Latest News

Synagogue and church congregations explore 'Common Roots' in two-part series

Park Synagogue and Cory United Methodist Church invite the community to a free, two-part series on the theme “Common Roots: Facing Our Past, Building Our Future.” The first program is planned for Sunday, Feb. 24, and the second for March 31.

The two congregations share a history of persecution, as Jews and as African Americans. They are coming together to learn more about their histories, and discuss what they and others can do to make positive changes in our society.

In part one of the series, “Ballots & Bullets—Black Power, Politics & Urban Guerrilla Warfare in 1968 Cleveland,” Cleveland author James Robenalt will discuss the racism, political climate and lack of opportunities for African Americans in Cleveland that led to the Glenville riots in 1968.

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Volume 12, Issue 3, Posted 10:50 AM, 02.19.2019

Latest News Releases

Boyd to introduce Aisha’s Law to protect domestic violence victims: Bill aims to prevent further violence in high-risk situations
- State Rep. Janine Boyd, February 4, 2019 Read More
University Heights delays trash pick up due to extreme cold
- City of University Heights, January 29, 2019 Read More
At Cleveland Heights Democracy Day, Citizens Speak Up
- City of Cleveland Heights, January 16, 2019 Read More
Library addresses the suicide crisis with two January programs
- CH-UH Library, January 4, 2019 Read More
Fundraisers, Candlelight Vigil Set For Beloved Cleveland Journalist Nikki Delamotte
- , November 14, 2018 Read More

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Remembering Norman Tischler

Norman Tischler, soloing with the Cleveland gospel group the Prayer Warriors at a 2008 rally for Barack Obama, featuring Peter Yarrow (of Peter Paul and Mary), whom he also backed up, at the Beachland Ballroom.

Norman Tischler lived in Cleveland Heights for decades. He moved to the area in 1969, three or four years out of college, when he was a VISTA volunteer, assigned to the Karamu House in Cleveland, where he taught kids music and also taught them about music.

He was an extraordinary musician, who played with just about every other musician in the region, and with some nationally known ones. No, really—just about every one in this region. It sounds implausible, but he was always everywhere, it seemed, and never without his instruments. And he knew everyone. Some percentage of them—about 500 people, and, it appeared, about half of them musicians—showed up for his memorial service last month at The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood.

Norm died on Jan. 21, at the age of 72, soon after a sudden diagnosis of cancer. During his final week, his hospital room constantly overflowed with musicians and other friends, and, much of the time, with music.

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Volume 12, Issue 3, Posted 10:08 AM, 02.19.2019

UH mayor reports on state of the city

Michael Johnson, president of John Carroll University, welcomes Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan before his State of the City address.

In his first State of the City address, University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan celebrated accomplishments from 2018, addressed challenges facing the city, and looked to an ambitious future agenda.

“The State of our City is strong,” Brennan told those assembled in the Jardine Room on the campus of John Carroll University. “Working together, we will reach new heights.”

Brennan restored the city’s safety forces in 2018, starting with the fire department. Under Fire Chief Robert Perko, the UHFD has made equipment improvements, and reopened the Fire Prevention and Education Bureau.  Understaffed for years, the department has now achieved a safe minimum staffing level.

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Volume 12, Issue 3, Posted 10:06 AM, 02.19.2019

Heinen's and University Heights celebrate 60 years together

Jeff Heinen receives a proclamation from Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan.

Heinen’s Grocery Store is celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2019. For 60 of those years the family-owned grocer has served the residents of University Heights.

Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan presented Jeff Heinen a proclamation declaring Friday, Feb. 15 “Heinen’s Day” in University Heights, at Heinen’s 2180 South Green Road location.

Heinen’s story began in 1929 when local butcher Joe Heinen pioneered the city’s first supermarket by selling traditional grocery items alongside hand-butchered meats.

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Volume 12, Issue 3, Posted 9:59 AM, 02.19.2019

CH-UH schools host kindergarten info nights

Beginning Feb. 27, each Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District elementary school will host a Kindergarten Information Night for incoming and prospective families. 
Attendees will have the opportunity to meet the school principals and teachers, ask questions, and tour the buildings. Several of the schools will also offer dinner, and childcare or playtime services.
To find the school that corresponds to your place of residence, use the district’s online interactive boundary map.

Here is a list, by date, of each elementary school’s info. night:

  • Wednesday, Feb. 27, 6:30–7:30 p.m., Boulevard Elementary School, 1749 Lee Road. Light refreshments and activities for children will be provided.
  • Wednesday, March 6, 6–7 p.m., Roxboro Elementary School, 2405 Roxboro Road. During the presentation for parents, children will meet in a kindergarten classroom for crafts and a chance to meet future classmates. After information night, families are encouraged to tour the school, visit the book fair and attend Roxboro Elementary Multicultural Night.
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Volume 12, Issue 3, Posted 9:57 AM, 02.19.2019

Heights residents among those who will pitch their visions for change

Four Cleveland Heights residents are among those who will present 28 visions of creating positive change in Cleveland at Accelerate: Citizens Make Change, a civic pitch competition, on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 5:30 p.m., at the Global Center for Health Innovation in Cleveland.

Heights High graduate Brian Hall, 20, will pitch “Bee Friendly Neighbors”—an idea to establish beehives in Cleveland and suburban backyards. Hall tends bees at a hive on his grandfather’s farm in Portage County, and wants to provide those interested with a bee box, pair them with experienced beekeepers to maintain the hive and teach participants about bees, and sell honey and wax products at local markets.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 6:47 PM, 02.13.2019

Cleveland Heights' Apollo's Fire wins Grammy

The Grammy-winning album "Songs of Orpheus," featuring tenor Karim Sulayman.

