Latest News

CH works to recover from confirmed microburst

Vehicles damaged by the Sept. 13 microburst.

City crews and First Energy respondents are making headway clearing debris, fixing downed utility polls and restoring power after a major storm and microburst damaged neighborhoods in Cleveland Heights and nearby suburbs on Friday, Sept. 13. The microburst—a rapidly descending wind and rain shaft caused by storm convection—was the second to hit the community in the last three years. 

The vast majority of damage occurred in the neighborhoods south of Cedar and west of Lee roads, fanning out from the Fairmount Boulevard, Coventry Road and Scarborough Road intersection. 

As a result, the Heights Community Congress (HCC) Home & Garden Tour, scheduled for Sept. 14, was canceled. The homes and yards featured on this year's tour were all located in the historic Coventry and Fairmount neighborhoods. Money raised from the annual event supports HCC’s mission to promote and safeguard fair housing practices in Cleveland Heights. 

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 4:06 PM, 09.17.2019

Latest News Releases

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
Free performance of Verb Ballets' Mowgli's Jungle Adventures this Friday
- Verb Ballets, June 24, 2019 Read More
HRCC Annual Business Expo Celebrates 25 Years of Connecting Local Businesses and Strengthening The Communities They Serve
- Heights Hillcrest Regional Chamber of Commerce, May 8, 2019 Read More
Two Distinguished Female Leaders Will Deliver Commencement Addresses in May
- JCU, May 6, 2019 Read More

View more news releases

Fall preservation and history lectures kick off Sept. 24

Dean Dairy, ca. 1900, was located at the current site of U-Haul, 3205 Mayfield Road.

Geneology, house rehabilitation and house research comprise the themes of this fall’s free historical lecture series. Sponsored by Heights Libraries, Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission and Cleveland Heights Historical Society, all lectures take place at Heights Libraries’ Lee Road Branch (2345 Lee Road).

Tuesday, Sept. 24, 6 p.m.: Cluster Genealogy with Deborah A. Abbott

Cluster Genealogy is a research technique used to learn more about an ancestor by examining records left by the ancestor’s “cluster.” Tracking ancestors as they move from place to place can be a daunting task, but using Cluster Genealogy can help locate an ancestor when your ancestors appear to be lost. An individual’s “cluster” consists of extended family, friends, neighbors and associates.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:33 PM, 09.16.2019

Hart describes her experience and motivation in running for CH City Council

Let me introduce myself. I am Melody Joy Hart and I am running for Cleveland Heights City Council. I am running because I am concerned about the future of my city and, particularly, its housing stock and tax base. I believe that we are all neighbors in this city and we need to work together to make every neighborhood strong, vibrant, safe and stable.

I have been attending council meetings for over 3.5 years.

I am a member of the Greater Cleveland Congregation’s (GCC) Cleveland Heights Housing Committee. That committee was concerned that the Noble neighborhood was hard hit by the foreclosure crisis, and that the city was not paying enough attention to the beautiful housing stock in Noble.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:21 PM, 09.16.2019

With elected mayor, partisan politics would be the norm

Proponents of a new form of Cleveland Heights government offer several arguments. None justifies drastic change they advocate.

Argument One:  A full-time, elected mayor would appoint and work with a full-time professional city administrator. We already have talented city managers who are full-time professionals. Proponents of change insist that an elected mayor who also is a “chief executive” can focus on “the community, neighborhoods, residents, businesses, and our position in the region.” But such focus already exists. It comes from our city council with its proven record of working in cooperation with city managers and in-house professional staff to create and implement new strategic plans. The Top Of The Hill project is one good example and the project to redevelop the Noble Road commercial corridor is another.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 12:27 PM, 09.16.2019

Cleveland Heights hit by massive storm

Portions of Cleveland Heights suffered damage during a severe storm the evening of Sept. 13.

The city's public relations department posted this statement on social media: Last evening the west end of our community was hit hard by a severe storm. The damage to homes and cars by fallen trees is devastating and we are thankful that no one was seriously injured given the extent of the destruction. Many of our roads west of Lee and south of Cedar and along Northpark were impassable with downed trees and power lines. The City responded immediately last evening with crews working vigorously through the night to clear roads that could be safely cleared while Police and Fire secured unsafe areas. That work continues today along with First Energy’s work on power lines and the power outage. Safety continues to be our priority and we ask that you treat ALL DOWNED LINES AS LIVE AND DANGEROUS. Residents should also be aware that wires could be hidden by debris and extreme caution should be practiced. Most hazardous areas have been blocked off with yellow caution tape but there may be others that have yet been identified. Please be careful, keep children away from hazard sites, and call 9-1-1 if you encounter a hazard that has not been reported. Currently there are over 29,000 customers without power throughout the county, down from 61,000 last night. The majority of the outages are in east side suburbs including Cleveland Heights, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, and Shaker Heights. We do not yet have an estimate on when power will be restored and will provide frequent updates when new information becomes available.

FutureHeights has announced that Heights Music Hop will go on as scheduled in the Cedar Lee Business District on Saturday, Sept. 14. Most of the businesses in the district have power. The organization is working with the venues that are without power and the musicians on solutions to enable the majority of performances to go on as planned.

