The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Jul. 24, 2014

The Van Wert County Humane Shelter (above) is under investigation for unsafe conditions, while Dog Warden Rich Strunkenberg is currently on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

The Van Wert County Humane Shelter (above) is under investigation for unsafe conditions, while Dog Warden Rich Strunkenberg is currently on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert County Dog Warden Rich Strunkenberg has been placed on paid administrative leave pending completion of an investigation into complaints about conditions at the county animal shelter.

Sheriff Thomas M. Riggenbach stated Wednesday afternoon that his office received a complaint on Sunday from a local resident concerning conditions at the shelter. The sheriff sent deputies to the shelter at that time to assess possible problems at the shelter, and they apparently had some concerns about conditions at the shelter.

“I had a unit go out there and see what we had,” Sheriff Riggenbach said. “I’m not going to go into the specifics of what we found, but it was not what was acceptable to me.”

A local veterinarian was also called in to assess the health of several of the animals at the shelter, the sheriff said, and some animals were removed to the vet’s office for treatment and further observation. Only one of those animals is still at the veterinarian’s office, at this point, Sheriff Riggenbach said.

Although the Van Wert County Board of Commissioners hires the county dog warden, the sheriff has been Strunkenberg’s direct supervisor since August 2013.


POSTED: 07/23/14 at 3:35 pm

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Previous misdeeds caught up to a Van Wert man who was sentenced to 18 months in prison on a drug-related charge, while a Paulding man received 1½ years in jail for telecommunications harassment during hearings held Wednesday in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court.

Ryan Schaadt, 29, of Van Wert, was given 18 months in prison on a charge of possession of heroin, a felony of the fourth degree. Judge Charles D. Steele also gave Schaadt credit for 90 days already served.

Ryan Schaadt listens during his sentencing hearing Wednesday in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Ryan Schaadt listens during his sentencing hearing Wednesday in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Schaadt’s attorney, Dillon Staas, had asked for community service for his client, noting Schaadt wanted to continue substance abuse therapy in Celina.

“I don’t think you’re ready to start the program yet,” the judge said and listed a number of problems probation and jail officials have had with Schaadt, including failing to return on time from a trip to Lima to apply for Medicaid, failing a drug test after an interview with the Van Wert County Job and Family Services Department, hiding medication in the waistband of his pants and smoking without authorization while in the county jail.

Judge Steele did give Schaadt credit for 90 days already served while awaiting sentencing.

Roger M. Hibbard, 37, of Paulding, received three consecutive 180-day sentences for telecommunications harassment stemming from calling his estranged wife, and attempting to call her, on multiple occasions after a “no contact” order was in place.

While Hibbard admitted he had “screwed up my life”, he also said he hadn’t threatened anyone, but was merely trying to check up on his daughter. He also claimed he wanted to fix things with his estranged wife, although it was plain from her victim’s statement she wasn’t buying any of it.

Calling her husband a “pathological liar,” the victim said Hibbard had threatened both her and her entire family and had repeatedly refused to get counseling when she tried to help him with his mental problems.

As part of Hibbard’s sentencing, Judge Steele gave him credit for 12 days already served.


POSTED: 07/24/14 at 7:03 am. FILED UNDER: News

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown information

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is urging the Obama Administration to protect Paulding County’s cement industry and the thousands of local jobs it supports. In a letter to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman, Brown called for the Administration to crack down on Canada’s attempt to illegally subsidize a cement plant in Quebec, which would specifically target the U.S. market, hurting the ability of local manufacturers to compete. U.S. cement companies would be affected, including Lafarge North America, which has a plant in Paulding.

“Paulding County workers can compete with anyone when given a level playing field,” Brown said. “But if countries like Canada illegally subsidize their industries, and target the U.S. market, it gives their products an unfair advantage. I urge the administration to investigate the nearly $500 million subsidy package proposed for the Quebec plant, which will directly compete with Lafarge North America’s facility in Paulding. Actions must be taken in order to protect Paulding jobs and the economy of Northwest Ohio.”

Lafarge North America logo 7-2014Specifically, the Canadian federal government and Quebec are seeking to offer a nearly half billion dollar financial package to McInnis Cement to help its startup in Port-Daniel-Gascons, Quebec. The size and nature of these subsidies could violate Canada’s World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations and give its cement industry an unfair advantage in the U.S. market. That is why Brown is calling for the USTR to investigate these subsidies and put a stop to them in order to protect Paulding’s workers and businesses.

