Latest News

Cuda announces candidacy for CH City Council

Tony Cuda

I am running for city council to serve our community and give something back to the city that has given me so much. If elected, I want to seize this unique opportunity to work with my fellow council members, the new mayor, and the community to set a bold vision for all of Cleveland Heights. 

My family moved here in 1960. My brother and I were raised on Desota Avenue, and later on Woodview Road, by the only single mom we knew of at that time. We went through the entire CH-UH school system and graduated from Heights High. I went on to become the first person in my family to graduate from college and get a master’s degree. Cleveland Heights, for me, is a place where dreams come true.

Now, I own a home on Fenley Road (in the Oxford neighborhood) with my wife, Sandy Moran. I have three stepchildren and eight grandchildren.

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Volume 14, Issue 4, Posted 2:19 PM, 03.08.2021

Latest News Releases

Ohio’s COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall for African American Ohioans will be held Feb. 22
- Cuyahoga County, February 22, 2021 Read More
Library to hold online conversations about the future of the Noble Branch
- , February 18, 2021 Read More
Are you struggling to pay your sewer bills? Help is here.
- Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, February 16, 2021 Read More
- Cuyahoga County, January 25, 2021 Read More
Heights Libraries welcomes newest board member, honors outgoing president
- CH-UH Library, December 18, 2020 Read More

View more news releases

Two Heights seniors are national scholarship finalists

Maple Buescher and Xavier Routh, seniors at Heights High, are National Merit Scholarship Finalists.

Heights High seniors Maple Buescher and Xavier Routh have been named National Merit Scholarship Finalists by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).

"Being named a National Merit Scholarship Finalist is a tremendous achievement,” said CH-UH City School District Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby. “I'm proud of Maple and Xavier and excited to see all that they continue to accomplish." 

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an annual academic competition for recognition and college undergraduate scholarships. Buescher and Routh qualified for the award because of their performances on the PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test). They were named semifinalists in September.

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Volume 14, Issue 4, Posted 1:55 PM, 03.08.2021

South Taylor development project moves forward in UH

Artist depictions of the proposed South Taylor Place townhomes in University Heights, courtesy of Knez Homes and Sixmo Architects.

On Feb. 16, University Heights City Council approved the site plan for South Taylor Place Condominiums, a new development on Taylor Road in University Heights, just south and southeast of Deslisle Options Center.

The developer, Knez Homes, has proposed a 30-unit townhome development on the site, which it will market and sell to third-party buyers.

The site comprises seven parcels of land, of which three belonged to the city of University Heights, and four to the CH-UH City School District. At its April 7, 2020, meeting, the board of education (BOE) approved Resolution No. 20-04-033, transferring its four parcels to University Heights’ community investment corporation (CIC) at a price of $10.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 10:48 AM, 02.26.2021

We're partnering on a new podcast

By mid-February, there were four declared candidates for Cleveland Heights’ first-ever mayoral election. 

It’s going to be an interesting campaign, and the Heights Observer plans to cover it as we’ve covered previous elections. We won’t endorse candidates, and we’ll focus on giving air to the many reasonable and civil perspectives our readers are sure to offer.

But not all election issues are matters of opinion; they can’t be resolved by candidates’ statements and the back-and-forth of the opinion page. Some questions require context and subject-matter expertise. This is the kind of work the Heights Observer struggles with, given that we operate without any staff reporters.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 10:43 AM, 02.26.2021

MetroHealth expansion meeting to take place online March 4

The Nov. 2020 proposed expanion plan to the current Cleveland Heights MetroHealth campus.

MetroHealth will host a Zoom webinar to discuss the forthcoming expansion of its Cleveland Heights facility on Thursday, March 4, from 7-8 p.m.  

In Nov. 2020, MetroHealth announced plans to expand its behavioral health and addiction services by building on to its Cleveland Heights campus. Original plans included 110 treatment beds, a psychiatric urgent care, and specialized units.

Dr. Julia Bruner, MetroHealth's senior vice president for behavioral health operations, will discuss how the expanded facility will meet the need for increased mental health services in Cuyahoga County; and development and building team members will review the project's blueprint and timeline. A Q & A session will follow the presentations. 

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 11:16 AM, 03.01.2021

New podcast focuses on Cleveland Heights' first mayoral race

If you’d asked fourth-grade me in 1983 what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d have told you I wanted Phil Donahue’s job. I would have also considered taking over for Nev Chandler as voice of the Browns, or Peter Tomarken, the host of "Press Your Luck." 

Nearly 40 years later, I’m finally ready to chase the dream. I’ve determined that my most logical path to becoming "Press Your Luck" host begins with a twice-monthly podcast devoted to the place that made me, Cleveland Heights, and to the brave souls who hope to earn your vote and become our first-ever elected mayor.

Sign up for the Heights Observer’s weekly e-mail newsletter ( to make sure you receive the link to episode one, which is scheduled to debut on March 1. 

And you can always find it on the main menu of the Heights Observer website under "Podcasts". 

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 10:38 AM, 02.26.2021

The lights are on. Is anyone home?

After conscientiously correcting all violations cited in her home’s point-of-sale (POS) report, a new homeowner repeatedly calls the Cleveland Heights housing department to schedule a reinspection.

A building inspector approves new driveway construction with barely a glance.

While rehabbing formerly neglected houses, contractors routinely fail to post building permits—with no consequences.

