Latest News

Cyclist hit and killed on Lee Road

Terry Ryan

Longtime Cleveland Heights resident and cyclist Terry Ryan, 71, collided with a motorist on Lee Road, near the Heights library, on the morning of Dec. 28. He died on Dec. 31. Ryan had been riding his bike from a convenience store to his home on Queenston Road. 

Ryan was a retired house painter and handyman, an avid reader and a puzzle aficionado. He grew up in the family home on Lee Road and graduated from Heights High. He was preceded in death by his brother Dan and his mother, Anne. His four surviving siblings are Pat, Jim, Tom (also of Cleveland Heights) and Mary. They do not blame the driver of the car for the accident.

When we lose a member of the cycling community, we wonder: Is it inevitable that bikes and cars will collide? Should we accept that as a normal occurrence? No.

Our governments and culture could adhere to the aspirational Vision Zero strategy to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries among all road users, and to ensure safe, healthy, and equitable mobility for all.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 3:26 PM, 01.18.2021

Latest News Releases

Heights Libraries welcomes newest board member, honors outgoing president
- CH-UH Library, December 18, 2020 Read More
School District Moves to Strip Healthcare from Striking Teachers
- Cleveland Heights Teachers Union, November 27, 2020 Read More
Library, Cedar Lee District collaborate on holiday story walk
- , November 20, 2020 Read More
Heights Libraries seeks input from community members for diversity, equity, and inclusion audit
- CH-UH Library, November 16, 2020 Read More
- City of Cleveland Heights, November 9, 2020 Read More

View more news releases

Jan. 20 forum to explore mayor-council government transition

Cleveland Heights Council Member Melody Joy Hart is sponsoring her second forum on the city’s transition to a mayor-council form of government.

This forum, scheduled for Jan. 20, 7 p.m., will highlight the process the city of East Providence, R.I., and its community took to transition from a city manager-council form of government to a mayor-council form.

The first elected mayor of East Providence, Mayor Bob DaSilva, along with East Providence Assistant City Solicitor Dylan Conley, will share East Providence’s story with forum participants. They’ll outline the opportunities and challenges they experienced, and continue to see, under the new form of government.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 1:34 PM, 01.14.2021

Jan. 21 lecture to examine history of mass deportation

On Jan. 21, via Zoom, Claudio Saunt will give a lecture on “Indian Removal and Mass Deportation in the Modern Era.” Saunt will explore the history of Indian removal in the context of other mass deportations in the 19th and 20thcenturies.

He’ll look specifically at the U.S.-sponsored expulsion of the Indian population in the 1830s, known as the “Trail of Tears,” in which some 46,000 members of multiple Indian nations were forcibly moved from their ancestral homelands and driven westward.

This removal of entire populations created something of a model for future actions by colonial empires around the world, including the infamous deportations of World War II. Notoriously, during the Nazi conquest of Eastern Europe, Hitler equated “indigenous inhabitants,” with “Indians,” and declared, “the Volga must be our Mississippi.”

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 1:33 PM, 01.14.2021

CH-UH district celebrates School Board Recognition Month

The CH-UH City School District joins more than 700 school districts throughout Ohio to celebrate January as School Board Recognition Month, Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby announced Jan. 4.

“Our school board members are citizen-servants who shoulder critical responsibilities and often make difficult choices for our district, all with minimal pay,” Kirby said. “Their focus is always on the future success of the children in our district. Celebrating School Board Recognition Month is one way to say thanks for all they do.”

Serving as a link between the community and classroom, school board members are elected to establish the policies that provide the framework for public schools. The CH-UH school board is responsible for an annual budget of $120 million, nearly 5,000 students, approximately 880 employees, and 11 schools.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 1:32 PM, 01.14.2021

Community groups plan elected-mayor public forum

FutureHeights, the community development corporation for Cleveland Heights, and Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM), the grassroots group that advocated for passage of Issue 26 in fall 2019, are co-sponsoring a public forum to help prepare voters to directly elect a mayor, for the first time, in 2021.

“Electing Our First Mayor: Moving Cleveland Heights Forward” will take place via Zoom, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., on Wednesday, Feb. 3.  

In preparation for the forum, the groups are asking citizens to complete an online survey to help identify the top issues that a new mayor will need to address in order to move Cleveland Heights forward. Visit to participate.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 11:08 AM, 01.01.2021

MetroHealth plans expansion at Severance

MetroHealth's proposed new Cleveland Heights Behavioral Hospital (in blue, above) will add 75,000 square feet to its Severance campus.

MetroHealth has proposed an expansion of its Cleveland Heights medical center with the addition of a 110-bed behavioral health hospital. The new hospital is designed to be a short-term-stay facility, for patients in need of evaluation and stabilization for mental health and addiction.

Dr. Julia Bruner is leading the design and development of the new hospital, and will serve as president of the behavioral health initiative at MetroHealth’s Cleveland Heights medical center.

In a Dec. 11 presentation to the FutureHeights Planning and Development Committee, Joe Frolik, MetroHealth’s senior vice president for communications and community and government relations, and Bruner described plans for the new facility, which has a target opening date of October 2022.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 11:12 AM, 01.01.2021

Join our free seminar, How to Write for the Observer

Somewhere around 800 people have contributed to the Heights Observer since its first issue in April 2008.

It sounds like an impressive number to me.

