Latest News

City of Cleveland Heights responds to NEOMG article

The Heights Observer received this news release from the City of Cleveland Heights on Dec. 17 in response to an article that appeared on about a traffic stop in the city. We are publishing it here, in its entirety:

The City of Cleveland Heights released information today relating to Officer William Robinson's actions during a traffic stop involving Sam Taylor on Friday, December 12, 2014.

"Given the interest generated by an article which cites Mr. Taylor's account of the incident, the City felt it was important to share the facts involved to assure Cleveland Heights residents of the appropriateness of Officer Robinson's actions given the circumstances surrounding the traffic stop", said City Manager Tanisha Briley. "The incident was reviewed, including review of recorded radio and telephone traffic, and the evidence supports Officer Robinson's response".


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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 4:19 PM, 12.17.2014

Latest News Releases

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Heights High athletes sponsor toy drive

Heights High athletes (from left) Tomasia Pierce, Destini Ubani, Diamond Hall and Amelia Ramos wrap toys for elementary school children.

The Heights High winter athletic teams—bowling, boys and girls basketball, cheerleading, ice hockey, boys and girls swimming and diving, and wrestling—sponsored a toy drive this holiday season. The CHHS Athletic Department partnered with the Cleveland Heights Youth Council on the project and collected nearly 500 toys. On Dec. 14, nearly 150 athletes met at the Cleveland Heights Recreation Center to wrap the presents.

During the week of Dec. 15, the toys will be distributed by Santa’s elves to children attending the Cleveland Heights-University Heights elementary schools.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 1:22 PM, 12.17.2014

Heights High's A Capella Choir featured on Fox 8 News

The Heights High A Capella Choir performs on Fox 8 News in the Morning.

The Heights High A Capella Choir, directed by Craig McGaughey, performed on WJW Fox 8 News in the Morning on Monday, Dec. 15. The choir sang several holiday songs and took pictures with anchors Kristi Capel, Stefani Schaeffer and Wayne Dawson.

Later in the morning, the students stopped by the Board of Education offices and entertained the staff there.

Check out the A Capella Choir on Fox 8’s website:

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 11:09 AM, 12.16.2014

University Heights seeks applicants for law director position

On Dec. 11, the City of University Heights posted the job of city law director as an open position on its website. Anthony Coyne, current law director, has held the position since Nov. 1, 2012.

The job posting states that applicants must be duly admitted to the practice of law in Ohio. It requires that applicants have experience in municipal law, with a preference for those also experienced in zoning and planning. The annual salary for the part-time position is $40,000–$50,000. A full position description can be found on the city’s website,

Applications are due Monday, Jan. 12, at 4 p.m. Applicants should submit a resume to Kelly Thomas, Clerk of Council, City of University Heights, 2300 Warrensville Center Road, University Heights, 44118.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 1:37 PM, 12.16.2014

University Heights City Council meeting highlights 12-1-2014

DECEMBER 1, 2014

  • Public comments
  • Wiley construction
  • Wheel loader purchase
  • Ladder truck repair
  • Equipment sale
  • Debt policy
  • Tax collection
  • Budget legislation
  • Cedar Road sidewalk work
  • Paperless council
  • Community engagement committee

Councilman Steven Sims was absent.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 7:14 PM, 12.16.2014

University Heights City Council meeting highlights 11-17-2014

NOVEMBER 17, 2014

  • Debate on executive session
  • Workers’ compensation administration
  • Budget amendment
  • Park fund
  • Debt policy
  • Public health services
  • Police video maintenance
  • Sale of property
  • New park

All council members were present.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 6:57 PM, 12.16.2014

Service day benefits local nonprofits

Youth Challenge participants, volunteers and staff teamed up with families from Church of the Gesu in University Heights for a day of service in early December.

It was all about collaborating and giving back when Church of the Gesu in University Heights sent a group of families to team up with Youth Challenge (YC) participants and volunteers to create holiday ornaments and cards as part of its annual Service Day on Saturday, Dec. 6.

The ornaments they made will be sold at the Youth Challenge Holiday Show on Dec. 14 to benefit YC’s free programs. The cards will be sent to residents of the local L’Arche community. In addition, the YC kids brought toiletries to donate to L’Arche Cleveland. 

Youth Challenge is a nonprofit that provides adapted sports and recreational opportunities to children with physical disabilities. Trained teen volunteers are paired one-on-one with participants to play, socialize and have fun. YC serves children throughout Northeast Ohio and has offices in Westlake and in Shaker Heights at the Hanna Perkins Center.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 4:21 PM, 12.12.2014

Community invited to Roxboro Middle School Spelling Bee on Dec. 15

Last year's top spellers (from left): Beatrice Woodside, who won third place in last year's (2014) competition; Rohan Bruce, 2014 champion; Georgie Jolivette, who won second place.

Roxboro Middle School’s student spellers have been preparing for the fifth annual Roxboro Middle School Spelling Bee, presented by the school’s PTA, which will take place on Monday, Dec. 15, 7 p.m., in the school auditorium.

The highest-ranking seventh- or eighth-grade student will go on to represent Roxboro Middle School at the Cuyahoga County Spelling Bee in March. The top three winners will receive prize packages that include Cleveland Orchestra tickets and certificates from Bruegger’s Bagels and On the Rise Bakery.

