The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Aug. 17, 2018

AJ Thomas, a 2012 VWHS graduate who is now legislative aide to State Representative Andy Thompson, poses outside the S.F. Goedde Building with VWHS music teacher Robert Sloan, who is holding an Ohio House of Representatives resolution honoring him for being named OSBA District 1 2019 “Teacher of the Year.” Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The Van Wert City Board of Education completed a number of housekeeping items prior to the beginning of school this coming Monday and also recognized instrumental music instructor Robert Sloan for being named the 2019 “Teacher of the Year” for the Ohio School Boards Association’s District 1 during its August meeting on Wednesday.

Sloan was honored with a reception prior to the board meeting, while AJ Thomas, legislative aide to State Representative Andy Thompson, R-95th, and a VWHS graduate of the Class of 2012, presented Sloan with a Ohio House resolution on behalf of Thompson and Craig Riedel, R-82nd, whose districts are both in the OSBA’s District 1.

A number of personnel items were approved prior to the start of the 2018-19 school year, including the hiring of three classified employees, including Christopher Golliver, VWMS second shift custodian; Devyn Rodriguez, VWECC paraprofessional; and Roy Schleeter, general cafeteria worker.

The board also approved all bus routes for the upcoming school year, as well as student fees, cafeteria prices, and athletic ticket prices.

The board also briefly discussed a pending Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement request from the developers of The Landing at Dickinson Farms subdivision. Three of the subdivision developers, Andy Czajkowski, Tom Turnwald, and Chuck Koch, were at the meeting to answer questions on the request, which the board said would be voted on during a special meeting on September 7.


POSTED: 08/16/18 at 5:42 am

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Two sentencings and three arraignments were among the hearings held on criminal charges this past week in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court.

Kyle Caldwell, 39, of Van Wert, chanted his plea to guilty to aggravated trafficking in drugs, a felony of the second degree (downgraded from a first-degree felony in exchange for his guilty plea). He was then sentenced to five years in prison, with credit for 124 days already served.

Justin Reynolds, 27, of Van Wert, was sentenced to 133 days in jail, with credit for five days already served, on a charge of telecommunications harassment, a felony of the fifth degree.

Christopher Wicker, 35, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, entered a not guilty plea to a charge of illegal conveyance of drugs into a government facility, a felony of the third degree. No bond was set since Wicker is currently service a prison sentence in Indiana. A pretrial conference was scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday, August 30.

Jessie Zartman, 40, of Van Wert, pleaded not guilty to one count of aggravated possession of drugs, a felony of the fifth degree. The defendant was released on a surety bond, and will appear for a pretrial conference at 8 a.m. Wednesday, September 19.

Serena White, 26, of Van Wert, requested, and was granted, a personal surety bond. She will appear for a pretrial conference at 9 a.m. Wednesday, August 22.

Four people appeared for bond violation hearings.

Amber Baker, 28, of Van Wert, denied violating her bond by failing to report to probation. During a hearing on the matter on Wednesday, she was again released on a surety bond, with a special condition that she be drug tested three times a week.

Ecco Burker, 33, of Van Wert, admitted violating her bond by testing positive for methamphetamine. A $5,000 cash bond was set and she appeared a pretrial conference was held on Wednesday. She appeared later in the week and changed her plea to guilty to two counts of forgery, both felonies of the fifth degree. A presentence investigation was ordered and she will appear for sentencing at 9 a.m. September 26. She was released on a surety bond.


POSTED: 08/16/18 at 5:25 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — School funding expert Dr. Howard Fleeter on Wednesday released the results of an analysis of how Ohio’s school funding system has fared since the landmark DeRolph Ohio Supreme Court case, decided in 1997. The Ohio School Boards Association, Buckeye Association of School Administrators Ohio Association of School Business Officials asked Fleeter, of the Ohio Education Policy Institute, to conduct the analysis.

Fleeter found a limited amount of funding progress over the 20-year period, with much of the growth in state funding occurring in the first 10 years. Seventy-five percent of the increase in combined state and local revenues occurred from fiscal year 1999 to fiscal year 2009 for all five wealth quintiles (the analysis looks at funding increases by wealth quintiles on a per-pupil basis).

While per-pupil state and local revenues increased for all quintiles once adjusted for inflation, the increase for the lowest-wealth districts ($1,775 per pupil) was only $107 more than was the increase for the highest wealth districts ($1,668 per pupil). Fleeter’s report concluded this is an indication the funding gap between low-wealth and high-wealth districts has not been narrowed appreciably since the DeRolph decision.

This report, combined with reports previously issued by Fleeter and the Ohio Education Policy Institute, show significant educational disparities among districts.

The education organizations requesting the analysis said the report will provide credible data for legislators and the education community during the upcoming state budget deliberations.

POSTED: 08/16/18 at 5:23 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

MIDDLE POINT — The Van Wert County Outdoorsmen Association will be hosting a Modern Military Match on Sunday, August 26, at the Van Wert County Outdoorsmen Club, 9093 Ringwald Road, Middle Point. The match is being held on Sunday to accommodate those who cannot make it to the association’s normal Saturday matches.

