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Residents came out early to meet the candidates

25 Feb

Open Party candidates Gerard Ippolito, Jr., John Cahill and Darrell Byerts

Last weekend provided an excellent opportunity to find out more about the candidates running in next month’s Webster village election. Candidates from both parties made themselves available to the public Saturday morning, fielding questions and talking about the issues.

The first event, and the bigger of the two, was a breakfast hosted by the Open Party at the Atlantic Restaurant on Ridge Road across from Schroeder High School. About 50 supporters paid $8 a plate for breakfast and a chance to meet with Open Party candidates John Cahill, running for mayor, and  Darrell Byerts and Gerard Ippolito Jr., running for trustees.

Beginning about a half hour after the breakfast, incumbent candidates Mayor Peter Elder, and Trustees Dave Kildal and Christine Reynolds were holding court across town at Barry’s Old School Irish in the village, buying coffee and shaking hands with anyone who wanted to stop in to chat. That event attracted about 30 residents.

Incumbents Dave Kildal, Christine Reynolds and Peter Elder

The coincidental timing of the two events was unfortunate for anyone who really wanted to get some quality time with all the candidates and dig more deeply into the issues. As it was, I think the only people who scurried to make both events were the local media.  For me, that meant having to cut out of the breakfast and head to the village before I heard all of the Open Party candidates’ prepared statements, which is something I was hoping to do.

Events like these are very important to help voters educate themselves. Fliers and yard signs, letters to the editor and print advertisements are all well and good, but voters need the chance to formulate their own questions and follow up on the information they’re being presented in political materials.  Meet-and-greets like these are a great way to accomplish that, and I hope others are planned in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I encourage you to ask them all some questions through me.

A few days ago I posted this invitation on my blog Facebook page:  If you could ask any of the candidates a question (or two), what would it be?  Send me your questions, I’ll choose the best ones and present them to the candidates. Then I’ll run their answers in my blog.  Email your questions to missyblog@gmail.com.

 

Have coffee with the (incumbent) village candidates on Saturday

21 Feb

Incumbent candidates Dave Kildal, Christine Reynolds and Peter Elder

Here’s another great opportunity to become an informed voter for this spring’s village election season.

The incumbent village board candidates will host a coffee-with-the-candidates event this Saturday morning, February 23, at 9:30 at Barry’s Old School Irish Pub & Bakery, 2 West Main Street in the village.  Mayor Peter Elder, Trustee Christine Reynolds and Trustee Dave Kildal will all be there, buying coffee, and visiting with and answering questions from any village residents who’d like to come by.

It’s a busy Saturday morning for our village politicians, and for anyone who’d really like to find out more about the issues and candidates.  Simply get up early enough to have breakfast with the Open Party candidates at the Atlantic Restaurant at 9 am, then drive into the village for coffee with the incumbents.

The village election will take place on Tuesday, March 19.

Meet the Open Party candidates

19 Feb

This spring’s village election season is shaping up to be a bit more interesting than most. Mayor Peter Elder and Village Trustees Christine Reynolds and Dave Kildal are facing a challenge from three village residents.

John Cahill, running for mayor, and Darrell Byerts and Gerard Ippolito, Jr., who are running for village trustees, have formed a brand new, independent party which they call the Open Party.  With the slogan “Fresh Water, Fresh Ideas, Fresh Start,” the party’s stated objectives are to bring softer water to village residents by switching to the Monroe County Water Authority, and to bring more transparency to village government.

Village residents are invited to meet the candidates at a breakfast this Saturday February 23 at 9 am at the Atlantic Restaurant, 888 Ridge Road.  The $8 breakfast cost includes meal, beverage, tax and tip.  Several breakfast options will be offered.

RSVP by Thursday, February 21.  Call Nancy Theis at (585) 265-0449.

 

“Open Party” candidates will challenge village incumbents

12 Feb

It looks like next month’s Webster Village elections are going to be competitive after all.

With the slogan “Fresh Water, Fresh Ideas, Fresh Start,” candidates John Cahill, Darrell Byerts and Gerard Ippolito Jr. announced on Monday that they are running in the March 19 Webster Village election on the independent “Open Party” line.  Cahill will be challenging incumbent Mayor Peter Elder, and Byerts and Ippolito will try to unseat Village Trustees Christine Reynolds and Dave Kildal.

