City

City Hall Observed

City Council met on Monday, June 17th after meetings of the Finance Committee and the Committee of the Whole.

Angela Byington was introduced to the Committee of the Whole where they were able to ask questions before recommending her to the full council to confirm her as Mayor George’s selection for new Director of Planning & Development. She was later confirmed and sworn in at the council meeting.

Byington expressed excitement about working in a more “urban” community than Perkins, Ohio where she had been employed previously. She described Lakewood as “Vibrant, unique and progressive." She addressed the fact that Lakewood has combined the Planning and Development roles which is not how the majority of cities are organized. She has held a similar position elsewhere and has previous experience in Sandusky and Lorain as well.

The Finance Committee meeting was 9 minutes long.

The highlight of the evening was during the council meeting when Councilman Baker’s “Complete Streets” legislation was introduced. It is co-sponsored by multiple members of council and was vocally supported by six members of the community. The proposed ordinance would create a public forum for any and all changes made to roads, sidewalks, bike lanes and other infrastructure.

Mayor George spoke sharply and passionately about how the city employs many trained professionals in these areas and that they should be entrusted with these decisions. Councilpeople Schachner and Baker responded by stating that they do not believe the current wording of the ordinance hampers the administration’s ability to make recommendations and decisions.

 

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 13, Posted 10:05 AM, 06.19.2024

Legal Aid Is Hosting A Know Your Rights Presentation In Lakewood

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and the Cuyahoga County Human Rights Commission will be hosting a special Know Your Rights Presentation on June 26 at 9:30 am at the Cove Community Center, 12525 Lake Avenue, Lakewood, OH 44107. This FREE presentation will help provide Lakewood residents with the information that they need to protect their rights in the areas of housing, employment, and public accommodations.  

This presentation is made possible through partnerships with the City of Lakewood, Cove Community Center, Cuyahoga County Human Rights Commission, and Lakewood Community Services Center. 

For more information go to: lasclev.org/06262024/

If Lakewood residents need further assistance beyond this informational presentation, help is available at Legal Aid Brief Advice Clinics. A full listing of Brief Advice Clinic dates and locations are available at lasclev.org/category/all-events/clinics/. Residents can also apply online at lasclev.org/apply-for-free-legal-aid/ or call 888-817-3777 during most business hours.     

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 12, Posted 1:36 AM, 06.19.2024

President’s Page: The 411 On 420 In 44107

Hi Neighbors! Cheeky headlines aside, I know many folks have been wondering about adult-use, or recreational cannabis sales in Lakewood, so I thought I’d…uh…clear the air.

The short answer is that the City of Lakewood is ready for business!

June 3rd – Lakewood City Council passed Ordinance 42-2023 which allows for the permitting of adult-use dispensaries.

June 6th – Lakewood’s citizen-led Planning Commission heard the first two applications for mixed-use distribution from the two current medical marijuana dispensaries.

June 7th – the State of Ohio’s Division of Cannabis Control (DCC) began accepting applications for mixed-use licenses.

September 7th – deadline for the DCC to issue provisional licenses. All Ohio adult-use dispensaries must have a license from the DCC to operate legally. 

 

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 12, Posted 1:36 AM, 06.19.2024

Keep Lakewood Beautiful Launches 2024 Beautiful Home Awards

Keep Lakewood Beautiful is pleased to announce its 2024 Beautiful Home Awards! Now through July 15th is the time to submit your nominations for the Lakewood home(s) you think showcase eye-popping landscaping, well-maintained features, and that extra something that makes it “beautiful.”

Nominations can be made quickly & easily by visiting the City of Lakewood’s website (lakewoodoh.gov/keep-lakewood-beautiful) or by calling the City of Lakewood at 216-529-5061. Typically 50 to 100 Lakewood homes are nominated each year.

Keep Lakewood Beautiful has been orchestrating the Beautiful Home Awards for more than 10 years. One home from each of the original seven school districts is chosen from nominations submitted by community members. Winners will receive an award and be recognized during a City Council meeting this fall.

Thank you for helping Keep Lakewood Beautiful to properly honor this city of beautiful homes!

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 11, Posted 12:51 PM, 06.05.2024

Pride Club Students Celebrate Council Resolution

Students from Lakewood Pride Club attended the May 20th meeting of Lakewood City Council to cheer on Council's unanimous passage of Resolution 2024-34, recognizing LGBTQ+ Pride Month in the City of Lakewood. The Resolution was introduced by Mayor Meghan George, Council President Kepple and Councilwoman Cindy Strebig, Ward 3. With the passage of the resolution, the Pride flag will once again fly in front of City hall for the month of June.

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 11, Posted 12:51 PM, 06.05.2024

President's Page: Connect With Council

Hi Neighbors! One of my goals on Council has been to actively engage folks in their government and present multiple avenues of participation. At our Council Strategic Planning retreat earlier this year, Councilmembers unanimously supported communication with the community as top priority.

Council Community Conversations

While Council meetings provide a formal venue for public comment, and community members are always welcomed and encouraged to contact Councilmembers directly via phone and email, there is also benefit to hearing from our constituents in less formal settings and allowing for more organic conversation. To that end, I am excited to announce that we have scheduled the following listening sessions in each of the four Wards. 

All members of the community are invited to come and connect with their Councilmembers, ask questions, meet their neighbors, and share their ideas and concerns. We are grateful to our gracious hosts for opening their doors to Council and the public. Residents may identify their ward here: https://tinyurl.com/LkwdWards

Ward 1: June 20, 5-6 pm - Lakewood Family YMCA, 16815 Detroit Rd.

Ward 3: July 17, 6-7 pm – Barton Center, 14300 Detroit Ave.

Ward 2: August 6, 6-7 pm - Main Branch of Lakewood Public Library, 15425 Detroit Ave.

Ward 4: August 20, 6-7 pm - Madison Branch of Lakewood Public Library, 13229 Madison Ave

Additional Connect with Council Opportunities

Saturday, June 8th 12:00-2:30pm Come say “hi” to me at the Council table and enjoy a free cookout with neighbors at Lakewood Alive’s annual Birdtown Picnic at Madison Park. https://tinyurl.com/BirdtownPicnic24

Saturday, June 15th 1:00-3:00pm Join all seven Councilmembers and Bike Lakewood at Madison Park for a guided bike ride and to learn about our recently adopted Active Transportation Plan. https://tinyurl.com/LkwdBikeCouncil24

Saturday, June 15th 4:00-6:00pm After the bike ride, join us at Madison Court Community Coalition’s Juneteenth Celebration with free food, family activities, book giveaway and father-figure/children basketball match up.

https://tinyurl.com/LkwdJuneteenth2024

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 11, Posted 12:51 PM, 06.05.2024

Legal Aid Provides Help For Clients Struggling With Mental Health

Many people suffer in silence when struggling with mental health issues. These issues can affect every area of one’s life – even how they address legal issues which impact basic needs like shelter, safety and economic security.  Client Support Specialists at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland recognize how a client’s battles with mental health issues can impact their legal cases, and work with Legal Aid attorneys to implement strategies to help them have positive case outcomes while also improving mental health outcomes. 

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 10, Posted 5:36 PM, 05.22.2024

You Should Go To City Hall

There is a regularly scheduled City Council meeting on Monday May 20th at 7:30 PM and I can’t go. There will probably be a few other people from the community there but maybe not. There have been a few meetings this year when I was the only person in attendance who was not a member of the council or a city employee. These meetings are open to the public and streamed online but public interest seems to be very low.

The future of the Lakewood Pit, recreational marijuana laws, Lakewood Park and Madison Park upgrades, the Bunts Road overhaul, transportation safety practices, the use of tens of millions of dollars of public money and much more are all ongoing conversations at City Hall. Most of these topics are discussed with zero input from the public. Sometimes there is an eComment submitted. Most of these projects have public meetings in advance where our voices can be heard. But the public voice is almost always absent at the committee and council meetings where these issues are finalized and voted on by our elected representatives.

Do you know who your council representative is? At election time do you usually vote for whoever is already there because things are fine, or vote for the other person because you aren’t happy with something that happened? Voting is absolutely crucial and also the bare minimum you can do to influence the future of our community in the way that you would like to.

Last week I watched our elected officials debate whether or not adults should be able to smoke weed on bar patios and it seemed like they were basically guessing how you felt. More importantly, they were going off of their own personal feelings. Is that the way you would like these decisions to be made? 

 

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 10, Posted 3:03 PM, 05.08.2024

Keep Lakewood Beautiful Humus And Perennial Flower Sale Returns May 11

There’s no better time than now to get your garden thriving, and Keep Lakewood Beautiful is here to help turn your thumbs green.

