Latest News

New CH council member to host Jan. 29 listening session

CH Council Member Melody Joy Hart.

Newly elected Cleveland Heights Council Member Melody Joy Hart will host a Community Listening Session on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 7 p.m., at Imani Temple, 2463 North Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights.

During her campaign, Hart pledged to hold regular town hall meetings/listening sessions so that citizens would have a chance to be heard. 

While this program is Hart's initiative, she has invited her council colleagues to attend, emphasizing that it is a listening session, not a talking session. “My role—and theirs, if they attend—is not to take it as an opportunity to talk, but as an opportunity to listen,” Hart explained. “Of course, my hope is that this will spur the council to join together in the future to hold these.” 

Hart anticipates holding the listening sessions quarterly.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 11:44 AM, 01.19.2020

Latest News Releases

Statement from Mayor Roe on CH vote to change form of government to directly elect full-time mayor
- City of Cleveland Heights, November 6, 2019 Read More
Citizens for an Elected Mayor statement on the approval of Issue 26
- Citizens for an Elected Mayor, November 6, 2019 Read More
CH Fire Fighters Local 402 opposes Issue 26
- Non-Profit & Groups, September 26, 2019 Read More
Rep. Boyd to hold Sept. 5 event to help rebuild uprooted CH community garden
- State Rep. Janine Boyd, September 4, 2019 Read More
Cleveland Heights Teachers Union And CH-UH City School District Restricted To One-Year Contract Due To State Voucher Expansion
- CH-UH Schools, August 29, 2019 Read More

View more news releases

University Heights accepting applications for vacant city council position

University Heights City Council is accepting letters of interest and resumes to fill a council vacancy created by the resignation of Councilman Mark Wiseman, who has accepted an appointment to the Housing Division of the Cleveland Municipal Court as a magistrate. UH Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan accepted Wiseman’s resignation on the morning of Jan. 13.

Vice Mayor Michele Weiss has announced that residents of University Heights who wish to be considered for appointment to the open position are invited to send letters of interest and resumes to City Hall, c/o Clerk of Council Kelly M. Thomas, 2300 Warrensville Center Road, University Heights, Ohio 44118, or e-mail them to Letters of interest and resumes will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 1:14 PM, 01.13.2020

Weiss is new vice mayor of University Heights

University Heights Vice Mayor Michele Weiss and Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan.

It’s a new year, and University Heights residents have new council members and a new vice mayor.

Prior to the first council meeting of 2020, on Jan. 6, a ceremonial swearing-in was held to welcome new council members Barbara Blankfeld and Justin Gould, and to welcome back re-elected members Michele Weiss and John Rach.

Her council peers unanimously elected Weiss as the city’s vice mayor, and UH Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan praised Weiss after her selection.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 9:49 AM, 01.13.2020

Construction on Top of the Hill to begin

As construction on the Top of the Hill garage begins, the city has identified temporary parking spaces for permit holders and patrons of Nighttown.

Construction on the mixed-use Top of the Hill (TOH) project is expected to begin the first quarter of 2020. The project—on approximately four acres of city-owned property at the corner of Cedar Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard, at the top of Cedar Hill—is highly visible and serves as a gateway between the Heights and University Circle. Its development has been a longtime goal of the city.

The city’s Architectural Board of Review approved final design drawings for the $84-million TOH project in October 2019. The project calls for 261 market-rate luxury apartments, more than 11,000 square feet of first-floor commercial space, approximately 25,000 square feet of green space, a 550-space parking garage, and additional surface parking.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:16 AM, 01.03.2020

Vote for Best of the Heights in 2020

Bill Wort, owner of S'Wonderful Gifts, stands outside his shop on Lee Road. S'Wonderful won Best Place to Find Unique Gifts in 2019.

The Heights prides itself on being home to many locally owned, independent businesses. Beginning Jan. 1, Heights residents can show their appreciation for these businesses by voting for their favorites in the FutureHeights 2020 Best of the Heights Awards contest.

Since 2005, FutureHeights—a nonprofit community development corporation—has conducted the Best of the Heights to recognize the unique attributes of Heights businesses, and their contributions to the local economy. Each year, residents cast their votes for their favorite businesses by nominating them for an award in a variety of categories.

FutureHeights has selected 12 categories for this year’s ballot, including Best New Restaurant or Bar, and Best New Business.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:21 AM, 01.03.2020

District to host Jan. 9 community meeting on vouchers

Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby

On Jan. 9, CH-UH City School District will host a community meeting on the topic of EdChoice and how it affects school funding. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at Heights High, and the public is invited.

At the meeting, the district will outline the adverse effects on public schools of the Ohio EdChoice Scholarship program, which allows families living within the boundaries of designated schools to receive a voucher to attend a private school. It will also suggest actions to take, to work toward changes in how the state funds school districts; and provide information on the proposed 7.9-mill operating levy—set to be on the ballot on March 17—and school financing in general.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:32 AM, 01.03.2020

CH company seeks nominations for annual furnace giveaway

For the fourth consecutive year, Verne & Ellsworth Hann Inc. will donate a free furnace and installation to a deserving recipient. Chris Hann, co-owner of the Cleveland Heights-based heating, cooling and plumbing company, is asking for nominations from the Heights community and surrounding area.

