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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Oct. 23, 2017

Convicted murderer Christopher Peters is shown with defense attorney Robert Grzybowski prior to his sentencing Monday afternoon in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court. i

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Convicted murderer Christopher Peters received the maximum sentence on all three counts during a hearing held Monday morning in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court in connection with the death of 15-month-old Hayden Ivan Ridinger.

Peters, 27, who was living with the child and the boy’s mother, Valerie Dean, at the Old Lincoln Inn in Delphos in November 2015 when the child was found dead, was sentenced by Judge Martin D. Burchfield to consecutive sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole on one count of aggravated murder, an undesignated felony, and eight years each on counts of felonious assault and endangering children, both felonies of the second degree, in the death of 15-month-old Hayden Ridinger.

Judge Burchfield also gave Peters credit for 304 days already served while awaiting trial and his subsequent sentencing.

William Kluge, one of two attorneys who represented Peters, said his client will “challenge the evidence” in the case on appeal, and noted his opinion there was some confusion as to who actually murdered Hayden: Peters or the boy’s mother.

Kluge also asserted that Peters had not had any serious offenses on his record prior to his conviction in this case.

“He has had some minor issues in the past, but nothing like this,” the attorney told the judge.


POSTED: 10/23/17 at 2:03 pm

Three people were reportedly injured in an accident that occurred Saturday evening on Lincoln Highway, near the Van-Del Drive-In at the intersection with Middle Point-Wetzel Road. Two vehicles were involved in the accident (above), while those injured were taken to an unidentified hospital for treatment of injuries. No other information was released by the Van Wert Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which investigated the accident. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 10/23/17 at 7:18 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Lincolnview Theatre has been busy preparing for its fall show and is excited to present its production of “Sitting in a Tree” at Van Wert Civic Theatre. This comedy/drama is sure to delight audiences of all ages.

Travel along one man’s journey; join John Wallace, played by Dylan Neate, along with the love of his life, Sarah, portrayed by Storm Whitaker, as they experience a life filled with laughter and love.

Comical situations are numerous as John encounters many unusual and eccentric people in his life, especially his nutty friend Archie, played by Josh England. The show is narrated by the elderly version of John, played by familiar community theatre actor Dan Bulau.

Along with many funny scenes throughout the show, there are also a few touching and poignant moments as well. Follow the life story of John as he reminisces about his time with his family and friends and his love, Sarah. This familiar journey will have something for everyone, and is a beautiful love story with the universal message of holding on to love. Cast members have been working very hard with their lines, acting, and set building to make this a show a wonderful experience.

High school students, elementary students, and adult community members will be performing in this show.  Cast and crew, in addition to Neate and Whitaker, include Josh England, Lainie Jones, Jack Snyder, Frankie Carey, Cameron McAbee, Dylann Carey, Landon Moody, Maddie Gorman, Jayna Roberts, Adia Welch, Austin Welker, Gage West, Alana Williams, Haley Pollock, Thad Walker, Brad Korte, Reagan Boley, Lakin Clemons, Cal Evans, Conner Baldauf, Kaden Hohman, Kreston Tow, Jack Dunlap, Jennifer Benson, Olivia Snyder, and Emma Bowersock.

Guest performers include Bulau as the narrator, Burdette Bolenbaugh as the grandpa, and Dave Walker and Steve Lane as the older Archie.

Chad Kraner is directing the show, with Stacie Korte and Kim Pollock assisting, while Kinsey Miller is the show’s set painter.


POSTED: 10/23/17 at 7:10 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Van Wert County Sheriff Thomas M. Riggenbach announced that deputies recently conducted random address verification on all registered sex offenders in Van Wert County. Sheriff Riggenbach stated that Ohio law requires all sex offenders to register in person with the local sheriff’s office on a periodic basis to verify their address, employment, school affiliation, telephone numbers, vehicles, and Internet identities.

