The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Sep. 16, 2019

Van Wert Fire Chief Jon Jones talks to visitors to the VWFD’s 150th anniversary celebration Sunday in front of the department’s first steam fire engine at the fire station. Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

It was 1869. The Civil War had only been over four years. That’s when Van Wert’s four independent ward fire brigades decided to join together to form a citywide fire department. On Saturday, city firefighters celebrated the department’s 150 years of existence with an open house at the fire station.

“We had an open house because the fire department belongs to the community, and we wanted to give back to everyone,” said Fire Chief Jon Jones. “We wanted to have a celebration of the department’s 150 years of service and have our community be a part of that.”

Chief Jones got his wish, as hundreds of people came out to help the department celebrate.

The department begin its celebration with a 5K run, while there were also fire truck rides, a station where children could dress in fire gear, equipment displays, including the city’s first steam fire engine and hose rack from Central Insurance Company’s Fire Museum, a tour of the firehouse, and a number of demonstrations of firefighting and other skills.

“The fire department performs many functions beside firefighting and advance life support EMS,” Chief Jones noted. “Our personnel train to provide the best emergency services we can/.


POSTED: 09/16/19 at 7:45 am

Shown are scenes from the Van Wert Fire Department’s 150th anniversary celebration on Sunday at the Van Wert Municipal Building. photos by Bob Barnes and Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 09/16/19 at 7:41 am. FILED UNDER: News

Wynonna brought her big voice and her Big Noise Band into the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio for a Country music bash that included all her hits — and more besides — on Sunday evening. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 09/16/19 at 7:21 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Off Stage Productions Inc. has announced the cast for its Fall 2019 dinner theatre production of A Doublewide, Texas, Christmas, a Jones, Hope, Wooten comedy. This two-act farce is being directed by Matt Krol. 
Cast members include the following:

  • Big Ethel Satterwaite — Terri Stevens
  • Georgia Dean Rudd — April Hanf
  • Lark Barken — Kelly Smith
  • Haywood Sloggett — Ed Eichler
  • Patsy Price — Mary Yackey
  • Norway “Baby” Crumpler — Travis Nihiser
  • Joveeta Crumpler — Amy McConn
  • Caprice Crumpler — Dolores Foreman
  • Nash Sloggett — Dan Bulau
Cast members for A Doublewide, Texas, Christmas include (front row, from the left) Terri Stevens, Kelly Smith, Dolores Foreman, April Hanf; (middle row) Amy McConn and Mary Yackey; (back row) Travis Nihiser, Ed Eichler, and director Matt Krol. Off Stage photo

In this outrageously funny comedy, it’s Christmas-time in the newest — and tiniest — town in Texas, and it’s beginning to look a lot like trouble in Doublewide. Not only are the trailer park residents dealing with the stress of the holiday season, but they’ve just discovered that Doublewide is being doubled-crossed by the county. With their official incorporation papers in jeopardy, this band of eccentric Texans throws itself into taking on the Big Guys. Determined to bolster their legitimacy, Doublewide residents first set their sights on the countywide “Battle of the Mangers” competition. They conspire to win this smackdown with their “Nativity at the Alamo” entry … by any means possible.

In addition to that shaky undertaking, and trying almost single-handedly to keep the new town afloat, Mayor Joveeta Crumpler has to wrangle her celebrity-obsessed mother, her beleaguered brother (who’s being bullied by a pack of vengeful raccoons), and her demoralized best friend (who’s at the end of her rope from dating every loser this side of the Rio Grande). 

To make matters worse, Joveeta finds herself increasingly wary of the newest resident, Patsy Price. Patsy, fresh out of the local mental institution, clearly has her own devious agenda and the county competition over in Fayro is just the place for her to settle an old score. By the time this full-tilt rocket ride of lunacy climaxes in a what-else-can-go-wrong live television presentation, the audience will have doubled its Christmas spirit. So spend the Yuletide in Doublewide and let this hilarious Jones Hope Wooten Comedy make Christmas merry and bright … because there’s no place like a good ole Texas-sized mobile home for the holidays!

Performances will once again be held in the commons area at Vantage Career Center on October 18-20 and 25-27. Enter at the back doors, where there will be plenty of free parking spaces available. 

Friday performances are “Popcorn Night”, with doors opening at 7 and the show beginning at 7:30, with free popcorn and pretzels (no dinner). The cost is $13. 

