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Friday, July 15, 2016

CLE Urban Winery Opens Tonight in Cleveland Heights

Posted By on Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 11:24 AM

  • CLE Urban Winery FB
Update: CLE Urban Winery opens tonight.


(Original story 11/18/15): If Destiny Burns has her way, Cleveland Heights will become the newest “Wine Country” region of Northeast Ohio. She and winemaker Dave Mazzone are in the process of launching CLE Urban Winery, a working winery and tasting room that will open this spring in the Cedar Lee District of the Heights.

Following in the footsteps of small craft breweries, urban wineries are popping up across the country. This small-scale commercial winery will source high-quality juice from around the world, but will handcraft all wine on site.

“We’ll be making, bottling and selling about 20 different varieties,” Burns explains. “It will be just like going out to taste wines in the farmlands of Ohio, but without the two-hour drive.”

Taking shape in the 4,400-square-foot garage space that once was home to Studio You pottery studio (2180B Lee Rd.), the winery will feature a Tasting Bar and highly visible wine production area, where wines will be vinted throughout the year. The spacious rear section of the winery is perfect for events and fundraisers while the front seating area with garage door will be ideal during warm weather.

In addition to casual wine tastings, CLE Urban Winery will offer wine education and appreciation programs, wine clubs and classes. Budding vintners will even have a chance to make their very own batches of wine.

“Since we are not tied to any specific growing cycle we will be making wine year-round,” says Burns. “The wines are not meant to be snooty; they are meant to be urban and gritty and accessible and fun. Our motto is good wine made fun.”

Both Burns and Mazzone are former Clevelanders. Burns is a former volunteer firefighter and retired U.S. Navy officer. Mazzone pursued a winemaking education in the Napa Valley before making wine for and consulting with some of Ohio’s top wineries.

The winery will sell only the wines that it produces on-site. If you want a beer or cocktail, notes Burns, Lee Road has plenty of other great options. All wines will be named to celebrate and honor the city both once again call home.

“We love the city and our wine will be branded to the city that we love,” adds Burns. “We’ll have Tremont Tempranillo, Lake Erie Riesling.”

A small kitchen will put out wine-friendly small plates like meat and cheese boards, dips and spreads.

Burns expects to begin making wine in March and selling it in May. 

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Man Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Kidnapping Son, Bringing Him to Cleveland Under Fake Name

Posted By on Wed, Apr 13, 2016 at 12:40 PM

Update: Today, Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams sentenced Bobby Hernandez to four years in prison for kidnapping his son from Alabama more than a decade ago and bringing him to Cleveland under a fake name, while noting that the story is a mother's worst nightmare.

It was an emotional morning in the courtroom as Hernandez's son and his mother were present and spoke.

"Growing up without my mother was hard at times. Taking my father away from me now just increases the pain from that," Julian, the son, said, according to Cleveland 19. "I can't imagine my father not being a part of my life."

"Our lives were changed forever August 28, 2002," Julian's mother said in a statement read by her attorney, Gloria Allred. "Julian's abduction also affected my family and friends.... I can never get back the 13 years that were stolen from me."

Prosecutor Tim McGinty had been pushing for severe jail time — he faced up to 54 years.

"Mr. Hernandez has taken full responsibility. He stepped over a line and he cannot step back," Judge Collier-Williams said. 


Update (3/14/16): Bobby Hernandez pleaded guilty today to kidnapping his son Julian from Alabama and bringing him to Cleveland. Julian was five at the time, in 2002, when his father moved him to Ohio. His son lived here, under a fake name given to him by his father, for more than 13 years without knowing his true identity. He learned that true identity after trouble confirming his social security number while applying for college led he and his counselor to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Hernandez faces up to 54 years in prison.


(Original story, 11/25/15): Bobby Hernandez, the 54-year-old Cleveland father accused of kidnapping his son Julian more than 13 years ago from his Alabama home, was indicted this week on a whole string of charges including, Fox 8 reports, including:

- Six counts of Kidnapping, a first-degree felony
- Four counts of Interference with Custody, a fifth-degree felony
- 11 counts of Tampering with Records, a third-degree felony
- One count of Forgery (Uttering), a fifth degree felony
- Five counts of fifth-degree felony Forgery
- Five counts of first-degree misdemeanor Forgery

"Mr. Hernandez selfishly deprived this child of his mother, and the mother her child," Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said in a statement. "They lost any chance to bond, nurture and enjoy the benefits of this vital relationship. This indictment should send a strong message to anyone considering stealing their child."

