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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Sep. 26, 2016

Van Wert native and professional marathoner Craig Leon shown winning a marathon. (photo submitted)

Van Wert native and professional marathoner Craig Leon shown winning a marathon. (photo submitted)

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Craig Leon, who returns to his hometown this week to be grand marshal of this year’s Van Wert High School football homecoming parade, is the epitome of perseverance.

For Leon, a 2003 VWHS graduate who readily acknowledges he wasn’t even the fastest runner on his high school cross country team, hard work and a positive mental outlook has led him to a career as a professional marathoner.

Leon has always been a distance runner, but didn’t start running marathons until he was out of college. He began his running career at VWHS under coaches Kevin McGonagle (cross country) and Quinn White (track) and says both helped him build the mental attitude that has led to his success.

“I still think about some of the things they taught me,” Leon said.

Although a competent runner at VWHS, Leon wasn’t good enough to earn an athletic scholarship to his college of choice: Ohio University, which had the sports marketing degree program he was seeking. Fortunately, OU running coach Mitch Bentley allowed Leon to compete as a “walk on” — something he said somewhat seriously he lived to regret, since the training regimen at OU included running long distances every day of the week.

Following graduation from OU, Leon set his sights even higher: to become a professional runner, a marathoner.


POSTED: 09/26/16 at 9:00 am

Van Wert independent news

Eight people were injured, one seriously, in a collision between a commercial truck and a passenger bus on Ohio 118 on Monday afternoon.

A Lutheran Air Flight medical transport helicopter flies lands near the crash of a box truck and bus on Ohio 118 Monday afternoon. Rick McCoy for the VW independent

A Lutheran Air Flight medical transport helicopter flies lands near the crash of a box truck and bus on Ohio 118 Monday afternoon. Rick McCoy for the VW independent

Troopers from the Van Wert Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol reported that 2013 Ford transportation bus driven by Cho Youn, 59, of Glenview, Illinois, was headed east on Wren-Landeck Road at approximately 3:07 p.m. Monday when Cho failed to yield the right-of-way at the intersection with Ohio 118 and his bus was struck in the right side by a 2012 Freightliner box truck driven by Michael Riley, 42, of South Bend, Indiana.

Both vehicles traveled off the northeast corner of the intersection, where a collision occurred with a utility pole and stop sign.

Of the nine people in the bus at the time of the crash, one was transported to Lutheran Hospital of Indiana in Fort Wayne with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries, while seven others were taken to Van Wert County Hospital for treatment of less serious injuries. Ohio 118 was closed for approximately four hours and has since been reopened.

Both drivers were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash and were not injured. The crash remains under investigation, while alcohol is not believed to be a factor.

The Van Wert Post was assisted by the Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio City Fire and EMS, Van Wert EMS, Mercer County EMS, Lutheran Air Flight, Delpha Towing, the Ohio Department of Transportation, Van Wert County Engineer’s Office, American Electric Power, and Frontier Communications.

The Patrol reminds motorists to always buckle up and to use caution at intersections, allowing ample time to check for vehicles that have the right of way.

A box truck and a bus collided at the intersection of Ohio 118 and Wren-Landeck Road on Monday afternoon. Rick McCoy photo for the VW independent

A box truck and a bus collided at the intersection of Ohio 118 and Wren-Landeck Road on Monday afternoon. Rick McCoy photo for the VW independent

POSTED: 09/26/16 at 10:17 pm. FILED UNDER: News


Jazz greats Jonathan Butler (left) and Gerard Albright (right) had a Niswonger Performing Arts Center crowd grooving to their covers of jazz favorites during a concert Saturday evening. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 09/26/16 at 8:50 am. FILED UNDER: News

PS LUHR/for the VW independent

In the mid-1960s, there were two television shows about creepy families. They each ran from 1964-’66, and every group of friends had their battles over which one to watch. Some liked the over-the-top “The Munsters,” who were decidedly not normal, but tried hard to fit in. Almost everyone else favored the subtle darkness of “The Addams Family,” a group of oddball kooks who reveled in their different-ness. Seldom was there a television addict who watched both shows that did not cherish one more than the other.

