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Plank North students are published

23 May

Pictured are (left to right) Lucas Hill, Adrianna Fitzharris, Aubrey Hoagland, Colin Raspudic, Max Bolzner, Gabby Fallone, Jimmaly Ortega, Chase Failing, Sabrina Cady, Oktober Haak

Many people dream of becoming published authors. Several students at Plank Road North Elementary School are already there.

Earlier this year, about 15 students in Marcia Napolitano’s fourth grade class entered a creative writing contest sponsored by the Boston-based Young Writers publishing company. The company hosts such contests regularly to boost students’ confidence and showcase talent.

IMG_20180522_111647827Napolitano’s students participated in Young Writers’ “Crazy Creatures” competition, in which they were asked to create a creature of their own invention and then write a story about it using just 100 words.

Ten of the entries were chosen for publication and are now part of a very handsome “Crazy Creatures” book. The published authors all autographed the book, and it’s now on the shelf of the school library for all Plank North staff students and staff members to enjoy.


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A surprise thank-you for a super volunteer

18 May

There was a happy event at the Webster Arboretum on Thursday.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend, but I got the lowdown and a few photos courtesy Julie Schilacci.

It was a surprise party for Bud Johnston, who is retiring as president from the Webster Recreation Center’s W.A.S.P.S. organization.


Bud Johnston with Faith Bell. 

The not-for-profit Webster Association of Senior Program Supporters (W.A.S.P.S) provides transportation for residents 60 and over and/or disabled retirees who live within the Webster School District. Volunteers drive seniors to various appointments and health-related shopping errands. WASPS also provides wheelchair service if needed.

Bud, along with Faith Bell, began the organization 11 years ago.

He might be retiring, but as is often the case for long-time volunteers of any organization, Bud won’t be riding off quietly into the sunset; he’ll be staying on the board of directors as an adviser.

If you or someone you know could benefit from the services that W.A.S.P.S provides, call 585-216-7829, log onto, or email for more information.

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An update on Bella’s Bumbas

18 May

Bella, who has spina bifida, was the inspiration for the Webster-based Bella’s Bumbas. 

Many of you have been following my occasional columns and blogs about Bella’s Bumbas, the amazing local nonprofit organization which is changing lives for children with significant physical challenges.

Run by Webster residents Rebecca Orr and her husband Marty Parzynski, Bella’s Bumbas is dedicated to building miniature wheelchairs for children with a wide variety of mobility issues. They started the operation only a little more than a year ago and have already shipped more than 300 of these of these chairs around the world, often adapting individual chairs for the children’s individual needs.

What’s especially neat is that Marty and Rebecca charge families only for shipping. To pay for that, and to get all the parts they need, they rely entirely on donations from businesses and individuals.

This week, they got a huge boost in their fundraising efforts.

The folks from GoFundMe, on which Bella’s Bumbas hosts a fundraising page,  recently singled out the organization for some special attention. They contacted Marty and Rebecca and asked for permission to make a video about the organization, featuring their niece Bella — the original inspiration for Bella’s Bumbas — and some of the families which have benefited from their generosity.

GoFundMe posted the completed video Thursday morning. The response was immediate and overwhelming. When Rebecca texted me at 5 p.m. Thursday afternoon, they had already received an additional $21,000 in donations.

The incredible kindness of people — all total strangers — has touched Rebecca and Marty deeply.

“I just love some of the comments people make when they donate, and TOTALLY love the fact that some of the donations are $5-$10 saying they wish they could send more,” Rebecca said. “Those are the most heartfelt to me.”

Rebecca and Marty continue to improve on their Bumbas, most recently shipping a new design for bigger children, which requires the larger 16″ tires. They call this particular version the “Kyden” in honor of the child for whom it was built. They even added shoulder straps, because Kyden needed them.

Check out the video for yourself. It’s only about three and a half minutes long, and does a nice job explaining how Bella’s Bumbas started and how it it changing children’s lives in amazing ways.

If you would like to donate, you can do so right there on the page, or send a check directly to Bella’s Bumbas, 1170 Ridge Road, PMB 208, Webster, NY 14580.

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Webster’s baseball history celebrated at the Webster Museum

13 May


It’s no secret that Webster is a huge sports town. In 1985, the town was even named “Number 1 Sportstown in New York” by Sports Illustrated. What is less well known is how long ago our love for sports — and especially baseball — began.

