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Finally, good news about Ridge Road congestion

26 Apr

Traffic-jam (1)

If you’ve lived in Webster for any length of time, chances are very good you’ve grumbled about Ridge Road traffic more than once. But hang in there — there seems to some light at the end of the tunnel.

In his most recent weekly column, Supervisor Nesbitt announced that the town has received a $1,480,000 grant to make improvements along Ridge Road.

The plan is to install sidewalks and bike lanes, and make other transit improvements along Ridge Road in the coming years. The grant application was made in anticipation of improvements New York State will be making along that same area within the next year, specifically to the intersections of Hard Road, Five Mile Line Road, and Hatch Road. In conjunction with that work, the town wanted to extend the sidewalks from Holt Road to Five Mile Line Road as part of the overall construction.

Once all the work is complete, residents will be able to walk from Five Mile Line Road east to the four corners of the Village of Webster, turn north to the bike path, and walk back to Five Mile Line Road. You’ll also be able to enter the bike path at Bay Road, walk to the village, go down Ridge Road to Hard Road and then walk to Klem Road.

Assuming the bike path continues to be maintained, this will be a wonderful enhancement to our biking and hiking opportunities in Webster. And FINALLY something’s going to be done to reduce the aggravation that is Ridge Road at rush hour.

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Sad news about Sweet Ben

28 Feb


Last July I wrote an East Extra column about a very special young man, 12-year old Ben Matthews, who was battling cancer. Earlier in the year, doctors had given Ben only weeks to live. His family decided to make the best of the time he had left by renting an RV and taking a cross-country trip to visit family and see the sights.

I met Ben at a lemonade stand he had set up in front of his aunt’s house in Webster. His spirit moved me, and his mother’s positive attitude inspired me. It was a day I will not soon forget.

Sadly, I read today that Ben passed away peacefully Tuesday morning. His aunt Linda wrote on Facebook,

Dear Webster friends, especially those who remember our Sweet Ben and his lemonade stand this past summer, I am so saddened to share this post from my sister-in-law with you: This morning at 1:20 a.m. our Ben ended his time with us here on earth. He will continue to shine in our hearts until we are reunited in the future. Love you always my dear boy.

It is definitely a sad day, but we can take a small bit of comfort in knowing that Ben enjoyed a full life, one more than a year longer than even the doctors had predicted. He brought many smiles to family, friends and the many strangers who crossed his path.

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Village resident petitions Board for new stop signs

13 Jul

Joe Cassara is getting tired of cars speeding by his house on Dunning Ave., so he’s asked the Village to do something about it.

The current speed limit on Dunning is 30 miles per hour. Cassara said that at times, vehicles travel down Dunning at an excessive rate of speed, by his estimate from 40-60 miles an hour.  The stretch from Main Street to Fuller Ave is wide, flat, straight and unimpeded, making it an easy place to speed.

Cassara wrote,

Many of the houses in this neighborhood are owned or rented by families with young children. Dunning is a popular street for surrounding areas (Park, Elm, Curtice Park, Fuller, Lapham Park, Ridge), and is often filled with families walking, riding bikes, and playing outside. The speeding problem is dangerous to residents, and the posted speed limits aren’t enough to deter drivers of all ages from disobeying the law.

So last week he approached the Village Board and asked that stop signs be erected at Dunning and Elm, and Dunning and Park to slow the traffic.

“(The Board was) receptive to the stop signs,” Cassara reported, “and asked me to get a bunch of signatures to support my case. Then, they’ll bring it back for a vote to send to a public forum, the next step in the process.”

So Cassara has created an online petition which you can check out for details, sign if you’d like, and share with your friends and neighbors.  You can see it by clicking here.

The proposed stop signs would go at the corners of Elm Street and Park Ave. where they meet Dunning Ave.

Thursday mailbag

20 Jun

I’ve got pages and pages of events to tell you about.

Wait. This is digital. It’s all one page.  OK, I have one verrrrrry long page of events to tell you about, so get your calendars.

Webster’s first Helping Hands in the Village promotion is going on right now, and runs through Saturday the 22nd.  During this event, participating retailers donate a portion of their sales the the whole week to a selected local charity.

