November/December 2020 Newsletter – Northeast Ohio Sierra Club Group

Updates From the Chair

Dear Friend,

Deep breath! The election is over. I hope the issues you supported passed and the candidates you supported got into office.

Best wishes for a happy holiday season and I know we all look forward to happier,COVID-free times ahead, when we can be together again.

Thanks for all you do,
Fran Mentch
Chair, Executive Committee
Sierra Club Northeast Group

Northeast Ohio Sierra Club webpage
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P.S.Please email your comments, questions and submissions (especially photos!) for the next newsletter to

Thank you to Lynn MacArthur for her photos.

Election for Executive Committee Members

It’s time to elect half of the members of the Executive Committee.

If you have an email address on file with Sierra Club, then you received an email ballot on November 4. Postcards were sent to members who do not have an email address on file.

Voting closes on December 4.

You can also vote by clicking on one of the following links. Link to the candidates biographies and vote button.

Sustainable Cleveland 2020 Virtual Summit

The Sustainable Cleveland 2020 Virtual Summit was recorded, so if you could not attend, you can still “attend” by watching the videos of the sessions and download the document with all the resources mentioned in the sessions. Please check out the videos and resources using the links below.

If you are interested specifically in the Plastic Pollution in the Great Lakes session with Dr. Chelsea Rochman and Jill Bartolotta, check it out here!

Watch video recordings from the Summit here, and see the resources shared in the Chat Box for each breakout session here.

Sponsorships and Collaboration

Our NEO Sierra Club group donated $250 to the Cleveland Natural History Museum Virtual Conservation Symposium in October.

We co-sponsored the FACT Ohio film screening: Hard Road of Hope – Thursday, November 12, 2020, 7 pm, online. Filmmaker Eleanor Goldfield joined show her new film, “Hard Road of Hope”. This 54 minute film shows the exploitative history of natural resource extraction in West Virginia. More information here.

We helped publicize the Ohio City Incorporated and the Community of St. Peter presentation on the Green New Deal by the Sunrise Movement. Watch the presentation on YouTube here.

NEO Sierra Club Participates in International Seminar

On Sunday, November 1, the following members of NEO  Sierra Club participated in a virtual seminar with international journalists: Steve McPhee, Michael Melampy, Fran Mentch, Charlie Mitch, Linda Sekura, and Dave Simons. The seminar, formally known as the 2020 Presidential Election Reporting Seminar, was organized and funded by the East-West Center and various U.S. Embassies.The East-West Center was established by the U.S. Congress in 1960 as a means of promoting understanding and collaboration among the nations of Asia, the Pacific, and the U.S.  Through contacts made by Steve McPhee, members of NEO Sierra Club were invited to participate in the Election Reporting Seminar and provide their perspectives on the presidential election.

During the seminar, the NEO group had opportunity to interact with reporters from Bangladesh, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. The journalists were interested in our perspectives about economic policies,international relations, climate change, and our biggest concerns in the event that Biden were not elected.  All of the NEO members had opportunities to express their opinions and came away from the seminar feeling  that it had been a valuable opportunity to communicate internationally about the state of the environment and the concerns of  NEO Sierra Club membership.

More East-West seminars will be held in the future.  If you are interested in participating as a NEO Sierra Club representative, contact any of the members named above.  Contact information for most of them is available on our contact page.

Contributed by Michael Melampy

Pepper Pike Residents Preserve Greenspace!

Here is a message from Manny and Judi Naft, the leaders of the effort to stop a mixed-use development in Pepper Pike:

A heart felt THANK YOU to all the supporters of the Say No To Rezone movement and to the members of the Northeast Chapter of the Sierra Club who gave us continuous support, environmental information and lots of encouragement!!  It was truly a grassroots team effort by the whole community that enabled us to get the facts out to the public on what was at stake and to achieve the 83% NO vote on Issue 34.

