Hundreds of children and their parents were on hand Wednesday when the lights went on (above) in the Christmas Garden (the Children’s Garden most of the year) in Smiley Park. The garden was lit with thousands of lights, while the Grinch and other characters were on hand to greet children and pose for photos and Christmas music played in the background. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)
DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
A Paulding man received several prison terms during his sentencing hearing on Wednesday in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court.
Derek Showalter, 32, was sentenced to 12 months in prison on two counts of trafficking in heroin, and 24 months in prison on one count of possession of heroin, a felony of the third degree. Those sentences are to run concurrent to each other and to a sentence pending in Paulding County.
Showalter was also sentenced to 24 months in prison on a charge of having a weapon under disability, also a felony of the third degree. That sentence is to run consecutively to the other sentences, making a total of 48 months in prison. Judge Charles D. Steele also gave him 60 days credit for time already served.
Alex Chorvas, 19, of Van Wert, was also scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday, but he requested instead that he be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea to two counts of attempted corrupting another wit drugs, each a felony of the fourth degree. Chorvas also asked to have his court-appointed attorney removed from the case and to allow him to hire a new attorney.
Judge Steele continued his case for a hearing on Chorvas’ requests. Another count of attempted breaking and entering was also continued as well.
Rhonda Risley, 45, of Convoy, was also sentenced Wednesday on a charge of possession of drugs a fifth-degree felony. Judge Steele sentenced Risley to three years of community control, and ordered her to spend up to six months in the Western Ohio Regional Treatment and Habilitation (WORTH) Center in Lima.
Her driver’s license was also suspended for six months.
Also Wednesday, three people changed their pleas to guilty on Wednesday, with two of those opting for substance abuse treatment programs in lieu of conviction.
Tiffany Riley, 25, of Van Wert, pleaded guilty to a charge of theft, a felony of the fifth degree. She then requested, and was granted, treatment in lieu of conviction.
Darren Stutz, 25, of Van Wert, changed his plea to guilty to a charge of possession of drugs, a felony of the fifth degree. He also requested treatment in lieu of conviction and Judge Steele approved the request, staying all proceedings in his case for the next year while he undergoes substance abuse treatment.
Melissa Frasl, 33, of Delphos, changed her plea to guilty to a charge of domestic violence, a misdemeanor of the first degree, reduced from a fourth-degree felony offense during plea negotiations.
Judge Steele ordered a presentence investigation in the case and scheduled sentencing for 9 a.m. Wednesday, December 10.
VW Area Boychoir information
The Van Wert Area Boychoir will perform its annual Christmas concert at 2 p.m. Sunday, December 7, at First Baptist Church at the corner of Jennings and Mendon roads. There is no admission charge and the concert is open to the public.
The Boychoir is a non-profit organization incorporated in 2004 and is open to all Van Wert area boys, with unchanged voices, who are elementary or middle school students.
The mission of the organization is to provide opportunities for boys of all backgrounds and abilities to participate in a quality musical, cultural and educational experience. The Boychoir rehearses weekly throughout the school year, with past and current members attending the following schools: Van Wert, Crestview, Lincolnview, Delphos city and St. John’s, Parkway, St. Mary’s Elementary and Wayne Trace.
The artistic leadership team for the Boychoir includes Artistic Director Brian Anders, accompanist Melissa Clay, and Larry Taylor, arranger, producer and technical director.
Van Wert DARE information
The Van Wert City/County DARE programs will be hosting the Rachel’s Challenge program in county schools the first week in December. The program is funded by Eaton Corporation, the Van Wert County Foundation and Van Wert County Hospital.
The program will be presented Monday, December 1, at Crestview Local Schools, Tuesday, December 2, at Van Wert City Schools, Wednesday, December 3, at Lincolnview Local Schools, Thursday, December 4, at Vantage Career Center and Wayne Trace High School, and Friday, December 5, in the Delphos City Schools.
There will also be a program open to the public on Thursday, December 4, from 6-7 p.m., at Vantage Career Center. Chief Deputy Keith Allen and Officer Greg Blackmore invite area residents to the program.
For more information about the program, contact Deputy Allen at 419.238.3866 or email him at email@example.com.
DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
Van Wert County saw another healthy decrease in unemployment during the month of October, with the jobless rate sliding under 4 percent for the first time in nearly 15 years.
The county’s unemployment rate in October was 3.9 percent, the lowest it’s been since 2000. The county’s workforce numbers remained the same, at 14,200, but those employed notched up 100, from 13,500 to 13,600. The number of unemployed remained the same at 600.
Statewide, October unemployment rates ranged from a low of 2.7 percent in Mercer County, to a high of 9.5 percent in Monroe County. It was also the first time the entire state saw unemployment drop below 10 percent in more than a decade.
Six counties in Ohio had unemployment rates at or below 3.5 percent. In addition to Mercer County, those included Holmes County, 2.9 percent; Auglaize County, 3.2 percent; Delaware County, 3.3 percent; Hancock County, 3.4 percent; and Putnam County, 3.5 percent.
