Latest News

An unexpectedly timely look at filling CH council vacancies

This column is about how Cleveland Heights needs to revise its process for filling unexpected vacancies on CH City Council. Shortly after finishing it, we learned that such a vacancy may arise soon.  

We received a tip that Council Member Melissa Yasinow is planning to move out of the community. As of Feb. 25, her Washington Boulevard house was showcased on real-estate website Zillow with a notation that it was scheduled to go on the market Feb. 27. Meanwhile, the Chagrin Falls address that she and her husband supposedly contracted to buy on Dec. 10, with a March 3 closing date, is no longer listed by Zillow as being on the market.   

When we contacted her directly, Yasinow said she was upset about being confronted with the information, but she would not directly confirm nor deny it.

As long as she actually resides in Cleveland Heights, Yasinow can legally retain her council seat.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 2:02 PM, 02.26.2020

Latest News Releases

- City of Cleveland Heights, February 20, 2020 Read More
CWRU Distinguished Alumni American Artists Showcasing New Artwork 2020 / Curator Tim Shuckerow
- CWRU, February 10, 2020 Read More
University Heights City Council appoints Saundra Berry to fill vacant council seat
- City of University Heights, February 6, 2020 Read More
Rep. Boyd to host community office hours
- Ohio House of Representatives, February 3, 2020 Read More
Library Hits a Milestone with 2 Million Circulation in 2019
- CH-UH Library, January 28, 2020 Read More

View more news releases

Census hiring event is Feb. 29

On Saturday, Feb. 29, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Cleveland Heights City Council Member Davida Russell will host a census-worker hiring event for Cleveland Heights residents. It will take place at Central Bible Baptist Church, 2285 Noble Road.

Census takers will be paid up to $22.50 per hour, and Russell said she is hoping an additional 200 Cleveland Heights residents will be hired.

To RSVP to the hiring session, e-mail For more information, call 216-333-3137.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 11:24 AM, 02.27.2020

University Square poised for rebuild

A bird's eye rendering of phase one of the University square redevelopment. [courtesy Kowit & Company]

University Square’s long-awaited and much-needed makeover could begin as soon as this summer.

“We are on the verge of doing what once seemed impossible,” University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan said. “The partnership led by Kowit & Company Real Estate Group is the right local developer for the redevelopment at University Square. They share our vision of something bigger, something better, something beautiful, something worthy of this city, worthy of this community, worthy of University Heights.”

In January, UH City Council approved new Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to allow the redevelopment of University Square. The redevelopment plan was made possible through cooperation with the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District, the Cuyahoga County government, the county prosecutor’s office, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, and bond holders of the original 2001 University Square development.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:34 AM, 02.25.2020

HRRC announces March classes

With spring around the corner, Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) is ramping up its workshop offerings.

Up first is a cabinet-refinishing class on Thursday, March 5. New or renewed cabinets are one of the best ways to spruce up a home, and if you can do it yourself, you’ll save a lot of money. This workshop will lead you through the ins and outs of cabinet refinishing, including the necessary prep work, what types of paint products you should use, and how much sanding will be necessary. Participants will get experience using power sanders and painting cabinets.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 4:26 PM, 02.27.2020

Nonprofit provides paid youth employees to businesses

Does your business need extra help this summer? Heights businesses that partner with Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) give young people a chance to gain skills and develop good work habits.

Each summer, YOU, a nonprofit workforce development organization, employs 1,500 youths, ages 14–19, from economically distressed areas in Cuyahoga County. YOU provides the wages; employers in the Greater Cleveland community, including Cleveland Heights and University Heights, provide meaningful work experiences. A job coach, who visits two to three times a week, is assigned to each work site.  

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 4:29 PM, 02.27.2020

Heights students delve into history of slavery and the Holocaust

Susan Stein talks to Nate Williams's ninth-grade honors class in world history. Photo by Krissy Gallagher.

Students at Heights High can take a wide range of elective classes. They can focus on their passions, such as music or art; or on their future careers, such as engineering or Web design. Or, they can expand their worldview by taking African American history or a course on the Holocaust. Mark Sack, who teaches the Holocaust course, wanted to share what his students learn with the rest of the school. He recently had an opportunity to do so, thanks to a grant from the @akiva program of the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland.

The @akiva scholars-in-residence program brings authors, actors, artists, and thinkers from across the country to meet with Cleveland-area teens. The program sponsored a mid-January visit to Heights High from Susan Stein, acclaimed educator, actress, playwright, and teaching artist.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 4:38 PM, 02.27.2020

Kirby to deliver State of our Schools address March 4

CH-UH City Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby.

Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby will deliver the 2020 State of our Schools Address on March 4, at Cleveland Heights High School.

At the event, which will run from 6 to 8 p.m., each CH-UH public school and several clubs will display their accomplishments and strengths in a walk-through showcase. In addition, sections of the high school building will be open for self-guided tours.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 4:36 PM, 02.27.2020

Roxboro Middle School presents 'Annie Jr.'

Cast members Henry Dyck, Emily Barr, and Jordan Evans in rehearsal.

