BBN Blog: We're back in 25 of your neighborhoods

Northeast Ohio - We're back in the 25 cities we visited and we're bringing gifts for the streets that received the most votes from you.

Every day, in this blog, each of the NewsChannel5 team members on the ground will share some of the special things they're finding in each of the communities in our Building Better Neighborhoods tour.

 

Friday, June 20: LaGrange with Lee Jordan

We finished up our 25 neighborhoods, 25 days in LaGrange in Lorain County on Friday. We were greeted with dark skies so we took some video of our Featured Neighborhood winner, U.S. Grant Street. Then the skies let loose so thanks to the folks at Grey Hawk Golf Course who let us use their covered patio. Despite the rain, golfers finished their outing! We talked to LaGrange Mayor Kim Strauss who was thrilled with our project and the number of people who attended his Safety Forum as part of our project. He says he will do it again next year because safety is an important issue and he wants to work with residents to keep LaGrange a safe place to live. Besides, the Mayor told us, he’s always got new residents moving in and wants the opportunity to connect to them. Congrats to the folks on U.S. Grant Street!

 

Thursday, June 19: Macedonia with Chris Flanagan

The residents of Chinaberry Circle in Macedonia were in good hands as they were our Building Better Neighborhoods featured neighborhood winner.

A big crowd of Macedonia firefighters and police officers came out to support and congratulate the neighborhood.

Chinaberry Circle received 55% of the votes on newsnet5.com.

The mayor has a lot to be proud of. He told us during our live interview in the 6 p.m. newscast that the Macedonia Fire Department is rated in the top 1% of fire departments in the entire country.

Congratulations MCD and Chinaberry Circle!

Two of the many wonderful attributes to a wonderful community.

 

Wednesday, June 18: Bay Village with Leon Bibb

It was a “tip of the hat” to Bay Village when the Building Better Neighborhoods crew went to that community nestled on the shore of Lake Erie.  Though we needed a rain hat for part of the evening, the welcome was warm and friendly.  The rain swept in off Lake Erie, but it was a beautiful sight, watching the clouds form and bring a late Spring shower.  Still, Mayor Deborah Sutherland was there to greet our crew and accept the Building Better Neighborhoods sign designating Lakeview Drive as the featured street in the community.

We were joined by Marci and Allen Clever, who own a home on the street.  Their son, Matt Clever, was also there as part of the welcoming group.  Jill and Dennis McNulty greeted us, as well, and talked about the parties many in the community attend regularly.  That is what Building Better Neighborhoods is all about – people getting together to enjoy the company of each and celebrate their lives.  Mayor Sutherland talked about the safety fair City Hall sponsored where residents gathered to talk about their concerns.

Bay Village gave us a wonderful welcome.  Our executive producer,  Ann Geyser, brought along the sign designating the area running from the Bay-Rocky River boundary line to Parkside Drive as the featured neighborhood.  Mike Harris, chief photographer at WEWS NewsChannel5 and Gary Abrahamsen, photographer, and I all had a wonderful time.  Though there was rain in the air, there was sunshine in the hearts of the people who believe as we do – that Building Better Neighborhoods is a wonderful thing.   Thanks, neighbors.  You were wonderful in Bay Village.

 

Tuesday, June 17: Spencer with Tracy Carloss

A beautiful afternoon in the village of Spencer on the western edge of Medina County. Our featured winning neighborhood is Downtown Spencer! Congratulations. Thanks to John, the owner of the Spencer Restaurant who let us use his parking lot as a gathering place for folks. Waitress Jenna told us how the restaurant is a great place for neighbors to gather to enjoy good food and conversation. Special thanks to Jake and Dean, two kids who were eating at the restaurant with their dad and were thrilled to get a chance to be on TV with us! Jake loves the good food in Spencer.. Dean loves “everything” about the village! 

 

Monday, June 16: Madison with Danita Harris

Welcome to Madision! I had the pleasure of unveiling our Featured Neighborhood winner Monday.. Eagle Street. Met a lot of nice folks there, including two young men who helped me with a live tease, Cody and Galvin! Police Chief Dawn Shannon told me how Building Better Neighborhoods has helped excite people in Madison to get behind the block watch concept. Actually, her son-in-law got the job of block watch captain on Eagle Street.. think he was coerced into that! Mayor Sam Britton was there and he and I had a good laugh about donuts and how I can always manage to find a good bakery in whatever city I’m in! 

 

Friday, June 13: Parma with Leon Bibb

In Parma, the Boys Scouts of Troop 221 showed up with the true spirit of both  their organization and the Building Better Neighborhoods

project concept.  BBN Executive Producer Ann Geyser, cameraman Tommy Livingston, and mobile truck operator Reggie Young had established a setting for the live reports.  However, when the Parma resident in charge of coordinating food for the people who would come to the unveiling of the featured neighborhood set up her tables, it was at the opposite end of a huge parking lot. 

That is when the Boy Scouts stepped in.  In keeping with the official slogan of the Boy Scouts of America, “Do A Good Turn Daily,” the scouts ran to the tables and food and picked up everything.  They carried everything about 100 yards to the television set-up.  That reminded me of how neighbors help neighbors.  The Boy Scouts of Troop 221 fully understood the concept.  Everything went well with the unveiling of the featured neighborhood – Polish Village.

Our live reports were stellar because of the work of Tommy and Reggie.  I was able to get through everything nicely.  Ann did her usual stellar job of overseeing all aspects of the unveiling of the BBN featured neighborhood in Parma.  Several dozen people showed up and it turned into a parking lot party.  The pizza was good.  They even brought a cake celebrating the designation of Polish Village as the featured neighborhood.

The sun was brilliant in a sky that had no clouds. The temperature was comfortable.  The camaraderie of the people was comforting for all of us.  Parma Police spokesperson Kevin Riley and I chatted for a half hour after we had completed our television reports.  He and I found connections. Although we had just met, it was as if we were old friends.  Building Better Neighborhoods is about that.  If neighbors get together and talk, they can find connections.  When I speak of neighbors, I am also referring to people in neighboring communities, or cities, or states, or countries.  But that is an essay for another day.

Let us just say that in Parma, we made the connections.  Better said, the people of Parma made the connections.  They were about family, and good times, and community strengths.  These are attributes which help all of us live better and more fulfilling lives.  I guess you could say we were all prepared for what we were asked to do.  Come to think of it, “Be Prepared” is the official motto of the Boy Scouts of America.  When you couple “Be Prepared” with the slogan, “Do a good turn daily,” you’ve got something great.  Thanks Parma.  You were wonderful.

          --------- Leon Bibb

 

Thursday, June 12: Eastlake with Danita Harris

Our “Featured Neighborhood” winner in Eastlake is E. 337th Street, just off Vine. We meet a lot of nice folks in the WalMart parking lot where we parked our Satellite Truck. Mayor Dennis Morley came out, along with the police chief, Larry Reik, the city Service Director and a Councilwoman. Lots of kids from the neighborhood helped me with my live shots too, chanting “B-B-N”!

The police chief told us how he engaged some high school students to go door to door and pass out flyers to get residents to attend Eastlake’s safety meeting. The mayor told us the city’s pool, which has been closed the last few years, will open on Sunday in partnership with the YMCA, as another way to bring the residents of Eastlake together! Happy Swimming!

 

Wednesday, June 11: Stow with Chris Flanagan 

When it comes to fun, nobody is going to out fun Call’s Farm in Stow.  Almost every night you can find a big game of kickball taking place in the green area.


I was lucky enough to be drafted as a pitcher for part of a game.  I had a blast!


Call’s Farm, which has about 250 homes in the development, garnished 80% of the vote on newsnet5.com to be named Stow’s featured neighborhood winner.


Dozens of children enjoying their first full day of summer vacation, along with a huge showing of parents, came out for our live shots during Live On Five and NewsChannel5 at 6.


Congratulations Call’s Farm!

 

Tuesday, June 10: Columbia Township with Lee Jordan

We're back in Lorain county tonight to reveal the winning featured street for Building Better Neighborhoods in Columbia Township. And the winner is.... Drumroll, cheering....Forsythia and Honeysuckle Lane! 

Homes here were built in the 70s and 80s as part of the Country Living
neighborhood on lots from 1 to 6 acres. And residents like Fred Nemeth make the most of it: he gets five gallons of maple syrup every year from the trees in his backyard! His wife Blanche is on the school board, and also keeps her eyes on the neighborhood for anything suspicious. That is something Lorain County Sheriff Deputy Bobby Vansant appreciates! Like all rural areas in Lorain county, Columbia Township is patrolled by sheriff deputies. A strong block watch program and recent safety meetings for Building Better Neighborhoods keeps everyone safer and more engaged with each other. 

