Latest News

Heights Observer remembers Jim Henke

Jim Henke

Jim Henke, a prolific contributor to, and volunteer with, the Heights Observer, died on July 8 from complications related to dementia, according to media reports. He was 64.

Henke began writing for the Heights Observer in 2013, following an illustrious career that included covering music for Rolling Stone magazine and 15 years as a curator at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

A Cleveland Heights resident, Henke served as co-chair of the Heights Observer media project for several years, until 2017.

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Volume 12, Issue 8, Posted 8:50 AM, 07.16.2019

Latest News Releases

Free performance of Verb Ballets' Mowgli's Jungle Adventures this Friday
- Verb Ballets, June 24, 2019 Read More
HRCC Annual Business Expo Celebrates 25 Years of Connecting Local Businesses and Strengthening The Communities They Serve
- Heights Hillcrest Regional Chamber of Commerce, May 8, 2019 Read More
Two Distinguished Female Leaders Will Deliver Commencement Addresses in May
- JCU, May 6, 2019 Read More
Attention families of preschool-age children: Fairmount Cooperative Preschool is now enrolling
- Preschool Info., April 29, 2019 Read More
Five CH City Council members sign letter to Governor DeWine expressing their concern with SB 23, the "Heartbeat Bill"
- City of Cleveland Heights, April 25, 2019 Read More

View more news releases

Weil captures rare moonlit images of Lake View

Black Moon Light, 2018 © Michael Weil

Cleveland Heights photographer Michael Weil first began to think about making nighttime photographs in Lake View Cemetery almost 10 years ago.

“Lake View was part of my growing up,” said Weil. “As a child I would go with my father to visit the gravesite of his parents. Even as a child it struck me as not the typical cemetery where you’d hold your breath as you drove past.”

That early connection has developed into a two-part photographic presentation, Moonlight in the Gates: 150 Years of Lake View Cemetery in a New Reflective Light which will be on view in a special installation throughout the cemetery from July 22, 2019, through October 2020. Meanwhile, prints from the series also will be on view at Weil’s Foothill Galleries in Cleveland Heights, July 23 through Aug. 31.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 12:40 PM, 06.27.2019

Where did we go?

It's not much bigger than today's cell phones, but all it did was broadcast AM radio shows—which was all we thought we needed then.

I’ve lived in my current house for 33 years. Our street has a block party every summer. The first time I attended one, I asked several people how long they had lived on the street. A few of them said they’d been here for 30-some years, and I thought, “What a loser.” Now younger new neighbors come up to me at the block party and ask how long I’ve lived here, and I say, “Oh . . . a while. . . .”

After I’d lived in this house for about 10 years, I ran into an old friend from junior high and high school at a Little League game at Forest Hill Park, where our kids were playing on opposing teams. I hadn’t seen him since high school. I asked where he lived and it turned out he’d been living one block east of me. For 10 years.

Two years ago, I attended my high school reunion at Nighttown and ran into another old friend from junior high and high school, whom I hadn’t seen in about 40 years. I asked him where he lived and it turned out he’d been living one block west of me. For 10 years.

And I’ve run into many other old friends who also live in the area, but whom I rarely see.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:37 AM, 06.28.2019

Movies and bands are coming to 'The Walt'

Carlos Jones

"E.T.," "Captain Marvel," and Carlos Jones and the PLUS Band are all coming to Walter Stinson Community Park, aka The Walt, as part of the continuing “Best Summer Ever” celebration in University Heights.

Steven Spielberg’s classic sci-fi movie "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" will be shown under the stars at The Walt on Tuesday, July 2. Pre-movie entertainment will be provided by RW Magic. All children in attendance dressed like a science fiction character will receive a University Heights frisbee.

Local favorites Otis and the Shoreway Saints will bring their rock show of originals and covers to The Walt on July 8. The eight-piece band will play original songs from its three studio albums, as well as covers from the 1960s through the present.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:36 AM, 06.28.2019

Blank Canvas CLE is new Lee Road arts center

Blank Canvas CLE's owner, Michael Newman, welcomes artists with a diversity of styles.

A hub of art-making, art-purchasing, and community-building, Blank Canvas CLE is a collective that opened in the Cedar Lee district in February. Owner Michael Newman, a University Heights resident, started the business because of his love of art and community.

With a range of products at every price point—from vintage baseball cards and graphic art giftables to wall art and custom framing—Blank Canvas CLE makes original artwork accessible to all. Newman invites local artists to approach him about exhibits and showcase events. “We will have monthly shows, with constant movement of works on display,” said Newman.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:27 AM, 06.28.2019

Heights High family brings 'Cheers'-like spot to hometown

The Loretz siblings, Bryan (left), Damon (right) and Lillian Williams-Loretz pose under the sign explaining the vision of Networkz Restaurant & Lounge, which they opened in October. All three are Heights High alums.

The three Loretz sibilings, all Heights High alums, wanted to bring a version of the TV-bar Cheers to their hometown. Bryan Loretz (class of ’84) said they didn't want to open another watering hole or a sports bar. "We wanted to create a place like 'Cheers,' where everyone knows your name. We wanted a place where patrons could come, feel safe, dance, meet friends and make new ones, have good food and drinks in an upscale atmosphere." His brother, Damon (class of ‘93), agreed, "If you close your eyes, we wanted you to think you were in Atlanta, New York City, or Chicago. That's the vibe we wanted to create."