The in-person periodic verification registrations are scheduled with individual offenders, depending upon their offender risk classification. Offender risk classifications mandate that offenders register either every 90 days, every 180 days, or once annually.

Sheriff Riggenbach also said Ohio law requires all sex offenders to notify and register immediately with the local sheriff any change of residential address, place of employment, enrollment in a school or institution of higher education, telephone numbers, vehicles, and Internet identities.

According to Sheriff Riggenbach, deputies conducted the most recent random address verification checks between September 29 and October 12. Deputies verified the addresses for all 69 registered sex offenders residing in Van Wert County. To complete the random address verifications, deputies went to the listed residential address of each adult and juvenile sex offender. Deputies found that all 69 registered offenders in Van Wert County were in compliance with their registration requirements.

Sheriff Riggenbach said the random address verifications conducted by deputies is authorized, but not mandated, by Ohio law.

The recent check was the third random address verification of county registered sex offenders conducted this year. The sheriff said his office has prosecuted several registered sex offenders for failing to register as a result of conducting the random address verifications, because some offenders failed to timely register a change of address as required by law.


POSTED: 10/23/17 at 7:07 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

Average retail gasoline prices in Ohio have fallen 5.5 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.32 per gallon on Sunday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 5,345 gas outlets in Ohio. This compares with the national average, which has fallen 1.6 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.44 per gallon, according to gasoline price website

Including the change in gas prices in Ohio during the past week, prices Sunday were 29.7 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and 2.8 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has decreased 12 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 22.2 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

“The national average gas price is lower for the sixth straight week, the longest such decline since the summer of 2016,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “Perhaps even more wild is that the national average has now remained under $3 per gallon for nearly 3 years, or 1,087 days as the days of cheap oil have continued.

“While recent actions from OPEC may cause oil prices to hold above the key $50 per barrel level, there is no threat of a quick return to the $3 per gallon days,” DeHaan added. “In fact, the national average may continue to decline for a few weeks before leveling off as gasoline inventories continue to heal after Harvey.

“The future isn’t all roses, however — some areas of the Midwest have seen prices rise as refineries undergo seasonal maintenance and inventories in the region remain tight, keeping prices elevated,” DeHaan noted. “Regional hotspots like this may continue in the weeks ahead as gas stations come closer to fully passing along lower gas prices after Harvey and now become subject to new factors driving prices up and down.”

POSTED: 10/23/17 at 7:05 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

MIDDLE POINT — The Van Wert County Outdoorsmen Association will be hosting an M-1 Garand rifle match on Saturday, October 28, starting at 9:30 a.m. Other former military rifles can also be used.

Match participants will shoot at 200 yards with walk-up targets. The club has loaner M-1 Garands for those who would want to borrow one to shoot in this match, as well as a club AR-15.

There is only a $4 fee to shoot unless participants need to purchase ammunition. Forty rounds of 30.06 or .223 ammunition can be purchased that day.

For more information, call 419.203.8662 or look on the association’s website at  The club is located at 9093 Ringwald Road near Middle Point.

POSTED: 10/23/17 at 7:03 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican candidate for governor in 2018, was in Van Wert on Friday to speak during the local GOP’s Second Friday Luncheon at Willow Bend Country Club.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who is also running for governor in 2018, spoke Friday at a local GOP luncheon held at Willow Bend Country Club. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Husted, 50, who is among those seeking the Republican nomination for governor, was adopted as a baby in Detroit, Michigan, and his family moved to the small Ohio town of Montpelier.

He said he had often gone through Van Wert, usually while driving to and from college from his hometown, but also to visit his cousin, the late Mike Gearhart.

Although he admits he was a “terrible student” until he was a sophomore in high school, Huston later earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as being an All-American football star, at the University of Dayton. After a stint as vice president of business and economic development for the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, he pursued politics and later became one of the youngest speakers of the house in the country.