Julian was first reported missing back in 2002 when he was just five years old and living with his mother in Vestavia Hills, Alabama. It wasn't until earlier this month when Julian — who is now 18 — discovered his own kidnapping while trying to verify his social security number for his college applications. 

Since the news of his abduction broke, both Julian and his mother have repeatedly asked for privacy and have declined media requests for interviews.

Hernandez is scheduled to appear in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court for arraignment on Dec. 1. He is being held on $250,000 bond. 

Now see: "I Was Abducted By My Father At the Age of Four" — One Cleveland Woman's Story

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Family of Man Hit and Killed by East Cleveland Police Officer Sue Officer and City

Posted By on Fri, Feb 19, 2016 at 3:38 PM

Update:  The family of 22-year-old LaShon Kimble has sued the East Cleveland police officer who struck and killed Kimble with his vehicle, along with the city.

There's plenty of issues detailed in the lawsuit and they mirror the findings reported below culled from the Ohio State Highway Patrol's investigation of the incident. Namely, that Pettus was allegedly speeding through the intersection without his sirens or lights on, that East Cleveland failed to maintain streetlights near the intersection, the vehicle driven by Officer Pettus has a broken headlight, and that no video exists of the incident because Pettus only turned on his body camera after the accident.

The full lawsuit can be viewed at


Update 12/21/2015:
If you were curious whether and how East Cleveland is dealing with the family of LaShon Kimble, the 22-year-old struck and killed by an East Cleveland patrol car back in October, you probably wouldn't be surprised to know that the city that can't even keep its governmental website online hasn't given any answers or relief to Kimble's family.

Channel 5 caught up with his mother to talk about the sad aftermath of the incident and the joke of a city that has sat on its hands. 

As you can see before in the original story, streetlights were burned out and a crosswalk wasn't painted. Those things have yet to be rectified, some two full months after the accident.


(Original story 11/6/2015): A 26-page report completed by the Ohio State Highway Patrol detailing the circumstances and actions of East Cleveland police officer Kyle Pettus and 22-year-old Christopher LaShon Kimble on the night of October 3 show just how many things went wrong in the leadup to Pettus's cruiser hitting and killing Kimble.

Initial reports that had sirens and emergency lights flashing on the East Cleveland vehicle as it traveled through the intersection of Superior Ave. and Emily St. are now called into question, along with other assumptions made in the aftermath of the tragic accident. It seems no part of that evening was without something malfunctioning or broken or being done incorrectly. 

- There's uncertainty whether Officer Pettus, 35, had his emergency lights activated or not while driving. The report now indicates a that he didn't
- Same goes for sirens
- LaShon Kimble was crossing the intersection at a diagonal
- The paint demarcating the actual crosswalks at the intersection was worn away and faded
- The 2014 Ford Taurus Officer Pettus was driving had a broken headlight
- All crosswalk signals at the intersection were broken
- Multiple street lights in the area were broken and the intersection was very dark
- The road was wet
- Officer Pettus likely didn't turn on his body camera until after the crash
- While officer Pettus had been on the East Cleveland force for a year, it was only the fourth time he was out in a squad car by himself
- While initial reports from East Cleveland police indicate the dashboard camera had malfunctioned and thus didn't catch the incident, there's uncertainty now whether Pettus simply hadn't activated the camera to begin with

Pettus remains on restricted duty. No decision on possible charges has been made.


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Monday, November 30, 2015

Melt Bar & Grilled to Open First Summit County Location

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2015 at 6:02 PM

Since opening his first Melt Bar & Grilled in Lakewood almost 10 years ago, Matt Fish has been on an unstoppable roll. He and his grilled cheese compadres have since opened up shops in Cleveland Heights, Independence, Mentor and a pair in Columbus (Short North, Easton), not to mention satellite spots at the Jake and Tinkham Veale University Center on the campus of Case Western Reserve. 