Heights Community Congress, however, has announced that it has cancled the 42nd Annual Heights Heritage Home & Garden Tour that was scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 15. In an e-mail, the organization said, "This cancellation is due to the aftermath of the storm that hit the Heights on Friday night that caused extensive damage to trees and property with many downed power lines in the area." Those who who purchased tickets for the event are asked to contact the HCC office by phone at 216-321-6775, e-mail, or visit for more information.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 3:23 PM, 09.14.2019

In support of a directly elected mayor

Cleveland Heights' current system of government is an inefficient, outdated structure that is ill-equipped to meet the needs of a dynamic, growing city. The title of mayor in Cleveland Heights is simply an honorific, and the executive with actual power—the city manager—is an appointed role, not an elected one. This bureaucratic obfuscation is unnecessary, and only serves to dilute accountability.

The solution is a directly elected, full-time mayor. This mayor would be accountable directly to the public, and able to devote all of his or her energies into making our city a great(er) place [in which] to live and work.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 6:32 PM, 09.03.2019

We need an elected mayor, here and now

Cleveland Heights is having a healthy and long-overdue discussion about our form of government. This is a good thing: it has been 98 years since there has been any similar discussion.

Self-government is not easy. History has made this crystal clear, from our original Constitutional Congress to today’s news stories.

There are many examples of local governments that work well. There is also no shortage of examples where local governments have failed in their responsibilities. These examples include commission, council/manager and mayor/council forms of government.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 6:35 PM, 09.03.2019

Change to elected mayor is an unwarranted proposal

Here in Cleveland Heights there is a political scrum shaping up over the city’s type of government. “Citizens for an elected mayor” want to replace the city’s council-manager form of government with an elected full-time mayor to administer the city.

The council-manager plan of city government arose during the progressive era in American history, at a time when municipal corruption was rampant. Lincoln Steffens documented the nation’s civic sins in “The Shame of the Cities,” which appeared as a series of articles in McClure’s Magazine in 1904. 
Reformers sought a way to clean up the corruption that was led by big city mayors. They decided to replace the corrupt mayor-council governments with council-managers.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 6:29 PM, 09.03.2019

An elected mayor would empower citizens and bring opportunity

As a high school history teacher, I teach my students to find parallels between the world around them and the world in which we live. Brent Larkin, in his Aug. 1 Plain Dealer column, wrote something that resonated with me, as we approach the November ballot, where CH voters will be asked to decide if they’d like to directly elect a mayor: “Perhaps more than ever before, Cleveland needs leadership that can articulate and inspire a vision of what needs to be done. It needs a mayor who can explain in detail how government will partner with corporate and civic leaders to make it happen.”

Cleveland Heights also deserves leadership that can articulate and inspire a vision. To get there, we need to start by empowering voters with this one simple choice: Do you want to elect your mayor?

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 6:24 PM, 09.03.2019

Fairfax Elementary named IB World School

Fairfax Elementary School.

Fairfax Elementary School has been named an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, Primary Years Programme (PYP). It is the fifth school in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District to join the world education program.

“This is such an important accomplishment for Fairfax and for our district as a whole," said CH-UH Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby. "It means we’ve achieved our goal of having five authorized IB schools by 2020.” She said the program "provides our schools with a comprehensive framework for an academic experience that benefits every student."

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 9:01 AM, 09.03.2019

Noble Neighbors to host election forums

Noble Neighbors will host two election forums this fall at Noble Road Presbyterian Church, 2780 Noble Road. The first, on Wednesday, Sept. 25, will feature candidates for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education and Cleveland Heights City Council. The second, on Wednesday, Oct. 2, will focus on proposed changes to Cleveland Heights’ form of government. Each forum will begin at 7 p.m.

Noble Neighbors forums are characterized by a few unique components. The audience is asked to agree to a social contract, a common expectation of one another intended to make the evening more productive. Audience members agree to refrain from responding to the candidates or the issue representatives throughout the presentations. No one applauds or makes any gesture or vocalization, either in support or disapproval of a candidate or representative's position. Past audience members have observed that this has allowed them to listen more easily, without distraction.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 1:42 PM, 09.02.2019

Navigating an important civic debate

For most of the nation, this is an off-year election. But in Cleveland Heights, the November 2019 ballot will offer one of the biggest decisions residents have ever been asked to make: Should the city change its basic form of government?

The Heights Observer hasn’t taken sides on previous ballot issues, and won’t on this one either. Our guiding principal is to favor the individual voices arising from the community. So every opinion you read in the Heights Observer is that of the person or group whose name is attached to it.

I’ve heard criticism that the Heights Observer should do more to explain pros and cons of the ballot issue to help people decide how to vote. But as a paper built entirely on contributions from the community, we can’t claim that kind of expertise.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 1:28 PM, 09.02.2019

The most-watched film in the Cedar Lee's history

Bill DeCapite, 95, and his wife, Rose, 91, at the Cedar Lee Theatre. They act in a trailer that has run before every movie at the theatre for the past five years. Bill owned the Cedar Taylor Garage until 1995.(Photo: Fred D'Ambrosi)

It’s the most watched film in the history of the Cedar Lee Theatre. It’s not an award-winner, and it’s not “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Created by a director who’s a native of Cleveland Heights, it premiered in July 2014 and has been running daily ever since. By my back-of-the-envelope calculations, it’s played more than 40,000 times.

It’s the policy trailer that plays before every feature film. You know, the 55-second short that tells you to keep your feet off the seats, find the nearest exit, and turn off that cell phone! Locally produced for Cleveland Cinemas, it features local people, unlike most of its generic counterparts you see in national theater chains.

