The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Aug. 19, 2019

U.S. Representative Bob Latta is shown at WERT/WKSD Radio in Van Wert on Friday. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

U.S. Representative Bob Latta was in Van Wert on Friday to talk with Van Wert Health personnel about the opioid crisis and how well federal legislation aimed at providing assistance has been working.

Latta noted that one of the House committees he’s on, the Energy and Commerce Committee, passed 65 pieces of legislation last year dealing with the opioid situation. One of those bills was Latta’s INFO Act, which provides healthcare entities a way to get information on what is being done to stem the crisis, as well as where to get dollars to help treat those addicted to opioids.

The congressman said the discussion Friday morning at the hospital went well, in his opinion, with hospital officials being candid about what is working and what isn’t. 

“I wanted to know is it working, and what do we need to do differently?” Latta explained.

One thing hospital officials say is still needed is where to find dollars to help fund opioid initiatives, he noted. “And are the dollars flowing out like they should be.”

Another problem is treatment, Latta noted.

“Once a person is ready to get treatment, are there enough treatment beds?” he said, adding that, right now, there aren’t.

“We can’t treat people at the ER, and try to detox them there,” Latta said, noting that more treatment beds need to be found or created.

The discussion at the hospital also touched on finding non-opioid pain management medications and providing patients with better information on pain and how to cope with pain with less medication, including the fact that it’s acceptable to have some pain after a procedure.


POSTED: 08/17/19 at 8:05 am

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Austin Sheets, son of Brian and Tonya Sheets, and Torie Bockey, daughter of Doug and Sherry Bockey, were crowned the 2019 Junior Fair king and queen during a ceremony held Sunday in the Marsh Foundation’s Bagley Auditorium.

2019 Junior Fair Queen Torie Bockey and King Austin Sheets. photos by Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

Michael Joseph, son of Kirby and Sammi Joseph, and Morgan Dowler, daughter of Stephen and Casey Dowler, were king and queen runners-up.

Bockey, a Spencerville High School graduate, has been involved in Spencerville FFA for a number of years. She is a member of the Junior Fair Board and was also first runner-up in this year’s Peony Festival Pageant.

Bockey said she wanted to be queen so she could empower and encourage all exhibitors to continue showing at the fair and expanding their knowledge of agriculture.

Sheets, a graduate of Crestview High School who will be attending Wright State University-Lake Campus this fall, and a member of Udder Dairy Club and the Junior Fair Board, said he plans to have fun interacting with young kids at the fair, as well as helping with the various livestock shows, and being a role model for younger generations to look up to.

Species princesses selected Sunday are as follows:

2019 Junior Fair Queen Runner-up Morgan Dowler and King Runner-up Michael Joseph.

Beef Princess — Baylee Miller, daughter of Rob and Vikki Miller.

Equine Princess — Breck Evans, daughter of Thomas and JaNahn Evans.

Swine Princess — Chloe Kroeger, daughter of Dave and Shelly Kroeger.

Goat Princess — Tara Raudabaugh, daughter of Paul and Michelle Raudabaugh.

Sheep Princess — Addie Sorgen, daughter of Phil and Jill Sorgen.

Dairy Princess — Lilly Hempfling, daughter of Chuck and Sue Hempfling.

Project Princess (new this year) — Melissa Joseph, daughter of Kirby and Sammi Joseph.

Also held during the Junior Fair’s Celebration Sunday event was the Cloverbud graduation ceremony, the 4-H Style Review, and the 4-H awards ceremony.

2019 Junior Fair Species Princesses include (from the left) Baylee Miller (Beef), Breck Evans (Equine), Chloe Kroeger (Swine), Tara Radabaugh (Goat), Addie Sorgen (Sheep), Lilly Hempfling (Dairy), and Melissa Joseph (Project).

POSTED: 08/19/19 at 7:36 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The Veterans Service Office has provided information on the upcoming Veterans Day at the Van Wert County Fair, to be held Thursday, August 29.  

General Deborah Ashenhurst

A presentation will begin at noon at the Veterans Service Center with a presentation by Ohio Department of Veterans Services Director Deborah Ashenhurst, who will discuss what has been happening in her department.  

Prior to being appointed as director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services on January 14, Major General Ashenhurst (U.S. Army, retired) served as the senior vice president-military strategy of R2 Associates. Ashenhurst received numerous awards and decorations, including the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (with one Silver and one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster) and the Joint Service Commendation Medal.

Following at 1 p.m. will be a free meal at the west end of the grandstand, while the horse races are conducted. 

