Latest News

University Heights celebrates Pride Month

Mayor Brennan looks on as the Pride Flag is raised outside of UH City Hall.

For the second year in a row, the Pride Flag flies outside of University Heights City Hall.

Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan declared June 2020 to be Pride Month in University Heights via proclamation. The rainbow flag, also known as the gay pride flag, will be flown throughout the month of June to symbolize the city’s celebration of diversity and support for LGBTQIA people.

At its June 1 city council meeting, University Heights considered, on second reading, historic legislation to protect the rights of the LGBTQIA community.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 12:59 PM, 06.02.2020

Latest News Releases

Heights Arts Says Goodbye to Damien McClendon, 9th Poet Laureate of Cleveland Heights
- Heights Arts, June 2, 2020 Read More
Ray McNiece New Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate
- Heights Arts, June 1, 2020 Read More
CH-UH Schools To Lose $1.4 Million In State Funding Before End of School Year
- CH-UH Schools, May 12, 2020 Read More
The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland Calls for Pro Bono Help Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
- Non-Profit & Groups, April 30, 2020 Read More
Honk for Heroes Parade to Honor Healthcare Workers in Cleveland Heights and throughout Northeast Ohio on National Superhero Day (April 28)
- , April 27, 2020 Read More

View more news releases

Friendly competition between Cleveland Heights and University Heights encourages Census participation

UH Councilmember Barbara Blankfeld (left) and CH Councilmember Davida Russell get ready to "race" for the most Census participation in their cities. 

On Saturday, May 29, Cleveland Heights Councilmember Davida Russell challenged University Heights Councilmember Barbara Blankfeld to the “Battle of the Census”: a competition to see which city can grow its 2020 Census response rate by 20 percent during the month of June. 

Both council members stressed that everyone will benefit regardless of who "wins" the competition. 

According to U.S. Census tracking, as of June 1, 69.8 percent of University Heights residents have responded, compared to 63 percent of Cleveland Heights residents. 

Many people may ask: Why do I need to complete the Census? Why is it important to count all of us? Why should I take the time? There are many reasons to complete the Census, and accurate demographic data is critical.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 12:54 PM, 06.02.2020

Some Heights businesses reopen as restrictions are lifted

As the state eases coronavirus restrictions, some Heights businesses are starting to re-open; others remain temporarily closed. Most businesses continue to make adjustments to their hours or practices, in an effort to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

The Heights has a large number of independently run, locally owned businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic. 

In an effort to encourage support for businesses that are open, the city of Cleveland Heights announced that it would waive all parking fees at meters in city-owned lots and garages, until further notice.

The Heights Observer compiled the following partial list of changes that Heights businesses made to their services due to the outbreak. The list is not comprehensive.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 11:28 AM, 06.02.2020

Neighbors create new mini-park on Noble

Laura Marks and Barb Sosnowski create a new space in a vacant lot at Noble and Roanoke roads. [photo: Brenda H. May]

A new mini-park is shaping up at the corner of Roanoke and Noble roads in Cleveland Heights, where Laura Marks of Heights Tree People, and Barb Sosnowski of Noble Neighbors Gardeners, are turning a vacant lot into a place of beauty and delight.

Their plan includes enhancing the crushed brick on the park’s diagonal walkway by adding river rocks with fossilized ripples. A gathering area with a picnic table will be placed near the center of the walkway, and shade will be provided by ornamental trees planted by the city.

Sosnowski and Marks had separately considered how to transform the lot into a community-building asset. They shared their ideas with the Noble Corridor brainstorming group, a project initiated by Jill Tatem, in response to the Noble Road Corridor Planning process, led by FutureHeights last year.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 10:39 AM, 06.02.2020

CH crime rates drop for 7th year in a row

Overall crime trend in Cleveland Heights, 2011–2019

For the seventh consecutive year, the incidence of serious crime in Cleveland Heights continued to drop in 2019, hitting its lowest level since the police department began keeping credible statistics in 2011.

The 71 violent crimes reported in 2019 were a 24 percent decrease from the year before. Property crimes were down slightly, at 702 compared to 714 the year before.

The number of burglaries jumped last year to 114 from just 63 in 2018. But, that’s due to a change in the way incidents are being classified, according to Cleveland Heights Police Chief Annette Mecklenburg.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 9:16 AM, 06.02.2020

Recognizing our graduating seniors

Who doesn’t remember the rite-of-passage rituals from senior year of high school? Prom, senior day for sports, senior skip day and, of course, commencement.

This year’s graduating seniors didn’t get any of that. Someday they’ll wear it as a badge of honor, but for now it just stinks.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 9:20 AM, 06.02.2020

Libray cuts budget by $2 million

At its May 18 meeting, the Heights Libraries Board of Trustees approved a cost-reduction plan designed to trim the library’s budget by $2 million in the second half of fiscal year 2020. The library’s 2020 budget is $11,585,412, and will hit the half-way point on June 1.

“The library is anticipating severe funding cuts in the near future,” said Heights Libraries Director Nancy Levin. “Ohio’s Public Library Fund has been reduced by roughly 35 percent, and we are expecting property tax collection to fall sharply. The majority of our funding, over 80 percent, comes from these two sources.”

