article originally published in the Democrat and Chronicle's West Extra column on August 8, 2019.
by Caurie Putnam
A unique, new business in Sweden has horses to thank for its existence.
“This all started because of the horses,” said LaChelle Vick, an owner of 14 horses, who opened Embroider Barn, in December 2018. “When you show horses at A-rated shows, everything from the stall curtain to your jacket back is embroidered with your farm’s name and the horse’s name.”
Vick started showing horses at age 16 and for years would bring her embroidery machine to events to make last minute items and custom requests for other horse owners. Her work became so popular she bought a $10,000 embroidery machine, but it became so much work to lug around to shows that she decided to open her own brickand- mortar embroidery business.
“When we were putting the sign up for Embroider Barn I got really emotional because I am living a dream,” said Vick, who also credits her unique first name as an impetus for getting involved in embroidery. “My name is so unique that I could never find anything pre-made with my name on it; so I made it.”
Her business goes beyond embroidery, though. She also creates T-shirts, decals, personalized gifts, bottle art, decorative items for the home, wedding items (centerpieces, table runners, window panes, etc.) and much more.
When I stopped by the store at 4878 South Lake Road, in the Sweden Plaza, Vick was creating a custom quilt for a client that was made of denim squares from 40 to 50 pairs of jeans the client’s husband had worn over the years. Some of the squares were embroidered with dates that were important to the family, like anniversaries and birthdays.
“I love being able to talk to someone about a unique gift for their husband or for their daughter’s wedding, coming up with an idea together and then creating a one-of-akind gift,” said Vick, who grew up in Greece and graduated from Cardinal Mooney High School.
When it comes to all her embroidery and other arts, she is self-taught; her grandmother taught her how to sew when she was a teenager and from there she learned through hands-on experiences. She would like to offer such teaching experiences at the store.
“My goal is to offer classes on a monthly basis
on things like rag quilts, card and candle making, painting glasses, and things like that,” Vick said. “There are so many things I want to do and teach others. Crafting is so much fun, but many people are intimidated to try.”
Mariana Soto, of Rochester, is a customer of Vicks who met her through the horse-showing world. She’s thrilled she has her own store now.
“Most of the time you see people who specialize in one thing, like embroidery only,” Soto said. “But she’s DYI (do it yourself) for everything; she’s so talented.”
To learn more about Embroider Barn call (585) 391-3018 or visit on Facebook at Embroider Barn.
Pick of the week
The 25 th Brockport Arts Festival will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 11, on Main Street and several side streets in the village of Brockport. In addition to juried artisans along Main Street, there will be food vendors, non-profit exhibitors, live entertainment, a wine garden, vintage car cruise-in, Duck Derby and more. For a full schedule, go to brockportartsfestival .com.
Contact Caurie at firstname.lastname@example.org .edu with news from west-side towns. She’s on Twitter at @Caurie Putnam and on Facebook at facebook.com/ BrockportBlog/.
This article originally ran in the July 28, 2019 edition of the Democrat and Chronicle.
by Caurie Putnam
When Dean Smith, 51, joined the Barnard Fire Department’s Explorer post as a teen in 1984, he had no idea he’d someday teach fire safety in the schools he attended.
“When I was in high school and you would have told me I’d be involved in fire safety I probably would have laughed at you,” said Dean, who graduated from Greece Olympia High School. “I would have said, ‘Just give me a hose.’ ”
Smith, who has been Barnard’s fire and life safety educator since 2001, was recently named the 2019 Fire Safety Educator of the Year by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York. The award is given each year to an individual who has shown a strong dedication to fire safety and education within their community.
“He’s a very humble guy,” said Marsha Holland, of Westfield, Chautauqua County, chair of the Fire Prevention & Life Safety Committee for FASNY. “When I met him at the awards ceremony he said he felt as though he already won just in being nominated by his fire department.”
The committee was impressed by the volume of fire education Smith provides each year to Greece residents (ranging in age from pre-school to senior citizens), his dynamic and interactive lesson plans for classroom visits in the Greece Central School District and many excellent letters of recommendation, including from teachers at the schools he visits, Holland said.
