Latest News

Student art show returns to library

This is me, J'Mear, by Monticello Middle School student J'Mear Collins.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District’s Creative Heights Art Show has returned to Heights Libraries Lee Road branch. The show will run through April 15.

The exhibition of student art features hundreds of pieces, created by students in kindergarten through grade 12, working in diverse media, including pencil and chalk drawings, photography, sculpture, pottery, painting, textiles, printmaking, and metals (jewelry).

“The skill and creativity these kids put into their work is incredible,” said Youth Services Manager Sam Lapides. “You can tell that the art teachers in the district really inspire their students.”

The library last hosted the show in 2019. The COVID epidemic prevented the show from taking place for the next three years, 2020–22.

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Volume 16, Issue 4, Posted 9:23 AM, 03.28.2023

Latest News Releases

Repairs to begin on University Heights branch library
- CH-UH Library, March 23, 2023 Read More
LWV will host March 14 forum on Heights Schools and COVID
- League of Women Voters, March 10, 2023 Read More
Lake Erie Ink seeking a Marketing and Communications Associate
- Lake Erie Ink, February 13, 2023 Read More
Call for Applicants - Five Vacancies Open on City of Cleveland Heights' Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC)
- City of Cleveland Heights, February 7, 2023 Read More
Fairfax Elementary Cabaret Fundraiser Returns
- CH-UH Schools, January 13, 2023 Read More

View more news releases

Register now for Reaching Heights' benefit 'Bee'

The Mayors' Team—CH Mayor Kahlil Seren, UH Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan, and South Euclid Council-Member-at-Large Susan Hardy (filling in for SE Mayor Georgine Welo)—at the 2022 Bee.

Does seeing misspelled words make you cringe? Do you sometimes suppress the urge to spellcheck your coworkers’ emails? Or, are you an average speller but a phenomenal supporter of the Heights community and its public schools?

The annual Reaching Heights Spelling Bee is a perfect way to support Heights public schools while also having fun. This spelling bee for adults is silly, campy, and nerdy in the best possible ways.

Registration is now open for this year's Bee, to be held on Wednesday, May 10, at the Heights High auditorium.

At the Bee, teams of three work together to correctly spell one word in each round, while also taking part in fun traditions that make the annual event a "honey-sweet" time for spellers and spectators alike.

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Volume 16, Issue 4, Posted 9:19 AM, 03.28.2023

UH connects eligible seniors with transportion service

UH City Council has renewed the city's contract with Senior Transportation Connection.

University Heights City Council recently renewed its contract with Senior Transportation Connection (STC), enabling the service to continue to be available to adult city residents who are 60 or older, or disabled.

All clients or personal care attendants must be registered to use the service. Call 216-265-1489 to request an STC registration be sent, or download it from the STC website,

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Volume 16, Issue 4, Posted 9:24 AM, 03.28.2023

Cleveland Heights city administrator resigns

In a March 20 news release, the city of Cleveland Heights announced that its first city administrator, Joseph Sinnott, has resigned, effective March 31.

The city administrator position was mandated by the 2019 city charter amendment, in which the city's government changed to an elected mayor/council form.

Mayor Kahlil Seren's appointment of Sinnott was confirmed by city council one year ago, on March 21, 2022. Seren selected Sinnott, a former mayor of Erie, Pa., from an applicant field of more than 50.

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Volume 16, Issue 4, Posted 9:41 AM, 03.21.2023

Spring Break Arts Camp begins March 27

Robin VanLear and Mark Jenks wear Big Heads at Parade the Circle.

Artful Cleveland, in the Coventry PEACE Campus, will offer a Spring Break Arts Camp, March 27–31, for students in grades 8 through 12.

The camp, held in the Art Acts studio on the ground floor of Artful, will focus on a variety of arts, from visual arts and movement to playwriting and poetry.

Among the artists/mentors who will lead the camp activities are Eric Coble, playwright; Raja Freeman, poet; Diana Sette, interdisciplinary artist; and Story Rhinehart Cadiz, mixed-media artist, choreogapher and poet.

The camp still has room for additional students. The cost is $225 for the week; financial aid is available, and a "Pay What You Can" plan is in place.

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Volume 16, Issue 4, Posted 10:09 AM, 03.17.2023

March 14 forum will consider COVID's impact on Heights schools

On March 14, 6–8 p.m., a community forum will explore "Cleveland Heights-University Heights Schools and COVID – Achievements and Needs."

The forum will take place at the Heights High cafeteria, at 13263 Cedar Road.

The forum's panel will comprise CH-UH City School District teachers, counselors, and administrators who will speak from their professional experiences and perspectives, uniquely grounded in the Heights’ schools.

Each panelist will speak for about five minutes and take written questions from the audience.