“We created the Helping Hann free furnace giveaway as a way for our entire organization to give back to the community that has supported us for so many years,” Hann said.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:56 AM, 01.03.2020

Heights salon hosts free event for foster kids

Kevinee Gilmore with Sunni Segines.

“The thing about foster kids is they end up being like refugees in their own cities,” said Cleveland Heights resident Kevinee Gilmore, founder of the nonprofit #FosterCare ( Starting at age 13, Gilmore spent five years in foster care, giving her direct, and unique, experience being a “kid in the system.”

Many foster children, Gilmore explained, struggle to find stability and a sense of normalcy in day-to-day experiences. “For so many kids in foster care, everyday activities can feel like luxuries,” Gilmore said.

Gilmore is committed to “getting foster youth a seat at the table.” On Thursday, Jan. 23, noon to 1:30 p.m., she’ll be a panelist—along with State Rep. Juanita Brent (District 12)—at a City Club Youth Forum, “The Impact of Foster Care’s Thousands of Ohio’s Children." For information and tickets, visit

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:55 AM, 01.03.2020

CH-UH makes AP District Honor Roll

AP students kicked off the school year with an AP Success Camp.

Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District is one of 250 school districts in the U.S. and Canada, and one of 10 school districts in Ohio, to earn a spot on the College Board’s 10th annual AP District Honor Roll. 

To achieve the honor, Cleveland Heights High School had to, since 2017, increase the number of students participating in AP (Advanced Placement), while also increasing or maintaining the percentage of students earning AP exam scores of 3 or higher. (The range of AP scores is 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest, and 3 and above considered passing. Most colleges will give college credit for a score in the 3 to 5 range.)

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:41 AM, 01.03.2020

'Skeleton Crew' in Cleveland premiere at Dobama

Dobama Theatre will present the Cleveland premiere of the Obie Award-winning “Skeleton Crew,” Jan. 24 through Feb. 16. Part of Dominique Morisseau’s three-play cycle, “The Detroit Project,” Dobama’s production will be directed by Nina Domingue.

The play, which The New York Times called “a deeply moral and deeply American play . . . squarely in the tradition of Arthur Miller," is set in a struggling Detroit automotive plant during the peak of the 2008 recession. A few remaining workers are trying to figure out how to move forward if the plant goes under. Shanita has to decide how she'll support herself and her unborn child, Faye has to find a place to live, and Dez has to figure out how to make his ambitious dreams a reality. Power dynamics shift as their manager, Reggie, is torn between doing right by his work family and by his own. (The struggle is familiar to Clevelanders, with recent plant closures like that at Lordstown General Motors directly impacting the community.)

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 11:07 AM, 01.03.2020

Heights Arts turns 20 in 2020

Ragged, by Laurie Addis, is featured in the textiles exhibition Point–Line–Pattern–Plane.

In 2000, local residents who were committed to the arts and their community combined those passions and founded Heights Arts, with a mission to inspire all ages to engage in the arts, tap into the potential of local artists, and make a positive impact on overall community life.

Thanks to the support of an ever-growing community, 20 years later, Heights Arts continues to uphold the same mission and values, in service to local musicians, poets and visual artists.

Heights Arts turns 20 in 2020. To kick off a yearlong celebration, the first exhibition of the new year, Point-Line-Pattern-Plane, opens Friday, Jan. 17, with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Curated by fiber artist and Kent State University textile arts professor Janice Lessman-Moss, winner of a 2019 Cleveland Arts Prize, this exhibition highlights a wide range of expression and innovation achieved by regional artists using the distinctive materiality and processes associated with the medium of fiber.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 11:05 AM, 01.03.2020

What’s going on at your library?

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

Thursday, Jan. 9, 7 p.m.

Step Out of Time: Metta Meditation With Erica Steinweg. Metta meditation is a wonderful (and practical) way to acknowledge one's fears and meet them with kindness. The presentation includes gentle yoga to help open the body and heart-center, as well as a guided practice.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:52 AM, 01.03.2020

Ensemble kicks off 2020 with 'Intimate Apparel'

Cleveland Heights’ Ensemble Theatre begins 2020 with a continuation of its 40th anniversary season, themed ”Making HER Story"—a season dedicated to female playwrights, female directors and female lead roles.

In its first production of the new year, Ensemble will present Lynn Nottage's "Intimate Apparel,” beginning Jan. 24. 

Nottage’s play is set in New York circa 1905—a time and place where rigid social divides exist along the lines of race, religion and class. At the same time, a burgeoning population of immigrants from abroad, and people from across the U.S., have moved to the city to seek their fortunes, bringing diversity, excitement and change. In the play, Esther Mills, a skilled African-American seamstress, navigates this changing, dangerous world with her needle and thread.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 11:03 AM, 01.03.2020

HRRC announces January classes

Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) will offer classes for both beginners and experts this month.

On Tuesday, Jan. 21, HRRC will hold a power tools workshop, one of its most popular recurring classes. Participants will get to work with cordless drills, angle grinders, hand sanders and circular, miter and reciprocating saws. The single-session class will give beginners the experience they’ll need to start working on their homes themselves, while home-repair veterans will have a chance to brush up on their skills.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:29 AM, 01.03.2020

Heights Youth Theatre presents winter musical

For more than six decades, Heights Youth Theatre (HYT) has offered young people the opportunity to grow socially and emotionally while gaining theatrical skills. Producing three to four complete musicals each year, HYT is currently rehearsing its next production.

