City

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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.”

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.  

 

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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?

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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.


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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.

 

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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.

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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.  

 

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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.  

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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. 

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.”

 

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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."

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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.  

 

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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."

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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

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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. 

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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)

 

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Volume 18, Issue 21, Posted 1:41 PM, 11.02.2022

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.

 

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Volume 18, Issue 18, Posted 12:38 PM, 09.21.2022

Division Of Early Childhood And Youth Programming At Cove Community Center

The Division of Youth and Early Childhood have some ways to help and support families in Lakewood. 

* Family Room

We could not be happier with our beautiful new Lakewood Family Room at Cove Community Center. This large and inviting space is filled with all kinds of toys and activities sure to entertain your young child. We are pleased to announce our fall schedule which includes evening hours, after school drop ins, new parent support (including lactation help) for those with babies under one, a special time just for the under three crowd, our longstanding Learn Thru Play program, and a new PreK lunch bunch group on Fridays. In addition, we will have special events including Miss Emily's Storytime, family movie nights, parent education groups, and parent advocacy opportunities. If you have a special skill or talent you would like to bring to the center, please reach out to discuss. Our fall schedule begins September 6. Please contact Jessica Parker Program Manager City Of Lakewood Division of Early Childhood for more information: 216-529-5018 or check out the Lakewood  Family Room on Facebook

* The Kinship Caregiver Support Group is open to any relative caregiver (grandparent, cousin, aunt/uncle, sibling) or individuals identifying as “fictive kin” (family friends, neighbors, etc.).

Held on the Third Thursday of each month, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm.

Next Groups: 9/15/2022, 10/20/2022

*  Active Parenting Classes provide three roadmaps: Early Childhood, School Age, and Teen. These cover every milestone a parent or caregiver may experience with their child/ren. Our group programming is free and offered with a meal and childcare.

 

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Volume 18, Issue 17, Posted 5:29 PM, 09.07.2022

Legal Aid’s Annual “Jam For Justice” Cncert Is Back, With A New Format For 2022

There is nothing like a great summer concert – and this year, The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland’s annual summer fundraiser returns with a new format with three opportunities to rock to local bands headlined by local attorneys, judges, and law students. 

Don’t miss your chance to support a great cause and enjoy live music from greater Cleveland’s best attorney/judge/law student-led bands.

The main event will be held at the House of Blues Cleveland on September 8 at 6 p.m. Two neighborhood jam sessions will be held beforehand: an East Side Jam Session at BottleHouse Brewery on Wednesday, August 24 at 7 p.m., and a West Side Jam Session at The Brothers Lounge on Wednesday, August 31 at 7 p.m.

Entertaining the crowd at each event will be:

• East Side Jam:
     o   Luke Lindberg & The Hung Jury 
     o   Case Western Reserve University School of Law’s Razing the Bar
     o   Emcee: Stephanie Haney, digital anchor and legal analyst at WKYC Studios

• West Side Jam:
     o   The No Name Band
     o   Out of Order
     o   Emcee: Stephanie Haney (WKYC)

 

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Volume 18, Issue 16, Posted 3:16 PM, 08.17.2022

Lakewood On Track To Receive Two ARPA Grants

I am pleased to report that Lakewood is on track to receive two grants through Cuyahoga County's American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. These proposals will be considered for final passage at County Council's next meeting on Tuesday, September 13th, 2022. The first grant would provide $1,500,000 for the City of Lakewood for its $12.375 million project that will create a new refuse and recycling center and a new animal shelter. The project is expected to be completed in two phases by the end of 2025. By relocating facilities that are currently in the way, the project will also create necessary space to complete a major storm water retention project. The second grant would provide $500,000 to the Beck Center for the Arts for HVAC, roof, and and foundation improvements as part of the Beck Center's ongoing capital campaign, which has a total size of about $6.7 million. Work related to this grant is expected to be completed by the middle of next year.