On Feb. 10, the baroque ensemble Apollo's Fire won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album for "Songs of Orpheus." The ensemble, under the artistic direction of Jeanette Sorrell, shares the award with tenor Karim Sulayman, the album's solo vocalist.

"Songs of Orpheus" uses the work of 17th-century Italian composers Monteverdi, Caccini, Landi and d'India to retell the story of Orpheus' journey to the underworld to recue his wife, Eurydice. Along with providing the instrumentation for these vocal pieces, the ensemble also performed sonatas by Castello and Cima on the recording.

Apollo's Fire has produced over 20 albums in its 27-year history thus far. This is its first Grammy

Sorrell expressed surprise about winning the award, noting, "The other nominees in our category had quite a bit of PR-power behind them, in addition to being compelling recordings. We were the new kid on the block in that world." 

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Volume 12, Issue 3, Posted 12:18 PM, 02.12.2019

CH council seat applicant interviews are posted on city's website

The League of Women Voters (LWV) of Greater Cleveland, Heights Chapter, conducted nonpartisan video interviews of the 34 applicants for the vacant seat on Cleveland Heights City Council. Both the applications and LWV’s video interviews are available for public viewing at

Former CH Council Member Cheryl Stephens vacated the seat on Nov. 26, after being elected to represent District 10 on Cuyahoga County Council.

The six current Cleveland Heights council members will view the video interviews as they decide whom to appoint to Stephens’ council seat.

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Volume 12, Issue 3, Posted 11:00 AM, 02.12.2019

BOE names Williams district's interim superintendent

Current CH-UH Superintendent Talisa Dixon (left) with Interim Superintendent Brian Williams and Board of Education President Jodi Sourini.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education (BOE) has named Brian Williams, longtime district administrator and, currently, coordinator of alternative programming at the Options Center, interim superintendent of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District.

Williams will assume the interim role on March 4, the date on which current Superintendent Talisa Dixon plans to start her new job as superintendent of the Columbus City School District.

The BOE unanimously approved the appointment of Williams at its meeting on Jan. 30.

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Volume 12, Issue 3, Posted 10:50 AM, 02.01.2019

Kensington Pub owners have opening date in sight

The restored interior of Kensington Pub.

More than a year after they first hoped to open, in December 2017, the co-owners of Kensington Pub (2260 Lee Road) now hope to open within the next month—or two. Brad Poe and Jeff King faced bigger remodeling challenges than they expected in opening their first restaurant—what Poe called a "perfect storm of obstacles."

“The original proposed opening was totally unrealistic in retrospect,” said Poe. “We encountered more renovations than we anticipated, especially since it was our first foray into restaurant ownership.”

He noted that he's  “very pleased with the exterior renovations, even with construction delays.” The exterior work was financed by the building’s landlord as part of a block-long renovation.

The project has been a labor of love for the two longtime Cleveland Heights residents who have more than 40 years of restaurant experience between them.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 4:36 PM, 02.01.2019

'Community of activists' supports Haitian asylum seeker

Haitian asylum-seeker Ansly Damus (center) with his American sponsors, Heights residents Melody Hart and Gary Benjamin. Damus was released from custody after the ACLU won a landmark case against the federal government.

Ansly Damus recounts his migration journey and quest for asylum with warmth, with gentle humor. The former electrical engineer and professor charms with his radiant smile, intellect, and storytelling. Periodically, he checks his phone because it is his sole connection with his family back in Haiti. It’s hard to picture him sitting in a county jail for two years without sunlight. 

Damus would still be in the dark without the untiring efforts of the ACLU, his immigration attorney, and an involved Cleveland Heights community that includes an immigration activist, an empty-nest couple, and families who have provided friendship and support.

Damus crossed the Mexican border into the U.S. in October 2016 after a two-year trek that took him from Ecuador to Brazil and through Central America. His border crossing was an asylum request, which meant immediate detention.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 10:23 AM, 02.01.2019

Forest Hill Church celebrates 'An Evening of Wonder'

Caleb A. Wright

This year’s celebration of Black History Month at Forest Hill Church—An Evening of Wonder—will honor the music of Motown legend Stevie Wonder on Sunday, Feb. 10. Preceded by a community soul food dinner at 5:30 p.m., the musical performances will begin at 7 p.m.

The community meal and concert are free and open to the public.

The church’s Black History Month committee chose to celebrate Wonder in recognition of his phenomenal musical career and the significant contributions his music has made in elevating the position of black musicians throughout society, as well as the lasting impact of his songbook on modern American history. The evening will highlight many of Wonder’s most memorable and socially impactful songs over the past 50 years.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 4:52 PM, 02.01.2019

Have an 'Ekphrastic' Valentine’s Day at Heights Arts

Field Note #08 Citizens & Borders, by Sai Sinbondit.

Art, poetry and music warm Heights Arts this February. Valentine’s Day weekend starts with a free artist talk and poetry event followed the next day by a music performance, both in the nonprofit's gallery on Lee Road. 

On Thursday, Feb. 14., at 7 p.m., Heights Arts offers a free artist talk and poetry event focusing on the work of the artists participating in the current exhibition, VIEW-points. The series of gallery talks, Ekphrastacy: Artists Talk + Poets Respond, offers an opportunity for exhibition artists to share insights on their work.

"Ekphrasis" means that one form of art is used to describe a completely different form of art in order to illuminate an idea or help an audience understand the spirit of the work. The Poetry Foundation defines ekphrastic poem as “a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the 'action' of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.”