KLB announces the return of our annual Keep Lakewood Beautiful Humus and Perennial Flower Sale taking place on Saturday, May 11, from 9 am to noon at the parking lot of Old Stone House at Lakewood Park.

Come get your bags of "black gold" for your gardens (humus = $5/bag) and shop from a fabulous selection of attractive perennials that tend to be local, native and hardy, while serving as pollinators for bees and butterflies.

Native plants will be available from Meadow City Native Plant Nursery, a Cleveland-based nursery focused on plants that can grow in nature within our region. Offerings include: Herbs, Milkweed, Coneflowers, Heuchera (Coral Bells), Leucanthemum (Shasta Daisy), Monarda (Bee Balm), Peonies, and many other perennials.

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 9, Posted 2:53 PM, 05.08.2024

The Lakewood Hospital Site

The site of the former Lakewood Hospital is an amazing opportunity that deserves a world class development.

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 9, Posted 2:53 PM, 05.08.2024

City Hall Observed

The Public Safety Committee, Finance Committee and City Council met on Monday, April 15th.  

At the Public Safety meeting, Assistant Director - Planning and Development, David Baas presented the latest version of the Active Transportation Plan and accompanying Safe Streets for All (SS4A) Plan. The plan was partially developed around goals from the Community Vision such as: 

  • Build and maintain infrastructure to support active lifestyles.
  • Make transportation decisions that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote wellness.
  • Expand the dedicated bicycle network city-wide.
  • Improve and maintain the existing transportation infrastructure considering universal design, affordability, and environmental impact.
  • Adopt “vision zero” goal to reduce motor-vehicle related deaths to zero.

The committee agreed to recommend the plans to the full Council for a vote.

The Finance Committee heard a presentation from Finance Director, Peter Rancatore, regarding 3 proposed pieces of legislation relevant to the collection of taxes. They outline the need and ability to collect taxes as well as receive the funds promptly from the county so they can be invested. All three were recommended to the full council.

At the City Council meeting, all recommended legislation from Public Safety and Finance was adopted.

Public Works Director, Chris Gordon presented a plan to receive a $200,000 grant from the Ohio EPA to purchase and replace 4,630 of the city’s oldest recycling toters for residents. Council approved an additional $50,000 match to complete the transaction.

Fire Chief, Tim Dunphy, presented two grants to council to receive funds from the Ohio Department of Public Safety and the Lakewood/Rocky River Rotary. Both were adopted.

 

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 8, Posted 1:24 PM, 04.17.2024

Keep Lakewood Beautiful To Host 2024 Earth Day Cleanup On April 27

Spring has sprung and there's no better time than now to celebrate the beauty of our planet while giving back to our community. Join Keep Lakewood Beautiful for our annual Earth Day Cleanup taking place Saturday, April 27, from 9 to 11 am at City Center Park (front of the Marc's Plaza) in Downtown Lakewood.

The Keep Lakewood Beautiful Earth Day Cleanup offers a family-friendly opportunity to clean up litter and spruce up public areas along the Detroit Avenue commercial corridor. Trash bags, vests, buckets, tongs and gloves will be provided to participants.

This year’s cleanup event also features a free tree saplings giveaway while supplies last. Fifty tree saplings (25 Eastern Redbuds and 25 American Plums) will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

To participate in this year’s event, simply join Keep Lakewood Beautiful on April 27. No advanced registration is necessary. Check-in will be located in the public space at the front of the Marc's Plaza near the intersection of Detroit and Cook Avenues.

 

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 8, Posted 1:24 PM, 04.17.2024

City Council Observed: Real Estate Development Spanning 145 Years

The Housing, Planning & Development Committee met on Monday, March 25 at 6:00 PM. Thomas Bullock - Committee Chair, Jason Shachner - Committee Member, Kyle Baker - Committee Member, Sarah Kepple - Council President, and Cindy Marx - Council Member Ward 4 attended the meeting along with Mayor Meghan George, Law Director Ernie Vargo, Director of Planning & Development Shawn Leininger and members of the community.

The first business item was Ordinance 05-2024 which the committee and council had discussed one week prior. This ordinance would allow the city to enter into an agreement with a licensed broker for the sale of multiple properties. Four individuals from the audience addressed the committee. Two speakers asked the legislators to contemplate how 16016-16024 Madison Ave might benefit the community as a senior living facility; urging the elected officials to consider all facets of future offers for the property and not simply accept the highest bid. Another commenter representing the Lakewood Child Care Center (the only current tenant of 1450 Belle Ave) expressed LCCC’s desire to expand their presence in the building and pointed out that they had already made many upgrades to the building at their own expense. LCCC is interested in buying the parcel. Committee member and councilperson Kyle Baker stated that he would abstain from commenting or voting on this ordinance as his wife, Allison Baker, serves on the LCCC board.

The Committee then voted to remove 1450 Belle Ave, 16016-16024 Madison Ave and 16021 Madison Ave from the proposed legislation as these are commercial properties while the others listed were residential. With the Belle parcel removed, Baker reentered the discussion. He then proposed that two members of council closely monitor the sales process for these properties. Shachner suggested that President Kepple and the Ward 2 representative (himself) serve in these roles. This was approved by the committee. 

 

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 7, Posted 4:24 PM, 04.03.2024

Weed, Deeds And Speed: Three Meetings At City Hall

Lakewood City Hall hosted three meetings on Monday, March 18, 2024. The Public Safety Committee, Housing, Planning, & Development Committee as well as Lakewood City Council met at 6:00, 6:45 and 7:30 respectively.

The Public Safety Committee heard presentations from and asked questions of Law Director Ernie Vargo and Chief Prosecutor Myriam Miranda regarding changes to Section 513.01 of the Codified Ordinances as it pertains to Adult-Use Marijuana. Director Vargo explained that a group in the Law Department has been meeting to work on this section and expects to have a final draft prepared for Council to review in 4 - 6 weeks. Ms. Miranda assured the committee and members of the public that police officers would be trained and given updated protocols as Lakewood adapts to the legalization of Adult-Use Marijuana. 

The Housing, Planning, & Development Committee discussed a number of city-owned properties that the city is looking to sell by partnering with a licensed real estate broker. The committee failed to send this action item along to council for approval because of Committee Chair Thomas Bullock’s apprehension around selling the property at 1450 Belle Ave. The brick building across Belle from the pit that used to be Lakewood Hospital has housed offices of the Cleveland Clinic as well as the Lakewood Child Care Center. The Chairman seemed truly troubled by the prospect of selling the parcel as he reminisced aloud about negotiations to procure it during the closing of the hospital. Bullock was under the impression that collecting rent from tenants there was a source of income for Lakewood and did not want to agree to part with the building if it was adding to the bottom line. Director of Planning & Development Shawn Leininger stated that the city is spending “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to maintain the building and that it is a risk for the city citing the condition of the edifice. Leininger also cited insurance cost as a point against keeping the property in the city’s real estate portfolio. This agenda item was deferred and will be revisited the next time the committee meets.

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 6, Posted 6:47 PM, 03.20.2024

Keep Lakewood Beautiful To Host 'Pop Up, Pick Up, Pour Up' Cleanup Event On March 27

Keep Lakewood Beautiful is pleased to announce its first ‘Pop Up, Pick Up, Pour Up’ event of 2024. Join our volunteer-led group on Wednesday, March 27, at 6 pm at the northwest corner of Madison Avenue and Warren Road to do good, have fun, and make friends.

Pop Up - Meet at the northwest corner of Madison Avenue and Warren Road near University Hospitals Urgent Care (14800 Madison Ave) at 6 pm. Bags, vests, gloves, and litter tongs will be provided.

Pick Up - Help us to pick up litter and beautify the public spaces and commercial corridors along Madison and Warren.

Pour Up - Afterwards, around 7, we'll head to Red Rose Cafe to pour up a drink (pay as you go) in celebration of a job well done.

Visit our Facebook event to learn more. This event will be postponed in the event of inclement weather.

We hope you can join us to beautify our community!

 

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 6, Posted 6:47 PM, 03.20.2024

What You Should Know About Credit Scores And Bankruptcy

Most consumers know that credit scores and bankruptcies can impact their financial well-being but don’t understand how. Credit scores can determine whether someone can get a loan and if their interest rates will be low or exponentially high. There are things that consumers should be aware of to keep their finances stable.

One area that causes confusion for consumers is how to dispute discrepancies on their credit report.