The City of Lakewood's proposal helps our environment in multiple ways by improving recycling services and making the storm water retention project possible. The project also enables local, humane animal care for Lakewood residents through construction of the new and improved animal shelter. The Beck Center is the premier arts and culture institution on the west side of Cuyahoga County for both performance and arts-related education. This grant will help the Beck Center continue and expand its 90-year record of excellent community service.

Cuyahoga County has been allocated $240 million in ARPA funds. County Council and Executive Budish reached an agreement that $66 million of these funds would be set aside for community grants, allocated at $6 million for each of the eleven County Council districts. The Council developed a standard application form for community grants, but each Councilperson was given latitude to develop a process for receiving and evaluating proposals and making recommendations to the full Council. No individual Councilperson may approve a community grant application. All proposals must be approved by the full Council following a full legislative process, including three readings and consideration and favorable recommendation from the appropriate Council Committee.

I developed a formal application and scoring process to consider applications and make recommendations to the full Council. An announcement and request for proposals was issued on Wednesday, May 11th and proposals were due on Friday, June 10th. Thirty-three applications requesting a total of over $21 million were received for the $3 million first round of District 2 ARPA community grant funds. The proposals were then evaluated by an eight-member review committee consisting of four members of the County Council staff, three experienced leaders from executive departments, and me.

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Volume 18, Issue 16, Posted 3:16 PM, 08.17.2022

Nation’s First Smart-Tech Trial-Basis Apartments For People With Developmental Disabilities

People with developmental disabilities who are ready to live more independently now have an innovative new housing option in Lakewood from the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities (Cuyahoga DD) and North Coast Community Homes (NCCH).

TryTech at the Cranford Apartments in the heart of Lakewood offers a unique opportunity for people with developmental disabilities (DD) to live in a smart apartment in an integrated building on a short-term lease, to try tools and technology they might want to use in their future daily home life for mealtimes, entertainment, security, wellbeing and self-care, and more.

This trial housing option provides an immersive independent-living experience for people with DD to gain confidence and determine what technology works best for them as they move toward living as independently as they want.

Nationwide, about 76% of adults with Developmental Disabilities live at home; in a quarter of those homes, the family caregiver is older than 60 (Family Caregiver Alliance). Creative housing options like TryTech are vital as the Boomer generation ages and the lifespan of people with DD increases.

 

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Volume 18, Issue 15, Posted 8:09 PM, 08.03.2022

The Party's Over

The party supply store known as "It's A Party +" was a fixture in Lakewood for a number of years. Now all that's left at 14526 Detroit Avenue are fixtures.

The store fell victim to the nationwide shortage of helium, which is used to fill the balloons that are a staple of so many parties. 

The current shortage is the fourth since the Helium Privatization Act of 1996 resulted in the phasing out of the National Helium Reserve.

Helium is also used for medical purposes, tech products, and weather forecasting, so party balloons are a low priority.

There was no going-out-of-business sale. Everything was donated, mostly to churches, which are now floating ideas about what to do with all those empty balloons.

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Volume 18, Issue 14, Posted 7:00 PM, 07.20.2022

Keep Lakewood Beautiful's 2022 Beautiful Home Awards Contest Underway

Keep Lakewood Beautiful is pleased to announce its 2022 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 & 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. 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!

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Volume 18, Issue 13, Posted 12:21 PM, 07.06.2022

Architecturally Significant Lakewood Building In Jeopardy

The proposed Downtown Development Project at the former Lakewood Hospital site threatens to emasculate the architecturally and historically significant Curtis Block, at the corner of Detroit and Marlowe Avenues.

While the Downtown Development Project plans are still being formulated, the developers’ plans presented to date call for retaining the exterior walls of the Curtis Block facing Detroit and Marlowe, and eliminating the building to make way for a 5-story apartment building.  The Curtis Block would be reduced to a sort of architectural mural, with no functions behind the façade.