 

Monday, June 9: Wadsworth with Tracy Carloss

Wadsworth was the latest stop on Building Better Neighborhoods! The winner is Bent Creek! Bent Creek is a 55+ community. We met so many wonderful

people who came out to visit us. So nice to meet all the wonderful people in Bent Creek! Congratulations Bent Creek residents on being our featured neighborhood in Wadsworth!

 

Friday, June 6: Wickliffe with Danita Harris

Another great day to be in a great community. Wickliffe! Arbor Street was our featured neighborhood winner. We really enjoyed meeting the nice folks that live there, including Block Watch Captain, Michelle. Officer Randy Veri was there as well as Mayor Bill Margalis. They both credited our Building Better Neighborhoods project with getting more folks interested in Block Watches. The city has had them for years. In fact, Officer Veri said he had to move the last Block Watch meeting because so many people came, the room wasn’t big enough. That’s what this is all about--connecting residents with police officers. Officers can’t be everywhere. They need residents to be the eyes and ears of their neighborhood. When everyone works together, everyone wins. By the way, adorable kids on Arbor Street.. loved meeting them! 

 

Thursday, June 5: Copley Township with Chris Flanagan

When it comes to voting, nobody outvotes Copley Township.

Almost 2,800 votes were cast in Copley.

The winning neighborhood was Brenner Estates.

A large group of neighbors came out to show their support at the Whimsical Pig Bed and Breakfast.

The restored 1876 farmhouse sits at the entrance of Brenner Estates.

The B & B just celebrated its first anniversary in business, now it can say it’s a NewsChannel5 Building Better Neighborhoods winner!

 

Wednesday, June 4: Oberlin with Lee Jordan

The rain is fine when you can shelter on a nice front porch..and that's where we are today in Oberlin!

You voted, and the winning featured street is North Park Street!  Longtime residents Beth Marshall and Tony Wilgus have offered the front porch of the home that has been in Beth's family for 75 years! The neighbors are from around the country and the world, and Beth and Tony say everyone looks out for each other here.

Oberlin Police Sgt. Dave Jasinski told me that Building Better Neighborhoods is a great addition to the community policing they've been doing for years. And they even brought pizza for the porch party!

 

Tuesday, June 3: Montville Township with Tracy Carloss

It was a gorgeous afternoon to be in Montville Township especially if you have a pool to enjoy! Lexington Ridge was our Featured Street winner in this Medina County community. The development sports a pool and a playground for the kids that live here. Both of these are assets when it comes to bringing neighbors together. That sentiment was echoed by Joy Rambo, a mom who lives right across the street from the pool.  All the kids that were swimming were thrilled to be on camera with us. Our thanks also to Montville Township trustee Sally Albrecht who came out to see us and to a couple of Montville Township police officers who were there but camera shy! Thanks to all for making us feel so welcome and congratulations to Lexington Ridge!

 

 

Monday, June 2: Cleveland Heights with Leon Bibb

You never know who you are going to run into.  Whenever I drive onto a street, I keep my eyes open because often, there is someone I have met who lives there.  That was the case when Newschannel 5 executive producer Ann Geyser, cameraman Gary Abrahamsen, microwave truck operator Bob Fenner, and I fully understood when we pulled onto Hyde Park Road in Cleveland Heights.  Across the street where we set up our microwave signal for our live broadcast of the unveiling of the featured street in the Building Better Neighborhoods project lived Richard Woods.  He and I had met over the years when he was an educator in the Shaker Heights Schools System.

Down the street was a woman named Michelle whom I had interviewed before for my “Kaleidoscope” program on WEWS-TV5. Michelle and I had actually met years before when she was a security guard at the Greyhound Bus Station in Cleveland.

Near her was the home of Martin Consentino, one of the managers of the historic Ensemble Theater of Cleveland Heights.  Martin and I had worked together on several theatrical projects where I was an actor on the Ensemble Theater stage.

When I think about it, as we build better neighborhoods, it is all about familiarity.  I am familiar with the people I mentioned.  When we get to know each other, we get a chance to share their dreams and concerns.  Neighborhoods foster that kind of thinking when the people take time to get to know each other.  Although as a television newscaster whose voice and image reaches 19 Northeast Ohio counties, I feel I am a neighbor to everyone in our viewing area.  For that reason, WEWS has begun the Building Better Neighborhoods project.  Ann Geyser has been a strong leader in this venture and it is paying off.

I am getting a chance to see people I have met over the years and some of whom I have worked with.  As well, I am getting a chance to meet new people.  It is interesting we had 25 children in front of our camera lens on Hyde

Park Road in Cleveland Heights.  That number fit in nicely with our “25 cities in 25 days” project.  We all had a good time seeing old friends and making new ones.  That is what Building Better Neighborhoods is all about.

------------- Leon Bibb

 

Friday, May 30: Barberton with Chris Flanagan

Fantastic weather, fantastic people and a fantastic cause!

I had a blast in Barberton as we awarded Norman Street, in the Van Hyning neighborhood, as our featured street winner.

We had a terrific turnout as we presented the neighbors with a Building Better Neighborhoods sign for their street.

More than one-thousand people in Barberton cast a vote on Newsnet5.com.

Mayor Bill Judge was all smiles.  Not only was his city featured on NewsChannel 5 at 6, but he was also beaming because his wife had their first child on Wednesday!

A beautiful, healthy girl.

Congratulations, Mayor Judge!

Thursday, May 29: Mentor-on-the-Lake with Danita Harris

What a beautiful day to reveal our winning featured neighborhood in Mentor-on-the-Lake. Drum roll please….the neighborhood of Lawnfield, Moreland and Lakeshore Blvd. received close to 1,300 votes to be named our Building Better Neighborhoods feature street.
 
It was very obvious that this was a close knit neighborhood. Their relationship with the police department has always been good and they feel that their neighborhood is safe. It was great to meet Barb and Judy who have been neighbors and best friends for over 40 years. The key to their long lasting friendship is the pact they made when they first met. They promised to never argue or stop speaking to each other, even if their children weren’t.

 

talking, they would continue to communicate. Everyone was very friendly and I got an invite to their block party on July 3! Fun!!
 

Wednesday, May 28: Elyria with Lee Jordan

Beautiful sunshine for our return to Elyria to announce the neighborhood that got the most votes to be our featured street. And it is....East Broad in the Eastern Heights neighborhood!

The residents will be forming a block watch called Eastern Heights East. Elyria is very proactive with block watches. Police encourage neighbors to help them keep an eye on things.

A lot of people here also connect to each other on the social media app Nextdoor, which has been a great partner for the BBN project. The app recently helped someone recover her lost dog! Police Chief Duane Whitely said the Building Better Neighborhoods project has made Elyria's City Block Watch program even stronger.

 

Tuesday, May 27: Maple Heights with Leon Bibb

He was a mature man showing grey in his mustache.  His eyes were moist as he grabbed my hand and shook it heartily before he embraced me with a hug.  “Welcome home, Soldier,” he said, his face trying to find a smile to hold back what appeared to be a stream of tears which needed only a little more emotion before finding their flow.  I had not expected such a welcome at the announcement of the winning street in our “Building Better Neighborhoods” project.  But there it was on Corkhill Road in Maple Heights,

Al Glontz was the man behind the moist eyes.  He is a U.S. Army veteran of the war in Vietnam.  Knowing I served in the Army in that same war, he came to Corkhill Road to extend his hand and to “welcome home” another veteran of the U.S. Military.  We do that for each other because most of us remember how when we came home from that long-ago war, there were very few welcomes for members of the military who had gone into battle. 

Our interaction fit in nicely with the “Building Better Neighborhoods” project because it is built on neighbors getting to know each other and look out for each other.  It was the same for us in the war.  We soldiers, sailors, Coast Guardsmen, Marines, and airmen looked out for each other. 

On Corkhill Drive in Maple Heights, several dozen people turned out for the unveiling of the street as the winner in a competition where Maple Heights people voted on what street should represent the community in the WEWS Newschannerl5 project.   The captain of the Block Watch group, Eric Ochs, and his wife put out a nice spread in driveway and on the front lawn.  Hotdogs, soda pop, and pizza were in abundance.  It made for a nice treat as firefighters, EMS, and police officers also showed up.  The big fire truck and ambulance parked at the curb was an eye-catcher for others in the neighborhood who came running to join in on the fun and the live television report I delivered on safety consciousness in Maple Heights.

