DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
A veteran downtown Van Wert business has served its last cup of coffee.
Owner Laura Harshman has announced the closing of Perks Café, 105 W. Main St. in downtown Van Wert.
“After a monumental ride in downtown Van Wert, Perks Café has shut its doors after 14 years,” Harshman said in a news release sent out Friday.
Opened in 2001, “Perks,” as many loyal customers called it, was the first business of its kind in northwest Ohio. Perks was established to provide high-quality roasted coffee drinks in a warm, family-friendly atmosphere.
In addition to serving a variety of coffee drinks, beans and flavored syrups, Perks also offered a light selection of sandwiches, salads and pastries. Through the years, Perks also supported other small business endeavors by placing their products in the café.
Despite the challenges of opening in what was then a somewhat lagging downtown economy, Harshman said she was committed to locating her business on Main Street. A lifelong Van Wert resident, Harshman, one of only eight international certified baristas in Ohio, added that she believed that her unusual “big city” concept was not too large for the citizens of a small town. She also hoped, accurately, that the unusual café would spur new growth in downtown retail businesses.
Ohio Attorney General’s information
COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Friday issued a report detailing the work of “The Ohio Attorney General’s Moving Ohio Forward” Demolition Grant Program. The report shows the program, which concluded at the end of 2014, helped remove more than 14,000 abandoned and blighted housing units across Ohio.
“While the number of blighted structures we have removed is an impressive figure, the true success of this program is measured by its visible impact in the towns, on the streets, and through the lives it has touched,” said Attorney General DeWine.
Van Wert County has used funds from the program to demolish derelict structures throughout the county.
DeWine announced the program in February 2012 shortly after the National Mortgage Settlement was finalized with 49 states and the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers. The settlement addressed robo-signing abuses that worsened foreclosure issues during the recession. Affected borrowers received direct assistance in the form of cash payments, loan modifications, and reduced interest rates. States also received discretionary funds to help alleviate issues caused by foreclosure.
DeWine used the discretionary funds to create his Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Grant Program to benefit neighborhoods and communities which were also victims of the foreclosure crisis. The program dedicated $75 million of Ohio’s share of the settlement funds for the demolition of abandoned and blighted structures across the state. Each of Ohio’s 88 counties received a proportional allocation of the funds based upon the number of foreclosures in each county between 2008 and 2011. To maximize the reach of the program, counties were required to provide matching funds for any grant amount beyond the first $500,000.
The program, which concluded on December 31, 2014, resulted in the demolition of more than 14,600 blighted housing units at an average cost of $8,148.75 per demolition. The program was able to dedicate more than $119 million toward blight demolition through both the program grants and matching funds.
Gasoline price information
CHICAGO — The transition from “winter blend” to “summer blend” gasoline always brings increases in retail gasoline prices, but nothing Americans have seen over the past year is likely to match what GasBuddy anticipates over the next two to three weeks.
“Wednesday brought a big price rally in gasoline markets and gasoline wholesalers are seeing huge increases,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. “Wholesale prices today alone have increased coast to coast from 10 to 27 cents per gallon; and when you add that on top of the increases that occurred earlier this month, it’s inevitable that retail prices will climb aggressively in weeks ahead.”
“Just since Monday, February 2, wholesale prices nationwide have increased by an average of 54 cents per gallon,” DeHaan added. “And the west coast, by far, has seen the steepest increases, with Los Angeles wholesale pricing up 96 cents a gallon; San Francisco up 84 cents and the Pacific Northwest up by 73 cents.”
While some of the rally is attributed to the seasonal decline in gasoline inventory; reduced refinery output and the shift to summer grades of gasoline, there have also been significant operational issues at refineries in five states. And of course, the United Steelworkers Union strike that began February 1 exacerbates operations at 12 refineries where they’ve imposed “work stoppages” in California, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
“Volatility is the name of the game right now and we expect that to translate into 10-cent increases in retail gasoline, week after week over the next two to three weeks, with larger, more immediate increases in West Coast areas,” DeHaan said.
Crestview Local Schools information
CONVOY — Parents or guardians residing in the Crestview School District having a child 5 years of age on or before August 1, may register their child for kindergarten for the 2015-2016 school year. Parents or guardians requesting open enrollment for their kindergarten student to the Crestview School District should also register at this time.
Registration will be held Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 20, from 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. in the elementary office (enter at door 9). No appointment is necessary.
At the time of registration, parents or guardians need to present the following: child’s original birth certificate, child’s social security card, child’s immunization record, custody papers (if applicable) and one proof of residency document (mortgage statement, lease agreement, voter registration card, utility statement, bank statement, or rent receipt. A post office box cannot validate residency requirements.).
The incoming kindergarten student need not attend during the 30-minute registration time.