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Volume 16, Issue 4, Posted 11:14 AM, 03.13.2023

After 50 years, Heights Community Congress closes its doors

On March 2, Heights Community Congress (HCC), announced that it was ceasing operations. In an open letter announcing the closing, Rev. Eric Dillenbeck, HCC's most recent director, wrote the following:

After 50 years of committed service to the Heights Community and northeast Ohio the Board of the Heights Community Congress (HCC) made the difficult decision to close its doors, effective February 28, 2023.  

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Volume 16, Issue 4, Posted 11:36 AM, 03.07.2023

New signs are finally coming to University Heights

Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan shows off a University Heights gateway sign prototype.

After implementing a new brand and logo back in 2018, University Heights will finally see the corresponding signs installed across the city this year.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan said. “But the prototypes look amazing, and I’m confident residents will feel the signs were worth the wait.”

Partial prototypes of the signs were delivered to UH City Hall last month. The signs for the city's major gateways will feature the four-color University Heights logo, built with transparent colored acrylic. The stained glass and mosaic effect will make the signs unique compared to any other municipal signs in Northeast Ohio.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 11:25 AM, 02.28.2023

FutureHeights names Pagsuyoin executive director

Kristine Pagsuyoin

After an extensive search process, the FutureHeights Board of Directors is pleased to announce that it has named Kristine Pagsuyoin its new executive director.

In assuming the role, on Feb. 6, Pagsuyoin will now manage all day-to-day operations for FutureHeights, leading staff and programming, as well as marketing and fundraising efforts.

Pagsuyoin's leadership and housing background, combined with a passion for community engagement and community building, will further advance the mission of FutureHeights. She brings a breadth of experience to her new leadership role.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 11:16 AM, 02.28.2023

The nuts and bolts of producing the Observer

Assembling a publication like the Heights Observer is a puzzle. An average 20-page issue contains about 23–28 articles of varying subjects, length and immediacy; 60 ads in a dozen configurations; and a number of standing components that all need to be meshed into a neat and readable package.

Our deadlines are set up to allow a small, remote, part-time staff to follow a smooth and thoughtful production process. Still, it’s reasonable to wonder what goes on in the typical two and a half weeks between our article deadline and the day the issue gets distributed.

Here’s an outline of how an issue of the Observer comes together.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 11:09 AM, 02.28.2023

March 2 forum introduces state legislators

The Heights Coalition for Public Education will host a forum on March 2, at Cleveland Heights High School, to welcome and introduce the newly elected state officials who represent the Heights.

The public officials invited to attend are state Rep. Juanita Brent (District 22), state Rep.  Daniel Troy (District 23), state Sen. Kent Smith (District 23), and state Board of Education (BOE) member Thomas Jackson (District 10).

Presentations will begin at 7:15 p.m., in the Heights High cafeteria. The forum's emphasis will be on public education. Community members attending the event will have the opportunity to ask questions, as will the public officials.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 9:53 AM, 02.28.2023

Synagogue's sign promotes gun-violence awareness

Gun-death statistics, as of Feb. 5, displayed at Beth El - The Heights Synagogue. 

Temple Israel in Canton, as part of its social justice initiative, developed a program called The Silhouette Project, designed to promote awareness of gun violence. It created a sign, with moveable numbers, to display the ever-increasing number of gun deaths in the U.S.

Beth Wachter, a member of Beth El - The Heights Synagogue, and its social action chair, brought to the board the idea of displaying such a sign.

A decision was made to participate by posting a sign on the synagogue’s lawn, at Desota and Berkley roads, to help bolster awareness of this escalating gun-death crisis.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 10:06 AM, 02.28.2023

Noble library preps for May renovation

A Noble library branch expansion design image, courtesy Bostwick Design Partnership and landscape design company McKnight & Sergeant.

Heights Libraries will soon be significantly expanding its Noble Neighborhood branch. The planned renovation will double the size of the heavily used building, allowing the library to expand and broaden the services it provides to residents of the Noble neighborhood and surrounding communities in the northeastern section of Cleveland Heights.

The branch will be closed beginning Sunday, April 16. The renovation is expected to last roughly a year (through May 2024), with a groundbreaking tentatively scheduled for May 2023.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 11:23 AM, 02.28.2023

Brennan outlines plan to move UH forward

Mayor Brennan delivered his State of the City address from the Donahue Auditorium on the JCU campus.

At his fifth State of the City address, University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan reported the state of University Heights is strong. “And to remain strong," he said, "we must keep moving forward. To do that, it depends on all of us.”

In five years, said Brennan, residents, city employees, business owners and educators have teamed up to accomplish much. “But we’ve only just begun,” he said. “We will not let University Heights fall behind.”