Mayor Jeff Lansky and several councilmembers showed up, too.  I interviewed several of them for the several times we were on live television.  After our television reports, the community planned a Block Watch meeting where the residents of Corkhill and other streets talked about the importance of neighbors knowing neighbors.  That is what Building Better Neighborhoods, the brainchild of its executive producer, Ann Geyser.  Ann has done a superb job of pulling all the many parts together. 

She has coordinated visits to 25 different communities in five counties.  All of this has been done in 25 days.  That takes a lot of coordination and a lot of guts.  Ann has them both.

 

Mayor Lansky was all smiles when I introduced him to Ann.  They had spoken on the telephone, but on the Ochs family’s front lawn, the two leaders got a chance to meet face-to-face. 

 

As well, I got a chance to hang around firefighters and lean against the equipment they brought as a “show-and-tel.”  I was like the kids in the neighborhood, looking at all the equipment parked at the curb.

 

My mind also went back several decades to the war in Vietnam.  Al Glontz, the Vietnam vet, and I had connected with our memories.  We realized we were both in that country at the same time.  Both of us were serving our country.  In that way, we were brothers talking about the old times.  That is what Building Better Neighborhoods is all about – getting people to know each other better and talk.  And look out for each other.  Al  and I, though separated by many miles in Vietnam, realized we had been looking out for each other so that each could accomplish the mission and come home safely.

 

There is that same philosophy again about Building Better Neighborhoods.  In Maple Heights, we talked about everyone needing the opportunity to come home safely.  Through the project, we are reiterating what people already know in their heart of hearts.  We have to look out for each other and call police and fire when we see trouble or even think we see trouble.  “I’ve got your back,” we must say to each other.  Al and I understood that.  On a front law on Corkhill road, we realized we still have each other’s backs.  

 

Monday, May 26: Brunswick with Tracy Carloss

We were back in Medina County on Memorial Day for Building Better Neighborhoods, this time in Brunswick. The winning neighborhood is Concord Meadows! Of the 5 neighborhoods Brunswick targeted for its safety meeting, Concord Meadows got 51% of the vote on newsnet 5 dot com. We also want to thank all those that voted. There were a total of 968 votes.  We met so many nice people in Concord Meadows. They even let us crash their Memorial Day festivities! And boy did we pick the right house, a two star general in the Army Reserves, Ron Dziedzicki lives there with his wife. He had some of his kids and grandkids there. By the way, Ron was also celebrating his birthday! Hope we helped make it happy.  Thanks to Ron and all the men and women who protect our freedom! Congratulations, Concord Meadows!

 

Friday, May 23: Avon with Lee Jordan

The city of Avon was the first that I profiled for our Building Better Neighborhoods initiative, so on this gorgeous Friday I'm back with the WEWS crew to reveal the neighborhood that got the most votes to be featured. And....it's Bentley Park!

The city of Avon was the first that I profiled for our Building Better Neighborhoods initiative, so on this gorgeous Friday I'm back with the WEWS crew to reveal the neighborhood that got the most votes to be featured. And....it's Bentley Park!

It is just great to hear from people how our BBN project has had an impact. Bentley Park families are more connected than ever through the Nextdoor app that partnered with us for BBN. They have a Chalkfest coming up, and a Fit Family Bootcamp. Earlier this month Avon held a safety fair and the whole city was invited.

 

Mayor Bryan Jensen said the project has has a very positive influence on communication between neighborhoods and the city safety forces. The enthusiasm and warmth I saw here today among all who turned out for my live report was terrific. And I got my very own Eagles lacrosse jersey from the middle school girls' team! Thank you Avon! 

 

Thursday, May 22: Chagrin Falls Featured Street Reveal with Leon Bibb

I knew it was going to be another successful and memorable unveiling of the winning street in Newschannel 5’s Building Better Neighborhoods project when a homeowner unfurled an American flag about 8 feet wide and let it wave as he tied it to the two big trees in his front yard.    We were on Hall Street in Chagrin Falls as Orin Koeser scampered up his ladder and tied the flag to the trees.  His two grown sons were there to help as they had done for years when they lived in the house.  The Koeser have lived in the house on Hall Street for about 50 years. 

Our television live truck, cameraman Gary Abrahamson, truck engineer Reggie Young, executive producer Ann Geyser, and our intern, Erin, brought out the people on Hall Street.  They were proud they had been selected as a key street in Chagrin Falls to promote our Building Better Neighborhoods campaign.  Koeser and his neighbors from next door, Sandy and Jerry Chunut, had attended the safety meeting in Chagrin Falls.  They helped push the effort in their community.

We went on the air and I conducted short interviews of Mr. Koeser and Mr. and Mrs. Chunut.  That sent a wave of excitement down the street, a picturesque stretch of Chagrin Falls, nestled

along the southern edge of Cuyahoga County.  Whenever we go to events like that, it is interesting how you run into people you have met somewhere along the way.  Tom Neff, one of the leading people in the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre, heard we were in town and he dropped by.  Tom and I have worked together on theatrical projects, so it was good to see him and talk about theater.  In fact, a few weeks back, I interviewed Tom Neff about the strength of the theater and how it helps the entire theater district.

Sandy Chunat told me she and I had talked before when we met years ago in a restaurant.  She and her husband sat at the lunch table next to me in a restaurant in Beachwood.  At that time, we got into a discussion on taking care of aging parents.  We were both doing that and found a comfort in our talks.  It was good to see Sandy and Jerry again; this time in their neighborhood.  In fact, we even chatted on their front porch. 

It was a pleasant day in Chagrin Falls with a few white clouds dappling a blue sky.  Spring had finally gotten its step in Northeast Ohio and the children were scampering on the front lawns, giggling as all the television people who had swooped in putting their street on television.  I talked with several neighbors who stopped by and we could all find connections.  When people talk about how small the world is, this is what they mean.  If I talk with people long enough, I will find a connection.  There is a comfort in that.

In fact, as Ann Geyser, our leader in the Building Better Neighborhood project, will tell you, that is really what the idea is about.  It revolves around getting neighbors to know each other better.  If you recall those magical moments on the old “Andy Griffith Show,” there was usually what I call a “magic time” when Andy strums the guitar on the front porch.  His son, Opie, is playing in the yard.  Barney stops by to add to the conversation while Aunt Bea probably has a knitting project going on.  They are on the swing or the chairs of the front porch of Mayberry and all is well with the world.  That is what Building Better Neighborhoods is promoting.   It is not just about fighting crime, but it also about looking out for each other, and caring for each other, and watching the children grow up in strong and positive ways.

I love the the idea Ann has brought from her fertile mind to actually be an integral part of television on WEWS in Cleveland.  She is a superb leader with a strong devotion to find better ways to people to communicate with each other and know each other.  Truly, my time in Chagrin Falls with my friends there is memorable.  After we shut down the television live truck, I hung around and chatted with the people on Hall Street.  We could make a whole show out of what happened that day.  We could be Mayberry in a way.  I think that is what the producers of the “Andy Griffith Show” had in mind.  It’s also what we had in mind.

Next time you are on Hall Street in Chagrin Falls, tell my friends I said hello.  But I’ll be seeing them again soon. We made friends while we were helping each other Build a better neighborhood. 

 -- Leon Bibb, WEWS Newschannel 5

 

 

Wednesday, May 21: Peninsula Featured Street Reveal with Chris Flanagan

I had a wonderful time in Peninsula as we unveiled our first of five featured neighborhoods in Summit County.  The village of Peninsula is home to about 600 residents, but more than 98% of the more than 400 votes went to Downtown.

Downtown Peninsula is the heart of the village. It is home to great places to eat and unique shops.  Mayor Doug Mayer and many residents came out for the sign presentation.  The mayor wasted no time putting the Building Better Neighborhoods sign right in front of City Hall for all to see.

Congratulations to everyone in Peninsula!

 

Tuesday, May 20: Lodi Featured Street Reveal with Tracy Carloss

Building Better Neighborhoods is back in business.

Lodi was the first stop in Medina County.

A group of neighbors welcomed us to Lodi to name the winning street, Young Drive!

Congratulation to the winning street and thanks for the hospitality!

 

Monday, May 19: Painesville Featured Street Reveal with Danita Harris

Had such a great time today in Painesville for the big announcement of our featured neighborhood. The residents of Painesville voted on our website for their favorite neighborhood and  Hayer Drive won with over 1800 votes. It was a wonderful feeling to meet the people who are a big part of keeping that neighborhood safe. A diverse community with one goal in mind, connecting with each other and city officials to build better neighborhoods. Jeff Hope is the Neighborhood Block Watch captain and he spoke with so much passion about his community and the importance of neighbors looking out for each other. Congratulations to the great people of Hayer Drive.