If you’re the rare Heights resident who hasn’t seen a film at the Cedar Lee in the past five years, here’s a recap (or, view it here: The trailer starts with a couple buying tickets which shoot out animated confetti in joyful anticipation of the fun to come. The couple head to their seats, blocked by two rude dudes with their feet up. A subtitle tells you not to do that, and the dudes drop their feet.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 1:41 PM, 09.02.2019

HCC's home and garden tour is Sept. 15

This full-yard garden on Bradford Road thoughtfully uses every inch of space for plantings and habitats for pollinators.

The 42nd annual Home & Garden Tour, presented by Heights Community Congress (HCC), will be held on Sunday, Sept.15, from noon to 6 p.m. This year’s theme is Timeless Elegance, and the tour will feature homes and gardens in Cleveland Heights' historic Coventry and Fairmount neighborhoods. 

The five homes on the tour, two of which have gardens, were all designed and built in the early 20th century, and are a testament to the timelessness of quality workmanship. Their elegance is displayed in ornate carved woodwork, beautiful molding and plaster friezes, hand-wrought ironwork, and expert tile work, among the many special features. There are also three stand-alone gardens to visit on the tour. Refreshments will be available at Fairmount Presbyterian Church from 2 to 4 p.m. 

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 2:09 PM, 09.02.2019

FutureHeights' Cedarbrook Society revitalizes Cedar Lee Mini-Park

2019 Cedarbrook Society students pose in front of a mosaic made of woodchips. Members are, from left: Ronan Karem, Aminah Abdul-Hafeez, Zelda Thayer-Hansen, Thalia Lisowski and Michaela Schomisch.

The Cedarbrook Society, a group of five Heights High students, worked with artist Tom Masaveg this summer to help FutureHeights enliven the Cedar Lee Mini-Park, a 7,500-square-foot site located between Boss Dog Brewing Company and Heights Arts in the Cedar Lee Business District.

For six weeks, the students, with Masaveg’s guidance, served as ambassadors for the space, welcoming visitors and guests, planting flowers, weeding the flower beds and creating signage. Masaveg installed a mural of white trees on the side of the Cedar Lee Theatre building and worked with the students to create augmented-reality artwork to interact with the mural via smart phone technology. With help from Heights Libraries, he installed a Little Free Library. The students managed a Cedarbrook Society social media account to document their activities and keep the community up-to-date. They also gathered additional input on future use of the space through on-site surveying.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 1:50 PM, 09.02.2019

Library reaches out to non-users for Library Card Sign-Up Month

September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month, a campaign established in 1987 by the American Library Association and the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science. The campaign was designed to encourage parents and their children to sign up for library cards at the start of the school year.

In keeping with this original mission, Heights Libraries will be reaching out to kids this month, sending library card sign-up flyers home with school-aged children, and offering prizes to kids who check out a book with their new cards. The cover of the library’s fall program guide, Check Us Out, also encourages kids to get cards, proclaiming that “a library card is the most important school supply of all.”

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 2:13 PM, 09.02.2019

Singing in tune—again

I’ve noticed that when I hear groups of people singing, for instance, the “Happy Birthday” song, in restaurants and in videos, that almost everyone in the group is singing in a key that’s different than everyone else’s. And they don’t notice. Or care. That’s not the way it was when I was a kid. It was unusual when one person sang out of key.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I remember, and almost everyone I’ve asked who went to Cleveland Heights elementary schools from the 1930s through the ‘60s remembers, that there was a piano in every elementary school classroom, and that every teacher knew how to play it.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 2:18 PM, 09.02.2019

Elected-mayor issue is really about discontent with status quo

First off, I want to say there are bright and conscientious people making some good arguments for why the city-manager system is right for our city.

Second, I'm not a political science expert, but I've researched this topic, and it is clear that successful and unsuccessful cities exist with a variety of structures.

Third, I want to say that the people arguing for preserving the system are utterly missing the bigger picture.

If people were largely content, there is no way a handful of part-time volunteers would have been able to get this far.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 1:16 PM, 09.02.2019

Registration is open for FH 2020 Neighborhood Leadership Workshop Series

2019 Neighborhood Leadership Workshop Series participants at the 2019 FutureHeights Annual Meeting. 

Residents of Cleveland Heights are invited to apply for the 2020 FutureHeights Neighborhood Leadership Workshop Series, a free, multidisciplinary neighborhood leadership development program designed for individuals enthusiastic about positively contributing to the community in which they live, work and play. Participants will develop leadership skills, as well as gain knowledge and tools to help make their neighborhoods strong, safe and vibrant.

Since 2015, 60 CH residents have completed the workshop series. Some participate because they are interested in learning more about the city, want to meet their neighbors and other civically-minded people, or have a specific neighborhood project they want to complete. Many program graduates go on to join nonprofit boards, or city committees or commissions. Some apply to receive funding for a project through FutureHeights’ Neighborhood Mini-Grants Program, which has biannual deadlines. (The fall mini-grants deadline is Sunday, Sept. 15.)

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 1:58 PM, 09.02.2019

September offerings from HRRC

Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) will be hosting two special educational opportunities this month for those looking to learn how to make home repairs with their own hands.

First, the Electricity Basics and Electrical Repairs: Home How-To for Women Series will run for six consecutive Wednesdays, 7–9 p.m., beginning Sept. 4. Those attending will learn all the basics about home electrical work, including wiring, switches, outlets, lamp repair, circuits and more, while using the same tools the professionals use. After this series, participants won’t be in the dark about how electricity works in their homes!

