Latest News

FutureHeights to unveil Cedar Lee Mini-Park design

This summer, artist Tom Masaveg added a colorful deer motif to the mural.

FutureHeights, the community development corporation for Cleveland Heights, is working on a redesign of the Cedar Lee Mini-Park, a 7,500-square-foot, city-owned site located between Boss Dog Brewing Company and Heights Arts in the Cedar Lee Business District. At 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 9, FutureHeights will share the new design at a Virtual Open House. Register to attend the Virtual Open House at

The design is the result of more than two years of civic engagement with community members and stakeholders, to remake this underutilized area into a vibrant public space that is attractive, welcoming, and offers opportunities to gather and host public programs. Through surveying, visioning, design sessions, and in-person interviews, a FutureHeights-led steering committee sought to understand the community's desires and aspirations for the site. In fall 2019, through an RFP process, the group selected landscape design firm MKSK Studios, of Columbus, Ohio, to illustrate the community's vision.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 8:12 PM, 08.31.2020

Latest News Releases

Cleveland Heights Looks Toward Its Centennial Celebration With "All Are Welcome" Commitment
- City of Cleveland Heights, September 18, 2020 Read More
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS LOOKS TOWARD ITS CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION WITH "ALL ARE WELCOME" COMMITMENT Founded in 1921, City embraces its history as it moves into its next century
- City of Cleveland Heights, September 17, 2020 Read More
Councilwoman Cheryl Stephens Champions Support for Greater Cleveland Food Bank
- Cuyahoga County, September 8, 2020 Read More
The Show Must Go On: Legal Aid presents 4 FREE “Jam for Justice” live-streams this month
- Non-Profit & Groups, September 8, 2020 Read More
As more people need help due to COVID-19, Legal Aid continues to expand
- Non-Profit & Groups, September 1, 2020 Read More

View more news releases

CH students earn Tri-C fellowships

Maya Serna

Maya Serna and Talia Weeks of Cleveland Heights have been selected for Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) Honors Program Fellowships, which offer high-achieving students scholarships to cover tuition, fees and books as they work toward an associate degree. 

Serna and Weeks signed commitment letters with Tri-C in a virtual ceremony. Each scholarship—funded by donors to the Cuyahoga Community College Foundation—is valued at up to $5,120 per academic year.

The college’s seventh fellowship class comprises 54 students with GPAs of at least 3.5, and outstanding ACT/SAT scores. By entering the scholarship program, they commit to being full-time students, maintaining a high GPA, and earning a degree from Tri-C within two years. 

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 8:06 AM, 09.01.2020

Library adapts to pandemic

When libraries and schools across Northeast Ohio started closing on March 13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Heights Libraries made the difficult decision to close its four branches. Over the weeks that followed, staff worked together remotely to figure out how to serve the Cleveland Heights-University Heights community safely.

“It was a strange and frustrating time,” said Nancy Levin, Heights Libraries director. “Our mission, our entire purpose, is to help people, to provide them with free services and materials to improve their lives. How do you do that from a distance, with closed buildings? Well, never underestimate determined library staff.”

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 8:11 AM, 09.01.2020

UH kids lobby Tribe to 'Let Cooper In'

University Heights kids with Cooper, the city's brand ambassador.

The kids of University Heights are making their voices heard. Will the Cleveland Indians listen?

Cooper the Chicken, the city’s brand ambassador (please don’t call him a mascot), usually spends his summer at concerts in the park, at parades, at the pool, and even at lemonade stands.

The cornonavirus pandemic ended all of the activities Cooper loves so much. So, when the Cleveland Indians announced its cardboard-fan-cutout program, University Heights employees chipped in $100 so that Cooper could be represented at the baseball games.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 7:54 AM, 09.01.2020

The summer smell of Cleveland Heights

If you change the name of the paper from Cleveland Press to Cleveland Plain Dealer, and switch the year from 1965 to 1959, and multiply this card by about 200, that's what I carried around on a big metal ring every morning for those two weeks in July, and again on Saturday nights when I attempted to collect the money . . . and ate some more mulberries.

I’m not ready to let go of summer. I would have been last September, and for the previous 40 Septembers. But that’s because I stopped caring about summer. I no longer embraced it as I used to when I was younger—and as I did again this year.

One positive thing that has come from this pandemic—for me, and, I think, many others—has been walking. For a while, everything was closed; there was nowhere to go and nothing to do. We’d been in our homes for weeks. And gyms were closed. Then the weather got nice, and we needed to move, and walking was something to do, with something different to look at.

Walking is not a big deal to many people. It is to me, because I haven’t done it for about 40 years. In that time I tried to stay inside as much is possible. I wasn’t an introvert—I got together with people (inside), I performed for audiences (usually inside), I went to restaurants (almost always sitting inside). But my day-to-day jobs have been writing books and articles (sitting inside), practicing or arranging music (sitting inside), and, sometimes, cooking (standing inside).

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 8:16 AM, 09.01.2020

FutureHeights mini-grants deadline approaches

Mark Rodney, one of the leaders of the Boulevard Learning Garden, a 2019 FutureHeights Neighborhood Mini-Grant recipient. 