In early 2016 the Curtis Block was designated as an Historic Property under Lakewood’s historic preservation ordinance, adopted to maintain the distinctive character, history and architecture of Lakewood.  At the time of its designation, it was described as “one of the most architecturally significant and intact buildings in the City of Lakewood.”  The Curtis Block is also included in the Lakewood Downtown Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

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Volume 18, Issue 13, Posted 12:21 PM, 07.06.2022

A Glimpse Into My First Months On The Bench

Let me begin by saying I absolutely love my new role as Judge of Lakewood Municipal Court. Since being sworn-in on January 1, 2022, it has been a whirlwind. Yet, the court team, the city administration, and the community partners have been extremely supportive. I retained the entire court staff while filling several vacancies, and we are beginning to get to know one another. After close observation and daily experience, I have realized there is much to do to modernize our community court.

I have compiled a long task list of ideas and plans to ensure a user friendly, accessible court, and to create efficiencies in case management flow and court processes. Occasionally staff and others remind me that “Rome was not built in a day,” and that I have a six (6) year term to work towards achieving my goals. We will get there in due time. Highlighted below are some of the improvements I have been able to accomplish in the short term that I believe make us a better court.

One of the first items I addressed was re-opening the Lakewood Probation Department on Fridays. Probation staff and I discussed my concerns with the office being closed on Fridays. The closure often required individuals to make a second trip to the court to meet with their probation officer. This modification increases access to probation services five (5) days per week. Further, it assists with our jail population when an individual is released on a Friday because many are ordered to report to probation immediately after they are released.

 

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Volume 18, Issue 13, Posted 12:21 PM, 07.06.2022

Community Questions Mayor Regarding Local Dispatch Services At City Council Meeting

Of the 13 community members who submitted public comments about the possibility of Lakewood outsourcing its police dispatch center at the June 6 City Council meeting, none of them supported Mayor Meghan George’s plan.

Mayor George opened this portion of the city council meeting by stating that Cuyahoga County began financially penalizing Lakewood last year because Lakewood continues to run its own emergency dispatch center, in what the county believes is a violation of Section 128.571 of the Ohio Revised Code. This requires municipal governments to join together for dispatch services. Mayor George did not state how much Lakewood had been financially penalized by the county.  She did say that this section of the law may be overturned by Ohio House Bill 445, which is currently in committee.

The mayor stated that many westside communities had been in talks to join Chagrin Valley Dispatch, noting that 33 of 59 municipalities within Cuyahoga County are already members. 

However, Chagrin Valley Dispatch’s website states that they only serve as the communication center for 26 municipalities. Many of these municipalities are to the east and south, including Bratenahl, Solon, and Moreland Hills. 

Mayor George stated that mayors, police chiefs, and fire chiefs who were members of the Chagrin Valley Dispatch believed they had “improved safety due to access to superior technology based upon economies of scale.” While she had discussed moving Lakewood’s dispatch services to Chagrin Valley Dispatch, Mayor George stated the matter would be moved to the Public Safety Committee for further examination.

“This is really the beginning of a discussion,” she said. 

 

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Volume 18, Issue 12, Posted 12:51 PM, 06.15.2022

A Letter To Cleveland

I am not a catch.  I'm not a piece of fish.

I am not a catch.  I'm not a piece of fish.

I'm not a Dolphin even, nor can you

wrap any net around me in your mind

nor span the breadth of my experience

with any book of yours

nor any man's imagination grasp

the breath

that runneth all along

my coral spine.

I'm here.  I haven't died and yet

I'm not offended by your grieving articles

announcing that my ghost has left.

 

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Volume 18, Issue 12, Posted 12:51 PM, 06.15.2022

Police Dispatchers: What Is Next?

It seems that social media is outraged over the rumor that Mayor George has fired local police dispatchers and gone with some group called “Chagrin Valley Dispatch.” That rumor is not true. Here is what I know to be true:

Counties failing to reduce their number of dispatch centers run the risk of losing state funding, money that helps fund CECOMS (Communications- Electronics Command) the group that answers and transfers 9-1-1 calls and provides 9-1-1 system software for local com- munities. That state funding pays for a large portion of our 9-1-1 services including equipment and employees. Cuyahoga County at one time was at over 48 units. The current goal is five.

