In preparing my February 4, 2018 Democrat and Chronicle column on the late Cpt. Robert Bager and Bobby's Valentines, I had the opportunity to talk to several of his friends from his time at the College at Brockport.
Many of them had beautiful things to say about Bob and I want to share some of their words with you:
Bob was charismatic and had instant leadership skills, you never wanted to let him down or fail him. He would listen to you and made you feel like you were a part of the team instantly. In the fall of 2001 my National Guard unit was called up to respond to 9/11. I remember going down there and helping out at ground zero and how it changed me. I spent a lot of time talking to Bob about our duty to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves and to do good in the world. He is the reason I joined the active army as an officer after that. Gary Barney, Fairport
I had the honor and pleasure of knowing Bob Bager since my first day of college, when I was 18 years old. From the first moment I met him, I knew he was a special person as his energy and personality would light up a room. I was a few years younger than him and always saw him as another big brother and mentor. He would always look out for me, as well as everyone else, and kind of became another guardian angel for many of us. Scott Decaro, Victor
Bob was the epitome of a patriot, I always respected the fact that even though he did not have to go into the military, it was something he dreamed of doing and made his dream come true. The day Bob passed, society lost one of the good ones entirely too soon. Dwayne Hayward, West Henrietta
Buffalo Bills Defensive Backs Coach Gill Byrd will be the guest speaker at Brockport’s Christ Community Church at 10 a.m. on Super Bowl Sunday (February 4).
A former player for the Chargers, Byrd is currently in his 13th year as an NFL coach. Byrd also coached cornerbacks for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014-2015, and coached for the Chicago Bears from 2006-2012. He began his coaching career with the St. Louis Rams in 2003.
Aside from playing and coaching, Byrd has been a corporate trainer and motivational speaker. He is the founder of a nonprofit called Players Chapel that uses Christian pro athletes to help raise funds for youth organizations. His personal faith story, involving conversations with Seattle Seahawks coach Sherman Smith, will be part of his talk.
Christ Community Church has been a part of the Brockport community since 1976, and this is their second major Bills connection. In late 2010, they brought in Jim and Jill Kelly to The College at Brockport to tell their personal journey with their son Hunter. The church is also well known for their “Bless Brockport” week every summer, where the church commits what they call “not-so-random” acts of kindness.
Christ Community Church is located at 36 Coleman Creek Road (across from the A.D. Oliver Middle School).
For more information, check out www.cccbrockport.org, or call the church at 585-637-3979.
Originally published in the Democrat and Chronicle, January 21, 2018
by Caurie Putnam
Between them, Brockport High School seniors Peyton Young and Samantha “Sami” Rogers have three sectional titles – hockey and soccer for Peyton and indoor track for Sami.
But, those aren’t the pinnacle of their outstanding high school sports careers.
“Unified basketball is,” Peyton says, with Sami nodding in agreement. “It’s the best thing I’ve done in high school sports.”
Peyton and Sami, who are long-time good friends, will start their second season on Brockport’s unified basketball team this spring. Unified basketball is a Section V sanctioned sport that debuted here in 2015 and is run in partnership with Special Olympics New York.
Rosters are a mix of students with cognitive and other disabilities (referred to as partner players) and those without. Teams play other Section V teams and all players must commit strictly to unified (they cannot play another varsity spring sport).
“I love the inclusiveness of it,” said Peyton, who gave up playing varsity baseball for unified basketball. “It’s just really fun and it’s great to see how all the kids really put their hearts into it.”
Peyton, 18, and Sami, 17, didn’t know any of the non-partner players when they signed up, but both quickly bonded with Jordan Whitehair, 16.
“The first practice he was sitting on the sidelines all alone and I just went over and talked to him and before I knew it I had a new best friend,” Sami said.
Jordan, whose father Doug Whitehair describes as “grumpy and not easily motivated,” fell in love with unified basketball thanks to Sami and Peyton’s friendship.
“It’s been amazing and very special to see the friendship develop,” Doug said. “They’ve brought him in and accepted them. He loves them both deeply and has a lot of fun with them.”
When Jordan made his first basket last season Sami broke down in tears on the court. And, when she played in her final varsity soccer game in the fall, she chose Jordan as the person she admired most. Peyton escorted Jordan onto the soccer field during the senior night celebration to stand with Sami.
Their unified basketball experience has been so positive it influenced Sami and Peyton’s senior project choices (at Brockport, seniors are required to complete a senior project that explores an interest of theirs).
Peyton is raising money via GoFundMe to purchase playground toys and equipment to make recess more inclusive for all students and Sami is organizing a dance for students with special needs on the west side to be held on April 27 at the A.D. Oliver Middle School in Brockport.
“I just want to give back to all the kids that have done so much for me,” Sami said. “They are all so smart, so happy and so capable in their own ways.”
Also in part because of their unified experience, both Sami and Peyton want to pursue careers assisting kids with special needs. Peyton, who will attend the College at Brockport, wants to be an adaptive physical education teacher and Sami, who will attend Nazareth College, wants to be a speech pathologist.
“In unified, for all the kids involved, there’s so much personal growth you don’t get in a classroom,” said Mike Zale, a Brockport teacher who coached unified basketball last year. “Jordan is a student who has a hard time sometimes coming out of his shell, but Peyton and Sami earned his trust. That type of trust is not easy to earn…they’re all extraordinary kids.”
The Board of Trustees of the Hamlin Public Library has named Christine Gates the new director of the library.
Gates brings a wealth of experience working with youth, technology and the public.
She formerly worked as library director at Churchville-Chili High School and has her masters degree in library science from the University at Buffalo.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 13 the library invites the community to stop in to meet Gates.