Saturday and Sunday dinner shows include full buffet by Romer’s Catering for $28. On Saturdays, the doors open at 6:30, buffet at 7, show at 8, while doors open at 12:30 p.m., with buffet at 1, and show at 2 for Sunday matinees.

Reservations will open for members on September 30 and to the public on October 2. Call the Off Stage Box Office at 419.605.6708.

Additional information can be found online at and on Facebook at

POSTED: 09/16/19 at 7:14 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

WREN – It was the end of an era when the Wren Garden Club held its last meeting September 10 in the home of Michele Young.

The club was organized in January 1932 by homemakers in Wren and surrounding area and joined the

Ohio Garden Club Association (OAGC) two years later in November. Members chose the club motto as “A Better Community Through Gardening”, and their endeavors showed an earnest desire to actively pursue the motto.

Wren Garden Club members gather following their final club meeting. photo provided

Through the club’s history, numerous activities were accomplished as flowers were tended to in the Wren Park and on the streets of the village. A flower bed was established at the Harrison Township building and eventually increased in size. Trees were planted in the park and at the Town Council. The Wren library branch was decorated at Christmas time. Donations were made to Wren School for band uniforms and potlucks were held to honor the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams. Over 100 Christmas cards were sent out to shut-ins one season and gift baskets for the needy were made.

In addition, monetary donations were given to numerous organizations through the years, as well as contributing food to restock the food banks. At times, families were chosen to be recipients of financial aid in their times of need. 

The Wren Garden Club participated in regional meetings, the Jubilee Flower Show in Van Wert, and the Wren Homecoming Parade. 

In the beginning, membership numbered 25 to 27 consistently, often with guests attending. Women gathered to discuss gardening and share ideas.

However, the world has changed, and the Internet now allows people to find information online quickly, and the club has struggled to gain new active members. Although members regret the Wren Garden Club is unable to survive as an organization, they are proud that the club lasted for 87 years, with four generations of several area families participating as members.

POSTED: 09/16/19 at 7:05 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Two people are facing drug-related charges following execution of a search warrant at a North Wayne Street residence early Saturday morning.

Kendra Keesler
Charles Jenkins

Charles Jenkins, 42, and Kendra Keesler, 24, both of Van Wert, were arrested on one count of aggravated possession of drugs, each a felony of the fifth degree, in connection with the warrant. There were taken to the County Correctional Facility, where they are being held prior to their initial appearance in Van Wert Municipal Court.

According to Van Wert County Sheriff Thomas M. Riggenbach, the warrant, which was served at 1:53 Saturday morning, was the result of an investigation by county deputies into possible drug activity at the residence.

The sheriff noted that seven people were found in the residence when the search warrant was executed. Five of the individuals were released following a search of the residence.

Items taken for evidentiary purposes include the following:

  • A moderate amount of what is suspected to methamphetamine
  • Bundles containing an unknown powder
  • A loaded handgun and ammunition
  • A moderate amount of drug paraphernalia, including baggies and scales
  • A large number of syringes
  • Several cell phones and other digital devices
  • An undisclosed amount of cash

Sheriff Riggenbach said the incident remains under investigation and additional charges may be filed. A nuisance abatement letter was also sent to the property owner related to the incident, with the property owner directed to take action to prevent further illegal activity. If no action is taken and the owner permits further illegal activity, the law does allow for the seizure of the property.

The sheriff also asks that anyone with information on local drug activity should contact his office at 419.238.3866 or use the sheriff’s office website at and click on the “submit a crime tip” link. Anyone reporting information can remain anonymous, Sheriff Riggenbach stated, while adding that his office will continue to aggressively pursue all drug tips received.

Other crimes can also be reported anonymously by using the above options or by calling Crime Stoppers at 419.238.STOP.

POSTED: 09/14/19 at 8:58 pm. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

It’s not surprising that Addison King wanted to be a firefighter. In fact, it would probably have been surprising if he wanted to do anything else.

King, who was sworn in as a full-time Van Wert firefighter on Friday morning, said he grew up watching his father, Middle Point Fire Chief and Van Wert Fire Captain Craig King, and adding that he has wanted to be a firefighter since he was young.

New Van Wert Firefighter Addison King (right) is sworn in by Mayor Jerry Mazur while his wife, Paige, holds the Bible. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

“From what I can remember, back as a little kid, at five years old I knew,” Addison King said when asked at what age he wanted to be a firefighter.

