current location at 1110 Crosspointe Lane, although that prospect was definitely in the cards. When it was clear that the Chamber needed more space, Howard said they started looking around town to see what was available. Even though they visited and rated 17 places, nothing checked all the boxes they needed.

So they took a closer look at redesigning the space they already had. “We’d like to stay here if we can afford it,” Howard told the architects, and they got to work.

The result is beautiful. Without increasing the actual square footage, somehow they managed to make the space bigger and brighter. Over a three-month period, workers eliminated storage closets, moved and added doors, installed new windows, updated the lighting and slapped on fresh paint. In the process, somehow they added a third office — which can be rented out to members for meetings and interviews — updated their technology, opened up the conference room, and created a much more accessible and welcoming atmosphere. (Check out some photos below.)

I’ll be attending more Webster Chamber events in the coming months. I look forward to getting to know its members better and sharing more business news with my readers.

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(posted 9/22/2022)

Former cold storage building recognized

21 Sep

In our daily lives, we frequently walk by or drive by things of historical significance without even realizing it.

Such is the case with the building at 206 North Ave. in the Village of Webster. Most of us know it as Climate Controlled Self Storage, or “that place where you can rent U-Hauls.” Fewer of us realize the building has a long and rich history in our village, a history that recently earned it recognition as the Webster Village Historic Preservation Commission’s September Site of the Month.

In the early 1920s, the building at 206 North Ave. was known as Webster Cold Storage, a cooperative created by local apple growers including Louis Kittelberger, George Hosenfeld, William Stokes, George Dunn and Earl Wright. In her book Webster Through the Years, Esther Dunn reported that the building had about 400,000 cubic feet of space, enough for 50,000 barrels of apples.

Over the next four decades, the Cold Storage building saw many changes in both the facility itself and the products stored there. In 1923, an addition was made to install an ice-making tank, and years later, more than half of the space was converted from coolers to locker space. The variety of produce stored there over the years is impressive: apples, cherries, grapes, peaches, prunes, berries, currants, all sorts of vegetables, and even seafood.

Before it closed in March 1965, Webster Cold Storage had become a true community business. Even individual residents leased some space for their own use.

But the building’s history is not the only reason it was recognized by the Historic Preservation Commission. Members of the commission choose their Sites of the Month based not just on the site’s history, but also what its current owner has done to maintain and improve the property.

The building’s present owner, Dimitri Stefanou, has made significant improvements since purchasing it in 2002. It needed a lot of repairs, and when Stefanou started planning how to redevelop the property, he decided to return it to its original purpose, storage, saying that he hoped “to once again make (the) building a landmark.”

Stefanou put windows along the front of the building and added an office, and even managed to build the storage units around existing pillars. But the top two floors were still empty, and rather than turning them into storage units as well, Stefanou decided to take the renovations to a whole new level and create luxury apartments.

The Lofts of Webster was created, 20 luxury units on the third and fourth floors, complete with a private resident entrance, a porte cochere, a new elevator and fitness area. Outside, he added a vegetable garden, a flower garden, and a huge picnic table for the residents to enjoy.

The improvements are kind of a reincarnation for this historic building, assuring its position once again as an vital part of the Webster Village community.

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(posted 9/21/2022)

Sloppy, muddy, mucky fun at the Rec Center

18 Sep

Webster Parks and Recreation did it again, devising a very successful, tremendously fun and unique event that the whole family could enjoy.

I’m talking about last Saturday morning’s second annual Mud Run, held along the lawns and walking paths behind the Rec Center on Chiyoda Dr. The two-hour event drew several hundred children and adults of all ages, who payed $5 each for the privilege of scrambling over obstacles, wading through muddy streams and combat-crawling through pits filled with about six inches of muck.

I was one of those hundreds of people, and boy was it a blast. To the Rec Center’s credit, there were ways around most of the obstacles or mud pits for anyone who really wanted to take advantage of them. But most everybody embraced the opportunity to go a little crazy and get as muddy as they could. Several groups went through three or four times. (I only did it twice.)

Fresh from their success at the Mud Run, Rec Center staffers have turned their attention to this year’s Third Annual Pumpkins on Parade, scheduled for Saturday Oct. 29.

This is an amazing, family-friendly Halloween-time event, when the Chiyoda Trail is lined with creative, scary, and downright funny jack-o-lanterns. Community members and businesses are encouraged to carve up some pumpkins, drop them off at the Rec Center that morning, and then come back that evening with the family to look for them along the mile-long trail which winds around the back of the property. Afterwards, everyone gets free donuts and cider.

More info to come about this in the next few weeks, but start thinking about now about how you want to carve your pumpkins!

Thank you to my friend Patty Wyble for the photos above.

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(posted 9/18/2022)

Webster’s very own “My Evil Twin” to perform at the Fringe Festival

15 Sep

Two former Webster Schroeder students (class of ’74) are teaming up at the Rochester Fringe Festival to perform a funny, fast-moving mini-musical, based on their lives growing up as identical twin brothers.

Jim and John Demler are both opera singers, so the show, which they call My Evil Twin, will naturally include a little bit of opera. But it will be blended with elements of Broadway and pop and (according to the Facebook event page), will “provide the twins the chance to unleash their virtuosic basso voices with madcap energy and emotion.”

The page describes My Evil Twin the show as

an intimate musical …. Funny, poignant, and adventurous, My Evil Twin exposes tenderness and vulnerability beneath masculine bravado as the twins tell the story of their lives in words and song. It is a tribute to sibling love.

Members of the Class of ’74 may remember Jim and John Demler, especially since John wrote they were both “above-average athletes,” albeit only “mediocre students.” They both played in the Ridgecrest Elementary orchestra under the baton of Jeff Frasier, and both went to school not to study music, but to become teachers.

The show we are performing at the Fringe Festival was written for us, and is a funny, brief chronicle of our lives as twins and performers. We have remained best friends throughout our 65 years, but this essentially the first show we’ve ever done where we’ve sung duets together.

My Evil Twin will be performed at the Geva Theatre Center on Wednesday Sept. 21 at 5:30 p.m. and Thursday Sept. 22 at 9 p.m. Tickets for the 75-minute show are $18 for adults, $12 for students. They can be purchased online here, by phone at (585) 957-9837 (fees apply), at the door or at the box office at the corner of Main and Gibbs.

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(posted 9/14/2022)