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 10:01 AM, 06.02.2020

Democracy is more than elections

“Vote them out!” We hear this all the time. It’s an exclamation we hurl in anger and frustration at every government office—and official—we feel isn’t working right, or isn’t working for us, or is raising taxes or cutting services. Or all of the above. During the recent Cleveland Heights-University Heights school levy campaign, strident cries of, “Vote them out!” were raised against school board members, despite the fact that, just a few months earlier, board members James Posch and Beverly Wright ran without opposition to retain their seats.

Without qualified candidates willing to give generously of their time and talents, who will citizens be able to “vote in”? Campaigns alone entail a significant investment of time, commitment, and probably some of the candidate’s own money. No wonder people prefer to be appointed to office!

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 10:58 AM, 06.02.2020

Exchange students' year abroad ends abruptly

AFS students Joyce Tagne (Cameroon) and Diadji Diawara (Mali).

Photo courtesy of CHUH.  

Nadia Zampiere, an American Foreign Service (AFS) student at Heights High, knew the virus was coming. Her family in the northern Italian city of Tribano was hosting an exchange student from Greenland while Nadia was spending her year in Cleveland. When the international community decided that the students in Italy should return to their home countries, Zampiere was worried.

“I wasn’t sure what would happen to us,” she said of the AFS students at Heights High. “I was sure that the virus would come to America, too. But I still had hope.”

That hope was dashed when schools throughout Ohio closed in mid-March, flipping the worlds of students upside down in an instant. For the AFS students at Heights High, the global chaos and uncertainty was felt deeply and personally. 

Intense coordination began among AFS, the U.S. State Department, representatives from the students’ home countries, and hundreds of facilitators in American school districts as they worked to safely return students to their families.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 9:45 AM, 06.02.2020

Resident foresees positive future for CH

As all of us who live in Cleveland Heights know, this is a unique, special city.

It has a diverse, progressive, open-minded citizenry; eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and commercial establishments; and stunning, historic architecture.

I have lived here for almost half of my life, and much longer than anywhere else I called home. I find it hard to imagine finding a more welcoming, livable, walkable city in Northeast Ohio, or the country.

Over the years, Cleveland Heights has suffered through many of the same problems as other inner-ring suburbs, as the housing stock continues to age, taxes increase to support the schools and city government, and the infrastructure continues to deteriorate.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 10:46 AM, 06.02.2020

Education funding is in crisis

It is amazing how adaptable people have been during this global pandemic. In our school district we are learning new ways to do our jobs, trying new ways to reach our students and their families, and adapting to changing parameters. We’ve had to be creative and flexible. It has been especially challenging for our union members who are caring for their own children at home, while working remotely, which, many teachers report is much harder than being in the classroom. 

We are currently considering several scenarios for opening school in August. It is impossible to know what will change between now and then, so the need for contingency plans is great. 

In all likelihood, school will be different from the past. Class size, for example, may be limited for everyone’s safety. Whatever happens, there will be a need for resources; not only for instruction, but for student health, as well.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 11:07 AM, 06.02.2020

Voucher costs deepen inequality

I used some of my time during the stay-at-home order to take a deep dive into data about which school districts lose funds to EdChoice vouchers—a state program that requires certain school districts to pay for private-school vouchers out of the district’s state-aid allotment. My hours buried in the Ohio Department of Education website confirmed in breathtaking terms my suspicions about the unfair impact of this misuse of public funds.

The EdChoice voucher program is expensive, affects some districts a lot more than others, and fuels inequality in education funding and opportunities. Most of the children enrolled in the districts hardest hit by vouchers live in poverty and are racial minorities. How much longer can policymakers ignore that their diversion of public-school funding to support private education discriminates against our neediest students?

The CH-UH district is among the hardest hit by this threat to educational opportunity. It is among the 22 of Ohio’s 612 school districts that together carried 90 percent of all of this year’s EdChoice vouchers.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 11:00 AM, 06.02.2020

New owner continues Atma Center's mission

Julie Schlemmer is the new owner of Lee Road's Atma Center.

On April 1, amidst the COVID-19 virus and stay-at-home orders, Cleveland Heights native Julie Schlemmer became the new owner of Atma Center, the yoga studio in the Cedar Lee district, at 2319 Lee Road.

The center opened in 1997 through the vision of former owner Swami Atmarupa (aka Beverly Singh), who wanted to establish a holistic wellness center that offered yoga, massage therapy, meditation, and a retail source for vitamins and physical wellness products.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 10:06 AM, 06.02.2020

A look back and ahead at the Bradford cinder path

The columns in all seasons.

photo credit Peggy Spaeth

Bradford Road extends from Lee Road in Cleveland Heights to Edgerton Road in University Heights. A unique feature interrupts the street: a pedestrian path that connects two sections of the road. One-third of a mile in length, spanning four blocks, the path extends from South Taylor Road to Canterbury Road.

Four streets  have this path at their midpoints: Queenston, Kingston, Princeton and Canterbury. (Two landmarked farmhouses that belonged to the families who owned the land on which the streets were laid out are still occupied: 3497 and 3585 Fairmount Blvd.)