Back in the late 1800s, adults and teenagers were playing on village ball fields and at Nine Mile Point; with hard rubber balls fast-pitched underhand; one bat for the entire team; often wearing coats and ties, and with no protective equipment.

It’s a rich baseball history, on display this month at the Webster Museum, and celebrated during a special event on Saturday May 19, called “140 Years of Webster Baseball.”

The special event is being spearheaded by Tom Pellett, president of the Webster Museum and Historical Society.  It’s been a year in the making, prompted by a comment made last May by Don Kuhn, a former Webster High School baseball player.

He recalled that back when he was playing in the early 1950s, the Webster High team went undefeated three years in a row — 1950, ’51 and ’52. The team came up with a trophy to recognize that accomplishment, which was then presented to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. So the town could have its own keepsake, a local service organization (Pellett thinks it was the Rotary) then created a plaque, which included a photo of the trophy, the letter from Cooperstown, and the names of all the players.

No one was exactly sure where that plaque had made it to, but Pellett started poking around the museum’s attic, and found it rather quickly. Shortly thereafter, Historian Lynn Barton unearthed two boxes with a treasure trove of local baseball history. Pellett started going through it all and the exhibit began to take shape.

The newly rediscovered plaque is the centerpiece of the museum’s new baseball exhibit, which also includes photos of all three undefeated teams and several other local teams, and old time uniforms and equipment. But what I found the most interesting were some of the personal stories.

One of those, dated 1878,  is considered to perhaps be the first recorded memory from a local ball game.

That story (which is part of the exhibit) tells about an adult baseball team in Ontario who had challenged the Webster team.  The Ontario team was a little bit miffed when they discovered their opponents were just teenagers. The Ontario coach approached the Webster coach and asked, “Is that all you got, these kids? He was told, ‘Well, trot your team out, we’ll see how they do.'”

At the end of the sixth inning, the score was 40-6 in favor of Webster. The Ontario team walked off the field and forfeited the game.

Obviously, players from that era are no longer around. But everyone who has played Webster baseball has a story, and Pellett hopes that baseball players and fans of all ages will attend the special event on the 19th.

As for all those Webster High School players from the undefeated teams? They’re all in their 80s now. Many have moved away, others have passed away. But several are still in town, and Pellett hopes that some of them will be able to attend, so they can visit the plaque and share some of their memories.

“140 Years of Webster Baseball” will be held on Saturday May 19, from 2-4 p.m. at the Webster Museum, 18 Lapham Park in the village of Webster.  Admission is $5, which will include the very interesting historical presentation, a hot dog, peanuts and a lemonade or water. For more information, visit the Webster Museum website or call 585-265-3308.


The commemortaive plaque is the centerpiece of the exhibit


A close-up of the names of the players on the undefeated teams


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Deb Carpenter recognized for service

26 Apr


Congratulations to Deb Carpenter for recently marking almost 30 years of service to Webster Parks and Recreation!

The occasion was marked on Tuesday with a surprise party at the Rec, scheduled right after the Froggy Fitness class which she helps out with. She was presented with a plaque while surrounded by many of those students. Deb also runs the Rec’s Soccer Squirts and Preschool Track and Field programs throughout the year for 3 to 5-year olds.

Deb originally started with the Parks and Recreation Department in 1984. She worked at North Ponds Park and summer camps every summer when she was home from college, then in 1998 she started helping with youth programs again and just never stopped.

According to Recreation Supervisor Julie Schillaci, Deb is “full of energy and the kids just love coming to her classes!”

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Q&A about being a volunteer firefighter

22 Apr


My Our Towns East Extra column today highlights our very own Webster Volunteer Fire Department. I am proud to know many of these men and women, and pleased to be able to help them in their cause to recruit new members.

So if you’ve ever thought about it — even a bit — and ever had questions like “Do I have to get up every night in the middle of the night to run into a burning building?” you shsould read this column.


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Barry’s isn’t #1 (yet), but……..

17 Apr


The accolades just keep on coming for Barry’s Old School Irish. And this time, our little Irish pub has been recognized internationally.

A recent ranking published by the London-based Irish Post has ranked Barry’s Old School Irish #17 on a list of the “Top 32 Irish Pubs in America.”  Our lil’ Webster pub shares space on that list with ones in cities the likes of Atlanta, Houston, Honolulu and Las Vegas.

