Latest News

LWV supports CH ballot Issue 6

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland endorses passage of Issue 6 on the Nov. 3, 2020 ballot.

This proposed amendment to the Cleveland Heights City Charter relates to time frames for candidates to qualify for election. The League supports passage of this amendment, as it will assist the city’s transition to an elected mayor form of government, which was approved by a substantial majority of the city’s voters in the November 2019 election.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 3:23 PM, 10.23.2020

Latest News Releases

"V O T E" Says Cheryl Stephens, Cuyahoga County Councilwoman (District 10)
- Cuyahoga County, October 6, 2020 Read More
Rep. Boyd to host Virtual Town Hall October 1 on resources for small businesses during and after COVID-19
- State Rep. Janine Boyd, October 1, 2020 Read More
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

View more news releases

Lake Erie Ink embarks on its 10th year

Lake Erie Ink: A Writing Space for Youth (LEI) is beginning its 10th year. The Cleveland Heights nonprofit provides creative-expression opportunities and academic support for kids and teens, through community after-school programs, writing workshops, and other creative undertakings.

LEI offers a range of writing workshops for Greater Cleveland youths. This year, because of the pandemic, LEI has moved its workshops and events online. 

Its popular "Stories of Suspense" workshop will be presented via Zoom this year on Saturday, Oct. 24, 10:30 a.m. to noon. One of Cleveland’s own mystery-thriller writers, D.M. Pulley, will lead it.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 3:25 PM, 10.23.2020

Why I voted for Issue 69

I voted for Issue 69, the CH-UH school levy. I believe every child attending public school has a RIGHT to have a QUALITY education. An education filled with a variety of experiences allowing them to compete on a national stage in whatever field they choose to follow.

Those opposed to supporting public education indicate that students should “make do” with larger class sizes because staff gets cut; children should “deal with” the lack of advanced classes, career tech, clubs and activities that can spark their love of learning. Frankly, those opposed will always be against supporting public schools, no matter the size or purpose of a levy. This letter is not for them.

Public school is for all. Our public schools are majority students of color. If you believe Black Lives Matter, then I challenge you to make sure Black MINDS Matter by voting for Issue 69! I am an African American wife and mother of two daughters. My husband and I have DEMANDED that our daughters have an enriching experience—and CH-UH has delivered from kindergarten through grade 12.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 3:26 PM, 10.23.2020

Weighing in on Issue 69

Once again, we have a school levy on the ballot. Not all families who send their children to private schools are well-to-do, but they prioritize education; many receive scholarships supported by fundraising. 

Among those who are pro-levy are critics who state that some families have never tried the public schools, and have no intention of sending their children to them.

Parents refrain from enrolling their children in public schools not only for the lack of religious instruction. Can you guarantee that district pupils will use polite language, i.e., refrain from “cussing”? That they will dress in a dignified manner, covering parts of the body that should be private? That the music to which they listen won’t have any sexually explicit lyrics, or any that encourage disrespect of elders?

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 3:21 PM, 10.23.2020

Until we can change state funding, we must keep schools strong

Our district is facing substantial budget shortfalls due to our state’s flawed system of school funding, namely EdChoice. Our district is also working with districts across the state to get the state legislature to fix this, but this is a glacially slow process. In the meantime, school levies are how districts across Ohio must make up funding gaps caused by the state's flawed funding model and EdChoice.

Here’s how EdChoice works:

The state mandates student testing to assess public-school performance. However, these tests have repeatedly been shown to tell us way less about how well a school is educating its students and way more about the students’ socioeconomic background. In other words, these tests are designed to target racially and economically diverse districts like ours and declare them “failing.”

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 3:35 PM, 10.23.2020

Investing in the future

We’ve all heard so much about the upcoming school levy that I think we may be lost in the weeds. I want to get us back to basics.

Operating levies are how school districts are funded in the state of Ohio. They are not a sign of a district overspending or needing “more money” for special projects; they are simply the way that schools keep up with basic inflationary increases over time.  

Issue 69 is not about whether our school district is doing a “good” or “bad” job, or whether leadership makes decisions you agree with or not. It’s about one thing and one thing only: whether you believe that children deserve access to a high-quality education. Period. That’s it, that’s all.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 3:27 PM, 10.23.2020

Vote 'no' on Issue 69

I urge every Cleveland Heights and University Heights resident to vote a resounding "No" on Issue 69—a sneaky backdoor way to raise our taxes for a lifetime, with no accountability on the part of the school board or the teacher's union.

Taxes in CH-UH are already way too high—they have the highest combined rate in the state of Ohio—not for an upper-class area with wealthy residents, nor for top-rated schools, but for a working-class community with sections of poverty—with some of the lowest home values in the region—and some of the worst schools (ranked 4th from the bottom statewide)!

It's time to say "No More” in a clear way that school board can understand, so its members stop abusing their authority to put levy after levy on the ballot, with no consideration for the economy—the pandemic—or the stress and strain that ordinary families are under—all for failing schools that are often done remotely anyways.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 3:18 PM, 10.23.2020

We must not allow anti-tax agitators to harm our public schools

As people start voting, it is important for everyone to have a clear picture of our school district’s finances. It is easy to get lost in the weeds when anti-tax agitators try to stir up confusion.