“Lafarge North America appreciates the inquiry to the United States Trade Representative to address a serious threat to U.S. cement producers and their workers,” said John Stull, president and chief executive officer of Lafarge North America. “Given the excess cement capacity in the Province of Quebec, the McInnis Cement plant makes no economic sense.

“Lafarge believes that the plant would not be built without enormous support from the federal and provincial government. Lafarge joins Senator Brown in urging the U.S. government to engage with the Canadian government regarding the provision of subsidies that appear to be prohibited by WTO rules and threaten material harm to the U.S. cement industry.”

Brown continues to fight for Ohio manufacturers’ ability to compete on a level playing field. Described as “Congress’ leading proponent of American Manufacturing,” Brown is a member of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus, currently Vice-Chair of the Senate Auto Caucus, and was recently named incoming Chair of the Senate Steel Caucus. In April, bipartisan manufacturing jobs legislation introduced by Brown and U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) moved one step closer to becoming law. Brown-Blunt would establish a National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) and create thousands of high-paying, high-tech manufacturing jobs while enhancing the United States’ role as the world’s leader in advanced manufacturing. 

POSTED: 07/24/14 at 6:52 am. FILED UNDER: News

Chamber of Commerce information

The Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce is now accepting nominations for its 20th annual Leadership Van Wert County class.

VW Chamber logo 3-19-10Visionary companies understand the pivotal importance of developing strong leaders not only for their companies, but also for their community. That is the mission of the Leadership Van Wert County Program. Please consider nominating one of your employees or yourself and join other area leaders who have experienced the best of the best leadership development in the greater Van Wert area.

A 2014-15 nomination form is due to the Chamber by September 10 (click here for a brochure and form). An application will be mailed to the nominee once we receive the nomination form.

For more information, call the Chamber of Commerce at 419.238.4390.

POSTED: 07/24/14 at 6:32 am. FILED UNDER: Business, News

VW independent/ODJFS information

It must be a case of the summer doldrums. After a month that saw no change in unemployment in May, Van Wert County followed a statewide trend of slight increases in the jobless rate in June, according to figures released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Jobless Rate Map 6-2014The county’s unemployment rate was up four-tenths of a percent in June, from 4.5 percent in May to 4.9 percent this past month, according to ODJFS figures.

According to workforce numbers compiled by the state, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the county saw significant increases in both its total workforce, and the number of people employed during June. The total workforce was up to 14,000, from 13,600 in May, while those employed totaled 13,300, versus 13,000 even in May. Those unemployed also increased slightly in June, from 600 in May to 700 last month.

Statewide, 85 counties saw an increase in their unemployment rate, with Mercer County having the lowest unemployment at 3.3 percent, up from 3.0 percent last month. Other area counties also saw increases in unemployment for June. Auglaize County’s jobless rate jumped from May’s 3.6 percent to 4.0 percent in June, while Putnam County went from 4.1 percent in May to 4.4 percent last month. Paulding County’s unemployment rose from 4.6 percent in May to 5.1 percent in June, while Allen County had the highest area unemployment rate at 5.6 percent, up from 5.2 percent in May.

Statewide, Monroe County had the highest unemployment rate at 11.7 percent. Other counties with unemployment above 8 percent included Meigs (8.9 percent), Pike (8.7 percent), Morgan (8.6 percent), and Scioto (8.3 percent).

In addition to Mercer, Auglaize and Putnam, counties with unemployment at or below 4.5 percent included Holmes (3.9 percent), Delaware (4.1 percent), Union (4.4 percent), and Hancock (4.5 percent). The comparable rate for Ohio was 5.9 percent in June.

POSTED: 07/23/14 at 7:12 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Advanced Biological Marketing (ABM) announces the expansion of its production facility at its corporate headquarters in Van Wert. In the past three years, ABM has had a significant increase in sales growth for its all-natural agricultural biological products and market demand continues to increase, which has moved up the facility expansion by two years.

ABM-Logo-CMYK2As a leading domestic company that solely produces sustainable, safe and natural crop products that increase crop yields, ABM is expanding their production facilities by 78,000 square feet over the next two years. This first phase of the project expansion will allow ABM to increase its current production capacity tenfold. The expansion will also help the company shorten product lead times and more quickly react to changes in market conditions.