Many on social media were upset over the idea that changing our dispatch system would mean having people unfamiliar with Lakewood’s streets directing calls. Something very few people understand is that when you call 9-1-1 from a cell phone, a majority of the time the call is answered at a dispatch office at Bedford Hospital, then routed to the correct city. So the City of Lakewood along with all others using the 9-1-1 system are already using the services of dispatchers that are outside Lakewood.

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Volume 18, Issue 12, Posted 12:40 PM, 06.01.2022

First Annual GardenWalk Lakewood - Saturday July 16th

GardenWalk Lakewood is a newly formed community organization modeled after GardenWalk Cleveland. The original GardenWalk concept was started in 1995 by GardenWalk Buffalo, which is now America’s largest garden tour - and attracts tens of thousands of visitors with over 300 participating gardens every year.

GardenWalk Lakewood is a self-guided, free tour of some of our beautiful residential and community gardens! Residents are invited to sign up to show off their garden, while neighbors and visitors travel from garden-to-garden during a specified time (July 16th 10am-5pm), admiring the hard work and beauty that our neighborhoods have to offer. Whether you are brand new to gardening or a seasoned veteran, if you have a small patio container garden or a full yard - all are welcome and encouraged to join us for this 100% free event.

The main goals of GardenWalk Lakewood are to highlight our beautiful neighborhoods through gardening, to build and strengthen connections between neighbors, and to celebrate our environment. The positive environmental impacts of gardening are needed now more than ever. A GardenWalk is a great way to share gardening knowledge, and hopefully inspire others to start a garden of their own. We hope you’ll join us Saturday July 16th from 10am-5pm. More information and the forthcoming GardenWalk Map can be found on our website at www.gardenwalklakewood.org and our Facebook page GardenWalk Lakewood.

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Volume 18, Issue 11, Posted 12:29 PM, 06.01.2022

Understanding Wage Garnishments

What happens when you don’t earn enough money to pay your debts, but creditors start coming after your limited financial resources? Unfortunately, it is common for creditors to garnish your wages to get paid back.

Wage garnishment allows creditors to receive payments for a debt owed by taking money directly from a person’s paycheck. Money can also be taken directly from a person’s bank account. This type of debt compensation is called a “non-wage garnishment,” or an “attachment.” This is only allowed if there is more than $500 in the debtor’s account and at least $500 is left after the garnishment. Creditors are not allowed to completely wipe out someone’s back account.

You may wonder, can creditors just garnish wages without telling people? Absolutely not. Creditors must file a lawsuit against the debtor and win. Once the creditor has won the settlement, they can ask the court to order a wage garnishment against the debtor. The court will then notify the employer to withhold wages to pay off the debt owed. Employers cannot fire you because of garnishments from one creditor within a 12-month period. However, if a second garnishment occurs during that same twelve-month period, the protections are lifted and the employer can terminate the employee for this reason (or for any other lawful reason).

 

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Volume 18, Issue 11, Posted 12:29 PM, 06.01.2022

Spring Thoughts From Refuse/Recycling Department

Spring Thoughts From Refuse/Recycling Department

Well it finally seems as if spring has arrived! And it certainly was one of the more challenging winters in some time. This is the time of year where the volume of trash, yard waste and recycle gets extremely heavy. Here are a few disposal tips from the Lakewood Refuse/Recycling Department.

The City of Lakewood’s Mandatory Recycling Ordinance 1777.03 states that all yard waste must be separated from trash. Please keep in mind that yard waste bags picked-up by the refuse workers get turned into mulch and are not put into a landfill with the rest of the trash. Contain grass clippings and leaves in paper yard waste bags, dsolv mesh lawn bags or uncoated cardboard boxes. Obviously, most residents use the basic paper yard waste bags. PLEASE, do not exceed the 50lb in maximum weight. As a matter of fact, 35lb maximum weight makes much more sense to me. Remember, there is no automated truck picking up the yard waste bags. The bags are lifted by the Lakewood refuse worker and it is quite labor intensive. Do not mix dog waste, dirt, sod, stone and especially litter with the yard waste. Do not use refuse carts, garbage cans, plastic bags or plastic or wax coated boxes for yard waste. Residents tend to place grass clippings in standard garbage cans and expect the refuse workers to empty them. In many cases the waste is jammed in the can and the workers have a very tough time emptying the can. This has also led to many back injuries while leaning over the rear of the truck trying to shake the waste out. 

