The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018

Kendall Hoffman (left) and Keira Breese listen as YWCA Executive Director Kimberly Laudick reads an award presentation statement on Tuesday. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Anyone despairing of the younger generation obviously hasn’t met Lincolnview fourth-graders Kendall Hoffman and Keira Breese.

Not only did these well-spoken youngsters and their friends create a social club, the Hamiltinies — a name based on their love for the smash Broadway hit Hamilton — but they have been an active force for good within Lincolnview Elementary School, developing an anti-bullying campaign last year and coming up with a program this year celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Their dedication to improving their school and community also had an unanticipated side benefit this week: recognition from the YWCA of Van Wert County, which honored them as “YWCA ambassadors” during a surprise event held at Lincolnview Elementary on Tuesday.

YWCA Executive Director Kimberly Laudick and YWCA Advocacy Coordinator Kelly Houg presented certificates of appreciation and celebratory balloons to the young girls in the school media center as their parents and other family members looked on.

Laudick said the girls’ efforts on behalf of Martin Luther King Jr. Day was a perfect complement to the work the YWCA does to eliminate racism and empower women.


POSTED: 01/17/18 at 9:26 am

VW independent/submitted information

On December 12, 2017, law enforcement officials from Ohio and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) arrived in Texas to visit the DEA’s El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC). Housed on the grounds of Fort Bliss, EPIC coordinates the collection, analysis, and dissemination of drug-related intelligence with federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement organizations.

The DEA intelligence program helps law enforcement initiate investigations of drug organizations, strengthens ongoing ones, and develops information that leads to seizures and arrests.

A delegation of Ohio law enforcement officials pose with the sign at the EPIC facility operated by the DEA in El Paso, Texas. photo submitted

During the trip, Ohio’s delegation had the opportunity to take an aerial tour of the international boundary with Mexico and discuss operations with members of the Border Patrol. From there, the delegation traveled to the one of the largest international ports of entry: the Bridge of the Americas. While there, delegation members observed agents from Customs and Border Protection screen commercial vehicles, cargo, and passenger cars using x-ray technology. The delegation also observed the process of screening pedestrians.

At EPIC, Ohio officials received an overview on the heroin and opiate drug trade, as well as narcotics trafficking and trends. The delegation learned that nearly 90 percent of all heroin, fentanyl, and opiate drugs are trafficked across the southwestern border. Once the drugs arrive in this country, cartels break down the drugs into smaller amounts to be shipped across the country for sale. EPIC shares information and intelligence gathered at the border and nationwide to help law enforcement officials identify and arrest drug couriers.

EPIC also provides many services to law enforcement agencies, including analytical support, investigatory support, and training. These shared services are tailored to an agency’s needs and frees up local resources to be used in other capacities.

Ohio’s delegation consisted of Preble County Sheriff Michael L. Simpson, Van Wert County Sheriff Thomas M. Riggenbach, Allen County Sheriff Matthew Treglia, Hardin County Sheriff Keith A. Everhart, DEA Resident Agent in Charge Keith Martin and DEA Assistant Agent in Charge James Goodwin. Representing the Ohio State Highway Patrol were Patrol Superintendent Colonel Paul A. Pride, Lieutenant Colonel Michael D. Black, Major B. Gene Smith, and Captain Michael D. Kemmer.

POSTED: 01/17/18 at 9:10 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The Optimist Club of Van Wert is encouraging area students to contemplate the phrase “Can Society Function Without Respect” as part of the Optimist International Essay Contest for the 2017-2018 school year. The contest is open to all Van Wert County students who were under age 18 as of October 1, 2017.

The essay contest entry deadline is Wednesday, February 15. The Optimist Club will judge local students’ essays and determine the top winners.

Local winners will receive medallions, along with cash awards of $300 (first place) and $150 (second place). In addition to developing skills for written expression and winning local cash awards, participants also have the opportunity to win a scholarship. The winning essay will advance to the district contest to compete for a $2,500 scholarship and a plaque.

