Latest News

Primary election now vote-by-mail only; deadline is April 28

Ohio's primary election, originally scheduled for March 17, then postponed until June 2, will no longer take place as an in-person election at polling locations. Instead, it will be conducted exclusively as a Vote-by-Mail election for eligible voters (those who registered to vote by Feb. 18 and have not yet voted in this election). 

The deadline for return of Vote-by-Mail ballots is April 28. NOTE: You must request a ballot; they will not be mailed out automatically. This is a multi-step process.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 6:47 AM, 03.31.2020

Latest News Releases

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will continue to protect the community, environment with wastewater treatment and stormwater management services
- Cleveland Water, April 6, 2020 Read More
Roots of American Music Garage Sale/Garage Band Coventry Event
- Roots of American Music, March 19, 2020 Read More
CH City Council announces March 23 deadline for applications to fill council vacancy
- City of Cleveland Heights, March 13, 2020 Read More
Cuyahoga County Warns Residents of Scams Related to Coronavirus COVID-19
- Cuyahoga County, March 11, 2020 Read More
Cleveland Heights Student to Volunteer in Montana Blackfeet
- , March 10, 2020 Read More

View more news releases

CH City Council, and CH-UH Board of Education, now live streaming meetings

Though all its city government committee meetings are canceled for the time being, the city of Cleveland Heights is continuing to hold city council meetings remotely and live streaming them on the city's YouTube channel ( The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 20, at 7:30 p.m. Agenda items and legislation to be considered are posted in advance on the city's online calendar ( 

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Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 10:18 AM, 04.07.2020

Lake Erie Ink hosts writing workshops for youth online

During this time of social distancing and staying at home, Lake Erie Ink is maintaining its identity as a writing “space” for youth though a free, virtual program series. 

The series, Creative Communities Online, will use Zoom meetings to host workshops for youth of all ages. The series has something for everyone, regardless of age or interests, including a podcasting workshop, poetry challenge, collaborative comics, and a D&D campaign. Registration can be found here

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Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 10:17 AM, 04.07.2020

Best of the Heights 2020

Tommy Fello, owner of Tommy's restaurant, Winner of Best Heights Vibe.

Over a period of six weeks, Jan. 1 through Feb. 15, Heights residents cast their votes in the annual Best of the Heights awards, in recognition of the businesses that serve Cleveland Heights and University Heights. As in prior years, FutureHeights, a nonprofit community development corporation and publisher of the Heights Observer, created a list of unique award categories, showcasing the wide variety of establishments that call the Heights home, and asked residents to vote by writing in the names of their favorites in each category.

“While we celebrate these 2020 awardees,” said Deanna Bremer Fisher, executive director of FutureHeights, “we also acknowledge how much has changed for all of them—and for all of us—since the onset of the coronavirus outbreak. For example, Foodhisattva, a vegan, Asian-fusion cafe, was this year’s winner of Best New Restaurant or Bar. Now, only eight months into a successful first year, it has been forced to temporarily close to eat-in dining.”

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 11:14 AM, 03.24.2020

Heights Arts reimagines daily activity

New Poet Laureate Ray McNeice.

As with every other area business and organization, Heights Arts has had to change plans. 

“We had our opening for the Members Show on March 6,” said Heights Arts Executive Director Rachel Bernstein. “That was just as we were learning about the pandemic, and recommendations were changing daily. We were already planning to cut our open hours back the following week, which we did. By the following Monday the governor was ordering the general shutdown, and we closed to the public until it is safe to reopen. We’re evaluating programming possibilities, but in light of the situation, it’s a question of our small staff capacity and available resources. Of course, this is true for all arts organizations and most small businesses—we are all in this together.”

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Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 10:19 AM, 04.07.2020

The Heights Observer in the season of coronavirus

These past weeks have been a struggle for everyone—especially small businesses and the people who work for them.

The pandemic forced many to close without warning, and it’s a safe bet that some won’t have the financial reserves to ever reopen. Whether social distancing lasts for a month or a year, it’s certain to change the landscape of our community.

At the same time, I marvel at the energy and ingenuity of the people who run these businesses. Over the course of a weekend in mid-March, they deployed apps, set up curbside service and home delivery, and made other changes to keep money coming in—even at a trickle.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 4:37 PM, 04.02.2020

CH extends council application deadline to April 6

Melissa Yasinow resigned from CH City Council on March 2.

A March 20 CH council update, found in the March 23 CH City Council meeting packet [note: all March 22­–28 city of Cleveland Heights meetings were cancelled], included the notice that the application deadline for the vacant city council seat has been extended by two weeks. The new deadline is April 6, at 5 p.m.

The application can be found online at

The open council seat was formerly held by Melissa Yasinow, who resigned at the beginning of the March 2 CH City Council meeting, effective immediately. Yasinow provided no explanation for her resignation.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 10:32 AM, 03.25.2020

UH city meetings can be viewed live online

Until further notice, all University Heights City Council meetings and Council Committee meetings are being held remotely, via Zoom. Residents can, nonetheless, watch them as they happen.