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 5:09 PM, 02.01.2019

An evolving city

Before the advent of streetcars—in this area that was in the 1910s—people had to live close to where they worked. And anything else you might want to do had to be within walking distance, too. That’s why there are so many churches everywhere around here. And there were more bars than churches, but the churches lasted because they’re a lot bigger, better constructed, more expensive to replace, and harder to convert into coffee shops and clothing stores (though at least one old Cleveland Heights church has been converted to condominiums).

The area that is now Cleveland Heights was mostly farms and quarries in the early 1800s, with only about 2,000 residents. By the time the streetcars came in, about 100 years later, there were 5,000 people living here. But streetcars enabled people from Cleveland to get up the big hills, on what are now Cedar and Mayfield roads, and population started increasing. Especially when developers promoted the western end of the area to wealthy Clevelanders as the place to build their big mansions.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 5:02 PM, 02.01.2019

Mouriño joins Cedar Fairmount clinic

Laura Mouriño

Dr. Laura Mouriño has joined the Options Naturopathic Clinic practice of Erin Holston Singh, N.D., in the Cedar Fairmount Business District’s Heights Medical Building.

As naturopathic doctors, both Mouriño and Holston seek to support individuals in their journey to optimal health through natural means, and stress the important connections between social issues, environmental concerns and human health.

A graduate of the National University of Natural Medicine (formerly the National College of Natural Medicine), Mouriño attributes her pursuit of this field of medicine to her “complex medical history as a child.”

“After the removal of a benign brain tumor,” Mouriño explained, “my mother’s family used ‘folk medicine,’ along with conventional medicine, to assist in my recovery. The herbs and natural ingredients used allowed me to heal faster, and without scars.” Mouriño became interested in good food, and the medical aspects of healing with naturopathic methods.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 4:43 PM, 02.01.2019

Bridging mediums to further the arts

The new-music ensemble No Exit will perform at Heights Arts, 2175 Lee Road, on Friday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. In recent years, No Exit has appeared frequently at the gallery, so it can be easy to forget that two decades ago, neither organization existed at all.

In 1999, participants in a Cleveland Heights civic visioning process identified the potential of the arts to positively impact the community. Soon after, the nonprofit Heights Arts was formed by a group of residents intent on tapping that resource. Two decades later, strategic collaborations, such as the one between Heights Arts and the No Exit, have enhanced the regional arts scene and invigorated the community.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 4:59 PM, 02.01.2019

Ensemble looks ahead to a busy spring

Ensemble's 39th Season continues with productions of modern classics, new plays, and other events this spring.

Ensemble Theatre, in its 39th season, is poised to deliver an array of theater options in the coming months. The American classic "A Raisin in the Sun" runs through Feb. 17, and Ensemble will next bring Eugene O'Neill's "A Moon for the Misbegotten" to its Cleveland Heights theater in March. Directed by Ian Wolfgang Hinz, "Moon" follows the events of O'Neill's seminal "A Long Day's Journey into Night."

In addition to its stated mission of bringing "contemporary American classics" to the stage, Ensemble has also been at the forefront of Cleveland's new play development scene with the 2009 establishment of StageWrights, a weekly open-door workshop at which playwrights of all levels of experience meet and read new work.

Over the course of the past decade, StageWrights has provided Ensemble with new plays from Cleveland playwrights, including Cynthia Dettlebach, Rannigan Walsh, Barbara Harkness, Ed Walsh and Tom Frattare.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 5:12 PM, 02.01.2019

Library to offer culinary programs for teens

Funding from Friends of the Heights Libraries provided equipment for teen culinary literacy programs.

This spring, Heights Libraries will launch a new program series for teens about cooking and healthy eating. Teen Cooking 101, a four-part, monthly series, will take place March through June during after-school hours and will cover topics such as food safety and nutrition, and teach skills such as measuring and knife handling.

While these won’t be the first cooking-related programs at the library, they will be the first to focus on culinary education.

“We have offered food and cooking-centered programs for teens in the past, including the Teen Chopped Challenge, the Teen Ramen Bar and the Soups of the World series, all of which have been very popular,” said Youth Services Librarian Sarah Rosenberger, who developed the series. “While these programs have been fun and have introduced teens to new foods and culinary cultures, we feel that there is an opportunity to impart even more knowledge in these areas with a more long-term, in-depth culinary literacy program.”

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 11:32 AM, 02.01.2019

Library promotes wellness through programs and materials

Many people struggle to keep New Year’s resolutions of maintaining a healthy routine. For those looking for ways to stick to new goals, increase wellness literacy, or simply try something new, Heights Libraries offers programs and resources.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 4:31 PM, 02.01.2019

When we support local businesses, we all win

We’ve been celebrating the first 10 years of publishing the Heights Observer by looking back—one month at a time—at headlines for that month that we’ve published over the past decade.

As I look back at a decade of Februaries, I’m struck by how many of the local businesses that were the subject of Heights Observer stories are no longer operating. Here are a few that you may remember: La Tea Dolly, Heights Guitars, Rockefeller’s Heights Floral Shoppe, Big Dog Theater, A Phiner Bistro, Katz Club Diner.

We’ve all heard that small businesses have a high risk of failure.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 10:07 AM, 02.01.2019

Reaching Musical Heights returns to Severance Hall

French horn players from Heights High perform in the Reaching Musical Heights concert at Severance Hall in 2011. 

The Reaching Musical Heights concert will fill Severance Hall on Tuesday, March 5, starting at 7:30 p.m. More than 550 student musicians in grades 3 though 12 will perform vocal and instrumental pieces for an adoring audience.