Next up for the ever-expanding comfort food brand is Greater Akron; more specifically, a former Friendly’s at 3921 Medina Road in Bath Township. The location, right off I-77 on Rt. 18, is the group’s first in Summit County, putting grilled cheese sandwiches tantalizing close to an entirely new audience, says Fish.

“We’ve been wanting to be in the Akron-Canton area for a very long time; we looked there even before Columbus, but nothing ever materialized,” Fish explains. “This opportunity came up to us when all these Friendly’s closed.”

Fish says that Melt beat out at least four other restaurant hopefuls, both local and national, all vying for this prime piece of real estate. The location, adds Fish, should attract residents from Akron, Medina, Canton and even down south to New Philadelphia.

The Montrose shop poses some new challenges for the organization, which had pretty much gotten expansion down to a science. When it comes to design aesthetic, Friendly’s and Melt aren't exactly on the same plane, requiring a total gut job of the space save the shell, says Fish.

“This isn’t going to be one of our typical build-outs,” he notes. “This is the first freestanding structure that we have, so it’s our building, it’s our parking lot, it’s our landscaping. It’s everything. We try our best to be unique, fun and different and to separate ourselves from others. The same thing will happen here.”

When the dust finally settles, the 4,800-square-foot restaurant will seat 120 guests plus an additional 35 on a seasonal patio. Guests will enjoy the same playful, colorful interior and a menu full of creative sandwiches and craft beer. Fish says that depending on the weather, this newest Melt will be open in early to mid March of 2016. A new staff hiring fair will be held at the location in early 2016.

As for what’s next for Melt, Fish says he’ll stick with the tried-and-true formula that has gotten him this far.

“We’ve been fortunate that everything we’ve done so far has been organic – it’s been a good situation, a good landlord, a good location,” he says. “We’ve got our eyes on certain areas of Cleveland, Columbus and Northeast Ohio in general. It really comes down to location opportunities that come our direction. It’s hard to say ‘I want to go to Akron’ and find a place within six months. If you rush it, you’re sometimes putting a round peg in a square hole.”


Black Keys Singer-Guitarist Dan Auerbach Explores His Experimental Side with the Arcs

Concert Preview

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2015 at 5:14 PM

  • Richard Swift
“I’m back home in Nashville,” says the Arcs singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach via phone just after he returned from France, where he played a show on the day of the recent terrorist attacks. You can tell from the tone of his voice that Auerbach, an Akron native who also fronts the Black Keys, is relieved. He’s talked plenty about the incident and even wrote an essay about experiencing “survivor’s remorse” for Rolling Stone magazine.

Continue reading »

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Cleveland Cinemas Announces Late Shift Schedule for First Half of 2016

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2015 at 5:06 PM

Whether a movie made big money at the box office or bombed has little to do with whether it becomes a cult classic. In fact, many cult classics were commercial failures. Cleveland Cinemas acknowledges as much each year when it announces its schedule for Late Shift, its cult film series. The local theater chain has just announced the schedule for the first half of 2016, and it’s an eclectic mix of movies.

The films show at both the Cedar Lee and at the Capitol Theatre. In addition to screening at 9:30 p.m. and midnight on Saturdays at the Cedar Lee, the films at the Cedar Lee will now have a third showing on Sundays at 7 p.m. Tickets to all screenings are $6.

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Disastrous Cleveland Browns Season Was Set Up to Fail From the Start

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2015 at 3:16 PM

  • Justin Gilbert/ Wikipedia
One year ago, Mike Pettine puffed a fat cigar outside the tunnel of the Georgia Dome dressed in a sharp suit and an orange tie. 

Red-faced with elation following the last-second win, team owner Jimmy Haslam greeted his first-year head coach with a warm embrace and his booming southern accent. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and starting quarterback Brian Hoyer soon followed, both worker-bees with team-issued tablets in their hands. Pettine smiled.

The Browns had just beaten the Atlanta Falcons 26-24 to improve to 7-4 and the mood on the team plane ride back was giddy. Whispers of the playoffs were traveling up and down the aisles.