A schedule of meetings, plus links to view each meeting live, is available at Also available is a list of past meetings, and links to videos of them.

To view a meeting, go to Under each listed UH City Council and Council Committee meeting, there will be a "Join Zoom Meeting" link at left.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 4:02 PM, 04.02.2020

Cedar Lee Connection development project is underway

This map show the location of the proposed project. [Courtesy city of Cleveland Heights.]

The development project planned for the surface parking lot behind the Cedar Lee Theatre and the adjacent vacant lot to the south—at Lee Road and Meadowbrook Boulevard—is moving ahead. The project is spearheaded by Cedar Lee Connection, LLC (CLC), comprising local partners Sequoia Realty Corp. and Snavely Group.

Since the city of Cleveland Heights’ acceptance of CLC’s proposal last summer, plans have begun to take a more concrete shape. The project aims to enhance the community by adding a new complex of approximately 150 market-rate studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments, as well as retail, restaurant and work spaces.

CLC envisions creating a woonerf, the Dutch term for “living street,” an inviting, connective shared space for pedestrians, strollers, bicycles and cars in the area behind the Cedar Lee Theatre and adjacent Lee Road businesses. The woonerf would allow for public art and create space for community events.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 7:02 AM, 03.31.2020

Stone Oven owners reflect on 25 years in business

The Stone Oven celebrates 25 years in 2020. [photo by Bob Rosenbaum]

In the 25 years since Jon Emerman and Tatyana Rehn opened The Stone Oven Bakery Café on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights, it has been one of the community’s favorite gathering spots. We asked them some questions about their quarter century in the business, and how they’re adapting their business to the coronavirus.

COVID-19 has turned the world upside-down. Have you ever seen anything like this? Tatyana Rehn: These are truly unprecedented times. Even 9/11 did not affect us anywhere near as much as we are being affected now. We are struggling to keep the staff on and healthy, and to provide something positive to our community

How does the business now compare with the vision when you first opened? Jon Emerman: Our original concept was as it still is—a comfortable and inviting place where people can sit and enjoy a fresh-baked good and cup of coffee, or sandwich made with our bread.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 6:58 AM, 03.31.2020

We've got a no-hitter going, so far

I got a 1960 Rocky Colavito baseball card, with Rocky in an Indians uniform, halfway through the baseball season that year, long after he'd been traded away. 

I remember April 17, 1960. Part of it, anyway. I was standing in the tiny front yard of my house on Belmar Road when someone told me that the Cleveland Indians had traded Rocky Colavito to the Detroit Tigers.

It’s not quite accurate to say the Cleveland Indians traded him; the Indians’ general manager, Frank Lane, traded him. He traded everyone. He was obsessed with trading players. And even managers, once. And he was despised by everyone, all the time.

Rocky Colavito was by far the most popular player in Cleveland, and one of the best. There was no real reason to trade him, and everyone knew that.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 2:23 PM, 03.16.2020

UH encourages residents to take 'Time Out Together'

“Time Out Together” is a University Heights initiative that encourages residents, every evening at 6:30 p.m., to come out of their homes, wave to neighbors, visually check in with one another, ride bikes, walk their dogs, chat across yards, share supplies, and generally provide comfort while safely interacting.

The daily event will begin on Friday, March 20, and continue each evening until the coronavirus epidemic is over.

“Let’s take a few minutes each day to step outside and reconnect,” Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan said.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 11:57 AM, 03.20.2020

Heights businesses adjust hours, services

Loyal customers practiced social distancing as they lined up for takeout at Jack's Deli & Restaurant, in University Heights, on March 17. Later that day, Jack's announced it would be closed until further notice.

Some Heights businesses have temporarily closed, and others have made, and continue to make, adjustments to their business hours or practices in an effort to help stem the spread of COVID-19. On March 15, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued an order to bars and restaurants, instructing them to close as of 9 p.m. that evening. Earlier, he had issued orders to prohibit large public gatherings. On March 23, many Heights businesses that originally remained open announced they would close in accordance with the governor's "stay-at-home" order, effective March 23, 11:59 p.m., through April 6.

The Heights has a large number of independently run, locally owned businesses that will be impacted by the current crisis. 

In an effort to encourage support of businesses remaining open, the city of Cleveland Heights has announced that it is waiving all parking fees in city-owned lots and garages effectively immediately and until further notice.

In addition to takeout service, some businesses offer online or by-phone ordering, and free local delivery. Purchasing gift certificates for future use is another way that Heights residents can support businesses during this difficult time.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 12:07 PM, 03.17.2020

East Side food bank anticipates increased need

As public health and economic repercussions of the coronavirus continue to impact our community, the Father Michael Wittman Ozanam Center (FMWOC), a local food pantry and clothing bank, is preparing for an increased need for food assistance.

Support for the all-volunteer organization comes from 14 churches in the eastern suburbs, including Cleveland Heights’ Communion of Saints Parish and Church of the Saviour.