"This remarkable event is amazing to see and hear, even if you are not a family member or friend of a performer," said Susie Kaeser, former executive director of Reaching Heights. "It is an inspirational community celebration of excellent music education in the CH-UH public schools."    

Every four years since 2003, Reaching Heights, a small nonprofit that connects the community to the CH-UH public schools, coordinates this formal event in partnership with the school district.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 10:20 AM, 02.01.2019

State of the City address set for Feb. 13

University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan will give his first "State of the City" report to residents on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 7 p.m., at the Jardine Room on the campus of John Carroll University.

In his speech, Brennan will review 2018 accomplishments, and look ahead to plans for 2019.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:43 AM, 02.01.2019

A consideration on Top of the Hill

I have been “sort of” aware of the Top of the Hill project, reading a few Web posting and local articles. Conversations with friends reveals a certain “ambiguity’ about the project. My initial consideration on the design and plan: “Is this the best the city could do?”

As rendered in photographs, the design does not say, at least to me, “Welcome to Cleveland Heights!” I would expect a driver arriving at the top of Cedar Hill would have the same impression. If I were a resident of the Buckingham condos, I would not appreciate having to look at the back end of this building. I think/hope something more creative and less automobile-centric is possible.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 10:00 AM, 02.01.2019

What’s going on at your library?

Coventry Village Library
1925 Coventry Road, 216-321-3400

Tuesday, Feb. 12, 7 p.m.

Exploring the Heart of Dying Through Courageous Conversation. Join Atmarshardan Saraswati and Adaire Petrichor for a three-month exploration of Eastern philosophies in contemplative end-of-life practices.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 11:36 AM, 02.01.2019

Ring names Lynch his partner in Nighttown

Melissa Lynch is now a partner in Nighttown.

Brendan Ring, owner of Nighttown, has made event manager Melissa Lynch a partner in the iconic, long-lived restaurant and music club. In making the announcement, Ring quoted Nighttown’s former owner John Barr, who said, “It took me 27 years to find a partner in Brendan." For his part, Ring said, “It took me only 25 years to find Melissa."

“I am extremely honored to be able to be part of this amazing restaurant and to be working with such a wonderful team and, of course, Brendan Ring,” said Lynch. “I am excited to work with our guests and staff.”

Her goals are to work closely with Ring, to bring Nighttown’s everyday costs down and increase traffic into the restaurant. The partners plan to offer fresh new food items, while keeping the entrees that their regular customers love. Lynch anticipates that small changes in décor will be made, but the familiar Nighttown atmosphere will remain.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:35 AM, 01.29.2019

Kaye Lowe retires with a party at Nighttown

Kaye Lowe (second from left) with CH Council Member Mary Dunbar, CH Mayor Carol Roe, and CH Council Member Michael Ungar. Photo by Jack Valancy.

Friends of Kaye Lowe gathered at Nighttown on Jan. 16, to honor her upon her retirement after 18 years of service as executive director of the Cedar Fairmount Special Improvement District (CFSID) and its predecessor, the Cedar Fairmount Business Association.

Members of Cleveland Heights City Council presented her with a plaque at the event.

CFSID has named Heights resident Myra Orenstein its new executive director.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:20 AM, 02.01.2019

CH's tolerance of deteriorated properties is misguided

To the Editor:

The survey results from the Cleveland Heights Branding Initiative bring to mind the adage that "your greatest strength begets your greatest weakness." The survey found that diversity is the city's most valued characteristic, and that the most cherished traits are openness, welcoming, inclusive and tolerance.  

Those qualities are indeed city strengths. But the weakness comes about when they are applied inappropriately and result in community harm.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 10:03 AM, 02.01.2019

CH parent develops free service to connect special needs adults

Craig Matis has lived in Cleveland Heights for nearly 40 years. The father of an adult son with special needs, Matis discovered that, once his son left school, the effort to socialize with others was difficult for him. He found that other parents shared his concerns—that outside of an academic environment, it was difficult for those with special needs to find and develop connections with others.

In 2013, Matis initiated Connect to One (, an online service that matches up those who are disabled, both mentally and physically, and seeking one-on-one friendships and/or relationships.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:35 AM, 02.01.2019

University Heights kids 'name that chicken'

Mayor Brennan with Clare Dolan and Jackson Lovato.

Thanks to Clare Dolan, 13, and Jackson Lovato, 9, the University Heights chicken has a name.

Of all the swag items bearing the University Heights logo for sale at UH City Hall, the most popular by far is the plush chicken. Inspired by the recent local ordinance allowing residents to keep chickens, the chicken proudly models the new city logo on his dark blue T-shirt.

In a few short months, the chicken has become the unofficial city mascot; but, the chicken needed a name. Thus, city officials invited local kids to “name that chicken.”

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:40 AM, 02.01.2019

Before 'diversity' - the integration of Cleveland Heights [part 2 of 3]

“It was scary because of the attention we got,” recalled Doris Allen. She and her husband Wendell purchased a gracious house on Lee Road in 1965. Although theirs was one of the first black families to move to Cleveland Heights, they weren’t looking to make a point, to be pioneers or activists, or to put their young family in danger. They simply wanted their five children, then between the ages of 1 and 10, to grow up in a racially, ethnically and religiously diverse community.

While Heights Citizens for Human Rights (HCHR) reached out to the Allens, others were not so welcoming. Police stopped their eldest son, still in elementary school, and questioned him for no apparent reason. When Wendell Allen went to a nearby store the proprietor asked, “Why don’t you shop in your own neighborhood?”