After years of wishing, planning and hard work, Networkz Restaurant & Lounge (3560 Mayfield Road) opened last October. Sister Lillian Loretz-Williams (class of ’76) led the way.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:25 AM, 06.28.2019

Crime rate in UH dropped 32 percent in 2018

Chief Dustin Rogers at UHPD's first "Coffee with a Cop" event.

The crime rate continues to drop in University Heights, in part due to the hard work of the University Heights Police Department (UHPD).

Serious “Part I” crimes dropped by 32 percent in 2018, according to the UHPD’s annual report, as presented to UH City Council last month. Adult and juvenile arrests fell 12 percent.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 12:35 PM, 06.27.2019

Co-ed slow pitch softball league is open to all

A Free Play Softball post-game photo shows the diversity of participants. Photo by Steve Calhoun.

In the late 1980s, Dave Kolb and his wife, Alice—both professors in organizational behavior at Case Western Reserve University—played slow pitch softball in a league with various university departments. They eventually became uncomfortable with the level of competitiveness, so, in 1991, they took their department out of the league and started a Sunday morning pick-up softball game with an emphasis on having fun.

Today, 28 years after its formation, this group is called the Free Play Softball League. Dave and Alice recently retired and now live in Hawaii, but their dream of having fun playing softball is going strong.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:21 AM, 06.28.2019

B'nai B'rith Health Run is July 28

The 33rd B’nai B’rith Health Run, planned for Sunday, July 28, will showcase Walter Stinson Community Park in University Heights. Both registration and the award ceremony will take place at the park's gazebo, at 2307 Fenwick Road.

Both the 1-mile and 5K events start at the park’s entrance on Saybrook Road and end at its Fenwick Road entrance. The 1-miler has overall winners and youth division winners, while the 5K has overall winners plus winners in 13 age groups.

Participants receive a tie-dyed T-shirt with registration.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:22 AM, 06.28.2019

County and solar co-op host July 25 meeting in CH

On Thursday, July 25, the Cuyahoga County Department of Sustainability and the nonprofit Solar United Neighbors will co-sponsor a free, informational meeting for home and business owners interested in going solar. The meeting will take place at the Lee Road Library (2345 Lee Road), at 6 p.m.

Topics will include the history of solar technology; financial incentives, such as the 30-percent Federal Solar Tax Credit; and financing options, including the low-interest Cuyahoga County HELP Loan Program.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 9:56 AM, 06.28.2019

Fifth annual Pekar Comic Book day is July 20

Heights Libraries' Coventry branch will host comic fest activities.

On July 20, the Pekar Park Comic Book Fest will return to Coventry Village for its fifth year. Since 2015, this free festival has honored the legacy of late Cleveland Heights resident and graphic novelist Harvey Pekar by offering a wide range of arts- and comics-themed activities for visitors of all ages.

“Harvey continues to be the most renowned comic writer from the area. He was a regular patron of Heights Libraries’ Lee Road branch, and wrote notable, relatable and internationally recognized comics,” said Kate Atherton, Heights Libraries’ adult services associate, ‘zine collection curator and lartist. “He set the standard that other Cleveland writers and artists could also be recognized, and that their stories could be shared through this unique format.”

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 9:58 AM, 06.28.2019

CH needs government that serves current needs

To the Editor:

This letter is a response to Alan Rapoport's opinion article, "A city manager form of government works well," published in the Heights Observer's June issue.

As a former mayor, Rapoport understandably likes Cleveland Heights' government structure, citing history, progress and a contrasting example.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 12:33 PM, 06.27.2019

What happened with CH government?

To the Editor:

A column by Deborah Van Kleef and Carla Rautenberg in the May 2019 Heights Observer called for changing from a city manager form of government to an elected full-time mayor for Cleveland Heights. The motivation for this call is stated as a poorly working city manager form of government. They state that CH City Manager Robert Downey "left a mess" and had a "sudden departure," in 2012.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 12:30 PM, 06.27.2019

City's original goals for TOH have been lost

What's refreshing about ascending Cedar Glen is that you're entering a new realm—a realm of greenery.

The city of Cleveland Heights and its Top of the Hill (TOH) developer have chosen to monetize the TOH land to the max by placing a confrontational wall-like structure at the city's most valuable and prominent property—a site which should be welcoming, not in-your-face.  

City council members, in desperation to get TOH done on their watch, somehow lost control of the design process and its original development goals. Goals included in April 2018, but now gone (or nearly so), were:

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 12:27 PM, 06.27.2019

Great? TOH design isn't even good

CH officials have repeatedly said that citizen input into the Top of the Hill (TOH) design is a matter of personal opinions and not worthy of serious consideration. They say design decisions should be left to credentialed architects and city planners who understand principles of good design. At the suggestion of a city official, I’ve read some key city planning texts. I found not only that the principles are easy to understand, but that the current TOH design violates at least four major principles of good design.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 12:24 PM, 06.27.2019

First Baptist is a summer mobile pantry site

Volunteers getting food ready.