This week the following businesses are participating:  Yesterday’s Muse Books, The Coach Sports Bar, Metro Sports Brokers, Webster Gourmet, Professional Nutrition Services, Finns Garage, Beyond Cuts Salon and The Goodie Shop.

The selected charities include Webster Hope House, Webster Monarch House, The Webster Museum, Relay for Life to Fight Cancer, Webster Comfort Care Home and the Webster Assoc. of Senior Program Support.

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Fourth of July fireworks come a little early this summer to Webster.

The Summer Celebration will be held on Saturday June 22 from 4-10 pm at the Webster Recreation Center, 1350 Chiyoda Drive. This is a terrific family event with hot dogs, hamburgers, sausage, pizza, ice cream. games and crafts, land inflatables, a zip line, laser tag, and lots more.

Entertainers will keep the event hopping all afternoon and evening, headlined by the Empire Statesmen at 5:30, the West View Project at 6:15, and the Skycoasters at 7:15. And of course, there’ll be fireworks, beginning at 9:45.

Bring a blanket and some lawn chairs and have some summertime fun with friends and family.

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Webster Thomas’ Cross Country team will host its third annual 12-hour relay to raise money for Reece’s Rainbow, an organization that facilitates international adoptions for children with Down syndrome. This year’s event will be held Saturday June 22, from 9 am to 9 pm at the Webster Thomas track. This year’s event, dubbed the “Run for Edik,” will support the adoption fund for Edik, a Ukrainian infant adopted by the Braithwaite family of Victor and awaiting his homecoming to the United States.

Current, future, and former Webster Thomas Cross Country runners and their friends will converge on the Thomas track for the relay Run for Edik. Teams of 10 runners will send one member of their team at a time to run one mile around the track before passing a baton off to a teammate. It is anticipated that each runner will have completed a total of between 7-10 miles by the end of the 12-hour relay.

Prior to the event, participating runners will solicit tax-deductible donations to Reece’s Rainbow to support Edik’s adoption fund. Donors may also contribute by visiting

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A walk-a-thon scheduled for next week will raise money to send teens to summer camp.

The Walk-A-Thon for Young Life will be held at North Ponds Park on Tuesday June 25, starting at 6 pm (rain date June 27). Money raised will help send teens to Saranac Camp this summer. A portion will also help pay for buses to transport them.  Cold Stone Creamery will be on hand, and will be donating a portion of their profits to help pay for the buses as well.

Young Life is a Christian outreach to high school and middle school teens. The group’s goal is to develop friendships with teens and share the good news of God’s love for them. For more details on Young Life in Rochester East please visit our site

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Also on Tuesday June 25, Cherry Ridge will host a free concert as part of their “Under the Stars” summer concert series.

The Gateswingers Big Band will perform from 6:30-8 pm on the Cherry Ridge Lawn. Cherry Ridge is located on Ridge Road in Webster, across from Webster Schroeder High School.

The community at large is invited to attend this free event and attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chair. The Gateswingers Big Band is an exciting 15 piece band featuring swing sounds of the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and present day. In case of inclement weather, the concert will be held indoors at the Cherry Ridge Community Center.

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The Webster High School Marching Band is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and hope to celebrate with a trip to Philadelphia for the National Championships.

To raise money for that trip, he band will hold a fund-raiser at Hank’s on Wednesday June 26. Hank’s Ice Cream & Roast Beef on North Avenue will donate to the band a portion of their sales from 5-8 pm that evening.

So plan on taking the family out for dinner and ice cream at Hank’s next Wednesday, and help out a great local organization.

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Citizens Against Teen Suicide…& bullying abuse!-C.A.T.S., is sponsoring a Community Forum on Bullying and Cyberbullying at the Webster Public Library on Thursday June 27 from 6-8 pm. The forum is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be served compliments of the Red Wings.

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And finally…. This is not an event but instead, news of a proud achievement.

Maplewood Nursing & Rehabilitation skilled nursing facility in Webster recently announced that Physical Therapy Aide Ann Shanders has been named as CNA of the Year for District 9 of New York State Health Facilities Association (NYSHFA).

The award was given by NYSHFA’s Clinical & Quality Services Committee as part of the Association’s 2013 Employee Recognition Awards Program held in May. The program honors individuals for their outstanding contributions to skilled nursing facilities. Ann was nominated by a group including Maplewood administration, fellow employees, and residents’ family members.