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:55 AM, 02.01.2019

A wish list for the new superintendent

I am only the third president of the CH-UH Teachers Union in 48 years. There is considerable job stability and longevity among school employees, but this does not seem to extend to administrators. During my more than 30 years at CH-UH, there have been at least eight superintendents (including interims), and I would have a difficult time counting the number of principals with whom I have worked. Administrators who have stayed for any significant amount of time have been few. 

That being said, CH-UH will be hiring a new superintendent this spring, and with this important decision will probably come a host of other changes.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:49 AM, 02.01.2019

Free class is among HRRC's February courses

A class at HRRC.

The Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) will hold several workshops this month, beginning with a session on concrete countertops on Tuesday, Feb. 5. Participants in that workshop will learn the ins and outs of using concrete in countertops, including how to measure, pour, cut and finish it.

On Tuesday, Feb. 12, HRRC offers its popular power tools workshop. Those attending will get experience using miter, circular and reciprocating saws, as well as angle grinders, nail guns, and different kinds of drills. This class is a perfect primer for those thinking of making costly home repairs themselves.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:30 AM, 02.01.2019

Learning how to learn at Boulevard Elementary

I like to learn. It keeps me alive, keeps boredom at bay and, I hope, makes me a better citizen. My curiosity has led to satisfying employment.

While “learner” is the job title we most frequently assign to students, learning is, in fact, a lifelong necessity for all of us. For that reason, I am thrilled to report that the teachers and principal at Boulevard Elementary School are paying a lot of attention to helping their students master the skills and enjoy the thrills of being learners.

While test-driven public policy makes it advantageous to help students build their test-taking muscles, and puts a premium on getting the “right” answer, Boulevard is focused on developing powerful learners.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:52 AM, 02.01.2019

Cedar Fairmount SID names new director

Myra Orenstein

The Board of Directors of the Cedar Fairmount Special Improvement District (CFSID) has appointed Cleveland Heights resident Myra Orenstein as its new executive director. Orenstein follows in the footsteps of recently retired Kaye Lowe, who occupied the position for 18 years.

"Kaye did a remarkable job as executive director," said Orenstein. "She helped grow the district from a merchants' association, through its development as a Special Improvement District and, most recently, helped spearhead its streetscape. She has left me with big shoes to fill, to say the least."

As she assumes her new role, Orenstein is particularly excited about working with the CFSID and the city of Cleveland Heights in the development, and ultimate completion, of the Top of the Hill Project.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:39 AM, 01.29.2019

RoxArts event will benefit CH-UH students

Harcourt Manor, an Elizabethan Revival style mansion in Ambler Heights, will be the site of the first RoxArts in Tiger Nation: A Creative Arts and Sciences Fund benefit on March 9.

RoxArts is hosting its first event benefiting a new fund promoting the arts and sciences for all 3,350 Cleveland Heights –University Heights elementary and middle school students.  The art auction on March 9, at 7 p.m., will be held in Harcourt Manor, a mansion that was a setting in a Captain America movie, and will feature some of Cleveland's finest artists in photography, sculpture, jewelry and print. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will be catered by fire food and drink.

For nearly four decades, RoxArts has raised money for enhanced arts curriculum at Roxboro Elementary and Middle schools. Last year, the RoxArts board and the Heights Schools Foundation (HSF) partnered to form RoxArts in Tiger Nation: A Creative Arts and Sciences Fund to bring arts enrichment opportunities to K-8 students in all CH-UH schools. This will be the kickoff event for the new fund.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 10:16 AM, 01.31.2019

Stone Oven and Coventry P.E.A.C.E. receive Reaching Heights awards

Krista Hawthorne, director of Reaching Heights, with Tatyana Rehn and John Emerman, owners of The Stone Oven Bakery Café.

On Dec. 11, Reaching Heights, the local nonprofit that connects the community to the Heights public schools, held its annual meeting in the former Coventry School building, home to the new Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Campus (a collaborative of seven arts and community organizations).  

Each year, Reaching Heights invites members of the community to hear the highlights of the organization’s year and to recognize individuals and local businesses for the extraordinary support they give to the Heights public schools.

Reaching Heights' board and staff members thanked Ashlie Dyer for her six years as an active board member, vice president and president. Dyer, a Heights alumna and avid Heights Tiger, will be missed for her energy, enthusiasm and endless good ideas. Mazie Adams was introduced as the newest member of the organization’s board of directors. 

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:46 AM, 01.29.2019

Heights middle school students shine at Power of the Pen

Members of the winning seventh-grade team from Roxboro Middle School with their coach, Caitlin Gerber.

Photo by Nicole Tugeau

Monticello and Roxboro middle school students wield a mighty power—the power of the pen. Last December, teams from both schools participated in the eighth Power of the Pen writing competition, hosted by Monticello at the Wiley campus.

More than 200 middle school students from 22 area schools attended the full-day Saturday event. After a get-to-know-you scavenger hunt, students participated in three rounds of intense competition. Groups of six students gathered in classrooms where they had 40 minutes to respond to an assigned writing prompt, for example, “describe a fate worse than death in your narrative,” or “liven things up in an otherwise dull study hall.”

The stories generated in each session were judged on a series of criteria, including creativity, voice, grammar and spelling, and adherence to the assigned topic. Points were awarded to each student before they moved to the next room to compete against five different writers, using a new prompt. When the total points were tallied at day’s end, Heights’s middle school students did extremely well.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 10:12 AM, 01.31.2019

UH joins with USO to assist Coast Guard families

University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan and Special Projects Coordinator Rachel Mullen are looking to fill this box with donations.

