Save Grove Hill

Chagrin is on the verge of losing its iconic Grove Hill.

Yes, that hill: site of the Pumpkin Roll; starting line for the Euclid Beach rocket car’s scream-inducing rides; and the place from which many take in the wonder of our Norman Rockwell-like town for the first time.

At a Nov. 19 meeting of the town’s Architectural Review Board, the new owner of the property on the southwest corner of Grove Hill (3 West Summit), developer Robert Vitt, announced plans to:

Demolish the historic Bancroft House that sits at the crest of the property and its annex building to make way for two new homes facing West Summit Street.

Remove 1,000 tons of soil to “stabilize” the hillside to construct three new, 3-story townhomes near the bottom of the property on West Cottage Street.

Yes, 1,000 tons. As in 2 million pounds. From a hillside so fragile that, according to court documents, excavations for the same developer’s West Orange townhomes triggered landslides. Is there any doubt that this development plan poses enormous risk to Grove Hill and the surrounding structures and roads?

At the meeting, some ARB members challenged the developer to be a “steward” of the property and a “hero” to the community by restoring the Bancroft House and respecting its historical site. But the developer was unmoved, responding that he would prefer to pass that role to someone else.

What to do? If there is someone out there with the means and fortitude to be a community hero, please reveal yourself as soon as possible. For everyone else:

Learn more about what the Grove Hill plans at our website,

Attend the ARB meetings.

Write the ARB, Village Council and the mayor with your reactions to the Grove Hill plans.

Get in touch with any of us at

Your West Summit Street neighbors: Brian & Jaclyn Drum; Jim & Beth Lorentz; Matt & Chantel Michalek and Bryan & Darby Schwartz

Chagrin Falls

Keep Turkey Trot kid friendly

The Annual Turkey Trot 5k Run has been a great success over the years, raising thousands of dollars for a terrific cause. The Chagrin Falls Boosters have done an incredible job organizing this event each year, and I commend them for their dedication and proactive approach to safety. On Thanksgiving morning, approximately 1,500 participants, volunteers and organizers filled the streets of South Russell and Chagrin Falls for this great event.

Unfortunately, there was an incident that I found to be not only disturbing, but a serious safety concern as well. A group of adult individuals were handing out free beer to the runners on the course. Although they were on private property and were not in violation themselves, several runners took beer from the property and continued consuming it along the race route. It was discovered that several race participants were spotted on the course possessing and consuming beer during the race.

I find it highly irresponsible that anyone would introduce alcohol into an event where hundreds of people are being put at risk. We don’t need race participants “slamming” beers at 10 a.m. in the middle of a 5K run. This incident took place in the presence of families and many children who were participating in the race. 

We have a responsibility to assure the safety of the community and all 1,500 individuals who participated in that race, which included some very young children.  The condition that those few individuals created could have resulted in serious injury or maybe worse.  I’m not willing to expose the public to that risk because certain individuals feel the need to turn everything into a party environment. It’s time to grow up and be responsible.

I truly believe the organization running the event has nothing but the best intentions in order to raise funding for the school, and I appreciate all they do in order to achieve that mission.  It’s unfortunate that a few irresponsible individuals may have altered the future for this great event.  A lot of people work very hard each year to make this event a success. I don’t believe anyone wants to see it turn into an event where the police need to arrest the participants for open container or disorderly conduct.  It is essential that we work together to keep the Turkey Trot a kid-friendly, family-oriented event.

Chief Michael Rizzo

South Russell Police Department

Thanks to supporters

I have been a head staff member of Chagrin Valley School at Kelly’s Working Well Farm for three of the school’s four years of operation. I would first like to say thank you to all of the local businesses, organizations and community members that have reached out to us and shown us so much support; it has been extremely encouraging. Thank you to all who recently attended our Holiday Craft Fair fundraiser, to the United Methodist Church for hosting us, and thank you to all the local businesses that generously donated to the event.

