DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
Although this winter hasn’t been nearly as hard as last winter in Van Wert County, county residents should brace for what could be the biggest storm yet of the season now headed this way.
Both District 1 of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and County Engineer Kyle Wendel say this winter has been far better, when it comes to expenditures of manpower and materials to keep Van Wert County roads clear.
ODOT District 1 reports that the cost of keeping county roads free of snow and ice has been less than half that of the winter 2013-14 — the most costly winter on record for ODOT.
Expenditures for the entire ODOT District 1 area, which includes Allen, Defiance, Hancock, Hardin, Paulding, Putnam and Wyandot counties, in addition to Van Wert, was $3.3 million. That includes a total of 22,027 tons of salt and 134,819 gallons of salt brine used so far.
In Van Wert County, 2,473 tons of salt and 13,891 gallons of salt brine have been used so far this year, at a total cost of $357,433.
Compared to last year, none of those totals are significant. By the same time last year, ODOT had used 43,244 tons of salt and had spent $5.6 million on snow/ice removal.
In fact, this winter is shaping up to more of an average winter, with the average cost of snow/ice removal over the past 10 years totaling $4.1 million.
Community Action information
COLUMBUS – Ohio Governor John Kasich has announced bold reforms to streamline the state’s human services programs and help Ohioans break the cycle of poverty.
“The reforms Governor Kasich announced today will be good for the people of Ohio,” said Philip E. Cole, executive director of the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies. “Focusing on the needs of the people who live in poverty is what must be done.”
Governor Kasich announced plans to provide stronger services and work supports for teens and young adults to increase eligibility for subsidized child care and to hold government agencies accountable to help more people out of poverty.
“The efforts of Governor Kasich and the Office of Human Services Innovation are important to the future of Ohio,” said Cole. “Economic turnaround works best when it includes all people and that is clearly the plan.”
Van Wert Lodge 1197, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, held a free spaghetti dinner for all Van Wert County veterans earlier this week. A good-sized group of veterans enjoyed a free dinner and the chance to catch up with their fellow veterans on this evening. The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks has a motto “As long as there are veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them.” Wert Lodge is proud to be able to sponsor this free event for our veterans as a way of saying “thank you” for their service to the country. (Elks photo)
Buckeye Youth information
Buckeye Y Youth Inc. is beginning its annual World’s Finest Chocolate sale.
Members will be selling $1 bars in a variety pack containing crisp, caramel, milk chocolate and regular and dark chocolate almond bars. In addition, there will be a limited amount of $2 boxes containing Mint Melt-A-Ways, Caramel Whirls, Continental Almonds and Fund Raisins.
Support the local non-profit youth organization that provides quality programs for area youths by purchasing from Buckeye Youth members. The organization’s programs include Valentines for Veterans, club meetings, summer camps, fun days, Autumn Adventure sleepovers, field trips and special events.
Each child selling the candy will receive an emblem signifying participation. Awards will be given to the top sellers.
Chocolate will also be sold at Year’s Ago Antique Mall, 108 W. Main St., and the Buckeye Youth office at 147 E. Main St., Suite D, both in Van Wert. Requests can be left on a voice message by calling 419.238.3546.
Buckeye Youth is a United Way agency and a Van Wert County Foundation grant recipient.
DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
Martin Burchfield became just the third Van Wert County Common Pleas judge in three decades when he was sworn in by his predecessor, retired Judge Charles D. Steele, on Thursday.
Judge Steele, who was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Judge Sumner E. Walters, after that judge’s election to the Third Ohio District Court of Appeals in 1998, announced his retirement in September 2014 after 15 years on the bench. Judge Walters served 16 years on the Common Pleas bench, starting in January 1983.
Burchfield’s wife, Susan, held the Bible while he was sworn in, while the new judge’s mother, Bettye, and a large number of attorneys, court officials, county government officials and others were also on hand for the event.
Following the swearing-in ceremony, Burchfield, an assistant Van Wert County prosecuting attorney and a former defense attorney, said those experiences would be positives in his new position.
“I’ve had two experiences that will have a major effect: One is the last 15 years in the prosecutor’s office,” Judge Burchfield noted, “but I did 13 years worth of criminal defense work, including some public defense work, so I have an understanding of the challenges that those (defense) lawyers have, and also some of the challenges that the defendants have.
DAVE MOSIER/Van Wert independent
Six people appeared for hearings in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court on Thursday, with one of those sent to prison after admitting he violated his community control sentence.
Andrew Graham, 19, of Delphos, admitted his violated his probation by being terminated from the Western Ohio Regional Treatment and Habilitation (WORTH) Center in Lima. Graham was ordered by retired Judge Charles D. Steele to serve a 12-month prison term previously handed down, but also gave him 63 days credit for time served.
Others who appeared before Judge Steele on Thursday include the following:
Michael Keipper, 25, of Van Wert, was declared competent to stand trial following an evaluation by Court Diagnostics in Toledo on charges filed in connection with a stabbing incident in Van Wert that occurred in late October 2014.
Keipper was indicted on one count each of attempted murder and aggravated burglary, both felonies of the first degree, and three counts of felonious assault, all second-degree felonies, in connection with the stabbing of Keipper’s estranged wife, Megan A. Gillette; her alleged boyfriend, Kody N. Detwiler; and a downstairs neighbor, Raenita L. Hibbard, at an apartment house on South Wall Street.
He is being held on a $500,000 cash bond in the case.
James Reynolds, 35, of Delphos, appeared in court on a motion to withdraw his guilty plea related to a robbery at the Ramblers’ Roost truck stop last year. Following the hearing, Judge Steele took the matter under advisory and will made a ruling on the request at a later date.