 

Friday, April 25: LaGrange with Lee Jordan

We did it! 25 Cities in 25 Days - and we're wrapping it up tonight in Lorain County in LaGrange. Rain won't dampen a very big event

happening this weekend - the Prebis Invitational Softball Tournament for high school girls.

Thirty-five top teams are in LaGrange this weekend, and one of them is LaGrange's Keystone Lady Wildcats. Year after year these girls are at the top of the rankings. Can't wait to see them play!

There's a lot of history in LaGrange, and a lot of progress too. The Grey Hawk championship golf course is surrounded by new home construction. Not far away, classic century homes stand alongside picturesque farms.

The Village of LaGrange and LaGrange Township have collaborated on some amazing projects. Opportunity Way, a street that is home to high tech business, a nursing care facility and Keystone's new schools, was built with state and federal funds and has brought jobs and tax revenue to the area. And Community Park - a 100-acre complex for sports and recreation - is a beautifully planned green space with a lot of volunteer work behind its creation. It's where some exciting softball action happens this weekend.

See you there for Live On 5 and NewsChannel 5 at 6!

 

Thursday, April 24: Macedonia with Chris Flanagan

Rick Reinecker and his sisters, Heidi and Caroline, are carrying on a long family tradition.

Their father started in the bakery business in the 1950’s and moved Reinecker’s Bakery to Macedonia in 1972.

The Reinecker’s go a long way back, but not as far back as some of their recipes.

“Some of our original we call Schwarzbrot, which is a German pumpernickel, that’s a 300 to 400 year old recipe.  Maybe longer than that,” said Rick Reinecker.

Macedonia is known as the “Crossroads of Northeast Ohio.”

It’s located exactly halfway between Akron and Cleveland and exactly halfway between Interstate 480 and the Ohio Turnpike.

The mayor said because of this Macedonia is quickly becoming a destination city.

“Macedonia is becoming that place because of location, location, location,”  Mayor Don Kuchta said.

Macedonia is one of only about 250 locations across the entire country that is home to a Tesla charging station.

“How cool is that?  That, in itself, is a sign we’re starting to arrive.  We’re starting to get to that point,”  Kuchta went on to say.

Macedonia has a little more than 11-thousand residents.  It’s small in size, just 9 square miles, but it has big beautiful parks, a booming housing market and is full of young families.

“We all know each other, our little community.  I see people all the time that I know going in the grocery store or gas station or whatever.  I really like it here,”  said 18 year old Sydney Strohm.

Macedonia has a robust commercial and retail sector and thanks to its many businesses, like Design Molded Plastics, the city has not had to raise taxes since the 1960’s.

Design Molded Plastics President Jay Honsaker said every Riddell football helmet shell is manufactured by his company.  Including the Cleveland Browns.

“A lot of our employees are pretty excited when they are watching the game, knowing they probably touched that shell,”  Honsaker said.  

 

Wednesday, April 23: Brunswick with Tracy Carloss

Medina County is home to Brunswick and 35,000 people who now call the suburb home including Kim Carlton and her family. “It’s very friendly for young children. A lot of parks for kids, activities and good schools,” said Carlton.

The population explosion started about two decades ago, steadily moving the once rural community to a family friendly suburb getting national attention. “One of the top ten towns in America for families according to Family Circle magazine, “ said Brunswick Mayor Ron Falconi. That is just one of the national publications that have spotlighted Brunswick, Falconi said.

There are new houses going up, the Cleveland Clinic is expanding their facility to include an Emergency Room. The Town Center includes businesses and restaurants.

Brunswick is home to the largest catholic church in the diocese, St. Ambrose and Mapleside Farms which draws thousands of people to the city, particularly during the fall. There is a nature center, walking paths, plenty of parks aimed at family friendly fun.

The 40-person police department protects and serves the community but Chief Carl DeForest said the department is proactive. “We solve problems before they become bigger issues,” said DeForest.

 

Tuesday, April 22: Madison with Danita Harris

Madison Village is just a little over 5 square miles but filled with historic charm. West Main Street has a lot of offer. There’s Maggie’s Donuts, The Vault features great steaks. You can grab a beer and get a bite to eat at Cornerstone Brewing Company or take a step back in time at J.C.’s Nifty 50’s, where the coffee is always brewing and burgers are flipping.

Residents here are close to their police department. Chief Dawn Shannon says Building Better Neighborhoods will strengthen that bond.

"We've had a block watch for a number of years and it kind of dwindled off, but with the help  of channel 5, I will say that this has really boosted the morale and they're looking forward to this and I've got

a lot of residents engaged now."

Madison is also a place where you still get a taste of history with the old railroad station or the Madison General Store that sells elk, bison and gator.

A big thanks to the Madison School District. We reported live from the high school where a variety of spring sporting events were being held last night.

 

Monday, April 21: Bay Village with Leon Bibb (#TheBibb)

        During my childhood years when my parents would drive the family to Toledo and Detroit to visit relatives, we often took Ohio Route 6 much of the way.  For me, the most picturesque part of the trip was through Bay Village, one of the neighborhoods I cover in Newschannel Five’s “Building Better Neighborhoods” initiative.  I will think of that pleasant drive as I cruise through Bay Village again to speak of my report on that community.  At 35 miles an hour with a full tank of gas, the windows rolled halfway down and good music pouring out of the radio, Bay Village will greet me.  Just as importantly, I will greet it and think back to those many trips with my father at the wheel and my mother seated next to him.

      I always looked forward to the drive through Bay.  Building Better Neighborhoods Executive Producer Ann Geyser and I will be there today, talking about the many positive aspects of the community.  I look forward to stopping at Huntington Park and Huntington Beach where we will take photographs for our Newschannel Five newscasts at 5pm and 6pm today, Monday, April 21.

   A few days ago when I was in Bay, I interviewed Mayor Deborah Sutherland and several people who were at the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center.  It was a treat to explore my way through the center, one of the true gemstones in Bay Village.  The community has a special quality about it.  It began as a village.  But even though it has grown into a city, the people of Bay kept the name “village” in their name.  It has a nice ring to it:  The City of Bay Village.

    Ann and I will look forward to meet you at Huntington Beach and Park.  It will be a treat to talk about Bay.  Don’t mind me if for a few moments, I look with moist eyes down Lake Road.  I will be thinking of my parents in our family car.  I will see my sister seated next to me as we are headed to visit relatives in Toledo and Detroit.  I will recall fond moments on the road with my family as we travel through some of the most beautiful country nestled along the shoreline of Lake Erie – Bay Village.

 

Friday, April 18: Parma with Leon Bibb

I’m on my way to Parma as part of Newschannel Five’s “Building Better Neighborhoods” initiative.   My story which will air on the Friday broadcast of Live on Five and our 6 O’clock newscast will feature Mayor Tim DeGeeter, who is known for walking through his community, talking with residents to get a better idea of how things are going in Parma.  He was a wonderful interview because he was so vibrant in his approach to questions about why he walks the sidewalks of Parma.

Mayor DeGeeter and I had a wonderful laugh when I told him how I had authored the 6th grade graduation plan when I graduated from Miles Standish Elementary School in Cleveland.  My play centered on a time machine and we students could get into the machine and go into the past or the future to see how life was or how life would be.  I needed a name for the time machine in the play I wrote.   On television, I had heard a lot about a community called Parma.  There were advertisements in the newspaper about shopping in Parma.  There were stories about life and living in Parma.  The television personalities of my Cleveland youth often referred to Parma.  So I named my time machine the ParmaScope.   When we actors in the 6th grade graduation play went into the future to see how life would be in the far-away days of the 21st Century, we would get into the ParmaScope (much as Capt. Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise did on the television show, “Star Trek.”  The ParmaScope would wisk away to the future.

I’m going to Parma again today.  I will be driving in the NewsChannel 5 truck although I wish I could use the time machine.  It has not been invented yet.  So make time to see me in Parma.  Look for me.  I’ll be with a wonderful executive producer of “Building Better Neighborhoods,” Ann Geyser.  She has done a wonderful job in our “Building Better Neighborhoods” project.  Say hi to her also.  We’ll be hanging around the time machine called the Newschannel Five microwave truck.

 

Thursday, April 17: Eastlake with Danita Harris

Eastlake is known at the crown jewel of Lake County. Home of the Boulevard of 500 Flags, which is a one of a kind memorial honoring those who served the United States in all branches of the armed forces. It also has a section dedicated to those who lost their lives on 9-11. An eternal flame burns bright there to commemorate the arrival of the Olympic torch in 1996.