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 9:06 AM, 09.03.2019

CH Senior Center News

On Tuesday, Sept. 10, 11 a.m., at the Cleveland Heights Senior Activity Center (SAC), Dennis Sutcliffe and Lost Cleveland Memories will present “Meet Me at Gate A – Cleveland Municipal stadium in the 1930s.” This free program will explore the vision for a city-owned venue that would draw thousands of people downtown for myriad events, including boxing, college and high school football, track and soccer, operas, and community celebrations with baseball as the lynchpin. It was expected that the stadium would bolster the local economy, increase tax revenues, and elevate Cleveland’s national status. But there was a problem—the Cleveland Indians didn’t want to play there!

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 2:11 PM, 09.02.2019

What’s going on at your library?

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

Wednesday, Sept. 11, 7 p.m.

Cedar-Coventry Author Series: Mary Doria Russell. Best-selling author Mary Doria Russell reads from her newest book, The Women of Copper Country, a historical novel about America's Joan of Arc—Annie Clements—the courageous woman who started a rebellion by leading a strike against the largest copper-mining company in the world.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 10:24 AM, 09.03.2019

This land is your land

Friends of Lower Lake volunteers take a break from digging out non-native species. Environmental organizations are hoping for a big turnout Sept. 28 for National Public Lands Day. Back row, left:Pow Joshi, Emma Shook, John Barber, Ryan Miller, Eran Shiloh, Mark Majewski, Andrew Klooster Front row, left: Lamar Shepherd, Sue Strauss, Sasha Strauss, Kathy Smachlo. Photo: Peggy Spaeth

National Public Lands Day has been celebrated on the fourth Saturday of September for the past 25 years as a day of volunteerism on which people give back to the environment. This year Lower Shaker Lake will be site of one of those volunteer opportunities Saturday, Sept. 28, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. 

The lake has actually been a volunteer site most Sunday mornings since May 2018. Much of the vegetation around it is a monoculture of aggressive non-native plant species.

Friends of Lower Lake, a volunteer project of the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership, has been removing and replacing invasive plants with native trees, shrubs, flowers, ferns and sedges. Most of the work, supervised by experienced volunteers, occurs at the Canoe Club site behind the wood chip pile on South Park Boulevard. 

The 1½ acre public parkland at the man-made lake has 300-year-old oak trees and groomed paths for walkers, runners, birders, bicyclists and botanists. It’s free and open to the public.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 2:05 PM, 09.02.2019

LEI offers evening programs for teens

The Coventry neighborhood bustles at night, and not just for adults. Lake Erie Ink (LEI), the nonprofit writing space for youth, provides a place where teens can hang out and explore their creativity in a variety of ways.

LEI has created various workshops for teens in grades 6–12 to help them express their unique visions and  develop their literary style and form. These workshops, affectionately called Evening Ink, offer something for everyone. 

The Teen Writers’ Workshop meets on Tuesday nights. Participants write, express themselves, and encourage one another in their literary pursuits. The workshop meets 6:30–8 p.m. 

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 2:02 PM, 09.02.2019

City managers are not immune to corruption

The August Heights Observer contained a series of opinions written by former members of the Cleveland Heights Charter Review Commission and members of the Cleveland Heights Citizens for Good Government PAC. They had headlines containing words like “risk,” “conflict,” “cronyism” and “politics.” The authors went heavy on the scare tactics, regaling readers with examples of directly elected mayors acting badly. They claim the only way to prevent scary outcomes and bad behavior is to rely on city managers and “professionalism.”

The problem with such a contention is that professionalism does not guarantee the absence of corruption, or cronyism, or conflict, or even politics. We all have read about corrupt professionals—doctors who scam Medicaid, business persons who skirt regulations, attorneys who embezzle client funds—professions of all sorts are at risk of having corrupt professionals in their ranks.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 2:15 PM, 09.02.2019

What about ethics?

A strong-mayor system of government in Cleveland Heights would concentrate power in a single politically elected ruler. The proposal on this November’s ballot to do that lacks a modern ethics provision putting boundaries on how this power can be exercised.

Currently, city council is the sole legislative authority, with substantial say over the structure and powers of the city’s administrative units. Executive authority is in the hands of a professional city manager educated for the task—an at-will city employee who is hired, monitored and, when called for, removed by council. This distribution of governing authority is completely upended by the strong-mayor initiative.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 1:45 PM, 09.02.2019

First CH GardenWalk a success despite heat

This colorful, mixed border was just one feature of a garden on North Park Boulevard.

The first GardenWalk in Cleveland Heights, held July 20 and 21, was a free, self-guided tour of 50 gardens across the city. With the temperature on Saturday at around 95 degrees, few peopled ventured out, but on Sunday, with the temperature 10 degrees cooler, most gardeners reported having more than 50 guests.

The gardens included one with an adult tree house, and there were many with wonderful water features, and ponds with enormous koi. Others showcased beautiful perennial flower beds and several Japanese-inspired gardens. Old friends reconnected, and neighbors met neighbors. The walk proved to be a great community-building event as well as an inspiration to all who enjoyed the beauty of the landscaping.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 1:44 PM, 09.02.2019

Registration is open for inaugural UH 5K

The inaugural University Heights City Beautiful 5K Run is planned for Sunday, Sept. 22, with a start time of 9 a.m. Race proceeds will benefit the City Beautiful Community Investment Corporation.

