Residents celebrate UH at sold-out civic awards

Steve and Adam Grace, of Fairmount Cleaners, received a Good Neighbor award.

There are problems, and then there are good problems. Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan explained his good problem in his welcoming remarks at the 2019 University Heights Civic Awards, held on Nov. 13.

Even after moving the event to a larger banquet room at John Carroll University (JCU), the event completely sold out. “We had to tell people they could not attend this event,” Brennan said. “We had to turn them away because so many people wanted to be here.

“You all wanted to be here because you love this city, and because you are all part of the renewed success of University Heights.”

JCU graduate and Cleveland Indians in-stadium host Gabriella Kreuz hosted the event, and also received an award for her work with her nonprofit organization Love Doesn’t Shove.

“It was so nice of the city to recognize Love Doesn’t Shove for the violence prevention education it provides the community,” Kreuz said. “Thanks to all those who support our initiative to connect with young people and facilitate interactive, informative conversations about how to build and maintain healthy relationships.”

City Hall intern and JCU student-athlete Maya Khawam presented the award to Kreuz. Khawam and her track teammates recently participated in Kreuz’s Love Doesn’t Shove program, and she credited Kreuz with starting “an immensely important conversation.”

“Gabriella does an amazing job engaging students on such a complex and delicate issue,” Khawam said. “I urge anyone who is dedicated to educating the community to bring Gabriella’s program to their youth.”

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education President Jodi Sourini took home honors as Public Servant of the Year, while Fiona Connor was named Educator of the Year. Longtime UH City Hall phone operator Rob Marcinick was named Co-Worker of the Year.

Executive Fire Captain Andrew Boylan was named University Heights Employee of the Year for his work in running the Fire Prevention and Education Bureau.

“Andy has been an essential leader to this department’s cultural change,” Fire Chief Robert Perko said, presenting Boylan with his award. “I am grateful for his hard work.”

Sourini called Connor “an educator in the truest sense of the word, dedicating her time and energy to her students, her colleagues and her community.”

Brennan had the honor of presenting Becky and Bourbon Zeigler with the University Heights Citizens of the Year award.

“Becky and Bourbon Zeigler have been doing good things in University Heights for years. In the last year, they’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty,” Brennan said. “When a home in their neighborhood was destroyed by fire last year, the Zeiglers opened their home to help. Our fire department and the American Red Cross met with us at their kitchen table to coordinate the response.

“Bourbon literally gave the shoes off his feet to a young man who lost almost everything he owned in the fire. Becky took charge of a donation drive at City Hall. Hundreds of items were donated including dozens of gift cards.”

While Williamsport, Pa., claims credit for being the birthplace of Little League baseball, the first organized baseball league for boys, in fact, was created in University Heights in 1937 by Josephine Morhard. Albert Morhard accepted an award on behalf of his late mother, honoring her for creating the league. (Ruth Morhard, Josephine’s daughter-in-law, is the author of Mrs. Morhard and the Boys, a book that chronicles Josephine’s life and the creation of the league.)

After years of service to the city’s Finance Advisory Council, Mike Bohan was presented with the Volunteer of the Year Award.

Local businesses were recognized for their anniversaries this year. Flowerville is celebrating 70 years in University Heights, while Heinen’s is commemorating its 60th year in the city. The athletic department at JCU was awarded for 100 years of intercollegiate competition.

Councilwoman-elect Barbara Blankfeld presented the 2020 Beautiful Homes awards. In addition, the city presented Good Neighbor awards to Gesu Kindness Rocks, the Labre Project at JCU, Shari Garzone, Fairmount Cleaners, Rick Creger, Sean Weiss, and Sarah Lehmann.

The UH Civic Awards were held in the LSC room on the campus of JCU. After a decade-long hiatus, the event returned in 2018.

Mike Cook

Mike Cook is the communications and civic engagement coordinator for University Heights.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 12:01 PM, 11.19.2019