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Volume 18, Issue 9, Posted 12:21 PM, 07.06.2022

Lakewood Celebrates Arbor Day 2022: Trees For 3rd Graders And More!

150 years ago, J. Sterling Morton organized a tree planting holiday in the Nebraska Territory. On  April 10, 1872, individuals and civic groups planted 1 million trees in that single territory. Arbor Day grew to become a national holiday that is celebrated in all 50 states. This year, communities throughout Ohio will be celebrating Arbor Day on Friday, April  29, 2022.

Here in Lakewood, “The City of Trees,” 3rd grade students in each of the Lakewood Elementary schools and the Lakewood Catholic Academy will receive a native flowering tree seedling such as the redbud pictured here, suitable for growing at home, with the knowledge of how to plant and care for it. The trees have been carefully selected by the Arbor Day Foundation and will arrive just before Arbor Day. Many thanks to long-time resident Ed Denk, for his leadership in initiating and coordinating this activity with the curriculum directors here in Lakewood and at the Urban Community School in Cleveland, and for purchasing the trees and associated materials. 

And that’s just the start of it!  Here are three additional ways Lakewood residents can join our 2022 celebration of trees:

1. Attend the the City of Lakewood’s April 29 ceremonial tree planting ceremony  in recognition of Arbor Day and the City of Lakewood’s 45th year as a “Tree City USA.”  The brief ceremony will begin promptly at 2:00 pm on the grounds of the newly renovated Cove Community Center- 12501 Lake Avenue.

 

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Volume 18, Issue 9, Posted 2:39 PM, 04.20.2022

Getting A Fresh Start: Sealing A Criminal Record And CQE’s

Many people who have been incarcerated have a difficult time obtaining employment after their release from prison. This can hinder them from fulfilling their parole obligations as well as providing for themselves. Reentrants can try to alleviate this problem by applying to have their criminal records sealed or applying for a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE).

Sealing a criminal record is often confused with expunging a criminal record. An expungement completely erases a criminal record, and this is not actually allowed in Ohio. When a person’s record is sealed, they are not obligated to reveal an arrest, charge, or conviction when applying for a job.

Not all sealed records are withheld from employers, especially those positions that are related to the conviction. This could include jobs involving children, older people, or people with developmental disabilities.

Convictions that cannot be sealed are 1st and 2nd degree felonies, most sex crimes, crimes against children, crimes involving serious acts of violence, and traffic and OVI/DUI convictions.

 

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Volume 18, Issue 9, Posted 2:39 PM, 04.20.2022

Human Services Under One Roof, At Last

It's a small irony that work on the roof of Lakewood's Cove Community Center was not 100% complete, as of the ribbon-cutting on April 12. Because for many of those taking part in the ceremony, the greatest sense of accomplishment was one roof covering all of the city's human services, at last.

Most speakers at the ribbon-cutting referred to the decades of interest in bringing together the department's divisions of aging, youth, and early childhood at one location. State Representative Michael Skindell recalled ambitions toward this outcome from his years on Lakewood City Council, more than two decades ago. Mayor Meghan George honored several women in attendence, including Human Services Director Toni Gelsomino, for long careers making the department a success while advocating better facilities.

Gelsomino says that the department's work out of five different addresses will, finally, unite in one location at the Cove Center.

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Volume 18, Issue 8, Posted 2:58 PM, 04.20.2022

Volunteers Needed For LCAC’s Spring Cleaning Supplies Distribution

Lakewood Charitable Assistance Corporation (LCAC) will be having its first in-person event since 2019 in mid-May. 

When the pandemic first began, LCAC, like so many organizations, had to find a different way to help Lakewood families without hosting our twice-yearly food drives or our spring cleaning drive. 

