Last week was Spring Severe Weather Awareness week. With the nice weather we have had, I am sure a lot of you already did a lot of the preparations that this week is all about. For those of you that did not or those who still have more to do, let me tell you why we have Spring Sever Weather Awareness Week.
After our 2011 "Afternoon in the Park Winter Event" (which was to include a snow sculpting contest) came up short of the white stuff, Kauffman Park Friends (KPF) decided to try again this winter. Determined to beat the odds, we opted to run this year’s Snow Sculpting Contest over several weeks increasing the likelihood of snow and opportunities for interested artists.
Four families braved sub-freezing temperatures to participate in the contest during the only weekend in January with adequate snow. The results inspired many to start planning their creations with anticipation of the next “big” snow. KPF extended the deadline with expectancy. You know the rest, record low snowfall and spring-like weather throughout February. It seems the only chance of insuring snow before the end of the season is to wrap up our effort and start planning for 2013.
Many people believe the best time to list their homes for sale is in the spring. Historical sales records will even back that assumption up, to a point. This year Northeastern Ohio has enjoyed an unusually mild winter, and home sales have stayed pretty level. If you are one of the homeowners waiting until spring to get your house in shape for sale, wait no longer! The unseasonably warm weather has kept home buyers active in the market, and waiting until April or May to list your home for sale could eliminate a sizable number of potential buyers from seeing your home.
Thanks to all the neighbors, clients and guests who came to the Howard Hanna Team Lakewood’s First Annual Chili Cook-off on February 16. We had a wonderful fund-raising event for the Children’s Free Care Fund charity that provides free health care to children in need. Ten Howard Hanna agents made their BEST chili offerings for the public to enjoy. There was HOT chili and MEATY chili and NOT SO HOT chili and CHICKEN chili and Vegetarian Chili and TURKEY chili and BOILERMAKER chili and CHILI DOGS! There was French bread and corn bread and onions, cheese, sour cream and desserts….oh MY! Once the diners had finished sampling, they were able to choose their “Top Chili Chef!” This year our winner was Jeff Curtis, for his 4-Chorizo Chili! (This author said it made your mouth say, WOW).
About a month ago, a close friend of mine had his brand new Bianchi Volpe stolen from him. This was to be his summer touring bike, for a cross-country trip he's been planning for almost a year now. Many hours of work and saving went in to the ultimate purchase of this fantastic ride, only to have it taken away a mere few weeks later.
Many of you have likely at least heard of this particular theft already. Our cavalry of friends went immediately to action, posting fliers, searching craigslist, calling local bike shops, asking everyone we knew to keep a look out. While we still haven't found the bike, and it seems the odds of that happening become slimmer by the day, it brought to light an issue that doesn't come up until it hits home. Even though the bike only belonged to one of us, it felt like a stab at our neighborhood, a violation that we all felt on some level.
Walkable communities are described by Walkable Communities, Inc as “thriving, livable, sustainable places that give their residents safe transportation choices and improved quality of life. Walkable communities improve resource responsibility, safety, physical fitness and social interaction.”
Walkscore.com assigns a point value to communities in the US to assist families and individuals who seek a community lifestyle that benefits personal health and finances, the environment, and total community living. According to Walk Score a score of 43 is the average of 2500 cities measured in the US. Lakewood’s score is 68.4--a ranking in the 50-69 point range that is described as “somewhat walkable... Some amenities within walking distance.” According to this source 47% of Lakewood residents have a walk score of 70 or above, 95% of Lakewood residents have a walk score of at least 50 and 5% of Lakewood residents live in car-dependent neighborhoods.
Ahh...Cleveland winter. The snow is falling, the temperatures dropping, the lake freezing over, and all I can think about is how awesome it is going to be when this is all over!
Now, I realize not everyone shares my disdain for the winter months, but for those of us who greatly prefer those sunny and warm days we get between June and September, it is time to embrace what is inevitably upon us.
This will be more specifically “geared” (haha!) towards those of us who spend more time riding bikes or walking and need that head-to-toe cover, but even if that doesn’t sound like you, you might find at least some part of this information useful for your lifestyle.
Well it's that time of year again. You should start receiving your 2011 W-2s from your employer, if you haven't already. Some people schedule an appointment to see their CPA as quickly as possible in anticipation of a refund, which begs the question, "What did I do with that money last year?" Well, if you're not a home owner, why not put that money to good use? You can use your refund to help with a down payment. If you qualify for an FHA loan, your down payment requirement is only 3.5% of the purchase price. Also FHA allows the seller to pay for your closing costs, up to 6%.
Josh Rosso lost his car keys.
Then his license plates expired.