This summer, First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland is partnering with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank to become a mobile pantry produce distribution center. A mobile pantry is a food bank truck full of food that is brought to a central location where clients can pick up food, as they would from a regular pantry.

During First Baptist’s 12th year of Faith in Action, on Sunday, June 2, church volunteers kicked off of its summer food giveaway program, preparing and distributing the food, including potatoes, corn on the cob, watermelons, tomatoes, butternut squash, eggplant and zucchini.

For the remainder of the summer, First Baptist Church will distribute food on the first Saturday of the month—July 6, Aug. 3, and Sept. 7—from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:04 AM, 06.28.2019

Cedar Fairmount SummerFEST moves to Saturday

Cedar Fairmount SummerFEST organizers promise some new twists and changes for the upcoming festival, Aug. 10, 1–6 p.m.

The biggest change for merchants and shoppers? SummerFEST is on a Saturday this year.

"Many of our merchants are closed on Sunday and so requested a day change. We're accommodating them by moving SummerFEST to Saturday. We're also only closing a part of Lennox this year, so traffic may move smoothly down Surrey," said Sal Russo Sr., president of the Cedar Fairmount Special Improvement District.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:02 AM, 06.28.2019

Supporting strangers strengthens community

“We need to pay more attention to the good news,” observed Jaqueline Blockson at a reception honoring two college scholarship recipients. Community members had gathered at Forest Hill Church to offer financial and emotional support to students and express confidence in their capacity to navigate the future. It was affirming and hopeful.

Blockson, a wonderful ambassador to the community and advocate for Heights High students, is the point person for connecting community donors who want to provide college scholarships with the students who need them.

This year, Heights High graduating seniors received $96,000 in scholarships from 45 different scholarship funds. Blockson was the matchmaker that made it work.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 12:22 PM, 06.27.2019

What we have lost

It is somewhat difficult to explain how education today differs from what it was 15-plus years ago. Much is the same, but the differences are both subtle and obvious. 

There are still textbooks, homework, tests, classes kids enjoy and those they don’t. Heights High has not changed as much as people might think. (Most of the building is new and we finally replaced the 1970s windows that allowed snow and rain to come inside.)

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 12:17 PM, 06.27.2019

Cleveland Heights vocalist presents concerts

Caleb A. Wright in performance. Photo by Aireonna McCall.

Caleb A. Wright and his band, Alexander Wright & The Collective, will perform a free concert at Forest Hill Church in Cleveland Heights on Sunday, July 7, at 6:30 p.m.

Wright, a vocalist and entertainer, is a member of the Cleveland Heights-based Wright Family Singers, who have been performing in the Cleveland area for more than 40 years.

Wright has been performing on his own, locally and nationally, for the past five years. He is a member of multiple groups and choirs, including the Wright Family Singers, Elégie, the Voices of Koinonia, the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, and the Cleveland Opera Circle.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:33 AM, 06.28.2019

CH takes the high road to complete and green streets

We applaud Cleveland Heights for a recent national honor. Out of 66 plans adopted during 2018, the city’s Complete and Green Streets policy was named best in the country by the National Complete Streets Coalition, a project of Smart Growth America. (See related article on page 9 of the print issue.)

In particular, the policy garnered praise for attention to detail, binding language, and balancing the needs of all users, according to WCPN-FM.

We’re highlighting it here because its creation and adoption were driven by citizens, ably supported by CH City Council and staff.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 12:09 PM, 06.27.2019

Home-repair assistance available to eligible residents

Help is on the way for University Heights residents who need assistance keeping their homes in good shape and up to code.

Thanks to a unanimous vote by UH City Council, low-income residents and seniors are now eligible to receive up to $2,500 to pay for needed repairs to the exteriors of their homes. Residents who are issued a citation ordering that a repair be made may apply for the grant. Homeowners would be required to match the grant at 10 percent.

“Making needed home repairs can be a financial burden, so I hope this grant program will be helpful to our homeowners,” Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan said.  “This is another big step in our strategy to maintain and improve our city’s housing stock.”

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 12:06 PM, 06.27.2019

Library rolls out new book bike

The new book bike can hold and display approximately 200 books.

Heights Libraries unveiled its new book bike at the University Heights Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 31, as part of the library’s parade display highlighting summer reading.

 A gift from the Friends of Heights Libraries, the book bike is a sturdy touring-style bike that pulls a custom-made trailer that can hold and display roughly 200 books. 

“It’s a small library on wheels,” said Community Engagement Associate Isabelle Rew, who manages the bike and is its primary rider. “The only difference is that customers don’t have to return these books—they get to keep them.”

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:11 AM, 06.28.2019

Library foundation seeks literacy award nominations

The Fund for the Future of Heights Libraries (FFHL) is currently seeking nominations for its 2019 FFHL Honor Roll. Winners will be chosen by the FFHL board and will be celebrated at the Honor Roll Dinner on Sunday, Nov. 10, at the Acacia Clubhouse at Acacia Reservation, 26899 Cedar Road, in Lyndhurst.