The community is invited to attend the bee, and cheer on this year's spellers.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 10:12 AM, 12.12.2014

Heights community loses dear friend Tony Smith

Tony Smith [photo courtesy the Smith-Whiting family]

Longtime Cleveland Heights resident Anthony E. "Tony" Smith, known for his involvement in the Heights community and his ownership of Cleveland-area Popeye's franchises, died in his Cleveland Heights home on Nov. 29, at age 53.

Smith and his wife, Vanessa L. Whiting, opened their first restaurant in 1990, a Dock's Great Fish in Cleveland. Five years later, they became Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen franchisees and opened their first Cleveland location, eventually owning 16 locations in Northeast Ohio.

Smith’s children, Taylor, Lorin and Tony II, attended Roxboro Elementary and Roxboro Middle schools, and nephew Dan attended Heights High.  

“I have seen Tony’s generosity and kindness. He was a great advocate and supporter of the CH-UH schools,” said Katura Simmons, CH-UH PTA president.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 11:04 AM, 12.11.2014

Pete's Tavern continues without Pete

Pete Harris at his bar in 2008. [photo by David Wasserstrom]

Pete Harris, owner of Pete’s Tavern at 1318 Warrensville Center Road, lost his battle with cancer on Dec. 6. Peter G. Harris was born in South Euclid, grew up in Cleveland Heights and attended Noble Elementary School and Monticello Junior High School. He graduated from Cleveland Heights High School in 1975 and The Ohio State University in 1979.

He patronized the Cleveland Orchestra and was a member of the Cleveland Museum of Art. He had a tender spot for animals, and supported the Animal Protective League and adopted rescued dogs.

Harris worked at the former Turkey Ridge Tavern on Coventry Road and at Bob’s on Mayfield Road before he bought his bar, the former Faragher’s, with his father in 1997. The deal included his father’s requirement that his son stop drinking.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 5:10 PM, 12.10.2014

City announces application process for Boyd's vacated CH City Council seat

The City of Cleveland Heights issued a press release today announcing the process by which it will select a replacement to serve the remainder of Council Member Janine Boyd's unexpired term. Boyd resigned her seat, effective Dec. 31, due to her election to the state legislature. The appointeee will serve the remainder of her term, which expires Dec. 31, 2015.

This seat will be up for election on Nov. 3, 2015. The person elected will fill a new four year term.

Applications are available at and at Cleveland Heights City Hall, 40 Severance Circle. Interested residents can call the city manager's office at 216-291-3737 to request an application. The application deadline is Jan. 15.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 4:46 PM, 12.09.2014

CH merchants plan holiday events for Dec. 13

Lolly the Trolley will provide free rides between three CH business districts on Dec. 13, 6-9 p.m.

This holiday season, three Cleveland Heights business districts are all planning events for the same day, Saturday, Dec. 13.

Cedar Fairmount, Cedar Lee, and Coventry Village merchants encourage residents and visitors alike to shop local, and are sponsoring special appearances and activities throughout the day and into the evening on Dec. 13. In addition, several Cedar Fairmount businesses are planning evening events on Friday, Dec. 12.

As part of Cedar Fairmount’s festivities, Santa and his helper will appear at Dave’s Market 2–4 p.m., and carolers will stroll the sidewalks. Visitors can register for a free holiday drawing at participating merchants.

The Cedar Lee district will offer a special screening of the Cleveland holiday classic “A Christmas Story” at 11 a.m. Tickets are specially priced at $1 each, and audience members are urged to donate canned goods or other nonperishable food items, to benefit the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 11:22 AM, 12.09.2014

New book by the Taxels explores the many views of Lake View Cemetery

Barney Taxel, as a rule, works methodically. Whether he’s adjusting lights in his Midtown studio or traipsing through the snow in Lake View Cemetery, Taxel’s photographic process builds infinitesimally and delicately to an exacting final product. Light, shadow, texture and framing are evaluated and adjusted, working purposefully toward a single, perfect photo.

Taxel’s new book, The Lake View Cemetery: Photographs from Cleveland’s Historic Landmark, is the culmination of more than 10 years worth of photographic construction. Published by University of Akron Press ($62.95, October 2014), the 230-page book pairs Barney’s photography with text by his wife, Laura Taxel, an award-winning journalist and co-author of Cleveland’s West Side Market: 100 Years & Still Cooking, among other books.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 10:51 AM, 12.05.2014

Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 11-17-2014

NOVEMBER 17, 2014

  • Public comments
  • HVAC contract
  • Leaf pickup delay 
  • Phoenix Coffee and coffee rating
  • County health services
  • Efficiency training
  • Norfolk Road fire
  • Free parking
  • Dec. 13 shopping

Council Member Janine R. Boyd was absent.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 11:08 AM, 12.05.2014

Posch steps down after seven years of library service

James J. Posch II served on the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library Board of Trustees for seven years.

James J. Posch II will step down as the president of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library on Dec. 31, ending seven years of service to the library that included two successful levies, the creation of a comprehensive technology plan, and a structure for long-term planning.

“Jim has been the driving force behind the many innovations and modernizations of our fiscal and technological operations,” said Nancy Levin, Heights Libraries director. “He helped the library create a comprehensive map of all technology based operations, tied them to the staff responsible, the public they serve, and the means for improvement. All of this was incorporated into a long-term financial planning that makes budgeting for innovation much easier.”

