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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Jul. 21, 2017

Shown is one of two playgrounds now installed as part of Van Wert’s Franklin Park project. Work is also underway on the park’s shelterhouse/bus shelter and a splash pad. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

After a couple of years of planning and design work, much progress has been made this summer on the city’s new Franklin Park project.

“It’s been going great and we’re actually on schedule with things, you know, where we want to be right now, although it may look slow to the community,” said Seth Baker, executive secretary of The Van Wert County Foundation, which is financing the bulk of the project with with Van Wert native Scott Niswonger.

Baker said this week that play equipment has been installed for the two playgrounds included in the park, while a rubberized surface was also installed this week for the playgrounds.

In addition, tresses arrived this week for the park shelterhouse, and masonry work will begin next week on that portion of the project, Baker said. Site electrical work is also underway at the site, with power poles and lighting to be installed over the next few weeks.


POSTED: 07/21/17 at 7:53 am

Submitted information

The 19th annual United Way Day of Caring has been set for Friday, September 29. This years’ event chair is Jessi Harman, an employee of Citizens National Bank for 12 years who joined the United Way Board of Trustees four years ago.

Harman has been on the Day of Caring committee for two years and is now a member of the United Way’s Executive Board and is on the fundraising committee.

The co-chair of the event this year is Marie Bennett, who is business office manager at Colonial Nursing Center. Bennett joined the Board of Trustees three years ago and the Executive Board this year.

Day of Caring barrels will be placed at local businesses, schools, and industry for collections of non-perishable food and personal care items. On September 29, the barrels are picked up and taken to Vantage Career Center to be sorted. The goal for this year’s food drive is 36,000 items.

A new collaboration that took place this year means food will now be disbursed between The Salvation Army, Trinity Friends Church, and the Van Wert Co-op Food Pantry. This will make the event even bigger and better, knowing it is going to a total of three pantries and will get items into more homes.

The top needs this year are canned meat, peanut butter, cereal, boxed meals, instant potatoes, detergent, and diapers.

The American Red Cross blood drive will take place from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. September 29 at Trinity Friends Church’s Family Life Center. Anyone 17 years of age, who weighs at least 110 pounds, and is in general good health is encouraged to donate.

Those donating blood will receive a free t-shirt and be entered in a drawing to win a $25 gas card. The blood drive goal is 220 units of blood.

The United Way of Van Wert Count invites area residents to support their community by participating in the 19th annual United Way Day of Caring.

POSTED: 07/21/17 at 7:46 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

The American Red Cross received $1,066,400 in AmeriCorps funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to support AmeriCorps members as they help the Red Cross teach people about how to be prepared for emergencies. CNCS is the federal agency for volunteering and service programs.

In west central Ohio, the grant will help fund an AmeriCorps position for the local Red Cross chapter. This position will focus on educating individuals on disaster preparedness through the Home Fire Campaign and Pillowcase Project. The AmeriCorps member will also work to develop volunteer leadership for the Red Cross’ preparedness programs.

“We are grateful for this terrific support from the Corporation for National and Community Service,” said Derek Stemen, executive director of the West Central Ohio Chapter of the American Red Cross. “By helping support our Home Fire Campaign and Pillowcase Project, we will be able to teach more households and children about fire prevention and the importance of being prepared.”

The term of service for the new full-time AmeriCorps position will begin September 11 of this year and end August 10, 2018.

AmeriCorps members receive the following benefits:

  • A taxable living allowance around $14,000 over the term.
  • An education award of $5,815 after successful completion of the term of service. Education Award can also be used for education expenses for children and grandchildren.
  • The opportunity to positively impact the community through preparedness education.

Interested applicants should contact the American Red Cross at 419.227.5121 or email

POSTED: 07/21/17 at 7:44 am. FILED UNDER: News

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DELPHOS — The Kiwanis Club of Delphos will hold a dedication and grand opening of the Kiwanis Splash Pad on Thursday evening, July 27.

