Latest News

Application deadline for CH council vacancy is Dec. 17

With Kahlil Seren, a current Cleveland Heights City Council member, set to become the city's mayor, his council seat will become vacant in January.

On Nov. 29, a special meeting of the Cleveland Heights Council Committee of the Whole brought together current council members, as well as those who will begin serving on council in January, to discuss “vacancy-filling procedures in anticipation of vacancy resulting from Kahlil Seren’s election as [m]ayor.”

Subsequent to the meeting, the city announced that council would be accepting applications from residents interested in being considered for the council vacancy.

The deadline to apply is Friday, Dec. 17. The application is available at

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Volume 15, Issue 1, Posted 9:28 AM, 12.07.2021

Latest News Releases

Facing Eviction? Legal Aid Can Help!
- Legal Aid, October 6, 2021 Read More
New Volunteers Needed Volunteer with Hospice of the Western Reserve!
- Hospice of the Western Reserve, June 14, 2021 Read More
Heights Libraries wants public input on PEACE Park improvements
- CH-UH Library, June 14, 2021 Read More
Legal Aid Further Extends Eviction Prevention into Cuyahoga County Suburbs
- Legal Aid, June 8, 2021 Read More
Cleveland Water's 2020 Water Quality Report Now Available
- Cleveland Water, May 3, 2021 Read More

View more news releases

Coventry PEACE Lantern Festival is Dec 11

Mikaela Brown (at left), Story Rhinehart Cadiz (at center, in the Wizard puppet) and Kenya Woods. Costumes and puppets by Robin VanLear (Art Acts Studios).

The public is invited to attend the Coventry PEACE Campus Lantern Festival, a celebration of light, on Saturday, Dec. 11.

The festival will begin with a lantern-making workshop, 2:30–4:30 p.m., at Coventry PEACE Campus, 2843 Washington Blvd. Artful artist Jacqui Brown (Studio Cat) and Art Acts artist Tanya Gonzalez will guide participants of all ages in the creation of their own lanterns. In addition, Lake Erie Ink will host a workshop for writing solstice-themed stories and winter-themed haiku.

At 5 p.m., workshop participants can share their creations with the community during a Lantern Procession that will step off from the building’s front entrance and wind its way through Coventry PEACE Park and the Coventry Village Business District.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 4:14 PM, 12.01.2021

CH Mayor-elect Seren on election and government transition

Cleveland Heights Mayor-elect Kahlil Seren.

Thank you, Cleveland Heights.

I am immensely grateful for the faith that you have placed in me, and acutely aware of the responsibility I’ve been given as the first mayor elected in Cleveland Heights.

It’s been about one month since one of the most consequential elections in our city’s history. Our community answered this historic question of leadership with resounding support for my candidacy. This support provided a clear mandate to govern and to lead our city through the necessary changes that make progress possible.

Our first mayoral election is over; now the work of creating an administration begins.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 4:10 PM, 12.01.2021

UH Mayor Brennan outlines his second-term agenda

University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan.

In the November election, the voters of University Heights sent a message. They elected new and energetic council representation with diverse skills. And they gave me a decisive win, with more votes than I received four years ago. 

The residents of University Heights were given a clear choice. They chose for me to continue with my agenda of progress, sustainability, and redevelopment. They elected to city council people who support that agenda. With the new council, I look forward to resuming the people’s business and implementing our agenda.

Residents would seem to prefer that the mayor and council get along. But what they really care about is meaningful progress and action. Moving forward. Making University Heights an even greater place to live, work, and raise a family.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 4:08 PM, 12.01.2021

City urges public involvement in Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook process

The redevelopment of Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook has been a long time coming. In the past 15 years Cleveland Heights has adopted new zoning, included the redevelopment in the city’s Master Plan, and sought development partners more than once.

Earlier this year, CH City Council selected and engaged with Flaherty & Collins (the “Applicant”) to redevelop the site with a four-story, mixed-use development containing a mix of residential units, commercial, and green and gathering spaces (the “Project”). Since that time, there has been significant engagement with the community, including many community meetings and the creation of a dedicated project Web page,

In my discussions with various individuals over the past few months, there was uncertainty about the review and approval process, including the roles of various city boards.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 4:07 PM, 12.01.2021

TeaSpot Tutoring offers STEM-themed workshops

"Adventures in Weird Science" at TeaSpot Tutoring. Courtesy Seneca Bankston.

Iteisha Bankston always loved science. Stereotypically, more boys than girls gravitate toward science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects, but Bankston remained engaged and curious about STEM topics.

As an undergraduate, she majored in biology, then became a high school science teacher who made her classes hands-on and interactive in order to make the subject matter accessible, rather than intimidating.

“Some kids just like science but don’t want to become scientists,” Bankston said. “I wanted to show them that was OK—science was for everyone.”

Now Bankston is the co-owner of TeaSpot Tutoring (2065 Lee Road), a business she opened with her husband, Seneca Bankston, in November 2020. TeaSpot Tutoring provides academic and social-emotional learning support for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It also hosts a young men’s mentoring workshop and other programming, such as a series of STEM-focused workshops that aim to bring science to life. TeaSpot also offers hands-on STEM-themed kits for students to work on at home.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 7:17 AM, 12.02.2021

Heights Libraries opens local history room

The new Local History Room includes a Microfilm reader ScanPro 2200 and a 
Book scanner KIC Bookeye 4v2.

Heights Libraries is pleased to announce the opening of its new Local History Room at the Lee Road branch.