The center is located at St. Philomena Church, 13824 Euclid Ave., in East Cleveland. It operates every Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., as a registered agency with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank under the sponsorship of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Cleveland Council.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 11:17 AM, 03.20.2020


It seemed as though time stretched with every new announcement of closures, restrictions, and new coronavirus infections. As the difficult decision came to close schools in Ohio, there were many unanswered questions. School faculty and staff were charged with figuring out how to “build a plane while flying it.” 

How do we care for ourselves and our families during the COVID-19 crisis? How do we help our students and their families? How can we support students who are homeless? What happens to our students who are already in crisis over the illness or death of a loved one? These are serious questions without clear answers.

The CH-UH school administration made some hard decisions quickly, and worked through some tough issues with the teachers union. We were concerned about the students who are food insecure, students for whom school is a place where they get two meals per day.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 4:19 PM, 04.02.2020

CH-UH district supports the community; needs our votes

To the Editor:

These past days and weeks have caused so much upheaval and uncertainty for our families, our community, and our world. We are benefitting from a governor who has taken decisive action, requiring sacrifices from all to curb what could otherwise be devastating to so many.

Likewise, our CH-UH school district, under the leadership of Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby, has taken quick action to ensure the safety and well-being of our children. But the district didn’t just comply with the state-ordered closure; it is doing much more.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 4:32 PM, 04.02.2020

CH-UH City School District updates

Updates from the CH-UH City School District are available at

Here is the most recent news:

Breakfast and lunch pickup

During the COVID-19 school closure, many children may face food insecurity. The district's food service partner, AVI Food Systems, has created a plan for meal distribution.  

Each weekday, beginning Tuesday, March 17, breakfast and lunch can be picked up from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The setup will be “grab and go” in school entrances to prevent patrons from congregating in buildings. This food is available for all children, regardless of whether or not they attend Heights public schools.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 1:33 PM, 03.17.2020

Cities of Cleveland Heights and University Heights provide COVID-19 support, updates

Given the rapidly updating news about COVID-19's impact on local communities, the cities of Cleveland Heights and University Heights are using their websites as portals for vital information.

For the foreseeable future, both cities have canceled in-person council and committee meetings, and have closed their city halls for general business. The Cleveland Heights Community Center, including the Senior Center, is also closed until further notice.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 1:04 PM, 03.17.2020

Heights Libraries closes all branches during COVID-19 outbreak

Heights Libraries wants the community to know that the health and safety of customers and staff is its top priority. It therefore decided to close all of its buildings as of Friday, March 13, at 5:30 p.m. 

"This was not an easy decision, and not one that library leadership made lightly," said Heights Libraries Director Nancy Levin. "We decided to close our buildings at the recommendation of the Ohio Department of Health. Research indicates that early social distancing can help slow the spread of the disease."

To help customers understand the closing and its repercussions, it put the following FAQ list on its website and Facebook page, and also sent it to customers in an eblast:

Are all four Heights Libraries buildings closed? Yes. The Coventry Village, Lee Road, Noble Neighborhood, and University Heights branches are closed until further notice due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 11:04 AM, 03.17.2020

More trash talk as task force makes recommendations

“Change is coming to the way we process our refuse, whether we like it or not,” we wrote in “Trash talk” (Heights Observer, December 2018). Now, the time for change has arrived. Tree lawns bedecked with plastic trash and recycling bags will soon be a thing of the past.

In September, Cleveland Heights’ recycling contract with Rumpke Waste and Recycling is up for renewal. At that point, absent some interim agreement, Rumpke will no longer take the recyclables our city’s drivers transport in those familiar blue bags. Instead, our jars, cans, plastic, cardboard and paper will have to be transported loose from our city’s transfer station on Superior Road to Rumpke’s recycling facility in Shiloh.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 4:11 PM, 04.02.2020

LWV needs meeting observers

The Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Greater Cleveland is looking for volunteers to observe meetings of Heights governing bodies. The goal of the Heights Chapter is to cover Cleveland Heights and University Heights city councils, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education, and the Heights Libraries Board of Trustees. It needs observers for all four.

The only requirement is that observers be impartial and unaffiliated with the election campaigns of individuals seated in the body covered. Observers do not participate in public comments before the body they cover, unless the LWV authorizes them to do so.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 4:03 PM, 04.01.2020

Scooter McGruder tackles reading with Heights students

Former NFL player McGruder read to students during his visit to two CH-UH elementary schools.

On March 6, retired NFL player Michael “Scooter” McGruder visited Noble and Oxford elementary schools. As part of NFL Tackles Reading, in partnership with Church on the Heights and Reaching Heights, McGruder shared his story and encouraged students to dream big and take their education seriously.

“I graduated from Cleveland Heights High School and I got to play in the NFL, like Jason and Travis Kelce, who both played for teams that won a Super Bowl," McGruder told students. "The next successful person from Heights High could be you or you or you!”

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 4:07 PM, 04.01.2020

CH's Sackey earns technology award

Tri-C student Ibrahim Sackey.

