Latest News

October food drive will benefit food bank

Shari Garzone, owner of Jamaican-Me Tan in University Heights.

Shari Garzone and the staff at Jamaican-Me Tan are hosting their annual food drive to benefit the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.

Throughout October, you can drop off food and non-perishable items at Jamaican-Me Tan (14488 Cedar Road). Needed food items include canned beef stew, canned soup, canned tuna, peanut butter, and cereal. In demand non-food items include deodorant, laundry detergent, toilet paper, shampoo, tooth brushes, and tooth paste.

In return for a contribution, those donating items will receive a 10-percent-off coupon.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:28 PM, 10.14.2019

Latest News Releases

CH Fire Fighters Local 402 opposes Issue 26
- Non-Profit & Groups, September 26, 2019 Read More
Rep. Boyd to hold Sept. 5 event to help rebuild uprooted CH community garden
- State Rep. Janine Boyd, September 4, 2019 Read More
Cleveland Heights Teachers Union And CH-UH City School District Restricted To One-Year Contract Due To State Voucher Expansion
- CH-UH Schools, August 29, 2019 Read More
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

View more news releases

Odd Dog Coffee sets up shop at The Walt

Michael Hancock of Odd Dog Coffee sets up for business in Walter Stinson Community Park.

If you need another incentive to get out of bed on a Saturday morning this fall, Odd Dog Coffee has one for you.

Odd Dog Coffee will set up a pop-up café every Saturday morning at Walter Stinson Community Park, from 8 a.m. until noon. Owners Michael Hancock and Mary-Elizabeth Fenn will serve up their Good Boy Blend, plus spiced blends including Pumpkin Spice, Cardamom & Clove, and Cacao, Cinnamon & Cayenne Pepper.

Odd Dog Coffee plans to run its pop-up café through December, weather permitting.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 6:26 PM, 10.14.2019

FutureHeights director to be WOVU radio guest on Oct. 15

FutureHeights Executive Director Deanna Bremer Fisher will be a guest on WOVU 95.9 FM Radio’s “Morning Inspiration,” a community roundtable discussion that covers local news events and topics. The show, which will air on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 9–10 a.m., is hosted by Jae Williams, general manager of WOVU.

WOVU is a community radio station broadcast by Burten, Bell, Carr Development Inc. (BBC), the nonprofit community development corporation serving Cleveland’s Central and Kinsman neighborhoods. Similar to the Heights Observer, the mission of WOVU is “to provide an inclusive media platform that connects, engages, and informs the entire community to achieve ongoing social and economic progress for all.”

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 5:09 PM, 10.13.2019

Elected mayor proposal lacks critical element

Elected mayor proponents want you to believe that a mayor with all administrative power in our city is the fix we need for what they claim is a “vacuum of administrative responsiveness.” Yet their proposal omits a critical element of good government that protects citizens from the Achilles heel that so often hinders the responsiveness and effectiveness of mayor-led governments.

Their proposal doesn’t forbid the mayor from appointing relatives or any individuals who contributed financially to the mayor’s election. It also fails to prohibit the mayor from soliciting or accepting campaign contributions from employees of the city, before, during, or after the campaign.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:17 AM, 10.03.2019

First concert in chamber music series is Oct. 13

Musicians perform at a 2018 Heights Arts Close Encounters concert in a Herrick Mews carriage house.

October marks the opening of the 2019–20 Close Encounters chamber music concert series. Now in its 14th season, Close Encounters celebrates Heights Arts’ 20th anniversary with four unique afternoons of chamber music performed by some of the world’s finest musicians—who just happen to live here in the Cleveland area.

The first concert, to be hosted at a historic carriage house in Herrick Mews, will take place on Sunday, Oct. 13, at 3 p.m.

Performing is the Omni Quartet, who will present Robert Schumann’s String quartet in A-minor, written during a brief and singular period of happiness in his otherwise melancholy life. Musicians in the Omni Quartet are also members of the Cleveland Orchestra. 

The second concert in the series will take place at Dunham Tavern on Sunday, Nov. 24, with subsequent concerts planned for March 1 and May 3.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:02 PM, 10.14.2019

What’s going on at your library?

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

Monday, Oct. 21, 5 p.m.

Escape the Room: The Haunted Mansion. Can you solve the puzzles and escape the haunted mansion before time is up? Test your skills as you work with a team to try to beat the clock. Registration required.

Lee Road Library
2345 Lee Road, 216-932-3600

Sunday, Oct. 13, 2 p.m.

Indigenous Peoples Read-In. Celebrate the voices of indigenous peoples. You're encouraged to bring a short selection from a Native American or other indigenous writer to share, or simply be part of the audience. Co-sponsored by Friends of the Heights Libraries. Registration recommended for those who want to read at the event.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:00 PM, 10.14.2019

2019 Voters Guide to Local Candidates and Issues

The League of Women Voters has created a guide to local candidates and issues for the Nov. 5 election. Click on the links below to access information for candidates and issues. A print version of the guide is available as an insert in the October issue of the Heights Observer, available for free at numerous locations around town.  