Cahill

The candidates are making no secret that one of their primary motivations for running is to address the long-simmering village water issue. “We can’t count the many positive responses we’ve received regarding our pledge to bring soft water to the village,” said Cahill. But the larger issue, he added, is “restoring openness and transparency to village government.”

And so it begins.

Byerts

John Cahill, the candidate for mayor, lives at 220 Judson St. with his wife Christine and three children. He has been a village resident for nearly three years and for 16 years has owned Technoserv Property Management. He graduated from RIT with a degree in Manufacturing Engineering and earned an Associate Degree at Alfred Tech in Mechanical Design and Drafting. He is a member of the Webster Bible Church.

Darrell Byerts, who is running for trustee, is familiar to Webster swimming enthusiasts. He was a swim coach in the Webster schools from 1973 to 2009 and is a member of the Section V Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame Committee. He is a retired Webster high school science teacher and has lived in the village for 35 years. He resides at 36 Elm St. with his wife Anne and three children.

Ippolito

Gerard Ippolito Jr. lives at 47 Baker St. with his wife Lisa and two children and has lived in the village for 13 years. He is an R.L.Thomas graduate and was on the varsity volleyball team. Currently he is Director of Environmental Services, Grounds, and Properties for Hillside Shared Services. He is active in volunteering and has participated in Hillside Special Santas and a recent WWFD fund raiser.

Village Republican party announces candidates

9 Feb

The village political season has begun.

The Republican Party in Webster has officially announced its slate of candidates for Village Board.  In doing so, they didn’t hand us any surprises.  Three positions on the Board are up for grabs — two trustee seats and mayor — and the three people who are currently holding those positions are running for re-election.  They are Trustee David Kildal, Trustee Christine Reynolds and Mayor Peter Elder. The three candidates have also earned the endorsement of the Conservative and Independence parties; it’s the first time any village candidates have received all three endorsements.

I don’t think the election is going to be a cakewalk this year.  If you put your ear to Main Street you’ll hear some definite rumblings from residents who are not happy with the current Board’s policies, especially with regards to the Monroe County Water issue.  So as soon as the Democrats announce their candidates, I think things are going to get very interesting.

I look forward to finding out who those candidates will be, and passing that information along to you all. In the meantime, here are the official biographies for your Webster Republican Party candidates for Trustee and Mayor:

MAYOR

Peter Elder is a life-long Village resident. He was first elected Trustee in 2005 and has served as Mayor since 2010, winning election as Mayor in 2011. Peter has been active in the economic development in the Village business district and has served for 7 years as a member of the Business Improvement District Board of Directors. He is Vice President of the Webster Community Coalition for Economic Development. Elder has championed improving Village infrastructure including support for the improved waterlines in the north section of the Village, the relining of the waterline in the Wilmorite tract, and the acceleration of street repairs. Peter has also been a proponent of enhanced public access to Village government and led the effort to have Village Board meetings, Board packets, and agendas posted on-line. Peter is liaison to the Parks and Recreation Committee and Village Band. He is a member of the Webster Lions Club. He lives at 59 Dunning Avenue.

TRUSTEE

Dave Kildal has lived in the Village for about 20 years and has served as Trustee for five years and was most recently elected in 2009. Dave has been Deputy Mayor for two years. A 16-year volunteer veteran of the Webster Fire Department, he also served 11 years as a volunteer member of the Monroe County Hazmat Team. He is Village Board liaison to the Cable Access Commission, the Village Sewer Department and Village Water Departments. He is also liaison to the Webster Fire Council, the Northeast Joint District, and the Webster Police Department. He lives at 13 Sherwood Ave.

TRUSTEE

Christine Reynolds is a 19-year resident of the Village and has been Trustee since her election in 2009. She is liaison to the Business Improvement District, the Webster Association for Senior Transportation, and the Village Citizens Advisory Committee. She is a former member of the 1994 Comprehensive Plan Committee, liaison to the Village Parks Committee and a former Girl Scout troop leader. She was recognized in 2011 as Volunteer of the Year for the Bay View Family YMCA. Christine is a past PTSA membership chair of the State Road School PTSA and lives at 64 Kircher Park.

The Village election is March 19. If residents have questions, they can call Peter at 265-0671, Christine at 265-1377 or Dave at 872-5132.