A resident sees the vacant house next door being shown to prospective renters. She wonders, “Were permits completed for plumbing, electrical and garage work? Is there an occupancy certificate on file? Bottom line, is it safe to live in?”

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 10:20 AM, 02.26.2021

Resident files new complaint against CH City Council

To the Editor:

For years, Cleveland Heights City Council has been abusing Ohio's laws regarding executive session—holding meetings in private.

A couple of weeks ago, the Council Committee of the Whole went into executive session to discuss who will be appointed to the 25-member Racial Justice Task Force.

[According to Ohio law,] they can only do that when they're discussing appointing "a public employee or official".

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 10:22 AM, 02.26.2021

Resident shares design concept for Cedar Lee Park

The writer envisions a park on this Cedar Lee corner, rather than a new development.

The city of Cleveland Heights is in the process reviewing proposals to build a mixed-use development at the corner of Meadowbrook and Lee roads. Some previous developments had merit, and also have been a source of revenue for the city. However, the only consideration for the use of our city’s vacant land in the past decades has been residential development. Other uses of the land, such as improving the quality of life for residents, have not always been considered.

The one-acre parcel at Meadowbrook and Lee, in the middle of the Cedar Lee Business District, may be the last parcel of land to be developed. There has been conversation by the residents of Cedar Lee, on Nextdoor, about converting this piece of land into a park. I share their view.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 10:30 AM, 02.26.2021

CH's Issue 32 is a waste of time

To the Editor:

Since Cleveland Heights voters passed the Issue 32 ballot referendum [in 2013], every year the Cleveland Heights City Council must set aside [time] to consider citizens' views on a federal constitutional issue far outside the interests or purview of our local government. 

Various pro-government and anti-business radicals harangue our part-time, busy council with irrelevant complaints. Then, council is required to submit an Issue 32 report on the meeting to our elected representatives. At best, this is a waste of time, but it also sends a radical anti-business message to prospective commercial employers and taxpayers.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 10:23 AM, 02.26.2021

Cleveland Heights is (still) Home to the Arts

In the last month I’ve heard people express the opinion that “Cleveland Heights used to be Home to the Arts” and “Cleveland Orchestra members used to live in Cleveland Heights.” I don’t know where this misperception comes from. We are still, and have been for decades, Home to the Arts! Cleveland Heights was a home to the arts before we claimed the title!

This past summer, there were socially distanced pop-up “porchestra” concerts presented by several resident orchestra members and their colleagues. There is the annual Donut Day put on by bassist Tom Sperl and his family. We have robust orchestra representation in our city, as well as musicians of every genre.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 10:28 AM, 02.26.2021

New CH mayor should have say in police contract

To the Editor:

The union representing Cleveland Heights police officers is currently negotiating their contract, which expires on March 31. The negotiations are handled by the city manager and outside counsel the manager hires to represent the city. Though the current contract term is three years, members of Safer Heights urge the city to negotiate a one-year agreement.

The new mayor [to be elected on Nov. 2], as the new director of public safety, will have direct responsibility over police operations, but this may be limited if contract provisions are locked in for another three years.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 10:26 AM, 02.26.2021

LWV asks CH council to act

The Heights League of Women Voters (LWV), a chapter of the LWV of Greater Cleveland, has added its voice to those expressing frustration over Cleveland Heights City Council’s impasse on filling the council seat that has been vacant since March 2, 2020.

In a statement, read at the Jan. 19 CH council meeting during the public comments period, the Heights LWV noted that last spring, at council’s request, it conducted videotaped interviews of the many applicants for the council vacancy left by Melissa Yasinow’s resignation. Those interviews were completed April 30, 2020, but now, nearly 10 months later, no appointment has been made.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 8:04 AM, 02.23.2021

Heights Arts presents in-gallery and online programs

"Watch my back" by Bernadette Glorioso.

March at Heights Arts brings the last weeks of Posing the Question, closing March 14and the opening of its 2021 Group Show, a celebration of local artists.

Group Show opens Friday, March 19, with a public reception 5–8 p.m. RSVP for the opening by making an appointment at The exhibition runs through May 16.

In Group Show, five artists present work in painting, sculpture and mixed media.

Julie Friedman’s paintings take visual cues from nostalgic media images. Paula Izydorek offers abstract compositions in acrylic on birch panels. Mark Keffer’s paintings address themes of uncertainty, with forms reminiscent of circuitry. Alessandro Ravagnan presents sculptural membranes on mylar. And Dante Rodriguez creates human-animal hybrid figures in his Migrantes pieces.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 4:13 PM, 02.25.2021

Series to explore links between public education and democracy

The public is invited to attend a virtual, three-part series about School House Burning: Public Education and the Assault on American Democracy, to be held on Zoom on March 10, March 24 and April 7, 7–8:30 p.m. Author Derek Black, professor of constitutional law at the University of South Carolina, will kick off the March 10 meeting.

School House Burning documents how public education at public expense became embedded in every state constitution because an educated citizenry is essential to a successful democracy. 

This historic journey that made "education the state's absolute and foremost duty," began with the Northwest Ordinance of 1785 and 1787. The critical role of public education was confirmed during Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 3:52 PM, 02.25.2021

Artist helps to organize annual Kids' Comic Con

Artist Od Perry-Richardson.