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 12:35 PM, 12.04.2014

Shop Small and meet Coventry's independent business owners

Coventry Village business owners gathered for a group photo in November. Photo courtesy Angela Hetrick.

The independent business owners of Coventry Village say that shopping small is how they built a neighborhood. In a single quarter-mile stretch, Coventry Village hosts more than 40 independently owned businesses.

This holiday season, Coventry Village Special Improvement District (CVSID) invites everyone to meet the independent business owners of Coventry through a special spotlight feature on its website and Facebook page.

The Coventry business owners gathered recently for a group photo, in which they appear in the following order:

Top row (from left): Iline MacLellan (Grums), Christina Attenson (Attenson Antiques), Larry Collins (City Buddha), Leanne van Beers (SpyngaFlows), Steve Presser (Big Fun), Tommy Fello (Tommy's), Tom Gathy (Heights Hardware), Andy Gathy (Heights Hardware), Bob Yanega (Gateway Heights Church), Doug Hayslip (Sunshine Headquarters Too), Vince Manzano (Heart & Sole). 

Front row (from left):Kathy Blackman (Grog Shop/B Side Liquor Lounge & Arcade), Suzanne DeGaetano (Mac's Backs Books), Debbie Duirk (Inn on Coventry), Rob Love (Record Revolution), Laurie Klopper (Blush Boutique), Jessica Morris (Houde School of Acting), Cosmin Bota (Piccadilly Artisan Yogurt), Adrian Bota (Piccadilly Artisan Yogurt), Bill Gresham (La Cave Du Vin), Eddy Maddox (Eddy's on Coventry/Eddy's Barbershop), Sarah Belzile (Phoenix Coffee), Chelsea McLean (Avalon Exchange).

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 9:51 AM, 12.02.2014

Coventry Village holiday festival set for Dec. 13

Coventry Claus spreading cheer with 2013 Holiday Fest attendees. Photo credit: Giorgiana Lascu.

The Coventry Village neighborhood encourages everyone to shop local and get in the holiday spirit with a full day of free holiday events.

The Coventry Village Holiday Festival will take place on Saturday, Dec. 13, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. All events are free and open to the public. Visitors can enjoy free parking at meters all weekend or take a complimentary ride on Lolly the Holiday Trolley, which will loop between Coventry, Cedar Lee and Cedar Fairmount districts, 6–9 p.m. that evening.

Coventry Village holiday festivities include:

  • Classic holiday cartoons from the 1930s through the 1960s, in the Centrum Theater (daytime event)
  • “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” in the Centrum Theater (evening event)
  • Holiday photo booth with Santa and his Merry Elves
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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 9:25 AM, 12.02.2014

Dec. 13 holiday stroll planned for Cedar Fairmount district

The Cedar Fairmount Business District is decorated for the holidays. Photo courtesy Kaye Lowe.

A stroll on the sidewalks of the Cedar Fairmount Business District will get you in the spirit of the holidays with twinkling lights, holiday greens, and decorated windows filled with lovely ideas for gift giving. 

The merchants of Cedar Fairmount have stocked their stores with an abundance of gifts for the holidays, and all of the merchants are offering gift cards: consider a yoga or Pilates lesson; a manicure, pedicure or haircut; or a gift basket from Dave’s Market.

As you stroll Cedar Fairmount on Dec. 13, don’t miss Santa and his helper at Dave’s Market from 2–4 p.m. Cleveland Heights Church carolers will be singing on the sidewalks of Cedar Road and Fairmount Boulevard, and they invite everyone to join them.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 9:21 AM, 12.02.2014

Eat, drink, shop and be merry with Cedar Lee merchants on Dec. 13

Mr. Jingeling. [photo courtesy Cedar Lee SID]

Cedar Lee merchants invite you to share good cheer on Saturday, Dec. 13 at the Holiday Stroll on Lee.

Residents, customers and visitors can enjoy a vast array of festivities, shopping and merriment at 21 participating destinations along Lee Road. Experience a performance by violinist Ariel Clayton at Marotta’s, enjoy a champagne tasting at The Wine Spot, and discover hand-crafted inspiration at the Heights Arts Holiday Store. Revive, Abrash and Simply Charming will all feature accessories, jewelry, scarves and other wares that are perfect for gift giving. Purchase gift cards, find selections perfect for holiday gatherings, and celebrate the season with your family on Lee Road.

From dining to cocktails, cookies and hot chocolate, celebrate the season with a fun night out. It’s the perfect opportunity to shop small with local independent businesses, and customer appreciation is a focus of the evening. Look for giveaways, door prizes, samples, entertainment and a guest appearance from Mr. Jingeling, who will add a touch of nostalgia to the occasion.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 9:17 AM, 12.02.2014

CH merchants to sponsor free trolley rides Dec. 13

Three Cleveland Heights business districts have holiday events planned for Saturday, Dec. 13, and have arranged for free transportation to carry visitors and residents from district to district that evening.

From 6–9 p.m. Lolly the Trolley will provide complimentary transportation between the Cedar Fairmount, Cedar Lee and Coventry Village business districts.