On the other hand, it represents just 1.2 percent of the 66,000 people who live in the Heights Observer’s service area of Cleveland Heights and University Heights.

So we have room to grow.

If you’ve ever considered contributing an article to the Heights Observer, you may want to sign up for our upcoming online seminar, which we have cleverly titled “How to Write for the Observer.”

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 10:58 AM, 01.01.2021

Best of the Heights 2021 kicks off Jan. 1

Beginning Jan. 1, Heights residents can show their appreciation for locally owned, independent businesses by voting for their favorites in the FutureHeights 2021 Best of the Heights Awards contest.

New this year: each “vote” will be entered for a chance to win a prize package of gift certificates from Heights businesses.

“Our independent businesses are so important to the vitality of our community,” said Deanna Bremer Fisher, executive director of FutureHeights. “Their individual personalities and unique products and services are one of the things that makes the Heights such an awesome place to live! This year, more than ever, it is important to show our support so that they will still be here when we come through this pandemic.”

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 8:23 PM, 12.21.2020

Might as well jump

Just to be clear, this is not a picture of me. We generally don't do this in folk music concerts. This is David Lee Roth, presumably singing the line "Might as well jump."

By the time you read this, you probably will have missed seeing me jump off the couch. If I do that this year. And if anyone actually sees it happen. I’m writing this before Jan. 1, naturally, because this is the January edition, and it gets printed, so it’s not instant like an online-only publication is, and everything is written in advance. So, I don’t know if I’ll really jump off the couch. But the couch is lower than a chair, if you know what I mean. And I’m fairly certain you don’t.

A few weeks ago I read an essay online, written by my younger brother, Noah, that included this paragraph:

“When I was a child, probably around 8 or 9 years old, my mother read about a Danish New Year’s Eve tradition. The Danes, she discovered, jump off of chairs at the stroke of midnight, propelling themselves into the new year and leaving the Evil Spirits of the past year behind. Who knew that Evil Spirits couldn’t jump off of chairs? We did this in my house for several years, if you can picture it: my mother, my father, and me, all standing on furniture, watching our large, boxy TV set as the ball dropped in New York City, and the three of us clumsily leaping into our unknown future as Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians struck up ‘Auld Lang Syne’.”

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 8:39 PM, 12.21.2020

Speak up for democracy

We imagine everyone will be glad to put 2020 in the rearview mirror. The ugliness of presidential politics, police brutality, and the COVID-19 pandemic have touched us locally and roiled the nation. As we write, not only is President Trump still disputing the election, it appears that Ohio electric ratepayers will be charged an extra $7 per month for the foreseeable future, thanks to our General Assembly’s failure to repeal their utterly corrupt creation, House Bill 6. These are failures, not of democracy, but of governments that serve the power of money, rather than the public interest. 

There will be plenty for citizens to address at Cleveland Heights’ eighth annual Democracy Day on Thursday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. For the first time, the public hearing will be virtual, livestreamed on YouTube.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 10:47 AM, 01.01.2021

Brennan applauds new teachers’ contract; urges state funding changes

UH Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan testified in Columbus on Dec. 2, regarding House Bill 305.

University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan said residents are the winners in the new contract agreed to by teachers in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District. He said he hopes the agreement will lead to a renewed effort to fix Ohio’s system of funding schools.

At the school board meeting on Dec. 8, Brennan congratulated the teachers’ union and board of education on the new two-year contract. “Everyone at the bargaining table made their points and came away with wins, but the winners overall are the students and families of this district,” Brennan said. “In spite of everything stacked against this district, both sides were tenacious in asserting their valid and competing interests. Now, if we would, let us take that tenacity and join together and redirect it to Columbus.”

Brennan urged both sides to lobby state legislators on school funding.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 10:40 AM, 01.01.2021

'Posing the Question' at Heights Arts

Running Series #3, by Liz Maugans.

The topics of racial equality and a fight for justice dominated headlines in 2020. The issues have forced many to decide where they stand--whether they choose to stand in unity, agree to disagree, or just disagree. In the latest Heights Arts exhibition, Posing the Question, artists tackle these topics and our nation's response to them.

Featured artists are Kenneth Bernstein, Matthew Deibel, Mona Gazala, Kenn Hetzel, Scott Kraynak, Liz Maugans, and Omid Tavakoli, with an accompanying spotlight show by Helen Liggett. Their work features photography and paintings that reflect systematic racism, and manipulated photos taken during social justice protests in 2020.

Maugans’ paintings recall a time of self-reflection in 2020, when she enrolled in a social-justice class and started daily morning runs to meditate on what the classes taught her.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 10:23 AM, 12.29.2020

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education regular meeting highlights 12-8-2020

DECEMBER 8, 2020


  • Recognitions and awards
  • Public comments
  • Union contract
  • Treasurer’s report
  • Superintendent’s update on pandemic operations
  • Board comments and announcements


Board President Jodi Sourini and members Dan Heintz, James Posch, and Beverly Wright were present. Malia Lewis was unable to attend due to a medical issue. Also present were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby, Treasurer Scott Gainer, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and Operations Dr. Paul Lombardo, and Athletic Director Joseph D’Amato. After the board met in executive session, the public meeting was called to order at 8:03 p.m. It was adjourned at 9:25 p.m.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 9:33 AM, 01.05.2021

Cleveland Heights – University Heights Public Library Board of Trustees meeting highlights 12-7-2020

DECEMBER 7, 2020


  • Recognition of board member
  • 2020 amended permanent appropriation
  • Tax advances
  • Furniture purchase
  • Property, liability and cyber insurance 
  • Personnel policies
  • Vision and life insurance
  • Five-star library
  • Curbside service resumes


Present were President James Roosa, Vice President Dana Fluellen, Patti Carlyle, Gabe Crenshaw, Max Gerboc, Annette Iwamoto, and Vikas Turakhia.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 9:36 AM, 01.05.2021

Barbee announces candidacy for CH City Council

Greetings fellow Cleveland Heights residents, my name is Lee E. Barbee II. I would like to introduce myself as a candidate for Cleveland Heights City Council.