Located on the building’s second floor, the room is the culmination of years of planning that began in 2016 with the library’s centennial celebration. That year, staff began pulling together photos and documents to create an online historical timeline for the Heights Libraries system.

“Once we had the library’s history documented, we decided to start looking at ways we could help community members learn more about the history of the area, and do their own research,” said Jessica Robinson, local history librarian. “First, we added local history resources to our website. Then we began figuring out where we could put a local history room.”

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 7:04 AM, 12.02.2021

Heights alumnae bring health screenings to families

Drs. Jen and Jessica Macklin with Nurse Monique Carter (center). [photo: Meghan McMahon] 

When we think of blood pressure and burgers together, it’s usually not for a good reason. Two Heights High graduates put a positive spin on the combo, however, at an October health-screening event held at Monticello Middle School.

Twin sisters Jen and Jessica Macklin both had participated in the Career Technical Education program in pharmacology when they were students at Heights High. They graduated in 2003, and went on to earn doctorate degrees in pharmacy.

Partnering with the CH-UH City School District, the two women launched Hands-On-Health to provide information and health screenings to families enrolled in the district's "21st Century" grant-funded, after-school programs.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 4:12 PM, 12.01.2021

Wrapping up a challenging year

Weather predictions to the contrary, Cleveland Heights enjoyed a sunny, if brisk, Election Day on Nov. 2, with rain holding off until shortly before the polls closed.

We are grateful to the candidates who ran in this historic municipal election. Democracy is not a spectator sport, and without viable candidates and dedicated elected officials, it cannot exist. The 13 candidates who competed for five city council seats, the seven who ran for three school board positions, and the two mayoral finalists made these campaigns highly competitive.

Congratulations to Cleveland Heights’ first-ever mayor-elect Kahlil Seren, new council members-elect Tony Cuda, Anthony Mattox and Josie Moore, returning council members Craig Cobb and Davida Russell, and returning school board members Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis and Jodi Sourini.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 4:03 PM, 12.01.2021

Build the complex at Cedar Lee Meadowbrook

About the most ridiculous proposal during all my years of living in Cleveland Heights is for the building of yet another park on Lee Road, smack in the middle of what should be a vibrant district of shopping, restaurants, theater, and a public library! What a waste of prime property in a commercial zone! 

This has been my neighborhood for 36 years, and many pushing for the park don’t even live or work in the district. Besides the development complex’s long-term, great benefit for so many (prospective business owners, shoppers, residents), this is a personal issue for me, as I have grown extremely enthusiastic in the past 20 years about three mixed-use developments planned for the triangle, only to be devastated each time a plan dwindled down, then fizzled out altogether. How many times I’ve walked by that triangular wasteland and been disgusted—even uneasy when it’s dark. The flow of the entire district is spoiled.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 4:04 PM, 12.01.2021

State leaders reject equity; we must not

Meryl Johnson represents District 11 on Ohio’s State Board of Education. Her district covers 24 school districts, including ours, in Cuyahoga and Lake counties. Johnson, a retired 40-year public school teacher, is a visible and determined advocate for children, equity, public education and the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District (CH-UH).

“I ran for the state board to make a difference. I wanted to make it more possible for children of color to have the same opportunities as white children,” said Johnson. She is in the first year of her second term on the board, which has 11 elected and eight appointed members.

The state board oversees the implementation of education policy in Ohio. During Johnson’s tenure, members adopted a five-year strategic plan to lift aspirations and to promote high-quality education practices throughout the state.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 4:02 PM, 12.01.2021

Leggings boutique opens on South Taylor

Charlie Brown, co-owner of Ella Tiene Piernas (She Got Legs).

On Oct. 15, Charlie Brown, a former barber, and his brothers opened a leggings boutique at 2174 S. Taylor Road. Called

Ella Tiene Piernas (She Got Legs), the shop offers a variety of legging styles, sizes and materials, for women and girls, with prices starting at $9.99.

The store is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The phone number is 216-331-2736.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 7:10 AM, 12.02.2021

Born in the '50s, we went to school in the '30s

This was one year after leaving Heights High. This guy would not have been allowed to go to that school (which would have been fine).

Heights High was overcrowded when I attended classes there—3,000 kids in just three grades cramming into the hallways and everywhere. That was one problem. Another was that in the mid-to-late ’60s the administrators were still clinging desperately to the institutions of the 1940's and ’50s. It was an era of great change in terms of such things as the concept of free speech. And in free expression, which included clothing and hair styles, music and other arts. The school’s administration was pretty repressive to begin with, but that magnified mightily with its reaction to the new thinking that swept into society in the mid-’60s.

The school still employed a ridiculously strict, detailed and long-winded dress code. No pants for girls, skirts and dresses had to come to a girl’s knees or lower (often demonstrated by a girl having to kneel on the floor to prove that the hem of her skirt went all the way down), no shorts for anyone, no T-shirts for anyone, no jeans, boys’ shirts had to have a collar, leather shoes only (no “gym” shoes, except in gym class, where they were the only shoes permitted).

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 7:20 AM, 12.02.2021

What’s going on at your library?

Coventry Village Branch

1925 Coventry Road, 216-321-3400

Dec. 1 through Dec. 15

Take and Make Chili in a Jar. Stop by the Coventry Village branch for a take-and-make soup kit containing the dry ingredients for a tasty chili. Just add water and tomatoes. Available until Dec. 15. Kids can make chili at home with adult supervision. Registration is required at For ages 6 through 18.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 7:02 AM, 12.02.2021

Seeing the forest for the trees

Cleveland Heights has so many empty places where there ought to be large shade trees—as in our parks. Ever try sitting on a bench in the summer sun watching your child on playground equipment while baking uncomfortably because of a lack of shade? Not fun. This especially is strange in a city that has a tree in its logo.