In his one-hour address, the second-term mayor gave updates on future projects, while proposing new initiatives.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 10:05 AM, 02.28.2023

2023 Crowdsourced Conversations start with March survey

An August 2022 Crowdsourced Conversation on community safety. [photo: Sarah Wolf]

FutureHeights is at the beginning phases of planning the 2023 edition of Crowdsourced Conversations, a discussion-based forum series that premiered in 2022. It was created in response to feedback that residents wanted more connection and follow up after a community event. Organizers initiated this series to provide Heights residents and stakeholders with a space in which to have action-oriented discussions about communitywide topics.

Participants and organizers alike enthusiastically agreed that Crowdsourced Conversations should continue in 2023, so FutureHeights asked for suggestions for topics.

Nearly 50 ideas emerged, and a Heightswide survey narrowed it down to the top four: Perceptions vs. Reality of our Schools; Re-Thinking the Roads as Community Space, Not Just for Cars; Rental Properties and Absent/Negligent Landlords; and Planning and Development in the Heights.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 10:18 AM, 02.28.2023

CH City Charter appointment process works

Councils and boards typically have an odd number of members so that stalemates can be avoided. When there are an even number, stalemates are not uncommon.

This was the case several years ago in Cleveland Heights, where the appointment of a new council member took close to a year to be resolved.

After that, a charter amendment was put in place to require an appointment within 45 days. If the council has a stalemate, after 45 days the mayor appoints a new council member. This is common in most cities.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 11:06 AM, 02.28.2023

CH City Council should make council appointments

As we welcome our new [city council] colleague, the recent appointment of Janine Boyd has brought some questions to the minds of residents, who would like to know why the mayor, and not city council, made this decision.

The three of us would like to be very clear about this:

  • First and foremost, [we,] Council Members Larson, Russell and Cuda, believe council vacancies should always be filled by city council.
  • When no applicant appeared to have the support of at least four members of council, the three of us were willing to compromise and give up our first pick to consider several other qualified applicants.
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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 11:05 AM, 02.28.2023

Missed perceptions

Travis (class of 2008) and Jason Kelce (2006) after their 2018 Heights High Hall of Fame induction

I’m writing this a few days before the 2023 Super Bowl. But this isn’t about the Super Bowl. I only mentioned it because of the Kelce brothers, Jason and Travis. Though this isn’t really about them, either. This is really about the perception of Cleveland Heights and University Heights, expressed by people who moved away years ago.

I’m a member of at least three Cleveland Heights-related Facebook groups, one dealing with the past, one with the present, and one about Heights High. During this run-up to the Super Bowl, I’ve seen quite a few comments, in those groups and on individual people’s pages, wondering why Cleveland Heights, in general, is making such a big deal about a football game, and making it clear that they don’t think it’s worth that much of our attention.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 10:18 AM, 02.28.2023

Some CH housing inspection headaches . . .

As volunteer columnists with busy lives, we can't often undertake extensive research, let alone far-reaching investigative journalism; thus, we forego addressing many interesting and important subjects. This month, however, our subject is Cleveland Heights housing inspections, about which seemingly everyone has opinions. We will describe some recent inspection issues, and encourage you to share your stories with us.

To be clear, we support rigorous code enforcement, which necessitates regular inspections. Sure, we gripe like anyone else when we encounter an especially picky inspector; but housing codes are a social good. When conscientiously applied they protect owners, renters and neighbors from unsafe conditions, and ensure the upkeep of our residential areas.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 10:53 AM, 02.28.2023

Register now for summer music camp

Heights middle-school bassists rehearse on "Dress Like Your Section" Day at Reaching Heights' Summer Music Camp.

Registration is now open for Reaching Heights' Summer Music Camp, June 12–17. This year's camp will be held at Cleveland Heights High School.

It is open to 85 young musicians, in grades six through eight, who live in the CH-UH City School District, and who have at least two years of experience playing an instrument.

The camp fee is $200, and scholarship support is available.

The one-week camp will bring together local musicians and music educators to create a fun music-immersion experience.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 10:11 AM, 02.28.2023

Politics shouldn't interfere with CHPD

I once asked former Cleveland Heights Police Chief Martin Lentz why his officers did not exercise discretion when issuing parking tickets. He asked if I really thought a large group of armed, uniformed officers should have such discretion. I got his point. The potential for abuse would be enormous. Our police are trained to enforce laws, period.

Chief Lentz further expressed to me his belief in strict traffic law enforcement. He mentioned what he called the “felon community.” He thought people who break big laws frequently break small ones. He said drivers stopped sometimes were leaving the scene of a crime or had outstanding felony warrants. They could be armed. Traffic stops are unpredictable and potentially dangerous. They are not occasions for social work.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 10:55 AM, 02.28.2023

Health and learning go together

When the polio epidemic swept the nation in 1956, I was 9 years old. This disease left one of my friends partially paralyzed, and a family friend died from it. My mom kept my sisters and me out of public places; we spent the summer at home. Swimming at the beach was off limits, and she thought dimming the lights would help protect us.