Cleveland Heights City Council, Two-Year Unexpired Term

Cleveland Heights City Council, Council At Large

University Heights City Council, Council At Large

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education

County and Municipal Issues

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:40 PM, 10.07.2019

Where I disagree with Cheryl Stephens

Cheryl Stephens supports a “strong mayor” charter amendment on the November ballot. I am a good friend and big fan of Cheryl. She has been—and continues to be—an exceptional public servant. We each have served Cleveland Heights as mayors. We agree about much, but I disagree with some points she has made:

“Cleveland Heights can’t be afraid of voters.” I agree. But strong mayors too frequently are elected because of name recognition and political affiliation rather than their ability to govern effectively. City managers, on the other hand, are selected in a non-partisan manner based on merit, professional qualifications and experience. Voters elect to city council those who hire, retain or fire city managers. Nothing about such a system reflects a fear of voters.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 11:16 AM, 10.03.2019

Vote No to changing CH's form of government

I want to urge people to vote No on the issue of changing the Cleveland Heights system, [in which] the voted-in city council choose a qualified city manager to run the government, to that of a “strong mayor” who appoints his/her people to run the government.

I worked for the Cleveland Heights Division of Parks and Recreation for 33 years, and was head of the division for the final 17. During my tenure I was selected following an interview process, always worked hard, and had the best interests of our city at the forefront at all times. I was always supported by a qualified city manager and a strong, elected city council, and I always felt that they allowed me to promote our great city, and improve and build our second-to-none programs and facilities.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 10:37 AM, 10.03.2019

LEI youth writers attend international congress

Lake Erie Ink participants Grace Yoo, Rachel Kelly, and Ayelet Travis enroute to the International Congress of Youth Voices in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Three veteran Lake Erie Ink (LEI) participants attended the second International Congress of Youth Voices, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Aug. 7–11. This year’s congress gathered 130 young writers and activists, ages 16–20, from all around the world, with the goal of enabling them to learn with and from accomplished writers, activists and elected officials.

For the three local delegates, the selection process began with LEI nominating them to the 2019 Congress. After acceptance and submission of required materials, Tess Kelly (of Pepper Pike), Ayelet Travis (of University Heights), and Grace Yoo (of Mayfield Heights), traveled with Amy Rosenbluth, LEI’s executive director, to be part of the event.

According to the congress, “student delegates are chosen based on their commitment to leadership and social justice and their passion and eloquence as writers.” This opportunity to cultivate leadership among accomplished youth was created by author Dave Eggers and nonprofit leader Amanda Uhle.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:53 PM, 10.02.2019

My awesome sports career

I'm standing right next to Coach Jackson—No. 41. For some reason, my shoulder pads were much smaller than everyone else's. Maybe that's why playing on the line was so painful.

Most of the way through Coventry Elementary School, I was a chubby kid who hated sports (except for baseball, though I wasn’t very good at it). And I always hated running—except to first base, after hitting the ball in a baseball game, though, fortunately, I guess, that situation was pretty rare.

But then, around the fifth grade, I started getting taller. By the sixth grade, I was among the tallest kids in the school. I didn’t realize that I was never going to grow any taller. But it was nice for a few years. Then, starting in, maybe, the ninth grade, I got shorter every year. (Not literally, of course. That’s happening now.) Then, when I got to Heights High, I had to try to remember which kids I might have bullied during my tall years.

But, going back to sixth grade and my sudden tallness, and its resultant thinness, another unexpected result was speediness. I suddenly became a really fast runner.

In the summer, between seventh and eighth grades, my second summer playing for Cumberland Park’s softball team and hanging out at Cumberland every day—mostly playing tether ball, which I still think should be an Olympic sport—this man, Mr. Tupta, Roosevelt Junior High’s guidance counselor, came around and started timing kids in the 50-yard dash, in search of participants for the upcoming Junior Olympics. I did well, and he wanted me to run in that event, but I declined (I don’t remember why). But he strongly suggested that I try out for the Roosevelt football team in the fall, because I was fast and big. He thought I could be a ball carrier.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 1:06 PM, 10.02.2019

Annual benefit event will feature Ohio's poet laureate

Cleveland Heights resident Dave Lucas, Poet Laureate of the State of Ohio, will be reading his work at "Afternoon with an Author" on Nov. 2.

Ohio’s poet laureate, Dave Lucas, will read his work at the eighth annual “Afternoon with an Author,” hosted by the Cleveland Heights Chapter Q of Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO) International. The poetry reading will be followed by a Q&A session, a book signing and a dessert reception on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2 p.m., at Forest Hill Presbyterian Church (3031 Monticello Blvd.). Tickets are $20.

Lucas’ first book of poems, Weather, received the 2012 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rita Dove named him one of 13 “young poets to watch.” Lucas has also received a Discovery/The Nation Prize and a Cleveland Arts Prize. In 2018, he was appointed the second Poet Laureate of the State of Ohio. He lives in Cleveland Heights, and teaches at Case Western Reserve University. 

Past speakers at the event have included other area writers, including award-winning novelists Mary Doria Russell and D.M. Pulley, and mystery writer Annie Hogsett.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 1:03 PM, 10.02.2019

The Fairmount exhibits CH artist's fiber series

A piece from Katie Mongoven's Meditation Series

Katie Mongoven is the latest artist to have her work featured at The Fairmount, as part of its emerging artist exhibition program. The exhibition features Morgoven’s fiber series, Periodic, and will be on view until Nov. 28.

Mongoven, who lives and works in Cleveland Heights, is known for her use of vibrant color and attention to detail—bringing unique patterns into focus.

She began the Periodic series at the Vermont Studio Center last winter, as an exploration of embroidery and a denaturing of its established purpose as a decorative embellishment. Each piece bonds the intangible qualities of light and color with texture, pulling inspiration from traditional quilt-making, geometry and pattern-making. 

