The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019

Kristy Bartz, new clerk of Van Wert City Council, was in her new position for the first time during Monday’s Council meeting. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert City Auditor Martha Balyeat had some mixed news for Van Wert City Council during her end-of-year financial report given Monday evening.

Balyeat first noted the good news: the city’s General Fund received an estimated $287,000 more in 2018 than it did the year before, with much of that total — approximately $200,000 — coming from income tax withholdings. That’s a good sign, since it means either there are more people paying city taxes or those paying taxes are making more money.

The city auditor said projections made at the beginning of the year had estimated the city would receive $6.194 million in revenues in 2018, but the actual number received was $6.537 million, or $343,000 more than projected.

In addition to receiving more money during the year than projected, city departments also spent $430,000 less than budgeted, with most of that total coming from the police and fire departments, which make up the majority of General Fund expenditures.

The bad news: $734,000 in General Fund expenditures is coming out of other funds. That includes $313,000 from the 0.22-percent Safety Capital Income Tax Fund for police and fire salaries and fringe benefits. In addition, a portion of salaries and fringe benefits for administrative employees, such as the mayor, auditor, law director, and safety-service director, are coming out of other funds as well.


POSTED: 01/15/19 at 8:38 am

VW independent/submitted information

Local residents’ next visit downtown might be a little bit sweeter, according to Main Street Van Wert Program Manager Mitch Price

The MSVW Promotions Committee announces the return of the Downtown Chocolate Walk, to be held Friday evening, February 8. Participating businesses will be open for this special event from 5-8 p.m. Tickets are $20 per ticket and must be purchased or reserved in advance beginning this Friday, January 18.

Chocolate walkers traverse downtown Van Wert in 2017 in search of chocolate treats. VW independent file photo

The evening of the event, “chocolate walkers” will begin at the MSVW office to pick up a special Chocolate Bag sponsored by Stephanie Dawn, a chocolate voucher from DeBrand Fine Chocolates, and a map of the downtown stops. Then relax and savor the evening while strolling at one’s leisure through the participating businesses downtown.

Enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride up and down Main Street from Town & Country Carriage Service, which are sponsored by Kitchens Inc. Show the event bag at each Chocolate Stop on the map to sample or collect nearly 20 chocolate treats.

A full list of participating businesses will be announced a week before the event. Ticket holders will visit businesses they are familiar with and learn about ones they may not know. It’s a fun way to visit someplace new or get reacquainted with the stores and offices downtown.

MSVW is also offering a new “VIP Dining Experience” at 133 Bistro for $20 from 5 to 8 p.m. The experience includes a choice of three of the finest 133 Bistro meals, with a portion of the profits going to Main Street Van Wert. Only 80 tickets are being offered for this VIP event. All tickets will be on sale at 133 Bistro, Truly Divine, and the MSVW office.

Grab friends or invite someone special and enjoy this excursion through downtown Van Wert. A limited number of tickets are available and can be purchased in person at the MSVW office, 136 E. Main St.; Collins Fine Foods, 223 N. Washington St., and Truly D’Vine, 117 W. Main St. Tickets may also be reserved over the phone. 

For more information, visit www.mainstreetvanwert.orgor call 419.238.6911.

POSTED: 01/16/19 at 8:18 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Van Wert Civic Theatre is almost ready to lift the curtain on its next production. 

Cahootsis a brilliantly written thriller farce that will keep audiences wondering what happens next while questioning what this play is really supposed to be. Is it funny? Tragic? Do I love these characters? Are they evil or just being real?  

In a scene from Cahoots, tensions rise as (on the couch-left to right) Ed Eichler, Christa Manning, and Sarah Glover try to decide what to do about their murder victim, played by Jon Hodges (in the background). VWCT photo

Director Jon Hodges has assembled a stellar cast that will throw the audience against the back wall with the power and realness of the acting and then have it bent over in laughter as they pull out the comedic stops.  Hodges is a veteran of the stage but has never directed at VWCT. Audiences will enjoy what he has done with this quirky script.  

This thriller farce is set in the Manhattan high rise apartment of Ken and Jan. Jan and her friend, Lois, are setting up for a dinner party before attending a neighborhood crime watch meeting, while Lois’s husband, Al, who is obsessed with crime prevention, impersonates a masked burglar and breaks into the apartment. 

A growing antagonism between Al and Ken comes to a head over dinner, and, at the end of the first scene, Ken kills Al with an oversized pepper mill. The problem then becomes what to do with the body, a dilemma that is complicated when a security guard arrives at the door, attempts to blackmail the accomplices, and, well, has to be killed.

The cast for this wonky romp into the delights of murderous friendship includes Sarah Glover as Jan Miller, Ed Eichler as Ken Miller, Christa Manning as Lori Shields, Jon Hodges as Al Shields, and Courtney Wendel as Alana Grant (note: This show contains adult language). 