Many large, old trees were lost in recent storms. Others, suffering from disease or pest infestation, have been taken down. New, large old trees do not just magically appear overnight. In olden days, our city cared about that. It planted trees that eventually would become big. Not dinky flowering trees, as on Fairmount Boulevard. And not sickly small trees, as on many of our tree lawns. Results often were quite visually striking. For instance, the view of large-growth trees as one drives down the Cedar Road hill toward University Circle is wonderful, especially as leaves turn color.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 4:06 PM, 12.01.2021

S'Wonderful Gifts is closing

Bill Wort in front of his shop, S'Wonderful Gifts. 

In early November, a business liquidator announced the news that, after six years, owner Bill Wort had decided to close his Cleveland Heights gift shop.

Wort opened S'Wonderful Gifts at 2254 Lee Road on Nov. 17, 2015. For 32 years prior to that, he had been a buyer for various museum shops.

In deciding to retire, Wort cited competition from online retailers as the main reason, COVID the second.

“What I will miss the most is my customers,” Wort said. “They’ve always been so supportive, and made the extra effort to support my shop and other local businesses. What I’m most proud of is when my customers voted the store “The Best Place For Unique Gifts In Cleveland Heights” [in the FutureHeights Best of the Heights awards].

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 7:08 AM, 12.02.2021

Heights scouts look back on unforgettable adventure

Troop 22 scouts and leaders at Philmont. Front row: Bear Janssen, Michael Price, Eamon Fischer, Philip Triolo, Rob Lupetini (Philmont guide and CWRU student), Mitchell Reinhardt, Mark Heltzel, Ben Thiltgen, Ryan Johnson. Back row: Chris Jacobs, Rob Fischer, Steve Reinhardt, and John Janssen.

This past summer, eight boys and four adults from Boy Scout Troop 22, based at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, finally had the adventure of a lifetime, backpacking at Philmont Scout Ranch near Cimarron, N.M. “Finally” because previous attempts had been canceled—by a massive fire in 2018, and by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. These were the only two canceled seasons in Philmont’s long history of hosting scouts.

Philmont Scout Ranch ( is the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) largest National High Adventure Base, covering 140,177 acres of rugged mountain wilderness in the Sangre de Cristo range of the Rocky Mountains, in northeastern New Mexico. The scout ranch operates 35 staffed camps and 55 trail camps across rugged terrain that ranges in elevation from 6,500 to 12,441 feet. More than one million scouts, venturers, and adult advisors have experienced the adventure of Philmont since its first camping season in 1939.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 4:00 PM, 12.01.2021

GE holiday display to light up Noble beginning Dec. 3

GE Lighting's holiday display at its Nela Park headquarters is a 97-year tradition. Photo courtsey GE Lighting, a Savant company.

Continuing a long-held holiday tradition, GE Lighting, a Savant company, will illuminate its Nela Park headquarters, at 1975 Noble Road, with a festive display beginning Friday, Dec. 3. This is the 97th year the company will have created its light show. This year’s theme, Holiday Season is in the Air, will feature nearly one million LED lights, and stretch along Noble Road for several blocks. The display will stay illuminated 24/7, through Jan. 3.

Earlier this year, the opportunity to turn on the Nela Holiday Lights was auctioned off to the highest bidder, to benefit the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s Harvest for Hunger. For the first time ever, a special guest will step to the podium alongside GE Lighting President and CEO Bill Lacey, to flip the switch at approximately 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 3.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 1:04 PM, 11.30.2021

FutureHeights hosts virtual celebration of mini-grant awards

Heights Middle School Shorts, a summer program of Building Heights, was among 14 projects funded in 2021. Photo credit Building Heights.

On Wednesday, Dec. 8, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., FutureHeights will turn on the applause sign for all of the recipients of its 2021 neighborhood mini-grants. All are welcome to attend this virtual gathering that will offer an overview of the program, explain how to participate, and spotlight the innovative and outstanding projects created and led by Cleveland Heights and University Heights residents over this past year.

Projects supported by the FutureHeights Neighborhood Mini-Grants program include neighborhood gardening and beautification efforts, youth engagement programs, creative placemaking endeavors, and community outreach work. In 2021, it awarded grants to its first University Heights recipients, as the program became available to residents of that city this past year.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 1:13 PM, 11.30.2021

Councilwoman Russell Announces Bid for Council President

Cleveland Heights Residents! Thank you for putting your trust in me and re-electing me to Cleveland Heights City Council. I am truly humbled and honored to have earned your vote and your trust. I vow to work every day for the betterment of ALL of our residents, and to maintain the trust you all have placed in me.

On Nov. 15, I announced my interest in becoming president of CH City Council in 2022. I thank Council Member Melody Joy Hart, who asked me “to think about being council president" when she was running for mayor.

In my short time on council, many things have been accomplished for our city. To start, I made the 2020 Census a top priority, ensuring our city’s numbers were accurate so that we receive the government funding we deserve. Next, legislation was created, in conjunction with Council members Hart and Ungar, denoting systemic racism as a public health crisis, and a community Racial Justice Task Force was created to address this issue.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 2:07 PM, 11.23.2021

Pop-up holiday market comes to Coventry Village

Larchmere Fire Works

Made Cleveland will open its Holiday Pop Up market on Friday Nov. 26, in the former City Buddha space, at 1807 Coventry Road.