The course starts at Walter Stinson Community Park, and goes through “Logoville”—the streets that form the letter “U” inside an “H,” that inspired the new University Heights logo.

5K awards will be given to the overall female and male runners, and the top three runners in seven age groups. All race participants will receive a T-shirt and post-race refreshments.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 12:36 PM, 09.02.2019

Congratulations to CH sports honorees

To the Editor:

I want to congratulate the following individuals for their induction into various sports halls of fame in 2019:

John Malloy and Otis Chapman will be inducted into The Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame on Sept. 17. Malloy was hockey coach at Cleveland Heights High School 1981–96 and won a state championship (1986–87). He was a great mentor to many youth players who aspired to play, and later played, for Heights High.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 1:25 PM, 09.02.2019

'Soul-crushing mediocrity' makes case for change

After reading opinions in the Heights Observer in defense of a city-manager system, I am confused. We need to maintain the status quo because the residents of Cleveland Heights are easily persuaded sheep apt to fall under a Tammany Hall style of corruption, which will lead us on a path of ruin? But these same voters are smart enough to elect a council that is a paragon of pure virtue?

I’ve been very much on the fence in regard to altering our form of government, not because I think it is hitting on all cylinders, addressing major challenges with a council and city manager who have a bold, comprehensive and viable vision for the future—they don’t. My reticence has been due to my concern regarding who might be waiting in the wings to run for mayor.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 12:33 PM, 09.02.2019

CH Citizens for Good Government supports CRC's conclusions

Cleveland Heights Citizens for Good Government (CHCGG) is a political action committee (PAC) created by former members of the Charter Review Commission (CRC). I co-chair this group with Jack Newman, former CRC chair, and Lee Chilcote, former CH City Council member.

We provide continuing support for the conclusions of the CRC—a group of 15 CH residents who worked for 16 months to make recommendations to improve our government. We are committed to the citizens of Cleveland Heights, to clarify what is at stake on Election Day this November.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 1:30 PM, 09.02.2019

Separating fact from fiction in the elected-mayor issue

Incorrect assumptions, false accusations and—dare I say it?—“alternative facts” populate political discourse. Let’s consider the facts and clear up misinformation about Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM) and the charter initiative on the November ballot in Cleveland Heights:

The mayor is full time. The initiative says the mayor “shall serve the city on a full-time basis” and allows for “limited outside employment” provided such “does not conflict or interfere with carrying out the duties assigned by this charter or general law.” The clause, similar to Lakewood’s charter, provides a limitation on outside employment since none exists in the current charter. Typically, when an item is not addressed, it is permitted. The clause protects against unchecked outside employment.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 12:22 PM, 09.02.2019

Get all the facts before you decide

As the Committee for an Elected Mayor (CEM) steps up its campaign for passage of its charter initiative, I urge everyone to look closely at what [supporters] have written and what they are saying. I have attended CEM public meetings and have read the complete text of the proposed charter amendment on CEM’s website. To put it in the kindest way possible, I have found many inconsistencies.

During public meetings, members of CEM claimed that Cleveland Heights needs a full-time, directly elected mayor to be fully focused on the needs of the city. But CEM’s proposal specifically permits outside employment for the mayor. CEM members also said the mayor should be at city hall full time to be available to respond immediately to resident requests, and also spend 80 percent of his/her time on economic development.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 12:30 PM, 09.02.2019

It's time for an elected mayor to lead CH

I was honored to be appointed to the CH Charter Review Commission (CRC) in 2017, and elected vice chair of that body a number of months later. Despite being distraught at what I had characterized as a lack of vision and leadership in the city,  I saw the CRC as an opportunity to learn more about the structure of our city’s government and determine for myself, based on the evidence presented, whether the lack of leadership in the city was a structural or personnel issue.

I was frustrated with the lack of attention to core infrastructure issues, such as water and sewer. Both issues got “cleaned up” only when it finally got so bad it was a crisis.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 12:16 PM, 09.02.2019

Elected mayor would be a slippery slope

A former African-American Cleveland Heights council member for eight years, and now pastor of StartRightChurch for 13 years, I have stayed away from politics for almost 15 years. I enjoy the ministry that we do in the Caledonia neighborhood.

However, I feel the need to give my thoughts on the upcoming ballot initiative.

I believe that changing our form of government to an elected mayor would be a big mistake and not serve our community well. That type of change, if successful, would take us down a slippery slope and eventually lead to another ballot initiative asking that our city council be changed to an elected ward system. This would also be a big mistake.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 12:58 PM, 09.02.2019

Support for elected-mayor charter initiative

I’m supporting the Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM) charter initiative because it is a citizen-led initiative powered by passion, leadership and vision from people right here in Cleveland Heights. 

We’ve recently learned that the PAC formed to oppose this measure, Cleveland Heights Citizens for Good Government, is being funded with up to $25,000 from a D.C.-based lobbying firm that fights to retain city-manager forms of government all over the world. They’re hiring Burges and Burges, well-known political strategists, to come to Cleveland Heights and craft a compelling message to convince voters not to change our current form of government.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 1:01 PM, 09.02.2019

Renovated middle schools open their doors

Monticello and Roxboro middle schools in Cleveland Heights.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District is celebrating the reopening of Monticello and Roxboro middle schools with community open houses. Monticello Middle School will be open on Sunday, Sept. 15, and Roxboro Middle School will welcome visitors on Sunday, Sept. 22, both from 1 to 4 p.m.

