The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, Sep. 23, 2018


Shown is the Wallace Plumbing entry from the 2015 Harvest Moon Festival’s inaugural Outhouse Races. VW independent file photo

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Today is officially the start of the fall season (no groans), but there are some compensations for the fact that winter is likely not that far away.

One of the main compensations is the fourth edition of Main Street Van Wert’s annual Harvest Moon Festival, which is set for Saturday, September 29, from 3-11 p.m., in downtown Van Wert.

“We’re hoping for good weather,” said Main Street Van Wert Director Mitch Price, who added: “We’re trying to make this a really great fall festival; we keep tweaking it each year to make even better.”

This year’s schedule of events will begin with check-in for the Outhouse Races, which will run in the block of Main Street between Washington and Market streets, at 2:30 p.m.

Price said there should be a good number of outhouses entered in this year’s race — anywhere from 6 to 10 — including some returning entries, as well as new participants.

The Outhouse Races will begin at 3:30 that afternoon, and Price said he thinks they’ll be pretty competitive.

At 3 p.m., food vendors will open, while several downtown merchants will also showcase sales and special displays and other vendors will be selling artisan and craft items.

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POSTED: 09/22/18 at 8:36 am

Van Wert High School held its Fall Homecoming during Friday night’s game against Shawnee a game the Cougars won 39-6 for its second Western Buckeye League win of the year. Shown above is Homecoming Queen Noelle Heffner (center) with senior attendants Adrianna Grothause (left) and Arianna Adkins. Below, longtime Cougar athletic booster Mike Pettijohn, who was grand marshal of the Homecoming Parade on Wednesday, was also honored during Homecoming ceremonies at Eggerss Stadium.photos by Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 09/22/18 at 8:33 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that he is awarding $12 million in grants to help enhance safety and security at schools across the state.

All of Ohio’s public schools, chartered nonpublic schools, and schools operated by county boards of developmental disabilities will receive the greater of $2,500 or $5.65 per student to spend toward school safety programs and training.

In Van Wert County, Van Wert City Schools will receive $11,537.30, Lincolnview Local Schools $4,830.75, Crestview Local Schools $4,638.65, Delphos City Schools, $5,344.90, Wayne Trace Local Schools, $5,152.80, Parkway Local Schools $5,706.50, and Vantage Career Center and Delphos St. John’s $2,500 apiece.

“Ohio’s students are entitled to feel safe when the school bell rings, and this funding will impact children by boosting safety measures at more than 1,700 schools across the state,” said Attorney General DeWine. “Schools will have the flexibility to use these grants for things like training for school resource officers, safety and security materials, and programs to identify and help students who may be struggling with their mental health.”

The grants are funded with appropriations made by the Ohio legislature as part of House Bill 318. The bill, which was sponsored by state representatives Sarah LaTourette (R-Chesterland) and John Patterson (D-Jefferson), appointed the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to develop the school safety training grant program in consultation with the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

The law requires that participating schools and county boards work with law enforcement in their jurisdictions to determine the best use of the grant funding.

A full list of grant awards can be found on the Ohio Attorney General’s website. Attorney General DeWine mailed a letter to each school this week with instructions on how to access the funds for use between October 1 of this year and June 30, 2019.

POSTED: 09/22/18 at 8:25 am. FILED UNDER: News

First Federal of Van Wert held a ribboncutting ceremony through the Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce to celebrate its 125-year history in Van Wert. Shown cutting the ribbon is First Federal President Brian Renner, while First Federal staff and board members and Chamber board members and staff look on (click on the photo for a larger version). Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 09/22/18 at 8:23 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

First United Methodist Church, corner of Central Avenue and Jefferson Street, will host its annual Trunk or Treat event Saturday, October 27, from 10 a.m. until noon, in the city parking lot across from the church.

Join church members for a morning of games, fun, food, and fellowship. Families should bring their children in costume for some fun and treats.

For more information about the afternoon fun, contact Teresa Shaffer at 419.238.0631, extension 307.

POSTED: 09/22/18 at 8:17 am. FILED UNDER: News

Van Wert independent

CELINA — A Van Wert man who has been sought after he was recently indicted on several drug charges has been arrested in Celina, along with a woman, a large quantity of methamphetamine, and a handgun.