Od Perry-Richardson wears many hats at Lake Erie Ink (LEI), a writing space for youth based in Cleveland Heights. The Cleveland-based artist started as an intern and worked his way up to help organize LEI’s ninth annual Kids’ Comic Con.

Perry-Richardson was an art student at the Cleveland Institute of Art when he first heard of LEI during an internship fair. LEI's booth was one of the last he visited.

“Od approached the table, and he was very excited about the idea of working with young people,” said Jill Levin, LEI's program director. “He wanted to give back.”

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 4:10 PM, 02.25.2021

Heights Libraries reopens to borrowers and resumes distributing the Heights Observer

Kim DeNero-Ackroyd (Lee Road Library)

After closing their doors to the public, again, in mid-November, Heights Libraries' branches were set to re-open on Feb. 16, only to be delayed one day by inclement weather. Library staff, including managers Pat Gray (Coventry Village), Kim DeNero-Ackroyd (Lee Road), Constance Dickerson (Noble Neighborhood), and Sara Phillips (University Heights), have been looking forward to welcoming in-person visitors back inside, and resuming many of the libraries' services—including once again serving as a distribution spot for the monthly Heights Observer. For those who prefer it, curbside pickup service for reserved library materials remains available. For more details about hours and services at each of Heights Libraries' four branches, visit

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 4:09 PM, 02.25.2021

#DogsOfCurbside welcome at Heights Libraries pick ups

Circulation Assistant Jessica Adler took this photo of Rocky, outside of Heights Libraries Lee Road branch.

Heights Libraries has launched a new Facebook and Instagram series, #DogsOfCurbside. The first post featured a dog named Rocky, posing earnestly for the camera from the backseat window of a car. The caption reads, “Rocky loves running and going for car rides, especially when they lead to the library for curbside pickup!”

The brains behind the new series is circulation Assistant Jessica Adler, who noticed that many people picking up curbside holds brought their dogs along for the ride.

“My idea came from the selfish desire to pet more dogs every day,” Adler explained. “Shandra [Jackson, Ccrculation assistant] and I have a friendly competition with each other to see who can pet more dogs, and I wanted to win.”

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 4:05 PM, 02.25.2021

Students perform successful egg drops

Students Eli Lewis-Davis, Nd Nwoke and Jace Cash get ready to drop their egg over the railing.

From Jan. 31 to Feb. 6, Communion of Saints School celebrated Catholic Schools Week with a variety of activities. During Catholic Schools Week, schools celebrate their parish, community, students, vocations, the nation, faculty, staff, and their families. 

Each day of the week has a different theme and an activity related to the day’s theme. Throughout the week, all classes participated in community-building STEM activities to regain a sense of connection that has been lost through the pandemic’s need for social distancing.

Junior high students at the school worked in small groups, which included the school’s remote learners, to create a container that would cushion an egg being dropped from the top of a stairwell. All the student groups successfully dropped their eggs, with every egg landing intact.                        

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 4:02 PM, 02.25.2021

Reaching Heights is not an arm of the school district

The relationship between Reaching Heights and the CH-UH City School District was referenced online recently, in questions and comments by community members.

Does Reaching Heights speak for the district at city council meetings? Is Reaching Heights a policy arm of the school district? 

The answer is no to both of those questions. Reaching Heights is an independent nonprofit that facilitates meaningful parent and community engagement in the Heights public schools.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 4:00 PM, 02.25.2021

Like one big family

This was a few years later. But that hair thing started in New London, Conn., caused by a mighty wind.

A friend from the West Side once told me it seemed to him that growing up in Cleveland Heights must be like being a member of Kiwanis or the Elks, because you meet other Heights natives anywhere you go. And that has been my experience.

In March 1968, I had just joined a band in New York and New Jersey when we went to New London, Conn., to play a gig. I had started to let my hair grow a couple of months before I left Heights High the previous spring. (Up to that point I had gotten a haircut every two weeks, for just about my whole life, at Fana’s Barber Shop on Coventry Road. And my last year at Heights High, 1966–67, was the last time the school maintained its strict dress code, which had required boys to keep their hair short.) By March 1968, I still hadn’t cut my hair. However, I was still combing my hair in the same way I had always done, even after a year of letting it grow, which was kind of a ridiculous thing to do.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 4:14 PM, 02.25.2021

Resident invests in a 'P.E.A.C.E.' of CH's future

I’m a lifer. Save for a few years after college, Cleveland Heights has been home since I was born. We are far from perfect as a community, and we do love to squabble. But this past Christmas morning, I was reminded of why I cannot get enough of living in Cleveland Heights.

The snow was thick on the ground, the wind was harsh in the face, but I thought it a good idea to bundle the children, grab the sleds, and march over to Coventry P.E.A.C.E Park to flatten all that snow on the hill. We were alone at first, but gradually a small, hardy crowd gathered for the simple pleasure of sledding down a hill. 

