Welcome to the addiction. There are many very good planes out there for builders. When it comes to first builds the list of recommended planes usually goes something like this: (in no particular order)
Sig Riser 2M
Sig Riser 100"
Bird of Time
Any of Ray's Bird series of planes
Honestly these are all fine planes and you would do well with any of them. If you are willing to go a little bigger then you could add to the list the:
A bunch more planes on ray's site
I am sure I missed a few and people will add them. The bottom line is that all of these planes have proven themselves as very good balsa kits. They all have excellent customer service after the sale and you will do well with any one of them. Everyone of these have or can be converted to e-power. Now if you really want to scratch build a plane from nothing more than a plan and some wood stock... well that is another list entirely.
Not sure where you are now but you mentioned Cleveland, there is a guy in lower MI selling a Riser 100 for $35 here in the for sale section. That plane would be worth a Sunday afternoon drive to get. Maybe he would meet you halfway.