There will always be people who want to cut public services, whether it’s schools, libraries, or the post office. They will advocate for funding cuts, then blame the resulting financial crisis on wasteful spending and call for further cuts. That looks a lot like what is going on with our public schools. 

First of all, our school district’s spending is not “out of control.” The Ohio Department of Education calculates each district’s effective cost per pupil, allowing for apples-to-apples comparisons between districts.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 3:32 PM, 10.23.2020

Support for school levy is part of social-justice conversation

To the Editor:

I am a recently retired woman with lots of time on my hands. I spend a certain amount of it walking around our city. We have lovely areas in which to live in Cleveland Heights—I am fortunate to live in one of them—and I take great enjoyment in these walks. Cleveland Heights has some beautiful old homes—homes that would cost far more in other cities. The low property values compared to other suburbs balance out our somewhat higher tax rate.

What saddens me is to see the anti-school-levy signs at some of these lovely properties. Their message of “We love living in the Heights – keep the Heights affordable” rings selfish to me.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 3:15 PM, 10.23.2020

As a 'rich district' CH-UH schools get less state support

What is a “rich district”?

Multiple posts on Nextdoor have said that the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District is a “rich district.” We are not a rich district because of the beautiful houses along North Park, Fairmount, or Euclid Heights boulevards. The state of Ohio classifies us a rich district because of the taxes we have voted in to support our schools.

We are already 46% above the state average for taxes supporting our schools. As such, the state of Ohio says it does not need to contribute as much state fund[ing], since we have taken the burden on ourselves.

The question you need to start asking yourselves is how long can you continue supporting a school district that doesn’t manage its finances properly.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 3:13 PM, 10.23.2020

On behalf of our community, focus on state school funding

Whose numbers should you believe about our public schools’ financial status? Should you believe the information presented by the school district and school board, whose work is controlled by legal mandates, and is audited yearly; which has some expertise in this particular field and is committed to the noble goal of continually improving its practices and outcomes for all of the children it serves? Or should you believe in [information from] a recently created [anti-levy] group that has chosen to engage negatively with an organization in which [its members] previously had little or no interest or investment?

I’ve been actively engaged in our public-school community since my child entered kindergarten 10 years ago, developing wonderful friendships, engaging in countless uplifting and community-building experiences, and witnessing ever so much good in our children, families and staff.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 3:33 PM, 10.23.2020

The $7,074,113 EdChoice deduction was real money lost

Both Eric Silverman and James McMahon, in their Heights Observer opinions, correctly state the EdChoice voucher deduction cost to the CH-UH school district was $7,074,113 for the last school year [2019–20]. As an elected member of the school board I can tell you this amount in the prior year was $4,187,249 [2018–19] and the amount for this school year will be $9,017,250 [2020–21] (based on current data).

What is not correct: McMahon further states the district receives additional EdChoice funding from the state to offset these costs.  

I want to clarify: the district’s state “Foundation Funding” (the amount the state deducts the EdChoice voucher amounts from) was: $21,307,455 [2018–19], $19,891,985 [2019–20] and $19,891,985 [2021–22]. 

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 3:12 PM, 10.23.2020

District treasurer is grossly overcompensated

For 25 years, Scott Gainer has been treasurer of the CH-UH City School District. Since 2000, he has successfully championed six [operating] levies, for a total of more than $40 million, plus the $135-million school facilities bond. Mr. Gainer, who doesn't live in Cleveland Heights or University Heights, has himself greatly benefited from our high taxes. In addition, Mr. Gainer has never submitted a balanced five-year forecast, even though the CH-UH schools receive $22,700 per student in funding (57% higher than the state average).

Below is a summary of his contract and compensation. He clearly has a vested interest in the passing of Issue 69. 

  • His current contract expires on July 31, 2022, but Gainer and the district can mutually agree to terminate or amend it sooner.
  • Ironically, the contract states that the school board “desires to have a written Employment Contract in order to enhance fiscal responsibility and continuity with the schools.”
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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 3:10 PM, 10.23.2020

The students behind the numbers

While I understand paying taxes is a sacrifice, I kindly ask my neighbors to consider the greater sacrifice [that will have to be] made if Issue 69, the CH-UH school levy, does not pass.

I know it’s easy to make things political, or black and white, but this is not about politics. This is about supporting children—children who aren’t able to vote—and it is those children I beg you to consider when you walk into that voting booth. The ones who love going to choir practice after school as it's the only safe haven from their traumatic home life. The ones who play three sports with dreams of being good enough to go to college for free, as they cannot afford to otherwise.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 3:31 PM, 10.23.2020

No one school is right for all

One of the things that makes our city great is its diversity. The differing opinions that come with diverse neighborhoods often shine through in our politics. One big issue is whether one should support Issue 69, to implement a new tax levy for CH-UH public schools. As a parent who truly believes that children are our future, I want what’s best for our kids. My concern is that much of the jargon in support of Issue 69 is misinformative, and does not have the best interests of children in mind. 

I am a product of public schooling; I have no issue with public schools. Children who attend them deserve the best education they can receive. However, I’ve learned that not every school is best for every child. Some children are auditory learners, some are hands-on; some need a slow-paced classroom; some do well in Montessori settings; others learn best online. The list of differences can go on and on.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 6:15 PM, 10.19.2020

Issue 69 is our Netflix

Issue 69 is our Netflix.

