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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016

Delphos City Schools Superintendent Kevin Wolfe (foreground) accepts a donation of $50,000 from the Arnold C. Dienstberger Foundation on Tuesday evening. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Delphos City Schools Superintendent Kevin Wolfe (foreground) accepts a donation of $50,000 from the Arnold C. Dienstberger Foundation on Tuesday evening. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The Arnold C. Dienstberger Foundation gave 24 Delphos area organizations an early Christmas present with its annual distribution of funds on Tuesday evening at the Delphos Club. A total of $320,000 was distributed, with Delphos Kiwanis and Delphos school systems were the biggest beneficiaries, with the Kiwanis receiving $57,000 for a splash pad for the Delphos swimming pool, and each of the school districts receiving $50,000 to use for a variety of projects, including technology purchases and staff development.

This year was the 19th annual distribution for the foundation, which was created with funds from the sale of nursing homes owned by Dienstberger to Vancrest Health Care Centers in the 1960s. Interest from investments is used each year to provide funds for a number of community organizations and projects.

Doug Harter, the foundation’s treasurer, put the focus of the evening in the proper place when he thanked recipient organizations for their work in the community.

“This evening is not about the Dienstberger Foundation, it’s about you all, the stars of the show, because without your volunteerism in Delphos, this wouldn’t be happening,” Harter said, adding, “It’s absolutely amazing, and we’re all very grateful for that.”

Other organizations and agencies receiving funds on Tuesday include the following:

Allen County DARE — $2,500 to be used for summer camp activities in Delphos.


POSTED: 12/07/16 at 9:02 am

Submitted information

A biennial Christmas tradition returns to Van Wert’s First United Methodist Church this Sunday, December 11, at 7 p.m. Handel’s Messiah will be performed by a 60-voice community chorus, a 16-piece chamber orchestra, and four soloists. The four soloists all have ties to the Ohio area, although two of them currently reside in New York City and the Boston area, respectively.

Elizabeth Bellavia

Elizabeth Bellavia

Margaret Mack

Margaret Mack

This year’s soloists include soprano Margaret Mack, alto Elizabeth “Betsy” Bellavia, tenor Daniel Doty, and baritone John Glann.

Mack earned her bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Toledo and her master’s in music from The Ohio State University. She made her professional operatic debut in the world premiere of David Lang’s Modern Painters at the Santa Fe Opera in New Mexico.  She received the “Outstanding Apprentice” award from the Santa Fe Opera for two seasons and went on to appear with the company in the world premiere performance, recording, and PBS national telecast of Tobias Picker’s opera, Emmeline.

Other performances have been with the Mid-Columbia Symphony in Richland, Washington, Aspen Opera Theatre in Colorado, Honolulu Symphony, Los Angeles Chorale, London Consort in the United Kingdom, and the West Bohemian State Orchestra in the Czech Republic.

John Glann

John Glann

Daniel Doty

Daniel Doty

Recently, she performed Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Brahm’s Ein Deutsches Requiem in Saint Louis, Missouri.  She has also sung with the New Jersey Choral Society and Puccini arias on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s concert series.

In 2015, Mack moved to Massachusetts following her marriage and now teaches voice at the Deerfield Academy.

Bellavia, originally from Kettering, graduated from Bowling Green State University with a bachelor’s degree in choral music. While at BGSU, she played such roles as Mrs. Jones in Street Scene, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte and Second Lady in Magic Flute.  In her senior year at BGSU, she won the NPTS vocal competition for senior women in the state of Ohio.

Bellavia has taught choral music throughout the state of Ohio at Lemon-Monroe, Kettering Fairmont, and Franklin high schools and Fostoria Junior-Senior High School. She has directed and sung in many school and community theater productions, and has sung with the Dayton Opera Chorus in the 2002 Opera Gala and the opera Aida.  She has also sung “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the University of Dayton’s men’s basketball games, Dayton Dragon baseball games, and many BGSU events.

Currently, Bellavia is a full-time choral graduate assistant at BGSU after earning her master’s degree in choral conducting performance. Last spring, she played the role of Mama Lucia in BGSU’s spring opera, Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni and is currently cast in the role of Olga Olsen in Kurt Weil’s Street Scene.

Bellavia lives in Perrysburg with her husband, the Rev. Dan Bellavia, pastor of First Baptist Church of Greater Toledo, and their three sons: Christopher, John, and James.


POSTED: 12/07/16 at 8:56 am. FILED UNDER: News

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The Van Wert Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) held its 67th Annual Meeting on Tuesday at Vantage Career Center in Van Wert.

