Tag Archives: Webster Herald

Remembering Lee Burgess

27 Nov

I was surprised by some sad news the other day. I read in the Webster Herald that Lee Burgess has passed away.

Lee attended college at Miami University, where he was immediately drawn to the media, spending time as a sports announcer and writer. After graduation he spent his early career in advertising, but eventually found his true passion: teaching. For 30 years he taught multimedia and journalism at R.L. Thomas High School.

But many Webster residents know Lee Burgess best through his work with the Webster Herald, which he started writing for in 1969.

I didn’t know Lee very well. However, I did meet him for coffee at the Atlantic Restaurant one morning years ago. We chatted about the projects he was working on, the class he was teaching at the Webster Recreation Center, and journalism in general. Many times in the following years I told myself I’d try to reconnect with him and continue that conversation. But I never got around to doing that. So on the occasion of his passing, I decided to get to know Lee Burgess a little better. I realized a good way to do that was to examine his long career with the Herald, using the terrific NY Historic Newspapers database as my guide.

Lee’s name started appearing in the Webster Herald back in 1967, even before he began writing for the paper. At the time, he was yearbook advisor for the R.L. Thomas Reveille, and his name would pop up regularly in the “Thomas Tales” column written by Marsha Kuhn and Cheryl Koopmans. In September 1968 he was introduced as the school’s new journalism teacher and advisor to the Courier, the school’s brand new newspaper.

Lee’s first bylined article seems to be one published on May 21, 1969 about the Monroe County Harvest Queen Contest (pictured below). That summer he also started to help out behind the scenes at the Herald. In his regular “Ridge Runner” column, Webster Herald editor Curt Gerling called Lee “our summer ‘swing man,’ a fellow who fills in on the editorial side for vacationing members of the regular staff.” Gerling also talked Lee into covering school board meetings.

For the next several years, Lee would occasionally write about other topics as well, including politics, new businesses, even auto accidents. But when he added sports stories to his beat, he really found his niche.

In September 1976, Lee Burgess became a regular Webster Herald columnist. His “Sports Shorts” column was a pithy, informational, opinionated look at local and national sports. But it was when he took over the weekly “Ridge Runner” column from Gerling on Feb. 1, 1989, that Lee Burgess really hit his stride. He would write that column for the next six years.

In his first column (pictured below), Lee wrote,

And what’ll the column be? A lot of opinion, the kind of argument that folks loading up on groceries at Nesbitt’s or Seitz’s in Webster or at Linken Ridge in Ontario Center can chew about. A few thought provokers that’ll make “tippling talk” at The Old Ridge Inn or Sodus Hotel. Humor to pass along while you’re waiting for ice cream at Friendly’s in Webster or Russet’s in Ontario. And some names now and then, perhaps neighbors along Eddy Ridge Road or Klem Road or kids from schools in Webster or Wayne or Williamson or Sodus.

Little bits and pieces that put the “home” and “town” into where you live.

“Ridge Runner” may very well be what Lee Burgess is best remembered for, and for good reason. He wrote the kind of small-town-weekly-newspaper column that celebrates the ordinary people, places and events that often go unnoticed but make up the fabric of a small town. Through his words, Lee Burgess brought our community together.

As his family wrote in his obituary, Lee Burgess was a “larger than life figure in Webster.” He will be missed.

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(posted 11/27/2022)

The kindness of strangers

10 Jun

If you don’t subscribe to the Webster Herald, then you missed a really touching letter to the editor in this week’s edition. As soon as I read it, I knew I wanted to share it with a wider audience.

In this day and age when the news is filled with stories about the awful ways people are treating one another, this letter shows there’s still good in our world. And it illustrates what a caring community Webster is.

Dear Editor,

Last Friday my husband Don and I, both in our 80s, were on our way to Mr. T’s for lunch when he lost his balance and fell hard, face down onto the parking lot pavement. In less than a minute, a young woman pushing a stroller came up and asked, “What can I do?” She called 911. Then, another young woman came. “I am a nurse. How can I help?” She got down on her hands and knees and spoke to my husband, who was bleeding from his face. Two more women arrived with paper towls and Kleenex. Another nurse arived, and together the two nurses agreed they shouldn’t try to turn my husband over onto his back. So they went to work, one on his face and the other on his knees to try to stop the bleeding.

Two more people came with umbrellas, opened them up over my husband to protect him from the noonday sun. A gentleman from a nearby store arrived with a chair for me to sit on, and an offer of a glass of water. Another gentleman came with a blanket to put under my husband’s legs. When I said, “It will get bloody,” his response was, “No problem.” The nurse lifted Don’s leg and wedged the blanket underneath his knees to make it more comfortable for him until the ambulance arrived.