The honor is a “lifetime achievement” award, recognizing those who have made a sustained, outstanding contribution to the Cleveland Heights/University Heights community by promoting literacy, or by educating through literacy.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:05 AM, 06.28.2019

Dobama names Wise managing director

Trevor Wise

After a national search, Dobama Theatre’s Board of Directors unanimously selected Trevor Wise to be the theater’s new managing director.

“As we approach our 60th year, the Dobama board is very excited to welcome Trevor to Cleveland as our new managing director,” said Board President Marcel Duhamel. “Trevor brings skills and experiences that will help lead Dobama into a new decade of growth.”

“I am thrilled that Trevor will be joining Dobama to help lead the theatre at this exciting moment in the theatre’s history,” said Artistic Director Nathan Motta.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:29 AM, 06.28.2019

What’s going on at your library?

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

Saturday, July 20, 12 p.m.

Pekar Comic Book Fest. This free festival honors the late graphic novel writer and Cleveland Heights resident Harvey Pekar with a wide array of activities for children and adults. The festival will spotlight local, independent comic book and graphic novel writers.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:17 AM, 06.28.2019

CH Senior Center News

Did you know that the city of Cleveland Heights offers social work services to its senior residents through the Cleveland Heights Office on Aging? Two part-time social workers are available to answer questions and offer guidance on a wide variety of topics.

They can also offer information on, and connections to, services that can make life more manageable for seniors. The services include: Meals on Wheels, for those needing assistance with meal preparation; van transportaion, for those needing help getting to the doctor or the grocery store; and information on senior housing options, for those who may be ready to downsize but want to remain in the Heights.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 12:05 PM, 06.27.2019

Cleveland Heights leads in complete and green streets

In May the National Complete Streets Coalition chose Cleveland Heights’ Complete and Green Streets policy as the best of 66 complete streets policies adopted in the United States in 2018. The policy is the result of three years of work by the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), a panel of residents who work closely with Planning Director Richard Wong and CH City Council Member Mary Dunbar.

TAC members made sure the goal of passing a complete streets policy was included in Cleveland Heights’ master plan, adopted March 20, 2017. CH City Council approved the policy on May 16, 2018.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 11:59 AM, 06.27.2019

Brennan endorses county ban on plastic bags

University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan has endorsed a proposed countywide ban on single-use plastic bags of the sort associated with grocery and other retail stores. Brennan’s comment came in the context of news that Cuyahoga County Council is considering banning single-use plastic bags throughout Cuyahoga County.

Writing on a community Facebook page, Brennan stated: “I was initially skeptical of a ban, but understanding that there is a connection between plastic in the water and plastic shopping bags, and knowing that there are alternatives (both canvas bags and renewable paper), I would favor a ban. Such a ban would be most effective on the state level, or barring that, the county level. I understand Councilmember Sunny Simon has been working towards that on the county level.” [Brennan is not endorsing a ban on single-use bags in University Heights only.]

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 9:53 AM, 06.28.2019

History proves council-manager plan works well

A proposal to change the Cleveland Heights form of government would reject the past. Before supporting such a drastic change, please consider the history of Frank Cain.

Cain came to Cleveland Heights when it still was a village. He was elected to village council in 1909, and became mayor in 1914. When Cleveland Heights became a city in 1921, Cain headed a charter commission that defined a new council-manager plan, still in use. Elected as first mayor under this new plan, Cain headed a slate of council members that went undefeated for 18 elections. He retired from city government in 1946.  The city had a population of 3,000 when he began service, and 60,000 when Cain retired from city government in 1946.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 11:56 AM, 06.27.2019

How long a shadow does a 50-foot dump pile cast?

Between 2014 and 2017, Arco Recycling in East Cleveland—on Noble Road, just minutes from the north side of Cleveland Heights—operated a dump that Diane Bickett, director of the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District (CCSWD), described as “a sham facility that was going to take in material, claim to be recycling it, make money off of having the material dumped there, and pocket the money and then abandon the site,” in an article by Nick Castele ( Full of noxious waste, including carcinogenic drywall, the Arco site filled a space the equivalent of five football fields, in a residential area.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 11:54 AM, 06.27.2019

Veteran teacher embraces new instructional method

Phoenix James reads a book that she wrote about earthquakes to second-graders.

Ask a roomful of teachers the most challenging part of their job and many will mention meeting the needs of every single child, especially when they come to school with wildly different ability levels, background knowledge, learning styles, and life experiences.

Stephanie Petty, fourth-grade teacher at Fairfax Elementary School, has been teaching in CH-UH for more than 20 years. She finally found a method of differentiation that truly works. After attending a break-out session at the district’s professional development day last November, Petty fully embraced the Grid Method, which, according to its website, “is a student-centered, competency-based system, created at the classroom level and designed to fit any teacher’s style, within any curriculum, in any classroom.”

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:07 AM, 06.28.2019

Communion of Saints welcomes new teacher

Patricia Sheridan McGinty

Patricia Sheridan McGinty will join the staff of Communion of Saints School as the new second-grade teacher this coming 2019–20 school year.