Not that he was using his car too much before that happened, but Josh has made his mind up to leave his car sitting exactly where it is, and use his bike to get literally everywhere he needs to go.
That bike is almost a point of contention among a few different people though. The bike itself is super slick and efficient, it’s a fixed gear Fuji Track Pro, black and red, and looks super stylie. The problem that some people (such as Josh’s mom, and a few friends of his) have is that Josh rides this bike without any brakes, and also without any toe clips. If you think this is crazy, you’re kind of right...he might be one of three people I know who ride a fixed gear without at least an emergency brake. But that’s the way he likes it, that’s how he’s comfortable, and that’s how he gets from point A to point B as fast as his very strong calves can get him. I will say though, to Josh’s sanity, I’ve never seen him ride without a helmet.
On Friday evening, January 27, between 5:00 and 8:00, in the Lakewood High School East Cafeteria, Lakewood Kiwanis will present its Great Pizza Bake-Off. Customers will enjoy an all-you-can-eat sampling of pizzas from 16 Lakewood establishments.
I think it only fitting to discuss windshield chips and cracks in my first article after the first snow. Every one of us has had one at some point and generally they don’t seem like a big deal. However, they can be costly and troublesome.
Happy winter to all of you cyclists and readers out there! I just got back from a quick trip out to San Francisco to soak up some warm west coast sun to hold me over through the next few months of wind, snow, sleet, and frigid cold riding Cleveland is going to offer up. Although the trip was recreational in nature, I had a significant opportunity to take notes on how a bigger city handles its growing cycling population. My discoveries were exciting and motivating, and gave me many new ideas for pushing Lakewood in that same direction.
After reading your article in the last LO, I remembered some pics I wanted to get to the “bicycle folks.” I had the good fortune to be in Portland, Oregon this summer. They are an arts and health-friendly location that made me feel right at home.
We hiked in the Columbia River Gorge area north of Portland for some breathtaking mountain and waterfall viewing. I climbed 3 miles straight up, (with the help of switchbacks) and back down again. Phew! We climbed in several places and everywhere were these beautiful bike racks donated by the Portland Wheelman that I assume is a bike club in the area, although I didn’t check that out. The bike rack was in front of this beautiful view of the Columbia River Gorge.
It's that time of the year again and you’re selling your home. The questions inevitably come up: When I am selling my home, should I decorate for the holidays or not? If you normally decorate your home then I would continue to do so. The decorations can give the home a warm, inviting feel but could distract a buyer from the great features you have to offer and could offend others. My opinion would be to tone it down a bit from what you would normally do.
Historically, it is rare for a single person to convince a large mass to change their lasting opinion or behavior. From global issues all the way to liking new foods, we are a species of experience...we don’t feel connected enough to be proactive until we’ve felt through a situation or topic first hand.
Allow me to introduce myself, I am Mark Hofelich, an Insurance Agent, born and raised on the west side of Cleveland. I am moving my Nationwide Insurance Agency to the west end of Lakewood and I am really excited to be a part of the Lakewood Observer. I plan to submit a monthly column about something that I find very important, and something that the general public does not know much about… Insurance. My inspiration for the column is all of the stories we hear in talking to our clients; from minor car accidents, damaged roofs, lost wedding rings to wet basements.
As a top selling Lakewood Real Estate agent, I have oftentimes come across vacant homes that have extensive damage from improper winterization. Most of these are bank-owned homes, but private sellers are just as vulnerable to the cold winter weather. I have seen otherwise perfect $300,000 homes eventually reduce price and have to be sold for less than $150,000, due to one single burst pipe. The amount of damage this can cause is staggering. Warped floors, major cracks in walls, caved in ceilings, structural damage, mold, unusable heating systems and damaged electrical panels are just a few of the dangers. Both plastic and copper pipes can burst when they freeze. An eight-inch crack in a pipe can leak up to 250 gallons of water a day. Remember, most basic homeowner insurance policies do not cover homes when they become vacant. And if you do have adequate insurance, check to see if there is a clause requiring someone regularly checking in on your vacant home. Whether you plan to sell or return to your vacant home, protect your investment by winterizing your home with these main points:
The idea for this column came about shortly after I started working at the Root. My bike was in the basement after riding to work, and Christophe, my now great and loving friend, said, “That’s YOUR bike?? I see it everywhere and never knew!” I started to love the idea of seeing bikes on their own and being able to pair them with their human companion. I also had (and still have) my fair share of curiosity about many of the commonly seen bikes around Lakewood.