I was born in Cleveland. My family moved to the Forest Hill area of Cleveland Heights in 1970. My parents (Lee Barbee Sr. and his wife, Marlene) wanted to move from our home on 124th Street, off of St. Clair Avenue. The neighborhood was changing, and our home was robbed several times. I remember an incident as a child: We returned home and I saw the robber inside; he walked past the front window. My father became the protector he was and enacted his Second Amendment right and reached for a gun. He instructed us to go to his brother’s house around the corner while he secured the premises.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 10:50 AM, 01.01.2021

Seconding the call for an 'excellent' CH mayor

Deborah Van Kleef and Carla Rautenberg’s November column in the Heights Observer, “Wanted: An Excellent Mayor for Cleveland Heights,” listing the qualities we should seek in a new mayor, was accurate and on-point.     

Having worked in and around Cleveland Heights City Hall for 45 years, and serving a quarter-century on the faculty of the Leadership Academy at Cleveland State University, I can say from experience that the job of mayor of a large, diverse community, with a budget of $45 million per year, should not be held by anyone with a thin résumé. 

I voted against the CH charter change to eliminate the city manager form of government because of my belief that the deficiencies of that form of government could be mitigated with a strong city council led by a strong council president. But nature abhors a vacuum.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 10:55 AM, 01.01.2021

Pick up the Heights Observer at The Stone Oven

John Emerman and Tatyana Rehn

Formerly husband and wife, and engineers, John Emerman and Tatyana Rehn have been business partners since 1995, when they opened The Stone Oven Bakery and Café in Cleveland Heights. Located at 2267 Lee Road, The Stone Oven serves fresh-baked, European-style breads and pastries, and homemade soups, salads and sandwiches. Open for takeout, the bakery is accepting orders online at Free parking (at all city meters, compliments of the city of Cleveland Heights), is available at the front and back of the café. While you're there, pick up a copy of the Heights Observer along with your order. You'll find the monthly publication in the rack by The Stone Oven's Lee Road entrance.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 10:20 AM, 12.29.2020

Heights Libraries again among top rated

Heights Libraries has once again received the highest possible rating—five stars—in Library Journal’s Index of Public Library Service.

The just-released Star Library report is based on 2018 statistics, so does not reflect the impact COVID-19 has had on public libraries since spring 2020.

Heights Libraries has earned the five-star designation in 10 out of the 13 years that Library Journal has published the ratings; it received a four-star rating the other two years.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 10:17 AM, 12.29.2020

School-funding pain must end

Have you ever lost your credit card and worried that a stranger was ringing up a big bill for you to pay? Fortunately, once you discover you have lost your card, you can cancel it and stop the theft. In most cases, the credit card company will cover the fraudulent expenditures assigned to your small piece of plastic.

Deduction funding, the way the state legislature funds private-school vouchers and charter schools, is like a community losing its credit card and then having the state legislature pick it up and use it to advance its agenda, without paying for it. The legislature has had a field day over the last decade, cutting taxes and looking good to voters, while simultaneously increasing education costs and slowly shifting more funding responsibility to local taxpayers and more blame to local boards of education.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 10:44 AM, 01.01.2021

New teachers' contract averts strike

The CH-UH City School District Board of Education (BOE) has approved a new contract for the teachers’ union, averting a strike by teachers. [To view the contract, go to this link:]

Following an all-night negotiation session that began Dec. 1, a tentative agreement was reached between the BOE and the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union, early in the morning of Dec. 2—the date the union had intended to begin its strike. The union voted on Dec. 3 to ratify the agreement, with 94-percent approval. 

As the final step [in the agreement], BOE members unanimously approved the contract during its regular meeting on Dec. 8. (BOE Member Malia Lewis was not present, due to an excused absence.)

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 12:03 PM, 12.13.2020

There's always a path to compromise

Coming to an agreement during contract negotiations can be a long, tough road. Both sides begin negotiations with the intention of finding a settlement quickly. As negotiations move along, however, finding times to meet and agreeing on language that both sides can accept takes longer than anyone expects. 

There are moments of good discussion and mutual agreement, and there are other moments when union and management strongly disagree. In the end, it’s all about compromise. Neither side will get everything they desire, but ultimately both sides will achieve some of what they want.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 10:42 AM, 01.01.2021

CH-UH schools and teachers union announce agreement

To the Editor:

After months of contract negotiations culminating in an all-night session, the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union (CHTU) and the CH-UH City School District reached a tentative agreement on the morning of Dec. 2. The union ratified it with 94% approval. On Dec. 8, the agreement will be presented to the CH-UH Board of Education (BOE) for a vote. We are happy to be able to move forward united and, above all else, we are relieved that our teachers are exactly where they’re needed most—with their students.