Students wanting to participate in the essay contest can receive application information and find out more by contacting Andy Manz, club essay chair, at 419.796.9968 or

The Optimist Club sponsors many local youth programs and conducts positive service projects, which include its annual After Prom service project, the Artrageous local event in June, and the upcoming Oratorical Contest, also held for local students. It is the goal of Optimist to encourage students to bring out the best in each of them. To learn more about the club or for membership interest, contact Ray Able, secretary-treasurer, at 419.238.5086, or Diana Cearns, club president, at 419.238.1463.

POSTED: 01/17/18 at 9:05 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

This weekend, the Van Wert Robotics Team is hosting the fourth annual Northwest Ohio Qualifier Robotics competition. The opening ceremony for the free event, which features approximately 28 teams from Ohio and nearby states, begins at 10:15 a.m. Saturday in the Van Wert High School gym.

Van Wert High School Robotics Team drivers Cade Chiles, Spencer Teman, and Carter Eikenbary compete during last year’s Northern Ohio First Tech Challenge Ohio Qualifier held in the VWHS gymnasium. VW independent file photo

The local event comes on the heels of the VWHS Robotics Team’s recent participation in the SouthWestern Pennsylvania FIRST Tech State Qualifier held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, last Saturday. The local team won four matches and lost three during the competition, making to semifinals, where they lost but were designated the first alternate for the Pennsylvania state championships.

The FIRST award the team won during the competition was the Motivate Award, which is given to the team who makes FIRST known throughout its school and community. Van Wert’s Robotics team earned the Motivate Award by inspiring other teams in northwest Ohio.

The team also earned third place for the Inspire award, which is given to the team that excels in all categories, and inspires others, by its efforts, to emulate it.

Finally, the Van Wert team was among the top three finalists for the Think Award, which is given to those teams who show every step of the design process with scientific and mathematical calculations.

POSTED: 01/17/18 at 9:02 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

While his reasons for returning to Van Wert were to deal with the deaths of his mother and a brother, Matt Krol has again embraced the community he grew up in.

Matt Krol (right) directs actors Stan Lippi and Kelly Smith in a scene from the Van Wert Civic Theatre production of Deathtrap. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

After a varied career that included operating a chain of furniture stores for Warren Buffet’s company in Houston, Texas, from which he retired early, and jobs as a realtor and executive caterer in the Chicago area, Krol moved back to his hometown in 2015, mostly to complete remaining work on his mother’s estate following the sudden death of his brother, John, who was his mother’s caregiver, of a massive heart attack.

It was a move he thought would be temporary, but two years later he’s still here and enjoying small-town life after years in the big city.

“I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with old friends … and the very affordable cost of living,” Krol said of his return to Van Wert.

But with time on his hands, Krol, a theatre major at UCLA briefly and then Indiana University, decided to do some acting in local theatre, first with Off Stage Productions, which he learned of through an old friend who was on the Off Stage board. It was the first time he had been on a Van Wert stage since he was the stage manager for Van Wert Civic Theatre’s production of Godspell back in the 1970s. He also had a small part in the VWCT version of The Miracle Worker before leaving for college.


POSTED: 01/16/18 at 10:14 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In light of evidence that U.S. federal agencies have granted an excessive number of waivers to Buy American laws in the last few years, U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) joined their colleagues, Senators Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), to introduce new legislation that would establish a centralized online hub to increase transparency and ensure federal agencies prioritize the purchase of American-made goods in compliance with existing law.

Sherrod Brown

Rob Portman

Under current law, federal agencies may use domestic content waivers to Buy American laws to purchase goods or services from foreign companies only in certain circumstances, for example, when an American-made good is unavailable or will significantly increase the cost of a product. However, federal agencies overuse this waiver authority. There is currently no government-wide system tracking the use and abuse of these waivers by federal agencies.

The new Act would direct the General Services Administration to establish a central, publicly-available website, called, to collect and display information about each requested waiver to Buy American laws.This new website will allow manufacturers and other interested parties to identify contract opportunities and hold federal agencies accountable for abusing Buy American waivers.