Tuesday, Sept. 15, is the deadline for applicants to the FutureHeights Neighborhood Mini-Grants Program. The program, which began in the fall of 2015, provides funding of up to $1,000 to grassroots or neighborhood groups in Cleveland Heights who have creative solutions, projects, and programs that build on and enhance existing assets in their neighborhoods.

To date, the Neighborhood Mini-Grants Program has provided a total of $27,461 to 42 projects in Cleveland Heights.

Residents who have ideas for improving their Cleveland Heights neighborhood are invited to apply for a grant. The program is guided by a grant-making committee comprising seven Cleveland Heights residents with a history of community involvement. The committee reviews and makes all grant decisions.

For more information, e-mail FutureHeights at Learn about the projects funded to date, and download an application at Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Sept. 15.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 8:00 AM, 09.01.2020

Fields and Juaire: Independent Together

Lunar Phases by Patti Fields and Ray Juaire, mixed media, 2020. [Photo Courtesy of the Artists]

Single isn’t always better—or is it? Viewers can make that decision when they view Heights Arts’ newest exhibition, Independent Together: 30 Years of Collaboration, featuring Ray Juaire, senior exhibitions manager at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, and his longtime collaborator Patti Fields, head of visual art at the Ratner Montessori School. Fields and Juaire began their personal and professional relationship 30 years ago, while students at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

Fields is known primarily for her jewelry designs, and she brings a jeweler’s detail-oriented aesthetic to her larger pieces in Independent Together. Juaire brings his expertise in sculpting and painting.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 8:14 AM, 09.01.2020

RoxArts funds art kits for kindergartners

RoxArts in Tiger Nation assembled art kits that will be distributed to every kindergarten student in the district by the start of the school year.                         

Back-to-school season just became a little more joyful, thanks in part to RoxArts in Tiger Nation, the nonprofit organization whose mission is to supplement arts and science education for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has interfered with students participating in hands-on art and science projects, RoxArts board members decided to help children keep art “front and center” during these challenging times.

The organization has funded the purchase of 800 new art kits, to be distributed to every kindergarten student in the district by the start of school. Every kit includes a book, paper, stationery, markers, chalk pastels, and stickers. The kits were made possible with support from Alexander Hanna, Faber Castell, Scholastic, and JakPrints. 

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 8:10 AM, 09.01.2020

Dobama offers alternatives to live theater

Dobama Theatre's production of Pulitzer-finalist "Dance Nation," was suspended mid-run due to the pandemic.

Dobama Theatre’s 2020–21 season will take a different shape due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While Dobama will not be able to welcome patrons into its physical space anytime soon, the theater is planning alternative programming to stay engaged with the community. Most or all of Dobama’s artistic programming this year will be available online.

Like theaters across the globe, Dobama has faced pandemic-related challenges, leading to suspended and canceled performances, as well as cuts to staff and salaries. Thanks to the generosity of Dobama’s members and donors, the theater is hopeful for another live season, to be programmed after an effective treatment or vaccine emerges.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 8:13 AM, 09.01.2020

CH church hosts online immigration forum

The Immigration Task Force of Forest Hill Church Presbyterian is offering a live educational webinar, “Immigration: History and Current Issues,” on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 7–8:30 p.m.

This forum is intended for those who are seeking a basic understanding of the root causes of immigration problems, and the legal difficulties immigrants currently face. The forum is free, but requires advance registration.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 8:08 AM, 09.01.2020

CH council member hosts listening session

CH Council Member Davida Russell continues to learn from the community through her series of listening sessions, “You Talk - I Listen.”

Russell has scheduled the next community conversation for Sept. 19, 10–11:30 a.m., at the Front Stage Multiplex, (formerly the Regal Movie Theatre) at Severance Town Center, 3492 Mayfield Road.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 8:04 AM, 09.01.2020

CH Office on Aging news

The staff of the Cleveland Heights Office on Aging is continuing its work, providing services while the Cleveland Heights Community Center and Senior Activity Center (SAC) remain closed.

This summer, the community center’s parking lot has been a site for yoga, line dance and tai chi classes, as well as lunches and concerts. Online, the office has offered exercise classes through Facebook Live, and some groups have found ways to meet safely using a variety of platforms, with and without the help of technology. 

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 8:03 AM, 09.01.2020

Another epidemic: elected officials interfering with free elections

To the Editor:

[In the] November 2019 election: Some CH City Council members create, fund and campaign with a ballot issue PAC against the citizens' Elected Mayor charter change referendum. The city manager's trade union donates $30,000 to defeat the ballot issue.

March 2020 election: CH-UH school district illegally spends $34,675 of taxpayer funds as an in-kind donation for the campaign committee's voter survey, then lies about it to the state auditor. The school board president and vice president are on the campaign's steering committee, with their school board titles prominently displayed. The vice president held the campaign kick-off fundraiser at his home before the issue was even on the ballot. A school board member takes part in the planned sabotage of the Vote No campaign kick-off fundraiser at the New Heights Grille.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 7:56 AM, 09.01.2020

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

As you probably saw on page 1, the Heights Observer was recently named Ohio’s best non-daily community newspaper; and our “Heights of Democracy” column, by Deborah Van Kleef and Carla Rautenberg, won the top award for public service journalism.