Musical theater returns to the newly renovated Roxboro Middle School on March 5 and 6, when “Annie Jr.” will have a two-night run, featuring performances by 28 middle school students. An additional 17 students comprise the production’s stage crew.

Andrew Susick, Roxboro Middle School’s new vocal music teacher, is the show’s director. In his 15th year as a music educator, Susick also leads all of Roxboro Middle School’s choirs.

Asked why the community should come out and see this play, Susick responded, “The story of 'Annie' shares an important message about the true nature of family. Annie's cheerful outlook on life and plucky spirit demonstrate how a family is made up of those who you surround yourself with and care for, regardless of where you are born or where you live. Our Roxboro Middle School students, teachers, parents and community have all come together as a family to put on a show that you won't want to miss!"

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 4:35 PM, 02.27.2020

Berry sworn in as UH City Council member

Judge J.J. Costello swore in Saundra Berry as a new member of UH City Council on Feb. 12.

Saundra Berry was sworn in as the newest member of University Heights City Council at a special meeting on Feb. 12, filling the seat vacated by former council member Mark Wiseman, who resigned on Jan. 13.

Since 2007, Berry has served as Clerk of Courts at the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court. She previously worked at the Ohio Department of Education as director of Cleveland scholarship and tutoring.

Berry brings auditing experience to council, as she served as an auditor for the Cleveland Municipal School District 1983–99. A former math teacher, Berry is a certified public accountant.

Berry earned a master’s in business administration from Atlanta University, and earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Central State University.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 11:27 AM, 02.18.2020

CH Senior Center News

In 2017, the Cleveland Heights Senior Activity Center (SAC) introduced Communities Assisting Residential Elders (CARE)—a membership program for adults, 60 and older, intended to assist with tasks in and around their homes.

This innovative concept was formed through the collaborative efforts of the Community Partnership on Aging, and senior service agencies for the cities of Cleveland Heights, Maple Heights and Solon. As with any start up, there was much work to be done—recruiting volunteers, registering members, and creating program recognition in the communities served.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 4:33 PM, 02.27.2020

Noble Road church presents "Senior Scams" forum

Scams target people by phone, computer, mail and knocks on the door. Becoming informed is the best way to combat scams.

Noble Road Presbyterian Church has invited Danielle Musil, consumer affairs specialist from the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs, to present a community forum on “Senior Scams.”

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 3:32 PM, 02.27.2020

Gardeners invited to participate in Noble market

NGM buyers and sellers in 2019. [photo by Karen Knittle]

As backyard and community garden growers order seeds and otherwise plan their gardens this winter, Noble Gardeners’ Market (NGM) urges them to consider growing extra to sell at its market this summer.

NGM will assemble on Saturday mornings, 10 a.m. to noon, Aug. 1 through Sept. 19. The market site is a mini-park at the corner of Noble and Roanoke roads in Cleveland Heights, one block north of Monticello Boulevard. Sellers are welcome to participate on any or all of the market days, free of charge.

NGM welcomes folks who sell fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers that they grow in backyards and community gardens. Sellers do not need to be Cleveland Heights residents, but they may not be market farmers. (NGM encourages people to support local farmers at the numerous farmers' markets in the area, and in grocery stores that source locally.) They also need not commit to coming every Saturday.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 3:27 PM, 02.27.2020

Spring show opens at St. Paul's White Gallery

Softness of Color, by Sam Roth.

The White Gallery in St. Paul’s Church will open its Spring Show with an artists’ reception on Friday, Feb. 28, 5–7 p.m. The show runs through May 31, and features the work of five Cleveland-area artists. 

In her photographs, Andrea Dawson focuses on subjects from nature, and imbues her images with a sense of serenity.

Two painters, while both utilizing brushes and paints, will display very different types of finished work in the exhibition. Sam Roth will show his soft, abstract, acrylic paintings on canvas, while Emmalyn Tringali, employing oil on canvas, will bring to St. Paul’s her new series of vivid landscapes. 

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:36 AM, 02.25.2020

Church of the Redeemer advocates for inclusion

Church of the Redeemer UMC invites the community to a luncheon on inclusion on March 29, 12:30 p.m., in Fellowship Hall. Martha E. Banks, the keynote speaker, will address the topic "Trying Again to Include Everyone: A Preview of the 2020 United Methodist General Conference." After her talk, there will be a time for questions and discussion.
In 2019, the United Methodist Church (UMC) voted, by a slim margin, to assert the church's prohibition against same-sex weddings and gay clergy. UMC has been in turmoil since that vote, as its progressive members have rebelled against the decision. As a result of that vote, ministers have been brought to trial and have lost their credentials—at great expense to them, the church and the community.  

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 3:30 PM, 02.27.2020

Ohio Democratic Party chairman to outline 2020 plan on Feb. 13 in CH

On Thursday, Feb. 13, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper will join the Cleveland Heights Democrats, Shaker Heights Democratic Club, and the Cuyahoga County Democratic Women’s Caucus to lay out a plan to turn Ohio blue, up and down the ballot this November. 