Families in Eastlake enjoy going to the ballgame to watch the Lake County Captains in action at Classic

Northeast Ohio - We're back in the 25 cities we visited and we're bringing gifts for the streets that received the most votes from you.

Every day, in this blog, each of the NewsChannel5 team members on the ground will share some of the special things they're finding in each of the communities in our Building Better Neighborhoods tour.

 

Friday, June 20: LaGrange with Lee Jordan

We finished up our 25 neighborhoods, 25 days in LaGrange in Lorain County on Friday. We were greeted with dark skies so we took some video of our Featured Neighborhood winner, U.S. Grant Street. Then the skies let loose so thanks to the folks at Grey Hawk Golf Course who let us use their covered patio. Despite the rain, golfers finished their outing! We talked to LaGrange Mayor Kim Strauss who was thrilled with our project and the number of people who attended his Safety Forum as part of our project. He says he will do it again next year because safety is an important issue and he wants to work with residents to keep LaGrange a safe place to live. Besides, the Mayor told us, he’s always got new residents moving in and wants the opportunity to connect to them. Congrats to the folks on U.S. Grant Street!

 

Thursday, June 19: Macedonia with Chris Flanagan

The residents of Chinaberry Circle in Macedonia were in good hands as they were our Building Better Neighborhoods featured neighborhood winner.

A big crowd of Macedonia firefighters and police officers came out to support and congratulate the neighborhood.

Chinaberry Circle received 55% of the votes on newsnet5.com.

The mayor has a lot to be proud of. He told us during our live interview in the 6 p.m. newscast that the Macedonia Fire Department is rated in the top 1% of fire departments in the entire country.

Congratulations MCD and Chinaberry Circle!

Two of the many wonderful attributes to a wonderful community.

 

Wednesday, June 18: Bay Village with Leon Bibb

It was a “tip of the hat” to Bay Village when the Building Better Neighborhoods crew went to that community nestled on the shore of Lake Erie.  Though we needed a rain hat for part of the evening, the welcome was warm and friendly.  The rain swept in off Lake Erie, but it was a beautiful sight, watching the clouds form and bring a late Spring shower.  Still, Mayor Deborah Sutherland was there to greet our crew and accept the Building Better Neighborhoods sign designating Lakeview Drive as the featured street in the community.

We were joined by Marci and Allen Clever, who own a home on the street.  Their son, Matt Clever, was also there as part of the welcoming group.  Jill and Dennis McNulty greeted us, as well, and talked about the parties many in the community attend regularly.  That is what Building Better Neighborhoods is all about – people getting together to enjoy the company of each and celebrate their lives.  Mayor Sutherland talked about the safety fair City Hall sponsored where residents gathered to talk about their concerns.

Bay Village gave us a wonderful welcome.  Our executive producer,  Ann Geyser, brought along the sign designating the area running from the Bay-Rocky River boundary line to Parkside Drive as the featured neighborhood.  Mike Harris, chief photographer at WEWS NewsChannel5 and Gary Abrahamsen, photographer, and I all had a wonderful time.  Though there was rain in the air, there was sunshine in the hearts of the people who believe as we do – that Building Better Neighborhoods is a wonderful thing.   Thanks, neighbors.  You were wonderful in Bay Village.

 

Tuesday, June 17: Spencer with Tracy Carloss

A beautiful afternoon in the village of Spencer on the western edge of Medina County. Our featured winning neighborhood is Downtown Spencer! Congratulations. Thanks to John, the owner of the Spencer Restaurant who let us use his parking lot as a gathering place for folks. Waitress Jenna told us how the restaurant is a great place for neighbors to gather to enjoy good food and conversation. Special thanks to Jake and Dean, two kids who were eating at the restaurant with their dad and were thrilled to get a chance to be on TV with us! Jake loves the good food in Spencer.. Dean loves “everything” about the village! 

 

Monday, June 16: Madison with Danita Harris

Welcome to Madision! I had the pleasure of unveiling our Featured Neighborhood winner Monday.. Eagle Street. Met a lot of nice folks there, including two young men who helped me with a live tease, Cody and Galvin! Police Chief Dawn Shannon told me how Building Better Neighborhoods has helped excite people in Madison to get behind the block watch concept. Actually, her son-in-law got the job of block watch captain on Eagle Street.. think he was coerced into that! Mayor Sam Britton was there and he and I had a good laugh about donuts and how I can always manage to find a good bakery in whatever city I’m in! 

 

Friday, June 13: Parma with Leon Bibb

In Parma, the Boys Scouts of Troop 221 showed up with the true spirit of both  their organization and the Building Better Neighborhoods

project concept.  BBN Executive Producer Ann Geyser, cameraman Tommy Livingston, and mobile truck operator Reggie Young had established a setting for the live reports.  However, when the Parma resident in charge of coordinating food for the people who would come to the unveiling of the featured neighborhood set up her tables, it was at the opposite end of a huge parking lot. 

That is when the Boy Scouts stepped in.  In keeping with the official slogan of the Boy Scouts of America, “Do A Good Turn Daily,” the scouts ran to the tables and food and picked up everything.  They carried everything about 100 yards to the television set-up.  That reminded me of how neighbors help neighbors.  The Boy Scouts of Troop 221 fully understood the concept.  Everything went well with the unveiling of the featured neighborhood – Polish Village.

Our live reports were stellar because of the work of Tommy and Reggie.  I was able to get through everything nicely.  Ann did her usual stellar job of overseeing all aspects of the unveiling of the BBN featured neighborhood in Parma.  Several dozen people showed up and it turned into a parking lot party.  The pizza was good.  They even brought a cake celebrating the designation of Polish Village as the featured neighborhood.

The sun was brilliant in a sky that had no clouds. The temperature was comfortable.  The camaraderie of the people was comforting for all of us.  Parma Police spokesperson Kevin Riley and I chatted for a half hour after we had completed our television reports.  He and I found connections. Although we had just met, it was as if we were old friends.  Building Better Neighborhoods is about that.  If neighbors get together and talk, they can find connections.  When I speak of neighbors, I am also referring to people in neighboring communities, or cities, or states, or countries.  But that is an essay for another day.

Let us just say that in Parma, we made the connections.  Better said, the people of Parma made the connections.  They were about family, and good times, and community strengths.  These are attributes which help all of us live better and more fulfilling lives.  I guess you could say we were all prepared for what we were asked to do.  Come to think of it, “Be Prepared” is the official motto of the Boy Scouts of America.  When you couple “Be Prepared” with the slogan, “Do a good turn daily,” you’ve got something great.  Thanks Parma.  You were wonderful.

          --------- Leon Bibb

 

Thursday, June 12: Eastlake with Danita Harris

Our “Featured Neighborhood” winner in Eastlake is E. 337th Street, just off Vine. We meet a lot of nice folks in the WalMart parking lot where we parked our Satellite Truck. Mayor Dennis Morley came out, along with the police chief, Larry Reik, the city Service Director and a Councilwoman. Lots of kids from the neighborhood helped me with my live shots too, chanting “B-B-N”!

The police chief told us how he engaged some high school students to go door to door and pass out flyers to get residents to attend Eastlake’s safety meeting. The mayor told us the city’s pool, which has been closed the last few years, will open on Sunday in partnership with the YMCA, as another way to bring the residents of Eastlake together! Happy Swimming!

 

Wednesday, June 11: Stow with Chris Flanagan 

When it comes to fun, nobody is going to out fun Call’s Farm in Stow.  Almost every night you can find a big game of kickball taking place in the green area.


I was lucky enough to be drafted as a pitcher for part of a game.  I had a blast!


Call’s Farm, which has about 250 homes in the development, garnished 80% of the vote on newsnet5.com to be named Stow’s featured neighborhood winner.


Dozens of children enjoying their first full day of summer vacation, along with a huge showing of parents, came out for our live shots during Live On Five and NewsChannel5 at 6.


Congratulations Call’s Farm!

 

Tuesday, June 10: Columbia Township with Lee Jordan

We're back in Lorain county tonight to reveal the winning featured street for Building Better Neighborhoods in Columbia Township. And the winner is.... Drumroll, cheering....Forsythia and Honeysuckle Lane! 

Homes here were built in the 70s and 80s as part of the Country Living
neighborhood on lots from 1 to 6 acres. And residents like Fred Nemeth make the most of it: he gets five gallons of maple syrup every year from the trees in his backyard! His wife Blanche is on the school board, and also keeps her eyes on the neighborhood for anything suspicious. That is something Lorain County Sheriff Deputy Bobby Vansant appreciates! Like all rural areas in Lorain county, Columbia Township is patrolled by sheriff deputies. A strong block watch program and recent safety meetings for Building Better Neighborhoods keeps everyone safer and more engaged with each other. 