Cleveland Heights resident and Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) student Ibrahim Sackey has been named a Student Technology Champion by the League for Innovation in the Community College.

Sackey received one of the League’s three Terry O’Banion Student Technology Awards, given to community college students with a talent and passion for technology.

A first-generation college student, Sackey is set to graduate from Tri-C this spring with an Associate of Applied Business degree in information technology with a concentration in networking software. He has already earned 10 professional certificates.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 3:55 PM, 04.01.2020

We are all interconnected

I am grateful to Cleveland Heights City Council for adopting Resolution 15-2020 at its Feb. 18 meeting. By approving the resolution, city leaders took a stand on school funding and vouchers—issues that have critical ramifications for the health and well-being of our community.

The resolution states, “This Council demands immediate financial relief be provided to all Ohio school districts impacted by EdChoice vouchers and that the state not deduct EdChoice payments from local school district funds.” It also calls for the legislature to remedy “its school funding system as ordered by the Ohio Supreme Court.” 

The resolution does not have enforcement powers, but it makes clear that current state policy has a negative local impact and that community leaders object. Silence is tacit agreement.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 4:15 PM, 04.02.2020

Where's the TOH public greenery and 'wow' factor?

Cleveland Heights Zoning Code 1165.05 (c), for large-scale residential development (more than 2 acres), calls for 30-percent active or passive open space. The present Top of the Hill (TOH) design falls well short of that requirement. The city has not justified allowing the diminished open space to be approved. 

Only one place for public assembly is shown, and it is a skimpy space, intersected by a retaining wall, west of Nighttown. The Astroturf dog park in front of the Buckingham Condominiums is gated, and Buckingham residents cannot use it. The grove of trees currently on that site will be removed. 

Let’s go back to Oct. 10, 2018, to a TOH meeting at the CH Community Center chaired by CH Council Member Michael Ungar, council's liaison with the developer, Flaherty & Collins.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 4:22 PM, 04.02.2020

Resident is proud of CH's diversity

To the Editor:

Nothing has made me prouder than returning home to the city of Cleveland Heights after 27 years and discovering that it hasn’t lost its commitment to cultural diversity.

This past January and February, within the span of three weeks, I attended stellar performances of “Intimate Apparel” at Ensemble Theatre, which is housed in the Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Campus, and “Skeleton Crew” at Dobama Theatre, which is located in the Cedar Lee district.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 4:30 PM, 04.02.2020

ROAM seeks donations and vendors for May fundraiser

Roots of American Music (ROAM), with support from the Ohio Arts Council, plans to host a live-music community event in Coventry Village on Saturday, May 16,1–5 p.m., as part of its Garage Band/Garage Sale project. [Note: The details for this event are subject to change and cancellation as a result of coronavirus public-health concerns.]

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 4:09 PM, 04.01.2020

Ohio closes polling places; moves Election Day to June 2

Signs at St. Paul's Episcopal Church notified would-be voters of the postponed election.

After a judge denied a late-in-the-day lawsuit on March 16, intended to postpone Ohio's March 17 Election Day to June 2, Ohio's director of health, Dr. Amy Acton, issued an order closing polling places, thus suspending voting. The new election date is June 2.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (BOE) has posted a link to Dr. Acton's order, which provided a timeline of federal and state news on the spread of COVID-19. In it, she cited the CDC's March 15 statement warning against mass gatherings of 50 people or more, in ordering that polling locations in Ohio close on March 17.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 9:39 AM, 03.17.2020

Special online meeting of UH City Council to be held March 19 at 6:30 p.m.

University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan has called for a special meeting of UH City Council tonight, March 19, at 6:30 p.m. At the meeting, Brennan will give a report on the city’s response to COVID-19, and answer questions.

Three proposed ordinances will be considered, in order to respond to the pandemic.

The agenda includes:

Ordinance 2020-17 - Providing for paid emergency leave and allow[ing] the mayor or his designee to temporarily expand the use of existing paid sick leave of absence (on emergency).

Ordinance 2020-18 – Granting them emergency spending authority (on emergency).

Ordinance 2020-19 – Adopting temporary voting requirements during the period of emergency (on emergency).

To join the meeting on Zoom:

Meeting ID: 753 578 440

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 5:09 PM, 03.19.2020

Three CH polling locations have moved; closed libraries are open for voting

UPDATE: According to the website of Ohio's secretary of state, Frank LaRosa (, legal steps are underway to move the state's primary election date from Tuesday, March 17, to Tuesday, June 2. The change of date requires either a legal order, or an act of the state legislature. As of 4:40 p.m. on Monday, March 16, there were no election date updates posted to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (BOE) site (, but a search of "What's on your ballot" at the voting information website Vote411 ( for a Cleveland Heights precinct shows an election date of June 2.

[Editor's Note: It seems a change in voting date is likely, and is in process. For updates, please visit any of the websites posted within this article. Once the facts of a change are announced, along with alternatives to in-person voting, the Heights Observer will seek to put together an update for CH and UH voters.]