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 1:01 PM, 10.02.2019

Dougbe River School plans annual gala event

Dougbe River Presbyterian School teaches children from preschool through ninth grade.

The Dougbe River Presbyterian School, a mission in Africa that was conceived of in Cleveland Heights, will hold its annual fundraising gala on Sunday, Oct. 27.

The school is the first ever in a remote region of the West African nation of Liberia, which is the birthplace of Isaac Monah, elder in the Noble Road Presbyterian Church. He left Twarbo Region in 1990, fleeing Liberia's civil war. 

In 2007, shortly after returning from a visit to Liberia, Monah brought his idea for the school to the church's elders, where it was met with enthusiasm.

Working with other worship communities and individuals, the school opened in 2012. It now has about 160 students, boys and girls, from preschool through ninth grade. The school is open to all regardless of religious affiliation.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:38 PM, 10.02.2019

Dobama presents new play by Will Eno

Dobama Theatre continues its 60th Anniversary season with "Wakey, Wakey" by Will Eno. The play runs Oct. 18 through Nov. 10.

The New York Times called the play "profoundly moving,” and Variety described it as "a work of humor, humanity and grace that makes you want to hug your lover, your neighbor and maybe an usher on the way out.” This new play from Pulitzer Prize-nominee Will Eno ("The Realistic Joneses," "Middletown," "Thom Pain") features a guy named Guy who knows, like all of us on some level, that he is about to die. Guy engages the audience in a conversation about life and what is worth celebrating, what is worth treasuring, and what is worth letting go in this moving and hilarious play.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:59 PM, 10.02.2019

Belarusian delegates visit CH

[photo by Michael Abelev, Cleveland Council on World Affairs]

In August, a delegation from the country of Belarus—advocates and leaders in the field of diversity and inclusion—visited Greater Cleveland to observe and learn about programs here for those with disabilities. They plan to take what they learned back to Belarus, and implement the ideas there. Cleveland Heights’ Loving Hands Group (whose principal, Judith Eugene, is third from left in the photo) was among the companies and organizations that the delegation met with. The U.S. Agency for International Development funded their visit, in partnership with World Learning, and Cleveland Council on World Affairs planned their itinerary.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 1:10 PM, 10.02.2019

Burning River Baroque to perform at Blank Canvas CLE

Photo Credit: Alex Belisle 

Thoughtfully crafted programs inspired by the current social climate are at the heart of Burning River Baroque’s eighth season, which focuses on unconventional 17th-century women and perceptions of mental health. Known for its their socially motivated programming and dynamic interpretations of early modern music, the group will bring “A Mad, Burning Desire” to Blank Canvas CLE on Oct. 19.

The performers will also engage the audience with dialogues about the myriad ways the perception of mental illness in the early modern period is directly related to the stigma surrounding mental health in contemporary times. The program will further challenge audience members to consider the ways in which we might address the mental health crises many are facing today.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:56 PM, 10.02.2019

14th annual Fair Trade Expo comes to JCU

Angela Melfi and Kara Valentine, founders of Threads Worldwide, are keynote speakers at the Ohio Fair Trade Teach-In & Expo.

“There is no better way to eradicate poverty, strengthen families, and better our global community than through the empowerment of women,” said Kara Valentine, co-founder of Threads Worldwide, a social enterprise that provides sustainable income opportunities for women worldwide through the creation and sale of fair trade jewelry and accessories. 

Valentine and Angela Melfi, Threads co-founder, will be the keynote speakers at the Ohio Fair Trade Teach-in & Expo on Saturday, Oct. 26, at John Carroll University’s Dolan Science Center. 

Fair trade, a system of commerce that is respectful and equitable to both purchasers and producers, has made access to education, dignified housing, and work much more possible. This, in turn, means that families have a greater chance of staying together and avoiding a treacherous journey to migrate elsewhere. 

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:50 PM, 10.02.2019

In support of an elected mayor

When the city manager form of government emerged in the Progressive reform era, it often did serve as a good government response to political corruption and incompetence. I believe that it no longer serves as the best governance model for the city of Cleveland Heights. Our city has been challenged on many fronts as it has had to compete not only with exurbs in the region but also with some of Cleveland's inner-ring suburbs (e.g., Lakewood).

To compete successfully—to retain present, and attract new, residents and businesses in the face of factors such as population decline, more aging residents, a housing stock that has problems, and reliance upon a mostly residential tax base—the city needs to take more aggressive and innovative action. The city manager system does not readily lend itself to this.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:45 PM, 10.02.2019

Where is the evidence that a strong-mayor system would be better for CH?

In the nearly two years since a group promoting a strong mayor emerged, its members have poured out thousands of words. But they still have not demonstrated (as opposed to merely claimed) that the daily lives of Cleveland Heights residents would have been, or will be in the future, safer, more prosperous, or otherwise better if only the city were run by a political executive and appointed underlings. This failure is not surprising. There is no meaningful foundation for any such conclusion. The evidence points strongly in the other direction.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:43 PM, 10.02.2019

Fostering a resilient city doesn't demand change in form of government

Citizens for an Elected Mayor’s (CEM) advocacy for changing the form of Cleveland Heights government from council/city manager to strong mayor relies on three propositions: 

1) Our city is in severe decline.
2) The approach of our current city government to our problems is ineffectual.
3) We cannot solve those problems unless we change the structure of city government.