The battle we continue to fight together is one against our district’s common enemy: the impact of disastrous EdChoice legislation and inequitable school funding. The CH-UH schools lost $7 million last year, and we expect to lose more than $9 million this school year, due to the way EdChoice vouchers are funded in Ohio.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 9:33 AM, 12.08.2020

Outsourced Safebuilt inspection 'a joke'

As an opponent of privatizing city services, I had an interesting experience in mid-October, when I had a new driveway installed. I watched the crew pretty closely, and at one point I noticed a man approach them from my neighbor’s yard and hand one of them a piece of paper. He then turned and walked away. Curious about who he was, I watched him leave and saw that he got into a car with a Safebuilt logo on the door.

Safebuilt is the private, for-profit company that now handles all the duties of the former building department of the city of Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 8:31 PM, 12.21.2020

UH Mayor Brennan's holiday tradition continues for third year

Mayor Brennan rehearses his annual reading of "The Night Before Christmas" at his office in city hall.

The University Heights Memorial Day parade, summer concert series, and Fall Fest were canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One annual event, however, will not be stopped by the virus, and that is Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan’s annual reading of the poem “The Night Before Christmas” to city hall interns.

The third annual reading will be conducted on Zoom and broadcast over the city’s social media accounts starting at noon on Christmas Eve.

Brennan will read the story to intern Daniel Roche and other special guests, including the city’s brand ambassador, Cooper the Chicken, and former interns.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 11:15 AM, 12.02.2020

Business as unusual

This is the building that's no longer there. It had three entrances. The one where the freezing apartment I stayed in was about where the parking lot driveway is now.

December is normally all about holidays—Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve—and feeling good and spending time with family and friends. This year, maybe not. Except for non-believers. I mean, those who don’t believe that the coronavirus is real. They’ll still get together with other people. Though, according to the implications of the 2020 election demographic statistics, the vast majority of Heights denizens do believe.

Further implied is that those believers will not be gathering in groups this year. That’s sad for many people. Though it’s a relief for some. But, either way, it’s only temporary. Next year—or one of these years—life will get back to normal, in most ways.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 11:40 AM, 12.02.2020

UH showcases 14 Heights artists

Evening, Cain Park, by Reed Simon.

Heights Arts, the multi-disciplinary community arts organization based in Cleveland Heights, is partnering with University Hospitals (UH) to showcase Heights-area visual artists as part of its 20th-anniversary celebration of connecting the arts with community.

The exhibition, which runs through mid-February, is not the first collaboration between Heights Arts and Thomas Huck, director of the UH Fine Art program. Heights Arts frequently collaborates with organizations and community members with expertise in and passion for the arts; Huck curated the All Ohio Ceramic Invitational at Heights Arts in September 2013, which featured the work of more than 20 artists.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 11:38 AM, 12.02.2020

Top of the Hill rises in Cedar Fairmount

The elevator shaft of the tower can be seen from Cedar Road.

The Ascent at Top of the Hill, an $83 million mixed-use project, is rising at the top of Cedar Hill. The city of Cleveland Height's development partner Flaherty & Collins began construction in summer 2020 of the a structured parking garage that will have approximately 550 parking spaces. The new buildings that will wrap the garage are expected to include 261 market-rate luxury apartments, more than 11,000 square feet of first floor commercial/retail/restaurant space, and close to 25,000 square feet of green space. The construction schedule projects completion of the development in the first half of 2022.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 11:36 AM, 12.02.2020

Pick up the Heights Observer at Zagara's Marketplace

John Zagara, owner of Zagara's Marketplace, holds the Heights Observer. Photo by Sally Kramer.

The pandemic has brought about many changes for businesses, and Zagara's Marketplace is no exception. Next time you shop at Zagara's, be sure to look for the numerous renovations and upgrades owner John Zagara has made to the checkout, customer services and entry areas. The most notable change includes new checkout lanes, which will soon include three self-checkout registers. The newly installed sliding doors at the front of the building allow for a more customer-friendly and efficient handling of Zagara's online Presto Fresh Grocery orders ( Other updates include the restrooms, signage, paint and wallcoverings, and flooring. Zagara's offers fresh produce, meats, seafood, bakery, and dairy products, along with specialized items and floral services. While you're there, pick up the latest issue of the Heights Observer on the racks at lane seven.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 11:34 AM, 12.02.2020

Library's computer classes to resume online

After months on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Heights Libraries’ computer classes will return in January in an online format.

The library’s technology trainers will teach a variety of Microsoft Office classes using Screenleap, a screensharing platform currently in use at the Cuyahoga County Public Library and the New York Public Library.

The library had to suspend in-person computer classes in March when the library shut down.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 11:32 AM, 12.02.2020

Cleveland Heights City Council regular meeting highlights 12-7-2020

DECEMBER 7, 2020


  • Public comments
  • Chief of police's report
  • City manager’s report
  • Clerk of council’s report
  • Insurance program
  • Appointments
  • Council leadership designations change
  • COVID testing event
  • Support for school funding bill
  • Appropriations
  • Vacant council seat
  • Doan Brook
  • CARES Relief Funds
  • Foreclosure penalties
  • Racial Justice Task Force
  • Consent agenda 


Present were Mayor Jason Stein, Vice Mayor Kahlil Seren, Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell, and Michael Ungar. Mr. Seren arrived late, but was excused. Also present were Acting City Manager Susanna O’Neil, Clerk of Council Amy Himmelein, and Law Director William Hanna.

