Contributions to neighborhood celebrated
at Cudell Improvement’s 30th Annual Meeting
(Plain Press, February 2005) At Cudell Improvement’s 30th Annual meeting on January 19 at Brennan’s Party Center on Triskett Road, the organization celebrated another year of service and honored a number of government officials and community members for their contributions to the neighborhood.
Keynote Speaker Peter Jedick, journalist, author, free-lance writer and Cleveland firefighter, told stories about West Tech. He called West Tech a “great school,” and noted the many distinguished alumni it produced. Jedick emphasized the wide range of courses it offered – welding, woodworking, auto shop, chemistry, physics and even air craft engine repair – and the tradition of discipline at West Tech. Jedick says his interest in being a writer started when he was recruited to write for the West Tech student newspaper, the Tattler. Today, his work as Cleveland firefighter gives him the financial stability to do writing and publishing. Jedick has published several books about Cleveland, including one on the history of West Tech. He was inducted into the West Tech Hall of Fame in 2001.
This year’s recipient of the Walter & Pauline Martens Lifetime Achievement Award was Virginia Marti Veith, the founder and CEO of the Virginia Marti College of Fashion and Arts, 11724 Detroit Avenue. Marti, who made custom bridal outfits in a local fur store, started the design school was a way to get people to help. The design school now has 250 students. The school plans to expand to the west to house 350 students. Four family members currently work in the business with Veith. The school is now set up as a nonprofit corporation and the profits help to fund a home for orphans in Kenya.
Chris Ronayne, recently named by Mayor Jane Campbell as her Chief of Staff, was the recipient of the excellence in government award for his work with Cudell Improvement in his role as Chief Development Officer and Director of the Cleveland Planning Commission. In his remarks when accepting the award, Ronayne stressed the central role neighborhood based organizations played in the revitalization of cities. “Block by block, corner by corner, parcel by parcel, that’s what makes it work,” he said.
Jan Kappenhagen, Director of the Midwest Housing Partnership, and her husband David Kappenhagen were awarded a gift certificate and received a hearty round of applause for their willingness to sacrifice their Sunday mornings to clean up the neighborhoods in Ward 18 with the help of individuals assigned by Cuyahoga County courts to Community Service as part of a penalty for a violation of the law. Working five hours each Sunday morning, the Kappenhagens and the crew from Court Community Service fill trash bags with litter and pick up tires. On days when it snows, they shovel walks in front of churches, the homes of senior citizens and key routes to bus stops.
Cudell Improvement also honored Paul Klodor, Manager of Court Community Service, with a Service Award. Klodor, who sets up community service assignments for about 45 court-referred individuals a week, works closely with the Kappenhagens to assure that Ward 18 has community service workers for their weekly clean-up and service projects.
Other recipients of Service Awards were: Robert Brown, the newly appointed Director of the Cleveland Planning Commission; Scott Frantz, Manager of the Mayor’s Streetscape Committee of the Cleveland Planning Commission; and James Kocian, a City of Cleveland Building Inspector.
The Golden Trowel Award for neighborhood beautification went to Dr. Dan Solomon for his extensive efforts at grading his properties at 11207 – 11211 Detroit Avenue. Prior to the $35,000 grading of the property, the land was so high by the curb that cars couldn’t open their doors on the curbside when they parked in front of the property.
Efforts to restore two neighborhood buildings both on Lorain Avenue were rewarded with Storefront Renovation Awards. Khambong Vongsouvanh-Riaz was praised for her perseverance in renovation of the Poppy Building at 10010 Lorain Avenue. In the second year of the renovation, frustrated with contractors not showing up on time, she finished the work herself to qualify for the second year rebate on the project. Vongsouvanh-Riaz plans to open a restaurant in the building when the interior is finished.
Cudell Improvement President Paul Vernon accepted an award for the organization for the exterior restoration of the Southwestern Savings and Loan Building at 9815-9821 Lorain Avenue. Cudell Improvement purchased the building for $80,000, and invested another $70,000 in rehabbing the roof and other needed exterior repairs. The exterior façade restoration cost another $100,580. The exterior vestibule of the building is trimmed in birch and the windows are trimmed in copper. Cudell Improvement received a $25,000 rebate from the City of Cleveland Storefront Renovation program upon completing the façade work. The building, just west of Rexall Drug, is now illuminated at night. Cudell Improvement expects to invest another $100,000 to restore the interior of the building before offering the 4,000 square feet of office space for rent this summer.
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