I think there is ample evidence to refute each of those propositions. Here’s just a sample:

• In 2018 violent crime decreased by 28 percent, and burglaries and breaking and entering by 50 percent from the previous year.
• Median home-sale prices increased by 37 percent from 2014 to 2019. 
• In 2017 and 2018, 95 new businesses opened in our city, nearly one each week. 
• Even at CEM meetings, participants praised our police, fire, public works departments, parks, and senior center.

Certainly we have serious problems, as do many inner-ring suburbs. But these are not data that portray a city in severe decline. 

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:41 PM, 10.02.2019

Elected mayor is a step toward more-real democracy

People the world over are increasingly demanding a greater voice in the decisions directly affecting their lives, communities, nations and natural world.

Many/most government, corporate, media, educational and religious “leaders” are increasingly publicly perceived as unaccountable, not transparent, captured by special interests, corrupt and disconnected from the problems affecting people in their everyday lives. Rather than exploring real alternatives to our fundamental problems, our “leaders” seem visionless.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:40 PM, 10.02.2019

Tiger Nation signs promote district unity

A Heights Tiger Nation yard sign.

You’ve seen the signs in yards throughout the neighborhood—Heights Tiger Nation. The slogan with the face of a tiger has popped up on T-shirts, cups and hats. But some people do not have a clue what Tiger Nation means.

Around 2010, CH-UH City School District leaders were looking for a way to encourage district unity. They wanted all CH-UH students, families, staff members, and residents to feel pride in their district. They understood that to feel a connection with others who have shared experiences helps build unity and a sense of belonging.

At about the same time, the words “Tiger Nation” started appearing on district spirit-wear, marketing materials, gift items and exterior signs. Many of the district’s schools encouraged students and staff to wear Tiger Nation gear. The popular yard signs started appearing a few years later, in neighborhoods throughout the community. Thus, the tiger went districtwide; it became everyone’s mascot.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:33 PM, 10.02.2019

CH Senior Center News

Attention, music lovers! The Cleveland Heights Senior Activity Center’s (SAC) partnership with University Circle’s Distance Learning programs continues this month with an exploration of Chopin on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 1 p.m., at the center.

Julia Russ, Cleveland Institute of Music faculty member, will present “Chopin in Paris”—a talk about the composer’s life and work, and the cultural life in Paris at the time. Russ is a recipient of the Steinway Top Teacher award and has concertized extensively as a soloist and collaborative pianist.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:32 PM, 10.02.2019

Don’t follow In East Cleveland’s footsteps: Vote no on Issue 26

Cleveland Heights should take a lesson from East Cleveland and vote “NO” on Issue 26 to stop the politicization and destabilization of our city. I’ve seen this show before and it isn’t pretty.

I was raised in East Cleveland, and I was part of the second black family on my street. I remember the days when we had ice skating rinks on Shaw Avenue, dances at the YMCA, and three outdoor swimming pools with tennis courts. I graduated from Shaw High School in 1974, and I gave back by teaching at Kirk Middle School in East Cleveland. My children were born in East Cleveland. I loved East Cleveland, and I still do.

But in 1987 we left it.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:29 PM, 10.02.2019

Library embraces fandom with fall programs

This fall, Heights Libraries will host a series of programs that celebrate the books, movies and cultural phenomena that have drawn people in and inspired followers to transcend the original piece and make it their own.

“Few among us are new to the experience of seeing a favorite TV show get cancelled, or reading an enthralling series to its finale and longing to stay in touch with that world,” said Greg Osborn, adult services librarian. “Whether it’s sports, music, art, film, or a thrilling read, die-hard fans have expanded on the stories they love through the development of discussion groups, fan fiction and even cosplay.”

While fan culture might seem a product of the Internet age, wherein online forums teem with theories dissecting every plot twist, fandom dates back to the turn of the century, with Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation of his iconic character Sherlock Holmes. Early fans of the deductive detective were not satisfied just reading the books; they took matters into their own hands, immersing themselves in his world by designing their own mysteries in homage to Holmes himself. And with that, the fan was born.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:27 PM, 10.01.2019

University Heights looks to be counted in 2020 Census

University Heights has a campaign underway to ensure that all of its residents will be counted in the 2020 U.S. Census.

Allocation of federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities is based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors, as measured by the census.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 10:53 AM, 10.01.2019

UH Symphonic Band embarks on 50th season

Members of the band at a summer concert on June 6, 2019.

This season marks the 50th anniversary of the University Heights Symphonic Band (UHSB), an all-volunteer wind ensemble sponsored by the city of University Heights.

This year the band is pleased to inaugurate its first year-round concert season, presenting concerts in Kulas Auditorium at John Carroll University (JCU) on Oct. 20, Dec. 5 and March 8. Additionally, the band will present a series of holiday and summer concerts around Greater Cleveland.

The band is under the leadership of Musical and Artistic Director Matthew Salvaggio, who also serves as music director of the Euclid Symphony Orchestra.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 10:38 AM, 10.01.2019

UHPD to distribute candy on Halloween night

In 2018, M&Ms were the most popular Halloween candy in Ohio.

As is their tradition, members of the University Heights Police Department will be ready for Halloween night, Oct. 31, with candy for trick-or-treaters.

Trick-or-treat hours will run from 6 to 8 p.m. that evening. Residents are asked to leave their lights on if they will be distributing candy.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 10:28 AM, 10.01.2019

University Heights Fall Fest is Oct. 6

The inaugural University Heights Fall Fest will take place on Sunday, Oct. 6, 1–5 p.m., at Walter Stinson Community Park.

