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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Plans for the Depot

Depot plans still unclear

by Emily Canning-Dean

Reporter

Bedford -- Since last summer, the area where a gray vinyl-sided storage building used to sit across from Southeast Suburban Branch Post Office has been a pile of gravel, but city officials are hoping to eventually put the land to good use.

The building, which city officials said was in disrepair, once was Bedford's first railroad depot and was built in 1852. However, few of the historic parts of the building remained and it was torn down last summer because upgrading it would have been too expensive, officials said.

The building should not be confused with the 1882 railroad depot, which still exists on the west side of the Commons.

Some ideas were proposed over what to do with the space, but nothing was decided.

"I need to talk to Council and kick around some ideas," said City Manager Bob Reid. "I'm thinking that right now we could just pave the area and use it for parking until we find something else to do with it. Right now it's just gravel. We need to do something with it."

Reid said he expects the area would offer a paved lot with 15 to 20 parking spaces which could be used to accommodate vehicles during weekend festivals in the summer and parties in the park on Wednesday evenings.

Eventually, Reid said he would like to see something else done with the space. He has suggested that the city install a skating rink/wading fountain on the site.

"I just think it would be a nice addition to the area," he said. "People could skate in the winter and then we would have a pond or fountain in the summer."

Opinions vary among city officials.

Ward 6 Councilor Don Saunders said he doesn't see a need to construct anything on the site.

"I would just like to see it become part of the Square," he said. "It would be nice to have a hard surface where we could put kiddie rides. I've heard some people have concerns about the rides on the grass areas because it damages the grass."

Mayor Dan Pocek said he thinks paving the area might be the best action taken now, but he would like to see something else done with it in the future.

"I would eventually like to see us open the site up to commercial use," Pocek said. "I also think we need to set up something on the site noting the historical significance of the old depot."

Bedford Historical Society Director Janet Caldwell said the historical society has no immediate plans to set up a historical marker.

"It's not up to us because the city owns the property," she said. "But if the city requests, we could arrange for some sort of plaque."

Reid said he will consult Council members about their wishes for the site within the next few months.


=============================

I think this brings up a good question. This is a plot of land which the city now has, but it is an awkward size and many great ideas to be discussed.

Parking is one issue that could be crippling our downtown businesses. The Romitos building was a prime spot where parking is concerned, and now it seems to be sold to an up and coming restaurant. So I can see a parking lot as a quick fix.

I am an advocate of Mr. Reid's ice rink plan. It would be nice to have a skating rink during the winter. Perhaps even large enough for a junior hockey league during our winter season. But the skating will absolutely bring people downtown during the winter months. Being close to Arabica, a restaurant, a hobby shop, and a music shop can only give our young residents and the businesses along Broadway something to look forward to.

Mayor Pocek is a history buff and I too would like to see something to commemorate the history of the location. I do, however, disagree with the idea of turning it into commercial land at this time. I might not know something that the mayor knows, but we need to focus on building the downtown area and filling the vacant stores before we expand it. The zoning committee will have to be on their toes in the next few months.

Mr. Saunders has his concerns that the land should be used for expanding the square and becoming a place where the kiddies rides can be put, to save the grass. Now, I find this to be a smart idea, but I don't know the true impact on the grass due to the rides.

I find this article to be thought provoking because it brings light to one piece of land that has wonderful location to our downtown district and then highlights the city's different opinions. Something will be done to this land and I am excited to see what will.

I would like to ask the question of "what you, the reader, would like to see the land be used for?"

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Gibbons Hire ignites controversy

Bedford City School District, is currently conducting a search for the Head Coaching position of the varsity football team. Current coach Paul Staats, who received mixed reviews from players and parents, will be replaced for the upcoming season.

The school board has summarily dismissed the application of a long time BHS educator and asst. coach, Mr. Everett Heard (Coach Heard) and are leaning towards former St. Ed football coach, John Gibbons. While qualified, Gibbons has no ties to the Bedford District.

Whereas Gibbons has no ties to the district, Coach Heard has been in our district in excess of 25 years as a gym teacher, coaches of several sports and was chosen
2006 "Coach of the Year" by the State of Ohio.

Coach Heard has been one of the few coach's who has brought home state titles and consistently produces successful teams. Coach Heard also has the support of three former Bedford players who are now in the NFL.

Some of the more involved parents found out that, once again & as usual, the Bedford School Board Members are trying to keep this decision making process from the public and have included no parent input. Note: This is typical behavior of our board when their agenda or selection may differ from community sentiment.