Almost ready for opening night, "Once on This Island" is the story of Ti Moune, a fearless peasant girl in search of her place in the world, and ready to risk everything for love. Guided by the mighty island gods Love, Death, Water, and Earth, Ti Moune embarks on a remarkable journey to reunite with the man who has captured her heart. The play opens Friday, Jan 17 at Monticello Middle School.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 11:01 AM, 01.03.2020

January's cold reminder of school

Kids (and adults) still sled down Cain Park's big hill. And I still avoid doing that. It was hard enough for me just to get out of my car and take this picture.

I write fairly often, in this column, about how much I disliked school. Some people may think I overdo it. Because how could anyone hate school that much? It might make you feel better to know that, well . . . I really did hate school that much—because, I mean, at least you know I’m being sincere. And some may think I’m setting a bad example for kids who read this column. Well, it might make you feel better to know that, well . . . kids don’t read this column.

So, having gotten that out of the way, it’s that time again. Because whenever it’s January, which, for me, happens approximately once a year, I remember more than ever how much I hated school. That time frame spans the very first day of kindergarten to the day before the day I quit high school, on June 1 of my so-called “12th-grade” year (so-called because I didn’t have enough credits to graduate that year, anyway).

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 11:08 AM, 01.03.2020

Robotics club seeks volunteers

2019 Heights High Robotics team members Emma Hodges, Jacqueline Gold and Keshaun Madlock.

The 40 students in the Heights High Robotics Team are a pretty capable bunch: They can design, program, build, and operate robotic units that thread a nine-inch object onto a pole, throw a ball at a hard plastic flag to make it spin, and park on a raised platform. But right now, they need your help.

Heights High will host its first VEX Robotics Competition on Saturday, Jan. 25, with 50 teams coming from, among other schools, Mahoning, Wooster, Hawken and Shaker. The club needs volunteers to do everything: selling concessions, directing traffic in the parking lot, helping teams set up for their next event, and more.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:48 AM, 01.03.2020

Roxboro hosts middle-school spelling bee

Krista Hawthorne, Ruby Tugeau, Sophia Muller, Natalie Bier and Beth Woodside.

On Dec. 5, Roxboro Middle School hosted its 10th annual spelling bee. For the third year, Monticello Middle School students participated, making it an all-Heights Middle School Spelling Bee.

After 24 rounds of spelling, Roxboro eighth-grader Natalie Bier emerged as the champion, from a field of 22 spellers. Her winning word was cystic.

Bier will represent Roxboro Middle School at the Cuyahoga County Spelling Bee on March 7. Nikolai Bell, the highest-ranking eighth-grade speller from Monticello, will represent that school at the county bee, which will be held in the auditorium of Cuyahoga Community College’s Cleveland campus.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:44 AM, 01.03.2020

Young scientists thrive at Gearity

Demi Hill and Amiah Lackey, fifth-grade scientists at Gearity.

Students at Gearity Professional Development School in University Heights have the opportunity to become actual ecologists, meteorologists, paleontologists and engineers twice each week, when they visit the school’s science lab. On Nov. 21, they embodied those professional roles in their capstone presentations. This thrice-yearly event enables students to show what they learned in science and English language arts during each trimester.

As parents and community members visited the classrooms, students in kindergarten through fifth grade presented their projects highlighting what they had learned in specific topic areas.

Kindergartners focused on their observations on weather. They had made their own rain gauges and windsocks, and then hypothesized about the best locations for these weather tools. They then conducted outdoor investigations to prove or disprove their predictions, and eventually took them home to place in their own yards.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:39 AM, 01.03.2020

CH Senior Center News

Why not take a dance class in the new year, to spark your fitness routine? The Cleveland Heights Senior Activity Center (SAC) offers a variety of classes for all levels, with no partner or experience required—and two of the classes are free!

Line Dance (contemporary style) promotes physical fitness through dance exercise. Join instructor Gladys McGlothin on Mondays, Jan. 27 through March 23, 9:30–10:30 a.m. The fee for this class is $25 for eight weeks.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:30 AM, 01.03.2020

Coventry P.E.A.C.E. to hold chili cook-off

Coventry P.E.A.C.E. (People Enhancing a Child’s Environment) Campus will host its second-annual chili cook-off 5:30–8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 23, at 2843 Washington Blvd.

Tickets are $5 per person (or $20 per family) and include all-you-can-eat chili, fixings, sides, dessert, beverage, and one vote for their favorite chili. Families will receive three “votes” for their entrance price. Attendees who wish to vote for more than one chili can purchase extra “votes” for $5 each or 6 for $20.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:27 AM, 01.03.2020

Library board welcomes new members

Outgoing library board member Chris Mentrek dressed as the Mad Hatter for an Alice in Wonderland-themed children's program.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library is pleased to announce the appointment of its newest board members, Patti Carlyle and Gabe Crenshaw, whose terms begin in January 2020.