Jersey, the Bruce Springsteen tribute band, will headline the event, with a concert at 3 p.m.

There will be plenty of shopping at Fall Fest, as dozens of local artists and small businesses will have booths at the festival. Vendors include Altemus Leatherwork, Milan’s Bead Company, Dude About Town photography, LeLux Jewelry & Accessories, Judy’s Jewelry Basket, Sunshine on Silk, Milk & Cookies, and Shebaflora.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 10:24 AM, 10.01.2019

Open house kicks off Fire Prevention Week

Hang out with the University Heights Fire Department at its Oct. 6 open house.

In celebration of Fire Prevention Week, Chief Robert Perko and the University Heights Fire Department (3980 Silsby Road) invite community members of all ages to their station on Sunday, Oct. 6, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Activities will include fire safety talks, station tours, and food, as well as inflatables and a coloring contest for kids. 

University Hospitals will provide health screenings and food, including Kosher options, while the American Red Cross will distribute fire detector batteries.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 6:33 PM, 09.30.2019

Blackout didn’t stop the 'rock out' at HMH19

AJ & The Woods performing at The Fairmount during the Sept. 13 blackout. [photo courtesy FutureHeights]

The seventh annual Heights Music Hop (HMH19), which took place Sept. 12–14, turned out to be unlike the previous six hops. It had more bands—82 in total—and 34 venues, in three districts over three nights: Thursday in Coventry Village, Friday in Cedar Fairmount and Saturday in Cedar Lee. The last evening featured a makers’ market of local vendors on the vacant lot at Lee Road and Meadowbrook Boulevard.

The evening of Friday the 13th began beautifully. The sun was out and the winds were calm for the first part of the evening, but the full moon portended something ominous. The forecast had called for rain and potential thunderstorms beginning about 10:30 that evening, but at about 8:30 p.m. a brisk wind blew in, culminating in a violent storm that the National Weather Service later confirmed was a microburst.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 6:30 PM, 09.30.2019

Council, not CEM, rejected ethics clause

To the Editor:

To clarify more misinformation from opponents of the citizens’ amendment for an elected mayor: Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM) did not reject an ethics clause as Jack Newman alleged last month. By law, a proposed citizens’ amendment can address only one issue; unlike council or a commission, citizens cannot offer changes across the entire charter, so we had to focus solely on sections related directly to the manager/mayor structure.

Newman should be more worried that CH City Council itself rejected a key ethics recommendation by the Charter Review Commission (CRC).

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 11:08 AM, 10.01.2019

A park at Meadowbrook-Lee?

Phase 1 of the proposed park, as drawn by Ralph Solonitz.

Cleveland Heights residents may be interested to know that Ralph Solonitz, Garry Kanter and I submitted a plan for turning the city-owned space at Meadowbrook-Lee into a small urban park. Over the years we have submitted three similar proposals in response to CH City Hall’s RFPs for that space.

Our proposal is that the city work with us, and a committee of like-minded residents, for two years to raise $1 million to pay for the design and creation of an interesting urban space, with a fountain kids and people can interact with, a small stage, and an open space for food trucks and a farmers’ market, etc.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 11:12 AM, 10.01.2019

Think before you vote [Corrected version]

To the Editor:

Before deciding for or against the proposed amendment to the city charter, [I urge CH residents] read and think about what it establishes:

“Shall various Articles of the Charter of the City of Cleveland Heights be amended to change the form of government from its current elected Council and appointed Manager form, to an elected Mayor and Council form, and to provide for the powers, duties, four-year term, qualifications, and removal process for the office of the Mayor, and to create the position of the City Administrator appointed by the Mayor and subject to Council approval who shall be responsible for assisting the Mayor in overseeing the administrative functions of the City, commencing with the initial election of the Mayor to occur at the regular municipal election occurring in the year 2021; and to eliminate the City Manager position?

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 11:00 AM, 10.01.2019

I support CH council candidate Hart

To the Editor:

Which new candidate for CH City Council has attended most Committee of the Whole and city council meetings for the past three years? Melody Hart. Because Melody has this unique view of city council, she has a very good understanding of how it functions.

Which candidate for CH City Council is a member of the Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC) Housing Task Force? Melody Hart.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 11:09 AM, 10.01.2019

The status quo can't cut it

As regular readers of this column know, we enthusiastically endorse a step toward a brighter future for our city: Issue 26, the Cleveland Heights city charter amendment providing for a directly elected mayor and a professional city administrator appointed with council approval.

During several years’ attendance at Committee of the Whole (CoW) meetings—council’s working sessions, held most Mondays—we have seen that our current system can allow the city manager to withhold important information from council and the public. Furthermore, employment law requires that all discussions about city employees, up to and including the city manager, occur in executive session, from which the public is barred and of which there is no public record.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 11:19 AM, 10.01.2019

Issue 26 seen as a recall vote

Though it hasn’t been presented as such, the November ballot Issue 26, regarding the future of city government in Cleveland Heights, is a recall vote on the performance of City Manager Tanisha Briley. If the proposed switch to a mayor-council form of government is approved by voters, the deposed city manager would be expected to continue in her role until the mayor arrives in January 2022. Of course, Briley could not be required to stay on as a lame-duck city manager.

