The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2019

Van Wert County Board of Development Disabilities members include (from the left) Frankie Bowen (president), Brad Perrott, Michael Kitson, Nicole Taylor, Mariea Moreland (secretary), and Jennifer Bockey (vice president). photo provided

VW independent/submitted information

At the Van Wert County Board of Developmental Disabilities (VWCBDD) Board’s March meeting, Superintendent Jim Stripe announced plans to apply for funding through the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) Capital Housing Office to purchase homes.

Funding through DODD Community Capital Assistance program can allow county boards of developmental disabilities to purchase community housing for people with developmental disabilities.

“We have purchased 11 homes over the years,” Stripe said. “It’s been over six years since we have purchased housing, and we have a need for two housing units for four individuals receiving our services.”

If funding is secured, VWCBDD will work with the Van Wert Housing Board to purchase the homes. 

In other business, Stripe presented the Northwest Ohio Waiver Administration Council (NOWAC) strategic plan for 2019 through 2021. VWCBDD is one of seven county boards of DD that utilize NOWAC to share resources including the areas of Major Unusual Incident (MUI) investigation and Medicaid waiver and supported living administration. 


POSTED: 03/19/19 at 7:10 am

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court against OptumRX, taking the next step in an effort to recover overcharges to the state for the cost of prescription drugs negotiated by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).

Dave Yost

The attorney general’s office informed OptumRX on Monday, Feb. 11, that the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and the State of Ohio were filing a demand for mediation of disputes. OptumRx had 30 days to respond to the mediation request. That 30-day clock ran out.

“It’s been 30 days and we only just now have a meeting scheduled to talk,” Yost said. “Times up, give us our money.”

PBMs are private companies that contract with state agencies such as the BWC and Medicaid to manage drug prescriptions for clients of the agencies.

The lawsuit addresses the nearly $16 million in overcharges to the fund intended to protect injured workers. Yost alleges that the overcharges occurred because OptumRX failed to provide contractually agreed discounts on drugs.

“Our review of PBM practices throughout state government is still ongoing,” Yost said. “These are the first raindrops, but there’s a storm a-comin’.”

This investigation started under then-attorney general and current Governor Mike DeWine and would not be possible without his cooperation.


POSTED: 03/19/19 at 7:03 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

COLUMBUS — State Representatives Craig S. Riedel (R-Defiance) and Bill Roemer (R-Richfield) recently introduced House Bill 115 in the Ohio House of Representatives. House Bill 115 is companion legislation to Senate Bill 1 sponsored by Senators Kristina Roegner and Robert McColley.

Craig Riedel

This legislation will require Ohio’s state agencies to reduce regulatory restrictions by 30 percent by 2022. If a state agency is not able to meet this goal, then for every new regulation it proposes to add, two must be removed. 

The legislation will affect 31 departments, agencies, offices and commissions. A few examples include the State Lottery Commission, Public Utilities Commission, Commerce, Agriculture, Health, and statewide offices of the Attorney General, Secretary of State, Auditor, and Treasurer.

“Looking at this from a pro-business standpoint, it is extremely important for Ohio to create a less restrictive environment so that businesses can continue to grow without being hindered by unnecessary standards that the state agencies have collected over time.” Rep. Riedel commented. “Compliance costs often become most burdensome on independent business owners, especially in rural areas of northwest Ohio with small and family owned operations, where they do not have the resources and staff to assist them.”

House Bill 115 also directs the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) to gather information from state agencies into an annual comprehensive progress report for the General Assembly. JCARR will be able to recommend statutory changes to the General Assembly in order to work with an agency that is unable to meet their reduction goal.

“It is important to have JCARR oversee the changes that will be taking place.” Rep. Riedel stated. “It is my belief that this practical legislation reaches the main issue of eliminating excessive regulations while still protecting the public safety and well-being of all Ohioans.” 

HB 115 has been assigned to the State and Local Government Committee.

POSTED: 03/19/19 at 6:58 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The Van Wert Optimist Club recently held its annual essay contest, based on the topic: “When All the World’s Problems are Solved, is Optimism Still Necessary?” Three Van Wert High School students were honored during the March 14 Optimist Club meeting while presenting their essays. 

Shown (from the left) are third-place winner Ryan Chen, second place winner Kaylee Jennings, and Alixandra Gemmer. Optimist Club photo

Winners include Alixandra Gemmer, who won first place and was awarded $300; Kaylee Jennings, the second-place winner who received $150; and third-place winner Ryan Chen, who was awarded $50. In addition to winning the local contest, Gemmer’s winning essay was submitted to the district level for further judging. Medallions and certificates were also presented.  

VWHS Language arts teacher Nancy Brown and school counselor Stephanie Hanneman attended the club meeting with the three winning students.  