The Press Club of Cleveland usually announces these awards at a big banquet in June, preceded by the best cocktail party of the year (if you enjoy shop talk with journalists). This year, for the obvious reason, it was delayed and then held online. I watched it from my patio and drank alone. But that didn’t diminish the moment.

Our volunteer-based business model makes the Heights Observer an outlier in the awards program. The judges are other journalists from across the country, and they haven’t always been hospitable to publications that operate without paid reporters.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 4:00 PM, 08.31.2020

How is Millikin development a good idea?

At its meeting on July 20, Cleveland Heights City Council approved sending a letter of intent to the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education (BOE), offering to take the Millikin Elementary School building off the BOE's hands for $1, and market the property for redevelopment.

We citizens need to write the city thank you letters immediately. So kind of council members to ask the school district to unload the 11 acres of 200-year-old trees, stables from the Severance/Millikin estate, animal habitat, playground, all-round-beautiful natural area, and the school district's maintenance department's home for $1 and a tax deferment. Why wouldn't we neighbors [consider development] a terrific asset to the neighborhood? And, how would anyone in city government know that we Millikin neighbors might not like the idea?

How? Well, we had a Zoom meeting back in March that Mayor Jason Stein attended.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 3:57 PM, 08.31.2020

Developing Millikin land would be a tragic loss

Imagine a mile-long wooded corridor giving life to an urban landscape.

Imagine destroying that natural area in order to build a few more houses in a city where vacant lots and vacant houses abound. Once destroyed it will never come back. Then, where will the children go to learn to love nature?

Imagine saving this small piece of nature for yourselves, your children, your community.

Around the perimeter of Severance Town Center, there is a mile-long wooded buffer stretching east from South Taylor Road to Severance Millikin school, and then north to Mayfield Road.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 3:56 PM, 08.31.2020

BOE explains sale of Delisle Center land

Several residents have asked about the property transaction involving four parcels of land at the Delisle Center that the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education (BOE) recently sold to the city of University Heights. Since the community is interested, I’d like to explain the factors which led the BOE to this decision—many of which may not be readily apparent.

First, Ohio Revised Code (ORC) has specific rules regarding the disposition of public school properties, which are considered public assets. We must follow the law even though the law may not enable a school district to maximize potential revenue the way a city can.

Second, the Ohio Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) program permits municipalities and counties to designate CRAs which provide a direct incentive tax exemption for up to 15 years, depending on the construction project.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 3:55 PM, 08.31.2020

Odd Dog Coffee expands service to Sundays at The Walt

Mary-Elizabeth Fenn, co-owner of Odd Dog Coffee.

For almost a year, Odd Dog Coffee has set up shop at Walter Stinson Community Park on summer and fall Saturdays. Starting in September, it will be at "The Walt" on Sundays as well.

Mary-Elizabeth Fenn and Michael Hancock will offer their usual menu of products out of their mobile trailer, at the entrance of the park, off Fenwick Road. The couple plans to add espresso to the menu, and also sell hand-thrown ceramic merchandise.

Odd Dog Coffee is a sponsor of University Heights City Hall’s “Masks on University Heights” campaign. To promote safety during the Covid-19 pandemic, residents are encouraged to send mask selfies to

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 3:42 PM, 08.31.2020

Privatizing local government

Cleveland Heights Chief of Police Annette Mecklenburg’s response to the concerns of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the local group Safer Heights, is laudable and welcome. She announced this summer that her department would revise and update its policies, with particular attention to use-of-force, and bias-free policing.

We are concerned, however, that City Manager Tanisha Briley has outsourced this admittedly time-consuming job to Lexipol, a California-based company serving 460 Ohio municipalities and 3,400 agencies nationally. Lexipol provides “model policies” and assistance in customizing them. Clients can also subscribe to daily two-minute training modules on the practical application of those policies.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 3:48 PM, 08.31.2020

Black education matters

It has been heartening to see so many Black Lives Matter signs in Heights yards, and to see our neighbors and friends show up for justice at rallies, protests and workshops.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone. We pride ourselves on being a diverse community that supports social activism. But, are we really doing all we can as a community to support racial justice and combat systemic racism?

Would it surprise you to know that white families opt out of CH-UH schools at a rate of 85 percent—a rate significantly higher than many surrounding suburbs?

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 3:50 PM, 08.31.2020

Performance audit would make school district accountable

To the Editor:

What is wrong with accountability? What is wrong with asking how and why your tax dollars were spent in a particular fashion? Our school board has shown a complete lack of accountability toward how it spends our $130 million in taxes to run the school district.

We have asked [board members] for over seven months to have a performance audit done in the district. A performance audit is done by a neutral third party from the state auditor’s office to see if there are any cuts or savings to our budget that can be made, to allow our tax money to be spent in the best way, and to get the most for our tax dollars.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 3:53 PM, 08.31.2020

School levy will ensure student mental health services

To the Editor:

As a board-certified psychoanalyst, and a licensed clinical counselor, respectively, we have both worked with children, teens and adults experiencing mental health crises. Sometimes these crises arise from an acute trauma, such as a sudden death or unexpected divorce, and sometimes they come about over time from the ceaseless burden of daily living.  

