The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Aug. 22, 2014


2014 United Way Campaign Chair Scott Mull poses with the thermometer showing this year's $600,000 goal. (photo submitted)

2014 United Way Campaign Chair Scott Mull poses with the thermometer showing this year’s $600,000 goal. (photo submitted)

VW independent/United Way  information

The 2014 United Way campaign chair, Scott Mull of Central Insurance, has set an aggressive campaign goal for the United Way of Van Wert County — $600,000!

“We first started discussing what the amount our campaign goal should be during the allocation process,” Mull said. “This year’s goal is the amount our local member agencies told us they needed to operate and provide their needed programs for the community.”

Mull also noted there were also a few new program requests, programs that would really benefit the community, but that the United Way just didn’t have enough funding to take them on at this time.

The campaign theme this year, “Open Your Eyes”, really has two meanings: the first, encouraging citizens to open their eyes to the needs of the community; and second to open local residents’ eyes to the United Way’s 24 incredible member agencies that work tirelessly each and every day to meet the needs in Van Wert County.

“I hope this year’s theme inspires people to take a look around Van Wert, see what needs there are and what we can do about those needs,” Mull added. “Sometimes it is not just about funding, it’s about volunteering and making a difference in someone’s life.”

This year’s United Way campaign pacesetter is Central Insurance, which has been a supporter of the local United Way from its very beginning in 1922.

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POSTED: 08/22/14 at 6:15 am

Van Wert County Fair information

It has been 159 years since the first Van Wert County Fair was held. On August 8, 1855, planning began for the first county fair and, on October 30 of that year, a location was selected, and the very first one-day fair held at the former Dull Lumber Company location north of Jackson Street.

After that first fair, the event quickly outgrew that location and a purchase of land — 5.67 acres for $184 — was made preparing for the first two-day fair October 27-28, 1857.

The old entrance to the Van Wert County Fairgrounds. (photo submitted)

The old entrance to the Van Wert County Fairgrounds. (photo submitted)

In September 1871, the first three-day fair was held, and, next week August 27-September 1, a six-day event will be held during the 158th edition of the Van Wert County Fair.

Through the years, ribbons were given, pictures taken, and fair memorabilia collected. This year at the fair, a booth in the Commercial Building is looking to add to that collection.

Several select historic events are sought. In 1906 and 1936, two couples were married on the fairgrounds and, in 1938, 46 couples held their 50th anniversary celebrations on the fairgrounds. Anyone who has more information or pictures involving any of these events or any fair memorabilia, from pens to postcards, is asked to stop by the Commercial Building during the fair or contact the fair office.

Those attending this year’s event may also notice many changes when they visit the 2014 fair, and, over the next several years, these changes will continue; however, some of those changes are geared toward nostalgia.

Currently, the Fair Board is searching for any and all fair memorabilia, but is specifically seeking a picture of the old wrought-iron entry gate to allow for its replication – one of the hope-for 2015 improvements to the fairground.

The old brick columns (see photo) once located at the entryways to the fairgrounds will also be replicated.

Those able to donate bricks to the fair toward this effort or who have questions about memorabilia, may contact Fair Board Director Ann Marshall at 419.203.7476.

POSTED: 08/22/14 at 6:09 am. FILED UNDER: News

Niswonger PAC information

Volunteers are at the very center of the performing arts in northwest Ohio. This fact was recognized on August 19 at the 2014 Niswonger Performing Arts Center’s Volunteer Appreciation Dinner.

NPAC Volunteer Appreciation 8-2014Consistent with the banquet theme “This Show Is All About YOU!”, nearly 200 Niswonger volunteers took the Central Mutual stage to be served a delicious dinner from Black Angus Catering. Mark Hartman, Niswonger facilities coordinator, warmly greeted all volunteers, welcoming them to a new season of entertaining opportunities.