After Don was safely in the ambulance and I was on my way back to our car, one of the nurses said to me, “Are you all right? Would you like me to follow you home?” (I wasn’t able to go in the ambulance with Don because of COVID.) When I reassured her that I was OK, she gently closed the driver’s door next to me and said, “I’ll pray for you.”

To say Don and I were blessed was an understatement. No one would wish such an accident would occur, but once it did, nobody would imagine how kind eight strangers could be.

Don is home now and recovering. We’re both “over the moon” with gratitude. We don’t know any of these people’s names, but I doubt we will ever forget their kindness.

— Carole Young

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(posted 6/10/2022)

Webster community mailbag

16 Apr

With the conclusion of Webster Thomas High School’s recent production of Little Shop of Horrors, the final curtain has come down on the high schools’ 2022 spring musical season. But each school actually has a spring drama in the works.

Mark Stoetzel, the drama director at Webster Thomas, emailed me not long ago with some exciting news about their production of The Neighbors, planned for late May: it’s going to be staged outside.

The Webster GeoTech Class is building an outdoor stage in one of the school’s courtyards, complete with a pergola. On May 27 and 28, students will hit the stage to perform several one-act plays they’re writing themselves, each set in a townhouse complex.

More details to come as the date approaches.

The Webster Schroeder Theater Company is also working on a drama, The Secret Garden. Shows are scheduled for Friday and Saturday May 6 and 7 from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets are available now, but I’m having trouble finding a link or details on how to purchase them. If anyone can fill me in, please email me so I can share that information.

The Webster Museum has all sorts of programs planned in the coming weeks. They seem particularly excited about their upcoming exhibit focusing on the history of West Webster. The little hamlet had its very own zip code not too long ago (14581) and is currently anticipating a revitalization.

Among the materials the museum has collected are the two maps below. The first was drawn by Maguerite Collins around 1938, possibly as a class project. It shows the names of some of Webster’s earliest settlers and when they arrived. The second map, created in 1852, adds more names. 

Descendants of some of these early settlers still live here today, and many of them never left. Interested community members are invited to “meet” some of them on Sunday June 19 from 2 to 4 p.m., when the Webster Museum hosts a West Webster Cemetery Tour. Costumed characters will on hand representing many of the hamlet’s former residents who are buried there, and guaranteed they’ll have some interesting stories.

More information to come about this fun event. (Teaser: I’m going to play a character!)

Stay tuned also for more details about the museum’s upcoming West Webster exhibit. Among the history to be shared will be photos and artifacts from the West Webster Fire Department. It was originally housed in Webb’s garage, then Brewer’s barn, then the former Goetzman Store, followed by its move to its current home on Gravel Road. A number of former West Webster residents have shared memories of turkey raffles, liverwurst sandwiches, craft shows and ice rinks in the firehouse parking lots.

Several programs have been scheduled in May to highlight West Webster history. I’ll tell you all about them in a future blog.

The Webster Museum, located at 18 Lapham Park in the Village of Webster, is open 2 to 4:30 pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Here’s what’s happening at the Webster Public Library this month:

Beer lovers will want to be a part of a program scheduled for this Thursday April 21. Will Cleveland, former investigative reporter for the Democrat and Chronicle, will talk about the past and future of the Western New York beer scene, a beat which he has covered since 2014.

The program, called “Rochester Craft Beer: The History and Future of the Scene,” runs from 7 to 8 p.m. and registration is required.

  • Tweens and teens, you can make your very own hair scrunchies on Wed. April 20 from 1 to 2 p.m. Materials will be provided. Kids in grades 4 to 12 are welcome. Registration is required.
  • This month’s make-and-take crafts include recycled milk cap fish (for kids), clothespin peek-a-boo eggs (for teens) and a bead bracelet (made from magazines) for adults. Materials can be picked up at the library during regular business hours while supplies last.

St. Martin’s Lutheran Church’s spring chicken BBQ is coming up Saturday April 30 beginning at 4:30 p.m.

This is a drive-through event. Dinners will include a half chicken, salt potatoes, cole slaw, roll and butter for $12. There will be no advance sales; cars can pay when they enter the parking lot, first come, first served. Signs will direct cars to the pay station, and then to the side entrance where you can pick up the boxed dinners.

Proceeds will support St. Martin’s Christmas Stocking Project which reaches more than 500 youth in Monroe and Wayne counties.

The Tour de Cure is returning to Webster on Saturday June 11, and even if you don’t plan on riding, you can still help out.

