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Out & About in Cleveland

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Solon Chamber of Commerce Monthly Luncheon

On Tuesday, February 17th, our first event was the Solon Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon which took place at the Bertram Inn on Aurora Road. The speaker was Mr. Anthony Coyne who is Chair of both the Planning Commission and the Group Plan Commission for the City of Cleveland, the latter of which is charged with creating a unified vision for signature public places that will link major catalytic projects in downtown Cleveland. Mr. Coyne talked about the plans to remake Public Square more into more of a pedestrian friendly plaza with more room devoted to green spaces. The ground for this project will be broken at the end of the month and the project should be completed by June, 2016. Mr. Coyne also showed us plans to revitalize areas along the lakefront with a pedestrian bridge to more closely connect these areas to downtown. Finally, he discussed the current trend of younger professionals to want to live downtown and what options will be available to them. Particularly exciting were the plans that he showed us for the NcCLEus Project which is a 54 story tower of apartments and office space that is will occupy the area of Prospect and Huron. The architecture is very "cutting edge" and we agreed with Mr. Coyne when he said that the design of this building would be consistent with what we see in Shanghai and Beijing.

When he was asked about how these plans for Cleveland will effect Solon, Mr. Coyne replied that the hotel business in Solon and surrounding areas in Cuyahoga County will benefit from the Cleveland Renaissance (which is clearly happening) because many people who come to this area will not necessarily want to or will not be able to stay in the downtown area and our public transit from Solon to Cleveland is excellent. Let us say at this point that Mr. Coyne is a good friend of Ms. Margaret W. Wong and when he saw our "Margaret W. Wong and Associates" name badge and golf shirt, he walked over and greeted us warmly and told us to say hello to Ms. Wong.

Another person that was there on this day who knew us was Mr. Arie Teomi of the firm "Lasting Impression Direct" that does printing and direct mail. In fact, Mr. Teomi helped us with our holiday party several years ago. We sat with him at lunch and learned that he immigrated to the United States from Israel 35 years ago and holds dual citizenship for both countries. He used to live in the Shaker Heights area but now lives in Solon and likes it a lot here.

One of the sponsors for today's luncheon was the Rotary Club of Solon which, among other community projects, raises money for sustainability projects in less developed countries and provides assistance to international exchange students. We talked to three members who were Ms. Cindy Bowman, Mr. Chris Janson, and Mr. Scott McRill who invited us to come to the next Rotary Club of Solon after hours in the next couple of weeks and we look forward to going. Later that day we went to Molinari's in Mentor for a "Celebration Party" that our friend Mr. Ernie Brass of Money Concepts Wealth Management gave for Extended Housing because he had been working with them for over 15 years and really admired the organization for the work that it does.

Extended Housing is a not for profit corporation which, as its literature states, "helps mentally ill individuals live in safe homes...Success is achieved by surrounding them with support, helping them learn life skills and set goals, and connecting them to financial and social resources."

We got to meet several people associated with Extended Housing including Ms. Karen McCleod (Executive Director), Ms. Patricia Freeman (Resource Development Director), Ms. Judy Parmenter (President of the Board), Mr. Tony Brzytwa (Vice President of the Board), and Ms. Mary Jo Fryauoff (Board Member) as well as Mr. John W. Konrad, former City Manager of Mentor and big supporter.

We enjoying talking about Fairport Harbor with Mr. Bob Valentine who grew up there. We didn't know this before but many people who immigrated to the United States from Hungary and Finland settled there in the post World War II/Pre-Vietnam War era. Mr. Valentine grew up with people from both ethnic groups and he talked about what he learned from visiting their homes.

We also talked to a builder who told us that people who immigrated to the United States from other countries were some of the hardest working people that he had ever seen and that they would do the jobs that no one else wanted. He recalled a situation when the basement of a house he was building was buried in snow and it was freezing outside but one of his foreign born workers volunteered to climb down into the basement and shovel it out so construction could continue.

We asked Mr. Brass why he put this party on and he told us that he had been helping Extended Housing with their retirement plan for many years starting from when there were only 3 people working there; now there are 26 people and several part-timers. Mr. Brass had always been invited to their annual party each year so he felt it was time to do something for them especially since "these folks are very giving and Karen has done a heck of a job!"

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