The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, Jun. 24, 2018

Shown is a photo taken by an unidentified photographer of a funnel cloud before it touched down in southern Van Wert County on Friday evening.

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

It was a bit of a surprise, since weather conditions weren’t really conducive for one, but Van Wert County apparently had a low-level tornado on the ground for a short time on Friday evening.

County Emergency Management Director Rick McCoy said an F-0 tornado (with F-5 the most powerful) touched down briefly a half-mile east of Mendon Road, between Brodnix and Wren Landeck roads, but was only on the ground for approximately a mile.

According to McCoy, eyewitness accounts, including videos and photos, as well as a damage assessment he conducted using a drone, showed damage in three cornfields and a woods, as well as minor damage at two residences at the corner of Mendon and Wren Landeck roads. After hitting the woods, between Mendon and Peter Collins roads, the tornado funnel disappeared at U.S. 127, just south of Hickory Sticks Golf Club.

McCoy said the tornado, which was 180 yards wide at one point, snapped a significant amount of corn and did very light damage to the two houses in its path. Some trees lost limbs, while several trees were damaged in the woods the tornado hit before lifting off the ground and dissipating.

No injuries were reported, he noted.


POSTED: 06/23/18 at 6:49 pm

Shown is a photo of a developing funnel cloud taken by Neil Mahlie while driving on U.S. 127 south of Van Wert.

POSTED: 06/23/18 at 6:52 pm. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

One of Van Wert’s landmark buildings has a new lease on life with its recent conversion by a local law firm.

Shown is the exterior of the former post office building on South Market Street, with Keister & Baker Law Firm’s newly created sign. photos by Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Keister & Baker Law Firm LLC has spent months renovating the former U.S. Post Office building on South Market Street into offices for the law firm.

The building, constructed in 1915 as a combination federal office building and post office, sat vacant for a number of years after the post office relocated to its present location on East Main Street. The facility was later renovated into the Van Wert Municipal Court building. When Municipal Court Judge Jill Leatherman decided to relocate the court to the former First Financial Bank building at the corner of Main and Washington streets a few years ago, the former post office building again sat vacant.

However, attorneys Steve Keister and Aaron Baker decided to purchase the building as a new location for their offices, which had been located on the second floor of the former First Financial Building, but later moved to Westwood Drive when that building was sold to Van Wert Municipal Court.

“We got a good deal on the building,” said Baker, who added he likes the historic architecture of the building, as well as the space the structure offers for his firm’s offices, with additional space available for others looking for a downtown location.

He noted that one of the biggest purchases needed for the building was a new HVAC system to replace the faulty old system — one of the reasons Judge Leatherman decided to find a new location for her court.


POSTED: 06/23/18 at 8:49 am. FILED UNDER: News

Van Wert native Sarah Evans Tackett and her gospel group, The Tacketts, performed, along with The Kingsmen, on Friday evening as part of the Fountain Park Summer Music Series. Unfortunately, because of inclement weather, the concert was held in the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 06/23/18 at 8:28 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

It’s time again to begin preparations for the U.S. 127 Yard Sale, which runs August 1-4 this year. North Union United Methodist Church, 4486 U.S. 127 North, is a high-traffic venue directly on the route of the annual “World’s Longest Yard Sale”.

Spaces are available to rent from Wednesday, August 1, through Saturday, August 4. Set-up at the church begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 31.

The 20-by-20-foot spaces rent for $20 and 20-by-30-foot spaces rent for $30. These rates rent the space for all four days of the sale. Tables are available to rent for $10 each. The rental spaces are on the lawn to allow for easy tent anchoring.

As always, the church’s Kitchen Committee will have food and drinks for sale in the air-conditioned social room during sale hours for all four days of the event.

The location, the food service and the facilities make North Union the best spot to set up shop and sell yard sale items.

“The guest book we have accumulated over the last 10 years shows that we have had shoppers from as far as Alaska and Florida, as well as from England, Canada, and Argentina,” said Del Free, 127 Yard Sale event manager for North Union UMC. “It is a delight that we can serve folks that come to see us from so many miles away.”

Interested renters should contact Free at 419.203.1726 for more information or to reserve a space. In addition, those interested may also contact the North Union UMC office at 419.238.1907 or stop by the office during office hours, 9 a.m.-noon, Tuesday-Friday, to pick up a rental agreement and reserve a space.

POSTED: 06/23/18 at 8:23 am. FILED UNDER: News

The heavy rains this week resulted in high water and flooding in a number of areas across the county. Shown is high water on Friday in the Summit Shopping Center on South Shannon Street. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 06/23/18 at 8:22 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Neil Voje (front right) of Avangrid Renewables presents a check to YWCA Executive Director Kimberly Laudick to help support the Summer Food Program. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

For the fifth year in a row, the YWCA of Van Wert County has received a Community Sponsorship donation from Avangrid Renewables for its Summer Food Program.

The mission of the Summer Food Program is to nourish the minds and bodies of children by providing nutrient-enriched meals during the summer, accompanied by interactive, mission-based, leadership development activities.

“We truly appreciate the ongoing support we receive from Avangrid Renewables,” said YWCA Executive Director Kimberly Laudick. “Our partnership continues to grow each year and, because of their generosity, we are able to remain focused on our mission and serve over 340 children each summer.”