We would like to share the November 3, 2020 voting results which came in with a landslide victory for the Say No To Rezone PAC’s efforts to prevent the rezoning of the 68-acre Beech Brook property to mixed-use (retail/commercial/office/dense housing).The vote count for Issue 34 was:

Against rezoning Beech Brook = 3,583   (83.42%)
For rezoning Beech Brook = 712   (16.58%)

We are now actively engaged in the next phase of this process which is working with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy to purchase the 68-acre Beech Brook property. We are hopeful that Beech Brook will be a good neighbor and set a reasonable price for the property so the Western Reserve Land Conservancy can acquire the property so it can become a land preserve and a park for the benefit of the entire community and environment. This will allow our generation and all future generations to enjoy this natural setting. It would truly be a shame to lose this beautiful and bucolic resource.

In our next phase, we are now approaching the Pepper Pike City Council with the idea of starting a Park Commission as a formal sub-committee reporting to City Council.  Our goals for this committee would be land acquisition, conservation, environmental stewardship, and education.  It would be a great help if members of the Sierra Club could show their support for this idea to our council members and the mayor by sending emails to the elected officials.  (Email addresses are attached.)

Please take three minutes to “fly over” this property.

Sincerely, Manny and Judi Naft (treasurers)     Manny, cell – 440-567-4390

Say No To Rezone PAC
2632 SOM Center Rd., Pepper Pike OH  44124
Facebook:  Keep Pepper Pike Beautiful Say No To Rezone

Ashtabula County Water Watch Fighting EPA Permit for Petmin Pig Iron Plant

The Ashtabula County Water Watch contacted our group about their efforts to block the EPA permit for a pig iron plant. More information can be found here.

The Ashtabula County Water Watch history and mission statement:

  • Our mission is to protect the water quality and health of Ashtabula County residents and ecosystems.
  • Protect our beautiful Great Lake, our 3 wild and scenic rivers, and all our sources of clean water
  • Achieve a moratorium on new and existing injection wells
  • Protect our roads from radioactive toxic brine
  • Realize transparency of waste management, its regulation, and processes.  What exactly is in the wastewater injected in our communities?
  • Advocate for an effective enforcement agency for the oil and gas industry.  Government agencies need to properly enforce and respect clean water laws, oil and gas regulations, and local zoning.
  • Keep fracking out of Ashtabula County
  • Provide community education and inspire empowerment to take action on these issues

More information about this project is available at the ACWW website.

Provided by Julie Boetger

Pollinator Plants Project

In September the Sierra Club Ohio Water Sentinel team received funding to safely distribute plants for native pollinator habitat creation across Ohio. Community gardens across the state applied and the Water Sentinel team was able to provide over 600 plants to 15 gardens for Fall planting in early October. These plants helped to bolster existing pollinator habitat spaces and establish new ones.

The project focused on underserved communities, and the plants were distributed all over Northeast Ohio. Community gardens in urban Cleveland to rural Conneaut were able to start pollinator gardens, or add vital native species plants to their existing gardens. Plant recipients will continue to come together and share experiences in 2021; making community, giving tours, and starting a seed sharing network to sustain this work for the future!

Contributed by Emily Obringer
Water Conservation Coordinator
Sierra Club-Ohio Chapter

“Lights Out Ohio” Project Addresses Bird Kill

What are the two biggest causes of songbird mortality in the United States?  If you said house cats and building windows, you would be correct.  House cats are by far the biggest cause as they kill upwards of 2 billion birds per year in the U.S. (for details about this estimate, see Cat Wars by Peter Marra and Chris Santella).  Birds striking windows account for about a billion deaths per year.  At a recent Rainforest Committee meeting (Oct. 15, 2020), Tim Jasinski, a wildlife rehabilitation specialist at the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, spoke about the windows problem in Cleveland.