Everyone is invited to hop aboard and enjoy shopping, dining and strolling in all three neighborhoods on the same evening, courtesy of the merchants of all three business districts. Note that children riding the trolley must be accompanied by an adult.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 9:27 AM, 12.02.2014

Cedar Fairmount hosts holiday affair Dec. 12

The snow may be falling, the air has a bite, but the shops of Cedar Fairmount are warm and inviting! On Friday, Dec. 12, the public is invited to shop local small businesses in the Cedar Fairmount Business District. It promises to be a delicious evening of fun at the start of the busy holiday season.

From 5–7 p.m. Appletree Books, Four and Twenty Mercantile, Ten Thousand Villages and Vero Bistro are partnering to host an exciting evening for the community. Begin your tour at Appletree Books for tasty appetizers and a glass of Prosecco, jolly stories of the season, and browsing through books to suit every taste.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 9:12 AM, 12.02.2014

Mister Brisket continues to thrive

Sanford Herskovitz and his stepson, Hank Kornblut.

Several decades ago, butcher shops were quite common. Most people went to the butcher to get their meat products. But that has all changed. During the 1970s, big grocery-store chains, such as A&P and Kroger’s, started carrying more meat products and, as a result, most butcher shops closed. There is, however, an exception to that trend: Mister Brisket. A butcher shop and deli, Mister Brisket, located on Taylor Road just south of Cedar Road, has been around since 1973 and it is still thriving.

Sanford Herskovitz, 75, founder and owner of Mister Brisket, grew up in University Heights and still lives there. He attended Heights High and earned his bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University, a master’s degree from Kent State University, and a Ph.D. in psychology from Case Western Reserve University. His parents owned Carl’s Poultry Market, a butcher shop located at East 86th Street and Cedar Road. In 1972, his father died and his mother took over the business. She remarried and moved to Toronto, and Herskovitz, who was still in grad school, took over the business. He changed the store’s name to Mister Brisket and relocated to Cleveland’s West Side. Then, in 1978, he moved to his current location.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 9:06 AM, 12.02.2014

Get ready for a holiday musical at Dobama

The year is 1864. The time and place: Christmas Eve in Washington, D.C. It’s the coldest December in memory and the country is still divided and at war. An escaped slave searches for her daughter, the first lady searches for a Christmas tree, a Union officer’s character is challenged by a young Confederate, conspirators plan an assassination, and the president prepares his inaugural address while on a mission to select a Christmas gift for his wife.

A lot happens in “A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration,” which Pulitzer Prize-winner Paula Vogel wrote to give the audiences a holiday play that incorporates a range of American themes and culture—a broad tapestry that weaves together many characters, storylines and music.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 8:57 AM, 12.02.2014

Simply Charming offers unique array of clothing, jewelry and gifts

Simply Charming owner Elisabeth Gevelber (left) with salesperson Bri Bryant and Clementine, the seven-year-old dachshund

Elisabeth Gevelber, the owner of Simply Charming on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights, likes to say that her store features “baubles, bijoux and bibelots.”

That’s trinkets, jewelry and treasures. If you look around the store, you’ll see that’s a pretty accurate description.

Simply Charming is stocked with unique jewelry, clothing, greeting cards, pens, journals, sketch books, coffee cups, mugs and more. “I basically like to carry whatever my captures my fancy,” said Gevelber.

The store originally opened in 2007 on Lee Road, in the space now occupied by the Shawn Paul Salon. Two years later, it closed.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 6:03 PM, 12.01.2014

Heights Arts Holiday Store offers special limited editions

Gallery-goers enjoy new displays at Heights Arts's 13th annual Holiday Store opening.

Heights Arts kicked off its annual Holiday Store on Nov. 7, with works from more than 80 Northeast Ohio artists and an energetic new vibe, thanks to colorful new displays and wall treatments created by Heights Arts volunteers, board members and staff.  

"This is a very exciting time for Heights Arts," said Rachel Bernstein, Heights Arts executive director. "Courtney Young, our new gallery manager, and CIA intern Julie Rauschenbach worked tirelessly to make this our most spectacular holiday artist showcase yet. In addition, artists we have shown in the past have been particularly prolific in providing us with new works and styles never before seen in our store."

More than a dozen Cleveland-area artists make their debut in the Holiday Store, including Gina DeSantis, ceramics; April Bleakney (Apemade), screen-printed wearables; Annette Poitau, abstract paintings; Denis Balogh, watercolors; Matt Fiorilli, glass sculpture; and Sandra Curry, jewelry. 

While all items in the gallery are handmade and one-of–a-kind, two works are truly unique: a limited-edition glass vase created by Sue Berry of Superior Hot Glass, and a limited-edition ceramic wall tile created collaboratively by painter Susan Danko and ceramic artist Andrea LeBlond.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 5:58 PM, 12.01.2014

A fresh look for Appletree Books

Inside Appletree Books.

Alice Webster and Lynn Quintrell are the new co-owners of Appletree Books in the Cedar Fairmount neighborhood. Jane Kessler, now 93, founded the business and ran it for 25 years.

 “It’s a destination,” a loyal customer said of the store.

Now, with imagination, enthusiasm and know-how, Webster and Quintrell have transformed this landmark into an even more enticing hangout for book lovers of all ages. 

“It’s quirky, vintage and homey,” said Quintrell.