All families, students, staff, community members and friends are invited to enjoy self-guided tours, musical entertainment provided by students, a resource fair featuring school and community partners, giveaways, and light refreshments. 

The buildings each received an approximately $15-million renovation from 2017 to 2019. During that time, CH-UH students in grades 6–8 attended school at the Wiley Campus in University Heights.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 7:47 AM, 08.27.2019

Check facts before making assumptions

To the Editor:

Before Sarah West decided to “posit that CEM has already vetted possible mayoral candidates” (“CH and the strong-mayor dilemma,” Heights Observer, Aug. 1), she could have checked if her assumption was true. It’s not. All 10 members of Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM), listed on our website and easily accessible if she had chosen to ask us, would have told her we have not vetted possible candidates.

We also agreed to not endorse a candidate nor run for mayor ourselves. We have not even discussed possible candidates, other than to say we are optimistic many qualified residents will be interested in running.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 1:23 PM, 09.02.2019

Now's the time for checks and balances

To the Editor:

Several authors of opinions published in the August Heights Observer lauded Cleveland Heights’ current system of government as “collaborative.” I agree. But it requires collaboration between two branches of government that ought to be separate: the legislative and the executive.

With the current system, city council not only hires, and can fire, the city manager, it is also charged with supervising the manager, and therefore, indirectly, city staff. This means that council, which is supposed to be the legislative branch of city government, spends much of its time protecting and attempting to manage the executive branch.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 1:19 PM, 09.02.2019

A message to CH's neighbor cities

Dear Neighbors:

Don’t worry—Cleveland Heights has not lost its collective mind. As a community, we’re struggling with how to improve our government. Some of us believe we need systemic change; others are convinced such change would be a mistake.

We who favor changing to the kind of government you have are optimistic. We look forward to electing a mayor as the full-time executive of our city, who will appoint a professional city administrator to manage daily operations. That mayoral administration will be checked and balanced by a legislative body, our elected city council.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 12:47 PM, 09.02.2019

To protect abortion rights, we need to say 'abortion'

I’ve recently been criticized for using the word abortion too much because it makes people uncomfortable. 

Well, you know what makes me uncomfortable? Abortion bans. Abortion stigma. People who have never been in my shoes, who don’t know what’s in my heart, ridiculing me, judging me, and calling me tunnel-visioned or clueless because I’ve chosen to dedicate my life to fighting for abortion access. 

I’m a small business owner in Cleveland Heights. I’m civically active. I’m a parent of a young child who will grow up in the Cleveland Heights–University Heights school system.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 1:11 PM, 09.02.2019

Heights Arts exhibition explores 'digital paradox'

Linear Construction #10, photograph by Barry Underwood.

Heights Arts kicks off the fall exhibition season with Untouched: The Digital Paradox, opening Friday, Aug. 30, 6–9 p.m. Matthew Hollern, professor and chair of jewelry and metals at the Cleveland Institute of Art, is the guest curator for the show, which explores the evolving role of technology in the creation of art.

“Sometimes the digital history of an object is apparent,” said Hollern. “At other times the role of technology is there but it’s invisible. Sometimes a work seems like digital trickery but it is actually not. Digital work can really challenge assumptions.”

Artists in the show are George Kozmon, Barry Underwood, // Benitez_Vogl (Margarita Benitez and Markus Vogl), Janice Lessman-Moss, Marcus Brathwaite, Tony Ingrisano, Yasniel Valdes, and Matthew Hollern. The exhibit is on view through Oct. 13.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 7:58 AM, 08.27.2019

White Gallery fall show opens Sept. 6

Wall Doll, by Martha Young.

The Nicholson B. White Gallery at St. Paul’s Church invites the public to an artists’ reception on Friday, Sept. 6, 5–7, p.m., to view work by photographer Thomas Abel, painters Patricia Ingram and Jerome T. White, and textile artist Martha Young.  

Abel took the photographs in the 1950s and '70s in France, mostly in Paris, using the distinctively rich Kodachrome color film. He studied and worked in France for part of his life, and became fascinated with the architecture. His images capture a time gone by in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Abel worked for more than 30 years in Cleveland as an architectural photographer and photographic artist. While in France, he met his wife, who shared his love of art and architecture. With the encouragement and assistance of his family, the White Gallery is thrilled to show Abel's work. 

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 7:53 AM, 08.27.2019

City seeks nominations for UH Civic Awards

For years, University Heights was known as “The City of Beautiful Homes.” While houses in University Heights are still beautiful, the city is now focused on honoring the beautiful people who live inside those homes.

After a decade-long hiatus, the University Heights Civic Awards returned last year, and will once again be an annual event, honoring the people who make University Heights a great place in which to live, work, and raise a family.

If you know someone who is deserving of a Good Neighbor award, e-mail UH City Hall staff at Awards will also be given to Citizen of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, and city Employee of the Year.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 7:50 AM, 08.27.2019

Former union leader recalls Wiley wildcat strike

Tom Schmida was president of the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union from 1990 to 2012. He currently serves as an advisor to me, the current president. Incidentally, Tom was also my homeroom teacher when I attended Wiley, and had me in his seventh-grade social studies class. I asked Tom to write this month’s column, recalling a one-day teachers’ strike . —Ari Klein

This year marks the 40th anniversary of an unprecedented event that rocked the CH-UH school district. In March 1979, teachers at Wiley Junior High (later Wiley Middle School) staged a wildcat strike. Surprisingly, this one-day walkout was not over typical bread-and-butter issues that divide union and management; it was instead a job action directed at the failure of district administration and the Board of Education (BOE) to effectively deal with student discipline problems.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 12:50 PM, 09.02.2019

Time to fix the voucher problem

In his 2003 book, Seeking Common Ground, Public Schools in a Diverse Society, education historian David Tyack observed that "government requires environmental impact statements for construction projects, but not student and teacher impact reports for educational reforms.” If only Ohio’s policymakers had done an impact study of their voucher laws.