Jasinski coordinates a team of volunteers that surveys the streets of downtown Cleveland during spring and fall bird migrations to determine the number of birds that are striking the windows in downtown buildings.  The issue was of concern to the Rainforest Committee as many migratory songbirds overwinter in the tropical habitats of the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Although the numbers vary annually, Jasinski informed the committee that the number of birds striking Cleveland buildings averages about 2500 during fall migration and 1000 during the spring.  Since the birds migrate at night, many are attracted to the lighted windows of buildings, even when the windows are at ground level.  In fact most of the bird strikes seem to occur on first or second floor windows.  The dead birds that Jasinski’s team collects go to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History where autopsies are performed, tissues samples are preserved, and study skins are prepared.  Birds that do not die but are injured are taken to the Lake Erie Nature and  Science Center where over 90% of them can be rehabilitated and returned to the wild.

To reduce the number of bird deaths, Jasinski and collaborators at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Metroparks, Lake Metroparks and the Akron Zoo have joined a national  effort to turn off lights in buildings during bird migration.  In Ohio, this  program is called Lights Out Ohio, and the goal is to get building owners to agree to turn off the lights in their buildings between midnight and dawn during migration seasons.  Many but not all owners have agreed to this plan, so the effort to expand compliance is ongoing.  Visit this page for more information about Lights Out Cleveland.

Also,  if you would like to  help the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center with  its rehabilitation program, more information can be found here.  Please inform yourself about the issue, contribute what you can to Lights Out Ohio, and encourage building owners to turn the lights off at night.  Many songbird populations are in decline but that trend does not need to continue.  Simple things like turning off lights can help tremendously to protect our bird populations.

Contributed by Michael Melampy

“Move Ohio Past Plastic” Planning Session for 2021

Let’s plan for 2021 victories! On Saturday, December 5th we will be hosting a campaign planning session to move Ohio Past Plastics! We are working hard to make this discussion as interactive as possible.

We want to hear from groups and individuals across the state: What do you care about? What changes do you want to see? How can we support each other? What additional tools do you need? Who do we need to put pressure on?

Please complete this form to RSVP for the Saturday, December 5th planning session

Please feel free to reach out directly to Elissa Yoder:, 970-420-8784

The Greater Cleveland Rapid Transit System Redesign

From the RTA website:
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) is launching a new easy to navigate and highly interactive website to solicit public input for the proposed system redesign for its bus network.

RTA is looking for public comment to create greater frequency, and greater connectivity for bus service in Greater Cleveland. To find out more about it the redesign and to contribute your own comments, visit the RTA website.

Please Help Dunham Tavern Museum

Please write to Sharyn C. LaCombe, the Federal Historic Preservation Officer for the Federal Transportation Administration. (Her contact information is below) and ask her for a  Section 106 Review for Cleveland’s oldest building, DUNHAM TAVERN MUSEUM, 6709 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, 44103. A major development is planned just 120 feet west of the historic stagecoach stop, built in 1823.

This development greatly reduces the greenspace that is now part of Dunham Tavern Museum. Asking Ms. LaCombe for a Section 106 Review will help preserve this greenspace in an underserved, economically disadvantaged inner city neighborhood.

This project needs to be sensitive to DUNHAM. Please help by asking for a review!

SECTION 106 REVIEW requires Federal Agencies to consider the effects, ON HISTORIC PROPERTIES, of projects they carry out, approve or fund. (An example of a Section 106 Review was the review carried out for the plan for MacDonald’s to build a restaurant next to the Gettysburg Battlefield. Modifications were made to the plan to reduce the impact on the historic nature of Gettysburg.)

As part of a TLCI (Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative,) which is funded by the Federal Transit Administration through NOACA , the Innovation District (at Dunham Tavern Museum) should be considered an undertaking of the Federal Government.

The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 allows any concerned citizen to request such a review.

Please contact:
Sharyn C. LaCombe, AICP
Federal Historic Preservation Officer
Environmental Protection Specialist
Office of Environmental Programs
Federal Transportation Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC   20590



Submitted by Christeen Tuttle and Fran Mentch

The National COVID-19 Spread & Threats it Poses

An unseen enemy in our midst, has manifested itself in over 12 million of us and continues to rage across the entire U.S.