She has been working in Catholic education for 11 years and holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, with a specialization in early childhood intervention. She also holds a reading endorsement from Cleveland State University (CSU) and senior professional teaching licenses. She was awarded a Master Teacher designation by the State of Ohio in 2016.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:09 AM, 06.28.2019

FutureHeights to host two public meetings: July 16 and 18

On Tuesday, July 16, 7 p.m., a FutureHeights-sponsored panel will discuss neighborhood revitalization through beautification at The BottleHouse Brewery & Meadery, 2050 Lee Road. (The event, which was originally slated for June, was rescheduled due to the city's scheduling of a Top of the Hill public meeting for the same evening.)

Speakers, including Tom Gibson, Phyliss Thomas, George Fleming and Jan Kious, will discuss the macro-level social implications that gardening, planting flowers, and beautification can have on a neighborhood, or, in some cases, an entire community.

Then, on Thursday, July 18, FutureHeights will host the last in a series of community meetings to share plans for, and gather input about, the Noble Road commercial corridor.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 8:53 AM, 06.25.2019

Common Ground conversations to take place this Sunday

For the second year, the Cleveland Foundation’s Common Ground initiative is bringing residents together for a series of conversations on a common theme. Various community organizations will host forward-looking conversations around the topic “My Environment” in various locations throughout the region on Sunday, June 30. Host organizations will also share a meal or a snack with participants.

According to the foundation’s website, “Common Ground is a day of community conversation. United by a common question, all Common Ground conversations have the same goal: to create spaces where meaningful connections are made and purposeful actions begin.”

Several Cleveland Heights-University Heights groups are hosting conversations. Here is a list, and information on how to register to participate:

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 8:46 AM, 06.25.2019

Heights High grads win first Register scholarships

Retired CH-UH BOE member Ron Register (second from left) with Treasure Eiland (to Register's left) and Trevion Johnson (far right). 

Two accomplished Cleveland Heights High School 2019 graduates are winners of the first Ron Register scholarships. Treasure Eiland was student vice president, and captain of the volleyball team. Trevion Johnson was a soccer all-star who has been working multiple part-time jobs to live on his own since junior year.

The $2,500 scholarships were awarded May 26 at Forest Hill Presbyterian Church, where the scholarship committee, members of the congregation, and donors celebrated the winners.

The scholarship is named in honor of Ron Register, who served on the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education for 16 years. When he retired in 2017, the Black Caucus of Forest Hill Church brought together diverse elements from the church and community to create the fund.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 12:26 PM, 06.24.2019

Heights home and school garner restoration honors

Harcourt Manor won the Craftsmanship award at the Cleveland Restoration Society/AIA Cleveland's Celebration of Preservation.

On May 22, the Cleveland Restoration Society and the American Institute of Architects granted 12 awards to significant restoration projects in Northeast Ohio at their annual Celebration of Preservation ceremony at Playhouse Square. Two were awarded to prominent Cleveland Heights restoration projects. Cleveland Heights High School received an award for Community Impact, and Harcourt Manor, a residence in the Chestnut Hills neighborhood, received the Craftsmanship Award.

Cleveland Heights High School, designed in 1926 by Franz Warner and W.R. McCormack, was dramatically altered through the years.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 12:22 PM, 06.24.2019

CH needs an elected mayor

Energy and excitement for a charter amendment enabling CH citizens to elect our mayor are building, buoyed by a wildly successful campaign to gather signatures to place the issue on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Why? Cleveland Heights residents are not satisfied with the status quo or the city’s direction. They want a more dynamic, responsive and accountable government. They want a better future. The proposed amendment addresses these needs in several ways, outlined below.

The full-time, elected mayor would appoint and work with a full-time professional city administrator: The mayor will appoint the administrator on the basis of executive and administrative training and experience, subject to council’s confirmation.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 12:27 PM, 06.24.2019

Directly elected mayor would not be more accountable

Should we abandon our long-standing system of democratically shared power in Cleveland Heights? The group favoring centralized executive authority (including power of veto and political appointment) in a single directly elected mayor believes this will make our political leadership in Cleveland Heights more democratically accountable to voters. Let’s examine this contention.

A strong mayor would face election only once every four years. In Cleveland Heights, where political affiliation overwhelmingly favors a single party, a strong mayor would likely be from, and supported by, that party. It would be very difficult for any challenger to replace an incumbent, even if the office holder turned out to be less skilled, less effective, or less ethical than voters had originally believed.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 12:05 PM, 06.24.2019

Elected-mayor petition drive exceeds goal

Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM) delivered to the city 3,962 signatures on petitions to put a charter amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot that, if approved, would create the office of a full-time elected mayor in Cleveland Heights for the first time since the city was chartered in 1921.

Susanna Niermann O'Neil, city council acting clerk and assistant city manager, accepted the petitions on June 17 from members of CEM. The grassroots local ballot issue committee had planned to collect at least 3,200 signatures to help ensure it reached the 2,200 valid signatures needed.

“This fast and impressive show of support assures us that citizens eagerly want to be able to elect their own mayor,” said Tony Cuda, CEM campaign manager. “We look forward to the issue being placed on the ballot and working with volunteers to ensure it passes.”