In lieu of food drives, LCAC distributed $50 Giant Eagle gift cards to 300 families twice in 2020 and three times in 2021. In addition, we hosted a drive-thru diaper drive in 2020. 

LCAC, also known as the “food drive people” switches gears every May to help provide cleaning supplies and hygiene items for Lakewood families in need. This drive is especially appreciated by the recipients as cleaning supplies and toiletries cannot be purchased with SNAP or WIC benefits. 

And, now that the COVID numbers are decreasing, LCAC will be hosting a Spring Cleaning Drive on Saturday, May 14 at 9 a.m. in the back parking lot of the Masonic Temple, located at 15300 Detroit Road in Lakewood. 

 

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Volume 18, Issue 8, Posted 2:58 PM, 04.20.2022

Medical-Legal Partnerships Bring Free Legal Aid To Health Care Settings

When you go to the doctor, you probably expect to get answers about health concerns and guidance on how to best care for your body. But have you ever considered that, to get to the root of a problem, you actually might need legal advice? For instance, if your asthma is acting up, poor ventilation or mold in your rental unit could be the cause – and legal counsel can help you compel your landlord to make much-needed repairs. Or, if your son is not getting the supportive services he needs at school, a lawyer can advocate on his behalf in meetings with school administrators to set him up for success.

These issues and more are commonly addressed by attorneys who work for The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland’s medical-legal partnerships with MetroHealth, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, University Hospitals, and Cleveland Clinic. Medical-legal partnerships (MLPs) help people solve legal issues that may be impacting their health or their family’s health. Together, health care providers, social workers, patients, and attorneys address the “social determinants of health” – those economic and social factors that contribute to 80% of a person’s health outcomes. For example, utility shut-offs, evictions, and lack of money for nutritious food can all create unhealthy home environments for families.

Dedicated Legal Aid staff work in collaboration with medical providers at each hospital site, making it easy for providers to connect their patients with timely legal help (all Legal Aid services are free of cost to income-eligible clients). Legal Aid also trains medical providers on how to recognize when their patients are experiencing civil legal issues, so they can make a seamless referral to Legal Aid staff.

 

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Volume 18, Issue 7, Posted 9:33 AM, 04.06.2022

City Council Docket: Safe Routes To School (SRTS) School Travel Plan (STP) Development Assistance

February 22, 2022
City Council Docket Item

RE: Application for Safe Routes to School (SRTS) School Travel Plan (STP) Development Assistance

Dear Council President O’Malley & Members of City Council,

In support of our 2022 efforts towards producing an Active Transportation Plan, the City intends to apply to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) for assistance towards developing an up-to-date School Travel Plan (STP) covering pedestrian and bicycle routes for students (Kindergarten through 8th grade) at all public and private schools within the City. The ODOT application process towards obtaining this development assistance specifically requires submission of a Council Resolution supporting the effort.

Lakewood was among the first communities to complete a formal STP in 2010 – unfortunately, this plan is no longer current (STPs last for 5 years) and covered only Garfield and Harding Middle Schools. Having a current and city-wide STP is beneficial for a variety of reasons. First, a city-wide STP is a critical first step to inform and support our development of a broader City Active Transportation Plan – which, using ODOT guidelines, will replace (and expand the scope of) our 2012 Bicycle Master Plan. Second, a current STP opens the door in subsequent years for SRTS-specific funding towards infrastructure projects and non-infrastructure programs.

 

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Volume 18, Issue 6, Posted 12:27 PM, 03.02.2022

Legal Aid Can Help With Debt, Car Repossession, And Identity Theft

Unpaid debt can be a huge burden that creates a constant cycle of worry and fear.

Do you know what to do if you are sued by a debt collector, if your car is repossessed, or if you are a victim of identity theft? Legal Aid has answers.

Car Repossession

Your car can be repossessed by the lender if you fail to make a payment (also known as going into default). The lender can even take your car away without your knowledge - whether it is parked in your driveway, a parking lot, or on the street.