The market will be open until Dec. 23, and will feature the work of more than 50 local creators, including home goods, greeting cards, jewelry, accessories, apparel, self-care products, and provisions. 

The large space enables Larchmere Fire Works, a partner with Made Cleveland, to offer live glass-blowing demonstrations, as in the photo above. 

Hours are noon to 7 p.m. For more information, visit, or call 216-800-8420.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 1:41 PM, 11.23.2021

Elégie presents free holiday concert Dec. 18

Mist’a Craig, Michael Hives, Brian Barron and Caleb A. Wright. [Photo: Joshua C. Toombs]

Elégie will present a live holiday concert at the Wiley building (2155 Miramar Blvd., University Heights) on Saturday, Dec. 18, at 7:30 p.m.

Founded in 2014, the male vocal quartet comprises four classically trained soloists and professional musicians who are Heights High alumni. Michael Hives (second from left in the photo) and Caleb Wright (at far right in the photo) graduated in 2009; Brian Barron (third from left in the photo) and Mist'a Craig (at far left in the photo) graduated in 2011. All were members of the Heights Acapella Choir, Heights Singers, Heights High Barbershoppers, Heights Gospel Choir, and Heights Honors Ensemble.

They have performed at some of Cleveland's most notable venues, including Karamu House, Cain Park, Nighttown, and Jacob's Pavilion.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 7:27 AM, 12.02.2021

LEI creates communities in Cleveland Heights

Looking for a gift idea for a teen? Lake Erie Ink suggests its latest anthology of writing and art, On the Other Side.

Lake Erie Ink (LEI) believes it takes a community to foster a lifelong love of creative expression. This fall, as LEI cautiously restarted its programming for youth, the Cleveland Heights-based organization took steps to increase its community presence. LEI currently is partnering with more than 29 different community organizations, and is becoming involved with a total of 36 outreach and community programs, including local schools and libraries, and larger programs, such as the Maltz Museum’s “Stop the Hate” competition.

LEI hopes to continue this partnership trend by expanding relationships with other organizations to provide opportunities for creative expression and academic support for young people who may not otherwise have those opportunities.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 7:24 AM, 12.02.2021

Lee Road gift shop to close after 7 years

S'Wonderful Gifts' closing sale opens to the public on Nov. 11. [photo: Rachel Gordon Art]

Bill Wort, owner of S’Wonderful Gifts, has decided to close his Lee Road store.

Citing competition from online retailers as the main reason, COVID the second, Wort decided to retire after seven years of running the gift shop.

“What I will miss the most is my customers,” Wort said. “They’ve always been so supportive, and made the extra effort to support my shop and other local businesses. What I’m most proud of is when my customers voted the store “The Best Place For Unique Gifts In Cleveland Heights.”

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 10:04 AM, 11.08.2021

Campaign sign recycling drive runs through Nov. 14

Campaign signs along Cottage Grove Drive.

Like many items, campaign signs come with no end-of-life plan. They usually end up in the trash.

In an effort to divert waste from the landfill, and promote reusing, upcycling, and recycling, the Cleveland Heights Green Team, in partnership with Cuyahoga Solid Waste District (CSWD) will be collecting campaign signs Nov. 3–14.

There will be five collection points across the city: Dave's in Cedar-Fairmount, Dave's at Severance, Zagara's Marketplace on Lee Road, Heights Libraries Coventry Village Branch, and Save-A-Lot on Noble Road. A drop box for the signs will be clearly marked and conveniently located at the front of each store.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 10:41 AM, 11.04.2021

Heights voters elect Seren as CH mayor; re-elect Brennan in UH

In Cleveland Heights and University Heights, packed local election ballots—in which voters in each city elected a mayor, a number of city council representatives, and three school board members—failed to bring to the polls even half of eligible Heights voters.

According to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (BOE) unofficial election results, with vote-by-mail ballots not yet fully reported, results in the various Heights races, as of Nov. 3, at noon, are as follows: 

In Cleveland Heights' two-candidate mayoral contest, voters elected Kahlil Seren with 6,790 votes (60.47%); Barbara Danforth received 4,438 votes (39.53%). A BOE report shows that there were 33,906 registered voters in Cleveland Heights, as of Nov. 1.

In University Heights, a city with 8,865 registered voters as of Nov. 1, incumbent Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan won re-election with 1,571 votes (48.50%).

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 12:22 PM, 11.03.2021

2021 Heights Observer Holiday Gift Guide

The Heights Observer publishes its annual Holiday Gift Guide each November to encourage residents to shop locally for the holidays.

Cleveland Heights and University Heights abound with independent businesses—boutiques, salons, restaurants and artist collaboratives—which enhance our local character and anchor our business districts. 

COVID took its toll on many of these businesses, shuttering some and forcing others to augment online sales. Purchasing directly from brick-and-mortar stores bolsters our local economy and supports our identity, which is locally minded, and artisan supporting.  

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:20 AM, 10.29.2021

Mopping up after a tough campaign season

Note: This column was written a week before Election Day.

I had assumed the Cleveland Heights mayoral campaign would be the exciting race in this election season. Then the school board election took over. I think it's a sign of civic health that people are so engaged and passionate about local elections; it hasn't always been that way. But it's not pleasant.

As always, the goal for the Heights Observer was to serve as a venue for discussion about election issues without taking sides in the debate.