Reynolds was ordered held in jail on a $500,000 cash bond until a decision is made on the request.
Heather Ratliff, 37, of Convoy, was given a year of community control on a charge of attempted forgery, a misdemeanor of the first degree.
Community Health Professionals information
Everyone has different wishes or dreams of things they hope to do during their lifetime. For some it may be taking a family vacation or visiting a loved one that has moved away.
Many people put off their wishes and dreams until the future. But for those diagnosed with a terminal illness their future is now. Dreams and wishes are tucked deep underneath the pain and suffering of everyday life. Living with a life-limiting illness often drains financial and emotional resources causing more strain on families as they struggle with the daily battle of their illness.
The Angel Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Van Wert dedicated to fulfilling the wishes of terminally ill adults living in Ohio.
Affiliated with Community Health Professionals Hospice, The Angel Foundation was established in 1995 to address unfulfilled dreams of hospice patients. Today, this privately funded charity facilitates about 15 wishes per year for individuals both locally and throughout the state.
Many wishes involve a terminally ill parent that wants to create a lasting happy memory for their children to have once they have passed from this earth.
Jacqueline Libecap, 69, of Huber Heights had always enjoyed going out with her husband for a steak dinner on Saturday nights. Even after he passed away 15 years ago, Libecap continued their tradition by taking herself out for a steak dinner on Saturdays as a way to remember.
Shortly after being diagnosed with a terminal illness, Libecap was no longer able to get out of her house. During a visit from her hospice social worker, Libecap expressed a wish to have a steak dinner with her daughters.
DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
Six people appeared for a variety of hearings in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday, including a Van Wert man sentenced to prison for failing to register as a sex offender.
Dustin Hiser, 31, was sentenced by Van Wert County Probate-Juvenile Judge Kevin Taylor to 17 months in prison on a charge of failure to register as a sex offender, a felony of the fourth degree. Hiser pleaded guilty to the charge during a hearing held December 17.
During sentencing, Judge Taylor did give Hiser credit for 93 days already served.
A second case was also heard by Judge Taylor.
Bronson Pate, 33, of Van Wert, changed his plea to guilty to a charge of aggravated trafficking in drugs, a felony of the fourth degree. A presentence investigation was ordered by Judge Taylor and sentencing will be scheduled at a later date.
Four hearings were also presided over by retired Judge Charles D. Steele.
William Crutchfield, 42, of Van Wert, denied charges he violated his community control probation by being unsuccessfully terminated from the Western Ohio Regional Treatment and Habilitation (WORTH) Center in Lima. A hearing in the case will be set for next week.
Van Wert Fire Dept. information
Van Wert Fire Chief James M. Steele recently announced the retirement of Firefighter/Paramedic Gerald C. “Junior” Balliet Jr. from the Van Wert Fire Department.
Firefighter Balliet was hired on September 5, 1989, and was at the time, and remains today a volunteer firefighter for the Convoy Fire Department.
Balliet is a certified Firefighter 2, paramedic, and a fire safety inspector. He was also the water rescue/boat operator instructor for the department and maintained additional certifications as a hazardous materials technician and confined space rescuer.
Firefighter Balliet officially retired on January 2 with 25.3 years of service. A gathering was held at the Fire Department, where Balliet was presented with a gold watch from the department and a helmet award from the IAFF Local 681 honoring his time in service to the residents of Van Wert.
In attendance were family, friends, and current and retired firefighters from the department.
Crestview High School’s Student Council recently held a “Walk for Bailey” for three days during students’ lunch period, and high school students and staff raised money for Bailey Stegaman, whose family home was destroyed by fire. The Crestview FFA chapter also donated to the cause. Austin Cunningham, president of Student Council and Justin Overmyer, vice president of Student Council, presented the funds to Stegaman. Both boys are also FFA members and represented that group as well. Shown are (from the left) Cunningham, Stegaman, and Overmyer. (Crestview High School photo)
Ohio Attorney General’s information
COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine encourages Ohioans to protect their personal information and take steps to avoid identity theft. The warning coincides with Data Privacy Day (January 28), when organizations around the world promote data protection and cybersecurity.
“Everyone plays a role in protecting personal and private information,” Attorney General DeWine said. “At home and at work, many Ohioans are constantly connected, and as we use more methods to share information, we encourage Ohioans to take steps to help keep their data secure.”
In 2014, for the first time, identity theft was one of the top 10 consumer complaints reported to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Attorney General DeWine created a consumer Identity Theft Unit in 2012 to help victims rectify the effects of identity theft, and from 2013 to 2014, complaints to the unit doubled. Specialists helped to clear hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges.
To help Ohioans protect their personal information, Attorney General DeWine encourages individuals to take the following steps:
- Check Internet and social media privacy and security settings, as well as those of children living in a household.
- Understand how online behaviors can be tracked on computers and mobile devices.
- Don’t “overshare” personal information online, including through social media.
Attorney General DeWine also offers the following tips for businesses:
- Take steps to keep computers and mobile devices free of viruses and other malware.
- Back up data on a regular basis.
- Use a firewall to help secure Internet/data connections.
- Limit system access to only necessary employees.
- Keep payment systems separate from company email and other functions.
To help Ohioans better understand cybersecurity and data privacy issues, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office offers an eight-page cybersecurity brochure and conducts presentations to interested organizations as part of its CHIPP (Cybersecurity Help, Information, and Protection Program) initiative.
To receive a copy of the CHIPP booklet, to schedule a cybersecurity presentation, or to get help with identity theft, consumers should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800.282.0515.