Congratulations, Ann!




New website is designed to bring Webster together

21 Apr

Webster resident Joe Harmon wants to bring our town closer together, and he wants to do it through a website.

It’s called We Are Webster, a virtual community — Joe calls it a “town square” —  where Webster residents can gather to find information about local news, organizations and upcoming events.

The main portion of the page is devoted to a news feed which Joe keeps updated with local and national news. In the sidebars, visitors will find the @We_are_Webster Twitter feed, a blog, an events calendar, links to community organizations, and more.

But Joe hopes the website will become much more than just another calendar of events page. He wants We Are Webster to become a resource for residents to engage with one another and the community, a gathering place for people to share ideas and information, organize support for causes, and become part of a social network devoted to helping one another.

He’s seen this happen before, in the days and weeks immediately following the tragic events of Christmas Eve. He wrote,

As the community was trying to come to grips with the horrific events, a Facebook page was created almost immediately to help provide community members with critical information and a digital memorial for the fallen heroes. As the Webster community began to grieve, they also came together to provide, food, shelter, monetary donations and many other acts of kindness. The idea of “pay-it-forward” was being felt not only in our small town but across the region and even across the country. A “virtual” community space led to so much good being done for the families of the heroes as well as fellow firefighters and first responders.

Then he took those thoughts and went a step further, asking himself,

Why does it take a tragic event to bring a community together? Shouldn’t we all be doing more in our own community? How do we find this information? Where can I go online to find opportunities to help my community?

So Joe put his significant web-design skills to work and came up with We Are Webster, which he hopes will become that community resource. He continued,

If the events of Christmas Eve taught us anything, it was that Webster volunteers and residents are always willing and able to help each other in good times and in tragedy. We should never be afraid to offer assistance to our neighbors or come together to improve our community. As the old saying goes – we are all in this together!

“We Are Webster” is not just a phrase, it’s a way of life. There is a reason why our town motto is “Where Life is Worth Living.” And together, we will continue to build a stronger community!

Click here to go to the We Are Webster website, join that community, and help make Webster stronger.  You can also check out their Facebook page by clicking here.


Lighting up the holidays — and the night sky

20 Dec

Well, we’re finally supposed to get some measurable snow this weekend, so I thought today might be a good day to post my Exceptional Christmas Lights blog.

I did, indeed, go out several days ago in search of awesome outdoor light displays — particularly in search of a few especially nice displays that my readers suggested.  Well, to be more specific, the TWO displays that my readers suggested. (That’s not counting the one my friend Edna in Fairport wants me to go see out there.  “YOU HAVE TO GO TO BEAUMONT!” she wrote. Even wrote it on my Christmas card.) No, the two local displays that readers wrote to me about were on Klem Road just east of Route 250, and on Yorktown Drive just off of Plank Road.

This house is just east of Rt. 250 on Klem Road. I love the frog.

Now, the one on Klem is nice. But nothing can compare to the display that lights up the sky — literally — on Yorktown every year.  I chatted briefly to the homeowner when I was there, who told me that every year he tries to add a new element. This year it was the 6-foot-tall dancing, singing, motion-activated Santa at the end of the driveway. He also installed reflectors on the neighboring lawns to reduce damage from the constant traffic. The display is so well known that it has become a regular stop on senior citizen bus tours;  the owner told me that ten vans came through the night before.

Here are a few photos of individual portions of the display.  But the photos don’t really do it justice, so I also took video. CLICK HERE to see the video.   His back yard is almost as impressive, but I didn’t get any photos of that. If you want to see this one for yourself, Yorktown runs between Plank Road and Creek Street, but the house is closer to the Plank Road end. Just look for the glow.

Click on either of the photos to get a closer look, or click on the link above to see a video.

And I just had to include these photos from our own little village. The lights aren’t nearly as impressive, but I love the snowflakes and the twinkly lights in the trees, and the garland of lights wrapped around the gazebo. Simple and classic, and pure Webster.