Memorabilia abounds, starting with the old but newly repainted wooden doors. The store windows are a stage set for hot-off-the-press fiction, mystery, biography, science, poetry, children’s books and cookbooks.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 5:55 PM, 12.01.2014

Library offers real-world experience to students and volunteers

Shannon Titas works the information desk as part of her practicum.

Libraries serve many purposes, and one mission is to make people more knowledgeable. Using books, Internet resources and databases, one can learn about the world in just about any capacity, whether it is watching Korean music videos or digging into local history. The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library takes that mission to another level as a place for library science students, young interns, and volunteers to gain job experience and learn new skills on the job.

Shannon Titas is a graduate student at Kent State University working on her Masters of Library and Information Science degree, the professional degree required to become a librarian. As part of her degree, she is doing her practicum at the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library. A practicum is an internship or course of study designed to give a student supervised practical experience working in his or her specific field of study.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 5:51 PM, 12.01.2014

Peter and Peter meet again after 46 years

Peter and Peter today, and in the Sun Press article written in 1968. 

Two old friends were recently reunited in the children’s section of the Lee Road Library: Peter Benkendorf of Dayton, Ohio, and the children’s department mascot, Peter Potamus. When Benkendorf was back in his hometown of Cleveland Heights this October, he stopped by the library to see his old friend.

“In the summer after first grade, my family went on vacation to Lake Huron in Michigan,” said Benkendorf. “A man we met there called me ‘Peter Potamus’ for some reason, and later that autumn, my sister suggested I enter that name in the hippo-naming contest at the library.”

In 1968, the library commissioned the sculpture of a hippopotamus by sculptor William McVey. Friends of the Heights Libraries paid $1,200 for the sculpture and held a competition to name it.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 5:47 PM, 12.01.2014

What's going on at your library?

Winter may not yet have officially arrived, but winter programs are underway at Heights Libraries. Highlights are listed below; visit for a full listing of programs.

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

Thursday, Dec. 4, 7 p.m.

Local Author Event: Communicating with Animals. Three local authors discuss their animal-related works. Dr. Carol Osborne (Naturally Healthy Cats and Naturally Healthy Dogs) helps people communicate more effectively with their pets; Harriet Tramer's fictional Racing to Heaven follows a girl and her encounters with horses; and Jennifer Priester (author of the Mortal Realm Witch series) has written several books about animals.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 5:45 PM, 12.01.2014

Dec. 4 author event explores human bonds with animals

The three authors who will be featured at Coventry Village Library’s Communicating with Animals event on Thursday Dec. 4, 7 p.m., each have distinct writing styles, but their works all have one thing in common: they focus on relationships between animals and humans.

Jennifer Priester, author of several books, is also the owner of the publishing company A&M Moonlight Creations, and is an artist and book layout designer.

All of Priester’s books feature animals. In her Mortal Realm Witch series, the animals—known as familiars—talk, and are the teachers and best friends of witches and warlocks.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 5:43 PM, 12.01.2014

Howson Gallery exhibits work by CH fiber artist

Fabric dolls by Martha S. Young. [courtesy Howson Gallery]

"Wall Dolls," an exhibit of fabric dolls created by Martha S. Young, will be on view at the Howson Gallery at Judson Park through Jan. 4.

A Cleveland Heights-based fiber artist, Young has a B.A. in art and completed graduate work in art education at San Jose State University. Her work is in the collection of University Hospitals as well as in private collections, and recent exhibitions include "The Artist as Quiltmaker XVI," Firelands Association for the Visual Arts, Oberlin; "Form not Function: Quilt Art at the Carnegie," Carnegie Center for Art & History, New Albany, Indiana; and "Superlatives II: Ohio Quilts 2013,” Zanesville Museum of Art.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 5:09 PM, 12.01.2014

City Music Cleveland offers works from old and new worlds

Laura Koepke

City Music Cleveland’s holiday concerts of music from the Old and New worlds will feature singers from La Sagrada Familia Church and other Latino musicians in collaboration with Cleveland State University vocal students to bring Ariel Ramirez’s Misa Criolla to Cleveland audiences for the first time. Based on Argentinean folk melodies and rhythms and featuring an array of instruments rarely heard in the concert hall—including panpipes, many types of drum and percussion, and the charango, a small high-pitched guitar—the Misa Criolla has been popular worldwide since it was composed in 1963.

Although Ramirez’s musical influences were Argentinean, the genesis of the work itself was an encounter he had traveling in Europe in the 1950s. While staying in a convent in Germany where he was teaching music, Ramirez remarked to the nuns on the beauty of the countryside and of a nearby mansion set in the woods. The nuns told him, however, that the house had been part of a concentration camp during the war, and that during this period they had tried to alleviate the suffering of the thousand Jewish prisoners it held by pushing food packages through a gap in the fence.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 5:07 PM, 12.01.2014

Hot Djang! The kings of gypsy jazz

The Hot Djang! lineup includes (from left) Reed Simon, Brad Smedley, Bryan Thomas and Kevin Richards

(photo courtesy of Hot Djang!")

Hot Djang! made its first appearance at Nighttown in early November. The Cleveland band, which includes two musicians who live in Cleveland Heights, describes its music as “gypsy jazz,” a style developed by guitarist Django Reinhardt in Paris during the 1930s. The show, which was truly entertaining, also included some jazz and swing standards from the American songbook.