The CDC estimates that approximately 4.4 million children ages 3–17 suffer from anxiety, and approximately 1.9 million suffer from depression. We know, without question, that these and other mental conditions are being amplified by the COVID pandemic. These issues often remain invisible to the untrained eye, and can easily go undiagnosed and untreated. For many young people in our community, their crises are first spotted by concerned teachers, coaches, school counselors and social workers.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 3:51 PM, 08.31.2020

The 'new' new school year

It’s difficult to say what online instruction will look like this school year because remote teaching and learning are still so new to our students and our teachers.

Last March, when Governor DeWine closed our school buildings, we found ourselves in a remote-learning environment overnight. 

Our teachers stepped up and provided the best instruction possible so that our students could continue to learn. At the July meeting of the CH-UH Board of Education, members voted unanimously to keep us remote for the beginning of the 2020–21 school year. We are proud of our board for this decision. School is essential, but safety must come first.

Now that the decision has been made, the planning begins.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 3:43 PM, 08.31.2020

Parent volunteers urge support of school levy

To the Editor:

We would like to introduce ourselves to the public: We are Tiger Nation for Strong Schools, a group of district parents and community volunteers campaigning for the 4.8 mill operating levy on the November ballot. 

Formerly known as Citizens for Our Heights Schools, we opted to change our name after the anti-levy campaign co-opted “Tiger Nation,” despite the fact that [its members] do not send their children to public schools, do not volunteer their time within district buildings, and do not identify themselves in any way with Tiger Nation. They were instead trying to intentionally mislead and confuse the public; something they were unfortunately successful in doing.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 3:44 PM, 08.31.2020

Why is Heights Libraries a landlord?

To the Editor:

I am a taxpayer of the district and always support local library tax requests, for two simple reasons:

  • I am an ardent believer in the power of education and learning, and
  • Heights Libraries does an excellent job of fulfilling its mission.

It has recently come to my attention the CH-UH libraries are being asked to continue being a landlord for a group of nonprofit entities that are currently renting space in the former Coventry School building.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 3:40 PM, 08.31.2020

EdChoice vouchers institutionalize discrimination

John Lewis, the heroic advocate of nonviolence, beseeched us: “When you see something that is not right, you must say something.”

If you read this column regularly, you know I have not been silent about EdChoice vouchers, a state program that requires public school districts to pay for private-school vouchers out of the school district’s state funding. They are particularly damaging to the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District, which transfers more than 30 percent of its state aid to vouchers, the highest proportion in the state. It is this huge expense that led the school board to cut the district budget by $2 million this year and next, and to put a levy on the ballot in November.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 3:46 PM, 08.31.2020

Housing prices are up in UH

Despite the pandemic, the University Heights housing market remains strong. The median housing price in the city made a significant jump in the second quarter of 2020, compared to both the first quarter of 2020, and the comparable second quarter of 2019.

The overall median sale price in University Heights increased by approximately $30,000 between the first and second quarter of 2020.

In the city’s central census tract, the median price increased by roughly $50,000 in the second quarter.

While there were fewer sales in the second quarter of 2020 than in the second quarter of 2019, median prices across University Heights have increased by around $20,000 citywide. Each of the city’s four census tracts have seen increases.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 3:41 PM, 08.31.2020

Remove Monticello name from CH school and street

Equity is a topic that has been a part of critical attempts for change in our CH-UH school district for at least four years now. As a community, we created waves when we brought to the district’s attention the injustices at Oxford Elementary School, and the movement has picked up momentum since.

For those of us who can see the clear lines in our cities, due to demographics and long-standing prejudices, issues of equity do not end with our schools.

As recent developments regarding Black lives pick up speed, much has come to light about the history of our country. It has been white-washed, and I cannot ask for forgiveness for these words that make us cringe, but regrettably are true.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 10:28 AM, 08.25.2020

LWV provides voting and ballot info

Under pandemic conditions, the safest way to exercise one’s right to vote in the Nov. 3 General Election is to register to vote online (deadline Oct. 5), and vote by mail (aka by absentee ballot). Given concerns about U.S. postal service delays and the potential effect on by-mail voting, the League of Women Voters of Great Cleveland (LWVGC) urges all voters to act promptly in registering to vote (or checking their registration status), requesting a ballot, and returning it.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 10:22 AM, 08.25.2020

Church teens open Little Free Pantry

Amy Kim Kryemes-Parks, director of spiritual formation, joins Jessica MacMillan, interim senior pastor, and Lindsay Haren-Lewis, associate pastor, at the blessing of the Little Free Pantry at Fairmount Presbyterian Church.

A Little Free Pantry—an outdoor cabinet stocked with free food and supplies for those in need—opened on Aug. 12 at Fairmount Presbyterian Church, at Scarborough and Coventry roads. A project of the church’s middle- and high-school youth group, the 27-by-32-inch cabinet is located at the entrance to the church parking lot.

More than 1,000 Little Free Pantries are now open across the U.S., part of a grassroots project begun in 2016, by Jessica McClard in Arkansas, to respond to community food insecurity. In the Cleveland area, seven Little Free Pantries are have opened.