“Cuyahoga County is one of the most important counties in the country during presidential elections, and that will be the case this year as well,” Pepper explained. “In addition to Cleveland itself, inner-ring suburbs like Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights are areas we’re going to lean on heavily this year in our push to mobilize our strong democratic base and flip some of those suburban women who have been repulsed and turned away by the GOP’s extreme behavior.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:04 AM, 02.11.2020

Berry set to join University Heights City Council

Saundra Berry will be sworn in as a member of UH City Council on Feb. 12.

Saundra Berry, a longtime University Heights resident with a wealth of work experience, is set to fill the city's vacant council seat.

After a formal vote by UH City Council, Berry will be sworn in during a special meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 6:30 p.m., at the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education building.

Since 2007, Berry has served as Clerk of Courts at the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court. She previously worked at the Ohio Department of Education as director of Cleveland scholarship and tutoring.

Berry will bring auditing experience to council, as she served as an auditor for the Cleveland Municipal School District 1983–1999. A former math teacher, Berry is a certified public accountant.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:59 AM, 02.10.2020

Stephens and supporters distribute reusable bags as ban takes effect

Cheryl Stephens with one of the recycled plastic shopping bags purchased by CCSWD.

If you see Cuyahoga County Council Member Cheryl Stephens or her supporters—Team Cheryl Stephens—knocking on doors, it is probably to deliver reusable shopping bags. Thanks to an initiative from the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District (CCSWD), Stephens has committed to giving out sturdy reusable plastic tote bags to anyone in her district who makes a request via The colorful, eco-friendly bags, made of recycled plastic, are each estimated to replace 700 disposable bags over its lifespan, and will be distributed as long as the supply lasts.

Cuyahoga County Council passed a single-use plastic bag ban, effective Jan. 1. However, to help ease the transition, the ban won’t be enforced until July 1.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 11:03 AM, 02.10.2020

Public education and citizenship

Public education creates citizens. A public education is the most powerful, positive and transformative relationship a person will have with any government activity. It is the beating heartbeat of every community. The public education heartbeat of Cleveland Heights and University Heights is weak. This weakness is not from a lack of money, inadequate buildings, or poor teaching. It weakened over years, the consequence of the community’s diverging perception of its reality with the reality of many students in CH-UH schools.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 11:17 AM, 02.10.2020

Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 2-3-2020

FEBRUARY 3, 2020


  • Public comments
  • City manager’s report
  • Month recognitions
  • Top of the Hill financial ordinances
  • Delamere Drive basement flooding relief project
  • Consent agenda
  • Transportation Advisory Commission


Council members present were Mayor Jason Stein, Vice Mayor Kahlil Seren, Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart and Melissa Yasinow. The meeting lasted from 7:40-9:09 pm; public comment took approximately one hour.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 11:06 AM, 02.25.2020

Flower power

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love. To quote Joyce, “love loves to love love.” Loving one’s partner, loving one’s grandmother, loving one’s self is a beautiful thing. And [people] can show their overabundant feelings for one another, or themselves, through a simple and economical token—flowers.

Flowers are great and definitely not overrated. They are perfect for any occasion, and more often than not look beautiful in any setting, involve little work (on the consumer’s end, at least), and often support local businesses such as nurseries and gardens.

But beware. Some are particular about the various kinds of flowers. It is essential to know what particular connotations a flower may have to a beloved friend or significant other.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 11:18 AM, 02.10.2020

University Heights passes Move to Amend Resolution

On Dec. 16, University Heights City Council unanimously approved Resolution 2019-70, “Calling on Congress to Amend The United States Constitution to Establish that Corporations are not People and Money is not Speech.”

Both of these constitutional doctrines—political money as free speech, and corporations are persons—have caused tremendous harm to people, to communities, and to democracy itself.

Move to Amend [seeks to reduce] the negative influence of big money on elections, [and to] reverse the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, [via] a constitutional amendment [that would end] corporate personhood and money as free speech.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 11:18 AM, 02.10.2020

Top of the Hill Project advances

A rendering of the Top of the Hill project presented by Flaherty & Collins in October 2019.

On Jan. 27, in a three-hour meeting that ended at 10 p.m., the Planning and Development Committee of Cleveland Heights City Council considered two funding-related ordinances that advance development of the mixed-use project known as Top of the Hill (TOH).

In February 2018, CH City Council entered into a development agreement with developer Flaherty & Collins Properties to build TOH. After two years of work and more than 40 meetings with residents, property owners, businesses and various city departments, approval of the two funding ordinances is the final step before groundbreaking, anticipated this spring.

Council discussed the two ordinances at length at its Council Committee of the Whole meeting on Jan. 13, and both had first readings at the Jan. 21 city council meeting.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 12:50 PM, 02.01.2020

UH council narrows search to 5 finalists

University Heights City Council has narrowed the field of candidates for the city’s open council seat to five, out of 26 total applicants. Those candidates are Saundra Berry, Andrew Grau, Matthew Kaliff, Cathy Rezos, and Ray Stineman.

The other 21 applicants were: Fredric Bolotin, Harrison Crumrine, Michael Ditzel, Carl Divita, Teresa Drda, Gregory Fleming, Curt Kassigkeit, Eric Mack, Mandy Marton, Evan Minior, Yoyo Moore, James Outman, Stacey Pellom, Frank Pines, Clay Poynter, Edward Reichek, Woody Ridgway, Daniel Roche, Sheri Sax, Randal Slifer, and Vincent Stokes II.