“You can write a letter to the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion- that includes documentation to show the bureaus that their reports are incorrect,” said Matt Alden, a Senior Attorney in the Economic Justice Group at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. “The credit bureaus would then have 30 days to investigate the inquiry and write a response to the consumer stating that they will delete, keep, or change the error on the report. If the credit bureaus will not change the incorrect information, the consumer can hire an attorney and respond to the bureaus according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” 

Credit pulls can also impact your credit score. Hard pulls are made when you want to borrow money from a lender for car and home loans or when applying for new credit cards. Too many hard pulls can decrease your credit score. Soft pulls are made when a company pulls your credit to verify your name, address, work history, payment history, if you filed for bankruptcy and more. Some soft pulls are made without the consumer’s permission. An example of this is when you receive mail from auto and home insurance, credit card and loan companies. These companies have already pulled your credit to determine that you pre-qualify for their offers. Soft pulls don’t affect your credit score. 

Another area that consumers struggle with is bankruptcy.

 

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 6, Posted 6:47 PM, 03.20.2024

Community Survey: The City Of Lakewood Wants To Hear From You!

Attention Lakewood Residents!

You are invited to complete and share our second biennial Lakewood Community Survey, which will help the City of Lakewood to better understand what is on the mind of our community, what our residents appreciate about our city, as well as some of the challenges that we may face. This survey is anonymous and the results will be shared with Lakewood leadership, presented to City Council, and with the broader Lakewood community!

The Lakewood Community Survey is sponsored by the  Lakewood Community Relations Advisory Commission (LCRAC). LCRAC is a group of volunteer residents serving in an advisory capacity for the purpose of educating, informing, and making recommendations to City officials on matters related to community relations in an effort to advance respect for diversity, equality, and bonds of mutuality. You can visit our page on the city website for more information about LCRAC. 

Please take a moment to fill out and share our community-wide survey and help our city better serve you!

You can fill out the survey digitally by scanning the QR Code. In addition, paper copies and a drop box for completed submissions are available at both the Madison and Main branch of the Lakewood Public Library. The deadline to complete the survey is March 15th, 2024.

 

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 4, Posted 1:44 PM, 02.21.2024

Entrepreneurship May Be Obtainable With Help From Legal Aid

Many people dream of owning a business but are unable to get it off the ground because of several barriers. The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland may be able to help with its Legal Center for Entrepreneurs with Low-Income.

The Center was started in 2019 in the hopes of creating an avenue out of poverty for those with low-income. The Center focuses on addressing the issues that make it difficult to achieve entrepreneurship including:

  • Providing legal check-ups and legal services to income-eligible business owners
  • Partnering with business development incubators to connect entrepreneurs with mentoring and other supports
  • Providing education on common legal issues for entrepreneurs and self-employed people 

“Entrepreneurship and self-employment provide powerful pathways out of poverty. Not just for the business owner, but for their communities too. Small businesses are more likely to use local vendors and contractors and reinvest in their communities,” said Catherine Donnelly, a Senior Attorney in the Community Engagement group at Legal Aid. “A successful small business can therefore have a ripple effect into their communities. Unfortunately, for those with low income, starting a business poses many challenges.”

One of the first cases that The Center handled was one involving a single mother who wanted to expand her business. 

“I worked with the business owner to create standard agreements for both the business’s customers and for independent contractors taking on deliveries and projects,” Catherine recalls. “The business was able to expand during the pandemic and provide work for others in the community, while giving the business owner the flexibility she needed to be with her kids.”

 

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 4, Posted 1:44 PM, 02.21.2024

Tristan Rader For Ohio House District 13

As a lifelong Ohioan, living the last 38 years in Lakewood, I've seen firsthand how the tumultuous politics in Columbus have impacted our daily lives. From the unsettling attempts to undermine our reproductive rights to the blatant corruption exemplified by the First Energy scandal, it's clear we need a change. That's why I firmly believe in Tristan Rader's candidacy for the Ohio House of Representatives, District 13.

Tristan has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to progressive values. He is dedicated to social welfare and is determined to bring about substantial, positive change. His tenure as a Lakewood Council Member At-Large has been distinguished by more than mere presence; it has been characterized by significant, results-driven actions.

Tristan's commitment to reproductive rights is unwavering. He was instrumental in mobilizing voters to protect these rights in the recent referendum. His stance against the corruption of First Energy isn't limited to words. He actively protested at their headquarters, rallied support to repeal their corrupt legislation, and played a key role in the resignation of the corrupt chair of the Public Utilities Committee of Ohio.

But Tristan's influence isn't limited to single issues. As a Council Member At-Large, he was a driving force behind Lakewood's first Climate Action Plan and its commitment to 100% renewable energy. His foresight in integrating solar panels on city buildings is reducing our carbon footprint while economically benefiting our community.

Tristan is no stranger to statewide issues. Recently, his advocacy helped pass Senate Bill 61, enabling 1.6 million Ohioans in homeowner associations to access solar energy. That is a monumental step toward a sustainable future.

 

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 2, Posted 1:15 PM, 01.24.2024

New Year, Fresh Start With Help From Legal Aid

Happy New Year! With a new year is an opportunity for a fresh start and The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland can help!

Legal Aid has been offering free civil legal services to those with low incomes (up to 200% federal poverty guideline) since 1905 – the fifth oldest legal aid organization in the United States. Legal Aid serves residents in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Lorain counties. Legal Aid cannot assist with applications for benefits or criminal cases.

Call Legal Aid if you need help with:

  • Housing: foreclosure; eviction; landlord/tenant issues; utilities; public housing
  • Work: unemployment compensation; IRS tax issues; sealing criminal records; securing a valid ID or professional license
  • Money: loans (school, payday, auto, debt); public benefits (food stamps, energy assistance, cash assistance, supplemental security income); bankruptcy
  • Family: domestic violence; divorce; custody; immigration; education; estate planning
  • Health: medical bill collection; access to medical records; Medicare and Medicaid; marketplace tax credits and penalties 

Legal Aid was able to help Tiffany (name changed to protect privacy). Several years ago, Tiffany was arrested for domestic violence, but was never charged or convicted. Unfortunately, the record of that arrest continued to appear on background checks, interfering with her ability to gain employment. Tiffany’s Legal Aid attorney researched the situation, contacted the arresting law enforcement agency, and asked them to request that the Bureau of Criminal Investigation seal the records regarding Tiffany’s arrest. Some time later, Tiffany’s Legal Aid attorney received confirmation from the arresting law enforcement agency. Tiffany’s arrest record had been sealed as requested, giving her the fresh start she was seeking.

 

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 2, Posted 1:15 PM, 01.24.2024

Representative Skindell Not Seeking Re-Election To The Ohio General Assembly In 2024

State Rep. Michael J. Skindell (Lakewood), announced his plans not to seek re-election to the Ohio General Assembly in 2024. Skindell, who is entering his 22nd year in the legislature, said he intends to serve out his current term, but not seek re-election.

Rep. Skindell represents Lakewood and portions of western Cleveland, and is currently a member of the Finance Committee, serving as Ranking Member of the Transportation Subcommittee, and Government Oversight and Civil Justice Committees. He also serves as a member of the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review and the Power Siting Board. Over his years as a member of the General Assembly, Skindell has served more than sixteen years on the finance committees and 7 years as ranking Democrat member. 

“I’m deeply grateful for the confidence I have received from the voters during these years in the legislature and for the opportunity to provide a steady voice for our shared values in Columbus,” said Rep. Skindell. “I am proud of our record having dozens of bills and amendments passed and that my office, with the help of my legislative aides, has provided superior constituent services throughout these years.”

During his legislative tenure, Skindell will have served fourteen years in the House of Representatives and eight years in the Senate. Rep. Skindell’s legislative priorities have included making the state’s budget work for average Ohioans, protecting the state’s natural resources, including air and water, providing health care for all, protecting workers and consumers and ensuring all people are treated with fairness and respect.

As a long-time member of the finance committees in the Ohio House and Senate, Skindell championed fair and equitable taxation, opposing tax cuts which mostly benefited the richest Ohioans and corporations. He successfully advocated for Ohio’s earned income tax credit, helping the working poor, and continues to argue for making it refundable. In 2007, Rep. Skindell was a leading legislator who worked to expand Ohio’s State Children’s Health Insurance Program, earning him the 2007 Legislative Champion of Children Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Voice for Ohio’s Children.  Skindell believes that the state budget should be used to make investments which provide all Ohioans a chance to be productive citizens and for protection of the most vulnerable. 