I'm a big believer in Netflix. Back in the early 2000s, when I was young and swimming in time, there came this service that would send you DVDs in the mail and charged no late fees. 

It was revelatory. I got a real education in cinema through Netflix: "The Godfather,” "The Exorcist" . . . that "Dungeons and Dragons" movie with Jeremy Irons and Marlon Wayans—a true masterclass.

Amidst all of the children, moves, lost jobs, utilities, mortgages, and questionable binge watching . . . the Netflix bill has been paid. Every month. For 18 years.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 3:30 PM, 10.23.2020

State recommends district undergo performance audit

To the Editor:

As many have noted, we should not approve a tax increase that many of our neighbors cannot afford in the midst of a deep recession with a still-uncertain outcome. Now, there is an additional reason to “Vote No” on Issue 69, the school tax levy.

Due to its “potential to incur a deficit during the first three years of the five-year period” [based on the district’s five-year forecast], the Ohio Department of Education has recommended the CH-UH City School District to the Auditor of State as one that should undergo a performance audit.

This will review the efficiency and effectiveness of operations and assets, and identify cost-saving options for the district. Voters should not approve additional funding increases until the district has addressed structural deficits.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 6:14 PM, 10.19.2020

Correcting the actual EdChoice costs to CH-UH district

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to Eric Silverman’s opinion, published [online at www.heightsobserver.org] on Oct 12.

I am not taking a position on the school levy vote, and I have not supported EdChoice vouchers in the past. I respect people making informed decisions for themselves. However, informed decisions need to be made with accurate information, and the cost of EdChoice vouchers as stated in Mr. Silverman’s opinion are absolutely incorrect.

Yes, the 2019–20 deduction for EdChoice vouchers was $7,074,113. In his piece, Mr. Silverman omitted the $4,286,412 the state of Ohio funded for EdChoice vouchers.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 6:13 PM, 10.19.2020

‘Scareborough’ Road addresses Halloween during the pandemic

Scarborough homes may be displaying one of two signs this Halloween.

Scarborough Road in Cleveland Heights is known for its enthusiastic participation in Halloween. Many of the street’s residents put up elaborate displays during the month of October, and residents on the middle block of the street hang a banner on Oct. 31, rechristening the street “Scareborough,” to welcome trick-or-treaters.

Unofficial counts estimate the yearly number of trick-or-treaters on the street at more than 1,000—give or take a few sneaky ghosts and goblins who manage to go through the candy lines twice.

But Halloween 2020 will be different on “Scareborough” due to COVID-19 and the need for social distancing.

Scarborough residents in the middle block created a website to address the changes, and to offer residents resources to try to ensure a safe, fun holiday.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 11:32 AM, 10.18.2020

'Black Excellence' mural transforms Coventry parking lot

 Photo by Donte Washington

On Sept. 26, artists Jimmy Hayden and Wayne Pollard, and a Heights Libraries board member, Gabe Crenshaw, transformed the parking lot by Heights Libraries Coventry branch and Coventry PEACE Park with a mural celebrating the achievements of Black Northeast Ohioans, both past and present.

Embedded in the words “Black Excellence” are images of authors Langston Hughes and Toni Morrison; Oscar-winning actor Halle Berry; athletes LeBron James, Jesse Owens, and Rich Paul; scientist Garrett Morgan; and elected officials Carl Stokes, Louis Stokes, and Stephanie Tubbs-Jones. The mural also gives a nod to the community with the inclusion of the words “Tiger Nation,” and the logos of the city of Cleveland Heights and of the community group Safer Heights.

Crenshaw said the mural’s creation was inspired by recent events. “The most recent killings of Black people, both by law enforcement and civilians who deemed it their duty to police Black people, is what inspired me to take on this project,” she said.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 5:56 PM, 10.12.2020

EdChoice math leaves district short on funding

In a recent conversation with a Cleveland Heights friend, he told me that, in his attempts to set the record straight on the website Nextdoor, in regard to the impact that EdChoice vouchers are having on the CH-UH City School District budget, he was being accused of being “anti-Jewish.” I found this odd, owing to what I know of him and what he told me he had been saying. 

Nonetheless, I figured that, as a former CH-UH school board member (2014–2017) as well as someone who is Jewish, I would take a look at the numbers myself and see why his concerns about the impact of EdChoice might be misconstrued.

I went to the Ohio Department of Education’s website for the numbers for FY2020 dated 8/31/2020. This report shows the CH-UH school district losing, to EdChoice vouchers, $7,074,113 in aid it would normally receive from the state. There are 1,404 students attending 33 different private schools. It would appear that all but two [schools] have a religious affiliation, and those two have only 19 of the 1,404 students [attending].

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 5:55 PM, 10.12.2020

Farmers to Families program returns Oct. 15

Farmers to Families volunteers helped distribute produce boxes at Heights High this summer.

The Farmers to Families program returns to the Heights, in partnership with Produce Alliance and the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland. On Oct. 15, 22 and 29, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., families in need can receive a free 35-pound mixed box containing produce, dairy, cooked meats, and milk at the CH-UH City School District’s Wiley Campus (2181 Miramar Road, University Heights).

"We're thrilled to continue providing this service to our community," said Nancy Peppler, the district’s supervisor of Community and School Partnerships. "Especially during this time of uncertainty, I'm thankful that we can help keep food on our neighbors' tables."  