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 9:35 AM, 06.02.2020

Neighbors collaborate to create pollinator habitats

Ray, Diana and Morgan Danner, a Fairfax Elementary family, enjoyed planting their pollinator garden last summer.

If you went down Bradford Road last summer, you may have noticed some interesting tree lawn activity—and it wasn’t on trash night.

With guidance from residents Peggy Spaeth and John Barber, neighbors collaborated on a project—now the Bradford Pollinator Path—to beautify the street while helping the environment. Participating households agreed to dedicate a patch of their front yards or tree lawns to the planting of native species that are known to be supportive ecosystems for insects and birds. 

Having transformed their own front yard and tree lawn into a biodiverse habitat, Spaeth and Barber, the co-founders of Friends of Lower Lake, wanted to increase the impact by expanding it on their street.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 9:23 AM, 06.02.2020

Free shuttle links CH to University Circle

ODOT signs on Coventry Road highlight the free and open-to-all BlueLink shuttle service that connects the Heights with University Circle destinations.

With the lifting of Ohio’s stay-at-home order, many are resuming their work commutes. Others are starting to get out and about more, as Ohio reboots its economy, and warmer weather beckons. If getting around by means other than driving a car is possible, and appeals to you, consider the Heights-adjacent transportation options offered at, which include a free shuttle between Coventry Village and University Circle.

One of the Heights’ strengths is its location near University Circle, with that destination’s plethora of jobs and institutions in medicine, education, arts and culture, dining, and parks. University Circle also provides links to wider transportation networks, such as RTA’s trains, buses and Healthline, and bike lanes and trails to Downtown Cleveland, the cultural gardens and the lakefront.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 9:31 AM, 06.02.2020

Project inspires hope, one letter at a time

Allison Meyer with the mailbox at Hart Crane Park, in summer 2019. (Photo courtesy of Canalway Partners)

Cleveland Heights resident Allison Meyer is not one to give up.

She wants to help others find the kind of hope that sustained her after her mother’s untimely death, and through a career change, law school and anxiety about telling her story.

Meyer created Never, Ever Give Up Cleveland as a storytelling and inspirational platform where people can describe how they persevered through life’s challenges. The project collects and shares anonymous stories, all responding to the prompt: What is the hardest thing you ever had to do?

“If you don’t tell people what’s going on and let someone help you carry the burden, you’re left to carry it yourself and it can get really heavy,” said Meyer. “The courage to share about your hard times might just help someone else find hope.”

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 10:30 AM, 06.02.2020

Library launches '1619 Project' Web page

In May, Heights Libraries launched a new online resource featuring news, resources, and upcoming events related to the library’s ongoing 1619 Project discussion group. 

The group formed in September 2019 in response to high public interest in reading and discussing the "1619 Project" essays published by The New York Times Magazine, which reflect on the history of race and slavery, and its impact on American life over the last 400 years. 

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 9:57 AM, 06.02.2020

First Baptist hosts monthly mobile pantry

Volunteers stage pallets of food for pickup at the mobile pantry.

First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland is partnering with the Cleveland Food Bank again this summer, to serve as a mobile pantry for produce pickup. Dates for the church’s upcoming mobile pantries are June 6, July 11, and Aug. 1, from 10 a.m. to noon.

A mobile pantry is a Greater Cleveland Food Bank truck full of food that is brought to a location where clients can pick it up.

Due to COVID-19 and social distancing, distributions at the church (3630 Fairmount Blvd.), for the time being, will be drive-up only. Guests are asked to make room in their trunks prior to their arrival. A valid ID is required to participate.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 9:26 AM, 06.02.2020

The fruits of my labor

The b-side of the B Side, you might say. This is where Rocco's Market isn't. Part of the lot on which Rocco's sat is empty and part is the fenced-in patio of the B Side Lounge, which is downstairs of the Grog Shop, whose entrace is on Euclid Heights Boulevard, in the CoventrYard building. 

They built CoventrYard, the then-arty indoor mini-mall, out of an old apartment building, on Coventry Road, just as it’s starting to turn the corner and become Euclid Heights Boulevard. Then my friend Eugene Rocco, a builder and designer who loves good food, took over what had been the apartment’s garage and transformed it into a beautiful gourmet shop, Rocco’s Market, directly across the courtyard from the original Mad Greek Restaurant.

Rocco, at around that same time, the mid ’70s, also designed the Grum’s Sub Shoppe on Coventry, near Mayfield. It’s still there. The next time you’re in the area, look at it, starting on the outside and following your eyes inside. It’s very cleverly designed. As was Rocco’s Market.

Rocco’s sold unusual fruits, for its time; Amish cheeses and baked goods from Middlefield, Ohio; fresh fish and seafood; dairy products; and all kinds of deli meats—even cow’s tongue (it tastes sort of like corned beef)—which you could buy in bulk or get on sandwiches, which were made with bagels from Bialy’s.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 10:04 AM, 06.02.2020

University Heights celebrates Class of 2020

Bryson Simpson is among the seniors participating in UH's Senior Spotlight. A cross-country and track and field star at Gilmour Academy, Simpson won many awards for his volunteer work. He will attend the College of Wooster this fall.