According to its website, the Irish Post is the “biggest selling national newspaper to the Irish in Britain.” It boasts 80,000 print circulation and 800,000 social media followers. I couldn’t figure out what the criteria were for pubs to make the list, but it’s a pretty impressive accomplishment nonetheless.

You can check out the listing yourself here. But if you’re just curious about which pub ranked #1, it’s McSorley’s Old Ale House in New York City.

Barry’s Old School Irish is located at 2 West Main Street in the village of Webster. If you haven’t been there yet, you’re missing out on something special.

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Fun Saturday ahead

13 Apr

I’m really looking forward to Saturday. One of my favorite events of the year has returned — Community Arts Day at Webster Schroeder High School.

Community Arts Day is our school district’s annual show-off day. Students from every one of our elementary, middle and high schools will have artwork and written pieces on display. There are individual and ensemble music performances of all kinds. There’s food, crafts, vendors and baked goods.

But mostly I love this event because I know I’ll be seeing a lot of my friends and neighbors there. And since I work in two elementary schools, I expect to see a ton of students, too. Plus, it’s a chance for me to check in with a dozen community agencies to see what’s going on and to get blog ideas.

And make sure to schedule in an extra 10 minutes to test drive a new car out in the front parking lot.  The Marching Band Boosters are teaming up with Henderson Ford for an easy and fun fundraiser. Just spend a few minutes driving a new car or truck around in a circle in the parking lot and Henderson Ford will donate $20 to the Marching Band and Senior Class.

Community Arts Day will be held at Webster Schroeder High School, 875 Ridge Road on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. I’ll probably be there for two or three hours (after I drive my car), so make sure to look for me and my camera and say hi!

Click here to see a schedule of events, vendors and activities.

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The Knuckleheads are at it again

26 Mar

Every time I turn around it seems that Len Dummer and George Cline, the owners of Knucklehead Craft Brewing in West Webster, are raising money for some deserving community agency.

Last Thursday, for example, they presented a check for $1,000 to Foodlink. Four four weeks, the Knuckleheads donated $1 for every pint of Kathy’s Kreme Ale they sold (that one is my favorite, by the way). The campaign was co-hosted by Schantz Homes, who matched every dollar donated.

Here’s a photo from the check presentation ceremony:


While I’m here, let me tell you about a few other special events the Knuckleheads have planned in the coming weeks.

On April 4 they’ll hold what they call a “Russian Invasion,” when they offer a four-flight for $20. The flight will include Russian Imperial Stouts from 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.
These are large ABV, barrel-aged beers, and there’s only a limited amount available, so get them while you can; they’ll be served first-come, first-served until they run out.

Finally, on April 17, Knucklehead Craft Crewing will host “Pints for a Purpose,” a huge fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis, a disease which one of the brewery’s employees is fighting.

Several local breweries will be donating beer, Heintzelman’s BBQ will serve up pulled pork, Marty Roberts and Donny C will provide live entertainment, plus there will be prize raffles and give-aways.

Tickets are $50 each and only 80 will be sold. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

For more details about the event, click here.

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A few post-St. Pat’s Day stories

20 Mar

As I walked through the halls of Schlegel Rd. Elementary School last week, I came upon a bulletin board peppered with St. Patrick’s Day-themed stories written by Janet Gibson’s fourth grade students. They impressed me so much that I encouraged Janet to let me post a few of them in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

It’s a little late, but the stories are still worth reading. Aside from adding some paragraph breaks for readability, and fixing a few minor spacing errors, I haven’t made any changes. Enjoy!

One lucky day

By: Nate Kozlowski


One day I, Ben Tenisson, was fighting Dr. Animo, with Gwen and Max. I was in the city. Dr. Animo is an evil scientist. We defeated Animo. He got wrecked and gone. Then when I was walking  in the field I found a rainbow. I did not have a lot of time. It was in the afternoon, 12:05. I turned into xlr8 and ran all the way to the end of the rainbow. I found a leprechaun. He said his name was Jimmy. He was polite. He gave me 5 gold doubloons because I asked him.

I told him it was time for me to go. He was a bit sad, so I stayed for a while longer. It started to rain so I turned into upgrade. I upgraded an umbrella so it was huge. Now it was the end of the day. Jimmy was happy because he was not alone for the day. I headed home and told my parents about the day, except me fighting Animo. If my mom knew I was fighting a maniac, she wood have flipped out!!!!!.

Happy Leprechaun’s day!


