DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
The Main Street Van Wert downtown development program celebrated 10 years as an Ohio Main Street Community and also handed out a number of awards during its 12th annual dinner held this year at the new Wassenberg Art Center.
Main Street Van Wert Program Manager Adam Ries took some time to provide a recap of the program’s results in 2013, noting that the downtown area saw nine new businesses move in, creating 13 net new full- and part-time jobs, while more than $1.3 million was reinvested in downtown buildings and properties during the past year.
“All of these improvements mean buildings that better serve the businesses they contain, and a better looking downtown for everyone who comes here,” Ries said.
Ries added that, since 2004, when Main Street Van Wert adopted the model of the National Main Street Center and received the title of “Ohio Main Street Community,” the Van Wert downtown area has seen more than $6.1 million put back into more than 40 individual buildings and properties, as well as public infrastructure projects and street and sidewalk improvements.
“A vibrant downtown, or the lack of one, affects our community’s ability to attract and retain the residents, businesses and institutions, jobs and investments that enable a place to thrive,” Ries noted. “We believe that, through hard work and a collaborative approach, we can re-establish downtown Van Wert as the heart of the community and the center of local pride.”
DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
It hasn’t been a good year for retail sales in Van Wert County, if permissive tax figures are any indication.
According to County Commissioner Thad Lichtensteiger, permissive taxes are down more than $75,000 over last year’s figures.
Lichtensteiger said it appears as if the decreases could be a result of the extremely cold weather seen this winter, since several area counties saw a decrease in permissive tax revenues, but that’s not a given either, since two area counties — Auglaize and Mercer — saw an increase in their permissive tax figures this winter.
“That put us on our heels a little bit,” the commissioner said of the fact those two counties had increases.
Lichtensteiger said he hopes the situation rectifies itself as warm weather returns, since continuing deficits could have a serious impact on the county’s more than $4 million budget.
One positive for the county, was County Treasurer Bev Fuerst’s statement that Van Wert County’s aggregate investment rates are among the highest in the state, with an aggregate rate of 1.11 percent. Although the rate is nowhere near the investment rates seen prior to the 2008 recession, they are at least above the norm for Ohio political subdivisions.
Also last week, the commissioners met with officials from Iberdrola Renewables, as well as Scott Potter from Ohio State University, to talk about what to expect from the county concerning the proposed Dog Creek Wind Farm project.
The meeting, held the day after a public education session hosted by Lincolnview Local Schools, was mostly for the purpose of sharing information on what each side could expect in connection with the proposed wind farm project.
DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
As expected, Van Wert City Council’s Judiciary and Annexation Committee decided to stick with the Ohio State University Extension development program at the end of a meeting held Monday to discuss the issue.
A suggestion had been brought forth by committee member Jerry Mazur to give OSU Extension its required one-year notice and that City Council should then seek a unified economic development program with the Van Wert County Board of Commissioners.
Mazur’s suggestion was made after the county commissioners decided to end their relationship with OSU Extension earlier this year and organize their own economic development program.
However, without support from the Judiciary and Annexation committee’s other two members, Chair Stan Agler and Jon Tomlinson, who had both previously expressed their wishes for continuing the OSU Extension program, Mazur’s suggestion went nowhere.
Monday’s meeting, which was moved up an hour because of Main Street Van Wert’s Annual Dinner, mostly involved a presentation by members of the Van Wert County Economic Development Advisory Group – the organization created to advise the OSU Extension’s development program.
Advisory Group member Jon Rhoades provided a history of economic development in the county, beginning with the city’s first economic development director, Mark Hartman, three decades ago.
Rhoades noted that, after several locally hired development directors went by the wayside, chiefly because of the inability to pay an adequate salary and benefits, local officials heard of the OSU Extension program and decided it would provide a better way to fund economic development efforts. A contract was first signed with OSU Extension in 1997 to provide an economic development program for the county.
Currently, the city’s hotel-motel tax pays up to $40,000 of current Community Development Director Cindy Leis’ salary, while OSU Extension pays the remainder of her salary and her benefits. The hotel-motel tax and OSU Extension also split the cost of Development Specialist Darlene Myers’ salary and benefits.
OSU Extension currently pays out approximately $36,000 a year in related salary and benefit expenses for the local development program.
Van Wert independent
The Van Wert County Council on Aging will be having its annual Senior Citizens Day Banquet on Wednesday, May 14, at the Senior Center at 220 Fox Road in Van Wert.
The theme for this year’s banquet is “Senior Stars” and several local senior citizens will be recognized for their volunteerism.
According to Council on Aging Executive Director Kevin Matthews, seniors who volunteer “really make or break many charitable organizations, as without senior volunteerism, these organizations would not have the necessary individuals to accomplish their goals.”
Matthews said the Council on Aging is one of those organizations that could not exist without senior volunteers.
Matthews is asking that local charitable groups nominate senior citizen volunteers as “Senior Stars” who will then be recognized by the Council on Aging during its annual banquet. Those wanting to nominate a senior can do so by filling out the accompanying form (click here) and return it to the Van Wert County Council on Aging, 220 Fox Road, Van Wert, OH 45891. Additional nomination forms are available at the Council on Aging’s website (www.vwcouncilonaging.com).
The local Bob Evans Restaurant will cater the luncheon, with entertainment provided by “The Magic & Comedy of Terry Owens”. The luncheon will begin at 11 a.m. that day.
Tickets for the event are $10 apiece and can be picked up at the Senior Center. They will be available until May 9. Seating is limited, so get tickets early, if possible.