Mark Wiseman resigned from UH City Council on Jan. 13, after accepting appointment as a magistrate to Cleveland Municipal Court’s Housing Division.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 1:00 PM, 02.01.2020

Track club seeks members ages 4-18

TYTC's Jayda Davis streaking down the track during the Dick Mann Memorial Open last spring.

If you’re looking for an activity to absorb your child’s boundless energy, the Tiger Youth Track Club (TYTC) may be the answer. The Tigers are recruiting boys and girls, ages 4-18. Registration is Feb. 22 and 29, 1-4 p.m., at the Heights Community Center, 1 Monticello Blvd.

TYTC is part of the Cleveland Heights Tigers Youth Sports Association (CHTYSA), a nonprofit, community-based athletic and recreational program dedicated to the development of elementary school children in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District. Since 2014, more than 300 children have participated in the track club. 

“There were quite a few track clubs around the area, but none in the Heights,” said Derrick Fair, head coach and one of the founding members of the club, and a former assistant coach for Heights High's varsity men’s track and field.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 12:42 PM, 02.01.2020

Heights Observer's weekly e-mail newsletter gets a new look

The new year brought the introduction of our redesigned e-mail newsletter, the Heights Observer Weekly E-News. It’s only the second time we’ve overhauled its look since the newsletter was launched in 2012.

While the newsletter needed to be refreshed, the real reason we did it was to make it mobile-responsive—easy to read on small screens.

The old format was built on outdated technology, and the readership data reflected that. The rule of thumb about online content today is that you can expect at least half your audience to access it via smart phones and tablets. But the e-news was getting only 30 percent of its readership through mobile devices.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 12:27 PM, 02.01.2020

Noble Neighbors celebrates six years

Noble Neighbors gathered on Jan. 7 to celebrate six years of working together to make the neighborhoods along Noble Road friendlier, safer and more attractive. While enjoying a potluck dinner, participants recounted the activities of the previous year.

The newest initiative was the Noble Gardeners' Market, held on Saturday mornings during the summer. Sellers offered backyard- and community garden-grown vegetables and flowers. Buyers learned to arrive early for homegrown shiitakes, heirloom tomatoes and garlic. Children bought bags of cherry tomatoes and ate them like penny candy. Growing community identity was a priority for the market, and the stories told around the potluck tables attested to its success. According to one participant, “People came to buy vegetables and stayed for the conversation.”

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 12:55 PM, 02.01.2020

Time to choose: governance or grudges?

On Jan. 6, Cleveland Heights’ newly elected and sworn-in city council president/mayor Jason Stein addressed his colleagues and members of the public. “This council has a diverse group of people with a wide array of experiences, expertise and opinions to offer,” he said. “I believe that this council can accomplish a lot of good, if we choose to work together and treat each other in a civil manner.” (Our emphasis.)

Stein’s statement was not a mere bromide. Just minutes before, council members Mary Dunbar, Michael Ungar and Melissa Yasinow had voted against Kahlil Seren for council vice president/vice mayor.

Given that Seren was running unopposed, the three could have made the conciliatory gesture of voting for him. Such a vote, however, would have required them to set aside a grudge of at least two years’ duration.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 11:50 AM, 02.01.2020

CH-UH taxpayers don't slack in supporting our schools

The state of Ohio calculates a “local tax effort index” for each school district in the state, using a four-part formula (read the description of Item 39 at the Ohio Dept. of Education District Profile link below, for more information). The purpose of this measure is to assess how much effort the local community is putting into supporting its schools, in the context of residents’ ability to pay, measured by income. The state average is used as a baseline (set equal to 1.0000), so that every school district’s effort can be compared to the statewide average.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights local tax effort index is 1.4567 for FY 2019, according to the district's profile. This data shows that we (CH-UH) are making a substantially greater effort to support our schools (given our income) than the state average as a whole (1.0000), and in comparison to “similar districts” (local tax effort: 1.2036) as defined by the state.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 12:13 PM, 02.01.2020

CH-UH schools are the foundation of our cities

We are rebuilding University Heights. After years of hearing it can’t be done, we’re redeveloping University Square. We are building new houses and townhomes. We have added bike lanes, improved our housing stock, rebranded our city, and worked together to build a sense of community through events such as Fall Fest, our revamped summer concert series, and our inaugural City Beautiful 5K run.

But the foundation of any successful city is a successful public school district. University Heights was established on the foundational strength of educational opportunities. We need to protect our foundation on March 17, by voting Yes on the CH-UH school levy.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 12:00 PM, 02.01.2020

Truth in our school funding numbers

School funding in Ohio is terribly confusing. Although the allocations, forecasts and balances are published in many forms, not only by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), but also by local public school districts, this information is often overwhelming and unclear. 