A thirteen minute executive session was held during the committee of the whole meeting to consider the terms of a sale or lease of city-owned property. The public meeting began at 8 p.m. and lasted until 9:30 p.m.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 10:28 AM, 12.14.2020

Library reaches teens online through Discord platform

Heights Libraries Youth Services Associate Talia Linina interacts with local teens through the online platform Discord.

Before Heights Libraries shut down its branches in March, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, local teens could spend time at the library during after-school hours and on weekends, socializing with friends, doing homework, playing games, or relaxing with a book or comic. 

While the buildings opened again for browsing and some limited services, library administrators closed all branches to the public on Nov. 19 in response to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health's stay-at-home advisory. Youth Services staff have found another tool for reaching teens—the online chat program Discord, which is similar to Zoom. 

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 11:32 AM, 12.02.2020

Heights Bicycle Coalition joins Bike Cleveland

Heights Bicycle Coalition (HBC) signed an agreement with Bike Cleveland to become a local chapter of that organization. The process started in February 2020, and the document was signed in August. HBC sees the partnership as one that will increase its capacity to advocate for bicycling safety and infrastructure, and streamline membership benefits for residents of Cleveland Heights, University Heights, Shaker Heights and South Euclid.

The chapter will be organized around four committees focused on advocacy, communications, events and rides. Heights community members are welcome to join any of these committees to contribute to these efforts. 

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 11:30 AM, 12.02.2020

New book looks back at CH's resistance to segregation

Resisting Segregation by Susan Kaeser is published by Cleveland Landmarks Press.

Susan Kaeser’s new book, Resisting Segregation, is out this month. In it, Kaeser, a Heights Observer columnist, provides a book-length account of the transformation of Cleveland Heights, between 1964 and 1976, from an exclusive, insular suburb to a racially inclusive, diverse community resisting segregation.

She dedicates her book to those courageous African American families who, in spite of prevailing racism, moved to Cleveland Heights in the 1960s and early ‘70s.

Resisting Segregation tells its story through the living memory of the community’s elders, whose courage and determination made housing choice for all a reality at a time when the government enabled redlining, blockbusting, steering, and unabashed racism, assuring that residential integration could not succeed. This resistance against segregation was the work of grassroots citizens motivated by religious faith, civic humanity and moral fervor.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 11:26 AM, 12.02.2020

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education special session highlights 11-23-2020

NOVEMBER 23, 2020

  • Strike preparation and approvals
  • Update on the pandemic response
  • Treasurer’s report

Board President Jodi Sourini and members Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis, James Posch, and Beverly Wright were present. Ms. Wright participated by telephone because of internet technical issues. The meeting was called to order at approximately 6:45 p.m. The board adjourned immediately to executive session and reconvened in public session at approximately 8 p.m. The meeting was adjourned atapproximately 9:30 p.m.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 10:14 AM, 12.14.2020

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education special session highlights 11-17-2020

NOVEMBER 17, 2020


  • Schools foundation name change
  • Resolution to support Ohio House Bill 305
  • First quarter educational data report


Board President Jodi Sourini and members Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis, James Posch, and Beverly Wright were present. Also attending were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby; Treasurer Scott Gainer; Assistant Superintendent Felisha Gould; Director of Data, Research, and Assessment Allison Byrd; and six school principals. The meeting was called to order at 7:12 p.m. and adjourned at 9:35 p.m., when the board went into executive session.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 10:32 AM, 12.14.2020

Cleveland Heights City Council regular meeting highlights 11-16-2020

NOVEMBER 16, 2020


  • Public comments
  • City manager‘s report
  • Chief of police report
  • Clerk of council’s report
  • Housing code and foreclosures
  • Boards and commissions
  • Parks and recreation for 2021
  • Justice Reform Task Force
  • City finance
  • Refuse and recycling
  • Landmark commission
  • Mayor’s report


Present were Mayor Jason Stein, Vice Mayor Kahlil Seren, Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell and Michael Ungar. Also present were Acting City Manager Susanna O’Neil, Clerk of Council Amy Himmelein, and Law Director William Hanna.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 10:40 AM, 12.07.2020

What’s going on at your library?

Tuesday, Dec. 1 through Sunday, Jan. 10, all day on Beanstack

Read Woke! Challenge. Read Woke means arming yourself with the knowledge to better protect your rights. Learning about others, so you treat people with respect and dignity, no matter their religion, race, creed, or color. Join Heights Libraries' winter Read Woke challenge on Beanstack, and earn prizes by reading books by diverse voices. For those in grades 6–12.

Friday, Dec. 4, 10:30 a.m., on Zoom

Sing and Swing Music Together. Music Together is the perfect way to get young children to imagine, improvise and express themselves through music and movement. A Sing and Swing instructor will lead babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and the adults that love them through songs, dances, rhythms and rhymes, virtually with Zoom. After you register, you will receive an e-mail with the Zoom meeting room and password. (Please do not share the room information with others.) We will not be recording the programs, and you may turn your video off if you prefer. Registration begins Friday, Nov. 20.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 11:42 AM, 12.02.2020

Celebration of Light: a P.E.A.C.E. Campus project

Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Campus (CPC) will bring the community together around the themes of light and hope during the dark days of December. Celebration of Light: a PEACE Campus Project is a collaborative effort to engage the community in art and writing projects to commemorate the end of one year and the beginning of a new one.