To put it mildly, senior year for the high school Class of 2020 has not gone according to plan. Students should be relishing their final weeks of classes with their friends and teachers. They should be enjoying softball games, concerts, and award ceremonies. There should be "promposals," there should be big commencement ceremonies, followed by graduation parties.

This pandemic derailed so much.

“We here at City Hall can’t fix any of that,” University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan said, “but we’d like to do something nice for the Class of 2020.”

All high school seniors living in University Heights are invited to participate in the city’s Senior Spotlight program. UH City Hall staff will produce write-ups on local seniors to share on social media accounts. The features on seniors are also available at

As many seniors as possible will be included in the July issue of Mosaic, the University Heights magazine. One senior, and his or her parents, will appear on the cover of the magazine.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 12:08 PM, 05.26.2020

Library prepares for partial reopening

Heights Libraries is preparing its four branches for a partial reopening, scheduled for June 2 at the Lee Road branch, and June 9 for the Coventry Village, Noble Neighborhood, and University Heights branches.

On Monday, May 18, the Lee Road branch began to offer three services: curbside holds pick-ups, phone reference, and homebound delivery.

The curbside holds pick-up service is initially only for (1) customers who had holds ready at the time of the library’s closure on March 13, and (2) customers who wish to order by phone and pick up items currently available in the Lee Road building.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 9:30 AM, 05.26.2020

CH narrows council search to 4 finalists

On May 21, in a Facebook post, Cleveland Heights Mayor Jason Stein announced that he and the other five current members of CH City Council had narrowed the field of applicants for the open council seat to four finalists, out of 22 who applied. The finalists are Craig Cobb, Anthony Cuda, Anthony Mattox Jr. and Robert Koonce.

The next step, according to Stein, is to individually, and remotely, interview the four candidates. In his Facebook post, Stein stated that next step, to take place "in the next week or so," would be an executive session (closed to the public) interview with council. After that, stated Stein, "[W]e will make a final determination and then plan for the swearing-in ceremony."

Of the 22 applicants, three withdrew; the other 19 each participated in a video interview process, conducted by the League of Women Voters. Those videos, as well as each candidate's application, can be viewed at


Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 3:12 PM, 05.21.2020

UH announces virtual Memorial Day lineup

Frank LaRose and his wife, Lauren, in 2006.

The COVID-19 pandemic won't stop University Heights from remembering those who have died in war this Memorial Day.

As previously announced, the city canceled it's annual parade, and will hold its ceremony online this year. The virtual ceremony will be broadcast on the University Heights YouTube channel on Monday, May 25, at 1 p.m. In addition, the ceremony will also be shown on the UH City Hall Facebook page.

Ohio Secretary of State, U.S. Army Green Beret, and Bronze Star recipient Frank LaRose will be the featured speaker.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 3:01 PM, 05.19.2020

CH promotes 'Shop Local Bingo' to support city businesses

The first "Shop Local Bingo" scorecard. 

As businesses reopen in-person services, the city of Cleveland Heights has come up with a gamified approach to encourage local shopping. 

"Shop Local Bingo," as described on the city's website, works just like the classic game. The scorecard, available for download, lists 24 CH businesses.

According to Mary Trupo, director of communications and public engagement for the city of Cleveland Heights, businesses were selected randomly, but "with emphasis put on diversity of locations." The first round features restaurants, bars and grocers. Trupo noted that other types of merchants will be included as more businesses reopen.

Following any line on the card, participants can purchase goods from these businesses online or in-store. They must then take pictures of themselves holding both their purchases and receipts. Per the city's instructions, "once you have a Bingo (horizontal, vertical or diagonal), send all of your pictures in one e-mail to, or send a direct message to Instagram (@clvhts), or our Facebook (@clevelandheightsoh) with all your pics. Be sure to attach your marked card as well!" 

Submissions will be entered into a weekly drawing to receive "a Cleveland Heights dinner/dessert/beverage/groceries experience on usa $50 value to your choice of featured businesstwo $25 gift cards," according to the site.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 12:49 PM, 05.19.2020

Yard signs celebrate Heights High seniors

Nearly 400 yard signs for Heights High seniors were installed in early May. 

Maybe you have seen them—nearly 400 Heights High Class of 2020 yard signs that sprouted up in early May, in the yards and windows of this year’s graduating seniors.

“Our seniors will not have the same end-of-year experience that they expected, and we feel so bad about that,” said Jane Simeri, Heights High’s senior class principal. “We want these signs to show the class of 2020 and our community that we are very proud of them.”

The yard signs were installed by the CH-UH bus drivers, using district vans, on May 6 and 7.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 3:47 PM, 05.18.2020

Zoom into UH with city backdrops

Sunset over University Heights is one of the Zoom backgrounds available.

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced many people to Zoom meetings. Whether it’s a weekly staff meeting, a quarterly book club, or an interview, Zoom has become part of the pandemic culture.

To enhance Zoom meetings with some University Heights civic pride, Zoom backgrounds depicting the city are now available for download on the University Heights City Hall Facebook page.

Backgrounds include Walter Stinson Community Park, John Carroll University (JCU) scenes, the University Heights Library, as well as Bialy’s Bagels, Los Arcos, and Jack’s Deli & Restaurant.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 3:47 PM, 05.18.2020

BOE should better manage school funds

Now that the election is over, I think it time FutureHeights and the Cleveland Heights League of Women Voters open their eyes to the internal management decisions of the CH-UH Board of Education (BOE). I, like almost all residents of the school district, want our district to succeed. But I am concerned that higher taxes are a deterrent to attracting young families to the Heights.

