Chagrin fest film is Oscar nominee

Continuing its track record of presenting great films to Northeast Ohio audiences, the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival presented the Ohio premiere of “Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone” directed by Carol Dysinger last fall.   

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released its nominations for the 2020 Oscars earlier this week and among the films in the highly competitive documentary short category was “Learning to Skateboard.”

The short film follows young Afghan girls learning to read, write and skateboard in Kabul. Skateboarding gives them courage and life skills that help them thrive and adapt to the challenges which they face daily in the war-torn Middle East.

“We love films that enlighten us to different cultures, touch our hearts and make it personal. ‘Learning to Skateboard’ does just this. This film was immediately identified as an important film to include in our 10th anniversary line-up. Selection comments such as ‘touching and heartbreaking,’ ‘beautiful and inspiring’ made this a very enthusiastic acceptance for the Chagrin Documentary Film Fest,”said festival Director Mary Ann Ponce.

It was one of 83 films screened during the festival’s five-day run, which broke attendance and growth records in 2019.

CDFF has screened five Academy Award nominees and one 2013 Oscar winner since the festival’s inception a decade ago. 

The Academy Awards will be presented Feb. 9 on ABC.

Mapping bike trail

The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and Mountain Road Cycles are sponsoring a community event to seek residents’ opinions on the need for bike trails in Geauga County.

The event is set for 6:30-8 p.m. on Jan. 23 at 100 Industrial Parkway in Chagrin Falls. Residents are being encouraged to provide input on the new bike map.

For more information visit or email

Library program opens

Any child from birth to age 5 can now enroll to receive a free, new book from the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library every month, Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine announced this week.

“I’m delighted that Cuyahoga County’s 75,000 children – from birth to age 5 – can now take advantage of the benefits of the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library,” Mrs. DeWine said in a press release. “Cuyahoga County is our 55th Ohio county to offer the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library Program countywide, no matter where a child lives within that county. When we started this journey to create a statewide program to improve early childhood literacy, the Imagination Library was only available in pockets of Ohio and only countywide in 24 counties. We won’t stop our work to expand until kids in all 88 counties of Ohio have the same opportunity.” 

Research shows that book ownership can be a predictor of future academic success. In fact, studies have found that children with just 25 books in their home were more likely to complete an additional two years of education. The program is a partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to ensure children enter the classroom ready to succeed.

“We are very pleased that every child can experience the joy and excitement of receiving their own brand new book in the mail every month,” said Robert Paponetti, president and CEO of the Literacy Cooperative of Greater Cleveland.

The Ohio General Assembly committed $5 million to the program in the fiscal year 2020-2021 budget.

To enroll and learn more, visit

Village has new committee

Chagrin Falls Village Council on Monday named members of a new committee charged with improving communication between residents, council and the administration. Committee members include council representatives Angela DeBernardo, who will chair the panel, as well as Andrew Rockey and Janis Evans. The committee will be in effect for 12 months only.

Various communication methods will be considered from notes on water bills to electronic platforms.

Councilman James Newell questioned the need for another committee.

“I think we have excellent communication already and, you know me, I am always for small government,” he said. “We should not leave the impression that we have a problem with this.”

In other news, two committee meetings have been scheduled to meet on Jan. 27 prior to the Chagrin Falls Village Council session. The Safety Committee, chaired by Councilman Andrew Rockey, will convene at 6 p.m. to consider issues residents have brought to his attention, he said.

At 6:30 p.m., Councilman James Newell will convene the Utilities Committee, which will review possible sewer rate changes and the new water billing system.

Test homes for radon

 In recognition of National Radon Action Month, the Ohio Department of Health is encouraging Ohioans to test their homes for the radioactive gas and take steps to reduce risk if elevated levels are detected.

“Long-term exposure to high levels of radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer overall and the top cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers,” said ODH Director Dr. Amy Acton. “Running this easy, inexpensive test is an important first step in protecting your family from a devastating disease that kills thousands of Ohioans each year.”

Colorless and odorless, radon is produced naturally with the decay of uranium in rocks and soil. It can migrate into any type of home through cracks or openings in the foundation. According to data collected by the ODH Radon Education and Licensing Program, elevated levels of the gas have been found in homes in all 88 Ohio counties. It’s estimated that such levels are present in about half of all Ohio homes.

“The challenge is that we can’t see, smell or taste it, so it’s easy to forget that radon may be a problem in any home, school or building,” said Dr. Acton.

Test your home every two years or after renovations, including the installation of windows, exterior doors, insulation, a roof or a furnace or air conditioner.

For general questions about radon’s health effects or to discuss radon testing, contact ODH radon education staff at 1-800-523-4439 or

Foundation offers scholarships

The Cleveland Foundation is accepting scholarship applications through March 15 for the 2020-21 academic year. Most of the scholarships are designated for graduating high school seniors attending colleges and universities, but some of the foundation’s more than 60 scholarship funds provide current college students and adults returning to school the opportunity to pursue courses that enhance their professional, personal and vocational development. During the 2019-20 academic year, the foundation’s scholarship funds have supported close to 400 new and returning recipients.

Interested individuals in Cuyahoga and Geauga counties can explore available scholarships via Candidates may complete a single application to be considered for multiple awards. On average, the scholarships range from $1,000 to $3,000, and many are renewable for up to four years.

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