Personally, I am strongly against anyone being hired (or not hired) because of the color of their skin. I feel merit as an educator, positive interaction and the ability to be a role model to the children should be paramount in the decision making process for selecting anyone to be involved with children.

Because of being a racially changing district, more role models are needed for the African-American boys in our school. But let's not forget the white kids also – Mr. Heard is a role model for ALL students!

As a former student, I can attest Coach Heard brings all these qualities to the table and more... I cannot express my support enough for Mr. Heard. If not for this man, I would have been kicked out of school a lot more often and a lot sooner. That he would not be the hands down candidate is beyond belief.

In a failing district such as Bedford Schools, we cannot afford the duplicity being served by our school board. While they routinely preach parental involvement, the need of good role models, and the other
$2 quotes and excuses typical of educators, our district and students continue to falter.

With contract negotiations for teachers coming up, be ready for the hypocrisy - I can't wait to be told how
wonderful our teachers are so they can justify a raise to be paid for on our backs, yet they ignore parental input and pass over one of the best we have!

Let's hope many parents and leaders of this community will wake up and stop allowing the BHS board members to lead them like sheep to slaughter.

In usual Bedford School Board fashion, these covert proceedings will end with a "special meeting" today at 4:00pm.

The following is a letter from an involved parent - (edited for length)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Via Electronic Mail

Bedford Board of Education Members
Debora J. Kozak, President
Barbara A. Patterson, Vice President (Via Facsimile)
Andrew C. M. Mizsak, M.A.P.
Tim Tench
Joseph V. Mestnik

Dear Elected School Board Members:

Surely, it can't be true that this Thursday, April 5, at 4:00 PM, during a "special" Bedford Board of Education meeting that you are prepared to vote on the next head football coach, at Bedford High School who will directly impact the educational opportunities and future of our beloved Bedford Bearcats; but even more disconcerting is that you allegedly are considering an individual whose experience with students of color is purportedly limited at best.

Why is this happening under the radar?

I was surprised to find out that Coach Staats is even leaving, as I have heard absolutely nothing but raving reviews on his coaching style and his ability to build the "self-esteem" of the current student body attending Bedford High School. And it is my understanding he works diligently at getting Bedford High School students into college for a free education.....

With that said, an individual who has an established track record of caring, student respect, and absolute knowledge of the game has applied for the head football coach position - Coach Everett Heard.

There are former Bedford graduates, both black and white who still speak his name with admiration throughout this community. (My husband, an avid sport enthusiast, thought highly of Coach Heard and would have been quite vocal about this head football coach position.) Why are we even considering anyone from the 'outside' when we have homegrown talent among our ranks?
(Note from King - Mr. Robinson, was a guidance counselor dearly loved and respected by staff & students. Mr. Robinson was taken from us last year when he suddenly passed away.)

I have done a preliminary investigation about the gentleman who you (elected school board members) are trying to allegedly "hand" the coaching job to at Bedford High School. Former fired football coach John Gibbons "appears" to have issues. The alleged incident that occurred last year in Lakewood while he was the head football coach at St. Edward High School cannot and should not be ignored.

Secondly, is there any truth to this gentleman allegedly being walked off the field or escorted out of the building by the police?

Thirdly, why would we bring someone into 'our' school district that allegedly has no real hands-on experience with students of color? This gentleman's experience in Streetsboro in the mid-1970s certainly didn't give him that experience, nor did it at Lake Catholic. And the St. Edward's football team isn't comprised of predominately people of color either. According to my sources, the young men of color on that team were walking on "egg shells."

My fourth point…the Bedford City Schools showcases (boasts) their partnership with the National Football League, namely Bedford High School graduates, Lee Evans, Eric Beverly, and Chris Chambers. It is my understanding that these NFL players all telephoned to support Coach Heard for the head football coach position. And their support (phone calls) was totally ignored.

Coach Heard has a proven track record with ALL students. He understands them; they respect him, and he has been part of the sports program for a number of years in this school district.

…it is my understanding that the Bedford High School football players signed a petition requesting Coach Heard as the head football coach. And this petition was totally ignored.

Why??? Don't student voices matter? Or is it just the voices of the students of color that don't matter?

Parent involvement does truly mean being equal partners in decisions that affect 'our' children. There are many educated parents in this school district; and therefore, should be asked to sit at the table for input, representing us, the parents of the children who attend Bedford High School.

We, parents, are not just votes for levies and your reelection to office. We are intelligent and quite capable of adding valuable insight with regard to decisions that affect our children.

