by Rachel Napolitano
(Plain Press, April 2018)The importance of community and the web of relationships that makes up community was the theme of the Cudell Improvement 43rdAnnual Meeting, set by the keynote speaker and in the awarding of the Plain Press’sChuck Hoven the Walter & Pauline Martens Lifetime Achievement Award.
In the midst of national movements against gun violence, the March for Our Lives the morning of the Cudell luncheon, and the death of Councilman Matt Zone’s sister Beth Zone (and Beth Zone’s service that morning), the keynote speaker, State Representative Nickie J. Antonio, started her remarks by leading a moment of silence for Chuck Hoven’s wife Margie Bray, who died earlier in the week.
Surrounded by West Tech alumni, small business owners, block club members, the staff of the Plain Pressand the family of Chuck Hoven, Representative Antonio recalled her youth growing up in the neighborhood before I-90 was built, separating her from neighbors whose homes were removed for the highway and making school commutes longer.
Antonio said, “Community is all about connection.” Helping her mother age in place in her W. 90thStreet home revealed to Antonio how lucky the neighborhood is to have community resources that helped make it possible for her mother to stay in her home. Antonio shared how many of these resources are needed throughout the state and funding them can be common rallying points members of the state legislature no matter their political party.
The Plain Presskeeps us connected, Antonio explained, with a “real piece of paper that I can sit at the kitchen table with.”
Praising the community development corporation, Cudell Improvement, and its community members, Antonio said, “What I love…is no matter what happens, people are always ready.”
Chuck Hoven, Managing Editor of the Plain Press, was presented his award by the son of Pauline and Walter Martens, Walter Martens, who has kept a funeral home running as a family business in the neighborhood. Hoven has known the Martens family his whole life.
Accepting his award, Hoven said the events and people of the Cudell neighborhood “profoundly influenced my life and led to my lifelong love of newspapers.”
“At age 10, I acquired a Cleveland Presspaper route because the boy who had it moved when they started construction of the Clark freeway.”
“Part of the mystery of life how events, places, and people you know shape who you are and what you end up doing with your life, at least that seems to be the case with me.”
“Of special significance to me was the effort to keep St. Ignatius of Antioch Church from closing and the efforts… to find a viable use of the West Technical building. Several generations of my family have belonged to St. Ignatius parish and my mother, cousins, and many of my friends in the neighborhood graduated from West Tech.”
The editor of Carroll Newsat John Carroll was also a graduate of St. Ignatius of Antioch School, as was Hoven, and his successor was an alumni of St. Ignatius High School, as was Hoven. Hoven became the distribution manager; “More importantly, I was hanging out in the Carroll news office and learning the trade.”
On his bus ride home from his graduate studies in urban planning at Cleveland State University, a fellow Ignatius of Antioch classmate gave him a tip on a new paper reopening on the west side, which was the Plain Press. In 1988, Hoven joined the staff after volunteering for the paper and serving on the board of trustees first.
“Each month when the Plain Pressis published, it seems like a minor miracle,” with all the contributions from staff, volunteers, and community members coming together. He thanked many past and present members of the staff and board, for each role that they have performed (including his wife, Margie, who was Community Board and Website Editor).
A special award that usually goes to government leadership was given to a non-government entity, the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation (CCLRC). CCLRC is commonly referred to as “the land bank.” It is a private entity that helps return abandoned and neglected properties into reuse.
Cudell Executive Director, Anita Brindza, presented the award to Bill Whitney of CCLRC. She reported that Cudell is coming up on their 100thproperty purchased from CCLRC and returned to productive use. Cudell’s last rehab of a CCLRC property is across from Louisa May Alcott School and sold for $269,000, according to Brindza. Another house is being sold to an individual in North Ridgeville and the real estate committee at Cudell is taking bidders on 11208 Lake Avenue.
Anita announced the Clifton Arts & Music Fest will be Saturday, June 16th. Fruitland School parking will be available with a Lolly the Trolley shuttle service to the festival. Applications for vendors and art student scholarships are available.
In addition to the myriad storefront accomplishments and new businesses opening soon in the area, Brindza bragged that the townhomes being built by Brinkman in the area are selling for $499,00-850,000 and that Andrew Brinkman, the developer, is even moving into one.