The first phase of the Farmers to Families program took place over 10 weeks, between May and July of this year, in partnership with Perfect Pact. With the help of volunteers from the school community, Heights High was the distribution point for more than 40,000 pounds of fresh produce that went to local families.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 5:55 PM, 10.12.2020

School district has a data gap

The allegation was, frankly, a little heartbreaking: “They do not cheer for the successes of our students and our teachers, and they do not, in any way, identify themselves as being part of Tiger Nation . . .”

At the Aug. 4 CH-UH school board meeting, a spokesperson from the Tiger Nation for Strong Schools PAC noted that another levy ask would be forthcoming in November. The board maintains that the influence and availability of the EdChoice voucher for CH and UH residents is the main culprit of school-funding and enrollment loss.

I listened to that sentence in the spokesperson’s prepared remarks, initially, with grim resignation and sorrow. It is an obstacle not unfamiliar to me as an urban educator—students from high-poverty, highly transient, majority minority districts are often underestimated, underserved and unsupported, not only academically, but vocationally, socially and emotionally. 

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 5:54 PM, 10.12.2020

Immigration advocates celebrate first year with online event

Americans Making Immigrants Safe (AMI) is celebrating its first anniversary with an online celebration and fundraising event on Sunday, Oct. 11, 7 p.m. A group of Cleveland Heights residents founded the nonprofit.

The event, “Cultural Connections,” will feature music by and recipes from 14 immigrants whom AMIS supported in its first year, from Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico and Jordan. 

AMIS’s annual report, to be distributed at the event, shows that the nonprofit raised $47,648.86 in its first year, and used 96.4% of that money to support immigrants; only 3.6% went to “overhead.”

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 5:46 PM, 10.05.2020

LWV endorses passage of CH-UH school levy Issue 69

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland (LWVGC) endorses passage of Issue 69, a proposed 4.8 mill continuing tax levy for current expenses of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District.

According to the district’s most recent five-year forecast, the district is in financial crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has generated significant and unexpected reductions in state funding, along with newly projected reductions in district property tax collections and interest income. In addition, the district is severely impacted by the state’s EdChoice voucher program, which increased deductions from the district’s state funding despite no decrease in district enrollment.

In the 2020 primary election, voters narrowly defeated a 7.9 mill levy.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 5:46 PM, 10.05.2020

Cleveland Heights launches 'All Are Welcome'

In September, Cleveland Heights launched “All Are Welcome.” Not a slogan or a campaign, the initiative includes physical reminders placed throughout the community, in the form of “All Are Welcome” window displays, bus wraps and videos, as well as discussions on social media on the theme.  

It is intended to be a celebration of the city’s diversity and a display of how much residents value its strong sense of community.

“The city of Cleveland Heights has always been a place that strives to be a city where diversity is valued, and openness, inclusivity and respect are cherished traits,” said Mayor Jason Stein.

“The ‘All Are Welcome’ initiative recommits to the ongoing tradition of our community, that we believe in the value and the importance of diversity in our neighborhoods and in our commercial areas,” said Acting City Manager Susanna Niermann O’Neill.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 5:45 PM, 10.05.2020

Cleveland Heights – University Heights Public Library Board of Trustees meeting highlights 9-20-20

SEPTEMBER 20, 2020

  • Public comments
  • Financial report
  • Change in public service hours November 3
  • 2020 payroll
  • CARES act
  • Lee Road carpet
  • Washington Blvd. appropriations
  • Service & administration policy
  • Restoration of staff pay and hours
  • COVID-19 code of conduct

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

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 12:43 PM, 10.13.2020

CH ballot Issue 6 is one step in transition

Cleveland Heights City Hall. Photo by Deanna Bremer Fisher.

On the Nov. 3 election ballot, Cleveland Heights voters are being asked to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on Issue 6—a proposed city charter amendment that reads as follows:

“Shall Article VII, Sections 3, 4, and 5 of the Charter of the City of Cleveland Heights be amended to provide that candidates for all elected offices shall file petitions with the election authorities not later than 4:00 p.m. on the ninetieth (90th) day prior to the date set for the primary election?”

Ballot Issue 6 pertains to the city’s mayoral elections—the first of which will take place in fall 2021. In November 2019, CH voters approved ballot Issue 26, a charter amendment to change the city’s government from the current council-manager form to a mayor-council form, in which residents directly elect the city’s mayor. The winning candidate in November 2021 will take office on Jan. 1, 2022.

This year’s ballot issue is intended to clarify ambiguity in the city’s charter.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 11:04 AM, 10.01.2020

Thank you, from the bottom of Tommy's heart

Tommy's has been offering in-person dining on the patio at the now-closed Panini's.

This has taken longer to write than I intended, mostly because it is hard to put into words the feelings of gratitude I have experienced over the last several months.

Beginning on March 16, and through May 3, Tommy's shut its doors for the longest period ever since our 1972 opening. While we were closed, loyal customers purchased huge amounts of gift cards, without knowing when we would re-open and they could redeem them. This gesture was the first of countless, incredible displays of love and kindness. You showed up to support us when there were so many unknowns. This gesture was such a light in a really dark and scary time.