 

Monday, June 9: Wadsworth with Tracy Carloss

Wadsworth was the latest stop on Building Better Neighborhoods! The winner is Bent Creek! Bent Creek is a 55+ community. We met so many wonderful

people who came out to visit us. So nice to meet all the wonderful people in Bent Creek! Congratulations Bent Creek residents on being our featured neighborhood in Wadsworth!

 

Friday, June 6: Wickliffe with Danita Harris

Another great day to be in a great community. Wickliffe! Arbor Street was our featured neighborhood winner. We really enjoyed meeting the nice folks that live there, including Block Watch Captain, Michelle. Officer Randy Veri was there as well as Mayor Bill Margalis. They both credited our Building Better Neighborhoods project with getting more folks interested in Block Watches. The city has had them for years. In fact, Officer Veri said he had to move the last Block Watch meeting because so many people came, the room wasn’t big enough. That’s what this is all about--connecting residents with police officers. Officers can’t be everywhere. They need residents to be the eyes and ears of their neighborhood. When everyone works together, everyone wins. By the way, adorable kids on Arbor Street.. loved meeting them! 

 

Thursday, June 5: Copley Township with Chris Flanagan

When it comes to voting, nobody outvotes Copley Township.

Almost 2,800 votes were cast in Copley.

The winning neighborhood was Brenner Estates.

A large group of neighbors came out to show their support at the Whimsical Pig Bed and Breakfast.

The restored 1876 farmhouse sits at the entrance of Brenner Estates.

The B & B just celebrated its first anniversary in business, now it can say it’s a NewsChannel5 Building Better Neighborhoods winner!

 

Wednesday, June 4: Oberlin with Lee Jordan

The rain is fine when you can shelter on a nice front porch..and that's where we are today in Oberlin!

You voted, and the winning featured street is North Park Street!  Longtime residents Beth Marshall and Tony Wilgus have offered the front porch of the home that has been in Beth's family for 75 years! The neighbors are from around the country and the world, and Beth and Tony say everyone looks out for each other here.

Oberlin Police Sgt. Dave Jasinski told me that Building Better Neighborhoods is a great addition to the community policing they've been doing for years. And they even brought pizza for the porch party!

 

Tuesday, June 3: Montville Township with Tracy Carloss

It was a gorgeous afternoon to be in Montville Township especially if you have a pool to enjoy! Lexington Ridge was our Featured Street winner in this Medina County community. The development sports a pool and a playground for the kids that live here. Both of these are assets when it comes to bringing neighbors together. That sentiment was echoed by Joy Rambo, a mom who lives right across the street from the pool.  All the kids that were swimming were thrilled to be on camera with us. Our thanks also to Montville Township trustee Sally Albrecht who came out to see us and to a couple of Montville Township police officers who were there but camera shy! Thanks to all for making us feel so welcome and congratulations to Lexington Ridge!

 

 

Monday, June 2: Cleveland Heights with Leon Bibb

You never know who you are going to run into.  Whenever I drive onto a street, I keep my eyes open because often, there is someone I have met who lives there.  That was the case when Newschannel 5 executive producer Ann Geyser, cameraman Gary Abrahamsen, microwave truck operator Bob Fenner, and I fully understood when we pulled onto Hyde Park Road in Cleveland Heights.  Across the street where we set up our microwave signal for our live broadcast of the unveiling of the featured street in the Building Better Neighborhoods project lived Richard Woods.  He and I had met over the years when he was an educator in the Shaker Heights Schools System.

Down the street was a woman named Michelle whom I had interviewed before for my “Kaleidoscope” program on WEWS-TV5. Michelle and I had actually met years before when she was a security guard at the Greyhound Bus Station in Cleveland.

Near her was the home of Martin Consentino, one of the managers of the historic Ensemble Theater of Cleveland Heights.  Martin and I had worked together on several theatrical projects where I was an actor on the Ensemble Theater stage.

When I think about it, as we build better neighborhoods, it is all about familiarity.  I am familiar with the people I mentioned.  When we get to know each other, we get a chance to share their dreams and concerns.  Neighborhoods foster that kind of thinking when the people take time to get to know each other.  Although as a television newscaster whose voice and image reaches 19 Northeast Ohio counties, I feel I am a neighbor to everyone in our viewing area.  For that reason, WEWS has begun the Building Better Neighborhoods project.  Ann Geyser has been a strong leader in this venture and it is paying off.

I am getting a chance to see people I have met over the years and some of whom I have worked with.  As well, I am getting a chance to meet new people.  It is interesting we had 25 children in front of our camera lens on Hyde

Park Road in Cleveland Heights.  That number fit in nicely with our “25 cities in 25 days” project.  We all had a good time seeing old friends and making new ones.  That is what Building Better Neighborhoods is all about.

------------- Leon Bibb

 

Friday, May 30: Barberton with Chris Flanagan

Fantastic weather, fantastic people and a fantastic cause!

I had a blast in Barberton as we awarded Norman Street, in the Van Hyning neighborhood, as our featured street winner.

We had a terrific turnout as we presented the neighbors with a Building Better Neighborhoods sign for their street.

More than one-thousand people in Barberton cast a vote on Newsnet5.com.

Mayor Bill Judge was all smiles.  Not only was his city featured on NewsChannel 5 at 6, but he was also beaming because his wife had their first child on Wednesday!

A beautiful, healthy girl.

Congratulations, Mayor Judge!

Thursday, May 29: Mentor-on-the-Lake with Danita Harris

What a beautiful day to reveal our winning featured neighborhood in Mentor-on-the-Lake. Drum roll please….the neighborhood of Lawnfield, Moreland and Lakeshore Blvd. received close to 1,300 votes to be named our Building Better Neighborhoods feature street.
 
It was very obvious that this was a close knit neighborhood. Their relationship with the police department has always been good and they feel that their neighborhood is safe. It was great to meet Barb and Judy who have been neighbors and best friends for over 40 years. The key to their long lasting friendship is the pact they made when they first met. They promised to never argue or stop speaking to each other, even if their children weren’t.

 

talking, they would continue to communicate. Everyone was very friendly and I got an invite to their block party on July 3! Fun!!
 

Wednesday, May 28: Elyria with Lee Jordan

Beautiful sunshine for our return to Elyria to announce the neighborhood that got the most votes to be our featured street. And it is....East Broad in the Eastern Heights neighborhood!

The residents will be forming a block watch called Eastern Heights East. Elyria is very proactive with block watches. Police encourage neighbors to help them keep an eye on things.

A lot of people here also connect to each other on the social media app Nextdoor, which has been a great partner for the BBN project. The app recently helped someone recover her lost dog! Police Chief Duane Whitely said the Building Better Neighborhoods project has made Elyria's City Block Watch program even stronger.

 

Tuesday, May 27: Maple Heights with Leon Bibb

He was a mature man showing grey in his mustache.  His eyes were moist as he grabbed my hand and shook it heartily before he embraced me with a hug.  “Welcome home, Soldier,” he said, his face trying to find a smile to hold back what appeared to be a stream of tears which needed only a little more emotion before finding their flow.  I had not expected such a welcome at the announcement of the winning street in our “Building Better Neighborhoods” project.  But there it was on Corkhill Road in Maple Heights,

Al Glontz was the man behind the moist eyes.  He is a U.S. Army veteran of the war in Vietnam.  Knowing I served in the Army in that same war, he came to Corkhill Road to extend his hand and to “welcome home” another veteran of the U.S. Military.  We do that for each other because most of us remember how when we came home from that long-ago war, there were very few welcomes for members of the military who had gone into battle. 

Our interaction fit in nicely with the “Building Better Neighborhoods” project because it is built on neighbors getting to know each other and look out for each other.  It was the same for us in the war.  We soldiers, sailors, Coast Guardsmen, Marines, and airmen looked out for each other. 

On Corkhill Drive in Maple Heights, several dozen people turned out for the unveiling of the street as the winner in a competition where Maple Heights people voted on what street should represent the community in the WEWS Newschannerl5 project.   The captain of the Block Watch group, Eric Ochs, and his wife put out a nice spread in driveway and on the front lawn.  Hotdogs, soda pop, and pizza were in abundance.  It made for a nice treat as firefighters, EMS, and police officers also showed up.  The big fire truck and ambulance parked at the curb was an eye-catcher for others in the neighborhood who came running to join in on the fun and the live television report I delivered on safety consciousness in Maple Heights.