Bailey Parker

According to a news release issued by Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey, Bailey S. Parker, 19, of Van Wert, was one of two people arrested following a traffic stop in that city.

At approximately 8:10 p.m. Thursday, a deputy was on routine patrol when he noticed a male passenger in a vehicle attempting to hid his face from the deputy. The vehicle went left-of-center a short time later and the deputy, who was following the vehicle, did a license check, finding that the registered owner of the vehicle, who matched the description of the driver, was under a license suspension.

The deputy then stopped the vehicle on Staeger Road near Ohio 29.

After the vehicle pulled over, the driver, identified as Katelynn Campbell, 26, of Hollansburg, was found to not have a valid driver’s license. Parker, who was the male passenger, was then asked for identification and he told the deputy he did not have any with him, but provided what was found to be a false name and birth date.

A K-9 unit from the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office was called to the traffic stop scene and alerted while on the passenger side of the vehicle to the presence of narcotics.

A handgun and suspected drugs were among items found in the vehicle in which Bailey Parker was riding when arrested. Mercer County Sheriff’s Office photo

The vehicle was then searched and deputies found not only ID for the passenger, but also a wallet and several baggies containing what was suspected to be methamphetamine. Deputies also found an unloaded .25-caliber Phoenix Arms handgun under the driver’s seat.

Both Campbell and Parker were then arrested. In addition, while being taken to jail, Campbell also said she had drugs hidden internally in a body cavity. After a body scan at the detention facility, more narcotics were located.

Both are each being held in the Mercer County Detention Facility on a $100,000 cash bond. The case will be forwarded for review by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.

Parker was indicted earlier this month by the Van Wert County Grand Jury on one count each of aggravated trafficking in methamphetamine, a felony of the second degree; aggravated trafficking in methamphetamine, a felony of the third degree; and conspiracy to traffic in methamphetamine, also a felony of the third degree.

Van Wert County Prosecutor Eva Yarger’s office will also likely seek Parker’s extradition at some time to face those charges in the local Common Pleas Court.

POSTED: 09/21/18 at 4:14 pm. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert Civic Theatre has reached a milestone of sorts with its production of Nunsense: The Mega-Musical, according to Mary Ann Falk, who plays Reverend Mother Mary Regina in this eighth edition of the “Nunsense” series.

Cast members of Nunsense: The Musical are shown. VWCT photo

“For whatever reason, we are one of the first community theatres in Ohio, if not the first, to do the original and then we just kept doing the rest of them in order,” said Falk, who played Sister Mary Amnesia in the original production at VWCT back in 1990, but noted that Sister Robert Anne, the tomboy nun from Brooklyn, was her favorite “Nunsense” role.

“She was just a little off of what you would expect a nun to be like,” she said, adding that she also enjoyed the role, vocally, and liked doing the Brooklyn accent.

Falk said the reason only a handful of community theatre groups were able to do the original Nunsense when it became available was the house licensing the play, which changed after the original show, did not allow many groups to do it.

“Somehow we were able to get a license to do it right off,” she said, adding that many community theatre groups did the second show first, because the house licensing that one allowed many more groups to do it, and went back later when the original show was easier to license and did it then.

After the original show, VWCT then did the second show, Nunsense 2: The Second Coming, followed by Sister Amnesia’s Country Western Nunsense Jamboree, Nuncrackers: The Nunsense Christmas Show, Meshuggah-Nuns, Nunsensations: The Nunsense Vegas Revue, and Nunset Boulevard.

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POSTED: 09/21/18 at 6:33 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

CECIL — The Paulding County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a suspect in the murder of a Cecil area homeowner that occurred Thursday afternoon at his residence.

Michael Kent Loop

Michael Kent Loop, 32, of Defiance, has been arrested and is currently being housed in the Paulding County Jail on a charge of murder, an unclassified felony.

Loop is charged with the death of Cecil area resident Philip V. Koenn, 60, of 11243 Road 230 in Cecil. Koenn’s body was found inside his residence with apparent gunshot wounds. Koenn was the only person living at the residence.

“This was a violent crime,” said Paulding County Sheriff Jason K. Landers. “We were fortunate some early tips came in leading us to Mr. Loop. We are not done; we believe more people could be involved.”