Vouchers are eroding, rather than improving, education available to children of color and those who are enrolled in high-poverty school districts in Ohio. The use of public funds to pay for private schools is made worse by the payment method. Funds for three voucher programs are deducted from state aid to local school districts, often taking funds away from public school students.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 12:41 PM, 09.02.2019

Heights Observer local candidate policy

With the November election approaching, the Heights Observer is publishing its policy for contributions by candidates for local office.

As a community newspaper committed to equal access for everyone, the Observer is unique among publications in providing opportunity for any member of the Cleveland Heights and University Heights communities to raise and discuss issues of local interest.

At election time, however, this commitment creates a challenge in managing the finite space that is available for community members who are running for public office.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 7:48 AM, 08.27.2019

Cheryl Stephens vows not to run for mayor if ballot issue passes

Cheryl Stephens [Courtesy]

Local politician Cheryl Stephens, a Cleveland Heights resident, has announced that she will not run for mayor if voters choose to change the city charter to a "strong mayor" form of government this November.
The announcement is significant because Stephens was an early supporter of changing Cleveland Heights' government from its current "city manager/council" form. And some opponents to the ballot measure have pointed to her supposed interest in becoming the city’s first strong mayor as the real political motivation behind the initiative. 
Stephens made her announcement in an opinion piece written for the Heights Observer.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 11:37 AM, 08.19.2019

CH needs strong responsive leadership

The campaign over the “strong mayor” charter amendment has barely begun, and the scare tactics that always accompany government-reform efforts are well underway. We are being warned that cronyism and corruption will descend upon us if we dare let people vote directly for Cleveland Heights mayor. Rumors of ulterior motives and conspiracies—some even involving me—have already begun making the rounds.

This is as silly as it is unfortunate. Cleveland Heights can't be afraid of voters. We can't fear our future. And we don't have any reason to be scared.

So, let me state my position and put speculation about my motives to rest: I strongly support and fully endorse the proposed charter amendment. Also, when the amendment passes, I will NOT run for the position.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 11:35 AM, 08.19.2019

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education regular meeting highlights 8-6-2019

AUGUST 6, 2019


  • Recognitions
  • Board policy approvals
  • Treasurer’s five-year forecast
  • Middle schools facilities update


Members present were President Jodi Sourini, Vice President James Posch, Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis and Beverly Wright. Also present were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and Treasurer Scott Gainer. The meeting began at 7 p.m. and ended at 7:50 p.m. 

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 9:35 AM, 08.27.2019

Cleveland Heights – University Heights Public Library Board of Trustees meeting highlights 8-5-2019

AUGUST 5, 2019


  • Library board bylaws
  • Materials evaluation and selection policy
  • Washington Boulevard compressor replacement
  • Coventry waterproofing project
  • Community survey on library website
  • Book Bike
  • Voter registration


Present were President Chris Mentrek, Vice President James Roosa, Dana Fluellen, Max Gerboc, Susan Moskowitz and Vikas Turakhia.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 9:23 AM, 08.27.2019

LWV plans candidate and issue forums for voters

In the run-up to the Nov. 5 election, the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Greater Cleveland Heights Chapter will present two informational forums for Heights voters.

The first, a Candidates’ Night planned for Thursday, Oct. 3, 7–9 p.m., will provide an opportunity for voters to hear candidates for contested races in Cleveland Heights and University Heights. 

As of this writing, it appears that only Cleveland Heights City Council will have contested races. The races for University Heights City Council and Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education appear to be uncontested and, as such, will not be presented. That could change for either race, if an additional candidate files by Aug. 26 to be a write-in candidate and agrees to appear at the forum.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 11:17 AM, 08.19.2019

Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 7-29-2019

JULY 29, 2019


  • Public comments
  • City manager’s report
  • Director of finance/clerk of council’s report
  • First Amended Charter of the City of Cleveland Heights
  • Initiative petition
  • Marketing and branding 
  • Sidewalk and crossing improvements
  • MOU with city manager
  • 2020 tax budget
  • Ohio Public Works Commission programs
  • Mayor’s report
  • Council members’ announcements


Council members present were Mayor Carol Roe, Vice Mayor Melissa Yasinow, Craig Cobb, Mary Dunbar, Kahlil Seren, Jason Stein and Michael N. Ungar. 

Prior to the regular meeting, there was a tax budget hearing conducted by City Manager Briley. 

Mayor Roe announced at the outset that council intended to table indefinitely the First Amended Charter at this meeting. She established that citizens wishing to speak would be given a number by staff and that each would be limited to three minutes and notified when one minute remained and when time was up.

The meeting lasted from 7:38 to 9:50 p.m.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 9:19 AM, 08.27.2019

Strong mayor or city manager will be sole CH charter issue this fall

Attendees at the July 29 city council meeting.