 

Read Full Story
Volume 20, Issue 1, Posted 1:59 PM, 01.10.2024

Intergenerational Holiday Party At Cove

Oh, what fun we had at last Friday's Intergenerational Holiday Party at Cove! We crafted, chatted with Mrs. Claus, played games, painted ornaments, enjoyed a delicious potluck, and wrapped up the day with a cheerful movie. People of all ages, from babies to older adults, had a fantastic time!

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 24, Posted 3:43 PM, 12.20.2023

Antonio Honored With 2023 PCSAO Legislator Of The Year Award

Recently, I was honored to receive the 2023 Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO) Legislator of the Year Award. These awards, as described by PCSAO, “recognize outstanding leadership and action by legislators on issues impacting children and families served by the children's services system.” I was joined in this distinction by Representative Jim Hoops (R-Napoleon).

As a former teacher of children with special needs and the mother of two daughters, protecting the rights of women, children and families has always been at the heart of my work as a legislator. My legislative priorities throughout Ohio’s biennium operating budget reflect these values and my commitment to improved quality of life for all of our families.

In the budget that passed in July, House Bill 33, we were able to achieve:

  • Increased funding for infant vitality and health
  • Expanded access and greater support for childcare
  • $3 million in support for behavioral healthcare for children
  • Removal of barriers to access to SNAP
  • $50 million in support for vulnerable multi-system youth

There is still much work to do to uplift our children and families. However, I will continue to advocate for Ohio to be the best state in which to live, work and raise a family. This includes allowing Ohioans to fully embrace who they are and live life as their authentic selves. That is why I continue to introduce the Ohio Fairness Act, which would provide civil rights protections for members of the LGBTQ+ community. This important family-centered legislation would help move our state forward to be as inclusive and welcoming as possible.

As I continue to serve as your state Senator, I am determined to continue to pass legislation with an unwavering dedication to children, families, workers, health and human rights, but most of all, for a brighter future for the state of Ohio.

 

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 23, Posted 12:42 PM, 12.06.2023

Legal Aid Hosts Annual Meeting With Special Keynote Panel And Award Honorees

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland had its 118th Annual Meeting on Monday, November 20, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown. The theme was based on the Langston Hughes quote, “Hold fast to dreams” and highlighted hope, extended gratitude, and provided updates on high-impact community partnerships and initiatives.

Legal Aid’s Annual Meeting is a chance for philanthropists, community members, nonprofit organizations, and business leaders to gather and reflect on Legal Aid’s accomplishments over the past year, as well as learn about new initiatives and plans for the year ahead.

A keynote panel held a conversation about Legal Aid, corporate social responsibility and civil justice. The panel featured:

  • Gina Beredo, executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Owens Corning.
  • April Miller Boise, executive vice president and chief legal officer at Intel Corporation.
  • Paul Grewal, chief legal officer at Coinbase, and
  • Taras (“Terry”) Szmagala, Jr., executive vice president and chief legal officer for Eaton.

Awards were presented to outstanding employees, volunteers, and community organizations who demonstrate profound support for Legal Aid’s mission.

 

 
Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 22, Posted 11:05 AM, 11.22.2023

Mayor's Corner: Financial Accountability

Financial accountability and wise stewardship of your tax dollars continue to be a fundamental pillar of my administration. As the City of Lakewood enters budget season again this fall, our department chiefs are working diligently with our finance team to align our expected revenues to continue supporting high-quality services and investing in the strategic needs of our community. We all look forward to partnering with Lakewood City Council to allocate a budget that recognizes the fiscal realities we face, yet also continues to position our city for the future and deliver the public services our taxpayers expect and deserve.

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 21, Posted 9:45 AM, 11.08.2023

"Welcome To Lakewood" Is Back!

After a three year hiatus, our city’s Welcome to Lakewood community event returns on Wednesday November 1! 

This long standing community gathering provides opportunities for Lakewood neighbors old and new to connect with their city, get resources and meet new people. If you are new to Lakewood or looking for additional opportunities to connect with your community, Welcome To Lakewood is a fun event to learn more about local civic organizations, services, and ways to get involved in your hometown!

Come meet Lakewood city and school officials, as well as representatives of up to 50 local organizations, like the Beck Center, the Lakewood Family YMCA, and our Lakewood Public Library, along with activities for kids, and yummy treats from local bakeries. All attendees will leave with a packet of information all about Lakewood.

LCRAC is excited to bring this valuable forum for new and long-time Lakewood residents to learn about many of the great organizations, businesses, and opportunities available to Lakewood. This year Welcome to Lakewood will be held on Wednesday, November 1, 2023 from 6:30- 8:30 p.m. at Garfield Middle School, 13114 Detroit Avenue

If you have questions or are a local business or organization that would like to set up a table or provide in-kind donations please reach out to LCRAC via email at commrel@lakewoodoh.net

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 20, Posted 3:10 PM, 10.18.2023

Housing Protections For Survivors Of Domestic Violence

If you are a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking, and you live in public housing, have a housing voucher or if your housing is otherwise supported by the federal government, then the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) protects your rights as a tenant.

VAWA prohibits a landlord in these public and subsidized housing programs from:

1. Refusing to rent to an applicant solely because the applicant is, or has been, a victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking;

2. Evicting a tenant who is the victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking because of threats or violent acts committed against the victim – even if the acts took place on the property, and even if they were committed by a household member or a guest; and

3. Holding a tenant who is a victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking to a higher standard than other tenants in any way (noise, damage to the rental unit, etc.).

In addition to VAWA, tenants also have protection under the Fair Housing Act’s anti-discrimination policies. Four in five victims of domestic violence are women, and women cannot be discriminated against due to their gender in housing situations. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) LGBT Rule requires equal access to HUD-assisted/insured housing regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.

Further, anti-discrimination protection also applies to private landlords who have FHA-insured mortgages or participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. You have rights as a survivor of abuse and can take steps to protect yourself from housing discrimination.

Questions you might be asking yourself:

I don’t feel comfortable disclosing my history as a survivor to a landlord – how can I describe my living situation?

Many survivors are not comfortable talking about their situation but under VAWA landlords must keep that information confidential. Public and subsidized housing providers must keep the information confidential unless (a) a survivor gives consent in writing to release the information, (b) the information is required for an eviction proceeding or hearing regarding termination of housing assistance, or (c) the law otherwise requires.

 

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 20, Posted 3:10 PM, 10.18.2023

Re-Elect Jason Shachner For City Council Ward 2

My name is Jason Shachner and I have had the privilege of serving as your Ward 2 City Councilmember since 2020. I am running for re-election because I want to continue working to ensure that Lakewood can provide you with support and services at every stage of your life. Whether you just signed a lease to your first apartment, are a new family, or are ready to retire, I want you to be able to call Lakewood your forever home. My background and experience make me the best candidate to meet that goal.

After graduating from college, I served as an AmeriCorps VISTA Fellow for the non-profit organization Turning the Page in Washington DC, where I worked to increase parents’ participation in their children’s education so that they could betted advocate for their children’s future. I then pursued my law degree at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, where I met my wife, Michelle. We now have a 2-year-old daughter, Olivia, and another child on the way! After graduating, I served as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office for seven years, where I spent the bulk of my service in the Felony Division. During that time, I handled cases ranging from drug possession to aggravated murder and worked with law enforcement officers to help ensure the safety of the community and provide a voice for victims.

I am currently an Assistant Director of Law for the City of Cleveland. I provide legal advice and counsel to members of the City Council, the Administration, and various city departments. My responsibilities include representing and advising the Department of Public Safety, the Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects, the Board of Zoning Appeals, and the Civil Service Commission. I also draft legislation, policies, and legal opinions.

 

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 19, Posted 11:59 AM, 10.04.2023

Bill Gaydos Honored With Memorial Bench

The Lakewood Downtown Business Association and Barton Communities came together recently to honor Bill Gaydos for his long-term service to both organizations.  Bill, who recently lost a battle with cancer, was a leader in promoting the downtown businesses, planning and organizing events and activities!

He was also a member and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Westerly Apartments and Barton Senior Center Board of Directors, which are part of the Barton Communities Corporation.  Donn Heckelmoser, CEO of Barton Communities was the MC of the dedication ceremony of a memorial bench in front of the Westerly Apartments.  Mayor Megan George read a proclamation listing the many activities that Bill was involved in that served the City, including several terms on the Building and Planning Commission, Past President and active member of the Rotary Clubs of Lakewood Rocky River, and St. Luke’s The Evangelist Catholic Church.  Gordon Geiger recalled his long-term friendship with Bill, as they worked together in both the Downtown Business Association and Rotary!