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 3:56 PM, 02.25.2021

Cleveland Heights City Council regular meeting highlights 2-1-2021

FEBRUARY 1, 2021


  • Public comments
  • City manager’s report
  • Chief of police report
  • NOPEC grants
  • February proclamations
  • 2021 Appropriations
  • Racial Justice Task Force
  • Council member comments


Present were Council President Jason Stein, Vice President Kahlil Seren, Mary Dunbar, Davida Russell, and Michael N. Ungar. Melody Joy Hart was excused. Also present were City Manager Susanna Niermann O’Neil, Clerk of Council Amy Himmelein, and Law Director William Hanna. The meeting was 45 minutes long.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 9:48 AM, 03.08.2021

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education special meeting 1-28-2021

JANUARY 28, 2021


  • Recognitions
  • Transition to hybrid learning
  • Moving to in-person board meetings 


Board President James Posch and members Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis, Jodi Sourini, and Beverly Wright were present. Also present were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and Treasurer Scott Gainer. The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. and adjourned at approximately 9:40 p.m.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 10:02 AM, 03.08.2021

School district employees start bike donation program

Some of the children's bikes given away for free—ready to go from the Cleveland Heights Recreation Center.

Between June and October of last year, Stephen Walker and Jerod Johnson gave away more than 100 bicycles to children who needed them; most lived in Cleveland Heights. The experience was so heartwarming, they want to keep it going.

It all started at the end of 2019 when Walker learned from a friend, Bill Pavilonis, that the Brecksville United Methodist Church had about 40 hand-me-down bicycles—largely kid-sized—that the church wanted to donate to children who didn’t have bicycles.

Walker has jobs with both the Cleveland Heights-University Heights school district and the city of Cleveland Heights Recreation Department. He sees bicycles as a way to get children away from watching TV and into exercise, through an outdoor activity that sets them on the path to health and wellness. His jobs enabled him to identify children who would benefit from a bicycle giveaway, and to find people and resources to help.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 3:51 PM, 02.25.2021

Coventry library's Pat Gray retires

Pat Gray will retire as the Coventry Village Library manager, effective March 1.

After 15 years at the helm of Heights Libraries’ Coventry Village Branch, Patricia Gray will retire on March 1. 

As branch manager, Gray was known for her compassion, perceptiveness and creativity. She nurtured the library’s staff, programs and collections, and helped it grow into a neighborhood gathering place that reflects the eclectic needs and interests of the community it serves.

“Pat became synonymous with the Coventry branch and its warm, intelligent programs and services,” said Heights Libraries Director Nancy Levin. “Her retirement is bittersweet for all of us—we are thrilled for her to be taking this next step in her journey, but we will miss her so much.”

Gray’s many accomplishments as manager included her development of a local author collection and related author programs, oversight of a remodel that included a new children’s early-literacy play area, nurturing the growth of services for the deaf and hard of hearing, and the establishment of the branch as a place to explore wellness through programs such as meditation and tai chi.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 8:01 AM, 02.23.2021

Environmental series aims to educate and inspire

John Barber (March 10 speaker) and Lara Roketenetz (March 30 speaker) both have a lot to say about creating a healthy habitat. (Seriously!)

Beginning March 2, the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes and The Doan Brook Watershed Partnership will present a series of six free, live Zoom presentations designed to inspire the community to enrich habitat with native plant species. Register online at

Both nonprofit organizations work in the Doan Brook watershed that drains into the Great Lakes—the largest freshwater system in the world—via Lake Erie. As caretakers of this ribbon of water that runs through the Heights communities, they work against the invasion of plant species introduced from other continents that escape garden cultivation.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 7:57 AM, 02.23.2021

Cleveland Heights City Council regular meeting highlights 1-19-21

JANUARY 19, 2021


  • Public comments
  • City manager’s report
  • Police chief’s report
  • 2021 budget
  • 3750 Bainbridge Road
  • Council member comments 


Present were Council Vice President Kahlil Seren and members Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell, and Michael Ungar. Council President Jason Stein was excused. Also present were City Manager Susanna Niermann O’Neil, Clerk of Council Amy Himmelein, and Law Director William Hanna. The virtual meeting lasted from 8 to 8:52 p.m.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 9:57 AM, 03.08.2021

Melody Joy Hart announces CH mayoral run

Melody Joy Hart has announced that she is a candidate for Cleveland Heights mayor.

Cleveland Heights City Council Member Melody Joy Hart is running for mayor of Cleveland Heights. Hart was the top vote-getter in the November 2019 council election. She has served one year, and attended council meetings for more than four years prior to her election.

“I bring a strong financial background and management skills to city government, together with progressive values,” stated Hart. “I will run an effective, transparent and responsive city government.”

Hart has extensive experience as an executive. She is a CPA (certified public accountant), a CTP (certified treasury professional), and is certified in financial planning and analysis. Relationship management was a key component of her work with banks, rating agencies, vendors, and investors, developing win-win solutions for all parties.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 11:44 AM, 02.13.2021

Barbara Danforth announces candidacy for CH mayor

Barbara Danforth has announced her candidacy for Cleveland Heights mayor.

After much thought and 40 years of preparation, I am running to be mayor of Cleveland Heights. Between now and Election Day, I will share my vision and experience on a campaign platform I’m calling “Competence – Not Politics.” 

I’m running because I love the Heights and I want to make a difference, which is the same philosophy that’s guided me over my entire career.

First, a little about me: Along with my husband, Obie Shelton, children, Hallie and Owen, and our dog, Onyx, I’ve lived on Bolton Road in Forest Hill for 16 years.  

For 15 years, I served as CEO of the YWCA of Greater Cleveland.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 9:43 AM, 02.12.2021

Swimmers break 55-year-old Heights High record

The Heights High record-breaking relay team: Emmet Fluharty, James Huff, Aidan Peters and Andrew Teets. [photo by Dan Budin]

In March 1965, the Lake Erie League champion Heights High boys swimmers needed a first-place finish in the final event—the 200-yard freestyle relay—of the state championship meet in Columbus to secure a team title. Ron Grant, Jack Daley, Lee Brandfass and Jim Becker sealed the deal with a then-state-record time of 1:31.0. That time had stood as a Heights school record since then. But no longer.