Brad Smedley, one of the group’s guitarists, came up with the idea for the band after attending a workshop about Reinhardt's music at Smith College in Massachusetts a few years ago. “I was never more blown away in my life,” Smedley said. “All of the top gypsy-jazz guitarists were there, and I thought I could either work hard and try to learn to play like this, or I could just quit.”

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 4:59 PM, 12.01.2014

Four artists featured in winter exhibition at St. Paul's

Courtyard windows frame the Nicholson B. White Gallery at St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

Beginning Dec. 12, four artists will display their perspectives through various media in the winter exhibition at the Nicholson B. White Gallery at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 2747 Fairmount Blvd., Cleveland Heights. The show runs through March 1.

Join the artists—Sarah Clague (ceramics, raku), Tricia Kaman (oil painting), Jean Koznarek (painting, mixed media) and James McNamara (woodblock prints)—at the opening reception Friday, Dec. 12, 5–7 p.m. This is an opportunity to not only view the art, but also discover the viewpoints of the artists, as each of them speaks to the assembled guests about their artistic goals and creative processes. Visitors can also chat with the artists individually during the opening reception.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 4:55 PM, 12.01.2014

'Guys and Dolls' brought together more than 550 students from 10 schools

Heights High senior Daniel Carder (center) played the role of Sky Masterson on Nov. 7 and 9. Ian Teunissen performed the role on Nov. 6 and 8. [photo: Carl Jenks]

More than 550 students in two casts from all 10 schools in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District took part in the 2014 all-district musical, "Guys and Dolls." The students entertained near-capacity audiences in the Heights High auditorium in four performances, Nov. 6–9.

The show’s director,Craig McGaughey, was thrilled with the students’ performances. “I am so proud that all four performances were of such high caliber,” he said. “It is one thing to have a great show one night, but to maintain that excellence for all four nights—that is really exciting!”

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 4:49 PM, 12.01.2014

Thrive wants to make people happy

Jen Margolis and Scott Simon, the founders of Thrive, at the organization's Lunch Beat event at the House of Blues in October. Photo courtesy Thrive Cleveland.

Thrive, a relatively new Cleveland organization, has one goal: to make people happier. Called a happiness incubator, Thrive was formed in January of 2012 by Jen Margolis, a Cleveland Heights resident, and Scott Simon, who lives in Pepper Pike.

“We wanted to design experiences, habits and spaces that increase happiness, both at work and at home,” said Margolis, who is 37 and lives on Wilton Road.

Thrive came about after Simon spent time with what’s called a “positive psychologist.” “Psychology as a whole looked at what’s wrong,” Margolis said. “Then Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, flipped that. He thought it made more sense to see what’s working well and build from there.”

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 3:06 PM, 12.01.2014

What about all that negative coverage

Like so many others, those of us who spend the most time working on the Heights Observer are weary of the superficial and negative coverage our community seems to get from Sun News, and the Plain Dealer.

We’re tired of their police blotter obsession and the habit of putting every news item into the context of decline.

In October, a few local businesses declared they were done doing business with the Plain Dealer and Northeast Ohio Media Group (which controls Sun News and But there’s a sense of hopelessness in the gesture. “I don’t subscribe to it at home, I don’t read it online and I don't advertise in it," one business owner told me. "What more can I do if their business model depends on running us down?”

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 3:00 PM, 12.01.2014

Thank you all from Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Park

To the Editor:

A special thanks to the energetic volunteers who joined together to weed the gardens and repair the equipment at Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Park before winter sets in. The Saturday work day on Oct. 18 was cold and rainy, but the dedicated group of adults and kids did a wonderful job of completing the work.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 2:59 PM, 12.01.2014

Fairmount Taylor district parking causing dangerous situation

To the Editor:

The shops in the Fairmount/Taylor area are a welcome treat. Cleveland Heights is fortunate to have these establishments within our city.

Unfortunately, parking is troublesome at the corner of Queenston Road and Fairmount Boulevard, which is the most impacted area. I witnessed a motor vehicle driver come a hairline from causing severe injury to a child, who was attempting to cross the street to attend his music lesson. Likewise, I saw a bicyclist come close to suffering severe bodily harm.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 2:57 PM, 12.01.2014

Chemistry students compete in cook-off

Winners Kortney Lynum and Dresean Borders  in their kitchen chemistry class at Heights High.

Zach Tracy’s chemistry class is cookin’!

He teaches chemistry concepts through the lens of cooking. “It’s kitchen chemistry,” said Tracy. On Oct. 10, he hosted the first annual Chicken Breast Top Chef Challenge in his fifth- and sixth-period chemistry classes.

Part of the assignment was to test the effectiveness of brining chicken, the practice of soaking meat in salt water. The students researched how to prepare brining solutions at known concentrations and how brining times affect water retention in the chicken.

Each team used its own combinations of brining time, rubs and sauces. Some teams mixed spices in the brining solutions while others used rubs after the brining.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 2:05 PM, 12.01.2014

Question authority

Susie Kaeser

Teachers choose their profession to change lives. They pour their minds, hearts and bodies—yes, it is physically demanding work—into the profound responsibility we have given them. Depending on where they teach, they pursue this work with access to different amounts of support, materials and affirmation. We expect them to sustain commitment and do their best every day.