Bill’s wife, Jayne, and his family cut the red ribbon on the bench which features a dedication plaque to Bill’s memory!   It is on a main walkway to one of the Westerly Apartment Buildings for residents to rest on as they come and go from their home.  As a Board member, Bill had helped keep it a safe, affordable and well-maintained facility for older adults on the west side.  

 

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 19, Posted 11:59 AM, 10.04.2023

Competitive Bidding Is Good For Cities - Don't Tamper With It!

Lakewood’s Mayor and Council President want City Council to increase the amount that the administrative branch of our City’s government can spend without Council approval. At present, for the City to legally spend more than $7,500 on public improvement contracts there must be approval by Council. The Mayor and Council President asked Council, in a letter put on Council’s docket, to increase the amount when purchasing is allowed without public bidding from $7,500 to $75,000. That’s a 1,000% increase, and the way the legislation is worded, also requires a 3% increase each year!

Current spending law now limits non-bid contracts for professional services such as consultant fees and attorney fees to $5,000. The proposed legislation would allow contracts with consultants and lawyers for as much as $75,000 without council approval, or even knowledge!  

The Mayor and Council President’s letter to Council says that they “respectfully ask for your approval to update our nearly 40-year-old municipal ordinances and its low threshold limits to  mirror the language of Ohio Revised Code § 9.17, which currently permits a threshold limit of $75,000.”  In truth, they are not asking Council “to update our nearly 40-year-old municipal ordinances.” The “40-year-old ordinances” have already been updated; some as recently as June 18, 2018 when the now Mayor and Council President were Members of Council. That’s only 5 years ago!

Lakewood is a charter city. It has the right and duty to make laws that are right for Lakewood. As recently as five years ago, Council found $7,500 to still be a proper limit for discretionary spending of City resources without prior Council approval, just as it did 40 years ago.   

It’s not so long since a former Lakewood finance director went to prison for skirting public bidding laws. Public bidding laws are necessary for protecting the city’s resources. They should not be tampered with. There is no good reason now to increase the limit on unbid-spending 1,000%, or at all for that matter! The proposed legislation is not needed and should not be adopted!

Edward Graham is a former member of Lakewood City Council.

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 18, Posted 11:03 AM, 09.20.2023

Civil Protection Orders Can Help Keep Domestic Violence Survivors Safe

Survivors of domestic violence may need to take extra precautions after leaving their abuser.

Filing a civil protection order (CPO) is one way that you can protect yourself. A CPO can be filed with the Domestic Relations Court or Common Pleas Court. You can do this on your own (called pro se) or with the help of an attorney.

When the CPO petition is filed by the victim of abuse (petitioner), the court will hold a hearing the same day. This first hearing is called an “ex parte,” and during this time you will discuss the most recent incidents of abuse. Only the petitioner takes part in this hearing; the abuser is not there. The court then determines if the request for a CPO will be granted.

After the first hearing, another hearing will be scheduled within seven to ten court days. This hearing is called a “full hearing.” The abuser will be notified by the court to attend the hearing.

The petitioner (you) must bring all related documentation such as police reports and medical records documenting treatment related to the abuse. You should also bring copies of records of previous domestic violence or violent crime convictions that involve the abuser. Any witnesses to the abuse should also come to the hearing.

If the abuser opposes the CPO or fails to appear for the full hearing, the court will listen to the testimony of those who are present and then determine if a CPO should be granted for a period of up to five years.

 

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 18, Posted 11:03 AM, 09.20.2023

Lakewood League Of Women Voters Candidates Forum

The Lakewood Chapter of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland and the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce will host a Candidates Forum on Tuesday, September 26 at 7:00pm at Lakewood City Hall Auditorium. This is an opportunity to hear from candidates running in the November election.

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 17, Posted 3:28 PM, 09.06.2023

Tips To Be A Savvy Consumer And How To Avoid Scams

With so many ways for consumers to spend their money it is easy to become a victim of scams. Eric Zell, a supervising attorney in the Economic Justice group at The Legal Aid of Society of Cleveland, offers a few tips to keep your money safe.

One way to avoid being scammed is to conduct research to find out if the person or company is legitimate. This includes understanding the products and services being offered and researching to look for any consumer complaints. Consumers should ask around to find out if others are familiar with the reputation of the people or company that they are planning to do business with. 

It is also important for consumers to understand how contracts work.

“Read the contract and make sure that you understand what you’re agreeing to," Zell said. He suggests that if it is hard to understand to find someone who can help you understand the language.

“Any person or company that you are interacting with who is offering you a contract should allow you some time to review it,” he said. “It is not a good sign if someone is pressuring you to sign a contract right then and there. You should have an opportunity to understand what’s in it and review it, making sure that you understand what you will have to do going forward.”

After signing a contract, always keep a copy for your records. This includes keeping copies of documents that are exchanged after the contract has been signed, like payments and receipts. This will be helpful if you have any problems later and need to provide documentation.   

This tip also applies when purchasing a vehicle.

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 14, Posted 1:59 PM, 07.19.2023

Reparations Now, Reparations Here

As we head into the hazy, lazy days of summer, and celebrate our nation’s birthday, I can't help thinking about what is past and what is to come. There is much to honor about America, our laws and spirit and ingenuity and passion for justice. We can all celebrate our shared positive attributes each and every day. And yet, there is no question that we as a nation have fallen short in our quest to include everyone in the American dream. I would like to comment about one aspect of our history, and submit a modest proposal to our city leaders.

The last several years have brought a reckoning, and much review and discussion, regarding  America's relationship to America’s black community.  Even the most casual observer of race relations would know that we have not fulfilled our promise of full inclusivity into American life. From slavery to Reconstruction to Jim Crow to the Civil Rights movement to the present, America must still address this key issue.

As Martin Luther King Jr noted at the beginning of his speech given at the Lincoln Memorial, by creating the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the founding fathers were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. 

However, as he noted,

“It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned.  Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.”

 

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 14, Posted 6:16 PM, 07.05.2023

City Applies For Grant To Provide Transportation To Elderly And Disabled: Proposals Requested

The City of Lakewood, Department of Human Services, Division of Aging intends to submit a Proposal for a capital grant under the provision of 49 USC Section 5310 of the Federal Transit Act to provide transportation service for the elderly and disabled within the 44107-area code.

The grant proposal will request a handicap accessible light transit vehicle. It is projected that approximately 200 seniors will use the service 5 days per week for various activities, including transportation to grocery shopping, day trips, to and from Cove Community Center, and elsewhere about the City.

The Department of Human Services invites comments during the 7/6 Planning Commission meeting at Lakewood City Hall at 7PM (12650 Detroit Ave) and proposals from all interested public, private, and paratransit operators including taxi operators, for the provision of transportation service to the elderly and disabled within our service area.

Operators who are interested in offering proposals to provide service should contact Chad Berry, Director at the Department of Human Services (12525 Lake Ave, Lakewood 44107) to obtain full details of the type of transportation service that is needed prior to preparing a proposal. Comments or proposals must be submitted within 30 days to the agency at the above address with a copy to the Ohio Department of Transportation, Office of Transit, 1980 West Broad Street, Mail Stop 3110, Columbus, Ohio 43233; Attention: Administrator.

Laura Jaissle has been a Lakewood resident since 2007 and is currently the Assistant Director of Human Services for the City of Lakewood.

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 13, Posted 6:16 PM, 07.05.2023

H2O's Annual Clothing Drive And Super Sale

On Saturday, July 29th, H2O Summer Service Camp is hosting their annual Clothing Drive. From 9 am-3 pm at Garfield Middle School, the clothing drive will be open to anyone looking to find a variety of clothes for a low price. For decades, the Clothing Drive has provided families working on a tight budget a wonderful opportunity to buy men’s, women’s, children’s, and infant’s clothes as each article of clothing is only 50¢. Beyond the affordability supplied by the Clothing Drive, buying clothes second-hand is a sustainable alternative to fast fashion and provides opportunities for creativity in upcycling clothes.

Donations will be collected until July 26th at the Cove Community Center and each of the Lakewood fire stations in recycling bins labelled for the Clothing Drive. Donating previously worn or outgrown clothes that could still be used by others is a great way to divert clothing from landfills. Then, throughout the summer, middle school campers at H2O’s summer camp will be working hard to sort through hundreds of donated articles of clothing—from shirts to jeans to coats to shoes to sweatshirts and much more—in preparation. The campers sort the clothes according to size, assess the quality, and set up rooms in Garfield to house the Drive. While the Clothing Drive aims to serve the community, it also serves as a fantastic learning experience for the campers: rather than throwing clothes away, the campers learn how their outgrown clothes can benefit others.