Evergreen Garden Club information
Evergreen Garden Club announces its annual plant sale will be held on Saturday, May 3. The sale begins at 8:30 a.m. in Fountain Park across from the Brumback Library. Perennials are dug from club members’ gardens for the sale. All plants will be identified using the common name or botanical name. Plants are always priced in advance, at reasonable prices.
Some plants that will be available: hostas, herbs, grasses, trees, daylilies, ground covers, iris, shrubs, succulents, and perhaps strawberries, raspberries. Also gardening books and tools, clay and decorative pots for sale.
This is the club’s major moneymaking project. The club supports decorating the Brumback Library for Christmas and also provides plants and maintain the gardens for civic beautification projects at Camp Clay, Fountain Park, and the Van Wert County Museum Herb Garden.
For additional questions call Dian Ryan at 419.203.5380 or Nancy Rhoades at 419.2238.4851.
YWCA of VW County information
Geraniums make a great gift for mom on Mother’s Day!
Plants are hardy root geraniums sold in 4½-inch pots for $3 a plant. Colors available are: red, white, lavender, fuchsia, pink and light salmon. All pre-orders and payment must be received by Monday, April 28, at 9 a.m. Don’t miss this opportunity to beautify one’s yard and support the YWCA this Mother’s Day! Geraniums will be available for pick-up Wednesday, May 7, from 4-7 p.m. and Thursday, May 8, from 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Hanging baskets will also be available to purchase for $18, starting Wednesday, May 7, and continuing Thursday, May 8,while supplies last. Come early to get the best selection because the YWCA does not allow pre-orders on the hanging baskets.
The annual geranium sale supports the social service work of the YWCA throughout the year, including the Transitional Living Program, domestic violence services and the Summer Food Program.
The Van Wert County Jubilee Flower Show committee met recently to confirm that the 53rd flower show will be held this year at the new location of Wassenberg Art Center, 214 S. Washington St., in the former Armory building.
The flower show will be June 7 and June 8; in conjunction with the Peony Festival weekend. The flowers may be viewed on Saturday from 1-5 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. There is no admission to the flower show.
Entries will be accepted on June 7 at 8 a.m. and close at 10:30 a.m. Entries will be received through the back door (east side) of the Art Center where there will be ample parking for dropping off flowers. Judging will begin promptly at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
There are two sections in the show: horticulture and artistic design. Entries are open to the public. It is not required that you be a resident of Van Wert County or a member of a Garden Club. Books and entry tags may be picked up at Balyeat’s Coffee Shop. There is no entry fee.
Evergreen Garden Club, Gardeners of Van Wert County and Wren Garden Club sponsor the show. They invite area residents to enjoy the flower displays in the show from local gardens.
Gasoline price information
Average retail gasoline prices in Ohio have risen 4.7 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.69 per gallon on Sunday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 5,345 gas outlets in Ohio. This compares with the national average that has increased 2.3 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.62 a gallon, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com.
Including the change in gas prices in Ohio during the past week, prices Sunday were 4.4 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 16.2 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 11.9 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 12.1 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.
“The national average now stands at its highest level since last August,” said GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. “The advance in prices has continued, with the worst jumps in areas of California, and southern states, where prices have increased anywhere from 15 to 30 cents per gallon in some cases.
“The increases will likely continue to persist, at worst for another month or so, but at best, we could see some relief arrive as soon as May rolls in,” DeHaan added.
GasBuddy operates OhioGasPrices.com and over 250 similar websites that track gasoline prices at over 140,000 gasoline stations in the United States and Canada. In addition, GasBuddy offers a free smartphone app that has been downloaded over 25 million times to help motorists find the lowest gasoline prices in their area.
American Cancer Society information
The American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Van Wert is offering an opportunity for businesses and local communities to show their awareness and support in the fight against cancer from today through May 3.
To help finish the fight, community members can “Paint the Town Purple” by doing activities, including putting up purple-themed displays in storefronts, swapping out white bulbs for purple bulbs, or selecting a day for everyone to wear purple at work or school.
For more information about how to participate in painting a town purple or volunteering for Relay For Life of Van Wert, call 888.227.6446 or visit www.relayforlife.org/vanwertcounty
The American Cancer Society saves lives and creates more birthdays by helping people stay well, by helping people get well, by finding cures and by fighting back. For more information, contact the American Cancer Society at 800.227.2345 or visit its website at http://cancer.org.
Organizers also invited area residents to join them at the Van Wert Relay for Life at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds. The fundraiser begins on May 2 at 6 p.m. and ends at noon Saturday, May 3. Everyone is welcome, so please come help “Finish the Fight”.
YMCA of VW County information
Just a reminder that the YMCA of Van Wert County is having a SilverSneakers luncheon today at 11 a.m. in the brand new Senior Fitness Center, where all attendees can enter the handicap accessible Door 9.
All SilverSneakers members and those interested in learning more about the program are welcome to come for this free event. Bring a friend to the luncheon and we will check their eligibility for a SilverSneakers membership.
Information about this and other programs available at the Van Wert YMCA can be found by calling 419.238.0443 or visiting www.vwymca.org. The YMCA of Van Wert County is partially funded by the Van Wert County Foundation and United Way.
Vantage Career Center’s Relay for Life Team is selling raffle tickets for a wooden bench constructed by carpentry student, Ben Schnipke, a senior from Ottoville High School. The bench, which is made of cedar and is unpainted, will be on display at the Van Wert County Relay for Life event on May 2-3 at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds. Raffle tickets are priced at $1 each or six for $5. The drawing will be held on Monday, May 5. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Beth Evans at Vantage Career Center at 419.238.5411, extension 2176, or via email at email@example.com. (photo submitted)