Carlyle will serve a full seven-year term, replacing Chris Mentrek, whose term ends December 2019. Crenshaw will serve a two-year term, replacing outgoing board member Suzann Moskovitz, who is leaving after serving five years.

Carlyle, a University Heights resident for 14 years, is the director of content marketing at Brand Muscle, a Cleveland-based Internet marketing company. She also serves on the Fair Housing Board of University Heights, and has volunteered for a variety of CH-UH nonprofits over the years, including Canterbury Elementary School PTA, the Heights Music Hop, Lake Erie Ink, and FutureHeights, where she also served on the board.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:10 AM, 01.03.2020

UH children are eligible for free-books program

Children in University Heights and surrounding communities are eligible for free books from Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, thanks to The Literacy Cooperative and the Heights Family Foundation.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) is a unique, early-years book-gifting program that mails a free, brand-new, age-appropriate, high-quality book to enrolled children every month, from birth until age 5. The program provides each child with a home library of up to 60 books, and seeks to instill a love of books and family reading from an early age.

According to The Literacy Cooperative, in University Heights there are about 2,700 children, ages 5 and younger, who are eligible for the program. However, the current enrollment in University Heights is only 373 children.

“This is a great program for kids in our community,” Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan said. “Check it out for your children.”

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:06 AM, 01.03.2020

Seventh annual CH Democracy Day is Jan. 30

We think many readers will agree that democracy in America has taken a beating over the past several decades. In particular, since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision 10 years ago this month, ever greater amounts of money have flooded our electoral process. The dangers posed by unregulated corporations have become increasingly evident to the average person. Still, the effects are insidious. All of us have learned to speak the language of commerce, and do it with scarcely a thought: hospital patients are now health care consumers; library patrons have become customers; even the word “citizen” has been replaced with “voter,” “taxpayer,” or “stakeholder.”

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 9:26 AM, 01.03.2020

TOH is not for the middle class

To the Editor:

At a recent CH City Council meeting I heard a couple of council members say that the Top of the Hill (TOH) project will have a positive impact on Cleveland Heights' middle class. May I suggest that no members of the middle class will be able or willing to live there; it is not aimed at us.

TOH is a "luxury" project. Comparing it with the nearby One University Circle, a similar project, is instructive in learning what we are in for. At One University Circle, studio, or efficiency, apartments start at $1,500 per month. Each bedroom adds about $1,000 per month, so two- and three-bedroom units cost about $3,500 and $4,500 per month, respectively.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:02 AM, 01.03.2020

TOH dog park is badly situated

To the Editor:

This is a small detail with long-term impact:
At the last Architectural Board of Review Top of the Hill meeting, the developer and the architect unveiled a dog park for the project. At first, it doesn't sound bad, but it will be located across from the main entrance to the Buckingham Condominiums.

Very bad choice. The Buckingham's front door will be across from a potentially noisy and smelly space.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 9:59 AM, 01.03.2020

Parent volunteers urge support for public schools

To the Editor:

As many in our community are already aware, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education has voted to place an operating levy on the March ballot. I am a member of Citizens for Our Heights Schools, a committee of parents and residents volunteering to ensure the successful passage of this levy. It is never easy to step up for this task, but I do it because I know it is necessary.

The way Ohio funds public education—long deemed unconstitutional—requires districts to return to voters every few years just to keep pace with inflation.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 9:56 AM, 01.03.2020

Out-of-control school spending is destroying the Heights

The CH-UH school district spends money at astronomically high levels, and it’s devastating our community. The district’s budget shows that it plans to spend $615 million over the next five years. That is $200 million to $250 million more than every other comparable district in Greater Cleveland—other than Shaker; we are “only” spending $80 million more than them.

Do you have the income to pay more than $72,000 in property taxes, the highest rate in Ohio, on your $130,000 home over the next 12 years, or $132,000 on your $130,000 home over the next 20 years? This is what is coming down the pike if we don’t dramatically change course.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 9:54 AM, 01.03.2020

TOH project uses doublespeak

Doublespeak, according to Wikipedia, is language that deliberately obscures, disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words.

Here in Cleveland Heights we're told that Top of the Hill (TOH) will provide luxury apartments. Examples of luxury are difficult to pick out, because the architectural drawings that have been provided to citizens are missing critical pages, and the pages that have been provided frequently lack detail. The developer says the lane between the tower building and the garage will be “stamped asphalt.” Stamped asphalt seems cheap. How can cheap be luxury?

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 9:52 AM, 01.03.2020

Empty nesters should flock to TOH

I’m pleased to learn that Cleveland Heights City Council, by a 6-1 vote, approved [what I understand to be] the proposed $84-million, 10-story Top of the Hill (TOH) project with 275 market-rate luxury apartments.

When I moved to Cleveland Heights in 1966, I lived near an eight-story brick building facing Cedar Road west of Fairmount Boulevard, a former apartment house that served as Doctors’ Hospital. Someone, I don’t recall who, startled me by saying, “Don’t go to that hospital. It is a bad hospital!”