The New York Times is reporting, as of 3:37 p.m. on Monday, March 16, that Ohio. Gov. DeWine will try to postpone the state's Tuesday, March 17 election.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 1:58 PM, 03.16.2020

Cleveland Heights City Council regular meeting highlights 3-2-2020

MARCH 2, 2020


  • Public comments
  • Council actions
  • Council Member Yasinow resigns
  • School levy proposal on the March ballot
  • Arlington House
  • City manager’s report


Present were Mayor Jason Stein, Vice Mayor Kahlil Seren, Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell, Michael Ungar and Melissa Yasinow. Also present were City Manager Tanisha Briley, Clerk of Council Susanna O’Neil, and Law Director William Hanna. The meeting was 36 minutes long.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 10:49 AM, 03.23.2020

TOH critics not to blame for delay

After sitting through the final CH City Council meeting on the topic of Top of the Hill (TOH), on Feb. 18, I found it unfortunate that critics of the project were being blamed for how long it has taken for TOH to happen.

Was it critics who selected a prominent local developer with a history of quality projects, and then could not come to an agreement with the developer? No, that was the city of Cleveland Heights. Was it critics who orchestrated a Potemkin Village of "public engagement,” and then ignored that input? No, it was the city. Was it critics who crafted a poor design and submitted incomplete drawings to the Architectural Board of Review (ABR), drawing out the process? No, it was the developer. Was it critics who failed to conduct any sort of market survey, showing how this project will be a catalyst for the entire city, and post all relevant material on the city’s website? No, it was the city. Was it critics who failed to develop this site over the last 25 years and—by the way—are now on their third (or is it fourth?) developer at Lee and Meadowbrook? No, it was the city.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 9:10 AM, 03.11.2020

UH memo on COVID-19 cancels block parties amid precautions

On March 10, the city of University Heights sent out an memo on the coronavirus. In it, the city announced the cancellation of all block parties—including one which had been scheduled for later in the day—and advocated the practice of "social distancing."

The UH directive comes a day after, and in response to, news that three Cuyahoga County residents tested positive for the virus.

According to Mike Cook, communications and civic engagement coordinator for University Heights, Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan has been on conference calls with the county, and has been reviewing policies from both the county and the state, in managing the city's response.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 12:16 PM, 03.10.2020

LWV Heights chapter endorses school levy Issue 26

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Greater Cleveland endorses passage of Issue 26, a proposed tax levy for current expenses of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District. 

Policies recently enacted by the Ohio state government have created a sudden financial crisis for our local public schools. Ohio’s EdChoice voucher program—which is based on school ratings using questionable testing practices and dated testing information—was expanded to affect more schools, and to provide vouchers to private-school students who had never attended public schools.

The state’s practice of paying for EdChoice vouchers through deductions from affected districts’ state aid, the unexpected inclusion of Heights High on the EdChoice school list, and the expansion of EdChoice eligibility to private school students with no prior connection to the public schools precluded the district’s ability to plan for the near-term financial impact of this program.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 11:32 AM, 03.09.2020

County council candidate Baker's résumé is skinny

To the Editor:

Cheryl Stephens is well known to us. Her economic development leadership for over 20 years, her progressive politics, and her Master of Public Administration [degree] make her a well-qualified candidate for Cuyahoga County Council. To see her credentials, go to the Cuyahoga County website and look her up.

Her opponent, on the other hand, has had 18 jobs in the past 13 years. He is significantly less qualified than Stephens. During a challenge of his residency, I received copy of his application and résumé from the South Euclid Lyndhurst (SEL) School District. 

He says he is an educator. Yet as of May 2019, when he applied at the SEL district, he had no permanent teaching certificate listed on his résumé.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 11:31 AM, 03.09.2020

Yasinow resigns from CH City Council

Melissa Yasinow in a photo from her 2017 CH City Council campaign.

At the March 2 meeting of Cleveland Heights City Council, Melissa Yasinow resigned as council member, effective immediately.

Yasinow provided no explanation for her resignation.

Reading from a prepared statement in which she addressed residents of Cleveland Heights, Yasinow said, “It has been an honor and a privilege to have served you these past six years. Being a member of this council has been one of the highlights of my professional life. I am grateful to have worked with my colleagues, past and present, and with this city’s qualified, competent and professional staff. I'm also enormously proud to have been part of the team that made Top of the Hill a reality. This is a goal that has eluded our city for over 50 years, and now we are set to break ground."

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 1:48 PM, 03.03.2020

An unexpectedly timely look at filling CH council vacancies

This column is about how Cleveland Heights needs to revise its process for filling unexpected vacancies on CH City Council. Shortly after finishing it, we learned that such a vacancy may arise soon.  

We received a tip that Council Member Melissa Yasinow is planning to move out of the community. As of Feb. 25, her Washington Boulevard house was showcased on real-estate website Zillow with a notation that it was scheduled to go on the market Feb. 27. Meanwhile, the Chagrin Falls address that she and her husband supposedly contracted to buy on Dec. 10, with a March 3 closing date, is no longer listed by Zillow as being on the market.   