Rishi’s Adventure

By Rohanth Rishi Chakrala

“Tag, you’re it!” I yelled. I tagged Jay on the monkey bars. I jumped off and quickly rishistarted running. I looked back. Jay wasn’t there. I looked around. He was chasing Abhi. Jay got closer and closer. Then when I thought Abhi was going to get tagged, Jay tripped on a rock. “Ha ha!” Abhi laughed. “It’s not funny” Jay said as he got up.

Just about when I was going to run I spotted a rainbow. “Hey guys, look” I said, pointing at the direction of the big, colorful bow. “Something tells me that there’s a pot of gold at the end” said Jay curiously. Curiosity always gets Jay. “you watch too many movies” Abhi said shaking his head. But Jay already took off running.

“Jay, wait up!” I called, running to get to my bike. Abhi was right behind me. I had to pedal with all my might to reach up to Jay. When I got there I couldn’t believe my eyes, Abhi couldn’t either because his mouth was open. There was a pot of gold at the end. But what surprised me was that the rainbow was projected! “What!” I exclaimed. “Wehad to  get here for nothing?”. “Well, at least we have the money!” Jay said.

“Not so fast!” said a voice. It was coming out of the bushes. Abhi went to see who it was and then a leprechaun jumped out. “AHHHHHHHH!” we all screamed. “Stop screaming!” said the leprechaun. “We screamed because you scared us!” I said. “What is your name?”Jay asked. “Uh, my name is David” said the leprechaun, hesitantly. Jay laughed. “Jay…” Abhi started. Jay stopped. “Its okay” said David. “Everyone usually laughs at me”. “Where are you from, anyway?” I asked. “Really, I don’t know, But I came from this weird portal” he said as he stepped aside. There, right in front of me, was a swirl of purple. “Is this some kind of an adventure?” I asked excitedly. “Maybe, who knows?” David replied.

I was just about to step through when Abhi said “Wait!” “We should go get Derek!” said Jay. 10 minutes later… we found ourselves in a mysterious world. “This is-” Derek started but was broken off by laughter. I turned around and saw everyone pointing and laughing at David. Then when everyone looked at Abhi, they stopped and started minding their own business. “Thanks” David said softly. We went into this evil kingdom. King Raven seemed evil and his knights started chasing us but we fought with cool weapons. “Take this!” I said as I studied the direction in degrees and aimed. And suddenly everything turned into slow motion. Wild king Raven got shot.

Then I opened my eyes. “That whole thing was a dream?” I wondered. “Rishi, you are finally awake!” Abhi said. “Well, let’s go play!” Jay said. “Well then your it!” I said as I tagged Jay. With that, we started where we stopped.

Jay and John’s Weird Adventure

by Jay Crosby

crosby“Mom!” “Yes” “Can I go outside and ride my bike with John?” Jay asked. ”Yes, but be back by six”. Mom said. So Jay lept of the couch, got his light jacket and sped through the garage to get his bike and helmet. He had facetimed John an hour earlier, so Jay expected John to be waiting. And there he was leaning against one of the many columns lining the driveway.

Jay observed John and his bike: he was wearing a red jacket, both Jay and John’s favorite color. Johns bike was green, not the best match with red, but Jay figured John did not care. “Come on let’s go!”. “Wait”, Jay said “What is it ?” said John. “I see a rainbow!” “Let’s go!” “ But…” John Started to say only to find that Jay had Already started to ride down the street , John sighed . Meanwhile… “ We’re there!” “But Jay , It’s 5:46” John said. “But… look”

Before them was the end of the rainbow, and not just that ! There was a huge black pot full of shiny gold coins. And behind, sat a small leprechaun dressed in dark green . “Should we approach?” John asked nervously. But before Jay could answer “oh” The leprechaun said nervously . “Hi, my name is Jay and his name is John”. “Well, my name is Billy”. “Um Jay…”John said. “Yeah,”Jay said. “It’s five fifty nine”. Both of them knew they had to be at their houses by six. “Let me guess”. “Yeah”John said softly . “ You have to be at your house by 6 O’clock?” “Well, yes, but how did you know ?” said John. “I don’t know, I just guessed “. “Tell me your address “. Well ok?” John said “17 Shamrock Circle” Jay said quickly . “And mine is …”John started to say, but was quickly stopped when Billy snapped.