 

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 12, Posted 4:07 PM, 06.21.2023

Lakewood’s Tony George To Host Kennedy Fundraiser

Lakewood is host to the first 2024 Presidential candidate coming to Ohio. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is kicking off his Presidential Campaign at the iconic restaurant, formerly the Silver Quill, then Swingos on the Lake and now called the Summer House, owned by Tony George.

Lakewood is no stranger to the Kennedy family. Former President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade stopped in front of St. Edward High School during a congressional campaign trip in October 1962.

George, a Northeast Ohio businessman with Syrian roots, born and raised in Lakewood, known for his business savvy and ability to raise millions for political fundraisers, sealed his reputation as a major political player by pulling off one of the West Side's most successful political events -- a 1996 fund-raiser for President Clinton.

Although George is known as one of the top political fund-raisers in the country, some question his allegiance between parties. George doesn’t take his politics lightly; he takes the time to get to know the candidates and understands their stand on the issues. “I’m not concerned about the parties; I’m concerned about their abilities to lead this country and bridge the gap in helping this nation become one,” says George.

 

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 12, Posted 4:07 PM, 06.21.2023

Keep Lakewood Beautiful Launches 2023 Beautiful Home Awards Contest

Keep Lakewood Beautiful is pleased to announce its 2023 Beautiful Home Awards Contest! Now through July 31st is the time to submit your nominations for the Lakewood home(s) you think showcase eye-popping landscaping, well-maintained property, and that extra something that makes it "beautiful."

Nominations can be made quickly and easily by visiting the City of Lakewood's website (lakewoodoh.gov/keep-lakewood-beautiful) or by calling the Mayor's Office at 216-529-6601. Typically fifty to a hundred Lakewood homes are nominated each year.

Keep Lakewood Beautiful has been orchestrating the Beautiful Home Awards Contest for more than 10 years. One home from each of the original seven school districts is chosen from nominations submitted by community members. Winners will receive an award and be recognized during a City Council meeting this fall.

Thank you for helping Keep Lakewood Beautiful to properly honor this city of beautiful homes!

Matt Bixenstine enjoys all things Lakewood, especially walking his basset hound through Madison Park.

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 11, Posted 2:20 PM, 06.07.2023

Changes To Ohio Law May Increase Chances Of Eligibility For Record Sealing Or Expungement Of Criminal Records

In April, changes went into effect in Ohio to the record sealing and expungement law. This allows even more people to be eligible than before. 

The first change was clarifying the true definitions of “record sealing” and “expungement.” An expungement erases a criminal record. The record will be almost non-existent to most public and all private entities. When a person’s record is sealed, they are not obligated to reveal a conviction when applying for a job and depending upon the nature of the job, most employers will not be able to see the criminal record.  Some public entities may be able to see the sealed record. In both cases, once a case has been sealed or expunged, the conviction is viewed as never happening.  

Other changes to the record sealing and expungement law are the expanded list of offenses that are now eligible and shortened wait times to be eligible to apply.  

 

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 11, Posted 3:10 PM, 05.17.2023

Are Lakewood Parks Open?

By all appearances, the park is open. There are kids running around. There are adults walking the paths. There are cars and bicycles.

This was the scene on Easter Sunday. One problem: the restrooms were locked. Not such a big problem for people who came by car. They can drive home and use the bathroom. But a potential problem for those who walk to the park.

People with overactive bladders and similar afflictions are out of luck. Some will avoid going to the park that their tax dollars are paying for.

Is a park really open if the restrooms are closed?

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 10, Posted 3:10 PM, 05.17.2023

Lakewood Adopts First Climate Action Plan

I am pleased to announce that on May 1st, 2023, the City of Lakewood adopted our very first Climate Action Plan. The plan sets a roadmap for our community to achieve our ambitious goal of reducing citywide emissions to zero by 2050. This plan is based on energy flows within our community and the sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The plan then outlines a pathway to dramatically reduce GHG emissions while increasing energy efficiency and independence in Lakewood, leading to a more resilient and sustainable community.

One of the most important aspects of our Climate Action Plan is that climate action is a good investment. From an economic perspective, implementing the actions in the plan will result in savings of $2 billion from reduced energy costs and avoided maintenance costs, as well as $170 million in revenues. The plan outlines an overall investment of $1.5 billion over 27 years, averaging around $55 million annually. These investments will generate savings beyond 2050, resulting in a net benefit to our community of $720 million over 27 years, equivalent to a climate dividend of $27 million annually. This is a wise investment for the long-term health and prosperity of our community. The plan also sets up Lakewood to apply for many federal funding opportunities recently made available by the passage of the Infrastructure Bill and Inflation Reduction Act.

Implementing the Climate Action Plan will result in households saving money. By shifting away from natural gas to electricity, using high-efficiency space heating and cooling with heat pumps, and improving the thermal efficiency of homes, the average household is expected to spend 24% less on fuel and electricity by 2050 compared to today. Lakewoodites can use these savings to fund incremental capital improvements such as heat pumps and home solar installations with utility bill savings and electric vehicles with reduced transportation costs. This will benefit our environment and the financial well-being of Lakewood households.


Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 9, Posted 12:21 PM, 05.03.2023

Senator Antonio Commends Passage Of Ohio’s Bipartisan Transportation Budget

On March 29, the Ohio General Assembly passed the state’s two-year transportation budget (House Bill 23). The $13.5 billion transportation budget passed out of the Senate with resounding support from every Senate Democrat.

House Bill 23 will appropriate $8.36 billion in fiscal year 2024 and $5.14 billion in fiscal year 2025 to fund our roads, bridges, airports and trains.

In Ohio, transportation is one of our most vital sectors—it directly affects our communities, provides increased employment opportunities and supports our economy. I am pleased that House Bill 23 strikes a balance between bipartisan efforts and preserving many of the Democrat priorities we tirelessly fought for to ensure that the transportation budget would include investments in public transportation and railway safety measures that have been in the works for the last decade – all without a tax increase. One of our major priorities includes over $100 million in funding for public transit which would authorize the Ohio Rail Development Corporation (or its designees) to construct and operate an intercity conventional or high-speed passenger rail system. It would also allow for passenger rail operators, such as Amtrak, to build and provide service on a route including Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

A recent subject of significant concern is the issue of railway safety. Included in our Democratic priorities addressed in the transportation budget are amendments to make wayside detector systems be installed every 10-15 miles, requiring two-person freight train crews, requiring hazardous waste transportation reports when materials are passing through communities, and requiring railroad safety technology reports.

The transportation budget includes green transport investments, such as reducing the registration fee for plug-in hybrid electric motor vehicles from $200 to $150, as well as providing $2 million for electric vehicle infrastructure expansion, workforce training and credentialing programs related to the emerging field of electric vehicle charging.

House Bill 23 was signed by Governor DeWine on March 31, 2023 and will go into effect on July 1.

I am proud to have done my part in ensuring that the transportation budget puts Ohioans first and helps to make our state a great place to live and thrive.

 

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 9, Posted 12:21 PM, 05.03.2023

Mayor Meghan George's State Of The City Address 2023

Mayor Meghan George
Thursday, Apr 13, 2023
Cove Community Center

OPENING

Good Evening. It’s great to see you all here tonight. First, a big thank you goes out to Boy Scout Troop 287 from St. James for providing us with a color guard and leading us in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Each year I look forward to this opportunity as a chance to celebrate some of our recent successes in the City of Lakewood and to talk about where we are headed. Last year, we were here not only to talk about the State of the City, but also to enjoy the grand opening of the beautiful new Cove Community Center. It’s a space that has truly realized the community’s vision as the hub of our human services work and providing an important and flexible community gathering place. I’ll have more to say about all the good things that have been happening here in a few minutes.

But before moving on, let’s recognize the local elected officials who serve our Lakewood community and have joined us here tonight:

I would also like to pause and thank City Council President John Litten. John has served the City of Lakewood for 8 years and has demonstrated servant leadership during his time on council and in the community. This is John’s last State of the City, and I would like to recognize John for his work and partnership over the years.

As we kick off the State of the City, I also need to express my gratitude to the fantastic team of directors that serve our community at City Hall. Their expertise, collaboration, dedication, and leadership are on display every day and the results they achieve are evident throughout the City of Lakewood. We are also lucky in Lakewood to have very talented and dedicated staff in all our departments doing the day-to-day work for our citizens. Directors and all Lakewood employees that are here today, please stand and be acknowledged for your hard work and dedication.