Due to the federal government shutdown, U.S. Coast Guard families are among those not receiving paychecks. The USO of Northern Ohio is teaming up with local governments, including University Heights, to collect specific items during the shutdown, to assist local Coast Guard families.

University Heights City Hall is now a drop-off location. During regular business hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), you may assist Coast Guard families by dropping off the following items: non-perishable foods, personal hygiene products, household cleaning items, laundry soap and supplies, baby diapers, paper products, grocery gift cards and gas cards.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 10:29 AM, 01.22.2019

Cain Park festival artist applications due March 1

The 42nd annual Cain Park Arts Festival, planned for July 12–14, is now accepting artist application.

The 2019 Cain Park Arts Festival, July 12–14, is accepting online artist applications through The application deadline is March 1.

Now in it’s 42nd year, this juried fine arts and crafts event features the work of artists from across the country, working in painting, photography, prints, jewelry, ceramics, glass, leather, sculpture, wood, and other materials.

This all-ages and family-friendly festival will be open Friday, July 12, 3–8 p.m.; Saturday, July 13, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, July 14, noon to 5 p.m.).

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 10:33 AM, 01.22.2019

CH Senior Center News

February is Heart Awareness Month. It begins on Friday, Feb. 1, with National Wear Red Day—a day designated to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease.

The Cleveland Heights Senior Activity Center (SAC) offers programs, activities and classes to help seniors lower their risk of heart disease.  

On Tuesday, Feb. 5, 1 p.m., blood-pressure monitoring is offered through Case Western Reserve University’s student-run free clinic. Check "News for Senior Adults" at for days and times when other agencies visit to offer this service.)

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 10:08 AM, 01.31.2019

UH Senior Happenings

Senior Happenings, sponsored by the city of University Heights, are open to all senior citizens. Events take place on Thursdays at 2 p.m. at the University Heights Library. To receive the monthly schedule by e-mail, call 216-932-7800, ext. 205, or send an e-mail to

Feb. 7: Felicia Adams, administrator of the Senior Companion Program at Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, will discuss the work of the program. It provides trained volunteers, who have a passion for helping others, to give one-on-one personalized attention to a senior citizen who may be socially isolated, perhaps because family bonds have been stretched or frayed.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 10:09 AM, 01.31.2019

Kids tell their stories at Lake Erie Ink

Students participating in a project at Lake Erie Ink.

Early childhood educator Vivian Gussin Paley wrote that “we learn to know what we are thinking about by the ways in which we play.” Dramatic play and storytelling are important to children as they learn to make sense of the world and work with one another.

Lake Erie Ink, a nonprofit organization based at the Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Campus, states the belief that creative writing is not only for kids and teens who already love writing, but also for those who have something to say, and feel that no one is listening.

Part of Lake Erie Ink's mission is  to provide opportunities for children to tell stories.

While students were on break from school over the winter holidays, Lake Erie Ink was buzzing with creativity during its Hot/Cold Creative Play Days. Afternoons of outdoor play, creative writing and art fired up the kids’ love of learning. Skits were written and performed, snowmen and penguins were created, and many new friendships were formed.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:56 AM, 01.29.2019

#MeToo manifesto comes to the Dobama stage

Dobama Theatre continues its season with the Cleveland premiere of "Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again."—a theatrical manifesto for the #MeToo era. Written by Alice Birch, and directed by Sarah Elizabeth Wansley, the play runs through Feb. 17.

A wildly experimental and inventive grouping of vignettes, “Revolt” asks how to revolutionize language, relationships, work and life while bursting at the seams of conformity. An ensemble of four powerful women and one token male bring this unapologetically provocative, in-your-face text to life—with humor, strength, and a punk-rock attitude that refuses to behave.

“Revolt” was commissioned in 2014 as part of a series for the Royal Shakespeare Company. The series, Midsummer Mischief, highlighted the creativity of four female playwrights, Timberlake Wertenbaker, E.V. Crowe, Alice Birch and Abi Zakarian, who all worked from the same prompt: “Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 10:26 AM, 01.22.2019

Marotta's to close for renovations

Marotta's general manager, Alexandrea Quinn, with her uncle, the restaurant's owner, Brian Linihan, visiting an Italian winery.

Staying true to Brian and Alicia Linihan’s original vision and taste, Marotta's, the Lee Road landmark, will close Feb. 3 for an estimated six-week renovation that promises to retain the warmth and charm that customers have always loved. According to the restaurant’s general manager—and the owners’ niece—Alexandrea Quinn, customers can expect a gentle facelift that includes updated tables, chairs, paint and light fixtures. 

“Brian wanted to add a room for private wine dinners,” said Quinn. This will include an expanded offering of wines and cocktails. While the menu will stay the same, customers will notice more aperitifs, staff guidance with the all-Italian wine list, plus encouragement to dine slowly and enjoy their tables, unhurried, post-meal. 

A family-run business, Marotta’s first opened on Lee Road in 2000. The Heights community surrounded the family with support when co-owner Alicia Linihan died suddenly in 2016.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:42 AM, 01.15.2019

Feb. 2 workshop will explore privilege and bias in our community

The recent Cleveland Heights branding survey confirmed what residents have long known to be true: "diversity stands out as the most valued characteristic" of this community.

What does diversity really mean, and how do we embrace this vital characteristic every day?

On Saturday, Feb. 2, join Heights Community Congress (HCC) and other community members for a four-hour (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) workshop, Recognizing Privilege and Bias in Your Community, that will wrestle with these questions, and more.