In a 126-41 dual-meet victory over West Geauga, on Jan. 19, the Heights High Tigers’ boys team of Emmet Fluharty, James Huff, Aidan Peters and Andrew Teets won that relay event in 1:30.41.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 12:22 PM, 02.09.2021

New Heights businesses open during pandemic

Marchant Manor Cheese owner Kandice Marchant. Photo courtesy

Each year, FutureHeights sponsors the Best of the Heights Awards in which residents vote for their favorite businesses in several categories, including Best New Business. This year, the pandemic changed the small-business landscape in many ways, and shuttered businesses, some permanently. Nonetheless, a few new businesses have opened in the Heights in the last 12 months.

“I’m happy to say that we had more businesses open on Coventry this past year than we had close,” said Mallory Phillips, executive director of the Coventry Village Special Improvement District.

Here is a list of new businesses the Heights Observer is aware of. If you know of a new business that is not on the list, send information about it to

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 12:16 PM, 02.08.2021

I’m Josie Moore, and I’m running for CH mayor

Josie Moore has announced that she is a candidate for Cleveland Heights mayor.

I’m throwing my hat in.

It’s audacious, I know. We moved here four years ago to be near family. After moving around a lot—for my master’s degree work and my husband’s job—we needed to put down roots. We chose Cleveland Heights because we wanted community. From the moment we arrived, this has felt like home. For our family it is true that, here, all are welcome.

My professional work is in communications. But the work that fuels me is political activism. Back in Schenectady, N.Y., I helped build an organization to advocate for progressive issues, like universal healthcare, climate action, and a living wage. I led outreach: connecting with marginalized communities and increasing engagement.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 10:52 AM, 02.08.2021

CH artist enhances TOH construction site

A banner featuring artwork by a Cleveland Heights artist was installed at the Top of the Hill construction site in late January. Photo by Dario Dominguez.

As construction continues on Top of the Hill (TOH), the $80-million mixed-use development at Cedar Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard, developer Flaherty & Collins and Cedar Fairmount Arts have installed a banner featuring artwork by a Cleveland Heights artist, to enhance the construction site and provide information about the new development.

“Cedar Fairmount Arts, a new nonprofit, designed the banner as its initial project,” said Myra Orenstein, executive director of the Cedar Fairmount Special Improvement District. “It was installed in late January.”

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 11:16 AM, 02.02.2021

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education regular meeting 2-2-21



  • Recognitions
  • FutureHeights housing initiative
  • Public comments
  • Athletic department donations
  • Policy group A reading
  • Trauma-informed action plans
  • Vaccine rollout 
  • in-person instruction
  • Treasurer’s five-year forecast
  • Public records 
  • Board goals development
  • In-person board meetings 


Board President James Posch and members Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis, Jodi Sourini, and Beverly Wright were present. Also present were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and Treasurer Scott Gainer. The meeting was called to order at 7 p.m. and was adjourned at 9:35 p.m.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 9:58 AM, 02.26.2021

A roadmap to electing a new CH mayor

On Nov. 2, CH voters will directly elect a mayor, for the first time in the history of the city.

On Nov. 2, Cleveland Heights residents, for the first time, will directly elect their mayor.

In November 2019, voters overwhelmingly approved (with 64 percent voting in favor) the Issue 26 charter amendment, changing the city’s form of government to a mayor-council structure from what had been a council-city manager form.

The new mayor—who will now be directly elected by the city’s voters, rather than chosen by the city’s council members from among their own ranks—will appoint a professional administrator to help run the city, and work alongside CH City Council.

In the lead-up to the fall election, detailed below are some key dates and provisions of the new charter amendment regarding the process of electing a new CH mayor.

The mayor: The mayor is elected in a non-partisan race every four years, beginning in 2021, with no term limits.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 12:37 PM, 01.29.2021

Heights Observer's election policy: more—and less—of the same

In this year’s Nov. 2 general election, Cleveland Heights voters will elect a mayor for the first time in the city’s history. If more than two mayoral candidates file valid petitions (with the required number of signatures) with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections by the June 16 deadline, CH voters will first narrow the field in a Sept. 14 primary election.

In addition, four CH City Council seats, three UH City Council seats, and three CH-UH Board of Education seats will be on the Nov. 2 ballot.

In past local-election years, the Heights Observer's election policy limited contributions by candidates to online-only publication in the month or two prior to the November election. The intent was to manage the potential of having more last-minute submissions from candidates than we could publish in limited print space.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 12:33 PM, 01.29.2021

FutureHeights expands Neighborhood Mini-Grants program to UH

Noble Neighbors leaders, Brenda May and Barbara Sosnowski, in front of the Little Free Library at Noble Nook, a Neighborhood Mini-Grants recipient at the intersection of Noble and Roanoke roads. 

The FutureHeights Neighborhood Mini-Grants program is now available for projects in both Cleveland Heights and University Heights.

“We are excited to be able to support the grassroots work of our neighbors in University Heights,” said Deanna Bremer Fisher, executive director of FutureHeights. “We support one another in many ways already, and share a school and library system. This is another opportunity to strengthen our interconnected communities.”