Eventually Doctors' Hospital moved to Mayfield Heights, and now is Hillcrest Hospital, part of the Cleveland Clinic. From what I can tell, it is a good hospital. The former hospital site, however, has been a parking lot ever since.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 9:46 AM, 01.03.2020

Requiem for responsible development in CH

Barring a miracle, CH City Council will pass financial legislation this month that will allow construction to begin on the Top of the Hill (TOH) project. This legislation will complete the package of financial transactions associated with the project. The city has yet to produce a comprehensive financial statement indicating revenues and costs to the city for TOH. At public meetings, city representatives discuss revenues but never costs. I searched council minutes, legislation, and TOH contracts to calculate the revenues and costs shown below. They show that TOH will be a major, long-term drain on city finances.

Total estimated revenues to CH over 30-year term of agreement: $20,250,300           

  • Land lease at $10/year: $300
  • Payment by developer in lieu of taxes (tax rebate) to schools of $400,000 per year: $12 million
  • Payroll taxes of new residents and employees of $275,000 per year: $8.250 million
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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 9:38 AM, 01.03.2020

Class size matters

I currently have 42 students in two classes at the high school—an average of 21 students per class. What this average does not reveal is that one class has 15 students and the other has 27. In which section would you prefer to have your child enrolled? 

The personal attention a student receives in a class with fewer students is palpable. I spend a good deal of class time walking around to see how students are working and help those who need assistance. 

Averages can be deceptive, however, and fail to tell the whole story about class size.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 9:21 AM, 01.03.2020

Lake Erie Ink inspires growth

Just a few months after I graduated from college in 2018, I sat down for an interview with Amy Rosenbluth at Lake Erie Ink (LEI). I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but Amy listened to my ramblings and half-assured statements about my qualifications. I had experience as a writing tutor, working with children, and being a member of a team. I had never stood in front of a classroom or created a lesson plan. Instead of that being a problem, [Amy presented it] to me as an opportunity—a way to expand my professional skills. With each question, I replied with, “Sure, I could do that.” LEI seemed to fit my assortment of interests and proposed a new challenge, so I dove in.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 9:30 AM, 01.03.2020

Let's make 2020 the year of the teacher

It’s a new year—2020. Let’s make it the year of the teacher!

Let’s put up banners at the top of Cedar Hill, up and down Lee and Coventry and all along Taylor and Noble roads, declaring our respect for teachers and our gratitude for their important work.

Students are deeply affected by these adults who, while not family, are intimately involved in their lives. Our community is also deeply affected by these professionals who work valiantly to realize our aspirations for our youth and to prepare them to be wise voters and leaders. While the rest of us are sequestered for the most part from other people’s children, teachers spend every day with the young people of our community. They are the front line of educational opportunity.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 9:16 AM, 01.03.2020

CH-UH district places operating levy on March 17 ballot

The CH-UH City School District has voted to place a 7.9-mill operating levy on the March 17 ballot.

The school board made the decision on Dec. 9, after reviewing a report from its citizen-led Lay Finance Committee (LFC), delivered by committee member Ryan Routh at its Nov. 5 meeting. The report stated that the district will face a clear need for increased operating support in the first half of 2020 in order to avoid cuts to educational programming.

“Our committee has carefully reviewed the financial projections for the CH-UH school district,” said Routh. “We believe that an operating levy of 7.9 mills is the minimum amount needed to sufficiently cover the costs to operate the district. This increased support would have to be approved by voters in March 2020 in order to avoid harmful budget cuts.”

The LFC recommended a levy of 7.9–9.5 mills.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:28 AM, 12.17.2019

First Baptist's Christmas Eve pageant is open to all

A scene from a past Christmas pageant at First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland.

A donkey, some sheep and goats, sometimes a camel or a llama—they’re all among the sights one will see at the 20th annual Live Animal Christmas Pageant at First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland (3630 Fairmount Blvd.)

On Dec. 24, at 7 p.m., humble shepherds, grandiose wise men, a pompous King Herod, the Herald Angel and more will join Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus in a detailed re-enactment of the birth of Jesus, accompanied by Christmas carols and other seasonal music.

Children will have an opportunity to visit some of the animals before the pageant, and may want to sit close to the center aisle to see the animals pass by on their way to the manger. (Audience members are advised to arrive early for the best seats.) 

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 8:49 AM, 12.17.2019

Library launches new resource for child caregivers

Heights Little Learners is Heights Libraries' new e-newsletter for caregivers of young children.

This winter, Heights Libraries will launch Heights Little Learners, a new e-newsletter called to provide early literacy resources for caregivers of children up to 6 years old.

“The library’s marketing team noticed that the audience engagement with our more generalized e-newsletter, What’s Going on @ Heights Libraries, was shrinking, while our targeted newsletters—covering topics like technology and reader’s advisory—were growing,” said Sheryl Banks, communications manager. “We want our patrons to feel excited about what we have to offer, so we decided it was time for a redesign.”

In October, the library sent out a survey to its e-newsletter subscribers to gauge which topics they want to learn more about. The survey results revealed an interest in receiving more information about resources the library can provide for young children.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:31 AM, 12.17.2019

Neighborhood to gather for Nela Park holiday lights

GE Lighting will illuminate its annual holiday lighting display on Friday, Dec. 6.