In this annual premier cycling event, riders sign up to cycle anywhere from 12 to 100 miles, to benefit the American Diabetes Association. It begins and ends in one of the old Xerox parking lots near the Webster Recreation Center. If you’d like to participate, you can sign up here. Or you can help the cause by becoming a volunteer. More information about those opportunities can be found here.

Finally (and this is especially for all of you who are still reading this long blog, because I know you appreciate local news) I want to draw your attention once again to what’s happening with the Webster Herald.

Our little town newspaper recently experienced another editorial change, when Colin Minster left in March. A new editor, Tim Young, has since taken the reigns, and accepted the daunting challenge of publishing a weekly newspaper.

And it is daunting. I’ve said this before, but it deserves repeating: with a small, hyper-local, weekly publication like the Herald, the editor has to be a Jack-of-all-trades, not only managing the layout and editing, but actively searching out and writing stories of local interest. It’s a 24/7 position from which you can never take a vacation.

The job is made that much more difficult without support from advertisers, contributors and subscribers. I think we can all agree that local news is a dying breed. The Webster Post isn’t around any more, and the Democrat and Chronicle couldn’t care less about Webster local news. The Herald is now one of the few places we can go to to find news about our community. So we need to do everything we can to make sure the Herald doesn’t go anywhere anytime soon.

Tim touched on a few of these concerns in the column he wrote a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, it’s not online anywhere, but you can click here to see a photo of it. In the column, Tim talks about how staffing issues are a challenge and that advertising is hard to come by. He also notes that people are actually complaining about all the legal advertising in the Herald, pointing out that those legals are the only things that are keeping the paper afloat.

It’s not fair to criticize the job a weekly editor is doing without being willing to help do something about it. Like make sure to renew your subscription every year. Encourage your friends to subscribe. Send in sports stories and photos, and your child can be pictured in the paper. Advertise your business. And how about stretching your writing chops and consider becoming a free-lancer? You’ll be paid for your work, and see your own byline in the paper.

Tim would love to hear from you. Email him at tim@empirestateweeklies.com. Let him know that this community is behind him and we still appreciate local news.

Do you know of any event coming up in Webster, or sponsored by a Webster organization, which you’d like publicized in my blog? Pretty much anything that comes across my email will find its way in sometime or another, so let me know about it!

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Thank you, Colin Minster

19 Mar

I read some sad news in the Webster Herald the other day. In a short letter on the opinion page, Colin Minster announced that after next week’s edition, he would be resigning his position as editor.

Colin has only been in the role since last summer, when he took over from Anna Hubbel, and I think he was doing quite well in what was a very difficult position. I say it’s difficult, because with a small, hyper-local, weekly publication like the Herald, the editor has to be a Jack-of-all-trades, not only managing the layout and editing, but actively searching out and writing stories of local interest. It’s a 24/7 position from which you can never take a vacation.

He hasn’t been perfect, but despite the challenges, Colin did his best to fill the Herald’s pages with both hard news and interesting features, and established some great community connections with contributing writers (including my bi-weekly blog).

He mentioned those connections in the announcement he printed last week, in which he wrote,

I’d like to thank those in the community who have helped me and given me great stories. Furthermore, during my time as editor, I have trried to get members of the Webster community to contribute with their own columns or “corners” and credit them as guest contributors. I am happy for the participation I’ve seen from community members who are willing to share their expertise with their fellow neighbors and I hope this will continue after my departure and the newspaper can be a place for the community to come together and where one can stay informed.

In a follow-up email, Colin added, “What I will miss most about the Webster community are the many events they put on where business owners and various volunteers work together to help their community enjoy a night in their village.”

Empire State Weeklies, which owns the Webster Herald, hasn’t yet found a replacement, but Colin says they’ve been looking. He plans to provide the new editor a list of ongoing projects to make the transition as seamless as possible.

When the new editor is named, I hope everyone will welcome him or her with characteristic Webster warmth. Because, if you haven’t noticed, local news is a dying breed. Ever since the Webster Post ceased publication in October, the Herald has been one of the few places to find news about our community. Lord knows the Democrat and Chronicle doesn’t pay us any attention unless something bad happens.

Think about it. Aside from the Suburban News on the west side, there is no other weekly local newspaper in Monroe County. We’re pretty fortunate to have the Webster Herald. We need to remember that and remember how difficult the job of editor is.

Thank you, Colin, and best of luck in your future endeavors.I’ve enjoyed working with you.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

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Local news is fading away

4 Sep

In yesterday’s hard-copy Democrat and Chronicle, the editors announced that publication of the weekly Post newspapers — including the Irondequoit/Penfield/Webster edition we get here in town — will be discontinued after Oct. 24.