“Our teens were looking for a way to give back to their community and respond to pressing local needs,” explained Peggy Roberts, who helped spearhead the project. “This was a group effort of students and our Fairmount members and staff, and we hope our neighbors will join in this community-operated caring project.”

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 10:20 AM, 08.25.2020

18 residents call on CH-UH school district to fix health care spending

Our Cleveland Heights-University Heights school district is currently engaged in its most consequential contract negotiations in decades. The most important issue being debated: health care benefits. The problem: The current health care benefit package for CH-UH teachers is completely out of line with that of other school districts, and is costing CH-UH taxpayers millions of dollars more than other districts. The current contract is unsustainable.

Here are some examples:

  • CH-UH teachers pay 6% of their health care premiums with a $0 deductible.
  • Shaker Heights teachers pay 13% of their health care premiums with a $500/$1,000 deductible.
  • Beachwood teachers pay 15% of their health care premiums with a $1,500/$3,000 deductible.
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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 11:37 AM, 08.18.2020

Heights Observer named Ohio's best community newspaper

The Heights Observer was named “Ohio’s Best Community Newspaper” at an online ceremony Aug. 7 for the Press Club of Cleveland’s annual All-Ohio Excellence In Journalism program. The award doesn’t include daily newspapers, which are judged in a separate category.

Observer columnists Carla Rautenberg and Deborah Van Kleef earned first place for Public Service Coverage among non-daily newspapers for their monthly “Heights of Democracy” column. They won for their explanatory writing surrounding last year’s public debate and vote over the city manager v. strong mayor form of government.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 11:24 AM, 08.11.2020

CH-UH BOE places 4.8 mill levy on November ballot [Updated]

In an Aug. 10 letter to the Heights Observer, Ryan Routh, chair of the CH-UH City School District’s Lay Finance Committee, announced that the district’s board of education (BOE) “has placed a 4.8 mill levy on the November 2020 ballot.” In remarks at the July 7 BOE meeting, Routh stated that the “additional, two-year operating levy of 4.8 mills is the minimum amount needed to sufficiently cover the costs to operate the district.”

On Aug. 10 and 11, the district’s supervisor of communications, Cathan Cavanaugh, confirmed that the BOE “is moving forward with a November levy.” She declined to provide further information until a press release was approved. 

That press release, submitted to the Heights Observer the evening of Aug. 11, stated in part:

“The CH-UH BOE approved the second reading of the proposed 4.8-mill November 2020 additional operating levy language at its July 28 special meeting.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 10:46 AM, 08.11.2020

"Save Our Stages" now

Ensemble Theatre's production of "Intimate Apparel" was its final full production prior to shutdown. [photo by] 

To the Editor:

Ensemble Theatre, Greater Cleveland's home for modern American classics, culturally relevant plays, and significant new works, has been producing great theater with local talent for 40 great years. But, our doors have been closed to the public since March 1, and may continue to be for some time.

Like other arts, event, and theater organizations, Ensemble has faced, and continues to face, tens of thousands of dollars in losses due to the pandemic. There must be some type of industry-specific relief! 

Please help us #SaveOurStages by contacting Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman at

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 11:39 AM, 08.11.2020

School levy would keep pace with inflation

The CH-UH school board has placed a 4.8 mill levy on the November 2020 ballot. Voting for the levy makes financial sense for our community.

CH-UH has placed a levy on the ballot simply to keep up with inflation. Due to Ohio law, even when the value of district homes rises, the amount of property tax collected is kept constant (estimated at around $72.25 million). With annual inflation of 2 percent, a levy is necessary to keep pace with inflation.

Another reason a levy is required is because our district has been uniquely harmed by how Ohio’s EdChoice voucher program is funded. Even though the state paid our district only $1,927 for each student, our district was required to send out $6,000 to private, charter and religious schools for each EdChoice voucher high school student—a loss of $4,073 per student.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 11:13 AM, 08.11.2020

CH City Council must demand access to police policy materials

At the July 20 Cleveland Heights City Council meeting, there was a discussion between City Manager Tanisha Briley and Council Member Kahlil Seren that should worry any Cleveland Heights citizen who thinks that our elected officials need to be, at minimum, privy to all decisions about governmental policy in our city.

After Police Chief Annette Mecklenburg’s report to council, Seren referenced ongoing work with the firm Lexipol, for the purpose of crafting our police department’s policies. Seren asked whether, as the policymaking authority for the city, council would be able to see the materials that Lexipol is providing to our police department. He then made a request that council have access to those materials.

I thought this seemed perfectly reasonable. City council members are, after all (for the time being), our only directly elected and accountable government officials, and they are indeed ultimately responsible for overseeing policy for all city matters.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 10:06 AM, 08.10.2020

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education special meeting highlights 8-4-2020

AUGUST 4, 2020


  • Community comments
  • Recognition of Farmers to Family
  • School reopening update
  • Treasurer’s report
  • Board comments and announcements


The public meeting was called to order at 7:29 p.m., after an executive session, and was adjourned at 8:35 p.m. The public meeting was conducted remotely, with each school board member, the treasurer and the superintendent joining the meeting from their individual homes. Board President Jodi Sourini and members Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis, James Posch, and Beverly Wright were present. Also attending were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby, Assistant Superintendent Felisha Gould, and Treasurer Scott Gainer.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 5:40 AM, 08.25.2020

Appointments don’t reflect the voice of the people

To the Editor:

In last fall’s election, Cleveland Heights voters were clear that appointments don’t reflect the voice of the people. Residents rejected the most recent city council appointment by a large margin, with the challenger, Davida Russell, winning against the appointed council member, with more than 57 percent of the vote.