“These students did a great job expressing this year’s tough theme,” said Optimist Essay Committee Chair Diana Cearns. “Also, special thanks to the judges for their time and talent.” 

Judges this year were Bitsy Clark, Kylee Moody, and Kathy Foust. There were 57 essay entries from VWHS, Crestview, and St. Mary’s students. 

The Optimist Club of Van Wert is a member of Optimist International — worldwide volunteer organization made up of more than 2,500 local clubs whose members work each day to make the future brighter by bringing out the best in children, in their communities, and in themselves. The local club consists of community leaders and area business representatives dedicated to improving the Van Wert area.

POSTED: 03/19/19 at 6:55 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The tradition grows with a spectacular, value-packed 2019-20 Enrich Community Concert Series presented by Unverferth Dentistry and Roger and Kay Okuley.

The 2019-20 Enrich Community Concert Series includes (top row, from the left) Midtown Men and I Am, He Said; (bottom row) Catapult and The Swingles. photos provided

Since 1953, artists and entertainers from the around the globe have made their mark on the Van Wert community and enriched lives of those in it as a part of the Community Concert Series. The Niswonger is proud to continue this Van Wert institution by putting together four monumental acts that have been carefully selected to bring culture, joy, and wonder that’s incredibly affordable.

Catapult, the magic of shadow dancing, kicks off Enrich by pushing the limits of both mind and imagination. As seen on NBC’s hit show “America’s Got Talent”, Catapult is a troupe of shadow dancers who work behind a screen to create seemingly impossible dancing silhouettes of the world around us. In their near decade of existence, Catapult has amazed audiences with their family friendly show full of music, humor, breathtaking visuals, and engaging storylines on Saturday, October 12, at 3 p.m.

The Swingles are coming to the Niswonger, bringing with them a holiday flare on Sunday, December 1, at 3 p.m. This five-time Grammy winning a cappella group, formerly known as The Swingle Singers, has astounded audiences for over half a century with its barrier-breaking vocals and delightful harmonies. The audience will sing-a-long to holiday classics and original songs by The Swingles.


POSTED: 03/18/19 at 7:43 am. FILED UNDER: News

Niswonger Performing Arts Center’s Tafi Stober, the center’s executive director to be, surprised Danny and Kathy Nedderman at the door of the NPAC (above), then confetti flew and current NPAC Executive Director Paul Hoverman joined the couple to honor them as the 250,000th guests to the 12-year-old performing arts center. The Neddermans, from New Bremen, said they have been coming to the NPAC for several years and typically attend five or six shows a year. The couple received a seat upgrade for the Rain! Beatles extravaganza concert (below) and a $250 NPAC gift certificate. photos by Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 03/18/19 at 7:34 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Megan Tuttle, LISW-S, has joined The Marsh Foundation as the new director of residential services. No stranger to The Marsh, Tuttle first worked on campus as a family teacher, then program manager of Clymer Hall. 

Megan Tuttle

“We are thrilled to have Megan rejoin our staff at The Marsh Foundation” said Kim Mullins, executive director, Marsh Foundation Child and Family Services. “She brings with her great skill and a real knowledge about the children and families we serve.”

Tuttle holds a master’s degree in social work from The Ohio State University and, for the past six years, has worked as a therapist at Westwood Behavioral Health Center. She’s also a certified trauma specialist. 

Tuttle said she is passionate about helping children and is glad to be returning to The Marsh.

“I look forward to living out the mission, to inspire hope, to teach, and to care for children and families,” Tuttle said. “Each piece of this mission is such an integral part into shaping these children and giving their hopes and dreams back to them.”

Tuttle said it is so rewarding for her to work with children and witness them improve their lives. 

“I love working with youth when they feel life cannot get better and they are just stuck, then you teach and care for them, then a light bulb comes on and they get that their life can be better, and they get to be a part of making it better.  

“This light bulb moment, this spark is such a special time and it’s a privilege to get to walk alongside a youth and experience this with them,” she added.

It is Tuttle’s hope, she said, to contribute to the exceptional services The Marsh offers to the youths they serve. 

“It is one of my desires to continue to strive for excellence with every youth that we are able to serve,” she said.

Tuttle lives in Van Wert with her husband, Matt, and their two children.

POSTED: 03/18/19 at 7:27 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Ohio gas prices have fallen 6.6 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.38 per gallon on Monday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 5,345 stations. Gas prices in Ohio are 15.3 cents per gallon higher than a month ago, yet stand 5.5 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.

According to GasBuddy price reports, the cheapest station in Ohio is priced at $2.09 per gallon today, while the most expensive is $2.99 per gallon, a difference of 90 cents per gallon. The cheapest price in the entire country today stands at $1.79 per gallon, while the most expensive is $4.59 per gallon, a difference of $2.80 per gallon. 