Mayor Jeff Lansky and several councilmembers showed up, too.  I interviewed several of them for the several times we were on live television.  After our television reports, the community planned a Block Watch meeting where the residents of Corkhill and other streets talked about the importance of neighbors knowing neighbors.  That is what Building Better Neighborhoods, the brainchild of its executive producer, Ann Geyser.  Ann has done a superb job of pulling all the many parts together. 

She has coordinated visits to 25 different communities in five counties.  All of this has been done in 25 days.  That takes a lot of coordination and a lot of guts.  Ann has them both.

 

Mayor Lansky was all smiles when I introduced him to Ann.  They had spoken on the telephone, but on the Ochs family’s front lawn, the two leaders got a chance to meet face-to-face. 

 

As well, I got a chance to hang around firefighters and lean against the equipment they brought as a “show-and-tel.”  I was like the kids in the neighborhood, looking at all the equipment parked at the curb.

 

My mind also went back several decades to the war in Vietnam.  Al Glontz, the Vietnam vet, and I had connected with our memories.  We realized we were both in that country at the same time.  Both of us were serving our country.  In that way, we were brothers talking about the old times.  That is what Building Better Neighborhoods is all about – getting people to know each other better and talk.  And look out for each other.  Al  and I, though separated by many miles in Vietnam, realized we had been looking out for each other so that each could accomplish the mission and come home safely.

 

There is that same philosophy again about Building Better Neighborhoods.  In Maple Heights, we talked about everyone needing the opportunity to come home safely.  Through the project, we are reiterating what people already know in their heart of hearts.  We have to look out for each other and call police and fire when we see trouble or even think we see trouble.  “I’ve got your back,” we must say to each other.  Al and I understood that.  On a front law on Corkhill road, we realized we still have each other’s backs.  

 

Monday, May 26: Brunswick with Tracy Carloss

We were back in Medina County on Memorial Day for Building Better Neighborhoods, this time in Brunswick. The winning neighborhood is Concord Meadows! Of the 5 neighborhoods Brunswick targeted for its safety meeting, Concord Meadows got 51% of the vote on newsnet 5 dot com. We also want to thank all those that voted. There were a total of 968 votes.  We met so many nice people in Concord Meadows. They even let us crash their Memorial Day festivities! And boy did we pick the right house, a two star general in the Army Reserves, Ron Dziedzicki lives there with his wife. He had some of his kids and grandkids there. By the way, Ron was also celebrating his birthday! Hope we helped make it happy.  Thanks to Ron and all the men and women who protect our freedom! Congratulations, Concord Meadows!

 

Friday, May 23: Avon with Lee Jordan

The city of Avon was the first that I profiled for our Building Better Neighborhoods initiative, so on this gorgeous Friday I'm back with the WEWS crew to reveal the neighborhood that got the most votes to be featured. And....it's Bentley Park!

The city of Avon was the first that I profiled for our Building Better Neighborhoods initiative, so on this gorgeous Friday I'm back with the WEWS crew to reveal the neighborhood that got the most votes to be featured. And....it's Bentley Park!

It is just great to hear from people how our BBN project has had an impact. Bentley Park families are more connected than ever through the Nextdoor app that partnered with us for BBN. They have a Chalkfest coming up, and a Fit Family Bootcamp. Earlier this month Avon held a safety fair and the whole city was invited.

 

Mayor Bryan Jensen said the project has has a very positive influence on communication between neighborhoods and the city safety forces. The enthusiasm and warmth I saw here today among all who turned out for my live report was terrific. And I got my very own Eagles lacrosse jersey from the middle school girls' team! Thank you Avon! 

 

Thursday, May 22: Chagrin Falls Featured Street Reveal with Leon Bibb

I knew it was going to be another successful and memorable unveiling of the winning street in Newschannel 5’s Building Better Neighborhoods project when a homeowner unfurled an American flag about 8 feet wide and let it wave as he tied it to the two big trees in his front yard.    We were on Hall Street in Chagrin Falls as Orin Koeser scampered up his ladder and tied the flag to the trees.  His two grown sons were there to help as they had done for years when they lived in the house.  The Koeser have lived in the house on Hall Street for about 50 years. 

Our television live truck, cameraman Gary Abrahamson, truck engineer Reggie Young, executive producer Ann Geyser, and our intern, Erin, brought out the people on Hall Street.  They were proud they had been selected as a key street in Chagrin Falls to promote our Building Better Neighborhoods campaign.  Koeser and his neighbors from next door, Sandy and Jerry Chunut, had attended the safety meeting in Chagrin Falls.  They helped push the effort in their community.

We went on the air and I conducted short interviews of Mr. Koeser and Mr. and Mrs. Chunut.  That sent a wave of excitement down the street, a picturesque stretch of Chagrin Falls, nestled

along the southern edge of Cuyahoga County.  Whenever we go to events like that, it is interesting how you run into people you have met somewhere along the way.  Tom Neff, one of the leading people in the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre, heard we were in town and he dropped by.  Tom and I have worked together on theatrical projects, so it was good to see him and talk about theater.  In fact, a few weeks back, I interviewed Tom Neff about the strength of the theater and how it helps the entire theater district.

Sandy Chunat told me she and I had talked before when we met years ago in a restaurant.  She and her husband sat at the lunch table next to me in a restaurant in Beachwood.  At that time, we got into a discussion on taking care of aging parents.  We were both doing that and found a comfort in our talks.  It was good to see Sandy and Jerry again; this time in their neighborhood.  In fact, we even chatted on their front porch. 

It was a pleasant day in Chagrin Falls with a few white clouds dappling a blue sky.  Spring had finally gotten its step in Northeast Ohio and the children were scampering on the front lawns, giggling as all the television people who had swooped in putting their street on television.  I talked with several neighbors who stopped by and we could all find connections.  When people talk about how small the world is, this is what they mean.  If I talk with people long enough, I will find a connection.  There is a comfort in that.

In fact, as Ann Geyser, our leader in the Building Better Neighborhood project, will tell you, that is really what the idea is about.  It revolves around getting neighbors to know each other better.  If you recall those magical moments on the old “Andy Griffith Show,” there was usually what I call a “magic time” when Andy strums the guitar on the front porch.  His son, Opie, is playing in the yard.  Barney stops by to add to the conversation while Aunt Bea probably has a knitting project going on.  They are on the swing or the chairs of the front porch of Mayberry and all is well with the world.  That is what Building Better Neighborhoods is promoting.   It is not just about fighting crime, but it also about looking out for each other, and caring for each other, and watching the children grow up in strong and positive ways.

I love the the idea Ann has brought from her fertile mind to actually be an integral part of television on WEWS in Cleveland.  She is a superb leader with a strong devotion to find better ways to people to communicate with each other and know each other.  Truly, my time in Chagrin Falls with my friends there is memorable.  After we shut down the television live truck, I hung around and chatted with the people on Hall Street.  We could make a whole show out of what happened that day.  We could be Mayberry in a way.  I think that is what the producers of the “Andy Griffith Show” had in mind.  It’s also what we had in mind.

Next time you are on Hall Street in Chagrin Falls, tell my friends I said hello.  But I’ll be seeing them again soon. We made friends while we were helping each other Build a better neighborhood. 

 -- Leon Bibb, WEWS Newschannel 5

 

 

Wednesday, May 21: Peninsula Featured Street Reveal with Chris Flanagan

I had a wonderful time in Peninsula as we unveiled our first of five featured neighborhoods in Summit County.  The village of Peninsula is home to about 600 residents, but more than 98% of the more than 400 votes went to Downtown.

Downtown Peninsula is the heart of the village. It is home to great places to eat and unique shops.  Mayor Doug Mayer and many residents came out for the sign presentation.  The mayor wasted no time putting the Building Better Neighborhoods sign right in front of City Hall for all to see.

Congratulations to everyone in Peninsula!

 

Tuesday, May 20: Lodi Featured Street Reveal with Tracy Carloss

Building Better Neighborhoods is back in business.

Lodi was the first stop in Medina County.

A group of neighbors welcomed us to Lodi to name the winning street, Young Drive!

Congratulation to the winning street and thanks for the hospitality!

 

Monday, May 19: Painesville Featured Street Reveal with Danita Harris

Had such a great time today in Painesville for the big announcement of our featured neighborhood. The residents of Painesville voted on our website for their favorite neighborhood and  Hayer Drive won with over 1800 votes. It was a wonderful feeling to meet the people who are a big part of keeping that neighborhood safe. A diverse community with one goal in mind, connecting with each other and city officials to build better neighborhoods. Jeff Hope is the Neighborhood Block Watch captain and he spoke with so much passion about his community and the importance of neighbors looking out for each other. Congratulations to the great people of Hayer Drive.