As some of you may have heard, I recently had my first major cycling run-in with a motor vehicle. I say “first,” partly to be cheeky but also with a significant amount of seriousness. While I’ve come away from that experience as a continually living and breathing human being, I have been astounded at the amount of stories, similar to mine, that have been relayed to me from other cyclists since.
Stories range from the common close calls, car doors opened quickly without consideration of cycling traffic, drivers slipping by with that all-too-familiar hint of aggression in their gestures, to a wide array of tales involving serious collisions. In fact, the vast majority of those collision stories end, unfortunately, with the driver fleeing the scene. Thankfully, all of the stories I heard in the last few weeks were being told by the cyclists themselves, who were able to heal up their injuries and move on, all still riding their bikes just as much as before.
Keep Lakewood Beautiful (KLB) is hosting their Fall Humus Sale again this Saturday, October 8, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Skate House at Lakewood Park. Humus is that dark, nutrient rich, organic "stuff" that is great for your weary summer plants, new fall plantings, or winter garden protection. KLB volunteers will be assisting with the sale while the Lakewood High School baseball team will be providing the "muscle" to shovel and carry the humus bags to your car. Humus will sell at 2 bags for $5.
While there is a (very) split opinion on whether to stage a home with pets, I feel that minimizing the fact that you have a pet is best. Yet, it all depends on which statistics you read; Home Staging for Dummies claims that about half of the potential buyers that tour your home will be pet lovers. Other home stagers have said up to 60% of home buyers have an aversion to pets due to simple dislike or a health reason. In other words, your beloved pet could be turning off up to 50%-60% of the potential home buyer traffic that is filtering through your home if they don’t keep Fido out of sight during showings. Two things will happen with pets in the house:
Instead of featuring an individual cyclist this issue, I think it’s time to talk about how awesome all of the Lakewood cyclists are as a group, and highlight some of the great things happening in this city.
Cleveland’s first known Bike Move happened last month in Lakewood, as a group of about 15 cyclists moved almost all of Frank Lanza’s possessions from his old apartment to his new one, a distance of about three miles. Using bike racks, panniers, trailers and Extracycles, everything was taken, piece by piece, in a matter of hours. A big thanks goes out to Frank for organizing such an exciting event, and also to the cyclists for their hard, history-making work.
Jon Zagorski will spend more than $150 on socks in the next few months. More specifically, he is going to spend that money on three pairs of socks. We’re talking high-quality, legitimately waterproof socks. Walking into this conversation, I asked, “Why wouldn’t you just buy one pair and wear them a few times between washes?”. “Because I wear them outside for at least eight hours a day all winter! Last year I destroyed a pair in two months,” Jon replied. These are socks that should last at least an entire season. So, what is going on with Jon Zagorski? He’s a bike messenger.
I’ve already called many different places “home” in my 26 years, each meaning something very distinct from the others. My diverse homes have included an apartment in upper Manhattan, a cabin in the redwood forests of California, and a dorm room in northern Michigan. I grew up in Cleveland Heights and later Middleburgh Heights and Berea, and have been fortunate enough to have visited some places outside of the United States. As can be seen, I have a sort of wandering eye when it comes to my location in the world. I’m consistently looking for where I can go next, trying to be present in the place I am, but with the regular distraction of discovering what else is out there.
The idea of cycling as a functional and sustainable way of transportation is one that is slowly growing every day in communities like Lakewood. The more people who get on a bike on any given day, the bigger the idea grows, and I can start to see a future where the cyclists dominate the road, and motor vehicle travel becomes that of only absolute necessity. So how do we get more people on bikes? I try to convert people on a daily basis, but there is another whole population of people who can be building the cycling culture up very effectively for the future, and that is families like the Querys.
I recently spent a beautiful Lakewood evening with a great group of people on the patio of the Beer Engine--lots of laughter, excellent beer and food, and the opportunity to meet some really interesting new people. It was already a wonderful night, but what made it extra special was the fact that it was Bike Night, meaning that anybody pulling up on their two-wheeled self-powered beauty got to eat their burger or sandwich for two dollars less than everybody else! Besides the obvious benefits of bike nights, such as the monetary discounts and another excuse to go for a ride, they also provide unique opportunities for making connections within the biking community. I got to meet some fellow bikers, and even got to have one last bike conversation as I was unlocking my bike to go home.
Arond the Corner Saloon and Cafe has been a Lakewood staple for years. Bringing together families, community and now introducing a new way to yoga.
On August 23rd, stop by Around the corner from 6-7 pm to enjoy a fun and fast paced yoga class featuring the music of your favorite bands, like Jimmy Buffett and Dave Matthews. The hour long class will be held on site allowing you the chance to practice yoga in a different way.