When we contacted her directly, Yasinow said she was upset about being confronted with the information, but she would not directly confirm nor deny it.

As long as she actually resides in Cleveland Heights, Yasinow can legally retain her council seat.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 2:02 PM, 02.26.2020

Census hiring event is Feb. 29

On Saturday, Feb. 29, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Cleveland Heights City Council Member Davida Russell will host a census-worker hiring event for Cleveland Heights residents. It will take place at Central Bible Baptist Church, 2285 Noble Road.

Census takers will be paid up to $22.50 per hour, and Russell said she is hoping an additional 200 Cleveland Heights residents will be hired.

To RSVP to the hiring session, e-mail For more information, call 216-333-3137.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 11:24 AM, 02.27.2020

Start right here

Pete Seeger, in the early 2000s, still spreading the word.

When my daughter was in the eighth grade at Roxboro Middle School, about 18 years ago, she came home one day and said to me, “You have to come in and talk to my social studies class.”

I said, “Really? You want me to come and talk to your class?”

She said, “No. But Mr. Swaggard said we have to bring in a relic from the Sixties.”

I said, “Uh . . . Do you know what ‘relic’ means?”

She said, “Uh . . . yeah.”

I said, “[sigh] Okay. As long as you know . . .” 

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 9:09 AM, 02.28.2020

University Square poised for rebuild

A bird's eye rendering of phase one of the University square redevelopment. [courtesy Kowit & Company]

University Square’s long-awaited and much-needed makeover could begin as soon as this summer.

“We are on the verge of doing what once seemed impossible,” University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan said. “The partnership led by Kowit & Company Real Estate Group is the right local developer for the redevelopment at University Square. They share our vision of something bigger, something better, something beautiful, something worthy of this city, worthy of this community, worthy of University Heights.”

In January, UH City Council approved new Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to allow the redevelopment of University Square. The redevelopment plan was made possible through cooperation with the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District, the Cuyahoga County government, the county prosecutor’s office, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, and bond holders of the original 2001 University Square development.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:34 AM, 02.25.2020

Seeking participants and hosts for dinners about race

On Saturday, April 25, and Sunday, April 26, a special discussion will be taking place around dinner tables in Cleveland Heights and University Heights.

As part of the advance planning for “Heights Dinners: Conversations About Race,” organizers are currently seeking participants—hosts, facilitators and guests—for the dinners, which will be held in private homes and other locations in the two cities.

At each dinner, a host, a trained facilitator, and up to eight guests will gather for a shared meal and guided conversation.

Several community groups are coordinating the dinners: Heights Community Congress (HCC), FutureHeights, Reaching Heights, Heights Libraries, Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District, and Home Repair Resource Center. 

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 9:15 AM, 02.28.2020

Cedar Lee district welcomes CIFF East

The 44th Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) will return to its Heights roots in April 2020.

With generous support from PNC Bank, CIFF East will take place at the Cedar Lee Theatre the second weekend of the festival, starting on the evening of Friday, April 3, followed by two full days of programming on Saturday, April 4, and Sunday, April 5. There will be 18 screenings at the Cedar Lee throughout the weekend, comprising features, documentaries, shorts and family films.

Cedar Lee Theatre owner Jonathan Forman founded CIFF, the annual festival of films from around the world, in 1977. That year, the festival screened eight films over eight weeks at the Cedar Lee Theatre.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 9:28 AM, 02.28.2020

One Fairmount business to close; another to move

To the Editor:

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen to you!

After nearly 40 years as a children’s specialty retailer—25 of them in Cleveland Heights—the time has come to say goodbye. Pinwheel Kids, at 3469 Fairmount Blvd., will close at the end of March so I can kick off my retirement.

I feel lucky to have called Cleveland Heights my second home for over two decades. Being on “main street” in this vibrant neighborhood has been so gratifying. The loyalty and enthusiasm of the Cleveland Heights community for its small businesses is exceptional.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 9:42 AM, 02.28.2020

FutureHeights supports Integrity Realty's Euclid Heights Blvd. project

To the Editor:

The following letter was sent to members of the CH Board of Zoning Appeals on Feb. 19:

Dear Members of the CH Board of Zoning Appeals,

FutureHeights has reviewed the proposed Integrity Realty Group project at 2235 Overlook Road and 2345-61 Euclid Heights Blvd., and offers its support of the developer’s request for variances to Code Sections 1123.08, 1161.11, and 1123.07.

We are pleased that Integrity plans to retain the historic buildings and stone wall on the site. We are also pleased with the developer’s efforts to address and incorporate neighboring property owners’ concerns into the plans.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 9:45 AM, 02.28.2020

WRC sings Mozart's 'Great' Mass

The Western Reserve Chorale (WRC), a chorus of more than 100 voices from across Northeast Ohio, will share the incomparable mastery of Mozart in concert on March 22. 