“Taxpayer dollars should support American-made products, and our federal agencies should lead the way in promoting U.S. jobs and products,” said Brown. “American workers are the best at what they do, and our federal agencies should always look to them first when awarding government contracts.”

“We must do everything we can to protect and maximize American jobs, and that starts by ensuring that our tax dollars aren’t used to create jobs overseas,” said Portman. “Unfortunately, in the last five years alone, U.S. federal agencies have spent $47.7 billion on goods manufactured by foreign firms, resulting in contracts and jobs lost to overseas competitors.


POSTED: 01/16/18 at 9:59 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The Van Wert County Ministerial Association is sponsoring a countywide prayer service on Monday, January 22, at 7 p.m. Calvary Evangelical Church, 10686 Van Wert-Decatur Road in Van Wert, will be hosting the event.

Area churches and individuals are coming together to seek God’s intervention and blessing for the area. Everyone with a heart to see God bring unity in the body of Christ, hope for those struggling with addictions and revival to local communities are welcome to participate.

The Van Wert County Ministerial Association notes it is time for the body of Christ to unite in prayer to see the transformation of the county and area. Churches and individuals are looking forward to bringing positive change to the community.

The county and its communities are facing tremendous challenges in the community building programs to Van Wert County in 2018. One special event coming in mid-April 13-15 is the “Epidemic of Hope” weekend, which will feature former baseball all-star Darryl Strawberry, who will be sharing how he went from the pinnacle of success to the pit of despair and later found hope that literally saved his life.

For more information, contact Pastor Paul Hamrick at 419.771.9378.

POSTED: 01/16/18 at 9:56 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

It was a busy year, both nationally and locally for the America Red Cross. In a year of record-breaking disasters, the national Red Cross organization mobilized quickly to help people in need, providing more food, relief supplies, and shelter stays in 2017 than in all of the last four years combined.

The local Red Cross disaster vehicle was out during flooding in 2017. Red Cross photo

In just 45 days, the Red Cross responded to six of the year’s largest and most complex disasters. This included back-to-back hurricanes — Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate — the deadliest week of wildfires in California history, and the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history in Las Vegas. Several area Red Cross volunteers also assisted at some of those disaster sites.

Locally, the Red Cross fulfilled just as many needs. In Van Wert County, the American Red Cross:

  • Assisted 17 families affected by home fires and other disasters.
  • Trained 150 individuals in preparedness, health, and safety courses.
  • Provided 25 services to military members through the Service to the Armed Forces program.
  • Collected 1,137 units of blood, which has the potential to impact more than 3,400 lives.
  • Installed over 100 smoke alarms, making more than 40 homes safer.
  • Trained over 425 elementary students in disaster preparedness through the Pillowcase Project.
  • Provided more than 40 volunteers that donated approximately 10,000 hours of service to Van Wert County Hospital.

“We are blessed to live in a community that is full of everyday heroes who help others in need,” said Derek Stemen, executive director of the West Central Ohio Chapter of the American Red Cross. “We thank all of our volunteers and community partners for their tremendous support and for all they do for the community. I’m excited to see how our volunteers will continue to impact the community in 2018.”


POSTED: 01/15/18 at 8:40 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is reporting the state’s first two pediatric flu deaths of the 2017-18 flu season, a 4-year-old boy from Montgomery County and a 1-year-old boy from Lucas County. ODH also is reporting 1,750 new confirmed flu-associated hospitalizations in Ohio during the first week of January, a significant increase over 925 reported during the last week of December. There have been 3,854 total flu-associated hospitalizations in Ohio since flu season began last October.

The 2017-18 flu season in Ohio and nationally is looking similar to what was seen during the 2014-15 flu season which at the time was the most severe flu season in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC says that flu activity in the U.S. increased sharply during the first week of January, and is now categorized as widespread in 46 states. Flu activity traditionally begins to increase in October and can last as late as May, with cases typically peaking between December and February.

“Flu is difficult to predict,” said ODH Medical Director Dr. Clint Koenig. “It’s not possible to say precisely when this flu season will peak or end or how severe it will be. That’s why getting the flu vaccination is the safest and most effective way to prevent the flu for everyone 6 months and older. Flu vaccination also can reduce the severity of illness if you do get sick.”