On May 4 we opened for curbside service only. We had limited staff because many were understandably concerned about returning to work during a global pandemic. Staff that did come back worked in areas with which they were unfamiliar, but they adapted and learned without hesitation. Some of them have been working with me for over 20 years, doing the same jobs, and had to learn new positions. They did this with so much eagerness and patience.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:42 AM, 10.01.2020

Heights businesses invited to submit holiday gift ideas

This year more than ever, shopping here in the Heights has the capacity to help our local business districts.

The COVID-19 crisis has forced many beloved Heights merchants to close shop or pare back on their hours and services. As the holiday season approaches, the Heights Observer continues its efforts to encourage local shopping with its annual Holiday Gift Guide, to be published in November.

Cleveland Heights and University Heights retail businesses are invited and encouraged to e-mail photos and descriptions of items they would like to be considered for publication in the 2020 Heights Observer Holiday Gift Guide to Jessica Schantz (jschantz@futureheights.org) no later than Oct. 16. Put “Holiday Gift Guide” in the subject line.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:34 AM, 09.22.2020

Taylor neighbors ask city to take action in response to recent shootings

This was read to Cleveland Heights City Council at its Sept. 21 meeting. It was written in response to the shooting that occured on Sept. 20 on South Taylor Road at Blanche Avenue, near Hebrew Academy of Cleveland, and other recent shootings in the city.

Dear Cleveland Heights City Council,

We do not have the answers. 

We just know something must be done.

We just know that this assault on our neighborhood cannot go unanswered. 

We know murder and violence are unacceptable.

We are grief-stricken and in shock.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:59 AM, 10.01.2020

Trick-or-treating in UH is on, for now

Whether you dress like Cooper Chicken, or choose another costume, University Heights urges everyone to celebrate Halloween safely.

On Sept. 18, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) made recommendations on how Ohioans can participate in trick-or-treating as safely as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. The city of University Heights urges residents who choose to participate this year to follow ODH recommendations.

Pending any new orders from the state or county boards of health, Trick-or-Treat night in University Heights will take place on Halloween, Oct. 31, 6–8 p.m.

If COVID-19 conditions worsen in Cuyahoga County before Halloween, plans and guidelines may change. Updates will be posted on the city’s website, www.universityheights.com.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:25 AM, 10.01.2020

Crowe named head of Peacemakers Alliance

Myesha Crowe

Myesha Crowe, an experienced youth-development professional, is the new executive director of Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance (CPA). A nonprofit violence-prevention organization, CPA conducts street outreach in the city’s higher-risk neighborhoods, provides violence interruption services at MetroHealth Medical Center and University Hospitals, and helps youths in the juvenile court system find positive paths.

Crowe lives in Cleveland Heights with her daughters Elle, 7, and Cori, 3.

She served as the group’s interim director, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from Cleveland State University.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:48 AM, 10.01.2020

UH rubbish pickup reservations are now online

University Heights residents now can order, and pay for, special trash pickups online, at www.universityheights.com/special-pickups. “Special pickups” are defined as large, bulky items that cannot be collected as part of regular trash pickup.

Previously, residents had to arrange for special pickups in person, at the city’s building department.

Special pickups are designed for the collection of bulk items that will not fit into the hopper of a rubbish scooter, and large quantities of items. There is a $10 fee for each special pick-up load (the pick-up truck is 0.75 tons or 5 feet by 8 feet), and a two-load maximum per each six-month period. Any rubbish cans left in a special pick-up load will be discarded, with no exceptions.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:22 AM, 10.01.2020

Fairmount School of Music becomes Musicologie

Kevin and Patricia Richards of Musicologie Cleveland Heights. (photo courtesy of Kevin Richards)

Folk musicians—like me and, for instance, fellow traditional- and roots-music artist Kevin Richards—are, by nature, somewhat more resistant to changing how we do things. That’s why we continue to play old music, rather than, say, electro-punk or funktronicanica.

Richards has been running the Fairmount School of Music, with his wife, Patricia, for 32 years—in the same location (3473 Fairmount Blvd.) and in the same way. But the COVID-19 pandemic has forced them—like almost everyone else—to significantly alter the way they give lessons; now they mostly conduct them online. 

And that’s not all. They have recently changed the way they run the business side, too. In September, they entered into a partnership with another small company that handles much of their business. That company, Musicologie, is run by a couple, Joe and Kay Barker, in a Columbus suburb.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:57 AM, 10.01.2020

District prioritizes athletics over other programs

The school district is prioritizing student athletics over other, safer extracurriculars and, more importantly, over providing special-education services to students with disabilities. This isn’t about being anti-athletics, I am not; they serve an important role in the development and mental health of children, but they have their proper place, which is not at the front of the reopening line. 

When asked about this, Superintendent Kirby and the school board members have expressed they are following the guidelines, which is false. The CDC guidelines published in May indicate that playing sports against other local teams is a level 4 risk (5 being the highest). The Cuyahoga County Board of Health is recommending discontinuing athletics during virtual learning. Adding spectators, even just families, increases that unnecessary risk of furthering community spread.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:14 AM, 10.01.2020

'Heights Conversations' continue virtually

In spring 2020, a group of nonprofit and public-facing organizations, led by Heights Community Congress (HCC), planned to host conversations in which diverse groups of Heights residents would come together around a shared meal to have conversations centered around race to raise awareness and build community. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, thwarted those plans.