You may have heard the buzz recently about HonestPolitics - a small, timely startup founded to increase voter turnout and voter access to factual information about elected representatives.
But did you know, HonestPolitics was co-founded by a Brockport native?
Andy Kleehammer - a 2002 graduate of Brockport High School - and Lyndon White formed HonestPolitics to help Americans stay informed and actively engaged in the political process. It's centerpiece is the HonestPolitics app, which lets users access factual, non-partisan, honest information about politicians easily on their Android phones.
"Our mission is to help everyone be informed and engaged in the political process," said Kleehammer, the company's CEO, who lives outside Washington, D.C. with his wife Nicole and two children.
Kleehammer became interested in politics while attending Alfred University. After graduating in 2006 he moved to the D.C. bubble to work in web development. He started HonestPolitics as a side project with White (a former co-worker) in late 2014.
"We were talking about the results of the 2014 election and getting frustrated with low voter turnout and other things," said Kleehammer, recalling HonestPolitics' organic roots. "I went home and said 'Why can't we do something?'"
Kleehammer is currently working on HonestPolitics full-time. The company has started a Kickstarter which will allow their app to improve further and include features like campaign contribution data, SuperPAC spending data, representative voting history, presidential executive orders, voter registration, and a 2018 sample ballot.
The page for the HonestPolitics Kickstarter can be found here.
The Brockport College-Community Chorus and the Brockport High School Choir will appear together in this year’s “Sounds of the Season” Holiday Concert on Sunday, December 3, 2017, at 7:30 p.m.
To accommodate the audiences who would typically attend their separate performances, this concert will be held at the Brockport High School Auditorium, 40 Allen Street, Brockport. There will be a $5 suggested donation.
Brian Clickner, music director of the College’s chorus, is “very excited to be a part of this event.” “It is the first time our two groups have sung in a joint concert since the 1980s, easily,” recalled Elizabeth Banner, the music director for the high school’s chorus and other smaller musical ensembles. She added, “Especially at the holiday season, when togetherness is key, it’s wonderful to take part in something that not only unites our two organizations, but the College and the Brockport communities themselves.”
A highlight of the concert will be the combined chorus’ performance of Benjamin Britten’s “A Ceremony of Carols,” accompanied by harpist Barbara Dechario. More of a cantata than a ceremony, the work was inspired, in part, by Gregorian chants. Originally separate songs, they were gathered into a cycle with the addition of a processional and recessional. When the songs are presented collectively, they tell the story of Christmas.
In keeping with the theme of the two choruses joining together, the concert will be bookended with two songs that reflect on the desire of all people to live in peace and harmony. The Hebrew hymn “Hiney Ma Tov” is taken from Psalm 133 in the Old Testament, which revels in the joy of sitting down with one’s brethren in unity. Similarly, the beloved Christmas carol “Silent Night” was written in 1818 in Oberndorf, Austria, when that region had been divided up following the Napoleonic wars. It has long been thought of as a message of hope, most poignantly during the Christmas Truce of 1914, when soldiers from Germany, France and Britain found themselves all singing this song on a Christmas Eve during World War I.
Though most familiar as an instrumental piece, the High School Choir will sing “Carol of the Bells,” which, it turns out, began as a Ukrainian folk tune that had nothing to do with Christmas at all.
Happy Small Business Saturday 2017 Brockport!
Today is a great day to welcome Upstate Vintage Market to the community.
Heidi Vogt and her family opened this beautiful business last month at 8100 W. Ridge Rd., Clarkson (formerly Topping & Co. clock repair).
The building has been totally renovated and it's like Etsy come to life. Stop in to shop antiques, crafts and more.
The Vogts live in Spencerport and have three children in the Brockport Central schools. #shopsmall
Brockport Central School District will again open its doors to the community as a distribution site for Foodlink's Mobile Pantry.
From 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Wed., Dec. 6. food will be set up in the Brockport High School cafeteria and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
Families should bring boxes or bags to transport the food.
The Foodlink Mobile Pantry provides food at no charge to people 18 and older, with no income or residency requirements.
Foodlink staff and district volunteers unload, set-up and distribute food directly to families in attendance.
The College at Brockport's radio station is currently holding their 23rd annual Coats for Kids fundraiser. The college’s radio station is collecting new and gently used children's winter clothing as well as non-perishable food items to benefit Community Action of Orleans & Genesee.
On Sunday, Nov. 19, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. members of 89.1 the Point will collect new or gently used children’s winter clothing (as well as non-perishable food items) outside the Brockport Maurice’s store, 1651 Transit Way.
Anyone interested in donating can also bring donations to the collection box housed outside the station on campus at 135 Seymour Union at the College at Brockport.
Thanksgiving spirits were high in Brockport on Nov. 16, 2017 as the Brockport Police Department and Wegmans staff handed out free turkeys at a traffic safety checkpoint on Main Street.
“This is a perfect opportunity to give back to our community that has backed us year after year," said Lieutenant Mark Cuzzupoli. "We are reminding motorists to drive safely and hope everybody has a happy and safe start to their holiday season."
Forty turkeys were gifted to surprised motorists - some of whom gladly accepted them and others who asked they be paid forward to the next car stopped.
Half of the turkeys were purchased by the Brockport Police Department's union The Stetson Club and Brockport Chief of Police Daniel Varrenti. The other half were donated by Wegmans.
“Last year’s checkpoint was such a huge success that the members of the Stetson Club had no reservations scheduling this event for a second year in a row," said Officer Josh Sime, president of the Stetson Club. "Interaction at this level is a rewarding experience for both the motorists and police officers.”