Though Smith, who was also a professional firefighter with the Ridge Road Fire District for nearly three decades, can’t pinpoint why he decided to also volunteer as a fire educator, he’s happy he did.
“Firefighters working in education, prevention and code enforcement are fighting fires before they start,” said Smith, a lifelong Greece resident. “You are touching people in a positive way, empowering them and saving lives.”
Smith points to one story close to his heart to illustrate this. In the early 2000s he made a presentation in a small, special education classroom at English Village Elementary School. He wasn’t sure how much the students absorbed, but a few months later he was contacted by the family of one.
“There had been a fire at the family’s home and this student did what he had learned,” Smith said. “His grandmother said that during the fire he was calm, knew what to do and said, ‘Get on your hands and knees.’ I learned an important lesson that day that in fire safety you don’t always know who you’re impacting.”
Smith, who is also a graduate of Monroe Community College and Empire State College, retired in 2016 from the Ridge Road Fire District following a diagnosis with multiple sclerosis in 2012. But, he’s busier than ever running fire presentation programs, visiting classrooms (where he’s affectionately known as Firefighter Dean) and providing community outreach and education on important topics like car-seat safety.
“Multiple sclerosis has impacted my life significantly and changed the way I do things, but it hasn’t stopped me from doing the things I love or helping others.”
Contact Caurie at caurie@urgrad .rochester.edu with news from west-side towns.
Originally published in the Democrat and Chronicle's "West Extra" Column on July 14, 2019.
Woman who gave to community now needs help
by Caurie Putnam
When Lois Reddick was the manager of Jordan Health Link, a drug and alcohol treatment program, in the early 2000s, it wasn’t uncommon for her to come home from a 14-hour shift and find her front porch in Chili teeming with bags of clothes.
The garments were donations for a clothing closet Reddick started at Rochester’s Jordan Health — not part of her job description, but one of the many extra things the registered nurse did to help her clients.
“Lois is the most caring, considerate, loving person I have ever met,” said Marie Stein, a friend and former co-worker of Reddick’s. “She will go the distance for anyone.”
Now, Stein, of Gates, is hoping the community will go the distance for Reddick, 73, who is on dialysis and in need of a kidney transplant due to complications from diabetes.
Reddick and her husband, Franklin, moved to Tallahassee, Florida, in 2016 after she retired, but she considers Rochester home and hopes to get her transplant done at UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial Hospital, where she was a nurse from 1970 to 1984.
“When I found out how sick Lois was, I cried a lot,” Stein said. “She’s a wonderful person who has helped thousands of people. I’m hoping somebody in the community who knew her will step forward.”
Stein started a Facebook group to find a living donor willing and eligible to donate one of their two healthy kidneys to her friend.
According to United Network for Organ Sharing, about 6,000 living donations (mostly kidneys) take place in the United States each year and one in four of these donors aren’t biologically related to the recipient. UR Medicine has a living donor kidney and liver transplant program.
“Although no one has stepped forward so far as a live donor, we’re hopeful,” Reddick said. “I’m hanging in there, but I’m in need. I’m proud and happy I gave a lot to the Rochester community; now I hope someone will reciprocate with me.”
Reddick, a daughter of sharecroppers, was born in Alabama and moved to Kendall, Orleans County, at age 12 when her family settled there. She graduated fromJohn Marshall High School, Monroe Community College and Roberts Wesleyan College.
In addition to Jordan and Strong, Reddick worked as a nurse and/or credentialed alcoholism and substance abuse counselor at the former Park Ridge Hospital, Community Care of Rochester and Action for a Better Community.
The mom of one and grandmother of three, has also written children’s books, founded
the nonprofit Women Helping Women with her three sisters and was an active member of Aenon Baptist Church when she lived in the Rochester area.
If you’re interested in donating a kidney to Reddick, please email Stein at email@example.com. The Facebook group for Reddick is called Donate a Kidney facebook.com/groups/320976101890893/ More information on UR Medicine’s living donor transplant program is available at (585) 275-5875 or urmc.rochester .edu/transplant/live-donor.aspx.