One thing that a lender cannot do while repossessing your car is “breach the peace.” This means the lender cannot threaten or use physical force to retrieve the car or take your car from your closed garage without permission. If there is a breach of peace, you should call the police. Do not threaten or attempt to stop the repossession of your car.

Any personal items in the car must be returned to you. It is important to call the lender to find out where to get your items, but beware – there may be a small storage fee from the lender.

 

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Volume 18, Issue 5, Posted 12:26 PM, 03.02.2022

Legal Aid Offers Free Legal Help With Tax Problems

Tax season is headed our way faster than lake effect snow, and there are many community organizations helping Northeast Ohio residents with tax preparation. 

The pandemic has affected how and when we file taxes, as well as what we file. One of the most recent federal tax policy changes is the Child Tax Credit. The Child Tax Credit gives up to $3,000 for each dependent child under the age of 17 and $3,600 if under the age of 6. Through this program, taxpayers may also qualify for a refund if the unused tax credit is larger than the total amount of their tax bill.

If you have questions, you definitely need to reach-out for help!   You can call 2-1-1 to find free tax prep help near you or visit www.lasclev.org/taxhelp for a list of organizations that help you file taxes for free.

In addition to great community resources that help you file taxes, Legal Aid is here to help with legal problems related to taxes.  Legal Aid has a tax practice that works closely with community organizations not just during tax season, but throughout the year.  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 helps people resolve legal issues related to tax issues.  For example, Legal Aid attorneys can help people negotiate with the IRS to settle a debt for less than the full amount owed, or lower/eliminate taxable income from debts that were forgiven from banks and credit card companies.

Legal Aid also helps:

  • Prevent the IRS from taking property, wages, and social security benefits;
  • Solve identity theft problems;
  • Correct tax preparer fraud;
  • Help H-2A workers file taxes (an important step towards gaining citizenship);
  • Help people obtain income tax records;
  • Protect against spousal abuses in connection with tax returns;
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Volume 18, Issue 3, Posted 7:12 PM, 02.02.2022

Get Your Taxes Done For Free

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Provides In-Person Service at Lakewood Congregational Church

Beginning February 7 and continuing through April 12, AARP Foundation is providing tax assistance and preparation through its Tax-Aide program — and it’s completely free.

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide is the nation’s largest volunteer-based free tax preparation service. Volunteers are trained and IRS-certified every year to ensure they understand the latest changes to the U.S. Tax Code. In 2020, 1.5 million taxpayers who used AARP Foundation Tax-Aide received more than $1 billion in income tax refunds.

Tax assistance will be provided using a low-contact method of operating where taxpayers interact with IRS-certified Tax-Aide volunteers in one or two short, in-person meetings to exchange documents. COVID safeguards including distancing, table shields and required face masks for taxpayers and volunteers will be in place.

The new location in Lakewood is the Lakewood Congregational Church, located at 1375 W. Clifton Blvd at Detroit Avenue.  Appointments are available every half hour from 11:00 AM through 1:30 PM. To make an appointment please call 216-221-9555.

 

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Volume 18, Issue 2, Posted 1:56 PM, 01.19.2022

Trash Tips For The Holidays

HOLIDAY REFUSE AND RECYCLING TIPS FOR LAKEWOOD RESIDENTS

1.) The Lakewood Refuse Department will be closed on Monday 12/27 and Monday 1/3.

2.) Residential pick-up will resume on Tuesday 12/28 and 1/4. Carts and bulk trash should be out on your regular scheduled pick-up day.

3.) When at all possible all cardboard should be broken-down and placed in the recycle cart. Excess cardboard must be tied or boxed for easy pick-up and to prevent littering the street.

4.) Non-glitter and non-foil wrapping paper and the cardboard rolls they come with ARE recyclable.

5.)ALL styrofoam is GARBAGE. If you place a TV box on the tree lawn and it contains styrofoam, it will be taken as garbage.

6.) Christmas trees must be free of lights and not enclosed in plastic bags so they can be recycled.