Continuing a long-held holiday tradition, GE Lighting will illuminate its Nela Park headquarters with a festive display beginning Friday, Dec. 6. This is the 95th year the company will have created the light show. This year’s theme, Deck the Halls, uses more than 500,000 LED light bulbs and features a replica of the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., and a selfie station in front of a big red ornament at which visitors can take festive, personalized pictures. The display will be visible from the street through Jan. 6.

At 5 p.m. on Dec. 6, FutureHeights, Noble Neighbors, NOAH (East Cleveland’s CDC), East Cleveland’s Neighborhood 9, and other community partners invite the public to gather at Chester’s parking lot (across from Nela Park at Noble and Neladale roads) to celebrate the beginning of the show, when GE officially flips the switch to illuminate the displays.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 5:07 PM, 12.02.2019

Shadow puppets and music create mystical setting for Dobama play

Dobama Theatre’s 60th anniversary Mainstage Season continues with “The Old Man and the Old Moon,” opening Dec. 6.

“The Old Man and the Old Moon,” written by PigPen Theatre Co. and directed by Melissa T. Crum and Nathan Motta, is a mystical epic—an odyssey of music and theater magic in which actors playing instruments create live sound effects on stage, and interact with elaborate shadow puppets.

In the play, the old man has the important job of filling the moon with liquid light each night. When his wife is drawn away by a mysterious melody, he abandons his duties and crosses the seas in search of his lost love. Along the way, he contends with apocalyptic storms, civil wars, monsters of the deep, irritable ghosts, and the fiercest obstacle of all: change.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 11:19 AM, 12.03.2019

Christmas Carols

I’m the kid in the . . . oh, wait—I was absent that day.

When I was 4 years old, I started going to nursery school in a big house on Taylor Road, between Shannon and Bendemeer roads. The women who ran it were nice, but I hated going there, just like I hated going to every other school I attended. However, I did look forward to being there every day for a few weeks in December, when we started learning Christmas carols.

I loved the music. I didn’t understand the words. Having been raised in a Jewish family, and being only 4 years old, I had no background in the Christmas story, no reference points. But I had never heard these songs before and I thought they were beautiful. I still do—even now, when I understand the words.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 12:09 PM, 12.03.2019

Heights Arts invites community involvement

Heights Arts 2019 Holiday Store window.

It’s been almost 20 years since Heights Arts began shining a light on greater Cleveland’s local artists, musicians and poets.

Its most visible program, the Heights Arts Holiday Store, is currently in full swing at 2175 Lee Road. More than 100 artists are participating to ensure that visitors can purchase one of thousands of unique and beautiful gifts created by artists who live and work in the region, while contributing to the creative economy at the same time.

While the holiday and year-round store is highly visible and has become a favorite destination, residents and visitors may not be aware of many other opportunities Heights Arts has for residents to become engaged, whether they dabble or work professionally in the arts.

Currently, the organization is accepting submissions for its popular Members Show in March. With just a $10 entry fee, all are welcome to submit a work of art for this show, which celebrates the Heights’ creative community. The work is not curated, and all submissions are accepted until the show is complete, so participants are encouraged to submit early.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 12:06 PM, 12.03.2019

Heights Libraries cooking up 'Culinary Comforts' this season

“Cast off the winter doldrums and dig into our savory menu of programs this quarter,” invites Heights Libraries’ winter program guide, Check Us Out, introducing this season’s Culinary Comforts theme.

From December through February, the library will offer a feast of culinary-themed literature, film and tasting experiences for all ages as a way to celebrate the multifaceted role that food plays in our lives.

“Our adult programming team was throwing around ideas for the library’s upcoming quarterly themes, and food and food-related topics seem to be perennially popular,” said L.P. Coladangelo, adult services associate. “We agreed that winter is a great time to highlight the fact that, in the darkest time of year, we often come together as families and communities to connect through shared meals.”

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 12:04 PM, 12.03.2019

HBC invites all to holiday party on Dec. 8

Every December, Heights Bicycle Coalition (HBC) celebrates its progress, outlines its plans, and recognizes community “roll models” at a free public event. This year, join the fun on Sunday, Dec. 8, at 4 p.m., in the Secret Garden room at Nighttown, 12383 Cedar Road. Everyone is invited!

Jessica Yox, HBC president, will provide a brief update on the group's accomplishments in 2019 and the outlook for 2020.

Then HBC will recognize its roll models—those members of the community who either exemplify or contribute to the thriving bike culture in the Heights. HBC will honor four this year—one from each of the communities represented in the organization: Cleveland Heights, University Heights, Shaker Heights, and South Euclid.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 11:56 AM, 12.03.2019

What’s going on at your library?

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

Tuesday, Dec. 10, 7 p.m.

Exploring the Heart of Dying Through Courageous Conversation. This program, the first in a series, will consider "Ritual, Ceremony and Sacred Intention: The Balm in Compassionate End of Life Care." Journey deep within, opening to one another while exploring ritual, ceremony and ancient practices in preparation for conscious dying.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 11:59 AM, 12.03.2019

New memoir sheds light on early Heights history

In a new memoir published by her family, Eleanor (Ellie) Hinig Davies vividly describes her experiences growing up in Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights in the early 20th century.

Her father—Benjamin C. Hinig—was a prominent builder who built 26 houses in Cleveland Heights between 1910 and 1928; a dozen of them on prestigious Fairmount Boulevard.