As we are in a crisis that must be addressed with the utmost urgency, this adherence to public health guidelines will literally allow us to save ourselves from ourselves.

We remain fully capable of reducing the projected numbers of CoVid cases and therefore levels of community spread by our strict adherence to public health guidelines, advisories and/or orders as initiated by our public officials.

For the State of Ohio the dominant persons are Governor Mike DeWine and Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Chief Medical Officer, Ohio Department of Health. For the City of Cleveland Mayor Jackson and for Cuyahoga County Armond Budish. Newly appointed Dr.Vanderhoff has begun to detail medical aspects of CoVid-19 during the Governor’s weekly updates on Tuesdays and Thursdays, other days if conditions warrant, and these can be found in full on YouTube a day or so later.

We must be at war with the virus and not with each other if we are ever going to find our way out of this viral morass.  Saving as many lives as we can and sparing others the suffering and heartache associated with CoVid-19 will require vigilance from all of us to guard against more massive numbers of infection.

– Jane Halbedel

Dates and Matters We Must Consider to Contain NEO COVID Spread

The Saturday edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that:”The Ohio Department of Health on Friday reported a record-high 8,071 newly reported coronavirus cases,  nearly 1,000 more than the previous record set on Thursday.”

An ad appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on 11.15 signed by six heads of local hospitals due to the pervasiveness of CoVid-19. See it here.

On November 16th this article appeared in Crain’s that speaks to potential hospital overwhelm if cases and hospitalizations continue to escalate. This requests our help to stave off a crisis, especially given the numbers of healthcare staff already impacted and out of service, in some way, by CoVid-19.

NE Ohio hospital leaders plead for vigilance in ‘sobering’ chapter of pandemic By Lydia Coutré


Governor DeWine’s CoVid-19 Update

  • Every single county is now high incidence
  • Every county in the state is at least two times the high incident level set by the CDC

Governor DeWine’s Issuance of a 21 day curfew from 10pm – 5am to begin 11.19,  for a three week period

Resources for Ohioans
Ohio Dashboard

1-833-4-ask ODH

For stressed persons and those with mental health and/or addiction issues. The caller can speak to a mental health professional around the clock. TEXTING PREFERRED, TEXT:  4HOPE to 741741

For those in recovery, online meetings are available, hosted by organizations that are confidential and secure in nature.

Governor DeWine visited Cleveland then remarked: “It’s just a phenomenal raging fire going through the state.”

Dr. Carla O’Day MD, Medical Director, St. Vincent Charity Hospital’s Emergency Room Department shared that she believes Halloween parties led to this most recent spike,expressing concern Thanksgiving might become another super spreader event [SSE].

Effective immediately through December 17th, 2020, resolution 2020143 was introduced by officials, Mayor Jackson and Armond Budish as a STAY-AT-HOME ADVISORY for Cuyahoga County. You can google this and read the particulars but be aware changes could be made, EG shifting from an advisory to an order, EG pending whether CoVid’s rates of infection escalate, ICU bed capacities dwindle and/or overall hospitalizations dramatically increase.

Fox 8 News announcement:
Ohio breaks record with 8,808 cases of coronavirus reported in 24-hour span
This time-lapse map shows the alarming spread of COVID-19 …



Gov. DeWine & OH Hospital Association leaders hold special CoVid briefing Governor Mike Dewine gave this press conference quantifying the problems in the struggle to stay up-to-date with statistical CoVid record keeping. Today’s briefing can be watched in its entirety here.

It is best to hear this for yourself to help wrap your mind around the level of endangerment that threatens us all, if we don’t aggressively work to drastically reduce the ever escalating CoVid-19 numbers. The statistic that stands out for me is the 11,885 plus cases that were reported today, the highest ever reported in 1 day.

Excerpt from DemocracyNow! headlines
Disease modelers at the University of Washington School of Medicine now predict over 470,000 U.S. coronavirus deaths by March 1st —unless face masks are widely adopted, something they say would save 65,000 lives.