Starting in early December, CPC will offer several free or donation-suggested workshops throughout the month via Zoom and videos posted to its website,                            , and social media pages. Scheduled workshops include writing with Lake Erie Ink and art projects with Studio Cat, Living Art Origami and Art Acts Studio. A culminating event will take place on New Year’s Eve. 


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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 11:20 AM, 12.02.2020

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education regular meeting highlights 11-10-2020

NOVEMBER 10, 2020


  • Public comments concerning the levy
  • District response to the pandemic
  • Vote to continue remote learning
  • District’s role as a financial agent


Board President Jodi Sourini and members Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis, James Posch, and Beverly Wright were present. Also attending were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby, Treasurer Scott Gainer, and Athletic Director Joe D'Amato. The meeting lasted one hour 30 minutes.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 10:34 AM, 12.14.2020

Reaching Heights seeks new board members

In January, the Reaching Heights Board of Directors will have three open positions, and is seeking to fill them.

The board meets on the second Tuesday of each month to share ideas and consider projects that help connect the community to the Heights public schools, enrich students and support teachers.

The board comprises a maximum of 20 people, all of whom live or work within the CH-UH City School District.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 11:18 AM, 12.02.2020

Delmore Community Orchard beautifies Noble neighborhood

Teens volunteer at the Delmore Community Orchard to plant trees and beautify the community.

“This neighborhood used to be an orchard, and I figured it would be a nice way to bring up the community,” said Danialle Benham. Once the site of an abandoned home, the Delmore Community Orchard has become an engaging, beautifully landscaped outdoor space and a peaceful place to visit.

Benham worked with neighbors, including Margaret Lann and Michelle Moehler, to create this green oasis in the Noble Neighborhood. The women brought community volunteers together, including many teens, to layout the orchard site, build raised beds, install plants, and gather funding. Lann orchestrated applications for grant and community funding for supplies, while Moehler designed the orchard’s logo and signage.

Their labors have created a hidden treasure that invites neighbors to enjoy tranquility while sitting in the shade of the trees.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 8:49 AM, 12.01.2020

'Friends' volunteer to maintain and restore natural habitats

Don Vicarel is a "friend" of the Bradford Cinder Path.

The world locked down last spring. People could not gather, travel, sit in a coffee shop with friends, shop, hug, kiss a cheek, or breathe on each other. As guidance became clearer on how the coronavirus spread, the outdoors became a refuge. Outside, people could satisfy the need to be social without being physically close. People could share experiences, breathe fresh air and walk briskly.

Some noticed that, while they’ve spent much of their lives indoors, the outdoor world of plants, water, birds, insects and animals had been neglected. One retiree, Don Vicarel of University Heights, walked with his wife, JoAnn, as she recuperated from knee surgery. He posted a cranky note on Nextdoor: “If the city can cite us for unsightly lawns, can we cite the city for the unsightly Bradford path that runs from Canterbury to Taylor?” The octogenarian said he was feeling particularly irritable because pandemic isolation prevented him from volunteering in the nearby public school.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 8:46 AM, 12.01.2020

Old Edwards Street fades away as Top of the Hill rises

This Cleveland Press photo taken in 1969 by Bill Nehez shows what was formerly located on the site of the new Top of the Hill project.

At the top of Cedar Glen, in the wedge between Cedar Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard, “The Ascent at Top of the Hill” (TOH), an $80-plus-million complex, is taking shape. This same location, shown in the adjacent 1969 photo, shows Edwards Street, a remnant of the first residential neighborhood in Cleveland Heights.

Edwards Street was created in 1871 at a time when the only access up Cedar Glen was a muddy, horse and buggy trail zigzagging along a rocky creek called Blue Rock Brook (a branch of Doan Brook). The TOH site was once a place where gypsies made their yearly camps and wild turkeys roamed in abundance. By the end of the Civil War, the huge forests that had covered the area had been “harvested.” Broad meadows and farmland remained, stretching out eastward toward Lee Road.


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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 10:38 AM, 12.01.2020

University Heights is thankful for Civic Award recipients

The members of the Citizens Committee on Policing Policies have been selected as the University Heights Citizens of the Year.

2020 has been hard on just about everyone. Despite the pandemic and social unrest, Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan said there was plenty of good to be found in University Heights. “It’s like Mr. Rogers used to say, when things are scary, ‘look for the helpers.’”

Brennan said he chose to announce the recipients of the 2020 University Heights Civic Awards on Thanksgiving to give thanks for those people “who are helping.”

“Due to the pandemic, we couldn’t meet in person for a Civic Awards dinner this year. So, we chose to bring the awards to our residents via social media while they gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families,” Brennan said.

The awards were announced on Thanksgiving via the city’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 8:37 AM, 12.01.2020

FutureHeights mini-grants celebration goes virtual

On Tuesday, Dec. 8, FutureHeights will host its annual Neighborhood Mini-Grants Community Celebration to recognize mini-grant recipients and celebrate the work they are doing in Cleveland Heights neighborhoods.