One of the areas that can easily be misleading is how we talk about per-pupil spending in our CH-UH district. The simplest way might be to divide district’s annual expenses by the number of students in the school district. The glaring flaw in this method concerns the district’s expenses related to voucher, transfer and charter school students, but these students are not counted in this calculation.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 11:58 AM, 02.01.2020

State lawmakers created a problem for us

I became an activist in the era when bumper stickers were equivalent to a tweet. My car was a traveling billboard. The yard sign, another kind of short-form communication, still works for me. Forget social media. At election time I still clutter up my yard with these temporary message boards.

My basement is an archive of school-levy yard signs. I’ve lived in Cleveland Heights for more than 40 years, and levy campaigns are necessary every four to five. I’ve got a half a dozen signs to prove it.

I will be sporting a new sign by the time this column hits the streets, because public school students in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District need us to vote yes to fill the crater that vouchers have created in the district’s operating budget.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 11:46 AM, 02.01.2020

Cleveland Heights sees national Census as a priority and opportunity

Cleveland Heights Council Member Davida Russell.

Recently sworn-in Cleveland Heights City Council Member Davida Russell identified the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census as an agenda priority. Heights Libraries, the League of Women Voters, and FutureHeights are also supporting the initiative to see every adult and child included in the city's population count.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, thousands of Cleveland Heights residents are predicted to go unaccounted for by the survey. For each person not counted, the city is estimated to lose between $1,800 and $2,700 annually in federal funding, which means that it could miss out on millions of dollars in government spending over the coming decade.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 11:39 AM, 02.01.2020

Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 1-21-2020

JANUARY 21, 2020


  • Public comments
  • City manager’s report
  • Clerk of council’s report
  • Fire pumper truck
  • Financing revenue bonds
  • Overnight Parking
  • Public works projects
  • Council member comments
  • Mayor’s report


Council members present were Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell, Kahlil Seren, Jason Stein, Michael N. Ungar and Melissa Yasinow. The meeting lasted from 7:44-8:59 pm.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:49 AM, 02.17.2020

Ohio HB 305 co-sponsor to speak on proposed revisions to school funding

State Rep. John Patterson speaking about the school funding proposal he co-authored will Rep. Bob Cupp.

State Rep. John Patterson, co-author of bipartisan legislation to remake Ohio’s school funding system, will speak at a Feb. 10 forum at Cleveland Heights High School, “School Funding in Ohio: The Possibilities and Challenges of Creating a Solution.”

The 7 p.m. event is free and open to the public.

Rep. Patterson (Democrat – Jefferson) and Rep. Bob Cupp (Republican – Lima) led a three-year process to develop state policy that complies with the 1997 DeRolph decision, which declared Ohio’s funding system unconstitutional.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 5:35 PM, 01.31.2020

School levy forum to be held Feb. 20

Three community groups will host a public forum to discuss Issue 26, the school levy that will be on the March 17 ballot. The event will take place on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m., at the Cleveland Heights Community Center, 1 Monticello Blvd.

The League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland, FutureHeights and Reaching Heights are hosting the forum, which is free and open to the public. A balanced panel of community activists will discuss the delicate balance between public school funding and tax burden.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education has asked residents to approve a property tax levy of an additional 7.9 mills. The levy would add $23 per month for each $100,000 of home value, according to the school board. 

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 5:44 PM, 01.31.2020

TOH revenue bonds: more deceit and giveaways

CH city staff and some council members are determined to build the Top of the Hill (TOH) project regardless of the financial consequences to the city. Until now, the primary financial issues have been the loss of city revenues. However, now the city is trying to issue debt to pay for some of the costs of the project. The debt is being justified because all TIF developers ask for and receive financial commitments from governments as a show of good faith in a project.

In December 2018, CH City Council authorized giving $1.8 million to the TOH developer, Flaherty & Collins, to help it get a construction loan. At that time, the city finance director certified that the money was in the city treasury; it was not. So the city spent the last year unsuccessfully looking for outside funding. And it still could not find treasury money.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 12:31 PM, 02.01.2020

TOH 2016 to 2020: What has been lost?

In 2016, when interviewed by the city, developer Flaherty & Collins (F&C) presented to CH City Council the idea of an iconic development and community gathering place [for Top of the Hill (TOH)].

In April 2018, the signed development agreement stipulated 20 for-sale town homes (now gone from the plan), a five-story height maximum (gone), Port Authority financing (not chosen because it required prevailing wages), public gathering and green space (gone, with the nominal exception of a small knoll, intersected by a retaining wall, west of Nighttown).

F&C has been skilled in leading our city's project leaders down the primrose path ending in maximum monetization of a highly desirable 4-acre site.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 12:36 PM, 02.01.2020

Development without tax abatement isn't realistic

In a January 2020 opinion published in the Heights Observer, Cleveland Heights resident Joan Mallick advocated that CH City Council not approve the final “financial subsidies” required for the Top of the Hill (TOH) project to proceed.

According to Mallick, among the costs to the city that TOH would incur is a tax rebate of $1.2 million a year for a total of $36 million over 30 years, part of a total cost to the city of $43,970,000. She estimated a net loss to Cleveland Heights of $23,719,700 over 30 years.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 12:33 PM, 02.01.2020

Vote 'yes' for CH-UH school levy

To the Editor:

I am writing to encourage voters in the CH-UH school district to vote for the levy that will be on the ballot on March 17. Our district is faced with suddenly losing millions of dollars due to last minute changes to the EdChoice voucher program inflicted by the state board of education.