Aside

Village offices relocated — temporarily

10 Dec

If you need visit the Village Hall offices anytime in the next week, don’t be surprised if you find the front doors locked.

Apparently, when workers were recently yanking up some old carpeting for replacement, the tiles below it also started to come up. That would not normally be a problem, but the tiles contain asbestos.   So that meant testing the air quality (which is fine) and  collecting the proper permits from the state before hiring an asbestos abatement company to finish removing the tiles.

Naturally, all that will take some time. Village officials hope the offices will only be closed for a week, and when the doors open again, there will be some beautiful new carpet in place…and no asbestos tiles.

But in the meantime, you’ll find all your favorite Village Hall employees providing all the wonderful Village Hall services (including passports) in the Department of Public Works offices just around the back. Call them at 265-3770.

Village of Webster works to reclaim Main Street cemetery

22 May

A nice article in the Democrat and Chronicle a few days ago shed some light on a little-known piece of Webster history:  hidden along a busy stretch of East Main Street lies a pioneer cemetery.

You can see the parking lot the neighboring homeowners installed over the cemetery in this image from Google Maps.

It’s known as the Robb Cemetery, and the article does a good job of tracing its history, which stretches back as far as the early 1800s.  It’s even possible, the article says, that there are people buried there who fought in the Revolutionary War.

But what the article doesn’t tell us is exactly where the cemetery is.  That would be between 242 and 256 East Main Street, spitting distance from the gas station on the corner of Phillips Road.  And while it does mention that the property is abandoned — meaning no one has title to it — the neighboring homeowners decided a while ago to simply lay claim to it and pave it over for a parking lot.

I am very pleased to see the village taking steps to reclaim the land, remove the parking lot, and give those buried there the respect they deserve.

Read the D&C article about the Robb Cemetery here.

 

Fate of village water decided — at least for now

11 May

A battle royale brewing this week over the future of the Webster Village water supply seemed to fizzle out a bit at last night’s Village Board meeting.

At issue is the quality of the village’s water supply and what — if anything — should be done about it. On one side of the argument is a vocal group of residents called Webster Village Residents for Monroe County Water. At a community meeting earlier this week, the group presented its position that village water is not only caustic, but downright unhealthy, and the village should make the switch to service from the Monroe County Water Authority (MCWA). On the other side is the Webster Village Board, which appeared poised to authorize a controversial reverse osmosis water softening system.

The issue was expected to come to a head at last night’s Village Board meeting, when Mayor Peter Elder and the village trustees were planning to take a final vote. About 30 people in the audience waited patiently through several procedural matters, noticeably perking up a bit when the discussion finally came around to water. Everyone was curious to see what the final verdict would be: reverse osmosis or MCWA.

Two resolutions were presented. The first authorized the board to contract with MCWA to provide village water. The second authorized the village to bond out a reverse osmosis system. Neither resolution was approved. (Read today’s Democrat and Chronicle article about the meeting here.)

So in the end, after more than two years of surveys and studies, meetings and public comments, the board decided to do nothing. At least for now, village residents will continue to get their water from the village, from the Dewitt Road well fields, from the Irondo-Genesee aquifer.

I think the non-vote came as somewhat of a surprise to many in the audience (including myself) who really expected the board to press forward with the reverse osmosis plan. Not having to fight tooth-and-nail against RO was a victory for the Webster Village Residents group. But the village’s decision to keep the status quo fell short of the group’s ultimate goal of ditching the wells and switching to Monroe County water.

After the meeting, Webster Village Residents representative John Cahill admitted he didn’t really know what the group’s next step would be. But he made it clear they would continue to fight the fight, and try to convince village leaders to do what they say most village residents really want:  switch to Monroe County water.

It’s a fight they pledge to take all the way to next March’s village elections, if they need to.

 

Water, water everywhere, but can you drink it?

6 May

Click on the photo to read the D&C article

If you still get the Sunday print edition of the Democrat and Chronicle, I’m sure you saw the big front-page article about the controversy in Webster over its water distribution system. If you didn’t see it, click here for the online version, which also contains some video statements from Mayor Elder and Webster resident John Cahill.

Reporter Steve Orr did a nice job telling both sides of the issue. But I did wonder why the only person he quoted still “loyal to the village supply” was Jake Swingly, former mayor and current public works superintendent (i.e., in charge of the village’s water services).