This is another no-brainer decision. Place someone in the head football coach position who knows and respects the students and someone who the students know and respect. Doesn't Coach Heard deserve a chance? And if not, please explain why not.

What it really boils down to, in my opinion, is are we trying to do what is right for the students or are we still trying to perpetuate the status quo or maintain a certain 'image' for a different agenda?

The priority is the students and what they need to succeed. As a parent of a future football player at Bedford High School, I am concerned about this 'allegedly' pending predetermined selection.

Respectfully, a written response to my concerns is requested from all addressed parties.

Thank you,

Mrs. Michael Robinson (Venezuela)

*** Bedford School Board Member replies will be posted as they come in***
To contact the Bedford Board of Education call (440)439-1500

Jill said...

Wow - what a frustrating situation for the community! Thanks for blogging about this, with this level of specificity from a townsperson.

-but don't think I've forgotten your mystery post, person who calls himself King! :)

April 5, 2007 11:11 AM

Ben said...

maybe they are trying to hire the person they feel is the best football coach regardless of race

April 6, 2007 12:36 AM

King said...

Yes Jill it is frustrating! Our schools, being the gateway to the community are dragging us down.

Elected city officials from cities served by our district, refuse to publicly speak out about our failing schools.

In private many have voiced their dismay and disgust over the lack of improvement and excess of excuses.

The reason they keep quite is, they allow the schools to hold them hostage over tax abatements.

If the city officials speak out, then they will have a difficult time having the school approve any tax abatements.

Ben -

If this was a case of hiring the best candidate, I would be strongly supporting the schools. But it is not.

I would be just as upset if the schools were to hire a "black" coach just because of the color of his skin.

Coach Heard has been a successful teacher and coach (asst coach for football)in several sports and has won state championships.

*** I found out last night, the board hired former St. Ed's coach, John Gibbons, to be our new football coach.***

I have been told that in the typical Dog & Pony Show usually put on by Bedford School's, they paraded around some African-American kids with Gibbons before the hiring.

You can be sure, this is not over!

Jill the post you refer to was not a phantom post. I removed it because I learned it was inaccurate.

KING

April 6, 2007 5:25 AM

King said...

oops, forgot to add this.

It should be noted, ALL our school board members are democrats. Two (2) are on the central committee for the Cuyahoga dems.

As this incident screams racism, please explain how the so called "Defenders of Civil Rights" democrats would do something like this?

Or is the speaking out on civil rights and equalty for African-Americans only an election ploy to continue fooling the blacks to vote for the dems?

It appears to be the latter!

KING

April 6, 2007 5:32 AM

Anonymous said...

I have the utmost respect for Coach Heard. He is a dedicated educator, a fine coach, a wonderful role model and a fine representative of our community.

But, here's a thought...

...this isn't about color, it's about qualifications and availability.

Coach Heard was the 2005-2006 Ohio Division I coach of the year in BASKETBALL. Not football. Leaving that tidbit out of your discertation, omits a key piece of information, don't you think?

And, most high school sports "experts" would eagerly admit that it is extremely difficult, if not virtually impossible, to be a head coach in two varsity sports, when their seasons are back to back.

Which sport gets the short end of the coaching stick?

What happens if the football team makes the playoffs? How do you effectively start basketball practice?

How does the coach have those difficult discussions with players? You know the ones, the ones about not being good enough to get playing time in football, but being a star on the basketball team.

I think that puts a coach in a very difficult position.

I say be the head coach in one sport, and excel at it, which Coach Heard does with basketball.

This isn't about race from my perspective. To portray this as a race issue is wrong, and candidly, isn't fair to Coach Heard or Coach Gibbons.

You take exception to the board meeting. I wasn' there, but if your facts are correct, I say, if there are African American players who have a great deal of respect for Coach Gibbons, why not trot them out?

Especially, when there are letters being written that come right out and say that the man doesn't know how to deal with African American players....and worse.

Coach Heard has coached individuals to state championships in track. But, I don't believe his resume includes any team state championships. (A state runner up in basketball in 2000!) Again, we're being just a bit loose with the facts.

He is a great coach. But, head coach in two varsity sports, back to back? Where else is that happening at a school the size of Bedford?

WHy don't City Officials speak out about the schools? Is it their place to run the schools? NO!!

They need to focus on their respective communities - all four of which have issues at least as big as the schools, if not bigger.

It ain't about abatements. School, believe or not, win when they grant abatements, too! Something (income tax sharing) is better than nothing (a business locating in another ocmmunity.)