Then came the Salk vaccine. I remember standing in line in the cafeteria of my neighborhood elementary school in Madison, Wis., waiting for the shot that would quell the spread of the deadly disease and liberate us from our confinement. My sister said her best friend fainted awaiting her turn.

What better place than a school to deliver essential medical care to a whole neighborhood? It made perfect sense then, and it makes sense now.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 10:50 AM, 02.28.2023

SAG continues planning and placemaking for Severance Town Center property

In 2020, a small group of Cleveland Heights residents began volunteering together and collaborating to examine ideas that might initiate the revitalization of the long-struggling Severance Town Center property.

The Severance Action Group (SAG) formed, and has invested considerable time, talent, and experience in this effort. In December 2022, we recognized the need to share our work with the Cleveland Heights mayor, city council, and the public.

Looking closely at the property's deteriorated condition, extensive vacancies, and lack of investment, we quickly concluded a complete transformation and bold action are necessary.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 11:03 AM, 02.28.2023

Two choruses join voices in free March 12 concert

Western Reserve Chorale and Choral Arts Cleveland will perform together in a concert at Maltz Performing Arts Center at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) on Sunday, March 12.

The two choruses will join professional orchestral musicians and soloists Amanda Powell, Joanne Uniatowski, Brian Skoog and Brian Keith Johnson to present Remembrance and Hope, a concert featuring two very different approaches to the Requiem mass.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 10:16 AM, 02.28.2023

FFHL raises funds for PEACE Park updates

A preliminary aerial rendering of Coventry PEACE Park updates.

In early January, around 30 PEACE Park founders and friends gathered to hear details about, and give feedback on, new park plans. Coventry PEACE Park is a beloved gathering place in Cleveland Heights, and Heights Libraries is committed to its revitalization. 

For the past 10 years, the Fund for the Future of Heights Libraries (FFHL) has raised funds to support Heights Libraries’ buildings and services. FFHL is now focused on raising funds to make Coventry PEACE Park a safe, fun, and accessible green space for people of all ages and abilities.  

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 10:14 AM, 02.28.2023

Coventry PEACE tenants sign new leases

Almost a year to the date after their former leasing arrangement with Heights Libraries expired in December 2021, the tenants of the former Coventry School building have signed new leases to stay in the building, effective Jan. 1, 2023. The library owns the building and the adjacent Coventry PEACE Park.

All of the tenants that were in the building at the end of 2021 will be staying for at least another 18 months, with an option to renew for an additional term: Lake Erie Ink, Reaching Heights, Artful, Grace Communion Church, Building Bridges, Coventry PEACE Inc., the Singers Club, the CH Teachers Union, and FutureHeights.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 10:30 AM, 02.28.2023

CH-UH kindergartens host March info nights

Oxford Elementary School teacher Millie Litten. [photo: CH-UH City School District]

Beginning March 14, each Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District elementary school will host a Kindergarten Information Night for incoming and prospective families. Attendees will have an opportunity to meet school principals and teachers, ask questions, and take tours of the buildings.

To find the school that corresponds to your address, use the district’s online interactive boundary map, at

Each information night will run from 6 to 7 p.m., on the following dates:

Boulevard - Tuesday, March 14
Canterbury - Wednesday, March 15
Fairfax - Thursday, March 16
Gearity Professional Development - Tuesday, March 21
Noble - Thursday, March 16
Oxford - Thursday, March 16
Roxboro - Wednesday, March 15

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 10:12 AM, 02.28.2023

LEI to host fundraising tournament

LEI's Bananagrams tournament features a giant game board. [Credit: Lake Erie Ink]

If you love word games, you will love this news: After a four-year hiatus, Lake Erie Ink (LEI) is inviting you to hone your wordplay skills and join the 11th Annual Giant Bananagrams tournament, at Cleveland Heights High School, on Saturday, March 18, 1–4 p.m. 

Bananagrams is a game that encourages creative thinking, collaboration, and teamwork. For the LEI tournament, the stakes are amplified with a 30-foot x 30-foot board and a live emcee. Teams of five will compete. To register and participate, each team must raise $500.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 10:08 AM, 02.28.2023

Heights Arts presents 2023 Close Encounters series

A 2019 Close Encounters performance at the Herrick Mews Carriage House.

Heights Arts announces the return of its Close Encounters chamber music series with five concerts: the first is Feb. 26, the subsequent concerts will take place on March 26, April 30, May 21, and June 25. Each of the Sunday afternoon concerts begin at 3 p.m.

This popular series is known for its world-class performances, featuring Cleveland Orchestra musicians and locally acclaimed ensembles performing in unique settings that create intimacy between the audience and musicians. 