An election was held for two supervisor positions on the SWCD Board of Supervisors five-member board. Bob Gehres and Craig Pohlman were re-elected to serve three-year terms, commencing January 1, 2017.

Dinner was provided by Elegant Beginnings.   Jeff and Todd Matthews were recognized by the District and received the Conservation Award.  This award is given to honor individuals for their conservation achievements. Katie Vorst was recognized for receiving the Scholarship Award. LouAnn Cooke, Governor John Kasich’s regional liaison representative, presented each award winner with a proclamation from the governor.

Dr. Christopher Winslow was the speaker for the evening and gave an interesting presentation on nutrient loading and harmful algal bloom causes and impacts on Lake Erie.

A drawing was held for door prizes provided by Heritage Farm, Baughman Tile, Farm Credit, The Kenn-Feld Group, Mercer Landmark, Pond Seed, NAPA, Burtch Seed, and Williamson Insurance.

POSTED: 12/07/16 at 8:48 am. FILED UNDER: News

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The Van Wert Middle School and High School Vocal Music departments invite the community to attend their Christmas Choir Concerts on Monday, December 12, at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio.

The middle school choir portion of the concert begins at 7 p.m. and students will perform songs such as “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Island Noel,” and “Carol of the Bells.”

The high school concert begins shortly after the middle school concert, at 8:15 p.m., and features the Freshmen Choir, Sophomore Women’s Chorus, Concert Choir, and Select Choir. Pieces such as “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Christmas Shoes,” and “Madrigal of the Bells” will be performed.

The concert is free and open to the public.

The VWHS Select Choir sings in the Grand Lobby of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. (photo submitted)

The VWHS Select Choir sings in the Grand Lobby of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. (photo submitted)

POSTED: 12/07/16 at 8:47 am. FILED UNDER: News

Van Wert independent/submitted information

The Christmas season is in full swing at The Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio, but amidst all the holiday cheer is yet another reason to celebrate. On Wednesday, December 7, at noon, individual tickets will be available for purchase to Broadway’s Rain: A Tribute To The Beatles presented by Vancrest Health Care Center.

rain-promoJoin Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles as it celebrates the 50th anniversary of the release of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album! The celebration begins March 6, 2017, at 7:30 p.m., only at the Niswonger!

As “the next best thing to seeing The Beatles!” (Associated Press), Rain performs the full range of The Beatles’ discography live onstage, including the most complex and challenging songs that The Beatles themselves recorded in the studio, but never performed for an audience.

In addition to the updated sets that include brand new LED, high-definition screens and multimedia content, Rain will bring the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album to life in its entirety with the launch of the 2017 tour.

Together longer than The Beatles, Rain has mastered every song, gesture, and nuance of the legendary foursome, delivering a totally live, note-for-note performance that’s as infectious as it is transporting. Let Rain take area residents back with all of the songs from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, along with all of one’s other Beatles favorites, such as “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Hard Day’s Night,” “Let It Be,” “Come Together,” “Hey Jude” and more! This adoring tribute will take the audience back to a time when all you needed was love, and a little help from your friends.

Like The Beatles, the onstage members of Rain are not only supreme musicians, but electrifying performers in their own right. This tribute to the four guys who changed the music industry forever is sure to be a night to remember. And don’t forget, tickets and NPAC gift cards make great Christmas gifts!


POSTED: 12/06/16 at 8:33 am. FILED UNDER: News

A.J. KOCH/for the Van Wert independent

It is holiday time in the city and, all over the town, plays are opening and running with the holiday theme. The Van Wert Civic Theatre’s production of Miracle on 34th Street is a must-see for one’s busy holiday schedule. Tickets are priced at a reasonable $13, while the break from a busy day is truly enjoyable.

This is a fine, family-friendly holiday treat. Take the kids and just use your imagination to enjoy this sweet holiday candy. I was surprised by the number of people who have never seen the movies nor the play. I thought this play was as iconic as White Christmas! By the time the show finished I overheard people talking about renting the movie — good job Van Wert Civic, you left them wanting more!

Rickard Wortman is Kris Kringle in the Van Wert Civic Theatre's production of Miracle on 34th Street. (VWCT photo)

Rickard Wortman is Kris Kringle in the Van Wert Civic Theatre’s production of Miracle on 34th Street. (VWCT photo)

It is New York, the Macy’s Holiday Parade, and their Santa (played expertly by Dave Ricker) is drunk. As the parade coordinator (Ken Markward) frets and tries to think what to do, a white bearded gentleman (Rickard Wortman) shows up ready to go. He brings Macy’s a whole new look and brings a new faith to the no-nonsense woman (Julie Crawford) who hired him and her practical minded daughter, Susan (Debbie Jones), who did not believe in Santa.