Pick of the week
Brockport Summer Serenades 2019 Concert Series continues with a free performance by the Brockport Big Band at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 18, at the Brockport Welcome Center, 11 Water St. For a full series schedule, visit brockportny.org.
Contact Caurie at firstname.lastname@example.org with news from west-side towns. She’s on Twitter at @CauriePutnam and on Facebook at facebook.com/WestExtra .
Originally published in the Democrat and Chronicle - West Extra column - July 21, 2019.
by Caurie Putnam
Art has been appearing in unusual places in Brockport the past few weeks: doorsteps of pizzerias, sidewalks on Main Street and flowerpots in front of the movie theatre.
“The reaction has been a lot of chatter and some welcomed confusion, ‘What is this?’ ‘Why is this happening?’ ‘This is so cool,’ ” said Mya Pennington, 25, the artist behind the project. “Someone even told me, ‘Thank you for choosing our community to do this.’ ” Selecting Brockport to launch Starfly Immersive — an immersive art and storytelling project — was a natural choice for Pennington, who is a 2012 graduate of Brockport High School and an alumna of the Boston Conservatory at Berklee.
She likes that Brockport is a college town with an open mind and has many young families with children eager to embrace art in all its forms.
“Immersive art is any kind of art form that breaks boundaries between the audience and performer and where the audience member can act as the main character within the story line,” Pennington said. “It’s really important to me with my immersive art to get kids involved; I want them to feel inspired to participate.”
Pennington recently completed an internship in Los Angeles with Disney Parks Live Entertainment Internship Project, where she worked on the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge project.
She is living in Brockport until at least January 2020 as she completes her master’s degree in business design and arts leadership from Savannah College of Art and Design. The creation and implementation of Starfly Immersive is part of her graduate thesis and a personal and professional passion.
Growing up in Brockport, Pennington was well-known for her prowess as a percussionist. Now, she is bringing the arts to her hometown via less familiar, but equally important, means.
“When I played music it made people happy,” said Pennington, who performed in the 2017 Rochester Fringe. “I want people to feel happy and that’s what I’m doing with immersive art. It’s almost an art form in itself when it spreads.”
Since she launched Starfly Immersive in Brockport (which she refers to as Starlandia on social media), she and a small group of volunteers have created colorful chalk pathways on Main Street and hid over 350 brightly colored balls with the hashtag #StarflyImmersive throughout the village.
They are preparing for their third interactive art installation that will launch the week of July 21. Pennington — who goes by the stage name Tapper Mae for her Starfly Immersive work — wanted to keep the installation a surprise, but hinted it will have a scavenger hunt vibe.
“Right now we are teaching people how to participate without being intrusive or intimidating,” said Pennington, who preferred not to be photographed for this piece because she sees herself as one of the many star flies — not the star — of this story. “We really just want people to join the story too.”
Daniel Sidore, 11, of Clarkson joined the story last week. He was in the village of Brockport with his older brothers when he began spying the colorful Starfly Immersive balls hidden in plain sight.
“I didn’t know what they were at first and why they were there,” Sidore said, “Then I realized they were there just to make people happy.”
He collected about 40 balls that he filled the front seat of his mom’s car with as a practical joke, adding her to the evolving, community story too.
Contact Caurie at caurie@urgrad .rochester.edu with news from west-side towns. She’s on Twitter at @CauriePutnam and on Facebook at facebook.com/ WestExtra .
Originally published in the Democrat and Chronicle - March 24, 2019
by Caurie Putnam
From July 16 to 24, thousands of veterans, dignitaries and history buffs are expected to gather in Alameda, California, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 recovery.
Among them will be Tom Hetherington of Hamlin, who served on board the aircraft carrier USS Hornet CVS12 when astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins splash downed in front of him (in person) and the eyes of the world (on television) on July 24, 1969.
The astronauts, who landed in the Pacific Ocean, 812 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii, had just completed the world’s first successful lunar landing mission.
“I can’t believe it has been 50 years,” said Hetherington, who also participated in the Apollo 12 recovery. “It was such a significant time in American history.”
Altogether, Hetherington served eight years in the US Navy, 3 1 / years of which were on the Hornet. He did two tours off the coast of Vietnam from 1967 to 1969 while the ship provided pilot rescues, coastal surveillance, anti-submarine warfare and Seal team insertions and extractions.