CH-UH BOE members, past and present, have done grievous damage to the school system they were elected to oversee [by failing] to manage the funds entrusted to them, for the benefit of our children, in a practical manner.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 3:47 PM, 05.18.2020

City of University Heights cancels summer events

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of all city-sponsored events in University Heights through Labor Day, including the Summer Concert Series.

Citing the health risks of holding large events during a pandemic, University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan announced on May 14 that all city-sponsored events will be canceled through Labor Day. In addition, he announced that the Beryl E. Rothschild Pool at Purvis Park will not open in 2020.

Among the canceled events in University Heights are:

  • The Summer Concert Series, including shows at Walter Stinson Community Park and at John Carroll University
  • Tennis lessons
  • Yoga Tuesdays at The Walt
  • Family Movie Nights at The Walt
Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 1:50 PM, 05.14.2020

CH-UH kindergartens host virtual info nights May 14-21

Beginning May 14, each Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District elementary school will host an online Kindergarten Information Night for incoming and prospective families.

Attendees will have the opportunity to meet school principals and teachers, ask questions, and take virtual tours of the buildings—all from home. To join the event, visit for each school's Google Meet link.

To find the school that corresponds to your place of residence, use the district’s online interactive boundary map at

Here is a complete list of the information night dates and times:

  • Boulevard Elementary School: May 21, 6:30–7:30 p.m.
  • Canterbury Elementary School: May 14, 6 p.m.
Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 12:51 PM, 05.13.2020

We Are Noble, May 1517, adapts to the 'new normal'

We Are Noble, the annual neighborhood event, has two main goals: First, to enjoy and celebrate neighbors, and thus build up the community; and second, to demonstrate to those outside the community that the Noble neighborhood is a great place in which to live and invest. 

This year’s We Are Noble celebration, May 15–17, will take on a creative new look as those in the Noble district of Cleveland Heights, like all Ohioans, work to keep one another healthy. Instead of gathering at event hubs (at yard sales, institutions, and parks), We Are Noble participants will celebrate from their homes.

Those who live and work near Noble Road are asked to unite around four themes: Show, Support, Serve, and Savor. Noble Neighbors, the community organization, is offering suggestions for creating displays and motivating actions around each theme.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 12:05 PM, 05.11.2020

Cleveland Rocks and Beads is poised to welcome back in-store customers

Owner Jennifer Gerard created an exotic safari-themed window display to delight passersby while her business was closed to in-store customers.

What if you operated a shop that was a gathering space for craft enthusiasts, then suddenly found it among those shuttered when a state order for social distancing, necessitated by a global pandemic, led to the temporary closing of all "non-essential" businesses?

That’s where Cleveland Rocks and Beads owner Jennifer Gerard found herself when COVID-19 hit.  

“I felt a bit like an animal in a glass cage with people banging on the glass throughout the day,” said Gerard. “So, I took that idea to the extreme and made a jungle safari out of my shop windows, with stuffed animals and unusual objects from my trips to Asia, so that people taking their children on walks could look for exotic and mythical beasts in the windows.”

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 1:51 PM, 05.05.2020

Post a congratulatory "shout out"; honor a 2020 graduate

The end of one's senior year is typically a time of celebrationritualized by prideful and teary graduation walks, group photo sessions and crowded backyard barbecues. Due to COVID-19, the class of 2020 must refrain from all these activities.

In order to publicly recognize this graduating class, the Heights Observer is offering congratulatory messaging in its June issue.

This opportunity is open to parents, extended family, friends, teammates, or anyone who wants to offer best wishes. Shout-outs can honor 2020 graduates of any high school, college or other educational program. 

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 5:13 PM, 05.04.2020

Community supports Lee Road restaurants

Kitchen Manager Jon Averyheart creates a pizza at Dewey's. All employees wear masks, and have their temperatures taken when they arrive at work.

“Dewey’s Pizza, please hold. There are two people ahead of you and we’ll get to you as quickly as we can,” said the polite, but a little stressed, voice on the other end of the phone. (Never have I been more pleased to be put on hold while working a story.) Results weren’t much different at another Lee Road purveyor, Mitchell’s Fine Chocolates. “No one will be able to talk to you until after Easter. We’re too busy,” an employee told me. 

In-person visits brought similar results, with waiting in line a requirement for getting a coffee at Phoenix and a whole wheat Pugliese loaf at Stone Oven. Many Lee Road food and beverage businesses are providing service through the pandemic, and grateful customers are responding with purchases, and kindness.

Kelli Kral, an owner of New Heights Grill (2206 Lee Road), said she got an anonymous $500 check in the mail which, she later figured out, came from a man who is a longtime customer. “One lady called last week, and she wanted to set up a Go Fund Me page to help employees out with their rent,” said Kral. She told the woman it wasn’t necessary. Others call with good wishes, and to check up on Kral and the bar. “Our customers have been very supportive,” she said. “We love them all.”

