Opinion

Hometown hate syndrome

When one has lived in a city for too long, it has been my experience that distaste for the place can develop. Growing up in Cleveland, I often heard phrases along the lines of "Cleveland sucks" or "Cleveland is boring," or other negative sentiments. I was no exception.

When vacationing in Seattle or New York City, I enviously eyed their populated downtown areas, energetic vibe, and other attributes I thought of as "cool."

"Why can’t Cleveland be like that?" was a common, though unexpressed, question in my mind.

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Volume 3, Issue 7, Posted 11:56 PM, 06.22.2010

How to walk to school

When my husband and I moved to Cleveland Heights from Chicago nearly six years ago, we assumed we would send our son to the local public school. We wavered after hearing mixed messages about the schools. We agonized over the question: Should we send our son to private school? After three years of back and forth, I still wanted to send my son to the public school. My son could make friends in the neighborhood. He could walk to school. I wanted to invest my energy in the community and its schools.

Now the decision is made; my son will go to Fairfax Elementary in the fall.
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Volume 3, Issue 6, Posted 12:25 PM, 05.18.2010

McDonalds in University Heights

I can't wait for the new McDonalds to be built where the Waterway carwash wasn't.

Why just last Saturday I took myself into a golden arches for a cup of coffee. It was so entertaining counting the cars that lined up from the drive through window out into the street for several blocks.

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Volume 3, Issue 6, Posted 5:03 PM, 05.12.2010

Reviving Millikin as a community asset should be a CH-UH district priority

At its Jan. 5 meeting, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education voted 3-2 against selling the Millikin Elementary School property at public auction. The question is, why?

In March 2007, the school board placed the Millikin property up for public auction. It received proposals from four parties. The highest cash offer was Mosdos Ohr Hatorah, a Jewish school. Mosdos planned on relocating from its current building on Warrensville Center Road. However, the board rejected all bids because its members felt they could receive “fair market value” by postponing the sale.

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Volume 3, Issue 5, Posted 9:47 PM, 04.19.2010

It's a movie lover's paradise

What’s so great about Cleveland? The Cleveland International Film Festival, that’s what! It’s a movie buff’s "pig heaven." This annual event presents more than 300 films from about 80 countries -- feature films, documentaries, short subjects, and more -- during its 10-day run.

From the festival’s early days, 34 years ago at our own neighborhood Cedar Lee Theatre, the event has grown to more than 71,000 passionate attendees this year, breaking all previous records.

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Volume 3, Issue 5, Posted 9:29 AM, 04.14.2010

Coventry P.E.A.C.E Park: Don’t take this community asset for granted

Coventry P.E.A.C.E Park was voted the best place to take your kid in both 2008 and 2009. But, with the Coventry Elementary School building now vacant, we shouldn’t assume that the park will always be there. And we should remember that the park was built by the community for the community.
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Volume 3, Issue 4, Posted 2:53 PM, 04.07.2010

Make winter walking in the Heights easier

As spring breaks, our town seems a friendlier place. Without any special planning, we find ourselves running into neighbors who hadn’t been more than a distant glimpse for the past three or more months.

It’s worth a thought why this comes about year after year. One factor is that the sidewalks on many streets are often virtually impassable in the snow months. The chances for casual social interactions drop precipitously.

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Volume 3, Issue 4, Posted 9:54 PM, 03.23.2010

Roxboro team wins trip to state Science Olympiad

On March 6, at the University of Akron, 15 students from Roxboro Middle School demonstrated that, when it comes to science education, the CH-UH City School District really rocks!

It was Roxboro’s second appearance in the regional Science Olympiad, and the school’s teams earned a fifth place finish out of 25 schools, and a trip to the statewide competition on April 17 at Ohio State University.

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Volume 3, Issue 4, Posted 5:43 PM, 03.13.2010

Community banks and credit unions are best for local businesses

The Heights is Greater Cleveland’s best asset—next to the lake, of course. The Heights has fantastic restaurants and it’s just up the hill from nationally recognized health care facilities. It has viable local merchant districts, neighborhoods with fine homes, is adjacent to the cultural icons of University Circle, and it’s inhabited by the most diverse demographic of Northeast Ohio. We should do more than celebrate this community; we should fiercely protect and grow the Heights as innovatively, efficiently and aggressively as possible.
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Volume 3, Issue 3, Posted 12:22 PM, 02.18.2010

What's in your wallet?