To date, the Neighborhood Mini-Grants program has provided a total of $30,386 to 47 projects in Cleveland Heights. Funded projects range from gardening and beautification, to community and social services.

“Projects are driven by residents and neighborhood groups who know their neighborhoods' needs and assets intimately,” said Fisher. “In 2021, we’d love to support more projects led by new voices, such as teens, young adults and those under 35.”

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 12:29 PM, 01.29.2021

Groundhog Day at CH City Hall

Jason Stein opened the first 2021 meeting of Cleveland Heights City Council by introducing himself as council president. Imagine our surprise when Council Member Mike Ungar complained that he could no longer call Stein “Mayor.” You see, the city charter amendment passed in November 2019 (Issue 26) specifies that as of Jan. 1, 2021, the titles “mayor" and “vice mayor” no longer pertain to the president and vice president of council. The amendment’s drafters knew that many residents thought the voters already elected our mayor. If current council leaders choose to run for the new position of popularly elected mayor, they should not have the advantage of appearing to be incumbents.

Ungar went on to ask Law Director William Hanna to look into the matter; i.e., to find a loophole. Yet legally no changes can be made to a charter amendment passed by the voters, except by another vote of the people. Surely Ungar and Hanna know this, so why waste their time and our money?

We wonder, has anyone on council actually read the charter amendment?

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 11:43 AM, 01.29.2021

Two-family homes are a boon to owner-occupants

A two-family home recently renovated through the FutureHomes program, on Washington Boulevard. [photo by Abby Lawless]

Cleveland Heights has more than 1,200 two-family houses, located in many of its neighborhoods. Also known as doubles, duplexes, and two-flats, this housing type was popular between the 1910s and 1930s, when the city was developing. Having fallen out of fashion in more recent decades, many Cleveland Heights residents are rediscovering the benefits of this unique housing style.

“It has been a great way to transition into homeownership,” said Amanda Isaacson, who lives in one unit of a double she owns in North Coventry. “There are good mortgage options for first-time homeowners and owner-occupants. The property pays for our mortgage and makes income. Buying and occupying a multi-family home is a great way to invest and create capital.”

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 10:47 AM, 01.29.2021

LEI builds community in time of isolation

Storefront display from the "Transformations . . . " Creative Community Challenge.

In late March 2020, Lake Erie Ink (LEI) was presented with a problem: After almost a decade of providing creative expression opportunities across Greater Cleveland, a global pandemic disrupted in-person programs.

In response, LEI facilitated a new program series—Creative Community Challenges—to address the increased need for community-building and creative expression during a time of social isolation. LEI called for and gathered submissions from throughout the community, and published them in bound anthologies. To further the program's reach, LEI also worked with the Coventry Village Special Improvement District to organize a pop-up public art display, in an empty storefront window, of the writing and visual art submitted as part of the project.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 12:14 PM, 01.29.2021

Nighttown sold: more changes afoot for Cedar Fairmount

The iconic Nighttown restaurant remains closed in January 2020 as construction continues on the Top of the Hill. Photo by Deanna Bremer Fisher.

With the $80 million Ascent at the Top of the Hill project rising in the Cedar Fairmount Business District, the announcement that Brendan Ring has sold Nighttown signals that more change is on the way.

On Jan. 5, a syndicate of real estate investors, headed by Rico Pietra and Yaron Kandelker, purchased all of Ring’s holdings in Cedar Fairmount: the building that houses CL Barber Salon, the former Zoss building, the former Fifth Third Bank, and the iconic Nighttown restaurant, which Ring has owned since 2001. A regional destination and community gathering place, generations of Heights residents have celebrated significant life events at the restaurant, and cherished the cozy Irish pub’s eclectic atmosphere. Ring expanded the restaurant over the years to include 435 seats in several rooms, two three-season patios, and musical offerings that led DownBeat Magazine to name it “one of the top 100 jazz clubs in the world.”

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 3:04 PM, 01.25.2021

Are all welcome in Cleveland Heights?

I am writing in response to the opinion piece by Eric J. Silverman, “Former BOE member feels Millikin déjà vu,” in the December 2020 Heights Observer. Although I have only been a resident of Cleveland Heights for the past six years, my husband’s family has lived here for almost 70 years! To say that we are a loyal Cleveland Heights family would be an understatement. I love the diversity of Cleveland Heights, and I thought the "All Are Welcome" initiative was a very fitting way to mark the city’s centennial celebration.

As a mother of four who also works full time, I admit that I do not have much spare time to closely follow local issues related to taxes or property development. However, when someone showed me Mr. Silverman’s article, I felt very hurt. I would like to give Mr. Silverman the benefit of the doubt, and I hope that he did not intend his words to come across the way they did. However, the tone of his article made me feel that perhaps the Orthodox Jewish community, which I am proud to be a part of, is actually NOT welcome in Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 11:54 AM, 01.29.2021

Resident files civil complaint against CH City Council

To the Editor:

On Jan. 8, the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas accepted my complaint—a writ of mandamus—requesting the court to compel the six members of Cleveland Heights City Council to appoint someone to the seat vacated by Melissa Yasinow's resignation on March 2, 2020.

The CH City Charter requires them to do so. It's been over 10 months, and, quite simply, they have quit trying.