We didn’t make any endorsements (we never do), and we strived to publish the full range of viewpoints we received. That didn’t stop people from complaining we were biased—particularly those whose viewpoints we chose not to print.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:48 AM, 10.29.2021

Join Friends of Heights Parks for a Nov. 13 walk

One of the walking trails at Forest Hill Park. [photo by Peggy Spaeth]

If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s to embrace the outdoors. Here in the Heights, we’re surrounded by more than 135 acres of parks, but many don’t take advantage of them. Some community members want to help change that. They believe Heights parks are unique and valuable assets, and they are planting the proverbial seeds. 

Still in its infancy, Friends of Heights Parks (FHP) has many ideas, but first on its agenda is opening up the conversation. (Or as they say these days, “expanding their friend group.”)

FHP comprises volunteers from Forest Hill Park, Friends of Cain Park, and Friends of Lower Lake, and is in the early stages of bringing community together to make every park a destination for residents, and a true reflection of our community. At the forefront is the question: How can we help preserve our parks and natural environment while fostering the values of caring about the earth and each other?

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:44 AM, 10.29.2021

Some unfinished business

Almost exactly two years ago, Cleveland Heights voters ratified a new form of government. Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM) committee members, who authored the mayor/council charter amendment, deliberately chose to make the change effective two years after its acceptance. They believed this much time was required to (1) allow city council and the administration to prepare for an orderly transition, and (2) allow aspiring mayors to decide to run, and then plan and conduct their campaigns.

To say it has been a challenging two years for people and governments around the world is certainly an understatement. Little did anyone realize in November 2019 that a global pandemic would, in just four short months, overtake every aspect of our lives. Yet, even when the lockdown seemed interminable, the weeks and months flew by.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:12 AM, 10.29.2021

HRRC has served homeowners for 50 years

HRRC members, with a young helper, at work on a home rehab on Woodview Road, in the 1990s. [photo courtesy HRRC]

This autumn, the Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) will mark its 50th anniversary.

Formed by a group of socially conscious parishioners at Forest Hill Church, the agency was known as the Forest Hill Church Housing Corporation at its outset.

In those early years, the organization’s members sought to address deteriorating housing stock, income inequalities, and racial inequities by taking on projects such as the original conversion of a double- into a single-family dwelling, and the creation of the still-active Challenge Fund, to provide low-interest loans to Heights residents who typically can’t obtain conventional home repair loans.

Through their work, a diverse mix of thousands of homeowners have utilized HRRC programs over the past half-century.

Today, HRRC continues its commitment to preserving this community’s housing stock, increasing the number of people able to purchase their first homes, providing financial assistance to homeowners needing important repairs, and working to reduce the number of unnecessary foreclosures.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:26 AM, 10.29.2021

Reshaping Horseshoe Lake into a meadow is fantasy

A June 15 presentation by Frank Greenland of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD), “Shaker Lakes: Review and recommendations” (available online at, contains a proposal for re-shaping the bed of Horseshoe Lake (slide 27). The slide suggests replacing the lakebed with two streams meandering between tree-lined banks in a meadow. It’s a very appealing picture. I’ve heard others describe this scene as, “the natural beauty that was here before the Shakers arrived.”

Doubtless, engineers and landscape architects can design such a place, and bulldozers can construct it. But physics will not abide it for long.

I’m no geologist. What I’m saying here isn’t authoritative. But if the questions I raise have any validity, they could remove from the debate the idea that Horseshoe Lake’s bed could ever be a park-like sanctuary.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:14 AM, 10.29.2021

Reaching Heights declares anti-racism is its top priority

I run Reaching Heights, a small nonprofit that connects the community to the public schools in Cleveland Heights and University Heights, through information, programs and events. Ideally, all that we do also enriches students, supports school staff, and encourages people to value the students in our schools, and appreciate public education.

Like many organizations, Reaching Heights responded with an anti-racism statement to the horror of George Floyd’s murder by police. We knew that a statement was not enough, and chose to spend much of 2020 and 2021 working internally on anti-racism within our organization.

We added anti-racism training to each of our monthly board meetings, and offered the Racial Equity Institute’s Groundwater training to our staff and board. We collaborated with five other local nonprofits to hold the anti-racism event “Heights Conversations: Let’s Talk About Race.”

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:18 AM, 10.29.2021

Meals on Wheels delivers more than food

Volunteer Coordinator Marlene Perez delivers meals to Curtis Ross. 

Volunteers with the Cleveland Heights Meals on Wheels program deliver a hot and a cold meal four days a week to 18–22 homebound senior clients. 

The program began in Cleveland Heights in 1978 with the goal of providing nutritious food, a friendly visit, and a quick safety check.

The food is prepared by the kitchen staff at McGregor Retirement Community, and volunteers pack the meals into individual portions at the Fairmount Presbyterian Church kitchen.

Additional volunteers are needed.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:07 AM, 10.29.2021

There's trouble at Top of the Hill

In late 2019 and early 2020 I wrote several opinions, published in the Heights Observer, [in which I] promoted the Top of Hill (TOH) project, and debunked [objections to it]. In February 2020, I attended a meeting at CH City Hall and watched as many people spoke out against the project, and a few spoke for it.

Now, Cleveland Heights citizens are treated to a YouTube video ( ) showing a waterfall within the TOH parking garage, and poor drainage, after a recent heavy rain.

After I saw this on Facebook, I visited the TOH parking garage and asked a construction worker about what was shown [in the video]. “It wasn’t a leak,” he said. “It was a waterfall.” Asked if this was normal, he said, “This is not normal.”