If citizens are unhappy with Briley’s performance as city manager, they should address that, rather than propose a structural change in the city’s form of government—a change that will be time-consuming, expensive, and completely unproven in terms of how well it would work.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 11:27 AM, 10.01.2019

New resident advocates for leadership, not management

As a relatively new Cleveland Heights resident, I write in support of an elected mayor. My fiancee and I moved to Cleveland Heights in January 2018 after living downtown. Over the past two years, we have fallen in love with this city and its people. It certainly helps that restaurants, coffee shops, a gym, and a movie theater are all within walking distance of our house, but what resonates with us the most are the people and our community—neighbors lending a hand to clear a fallen tree; running up and down streets seeing block party after block party; and seeing standing-room-only city council meetings. At an initial meeting regarding an elected mayor, I met people from all over the city with different opinions about its successes, management, and future.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 11:31 AM, 10.01.2019

Claims that the CRC was biased are unfounded

I am often asked why the Cleveland Heights Charter Review Commission (CRC) voted overwhelmingly against changing to a strong mayor. The answer is simple: We determined it was not in the best interest of Cleveland Heights residents.

Claims that the commission was biased are unfounded. The council was split 4-3 in favor of keeping the council-manager system. Each of the seven council  members appointed one CRC member who, one can assume, supported their point-of-view. I was appointed by Council Member (now Mayor) Carol Roe. Though we both opposed a strong mayor, we disagreed on other issues, including my initial preference for ward representation.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 11:35 AM, 10.01.2019

Study says mayor-council government more likely to have corruption convictions

A new study, published online in April 2019, concludes cities with the council-manager form of government, like Cleveland Heights, are 57 percent less likely to have corruption convictions than cities using the mayor-council form of government. CH will vote on Issue 26 on Nov. 5 to decide whether to switch to the mayor-council system in 2021.

The study was done by two professors in the School of Government at the University of North Carolina, Kimberly Nelson and Whitney Afonso, and was published in the latest edition of Public Administration Review, a peer-reviewed academic journal (https://tinyurl.com/mayorcorruption). They looked at 2,759 U.S. cities with populations of at least 10,000.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 11:38 AM, 10.01.2019

The case for an elected mayor

Cleveland Heights needs leadership that is directly accountable to the voters.  That means an elected mayor. We don’t have that now. City council appoints a part-time mayor with no executive authority. The vast majority of voters we have spoken with do not think the current system is working and believe a full-time elected mayor will be more responsive to the needs of our community. 

That is why Issue 26 is on the ballot. Not because a 10-member committee calling itself Citizens for an Elected Mayor thinks so. It is because 4,000 voters signed a petition saying they want to be able to vote for mayor.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 11:40 AM, 10.01.2019

Scalise is new UH city prosecutor

Stephanie B. Scalise

A former Cuyahoga County assistant prosecutor, attorney Stephanie B. Scalise is the new city prosecutor and assistant law director for the city of University Heights. The first woman city prosecutor in the history of University Heights, Scalise replaces Michael K. Astrab, who recently accepted a private sector position.

“Ms. Scalise brings prosecutorial experience, thoughtful temperament, and a strong sense of justice to the position,” said University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan. “I am delighted she accepted our offer to serve the residents of University Heights.”

Scalise is owner of Scalise Legal Services, where her litigation practice focuses on juvenile law, family law, criminal defense, and appeals. She is an advocate for children as guardian ad litem in the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court and the Domestic Relations Court.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 11:05 AM, 09.24.2019

Call for Holiday Gift Guide entries

FutureHeights has issued a call for entries for its annual Holiday Gift Guide that the Heights Observer will publish in its November issue. Entries are due by Oct. 18.

The guide is designed to help Heights residents discover the unique items Heights retailers are offering this holiday season and assist them in “shopping local first” to support the local economy.

The 2019 guide will contain listings in each of the following categories: Stocking Stuffers ($10 or less), Gifts Less Than $50, Gifts $50 to $150, Gifts More Than $150, and Gifts For the Person Who Has It All.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 11:03 AM, 09.24.2019

HCC cancels annual tour due to storm

Tree damage from the Sept. 13 storm.

Due to extensive storm damage that occurred on Friday, Sept. 13, Heights Community Congress (HCC) had to cancel its 42nd Annual Heights Heritage Home & Garden Tour, and its Sept. 14 preview party.

HCC had been planning its annual home and garden tour, set for Sept. 15, since last February. The profits from this annual tour are a major source of support to HCC’s ongoing mission to monitor and advocate for fair housing practices in the Heights and throughout Cuyahoga County. It is HCC’s largest fundraiser, and an opportunity to showcase the beauty and diversity of the Heights.

HCC had sold more than 600 tickets in advance of the tour. Anyone who would like to request a refund should visit HCC’s website, www.heightscongress.org, for details. (Refund processes vary depending on where and how the tickets were purchased.)

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 8:54 AM, 09.24.2019

New school year inspires renewed advocacy

Each year I have the good fortune of walking across the street on the first day of school to help launch my five neighbor children as they start a new school year. The ritual includes me standing with the kids for the first-day-of-school portrait.

It started 12 years ago when the oldest children, twins Adele and Patrick, started kindergarten. With three younger siblings, including another set of twins, it was a challenge for the family to get these new students to school. I became their walking buddy. For the next eight years, accompanying these five youngsters to elementary school was part of my morning routine.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 11:22 AM, 10.01.2019

Classroom technology changes over time

Ari Klein with an oversized slide rule.