The safety briefing will be held at 9 a.m., while the match will start at 9:30 that morning. For those who do not have a rifle, the club has M-1 rifles to loan out to the public to use in this match. However, any military rifle — M-14, AK-47, FAL, SKS, or M-16 — may be used. The cost to participate is $5, which is the target fee. For those who need to purchase ammo, the club has 30.06 ammo at $23 for 40 rounds.

For those who have never participated in a match, there will be a clinic starting at 9 a.m. The clinic will include information on how an M-1 operates, as well as match protocols. The club also had a National Match AR-15 for participants that might want to try it out.

For more information, check out the association’s website at www.vwoutdoorsmen.infoor call 419.203.8662.

POSTED: 08/16/18 at 5:21 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Just months after completion of its ambitious Van Wert North ambulatory clinic project, Van Wert Health is announcing major plans to expand and improve critical areas of its hospital facility. The new $45 million expansion will be built on the site of the current Van Wert Health main campus and construction is expected to take approximately two years.

Above is an artist’s rendition of the new Van Wert Health hospital addition. graphic provided

“The health providers at Van Wert Health are top notch and the growing health care needs of our community are simply different today than they were 58 years ago when the hospital was built,” said Van Wert Health President and CEO Jim Pope. “Upgrades are needed and, after much research, we determined it was more cost-effective to build a new facility which will enhance the services we offer, rather than to attempt to upgrade and retrofit the original facilities.

“We face capacity issues on a daily basis, and improving and expanding health care options is integral to our mission to be the Best Community Hospital,” he added.

When complete, the current hospital will be anchored by a new two-story, 84,000 square-foot facility that will help further address the health care needs of residents and visitors in the area.


POSTED: 08/14/18 at 11:03 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

WREN — The Wren Homecoming Committee announces that local residents Bud and Alice Ross are the 2018 Wren Homecoming Parade grand marshals.

The Rosses were married in August 30, 1952, and have been longtime residents and supporters of the Wren community. Having raised two children in the community, Lynn “Bev” Ross and Dan Loftus, along with grandchildren Lindsay, Leslie, Nikki, Josh, Michelle, and Christa; and 13 great-grandchildren the couple is well known to neighbors and friends.

The Rosses have lived in Wren for 56 years and have seen many friends come and go, as well as many changes along the years. Bud Ross was in the U.S. Navy, having served on the USS Urbanas a boiler keeper, and both he and his wife have both been involved and crafts for 27 years .

The couple has traveled away from the Wren area over the years, traveling all over the country in their motor home. When they are home, Alice is well known for her cookies and her special suckers that provide special anticipation to the children of family and friends.

The Wren community can honor the 2018 Wren Homecoming Parade grand marshals at this year’s parade at 4 p.m. Saturday, August 18.

POSTED: 08/14/18 at 11:03 pm. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced a plan to create a new program to help Ohio’s local law enforcement agencies purchase body armor vests. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has agreed to support funding the effort through a recent expansion of its safety grant program.

Mike DeWine

The BWC currently offers its Safety Intervention Grant Program to Ohio’s private and public employers to purchase equipment to reduce or eliminate injuries and illness associated with a particular task or operation. A portion of the Safety Intervention Grant Program funds will be used to fund the new Ohio Law Enforcement Body Armor Program, enabling local law enforcement agencies to receive up to $40,000 per agency to purchase body armor vests with a local match of 25 percent. 

“I am pleased to be able to offer the new Ohio Law Enforcement Body Armor Program in partnership with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to help local law enforcement agencies with the costs associated with life-saving body armor vests,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “This new program will help our first responders get the latest body armor, helping to protect them while they do the important work of keeping their communities safe.”  

In June, BWC announced that it would dedicate a portion of safety grants to prevent injuries and fatalities among law enforcement officers. Under an agreement between the Attorney General and BWC, the Ohio Law Enforcement Body Armor Program will be eligible for these funds through June 2019. 

Beginning today, Ohio’s law enforcement agencies will be able to apply for the program through an application form that will be linked on the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG).  Applications will be reviewed and awarded on a first-come, first served basis.  Vests to be purchased must meet the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) standards, and agencies must demonstrate that they have a mandatory wear policy in place for uniformed officers on duty.

POSTED: 08/14/18 at 11:02 pm. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Food, entertainment, and information were provided Monday evening by the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation as it officially kicked off fundraising efforts for a proposed new addition to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio on Monday.

Naming right donors Ken and Marilyn Merkle talk about why they decided to help fund the proposed addition to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

The VWAPAF started off the event by serving heavy hors d’oeuvres provided by Willow Bend Country Club, Van Wert City Schools, and the Van Wert High School Band Parents to potential project donors seated at tables on the stage of the NPAC. VWAPAF board members and NPAC staff were also introduced at that time.

As potential donors moved to auditorium seating, Jimmi Kilduff Jr., also known as “Jimmi K,” sang several songs from his Las Vegas-style show that’s premiering at the NPAC this weekend.