I’m happy to report to you that the state of our City is strong, something we can all be grateful for after recent years of uncertainty and stress for all of us.

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 9, Posted 1:06 PM, 04.19.2023

Post-Pandemic Changes To Medicaid May Impact Coverage

The COVID pandemic caused numerous aspects of our lives to change. This included changes to Medicaid. Medicaid offers health coverage to millions of people nationwide including those with low incomes, disabilities, children, senior citizens, and pregnant women. The federal government created the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) which allowed those who were enrolled in Medicaid before or after March 2020 protections from being disenrolled. 

Now that Medicaid has returned to pre-pandemic guidelines many enrollees may be in danger of losing their benefits if they have not submitted their Medicaid renewal packets or if they are deemed ineligible for Medicaid. 

Ohio residents that have had their Medicaid benefits automatically renewed will receive notice from their local Job and Family Services office notifying them of their approval. Those who are not eligible for automatic renewal will receive renewal packets in the mail, but the packets must be sent back to the county promptly to avoid being disenrolled from Medicaid. This process will continue for all upcoming renewals for the next several months. If you lose benefits, Medicaid allows a 90-day reinstatement period to submit the renewal form to redetermine eligibility for benefits.  

 

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 9, Posted 1:06 PM, 04.19.2023

Update On Winterhurst Ice Rink Operations

The City of Lakewood has decided to seek proposals for a new operating agreement for the Winterhurst Ice Skating facility. The new agreement is expected to be in effect in the second half of this year.

Since 1931, Winterhurst has been a beloved community asset and key recreation facility for the people of Lakewood. The City’s overarching goal for Winterhurst is for the facility to act as an affordable, inviting, community-focused ice rink that first and foremost serves the needs and priorities of the people of Lakewood. After careful consideration of the existing operations and whether the current model is meeting community goals, the City believes that it is in the best interests of the people of Lakewood and the users of Winterhurst to explore an updated model for operation of the facility.  

The City’s Planning & Development Department recently issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to begin the process of identifying and selecting an operator that aligns with the City’s overarching goals for the Winterhurst facility. An updated set of operating parameters and desired programmatic support will be part of the selection process. The City also will be engaging Lakewood residents, the local hockey and skating communities, and other key users to ensure that the City’s vision and the updated operating model align with the priorities of the community.  

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 8, Posted 1:06 PM, 04.19.2023

Keep Lakewood Beautiful To Host Annual Earth Day Cleanup On April 29th

Spring has sprung and there's no better time than now to celebrate the beauty of our planet while giving back to our community. Join Keep Lakewood Beautiful for our annual Earth Day Cleanup taking place Saturday, April 29th, from 9 to 11 am at Madison Park (13201 Madison Avenue).

The Keep Lakewood Beautiful Earth Day Cleanup offers an opportunity to clean up litter in Madison Park and spruce up surrounding public areas along the Madison Avenue commercial corridor, including the Historic Birdtown Neighorhood. Trash bags, vests, buckets, tongs and gloves will be provided to participants.

This year’s cleanup event also features:

  • Free tree saplings giveaway
  • Ceremonial tree planting with the City of Lakewood’s forestry department
  • Rust Belt Rider Compost Information and Sale

To participate in this year’s event, simply join Keep Lakewood Beautiful on April 29th. No advanced registration is necessary. Check-in will be located in the public space in front of the pool house, and parking is available in the park’s north lot off of Madison Avenue. 

 

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 8, Posted 1:06 PM, 04.19.2023

Senate Minority Leader Nickie J. Antonio And Senate President Matt Huffman Meet With Spiritual Leaders In Cleveland

In March, I met with Senate President Matt Huffman, Pastor Larry Harris, Bishop Eugene Ward and other spiritual leaders in Cleveland to discuss the concerns and challenges facing our community in Cleveland and potential policy solutions.

This meeting took place mere days after the heartbreaking loss of Demetrius Dunlap, a 7-year-old boy in Cleveland who had accessed a loaded gun within his reach and shot himself. I shared my frustration with the panel about the issue of gun safety and the multiple attempts made by the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus to institute sensible gun reform. Unfortunately, the nullification and weakening of existing gun laws have contributed to more widespread criminal activity and youth violence. Last General Assembly, I was a co-sponsor of the Defend Our Children Act, Senate Bill 351, which would have established background checks on firearms, raised the age of purchase to 21, and strengthened safe storage laws.

Pastor Anthony Small, representing Starlight Missionary Baptist Church, raised his concerns about voter registration laws and the position that senior citizens will be placed in now that an expired driver’s license is not a valid form of photo ID to vote. It’s not always easy or convenient for senior citizens to renew their driver’s licenses, especially if they no longer drive. This concern stems from House Bill 458, legislation that passed in December and will require voters to present a valid, unexpired photo ID in order to vote, and places restrictions on mail-in voting, absentee ballots, and early in-person voting. President Huffman and I both agreed that there is still work that needs to be done on the front of voter rules and voter access.

As policymakers, we must do everything we can to support people in the electoral process. I will continue to advocate for policies that ensure Northeast Ohio is the best place to work, grow and call home.

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 8, Posted 4:19 PM, 04.05.2023

Legal Aid Can Help With Estate Planning, Upcoming Free Brief Advice Clinic

Most people hope to live a long, healthy, and happy life. But what do you do when the unexpected occurs such as injury, sickness, or even death? One way to prepare is through estate planning. An estate plan can provide peace of mind by addressing important aspects of your medical and financial life, and ensuring that your loved ones have the tools they need to comply with your wishes. Here are a few areas that you may need to consider:

Advance Directives: These documents instruct healthcare providers on what to do if you are unable to communicate due to injury or illness. Examples of advance directives are Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and a Living Will.

When creating a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, you are naming a person to make decisions regarding your medical needs if you are unable to.

A Living Will is a document that states the medical treatment that you would like to receive in the event that you are unable to communicate, are terminally ill, or are rendered unconscious. This includes stating if you would like to have life sustaining treatment. You can also use this document to declare if you would like to be an organ or tissue donor. 

Because both Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and the Living Will specify different areas regarding medical care, it is good idea to have both documents.

 

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 7, Posted 4:16 PM, 04.05.2023

Upcoming H2O Events

The City of Lakewood’s H2O “Help to Others” youth volunteer program has a busy season coming up! The H2O HOME ALONE youth safety and independence course, designed by high school leaders, is offered twice - on Wednesday, March 29th and Thursday, April 6th. This course conveys important safety information to 9–12-year-old students through engaging presentations.

The youth in attendance rotate with an assigned group through six interactive lessons. The topics covered include Mental Health and Wellness, Internet Safety, First Aid, Emergencies (including making emergency calls), Tricky People and Street Smarts (covering safety concerns encountered to and from home), and Routines and Siblings (conflict mediation, establishing healthy routines, and family communication).

A parent or guardian is required to attend, and they learn updated safety information from professionals as well. This course is a wonderful foundation for families to start discussing independence and to extend those conversations throughout adolescence. Parents who attended past sessions have said, “You will learn things you didn’t already know or think about,” “a great way to empower our kids and each other,” and “It’s a must! Attend multiple years.”

 

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 6, Posted 12:10 PM, 03.15.2023

H2O “Help to Others” Celebrates 30 Years With Memorable Tributary Bash

They came from near and far to honor Lakewood’s incredible young people, and to partake in a celebration that was 30 years in the making.

A sellout crowd of 270 community members attended "H2O Tributary Bash: A Seat at the Table" on February 4th at Cove Community Center, enjoying a memorable night of festivities, philanthropy and fun. This 30th anniversary party and fundraising event served as a unique opportunity to celebrate an innovative program that has become part of the fabric of our community through empowering generations of young Lakewoodites to better the world around them.

"H2O Tributary Bash: A Seat at the Table" featured refreshments from Karen King Catering, live and silent auctions, a paddle raise, a wine pull, raffle prizes and games.  Thanks to the tremendous generosity of attendees, sponsors and alumni donors, the event generated approximately $59,000 to help fund H2O’s ongoing programming. 

"For 30 years, H2O has been an integral part of the Lakewood community, a one-of-a-kind program that cultivates volunteerism and civic engagement among young people to enrich our city and its neighborhoods," said H2O Coordinator Emmie Hutchison. "We’re truly grateful for the support we receive from our community, as well as from our extremely loyal alumni base, and this year’s Tributary Bash provided a shining example of that support in action. On behalf of everyone associated with H2O, thank you to the many volunteers, donors, sponsors and guests who made this remarkable occasion possible."