One year later, the walls are crumbling inside the team facility for the 2-8 Browns as an exhausted head coach and an unfit general manager stumble their way through the wreckage. The increasingly likely trip to the guillotine for the duo can be traced in part to the roles played by two ticking time bombs that have sabotaged the season and created a domino effect for the dying regime in Cleveland. And there’s a strong chance that the two players in question — both of the Cleveland Browns’ first round draft picks from 2014 — will not be with the team come 2016 either, no matter who is in charge of personnel decisions.

Demoted to third-string quarterback last week, Johnny Manziel repeatedly shamed the organization with his apparent uncontrollable urge to party in the public eye, so, in a final straw situation, the team shamed him back. Pettine had endured enough questioning about his problem child quarterback. “You lose trust in buckets and regain it in drops,” the coach told the media following the decision, intimating that there was hope for Manziel to rebound in the future. But it’s easy enough to read between the lines and know that the trust will never be completely earned back.

So the floundering Browns will start 36-year-old Josh McCown on Monday Night Football against the Baltimore Ravens, publicly signaling they’ve reached the conclusion that Manziel’s mental makeup is not that of an NFL quarterback. After months and hours of boardroom deliberations upstairs on the plush second floor of the Berea facility, Browns decision makers are finally on the same page, slowly scratching their heads, realizing they’ve been conned by Manziel all along.

It was known that Pettine and Shanahan didn’t see as much in Manziel as some of the others in the organization. After watching a young Mark Sanchez repeatedly shoot the Jets in the foot during New York’s glory run in 2009 and 2010, Pettine wouldn’t allow himself to make the same mistake twice with another hotshot college quarterback. The pair of clever coaches liked controlling their quarterbacks on the field with a systematic offense. Playing off the cuff was despised. Manziel was to be shelved for as long as possible and his shenanigans off the field proved to be a sticking point in internal debate. Meanwhile, phones rang off the hook on the sales side of the building.

While Manziel's fall from grace is grabbing the headlines, he's been a veritable angel inside the facility compared to his first-round counterpart and teammate, Justin Gilbert, who should be the bigger story.

The Browns barely knew who Gilbert was before they selected the cornerback with the eighth overall pick in the 2014 draft and their missteps in the jumbled mess of a process has resulted in quite possibly one of the biggest NFL draft busts of the decade.

Sources say key members of the organization — people who might’ve been able to red flag him — did not physically meet Gilbert until after he was drafted. And those that did file scouting reports on Gilbert’s work ethic extolling his passion for football were completely wrong on their detailed research. If you remember correctly, this was also during the offseason when Farmer mocked the pro day process by skipping nearly all of them. Some of his other methodologies were equally as unorthodox and led to the team hiring Farmer’s mentor, veteran NFL executive Bill Kuharich, 12 days after the 2014 draft.

The Browns being coy about their draft intentions is nothing new in the NFL. But what’s troubling about the matter is that Gilbert’s personality problems are apparent to anyone who's been around him for longer than a day. He's withdrawn and carries a distinct false sense of entitlement that shows itself when he acts downright aloof to how his negative behavior rubs people the wrong way.

Browns community and marketing staffers rarely bother asking him to participate in activities with fans — usually a must for recent draft picks.

Two prominent Browns defensive players recently read a transcript of Gilbert's graceless and unprofessional interview with reporters this fall about his promotion to kick returner and complained directly to me.

“He just doesn’t get what the NFL is about. At all,” said one veteran. “How could they miss this badly?” said another about the front office.

All NFL teams miss on draft picks, even the Patriots. The problem for the Browns? The first trait Pettine and Farmer look for in upcoming draft picks is whether or not they love football.

“Does this guy love what football does for him or does he truly love the game and is passionate about it?” Pettine told the team’s website at the NFL’s scouting combine in February. "That's something that you can really find out. You'd be surprised how much you can find out in a short period of time. That's the biggest reason why we're here.”

There might not be anybody in the NFL who cares less about football than Gilbert.

Gilbert’s healthy scratch against the Steelers on Nov. 15 was a result of a string of “piss poor” practices and inconsistent habits in the meeting room, where he clearly hasn’t been memorizing tweaks to the defensive playbook. Remember, this comes days after playing 23 relatively positive snaps against the Bengals on Thursday Night Football, where he could’ve finally escaped the bench.