Beginning at 3 p.m. will be a presentation by Veterans Service Officer Ed Ball of Sidney County, who will be discussing his work with Blue Navy Water Veterans Agent Orange claims. Chief Petty Officer Ed Ball joined the Navy in June 1976 after graduating from Sidney High School, and attended basic training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois. Chief Ball’s awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Navy Commendation Medals, three Navy Achievement Medals, five Navy Good Conduct Medals, two Navy Expeditionary Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, as well as the shipboard coveted Departmental Green “C” on every ship ever assigned. 

Following at 5 p.m. will be ham and beans served at the Veterans Service Center. 

Veterans should remember to bring their veterans identification card for entry on Veterans Day at the fair. Veterans’ spouses are encouraged to join them on this day, but they will need to be present with the veteran when entering. 

The Veterans Service Office thanks First Federal Savings Bank and Gibson’s BBQ for sponsoring Veterans Day at the fair, as well as the Senior Fair Board for helping make the day possible.

POSTED: 08/19/19 at 7:25 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

According to Van Wert Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming, Jefferson Street, between Main Street and Central Avenue, will be closed from 5-9 p.m. Wednesday, August 21, for First United Methodist Church’s Operation Back to School event for high school students.

POSTED: 08/19/19 at 7:21 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Thousands of blood donations are needed each and every day to help meet the needs of accident victims, cancer patients, children with blood disorders, and others. To help make a difference, the community is invited to give blood with the American Red Cross at the Van Wert Day of Caring blood drive Friday, September 27.

The Day of Caring blood drive will be held from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. September 27 at Trinity Friends Church’s Family Life Center. To schedule an appointment, visit www.redcrossblood.orgor call 800.RED.CROSS.

This special blood drive is part of the United Way Day of Caring in Van Wert, which promotes community service. The Red Cross is seeking 200 donors to roll up a sleeve and give. All those who come to donate blood at this blood drive will receive a Day of Caring t-shirt and food prepared by Vantage Career Center.

Vantage Health Care students assist at the 2016 Day of Caring Blood Drive.

As the Red Cross responds to wildfires, flooding, house fires, and hurricanes, eligible donors are reminded that giving blood during National Preparedness Month in September is one way to help ensure the Red Cross is prepared to respond to patient emergencies across the country every day.

“Van Wert is a caring community, and what better way for its residents to show they care than by helping patients in need and giving blood at the Day of Caring Blood Drive?” said Marianne Hardesty, donor recruitment account manager for the Red Cross. 

Every two seconds in the United States blood is needed to respond to patient emergencies. The Red Cross must collect approximately 13,000 blood and platelet donations every day for the patients at about 2,600 hospitals nationwide.

POSTED: 08/17/19 at 7:22 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has rejected the summary language for a proposed referendum seeking to repeal House Bill 6.

On July 29, the attorney general’s office received a written petition from Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts. The attorney general’s role is to determine whether the petition summary is a fair and truthful representation of the measure to be referred.

A response letter sent to the petitioners identifies 21 instances of inaccuracies or omissions of statutory language within the text of the summary.

“For these reasons, I am unable to certify the summary as a fair and truthful statement of the measure,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in the letter.

The attorney general does not express an opinion as to the advisability or constitutionality of the proposed ballot measure. The full text of the letter to petitioners and the petition can be found at

POSTED: 08/17/19 at 7:19 am. FILED UNDER: News

Vantage welcomes new staff for the 2019-20 school year. Shown are (from the left) Amy Wiechart-Bayliff, in-school discipline coordinator; Kathleen Tyler, Ohio Technical Center director; Jacob Wortman, maintenance; Chris Miles, Construction Equipment Technology instructor; Isaac McKanna, custodial; Tonya Temple, student services supervisor; and Janey Knittle, cook. Vantage photo

POSTED: 08/17/19 at 7:19 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Due to the drastic decline in monarch butterfly populations, the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (OPHI) and local soil & water conservation districts are again seeking public involvement to collect common milkweed seed pods from established plants September 1 through October 30. This is an annual event and organizers hope local residents can participate.

Milkweed pods collected should look like the one on the right. SWCD photo

The seeds will be used to establish new plantings and additional habitat for the monarch butterfly throughout the buckeye state. These future plantings will increase the food source for the caterpillar stage as seen below.

Seed pods from common milkweed should be collected only when the pods are dry and brown-gray in color. If the center seam pops with gentle pressure, they can be picked. The seeds in green pods will not be viable and won’t be able to be used. Be patient and don’t collect too soon! 

It is best to collect pods into paper bags. Avoid using plastic bags because they can allow mold to develop. It is recommended to wear disposable gloves when picking and handling pods. Ideally, it is recommended to leave at least 50 percent of the seed crop at a given site is left to allow for natural recruitment and regeneration of the native population the next growing season.