The fight over competing ballot issues to decide whether to keep or change the structure of Cleveland Heights City government was growing increasingly contentious. But CH City Council took a step back from the brink on July 29, when it voted to place only one issue on the ballot in November.

The city’s voters will be asked, yes or no, do you want the city to switch to a form of government led by a popularly elected mayor. That means a second issue, containing a passel of other proposed changes to the city charter, will not come before voters this year.

City council’s action was a victory for Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM), the grassroots campaign that had gathered signatures from 4,000 registered voters to place a referendum on the ballot.

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Volume 12, Issue 8, Posted 12:17 PM, 07.30.2019

Season finale concerts to rock UH in August

Cleveland's Breakfast Club.

Cleveland’s Breakfast Club and Yiddishe Cup will conclude the University Heights Summer Concert Series this month at Walter Stinson Community Park.

An '80s-music cover band, Cleveland’s Breakfast Club will play Aug. 8. Yiddishe Cup (aka Funk A Deli) will bring its klezmer/funk/rock show to The Walt on Aug. 15. Both shows start at 7 p.m.

Cleveland Hot List voted Cleveland's Breakfast Club "Best Local Band." The group has opened for acts that include Coolio, Nelly, Bret Michaels, and Lita Ford.

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Volume 12, Issue 8, Posted 1:42 PM, 08.01.2019

Strong-mayor systems risk conflict and cronyism

Why uproot Cleveland Heights’ long-standing collaborative, professional government in favor of creating a one-person, political power center to face off with city council?

Proponents [of change] claim we need “checks and balances”—as if our seven separately elected citizen council members need to be “checked” or “balanced” by some other elected person who wields veto power and appoints (and removes) all city administrative personnel, including the very highest officials. As we see all around us, it is often a prescription for conflict, waste, and civic paralysis. A few nearby examples demonstrate the point.

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Volume 12, Issue 8, Posted 1:02 PM, 08.01.2019

Politics and the proposed change in CH government

Proponents of getting rid of the manager-council system of government in Cleveland Heights want a full-time elected mayor who will appoint a full-time professional city administrator. They believe this will result in a partnership between an administration focused on efficiency and an elected official focused on the big picture. But they ignore how poorly this system necessarily would work in practice because of politics.

The proponents want one supervising administrative official, hired by a mayor, to organize daily activities of government. At first, this sounds like not much of a change from the professionalism of the present manager-council system. But a city manager (CM) works for an entire city council. No one council member can fire a CM. The proposed new system instead would substitute a city administrator (CA) working only for one person. This CA would be a mere instrumentality of the mayor’s sole exercise of power. A CM will have the true formal education, training and experience of a public administrator. A CA, as a purely political hire, might not have any of that. What is proposed therefore would be very different from what we have now. City government would become more political and less professional.

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Volume 12, Issue 8, Posted 1:01 PM, 08.01.2019

Burning River Baroque opens eighth season

Photo by Alex Belisle.

Thoughtfully crafted programs inspired by the current social climate are once again at the heart of Burning River Baroque’s upcoming season, which will shed light on unconventional 17th-century women and issues surrounding mental health. The group, known for both  socially motivated programming and dynamic interpretations, will open its eighth season with a performance of A Mad, Burning Desire on Aug. 22 in Cleveland Heights.

The program highlights the extraordinary accomplishments of the first English actresses who gained the legal right to take the public stage in the early 1660s. Many of them capitalized on early modern society’s fascination with mental illness and catapulted themselves to fame by portraying characters who descended violently into lovesick madness on the Restoration stage. English philosophers and medical experts alike began to think of psychological maladies as medical conditions requiring treatment by doctors rather than as spiritual deficiencies to be handled by religious authorities over the course of the 17th century.

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Volume 12, Issue 8, Posted 1:46 PM, 08.01.2019

Lee Road Dog Grooming provides style and care

Lee Road Dog Grooming owner Linda McFadden with her dogs Yaya (black) and Stormy (white).

Linda McFadden, who loves dogs and Ohio, has brought her advanced grooming skills to Cleveland Heights, where she opened Lee Road Dog Grooming, at 2246 Lee Road, in September 2018.

Born in Glasgow, McFadden grew up among show dogs in Jersey, Channel Islands, where her mother was a dog show judge. McFadden came to the U.S. to show dogs. First stop, Medina. Then she had a dog grooming shop in California’s Bay Area for more than 20 years. But she missed Ohio, and saw opportunity in Cleveland Heights.

McFadden knows best practices for each breed. “I’ve seen the best examples of different breeds, and try to give a pet version [of the style], maybe a bit modified so it’s easier to look after,” she said. She does all the grooming herself, serving only about four dogs a day, and prides herself in creating a relaxing experience. “I love it when people say ‘he doesn’t mind coming in here at all,’” she commented.

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Volume 12, Issue 8, Posted 1:27 PM, 08.01.2019

Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 7-15-2019

JULY 15, 2019


  • Public comments
  • Special presentations
  • City manager’s report
  • Amended charter 
  • Initiative petition
  • Liquor permit objections
  • Commission appointments
  • Job creation grant
  • Parking solution
  • Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook development
  • Mayor’s report
  • Council members’ announcements


Council members present were Mayor Carol Roe, Vice Mayor Melissa Yasinow, Craig Cobb, Mary Dunbar, Kahlil Seren and Jason Stein. Michael N. Ungar was excused but listened on the telephone. The meeting lasted from 7:40 to 9:30 p.m.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 9:14 AM, 08.27.2019