Show dates for Cahoots are January 17-20, and 24-27. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday performances begin at 8 p.m. with Sunday shows beginning at 2 p.m. Tickets are $13 at the door (cash and check only).


POSTED: 01/16/19 at 8:13 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Ashley Shepherd, director of gifted services for the Western Buckeye Educational Service Center, announces that the 2019 Journal Gazette Van Wert County Spelling Bee will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, February 4, in the Bagley Auditorium on the campus of The Marsh Foundation. This event is free and open to the public.

2016 Van Wert County Spelling Bee Champion Una Van Wynsberghe (center) is flanked by second-place finisher Grace Doctor (left) and Zander Pence. VW independent file photo

Thirteen contestants representing seven Van Wert County schools, grades 5-8, will compete for the honor of representing the county in the Journal Gazette Regional Spelling Bee presented by Star Financial Bank on March 9. The regional event will be held in the Purdue Fort Wayne Rhinehart Recital Hall at 10 a.m. that day, with the winner of going on to compete in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Individual school champions are as follows:

  • Crestview Elementary: Caroline Marks, Grade 5
  • Crestview Middle School: Wesyn Ludwig, Grade 8; Olivia Ramos, Grade 7; Natalie Burk, Grade 6
  • Lincolnview Elementary: Case Young, Grade 5; and Bennett Kill, Grade 6
  • Lincolnview Junior High: Jacob Grubb, Grade 7; and Parker McKenzie, Grade 8
  • St. Mary of the Assumption School: Madelyn Berryman, Grade 6
  • Van Wert City Elementary: Katie Kramer, Grade 5
  • Van Wert Middle School: Aaron Reichert, Grade 6; Lyndsey Heath, Grade 7; Erin Schaufelberger, Grade 8

POSTED: 01/16/19 at 7:57 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The Van Wert Civil Service Commission will be meeting at 11 a.m. Thursday, January 24, in Van Wert City Council Chambers, on the second floor of the Municipal Building, 515 E. Main St., to certify results from the examination held on January 5. 

POSTED: 01/16/19 at 7:53 am. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent writer

CONVOY — The Crestview Local School District is a step closer to having an early childhood center.

During Monday night’s monthly Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Kathy Mollenkopf told board members the district is officially in possession of the former Vancrest of Convoy property, which is being eyed for a possible early childhood center.

Retiring Program Services Secretary Sandy Etzler is presented with a parting gift by Board President John Auld. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

“All of the utilities have been transferred, we’ve updated some locks on it, regulated the heat, and taken down the sign,” Mollenkopf explained. “We’re looking forward to moving along and we actually received the quit deed in the mail at the end of last week, so we are good to go.”

The board later approved a motion to allow Mollenkopf and Treasurer Ashley Whetsel to begin the selection process to hire a criteria architect/engineer for a potential early childhood center design-build project.

Board members also approved a lease-purchase financing agreement for the planned expansion project at the school, along with a contract with architectural firm Garmann Miller of Minster.

Mollenkopf also presented each board member with a certificate as part of the Ohio School Boards Association’s School Board Recognition Month and read aloud a proclamation honoring the board.


POSTED: 01/15/19 at 8:32 am. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent writer

Kirk Berryman will serve as president of the Lincolnview Local Board of Education in 2019. Berryman was elected during Monday night’s organizational meeting. Lori Snyder will serve as vice president.

Lincolnview Elementary received the prestigioius Momentum Award. Pictured from right to left are: Matt Alessandrini, Hilary Arn, Nicole Early, Nita Meyer Chelsae Giesige and Matt Langdon. Lincolnview photo

Board members will be paid $125 per meeting, up to 14 meetings, which are scheduled for the third Tuesday of each month in the Neubrecht Lecture Hall. One of the meetings will be held at the Marsh Foundation.

During Monday night’s regular monthly meeting, the board learned more about Ohio Department of Education’s Momentum Award, which is the state’s way of honoring schools that received “A’s” on each value added measure included on Ohio’s School Report Cards.

Lincolnview Elementary was the only school in Van Wert County to receive the award.

“I’m proud of our staff and student accomplishments as we have focused the past few years on improving instructional methods, teacher collaboration and analyzing our student data to implement best practices,” Elementary Principal Nita Meyer said. “This in turn has been successful as we are showing growth in many areas and meeting the needs of our students. We will definitely keep that ‘momentum’ going.”


POSTED: 01/15/19 at 8:24 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The Van Wert County Auditor’s Office has 2019 dog licenses for sale, and they may be purchased until Thursday, January 31, without penalty.