Hetherington was also involved in a special operation against North Korea in April 1969 following the deaths of 31 service members after their naval observation plane was shot down in international air space.
The Hornet CVS 12 was originally named the USS Kearsarge, but renamed the Hornet after the historic USS Hornet CV-8, which launched the Doolittle raid and was lost in October 1942. It’s most widely known for its recovery operation of the Apollo 11 crew and Hetherington, with his front-row seat to history, has amazing stories to share.
“When I first had visual contact the white and orange chutes popped out and you saw them going down into the ocean,” Hetherington said. “They came out of their capsule and onto the raft. There was applauding when they came on. We had to stay back a certain distance because NASA was worried about moon bugs.”
The Apollo 11 crew was immediately placed into a mobile quarantine capsule with a large window. Journalists, the ship’s crew and dignitaries, including President Richard Nixon and Adm. John Sidney McCain Jr. watched the incredible scene unfold.
“We knew the eyes of the world were on us,” Hetherington said. “The astronauts were waving to us and very excited, I hung upside down from a catwalk with my Kodak camera taking pictures.”
As the massive ship headed to Pearl Harbor, a broomstick was hung from the mast to signify the splashdown mission was a “clean sweep” (successful mission).
The Hornet CVS 12 was decommissioned in 1970. Hetherington’s name is listed inside as a plank member — someone who helped purchase the ship. It’s now at Alameda Naval Base where it’s a national and state landmark open for tours, Scouting events, weddings and more.
After Hetherington left the Navy he worked as an engineer at Kodak for 24 years, earning a master’s degree from Roberts Wesleyan College. He also served with the U.S. Army National Guard and as a volunteer firefighter and EMT in Hamlin and Churchville for many years. Currently he’s a bus driver with the Brockport Central School District and active with Rochester’s Chapter 20 of the Vietnam Veterans of America.
“I’m pretty excited to get back with the CVS 12 guys and my Vietnam veteran buddies,” said Hetherington, about the upcoming, eight-day-long Splashdown 50 Celebration at and around the ship. “It’s going to be big.”
To learn more about the Splashdown 50 Celebration, visit uss-hornet.org.
Local community-theater troupe the BUM Players, will present Finders Keepers, by David Hansen, at 7 p.m. on April 5, 6, 12 and 13 in the Brockport United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 92 Main St. Finders Keepers makes it world debut as the troupe's annual dessert-theater comedy. Desserts and beverages will be available during intermission and included in the cost of the tickets.
Tickets are available in the church office from 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Thursday, or at the door the nights of the show. Tickets may also be reserved by phoning the office at 637-4240 or by calling 261-7381. General admission is $9; seniors (age 65+) $7; and one-family household is $20.
The play revolves around a run-down old lighthouse in Maine which, for decades, has been run by the same family. Due to the fact that the ghost of an old sea captain, played by Chuck Edwards, is comically haunting the place and governmental forces are attempting to close it down, the hi-jinx and antics flow non-stop.
The cast includes three youngsters: Natalie Mesler (Samantha Baxter), Shane Mesler (Robbie Baxter) and Helen Schofield (Becky Baxter). Troupe newcomers Donna Hoy (Ellen Cooper) and Bonnie Milczarski (Jennifer Bridges) will make their debut. Rounding out the cast are veterans Steve Richardson (Bill Cooper), Paul Kimball (James Baxter), Turk Thomas (Henry Cooper), Bonnie Beiswenger (Marge Palmer); and Elaine Hansen (Katherine Baxter). The Meslers share the stage with their grandfather Kimball, and Schofield with her grandparents Elaine and David Hansen.
David Hansen directs, with Mack McCarthy as assistant director Serving as co-technical directors are Thomas and Richardson. Stage manager is Lexie MacLarty and dessert coordinator is Kathy Klump.
I'd like to introduce you to Leslie Zink, the newest member of the Clarkson Town Board, who was appointed on January 15, 2019 to fill a vacancy.
A twenty-five year resident of Clarkson, Zink first got involved with local government by serving for a decade as a trustee on the Seymour Library Board (representing Clarkson).