It is a vexing truth that Mozart’s two towering choral works were both left unfinished. While the Requiem was not completed due to the composer’s untimely death, less is known as to why the Mass in C minor was not completed.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:37 AM, 03.02.2020

Choral Arts presents world premiere Mass

So, just who is George Bristow? Choral Arts Cleveland and its director, Brian Bailey, invite you to find out as it brings to life the Mass in C by 19th-century American composer George Bristow in a world premiere of the composition. Supported in part by the citizens of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, the evening begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 13, with a talk on Bristow and American classical music, followed by the choral performance. The venue is Fairmount Presbyterian Church, 2757 Fairmount Blvd., in Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:49 AM, 03.02.2020

Pulitzer finalist gets Cleveland premiere at Dobama

Dobama Theatre will present the Cleveland premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-finalist “Dance Nation,” March 6–29.

In the play by Clare Barron, an army of preteen competitive dancers from Liverpool, Ohio, are plotting to take over the world. If their new routine is good enough, they’ll claw their way to the top at the Boogie Down Grand Prix in Tampa Bay.

Partly inspired by the reality-TV show “Dance Moms,” the play is about ambition, growing up, and how to be oneself in the heat of it all. It explores the exhilaration and terror of being a kid through the story of a group of 13-year-old dance troupe members, as portrayed by adult actors.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:38 AM, 03.02.2020

Burning River Baroque series debuts at Blank Canvas CLE

Cleveland Heights resident Malina Rauschenfels, soprano, is co-artistic director of Burning River Baroque. Photo courtesy of Tom Hughey.

Burning River Baroque continues its eighth season with a series of thought-provoking performances, beginning Wednesday, March 18.

Witches: Revered & Reviled has been crafted to connect baroque music to present day issues of othering, bullying and stigmatization.

According to the musical program's description, the wish for an ordered society “frequently led to the persecution of individuals who were accused of straying outside the established conventional boundaries of ‘acceptable’ behavior.” The program focuses particularly on the criminalization of women who were labeled as not fitting into social norms.

Ironically, while women “ascribed with supernatural abilities” were severely outcasted and punished, they also were viewed as a resource to help those who suffered from mental and spiritual maladies. Thus, the program looks closely at reverence, as well as repulsion, through the stories of Circe, the Witch of Endor, and the Furies in a broad range of national styles and traditions of the 17th century. 

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:29 AM, 03.02.2020

Heights Arts announces March exhibitions and concert

Red Campion

Heights Arts, the multi-disciplinary arts organization in Cleveland Heights, will celebrate the creativity of its musical and visual artist members throughout the month of March.

On Friday, March 6, Heights Arts will host the opening of its second Members Show, in which about 40 Heights Arts artist members will exhibit their work.

Most Heights Arts exhibitions are curated by guest curators or its Exhibition Community Team, which comprises community volunteers with connections and expertise in the visual arts community. This team has been responsible for 20 years of the highest quality exhibitions featuring the region’s emerging and well-established artists.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:32 AM, 03.02.2020

Soprano Angela Zawada in recital at First Baptist

Angela Zawada

Angela Zawada, the Chancel Choir soprano soloist of the First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland, will present a recital of classical works at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 8, in the Gothic sanctuary of the church at 3630 Fairmount Blvd. 

The program will feature works by Handel, Mozart, Schumann, Fauré and Samuel Barber, spanning several musical periods and languages. Visions of night and dreams trace a path through the program from “O Sleep” from Handel’s oratorio Semele, to Fauré's "Apres un rêve" ("After A Dream") to Barber's “Sure on this Shining Night.” The program also features fiery pieces, such as Fauré's “Fleur jetee," with its virtuosic piano score, performed by Adam Whiting, a Cleveland School of the Arts faculty member.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:44 AM, 03.02.2020

Free talk series aims to bring nature home

This white oak (c. 1700–2019) at Lower Lake park came down in the fall 2019 microburst. Oaks and other beneficial trees will be the subject of a March 7 talk.

Early spring is the perfect time to think about what to plant in our yards. These days, we know that the choices we make impact nature as never before. We have a declining tree canopy, declining insect and bird populations, and a global climate emergency.

An upcoming series of free talks, Bringing Nature Home, is intended to help attendees take positive actions at the ground level. The speakers, presented by Friends of Lower Lake and the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership (DBWP), will journey from the tree canopy, to the shrub layer, to the ground layer for a holistic look at what makes up healthy habitat in public and private green spaces. The series' tagline, “It’s About Time,” reflects the urgency of restoring urban habitat to good health, as well as how the sequence of plant life supports insects and birds throughout the growing season. Personal choices can make a difference, and this series of talks is intended to provide a guide.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 8:56 AM, 02.28.2020

Heights Tree People prepare for spring

Have trees, will plant, just ask! From left: Tadas Barkus, a friend, and Heights Tree People Margy Weinberg, Bill Hanavan, Kathy Smachlo, Laura Marks, Sue Wolpert and Elsa Johnson.