By working together, the YWCA and Avangrid Renewables are ensuring that children in Van Wert County have free access to meals and activities throughout the summer.

The YWCA is partially funded by the Van Wert County Foundation and is a United Way agency.

POSTED: 06/23/18 at 8:16 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — A standing room only crowd of more than 150 people packed the Ohio State Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meeting room on June 20 to oppose Substitute House Bill 114, which advocates closer wind turbine setbacks to people’s homes.

People attend an Ohio Senate committee hearing on wind turbines. photo submitted

There were 20 people testifying in person against the bill, with several representing Van Wert County. Other counties represented included Champaign, Hardin, Seneca, Huron, Logan, and Richland counties. Many others presented written testimony opposing the bill.

Opponents noted the many problems associated with industrial wind turbines in populated rural areas, including the problems of flicker, noise, infrasound, vibration, blade failures, turbine fires, loss of property values, and especially the possibility of losing property rights should turbines be placed closer to homes.

If the bill remains in its present form, wind companies could encroach on private property without permission or compensation.

All those testifying noted the issues of health and safety, as well as the loss of property values and loss of property rights should this bill be adopted. If you have concerns with this issue, please contact members of the Energy and Natural Resources committee found at this website:

POSTED: 06/23/18 at 8:06 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The Lincolnview Local Board of Education heard a presentation from elementary students who visited a freshwater biology field station on Lake Erie, and also honored three students for their accomplishments this past school year during its June meeting on Thursday.

Lincolnview fifth grade teacher Brian Niemeyer and four of his fifth-grade students from last year talk about their experiences at the Stone Laboratory biology field station on Lake Erie. photos by Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

First up was a group of last year’s fifth-grade students from Lincolnview Elementary School and their teacher, Brian Niemeyer, who recently visited Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory on Gibraltar Island in Lake Erie. Students studied microorganisms, as well as birds, fish, snakes, and other lake animals during the visit.

Secondly, three-time Scripps National Spelling Bee participant Una VanWynsberghe was honored by the board for her inspiring accomplishments. VanWynsberghe talked about her experiences at this year’s spelling bee, noting that she did better on the written test each competitor must take than she did the other two years, but was somewhat disappointed in how she did in the actual spelling bee this year. She also noted that, because of the record number of competitors — more than 500 — she was unable to do as much sightseeing as she has the past two years.

Superintendent Jeff Snyder said it was quite an accomplishment to participate in the national spelling bee three times, especially since she must beat out 75-100 students from 13 counties in Ohio and Indiana at the regional spelling bee in Fort Wayne, Indiana, each year.

Snyder, in honoring VanWynsberghe, said she was “committed and dedicated to doing her best job.”


POSTED: 06/22/18 at 8:24 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

ANTWERP — The Van Wert Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating a double-fatality crash that occurred at approximately 3:58 p.m. Thursday on Ohio 49, just north of Township Road 214, in Paulding County.

A 1995 Buick Riviera, operated by Zachery S. Burns, 27, of Antwerp, was southbound on Ohio 49 when the car rear-ended a southbound 2003 Dodge Durango. The impact caused the Durango to slide left of center, where it was then struck by a northbound 2016 Chevrolet 3500 driven by Kurtis Ellert, 40, of Hamilton, Indiana.

After the initial impact, the Burns vehicle slid off of the right side of the roadway then veered back onto the highway where it crossed the center line and was struck by a northbound 2005 Pontiac G6 driven by Josh Gerken, 33, of Edon.

Both occupants of the Durango, who were not identified, were pronounced dead at the scene by Paulding County Coroner Dr. Joseph M. Kuhn. Neither of the occupants were wearing seatbelts. Burns was transported to Paulding County Hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries, while Gerken was also transported to Paulding County Hospital.

A rear passenger of the Ellert vehicle was transported to Paulding County Hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries, as was Ellert and a front seat passenger.

The crash resulted in a closure of Ohio 49, between County Road 204, and County Road 220, for several hours. The roadway has since been reopened.

The Van Wert Post was assisted by Paulding County Sheriff’s Office, Antwerp Fire and EMS, Gideon’s Towing, and J & R Towing.

Alcohol is believed to be a factor. The crash remains under investigation.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol encourages drivers and occupants to always where their seat belts, to never drive distracted or impaired, and to reduce speed during inclement weather.

POSTED: 06/22/18 at 8:01 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Due to the weather forecast for thunderstorms and constant rain throughout the day today, the Fountain Park Summer Music Series concert featuring The Kingsmen Quartet and The Tacketts this evening will be moved inside to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio.

The concert time will remain at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public. No ticket is necessary. Lobby doors will open at 6 this evening and the Music Hall doors will open at the completion of the sound check. There will not be a dinner available at the Niswonger.

Area residents are invited to enjoy the Christian Country sounds of The Tacketts followed by Southern Gospel music and fun with The Kingsmen Quartet.

The next Fountain Park Summer Music Series concert will be the Lima Pops Orchestra celebrating America at 7 p.m. Friday, June 29. All concerts are underwritten by The Van Wert County Foundation.

POSTED: 06/22/18 at 7:59 am. FILED UNDER: News