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 5, Posted 8:21 PM, 03.01.2023

Legal Aid Can Help With Federal Income Tax Issues

If you are having tax issues, you don’t have to navigate it alone - Legal Aid is here to help! Legal Aid’s Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) is a free legal service that helps to resolve taxpayer disputes with the IRS regarding federal income tax matters.

Legal Aid attorneys can help taxpayers avoid going to court because of unresolved tax issues in a number of ways including negotiating with the IRS to accept less to settle a debt than the full amount owed, and lowering or eliminating taxable income from debts that were forgiven from banks and credit card companies. 

Legal Aid attorneys can also help prevent the IRS from taking property, wages and social security benefits; help with identity theft and tax preparer fraud; help obtain income tax records; protect against spousal abuses in connection with tax returns; advise taxpayers on their rights and obligations regarding the health care marketplace; and more.

Legal Aid was able to help Joel (name changed to protect privacy) with his tax issues. Joel received a letter from the IRS saying he owed a significant amount. Joel lives with his long-time girlfriend and her three young grandchildren. He claimed all of them as dependents on his taxes, but the IRS letter informed him that this was against the rules because he was not related to them and did not have custody.  

 

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 5, Posted 8:21 PM, 03.01.2023

Memorandum Calculo

A stone is a gear,

is fixed, has teeth

and tongue and groove

and lips.  A stone

is a gear fixed

to move exactly

as Earth moves.

Ralph Hutchison is a baker at the Root Cafe whose mission is to reduce and avoid the harmful effects of poverty in North East Ohio. Their tagline is "Modern algorithms running on the vintage acoustic media."

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 5, Posted 8:21 PM, 03.01.2023

Legal Aid Can Help With Rental Housing Questions

There are a number of questions that may come up when you are tenant of a rental property. Renters may feel that they have very few rights because they do that own the property that they dwell in. If tenants are unaware of their rights they can be taken advantage of by their landlords. Legal Aid can help answer your questions regarding these rights.

Tenants can call Legal Aid’s Tenant Information Line at 216-861-5955. Tenants can leave a message and a housing specialist will call back during normal business hours, within 1- 2 business days. Legal Aid housing specialists can answer several tenant questions such as: 

  • Am I allowed to break my lease?
  • My landlord needs to make repairs. How can I get them to do this?
  • What can I do to get my security deposit back?
  • Do I have to keep paying rent if my landlord is not paying utilities that they are responsible for?
  • Do I need to move if I received a 3-day notice?
  • How much can my landlord charge for late fees?

Legal Aid’s Tenant Information Line is for information only. Callers will get answers to their questions and will also receive information about their

Read Full Story
Volume 19, Issue 2, Posted 12:31 PM, 01.18.2023

Start 2023 Right With Help From Legal Aid

It’s time to enjoy the holiday season! 2022 is almost over, but it’s never too early to start getting your affairs in order for the new year and The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland can help!

Legal Aid has been offering free civil legal services to those with low incomes (up to 200% federal poverty guideline) since 1905 – the fifth oldest legal aid organization in the United States. Legal Aid not only serves residents in Cuyahoga but also in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, and Lorain counties.

Call Legal Aid if you need help with:

  • Housing: foreclosure; eviction; landlord/tenant issues; utilities; public housing
  • Work: unemployment compensation; IRS tax issues; sealing criminal records; securing a valid ID or professional license
  • Money: loans (school, payday, auto, debt); public benefits (food stamps, energy assistance, cash assistance, supplemental security income); bankruptcy
  • Family: domestic violence; divorce; custody; immigration; education; estate planning
  • Health: medical bill collection; access to medical records; Medicare and Medicaid; marketplace tax credits and penalties 

Legal Aid provides assistance with civil legal issues and cannot assist with applications for benefits or criminal cases.

Legal Aid attorneys provide one-on-one consultation at Brief Advice Clinics and represent clients at court and administrative hearings. Attorneys also go into the community to educate residents regarding their rights and the services that are available to prospective clients. 

 

Read Full Story
Volume 18, Issue 24, Posted 7:26 PM, 12.21.2022

Avenue Home And Cotton: Two Lakewood Gems

"What would our community be like without this store or any of our other local shops"? A collection of phrases such as this are framed and perched upon the counters of both Avenue Home and Cotton. Directly across the street from each other on Detroit Avenue, they represent two exceptional small businesses in our city.

Both establishments are owned by founder, David Stein, and have been in operation for approximately 20 and 10 years respectively.

Read Full Story
Volume 18, Issue 23, Posted 5:06 PM, 12.07.2022

Legal Aid Will Host Annual Meeting With Keynote Remarks From Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. -- Lakewood Resident, Leslie Gentile, Esquire, To Receive 2022 Community Impact Award

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland will host its 117th Annual Meeting on Friday, December 2, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Cleveland. Legal Aid’s annual event will highlight hope, extend gratitude, and provide updates on high-impact community partnerships and initiatives. Additionally, Legal Aid leaders will unveil the organization’s new strategic plan.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. will share reflections on Legal Aid’s work to promote fairness, racial equity, and social justice. Dr. Gates is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University. As an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, Dr. Gates has produced and hosted more than 20 documentary films, most recently "The Black Church" on PBS and "Black Art: In the Absence of Light" for HBO. His groundbreaking genealogy series, "Finding Your Roots," has been on PBS for eight seasons.

Dr. Gates joins a distinguished list of past Legal Aid keynote speakers, including U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, and most recently, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, who have highlighted the importance of civil legal aid at past events.

Legal Aid’s Annual Meeting is a chance for philanthropists, community members, nonprofit organizations, and business leaders to gather and reflect on Legal Aid’s accomplishments over the past year, as well as learn about bold new initiatives and plans for the year ahead.

Awards will be presented to outstanding employees, volunteers, and community organizations who demonstrate profound support for Legal Aid’s mission including Lakewood resident, Leslie Gentile, EsqGentile will receive the 2022 Community Impact Award. This award is presented to recognize individual(s) or group(s) who have made a mark for outstanding participation or critical involvement that ensured success for a client, client community, or project. Gentile, in her nearly three decades of volunteer work, has used her knowledge to develop Legal Aid’s pro se divorce project in Lorain County and to participate in Legal Aid clinics.

 

Read Full Story
Volume 18, Issue 22, Posted 1:51 PM, 11.16.2022

Roman Ducu Wins Award, Announces Retirement

It was my pleasure a couple weeks ago to sit down and spend some time with Roman Ducu, Director of Public Works. He had just won the 2021 Clyde “Butch” Seidle Public Works Servant Leader Award, basically the Oscar for public service employees. It was nice to hear that a good guy had won. After all, it is the hottest seat in public service. Everyone has an opinion about streets, garbage collection, parks, etc. It's not a job where one can hide from the public to get by. Which is fine, as that is not how Roman Ducu rolls.
   
Roman started with the City of Lakewood as a part-time laborer. Thirty-one years later he heads the department. He arrived at the top seat just as COVID happened. Talk about trial by fire: between shutdowns, testing, mandates, sick leave spread over the 8 divisions he managed, he was able with his managers to bring a bit of normalcy to both the city and the 108 employees under him.

Roman is a buck stops here kind of guy, which is good as he is often the person people in the city want to hear from most. Because he grew into the job, he carries the responsibilities as well as the talent and background to coordinate Public Works and capital improvement projects, reviewing equipment defects, prioritizing repairs, and selecting and managing suppliers or contractors and costs.

Read Full Story
Volume 18, Issue 22, Posted 1:51 PM, 11.16.2022

What You Should Know About Student Loan Cancellation

Millions of student loan borrowers breathed a sigh of relief earlier this year when President Biden and the Department of Education cancelled some federal student debt.

To qualify for student loan cancellation, borrowers must have earned an annual income below $125,000 for individuals or below $250,000 for couples or heads of households for 2020 or 2021.

If you meet the income qualifications and received a Pell Grant, a maximum of $20,000 in federal student loan debt will be cancelled. The government will cancel up to $10,000 in federal student debt if the borrower did not receive a Pell Grant. Most borrowers will need to apply for the cancellation. However, a small number of borrowers will have the debt cancellation applied automatically because they have already submitted their income for 2020 or 2021 as part of their federal student loan application or because they enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan. If you are not sure if this applies to your student loan debt, apply for the cancellation.

Student loan cancellation includes:

  • Federal loans held by the Department of Education
  • Loans issued directly by the federal government
  • Both undergraduate and graduate school loans
  • Parent PLUS loans (loans taken out by a parent for a child or grandchild)

 

Read Full Story
Volume 18, Issue 21, Posted 1:41 PM, 11.02.2022