 

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Volume 17, Issue 24, Posted 2:26 PM, 12.15.2021

Help For Youth Aging Out Of Foster Care

Aging out of the foster care system can be a very challenging time for youth who are also navigating the transition from childhood to adulthood. Without a birth certificate, social security card, or other identifying documentation, it can be extremely difficult to get a job or a driver’s license.

Attorney Danielle Gadomski Littleton and social worker Dani Lachina, both of The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, have several tips for people who are transitioning out of the foster care system.

First, if you have a case worker, ask him or her for access to your documents or for help applying for new copies.

Second, call the Identification Crisis Collaborative (IDCC). There are 29 community organizations in the IDCC that help people obtain birth certificates, proof of social security numbers, driver’s licenses, state IDs, and other important documentation. For more information on how IDCC can help you, call the West Side Catholic Center at 216-631-4741, ext. 300.

Also, find out if you are eligible to receive help from Ohio Bridges. Ohio Bridges helps youth ages 18 to 20 who have aged out of the foster care system. The organization assists with issues regarding housing, education, employment, and mental and physical health. For more information, go to bridgestosuccess.jfs.ohio.gov.

Finally, call YWCA’s A Place 4 Me program. A Place 4 Me helps youths from 14 to 26 with issues regarding housing, jobs, and other areas to help create a stable and productive life. For more information, call Kate Lodge at 216-881-6878 or email her at klodge@ywcaofcleveland.org

 

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Volume 17, Issue 23, Posted 12:10 PM, 12.01.2021

Tess Neff: Council To The Court

The November 2 General Election results were certified on November 22, and I was officially declared the next Lakewood Municipal Court Judge. Winning the election was a team effort that required an enormous amount of dedication and work. I am truly appreciative for all the amazing support I received for my judicial campaign. My husband Rich served as my campaign manager and my biggest supporter. He did a fine job for a novice. I will forever be grateful to all those who helped me prevail, whether by placing a yard sign, canvassing, or sharing my information with other Lakewood voters. Every task was important and impactful. We conducted a consistently positive campaign during some very difficult and challenging times, and this makes me very proud. For those who did not support me, I believe I will earn your trust and confidence through my future work with the court. 

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Volume 17, Issue 23, Posted 12:10 PM, 12.01.2021

Thank You Lakewood

Dear neighbors,

As we head toward our collective day of Thanksgiving, I want to express my deep and abiding gratitude to all of those who contributed their time, talent, or treasure to Keep Kepple on Council; to each voter who took the time to participate in our democracy on November 2nd; and to each of my fellow candidates for running positive campaigns focused on service to our great city.

With such a strong field and spirited race, I am honored and humbled to have earned the support of our community and to return to Lakewood City Council as your elected Councilwoman at Large. Our campaign, fueled by a broad coalition of supporters, reflects Lakewood’s diversity and our potential as a community to work together to identify and accomplish shared goals.

However you voted, or whether you voted or not, I intend to keep working hard for you and to bring us together toward a bright Lakewood future. Thank you for giving me the opportunity.

Sarah Kepple serves all residents as Lakewood City Councilmember at Large. She is the owner of Gigalearn, LLC and led Action Together Lakewood Area for many years. Reach her at sarah.kepple@lakewoodoh.net or 216.200.5050.

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Volume 17, Issue 23, Posted 2:04 PM, 11.17.2021

Partnership With MetroHealth

Dear Members of Council,

We are pleased to share with Council that a partnership between the City of Lakewood’s Department of Human Services, the Center for Health Resilience, and the MetroHealth System’s Institute for HOPE has been established to provide training for Human Services staff members. The goal of this no-cost, twelve-month pilot partnership is to support the staff in building a trauma-informed team rooted in the expertise and passion of an experienced staff, while enhancing opportunities to cultivate informed powerful connections as they transition to our new Community Center.

Over the next year MetroHealth will provide 5 key services:

1. Center Transition Meetings (beginning 10/21)

2. Trauma-Informed Consultation and Transformational Planning focused on Team Building, Connection, and interpersonal growth (scheduled for 10/22/21)

 

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Volume 17, Issue 22, Posted 2:04 PM, 11.17.2021