U.S. COVID-19 Death Toll Passes 250,000.

11.17. 2020
MSNBC, The 11TH Hour With Brian Williams

“NBC News has obtained a report from the nominal White House coronavirus task force to the states, dated November 15. It warns of “aggressive, unrelenting, expanding broad community spread…. without evidence of improvement but rather, further deterioration…mitigation efforts are inadequate and must be increased to flatten the curve to sustain the health system for both COVID and non-COVID emergencies.”   The upcoming holidays can amplify transmission considerably.”

According to Johns Hopkins University, the gold standard for CoVid-19 statistics;on October 16th, there were 69,000 new CoVid cases in a single day. Then about one month later, November 13th, lists 184,000 new CoVid cases in a single day.

11.15. 2020
CNN – Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter
CoVid-19 & KIDS

I would be remiss not to include this article published by NBC on 11.02.20 that works to dispel distorted beliefs and perceptions that CoVid-19 doesn’t infect children:

“In all, 853,635 children have been diagnosed with the virus this year, representing 11.1 percent of all U.S cases.”

More than 61,000 children got Covid-19 last week — more than in any other week during the pandemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital …

To counteract misinformation and disinformation that regularly percolates in a portion of public consciousness, let’s examine basic mathematical principles that help make the vast rapidity of the CoVid-19 spread across the entire US more understandable. But first, consider this:

“The facts of COVID-19 include this disturbing reality: We have little idea who among us is spreading the disease.”

National Geographic
The reason for this is that due to an absence of symptoms or those of a barely perceptible basis, we don’t know who among us might be infected. These are the asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic and paucisymptomatic infected persons.

Asymptomatic spreaders do not experience CoVid flu-like symptoms but are contagious, none-the-less, and who unknowingly can shed the virus onto others with whom they come into close contact. Those who are not effectively protected and who do not practice social distancing. Those who will never suspect they can contract CoVid from these persons, who for all intents and purposes appear perfectly healthy and free of the virus.

Pre-symptomatic spreaders are in a period where they shred the virus prior to actually coming down with the more typical and more overt symptoms. Again, a threat to others who are unsuspecting illness at the time these persons are shedding the virus.

Paucisymptomatic spreaders experience so few symptoms that they might easily dismiss them, never equating them to oneself being CoVid-19 infected. Being so small in number, nether might you think this person Infected, if you even detect them at all in another.

Medical knowledge of these conditions is still expanding. Future research and studies will help quantify impacts from these three types of infected individuals.

This article helps clarify information pertaining to these conditions; explains some research done to the point this was published, but medical knowledge in general,will continue to expand the longer the virus is studied. But know one thing; no one owns a crystal ball and the importance of mask wearing becomes obvious. You can be within a sea of infection never knowing the massive risk about you; the risk to yourself;everyone you love; everyone you know, and perfect strangers you will encounter if you become infected as a result of being unmasked and not socially distanced. This article goes into greater detail.

As if by magic. this appeared in my email as I made preparation to send this.  Here you will find any particulars that were not included here. Also should you want regular updates as to CoVId-19, you can sign up for those at this website. Please see article entitled: Here’s why it’s crucial to quarantine for 14 days after COVID-19 exposure

When all is said and done, I wish for you health and safety that you deserve and do know, as a voice teacher once encouragingly said to me. “This too shall come to pass.” Travel about your world safely, Sierrans.

– Jane Halbedel

P.S. This is a small portion of an article here on our site. Importantly, it provides directions for mask wearing and mask care. Please explore these helpful hints to safeguard you and your family.

Should We Call it Climate Change…or Climate Suffocation?

A character in a short story I read the other day proposed that the term “climate suffocation” be used instead of “climate change”, as that is the ultimate outcome. Food for thought.

Thanks for reading the newsletter. Please send me submissions, comment and suggestions. Photos are particularly welcome!

Thanks for all you do,

Fran Mentch
Chair, Executive Committee NEO group