In 2016, the state took 7 percent of our district’s state monies to use for private school scholarships. This school year, it took almost five times that—34.6 percent of our state dollars. Next year, that number will go up by nearly $3 million more. Then, almost 50 percent of our state allocated dollars will be used to pay for private school scholarships instead of funding CH-UH schools.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 12:24 PM, 02.01.2020

Yes on school levy for a strong foundation

To the Editor:

Good schools are the foundation of a good community. When that foundation is threatened, you shore it up. That’s what the March 17 CH-UH school district levy will do.

We’re in the midst of positive change. Voters chose two new CH City Council members. This month, CH council chose two new leaders. In two years, CH residents will elect a mayor for the first time since 1921.

These changes are built on the foundation of a community with wonderful assets: people, businesses, arts, neighborhoods, nature, recreation, location. And schools.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 12:19 PM, 02.01.2020

CH resident thanks UH for its response

To the Editor:

Someone hit a skunk on the street in front of my [Staunton Road] home. I had two days and nights of sleeplessness. I was ill from the stench. It stunk to high heaven and was so strong it woke me up the first night. Headache and nausea weren't the only symptoms. I could taste the skunk all day long and when I was able to sleep at all I dreamt that a skunk was constantly following me around no matter what I did. I made multiple calls to Cleveland Heights City Hall—police, the service department, the mayor, council members, legal department, etc. The only answer I got was okay we know about it, or, we'll get to it when we can. [It was] mostly voicemail messages from me that were not returned. I then called the EPA and tried to find a functioning, real newspaper. No one could or would help.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 12:18 PM, 02.01.2020

Support our children and our community

The first time I took part in a school levy campaign, I was a toddler and my mom was holding a neighborhood meeting in support of the levy in our backyard on Bradford Road. From the time I could walk, I was knocking on doors and handing out literature in support of the levy.

My mom, a graduate of Cleveland Heights High School herself, impressed on me from an early age how deeply important it is that public education be free and excellent, and how crucial our public school system is for the health and strength of our community.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 12:04 PM, 02.01.2020

How Heights public schools shaped me

Have you spent time at Heights High in the past 10 years? I mean really spent time there—no meetings, no walk throughs, no stories on the news. The answer is probably not.

I spent every day of my life there from 2014–18, and every day of my life before that at Roxboro Middle School, and before that at Fairfax Elementary School. So, when I say that going to Cleveland Heights public schools was the best decision my parents could have ever made for me, I know what I am talking about.

I learned so much more at those schools than I could have anywhere else. I learned about cultures from all over the world from my peers, and how to be a brave and confident performer in countless well-produced concerts.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 12:06 PM, 02.01.2020

Neighbors' kindness inspires

Christmas 2019 has come and gone, but our family has a memory that will linger on. At 96, I can recall many past Christmases, but this memory stands out because it so beautifully expressed that true meaning of the season that we all seek, but that so often gets lost in our flurry of decorations, wrapping paper and tinsel.

I live with my granddaughter and her husband in University Heights. Two days before Christmas, they were rushing around the house, preoccupied with last-minute preparations for the big event. The doorbell rang, and we all wondered who or what was interrupting our Christmas “busyness.”

When my granddaughter opened the door, we were anticipating a plea for donations to a charity. Instead, before us stood two of our neighbors’ very young children.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 12:02 PM, 02.01.2020

Compost services expand to the Heights

It happens to most of us—forgetting that container of leftovers at the back of the fridge until it’s too late. Finding mixed greens wilted and slimy, or the remains of another partially eaten sandwich is . . . well, yucky.

Food waste may not seem like a huge deal but, according to scientists, once it’s in a landfill all those scraps release dangerous methane gases into the atmosphere. In fact, if global food waste were its own country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases on earth, after the United States and China.

What to do? Backyard composting is great in theory, but actually pretty difficult. City ordinances require that compost bins be located a specific distance from structures and property boundaries, making placement a hassle. Furthermore, meat and dairy products can attract vermin, other animals and worms.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 5:02 PM, 01.31.2020

CH Senior Center News

The Cleveland Heights Senior Activity Center (SAC) announces the following “not-to-be-missed” programs for February:

“Consider the ‘Spring’,” Friday, Feb. 14, 11 a.m. Semi-retired mattress store owner Marti Webster will host a talk and demonstration covering all you ever wanted to know about mattresses. The program will feature games, prizes, and plenty of time to ask questions.

“Amazing Women of the 19th Century,” Tuesday, Feb. 18, 11 a.m. In honor of the 100th anniversary of women's right to vote, Norton London, a historian with a special interest in the Civil War, will present the stories of Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. Perhaps the most famous African American woman in 19th-century America, Truth traveled the country for more than 40 years as a forceful and passionate advocate for the dispossessed, using her quick wit and fearless tongue to fight for human rights. Tubman, born into slavery, was an African American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy. In the post-war era, she worked hard for women's suffrage.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 5:32 PM, 01.31.2020

Swim Cadets are 'Out of this World' for 2020 show

The 2020 swim cadets will perform their annual show March 5-7.