The D&C merged with Gatehouse Media — which publishes the Post newspapers — about two years ago. I must admit that after the merger, the quality of our local Post edition greatly improved. Before the merger, the Webster Post was really a waste of subscription money (and I say that tongue-in-cheek because the subscription was free). It offered very little interesting and useful local news aside from school district press releases. But when the D&C came on board, several reporters were assigned to provide content. Yes, it was still mostly filled with press releases, but finally there were also some interesting feature stories. It was more than worth what I paid for it.

But now the Post is folding, and with it one more source for local Webster news.

But we here in Webster are in a better place than many communities when it comes to local, journalistic news (that is, not Facebook groups). We have three distinct outlets we can turn to for information about events, town and village government news, feature stories and lots more.

The first, of course, is this Webster on the Web blog. But you already know about that. I’m actually working on making this an even more useful stop by adding pages with links to community organizations, and maps pinpointing local services. But I’ll tell you more about that in a few days.

There’s also our very own weekly newspaper, the Webster Herald. New editor Colin Minster is still getting his legs under him, but is clearly learning more and more about our town and village every day, and is providing a great mix of news and features.

Thirdly, there’s Webster Online News, a website run by former Herald editor Anna Hubbell, which posts local news and events stories, plus other interesting tidbits like a Cook Nook and Health Corner.

Not only are these three news outlets at your service, we’re collaborating to make our products even more accessible. When you log onto Webster Online News, for example, you’ll see one of my blogs re-posted there every week. You’ll also see a link to the website on the right side of this page. Plus, starting this coming week, the Herald will also be cross-publishing a Webster on the Web blog every two weeks, focusing specifically on Village happenings.

So log on, subscribe, spread the word, and keep reading. We’ll keep you up to date on Webster as well as we can.

And rest assured, we’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

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Family game night: happy children, happy meeting

1 Aug

Friday night’s first-ever Family Game Night seemed to be a popular event. When I joined it about an hour into the evening’s festivities, a few hundred people were milling around or seated at the tables. Many were enjoying their beverages or having dinner, others were listening to the musician, or chatting with friends, or playing games and chalking the street with their children.

Basically, everyone who attended was having a good time doing SOMETHING, appreciating the excuse to get out of the house again and spend some time with friends and neighbors on a beautiful summer evening.

The best part of the evening, however, was the opportunity for kids to have some fun in a safe environment while their parents socialized. The organizers — the Webster Business Improvement District — had put out giant games for the kids to play with, like Jenga, Connect Four and Cornhole. There was also plenty of sidewalk chalk to be had, and by the time I got there, West Main Street was already filled with artwork.

It was all a very pleasant ending to the village’s Christas in July Week.

Here’s a gallery of photos from the evening:

The happy meeting which I mentioned in the headline referred to the chance I had to meet and share a pint with Colin Minster, the new editor of the Webster Herald.

Colin replaces Anna Hubbel, who has been with the paper for the last seven years. Colin brings with him experience as a writer and researcher for the Finger Lakes Times, but this is his first full-time editing position. He’s fairly new to Webster, but in the short time he’s been here, he seems to have fallen in love with the town, and is looking forward to telling everyone more about it.

“I like Webster a lot,” he said. “There are so many cool, fun things that Webster does. It’s such a cool town.”

So you can expect the Herald to continue to cover hard news stories, like the recent sewer consolidation discussions, but also lots of community news, like Colin’s reflections on the recent Waterfront Arts Festival. Both stories ran on the front page of last week’s edition. He also hopes to fire up a few columns of his own.

Colin currently lives in Penn Yan but is looking to buy a house in Webster.

Welcome to Webster, Colin. I think you’re really going to like it here.

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Welcome to a new journalistic colleague

23 Jun

lily brunnerI would like to send out a personal welcome to Lily Brunner, the new editor for the Webster Herald. 

Lily is taking over for Anna Hubbel, who will not be leaving the paper entirely, but will be scaling back her responsibilities.

According to Lily’s first-page article of introduction in this week’s edition, she’s a resident of Brighton and a brand spanking new graduate of Houghton College in Caneadea, NY (west of Hornell) where she earned a degree in communication. She originally wanted to become an elementary school teacher, she wrote, but halfway through her college career “started to discover my passion for working in media and communications.”

Lily is especially passionate about photography, so I think we’ll be seeing some pretty spectacular photos of local events in coming editions.

Welcome to Webster, Lily! I’m sure our paths will cross soon. I look forward to meeting you.

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