This is a profession that takes time to master. Most teachers are always in the process of becoming better. Even the best can have bad days or a bad year. A few have given their best and are worn out. All are undermined by a policy environment focused on blaming them. To do their best, they need to hold on to the idealism that made them enter this life-changing profession. Whatever their particular situation, they go to the classroom to make the world better by helping our children to grow. We should be grateful to them for embracing this valuable work.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 2:04 PM, 12.01.2014

Urban Oak School aims to teach the whole child

Urban Oak second-graders working on a farm.

Choosing a school is every parent’s challenge. Whether public or private, parents want the environment that suits their child, conforms to their educational vision, and helps their child flourish.

One of the attractions of Cleveland Heights has been access to a variety of quality school choices. Now, there’s another option attracting families to the community, and connecting them to a fast-growing educational movement, one that has been around for almost a century.

Urban Oak School is Greater Cleveland’s first and only early childhood and elementary school based on the Waldorf philosophy of education, a humanistic approach to teaching based on the educational philosophy of Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 2:02 PM, 12.01.2014

State designates Canterbury a High Progress School

Students at Canterbury Elementary School.

Based on its 2013–14 Ohio School Report Card score in math and reading, Canterbury Elementary School has been awarded the High Progress School of Honor designation by the Ohio Department of Education.

“Canterbury is a special community where teachers and staff have high expectations for our students,” said Erica Wigton, Canterbury principal. “And students give tremendous effort to meet those expectations. This award validates Canterbury’s hard work and effort. And, of course, this award goes beyond the building; the whole Canterbury community should celebrate this success. We are so fortunate to have dedicated parents who go above and beyond through volunteering, fundraising and creating meaningful events.”

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 1:58 PM, 12.01.2014

Heights historical photo of the month

Image Credit: City of Cleveland Heights

It's getting cold out there! In the past, Heights residents could ice skate on the parking lot of Cumberland Pool, which the city flooded for that purpose. In this image from around 1945, a man swings a child by the hands as a crowd of skaters looks on. Ice or no ice—don't try this at home!

This photo was selected by the Cleveland Heights Historical Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to discovering, preserving and promoting the diverse character and traditions of Cleveland Heights. For more information, and to view additional historical images, visit or

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 1:58 PM, 12.01.2014

Heights High National Merit Commended Students announced

The Heights High National Merit Commended Scholars (from left) Shani Gelles, Ben Gillooly, Ann Zicari and David Pecoraro. [CH-UH City School District]

Cleveland Heights High School seniors Shani Gelles, Ben Gillooly, Ann Zicari and David Pecoraro were named National Merit Commended Students. Approximately 34,000 commended students were recognized nationwide for their exceptional academic promise. Commended students are those who placed among the top five percent of more than 1.5 million students who took the 2013 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) but will not continue in the 2015 competition for National Merit Scholarship awards.

Gelles has appreciated the diversity and academic offerings at Heights High. She is currently taking AP biology, economics, statistics and literature as well as American Sign Language IV, government and political philosophy. She is on the volleyball and track teams, and last year was the MVP of the league track meet, where she won the one- and two-mile races and placed third in the pole vault. She is also the president of the Jewish Student Union and a leader in the Model U.N. club.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 1:56 PM, 12.01.2014

Local holiday events for senior adults and their families

Many local businesses and religious organizations are offering fun social and cultural activities for Heights seniors and their families during the holiday season. Events are free, unless otherwise noted. Please call ahead to confirm times, make reservations or inquire about handicapped accessibility, if needed.

Happy holidays to all of our readers, and best wishes for a wonderful new year!

Dobama Theatre will present “A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration” Dec. 5 through Jan. 4. This musical, written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Paula Vogel, combines historic characters, story lines, spirituals and carols. Admission for the preview show on Dec. 4 is $10. The Dec. 7 show offers “pay what you can” admission. The senior admission price for all other shows ranges from $23–$26. (2340 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-932-3396)

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 1:55 PM, 12.01.2014

Senior Citizen Happenings

Senior Citizen Happenings, sponsored by the City of University Heights, are open to all senior citizens. Events take place on Thursdays at 2 p.m. at the University Heights Library. For information, and to suggest program topics, contact the UH Office for Senior Services at 216-397-0336 or To receive the monthly schedule by e-mail, call 216-932-7800, ext. 205, or send an e-mail to

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 1:54 PM, 12.01.2014

Shop local this holiday season, and every day

I was driving from downtown the other day and noticed a billboard for a new company called Presto Fresh. It is a full-service grocery delivery company working with Zagara's Marketplace—for more than 75 years a locally owned and operated neighborhood grocery store. The owner, John Zagara, is a businessman whom I respect and appreciate for what he gives back to the community. John has always tried to stay one step ahead of the ever more difficult game of being successful in business.

What struck me is that this new business of home delivery of groceries is not just for shut-ins, but also for people who don't have the time to shop. We're all busy. Somehow we have lost our time-management skills. Some don't take time to even sit down and have dinner with their family. To me, this started the degradation of the family unit. No more time to talk about school, art, politics or sports because we are too busy.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 11:14 AM, 11.25.2014

Cleveland Heights extends loose leaf collection; University Heights resumes collection Nov. 25

Cleveland Heights has extended the collection of loose leaves and Kraft paper bags until Jan. 1. The city had originally stated that it would collect loose leaves from Nov. 3 until Nov. 28, every other week on the day after a resident’s regularly scheduled refuse and recycling collection. 