April 7, 2007 1:53 PM

Anonymous II said...

anonymous makes some good points, and from what I've seen Gibbons brings a wealth of experience to his new job.

The big issue to me is that rather than make this case to the public in an open manner, discussing this rationally with detractors, a special meeting is held at a time when those who work "normal business hours" cannot attend?? And the vote is rushed through?? BAD FORM! but typical of this school district.

I personally don't believe that race is the issue here. I do think that having too much on Coach Heard's plate is a consideration. (Did he offer to give up Basketball if given the football head coacing job? And is there a ready replacement for B-Ball?) But as usual the board puts forth an air of "We know better than" the little people who pay taxes and send there kinds to this district in a futile attempt to get a good education.

I personally have left the Bedford school district becasue I never felt my kids would get a quality education there. NOT BECAUSE OF RACE, but because of a LACK OF ORDER AND DISCIPLINE!

The Administration demands nothing from unruly students, when a teacher or administrator attempts to hold kids accountable they are undermined by the double-dipping superintendent and the photo-op loving school board.

BTW- has anyone ever tried to sit through an entire school board meeting?? The politically correct, feel good bullshit that bogs down school business drives you insane! Stretches out the meeting time to the WEE hours of the evening...let the crap occur at a school assembly, keep school board meetings for business. (And how about free speech? Let audience members speak from the floor without having questions & comments pre-screened by the School Board President.)

As far as city officials keeping out of school business. That's an old and stale argument! City officials are not think tank policy wonks, nor are they bureaucrats tied doen by procedure, they are our elected leaders--THEY HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO SPEAK OUT! The fact that most choose not to is because they are afraid to touch the divisive hot potato that the Bedford Schools have become.

The Schools need a culture change! And the sooner the better!

April 8, 2007 9:26 AM

Friday, January 26, 2007

Quality of life remains focus for Bedford

Bedford Times-Register Reporter

Bedford -- At the helm of a city in its third century, Mayor Dan Pocek thinks Bedford is heading in the right direction.

"We started out as an agricultural village, then became a stagecoach stop in the 1840s," Pocek explained during last Wednesday's State of the City Address. "Later we became an area for manufacturing chairs and now we are an auto dealership Mecca.

"I hope to see us become a pharmaceutical giant with the growth of Ben Venue Laboratories," he continued. "Today they are 40 percent of our income tax revenue. They just broke ground on an expansion and plan to break ground on another expansion in the spring."

But one issue Pocek said he still thinks the city needs to address is the number of Bedford homeowners who have had their mortgages foreclosed.

"Cuyahoga County leads the nation in foreclosures," Pocek said. "We have to be aggressive on these issues."

City Manager Bob Reid said the city has already started to crack down on foreclosed homes that are in disrepair. He said the city had two foreclosed homes torn down in 2006 and made a total of $75,000 worth of exterior repairs to 10 foreclosed homes to bring them up to code. Tax liens were added to the homes, so the city would be reimbursed at the time of a sale, he said.

"We took care of issues such as siding and roofs," he said. "We wanted to improve the homes that were becoming cancers to their neighborhoods."

Reid said the city also cracked down on juveniles who were causing problems such as playing loud music or walking in the street. He said the police department made 332 juvenile arrests and citations in 2006 compared to 233 in 2005.

"The mayor and Council stressed that they wanted to take care of this quality of life issue," Reid said. "So we made a lot more arrests and gave a lot less warnings."

Quiet zones at the West Grace and West Glendale railroad crossings are another quality of life issue Reid says he hopes to see resolved in the future, but he isn't sure when they will become a reality. A quiet zone is a railroad crossing where trains do not sound their whistles.

Reid said the city has spent $14,000 to update safety features at the crossings, but the Federal Rail Administration told city officials that they might need to invest in some extra gates before the crossings can become quiet zones.

"The FRA is investigating now to decide if we need the gates and that is taking a while," Reid said. "We are trying to stay on top of it and told FRA officials that we want to meet with them again soon."

Reid said economic development is always a priority and he said he thought the city had a good year economically in 2006 and will again in 2007.

He said work on Tinkers Creek Commerce Park, a corporate/industrial park converted from a brownfield, was completed. Taylor Chair, the city's oldest company, moved into its new facility there.

This year Ben Venue will break ground on two expansions and construction should begin on a Wal-Mart Supercenter next month.

"It is important that we remain aggressive in going after businesses," Reid said. "We need businesses so we don't have to put a tax burden on our residents."