Now that it’s mid-summer and more and more people are out on their bikes (yay!), I thought it would be a good time to include a few reminders about bike safety:
1. Helmets are cool, and all cyclists should wear them. Make it your new mantra...Helmets are cool...Helmets are cool...
2. Cyclists are legally allowed to ride in the road, but should be riding with traffic, on the shoulder side. Keeping yourself visible to traffic and minimizing swerving are important as well.
3. If you are in the road, you must obey traffic laws. Cyclists can get tickets for running red lights just as cars can.
4. If you are riding in the dark, you must have both a front and rear light.
They came for my tree today. No, they didn't chop it down, just 'trimmed' it. Sort of like a new hair cut - it needs cleaning up, but then you want to grow it out! It's a Linden tree, the kind that spins off little brown 'airplanes'. Energy efficient, strictly wind powered, they land everywhere - on the lawn, the sidewalk, the neighbor's yard. A good gust of wind has them up and flying again, joyfully joined by a constant supply of new troops. They may be a bane to tidy yard tenders, but I like 'em.
As summer rolls on and the sky remains bright blue, and dotted with with white cotton clouds, it beckons us to head out doors and stretch our wings. Beginning July 26th, join Aryn Youngless, CYT, at Lakewood park on Tuesdays from 6:30-7:30pm for a $5 donation based Community Yoga Class.
Francisco Molina, better known to his friends as Cisco, currently rides a gun-metal gray Miyata road bike that he fixed up after his uncle found it in the garbage. The salvaged bike, picked up about eight months ago, was in decent shape except for the wheels and tires, which Cisco replaced during the repair.
Cisco is a Lakewood High School student who has lived in the Cleveland/Lakewood area for his entire life. His dad first taught him to ride a bike around the age of four, and he has never looked back. As payment for helping a friend's dad re-do the roof of their house, Cisco received his first road bike, a laser-green Echo that he rode everywhere for the next few years. It met its end just after a winter season of riding and weather damage, when the down tube snapped completely off from the head tube.
Lakewood now allows dogs in two of its parks: Lakewood and Kauffman. However, if you just skimmed the headlines, you may not be aware of the various rules that apply when you take your leashed dog into the park. Here’s a refresher of what is in the City ordinance. Please obey these rules and help out others who demonstrate that they are not familiar with them.
After one of the longest winters we can all remember, summer is finally upon us, bringing sunshine, fresh air and outdoor fun! With so many ways to celebrate Summer, there is always room for more!
Join Aryn Youngless, a yoga instructor who teaches locally in and around Lakewood, each Friday (weather permitting) at Lakewood Park to practice yoga for FREE! Practice will be held north of the bandstand, please bring your own mat, water and the entire family if you would like to celebrate summer and yoga in Lakewood.
Maybe my family being filled with red-headed, blue-eyed children warranted my elders saying, “Get your hat on and put a shirt over your arms so you don’t burn. Watch your shadow guide. When he starts to grow shorter, you have to get in the shade or come inside.” I remember those adult instructions just before hearing the sound of a slamming screen door as we headed out for a summer day of play.
Scientists at least as early as Darwin have been discussing the idea of a “superorganism,” a group of insects or parasites that operate in such a way that their individual actions, summed up together, create a mass that can be regarded biologically as an individual. The most current biologists working on this idea are E.O.Wilson and Bert Hölldobler, who co-authored a book titled The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies. The idea of a superorganism has been troubling for biologists mainly because of its implications of evolution. Evolutionary theory, since its inception, has been strongly based around the idea of change taking place at the smallest level, that of the gene. What Wilson, Hölldobler and their colleagues are suggesting is that an extremely large group of organisms can evolve as one, as a result of behaviors of individuals within that group. Essentially, a living and breathing single organism playing the role of a gene.
It seems like every home remodeling company or contractor is advertising that their products are “2011 Tax Credit Qualified.” But what does this mean? Is it just another sales gimmick to get you to call them, or is there actually a government sponsored tax credit? Sure, companies are probably spouting out falsehoods like “double tax credit,” or some other fancy-sounding buzz-phrase, but the reality, and the great news, is that there absolutely is a tax credit available for homeowners who choose energy-efficient products.
Ask a Lakewood resident to name their favorite restaurant, cafe, or shop, and they will almost invariably cite a unique local business. Names like Imperial Home Center, Italian Creations, Elmwood Bakery, Carpet Stock Market, and Lakewood Hardware undoubtedly would come up repeatedly. These are family owned and operated businesses that define our sense of place. They maintain core values and a deep commitment to customer service that are at the foundations of their existence. These small business owners come to work prepared to compete with their rivals at corporate chains, online mega-retailers and other formidable competitors.