A private donor appreciation reception will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the pad at Stadium Park, 1000 Park St. in Delphos, while a program and ceremony, followed by the official opening of the pad, will start at 7:15 that evening. The swimming pool and splash pad will open free to the public after the dedication.

The original project was projected for $350,000. Due to the generosity of area individuals, businesses, and organizations, the project has exceeded the $500,000 mark. Thousands of dollars in donated time from members and local contractors pushes that number even higher.

During the ceremony, the splash pad will be officially turned over to the City of Delphos for ongoing operation.

“As an organization, we are committed to not only giving back to the community, but to providing healthy lifestyle options for our youngest citizens,” said Jamey Wisher, splash pad project chairman. “The splash pad will offer relief from the summer heat and provide families time to spend together.

“We are grateful to our donors for generously funding this project,” Wisher added. “The Delphos area has been patiently waiting for the opening, and we’re excited Delphos and the surrounding area will get to enjoy this for years to come.”

POSTED: 07/21/17 at 7:42 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

Some fire crews spent the night on the barn fire Wednesday. Once daybreak came, fire crews rotated out and continued to fight the straw fire. The Van Wert Red Cross Disaster Team canteened firefighters and supplied cots for those who spent the night.

While at the barn scene, fire crews and the Red Cross Disaster Team were dispatched to an apartment fire in Payne. The apartments were not occupied at the time of the fire.

Once the apartment fire was out, crews returned to the barn fire and called Paulding County ladder truck in to attack the fire from above.

Fire crews went back down to a skeleton crew at midnight. Fire departments will monitor the fire overnight again and determine the next move Friday morning.

Fire crews have battled the extreme heat and humidity during this period and used rotations in order to keep hydrated, while the Red Cross has provided drinks to help with hydration.

A Paulding Fire Department ladder truck is dousing a barn fire from above on Thursday. photo by Mark Klausing for the Van Wert independent

POSTED: 07/21/17 at 7:40 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert City Schools Superintendent Ken Amstutz received a good-bye gift and compliments from Board President Debby Compton during his final Van Wert City Board of Education meeting on Wednesday.

VWCS Superintendent Ken Amstutz receives a good-bye gift from Van Wert City Board of Education President Debby Compton during his last meeting on Wednesday. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

“One thing I realized about Mr. Amstutz is that he put his heart and soul in Van Wert City Schools his whole 10 years,” said Compton, who commended Amstutz for his educational leadership on initiatives such as project-based learning, the Project Lead the Way engineering and biomedical programs, and the school robotics program, which has received national and international recognition. “You have led our district to new heights.”

Compton also commended the superintendent for his engagement with the students and the community. “Besides leading the way for big changes, Mr. Amstutz has been very visible in our district,” Compton said. “He spends a great amount of time in all of our buildings and knows all of our staff and students well.”

Amstutz said he has enjoyed the last 10 years.

“It’s been a very good 10 years,” he noted. “I felt very supported by this board, by past boards, by our administration, and especially the teachers.

“The greatest part about what has happened in this district is that you people were interested in moving forward and getting better, that’s not always the case in every school district,” Amstutz added. “I felt as though we were interested in doing what was best for kids.”


POSTED: 07/20/17 at 8:07 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

United Way of Van Wert County Executive Director Vicki Smith announced that Pat Crummey has been named the 2017 campaign chair.

Pat Crummey

“I am looking forward to working with Pat this year as we celebrate United Way’s 95th anniversary,” said Smith. “Pat brings a lot of passion to the campaign chair role; he has been a strong leader in our community with his involvement and volunteerism with the youth sports programs sponsored through the YMCA.

“Pat has brought some great ideas to the campaign committee and has involved everyone in the process,” she added. “It is going to be fun to see the excitement generated with this year’s campaign theme.”

Crummey has been a member of the board for the past six years. He first joined the United Way Board of Trustees in 2012 and then the Executive Board in 2016. He has been a member-at-large, the Day of Caring chair, and is now campaign chair.