Heights Arts Executive Director Rachel Bernstein commented, “After a hiatus due to the pandemic, I am excited to present our 16th Close Encounters season featuring four performances with outstanding musicians from the Cleveland Orchestra, and an additional performance by the critically acclaimed Alla Boara ensemble.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 2:37 PM, 02.23.2023

Request a free tree for spring planting

The Heights Tree People take a break between plantings.

Heights Tree People is beginning its fifth year as a volunteer organization, working to rebuild the tree canopy in Cleveland Heights and University Heights by planting trees in people’s front yards, free of charge.

The group is currently accepting tree requests for spring planting of trees, which runs April through May.

Requesting a tree now enables them to conduct a site visit prior to planting season, to find the right location and tree for a specific front yard.

Arborist and Heights Tree People founding member Laura Marks sums up the extensive benefits of trees, saying, simply, “People are happier and healthier when they live with trees. Trees civilize us. They clean our environment.”

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 11:19 AM, 02.21.2023

Stone Oven returns to its bread-baking roots

Tatyana Rehn is baking her Stone Oven bread in small batches again. [photo: John Emerman]

When the Stone Oven Bakery and Café opened in 1995 in the Cedar Lee Business District, owners Tatyana Rehn and John Emerman had already been baking bread for distribution to area stores and restaurants for two years.

As they continued to add new wholesale customers, that part of the business eventually required a larger production facility, which they located on East 36th Street in Cleveland. Rehn ran the wholesale operation, while Emerman looked after the retail business.

Now, though, Rehn is back to baking bread in small hand-made batches, exclusively for Stone Oven’s Lee Road café.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 11:18 AM, 02.21.2023

Mayor returns Boyd to CH City Council

Janine Boyd

On Feb. 10, Cleveland Heights Mayor Kahlil Seren announced his appointment of former CH Council Member and former state Rep. Janine Boyd to city council. She will serve out the unexpired term of Josie Moore, who resigned from council on Dec. 16. That term ends on Dec. 31, 2023; the seat will be on the ballot this November.

The mayor's announcement came after the six Cleveland Heights City Council members failed to appoint a seventh.

The city charter stipulates that council has 45 days in which to fill a council vacancy, once it has voted to accept a council member's resignation. Council voted to accept Moore's resignation on Dec. 21, giving council members until Feb. 4 to appoint someone.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 11:50 AM, 02.12.2023

Fairfax Cabaret returns on Feb. 24

After a three-year hiatus, the Fairfax Elementary School PTA's Cabaret fundraiser will return on Friday, Feb. 24, 7 p.m., and take place at the Heights High auditorium.

Students in kindergarten through grade five will showcase their wide-ranging talents for family and community members.

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for a pre-event dinner catered by Eugene's, which is owned and operated by Mike and Annie Schoen, a Fairfax family. There will be three meal options and sides, with prices ranging from $8 to $9. Tickets for the cabaret are $20 for the front row, and $10 for all other seats, and may be purchased online at

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 12:22 PM, 02.13.2023

Severance's owner has history of violations

Namdar Realty buys struggling shopping malls, like Severance Town Center, then spends little to maintain them.

Much of Severance Town Center (STC) is owned by Namdar Realty ( and is managed by its partner, Mason Asset Management. Namdar bought STC at auction for $10.4 million in 2016. 

Namdar Realty, based in Great Neck, N.Y., is family-owned. Founded in 1999, it owns several hundred shopping malls across the United States. Igal Namdar heads Namdar Realty, and Elliot Nassim, the cousin of Namdar’s wife, heads Mason Asset Management.

Namdar Realty is known for buying "B" and "C" level malls that are “distressed” and “struggling.” Many lost their anchor stores as national chains (e.g., Sears, J.C. Penney, Macy’s) reduced their number of locations or went out of business.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:42 AM, 01.31.2023

Best of the Heights voting opens Feb. 1

Beginning Feb. 1, Heights residents can show their appreciation for locally owned, independent businesses by voting for their favorites in the FutureHeights 2023 Best of the Heights awards.

Since 2005, FutureHeights has conducted the Best of the Heights awards as a way to recognize the unique attributes of Heights businesses, and their contributions to the local economy.

"FutureHeights is always proud to support and celebrate our local merchants with the 'Best of the Heights' awards," said Micah Kirman, FutureHeights' interim executive director. "Our quality independent businesses add so much to the health and vitality of our community, and the incredible merchants, who operate them so well, deserve to be recognized.”

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 10:59 AM, 01.31.2023

Brennan to deliver Feb. 15 State of the City

Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan

University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan will deliver his annual State of the City address on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m., at the Dolan Science Center auditorium on the campus of John Carroll University (JCU).

In his fifth State of the City, Brennan will update the community on multiple projects, including new municipal facilities, updating the city’s zoning code, and the fieldhouse and South Gateway projects at JCU.

Brennan will discuss the city’s commitment to sustainability, and a partnership with Power a Clean Future Ohio. 