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 11:31 AM, 04.30.2020

All the news that's fit to print--if we had room

Six articles—that’s how many had been submitted for the Heights Observer’s May issue as of April 10—three days before the April 13 article deadline.

I’d expected a drop off in submissions; much of what the Observer publishes in any given month is a look ahead at events and programs. The coronavirus means no events on the horizon, and no articles about them.

Feeling a bit desperate, I sent an e-mail to members of the Observer’s newly re-forming advisory committee, and some regular contributors, asking for articles and asking that they spread word, far and wide, to anyone who might have ever considered writing for the publication.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 11:49 AM, 04.30.2020

Psyching the school psychologist

One day, in May of my 11th-grade year at Heights High, the unit principal calls me in and sends me to the school psychologist because of something I had written on a vocational preference test that they couldn’t comprehend. (Cleveland Heights was more conservative then than it is now.) The psychologist is waiting for me in, of all places, one of the instrumental music department’s little practice rooms.

He tells me to sit down opposite him at this little table. He ruffles through the papers and says he’s going to give me a bunch of words and that I should tell him the opposite of each word. We start that, but it gets boring right away, so after about the 12th word, when he says, “ineffable,” I say, “That doesn’t have an opposite.”

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 12:01 PM, 04.30.2020

AVID students celebrate college acceptances

Yassine Bounit, Corrin Flowers, Alexis Payne and Ronelle Drakeford stand in front of their acceptance letters. [photo by Krissy Gallagher]

Alexis Payne, a senior at Heights High, got into her top three college choices. She’s going to Eastern Michigan, third on her list, because it gave her a full ride. Jadrian Gantt made it into his top choice, the University of North Carolina. Yassine Bounit got into his top three choices, and Jaylen Benson has been accepted at more than 15 universities. 

Ronelle Drakeford is choosing between Georgia State University and Fisk University, which gave her a full ride. Christian Dillard is choosing between Morehouse, UNC, and the University of Connecticut, where he was awarded $96,000 over four years.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 12:15 PM, 04.30.2020

Normal and not normal

I feel like I’m slipping around on a slick surface that’s covering over reality. On this surface are many familiar things. I wash the dishes, I do laundry, I read, I cook, I pet the dog. These activities are comfortingly mundane. Emptying the dishwasher and setting the table provide an illusion of normalcy. Everything’s okay right now, right in this moment. 

But then, at any given time, I become conscious merely of my hands: When did I wash them last? What if my hands are infecting the plastic bag holding the apples? Do I wash my hands before I open the bag and touch the apple, or do I wash them after I open the bag and touch the apple, but before I actually eat the apple?

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 11:46 AM, 04.30.2020

What we miss

Collected here is a sampling of the countless moments, large and small, that I, my friends and our children are missing at this time of social distancing:

"You know what I miss? Thursday night baseball at Forest Hills, with four games in the meadow and four more games in the square, and people I know with kids playing all over the park and my own boys on back-to-back fields so I can watch them both at once. Then afterwards, heading to TavCo where we get an outdoor table right away because it's already after 9 and when we walk out onto the patio, my kids in their dusty uniforms and untied cleats, we see three different tables of friends who get up to hug us and pat the boys on the head (or shake their hands because they look sort of like men) and ask how their games went and then drag their chairs over to our table for another drink while we wait for our dinner. That's what I miss."

—Krissy Dietrich Gallagher, Cleveland Heights

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 12:32 PM, 04.30.2020

Voters must insist on qualified leadership

The coronavirus crisis has reminded us of the fragility of our species and the frailty of the local communities that support us. We sometimes take our communities for granted and relate to them as consumers, rather than as citizens. We have to be careful to break from this pattern in our current up-ended situation.

In the Heights, we have an enviable collection of retail and restaurant businesses, many of them locally owned, along with arts organizations, theaters, citizens’ groups, and other community institutions. Though it has been heartening to see how residents have rallied to support these enterprises during this difficult time, we are still at risk of losing many of them, and must continue to be supportive.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 11:43 AM, 04.30.2020

Cleveland Heights City Council regular meeting highlights 5-4-2020

MAY 4, 2020


  • Public comments
  • City manager’s report
  • Actions – assessments and CDBG
  • Consent agenda
  • Council member comments


Present were Mayor Jason Stein, Vice Mayor Kahlil Seren, Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell and Michael Ungar. Staff present were City Manager Tanisha Briley, Clerk of Council Susanna O’Neil, and Law Director William Hanna. The virtual meeting was viewed on YouTube, and lasted one hour and twenty minutes.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 8:09 AM, 05.18.2020

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education regular meeting highlights 5-4-2020

MAY 5, 2020


  • Public comments
  • Consent agenda
  • District finances
  • Board comments
  • Superintendent comments
  • Board policies


Board President Jodi Sourini and members James Posch, Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis and Beverly Wright were present. Also attending were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and Treasurer Scott Gainer. The meeting was held remotely and lasted one hour.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 9:20 AM, 05.28.2020

Library expands digital resources

With the closing of libraries, schools, shops, and more, Heights residents are now relying on resources they can access from their homes for education and entertainment. While the Heights Libraries system is temporarily closed, it has greatly expanded access to many of its online services. 