I thought the premise for each was ridiculous and, instead, gave my heart to the ultra-realistic “Star Trek”.  But I do remember seeing both these shows and only loving Fred Gwinn’s Herman Munster.

Van Wert Civic Theatre' cast members rehearse for The Addams Family production. (VWCT photo)

Van Wert Civic Theatre’ cast members rehearse for The Addams Family production. (VWCT photo)

As we move forward, someone got the great idea to make one of these classics, “The Addams Family,” into a musical. “Bad idea!” I say. “Not going to make it as a song fest about people who foster misery and mayhem. I can’t see Uncle Fester and Grandmama dancing and singing their way through skinning cats for dinner.  I could see love songs between the romantic mother and father, Morticia and Gomez, but what kind of side plots can they possibly drag into this?”

This past evening, I took a trip to Van Wert to see the Civic Theatre’s production of this venture. I quickly saw how easily the writers caught our interest and kept it, through 2½ hours of musical theatre. The plot revolves around the family’s daughter, Wednesday, who has found a “normal” young man to love, and has secretly become engaged. She wants this boy’s parents and hers to meet. This is sure to be an ill-conceived plan, as Wednesday’s family is a very odd lot, while Lucas’ family are … from Ohio. The trouble begins when Wednesday tells her father of her betrothal, and begs him not to tell Morticia, a woman Gomez has sworn never to lie to, or withhold anything from. And it all goes downhill from there.

The production was directed by Jerry Zimmerman, and every moment of the action revealed his hand: from the details of the blocking, to the costumes, set pieces and props, the masterful and cute choreography. No, Zimmerman did not make the costumes or the sets, but his productions always trumpet his attention to detail.

The whole evening seemed more like a middle-of-the-run performance, and not an opening night wandering. Even when the main curtain went haywire and would not either open or close, the show moved on, with the actress playing Wednesday, Emily Klir, moving her solo out front. It saved the number and allowed time for the stage crew to manhandle the curtain.  It was something that does not happen often, even in community theatre, but professionalism was displayed by all, in getting the audience re-focused.
The two main characters, Gomez and Morticia, were perfectly played, according to what we remember from the TV show. Morticia, pouty, slinky, sexy, and a bit self-absorbed was like a dream as delivered by theatre veteran Nancy Shuffle. Nancy makes every part she plays her own, but this one suited her even more than most. She glided, she flitted, and she by-god sang!


POSTED: 09/26/16 at 8:32 am. FILED UNDER: News


Good weather and lots of activities and events enticed area residents to Convoy for that village’s Community Days celebration on Saturday. Downtown Convoy was buzzing with business displays, along with kids’ games, and food vendors (above), while Edgewood Park was the scene of lawn mower drag races and a number of other activities. The Community Days Parade featured the 2015 Crestview state champion softball team as grand marshal (below). Photos by Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent


POSTED: 09/26/16 at 8:26 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

Average retail gasoline prices in Ohio have fallen 8.3 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.07 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 0.7 cent per gallon in the last week to $2.20 per gallon, according to gasoline price website

Including the change in gas prices in Ohio during the past week, prices Sunday were 13 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 13.0 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 1 cent per gallon during the last month and stands 8.4 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

Gasoline pump nozzle artwork 8-2016According to GasBuddy historical data, gasoline prices on September 26 in Ohio have ranged widely over the last five years: $2.20 per gallon in 2015, $3.33 per gallon in 2014, $3.40 per gallon in 2013, $3.84 per gallon in 2012, and $3.31 per gallon in 2011.

Overall, gas prices across the U.S. begin the week moving lower in 40 of 50 states.

“It’s been almost a week since service has been restored to Colonial Pipeline’s Line #1, a major gasoline source for the southeast and Atlantic seaboard…” said Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. “While it appears that retail gas prices have peaked in four of the six states hit hardest (Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia) by the pipeline damage and shutdown, and those averages are now ebbing lower, statewide averages continue to climb in two states: Tennessee ($2.16 per gallon) and Virginia ($2.10 per gallon). Those states’ averages were at $2.14 and $2.08, respectively, on September 20, the day before service was restored.