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 9:36 AM, 06.18.2019

David Budin and the Heights Observer win statewide honors

For the second year in a row, the Heights Observer won second place in Ohio’s largest journalism competition for the title of Ohio’s best non-daily community newspaper.

David Budin’s “Songs and Stories” column, which has appeared in almost every Heights Observer issue over the past decade, was honored with second place as well in the category of best column.

While the Heights Observer was judged against other non-daily newspapers, Budin was judged against columnists from every type and size publication in the state.

The awards were announced June 7 at the 2019 All-Ohio Excellence in Journalism Awards, presented at the House of Blues by The Press Club of Cleveland.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:29 AM, 06.11.2019

CH to host tax abatement workshops on June 12

The city of Cleveland Heights will host two "Tax Abatement 101" informational sessions on June 12: 8–9:30 a.m. in Council Chambers at CH City Hall, and 6–7:30 p.m. at the CH Community Center.

The sessions will each cover the new Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) program that offers property tax abatements to residential and commercial projects throughout the city. The same material will be covered at both the morning and evening sessions, which are being offered to accommodate diverse schedules.

These free events are open to real estate brokers (residential and commercial), developers (residential and commercial), home builders, residents, and other stakeholders interested in learning more about this new program, which dramatically increases the impact and reach of the city's CRA.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:30 AM, 06.11.2019

Youth lacrosse camp registration is open

A focus on game fundamentals in 2018.

Heights Lacrosse will host the 2019 Heights Youth Summer Lacrosse Camp July 9 through Aug. 1, at Canterbury Elementary School. For boys and girls, the camp offers participants an opportunity to try out the sport and perhaps develop into future lacrosse players.

No experience is necessary, and the camp is open to any student who will enter second grade through ninth grade in fall 2019.

The four-week camp will take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 6:30–8 p.m.

Terry Saylor, Heights High’s girls lacrosse coach, and Youth Coach Rachel Petrey will supervise, and Heights High lacrosse players will coach the kids.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:31 AM, 06.11.2019

Gearity is district's second STEM elementary school

CH-UH became the first school district in NE Ohio with two STEM-designated elementary schools after Gearity Elementary received the designation last month.

Cleveland Heights–University Heights City School District became the first district in Northeast Ohio with two STEM-designated elementary schools after Gearity Professional Development School was selected to join the Ohio STEM Learning Network in late April. Gearity had been STEM-focused for years before receiving the official designation. Boulevard Elementary School earned the designation in 2018.

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education provides students with a deep understanding of STEM subjects while incorporating inquiry-based learning and design thinking in all subjects.

“Congratulations to Gearity on earning this important designation,” said CH-UH Interim Superintendent Brian Williams.

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Volume 12, Issue 6, Posted 1:14 PM, 06.10.2019

Elected-mayor proponents seek signatures to place issue on ballot this fall

Volunteers will be fanning out across Cleveland Heights on Saturday, June 8, and Sunday, June 9, inviting residents to support putting a city charter amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot that, if approved, would create the office of a full-time Cleveland Heights mayor, directly elected by citizens.

Since May 17, more than 40 volunteers for Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM) have collected more than 2,000 signatures. To place the charter amendment on the ballot, just over 2,100 signatures of registered voters are needed—10 percent of the number of voters in the last election.

CEM plans to collect at least 3,200 signatures before submitting them for verification. If the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections certifies enough signatures, city council [will] approve an ordinance to put the proposed amendment on the ballot.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 2:34 PM, 06.07.2019

Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 6-3-2019

JUNE 3, 2019


  • Public comments
  • Abortion resolution
  • Top of the Hill
  • Lower Shaker Lake
  • Street resurfacing
  • Other items reported by the city manager
  • City manager’s report
  • Liquor permit application
  • Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook development
  • Top of the Hill parking
  • Pride Month and Gun Violence Awareness Day


Council members present were Mayor Carol Roe, Vice Mayor Melissa Yasinow, Craig Cobb, Mary Dunbar, Kahlil Seren, Jason Stein and Michael N. Ungar. The meeting lasted from 7:35 to 9:30 p.m.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:16 AM, 06.21.2019

Bands take the summer stage in UH starting in June

The Kahuna Kings. [photo courtesy of The Kahuna Kings, Anthony Scott Photography]

Surf Rock, Bruce Springsteen songs, and traditional patriotic anthems will be featured in June as part of the University Heights Summer Concert Series.

The series kicks off on June 13 at Walter Stinson Community Park (2313 Fenwick Road, University Heights) with a surf rock show by the Kahuna Kings and the Lava Ladies. “The Kahuna Kings are a fun throwback,” said University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan. “They’re a retro party dance band. They’re the perfect lead-off band for our summer concerts.”

The band’s album, Who Wants to Party with The Kahuna Kings, is available at

The first 100 kids in attendance at the concert will receive a free University Heights beach ball.

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Volume 12, Issue 6, Posted 10:09 AM, 06.03.2019

Heights Libraries goes green with yellow receipts

Computer passes, check-out receipts, and hold covers are now printed on BPA- and BPS-free paper that uses vitamin C to create an image.

Customers at Heights Libraries may notice that the check-out receipts, computer passes, and hold-item covers look a little sunnier lately.