“Most of our digital collection is available to anyone with a Heights Libraries card in good standing,” said Communications Manager Sheryl Banks. “But this leaves out anyone whose card is blocked, or who didn't get a chance sign up before we closed our buildings.” 

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 11:42 AM, 04.30.2020

Ready or not

We started the year with high expectations for Cleveland Heights’ newly constituted city council. Following voters’ passage of Issue 26, the “elected mayor” charter amendment, we especially looked forward to seeing plans take shape for the city’s transition to a new form of government.

Of course, we had no idea what was coming. Since mid-March, the pandemic has swept away all notions of normal operations in our community, across the country, and around the globe. But in these extraordinary times, the work of local government is more essential than ever.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 11:40 AM, 04.30.2020

Vouchers during a pandemic

I am a slow learner. As both an optimist and defender of public education, I don’t want to give up the fight to ameliorate the destructive impact of voucher costs on public schools.

I keep thinking that if we just make more calls, share more facts, mobilize more people and explain the problem, lawmakers will do the right thing. Surely, they don’t want to foster disparity in educational opportunities or run our public schools into the ground.

The pandemic adds new urgency to this issue. We don’t know the extent of human and financial suffering that lies ahead, but we do know unemployment will continue to skyrocket, household income will fall, local and state tax revenue will decline, and new demands will be put on public resources.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 11:37 AM, 04.30.2020

Library collecting virus-related stories and photos

Like most businesses and organizations in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights community, Heights Libraries had to close its buildings and figure out how to continue to serve its customers in the drastically different landscape of a pandemic. Online resources are its best option, and Heights Libraries has worked to increase its online presence through eblasts and online programs such as storytime videos and live yoga classes posted to social media.

Nancy Levin, Heights Libraries director, also recognized that part of a public library’s mission is to offer a place in which communities can tell their stories and feel heard, especially during times of turmoil. That’s why the library has launched a new project, Coping at Home, and is hoping community members will share their experiences by submitting them on Heights Libraries’ website.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 11:48 AM, 04.30.2020

Heights Tree People planting trees through May

Heights Tree People (HTP) [the subject of a February Heights Observer article] is a group of volunteers who plant trees for free in people’s front yards in the Heights. They continue to plant trees this spring for homeowners who would like a tree planted. 

The group plants trees practicing social distancing—following the six-foot rule and wearing masks. All contact with them can take place via e-mail. “We have planted more than 65 trees this spring, since March 1. Spring planting lasts through May,” said Laura Marks and Bill Hanavan, HTP founders.

The group plants trees in all Heights neighborhoods, but it is hoping people who live near Cleveland Height High School, especially, will contact them.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 12:47 PM, 04.30.2020

Testing folly on steroids

The League of Women Voters of Ohio adopted a position against high-stakes testing last June. The use of such testing to grade school districts has always simply measured the wealth of the families using those public schools. (This is not an opinion and is verified by the Ohio Department of Education's (ODE) own data. The ODE does not phrase it in quite that way, but it is where their data [leads]).

The coronavirus ended testing for public school students this year. Next spring, if sanity is not able to prevail, the gap between the haves and have nots will widen.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 11:54 AM, 04.30.2020

Two Heights students describe concerns and hopes

Zelda Thayer-Hansen, a Heights High junior, completes some schoolwork online.

If you’d asked CH-UH students two months ago what they thought would make the end of the school year memorable, they wouldn’t have envisioned this.

They might have said they’d be wrapping up their favorite classes with creative projects and presentations. They might have anticipated playing on school sports teams, taking part in spring plays and performances, or enjoying end-of-the-year activities like field trips and class picnics.

Since Gov. Mike DeWine closed all Ohio schools on March 12 due to the coronavirus, all of those activities are up in the air. [As of this writing,] nobody knows if schools will reopen before the scheduled end of the school year, or even return to a normal schedule next fall.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 11:29 AM, 04.30.2020

CH Senior Center News

The Cleveland Heights Senior Activity Center remains closed due to virus concerns, but Cleveland Heights seniors need not feel alone.

The city’s Office on Aging social workers are available by phone, and food insecurity issues are being addressed with a variety of new program options.

Opportunities for enrichment, health maintenance, and community connection during this time of social isolation are being explored.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 11:29 AM, 04.30.2020

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education work session highlights 4-21-2020

APRIL 21, 2020


  • Early Childhood Education Task Force
  • Advanced Placement programming
  • Board approvals


The meeting began at 7 p.m. and was adjourned at 8:50 p.m. It was conducted remotely, with each board member, the treasurer and superintendent joining the meeting from their homes. Board President Jodi Sourini and members James Posch, Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis and Beverly Wright were present. Also attending were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and Treasurer Scott Gainer.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 9:23 AM, 05.28.2020

CH census response below state average

As of April 19, the Cleveland Heights 2020 U.S. Census response rate was slightly above 50%, but some neighborhoods lag behind.

The COVID-19 crisis has impacted every aspect of our lives and our community; the 2020 U.S. Census is no exception. While the goals of the Census Bureau have not changed during the pandemic, field operations have. Plans for door-to-door canvassing and census-related public events have been delayed, to be reevaluated in June. The U.S. Census Bureau is also pursuing a 120-day extension to deliver the final count.