The State of Ohio requires the following immunizations for public school children:
- 2 doses of MMR
- 4-5 doses of DPaT, (5 doses are required unless the fourth dose was received after 4 years of age)
- 3-4 doses of polio (final dose must be after 4 years of age)
- 3 doses of Hepatitis B
- 2 doses of Varicella (chicken pox)
- The Hepatitis A vaccine is also recommended, but not required.
- All immunizations are required to be documented by the 15th day of school.
Parents will need to update immunizations with their child’s physician or with the Van Wert County Health Department. The Van Wert County Health Department (419.238.0808, extension 103 or 107) is currently scheduling appointments for immunization clinics. Vision, hearing, and speech screenings will be conducted at the beginning of the 2015-2016 kindergarten school year as a part of kindergarten screening.
For additional information, contact Crestview Elementary Principal Kathy Mollenkopf at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419.749.9100, extension 1002.
VW independent/submitted information
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Bob Latta (R-Ohio) has announced the opening of the 2015 Congressional Art Competition, encouraging high school students in Ohio’s Fifth Congressional District to submit their original artwork for the chance to be displayed in the U.S. Capitol.
“The Congressional Art Competition is a tremendous opportunity for us to showcase the wealth of artistic talent in Ohio’s Fifth Congressional District,” said Latta. “I encourage all high school students to submit their artwork this year and look forward to seeing our district’s artwork on display in the United States Capitol.”
All artwork will be on display at the Dudley and Mary Marks Lea Gallery in the University of Findlay’s Virginia B. Gardner Fine Arts Pavilion from April 27 through May 2. The winners of the 2015 Congressional Art Competition will be announced at a reception held in the Gardner Fine Arts Pavilion on Saturday, May 2. The overall winner will have his or her artwork displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol alongside the artwork from other nationwide contestants. In addition, three honorable mentions will also be announced and displayed in Congressman Latta’s district offices.
Each student is allowed one entry. Eligible artwork includes the following categories:
- Paintings: oil, acrylics, watercolor, etc.
- Drawings: pastels, colored pencil, pencil, charcoal, ink, markers
- Collage: must be two-dimensional
- Prints: lithographs, silkscreen, block prints
- Mixed Media: use of more than two mediums, such as pencil, ink, etc.
- Computer Generated Art
The deadline for students to submit their artwork is Wednesday, April 1. Applicants can drop off their application and artwork at one of the Congressman’s district offices:
- Bowling Green – 1045 N. Main Street, Suite 6, Bowling Green, OH 43402
- Defiance – 101 Clinton Street, Suite 1200, Defiance, OH 43512
- Findlay – 318 Dorney Plaza, Room 302, Findlay, OH 45840
District staff is also available to pick up artwork from students. To arrange a pick-up time, contact Congressman Latta’s office toll-free at 800.541.6446.
Van Wert SWCD information
The deadline for seedling orders has been announced by the Van Wert Soil and Water Conservation. The seedlings are available in packets of 10 at a minimal cost.
The seedling available include American Arborvitae, Austrian Pine, Colorado Blue Spruce, Eastern Red Cedar, Eastern White Pine, Norway Spruce, Arrowwood, Black Chokeberry, Forsythia, Pin Oak, Red Bud, Sawtooth Oak, Sugar Maple, Sweet Gum and White Flowering Dogwood.
Special assorted packets that are available include the Homeowner Packet, which consists of two of the following: Norway Spruce, Black Chokeberry, Pin Oak, Red Bud, Sugar Maple.
Three seed packets are available. They include: Wildflower Seed, Hummingbird Seed, and Bird and Butterfly Seed. The 1-ounce Wildflower Seed package contains 10-12 different annual and 10-12 different perennial species adapted for this area that will cover 250 square feet. The half-ounce Hummingbird Seed packet that contains 4-6 different annual and 4-6 different perennial varieties that will cover 150 square feet, and the 1-ounce Bird and Butterfly Seed that contains 7-9 different annual and 7-9 different perennial varieties and will cover 250 square feet.
This program is open to the public. Order forms are available in the SWCD office, 1185 Professional Drive, Van Wert, on the web at www.vanwertswcd.org, or by calling 419.238.9591. Orders will be accepted until Friday, March 13. The delivery date is mid-April. Payment (cash or check) is required when placing an order.
DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
Further discussions were held Thursday on the possibility of a partnership that could bring new life to now-idle Starr Commonwealth campus in Van Wert.
This time, Starr’s top management, including President/CEO Martin “Marty” Mitchell, Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer Christopher Smith, Starr Senior Vice President Thomas Tate (who is also a Van Wert resident and former Starr-Van Wert director), and Starr’s chief strategy officer Elizabeth Carey, were also on hand to provide input from Starr on its plans for the Van Wert facility.