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:49 AM, 01.31.2023

CH council appointment deadline nears

A special meeting of Cleveland Heights City Council, scheduled for Monday evening, Jan. 30, had a single agenda item: Appointment of a Council Member.

With the same-day cancellation of the Jan. 30 meeting, that agenda item has moved to a Feb. 2 special meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m. 

CH City Council has until Saturday, Feb. 4, to appoint a new council member to fill the seat formerly held by Josie Moore.

According to the city charter, council has 45 days in which to appoint a new council member. If council were to fail to appoint someone by the deadline, the mayor would then have 10 days in which to fill the seat.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 10:46 AM, 01.31.2023

Why the Observer isn't a traditional newspaper

The Heights Observer’s strength—and its greatest weakness—is the way we come by the information that fills its pages. Every word is an unpaid contribution, uploaded directly to our publishing system by people from the CH-UH area we serve.

It’s a strength because it results in a publication people recognize as strongly reflecting the community. It’s a weakness because we can’t operate the way a traditional newspaper would—assigning reporters to cover important issues and events. There are a lot of goings-on people need or want to know about that we never publish, simply because nobody stepped up to gather the information and write an article. And unless someone comes forward with a seven-figure endowment, it’s not likely to change.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 12:00 PM, 01.31.2023

Moore's supporters deserve similar representation

Years before climate change, environmental justice, and Vision Zero became mainstream concepts, Mary Dunbar, former Cleveland Heights council member, recognized that the environment and the health of the community are inextricably interconnected. She became an advocate for a greener and healthier Cleveland Heights.

After Ms. Dunbar’s untimely resignation from council, Josie Moore stepped in to fill the vacated seat with a passion and clarity that was reassuring and energizing. She brought fresh energy and a platform befitting a city that perceives itself as progressive and welcoming. She offered a vision for a holistic and collaborative approach to decision-making that considered the potential impact of policies and projects on the economy, housing, social equity, and the environment.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:56 AM, 01.31.2023

I'm sad to say goodbye to Josie Moore

Those serving in public office sacrifice a lot. Many qualified people decline to seek election for that reason. Others decide after their election that the sacrifice is too great. One of those others is Josie Moore, who recently resigned from Cleveland Heights City Council.

Moore had ideas about how CH City Hall should operate under a new system. She thought the mayor and council members need to be “willing to reach out, discuss ideas and concerns, and be responsive to each other in a spirit of collaboration and problem-solving.” She called for leadership that sees civil disagreement as “an opportunity to find pathways for improvement.” She considered “open, ongoing, and respectful communication as the key to an effective working relationship that enables the achievement of our city’s goals.”

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:55 AM, 01.31.2023

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education meeting highlights 2-7-23

FEBRUARY 7, 2023, regular meeting


  • Public comments
  • Recognitions and awards
  • African-American History and LGBTQ+ Pride months
  • School Spotlight: Roxboro
  • ELA curriculum recommendations
  • Policies group B
  • School funding and policy
  • Announcements


Present were President Beverly Wright, Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis, James Posch, and Jodi Sourini. Also present were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and Treasurer Scott Gainer. The meeting was called to order at 7 p.m. and adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 10:23 AM, 02.16.2023

University Heights City Council meeting 2-6-23

FEBRUARY 6, 2023, regular meeting


  • Mayor’s report
  • Facilities
  • Lobbying firm
  • Recycling
  • Contracting procedures
  • Other council actions
  • Staff reports


Present were Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan, Vice Mayor Michelle Weiss, and Council Members Barbara Blankfeld, Christopher Cooney, Justin Gould, Brian J. King, John P. Rach, and Sheri Sax. Also present were Kelly Thomas, clerk of council; Luke McConville, law director; Dennis Kennedy, finance director; and Joseph Ciuni, city engineer. The meeting ran three hours.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 10:28 AM, 02.16.2023

Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 2-6-23

FEBRUARY 6, 2023, regular meeting


  • Mayor’s report
  • Clerk of council’s report
  • Council actions
  • Council member comments
  • Committee of the whole


Present were Mayor Kahlil Seren, Council President Melody Joy Hart, Council Vice President Craig Cobb and Council Members Tony Cuda, Gail Larson, Anthony Mattox, Jr. and Davida Russell. Also present were Clerk of Council Addie Balester and Law Director William Hanna. The meeting ran 45 minutes.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 10:29 AM, 02.16.2023

Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 2-2-23

FEBRUARY 2, 2023, special meeting


  • Council seat appointment
  • Council member comments
  • Committee of the whole


Present were Council President Melody Joy Hart, Council Vice President Craig Cobb and Council Members Tony Cuda, Gail Larson, Anthony Mattox, Jr. and Davida Russell. Mayor Kahlil Seren was not present. Also present were Clerk of Council Addie Balester and Law Director William Hanna. The meeting ran for 13 minutes.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 10:30 AM, 02.16.2023

Cleveland Heights is 'dementia friendly'

Six years ago, at the age of 62, I was diagnosed with early onset dementia. On that fateful afternoon, my wife, Emily, and I began a journey into the wilderness of dementia, disability and discernment. We had to accept the reality of my diagnosis: I had to retire early as dean of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland; Emily had to put our financial and legal affairs in order; and, together, we had to figure out how we were going to live with dementia.