That performance was followed by a video recap of the 26-show 2018-19 Ignite! Season.

NPAC Executive Director Paul Hoverman then provided an explanation for why an addition was needed, as well as a “virtual walk-through” created by local architect Drew Anderson of the proposed Back Stage Annex project, which would include two “star” dressing rooms with private bathrooms, a laundry area, a production office, a wigs and wardrobe/multi-purpose room, a janitor’s closet, a storage room for tour cases and a drama construction area.

Hoverman explained that, with the success of the NPAC, and the scheduling of larger and larger shows, some deficiencies have been identified in the current facility, including the need for more storage space and a laundry facility for performers.


POSTED: 08/14/18 at 8:42 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert City Council narrowly adopted a controversial amendment to its building permit regulations during its first meeting in August on Monday, and also learned more about why Council meetings can no longer be live-streamed.

Council members voted 3-2 on third and final reading to adopt an amended building permit ordinance that would require permits for any project costing $300 or more. The previous limit was $1,000. Councilmen voting for the measure included Bill Marshall, Ken Markward, and Steve Trittschuh, while Joi Mergy and Warren Straley opposed the measure. Councilman Joel Penton abstained and Jeff Agler could not attend the meeting.

Local resident and retired contractor Tom Wise attended the meeting and sought to have the ordinance defeated, noting that nearly all projects, even minor ones, will likely require a building permit under the new ordinance.

“Three hundred dollars is ridiculous,” Wise said, noting that even painting a couple of rooms would likely cost $500, while it’s hard to purchase a new storm door for less than $300. Wise also threatened to place a referendum on the ballot to strike down the measure.

Nate Green of The Montrose Group in Columbus, talked about Community Reinvestment Area and Tax Increment Financing during Monday’s Van Wert City Council meeting. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Wise’s wife, Juanita, noted that her hometown of Celina doesn’t even require a building permit unless an actual building is being constructed.

Also at Monday’s meeting was John Butler, former technology coordinator for Van Wert City Schools, who talked about the failure of a server at the school that prevents life-streaming of City Council meetings online. While Spectrum still streams the meetings on its public access channel, the server failure has prevented live-streaming on the city’s website.

Butler offered to provide online streaming for $260 a year ($5 a week), but noted he would likely be unable to provide live-streaming until around Christmas. He estimated that live-streaming would also cost an additional $10 a meeting. Until live-streaming is available, Council meetings would begin streaming the day after the actual meeting on the city’s website.

During his report, Mayor Jerry Mazur talked about the success of the visit of a Sister City delegation from Sumoto, Japan, and requested reimbursement from Council for $535 he spent personally to purchase Van Wert t-shirts and hats for the young Japanese students who recently visited the city.

City Auditor Martha Balyeat noted that the city spent $272,000 less than it took in, but also said she is still not seeing a big increase in revenue. One area that is increasing somewhat is the Hotel-Motel Tax, which funds local economic development efforts, as well as the airport and Van Wert Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.


POSTED: 08/14/18 at 8:28 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Ivan Voltz

WREN — As part of opening ceremonies for the Wiffleball Warehouse Tournament in Wren, local resident Ivan Voltz will be singing The National Anthem during opening ceremonies, starting at 5:50 p.m. Friday, August 17, at Wrenway Park.

Voltz was a Crestview bus driver for 30 years and also served in the United States Army in the Pacific as part of the occupation force in Japan just after World War II.

Other than his time in the military, Voltz has lived in the Wren area and is “proud to have laid his head on his own pillow every night”.

Voltz has two adult children and five grandchildren. He attends Wren United Brethren Church.

POSTED: 08/14/18 at 8:17 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

On the heels of a highly successful multi-city tour and run on Broadway, the world’s best-selling touring magic show, The Illusionists — Live from Broadway™ (, will play at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on Thursday, October 11, as part of its North American tour in 2018.

A number of magicians will perform during The Illusionists — Live From Broadway, which will be at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio on Thursday, October 11. Tickets are available now. photo by Danielle Baguley

Tickets for The Illusionists are on sale now at the Niswonger Box Office: NPACVW.ORG or 419.238.6722.

The Illusionists — Live from Broadway™ is produced by Simon Painter, Tim Lawson, and MagicSpace Entertainment. Conceived by Painter, the show’s creative team also includes executive producer Lawson and director Neil Dorward.

Full of hilarious magic tricks, death-defying stunts, and acts of breathtaking wonder, The Illusionists has shattered box office records worldwide and thrilled audiences of all ages with a mind-blowing spectacular showcasing the jaw-dropping talents of five of the most incredible illusionists on earth.

“We can’t wait to bring this electrifying show to Van Wert and northwest Ohio for a truly entertaining experience for the whole family,” Painter said. “The Illusionists is the most non-stop and powerful mix of outrageous and astonishing acts ever to be seen on the live stage.”


POSTED: 08/13/18 at 7:42 am. FILED UNDER: News