"I love the library and am a very strong proponent of the library," Zink said. "I'm there all the time!"
She has also served on Clarkson's zoning board, planning board and currently serves on the town's solar and bicentennial committees. She's particularly excited to get families involved in celebrating Clarkson's bicentennial year (2019).
"I love the community and rural feeling of the town," said Zink, who lives in Clarkson with her husband Bob, a lieutenant with the Rochester Fire Department. They have two adult children who are graduates of Brockport High School.
Zink, who is a graduate of Syracuse University (BS) and the Rochester Institute of Technology (MBA), is the senior manager of pricing and tariffs for Frontier Telephone, where she has worked for 29 years. Her hobbies include reading, scrap booking, bike riding and kayaking. She is a former volunteer leader for 4H, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and has served as an election inspector.
She is excited to meet her constituents and welcomes anyone with questions, concerns or ideas to email her at Leslie.email@example.com
Zink's appointment to the town board has created a vacancy on the town's planning board (where she was currently serving). Any town of Clarkson resident interested in applying is asked to send or email a letter of intent to the town clerk by Feb. 8, 2019. That email is firstname.lastname@example.org
The town board vacancy Zink was appointed to fill was created when town board member Christa Filipowicz was appointed supervisor by the board (following the resignation of supervisor Jerry Underwood) also on January 15, 2019.
The Brockport Symphony Orchestra will present their ninth annual "Holiday Pops" Concert on Dec. 1 at 4 p.m. in the historic sanctuary at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 14 State Street, in Brockport.
Directed by Jonathan Allentoff, this family concert will showcase the talents of vocalist Mary Wojciechowski, violin soloist Jaesun Han, and the Brockport Symphony Orchestra Brass Ensemble.
Wojciechowski, a graduate of Nazareth College and Temple University, will sing holiday songs from the films "Holiday Inn", "White Christmas", and "In the Good Old Summertime." Han, who has appeared as a soloist, ensemble performer and recording artist in South Korea, Russia, Israel, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and the United States, will perform J. S. Bach's "Air on the G String."
The Brockport Symphony Orchestra Brass Ensemble, comprised of performers from the orchestra's brass section, will premiere a new suite of Christmas carols arranged by Allentoff. The program also includes selections from "The Polar Express", "Miracle on 34th Street", Handel's "Messiah", and the Chanukah oratorio "Judas Maccabaeus."
Admission and parking are free, and canned items for the Brockport Food Shelf and donations for the Food Shelf, St. Luke's, and the orchestra will be gratefully accepted at the door. There will be a complimentary dessert reception in Parish Hall following the performance.
This project is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program,a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by the Genesee Valley Council on the Arts.
For additional information, visit www.brockportsymphony.org.
Professional wrestling returns to Brockport on Dec. 7. 2018 when Upstate Professional Wrestling holds their Ghosts of Christmas Past Present & Future event at the Brockport Elks Lodge #2110, 4400 Sweden Walker Road.
Among those competing is Brian Smith, a graduate of the College at Brockport who wrestles under the name Chris Cayden.
"Expect a very family friendly, action packed event," Smith said. "Even if you're not a wrestling fan, it's a great event simply because of the fun atmosphere."
They'll be wrestlers competing from three different generations: the past, present and future. Upstate Professional Wrestling was founded in the early 2000's in Rochester.
Doors open at 6 p.m. and matches start at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 pre-sale or $18 at the door. You can order online here.
From 9am-1pm Saturday, December 1st, Life Solutions of Hamlin will hold its 8th annual Community Children's Holiday Bazaar at St. John Lutheran Church, 1107 Lake Road West Fork, Hamlin.
Children are invited to shop for new and gently used gifts for their family members at prices starting at 25 cents. Adult shopping also. Free gift wrapping, free activities such as face painting, crafts and a visit by Santa and Mrs. Claus. Food will be available for purchase.
All proceeds benefit the Life Solutions Food Pantry, which provides food to over 60 families in Hamlin each month and Christmas dinners to over 100 families.
Go to lifesolutionshamlin.org or call 585-964-7420.