Artist and writer Ralph Solonitz was born in 1947 in Munich, Germany, the son of Holocaust survivors. He now makes his home in Cleveland Heights.
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Volume 3, Issue 3, Posted 12:53 PM, 02.23.2010

Forest Hill Park needs our help

Calling all friends of Forest Hill Park: your favorite place to (check one) walk, run or hang out with (check one) your boyfriend, girlfriend, children or dog, needs your help. 

Forest Hill Park means much to many people. With its huge old-growth oaks, large open meadows, and steep wooded ravines, it is a natural treasure—an old-world deer park transplanted into the middle of an American city.

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Volume 3, Issue 3, Posted 12:09 PM, 02.18.2010

Environmental change starts at the curb

Tuesday is my least favorite day in Cleveland Heights because it is trash day. I’m not opposed to trash, but I detest the remnants left over each week from our failed waste and recycling programs.

I walk my dog several times a week, and Tuesdays are frustrating. Instead of enjoying the walk through my beautiful neighborhood, I maneuver a gauntlet of chicken bones, pizza boxes, candy wrappers and unknown, unrecognizable food remnants, hoping my dog does not digest any of this dangerous smorgasbord. 

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Volume 3, Issue 3, Posted 1:37 PM, 01.26.2010

FutureHeights has made a difference in 10 short years

I cannot let January 2010 pass without acknowledging the 10th birthday of the organization that led to not only the Heights Observer, but has given the residents of Cleveland Heights, and now also University Heights, many opportunities to be active citizens and make a true difference in their communities. 

In January 2000, in response to Giant Eagle's plans to build a 50,000 square foot store on Cedar Hill, more than 350 people from the neighborhood came together at a town meeting to voice their concern that drastically changing the historic physical fabric of the area would not be in the long-term best interest of the community.

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Volume 3, Issue 2, Posted 8:47 AM, 01.21.2010

Oakwood Golf Course offers opportunity for a new community asset in the Heights

The buzz around town and in the Heights Observatory Forum (www.heightsobserver.org/deck/) is that the Oakwood Golf Course may be for sale. 

This is an opportunity to add a valuable amenity to our area: a passive park. Urban land use rotates; maybe, at some point, the best use of this land will be housing. But that is not its best use now.  

When I did an Internet search for homes in Cleveland Heights that are for sale for over $300,000, I found 54 properties, including two on Oakwood Drive, located on the golf course. Many of these properties include a 10-year tax abatement.

Cleveland Heights has plenty of empty or low-quality commercial space that can be demolished or reconfigured if demand for commercial property increases. Remember the empty school properties when you are looking for large tracts of land to put to new uses.

It’s time to think big. What if the founders of Cain Park in the 1930s had failed to act on the opportunity to create something long-lasting and meaningful for the community?

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Volume 3, Issue 1, Posted 7:59 AM, 12.21.2009

Let the UH city administrator R.I.P.

Why is it that politicians just cannot deal with rejection of their agenda? On Nov. 3, residents of University Heights rejected a city administrator. The vote was not even close on that issue, yet an article reported last week that Councilman Bullock feels that residents were not educated enough to understand, and Councilman Murphy questioned whether residents still want an administrator just not through a charter amendment.
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Volume 2, Issue 12, Posted 7:30 PM, 11.17.2009

Innovators for sustainability

I was privileged to be part of the Cleveland Sustainability 2009 gathering this past August. Our goal was no less than to celebrate Cleveland becoming a “green city on a blue lake.”

The way towards that goal is to leverage the abundance of assets of our region towards practical and measurable outcomes. The future calls us to re-tool our economic engine towards a green economy. This new economic engine would bring jobs to the inner city, strengthen our suburbs and stimulate prosperity in Northeast Ohio.