E-mail: ecanning@recordpub.com

Phone: 440-232-4055 ext. 4110

Moving forward Sikh leadership board pledges end to fighting

By Robert Nozar
Bedford Sun Banner Staff Writer

Jan. 25, 2007

BEDFORD — All has been quiet on Tarbell Avenue for the past two months of Sundays as members of the Sikh Gurudwara have gathered to worship.

That has not always been the case during the religious gatherings. For more than two years attendees have wondered if they would be faced with fights and arguments rather than worship.

Now, though, at least one member of the new leadership board said he expects that everyone will be able to worship at the Gurudwara without fear of violence and confrontation.

"We have to accept the election and the leadership chosen by the members," Gursharan Gil said. "I can only hope that the other group sees it the same way. It seems that they are accepting the new board and that is pleasing."

Gil was one of the founders of the Gurudwara who were faced with the reality of control slipping away from them in 2004 as a larger, more conservative group became more prominent in the community.

Disagreements would sometimes escalate into physical confrontations as each side claimed the right to govern the Gurudwara.

But Judge Richard McMonagle, of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, ordered that an election run by neutral observers be held and in December, a new leadership board was put in place.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Um, yeah, we do need it.

Here's the thing about the whole Elmer Flick statue, private funds are being raised to pay for it, and how many communities in the United States can boast that they are hometown to a baseball hall of famer. This community is a community of greatness, and we need to honor those who have represented our town proudly, and who have done great things.

I understand the previous blogger's thoughts that yes, we have a field named after him...incredibly appropriate, but that field is not in plain view of the potential thousands of people who could pass the proposed statue daily if it is placed in the desired location of the Mayor, Council, and Administration. Moreover, it is another one of those things that could be a tourist draw to Bedford, and potential tourism could bring additional potential revenue to this community. And, yes, not to mention, that would be a lovely attraction on the northern end of Downtown Bedford that could lead into people working further south to Veterans Park, the Commons, the historic buildings and homes, and, ahh, yes, Viaduct Park.

So, there must be some logic into why our City Leaders would want to place the proposed statue in their desired location, and to also maintain the solemnity of the Commons.

Just my two cents.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ralph King: Something We Don't Need... Elmer Flick statue...

A post from King's Right Site by Bedford resident Ralph King:

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Something We Don't Need...

Elmer Flick statue - Tribute to Hall of Famer may dig in on Broadway
Thursday, January 11, 2007 Robert Nozar Bedford Sun Banner

Bedford Today is Elmer Flick's birthday and the proposed statue honoring the Bedford native and member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame moved closer to reality last week.
If and when the statue is finally cast and sculpted, it could find a home where Columbus and Center roads run into Broadway Avenue.

That is the location favored by Mayor Dan Pocek and City Manager Bob Reid, and they said several members of City Council prefer that spot over a site on Bedford Commons.

But the task of raising the $51,470 for the projectis not done. So far, enough money has been raised for a clay maquette from which a full-size sculpture will be modeled. Jim Wagner, the chair of the Elmer Flick Statue Committee, said he has heard from donors who have pledged a total of $20,000 for the project. "We are working hard to find other donors, we're making many calls," he said.

Flick played for the Philadelphia Phillies (1898-1901), the Philadelphia Athletics (1902) and the Cleveland Naps (1902-1910).

He was born in Bedford on Jan. 11, 1876, and died here Jan. 9, 1971.
Flick was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., in 1963.

Wow! $51,000 dollars for something we don't need here in Bedford. The Location they are proposing is right at the beginning of our Downtown Historical District. Even done tastefully, It will clash with the downtown decor.

We pride ourselves on preserving history here in Bedford, this is not something we need! We have many historic landmarks and buildings already. Cooperating with the local groups to maintain, enhance and bring awareness to the historical assets we have is more important than a statue. No disrespect to Mr. Flick or his family, but we have a baseball field already named after him.


King

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

WalMart Coming to Meadowbrook

The word is that a WalMart Superstore is on its way to the now vacant section of Meadowbrook Market Square.
 
Site plans will apparently be on the agenda for an upcoming planning commission meeting.
 
As you may know, the western half of Meadowbrook has been an underperforming property for several years--- prompting council to prepare emminent domain steps against the developer last fall.
 
Well the Meadowbrook Corporation received the message, and now a prime tennant will be sparking the re-development there very soon.
 
I for one am glad to see that our work last fall has begun to pay off.
 
Congratulations to George Goudreau and the City of Bedford for a job well done.  I am proud to have played a role in making this happen.
 
Former Councilman Ron Lisy
 
 
Breaking news....More Details to follow