Over the past thirty years, many small businesses in Lakewood have been replaced by big box stores and chain retail centers, mostly located in adjacent cities. Once-thriving, now abandoned, shops and storefronts up and down Madison and Detroit Avenues have turned into both visual and actual blights on the community.
This past Sunday, nearly a hundred visitors, including many four-legged friends, gathered at Kauffman Park for some cold weather fun! The event was hosted by Kauffman Park Friends (KPF), a group of residents committed to working with the City of Lakewood to revitalize this centrally located park north of Arthur Avenue Extension.
Initially, the activities planned included sledding, skating and a snow sculpting contest, but when things warmed up the week before, melting all of the snow, the group quickly switched gears. Instead, participants searched for trinkets as they learned about the park on an organized scavenger hunt. The activity led hunters around the park highlighting its namesake, sledding hill, community garden, baseball field, basketball hoops, leashed dog program, and recent improvements.
Afterwards they enjoyed hot cocoa and s’mores and gathered around a warm fire in anticipation of awarding prizes. Each hunting household was eligible for a chance in a raffle drawing for great prizes. Due to the generosity of our local businesses, few went home empty handed.
It seems like Lakewood's version of the national Leave the Lights Up Campaign is a success! Congratulations to the residents and the city for making Lakewood a little brighter by keeping their holiday lights up a little longer, beyond the "official" deadline of holiday designations. The lit snowflakes on poles, the colorful lights around a tree in the front yard, or a simple light display hanging from a porch -- they are all defeating the winter chill in their small way.
While some citizens naturally tend to discard the remnants of past holidays for new trends, other commendable souls still faithfully keep the colorful outdoor lights glowing on trees and porches. It really makes a difference, to residents as well as visitors to our city. It is a way of extending the reason for the season just a little longer.
The Lakewood Historical Society, in conjunction with the Lakewood Observer, is reaching out to all of Lakewood, present and past, whether you live here now or used to call Lakewood home, to help us remember Lakewood’s history in photos. With this issue of the paper we announce the creation of the “Vintage Lakewood Corner." Each month, we will post a different photo of Lakewood’s past along with the story that goes with it, to help everyone remember what Lakewood was, and get a feel for how the past informs the times we are living through now.
This picture was submitted by Bill Moorhead, who graduated from Lakewood High School, and now lives in Gahanna, Ohio. The picture he posted originally to our Facebook Site and now featured in our first “Vintage Lakewood Corner” is of the “new” Grant School groundbreaking in 1969. Bill’s mother, Joan Moorhead, was the President of the Grant PTA which is why Bill Moorhead is pictured holding the shovel. Also present are Mrs. Rauch, his first grade teacher, and Mrs. Tighe, Grant’s Principal.
Anna Bacho served as Lieutenant Governor of the Kiwanis Division 14 (comprising 9 clubs in this region). Like so many other Kiwanis officers, she did not rest on her laurels when her term was over, but continued to serve actively. Now, along with faculty member Holly Vincent, she advises the K-Kids club at Harrison Elementary school, a group of 21 students who meet once or twice a month to carry out community service projects.
Walkscore.com, an international site that is dedicated to the promotion of, “walk able neighborhoods,” has named Lakewood as the “Most walk-able city in Ohio.” Lakewood had a significantly high score of 69. The average score in Ohio was 44. According to Walk score, walk-ability is a significant indicator of the vibrancy of a community.
Walkscore.com’s rating system was in the news last year when realtors integrated the system into their web sites to enhance the values of “walk-able” properties. The system has taken on more importance as buyers shift from suburban McMansions to denser more compact communities with vibrant “downtown” districts. The growth of “new Urbanist” developments such as Crocker Park is driven by the perceived need for a vibrant center. Unfortunately these “new” downtowns have had limited success, because they are still isolated by their dependence on the car for connection to the rest of the community. Westlake’s walk score is 40, Avon has a 27 and Rocky River a 59. The expediential growth in the number of trips, originating in Lakewood, to and from work that do not involve a car is evidence of this shift. There seems to be a cultural shift that is putting more emphasis on walking, biking and getting to destinations without a car.
I grew up in the snow belt on a small Christmas Tree farm in Mantua, Ohio. From early childhood to not many years ago, my December weekends were spent at the farm with dad, "twirling" pre-cut trees for shoppers and sharing candy canes with the children. We handed sharp saws to the “city folks” dressed in skimpy jackets and high heeled boots, wanting to cut down their own trees. Then we’d bet on how long they’d last before returning to the barn like icicles in a row. Seeing old friends and catching up with neighbors while dad discussed just how blue the spruce trees were this year filled the time between mom’s steaming hot tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.