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Volume 2, Issue 12, Posted 10:52 AM, 11.18.2009

Taking charge of our community with local currency

“Money is like an iron ring we've put through our noses. We've forgotten that we designed it, and it's now leading us around. I think it's time to figure out where we want to go -- in my opinion toward sustainability and community -- and then design a money system that gets us there.” --Bernard Lietaer in Beyond Greed and Scarcity

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Volume 2, Issue 11, Posted 1:25 PM, 11.03.2009

Heights Arts stitches the community together

What is it for, anyway? As artist Carol Hummel and her small army of volunteers were on Lee Road and Larchmere Boulevard this past August covering parking meters and tree trunks with colorful crocheted cord, a common assumption was that Heights Arts was raising money for a cause through art. 
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Volume 2, Issue 10, Posted 1:15 PM, 09.21.2009

Solving the vacant store situation

Cleveland Heights resident Ralph Solonitz (artist/writer) was born in 1947 in Munich, Germany, the son of Holocaust survivors. He began doodling very early on...first in German and a few years later in his new language English. His father gave him motivational advice..."stop your doodling, you are vasting time and vill amount to nutting". Fast forward 55 years, thousands of dollars in therapy and he still can't stop doodling.
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Volume 2, Issue 9, Posted 4:35 PM, 08.25.2009

Saving Ohio's economy

No matter how hard we try to re-invent ourselves, right now the Heights' economic health is still tied to the automobile industry. Like dominoes falling,with each passing week our economic downturn continues to affect our local businesses. Familiar greater-Cleveland family names such as Spitzer, Ganley, Axelrod, Serpentini, and others are struggling to make ends meet.

Stimulus dollars, the failure of many banking institutions (including our own National City Bank), the bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler and our federal government’s buy-in to the tune of trillions of dollars will lead to super inflation or hyperinflation.

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Volume 2, Issue 9, Posted 4:06 PM, 07.27.2009

Think regional: Why a resurgent University Circle is good for the heights

Cleveland Heights and University Circle have long had a mutually beneficial relationship. University Circle's cultural, academic and healthcare institutions employ many Cleveland Heights residents, and proximity to the Circle’s world-class attractions and facilities is seen as a benefit of living here.

Now University Circle Inc. (UCI) is in the midst of a five-year plan to create “the premier urban district.” The plan builds on the Circle’s anchor institutions to make it “the fastest-growing area in the region,” with new housing, shopping, and other improved and new amenities.
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Volume 2, Issue 7, Posted 9:20 PM, 06.23.2009

Civility is important to our quality of life

It may not always seem to be in fashion, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about civility. In fact, it’s perhaps more important than ever to our quality of life as a community.

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Volume 2, Issue 7, Posted 9:15 AM, 08.13.2009

Time for a new master plan and strategy for Cleveland Heights

The recent budget tightening in local government has rekindled a critical issue in Cleveland Heights: the need for a comprehensive master plan and economic strategy for our community.

Nearly 10 years ago, residents created a vision report that described what Cleveland Heights aspired to be. It was a valiant effort, but it omitted one important element—a road map for how Cleveland Heights hopes to achieve these goals. There was nothing about implementation strategy, no specifics about resource allocation, no strategic development focus and no project prioritization. Nor did it provide development plans for the major commercial thoroughfares of Mayfield, Cedar, Taylor, and Coventry roads.

The city has a zoning ordinance that designates approved land uses. But a zoning ordinance is not a master plan and does not provide direction in crafting the future of land development and economic growth in the community.

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Volume 2, Issue 6, Posted 3:21 PM, 05.11.2009

C HUH?

Cleveland Heights resident Ralph Solonitz (artist/writer) was born in 1947 in Munich, Germany, the son of Holocaust survivors.

He began doodling very early on...first in German and a few years later in his new language English. His father gave him motivational advice..."stop your doodling, you are vasting time and vill amount to nutting".

Fast forward 55 years, thousands of dollars in therapy and he still can't stop doodling.

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Volume 2, Issue 5, Posted 2:39 PM, 04.22.2009

A Dickensian take on a municipal merger

As Dickens said: It is “the worst of times.” We all know we are in an economic downturn the likes of which has not been seen since the Great Depression, and every community across Ohio is feeling the pain. As a city councilman in Cleveland Heights, my council colleagues and I have worked to stem the impact of falling income tax returns so we can continue to provide the type of services and quality of life our residents expect and deserve.