Following dinner, NPAC Executive Director Paul Hoverman presented a private viewing of the 2014-15 season that was exhibited from the auditorium cinema screen. Pertinent information was also shared regarding safety procedures and the unveiling of the new website that will be presented in September.

The Volunteer Appreciation Dinner serves as a time for new volunteers to join the NPAC family and for event sign-ups to take place. Because of the strong core of dedicated volunteers, the Niswonger Performing Arts Center continues to grow in success.

“Our volunteers care deeply about the growth of the performing arts in the region and add tremendous value to the entertainment experience,” said Tafi Stober, Niswonger marketing director.

“Without our volunteers, the show simply would not go on,” added NPAC Box Office Manager Jerry Beard.

This year, the Niswonger Performing Arts Center enters its seventh season of providing diverse entertainment to northwest Ohio and northeast Indiana.

POSTED: 08/22/14 at 1:38 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

Ohio BWC information

Building on the momentum of last year’s “Billion Back” plan, “Another Billion Back” would inject an additional $1 billion into Ohio’s economy while making an unprecedented commitment to safe workplaces and a healthy, productive workforce.

“Another Billion Back”:

  • Provides a one-time rebate of $1 billion for private employers and public-taxing districts.
  • Increases BWC’s commitment to safety by up to $35 million over the next two years.
  • Creates several new safety initiatives that leverage BWC’s occupational health and safety expertise to create innovative solutions for improving the safety, health and wellness of Ohio’s workforce.

During its August meeting, the BWC Board of Directors approved the proposal to extend a $1 billion rebate for private employers and public-taxing districts paying into Ohio’s workers’ compensation system.

BWC’s investments continue to perform well above expectations as a result of prudent management and a careful, conservative investment strategy. BWC’s preliminary annualized return of investments was 8.9 percent over the last three fiscal years, including 13.3 percent in 2014. The State Insurance Fund net assets stand at $7.7 billion and a funding ratio above the target guidelines set by the BWC Board of Directors.

Each rebate would equal 60 percent of the employers’ annual premium and checks will be distributed beginning in October. Private employers and public-taxing districts that pay premium into the State Insurance Fund and have active, up-to-date policies will be eligible for the rebate. Each employer’s rebate will reflect 60 percent of what they were billed during the last policy period (July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013, for private employers; January 1, 2012, to December 31, 2012, for public taxing districts).

To be eligible, private employers must have been in an active, reinstated, combined or “debtor in possession” status as of Friday, September 5; public taxing districts must also have been in an active or reinstated status as of September 5.

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POSTED: 08/22/14 at 1:32 am. FILED UNDER: Business, News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert City Board of Education took a number of personnel actions prior to the start of the school year next week during its August meeting on Wednesday.

Van Wert City Schools Superintendent Ken Amstutz talks about a recent meeting with parents over concerns in the New Tech project-based learning program. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Van Wert City Schools Superintendent Ken Amstutz talks about a recent meeting with parents over concerns in the New Tech project-based learning program. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

The board accepted the resignation of several staff members, including special education teacher Shawn Deitemeyer, after 15 years in education and nine years at Van Wert; Megan Bittner, a preschool teacher at the Van Wert Early Childhood Center; Trent Temple, high school in-school suspension monitor, after 18 years in the Van Wert City Schools; and Candice Watson, VWECC kindergarten teacher, after two years in the district.

Chad Kraner also resigned as high school play director (50 percent) and musical play director (83 percent), effective the end of the 2013-14 school year, while Adam Tussing’s resignation as a freshman football coach was also accepted by the board.

New hires included Andrea Sealscott as a first grade teacher and Frankie Bowen as the LifeLinks assistant student services director, while also hiring Jodie Recker as assistant district treasurer.

Superintendent Ken Amstutz noted that kindergarten enrollment for the coming school year is high for the current seven class sections, noting that an eighth section could be added if enrollment remains that high when school starts.