As the year wore on, it became apparent to group leaders that discussions about race were more urgent and necessary than ever, and they sought a way to move forward, with participant safety as a top priority. At 3 p.m., on Sunday, Nov. 15, the group will host “Heights Conversations: Let’s Talk About Race,” virtually.

Organizers are seeking community members to participate as facilitators and participants.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:54 AM, 10.01.2020

Attack on teacher benefits neither fact-based nor fair

In a September Heights Observer opinion piece (“18 residents call on CH-UH school district to fix health care spending”) rife with inaccuracies, flawed reasoning and unfair assumptions, Tony Cuda and 17 co-signers urged the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union (CHTU) to agree to a cut in members’ health benefits, so that the CH-UH City School District can reduce its operating budget. While Cuda does not mention Issue 69 [the proposed school operating levy], he strongly implies that if greedy teachers and their families would sacrifice for the greater good, there would be no need for the 4.8 mill levy on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Cuda et al. believe that, because teachers in neighboring districts (specifically Shaker Heights and Beachwood) pay a larger percentage of their health insurance premiums, along with higher deductibles, it is “fiscally responsible” and “fair” to impose comparable costs on CH-UH teachers.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 5:48 PM, 09.30.2020

Levy opponents outline concerns in letter to BOE

On Sept. 2, a slightly longer version of the following letter was sent to the CH-UH Board of Education (BOE), Superintendent Kirby and Treasurer Gainer. As of Sept. 14, I had yet to get a single response. These “leaders” are ignoring their fiduciary responsibilities. We need to hold them accountable and demand more transparency. Vote “no” on Issue 69.

Dear School Board Members,

On July 28, TigerNation4LowerTaxes (TN4LT) reached out to let you know that a petition had been signed by over 800 residents asking you to request a performance audit by the state auditor as soon as possible and prior to voting to place a levy on the November 2020 ballot. Today, over 1,600 residents have signed the petition and joined the call for a performance audit.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:11 AM, 10.01.2020

It's time to move on Millikin

On Sept. 3, the CH-UH Board of Education (BOE) voted to reject further discussion of proposals [for Millikin], brought to them by unanimous vote of Cleveland Heights City Council, [that were] in response to years of citizens seeking progress at the Millikin site and the desire to increase [tax] revenue. [Many] residents are appalled. How is refusing to explore [new] revenue possibilities a good idea, while [the BOE has proposed] levying residents for more revenue? The audit the BOE refused to undertake might have shown great possibilities could come from developing the Millikin property. Council [members], like many districtwide, believe it holds much promise.

With a declining population, the district will need to close more buildings. Millikin should be a warning to every neighborhood in the district: Coming soon to your neighborhood!

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 5:52 PM, 09.30.2020

BOE can no longer abdicate responsibility for Millikin

In a single-family housing district, 11 acres sit almost abandoned. They’re home to a decaying building only used for storage, a historic stable now used for school district equipment, and some lovely, but uncared for, woodlands. This property is generating zero tax dollars for the school district or the city, and has been a community liability since 2006, when the CH-UH school district closed the Millikin school. An attempt to sell it for $650,000 collapsed when it was discovered that bringing the building up to code would entail millions of dollars in abatement. That revelation left the property essentially worthless, and the school board barely gave it another thought until this year, when the city of Cleveland Heights proposed a transfer of the property to the city, to entertain development proposals.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 5:53 PM, 09.30.2020

The common good is on the line

I was waiting for the light to change, and there in front of me was Cleveland Heights High School, the flagship of our public schools.

The school looked glorious in the late afternoon light—a grand building with history and a public purpose that is as substantial as its presence at Cedar and Lee roads. It is a concrete expression of how our community united to invest in the well-being of our young people, and yet, here we are in a tragic moment, shut out of our public space, isolated and unable to partake in the full power of education.

Public school kids are being home schooled with the aid of a computer screen and hardworking teachers who are trying to nurture and inspire from afar. It is foreign territory for everyone. I can’t get my head around how it works.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 5:42 PM, 09.30.2020

Virtual thoughts

A few weeks ago, teachers didn’t know what it would be like to teach exclusively online. There were so many questions: What if the students can’t connect? How will I know if the students are engaged? How will I know if they are learning? Although we now have a few days under our belt, these questions still remain.  

Teachers always want what’s best for their students. They want them to learn regardless of the situation.  Although we don’t have all the answers, I know that our teachers are working above and beyond expectations, to make this experience as positive as possible for their students.

The first-day jitters were different this year. Instead of trying to get my supplies and my classroom ready, I was busy setting up Google Meets, Google Classrooms, and becoming familiar with lots of new online material to use with my students.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 5:39 PM, 09.30.2020

Gratitude

Though we often point out, in a spirit of constructive criticism, how local government and institutions fall short of democratic ideals, we deeply love our city. Long, solitary walks during the pandemic have led us to reflect on many of the wonderful aspects of life here. Below are just a few of the reasons we are grateful to be living in Cleveland Heights.

Our neighbors

  • Creative, friendly, interesting, kind, generous, quirky, accomplished, thoughtful, engaged, active.
  • Diverse in household income, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and political opinion to an extent that is rare in the region, the state, and the nation.
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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 5:36 PM, 09.30.2020

Ron Register Scholarship recipients announced

Alaysia Brooks

The Ron Register Scholarship Committee has announced that Damari Loretz and Alaysia Brooks are the recipients of its awards for the 2020–21 academic year.