This doesn’t mean that Cleveland Heights residents should delay in getting themselves counted. Perhaps now more than ever, residents are witnessing the many ways the city is supported by programs whose funding is based on census data; the more CH residents are counted, the more federal funding the city will receive for services in the coming decade. 

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 3:05 PM, 04.27.2020

Grog Shop mural resonates; benefits laid-off employees

Grop Shop owner Kathy Blackman, manager John Neely, and artist Jake Kelly prep mural prints for shipping.

“This is a weird time to be alive, right?” he asks.  

“Yeah, totally,” she responds.

When one first steps into the Grog Shop on Coventry Road, that’s the greeting from the large wall mural of a young man and young woman, staring into each other’s eyes, as the world around them burns.

Artist Jake Kelly created the iconic piece for Grog Shop owner Kathy Blackman when she moved the historic music venue up the street to its current location in 2003. 

“The apocalypse and ruin have always been part of my work,” said Kelly. 

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 3:02 PM, 04.27.2020

Tommy's restaurant to re-open for takeout

Tommy's famous milkshakes will be available once again starting May 4.

Tommy's restaurant has scheduled its soft re-opening for May 4. While the dining room will remain closed, staff will manage carryout orders seven days a week, from noon to 7 p.m.

Customers can place orders by phone (216-321-7757) or online (, and walkups are welcome. If ordering over-the-phone or online, advance payment is preferred, to facilitate social distancing with staff. 

Tommy's closed in mid-March, in compliance with Gov. DeWine's mandate that non-essential businesses shut down; at that time, owner Tommy Fello chose to suspend takeout orders.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 9:37 AM, 04.28.2020

New EdChoice laws will make bad situation worse

During the extended closure, the CH-UH school district is providing free breakfast and lunch to children in the community.

To the Editor:

During the COVID-19 crisis and school closure, I've been proud of our educators' dedication to their students and community. Our district is providing virtual learning, thousands of free meals to children, Chromebooks for students, along with hosting Red Cross blood drives. It's amazing seeing Tiger Nation “band together,” all while physically apart.

But in the midst of this, our reality regarding EdChoice vouchers has only grown bleaker. The new voucher legislation that was slipped into the COVID-19 relief bill will only bring us more financial pain. We anticipate losing an additional $1 million next fiscal year, raising next year’s total estimated loss to $8.5 million due to EdChoice.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 2:06 PM, 04.20.2020

CH plans for lost revenue in COVID-19 crisis

The coronavirus pandemic “will likely lead to significant reduction in resources for the City,” stated Cleveland Heights City Manager Tanisha Briley in an April 14 e-mail. Briley said the city has laid off 114 seasonal and part-time employees, and has implemented other cost-containment measures: a wage freeze for non-union staff, a hiring freeze for non-essential functions, and spending limitations.

While no one can predict the magnitude of the problem, Briley wrote, “We know that income tax and property tax are the two major revenue sources for the City and we should expect a substantial decrease in those sources. Other revenue sources, such as fees and charges for services will also take a hit as residents and businesses cope with severe financial hardships.”

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 10:55 AM, 04.20.2020

Chatfield lights up in memory of Bill Mangano

Basil "Bill" Mangano dressed as the Heights Tiger. [photo by Ray Huang]

Chatfield Drive neighbors began setting out the luminaries just before dusk on Sunday, March 1. Carefully spaced in a long, flickering, meandering line stretching from Cedar Road to Fairmount Boulevard, it was a beautiful silent tribute to one of their own. 

This was the second such memorial on Chatfield in recent years. This one in honor of Basil “Bill” Mangano, who passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack on Feb. 27. He was 49. 

Once the candles were lit, Bill’s wife, Amy, their teenage daughters, and two dozen family and friends emerged from the Mangano home and took a slow, cathartic walk down Chatfield.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 12:55 PM, 04.20.2020

AMIS seeks help for immigrants during COVID crisis

A new Heights-based organization, Americans Making Immigrants Safe (AMIS), is seeking to help some of the most vulnerable Ohioans affected by the coronavirus pandemic—our undocumented neighbors.

A 501(c)3 nonprofit, AMIS formed in 2019 as an outgrowth of the effort to assist Ansley Damus, a Haitian man who, upon requesting asylum in the U.S., was detained in a windowless Geauga County prison for more than two years without being allowed to communicate directly with his family. [Shari Nacson covered his story in a February 2019 Heights Observer article.]

A group of concerned Greater Clevelanders successfully fought for his release with legal help from the ACLU. Damus lived for about a year with his sponsors, Gary Benjamin and Melody Hart (now a member of CH City Council).

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 1:30 PM, 04.20.2020

Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 4-20-2020

APRIL 20, 2020


  • City manager’s report
  • Solar project
  • Top of the Hill agreement
  • Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook development
  • Consent agenda
  • Solar panel presentation
  • Council member comments


Present were Mayor Jason Stein, Vice Mayor Kahlil Seren, Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell and Michael Ungar. Staff present were City Manager Tanisha Briley, Clerk of Council Susanna O’Neil, and Law Director William Hanna. The virtual meeting was viewed on YouTube and lasted one hour, twelve minutes.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 8:20 AM, 05.18.2020