They were all surrounded by green mist. When it all disappeared, Jay was shocked to see that he was in his own garage. “How could I ever thank you !”Jay gasped “Wait but what about my bike?” Jay said. “Right over there “Billy beamed. Jay looked to his right, and there it was as if it had never moved in the first place. “Well thank you so much !” “no problem” Billy said.

The Day of the Leprechaun 

by Margaret Hogan

It was the spring of of 2017 in March. I wore sweaters, scarfs, you name it, I wore it! Wemaggie's photo had a HUGE test… I passed!! I had my name (Gracie Hoffman) and the date. The only rule was: NO DOODLING ON THE TEST PAPER! I was mad, I was practically famous for my doodles. I picked up Annie, Liv, and Savannah from Baker Middle School and St. Lawrence Middle School. I go to Beacher Middle School. My mum doesn’t want to pick up 4 noisey middle schoolers so, I either have to ride my bike or walk to and from school. My house is like, 2 miles away from Beacher Middle School. Beacher is a block away from Baker and St. Lawrence Middle Schools. Annie and Liv normally ride their bikes. Savannah is blind so she has a seeing eye dog. Whenever we hang out with her we walk because she can’t ride a bike. I pick them up and (of course) Annie is wearing her pink floral jeans with her pink unicorn shirt! AGAIN! Liv has her black pants on, plaid shirt, and her black framed glasses. Savannah LOVES orange.

Orange shirt, pants, headband, ponytail, shoes, her dog’s collar, and harness!! I like to wear blue jeans, a tee shirt, white Converse, and a french braid. I love to pet Savannah’s dog, Cody, because he’s SOOOO soft! He’s a rich brown, almost caramel color, Labrador Retriever. HE’S THE CUTEST!! Maybe it’s just because I love big-ish dogs. He’s always helping Savannah so I rarely get to pet him. I dropped off Savannah at her house. After I pick them up, we walk to my house. We go into my room, Annie was SHOCKED (Liv wasn’t because she knew about my room).

The last time Annie came to my house, I was obsessed with dogs. Apparently it was a shock to see horses in my room. I had posters of Man O’ War, Black Beauty, American Pharoah, Secretariat, Chocolate Chip Kisses, and MANY more! I ride horses and the day I pick up my friends I have to go to the barn. Liv rides but she’s not advanced yet. Annie mucks out stalls while Liv and I ride. I ride a new Welsh Pony named Squirrel, he’s a light chestnut stallion. He’s too feisty to be gelded yet. He has barely had a rider on his back so he likes to buck and rear. I just lunge him if he’s good. If I don’t ride Squirrel, I ride Tobacco. He’s an 11 year old American Quarter/Paso Fino Gelding. He can be feisty, but normally he’s amazing. On trail rides I ride a Gelding named Bay, he’s calm and fast. As I said, Liv rides too. She rides a 7 year old Red Roan 13’4hh Connemara Pony. I took Annie and Liv to the barn. Liv rode Strawberry and I rode Tobacco. I jumped 4’6 and since Strawberry is a pony, Liv only jumped 2’3.

Griffin, our trainer, walked into the outdoor arena, where we ride. He asked us to warm up by walking for 3 minutes then trotting around for a few minutes, then we can start jumping. After the ride, we went on a trail ride. I tacked up Bay western because it’s comfortable. Liv tacked up Whisp. She’s an Exmoor Pony.

She’s a 12’4hh Dapple Bay. We go to a open field where we like to gallop. In the corner we saw a leprechaun. We galloped to him, he had his empty pot of gold. He exclaimed that he went out to leave some stuff for a child, came back, and his gold was GONE!! He saw a man with gold but didn’t think much of it. He had a plain black shirt, and black jeans. Liv said “ I’ve seen a man like that”. We went to the local police, we told them what had happened. THEY DIDN’T BELIEVE US! We went on the hunt… Liv and I. Up to us. We searched where all the sketchy guys go. We saw him! He was “Camping” in a dirty alley. We galloped the horses as fast as they could toward the police.

They walked slowly to their cars. They drove to the location and one man tackled him. The other men saw the pot of gold. The other two men grabbed the carriage/cart and I hopped off of Tobacco. We hooked up Tobacco to the carriage/cart and he did his very steady trot over to the Leprechaun. Liv and Whisp were waiting for us. We handed him the pot and he gave us HALF! We traded it for real money.

With the money, I bought a saddle, a saddle pad, a bridle and a halter! Liv bought a halter and A TON of treats for Strawberry!

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