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POSTED: 08/21/14 at 8:07 am. FILED UNDER: News

KELSEY CLEMONS/independent correspondent

The Lincolnview Local Board of Education welcomed 14 new staff members to the district during its August meeting. New staff experience ranged from fresh out of college to 20 years of past experience.

Board members and administrators also said the August 18 open house was a success, and described participation by students, parents, and staff as exceeding expectations.

“My hallways were full last night,” said High School-Junior High School Principal Brad Mendenhall. “I was really pleased to see all the new faces and all the familiar faces back here.”

The board also discussed the rising district student population. Elementary Principal Nita McKinney said the sixth grade is at maximum capacity at 84 students, while Lincolnview was forced to turn away students on the waiting list for kindergarten, due to being at maximum capacity already, with approximately 70 students enrolled.

During his report as legislative liaison, Board President Eric Germann spoke of concerns he had with appending state measure, House Bill 597, which would eliminate Common Code state standards, as well as related questions on various proficiency tests, noting that the legislation would create serious problems for local school districts.

“I’m worried about the chaos it would create,” Germann said of the proposed legislation, while also noting that it could negatively affect local curriculum control, since it sought to legislate what books and other materials could be used by school districts.

The board president added that many Common Core concerns were curriculum and assessment issues that are the purview of individual school districts.

Treasurer Troy Bowersock said during his report that the district paid out approximately $404,000 in transportation expenses, as well as $35,000 as part of a contract to transport two students to another district.

Most of Lincolnview Local Schools' new teachers (above) attended the August meeting of the Lincolnview Local Board of Education (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Most of Lincolnview Local Schools’ new teachers (above) attended the August meeting of the Lincolnview Local Board of Education (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

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POSTED: 08/21/14 at 7:35 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW County Fair information

Michigan Dynamometer presents a horse pull at the 158th annual Van Wert County Fair.

According to tradition and Horsepulls.com, the event traces back to the early 1900s, when farmers used horses to work their fields. Much like the Tug a Truck fairgoers can see Tuesday night or the Truck and Tractor Pulls Sunday night, one farmer would say to another: “I bet my horse can pull more than yours.”

VW County Fair logoProving it evolved into the event one can see today.

Horse pulling truly has become a sport, with horses bred and trained for their strength. Then, like a college athlete preparing for the season, the best competition horses are those worked daily to prepare their muscles and tendons for peak performance.

The harness and rig also become a key part of the success of the team, and it’s thrilling to see the pride in the horses as they strut their stuff after a successful pull.

Horse pulls come to the grandstand at 1 p.m. Sunday, August 31. There will be Lightweight and Heavyweight classes, while the number of teams pulling in the event is yet to be determined, but entries will come from the entire tri-state area.

POSTED: 08/21/14 at 7:29 am. FILED UNDER: News

Van Wert independent

Only two cases were heard in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday.

Tristan Boaz, 22, of Van Wert, appeared for sentencing, but requested that her case be continued so she could seek drug treatment. Judge Charles D. Steele granted the request and allowed her to be released from jail on electronically monitored house arrest.

Sentencing on a charge of forgery will be rescheduled.

Michael Speakman, 22, of Willshire, was given three years of community control on a charge of telecommunications fraud, a felony of the fifth degree. As part of his sentence he will serve 180 days in jail, but was also granted work release.

POSTED: 08/21/14 at 7:19 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/ODJFS information

After several months of declining unemployment, jobless rates have increased a bit the last two months in Van Wert County – and across much of Ohio – including a fourth-tenths of a percent jump in July, according to figures released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Jobless Rate Map 7-2014The county’s unemployment rate in July jumped to 5.3 percent, from 4.9 percent in June. In turn, June’s rate was another four-tenths of a percent higher than May’s rate of 4.5 percent.

According to figures compiled by the ODJFS, in conjunction with the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, Van Wert County’s workforce increased by 100 in July, while the number of people employed stayed the same at 13,300. That means 100 more people were unemployed during the month, according to the ODJFS figures.