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:20 AM, 10.29.2021

FutureHeights awards four mini-grants

Cleveland Heights Green Team, one of this fall's mini-grant recipients, held an EcoFair at Coventry PEACE Park on Oct. 9. [photo by Sarah Wolf]

In October, the FutureHeights Neighborhood Mini-Grants Committee awarded a total of $4,000—$1,000 each—to four community projects.  

Cleveland Heights Green Team received funding for its Green Space Beautification and Sustainability Education project, which includes programming and the distribution of educational materials. The group plans to host a series of community events, and FutureHeights' $1,000 mini-grant will help cover the cost of materials, including art supplies, printing, and community clean-up items.

Fairfax Community Garden received funding to replace deteriorating border boards along the pathway of the garden, which comprises nine individual plots on the grounds of Fairfax Elementary School.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:39 AM, 10.29.2021

Mapmakers fail to share power

Road maps guide our travel. Legislative-district maps allocate political power.

In September, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, and the ACLU of Ohio filed suit against the Ohio Redistricting Commission (ORC) for failure to draw legislative maps that will provide the level of shared power required by the Ohio Constitution. The Ohio Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Dec. 8.

In 2015, more than 70 percent of Ohio voters approved changes to the state constitution intended to make state government more representative of voters. One provision requires that “no general assembly district plan shall be drawn primarily to favor or disfavor a political party.” Mapmakers are compelled to set boundaries for Ohio senate and house districts that are compact and competitive, not “cracked” or “packed.”

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:10 AM, 10.29.2021

United Way appoints Surratt community investment chief

Ken Surratt [photo: United Way of Greater Cleveland]

August Napoli, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Cleveland, announced the appointment of Cleveland Heights resident Kenneth Surratt as vice president of community investment and chief investment officer, effective Oct. 18.

"Ken is an accomplished, forward-thinking and highly respected strategist, and the right leader at the right time to carry forward United Way of Greater Cleveland's important community investment vision,” Napoli said. “Ken's more than 25 years of experience working across government, nonprofit and for-profit organizations to create and execute strategies, programs, and partnerships has proven invaluable in driving meaningful, lasting results across the organizations and communities he has served.”

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:03 AM, 10.29.2021

Meadowbrook-Lee project should be reassessed

When People for the Park asks Cleveland Heights voters to sign our petition—to put on the ballot in May that the city build a park on the 1.07 acres of city-owned property on Lee Road between Tullamore Road and Meadowbrook Boulevard—we hear lots of reasons why people support it.

After hearing Don King speak at the Cleveland Heights City Council meeting on Monday, Oct. 4, we all have another reason to support the park. King lives at Buckingham Condominiums, right next to the Top of the Hill (TOH) project. At the meeting, he talked about two problems with the developer and the TOH buildings. One was the developer’s unwillingness to move the private dog park [away] from the entrance of the Buckingham. The other was the water leaking in the new TOH garage, and the lack of response to the leaking. (You can view his comments in the video of the council meeting, at He speaks at the 2:34:23 time mark.)

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:58 AM, 10.29.2021

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education meeting highlights 11-3-2021

NOVEMBER 3, 2021, regular meeting


  • Superintendent and treasurer contracts
  • New positions
  • Equity, OSBA withdrawal from NSBA 


Present were President James Posch, Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis, Jodi Sourini, and Beverly Wright. Also present were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and Treasurer Scott Gainer. The meeting was called to order at 7 p.m. and was adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 9:23 AM, 11.23.2021

Heights Libraries seeks new board member

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library is accepting applications for an open board position, with applications due Friday, Nov. 19, by 5 p.m. The new board member will replace Dana Fluellen, who is rolling off the board after serving her term.                                                                                                  

“Our library is such an integral part of our community,” said Heights Libraries Director Nancy Levin. “Serving on the library board is one of the best ways a citizen can serve the Heights community, by helping guide the vision of the public library.”

Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to attend an in-person informational meeting about library board service on Tuesday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. To RSVP, send an e-mail to

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:53 AM, 10.29.2021

Horseshoe Lake saved my soul

We in the Heights are grieving the possible loss of Horseshoe Lake. What can be measured, folded, and placed neatly in a box are environmental, stormwater management, and financial concerns. Quantifying what has served for years as a pillar of human spiritual sustenance is not so easy.

Since moving back to Shaker Heights, from Pittsburgh, 20-some years ago, Horseshoe Lake has served as my spiritual source—a place of indescribable respite, tranquility, and beauty. When I decided to address my alcoholism, Horseshoe Lake saved me. Teetering on the edge of spiritual death, I returned to Horseshoe Lake daily, filling up my cup—figuratively speaking—each visit, so that I could face one more day. Later, sober and with young daughters, I would walk to Horseshoe Lake, finding peace as a confused and harried working mom. Courage to go another day. This place helped me do that. Over and over, for two decades.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:00 AM, 10.29.2021

Sometimes a park isn't just a park

On Nov. 2, Cleveland Heights voters will elect a mayor for the first time in a century. Issue 26, which gave residents the ability to decide whether they wanted to elect a mayor, was the first step in replacing an appointed city manager, accountable only to seven city council members, with a leader who is directly accountable to voters. 

An elected-mayor form of government, on its own, will not guarantee the outcomes we desire. We must continue to erode the power that small networks of privileged stakeholders wield over the rest of us, which they use to impose narrow visions of growth and well-being onto the physical landscape that we inhabit.