The Cleveland Heights High School Swim Cadets, a 15-member synchronized swim club, will present its annual show March 5–7, 7 p.m., at the Heights High pool. The theme of this year’s show is "Out of this World."

High school synchronized swim teams are a rarity, and this group maintains special significance as the oldest extracurricular club at Heights High, with 81 years in existence. 

The young women are responsible for all the creative aspects of the show, including choreography, music, theater lighting and costuming, as well as recruiting "guy cadets" to perform during costume changes. The club fundraises regularly in order to present a high-level, entertaining production, full of athleticism, grace and teamwork. The annual performance is the result of five months of 12- to 15-hour practice weeks.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 5:28 PM, 01.31.2020

Kids' Comic Con returns to Coventry's LEI

Young people ages 8–18 will have the chance to attend workshops with experienced comic creators at Lake Erie Ink’s (LEI) eighth annual Kids’ Comic Con on Saturday, Feb. 29, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Campus. Last year’s event drew 150 kids and teens from across Northeast Ohio.

Workshops will cover the two aspects of comic creation—drawing and writing—and include the ever-popular “create your own comic character in clay.” New this year, a teens-only (grades 6–12) program will feature a “Make Change with Comics” panel. Teens will have the opportunity to learn about the difficult balance of making money through art while simultaneously making a positive difference in their community. The program will also feature a cosplay fashion show, and a Snack n’ Sketch ‘zine exchange.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 5:31 PM, 01.31.2020

Heights High's BOPO parents to host musical fundraiser

The parent organization for the Cleveland Heights High School Band & Orchestra (BOPO) will host a fundraiser, A Musical Feast, at Nighttown Restaurant (12383 Cedar Road) on March 1, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

The event will include a scrumptious brunch and an auction. It will feature live music performed by Heights High musicians alongside Cleveland Orchestra members Kathy Collins (violin), Beth Woodside (violin), and Richard Waugh (viola), and other professional musicians. There will be a special performance of the Mozart piano/wind quintet, played by Cleveland Orchestra musicians who are also Heights residents: Frank Rosenwein (principal oboe), Afendi Yusef (principal clarinet), Gareth Thomas (bassoon), Richard King (French horn), and Carolyn Gadiel Warner  (piano).

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 4:57 PM, 01.31.2020

CH-UH schools to host kindergarten info nights

Beginning Feb. 25, each CH-UH City School District elementary school will host a Kindergarten Information Night. 

Beginning Feb. 25, each Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District elementary school will host a Kindergarten Information Night for incoming and prospective families. 
Attendees will have the opportunity to meet the school principals and teachers, ask questions, and tour the buildings. Several of the schools will also offer dinner, and childcare or playtime services.
To find the school that corresponds to your place of residence, use the district’s online interactive boundary map, at

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 5:25 PM, 01.31.2020

Canterbury students create art to accompany music

Empress of the Pagodas.  Photo by Holly Spooner

Students at Canterbury Elementary School know a thing or two about synesthesia or, more specifically, chromaesthesia—seeing colors or shapes while listening to music. The school practices Mindful Music every morning, when students are encouraged to close their eyes, let their minds wander, and “picture” the music.

They recently had an opportunity to put this skill, and their knowledge of classical music and mixed media art forms, to good use under the guidance of Holly Spooner, art teacher at Canterbury. Students in grades two through five created visual images to accompany the Cleveland Suburban Symphony Orchestra’s Concert for Families at the Maltz Performing Arts Center on Dec. 8.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 5:23 PM, 01.31.2020

Roxboro students 'Walk for Water'

[photo by Amanda Sell]

After reading A Long Walk to Water in their English classes, sixth-graders at Roxboro Middle School organized their own Dec. 20 walkathon, and raised more than $2,000 for the Water for South Sudan Project. 

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 5:19 PM, 01.31.2020

RoxArts hosts 'leap day' benefit

RoxArts Black & Gold event ticket holders can see Carlos Jones perform live at the Grog Shop on Feb. 29.

Celebrate leap year at a "FUN"draising event for the RoxArts in Tiger Nation Fund on Saturday, Feb. 29, at the B-Side Lounge, 2785 Euclid Heights Blvd. in Coventry Village. This "extra night" in 2020 is an opportunity to enjoy fabulous food, drinks, dancing, live music, fashion and fun, all while benefiting arts and science enrichment in Cleveland Heights-University Heights public schools. Attendees are invited to show their Tiger Nation pride by dressing in black-and-gold attire. 

RoxArts invites the entire CH-UH community to take a "leap forward" in 2020 by advancing the inclusivity of arts and science enrichment for all CH-UH schools, grades K-8.

General admission tickets are $35, and CH-UH teachers get in for just $25. VIP tickets are also available. Ticket holders receive admission to three events: Benefit party with hearty appetizers, beer and wine until 9 p.m., Silent Disco ($10 value), and the Carlos Jones reggae concert ($15 value).