Thirty-some years ago, Bill Hanavan planted a tree in his yard on Yorkshire Road, and fell in love. He couldn’t stop looking at trees, buying trees, and planting trees. In Kalamazoo, Mich., where Bill and Pat Hanavan raised their two daughters, their yard became a veritable forest. Retirement and grandchildren brought the Hanavans back to Cleveland Heights, where Bill still looks at, buys, and plants trees—free of charge—for anyone who wants one.

A notice in Nextdoor, the social networking service for neighborhoods, elicited some interest, and Hanavan planted more than 20 trees for friends and neighbors. But in this time of climate consciousness and controversy, Hanavan was looking to meet up with other tree enthusiasts.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:01 AM, 02.28.2020

Smarter state policy would bring equality in education and taxation

Here comes another school levy. Here come the same letters and arguments we’ve heard over the past 20 or 30 years. And here comes the aftermath of the vote, with a small majority of voters relieved, and a large minority discouraged but determined to try again. This same drama has played out over and over for decades, with the local actors stuck playing roles defined by a tired old script. What would it take to change this predictable and unsatisfying plot?

Let’s set aside for the moment the effect of school vouchers siphoning off local school funding, or whether we think teachers and administrators are overpaid. Even without those factors, there is a kind of triple whammy with taxes and schools in a place like Cleveland Heights:

One, for any given amount the CH-UH district spends per student, that given amount will be a higher percentage of property value (thus a higher tax rate) compared to the Solons and Beachwoods of the world, because the average home in the CH-UH area costs less and thus is a shallower well for revenue generation.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:57 AM, 02.28.2020

TOH is a cautionary tale for future CH development

The city of Cleveland Heights passed an ordinance in December 2018 approving the purchase of a property on Euclid Heights Boulevard, to be added to the Top of the Hill (TOH) site. The city authorized Liberty Development—a partner of Flaherty & Collins (F&C), the main TOH developer—to buy the property from the owners, then turn it over to F&C, who would then sell it to the city for no more than the property’s purchase price, plus closing and due diligence fees.

The maximum amount the city authorized Liberty to pay for the property—known as the “Green House”—was $395,000. The actual total came to about $311,000 (the purchase price, plus closing and due diligence fees), yet the city paid $369,000.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:30 AM, 02.28.2020

Vote 'no' to keep the Heights affordable

To the Editor:

My family has been in the Heights for four generations. Both my husband and I are alumni. I have volunteered as a tutor in the elementary schools, and was campaign treasurer for two former school board members. That said, I am writing to ask people to vote “no” on the operating levy 

Understanding our community is primarily residential, we still have had an unprecedented number of levies and increases in spending in recent years—despite large decreases in school enrollment. Roughly 40 percent of our school-aged children opt out of the public schools, yet our spending is amongst the highest in Ohio.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:21 AM, 02.28.2020

In support of our public schools

To the Editor:

I am a homeowner, mother and teacher living and working in Cleveland Heights.

Living here was a no-brainer for me; [it’s] an inclusive, walkable, artistic community with historic homes, independent businesses and access to all of Cleveland’s cultural assets. When I was lucky enough to land a student-teaching placement at Noble Elementary School in my 20s, I knew this was where I wanted to put down roots.

Over the next decade I taught at both private and public schools before landing my dream job, teaching studio art at Heights High.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:14 AM, 02.28.2020

School board reaches deep into family budget

To the Editor:

Which pocket will the money come from? For a family of two adults and two children, with a house valued at $150,000 and income of $75,000, the school board’s tax increase of $414 will take a big chunk out of their disposable income.

I went to and to the liberal Economic Policy Institute for some estimates of a family budget in Cleveland Heights:

  • Take-home pay after a 10-percent 401(k) contribution and all taxes: $58,560.
  • Property tax: $6,114
  • Housing: $9,239
  • Food: $9,077
  • Transportation: $13,047
  • Health care: $10,476
  • Necessities: $7,389
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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 9:52 AM, 02.28.2020

We support CH-UH schools and the levy

We wanted to share our thoughts on the CH-UH school district, having lived in the Heights for over 25 years. I [Jeff] grew up in Shaker Heights and Susan traces her Heights’ roots back to the class of ’36 when her grandfather, Eric Knudson, graduated from Heights High. 

You may question how we compare to other schools, public and private, in the area. We challenge you to look at the universities our graduating students attend, examine the number of National Merit Scholars, and study the amount of educational scholarships that are awarded. Our schools do a wonderful job preparing our children to become productive members of society.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 9:37 AM, 02.28.2020

City councils should consider impact of school levy

To the Editor:

If passed, the proposed school levy increase would give the Heights the highest property tax rate in Ohio. That is quite a severe burden when one considers the large number of low- and middle-income taxpayers here. Has any organization or elected leader in the Heights studied the impact on the community? How will this affect population, tax delinquencies, vacancies, home ownership, the quality of housing, and local businesses? The long-term trend of all of these is negative. 

Where are our city councils? Has any city found success in being #1 for property tax rates?

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:27 AM, 02.28.2020