The world thinks that this man is insane, but what we learn is that he is not. He is Santa Claus, or is he? At least, he brings the spirit of Christmas to all who come in contact with him — perhaps that is what this play is truly about: faith! I really liked the scene where Santa talks to the little Dutch orphan (Elle Gable); by making Santa fluent in Dutch, he was able to reach out to this poor girl and give her some happiness so far away from home.

There is also the love interest, Fred Gayley, played by Dan Hirn — always a pleasure to watch him on stage. Dan brings such depth and tenacity to his character. Steve Lane is also another to watch on stage. Steve normally plays a comedic role and the role as the doctor is somewhat toned down for him, but he does bring another interesting twist to his character.

You have to pay attention to the “bag lady” (Jan Miller) and her particular form of shopping, which is played to perfection. Workman as Kris Kringle is one of the best jobs of casting I have seen in a long time.  He plays his part so well you actually do believe he is Santa. The true affection between Kris and Susan is also evident and truly genuine. I want my Santa to be Mr. Workman!

What can I say about the entire cast? One word: spectacular! Great job, P.S. Luhn (I later found out his name is Perry), first time director at Van Wert. We will look forward to seeing what you do in the future.

The set was simple but effective, scene changes quick, and overall presented a very believable story. Add this show to your short list; you never know, he might really be Santa Claus (isn’t Santa Claus fluent in all languages?). He also has the cutest little elves in the universe, great job costumers.

Time is limited, so call the box office at 419.238.9689, from 2-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, to make reservations. There are four more opportunities (Thursday, December 8, through Sunday, December 11) to see this wonderful, feel-good show.

Van Wert Civic Theatre is located at 118 S. Race Street in Van Wert.

POSTED: 12/06/16 at 8:30 am. FILED UNDER: News


Students at LifeLinks Community School were transformed into Santa’s Elves as they made special doorknob hangers for the residents of Vancrest Assisted Living. The students will be caroling on December 15 up and down the halls of Vancrest as they hang their creations on the doors of the residents. This has become an annual event for the students during the Christmas season. (LifeLinks photo)

POSTED: 12/06/16 at 8:22 am. FILED UNDER: News

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Ohio Northern University is once again the primary post-secondary sponsor for the Van Wert High School Robotics Competition taking place on January 28, 2017, donating $1,500 to help fund the event.

onu-logo-12-2016“Students in the T.J. Smull College of Engineering at Ohio Northern are improving our world by finding new ways to design, build, and use technology,” said Bob Spath, VWHS Robotics Club advisor.

ONU is ranked among the top 50 undergraduate engineering schools in the nation, and its engineering education major is one of the first of its kind.

Van Wert Robotics students were grateful for Dr. Eric T. Baumgartner’s and ONU’s continued support. Dr. Baumgartner is the dean of the T.J. Smull College of Engineering and a professor of mechanical engineering at Ohio Northern University.

For more information on the Smull College of Engineering, access its website at

POSTED: 12/06/16 at 8:19 am. FILED UNDER: News

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The Van Wert Animal Protective League has five beautiful kittens that are free to a good loving home. The woman who saved and raised them has a landlord with a “no pet” rule, but is being great about this due to the situation.

Area residents who have room in their hearts and home for a kitten (or two) can call The Animal Protective League at 419.238.5447 weekdays. If no one answers, leave a message and APL volunteers will return the call as soon as possible.

The Animal Protective League does not have foster homes or a shelter so if county residents have a pet that needs a new home, or would like a pet, call the above number. Those who have a pet needing a new home, need to keep the pet until a match can be made.

For more information or to become a volunteer, call Bobbie at 419.238.5447. Correspondence should be sent to: Animal Protective League, P.O. Box 321, Van Wert, OH 45891.

POSTED: 12/06/16 at 8:11 am. FILED UNDER: News

Van Wert independent news

MIDDLE POINT — Middle Point officials have announced that a portion of the village from Wood Street north is under a boil advisory under further notice.

POSTED: 12/05/16 at 10:39 am. FILED UNDER: News


The fans were out in force on Saturday as the Lincolnview and Van Wert boys’ basketball teams opened their 2016-17 seasons against each other. The Lancers rallied to down the Cougars 63-60 to get their first win of the season (see story and more photos on Sports Page). Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 12/05/16 at 7:59 am. FILED UNDER: News