“We wanted to make this year’s campaign theme, ‘Community Heroes’, about everyone who helps or can help the United Way fulfill its mission; whether that comes from monetary donations, championing our efforts, or volunteering at any of our agencies or events,” Crummey noted. “We want this to be a call to action to show that even through little efforts anyone can be a hero for our community.

“We are excited to have added Alliance Automation as a ‘community partner’ to keep helping our campaign grow,” he added.

Crummey is a senior development analyst at Central Mutual Insurance Company. He and his wife, Darcy, have three children: Meredith, Zach, and Luke.

POSTED: 07/20/17 at 8:01 am. FILED UNDER: News

Eight fire departments and the American Red Cross’ Disaster Team were called to a barn fire in Paulding County on Wednesday afternoon. An excavator was also called in to spread bales of straw in the barn to help firefighters get the fire under control. Fire crews were on site until 11 p.m. Wednesday and will likely return Thursday to ensure the fire does not restart. (photo by Mark Klausing for the Van Wert independent)  

POSTED: 07/20/17 at 8:00 am. FILED UNDER: News

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COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Tuesday the application process is now open for Ohio law enforcement teams to apply for $3 million in new state grant money that will replicate or expand Drug Abuse Response Teams (DARTs) and Quick Response Teams (QRTs) to address the opioid epidemic in Ohio.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office will distribute the $3 million over Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019, as designed by a budget amendment sponsored by Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) and signed into law last month. The grants will be awarded to local law enforcement agencies and must include a partnership with a treatment provider.

Preference will be given to applicants that include other partners, such as a mental health recovery board, peer specialists, fire department, emergency management system agency, faith-based organizations, children’s services organizations, or other appropriate agencies.

“The goal of Drug Abuse Response Teams and Quick Response Teams is to save lives by getting those addicted to opioids into treatment and leading them to resources so they can stay clean,” said Attorney General DeWine. “The teams established now have a collaborative partnership in their community to address addiction and help Ohio families. That’s what we will see more of with this grant money, and it’s something Ohio desperately needs.”

Specifically, the grant funding will support efforts similar to the QRTs in Colerain Township (Hamilton County) and Summit County, as well as the DART in Lucas County.

The application process for this law enforcement grant program can be found on the Ohio Attorney General’s website at The application deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, August 18. For technical assistance with any requirements, contact

Grant recipients will be notified on Thursday, August 31.

POSTED: 07/20/17 at 7:59 am. FILED UNDER: News

Trinity Friends Church will be sponsoring a Business Day at the Camp Clay Aqua Park this summer. Local businesses purchase the day for the Van Wert community; access includes swimming, a floating playground, zipline, paddleboats, a half-acre beach, and the 3,600-square-foot splash pad. New features include water cannons at the splash pad and a log roll to accompany the zipline and aqua “toys”. To learn more, visit the YMCA website at Shown (from the left) are Mike Smith of Trinity Friends Church, YMCA Camp Clay Director Kevin Morrison, and Mindy Longwell and Katie Etter, Trinity Friends youth pastor and Family Life Center coordinator, respectively. (YMCA photo)

POSTED: 07/20/17 at 7:54 am. FILED UNDER: News

Van Wert independent

Two people were arraigned on grand jury indictments Wednesday in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court.

Skylar Ralf, 24, of Van Wert, entered a not guilty plea to one count of aggravated possession of drugs, a felony of the fifth degree. Judge Martin D. Burchfield released Ralf on a personal surety bond and he will appear for a pretrial conference at 8 a.m. Wednesday, August 2.

Jenifer Lynsey Jane Davis, 21, of Van Wert, pleaded not guilty to one count of complicity in the illegal assembly of drugs, a second-degree felony offense. She signed a time waiver in connection with the case, as well as another case pending in Common Pleas Court. Judge Burchfield scheduled a pretrial conference for 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 26.

POSTED: 07/20/17 at 7:52 am. FILED UNDER: News