Flu vaccination prevents millions of illnesses and tens of thousands of flu-related hospitalizations each year. While the flu vaccine can vary in how well it works, people who still get sick may have milder symptoms.

So far, influenza A (H3N2) viruses have been the most common flu viruses circulating this season, according to CDC. H3N2-predominant flu seasons have been associated with more severe illness, especially among children and adults age 65 and older. Vaccine effectiveness against H3N2 viruses has been around 30 percent. Vaccine effectiveness against other circulating flu viruses has been about 60 percent for H1N1 viruses, and around 50 percent for influenza B viruses. A study also done on flu vaccination said that it can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza.

Symptoms of flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Flu vaccination is available at most healthcare providers’ offices, local health departments and retail pharmacies. There are no flu vaccine shortages across Ohio.

Other effective ways to avoid getting or spreading the flu include: washing hands frequently or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer; covering coughs and sneezes with tissues, or coughing or sneezing into elbows; avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth; and staying home when sick.


POSTED: 01/15/18 at 8:33 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The low gasoline price in Van Wert has remained the same for the past two weeks, with the price at the Murphy USA station the same as two weeks ago at $2.359 a gallon. The two Pak-A-Sak Marathon stations are selling unleaded gasoline at $2.369 a gallon, as are the One Stop Shop in the 200 block of North Washington Street and the Shell station on South Washington Street.

The price is the same as two weeks ago, but Lassus Handy Dandy doesn’t have it this week. The Murphy USA station at the Towne Center shopping center is the only one selling gas at $2.359 a gallon this week. VW independent file photo

From there, prices increase 13 cents a gallon, with three stations the Marathon station at Brookside convenience store at 1301 W. Main St., Lassus Handy Dandy on North Washington, and the Short Stop, 714 E. Main St. all with gasoline selling at $2.499 a gallon.

Average retail gasoline prices in Ohio have risen 5.1 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.48 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 increased 3.5 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.52 per gallon, according to gasoline price website

Including the change in gas prices in Ohio during the past week, prices Sunday were 23.8 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 18.9 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 9 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 18.7 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

“With oil prices rallying to their highest level since 2014, it’s no surprise that gasoline prices continue to show frustrating strength for this time of year,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “While winter is usually a time for modest declines at the pump, this year has seen anything but. While two years ago areas of the country flirted with sub-$1 gas prices, we now see most areas more than double that. “One bright spot however, is that gasoline production remains very strong at a time of year when it tends to be weak, and that could open the door for some larger discounts in the weeks ahead as refiners begin to move winter gasoline out of inventories to prepare for the transition to cleaner burning gasoline,” DeHaan added. “The window is relatively small and closes shortly after Valentine’s Day, so don’t expect much improvement before the annual spring surge begins.”

POSTED: 01/15/18 at 8:29 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

On Friday, February 2, the Dental Center of Northwest Ohio/Van Wert Smiles is hosting its second annual Give Kids a Smile Day, an annual event initiated by the American Dental Association and endorsed by the Ohio Dental Association.

On Give Kids a Smile Day, local dentists donate their time and expertise to treat children who do not normally have access to dental care, at no charge. The event will take place at the Van Wert Smiles office, housed in the Van Wert Health Center at 140 Fox Run Road, Door 31.

To make this event a success, help is needed from the community to identify and register children. To register a child, call the Van Wert Smiles office at 419.910.9383. Once again, no fees will be charged for treatment on this day, but appointments are limited.

Since 1910, the mission of the Dental Center of Northwest Ohio has been to provide primary oral health services for underserved children and adults throughout northwest Ohio, to promote the value of good oral health through education, and to serve as an advocate for those with limited access to dental care.

The Dental Center is a non-profit agency that fulfills its mission by maintaining offices in Findlay, Liberty Center, Toledo, and Van Wert.

POSTED: 01/15/18 at 8:19 am. FILED UNDER: News