Unlike Manziel, who loves football and abused the stardom that comes with it, Gilbert seems like he wants nothing to do with the sport. And while Manziel’s path of destruction has been aired out in public eye, Gilbert’s has played out behind the scenes. The clues were there from the beginning though.

He was a high school track star in Texas and loved playing wide receiver where he could score touchdowns. He also excelled as a kick returner at Oklahoma State, setting the Big 12 record for return touchdowns. Gilbert used his speed and little else to be an effective cornerback in college. The Browns became infatuated with his length and physical abilities, and not about who he was as a person. Gilbert even had a wildly inconsistent junior season in college that the Browns seemingly ignored. Cleveland thought that with the right coaching they could turn him into an Antonio Cromartie type who could play on an island.

At a celebratory dinner in downtown Cleveland shortly after the 2014 draft, a source said Farmer and Pettine were openly glowing about how Gilbert would quickly blossom into one of the elite cornerbacks in the NFL. The Browns thought they might have nabbed the steal of the draft.

In Pettine’s mentally taxing defensive scheme and in the macho world of the NFL, however, Gilbert’s speed and athleticism meant nothing. Soon, it became clear that Cleveland put a premium on drafting a position on the field instead of a football player. Players lacking physical attributes like Jim Leonhard thrived in Pettine’s scheme because they were cerebral. Gilbert just doesn’t get joy out of breaking down the Xs and Os. Flashy plays get him going, not the nitty-gritty details that define professional football.

To give the embattled defensive coaching staff credit, they haven’t complained about Gilbert nearly as much as they should have. They took him on as a project and had genuine hopes they could turn him around like the Texans did with Kareem Jackson, like the Ravens did with Jimmy Smith. And though Johnson Bademosi has struggled, the coaches aren't going to throw Gilbert out there instead simply because he makes more money. They've stayed true to their philosophy of competition and rewarding veterans who do the right things.

Gilbert is on an island in a way, just not the way the organization wanted. While other Browns players generally make an effort to get to know each other in the locker room and cafeteria, Gilbert is usually by himself, sometimes even leaving the facility during the free hour period before practice. Team good guy Joe Haden attempted to mentor Gilbert this offseason by working out with him in Miami, but Gilbert continued to push away veterans looking to help guide him in Cleveland. He’s isolated himself from the team.

Healthy scratches are the norm for Gilbert. The team realized they had reached the point of no return during a game in the middle of last season. The cornerback missed the mandatory team bus at 10:30 a.m. and had to be frantically located by the Browns security team. Gilbert showed up shortly after noon. One teammate nearly had to be restrained, his anger bubbling as Gilbert stood there smiling, eating candy.

Nine months later, in joint training camp practices against the Bills that featured 180 total players, nobody was worse than Justin Gilbert. When he aggravated a hip flexor, teammates privately told me they were thankful — his play was embarrassing all of them. In two short afternoons he was exposed for what he is: an athletic specimen, not an NFL cornerback.

Why bemoan just two players? Because the lack of impact from early draft choices has directly tied into the team’s 2-13 record over their last 15 games. Fringe veterans are playing out of necessity. And while Pettine is mightily respected by his players for benching anyone not with the program, the shortcomings of several Farmer draft picks dominates locker room discussions of whether the team is headed in the right direction. Manziel and Gilbert have largely become the story of this otherwise hardworking team and there are players who loathe that fact. It would be one thing if both could hold their own on the football field. But they can’t.

To make up for the mess they made with Manziel and Gilbert, Farmer and Pettine together signed veteran quarterback Josh McCown and cornerback Tramon Williams — each of whom have been among Cleveland’s best players all season. But Cleveland’s roster is full of proven veteran players in the twilights of their careers — Karlos Dansby, Donte Whitner, Brian Hartline, Randy Starks. And winning teams can’t sustain success by shuffling in veteran free agents to mask misses in the draft. (They did it again in 2015, with linemen Danny Shelton and Cameron Erving. Both have been better than Manziel and Gilbert, but neither of the rookies have been organizational-changing players.)

The question becomes: Can you let Farmer and Pettine screw up another draft? 

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