“It’s the vitamin C,” said Circulation Manager Ty Emerson, pointing out the lemon-yellow tone of the paper.

Vitamin C is a key component of the new BPA- and BPS-free thermal paper that the library started using in March as part of its ongoing efforts to make healthier and more environmentally-friendly decisions part of its every-day operations. Receipts and other paper items created with thermal printers don’t require ink or toner and instead rely on heat and chemicals on the paper to create an image. The new paper at Heights Libraries uses vitamin C as a developer to create the letters on the paper instead of phenol-based chemicals like BPA and BPS that have been linked to health problems, including cancer.

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Volume 12, Issue 6, Posted 9:53 AM, 06.03.2019

Dobama presents world premiere musical

June 27 through July 14, Dobama Theatre presents the world premiere of “33⅓,” a new musical about coming of age and coming out.

Matthew Wright is the director of Dobama’s production, which will feature choreography by Holly Handman-Lopez and music direction by Matthew Dolan.

The book, music and lyrics are by Jay Turvey and Paul Sportelli, co-writers of eight musicals. 

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Volume 12, Issue 6, Posted 10:14 AM, 06.03.2019

Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 5-20-2019

MAY 20, 2019


  • Public comments
  • Municipal court annual report
  • City manager’s report
  • Abortion rights
  • Property declared a nuisance
  • Mayor’s and council members’ announcements


Council members present were Mayor Carol Roe, Craig Cobb, Mary Dunbar, Kahlil Seren, and Jason Stein. Vice Mayor Melissa Yasinow and Michael N. Ungar were absent. The meeting lasted from 7:31 to 8:44 p.m.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:26 AM, 06.21.2019

University Heights City Council meeting highlights 5-20-2019

MAY 20, 2019


  • Public comments
  • Regional dispatch center
  • Property maintenance grant program
  • Tennis court rebuild
  • Fire safety inspection
  • Parks and Recreation District zoning change
  • Inspections fee schedule
  • Yard nuisance abatement
  • Warrensville mid-block crossing
  • Road striping
  • A&S Animal Control
  • Non-bargaining employee ordinances repeal
  • Purvis Pool new payment system


Present were Mayor Michael D Brennan, Pamela Cameron, Phil Ertel, John Rach, Michele Weiss and Mark Wiseman. Steven Sims arrived at 7:10. Vice Mayor Susan Pardee was absent. Also present were Law Director Luke McConville, Finance Director James Goffe and Clerk of Council Kelly Thomas. The meeting was held from 7:05 to 9:30 pm

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:34 AM, 06.21.2019

Cleveland Heights – University Heights Public Library Board of Trustees meeting highlights 5-20-2019

MAY 20, 2019


  • Coventry Peace Campus presentation
  • Financial report
  • Budget submission
  • Lee Road basement repairs
  • A 2019-2020 medical benefits
  • Coventry basement waterproofing
  • Advanced ASL classes
  • Coding for Kids program
  • Circulation report


Present were President Chris Mentrek, Vice President James Roosa, Secretary Dana Fluellen, Max Gerboc and Vikas Turakhia.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:41 AM, 06.21.2019

Heights Music Hop returns in September

The seventh annual Heights Music Hop festival will take place Sept. 12-14, in three Cleveland Heights districts: Sept.12 in Coventry Village, Sept. 13 in Cedar Fairmount, and Sept. 14 in Cedar Lee.

Heights Music Hop showcases local live musical talent, performing in local businesses and unique locations to promote the Heights as home to the arts, while also helping to support the local economy and celebrate the community’s diversity, walkability and great quality of life.

The 2019 festival will showcase new musical talent from all genres, including jazz, rock, R&B, classical, rap, indie, Americana and folk.

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Volume 12, Issue 6, Posted 10:12 AM, 06.03.2019

One-woman play will benefit memory-care programs

Molly McFadden

Net proceeds of the June 14–16 performances of “Living on the Moon,” a one-woman play written and performed by Molly McFadden, will benefit memory care programs managed by Benjamin Rose Institute and its affiliates. The performances take will take place at Ensemble Theatre, 2843 Washington Blvd., in Cleveland Heights.

The one-act play explores the bittersweet journey McFadden shared with her mother, after her mother’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease in the 1980s. Drawing on a lifetime of producing, acting and singing professionally, McFadden’s play brings meaning and light to her late mother’s story.

Locally renowned pianist Vince Robinson will accompany McFadden during performances of the show, directed by Christina Courtenay.

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Volume 12, Issue 6, Posted 10:07 AM, 06.03.2019

Former pop-up Foodhisattva brings vegan-Asian to South Taylor

Josh Sias, Frances Cheng, and Jude the cow at the LASA Sanctuary.

Six years ago, Joshua Sias and Frances Cheng began offering pop-up vegan fare—first, from a chocolate shop in Lyndhurst, then at various other locations in Greater Cleveland, including The Bottlehouse in Cleveland Heights. These themed dining experiences were a way to bring new cuisine to the area and show that great food can be made without harming animals—something important to Sias and Cheng. What started as little more than a hobby has led the couple to establish their own Asian-themed restaurant in Cleveland Heights.