There is something seriously wrong with this city council.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 11:50 AM, 01.29.2021

School board should save Millikin wetlands

To the Editor:

I have seen the rooftop of the stable of the old Severance estate from Severance Circle for years now, so last month I decided to take a drive by Millikin school to see firsthand the property over which there has been so much controversy. What I found was possibly the last little hidden gem left in Cleveland Heights. (Michael Morse’s and Jim Miller's opinions in the December 2020 Heights Observer gave me even more insight into this little oasis. Check out Jim Miller's YouTube videos on Dugway Brook!) The stable has a fairly new roof and appears to be structurally sound.

While I have no objection to new development in the Heights, we can all see from the architecturally unattractive and inappropriate development of the Top of the Hill project that the city hasn't the ability to do the job correctly. 

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 11:59 AM, 01.29.2021

COVID-19 and CH Municipal Court

We have all had to adjust and re-examine how best to carry out our everyday activities this past year. This public health emergency has also impacted Ohio courts, including Cleveland Heights Municipal Court (CHMC). There have been many challenges, but CHMC has adapted and responded to the COVID-19 crisis. Our focus has been on protecting the health of the staff and all those who enter the courthouse, while serving our vital purpose of administrating justice without denial or delay.

Shortly after Gov. DeWine first declared a state of emergency, I issued a temporary order suspending nearly all in-person hearings, including arraignments, criminal and traffic trials, and evictions.

Before the pandemic, I changed the bond so that almost all non-violent misdemeanors received personal bonds. I have since modified the court’s non-monetary personal bond schedule to include all non-violent felonies of the 4th and 5th degrees.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 11:48 AM, 01.29.2021

Cleveland Heights names new planning director

Eric Zamft is the new planning director for the city of Cleveland Heights.

In late 2020, the city conducted an extensive search for a new planning department head to take over from Richard Wong, who retired.

The city manager and human resources director evaluated the applicants, who hailed from across the country.

"I am excited to join the Cleveland Heights community,” Zamft said. "I visited friends in Cleveland Heights a few years back and fell in love with this city. To be able to move here and help usher the city into the future is a great honor and privilege."

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 3:13 PM, 01.25.2021

You may be forgetting something

In 1960, this was really funny.

There is something that I think a lot of us are not thinking about this February. We are thinking about the pandemic, the economy, the change in U.S. presidents and administrations, the possibility of insurrection, if and when we can get vaccinated, and other issues that may be weighing heavily on us. Here in Cleveland Heights, we’re also thinking—because it’s normally the worst part of winter—about the ever-present potential for unlivable temperatures and massive snowfalls. And, for those with kids, if and when public schools are going to open for in-person learning, and whether that will be totally safe when they do.

What many of us are not thinking about is Valentine’s Day. And, I mean, what’s more February than Valentine’s Day? Other than Lincoln’s birthday. And my anniversary. Three good opportunities to eat candy. Why candy? Well, Valentine’s Day is self-explanatory. The other two . . . because it’s February and, around here, it’s dark and cold, and that calls for candy. In my opinion.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 11:51 AM, 01.28.2021

Seeing inequities via Chromebook

The author's granddaughter, Lucia Barrett, participating in first grade online. [photo by Robin Koslen]

Winter break is here, and this retired public-school teacher has time to reflect on being the home teacher for my granddaughter, a first-grader. I’ve had a Chromebook view of education in our diverse community during the pandemic. There’ve been conversations about the implications of educational inequality on a national scale, but educational inequality is also a problem here in the Heights.

Our district’s teachers are doing a remarkable job, under difficult conditions. But remote learning is fraught with problems—devices freeze, websites don’t work the way they are supposed to, and lesson plans that were triple-checked before class suddenly have issues. But the real reason I’m writing is to call attention to the glaring inequities I’ve observed.

Everyone is on the same device, but not everyone is in the same portal. At the beginning of the year, it was clear that some kids had more experience and greater ease with technology.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 11:12 AM, 01.29.2021

Noble Neighbors reflects on a year of COVID creativity

In 2020 Noble Neighbors supported Start Right CDC Hunger Center. [photo: Susan Sanders]

Noble Neighbors responded to adversity with creativity in 2020. While COVID-19 necessitated restricted gatherings, it exposed overwhelming generosity.

Springtime planning for the annual "We Are Noble" festival was suspended with the Ohio stay-at-home orders. In those early days of the pandemic, restriction horizons were discussed as weeks or perhaps a month of inconvenience. When it became clear that Ohio might not open back up until the summer (so naive in hindsight), Noble Neighbors pivoted toward a creative approach for its annual neighborhood celebration.

Noting that the festival has two main goals—to enjoy one another as neighbors and to invite others to enjoy the Noble community—the celebration launched into COVID-safe expression along four themes: show, support, serve and savor. Neighbors showed they cared by decorating their front doors, storefronts and yards with signs of encouragement, congratulations for graduates, flags and holiday lighting.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 12:10 PM, 01.29.2021

State legislature again defeats school-funding equity

It is hard to imagine that any school community has fought with more fervor to end EdChoice than Cleveland Heights and University Heights. EdChoice is the state program that transfers state aid from local school districts to pay for private-school vouchers, a scheme known as “deduction funding.”

The Heights Coalition for Public Education has put the state’s war on public education on the local agenda and fostered understanding of the damaging effects of state policy on local communities—especially ours.