Just one year later, the council member rejected by the voters has somehow made it to city council’s top four applicants [for another open council seat], narrowed from a pool of 22. Hmmm, really? How did this happen?

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 11:36 AM, 08.10.2020

City council appointments hurt democracy

To the Editor:

Cleveland Heights residents overwhelmingly supported Issue 26 [on the November 2019 ballot] because it was a vote for change—a change that gave residents the ability to vote for mayor. We supported Issue 26 because we wanted more transparency, accountability, and say in who runs our city by democratically electing our representatives instead of relying on city council appointments. After 100 years without having an elected mayor accountable to residents, Issue 26 was a vote for change that residents wanted.

More appointments to Cleveland Heights City Council would be a step in the wrong direction. Appointments undermine democracy and allow people to appoint their friends and allies, opening the door for potential corruption, bribery and favoritism.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 11:24 AM, 08.10.2020

UHPD releases photo of suspect in anti-Semitic graffiti case

The UHPD has released this photo of a suspect in South Green Road graffiti incidents.

Between July 21 and July 26, there were multiple incidents of graffiti being spray-painted on businesses on South Green Road in the early morning hours.

The graffiti included a swastika and several other offensive images that were painted on multiple buildings, including some owned and frequented by the University Heights' Jewish community. 

The University Heights Police Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying the male in the photo to the right of this article. He appears to be an approximately 5-foot-11-inch to 6-foot-1-inch Caucasian male in his early- to mid-20s.

Anyone who has information on the crime, or the identification of the suspect, is asked to  contact the University Heights detective bureau at 216-932-8799, or on the non-emergency line, 216-932-1800.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 10:12 AM, 07.31.2020

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education special meeting highlights 7-28-20

JULY 28, 2020


  • Levy for the November ballot
  • Performance audit and fringe benefits
  • School reopening during the Covid pandemic
  • CARES Act funds


After an executive session, the public meeting was called to order at 8:10 p.m. and was adjourned at approximately 9:45 p.m. The public meeting was conducted remotely, with each school board member, the treasurer, and the superintendent joining the meeting from their individual homes. Board President Jodi Sourini and members Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis, James Posch and Beverly Wright were present. Also attending were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and Treasurer Scott Gainer.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 5:56 AM, 08.25.2020

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education special meeting highlights 7-21-20

JULY 21, 2020


  • Proposed levy and finance discussion
  • Updated school calendar
  • Updated school reopening plan 


The public meeting was called to order at approximately 7:30 p.m., after an executive session, and was adjourned at approximately 9:15 p.m. The executive session ran about 30 minutes longer than scheduled. The public meeting was conducted remotely, with each school board member, the treasurer and the superintendent joining the meeting from their individual homes. Board President Jodi Sourini and members James Posch, Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis and Beverly Wright were present. Also attending were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and Treasurer Scott Gainer.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 6:00 AM, 08.25.2020

Heights Arts showcases images of activism

A photo by Bryan Clark, from downtown Cleveland. [Photo Credit: Bryan Clark]

Heights-area artists can always be relied upon to respond to current events, and the recent activism around Black Lives Matter and related social-justice issues has energized a number of artists to begin creating new work. Some of the most immediate responses have come in the form of digital photography shared by way of social media. 

Heights Arts staff were immediately struck by images that not only told powerful stories, but also could stand alone as visual art. Images have the power to pose questions and eloquently express things that can be hard to express in few words.

This idea has been explored previously at Heights Arts through two past exhibitions of photojournalism, where photographs that had initially been used editorially to support journalistic articles were gathered, framed, and presented at Heights Arts’ gallery. Heights Arts exhibition planners referred to these images as "stealth art"—works of art that sneak into one's consciousness under camouflage.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:00 AM, 07.31.2020

Another curve to flatten: the absentee ballot curve

Thanks to Covid-19, the term “flatten the curve” rests at the forefront of our minds. As we head toward the November election, where we undoubtedly will find ourselves casting votes in the midst of a pandemic, there’s another curve that we need to flatten: the absentee ballot curve.

I’m encouraging all Heights Observer readers not only to print out your absentee ballot request form, but also to print out a few extra copies for your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. Start having conversations now about the November election.

In a video conference with Ohio’s Ready for November Task Force, Ned Foley, director of the election law program at The Ohio State University’s Mortiz College of Law, said:

“We cannot procrastinate with respect to voting this year.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 9:47 AM, 07.31.2020

School district should repay misspent funds

In October 2019, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District commissioned a survey of “500 likely March 2020 primary voters” in the district from R Strategy Group (RSG) and Lake Research Partners (LRP), costing taxpayers $34,675. An investigation by the Ohio Auditor of State found the survey work performed was in support of the levy campaign. The levy, Issue 26 on the March 2020 primary ballot, asked voters to approve an $8.9 million annual property tax levy increase.