The two, partners and spouses, are looking to a June opening for Foodhisattva, their vegan Asian restaurant at 2158 South Taylor Road.

“We were the first in the area to have a vegan pop-up,” Sias said. “And after a while, people started asking us to do it again.” When their semi-regular pop-up nights at The Bottlehouse on Lee Road became increasingly popular, the couple realized there was a demand for vegan food on the East Side. “It was a long time coming,” Sias said. “And the natural evolution of a pop-up is a restaurant.”

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Volume 12, Issue 6, Posted 10:04 AM, 06.03.2019

'I lived there'

The Manor, the Tudor building with gargoyles guarding the entrance, where I lived in the unit the custodian believed was called the "deficiency."

I once opened a Long Road show at Nighttown by saying, “Thank you. It’s great to be back in Cleveland Heights. Well . . . I was in South Euclid this afternoon . . .”

I have lived in 30 places in Cleveland Heights. I have also lived outside of Cleveland Heights, of course—in the Cleveland area, I’ve lived in a total of 31 places. For about a year, mostly in 1972, I lived in a house on Magnolia Drive, in University Circle. But while I lived there, I spent almost all of my time in Cleveland Heights, mainly on Coventry, eating at Tommy’s every day.

When I was born, my family lived on Belmar, two streets east of Coventry, in the first house after the apartment building on the corner of Mayfield. When I was 15, we moved to the house next door. When people asked my father why, he said, “It’s just the gypsy in us.”

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Volume 12, Issue 6, Posted 10:15 AM, 06.03.2019

Roxboro Elementary installs unique vending machine

Roxboro Elementary students make their selections from the new vending machine.

Many schools across the country have been phasing out vending machines in the interest of student health. But Roxboro Elementary School has just installed one.

This is no ordinary vending machine, however. Instead of soft drinks and chips, it is stocked with books. 

D&S Vending, located in downtown Cleveland, refurbishes old vending machines for unique purposes. The Roxboro PTA paid for the custom machine and an initial set of books to fill it, taking advantage of the discount earned as a result of using Mac’s Backs - Books on Coventry for the school’s book fair. The PTA also received a  grant of $600 from Reading Is Fundamental, a nonprofit organization that promotes children’s literacy, to purchase additional books.

“We’ll eventually accept used and donated books,” said Mary Pat Jolivett, a PTA member “But we wanted to start with nice spanking-new books.”

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Volume 12, Issue 6, Posted 9:51 AM, 06.03.2019

CH Senior Center News

Innovative programming, in cooperation with University Circle’s Distance Learning Department, continues at the Cleveland Heights Senior Activity Center (SAC) on Tuesday, June 11, 11 a.m., with a videoconference lecture, “Japanese Art: Humble and Bold.”

In this program, viewers are introduced to Japanese art in a variety of media, including ceramics used in the tea ceremony, enamelware, and folding screens made from paper and wood. The aesthetics range from earthy and subtle to colorful and luxurious. The discussion will focus on the formal qualities of these works, as well as their practical uses. Participants are encouraged to look at the works of art as indicators of Japanese social values and tastes.

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Volume 12, Issue 6, Posted 9:48 AM, 06.03.2019

First Baptist summer services will feature multiple themes

Hat Day at First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland.

The First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland, 3630 Fairmount Blvd., is expanding on its successful summer worship format. Beginning with the 10 a.m. service on Sunday, June 9, services will be preceded by fellowship time at 9:30 a.m., where coffee, tea, juice and food will be provided. Late arrivers will be invited to bring their refreshments into church.
Each service will include a mix of traditional and contemporary music typical of the church’s separate traditional and contemporary services held during other seasons. For example, on one Sunday a powerful organ prelude will start things off; on another, the church’s talented praise team and band will assume the opening role.

Anyone interested in giving singing in a church choir a try is welcome to join the church’s Sometime Sunday Singers, a group of regular choir members and congregation volunteers who meet at 9:15 a.m. to learn a simple song that is then sung during that day’s service. No audition is required.

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Volume 12, Issue 6, Posted 9:46 AM, 06.03.2019

Happy 5K/10K gears up for October race

Participants in the 2018 Happy 5K/10K costume contest.

The fifth Happy 5K/10K race is planned for Sunday, Oct. 6. In the spirit of the race’s motto—“Come for the run, stay for the fun!”race  coordinators are enthusiastically working to increase participation, expand sponsorship and scholarship donations, and make the after-party even bigger.

The first Happy race, in 2015, comprised 400 runners. Each year since, the number of registrants has grown, with 600 participants in 2018. In a region that has ample 5K opportunities, that is “unusual growth,” according to coordinator Adam Fleischer, owner of The Wine Spot. “Each year we have more runners, more merchants, and more running teams,” Fleischer said. 

Runners give the event high praise. Kevin Sovacool of Lyndhurst said, “It’s such a fun race in a really great community. Everybody comes together.” Nick Becker of Cleveland Heights said he especially likes the community vibe. “Everyone on the block gets involved and cheers the racers on,” Becker said.

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Volume 12, Issue 6, Posted 9:40 AM, 06.03.2019