The workshop, facilitated by HCC’s partners at Compass Consulting, will define and differentiate between diversity and inclusion, and discuss privilege and its impact in the community.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 10:37 AM, 01.15.2019

In defense of density at Cedar Fairmount/Top of the Hill

Nighttown first opened for business in 1965. I started working there in 1992. When I bought the place in 2001, business was just so-so. Eighteen years later Nighttown thrives because we added three outdoor dining areas, a world-class music calendar, a changed menu and other innovations that have made Nighttown a regional destination for a diverse clientele which benefits all of Cedar Fairmount. However, with the cost of food, people and benefits constantly on the rise, as well as the addition of scores of new restaurants in Greater Cleveland (with a population that isn’t increasing), it’s a continual struggle to remain a destination location. So, too, do my fellow merchants and property owners face similar challenges in the Cedar-Fairmount area.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 10:04 AM, 01.15.2019

CH-UH BOE to interview superintendent candidates and appoint interim leader

Heights High students participated in a December focus group on what to look for in the district's next superintendent. 

The search for the next superintendent of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District is in full swing. The CH-UH Board of Education (BOE) began the process in November, and expects to interview finalists in February, with the goal of naming its new superintendent by March.

The BOE will name an interim superintendent to lead the district beginning in March, when the current superintendent, Talisa Dixon, leaves for Columbus City Schools. The new permanent superintendent is expected to begin work in CH-UH in the summer of 2019.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 12:07 PM, 01.08.2019

FutureHeights urges CH ABR to 'conceptually approve' TOH

To the Editor:

The FutureHeights Board of Directors sent this letter to the Cleveland Heights Architectural Board of Review on Dec. 19:

Dear Members of CH Architectural Board of Review,

FutureHeights supports moving forward with a mixed-use development at Top of the Hill (TOH) and urges the Cleveland Heights Architectural Board of Review to “conceptually approve” the project, with final approval subject to the developers’ final architectural design.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 10:15 AM, 01.07.2019

Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 1-7-2019

JANUARY 7, 2019


  • Public comments
  • Council committee chairs
  • HVAC maintenance
  • Police salaries
  • Council seat applications
  • Democracy Day
  • Speed limits
  • Mayor’s report


Council members present were Mayor Carol Roe, Vice Mayor Melissa Yasinow, Mary Dunbar, Kahlil Seren, Jason Stein and Michael N. Ungar. The seventh seat is unoccupied. The meeting lasted from 7:35 to 8 p.m.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 11:19 AM, 01.30.2019

A fine-dining gem opens on Noble

The interior of Jewellz Fine Dining, at 2204 Noble Road. [photo: Diane Hallum]

The comfortable and relaxing feel of Jewellz Fine Dining, 2204 Noble Road, carries through from the moment one enters this newly opened restaurant to the wonderful, unexpected flavors of the delicious food.

Don't expect fast-food or corner diner-type fare here. This is a menu with grace, intelligence and warmth.

The hard work and skills of chef/owner Dieesha Witherspoon come together in a multifaceted menu that may include rack-of-lamb chops, chicken Alfredo and grilled salmon. Diners can also expect to find a variety of hot wing preparations, an “Amazing Burger,” and chicken spaghetti. What primarily fills the menu, though, are those types of meals that families might eagerly relish at their own home tables following Sunday church.

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Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 12:38 PM, 01.03.2019

Vote for Best of the Heights in 2019

Beginning Jan. 1, Heights residents can show their appreciation for local businesses by voting for their favorites in the FutureHeights 2019 Best of the Heights Awards contest.

Since 2005, FutureHeights—a nonprofit community development corporation—has conducted the Best of the Heights to recognize the unique attributes of locally owned Heights businesses, and their contributions to the local economy. Each year, residents cast their votes for their favorite businesses by nominating them for an award in a variety of categories.

FutureHeights’ Planning & Development Committee has selected 12 categories for this year’s ballot, including Best New Business and Best Bang for Your Buck.

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Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 12:27 PM, 01.02.2019

Kaye Lowe: 18 years building Cedar Fairmount

Kaye Lowe will retire this month as executive director of the Cedar Fairmount Special Improvement District, after 18 years at the organization and its predecessor.

If you’ve enjoyed the landscaping, community art and ambiance of Cedar Fairmount, you’ve appreciated the work of Kaye Lowe, who’s dedicated the last 18 years of her professional life to building the "Gateway to the Heights.”

In May 2000, Lowe became executive director of the Cedar Fairmount Business Association. With a small, dues-based budget, Lowe undertook the coalition-building work that would evolve, nine years later, into the Cedar Fairmount Special Improvement District (CFSID). According to CFSID President Sal Russo, Lowe “has been the heart and soul” of the operation. Through Lowe's work, the neighborhood has been characterized by stable businesses, signature landscaping, and community art.

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Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 12:19 PM, 01.02.2019

Child and teen wellness practice opens in Cedar Fairmount

Richard Dempsey

Richard Dempsey, a licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC) has opened a child and adolescent psychotherapy practice in the Cedar Fairmount Business District.

Fairmount Mental Wellness, located in the Heights Medical Building (2460 Fairmount Blvd., Suite 317), serves the social and emotional needs of children and their families.

Specializing in narrative therapy, Dempsey’s focus is on helping angry kids, frustrated parents and disconnected families, and addressing concerns related to behavior, anxiety and depression.