In 2020, FutureHeights concluded its 11th round of neighborhood mini-grants, funding grassroots and neighborhood-serving groups to help fulfill their community visions. The program, which began in fall 2015, has funded 47 projects for $30,386.08 throughout the city of Cleveland Heights.

Project types include beautification and gardening, arts, placemaking, youth engagement, community-building and social services.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 8:57 AM, 12.01.2020

Local businesses deserve support

S'Wonderful Gifts' owner, Bill Wort, offers online and in-store shopping.

I worry about how the small retail businesses in our community are doing, and whether they will be able to survive this winter. Grocery stores seem to be leading the way in adapting to the pandemic environment; my wife just came back from Zagara’s Marketplace, where she was able to pick up six bags of pre-ordered groceries without entering the store.

My reluctance to go inside any building, with the second wave of the contagion raging in Cuyahoga County, has kept me from visiting S’Wonderful Gifts, a delightful little shop at 2254 Lee Road. I’ve purchased gifts there before, as have my wife and daughter. Curious about how the store is doing, I called the owner Bill Wort and had an enlightening conversation with him.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 9:03 AM, 12.01.2020

How to be part of the public debate

Let’s begin with the notion that public finance isn’t simple.

The laws that regulate it can be ambiguous and contradictory. Everybody has their own way to interpret how well money is being spent. Most of all, public finance is the expression of political processes.   

So even if you could boil it down to a clear set of facts, there’s going to be heated debate when a CH-UH school levy appears on the ballot twice in the same year.

The Heights Observer doesn’t take sides on issues like the recent school levy. Its role is to host the debate—like a soapbox on the corner.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 8:59 AM, 12.01.2020

Leaving the leaves

As we write, our Northeast Ohio tree canopy is releasing its autumn bounty. By the time you read this, any leaves not saved for use in home gardens will have been hauled away by area cities.

That’s too bad for local flora, the regional watershed and, ultimately, the global food supply. Decaying leaves, brush and other biomass build our soil and create essential habitat for the insects and other creatures that pollinate our garden plants. In addition to interrupting neighborly conversations, leaf blowers blast pollinators and their habitat to kingdom come.

Every year, the city of Cleveland Heights spends approximately $340,000 collecting residents’ leaves. Exactly what currently happens to all of this biomass is somewhat murky.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 9:21 AM, 12.01.2020

Former BOE member feels Millikin déjà vu

When I came across Jessica Cohen’s piece in the October Heights Observer [“BOE can no longer abdicate responsibility for Millikin”], I had a sense of déjà vu. Was it the late 1990s, when elements of Cleveland Heights City Council came to the CH-UH Board of Education (BOE), to do the bidding of Hebrew Academy, to get us (BOE members) to part with the property? Was it around 2010, when Jason Stein, then a library trustee (now a CH City Council member and ceremonial mayor), was a vocal advocate for the BOE to sell the property to Mosdos? Was it 2014, when CH City Council was encouraging us (BOE members) to sell the property to Mosdos, intimating that we might be denied the ability to use the property for uses other than as a school if we did not sell; and then council [was] exploring how to loan Mosdos the money to close the deal, when Mosdos couldn’t get financing?

I keep noticing a recurring theme here—that the BOE, for some reason, is apparently obligated to dispose of PUBLIC assets if someone wants them, regardless of the amount of the offer, or if the BOE wants to keep using the property.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 9:10 AM, 12.01.2020

Millikin's wetlands and stream must be preserved

The Millikin woods. [Photograph by Deborah Van Kleef]

The fate of the Millikin school—11 acres, mainly densely wooded wetlands bordering Severance Center—is far from settled. There is a chance, in the foreseeable future, that the land will be transferred by the Cleveland Heights-University City School District [to the city of Cleveland Heights, and then] to a private residential developer.

Losing these woodlands would also [mean losing] the only place in the Heights where we, and our wildlife, can experience the headwaters of a stream that is part of our local watersheds, Dugway, Shaw and Nine Mile. The other starting points of these ancient streams are mostly covered by the past century’s concrete, asphalt, houses and businesses.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 12:17 PM, 11.24.2020

Develop parking lots instead of Millikin forest

This view could be anywhere people go to see scenery. Surprise—it's taken from Severance Circle, looking toward the Millikin property.

People plan travel on weekends to see this type of view. 

This photo was taken from Severance Circle, looking at the urban forest of the Millikin School property—the section some call the Severance Woods. These acres of wooded land clean our air, reduce stormwater runoff, protect the community against noise and light pollution, and provide beauty and tranquility. If this were a public park, no one would dare suggest these woods should be destroyed. 

Stand on the same spot, and tilt the camera down. The foreground is one of the barren, sunbaked, windswept parking lots surrounding Severance Town Center.

These vast parking lots are a poor use of land. They provide no clean air. They are impermeable, so they contribute to stormwater-runoff problems. They contribute to noise and light pollution. They are ugly. 

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 9:13 AM, 12.01.2020

CH should lead in green energy

On Oct. 19, the city of Euclid, under the progressive leadership of Mayor Kirsten Holzheimer and city council, took a historic step towards a better future for its residents and the planet by passing a resolution to reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Over the past several years, Euclid has shown its dedication to sustainability through several local projects. The city council created a sustainability committee to elevate these issues and create a venue for discussion among residents and local government leaders.