As reported in the Chagrin Valley Times, our unique buildings were closed by the Bainbridge fire and zoning departments, which has prevented us from running any programming at our farm. Of course, safety for our participants is our top priority. But the way that Bainbridge officials went about this course of action was completely uncalled for and overly aggressive. If we had directions from the fire department in September about what steps to take to improve our safety, those implementations could have been installed by now. Instead, two months later, our day was interrupted without any warning by a dozen officials with an administrative search warrant, three ambulances and a school bus in an unprovoked show of force. Now the county prosecutor has summoned us to court, filed an injunction against us and proposed penalties of several thousand dollars per day. We are at a loss as to why we are being treated like this. We would love to be able to sit down and talk this through instead of going to court and costing the taxpayers money. Our mission from the beginning has been to build community centered around agriculture and education. We would hope that instead of prosecuting us, Bainbridge would value us as an asset to the community and be willing to work with us.

Please visit our website if you would like to learn more about this situation and how you can help ( We are currently raising money for our legal fees, a facility to rent in the interim for the school and for infrastructure improvements. Thank you so much to everyone who has reached out, shared our story and supported us. We are thrilled to continue building a resilient community with you.

Ian Mungall

Chester Township

Extreme actions unnecessary

My family recently joined the community of Kelly’s Working Well Farm and the school community. We are considering settling here in the Cleveland area after finding such a unique and rich environment for my children. 

We have homeschooled for over eight years, and one of our strongest considerations is the environment we expose our children to. I believe that Kelly’s exemplifies a rich environment where children can thrive. 

I am angry and disheartened to learn that the authorities have taken such aggressive steps against Kelly’s farm and their home school program at the farm. To my understanding, the authorities approached the farm under false pretenses, continuing investigations without honestly responding to the owners request for cooperation. They proceeded to physically shut down the farm and hold the children, including mine, for three hours. My elder daughter’s recount was of fear for public safety people, with whom she should actually feel safe.

I hope that the greater community can encourage the authorities to make an effort to have open, transparent discussions before taking any further action. We all wish the best for our children and those around us. I want the public to know that the township officials’ actions and admonitions go against the values the school at the farm holds. By taking such extreme actions, the officials lose their connection of trust from this community of parents and their children, which aspires to build on a foundation of cooperation and trust. 

Thank you in advance for hearing my thoughts and concerns. I believe there are many ways to learn. Kelly’s Farm complements the community and should be approached with the same respect and consideration due any citizen.

Jennifer Berry-Chan

University Heights

Food for thought

Our nation, in an effort not to offend anyone, has become incredibly offensive to God.

Recent shootings have resulted in bias and hatred directed toward the National Rifle Association and Republicans by the Democrats and the mainstream media.

I would like to suggest another direction and explanation.

The Democrats, liberals, progressives or whatever they wish to call themselves along with the mainstream media, Hollywood, ACLU, Planned Parenthood, SPLC and other groups have unrelentingly attacked the moral fiber and values of our country. Christian nation. If one would read the original writings of the founders of our country and not the revisionist history as has been taught in our education system for many years, this face would become quite evident.

One could also visit Washington, D.C. and examine our monuments and buildings, which portray our Christian heritage.

In addition, I would quote a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, an 1892 statement, which is what our Founding Fathers believed.

“Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon the teaching of the Redeemer of Mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent, our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian.”

Following are a few examples of what has transpired since Christian principles were removed from American public life, starting in 1962 when the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited a simple non-denominational prayer in public schools:

“Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon thee, and we beg thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country.”

The 1964 Roe v. Wade decision allowed abortion, and in 1980 the High Court ordered public schools to remove the Ten Commandments. Now teen suicides have increased, child abuse has increased, legal and illegal drug abuse have increased, criminal arrests of teens have increased, divorce has increased, births to unmarried women have increased and the list could go on and on.

Hollywood has continually promoted violence and immorality in a great many films. The ACLU has aligned with Planned Parenthood to promote abortion for virtually all cases.

Our nation’s elite politicians (mostly Democrats) have repeatedly stated we need to have open borders to solve our labor shortage. This shortage would not exist if millions of potential workers had not been killed “legally” by abortion clinics.