King, a 2010 graduate of Lincolnview High School, spent time at fire departments from an early age, according to his father, Craig, who said his son helped wash trucks and do other chores at the Middle Point and Van Wert fire stations.

“He grew up here (at the VWFD); it’s his second home away from home,” Captain Craig King said, adding, “It’s a great moment” to see his son sworn in as a Van Wert firefighter.

Addison King, who also goes by “AJ”, already has a decade of fire experience under his belt. He noted that he first started as a volunteer in 2009 on the Middle Point Volunteer Fire Department and then became a member of the Delphos Fire Department in 2015. He also spent time as a reserve firefighter at Van Wert a few years ago, Chief Jon Jones recalled.


POSTED: 09/14/19 at 7:43 am. FILED UNDER: News

A storm that brought rain and high winds into Van Wert Friday afternoon resulted in downed trees, tree limbs, and other debris across areas of the city. These photos show damage on First Street (above), between Walnut and Cherry streets, and (below) North Walnut Street. photos by Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 09/14/19 at 7:34 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The United Way of Van Wert County recently held its campaign kick-off event, “Chip for Change unscramble”, at Hickory Sticks Golf Club on Friday. 

This was a fun time for everyone who attended, and the United Way agency that was voted “favorite hole” was the Community Emergency Response Team’s (CERT). The theme of the CERT hole was Sharknado. 

The “Best Dressed Team” award went to Shooter McGavin’s from Central Insurance. The team consisted of Emily Hardesty, Brittany High, Emily Price, and Breanna Dennis. 

Best Dressed Team members Emily Hardesty, Brittany High, Emily Price, and Breanna Dennis. United Way photo

A total of $2,200 was also raised during the event, according to United Way Executive Director Vicki Smith. United Way helps 29 local agencies with 33 programs, and all monies stay local, helping the Van Wert communities with food, kick-off clothing, education, and health issues. 

This year’s campaign slogan is Chip for a Change, Smith said. 

“Ever find a penny on the ground?” she said, noting, “Your penny can grow when donated. Together, we can make a difference. Sometimes just a little help can make a huge change.”

On September 27, United Way will hold its annual Day of Caring food drive at Vantage Career Center and its annual Day of Caring blood drive at Trinity Friends Church. 

“The community has always been a positive force in donating, collecting, sorting on this day,” Smith noted. “United Way is proud to be able to give back to the community through their campaign.”

Anyone who would like to volunteer with the United Way, can call the organization’s office at 419.238.6689. 

POSTED: 09/14/19 at 7:28 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The Van Wert County Board of Commissioners publicly acknowledged its appreciation for Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s statement regarding opiate lawsuit settlement dollars going directly to counties and municipalities. 

In a brief news release Friday, the commissioners noted the governor said it would be a “serious mistake” to require opioid lawsuit settlement money to go to the state, instead of directly to local governments. 

The commissioners added that, because there is the potential to usurp local authorities and redirect settlement dollars to the state, local county officials appreciate DeWine’s efforts in directing the money to counties and municipalities.  

“Van Wert County continues to appreciate working with the DeWine administration,” the commissioners noted.   

POSTED: 09/14/19 at 7:22 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

All four Van Wert County school systems saw improvements on Ohio School Report Cards released Thursday, with Van Wert City Schools seeing the most improvement over last year.

This graph shows overall grade distribution among Ohio’s school districts.

The report card system evaluates school districts in six areas: Achievement (performance on state tests), Progress (growth students are making), Gap Closing (did the most vulnerable students improve), Graduation rate, Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers, and Prepared for Success (how well prepared Ohio’s students are for future opportunities).

Report card scores for each district and each component are as follows:

  • Overall district grade: Crestview and Lincolnview B, Van Wert C
  • Achievement: Crestview B, Lincolnview C, Van Wert D
  • Progress: Crestview and Lincolnview B, Van Wert C
  • Gap Closing: Crestview and Lincolnview A, Van Wert B
  • Graduation Rate: Lincolnview A, Van Wert B, Crestview not rated because of low class size
  • Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers: Crestview C, Lincolnview and Van Wert B
  • Prepared for Success: Lincolnview and Van Wert F, Crestview High School D

Van Wert Superintendent Vicki Brunn said that, overall, she was happy with the district’s results this year.


POSTED: 09/13/19 at 7:37 am. FILED UNDER: News