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Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 12:41 PM, 01.03.2019

Heights Arts launches internship for CHHS students

Heights High students ShaDonnah Miller (left) and Ava Collyer (right) with art teacher Laura Skehan (center), who helped develop and launch the Heights Arts internship. [NOTE this version sharpened, brightened]

As executive director of Heights Arts—and as a Cleveland Heights High School (CHHS) parent—Rachel Bernstein was in a unique position to cultivate a partnership between Heights Arts and the high school. “Heights Arts was long searching for an authentic way to connect with CHHS,” she said, noting that the organization’s strategic plan includes a goal of increasing audience diversity and engagement. 

Last spring, an idea took shape that would allow this collaboration to flower: adding student interns to the organization's longstanding exhibitions committee. The students would gain valuable experience about developing and presenting art exhibitions, and Heights Arts would tap the students’ perspectives.

Heights High art teacher Laura Skehan quickly identified about a dozen students who would be good candidates. Heights Arts narrowed the field to a half-dozen and conducted individual interviews with the finalists in the summer and early fall.

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Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 12:46 PM, 01.03.2019

Cleveland Heights - University Heights Board of Education regular meeting highlights 12-18-2018

DECEMBER 18, 2018


  • Public comments
  • Update on the superintendent search
  • Middle school change orders
  • Mapping available elementary school space


President James Posch, Vice President Jodi Sourini, Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis and Beverly Wright were present. Superintendent Talisa Dixon and Treasurer Scott Gainer were also present. The meeting began at 7:32 p.m. and adjourned at 8:58 pm.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 10:01 AM, 01.08.2019

Library board welcomes Iwamoto, honors Botnick

Annette M. Iwamoto, new Heights Libraries board member.

At its Dec. 17 meeting, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library Board announced the appointment of its newest board member, Annette M. Iwamoto. Her seven-year term begins in January.

At the same meeting, the board honored outgoing Board President Abby Botnick, whose seven-year term ends on Dec. 31.

Chris Mentrek, who joined the board in 2013 and most recently served as vice president and chair of the operations committee, succeeds Botnick as president. 

“I’ve used the library since I first moved here,” said Iwamoto, “and I’ll bring to my board service the perspective of a customer who has used the library’s services during different stages of her life, including as a young adult with few resources and as a parent with a young child. I have a strong commitment to supporting and serving my community, and I’m looking forward to putting that commitment to use on behalf of the library.”

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Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 12:29 PM, 01.03.2019

Cleveland Heights – University Heights Public Library Board of Trustees meeting highlights 12-17-2018

DECEMBER 17, 2018


  • Annual performance reviews
  • 2019 board meeting calendar
  • Website and e-newsletters - quarterly report
  • Culinary literacy
  • Small Business Saturday
  • Financial report


Present were President Abby Botnick, Vice President Chris Mentrek, Dana Fluellen, James Roosa, Vikas Turakhia and Suzanne Moskowitz. Max Gerboc was absent.


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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:54 AM, 01.08.2019

In 2019, join your fellow residents in writing for the Heights Observer

As I look back at the 10 January issues of the Heights Observer that we published between 2009 and 2018, I am struck by how many frequent contributors we’ve had—folks like David Budin, who wrote a story for our first issue and whose current column is on page 24 of this one, and Shari Nacson, who wrote her first story for us in 2014 and has been contributing almost monthly since March 2018 (she has two stories in this issue).

But out of the 1,450 Heights residents who have created accounts to submit articles in the Heights Observer’s Member Center, many of them are one-time or infrequent contributors—and that’s OK.

After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, January seems quiet and calm. It’s a good time to reflect and set new goals for the year ahead. If you’ve enjoyed reading the Observer in the past, consider contributing a story in 2019.

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Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 12:04 PM, 01.02.2019

Justice-elect swears in state reps at Beaumont

(Left to right) First-term state Rep. Juanita Brent, Ohio Supreme Court Justice-elect Melody Stewart, and three-term state Rep. Janine Boyd, after Stewart swore in the two state representatives in a ceremony at Beaumont School. All three women are graduates. (Credit: Beaumont School)

About 200 people packed the foyer of Beaumont School in Cleveland Heights to see the first African-American woman elected as a justice to the Supreme Court of Ohio administer the oath of office to two local state representatives. All three are graduates of the Catholic, all-girls school, whose motto is “Where young women learn to change the world.”

Supreme Court Justice-elect Melody Stewart gave the oath of office to third-term 9th district state Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) and newly elected 12th district state Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Lee/Harvard) on Dec. 16.

Stewart, currently a judge on the Eighth District Court of Appeals, will be sworn in to the Supreme Court on Jan. 2.

Boyd organized the event, which she said the legislature encourages to promote community participation. Boyd said it can be difficult for some constituents, like her mother, who uses a wheelchair, to go to Columbus to see the mass swearing-in ceremony on the floor of the Statehouse on Jan. 7.

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Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 11:06 AM, 01.02.2019

Heights Youth Theatre presents 'Little Shop of Horrors'

Heights Youth Theatre (HYT) continues its "Celebration of Tolerance, Transformation, and Acceptance" with its production of "Little Shop of Horrors," at Heights Middle School (the former Wiley Middle School) auditorium in University Heights.

The show, directed by Cleveland Heights resident Eugene Sumlin, with music direction by Stacy Bolton, includes 60 actors in grades 1–12 from Cleveland Heights, University Heights, Shaker Heights and surrounding communities. Join them as they make their way through downtown Skid Row with Seymour, Audrey, and one very strange plant!

“HYT'S production of 'Little Shop of Horrors' is sure to be a highlight of the season," Bolton said. "With this strong a cast, it's hard to believe these are school-aged students on stage.”

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Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 12:48 PM, 01.03.2019