Dog licenses may be purchased at the Auditor’s Office, Room 205 in the Van Wert County Courthouse, or at the following locations around the county:

  • Van Wert Animal Clinic, 13995 Lincoln Highway in Van Wert
  • Dog House Grooming, 117 N. Washington St. in Van Wert
  • Emma Lu’s, 7079 U.S. 127 in Van Wert
  • Hall Lumber Company, 122 S. Main St. in Convoy
  • J & R Merchandising, 200 Walcott St. in Willshire
  • Ohio City Express, 511 W. Carmean St. in Ohio City
  • Rambler’s Roost, 18191-A Lincoln Highway in Middle Point
  • Van Wert Veterinary Clinic, 11251 Van Wert-Decatur Road in Van Wert

All dogs 3 months old or older require a dog license. Those purchasing tags at one of the above locations should take applications with them, if they received on in the mail.

In addition, a stamped, self-addressed envelope, along with the proper fee, must accompany applications returned by mail. 

Dog licenses cost $17 per tag, while a penalty of $17 per one-year tag must be paid in addition to the license fee for licenses purchased for dogs at least 3 months old after January 31.

A three-year tag is also available for $51 and a lifetime tag for $170 only at the Auditor’s Office.

Kennel licenses cost $85 for five tags, while extra tags can be purchased for $1 apiece. The penalty for not getting a kennel license prior to January 31 is an additional $85.

Dog tags may also be ordered online from now until January 31 only at

For more information, contact Kaitlyn at the Van Wert County Auditor’s Office at 419.238.0843.

POSTED: 01/15/19 at 8:19 am. FILED UNDER: News

Winter came finally to Van Wert County with a snowstorm that dropped approximately 5 inches of snow, while also bringing frigid temperatures with it. According to Van Wert County Emergency Management Director Rick McCoy, the county may be looking at another major winter storm coming to the Midwest this coming weekend. The EMA director is forecasting a high of 28 for today, with a low of 15, while Tuesday will break 30 with a high of 31, and a low of 28, with a slight chance of some freezing drizzle overnight. Wednesday’s high will be 33, with a low of 18, while Thursday will bring a slight chance of afternoon snow, with a high of 33 and a low of 28. Friday’s high will be 32, with a low of 19 overnight and a chance of snow, while both Saturday and Sunday could bring snow, if the forecast plays out. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 01/14/19 at 8:39 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

While Van Wert gasoline prices rose, all local stations remain under $2 a gallon — and at least a nickel under the state average.

Three Van Wert stations have the low price of $1.96 per gallon. They include Murphy USA in the Towne Center shopping center, Lassus Handy Dandy on North Washington Street, and the Pak-A-Sak Marathon station at the intersection of Ervin Road and Shannon Street.

The One Stop Shop station in the 200 block of North Washington is selling gasoline at $1.97 per gallon, while the Short Stop on East Main Street has gasoline for $1.98 a gallon on Monday morning.

The Pak-A-Sak north Marathon station in the 800 block of North Washington, the Brookside Marathon station in the 1300 block of West Main, and the Shell station on South Washington Street are all at $1.99 per gallon.

Gasoline prices in Ohio have risen 9.2 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.04 per gallon on Sunday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 5,345 stations in Ohio. This compares with the national average, which has increased a half-cent per gallon versus last week to $2.24 per gallon, according to GasBuddy.

Including the change locally during the past week, prices Sunday were 43.6 cents per gallon lower than a year ago and are 5.8 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has dropped 14.1 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 28.4 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.

“With oil prices back over $50 per barrel, it looks like gas prices in more areas may soon bottom out and start to tick higher,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “While it doesn’t seem that prices will rise very far, it looks more and more like the lowest price of the year may now be behind us. 

“The national average briefly hit $2.22 per gallon last week, but will likely move up slightly or stabilize this week,” DeHaan added. “Gas prices in the Great Lakes saw a noticeable jump last week and tend to see among the earliest trend changes in the country, which may be a harbinger of what’s to come for the rest of us.”

POSTED: 01/14/19 at 8:37 am. FILED UNDER: News

Mike DeWine was officially sworn in as the governor of Ohio this morning during a brief midnight ceremony at his farm in Cedarville. Governor DeWine was given the oath of office by his son, Ohio Supreme Court Justice R. Patrick DeWine, while long-time friend Thomas M. Rose, senior judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, presided over the ceremony. Governor DeWine took the oath with his hand atop nine family Bibles, all held by First Lady Fran DeWine, during the ceremony. He and Lieutenant Governor John Husted will continue the day with the ceremonial swearing-in inside The Ohio Statehouse at noon, while the governor’s Inaugural Gala will begin at the Statehouse at 7:30 this evening. photo provided

POSTED: 01/14/19 at 8:34 am. FILED UNDER: News