In Cleveland Heights, over the past two years, we have cut our budget by over $2 million, and we will probably have to cut more as income tax receipts continue to fall. Like cities all around, we have frozen wages, cut services and programming, increased fees and laid off employees. More cuts will further reduce our ability to serve our citizens.
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Volume 2, Issue 5, Posted 2:50 PM, 04.22.2009

Imagining the future

It seems odd that I had to travel over 5,000 miles to get perspective on faith and politics in Northeast Ohio. But that is what happened. On a recent trip to the Middle East, I met with the Rev. Mitri Raheb, Pastor of the Christmas Church, an Evangelical Lutheran congregation in Bethlehem. Church members include teachers, doctors, lawyers, musicians, artists and business folk. There were many young families, children and teens -- just like our congregation. Certainly there are vast differences between Pastor Raheb’s context and mine. His is a world of security walls, occupation and minority status as a Palestinian Christian. My context is one of safety, majority identity and freedom. Yet what he said has application for our current reality in metro Cleveland. 
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Volume 2, Issue 5, Posted 3:31 PM, 04.21.2009

It takes a trained professional to run University Heights? Wrong

The Charter Review Commission has had several weeks to digest the questions presented to them, such as what they think are the specific issues the city faces, and how the charter would correct them. Still, the answers are elusive.

What I do hear from some members of the commission are responses that prey on a fear -- that we need to create a charter that provides flexibility to deal with changes in the many variables that affect our lives. Which is great if you accept  vague and unspecific answers. However what’s to say the current form of government doesn’t have that capacity? 

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Volume 2, Issue 5, Posted 3:12 PM, 05.26.2009

Clustered parishes are a new way for church

With the recent announcement of Catholic church closures and mergers splashed across the pages of local newspapers, we are all being forced to look forward to a new reality in our community. As members of the team of parishioners from Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland that submitted the recommendation to the Bishop, we have been in dialogue about these realities for more than a year and a half. These realties led us to recommend the creation of a single parish serving the area with two worship sites, one at Saint Ann in Cleveland Heights, and one at St. Philomena in East Cleveland.
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Volume 2, Issue 4, Posted 2:45 PM, 03.27.2009

Why can’t University Heights residents have an open forum?

Since September residents have been asking the University Heights City Council, the Mayor and the appointed Charter Review Commission to schedule an open forum to seek resident input prior to revising the City Charter and changing the form of government. Regretfully, the many requests have been ignored. Why must UH residents wait so long to express their views?

Concerned Citizens for University Heights, a group formed in October, recommended that council delay the CRC’s organizational meeting for six months to provide ample time for open forums. No response was received.

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Volume 2, Issue 4, Posted 11:36 AM, 04.03.2009

Heights Community Congress still fighting: Recent study highlights the extent of housing discrimination

Heights Community Congress was founded more than 35 years ago to fight discrimination in the housing and real estate market of Cleveland Heights. And today, thanks to a recent report highlighting how severe the problem still is, the organization's mission is more important than ever.
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Volume 2, Issue 3, Posted 4:12 PM, 02.18.2009

Obama inauguration shows how far America has come

Shortly before Barack Obama's inauguration, I was asked, "What does this inauguration mean to you?" The inauguration means so much to so many - but to me, it proves not only that anything is possible, but that no matter how bleak things look, things can get better. As a high school senior, I recognized the need for change and devoted my spare time to volunteering for the Obama campaign this summer and fall. Obama was someone who hsd done things I could admire. He is an inspiration and role model for me and all other Americans.
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Volume 2, Issue 3, Posted 10:49 AM, 01.28.2009

The University Square garage is nearing repair completion - will you feel safe?

The site has been reviewed by the University Heights City Engineer Joseph Ciuni,

And his project manager, Edward Franks. They report a Dec. 18, visit with engineering consultants, Raths, Raths & Johnson for the owner of the property, Inland Management Company of Chicago.

The review concluded that reinforcement, supplemental steel supports, painting, waterproofing the top deck and on and on … all will result in a safely restored structure. 

Knowing that I’m safe is different than feeling safe in a specific space.