While many of these houses were built for prominent Clevelanders, the family lived in a series of homes that he  built speculatively. The family stayed in each new house until it was sold, then moved on to the next new house, until Hinig's bankruptcy in 1928 brought it all to an abrupt halt.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 11:54 AM, 12.03.2019

First Baptist hosts Advent service and reception

King's College, Cambridge, has been the site of the BBC's "Carols from King's" broadcast since 1928

As part of its Advent season observances, First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland will present a service of Lessons and Carols, followed by an International Tea reception, on Sunday, Dec. 15, at 4 p.m. All are welcome to attend this traditional service, and the reception afterward, which will be held in the church’s Spahr Center, and feature edible treats from many countries around the world.

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is a service of Christian worship that is traditionally celebrated on Christmas Eve. Thanks to the inspiration of Bob Schneider, the church’s late music director, the First Baptist Chancel Choir several years ago began presenting this traditional service during Advent, as a  way to prepare hearts and minds for the coming celebration of the birth of Christ.

In the service, the story of the fall of humanity, the promise of the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus is told in short Bible readings—or “lessons”—from Genesis, the prophetic books, and the Gospels, interspersed with the singing of Christmas carols, hymns and choir anthems.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 11:52 AM, 12.03.2019

School collaborates with Heights businesses to make book fair local

William Skok, a fourth-grader at Communion of Saints School, wrote in Appletree Book's front window during the school's book fair.

In the vast third-floor library at Communion of Saints School, the school’s volunteer librarians take very seriously the task of helping students find their “book match”—whether it’s the newest Newbery Medal winner, a book about sports, a graphic novel, or material to help with a school report. They note student requests for books that aren’t part of the library’s collection, and follow book releases and national library lists to stay on top of the most recent titles. Then, they compile wish lists and start preparing for the school book fair.

Tired of the highly commercialized fairs that seem to be part of today’s “big-box” school book-fair experience, the librarians brainstormed better ways to fundraise for their library. They wanted the best quality books for students and, knowing Cleveland Heights’ rich history of supporting libraries and independent bookstores, wanted to keep things local.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 11:58 AM, 12.03.2019

CH Senior Center News

If you enjoy trivia and want to be part of a team, this event is for you! The Cleveland Heights Office on Aging is excited to be participating in the second NEO Mind Challenge for the New Majority. The first year was great, and we look forward to more fun and continued success in year two.

The initial competition for Cleveland Heights will take place on Thursday, Jan. 16, 10 a.m., at the CH Senior Activity Center (SAC). There is no cost to participate, but you must register in advance at the senior center.

All participants will receive a T-shirt and an opportunity to attend the championship round, to be held at Jack Thistledown Racino on Wednesday, May 6.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 11:49 AM, 12.03.2019

Neighborhood Leadership series helps community member realize a dream

Donna Johnson with her street's Little Free Library.

Donna Johnson has lived on the same street in Cleveland Heights since 1995. Her children attend Heights schools, her professional life is rich with connection to the nonprofit world, and she has an active sense of volunteerism. “Community is important to me,” Johnson said. “Without it, neighborhoods decline.”

In recent years, though, Johnson felt a disconnect with her neighbors. “It seemed like every spring there were new faces on my street. I knew my neighbors on either side, but felt a strong need to connect and engage with more of my neighbors,” Johnson said.

One day she read a Heights Observer article about how FutureHeights was conducting a Neighborhood Leadership Workshop Series, and she decided to apply.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 11:46 AM, 12.03.2019

One last look at the Observer's role in Issue 26

With the contentious Issue 26 campaign behind us, residents of Cleveland Heights seem dedicated to moving forward together.

But the purpose of this column is to provide transparency about decisions made at the Heights Observer. So at the risk of opening old wounds, here’s some background on the past several months.

We set out to serve as a forum for discussion about Issue 26 without inserting ourselves into the debate. It was easier said than done, and we weren’t fully prepared for the aggressive lobbying we'd receive along the way, or the pressure we'd feel.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 5:04 PM, 12.02.2019

Beyond race, CH marketing video remains problematic

I have no doubt that the Cleveland Heights marketing department now has an understanding that race was mistakenly misrepresented in its initial marketing video. While the marketing staff is bound to fix it, it was unfortunate, and certainly preventable.

I have a profound concern that the original video failed for a second, and entirely different, reason, and I’m concerned that, for likely contractual reasons, it will not be fixed on the second go-round.

The video’s stagnant camera work, the rigidly scripted "older" voice of the voice-over talent, the editing, and music were ‘80s old-school and corporate in approach.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 4:55 PM, 12.02.2019

A modest proposal to participate in CH redevelopment

After presenting many rejected concerns about Top of the Hill (TOH) [to the city], I realize that it’s time to stop resisting and join the city in its redevelopment efforts. I’m offering the city a proposal: instead of selling my 100-year-old house, I will stay in Cleveland Heights and convert it and the house next door into a high-density, mixed-use residential property including a restaurant. In return, I expect the city to grant me the same financial and other assistance it gave to the Indiana-based developers for TOH.

