BEREA, Ohio – As the year draws to a close, it’s hard to resist thinking about the people, places, and events that have appeared in this space in 2021, so let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.


Berea Kind signs began to appear, for the first time, in the front yards and windows of local businesses. At first, the idea was that the signs were a nice touch – a daily reminder to be a good neighbor and someone who cares about others.

As it turned out, the signs are this and more. The goal of Operation Berea Kind, sponsored by the Berea Kiwanis Club and now entering its second year, is to provide hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, socks and other items to those in need. need.

Club spokesman Earl Crall said the fence surrounding Kiwanis Safety Town on the grounds of the Berea Recreation Center, 451 Front Street, is the collection point for these items.


Chef Chris Olszewski, Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management Instructor at Polaris Career Center, received his 11th Ohio ProStart Teacher of Distinction Award.

The award is one of many for Olszewski, who is the recipient of the 2019 Ohio Board of Education District Five Teacher of the Year Award, two-time winner of the National ProStart Educator of Excellence Award, two-time Ohio ProStart Educator of Excellence Honoree, a American Culinary Federation Cleveland Chapter Culinary Educator of the Year, a recipient of the Ohio Restaurant Association (ORA) Outstanding Industry Educator Award, and a Apple Crystal Award.

Olszewski was a Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management Instructor at Polars for 23 years.


Brook Park resident Olivia Culkar, a 2016 Berea-Midpark High School graduate who found herself captivated by sign language from a young age, began to fulfill her lifelong dream when she dropped out a position at Sorenson Communications as an interpreter in American Sign Language.

She graduated from Cuyahoga Community College in 2019, with an Associate of Arts degree and certification in Interpreting Services for the Deaf.

Outstanding grades earned him an Honor Program scholarship, which covered tuition for two full years.

Olivia is the daughter of Robert and Dorie Culkar of Brook Park.


A charcoal drawing by Berea Mayor Cyril Kleem, depicting the three church buildings occupied by Mount Zion Baptist Church, 200 Emerson Ave., has been added to a gallery of artwork and photos of people and events related to its history, dating back to the founding of the church in 1919.

Kleem’s work also represents the founders of the church: Martha Ferrell and Nellie Harris.


Columbia Station resident Mitch Gruber took the helm as the pantry manager at SCAN Hunger Center, filling a position left vacant by his late mother and Middleburg Heights resident Lona Gruber, who died on February 27, 2021.

“SCAN will continue to serve those in need in the communities it serves with the respect and dignity they deserve,” said Gruber. He can be reached at 216-973-0964 to answer a question about SCAN, organize food drives and set food drop-off times. His email address is [email protected]

SCAN serves the communities of Berea, Brook Park, Columbia Township, Middleburg Heights, Olmsted Township, Olmsted Falls and Strongsville.


Dennis Kushlak, known to many in our local communities as President of the Berea High School Alumni Association, passed the baton to Marianna Peris and took on another – as President of the Berea Historical Society.

Kushlak, who replaced former Berea Historical Society president David Thurau, had worked behind the scenes at the Mahler Museum, 118 East Bridge St., for several years, alongside the museum’s administrative assistant, Nancy Gillihan.

Kushlak, who coached and scouted primarily basketball and football for 52 years, until 2015, was a coach and teacher at Eastlake North, Berea, Normandy and North Royalton high schools and 20 years in high school Cuyahoga Heights.


Brook Park’s Lottie Vargo was elated when she found herself in the spotlight after reaching the milestone of the century.

A resident of the city since 1984, Vargo was honored by her hometown on July 11, when Brook Park Mayor Michael Gammella and State Senator Nickie J. Antonio presented her with proclamations in honor of her 100th anniversary. birthday.


A digital “TouchWall” system debuted at Berea-Midpark High School, 165 East Bagley Road, giving students, staff and visitors instant access to just about anything they could want to know about the history of the city. local school district.

Three 70-inch mobile digital and interactive touchscreens in school also allow sportsmen and alumni to come together and interact while attending home games, school performance and activities.

All TouchWall the archives, which will eventually be programmed to include plaques, photos and memorabilia relating to academic and athletic halls of fame and other activities, are also accessible via personal computers, cell phones and other mobile devices at home or on the go.


Fans of the local radio station who regularly listen to WBWC FM / 88.3 from 6pm to 9pm on Sundays for “The Golden Age of Rock and Roll” – a staple on the Baldwin Wallace University station since it was first hosted by BR Anthony in 1971 and recently years, by Greg Miller (aka “Commander Greg”) – wondered where the show had gone after it apparently disappeared from the airwaves.

Longtime listeners were no doubt happy to learn that Miller, a Berea resident who took over as head of GARR after Anthony retired in 1995, left the WBWC in January and is now turning his olds. old rocks – with a worldwide audience – from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. at


Halloween was bigger than ever across the United States this year, and so were its skeletons!

Giant Halloween “Skellys” have started appearing in backyards (front yards too) in our southwestern communities. The cost was also high, as the Halloween decorations disappear – around $ 300 for a 12 foot foot.

The skeletal craze spread nationwide in 2020 and people have been calling for Skelly again this year. According to Inside Edition, “people were willing to travel hundreds of miles” to get it.


Dot Chada and Charlene Jaeb were each named the 2020 Middleburg Heights Women’s Club Woman of the Year.

The women were chosen by the past winners at a lunch on November 12. Jaeb, a 52-year Club member and Chada, a 37-year member, have both been deeply involved in a myriad of Club activities.

Also in November – Berea was named one of America’s ‘Safest College Towns’, by Safely – a home security company that produces a website that ranks city and neighborhood security.

The company ranked Berea in sixth place on a list of America’s 10 safest college towns for 2021-2022.


When Berea City School District Director of Technology Vicki Turner presented a new Makerspace at Berea Midpark High School, she said there was “no set limit” to what these spaces, which are now an integral part of the educational process in the district and present in all BCSD schools, can be.

The Berea Kiwanis Club Charity Fund on December 3 helped expand Makerspace’s opportunities at Berea’s Grindstone Elementary School, 191 Race Street, when it introduced District Superintendent Tracey Wheeler as Deputy Superintendent. Make Draves and Turner with a check for $ 9,000 towards the purchase of a 3D laser printer.

Makerspace’s main focus is on “soft skills,” Turner said: namely creating, designing, debugging and collaborating – the whole experience of creating “nut soup”.

“It’s only limited by room space, funding and donations, including money, supplies and equipment,” she said.

Guess this is “a wrap” for Around Town, 2021. We wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2022!