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Volume 2, Issue 3, Posted 1:20 PM, 02.17.2009

Ten things Cleveland Heights can do to be a greener suburb on the blue lake

My day job has me reporting on the many innovative ideas that are finally coalescing into a Cleveland sustainability agenda. It leaves me with little time to write about what’s happening in my own backyard. Cleveland Heights has plenty of good people working on these issues. They need support and active engagement from you and me to make us a truly green suburb. Here’s my wish list for a Cleveland Heights green agenda:
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Volume 2, Issue 1, Posted 3:32 PM, 12.12.2008

People are thinking twice about where they shop this season

It's the Sunday before Christmas and all through the streets, not a creature was stirring, not even a customer.  This is not poetry or haiku; it's reality. 

At Big Fun, we've had some decent "rushes," but not the crowds that we are used to at this time of year.  Friends in other cities have shared the same stories.  There is still hope.  People are starting to think twice about where they shop and who they want to support.  Please continue to spread the word and we all will be better for it.
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Volume 1, Issue 9, Posted 11:14 AM, 12.23.2008

Heights High production of "West Side Story" showcases top-notch talent of area youth

I had the honor of attending the Height’s High production of Leonard Bernstein’s "West Side Story" on November 7 and 9. I came to the show to support my son in his first performance. My son attends Oxford Elementary School and was a member of the choir. The choir provided vocals for “America” and “One Hand, One Heart.” I came expecting to see the typical high school play, what I saw was a Broadway quality production.
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Volume 1, Issue 9, Posted 9:13 AM, 11.10.2008

Dominion East Ohio: an unwitting accomplice?

Dominion East Ohio Gas is a trustworthy company. Do not be so sure when buying their water heater repair and replacement plan for $4.95 a month. You may end up spending more than if you hired a private plumber.
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Volume 1, Issue 9, Posted 3:24 PM, 10.31.2008

It's the instructional core

Remember when Bill Clinton tacked up the Post-it® note that reminded him, “it’s the economy, stupid?” This clear focus helped him win the presidency.

For the Heights schools the focus is “the instructional core.” And the goal is a high level of student achievement across the board.

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 12:33 PM, 10.22.2008

Joe the Plum'r

Cleveland Heights resident Ralph Solonitz (artist/writer) was born in 1947 in Munich, Germany, the son of Holocaust survivors. He began doodling very early on...first in German and a few years later in his new language English. His father gave him motivational advice..."stop your doodling, you are vasting time and vill amount to nutting". Fast forward 55 years, thousands of dollars in therapy and he still can't stop doodling.
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Volume 1, Issue 7, Posted 10:41 AM, 10.16.2008

Vote

Cleveland Heights resident Ralph Solonitz (artist/writer) was born in 1947 in Munich, Germany, the son of Holocaust survivors. He began doodling very early on...first in German and a few years later in his new language English. His father gave him motivational advice..."stop your doodling, you are vasting time and vill amount to nutting". Fast forward 55 years, thousands of dollars in therapy and he still can't stop doodling.
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Volume 1, Issue 7, Posted 12:49 PM, 09.22.2008

Making a case for McCain

With the financial crisis and the decline of Cleveland’s economy, we need a president with a record of accomplishing real reform, who understands our problems and knows what needs to be reformed.  John McCain is that man.
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Volume 1, Issue 7, Posted 11:59 AM, 09.26.2008

In support of Senator Obama

Every presidential election seems “the most important ever.” This happens because the stakes keep getting higher. In this election, I support Senator Barack Obama because I believe he will lead our country toward sustainability in a world where everything is going wrong at the same time.
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Volume 1, Issue 7, Posted 7:27 PM, 09.27.2008

Proud to vote in my first presidential election

As a senior at Cleveland Heights High School, it is a very important year for me. Fall of senior year is the time when you begin applying for colleges and scholarships; taking the SATs and ACTs, and making sure your grades are up to par, not to mention involvement in school activities. This is the time when I begin making all of the important decisions that will affect my life. However, there is one more thing that will make my senior year all that more important: being able to vote for the first time in the 2008 Presidential Election.
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Volume 1, Issue 7, Posted 10:56 PM, 09.24.2008

The Cleveland Jewish Federation is moving to the suburbs...

The Cleveland Jewish Federation is moving to the suburbs...

out of the city they are part of. 