 

Friday, April 25: LaGrange with Lee Jordan

We did it! 25 Cities in 25 Days - and we're wrapping it up tonight in Lorain County in LaGrange. Rain won't dampen a very big event

happening this weekend - the Prebis Invitational Softball Tournament for high school girls.

Thirty-five top teams are in LaGrange this weekend, and one of them is LaGrange's Keystone Lady Wildcats. Year after year these girls are at the top of the rankings. Can't wait to see them play!

There's a lot of history in LaGrange, and a lot of progress too. The Grey Hawk championship golf course is surrounded by new home construction. Not far away, classic century homes stand alongside picturesque farms.

The Village of LaGrange and LaGrange Township have collaborated on some amazing projects. Opportunity Way, a street that is home to high tech business, a nursing care facility and Keystone's new schools, was built with state and federal funds and has brought jobs and tax revenue to the area. And Community Park - a 100-acre complex for sports and recreation - is a beautifully planned green space with a lot of volunteer work behind its creation. It's where some exciting softball action happens this weekend.

See you there for Live On 5 and NewsChannel 5 at 6!

 

Thursday, April 24: Macedonia with Chris Flanagan

Rick Reinecker and his sisters, Heidi and Caroline, are carrying on a long family tradition.

Their father started in the bakery business in the 1950’s and moved Reinecker’s Bakery to Macedonia in 1972.

The Reinecker’s go a long way back, but not as far back as some of their recipes.

“Some of our original we call Schwarzbrot, which is a German pumpernickel, that’s a 300 to 400 year old recipe.  Maybe longer than that,” said Rick Reinecker.

Macedonia is known as the “Crossroads of Northeast Ohio.”

It’s located exactly halfway between Akron and Cleveland and exactly halfway between Interstate 480 and the Ohio Turnpike.

The mayor said because of this Macedonia is quickly becoming a destination city.

“Macedonia is becoming that place because of location, location, location,”  Mayor Don Kuchta said.

Macedonia is one of only about 250 locations across the entire country that is home to a Tesla charging station.

“How cool is that?  That, in itself, is a sign we’re starting to arrive.  We’re starting to get to that point,”  Kuchta went on to say.

Macedonia has a little more than 11-thousand residents.  It’s small in size, just 9 square miles, but it has big beautiful parks, a booming housing market and is full of young families.

“We all know each other, our little community.  I see people all the time that I know going in the grocery store or gas station or whatever.  I really like it here,”  said 18 year old Sydney Strohm.

Macedonia has a robust commercial and retail sector and thanks to its many businesses, like Design Molded Plastics, the city has not had to raise taxes since the 1960’s.

Design Molded Plastics President Jay Honsaker said every Riddell football helmet shell is manufactured by his company.  Including the Cleveland Browns.

“A lot of our employees are pretty excited when they are watching the game, knowing they probably touched that shell,”  Honsaker said.  

 

Wednesday, April 23: Brunswick with Tracy Carloss

Medina County is home to Brunswick and 35,000 people who now call the suburb home including Kim Carlton and her family. “It’s very friendly for young children. A lot of parks for kids, activities and good schools,” said Carlton.

The population explosion started about two decades ago, steadily moving the once rural community to a family friendly suburb getting national attention. “One of the top ten towns in America for families according to Family Circle magazine, “ said Brunswick Mayor Ron Falconi. That is just one of the national publications that have spotlighted Brunswick, Falconi said.

There are new houses going up, the Cleveland Clinic is expanding their facility to include an Emergency Room. The Town Center includes businesses and restaurants.

Brunswick is home to the largest catholic church in the diocese, St. Ambrose and Mapleside Farms which draws thousands of people to the city, particularly during the fall. There is a nature center, walking paths, plenty of parks aimed at family friendly fun.

The 40-person police department protects and serves the community but Chief Carl DeForest said the department is proactive. “We solve problems before they become bigger issues,” said DeForest.

 

Tuesday, April 22: Madison with Danita Harris

Madison Village is just a little over 5 square miles but filled with historic charm. West Main Street has a lot of offer. There’s Maggie’s Donuts, The Vault features great steaks. You can grab a beer and get a bite to eat at Cornerstone Brewing Company or take a step back in time at J.C.’s Nifty 50’s, where the coffee is always brewing and burgers are flipping.

Residents here are close to their police department. Chief Dawn Shannon says Building Better Neighborhoods will strengthen that bond.

"We've had a block watch for a number of years and it kind of dwindled off, but with the help  of channel 5, I will say that this has really boosted the morale and they're looking forward to this and I've got

a lot of residents engaged now."

Madison is also a place where you still get a taste of history with the old railroad station or the Madison General Store that sells elk, bison and gator.

A big thanks to the Madison School District. We reported live from the high school where a variety of spring sporting events were being held last night.

 

Monday, April 21: Bay Village with Leon Bibb (#TheBibb)

        During my childhood years when my parents would drive the family to Toledo and Detroit to visit relatives, we often took Ohio Route 6 much of the way.  For me, the most picturesque part of the trip was through Bay Village, one of the neighborhoods I cover in Newschannel Five’s “Building Better Neighborhoods” initiative.  I will think of that pleasant drive as I cruise through Bay Village again to speak of my report on that community.  At 35 miles an hour with a full tank of gas, the windows rolled halfway down and good music pouring out of the radio, Bay Village will greet me.  Just as importantly, I will greet it and think back to those many trips with my father at the wheel and my mother seated next to him.

      I always looked forward to the drive through Bay.  Building Better Neighborhoods Executive Producer Ann Geyser and I will be there today, talking about the many positive aspects of the community.  I look forward to stopping at Huntington Park and Huntington Beach where we will take photographs for our Newschannel Five newscasts at 5pm and 6pm today, Monday, April 21.

   A few days ago when I was in Bay, I interviewed Mayor Deborah Sutherland and several people who were at the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center.  It was a treat to explore my way through the center, one of the true gemstones in Bay Village.  The community has a special quality about it.  It began as a village.  But even though it has grown into a city, the people of Bay kept the name “village” in their name.  It has a nice ring to it:  The City of Bay Village.

    Ann and I will look forward to meet you at Huntington Beach and Park.  It will be a treat to talk about Bay.  Don’t mind me if for a few moments, I look with moist eyes down Lake Road.  I will be thinking of my parents in our family car.  I will see my sister seated next to me as we are headed to visit relatives in Toledo and Detroit.  I will recall fond moments on the road with my family as we travel through some of the most beautiful country nestled along the shoreline of Lake Erie – Bay Village.

 

Friday, April 18: Parma with Leon Bibb

I’m on my way to Parma as part of Newschannel Five’s “Building Better Neighborhoods” initiative.   My story which will air on the Friday broadcast of Live on Five and our 6 O’clock newscast will feature Mayor Tim DeGeeter, who is known for walking through his community, talking with residents to get a better idea of how things are going in Parma.  He was a wonderful interview because he was so vibrant in his approach to questions about why he walks the sidewalks of Parma.

Mayor DeGeeter and I had a wonderful laugh when I told him how I had authored the 6th grade graduation plan when I graduated from Miles Standish Elementary School in Cleveland.  My play centered on a time machine and we students could get into the machine and go into the past or the future to see how life was or how life would be.  I needed a name for the time machine in the play I wrote.   On television, I had heard a lot about a community called Parma.  There were advertisements in the newspaper about shopping in Parma.  There were stories about life and living in Parma.  The television personalities of my Cleveland youth often referred to Parma.  So I named my time machine the ParmaScope.   When we actors in the 6th grade graduation play went into the future to see how life would be in the far-away days of the 21st Century, we would get into the ParmaScope (much as Capt. Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise did on the television show, “Star Trek.”  The ParmaScope would wisk away to the future.

I’m going to Parma again today.  I will be driving in the NewsChannel 5 truck although I wish I could use the time machine.  It has not been invented yet.  So make time to see me in Parma.  Look for me.  I’ll be with a wonderful executive producer of “Building Better Neighborhoods,” Ann Geyser.  She has done a wonderful job in our “Building Better Neighborhoods” project.  Say hi to her also.  We’ll be hanging around the time machine called the Newschannel Five microwave truck.

 

Thursday, April 17: Eastlake with Danita Harris

Eastlake is known at the crown jewel of Lake County. Home of the Boulevard of 500 Flags, which is a one of a kind memorial honoring those who served the United States in all branches of the armed forces. It also has a section dedicated to those who lost their lives on 9-11. An eternal flame burns bright there to commemorate the arrival of the Olympic torch in 1996.

Families in Eastlake enjoy going to the ballgame to watch the Lake County Captains in action at Classic

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