The sheriff did note, however, that an earlier witness statement that two people fled the residence was inaccurate, with witnesses actually seeing only one person leave the scene of the crime.

At this time, deputies continue to investigate tips coming into the sheriff’s office regarding the incident, which brought deputies to the scene at approximately 12:28 p.m. Thursday.

Several agencies were involved in the investigation. In addition to the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office, agencies included the Defiance County Sheriff’s Office, Defiance Police Department, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Defiance County Adult Probation, Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation’s Crime Scene Unit, and the Multi-Area Narcotics Task Force.

No further information is expected to be released at this time.

Anyone with information on the homicide is still urged to call the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office at 419.399.3791 or go on the sheriff’s office website at www.pauldingohsheriff.com.

POSTED: 09/21/18 at 6:30 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Van Wert County Sheriff Thomas M. Riggenbach announced his office’s participation in Child Passenger Safety Week, a campaign dedicated to helping parents and caregivers make sure their children ride as safely as possible, every trip, every time. Sheriff Riggenbach said that Child Passenger Safety Week runs September 23-29 and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“Every 33 seconds a child under the age of 13 is involved in a crash” said Sheriff Riggenbach. “Using age and size appropriate child restraints is the best way to keep your child safe.”

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading killer of children ages 1 to 13. Car seats, booster seats, and seat belts can make all the difference.

“Car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants under 1-year-old, and 54 percent for toddlers ages 1 to 4,” the sheriff stated. “Children between 4 and 8 are 45 percent less likely to be injured if they’re in a booster seat rather than a seat belt (while) 26 percent of children ages 8 and under who died in car accidents in 2014 were not restrained by a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt.

“Car seats matter, and having the right car seat installed and used the right way is critical,” Sheriff Riggenbach added.

The sheriff also noted that, too often, parents move their children to the front seat before they should, which increases the risk of injury and death.

“It’s our job to keep our children safe,” Sheriff Riggenbach stressed. “Get your car seats checked. Make certain they are installed the right way and that your children are buckled in the right way. Even if you think your child is safe, check again, so you can be sure that your child is the safest he or she can be while riding.”

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POSTED: 09/21/18 at 6:22 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The staff of Westwood Behavioral Health Center in Van Wert invites area residents for its sessions on addiction on the second and fourth Monday of each month, from 6-7:30 p.m.

The next session will be held Monday, September 24, with Anthony Greutman, LSW, LICDC, to present information on “Levels of Care”. Greutman’s presentation will focus on determining the appropriate placement for an individual. This can range from non-intensive outpatient all the way up to medical detoxification. He will also be discussing what factors play a role in making these determinations.

These sessions are free and open to the public and will be held at Westwood Behavioral Health Center, 1158 Westwood Drive in Van Wert. Westwood will be hosting various speakers from within the community to present information about addiction, the effects of addiction on the family, and what services are available to treat addiction.

Following Monday’s presentation, there will be a time set aside for answering questions. Families of addicts are especially urged to attend the meetings.

POSTED: 09/21/18 at 6:20 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The Van Wert City Board of Education heard from Superintendent Vicki Brunn on the social media incident that occurred earlier in the week, while Van Wert Elementary School physical education teachers Betty Holliday and Alex Schmidt provided a presentation on the VWES wellness programs during Wednesday’s September board meeting.

Van Wert Elementary School physical education teachers Betty Holliday and Alex Schmidt talk about the school’s wellness programs. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Brunn provided a short recap on the social media incident to board members, noting “When I get a phone call from my high school principal at 4:15 a.m. I know it’s not going to be good news.”

She said the school’s Crisis Team quickly got together and met with local law enforcement agencies to deal with the incident, which ended with two students charged with misdemeanor menacing offenses.

The superintendent did note, though, that she felt the investigation into the incident was done quickly and professionally.

“I can’t tell you how impressed I am with their response time, with the intelligent way they handled this investigation,” Brunn said.

The superintendent said that, because of the nature of the threat, the decision was made that classes could be held that day, adding that, because of the speed of the investigation, the situation was finalized by late morning.

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POSTED: 09/20/18 at 8:06 am. FILED UNDER: News