“This facility expansion is a significant step for the company,” said ABM CEO Dan Custis. “As we continue to grow, it’s vitally important that we are able to meet the ever increasing demand for our current products and to prepare for the development of future products.”

A growing international company, ABM has additional facilities in Geneva, New York; Albert Lea, Minnesota; and Lichtenburg, South Africa. Construction on its production facility expansion began this summer and is scheduled to be completed early next year.

About ABM

ABM provides solutions for commercial agriculture using biological seed treatments that increase a crop’s potential and yield. Its product line includes biological seed enhancements for corn, soybeans, wheat and many other production crops across the globe. ABM headquarters are in Van Wert. For more information, visit the company website at

POSTED: 07/23/14 at 7:08 am. FILED UNDER: Business, News

VW independent/submitted information

As part of its 78th consecutive year of touring the United States, Carson & Barnes Circus, the largest traveling big top tent circus in America, will visit Van Wert this Thursday, July 24, at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds. Shows are scheduled for 4:30 and 7:30 Thursday evening.

This year’s “Big Top Rag Time Circus Ball” is being hailed as one of the greatest shows produced over the last eight decades, with a two-hour show under the Big Top filled with acts that will amaze the audience.  Patrons will be in awe of the acrobats, aerial daredevils, spectacular pageantry and the cast of amazing performing animals.

Elephants are one of the big draws for the Carson & Barnes Circus, which is coming to Van Wert this Thursday. (photo submitted)

Elephants are one of the big draws for the Carson & Barnes Circus, which is coming to Van Wert this Thursday. (photo submitted)

This year, circus officials are proud to feature the “Globe of Death” where not one … not two … but three of the world’s top motorcycle stunt daredevils will risk their lives and ride against each other inside the giant iron cage. Racing at high speeds in tight spaces presents extreme dangers, with enormous risks that will keep those who attend on the edge of their seats.

Franchesca Cavallini, a 19-year-old trapeze artist, will not only astound circus-goers as she twists and turns on the flying trapeze, but will also win their hearts with her performance of “I am the Circus”. From a young age, Cavallini has loved animals — and especially elephants — and she also realized she could use her passion to sing to help these magnificent creatures she loves so much. Nationally known songwriter and producer Jacque Hollander wrote the song “I am the Circus” for her and produced a CD. The CD is for sale, with 100 percent of the proceeds donated to the Endangered Ark Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Accompanying her in her five-minute extravaganza are aerialists, a glittered pageantry of showgirls and her favorite elephant, “DelRita.” Together they present a performance to be remembered.

Other acts sure to delight the audience include the quick change featuring the Campa Duo, where magically Miss Amanda changes costumes in the blink of an eye; a tribute to Indian ancestors featuring head balancing artist Gerrod and aerial ballerinas; the circus’ prancing Appaloosa stallions; the high jumping performing poodles; the world renowned juggling artistry of the Rosales Family; and, of course, the stars of the show: the Carson & Barnes performing Asian elephants. The two-hour performance is full of non-stop action that will thrill the entire family.


POSTED: 07/23/14 at 7:07 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

BROWN TOWNSHIP — Paulding County Sheriff Jason K. Landers is warning county residents that there could be a large cat, possibly a bobcat or mountain lion, in the county.

The sheriff stated his office has received what he believes to be credible information that a large cat is running loose in Paulding County. Sheriff Landers said a county resident call his office on Tuesday to report seeing a large cat running north of the intersection of County Roads 151 and 108 in east central Brown Township.

“The animal was described as 40-50 pounds, approximately knee high, a long body and the color of a bale of straw,” the sheriff said, noting that the description could be that of a bobcat or mountain lion.  Sheriff Landers added that there have been no reports of livestock killed or property damaged, but cautioned county residents to pay attention while outside, especially when small children are playing outdoors.

The sheriff’s department also received a report several days ago from a resident of the same area stating that he could hear what he believed to be a “cat crying.” The resident said the sound wasn’t that of a normal housecat, in his opinion.

Sheriff Landers said the game warden has also been notified and is involved in investigating the reports and asks that county residents who see something similar to the animal described call the Sheriff’s Office, but cautioned that they not try to take action themselves.