A growing association of residents is circulating a petition calling for the creation of a park at the corner of Lee and Meadowbrook, instead of new commercial space and apartments for “professionals . . . looking for a luxury living experience” (as described in the city’s RFQ/RFP for the site).

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:55 AM, 10.29.2021

One road, three cities

A few years ago, my commute from the Cedar Fairmount neighborhood did a "180," from downtown to Mayfield Heights—a straight shot up Cedar Road.

I soon noticed a stark difference in conditions once you cross Green Road and enter Beachwood. I realize that Beachwood enjoys newer infrastructure and a tax base boosted by a robust business community; that said, much of the difference in conditions can be attributed to the example the city sets maintaining its own properties, and the standard it holds its residents to.

I realize that not every [Heights] property owner has the means to keep their property in tip-top shape, but I'm talking about the basics here.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:16 AM, 10.29.2021

What’s going on at your library?

Coventry Village Branch

1925 Coventry Road, 216-321-3400

Friday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m.

Kids Craft Day. Feeling cooped up because of COVID? Meet us outside of the Coventry Village Library, at the tent and table where we will have an array of children's craft supplies, including beads, friendship bracelet string, pipe cleaners, and more. For kids ages 5 to 18.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:50 AM, 10.29.2021

Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 11-1-21

NOVEMBER 1, 2021 – regular meeting


  • Public comments
  • City manager’s report
  • Council action
  • Consent agenda


Present were Council President Jason Stein, Vice President, Kahlil Seren, Craig Cobb, Melody Joy Hart, and Davida Russell. Michael N. Ungar was absent. Also present were City Manager Susanna Niermann O’Neil, Clerk of Council and Finance Director Amy Himmelein, and Law Director William Hanna. The meeting lasted a little over a half hour.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 9:18 AM, 11.23.2021

Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 10-18-21

OCTOBER 18, 2021 – regular meeting


  • Public comments
  • City manager’s report
  • Council actions
  • Council member comments


Present were Council President Jason Stein, Vice President, Kahlil Seren, Craig Cobb, Melody Joy Hart, and Davida Russell. Michael N. Ungar was absent. Also present were Susanna Niermann O’Neil, city manager; Amy Himmelein, clerk of council and finance director; and William Hanna, law director. The meeting lasted a little over a half hour.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 9:16 AM, 11.23.2021

Cleveland Heights – University Heights Public Library Board of Trustees meeting highlights 10-18-2021

OCTOBER 18, 2021


  • Family Connections presentation
  • Financial and investment report
  • Director’s report
  • Board resolutions
  • Public service report


Present were President Dana Fluellen, Vice President Gabe Crenshaw, Patti Carlyle, Tyler McTeague and Vikas Turakhia. Max Gerboc and Annette Iwamoto were absent.

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Volume 14, Issue 12, Posted 9:19 AM, 11.23.2021

Coventry Village celebrates Halloween with special events Oct. 29

On Friday, Oct. 29, Coventry Village will celebrate Halloween with a variety of special evening events, to be held in conjunction with its regularly scheduled Final Fridays Art Walk + Market.

CovenTREAT Trick or Treat will feature a candy crawl at district businesses, from 5 to 7 p.m.

From 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Lake Erie Ink will host a Haunted Haikus and Mask Making event at its space inside the Coventry PEACE Campus building, at 2843 Washington Blvd. 

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 12:35 PM, 10.26.2021

Vote for Noble Road in America’s Main Streets Contest

FutureHeights has nominated Noble Road in the America’s Main Streets Contest. More than 100 places across the country have been nominated this year, all vying for the chance to win $25,000 in cash and prizes. This “popularity contest” is won by the nominee who gets the most votes. Anyone who wants to participate can vote as often as once per hour every day until Nov. 7, at which time Noble Road will either advance to the quarter-finals or be eliminated from the running.

To vote, go to

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:47 AM, 10.26.2021

Library's 1619 Project continues to explore issues of race

Librarian John Piche researches race-related issues that serve as discussion starters and reference texts for the ongoing 1619 Project program series.

When COVID-19 hit Ohio in March 2020, Heights Libraries shut down and canceled most of its programs. With the help of the now ubiquitous video platform Zoom, the library was able to hold some programs online: storytimes, book discussions, and knitting groups all made the switch. None were more successful than the 1619 Project discussion series.

Over the course of 2020, a total of 337 people attended ten 1619 Project-inspired discussions via Zoom, and so far in 2021, 155 have attended eight online programs.

“The 1619 Project” itself, the original New York Times publication, is almost two years old. Librarian John Piche, who runs the Heights Libraries’ 1619 Project discussion series, has used it as a foundation to continue holding popular programs that address the issue of racial equity. Piche and other staff now do their own research and create reading packets that serve as discussion starters and reference texts for the ongoing program series.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:17 AM, 10.29.2021

Holiday shop at Heights Arts opens Nov. 5

Hometown (print), by Maggie Denk-Leigh.

Heights Arts will open its annual Holiday Store on Friday, Nov. 5.

Each year, as the holiday season nears, Heights Arts expands its Lee Road shop to fill its entire gallery space. Giving a gift from Heights Arts also gives back: Every gift purchased at the local arts’ hub helps support both the artist who created it, and the nonprofit Heights Arts.

Among the artists and items featured this holiday season are lithographic prints by Maggie Denk-Leigh, fine jewelry by Emily Joyce, prints on metal by Abby Star, hand-blown glass by Mark Sudduth, creative cards by Katie Ford, cyanotype prints by Paula Zinsmeister, wheel-thrown bowls by Marty Resnick, oil paintings by J. Allon Hall, and unique ceramic sculptures by Mark Yasenchack. 