Neighboring counties either remained the same or saw jobless rates increase. Mercer County was the only county where unemployment remained the same, at 3.3 percent. Auglaize County’s jobless rate was up a tenth of a percent, from 4.0 percent in June to 4.1 percent in July, while Putnam County’s unemployment jumped six-tenths of a percent – the largest increase in the area – from 4.4 percent two months ago to 5.0 percent in July.

Paulding County went up a tenth of a percent, from 5.1 percent in June to 5.2 percent last month, while Allen County had the second-highest increase – and largest unemployment rate overall – with July’s jobless rate at 6.1 percent, up from 5.6 percent in June.

Statewide, Mercer County again led the state with its 3.3 percent unemployment, while three other counties, including Auglaize County, also had jobless rates below 4.5 percent. The other two counties were Holmes (3.9 percent) and Delaware (4.3 percent).

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POSTED: 08/20/14 at 5:53 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW County Fair information

A Lamb, Pig, and Calf Scramble is a new event at the Van Wert County Fair this year.  The event will be held at 7:30 Saturday night as part of the “Triple Play” in the Grandstand.  Rounding out the triple play are Emerald Blue, a young country music duo from Nashville, and a hot air balloon glow.

The scramble is new for Van Wert County, and the Fair Board has had quite a few inquiries as to what it actually is. Debuting at the 158th Van Wert County Fair, but very popular at nearby fairs the past couple of years, the scramble is somewhat a revival of the “greased pig” contests of years’ past.

VW County Fair logoAs a warm-up, the event actually starts with a “chicken catch” for kids 7 and under.  Approximately 12 kids per heat will attempt to catch a chicken as they run around the 32-by-72 foot pen.  Prizes will be given to those who can complete the task. No registration is required for this round; kids just need to show up at the event that evening.

The true event kicks off with the Lamb Scramble for kids 7-10 years old.  Again, a heat of approximately 12 will try to catch 4-5 lambs that will be let loose in the pen. Participants will be given a halter to put on the lamb’s head and then lead the lamb to the center of the ring. The kid who catches a lamb in the shortest amount of time wins the grand prize of $25.

Next, children 11-14 will try to catch a pig. To add a level of difficulty, the kids arms will be coated with Crisco. Quickest time to catch the pig and bring him to the center circle wins a grand prize of $50.

Lastly, the main event for the older youths is the Calf Scramble. There will be heats for youngsters 15-18 and also one heat for college age (19-22) young adults.

Just like the lambs, participants will need to halter a calf and lead it to the center of the ring to complete the catch. Grand prize is $75 for the calf scramble.

Entries are limited to the first 36 entries for each scramble event and entries can be taken from now until the event at the Fair Board office.

Participants in the Sheep, Pig, and Calf Scramble will be provided a helmet for head protection.  All entries require a waiver signed by a parent of each participant.

Mercer Landmark and Rural King are helping to sponsor the event.

POSTED: 08/20/14 at 5:29 am. FILED UNDER: News

VWCT information

Van Wert Civic Theatre proudly presents the second of their summer youth theatre productions, Camp Omigosh. This fun-filled family friendly show features a number of students from the community, as well as adult actors.

Camp Omigosh artwork 8-2014Rehearsals have been in progress for several weeks and the talent and work ethic of the young people is truly amazing. What a great way to support the arts in Van Wert County and enjoy a wonderful evening of live theatre!

The box office is open daily from 2-6 p.m.  Call early at 419.238.9689 to reserve seats, as these shows often sell out. Show dates are Friday and Saturday, August 22-23, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, August 24, at 2 p.m. All tickets are $10.

For a synopsis of the show and complete cast list visit the VWCT website at vwct.org or “like” the theatre group on Facebook.

Camp Omigosh was written by Wade Bradford, directed by Amber Evans and presented by special arrangement with Eldridge Plays and Musicals.

POSTED: 08/20/14 at 5:21 am. FILED UNDER: News