“While it appears that the worst may be behind us, we’re not out of the woods yet, where gasoline inventory levels are concerned,” he added. “The overall drop in gasoline inventory tied to Colonial Pipeline was approximately 8.5 million barrels. To put that in perspective, in the two weeks following Hurricane Katrina, east coast gasoline inventories shed 3.3 million barrels.”

POSTED: 09/26/16 at 8:18 am. FILED UNDER: News


The Van Wert Red Cross Disaster Team was called to Haviland at 2:30 p.m. Sunday to assist a family and canteen firefighters during a house fire there that left three adults and 11 children homeless. Responding to the scene were Scott, Paulding, Grover Hill, and Payne fire departments, and the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office. The cause of the fire is still under investigation and crews were on the scene after 7:30 Sunday evening. (Red Cross photo)

POSTED: 09/26/16 at 8:15 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) is encouraging the public to download its “Safer Ohio” phone app, Ohio’s multi-function, mobile public safety tool for reporting suspicious activity, requesting emergency or roadside help and monitoring traffic conditions.

The Safer Ohio phone app is a component of the ODPS Safer Ohio Initiative. The app has the “See Something, Send Something” function that allows people to report information and send photos of suspicious activity to Ohio Homeland Security. Also available on the multi-functional app is a button for connecting with a 9-1-1 dispatcher, a function that dispatches the Ohio State Highway Patrol or other law enforcement officer to a non-emergency traffic situation, and connection with the Ohio Department of Transportation’s OH-GO application for real-time traffic reports throughout Ohio.

Those who are experiencing an emergency should always call 9-1-1 first.

“Through the Safer Ohio phone app, anyone in Ohio can provide critical information to our 24/7 public safety intelligence analysts that can potentially save lives and protect critical infrastructure,” said John Born, ODPS director. “This app also allows another way for the general public to connect with law enforcement to receive non-emergency assistance.”

The user-friendly app is available through the Apple App Store or on Google Play.

POSTED: 09/26/16 at 8:10 am. FILED UNDER: News


A nice crowd was on hand for the Bluegrass festival held in the Dairy Barn on the Van Wert County Fairgrounds over the weekend. Here, one of several groups on the program performs for the event. Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 09/26/16 at 8:08 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Van Wert County Hospital and Van Wert Elementary School, along with several supporting partners, will host the 10th annual Kid’s Health Fair on Friday, September 30, at Van Wert County Hospital for Van Wert Elementary students in grades 3-5.

Van Wert Elementary School children learn CPR during a previous Kids Health Fair. (photo submitted)

Van Wert Elementary School children learn CPR during a previous Kids Health Fair. (photo submitted)

According to the World Health Organization, health is not just the absence of disease, but rather is the complete physical, mental, and social well-being of an individual. This approach to complete healthy living is the basis for the Kid’s Health Fair.

Students will complete activities at each of the following stations: Balance & Flexibility, Dental Health, Stone Quarry Safety (sponsored by Stoneco, a division of the Shelley Company), Hands-Only CPR, Backyard Safety (sponsored by The Kenn-Feld Group), Responding in an Emergency (in conjunction with Van Wert County Hospital Emergency Department and Lutheran Mobile ICU), Poison Safety and Tobacco Prevention (sponsored by Van Wert County Health Department), and Disability Awareness.

Special lunch-break activities include the opportunity to see an ambulance up close (sponsored by Braun Industries Inc.); hear how firefighters respond in an emergency and stay safe (sponsored by Van Wert Fire Department); see how police officers use K-9 dogs to help search for drugs; interact with the Van Wert County DARE Team; and the chance to practice talking with a 9-1-1 operator.


POSTED: 09/24/16 at 8:20 am. FILED UNDER: News


Trader Days continues this weekend at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds. The event includes a number of flea markets and vendor sales booths. Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 09/24/16 at 8:15 am. FILED UNDER: News