Both are graduates of Cleveland Heights High School and members of the National Honor Society.

The scholarship is named in honor of Ron Register, who served on the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education for 16 years. 

Damari Loretz excelled in Honors, Advanced Placement, and College Credit Plus courses, including physics. She made the Honor Roll every semester, and her class rank was 27 out of 409. She participated in numerous extracurricular activities.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 5:32 PM, 09.30.2020

BOE's benefit spending should be in-line with other districts

CH-UH BOE savings forecast, by James Hurley.

The CH-UH Board of Education (BOE) could save $10.4 million by 2025 and upwards of $17.8 million by 2030. The savings would come from simply realigning the district’s spending on employee benefits to be in-line with other local school districts.

While CH-UH currently spends 47.7 percent of salaries and wages on employee benefits, the average spent on employee benefits in other local districts is about 40 percent: Shaker spends 40 percent, South Euclid-Lyndhurst spends 40 percent, Euclid spends 40 percent, Beachwood spends 33.4 percent and Mayfield spends 40.5 percent.

Indications are the CH-UH BOE plans to increase spending on employee benefits to 51 percent over the coming years. Instead of bringing spending on benefits in-line with other districts, the BOE appears to be heading in the other direction with plans to spend more on employee benefits.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 5:45 PM, 09.30.2020

School levy defeat would defund our schools

To the Editor:

For those trying to cut through all the nonsense and figure out whether to vote for the school levy this fall, here’s a simple check to see if the levy request is reasonable:

  • In Ohio, the dollar amount raised from levies is fixed, so as prices (and hopefully home values) rise with inflation, the amount raised to fund the schools does not rise. That means if we don’t pass a levy every few years, we are effectively defunding public schools. 
  • With inflation hovering around 2 percent per year, prices rise about 8 percent every four years. 
  • The CH-UH district receives about $72 million per year in local property taxes; 8 percent of $72 million is about $6 million.
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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:17 AM, 10.01.2020

Vote 'no' on Issue 69

As longtime Catholic residents, our family has supported multiple school levies over the years, while choosing St. Ann's and Benedictine for our three sons. The CH-UH school board has a fiduciary responsibility to consider the interests of all Cleveland Heights and University Heights citizens. However, it has refused to allow an objective look at the operations of the CH-UH school district through an outside performance audit. This audit would investigate every possible way to uncover savings as well as offer suggestions for future spending made in the best interest of the students.

This audit request is not new. I ask, Why is the CH-UH administration afraid to do what residents are requesting? The petition to request a performance audit has been ignored.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 5:29 PM, 09.30.2020

Why my family supports Issue 69

To the Editor:

My family and I have lived in Cleveland Heights since 2001. After beginning their education with wonderful years at Canterbury Elementary School, our daughters (now 20 and 17) switched to the private school where my husband worked. We continued to support every CH-UH levy during this time because we understand the value of strong public schools to the entire community.    

In 2018 our younger daughter, Lily, asked to tour Heights High. Coming from a small, high-touch private-school experience, I suspected we [might] receive an impersonal introduction. How wrong I was. Joy Henderson provided thoughtful, individualized support and guidance as Lily learned about Heights and considered making the change. Lily started Heights as a ninth-grader and has loved it from day one.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:19 AM, 10.01.2020

I'm voting 'no' again

Why is there another school tax levy on the November ballot? Didn’t we just go through this a few months ago?  As I write this, it is raining outside and my 100-year-old house with the leaky basement is letting water in.

I don’t have money for foundation repairs. I’m worried about COVID-19, as my son has returned home from college, quarantining for 14 days. I’m wondering if my job will sustain itself through this pandemic. Cleveland Heights' water and sewer bills are endless; there’s talk of our city tax being increased. Right now I need money for so many emergencies that it is depressing to think of another property tax increase. My property tax is so high already it’s like a separate mortgage payment.

A public school is a benefit to the community when it is affordable for residents to maintain.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 5:27 PM, 09.30.2020

Library offers at-home Internet access and online tutoring

Additional borrowable hotspots are among Heights Libraries expanding offering of home learning tools.

In an effort to support Heights families whose children are learning remotely, Heights Libraries is offering tools to make online learning easier: the online tutoring service Tutor.com, and additional WiFi hotspots to help families who don’t have home Internet service.

Tutor.com is available for free through the library’s website, www.heightslibrary.org, and offers both one-on-one virtual tutoring services and independent, self-directed learning tools, such as webinars, study guides, essay feedback and practice quizzes.

“Since the pandemic has limited our ability to hold in-person programs, like our popular Homework Help series, we knew that we needed to find another way to help students, especially those who may be struggling with remote schooling,” said Interim Youth Services Manager Sarah Rosenberger. “Tutor.com gives kids access to live tutors in most school subject areas, as well as writing help and webinars on all kinds of topics.”

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 11:17 AM, 09.29.2020

Oct. 8 forum will address elected-mayor transition

On Oct. 8, Cleveland Heights Council Member Melody Joy Hart and a committee of concerned citizens will host an online forum to inform the public about the city’s transition to an elected-mayor form of government.

The forum will explain the transition, discuss the skills and traits that are desirable for an elected mayor, and seek to determine citizens’ expectation for the new government.

“This will be an important change, electing our first mayor in 100 years,” said Hart. “We need to do all we can to get it right.”