My credentials are that I’ve lived in my house for 40 years, restored the interior to its original condition and added amenities, including a second-floor enclosed porch and a formal garden. I have successfully developed and sold property in Novelty, Ohio and Sedona, Ariz. Unlike the TOH developers, I know that the main road is called Cedar Road, not Cedar Street.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 4:45 PM, 12.02.2019

Middle school students propose green solutions

Middle school students visit the Watershed Stewardship Center.

Photo by Christine Smrdel

We’ve all seen it: puddles of water gathering around the clogged drains in our driveways, rivulets of water running down the sidewalks, and standing water pooling in our yards. That’s stormwater runoff, and it’s a problem.

As that water moves over impervious surfaces, such as roads and parking lots, it picks up pollutants and harmful chemicals and carries them into freshwater and oceans. Due to urban development and an increase in paved surfaces, stormwater is increasing in communities throughout the country, including Cleveland Heights and University Heights. But seventh-graders in Lee Ann Chambers’ and Sarah Cusick’s science classes at Monticello Middle School, and Christine Smrdel’s and Joshua Luton’s classes at Roxboro Middle School, have solutions. 

The students began their Earth’s Water unit by visiting Cleveland MetroParks’ Watershed Stewardship Center to learn about stormwater runoff and explore green infrastructure options to reduce its impact. They worked in pairs or small groups to research solutions, eventually settling on one or two that they would like to see implemented on their own school campuses.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 11:21 AM, 12.03.2019

Top of the Hill—bottom of city council

For the last six issues of the Heights Observer, there have been two major subjects addressed in its pages—the first, the CH elected mayor and new council members; and the second, the Top of the Hill (TOH) development project at Cedar Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard. We have been relieved, after an election, of the first issue—and the right thing happened at the polls.

The second issue, not subject to election, or any other visible means of effective citizen response has, after nearly 40 meetings, and approaching 50 years, not been relieved, and portends even further absence of relief.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 4:38 PM, 12.02.2019

Looking back, and looking forward

As the winter solstice approaches, we consider events of the past year and our hopes for the future.

Cleveland Heights City Council kicked off 2019 by establishing the Refuse and Recycling Task Force. Composed of residents and city staff members, the group’s charge was to address the need to modernize our collection system, tackle the perennial debate over bags versus carts, and recommend future actions.

We urge everyone to read the task force’s findings, which will be released early in 2020. Meanwhile, the group’s agendas, minutes, e-mails and other documents are available at As we said last year (“Heights of Democracy: Trash talk,” Heights Observer Vol. 11, Issue 12), we oppose privatizing this essential service.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 4:35 PM, 12.02.2019

Celebrating community ownership of our public schools: Reaching Heights turns 30

My, how time flies!

It’s already been 30 years since an idea that was hatched on my deck became a reality. Fresh from a two-year examination of the best ways to support a successful, integrated school district, a half dozen public-school advocates, who shared a commitment to equity and excellence, created Reaching Heights.

This community-based organization—independent of district administration, the teachers’ union, and the Board of Education—was designed to stay out of elections and mobilize the community as a full partner in providing a quality education for its students. The mission also called for nurturing public appreciation and respect for the public schools.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 4:30 PM, 12.02.2019

Participation in fall musical teaches students essential skills

I expect some students will succumb to illness following the high school musical production. There is such a buildup; late evening rehearsals, along with all of the exhaustion that comes when teens pour their hearts and souls into a common effort.

There always seems to be some magic at work when the fall musical finally comes together. This year was no exception with Heights High’s production of “Damn Yankees.”

Students from all of our schools came together to sing, dance, and perform, comprising two different casts over four performances.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 4:25 PM, 12.02.2019

New UH logo scarves are available

University Heights City Councilman-elect Justin Gould sports the new UH logo scarf.

This winter, University Heights residents can stay warm while looking cool. The new University Heights city logo scarf, is now available, exclusively at University Heights City Hall, for $10.

The soccer-style scarf prominently features the city's new logo and colors.

The scarf made its debut at the recent University Heights Civic Awards, and is available while supplies last.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 4:19 PM, 12.02.2019

Mini-grant helps community leaders create aging-well guide

Forest Hill resident Jack Kenney with his Aging Well At Home Guide.

Forest Hill neighbors Sue Kenney and Judy Charlick saw a need for a resource about at-home services for the aging members of their community. Through discussions with others involved in a local social activity committee, they decided to do some research and compile a list of nonprofit and public organizations that could benefit the older population. The result: Cleveland Heights Aging Well At Home Resource Guide. 

“This document lists background info about services available by category.  For example, grocery delivery, home repair assistance, social activities, and transportation,” Kenney said. Both the city of Cleveland Heights and the Forest Hill Homeowners Association offer online access to the guide, which can be found at

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 4:11 PM, 12.02.2019

CH prepares for 2020 U.S. Census

With the first phase of the 2020 U.S. Census just six months away, Cleveland Heights is preparing for this initiative.

In 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau will collect data on more than 330 million U.S. residents. The date will inform decisions on how to allocate $675 billion federal tax dollars annually for the next 10 years. Population counts also determine a state's number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and number of votes in the Electoral College.

On Feb. 10, 7 p.m., Heights Libraries will present “The 2020 Census: What You Need to Know” at the Heights Libraries Lee Road Branch.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 3:58 PM, 12.02.2019