Husted first entered politics in 2000 when he was elected to represent the 41st Ohio House District (Montgomery County). He became, at age 38, Ohio Speaker of the House in 2005 and served in that position until he was elected to the Ohio Senate in 2008.

In 2011, he began serving as Ohio Secretary of State, the state’s top elections official.


POSTED: 10/21/17 at 8:36 am. FILED UNDER: News

Great weather and lots of activities, events, food, and displays brought hundreds of people out to this year’s Van Wert Apple Festival at the fairgrounds. The annual festival continues today from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 10/21/17 at 8:35 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

LIMA — Van Wert High School competed in the second annual Makerfest STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) event held in Lima. Over 30 schools from the area, and more than 1,400 students, competed in 19 STEM-related events.

Van Wert High School was awarded first place overall among the more than 30 schools. Competition event results for Van Wert are as follows:

  • Business Simulation Challenge (second place): Nicole Clay, Jared Hernandez, Dalton Heppeard
  • Cupcake Catastrophe: (first place): Aeris Blakeley, Anna Reichert, Storm Matthews
  • Engineering in a Box (second place): Ryan Chen, Sydney Maller, Jenna Covey
  • Explosion Mindcraft (third place): Andrew Hamblett, Zach Lape, Angel Haller
  • First Robotics (third place): Nick Carter, Noah Carter, Michael Etter
  • Video Game Design (third place): Lauren Cooper, Wesley Wagner, Anthony Salcido
  • Pallet Furniture Assembly (first place): Brad Fuerst, Nathan Bidlack, Korey Oechsle
  • Math Challenge (third place): Sterling Rigdon, Madison Turnwald, Zach Lape
  • Operation Challenge (third place): Chloe Brake, Madison Jarrett, Madison Turnwald
  • Animation Design (first place): Angel Haller
  • Logo/Branding Design (third place): Caton Williamson
  • Photo Manipulation (second place): Heaven Winters
  • Photo Manipulation (third place): Katie McVaigh
  • Photography (second place): Brook Zimmerman
  • Engineering CAD (second place): Nathan Bidlack
  • Engineering CAD (third place): Nick Carter

This was Van Wert High School’s first time attending and competing at Makerfest, with Coaches Bob Spath and Kerry Koontz saying they are excited and proud of the students and their accomplishments.

VWHS students who competed in the second annual Makerfest STEM competition in Lima pose with their awards. (photo submitted)

POSTED: 10/21/17 at 8:21 am. FILED UNDER: News

The Van Wert High School Vocal Music Department will be presenting a fall concert on Thursday, October 26, at 8 p.m., at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio. The Freshman Choir, Sophomore Women’s Choir, Select Choir, and Concert Choir (above) will all be taking the stage that evening, and the ensembles will perform a variety of pieces representing different musical styles. Admission is free. Come out and enjoy a great night of music. (photo submitted)

POSTED: 10/21/17 at 8:16 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — With the arrival of flu season, the Ohio Department of Health is recommending that all Ohioans 6 months old and older get a flu shot now. Flu activity traditionally begins to increase in October and can last as late as May, with cases typically peaking between December and February.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the best protection against seasonal flu viruses. Flu vaccines have been updated this year to better match circulating flu viruses.

“Flu vaccination can help keep you from getting sick, missing work or school, and prevent flu-related hospitalization and death,” said Sietske de Fijter, state epidemiologist and ODH bureau chief of infectious diseases. “The more people who get vaccinated help protect others, including older adults, very young children, pregnant women, and people with certain long-term health conditions who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications.”

Symptoms of influenza can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

“If you are sick with the flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading it to others,” said de Fijter.

Although most people fully recover from the flu, some experience severe illness like pneumonia and respiratory failure, and the flu can sometimes be fatal. People who think that they may have the flu and are pregnant, have an underlying medical condition, or who are extremely ill should contact their healthcare provider immediately.


POSTED: 10/21/17 at 8:12 am. FILED UNDER: News