The forum will take place via Zoom on Thursday, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m., and will feature a panel discussion with University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan, Maple Heights Mayor Annette Blackwell, and South Euclid Mayor Georgine Welo.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 11:08 AM, 09.29.2020

Cleveland Heights – University Heights Public Library Board of Trustees special meeting highlights [8-17-20]

AUGUST 17, 2020

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

Coventry PEACE Campus

Leases with the individual tenants of the Coventry PEACE Campus building expired as of June 30, 2020. Negotiations have been held this month between the library director and the tenants. The library director had hoped to ask the board to approve a letter of intent at this special meeting. However, the PEACE campus tenants and its board are not in agreement with the library. Areas of disagreement include the base rent and tenant responsibility for utilities, operational expenses, and maintenance.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:45 AM, 10.01.2020

Cleveland Heights council member reflects on 2020

When I became a Cleveland Heights City Council member, I knew I would face challenges. The city had just decided to change to a elected-mayor form of government. Top of the Hill’s (TOH) financing was before council. Legislation was needed to improve the foreclosure bond. The Waste Management Task Force report would need action. From walking Noble, I have been concerned about housing stock, so I led a team drafting legislation to amend the foreclosure bond.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:53 AM, 09.30.2020

AP scores at Heights are on the rise

The CH-UH City School District is addressing long-standing issues of academic disparities head on. 

In 2015, Heights High took a hard look at its 21 Advanced Placement (AP) courses and discovered that, in a building where the vast majority of students are Black, the most rigorous classes were almost entirely white.

“We need high expectations for all our students,” said Alisa McKinnie, an assistant principal, “regardless of their background.”

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:57 AM, 09.30.2020

HRRC adapts to help homeowners during pandemic

With the pandemic ongoing, the Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) has altered its programming accordingly, but its commitment to Cleveland Heights homeowners is unchanged. From moving its repair-education and homebuying classes to a virtual model, requiring appointments for those entering the building, including for its tool library, and following all health and social-distancing protocols, HRRC has adapted its services and continues to assist the community.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 11:16 AM, 09.29.2020

Forest Hill Home Owners celebrates 70 years

The cottage, built in 1930 and situated at the corner of Monticello and Lee boulevards, acts as the gateway to the Forest Hill neighborhood.

Forest Hill Home Owners Inc. (FHHO) is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. Established on June 13, 1950, the association was created to "promote, safeguard, and improve the property value and general welfare of the community."

Celebrating in this pandemic year has required a different approach and has included Sunday strolls, T-shirts, area clean-ups, and new street signs featuring the signature cast-iron dove—an original symbol of the development. New signage is being planned, and an effort to repair and save the historic blue cottage at the corner of Lee and Monticello boulevards is underway.

Forest Hill is home to 930 residences spanning Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland. Originally the 600-acre country estate of John D. Rockefeller Sr., the land was purchased in 1923 by his son, also named John D., who, with New York architect Andrew J. Thomas, planned an upscale residential and commercial development "that would stand as the finest example of community planning in America."

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:52 AM, 09.30.2020

Heights High junior is newest Heights Arts intern

Heights High junior Eryn Lawson (l), and Heights High senior Zelda Thayer-Hansen.

Each year, Heights Arts selects one Cleveland Heights High School junior intern, to join a returning senior intern, to work with its volunteer Exhibition Community Team (ECT). The team comprises community members with expertise in the visual arts. They are charged with reviewing artist submissions, connecting Heights Arts with new artists, providing assistance to hang shows, and setting up the annual Heights Arts Holiday Store in November and December.

Heights High art teachers are instrumental in identifying internship candidates. After she applied and interviewed with ECT members, Eryn Lawson was chosen from several candidates to be the 2020–22 intern.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:46 AM, 09.29.2020

CH nurse receives 'Helping Hann' free furnance

Chris Hann with Evette and Sommer Saddler at their Cleveland Heights home.

For a fourth consecutive year, Verne & Ellsworth Hann Inc. has chosen a winner for its “Helping Hann” free furnace giveaway. The company created the program to help a deserving member of the community who needs a new furnace.

Cleveland Heights resident Sommer Saddler is the recipient of the company’s 2020 free furnace installation, which includes all materials and labor.

A registered nurse, Saddler has worked for the Cleveland Clinic for the past 16 years. Her passion is to care for others, despite her own health issues. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2017, Saddler said, “Every day is a struggle, but I have to get myself together to care for my patients. For a long time, I hid my MS so people wouldn’t feel sorry for me. I have learned to accept my diagnosis even though it has changed my lifestyle and financial situation.”

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:40 AM, 09.22.2020

Libraries re-open for browsing and computer use

Youth Services Associates Shamekia Chandler (left) and Kareemah Hairston (right) are ready to help young customers in the Lee Road branch children's room.

Heights Libraries has re-opened its buildings for computer use and browsing. Due to COVID-19, these services look different, and follow new safeguards to keep customers and staff as safe as possible.

Computer use now requires a reservation, and reservations may be made by phone only—walk-ups and online reservations are not available at this time. Computer use will also now require a library card—guest passes will not be available. Customers can make a reservation by calling 216-932-3600, ext. 1221. Use is limited to one computer session per day, and each session lasts for 45 minutes.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 11:01 AM, 09.30.2020