In January 2020, Cleveland Heights resident Garry Kanter submitted a complaint to the State Auditor of Ohio alleging public tax dollars were being spent on a survey that violated Ohio Revised Code prohibiting local school districts from spending public money to influence elections. 

Kanter provided evidence from the survey itself, as well as e-mail correspondence between the district and its consultants, to support the allegation that the intent of the survey was to help the district position the levy for passage.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 9:46 AM, 07.31.2020

The consulting racket

Since the 1980s, municipal budgets across the country have been decimated by state and federal funding cuts. In 2015, Cleveland Heights voters passed their first income tax increase in more than 30 years. During that campaign, at a resident’s request, City Manager Tanisha Briley documented over 100 staff positions eliminated during the previous 15 to 20 years. Now, with tax revenue diminished due to Covid-19, the city faces further cuts and layoffs.

Reduced staffing is just one reason why a municipal executive—a city manager or mayor—may bring in outside contractors. Another justification is the need for specialized skills and knowledge not required for regular operations. Or, it can simply be an ideological predilection.

When should cities hire outside consultants? When do the results justify the expenditure? When are they a waste of tax dollars? And when does outsourcing amount to privatizing essential government functions?

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 9:41 AM, 07.31.2020

An almost immoveable feast

I had to go all the way to Italy to find out the truth.

I didn’t live in the Cleveland area from 1968 to 1973, so those were the five years I didn’t go to the Feast of the Assumption festivities in Little Italy in mid-August. I’ve attended that event every year since I was 15, except for those years.

I grew up not far from Little Italy, in the Coventry-Mayfield area, and I used to walk down there as a teenager. I wanted to be a tough guy, like the kids who lived there and hung out in front of the stores on the Mayfield Road part of it. I’m not Italian, though I can cook like one. But I wasn’t cooking very much as a teen, and I wanted the Murray Hill guys to think I was Italian.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:40 AM, 07.30.2020

Returning to school during the pandemic

The beginning of any school year is stressful, exciting, and full of unknowns. Teachers and staff look forward to seeing new faces and feeling the energy of a new year. As teachers, we’ll have new supplies and our classrooms will be ready for the new students. There is elation in returning to doing what we love. This is true for every teacher, regardless of the number of years they’ve been in the classroom. 

Now, have you wondered about the anticipation of a teacher waiting for the start of the school year in the middle of a global pandemic? Let's consider the following: Parents need to work; students need to resume their studies, and they need person-to-person interaction that facilitates learning. While I agree that these are all valid reasons to return to in-person classes, there are many reasons to approach the reopening of our schools with caution.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 9:40 AM, 07.31.2020

Local control shouldn't mean going it alone

The 2020–21 school year in the Cleveland Heights–University Heights district is expected to begin Sept. 2. The year will be unlike any other, with back-to-school excitement being tempered by health-related worries. We know children learn best when they are with their teachers in person, and families need teachers to take over instruction, but will the benefits outweigh the risks?

Covid-19 will dominate daily life for now, but Superintendent Liz Kirby hopes this will be the only year the virus factors into when children are in school, how they get there, what they do each day, and how much contact they have with others. She is determined to keep students on track. They cannot afford to lose more learning time, but how do you operate when so much is unknown?

Education is a shared responsibility of the state legislature and local school districts. Sadly, when it comes to planning for education in a pandemic, the legislature punted.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 9:43 AM, 07.31.2020

Why I marched with Safer Heights

On June 14, 2020, I marched in my first protest march. 

Like most of us, I was horrified to witness the slow, public execution of a man who, by all accounts, had done nothing to warrant his death sentence.

Nonetheless, at first, when people started protesting and calls for reform were being made, I did nothing. Not because I didn’t care. But because I knew nothing would change. This was just another remake of a tired old story.

But then I read an article (which I’ve since lost track of). The writer argued that this time might be different.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 9:48 AM, 07.31.2020

Cleveland Heights' Covid response

As communities continue adapting to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, several organizations in Cleveland Heights are providing resources to the city's residents. To increase their impact, the city of Cleveland Heights has granted CARES Act funding to the following organizations for Covid-19-related initiatives:

The Office on Aging is conducting free wellness checks for elderly and homebound Heights residents, and continues to connect them with essential services, such as meal programs and medical care.

CHN Housing Partners launched a rental assistance program on July 15 to help households pay or defer bills, as much of the workforce remains unemployed or furloughed as a direct result of the pandemic.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 9:38 AM, 07.31.2020

Heights artist explores order/disorder

Miracle at Savatthi, by Stephen Calhoun.

In a Spotlight exhibition on view through Aug. 23, Heights Arts features the artwork of Heights native son Stephen Calhoun, a photographer, designer, painter and musician.

Calhoun describes his approach to making visual art as a "musical process." His work employs found objects, algorithms and fractals to create images that have both organic and mathematical qualities. Every form of creativity [has] something to do with the vibrations of materials,” he said. Calhoun’s creative process seeks out elements that vibrate both dissonantly and harmonically, from which he conducts and improvises the generation of his own creative image. “These steps are found in different configurations in every art form,” said Calhoun.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:39 AM, 07.30.2020

Ewing describes an exemplary life in new book

How does one approach a book about a Catholic priest when one is neither Catholic nor particularly spiritual? For the many people struggling with the extraordinary times in which we are living—racism, protests, unemployment, a global pandemic and the restrictions that it imposes on our daily lives—there is a book that speaks to humans of all persuasions: Lead Me, Guide Me The Life and Example of Father Dan Begin by Kathy Ewing.