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 5:18 PM, 01.31.2020

Heights High students 'Sing Out' against hate

The Heights High English classes of Donna Feldman and David Jurns competed in the Maltz Museum’s "Stop the Hate: Youth Sing Out" competition at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Dec. 11. The two tied for first place, out of 27 competitors, winning a $5,000 award that the school will use for anti-bias education. In the photo above (from left), Marissa Veccia, Emma Vail, Alexis Dixon, Daymonique Judge and Maple Buescher perform.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 5:09 PM, 01.31.2020

What’s going on at your library?

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

Thursday, Feb. 13, 7 p.m.

Step Out of Time: Yoga for Neck & Shoulders with Laura Santoro. Learn simple yoga moves to relieve pain and stress in your neck and shoulders. This class is appropriate for all abilities and can be done from a chair.

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

Sunday, Feb. 9, 2 p.m.

Sherlock Holmes Meets the Bully of Baker Street. Join the world's greatest detective as he uses his remarkable observation and deduction skills to confront his most sensational mystery. Who is the Bully of Baker Street? An intrepid band of actors from Great Lakes Theater will use humor, logic and song to perform this original tale. For children in grades one through six.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 5:07 PM, 01.31.2020

Library wants to ensure everyone is counted in the 2020 Census

Along with voting, being counted in the U.S. Census is one of the most patriotic activities an individual can perform.

Beginning in mid-March, every home in the United States will receive a postcard in the mail that serves as an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. Residents can respond for their household in one of three ways: online, by phone or by mail.

To ensure the community is ready to participate, Heights Libraries will be encouraging community members to learn about the 2020 Census with informational programs and fliers; comprehensive answers to common questions about the census process, including issues of security and privacy; and a special Web page of census-related resources.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 5:07 PM, 01.31.2020

Heights business anniversaries

The Stone Oven has been a Heights business for 25 years. [photo by Bob Rosenbaum]

The Stone Oven Bakery & Café has just turned 25. Owners Jon Emerman and Tatyana Rehn opened the doors of their popular meeting place on Jan. 25, 1995, in the former Society Bank branch at the corner of Meadowbrook and Lee roads. Several years later, they bought the building at the current location, 2267 Lee Road, and also opened a second location at Eton Chagrin Boulevard in Woodmere.

Reflections Interior Design, at 12423 Cedar Road in the Cedar Fairmount Business District, marked its 10th anniversary under the ownership of Marissa Matiyasic with an open house on Jan. 17. Matiyasic is an NCIDQ-certified designer (National Council for Interior Design Qualification).

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 5:04 PM, 01.31.2020

Celebrate Heights Arts' 20th and Beethoven's 250th

Current CH Poet Laureate Damien McClendon performing at Ekphrastacy event

Heights Arts continues its yearlong 20th-anniversary celebration with a month of events showcasing the wonderful talent of local artists, musicians and poets. The ambitious schedule features concerts, poetry readings and visual art exhibitions.

On Feb. 13 at 7 p.m., Heights Arts and Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate Damien McClendon collaborate to present Ekphrastacy: Artists Speak + Poets Respond, an event for art enthusiasts and poetry lovers alike. Artists from the current Point-Line-Pattern-Plane exhibition will speak about the inspiration and process behind the creation of their work. Poets Damien McClendon, Ray McNiece, John Burroughs and Carson Evans will join the artists to recite original poems inspired by pieces in the show. Cleveland is home to a bustling community of authors and poets who garner regional and national recognition, and Heights Arts Ekphrastacy series provides a unique opportunity for these talented writers to express their work.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 4:54 PM, 01.31.2020

Jazz and poetry return to First Baptist

Demetrius Steinmetz

Jazz and poetry have a lot in common. Both art forms can be free-flowing, innovative and challenging to understand, and both are created from imaginative, spontaneous psyches. 

In response to many requests from last year's appreciative audience, the Music and Fine Arts ministry of the First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland is bringing back its Jazz & Poetry Night on Friday, Feb. 21, at 7:30 p.m. 

The evening will start with a Jazz Prelude by the Demetrius Steinmetz Jazz Ensemble, featuring Steinmetz on bass, Brian Kozak on guitar, and Eileen Burns on vocals. Steinmetz spent four years as Artist-in-Residence at the Cleveland School of the Arts and has been an instructor for the instrumental music after-school program for the 21st Century Community Learning Center. He has taught saxophone and bass at The Fine Arts Association in Willoughby and Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood. He has performed professionally in Greater Cleveland and has been recorded on Cadence Records. 

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 4:50 PM, 01.31.2020

Forest Hill Church presents annual Black History Month concert

Caleb A. Wright

Ascension: An Evening of African-American Music is the seventh-annual Black History Month celebration at Forest Hill Presbyterian Church. The event will take place on Feb. 23.

The event has transformed into an exciting and soul-stirring celebration that many in Cleveland Heights and its surrounding communities look forward to each year. This year’s concert will be led by musical director Caleb A. Wright, who has been a member of Forest Hill Church for more than 10 years.

Wright is a member of Cleveland Heights’ own Wright Family Singers, a family gospel group that has performed for more than 40 years. Wright has spearheaded this annual event since 2013.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 4:47 PM, 01.31.2020