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:24 AM, 10.29.2021

Heights High takes golden racquet in win over Beaumont

UH Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan presents the golden racquet to the winning Heights High team.

Each year, the Beaumont School and Cleveland Heights High School varsity girls’ tennis teams face off to bring home the “golden racquet.”

This year’s matchup took place at Purvis Park, on Sept. 27, with the Heights High Tigers beating the Beaumont Blue Streaks, 3-2.

The trophy, a tennis racquet painted gold, went home with the Tigers and will stay with them until the teams meet again next year.

Beaumont’s head coach Mike Pellechia was feeling pretty confident when his team took an early two-court advantage, with Maggie Brady taking second singles, and the second doubles team of Sarah Wolf and Brooklyn Roulette winning in straight sets.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:19 AM, 10.29.2021

CH Green Team hosts council candidate sustainability forum

Candidates Lee Barbee II, Tony Cuda and Craig Cobb spoke at the Oct. 13 sustainability forum.

On Oct. 13 and 14, the Cleveland Heights Green Team hosted forums with five full-term CH City Council candidates, in which environmental leaders engaged candidates in a Q-and-A session exploring the concept of governing with a "sustainability lens." Questions were provided prior to the forum. Five out of the six candidates were available to participate, with Davida Russell unable to attend.

The five participating candidates agreed that updating the city’s master plan with clear and actionable sustainability guidelines should be a priority, and that a CH sustainability director should be appointed. 

Candidate Lee Barbee II explained that “the Cleveland Heights’ tree logo should serve as a metaphor for the city’s responsibility to develop and implement policies and processes designed to protecting green space and promoting more environmentally friendly practices.”

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:41 AM, 10.26.2021

Wait. THAT Janice?

Janice Mitchell in recent times, at the Rock Hall, far from Liverpool.

This girl, Janice, and I watched the Beatles’ American debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show," on Feb. 9, 1964. We were on Belmar Road in Cleveland Heights. I mean, we weren’t together in the same place—we were watching the show in our own houses, both on Belmar.

I didn’t really know Janice. She was a year older than I, and she hadn’t been living on Belmar very long. But my friend Phil down the street talked about Janice all the time. He had a big crush on her. I’d met her and, through hearing about her from Phil, I was beginning to feel a little like I knew her.

She seemed quiet, unassuming, maybe kind of shy, not very outgoing, kind of reserved. She didn’t seem to leave her house much, except to go to school. One day, Phil mentioned that she had tickets for the Beatles’ first Cleveland concert, coming up in September 1964 at Public Hall. I was surprised and impressed.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:27 AM, 10.29.2021

Remember 'Just Say NO To Political Deals'?

Hard to believe, but things have gotten even nastier in just the two years since that negative ballot issue campaign, brought to us from the city council funded anti-elected mayor campaign and their $25,000 donor corporate lobbyist partners.

I was the one who discover the $25,000 lobbyist money via a public records request. Which actually became $30,000.

And with my help, they lost by nearly 2:1.

Let's all send that same message in 2021, and not support any candidates who rely on hate and misinformation.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:20 AM, 10.26.2021

Give the outsiders a chance

One of our neighbors thought it was strange to see the bipartisan collection of signs in our front yard. I think it shows that democracy is alive, and we need to put aside party affiliations to support the best candidates. 

I am favoring the outsiders on Nov. 2.  I am supporting candidates who will bring new ideas and energy to Cleveland Heights. I’ll leave it to others to praise current incumbents, but I think we need some significant changes or we will certainly get more of the same, and probably much less.

Starting with mayoral candidate Barbara Danforth, her sign was the first in our yard. Her campaign people noticed that I had agreed with her online (Nextdoor), and offered us a sign. For the next sign, I actually worked with Tony Cuda on the popular transition to an elected mayor, so I was happy to support him.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:19 AM, 10.26.2021

A public school performance review means program cuts

On its surface, a performance review to locate public-school inefficiencies seems benign.

However, the purpose of a performance review is to justify programming cuts by identifying anything beyond the minimum state requirements.

In the CH-UH school district, this would mean cutting or eliminating arts, athletics, AP courses, preschool, and the Career and Technical Education program.

Is CH-UH to be known as a destination for mediocrity in education? Because, with such cuts, public-school families will only need to take a quick look at Shaker Heights or Lakewood to realize that, if they live in those communities, they will get excellent, comprehensive educations. 

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:00 AM, 10.26.2021

A letter from a CH voter that we declined to publish

The following letter to the editor was submitted by Cleveland Heights resident Bonnie Dolezal after the October print issue had been printed and distributed. The Heights Observer declined to publish it online. Reaction to this decision has threatened to distract from the important issues the community faces at the end of this busy, local election season. Therefore, we have decided to publish the original letter along with the feedback we provided to Dolezal via e-mail. Further—for those who might say, yes, but the writer revised the letter, and the Heights Observer still didn’t publish it—we’re also including the revised letter, and the e-mail we sent to the writer in response.

School Board 'Hit Piece' Mailer, by Bonnie Dolezal:

There is a Political Action Committee (PAC) who is opposing the Drake-Lynn-Rennert School Board slate. This PAC has gone to new levels of incivility. They have now published a nasty sinister mailer trying to portray these candidates as radicals who want to undermine the public schools. It isn’t even clear if this information about them is true.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 4:11 PM, 10.18.2021