Father Dan Begin was Kathy Ewing's priest and friend. Ewing was Father Dan's congregant and friend. They met when Ewing joined St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Cleveland's Mt. Pleasant neighborhood. There, Ewing found a spiritual home that was unique in many ways, not the least of which was the racial integration she found, as well as a priest who exemplified the very best that can be found in religion.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:37 AM, 07.30.2020

Census updates in the Heights

Census outreach efforts are still underway in the Heights and across the country, with the final count deadline officially extended to Oct. 31, 2020.

The U.S. Census Bureau has temporarily suspended field efforts and door knocking in light of public health concerns, though they are scheduled to slowly resume. This extension means there are still jobs available for those interested in a temporary position as a census taker. Rates for census takers in Cuyahoga County are set at $20.50 to $22.50 per hour, and training will take plake from mid-July to early August. For more information on employment with the Census Bureau, visit

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 7:04 AM, 07.28.2020

Library seeks focus group participants

Heights Libraries Anti-Racism Task Force has engaged Compass Consulting Services, LLC, to conduct confidential, virtual focus groups as part of a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) audit. Due to Covid-19, the focus groups will be held via Zoom, not in person as had originally been planned.

The library’s goal is to gather information from current library customers, as well as those who don’t use the library.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:36 AM, 07.30.2020

Emergency food center remains open

As the pandemic rages through the world, confusion about virtually everything—including what businesses and services are open—has become the new normal. Some people who would benefit from visiting the Heights Emergency Food Center (HEFC) may not be aware that it is open for business. And visiting the center does not represent an undue risk, as stringent safety precautions are being enforced.

Located at 3663 Mayfield Road (at Disciples Christian Church), the center (216-381-0707) is currently open Mondays, 4–6 p.m.; Tuesdays, 9–11:30 a.m.; Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Fridays, 9–11:30 a.m. On the last two Thursdays of each month, it also is open 5:30–7:30 p.m.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:33 AM, 07.30.2020

Strongsville company renovates Lee Road storage business

The 1929 exterior of the building that houses Cleveland Heights storage.

The building at 2037 Lee Road has undergone renovations after being purchased in November 2019 by Petrick Property Group of Strongsville. Cleveland Heights Storage, a mini-storage facility, is the company’s first commercial property.

Constructed in 1928, the building originally served as Cleveland Heights' first post office. It housed retail businesses after the postal service vacated it in the 1960s. In 1984, Tim and Joan Evans purchased it, and converted it to use for storage.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:42 AM, 07.30.2020

Hart states council has duty to select new member

To the Editor:

I have received a letter from 14 respected citizens regarding council having a duty to appoint a seventh council member. I agree with them.

I know the mayor said publicly that he thought we did not have to appoint someone, and at least one other council person has posted on Facebook that we might not appoint someone, but, in my view, making this decision is our duty.

Because the city manager resigned at our last meeting, we had to deal with her replacement and the transition to another executive leader. So we did not meet on the appointment, which we had intended to do, but will debate it in an August meeting. I only agreed to vote for an August recess when council agreed to have an August meeting to debate the appointment.

That said—there are four great candidates for the seat and only six current council members.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 4:09 PM, 07.24.2020

CH City Manager takes new position in Maryland

Cleveland Heights City Manager Tanisha Briley. [Courtesy CH City Hall]

At the July 20 Cleveland Heights City Council meeting, City Manager Tanisha Briley announced her resignation, effective Sept. 1. She will become the city manager for the city of Gaithersburg, Md., located outside of Washington, D.C.

Mary Trupo, the city's director of communications and public engagement, sent out a news release after the meeting. In a subsequent e-mail, and updated release, Trupo announced that the current vice city manager, Susanna Niermann O'Neil, will become the acting city manager after Briley's departure, stating that council members selected Niermann O'Neil "to lead the city through the next 16 months and the final transition to a strong mayor form of government."

The city's full announcement can be viewed on the city's website, at

Briley has been Cleveland Heights' city manager since August 2013.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 11:06 AM, 07.21.2020

Baseball team and community help house fire victims

Baseball team members Eli Weisblatt, Andy Heintz and Ethan Swain, and coach John Petre, maintain social distancing on the field. [photo by Dan Heintz]

On June 24, Cleveland Heights High School’s 18U summer baseball team was supposed to play an away game in Perry. But the Perry field was soaked from an overnight rainstorm, so the game was moved to Heights High’s home field.

Partway through the game, a loud bang surprised players and fans alike. As they looked around, they heard children screaming and saw them running away from a house on Washington Boulevard. With the sight and smell of smoke in the air, parents, players and fans from both teams rushed to help.

A recently renovated duplex had caught fire due to faulty wiring in the garage, leaving two families—12 people and a dog—without a home.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 2:39 PM, 07.20.2020