One of the decisions we made was to return to Cleveland Heights. We gave up our newly built dream home in Detroit Shoreway for a 100-year-old house on Scarborough Road. Why? We wanted to be close to family and friends in a neighborhood where I had long-term, embedded memory. We wanted a quiet, safe, walkable community with parks and trees.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 12:00 PM, 01.31.2023

Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 1-23-23

JANUARY 23, 2023, special meeting


  • Mayor's report
  • Vehicles purchased
  • Committee of the whole


Present were Mayor Kahlil Seren, Council President Melody Joy Hart, Council Vice President Craig Cobb, and Council Members Tony Cuda, Gail Larson, Anthony Mattox, Jr., and Davida Russell. Also present were Clerk of Council Addie Balester and Finance Director Andrew Unetic. The meeting ran 15 minutes.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 8:55 AM, 02.10.2023

Cleveland Heights University Heights Library Board of Trustees meeting highlights 1-23-23

JANUARY 23, 2023


  • Swearing in
  • Financial report
  • Board resolutions
  • Planning & external relations committee
  • Personnel report
  • Director’s report
  • Public service report


Present were President Max Gerboc, Vice President Vikas Turakhia, Secretary Annette Iwamoto, Patti Carlyle, Dana Fluellen, Tyler McTigue and Melissa Soto-Schwartz. The meeting lasted 80 minutes.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 8:54 AM, 02.10.2023

She might have been an angel

Heights Hardware, sometime in the 1970s, looking like it did in the 1940s and like it does now. I stayed in the apartment above it, with two different sets of residents.

In February 1968, I wasn’t exactly aimless; I had goals. I wasn’t hopeless; I had dreams and wishes. I wasn’t totally homeless; there were a few places where I could stay. But I certainly wasn’t grounded, or focused, or even very motivated. Too much had gone wrong.

I was only 18, but my music career had actually shown more promise when I was 16 and 17. It was stalled. I was stalled.

I was staying with a high school friend—one of just two who were still in town—a guy who really was aimless and hopeless, and had even less motivation than I did. But his wife had a job. And they had an apartment right above Heights Hardware on Coventry.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 10:55 AM, 01.31.2023

Transportation committee supports lower CH speed limits

To the Editor:

As members of the Cleveland Heights Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), we support the reduction of speed limits on residential portions of certain streets as proposed by Mayor Seren, recommended by city council’s Public Safety and Health Committee (chaired by Council Member Larson), and passed by council.

This action by the mayor and council is consistent with the city’s Complete and Green Streets Policy, approved by council in 2018, and Council Resolution 96-2021, adopting and supporting the ideals, principles, and concepts of Vision Zero for the city.

The city’s lowering of speed limits is also consistent with policy of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:58 AM, 01.31.2023

Clear snow for postal carriers

The Cleveland Heights U.S. Post Office is seriously understaffed, affecting not just our deliveries, but the health and safety of the postal carriers.

They are literally burdened with long hours in rain, snow, ice and mud trying to cover unfilled carrier positions. They are working in fatiguing and stressful conditions with increased potential for injury. In the worst situations, they are subject to robberies and shootings.

Cleveland Heights residents can help ensure postal carriers’ routes are as safe and unobstructed as possible. Remember, they are working long hours, into the evenings when natural lighting is dim. Many carriers may be filling in on an unfamiliar street.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:54 AM, 01.31.2023

Seeking substance inside CH City Hall

On Jan. 3, we witnessed a Cleveland Heights City Council meeting that lasted an hour and seven minutes, but felt interminable.

Mayor Kahlil Seren made two brief announcements, but inexplicably did not mention the Dec. 23–24 life-threatening storm Elliott and attendant heavy snowfall, which had choked some residential streets in the city for days. Nor did he utter a word about when the Community Center, closed due to flooding caused by Elliott’s sub-zero temperatures, might reopen.

Public comments ranged from polite complaints about unplowed streets to abusively long harangues by speakers who rudely ignored reminders that they had exceeded their three-minute time limit.

During council’s comment period, some members monopolized the floor to deliver state-of-the-city addresses, grandstand about their own accomplishments, or malign their cohorts.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:48 AM, 01.31.2023

Funds support COVID recovery in schools

Inadequate school funding is an old and tragic story in Ohio. Those who defend this reality like to say money doesn’t matter, but the federal government has a different view. In 2021 Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and granted $130 billion in Elementary Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to states and school districts to help students “recover, succeed and thrive.”