The national average price of gasoline has risen 4.3 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $2.54/g today. The national average is up 20.6 cents per gallon from a month ago, yet stands 0.3 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.

“March madness is already in full swing at pumps across the country as the U.S. has seen the national average rise for five straight weeks and there’s no sign of a slowdown yet,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “Several perhaps major refinery issues flared up over the weekend, including fires at two facilities that could push wholesale gasoline prices up notably, mainly in the Pacific Northwest and the Gulf Coast, should the shutdowns linger. 

“This is the time of year that energy markets are very sensitive to such unexpected outages as dozens of refineries across the country perform maintenance in a tight window ahead of the summer driving season,” DeHaan added. “Any major outages can lead to tight inventory ahead of specification changes and have a severe impact on gas prices. The situation is delicate and bears further monitoring in the days ahead.”

POSTED: 03/18/19 at 7:19 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Van Wert Mayor Jerry Mazur and City Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming recently gave Water Distribution Supervisor Bud Mengerink the green light to proceed with a pilot program of installing 250 new water meters. 

Van Wert Safety Service Director Jay Fleming (left), Water Distribution Supervisor Bud Mengerink (center), and Mayor Jerry Mazur compare the water meter currently in service with a state-of-the-art, radio-read water meter of the future. photo provided

The pilot program will allow for a complete evaluation of the new meters. Once all data is collected and the meters are proven to be reliable, city workers will go forward with the upgrade throughout Van Wert. 

The pilot program is just the beginning, the mayor noted, adding there are more than 4,000 meters to be replaced. 

“It is our intention to ask for bids from commercial contractors for the balance of the units to be installed, thereby expediting the completion of same,” said the mayor.

There are many benefits to be realized from the new system for both the city and the consumers. For the city, simply driving by and scanning a meter rather than lifting each and every cover to write down the readings will result in labor efficiencies. Additionally, the ability to do monthly actual billings should improve the billing process and level out the utilities cash flow. 

For consumers, monthly meter readings will eliminate the budget-busting estimated billing process. The monthly actual meter reading will also detect water leaks sooner, which will reduce unexpectedly high water bills.

“Until the evaluation period is complete we are not in the position to comment on a project completion date,” Mayor Mazur said. “However, we anticipate all to go well; if so, bids will be requested, which will include specific completion dates.”

For more information on the project, access the city website for upcoming news on the meters at

POSTED: 03/16/19 at 8:10 am. FILED UNDER: News

The Crestview Knights celebrate their regional championship after defeating Maumee Valley Country Day at Bowling Green State University on Friday night. The Knights now move on to the Division IV state semifinals at the Schottenstein Center on the campus of Ohio State University. Wyatt Richardson/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 03/16/19 at 8:05 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Allen Shinnaberry and Mike Semer, both from Van Wert, met 18 years ago putting on gospel music concerts locally at places like Fountain Park, the Apple Festival, and Old Fashioned Farmers Days. Shinnaberry was the sound tech. Over the years the two became close friends, “like brothers.” 

A couple of years ago, Shinnaberry was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In February, he requested a wish through the Angel Foundation in Van Wert for him and his wife, Joanne, to go to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, with their close friends Mike and Edna Semer.

“Edna and I were honored that he would think of including us in his wish,” said Mike Semer. “He and I, and our wives, have grown close over the years but this [trip] really solidified our relationship.”

Mike and Edna Semer and Allen and Joanne Shinnaberry, all of Van Wert, at the Dixie Stampede during Allen Shinnaberry’s wish trip to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The trip was provided through the Angel Foundation, an organization based in Van Wert that provides wishes for terminally-ill adults in Ohio. photo provided

The couples had made similar trips to the same destination in the past, but this trip would be different, much deeper than just another vacation. Allen was dealing with a terminal illness and Edna Semer had just gone through a bout with stomach cancer over the previous months.

The Angel Foundation is a wish program for terminally-ill adults offered through Community Health Professionals (CHP) in Van Wert and is partner agency with United Way of Van Wert County.

The Angel Foundation made Shinnaberry’s wish a reality by assisting with reservations and providing money for food, gas, attractions, and souvenirs for a six-day trip from February 25 to March 2 to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. The couples stayed at the Semer’s timeshare condo.

“It was a fantastic trip; it was like a family outing,” said Shinnaberry. “Having Mike and Edna with us made it special. Mike is like a brother to me, and he took care of me like a baby chick.”

During their trip, the couples took in many of the traditional landmarks of the area, including The Old Mill Restaurant, Paula Deen’s, and Three Bears General Store. Their most memorable activities, according to Shinnaberry, were Dick’s Last Resort, the Dixie Stampede, and Brian Hoffman’s Red Skelton tribute show.


POSTED: 03/16/19 at 8:01 am. FILED UNDER: News