Those with information can call 419.399.3791 or leave information via Facebook by searching Facebook/Paulding County Sheriff’s Office. An anonymous tip can also be left on the Sheriff’s Office website at by clicking on “send us an anonymous tip” at the bottom of the page, while an email can also be sent to the sheriff from the website.

Although it’s not certain what the animal might be, there have been more than 100 verified sightings of bobcats in the state each of the past four years, with 200 verified sightings in 2013 alone.

Of the sightings, 113 were recognized from photographs or videos, while additional sightings were verified through road kills, animals trapped by mistake and later released and sightings by qualified personnel.

In addition to the verified sightings, there were 226 unverified sightings of bobcats in 2013 as well. Most of the sightings were on the eastern side of the state, with Noble County having the most sightings at 32, although unverified sightings have occurred in 86 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

POSTED: 07/23/14 at 7:03 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW County Fair Board information

From talks that started nearly 10 years ago, a brand new Rabbit Barn at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds is finally close to reality. Truly a community effort and over two years of fund raising has paid off. The Van Wert Youth and Adult Rabbit Clubs, The 4-H’s Bunny Hoppers, rabbit exhibitors from all clubs, and members of the community have managed to raise funds to provide new accommodations to the more than 600 rabbits per year that visit during fair week.

Construction begins on the new Van Wert County Rabbit Barn behind the old barn. (photo submitted)

Construction begins on the new Van Wert County Rabbit Barn behind the old barn. (photo submitted)

The old rabbit barn is an icon on the county fairgrounds and holds countless memories for past exhibitors, parents, children, and rabbit lovers everywhere. Saturdays of the fair is the open rabbit show, which is an American Rabbit Breeders Association-sanctioned event that brings in rabbit exhibitors for the Senior Fair Rabbit Show from a five-state area, so this barn literally has regional draw.

Unfortunately, time and weather had left the building in structural decay. Last year, plastic was needed to keep rain water off the animals. Decision makers considered repair of the old building and trying to save the original barn; however, the extent of the repairs made construction of a whole new building more feasible and realistic.

Fundraising began with bake sales organized by former Rabbit Barn Superintendent and current Fair Board Director Ann Marshall. Then, two years ago, things really took off when Leslie Marbaugh won grand champion with her rabbit and donated her winnings towards the new barn. Since then, countless volunteers have donated time, money, and elbow grease. The townships have hauled in stone and the entire community has pulled together to make a new rabbit barn a reality.


POSTED: 07/22/14 at 6:39 am. FILED UNDER: News

Van Wert independent

The Lincolnview Local Board of Education met in special session Monday morning to fill vacant positions for the 2014-2015 school year.

The board hired the following new staff members:

  • Ashley Meyer was granted a one-year limited contract as a high school mathematics teacher.
  • Eric Fishpaw was given a one-year limited contract as the elementary physical education teacher.
  • Tonya Debell was issued a one-year limited contact as a second-grade teacher at Lincolnview Elementary School.
  • Karen Ashley was given a two-year limited contract as director of food service, effective the 2014-15 school year.

POSTED: 07/22/14 at 6:35 am. FILED UNDER: News

Gasoline price information

Average retail gasoline prices in Ohio have risen 3.8 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.50 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 fallen 3.3 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.57 a gallon, according to gasoline price website

Including the change in gas prices in Ohio during the past week, prices yesterday were 5.8 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 26.8 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 10.7 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 10.4 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

Gasoline price graphic 8-2012“As expected, motorists continue to see average gasoline prices falling across much of the United States,” said Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. “While the chorus is loud, some states in the Great Lakes did see a price jump last week, and as crazy as it sounds, it was due to retail prices falling faster than wholesale prices, likely spurred on by intense competition as prices dropped.

“Outside of the Great Lakes, prices have been gently falling in the last week — in every state but Wyoming, Ohio, and Indiana, but prices have begun moving lower again in the latter two, while Wyoming prices remain a bit difficult to forecast due to Wyoming’s rural geography and low demand,” DeHaan noted. “Typically, price changes are felt slower in the Rockies because of lower demand provides a week or several buffer against changes in price taking place nationally.”

In all, 13 states saw average prices decline more than 5 cents per gallon. To see the complete list, visit

About GasBuddy

GasBuddy operates 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.

POSTED: 07/22/14 at 6:34 am. FILED UNDER: News