Those back from the first meeting on the topic included County Commissioners Stan Owens, Thad Lichtensteiger and Todd Wolfrum, Northwest State Community College President Thomas Stuckey, Cindy Torppa from the Ohio State University Extension, Marsh Foundation Trustee Gary Clay and County Economic Development Director Sarah Smith.
Also attending was Sue Gerker from the county ED office and Commissioners’ Clerk Ryanne Bollenbacher.
Those attending first looked at a business plan drawn up for the facility by Sarah Smith, which proposed connecting business and academia in a partnership that would train and educate local young people and adults.
“By studying locally and completing coursework through programs like College Credit Plus in the county high schools, a significant savings in both housing and tuition would be experienced across the board,” Smith wrote in her business plan.
VW independent submitted information
Concealed carry permits issued in Van Wert County in 2014 were down from the year before, according to information released by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office on Thursday.
A total of 161 concealed carry permits were issued in 2014 by the Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office, with another 125 permits renewed. Four licenses were suspended, two were revoked and one applicant was denied a permit.
That compares to 373 new concealed carry permits issued in 2013, and 121 renewed that year. Two permits were suspended two years ago, and four permits denied.
According to the attorney general’s office, 58,066 new permits were issued in 2014, and 52,146 permits renewed in the past year. In comparison, 96,972 new permits were issued the year before, with 48,370 permits renewed in 2013.
Among neighboring counties, Allen County had the most new permits issued and renewed in 2014, with 514 new concealed carry permits and 642 renewals. Auglaize County issued 274 new permits and renewed 362, Mercer County had 205 new concealed carry permits and 199 renewals, while Paulding County saw 102 new permits and 36 renewals. Putnam County issued 137 new permits and renewed 95.
The YMCA Camp Clay Splash Pad project recently received a $3,500 donation from Iberdrola Renewables. Shown are (from the left) YMCA Executive Director Hugh Kocab; YMCA board member Gary Taylor; Dan Litchfield, Iberdrola Renewables project manager; and YMCA Camp Clay Director Clint Myers. (YMCA photo)
Off Stage Productions information
Off Stage Productions Inc. concludes its 2014-2015 season and announces the cast for its upcoming dinner theatre show, Ken Ludwig’s The Fox on the Fairway. This golf farce will be directed by Dan Bulau.
The cast features two Off Stage veteran actors, in addition to four performers who will be making their very first appearance in an Off Stage production.
Due to the popularity of Off Stage shows, two additional performances have been scheduled, so mark those calendars and plan to attend one or more of the seven show dates offered: April 24-26, May 1-3 and May 8. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for Friday and Saturday performances and 12:30 p.m. for Sunday matinees, all held at the Van Wert County Senior Center, 220 Fox Road in Van Wert.
A delicious buffet style meal prepared by “Catering at its BEST by Sonya and Diane”, will be served starting at 7 p.m. and the show will begin at 8 for each evening performance (1 p.m. meal and 2 p.m. show for Sunday matinees).
Cast members include the following: Justin (Dustin Manson), Louise (Lacy Allen), Bingham (John Vining), Pamela (Staci Kaufman), Dickie (Steve Bricker) and Muriel (Mary Yackey).
Stage manager for the production is Amy Shoppell.
A synopsis of the play is as follows:
Bingham, president of the Quail Valley Country Club, is in a difficult position: the golfer he thought would play for his club has switched sides, having been recruited by Bingham’s counterpart and opponent, the cocky and arrogant Dickie. The huge bet he had foolishly wagered is now likely to be lost. Fortunately, he discovers that Justin, his newly hired hand, is actually quite a good golfer and finagles his membership into the club.
DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
A Van Wert man fired his second attorney during a hearing held in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday.
Moses Wilder, 31, who is charged with rape, a first-degree felony, and domestic violence, a felony of the third degree, told Judge Kevin Taylor he wanted to replace Lima attorney William Kluge, who had been appointed to defend him after he had first fired local attorney Scott Gordon back in February.
Wilder had claimed that both Gordon and Kluge had lied to him about rape kit results he had asked for.
Kluge said that he had asked Assistant County Prosecutor Eva Yarger for a copy of the results, which he then gave to Wilder.
“And, apparently, he’s still not satisfied,” the Lima attorney told the judge.
Judge Taylor accepted Kluge’s dismissal from the case and appointed the County Public Defender’s Office to defend Wilder.
Unfortunately, the person appointed to the case will have only about two weeks to prepare a defense, since Wilder is also insisting that his trial be held on its original date of March 16.
Kluge, a veteran attorney with three decades of experience, said that would have been impossible for him, let alone an attorney taking over the case at this point.
“No one would be prepared to try this case by the middle of March, which is exactly what I told Mr. Wilder,” Kluge said on Wednesday.