This schedule, however, was dependent on the weather. November snow and ice made it impossible for residents to place leaves on tree lawns and for the city to collect them. According to Alex Mannarino, director of public works, “We are about two weeks behind. We are trying to catch up in the next couple of days so that next week we will be back on schedule.”

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 8:15 PM, 11.24.2014

Reaching Heights seeks applicants for new parent mentor position

In an effort to provide additional resources to special needs families within the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District, Reaching Heights announced plans to hire a part-time parent mentor, for which applications are currently being accepted. In this newly created position, the parent mentor will link the school and the community by providing up-to-date information and training to parents of children with special needs, and by serving as a community contact for school district personnel.

Students with special education needs have a team of educators, paraprofessionals, and other service providers who, along with their parents, provide input on each student’s individual education plan (IEP). With a better understanding of services available and the personal support of the parent mentor, parents can become more capable, competent, and confident members of their children’s education team. Adding the parent mentor will provide a strong connection between the family and the school to ensure that the needed supports are present for every child. Parent mentors receive ongoing training, resources and the added benefit of sharing best-practices with adjacent district’s mentors.

This new position is a natural fit in Reaching Heights’ mission to “foster highly valued public schools that provide ALL students with a successful education.” With close to 20% of the CH-UH student population eligible for special education services there is clearly a need to connect the individuals receiving and the individuals supporting these services.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 11:53 AM, 11.25.2014

University Heights and John Carroll feed 125 families at Thanksgiving

JCU students prepare Thanksgiving food packages for more than 125 Hough families.

Northeast Ohioans have certain expectations for the coming of autumn. They anticipate great piles of leaves, chilly temperatures, and shorter days. In addition to these hallmarks of the season, residents of University Heights look for another sign of the season—the appearance of blue plastic bags on their front door handles, which means that John Carroll University’s Fatima Family Food Drive is underway.

The Fatima Food Drive collects and purchases enough food for a Thanksgiving meal and a week's worth of groceries for more than 125 families. The project is an outgrowth of JCU’s longstanding relationship with Catholic Charities’ Fatima Family Center. Established in 1973, the Fatima Family Center is located in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood of Cleveland. JCU students provide weekly service at the center, assisting with aftercare, teen outreach, and senior citizen programming.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 10:20 AM, 11.25.2014

Heights Arts offers free master classes for music students

Cellist Tanya Ell of the Cleveland Orchestra.

In collaboration with The Music Settlement, area public schools and private teachers, Heights Arts will present two master classes in its gallery at 2175 Lee Road, led by Cleveland Orchestra musicians from the Heights Arts's Close Encounters music series. Master classes are free and the public is invited to watch them.

On Sunday, Jan. 11 at 11 a.m., Tanya Ell will lead a master class in cello. Applications to participate are due by Dec. 1. Amy Lee, associate concertmaster, will conduct a class in violin on Sunday, April 19, with applications being accepted through March 1, 2015.

Students in grades 6–12 are encouraged to apply online via the Heights Arts website.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 1:43 PM, 11.24.2014

Free-parking weekends in Cleveland Heights begin Thanksgiving weekend

Starting Nov. 29, parking at meters in all Cleveland Heights parking lots, garages and on the street will be free on the weekends—Friday, Saturday and Sunday—from Thanksgiving weekend to the last weekend in December. 

"Business owners and residents have been very supportive of this idea. It reinforces the city's commitment to our commercial districts and also has been an incentive to bringing more people to our excellent restaurants and one-of-a-kind stores throughout the city," said Mayor Dennis Wilcox.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 9:40 AM, 11.18.2014

Unitarian Universalist Society elects new minister

Rev. Joseph Cherry

The Rev. Joseph M. Cherry sometimes uses his high school marching band experience as a metaphor for his new role as minister of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland (UUSC). "We UUs don't march lockstep to outside imposed authority—musical, religious or otherwise," said Cherry. "We're noted for personal autonomy and, within traditional association principles, we compose our own congregational objectives. The band metaphor portrays UUSC as a principled, socially active and diverse religious organization whose members play different roles with different abilities in collaboration with a trusted elected leader."

Cherry was chosen to lead the UUSC congregation on May 4 and commenced his ministerial duties on Aug. 1. He succeeds the Rev. Dr. Douglas Wadkins, who completed a two-year interim ministry.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 10:21 AM, 11.18.2014

Shop local to invest in our community

Recently, I attended a meeting hosted by the Heights-Hillcrest Regional Chamber of Commerce, facilitated by Peter Benkendorf, Dick Clough and Jack Ricchuito of The Cleveland Collaboratory, regarding the importance of championing local business and buying local. It was with a great deal of enthusiasm that business, private sector and community leaders came together to brainstorm implementing a local/regional campaign. Do you bank locally? Do you eat at a locally owned restaurant? Do you think local before Big Box? The way you spend your dollars affects the economy locally and regionally, which is directly related to job retention and creation, along with building a healthy, vibrant community.

It is calculated that if every person in Cuyahoga County would shift $100 of his or her spending to a locally owned business, it would add $126 million to the local economy. It is interesting to note that the economic impact of $100 spent locally is approximately 80 percent greater than if the $100 is spent at a chain.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 10:11 AM, 11.18.2014