Cleveland Heights resident Ralph Solonitz (artist/writer) was born in 1947 in Munich, Germany, the son of Holocaust survivors. He began doodling very early on...first in German and a few years later in his new language English. His father gave him motivational advice..."stop your doodling, you are vasting time and vill amount to nutting". Fast forward 55 years, thousands of dollars in therapy and he still can't stop doodling.

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Volume 1, Issue 6, Posted 9:24 AM, 09.15.2008

Miles Coburn: A Man of the Heights

Saturday morning, August 16, was one of those clear and sunny Northeast Ohio mornings that makes you wonder why anyone would go anywhere else for a summer vacation. It seemed as if half the population of the Heights was out walking, jogging, gardening, or just taking in the day.

The conditions were especially good for a long bike ride, and many cyclists (myself included) spent a few hours on the road that morning. One of us didn't make it home. Miles Coburn was hit and fatally injured at the intersection of State Route 44 and Music Street in Newbury Township.

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Volume 1, Issue 6, Posted 2:32 PM, 08.26.2008

UH charter review commission -- why now?

I got concerned when I first heard about the charter review commission for University Heights.

I wanted to know where the idea came from. And more importantly, I wondered why now?

A partial answer comes from council members Steven Bullock, Frank Consolo and Kevin Murphy when they said in the Sun Press that they are interested in a city manager form of a government.  This would require changing the charter. The review commission is the first step.

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Volume 1, Issue 6, Posted 9:57 PM, 09.01.2008

School reform is alive and well

School reform isn't new to the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District. Over the last six years, district educators have been engaged in intensive reflection, research, planning and action guided by more than a dozen educational experts. The process has led to a powerful transformation in expectations and practices, right under our noses! As a result, the schools are on a course that is forward thinking, great for kids and empowering to educators.
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Volume 1, Issue 6, Posted 11:21 AM, 08.26.2008

Economic downturn? Try economic opportunity in the Heights

In the 1980s, homebuyers saw real estate as a precious commodity. Double-digit interest rates were the norm and the prospect of getting into a home was a lifelong proposition. Achieving the American dream was not easy.

Something changed in the mid-1990s: incomes spiked, interest rates tumbled, and the perception of real estate changed. By the early 2000s we had become a country of quick flippers. Loads of average people tried to win big by buying property at low prices, sinking small amounts of capital into improvements, and then reselling the house for a big gain. It was a win-win for everybody. Communities collected more property tax income while flippers modeled the American dream quickly by moving into bigger and better homes.

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Volume 1, Issue 6, Posted 3:44 PM, 08.22.2008

Local, independent merchants are an endangered species, even in the Heights

It’s getting harder and harder to think globally and shop locally. Armed with my laptop and debit card, I made a stop at my locally-owned and operated pharmacy this morning only to find that a CVS in a neighboring city had swallowed it up. I say “my” pharmacy because I always had a chat with whoever was working behind the counter, I never had to wait long for a prescription, and I usually ran into someone I knew. All that was no more.
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Volume 1, Issue 5, Posted 1:23 PM, 07.12.2008

Waterway Square

Cleveland Heights resident Ralph Solonitz (artist/writer) was born in 1947 in Munich, Germany, the son of Holocaust survivors. He began doodling very early on...first in German and a few years later in his new language English. His father gave him motivational advice..."stop your doodling, you are vasting time and vill amount to nutting". Fast forward 55 years, thousands of dollars in therapy and he still can't stop doodling.
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Volume 1, Issue 5, Posted 8:57 AM, 07.29.2008

How Smart is this?

Captured at the intersection of Fairmount Blvd. and Coventry Road is a Smart car surrounded by six gigantic SUV's. One wonders how a paleontologist would interpret this scene.
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Volume 1, Issue 4, Posted 10:45 PM, 06.16.2008

Cluniversityland Heights

Cooperation, collaboration, regionalism and partnerships are at the top of every community’s “to do” list these days. Far too often, however, communities fail in these efforts. In Cleveland Heights (CH) and University Heights (UH), some of these activities may actually happen as city leaders and citizens begin to discuss the very real potential for a CH/UH merger. So what does it take to merge and why would our two cities entertain such a notion?
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Volume 1, Issue 3, Posted 11:34 AM, 04.25.2008