Last spring I found an unopened roll of plastic, about 10 inches wide, among some old school stuff. I asked several colleagues if they knew what it was, but no one had a clue. It turned out to be transparency film for an overhead projector, the likes of which no one had seen in a while. Other examples of equipment from my early teaching years are now obsolete. 

So much of the technology we use in the classroom today we too easily take for granted. It is hard to imagine how we would be able to survive without Internet access in our classrooms or without equipment to project from our laptops.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 11:16 AM, 10.01.2019

CH works to recover from confirmed microburst

City crews and First Energy respondents are making headway clearing debris, fixing downed utility polls and restoring power after a major storm and microburst damaged neighborhoods in Cleveland Heights and nearby suburbs on Friday, Sept. 13. The microburst—a rapidly descending wind and rain shaft caused by storm convection—was the second to hit the community in the last three years. 

The vast majority of damage occurred in the neighborhoods south of Cedar and west of Lee roads, fanning out from the Fairmount Boulevard, Coventry Road and Scarborough Road intersection. 

As a result, the Heights Community Congress (HCC) Home & Garden Tour, scheduled for Sept. 14, was canceled. The homes and yards featured on this year's tour were all located in the historic Coventry and Fairmount neighborhoods. Money raised from the annual event supports HCC’s mission to promote and safeguard fair housing practices in Cleveland Heights. 

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 4:06 PM, 09.17.2019

Fall preservation and history lectures kick off Sept. 24

Dean Dairy, ca. 1900, was located at the current site of U-Haul, 3205 Mayfield Road.

Geneology, house rehabilitation and house research comprise the themes of this fall’s free historical lecture series. Sponsored by Heights Libraries, Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission and Cleveland Heights Historical Society, all lectures take place at Heights Libraries’ Lee Road Branch (2345 Lee Road).

Tuesday, Sept. 24, 6 p.m.: Cluster Genealogy with Deborah A. Abbott

Cluster Genealogy is a research technique used to learn more about an ancestor by examining records left by the ancestor’s “cluster.” Tracking ancestors as they move from place to place can be a daunting task, but using Cluster Genealogy can help locate an ancestor when your ancestors appear to be lost. An individual’s “cluster” consists of extended family, friends, neighbors and associates.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:33 PM, 09.16.2019

Hart describes her experience and motivation in running for CH City Council

Let me introduce myself. I am Melody Joy Hart and I am running for Cleveland Heights City Council. I am running because I am concerned about the future of my city and, particularly, its housing stock and tax base. I believe that we are all neighbors in this city and we need to work together to make every neighborhood strong, vibrant, safe and stable.

I have been attending council meetings for over 3.5 years.

I am a member of the Greater Cleveland Congregation’s (GCC) Cleveland Heights Housing Committee. That committee was concerned that the Noble neighborhood was hard hit by the foreclosure crisis, and that the city was not paying enough attention to the beautiful housing stock in Noble.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:21 PM, 09.16.2019

With elected mayor, partisan politics would be the norm

Proponents of a new form of Cleveland Heights government offer several arguments. None justifies drastic change they advocate.

Argument One:  A full-time, elected mayor would appoint and work with a full-time professional city administrator. We already have talented city managers who are full-time professionals. Proponents of change insist that an elected mayor who also is a “chief executive” can focus on “the community, neighborhoods, residents, businesses, and our position in the region.” But such focus already exists. It comes from our city council with its proven record of working in cooperation with city managers and in-house professional staff to create and implement new strategic plans. The Top Of The Hill project is one good example and the project to redevelop the Noble Road commercial corridor is another.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 12:27 PM, 09.16.2019

Cleveland Heights hit by massive storm

Portions of Cleveland Heights suffered damage during a severe storm the evening of Sept. 13.

The city's public relations department posted this statement on social media: Last evening the west end of our community was hit hard by a severe storm. The damage to homes and cars by fallen trees is devastating and we are thankful that no one was seriously injured given the extent of the destruction. Many of our roads west of Lee and south of Cedar and along Northpark were impassable with downed trees and power lines. The City responded immediately last evening with crews working vigorously through the night to clear roads that could be safely cleared while Police and Fire secured unsafe areas. That work continues today along with First Energy’s work on power lines and the power outage. Safety continues to be our priority and we ask that you treat ALL DOWNED LINES AS LIVE AND DANGEROUS. Residents should also be aware that wires could be hidden by debris and extreme caution should be practiced. Most hazardous areas have been blocked off with yellow caution tape but there may be others that have yet been identified. Please be careful, keep children away from hazard sites, and call 9-1-1 if you encounter a hazard that has not been reported. Currently there are over 29,000 customers without power throughout the county, down from 61,000 last night. The majority of the outages are in east side suburbs including Cleveland Heights, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, and Shaker Heights. We do not yet have an estimate on when power will be restored and will provide frequent updates when new information becomes available.

FutureHeights has announced that Heights Music Hop will go on as scheduled in the Cedar Lee Business District on Saturday, Sept. 14. Most of the businesses in the district have power. The organization is working with the venues that are without power and the musicians on solutions to enable the majority of performances to go on as planned.