Three counties had unemployment rates at or above 7.0 percent. In addition to Monroe County, they include Jackson County, 7.1 percent; and Meigs County, 7.0 percent.
The comparable unemployment rate for the state in October was 4.6 percent.
Van Wert and its neighboring counties all saw decreases in unemployment in October. In addition to Van Wert’s decrease of four-tenths of a percent, Allen County dropped a half a percent, from 5.0 to 4.5 percent; Paulding County saw a decrease of three-tenths of a percent, from 4.2 percent to 3.9 percent; Auglaize County dropped from 3.5 percent to 3.2 percent; Putnam County’s jobless rate was down four-tenths of a percent, from 3.9 percent to 3.5 percent; and Mercer County’s unemployment decreased from 2.9 percent to 2.7 percent.
DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
The Lincolnview Local Board of Education recognized several groups of students and also heard a mostly positive five-year forecast from Treasurer Troy Bowersock during the board’s November meeting on Tuesday.
First recognized by the board was the Lancer boys’ cross country team, which finished 10th at the Division IV State Cross Country Meet, while seniors Bayley Tow and Alex Rodriguez were also singled out for their individual cross country performances.
Also at the meeting was the high school Money Skills class and FFA students who participated in the 2014 FFA National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.
Board President Eric Germann was also recognized for being selected as the Ohio School Boards Association’s president-elect. Germann will become the organization’s president in 2016.
Bowersock talked about the various components of the district’s five-year forecast, noting that, while the amount of money the district will receive in state foundation money is an unknown at this time, he projects Lincolnview’s revenues will be mostly flat-lined in the coming five-year period, while also estimating that expenses will continue to increase.
Noting his belief that the district will operate within its budget for the first and second year of the forecast, the treasurer also added that the next three years will depend on state foundation money and the approximately $900,000 Lincolnview currently receives in emergency money from the state.
Bowersock also talked about the recent triennial update of property valuations and the fact that, unlike most updates, the district could see some additional revenues from the most recent update, based on Lincolnview’s proximity to its 20-mill revenue base.
In personnel action, the board accepted the resignation, for retirement purposes, of Tom Bryan as high school social studies teacher and athletic director after 35 years of service, while adjusting Kathy Thompson’s retirement date from May 31, 2015, to December 31, 2014.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has announced $6,302,675 in new federal funds to support Head Start and Early Head Start programs run by Council on Rural Services, a non-profit education organization serving Auglaize, Champaign, Darke, Greene, Logan, Miami, Preble, Shelby and Van Wert counties. The funds were awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“This is excellent news for west-central Ohio families and their children,” Brown said. “Programs like Head Start help to ensure that children have the skills necessary to succeed in elementary school and beyond.”
Head Start is a federal program that provides young children from low-income families with programming to prepare them for school. Early Head Start focuses on children age birth to 3 years old.
These programs, including health, nutrition, and social services, are designed to ensure their healthy cognitive, social, and emotional development. More information on Head Start and Early Head Start can be found here.
Van Wert independent
Two people were sentenced in connection with improper concealed carry licensing during hearings held Tuesday in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court.
Forest Gordon, 49, of Van Wert, was sentenced to three years of community control on a charge of attempted complicity in falsification to obtain a concealed handgun license, a felony of the fifth degree.
Dain Stauffer, 37, of Cairo, was given one year of community control on a charge of falsification, a first-degree misdemeanor. Both he and Gordon were fined $1,000 each and must also pay restitution to all class members who did not receive their certification or had to pay extra to get certified.
More hearings will be held Wednesday in Common Pleas Court.
Village of Convoy information
CONVOY — Santa Claus will be at the Convoy Edgewood Park Community Building on Saturday, December 6, from 2-3 p.m.
Children can chat with Santa and receive a treat from the Jolly Old Elf, there will be a crafts project to participate in, and refreshments will be served. Parents should bring cameras for pictures of their children with Santa.
There will also be collection boxes for non-perishable food items for the Helping Hands Food Pantry, used cell phones for Crime Victim Services and unwanted eyeglasses for the Convoy Lions Club.
The event is sponsored by the Convoy Lions Club and a number of Convoy businesses.
DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
Van Wert City Council approved a pre-annexation agreement for the 1,500-acre Jobs Ready Site and also introduced legislation that, if approved, would provide pay raises to a number of elected officials.
Council approved legislation implementing an agreement that would allow for quick annexation of the megasite into the city limits if a plant would locate there. Mayor Don Farmer thanked the Ridge Township Board of Trustees and the Van Wert County commissioners for their cooperation in the matter.
City Council also introduced legislation providing pay increases to a number of elected positions in city government.
Council’s Finance Committee has been discussing the matter of salaries for several weeks, especially the disparity between elected officials and other city employees. Joi Mergy, who chairs the Finance Committee, said that, while elected officials’ salaries have increased by approximately 5.4 percent since 2008, the Consumer Price Index has gone up more than 10 percent in that same period.
Legislation increasing elected officials’ salaries by 7 percent in 2017, and then by 1 percent in 2018 and 2 percent in 2019, was introduced and will be read three times prior to passage.