UH Civic Awards honor 'good neighbors'
After a decade-long absence, the University Heights Civic Awards returned on Nov. 14. An overflow crowd packed the Jardine Room at John Carroll University (JCU) for an evening of awards, live jazz, dinner and a comedic performance from local teacher and emcee Maggie McPhee.
The event was more than just a great party, said University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan.
“The Civic Awards did a lot to bring the community together,” Brennan said. “It was a celebration of great people who work hard to make University Heights a great place to live, work and raise a family.”
Brennan said it was important to him to shine a spotlight on the “good neighbors” in University Heights, including people who are well known as well as those who may not have received as much attention.
Receiving Good Neighbor awards were Jim Lentine of A Cut Above, crossing guard Albert Rawlinson, Chris Wenzler from the JCU athletic department, and Alvie Markowitz and Gary Lebowitz from Jack’s Deli & Restaurant.
Marie Hood was recognized for her relentless efforts to get her street repaired, while cancer survivor Anita Bartel was honored for being an inspiration to so many.
The University Heights Police Auxiliary received an award from Lt. Dale Orians, in honor of its 50th anniversary.
The University Heights Library was honored for its services to the community and its recent renovation.
Barbara and Harvey Blankfeld, who volunteer with many Northeast Ohio organizations, were recognized as Volunteers of the Year. They are perhaps best known for their efforts on the University Heights Memorial Day Parade.
Mark Selent was named University Heights’ Citizen of the Year, in recognition of his work in creating the Facebook page “University Heights Ohio Discussion.” This online forum has enabled University Heights residents to better communicate with one another, and Selent’s page gives a voice to residents who are unable to attend city council meetings.
Retiring Fire Lt. Keith Kanner was honored as Co-Worker of the Year.
Outgoing Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District Superintendent Talisa Dixon was honored as Educator of the Year.
Councilwoman Michele Weiss was presented with the Elected Official of the Year award, while Community Development Coordinator Patrick Grogan-Myers took home the Employee of the Year award. Weiss and Grogan-Myers were praised for their work to get University Heights designated a Community Reinvestment Area. Their efforts will enable residents and business owners to receive tax abatement for making improvements to their properties.
The Mal Barron Quartet, which entertained attendees during dinner, became a quintet when Mayor Brennan sat in with his alto saxophone for a rendition of Ella Fitzgerald’s “Blue Skies.”
Emcee Maggie McPhee made the ceremony entertaining, from her opening monologue to her closing ukulele performance—an ode to the new University Heights logo and motto.
All attendees left with a gift bag filled with items featuring the city’s new logo, including a coffee mug, winter cap, pen, water bottle and chip clip. In addition, to celebrate chicken-keeping legislation passed earlier this year, each attendee also received a stuffed toy chicken wearing a University Heights shirt.
Mike Cook is the communications and civic engagement coordinator for University Heights.