Heights Community Congress, however, has announced that it has cancled the 42nd Annual Heights Heritage Home & Garden Tour that was scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 15. In an e-mail, the organization said, "This cancellation is due to the aftermath of the storm that hit the Heights on Friday night that caused extensive damage to trees and property with many downed power lines in the area." Those who who purchased tickets for the event are asked to contact the HCC office by phone at 216-321-6775, e-mail info@heightscongress.org, or visit http://heightscongress.org for more information.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 3:23 PM, 09.14.2019

In support of a directly elected mayor

Cleveland Heights' current system of government is an inefficient, outdated structure that is ill-equipped to meet the needs of a dynamic, growing city. The title of mayor in Cleveland Heights is simply an honorific, and the executive with actual power—the city manager—is an appointed role, not an elected one. This bureaucratic obfuscation is unnecessary, and only serves to dilute accountability.

The solution is a directly elected, full-time mayor. This mayor would be accountable directly to the public, and able to devote all of his or her energies into making our city a great(er) place [in which] to live and work.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 6:32 PM, 09.03.2019

We need an elected mayor, here and now

Cleveland Heights is having a healthy and long-overdue discussion about our form of government. This is a good thing: it has been 98 years since there has been any similar discussion.

Self-government is not easy. History has made this crystal clear, from our original Constitutional Congress to today’s news stories.

There are many examples of local governments that work well. There is also no shortage of examples where local governments have failed in their responsibilities. These examples include commission, council/manager and mayor/council forms of government.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 6:35 PM, 09.03.2019

Change to elected mayor is an unwarranted proposal

Here in Cleveland Heights there is a political scrum shaping up over the city’s type of government. “Citizens for an elected mayor” want to replace the city’s council-manager form of government with an elected full-time mayor to administer the city.

The council-manager plan of city government arose during the progressive era in American history, at a time when municipal corruption was rampant. Lincoln Steffens documented the nation’s civic sins in “The Shame of the Cities,” which appeared as a series of articles in McClure’s Magazine in 1904. 
  
Reformers sought a way to clean up the corruption that was led by big city mayors. They decided to replace the corrupt mayor-council governments with council-managers.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 6:29 PM, 09.03.2019

An elected mayor would empower citizens and bring opportunity

As a high school history teacher, I teach my students to find parallels between the world around them and the world in which we live. Brent Larkin, in his Aug. 1 Plain Dealer column, wrote something that resonated with me, as we approach the November ballot, where CH voters will be asked to decide if they’d like to directly elect a mayor: “Perhaps more than ever before, Cleveland needs leadership that can articulate and inspire a vision of what needs to be done. It needs a mayor who can explain in detail how government will partner with corporate and civic leaders to make it happen.”

Cleveland Heights also deserves leadership that can articulate and inspire a vision. To get there, we need to start by empowering voters with this one simple choice: Do you want to elect your mayor?

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 6:24 PM, 09.03.2019

Noble Neighbors to host election forums

Noble Neighbors will host two election forums this fall at Noble Road Presbyterian Church, 2780 Noble Road. The first, on Wednesday, Sept. 25, will feature candidates for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education and Cleveland Heights City Council. The second, on Wednesday, Oct. 2, will focus on proposed changes to Cleveland Heights’ form of government. Each forum will begin at 7 p.m.

Noble Neighbors forums are characterized by a few unique components. The audience is asked to agree to a social contract, a common expectation of one another intended to make the evening more productive. Audience members agree to refrain from responding to the candidates or the issue representatives throughout the presentations. No one applauds or makes any gesture or vocalization, either in support or disapproval of a candidate or representative's position. Past audience members have observed that this has allowed them to listen more easily, without distraction.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 1:42 PM, 09.02.2019

Navigating an important civic debate

For most of the nation, this is an off-year election. But in Cleveland Heights, the November 2019 ballot will offer one of the biggest decisions residents have ever been asked to make: Should the city change its basic form of government?

The Heights Observer hasn’t taken sides on previous ballot issues, and won’t on this one either. Our guiding principal is to favor the individual voices arising from the community. So every opinion you read in the Heights Observer is that of the person or group whose name is attached to it.

I’ve heard criticism that the Heights Observer should do more to explain pros and cons of the ballot issue to help people decide how to vote. But as a paper built entirely on contributions from the community, we can’t claim that kind of expertise.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 1:28 PM, 09.02.2019

Elected-mayor issue is really about discontent with status quo

First off, I want to say there are bright and conscientious people making some good arguments for why the city-manager system is right for our city.

Second, I'm not a political science expert, but I've researched this topic, and it is clear that successful and unsuccessful cities exist with a variety of structures.

Third, I want to say that the people arguing for preserving the system are utterly missing the bigger picture.

If people were largely content, there is no way a handful of part-time volunteers would have been able to get this far.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 1:16 PM, 09.02.2019

Registration is open for FH 2020 Neighborhood Leadership Workshop Series

2019 Neighborhood Leadership Workshop Series participants at the 2019 FutureHeights Annual Meeting. 

Residents of Cleveland Heights are invited to apply for the 2020 FutureHeights Neighborhood Leadership Workshop Series, a free, multidisciplinary neighborhood leadership development program designed for individuals enthusiastic about positively contributing to the community in which they live, work and play. Participants will develop leadership skills, as well as gain knowledge and tools to help make their neighborhoods strong, safe and vibrant.

Since 2015, 60 CH residents have completed the workshop series. Some participate because they are interested in learning more about the city, want to meet their neighbors and other civically-minded people, or have a specific neighborhood project they want to complete. Many program graduates go on to join nonprofit boards, or city committees or commissions. Some apply to receive funding for a project through FutureHeights’ Neighborhood Mini-Grants Program, which has biannual deadlines. (The fall mini-grants deadline is Sunday, Sept. 15.)

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 1:58 PM, 09.02.2019