Forums, book discussions and research documenting the impact of this theft of public funds have helped people understand the issues and fight for remedies. Legislative resistance pushed our board of education to join a legal challenge to EdChoice.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 11:07 AM, 01.29.2021

CH residents to pitch visions for CLE

Jing Lauengco

Two Cleveland Heights residents are among those who will present 32 ideas to improve Greater Cleveland at Accelerate: Citizens Make Change, a civic pitch competition, Feb. 22–25.

Presented by the Cleveland Leadership Center in partnership with Citizens Bank, the event will be virtual for the first time since its 2015 debut. It has launched dozens of initiatives that impact everyone from pre-kindergarteners to seniors.

The Cleveland Heights presenters are:

Jing Lauengco, Other Brown Girl: Lauengco's initiative is a social-impact storytelling platform that uses conversation, literary and creative arts, technology, and mentoring to create deeper awareness, understanding and appreciation of multiculturalism.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 11:31 AM, 01.28.2021

Millikin neighbors enhance their park

Student artists Margaret Thompson (left) and Libby Warren stand in front of the new mural at Millikin. Photo courtesy Cindie Carroll-Pankhurst.

Residents of the neighborhood surrounding the former Millikin Elementary School have come together to enhance the small playground on the site and create a vibrant community space.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District closed the school in 2006 and is currently using the buildings there to house its maintenance operations.

Starting with just six neighbors in 2018, the Millikin Neighborhood Group began efforts to revitalize the playground, which continued to be used by many young families in the neighborhood. The group organized a cleanup of the playground area.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 11:41 AM, 01.28.2021

Do we stay the course or return to the classroom?

The lingering question for our schools is do we return to the classroom, or not? With the exception of some special-education students, CH-UH schools have remained remote, thus far. Last November, when COVID cases were surging, our special education students and staff returned to remote learning. At that time, many Ohio districts chose to suspend in-person learning. So, when is the right time to go back? 

Remote learning is not ideal. More than anything, teachers want to be with their students. Schools, however, are unlike other businesses. We are in the business of teaching children, and this is difficult to do safely during a pandemic. 

By nature, children don’t “social distance,” so that’s out, even if space were available. Many adults have difficulty wearing a mask properly, so we can’t expect children to wear them properly at all times.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 11:17 AM, 01.29.2021

Library welcomes board member; honors outgoing president

New Heights Libraries Board Member Tyler McTigue.    

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System is pleased to announce the appointment of its newest board member, Tyler McTigue. His term began in January 2021.

McTigue, the director of enterprise solutions sales for Acuity Brands, has lived in Cleveland Heights for nine years, and will serve a seven-year term on the library board. He replaces James K. Roosa, outgoing board president, whose 10 years of service ended in December 2020.

"To say I am humbled to serve the Cleveland Heights-University Heights library system as a library trustee is an understatement,” said McTigue. “I am incredibly proud of the Heights and hope to help Heights Libraries continue to open doors for the people of our great city to diverse opportunities and ideas.”

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 3:14 PM, 01.25.2021

Church hosts conversation about stress and addiction

On Saturday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m., First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland (FCB) will host an online community conversation, via Zoom, on stress and addiction in teens and adults.

Recognizing that stress, isolation and uncertainty have become a new normal, due to COVID, FCB’s youth program is providing resources to help connect young people, and their families and caregivers, to mental health and addiction resources.

These resources are free to the community, and all are welcome to participate.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 11:27 AM, 01.28.2021

Communion of Saints celebrates students' achievements

The eighth-graders at Communion of Saints School have been busy completing high school applications and entrance exams. Based on those exam results, some students received scholarship offers, in various amounts, from the high schools for which they took entrance exams:

  • Brady Foss: Benedictine High School Scholarship – Merit Scholar
  • Victor Gideon: St. Ignatius High School Scholarship - Ignatian Scholar; Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin Scholarship - Prestigious Merit Scholarship
  • Charlie Hubbard: St. Ignatius High School Scholarship - Ignatian Scholar
  • Gabe Ewen: St. Ignatius High School Scholarship - Ignatian Scholar
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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 11:48 AM, 01.28.2021

Church members provide diapers to those in need

Church of the Saviour member Lisa Wadsworth takes diaper inventory in the storage room at Father Michael Wittman Ozanam Center.

When families struggle financially and seek assistance obtaining essential items, community resources are generally available for free food and clothing. Diapers, however, are in constant demand, but often not offered through local pantries because they are expensive and “non-essential” in limited food budgets. Families with babies and toddlers are left with the significant challenge of obtaining this basic item.

Thanks to donations from the Metropolitan Ministry fund at Cleveland Heights’ Church of the Saviour UMC, the congregation has been meeting the demand for diapers for the past several years, distributing them at the Father Michael Wittman Ozanam Center, an East Cleveland food pantry and clothing bank serving Cleveland’s East Side.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 11:44 AM, 01.28.2021

Look for the Heights Observer at Tommy's

Photo by: Sally Kramer

Tommy Fello, owner of Tommy's restaurant (1824 Coventry Road), has been taking care of customers for nearly 50 years. He encourages readers to support independent local businesses now, more than ever. Tommy's menu offers something for everyone—especially those who love milkshakes. Currently, Tommy's is open for both dine-in and take-out orders. (Visit to place your take-out order.) While you're there, be sure to pick up a copy of the Heights Observer.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 11:50 AM, 01.28.2021