Ohio received $4.475 billion to award to local school districts. The Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District received $17.1 million to spend by September 2024. That’s equivalent to about $1,200 a year per student, for three years.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:46 AM, 01.31.2023

Library earns solid rating for pandemic year 2020

Despite the challenges of COVID lockdowns throughout 2020, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System qualified for a three-star rating from the Index of Public Library Service’s publication Library Journal.

Heights Libraries was one of only three in Ohio to receive a star designation for 2020—in comparison, Ohio had 27 star libraries in Library Journal’s rankings for 2019.

Heights Libraries has earned the highest designation, five stars, in 11 out of the 15 years that Library Journal has published the ratings. (The library received a four-star rating in two of the years, and was not rated one year.)

Library Journal reports news about the library world, emphasizing public libraries, and has a nationwide circulation of 100,000.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 10:51 AM, 01.31.2023

Apply by March 15 for a FH mini-grant

Mini-grant dollars at work at Millikin Playground. [Photo: Cindie Carroll-Pankhurst]

FutureHeights is now accepting applications for its spring 2023 Neighborhoods Mini-Grants program. Applications are due March 15.

Now in its eighth year, the program offers awards of up to $1,000 for community-building projects, programs, and initiatives at the neighborhood level, in Cleveland Heights or University Heights.

Applicants are not required to have 501(c)3 nonprofit standing to be considered. FutureHeights designed the program to enable neighborhood and grassroots-level groups to have access to funding that, without the nonprofit designation, otherwise can be challenging to acquire. 

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 10:50 AM, 01.31.2023

Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 1-17-23

JANUARY 17, 2023, regular meeting


  • Public comments
  • Mayor’s report
  • Clerk of council’s report
  • Council actions
  • Council member comments
  • Committee of the whole


Present were Mayor Kahlil Seren, Council President Melody Joy Hart, Council Vice President Craig Cobb, and Council Members Tony Cuda, Gail Larson, Anthony Mattox, Jr., and Davida Russell. Also present were Clerk of Council Addie Balester and Law Director William Hanna. The meeting ran 55 minutes.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 8:56 AM, 02.10.2023

University Heights City Council meeting 1-17-23

JANUARY 17, 2023, regular meeting


  • Public comments
  • Mayor’s report
  • Council actions
  • Staff reports
  • Committee reports


Present were Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan, Vice Mayor Michelle Weiss, and Council Members Barbara Blankfeld, Justin Gould, Brian J. King, and Sheri Sax. Not present were Christopher Cooney and John P. Rach. Also present were Clerk of Council Kelly Thomas, Asst. Law Director Michael Cicero, and City Engineer Joseph Ciuni. The meeting ran for one and three quarter hours.

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Volume 16, Issue 3, Posted 8:52 AM, 02.10.2023

Heights IMD and alumni celebrate 100 years

Heights musicians perform at Severance Hall. [photo by Carl Jenks]

On Saturday, Feb. 25, the Cleveland Heights High School Instrumental Music Department (IMD) will celebrate a century of instrumental music at the school.

The evening concert will feature performances by current student ensembles and, on several pieces, alumni will be invited to dust off their instruments and play along. Former band and orchestra directors will also be invited to conduct. The concert will be held in the Heights High auditorium. Community members are encouraged to join the celebration as well.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 10:52 AM, 01.31.2023

CH speed-limit reductions add negligible travel time

I’m writing in response to Alan Rapaport’s opinion, in the January issue of the Heights Observer, regarding lowering speed limits.

Mr. Rapaport claims that lowering the speed limits on five roads will cause it to “take longer to get to shops, banks, restaurants, parks, libraries, churches, and schools,” and “will encourage drivers to seek faster shortcuts on side streets.”

After reading this, I decided to use Google Maps and some arithmetic to find out how much longer it will take.

From one border to the other, the lengths of Taylor Road, Lee Road, and Euclid Heights Boulevard are all about 2.7 miles. If one could drive all the way across the city without encountering stop lights or traffic problems, the trip would take 6.5 minutes at 25 mph, and 4.6 minutes at 35 mph.

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 11:53 AM, 01.31.2023

Help rebuild Coventry playground

I first met Coventry playground on a fine July morning in 2000. 

Fate, in the form of a loan-repayment contract for my medical-school borrowings, had brought me to Cleveland from Seattle. My wife and I bought a home on Berkshire Road, not far from Coventry school. We flew to Cleveland with a few suitcases, our two young boys, and two cats. Mix-ups delayed the moving truck, which included the truly important stuff like tricycles, Legos and toys. What to do with these rambunctious boys stuck in an empty home?

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Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 10:48 AM, 01.31.2023