Basically, the issue is this: Webster Village’s water supply is drawn from wells tapping into the Irondogenesee aquifer that lies below Irondequoit Bay and Irondequoit Creek. Webster is the last village in Monroe County to provide its own water supply, a fact which appears to be a source of pride for village officials. However, the water is very hard, and residents have been complaining about it for years. Orr writes,

But increasingly, consumers find village water unappealing. It’s free of chemical and bacterial contamination, but is so loaded with minerals that it clogs appliances, stains plumbing and is too salty for some to safely drink. Many village residents spend hundreds of dollars a year on home filters, softeners and purifiers to make their water usable.

So for a while now the village has been looking at the issue and has proposed spending $4.5 million to build a new reverse osmosis water filtration plant, which (according to the article) might be put up for a referendum vote as early as July.

Opponents to that idea have been coming out in force, making public statements at the Village Board meetings, sending out emails and handing out fliers to anyone who would listen.  The better option, they say, is to finally ditch the well-water system and hook up with the Monroe County Water Authority.

The issue will come to a head this week. On Monday evening at 7 pm, the opposition group which calls itself Webster Village Residents for Monroe County Water will hold a community forum at the Webster Public Library at 7 pm.  On Thursday night the Village Board will continue its discussion at its regular meeting at 7:30 pm at the Webster Community Meeting Hall, 29 South Ave.

If you have comments on this issue, please feel free to email me at missyblog@gmail.com.


Free children’s vision screening tops weekend events

2 May

Another busy weekend coming up in Websterland, with some very worthwhile events worth your consideration:

In celebration of Healthy Vision Month in May, ABVI and Goodwill will be hosting a FREE Early Vision Screening for children ages 6 months to 5 years on Saturday May 5. The screening will  provide a quick assessment of a young child’s eyes, making it easy for parents to identify potential vision issues and get them corrected before irreversible damage is done.

The statistics are startling: one in every four children in our community between the ages of 6 months and 5 years have an undiagnosed vision issue that will adversely impact their ability to learn and could potentially lead to blindness. Those numbers can be reduced significantly if parents simply had their children’s vision tested regularly –and what a great opportunity this is to do that.

The free screening event will take place from 10 to 2 pm at the Webster Goodwill Store (in the Ridge Road plaza across from Towne Center).

Some of the Friends having fun in the dirt at last month’s workday.

When you were a kid, did you like to play in the dirt?  The Friends of Webster Trails asks, why’d you stop? There are still plenty of opportunities to dig and get dirty at the group’s monthly workdays, a time when the Friends get together to maintain Webster’s awesome trail system.

This Saturday is the next scheduled workday, at the Whiting Road Nature Preserve. Plans are to to fix the wet and muddy trouble spots on the Blue trail and across the street leading into Webster Park. There’ll be plenty of stone-shoveling, wheelbarrow-pushing and trench digging to go around.

New workers are always welcome. Meet in the Whiting Road Nature Preserve parking lot parking lot Saturday morning at 9:00 AM. Wear gloves, bring drinking water and dress for the weather. (P.S. Don’t wear your Sunday best.) If you’ve got some loppers, shovels, mattocks and maybe even an extra wheelbarrow laying around, you could bring those, too.

* * *

Don’t forget about the performance by the University of Rochester YellowJackets this Saturday afternoon at 4 pm, sponsored by the Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church is located at 131 West Main Street in the Village.

The YellowJackets are a fourteen-member vocal ensemble that sings a cappella arrangements of popular songs. They have performed and traveled both domestically and abroad. They were also contestants on season three of the nationally televised Sing Off. There is no admission charge for the event, however, a free will offering will be given. The group will also give a presentation on their recent humanitarian trip to Kenya.

There is no cost for the presentation but a free-will offering will be accepted.

There’s been a lot of chatter around town lately about the state of the village water system. As the village considers options to improve the system through reverse osmosis or changing over to MCWA water — or doing nothing — pro and con arguments are being hurled from all sides. Most recently I’ve heard talk that there are actually dangerous chemicals in the local water supply.

On Monday May 7, a group called Webster Village Residents for MCWA will be holding a public meeting beginning at 7 pm at the Webster Public Library to argue their side of the issue and to kick off something they’re calling their “Blue Ribbons for County Water Campaign.”  You can check out their Facebook page here for more information.