On the lookout for nice Christmas light displays

11 Dec

Like most families, we have a whole pile of holiday traditions this time of year.  The barefoot snow walk which I posted a photo of a few weeks ago is one of them.  Decorating a tall, fat, fresh-cut tree every year with so many light strings, glass ornaments, childhood Christmas ornaments, garland and tinsel that it’s hard to see the branches; Christmas cookies; gingerbread houses.

But one tradition which fell by the wayside many years ago as the kids grew older was the annual drive through the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights.  It’s not that the kids don’t still appreciate big Christmas light displays. When I was out a few nights ago with my son, for example, he made us take a detour past a particularly impressive house in Fairport.  It’s just that they don’t want to bother going out in search of them anymore.

Not me. I still like to troll the neighborhoods every year to see what’s new.  Thank goodness the obsession with those huge, tacky inflatables seems to have died down a bit, as homeowners rediscover the simple, sophisticated look of old-fashioned, colored bulbs.

So, kids or not, I’m going to take a drive out and about sometime later this week and snap some photos of Christmas lights. Do you know of any particularly nice displays I should check out?  Anything unusual or especially creative?  Let me know by commenting below, or send me at email at


Too close for comfort

2 Dec

Barbara Cotie, one-woman crime spree

Wow. Have you been following the story about the one-woman crazy show that’s been playing out in our neighborhood recently?  It’s the one where this woman has been working her way through our fair town, holding up Ridge Road businesses at gunpoint.

The good news is, after holding up Mark’s Pizzeria on East Main Street and Pizza Hut on Empire Blvd., and trying to shake down an employee of Kittleberger’s Florist on North Avenue, she has been apprehended. (Read the full story here.) She is 56-year old Barbara Cotie, of Webster.

It’s pretty scary to hear that such things are happening so close to home. My daughter works at a Ridge Road business, and it unnerves me to think that this lady could just have easily pointed a long gun at my daughter.  I have become friends with so many of Webster’s small business owners, and it unnerves me to think of someone pointing a gun at them.

Kudos to the Webster Police Department and Sheriff’s Department for their quick work on this one.


The end of an era.

22 Aug

The way it was.

It was a sad day along Empire Blvd. today. The Lipinski sign, which has stood tall and proud at the corner of Terrel Drive for more years than I can remember, finally came down.

It was more than four years ago that the corner hardware store closed its doors and the property’s new owners completely gutted the old building, turning it into the gingerbread-house-like strip plaza that it is now.  Several new tenants have moved in over the years (and one came and left), but through it all the sign has stood tall, almost in defiance of the redevelopment.

I had heard from a friend that this day would soon be coming, but secretly I hoped it never would. I always enjoyed seeing the Lipinski Bros. sign every time I passed by. To me it was a sign of simpler times, of family-owned businesses where the owners knew your name and greeted you personally every time you walked in.

So I guess this is a final good-bye to Lipinski Bros., our old friends. We will miss you.

The scene today at what I will forever and always refer to as “Lipinski’s Corner.”

This was a sad sight.

Sandbar Park: A corner of Webster I’d never seen

9 Aug

I checked off one more item from my Webster Bucket List recently. Despite having lived in Webster for almost 16 years, I had never — before this week — visited Sandbar Park up on the lake.

I had never actually heard about Sandbar Park until someone submitted it to my bucket list, and even then it’s taken me a year to actually go up and check it out. I was pleasantly surprised.

Sandbar Park (for the benefit of those of you who have also never been there) is a grassy, tree-lined strip of land on the north side of Lake Road, directly across from the Bay Side Pub. It’s a Town of Webster park, perhaps 250 yards long, and dotted with picnic tables and grills. The shoreline is very rocky, and there’s no swimming, but it’s pretty easy to climb down the large rocks to get closer to the lake.

This would be a very pleasant place for lunch. But I understand the park’s real draw is the vantage point it offers for some spectacular sunsets.  As one website described it,

The vantage point offered from this park, angled slightly toward the west, positions the setting sun further out over water compared to the lakeside parks west of here. Although Webster Beach Park, just down the road to the east, generally serves up better sunset viewing, Sandbar Park is special in that it is relatively unknown, offering a more intimate setting, and doesn’t have the foul odor the cove at Webster Beach seems to collect. (

I have a feeling this will not be the last time I spend some time at Sandbar Park.

There’s even history here!