Euclid has been actively working toward a greener future with the installation of solar panels on top of the public library and city hall, to meet the energy needs of these government operations. The projects reduce carbon by 150 tons per year. The city has also partnered with the business community, building four wind turbines that make it a unique home to wind power.


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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 9:19 AM, 12.01.2020

Fair school funding could save the common good

My personal commitment to public education is grounded in the belief that all of us benefit from the education of our youth, and that’s why we invest public funds to provide for an education that is free and available to all. It is an expression of equality and interconnection. It has taken our society a long way and been fundamental to making democracy work. However, as I write this column while basking in beautiful fall sunlight, I fear that the common good may go the way of the dinosaur.

Well-funded think tanks and lobbyists, the secretary of education and the departing president, to name a few, have persistently championed individual rights over the social benefits of investing in the success of all. They encourage separation. They champion the use of public resources to advance religion, and, when it comes to education, they promote privatization over investing in strong public schools.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 10:34 AM, 12.01.2020

It's the season for gratitude

It is that time of year when we start to plan for the holidays. We are decorating our homes, buying gifts, and planning gatherings of family and friends. This year, however, comes with a glitch. The coronavirus has become a part of our lives.

So what do we do? Do we wallow in despair about what we’re missing? Or do we find a way to be grateful for what we have? I am choosing the second option.  

As teachers, we still have our jobs. Yes, they look different from a year ago, and the job has become exponentially challenging. Some teachers are working in the school buildings, meeting with their students both in-person and virtually, while some are working from home, teaching their students in a completely virtual setting.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 9:16 AM, 12.01.2020

LEI invites young writers to explore what's 'On the Other Side'

Teen editors collaborate remotely to produce "On the Other Side."

What's on the other side? Lake Erie Ink (LEI) is posing this question to student writers throughout Northeastern Ohio—asking them to cross over and find out. 

On the Other Side is a collection of work from students in grades 6–12. It is the fifth anthology of teen writing published by LEI, a Cleveland Heights based-creative writing nonprofit for youth. LEI will use this anthology to amplify youth voices through poetry, short stories, personal stories, and art.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 12:13 PM, 11.24.2020

Library creates safe co-learning spaces

Co-learning spaces at the Lee Road branch are available for students in grades K–12.

In response to the community’s need for study and tutoring spaces for students in grades K–12, Heights Libraries has created four co-learning spaces in the teen room of the Lee Road Branch.

Each space is surrounded by acrylic glass barriers and can accommodate one student and either a parent, sibling, tutor or another student, who can work together on schoolwork in a safe, socially distanced space. Two of the four spaces have computers with internet access. 

Co-learning space reservations last 45 minutes, must be reserved in advance and are limited to one per day, per customer.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 10:20 AM, 11.17.2020

Heights voters pass two local ballot issues

According to not-yet-official election results posted by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections on Nov. 4, Cleveland Heights and University Heights voters narrowly passed Issue 69, the 4.8 mill school tax levy. Cleveland Heights voters also passed Issue 6, the Cleveland Heights charter amendment.

Voters approved the school levy by a margin of just 65 votes, with 14,598 (50.11 percent) voting for the levy, and 14,533 (49.89) voting against it.

The voting margin was much wider for the other local ballot issue, the CH charter amendment, with 17,753 (85.93 percent) “yes” votes, and 2,907 (14.07) “no” votes.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 2:29 PM, 11.04.2020

2020 Heights Observer Holiday Gift Guide

For the past 13 years, the Heights Observer has published its Holiday Gift Guide to inspire residents to shop locally for the December holidays.

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

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, many of these businesses have temporarily or permanently closed, or are operating at partial capacity.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 7:20 PM, 10.29.2020

Coventry P.E.A.C.E. reaches agreement with Heights Libraries

The Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Campus includes a park as well as the former Coventry school building, now home to nonprofits and artists.

Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Campus (CPC) has reached an agreement with Heights Libraries on a 15-month lease of the former Coventry school building, which has been home to arts and community-service nonprofits for more than a decade. This agreement includes a path toward a 99-year lease, and allows CPC to sublet spaces to other nonprofits and build on its mission—to create a robust arts and culture center by supporting tenants through affordable rent and special programming.

An independent organization, CPC represents the building’s current tenants: Ensemble TheatreARTFULLake Erie InkFutureHeightsReaching HeightsCleveland Heights Teachers Union and Cleveland Arts Prize-winning artist Robin VanLear

Community residents founded Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Inc. in the 1990s, to build and maintain the Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Playground. In 2017, the organization expanded its mission to pursue the vision of an integrated campus where everyone can “create, show, learn and grow.”

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 9:50 AM, 10.27.2020

Heights Arts Holiday Store opens Nov. 1

The Heights Arts Holiday Store in 2019.

Heights Arts' 19th annual Holiday Store will open to the public on Sunday, Nov. 1. Since 2001, the store has delighted shoppers by offering truly unique gift options. This year, the Holiday Store offer more than 80 talented Northeast Ohio artists the opportunity to display and sell their work.

Heights Arts urges the community to make supporting local artists a priority this holiday season, by shopping at local arts organizations and galleries.

“This will be a critical year, not only for artists, but for Heights Arts as well," said Rachel Bernstein, Heights Arts' executive director. "The annual Holiday Store accounts for a significant portion of revenue for us. Like many arts organizations, we have suffered significant loss of visitors, contributions and revenue due to the pandemic.” 

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 6:51 PM, 10.29.2020