Dan Workman


Protecting our borders

I commend the Chagrin Falls resident and his family for opening their home to a Vietnamese refugee family. Their story of success is exemplary of how great the opportunities in America are and that people who want to live law abiding, productive lives can experience greatness that they could only dream of in their homeland.

Yet to draw a line of comparison from that success story to what is happening on our country’s southern border and to blame our “current leaders” for “cruelty” is absurd. America has embraced people of different nationalities, races and religions since it began. My grandparents came from Slovakia in the early 1900s. They worked hard to make a life for themselves and eventually owned their own business. They were proud to be American – they never spoke their native language outside of their home and they didn’t require documents to be written in their language, rather they learned to read and write English. They flew the American flag – not the flag of their homeland, and their son joined the U.S. Navy in World War II. They didn’t ask for anything – they abided by the laws and contributed to society. They loved America. They became Americans not Slovak Americans. They left their homeland identity behind and honored the land that gave them the freedom and opportunity to achieve their potential.

The story of the Vietnamese family and my grandparents is a far cry from what is happening on America’s southern border. There are rules for immigration, which were put in place in 1882 which “imposed a head tax on noncitizens … and restricted certain classes of people … including criminals, the insane and any person unable to take care of him or herself.” Our current leaders are following the law to protect American citizens. For immigration to be successful, those interested in benefiting from the freedoms America offers must follow the example of the Vietnamese family and my grandparents – they must meet the immigration requirements and come to this great land legally. Once here, they must follow the laws and be willing to work hard, living honorable, productive lives that contribute to our society.

Those who work to protect our borders deserve our respect and heartfelt appreciation – not our criticism.

Linda J. O’Brien

Russell Township

School with free choice

This past Saturday, the Chagrin Valley School hosted a craft fair and fundraiser in Chagrin Falls. It was a wonderful affair attended by creative, caring and compassionate supporters. The energy in the room was very positive and inspirational. As families came in throughout the day you could hear soft talking and laughter as volunteers, vendors and patrons discussed interesting and creative products and ideas. This grassroots event was originally planned to help the Chagrin Valley School grow appreciation, awareness and resources. Unfortunately, much of the money raised will now go to legal costs to pay for the school’s struggle with Bainbridge Township and its fire department, an entity with virtually unlimited financial resources and time.

I imagine many of those who have been following this story are a bit confused about what exactly is going on. Much of that confusion centers on what type of “school” the Chagrin Valley School exactly is. CVS is a democratic school, as in democracy, not to be confused with any particular political affiliation. The school does not operate as a traditional school, Montessori or Waldorf like school. Staff and students are treated equally with each individual having one vote. The only authority is that granted by “the consent of the governed.” Kids at the school learn as a by-product of social and independent experience rather than through coursework. Students are trusted to take responsibility for their own lives and learning and for the school community. As such, children are free to choose their own activities and their own curriculum. As one can imagine, much of that learning comes in a play-based form. Many parents who are reading this remember the time when “play” meant impromptu hang-outs with other kids (some friends and some not) without the intervention of parents, teachers and chaperones. The opportunity for them to develop interests and passions through their own creativity and imagination without adult influence. The chance to succeed and, more importantly, fail on their own. A time when emotional skills were established to help deal with conflict resolution. Imagine how efficiently and fairly this issue between the school and Bainbridge Township would be resolved if both were students at the school.

Many people might ask, that’s great but the Chagrin Valley School is for what “type” of student? The answer is that the school is for everybody and anybody who believes in this model of education. It is for families and students who trust their children to rely on their own agency and inborn drive to learn and develop at their own pace.

It’s because of this educational approach that the Chagrin Valley School is not built and structured like a traditional school as the town of Bainbridge would recognize. The only aspect that children in general lack is experience. CVS is a scaled down environment where children can practice life and gain the experience necessary to become adults comfortably functioning within a democracy.

Chris Courtiol

Chagrin Falls

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