There are situations where total collection can occur: if the field or area will be mowed completely or the area will be converted for crop or development. A collection container is located outside the door of the Van Wert SWCD, 1185 Professional Drive in Van Wert.

POSTED: 08/17/19 at 7:18 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Things appear to be moving forward in the Van Wert County Treasurer and Auditor’s offices, with both offices working to clear up problems in their respective offices, according to County Commissioner Todd Wolfrum.

“The auditor and treasurer have both related to us that they are working together at this point to resolve the issues and straighten out what has happened,” Wolfrum said on Thursday afternoon.

In addition, the commissioners have contracted with an outside accountant to audit the Treasurer’s Office’s books. That should take place sometime in the next week or two, Wolfrum said, noting his understanding that the audit will look at the office’s finances from September 1, 2018, up to a few weeks ago.

Wolfrum also said former county auditor Nancy Dixon had called the commissioners to clarify the current problem in reconcilement. According to Dixon, the reconciliation problem is not between the Auditor’s and Treasurer’s offices, but between the Treasurer’s Office and the bank, with figures from that office apparently not matching the amount of money shown in the bank.

However, in addition to reconcilement problems, there are also reports that some county property owners have not been credited for real estate taxes they have paid, while other property owners who sold a portion of a larger parcel of land in the past year are still being taxed on the sold property.


POSTED: 08/16/19 at 7:54 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Two separate storms hit southeastern Van Wert County on Wednesday, prompting two separate tornado warnings. Damage was minimal on both storms, with no structural damage reported and no injuries, said Van Wert County Emergency Management Director Rick McCoy.

The first tornado warning was issued by the National Weather Service at 4:29 p.m. Wednesday when radar indicated a severe storm capable of producing a tornado near Monticello. No tornado was observed, but storm reports in the area included hail in Elgin, a power pole and line snapped on Ohio 709 west of Venedocia, several trees snapped off, and one uprooted on State Route 709, and more than 2 inches of rain reported in the area.

A microburst from a storm that hit Van Wert County on Wednesday destroyed this cornfield near the intersection of Ohio 116 and Converse Roselm Road. drone photo by Rick McCoy

The second tornado warning came at 8:43 p.m., with a public report to 9-1-1 that a tornado was observed on the ground near Mendon Road, south of State Route 709. As the EMA director was reporting the siting to the NWS, radar was also indicating a developing tornado at that location, so a warning was issued again for the southeastern part of the county. McCoy advised he also activated sirens in Venedocia and Elgin for the approaching storm. No structural damage was reported and no additional sightings of a tornado were reported.

On Thursday morning, the EMA director put a drone in the air to check for any indication that a tornado had occurred. McCoy also spoke with the 9-1-1 caller on what he observed and was advised that the person witnessed the funnel develop and touch down in an open field for approximately 30 seconds before it disappeared. He was able to get one photo of what appears to be the funnel on the ground as it dissipated.  There was no indication from drone footage where a touch down may have occurred, as there were no crops in the field. However, approximately 5 miles directly to the east of that location at State Route 116 and Converse Roselm Road, drone footage indicated the same tornadic storm cell produced a damaging microburst with very intense winds that flattened an entire corn field and snapped off a power pole. 

No other damage was observed with the storm, McCoy said.

POSTED: 08/16/19 at 7:45 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

On Wednesday, more than 30 Cross Over the Hill (COTH) volunteers gathered to celebrate, prepare, and pray for the upcoming school year. In addition to providing elementary and middle school Bible-based, character-focused Released Time Religious Instruction, COTH will now be offering a high school course this academic year. 

The past year has provided great change and growth for Cross Over the Hill. In 2019, the organization began offering Bible-based classes for students of Synergy Learning Center. In addition, the COTH board of directors helped start a broader movement of released time programs called LifeWise Academy, under the leadership of Joel Penton’s Stand for Truth ministry. The first two LifeWise Academy locations are launching this month, with others across the nation preparing to launch as soon as 2020. 

Cross Over the Hill volunteers prepare for the upcoming school year. photo provided

Recently, the local COTH board of directors changed leadership, with Jeremy Laukhuf taking the helm as executive director. Laukhuf holds a Master of Arts degree in ministry from Luther Rice College and Seminary and a Bachelor of Arts degree in jazz studies from The Ohio State University. He and his wife, Cristi, and their five children recently moved to the Van Wert area after Laukhuf’s retirement from the United States Air Force. 

The Board of Directors and staff of Cross Over the Hill also thanked founding Executive Director Jill Putman, founding Board President Shaun Putman, and the many community members who have generously given of their funds and time in order to make Bible education a reality for Van Wert’s elementary, middle, and high school students. 

For more information about Cross Over the Hill, visit or contact Laukhuf at  

POSTED: 08/16/19 at 7:38 am. FILED UNDER: News