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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Sep. 29, 2016

Courthouse statue 5-2012DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

A total of 12 people appeared in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court this week on a variety of criminal charges.

Seven people were sentenced by Judge Martin Burchfield during hearings Monday and Wednesday.

Jeremy Grenzbach, 35, of Van Wert, was given two years of community control, plus 30 days in jail, on a charge of domestic violence, a first-degree misdemeanor. He must also complete substance abuse assessment and anger management programs, and report child support payments and job status to the probation department monthly.

Tyler Roth, 29, of Van Wert, also received two years of community control on one count each of assault, a misdemeanor of the first degree, and unlawful restraint, a third-degree misdemeanor. He will also have to serve 74 days in jail, with work release.

Consuelo “Connie” Pardo, 44, of Van Wert, was sentenced to two years of community control, and a $150 fine on a charge of theft, a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Paul Bakkle, 33, of Van Wert, was sentenced to three years of community control, including up to six months in the Western Ohio Regional Treatment and Habilitation (WORTH) Center in Lima on a fourth-degree felony count of operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI). His driver’s license was also suspended for five years and he was fined $1,350, plus court costs.


POSTED: 09/29/16 at 7:10 am


It was a wet, windy evening, but Van Wert High School craig-leon-at-pep-rally-9-28-16football homecoming events went off as planned. Shown above is one of the floats that participated in the Homecoming Parade on Jefferson Street, which was followed by a pep rally in Fountain Park, featuring 2003 VWHS grad Craig Leon (right), a professional marathoner who has qualified for the past two Olympics trials. Below, these “lovely” cheerleaders rooted on their teams during the Junior-Senior Powder Puff Football Game, which followed the rally in Eggerss Stadium (a game photo is also on the Sports Page). photos by Jan Dunlap/Van Wert independent


POSTED: 09/29/16 at 7:08 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Who provides local residents with above and beyond service? Who delights their palette? What business represents that true, raw entrepreneurship spirit?

The Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce is now accepting nominations for the 2016 “Salute to Small Business” Awards. The Chamber spotlights businesses built on an entrepreneurial spirit that play a vital role in the Van Wert community and economy. A business’ nomination is a tribute to its leadership and employees.

This year’s nominations include five new categories:

Spirit of Entrepreneurship:

An innovative, established business that demonstrates initiative, perseverance, profitability and commitment to support community-oriented projects through the use of time and other resources.

Charitable Non-Profit:

A substantiated history of an established charitable non-profit organization 501(c)(3) with a volunteer board of trustees or governing body that demonstrates sound business practices, innovation, and leadership in offering human services within the Van Wert community.

Service Industry Showcase:

An established business in the service industry such as insurance, legal services or contracting that demonstrates sound business practices, excellence and a commitment to support community-oriented projects through the use of time and other resources.

Shown are Small Business Awards winners from 2015. (Chamber photo)

Shown are Small Business Awards winners from 2015. (Chamber photo)


POSTED: 09/29/16 at 6:52 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is reminding Ohioans of the state’s new child credit freeze law, which took effect on Wednesday.

Attorney General Mike DeWine

Ohio A-G Mike DeWine

“This law gives Ohio families a new way to protect their children from identity theft,” Attorney General DeWine said. “It allows parents to ‘freeze’ their child’s credit record, which makes it harder for an imposter to open unauthorized accounts in the child’s name. We encourage parents and guardians to consider taking advantage of this new protection for their children.”

Under the new law, a parent or guardian can ask the credit reporting agencies to create and freeze a credit record in the child’s name The freeze restricts the credit reporting agencies from releasing information about the child, making it more difficult for an imposter to use the child’s personal information to be approved for credit, loans, or services in the child’s name.

To place a child security freeze, a parent should contact each of the credit reporting agencies. (The major three agencies are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.) The parent must provide proof of authority to act on behalf of the child, such as a birth certificate, and proof of identity for both the child and the adult. The cost to place or to lift a security freeze may be up to $5 each per agency. For victims of identity theft, the fee may be waived. Once in place, the freeze will remain in effect unless it is lifted by the parent or by the child after reaching the age of 16.

In addition to the protections for children, the new law also applies to protected consumers over the age of 16 for whom a guardian or conservator has been appointed.

The legislation was sponsored by Ohio Representative Ron Maag, who worked with Attorney General DeWine’s Identity Theft Unit in its development.

Attorney General DeWine created the Identity Theft Unit in 2012 to help victims recover from the effects of identity theft, such as credit reporting errors and fraudulently opened accounts. Since its creation, the Identity Theft Unit has received thousands of complaints and has helped victims clear over $1 million in fraudulent debt.

Victims of identity theft should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800.282.0515 or for assistance.

POSTED: 09/29/16 at 6:47 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The Van Wert City Board of Education approved lists of leadership teams, as well as a large number of supplemental contracts, during its September meeting Tuesday evening.

Administrative Assistant Bill Clifton talks about state testing during Tuesday's meeting of the Van Wert City Board of Education. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Administrative Assistant Bill Clifton talks about state testing during Tuesday’s meeting of the Van Wert City Board of Education. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Prior to personnel items, Superintendent Ken Amstutz noted during his report that he and eight other superintendents met with Ohio Representative Teresa Fedor (D-Columbus) concerning the State Report Card program. Amstutz said that, what was discovered from the recent report card findings was that income was a big factor in how school districts did on the test. The superintendent said that Ottawa Hills, arguably the richest district in the state, received straight As on the test, while Cleveland area schools got all Fs.

The highest scores came from districts where median family income was $69,000 a year, while those who did poorly were from districts were the median family income was $27,000 a year.

“So therefore, there’s a huge discrepancy from income, and it’s true: the higher the income, the better the achievement,” Amstutz concluded. “So those are some of the things that have to be addressed.”

He said that Fedor recommended that districts get parents involved in helping schools get action to improve the report card program.

The superintendent also talked about programs that are part of the Family and Children First Program.

Administrative Assistant Bill Clifton talked about district school safety programs, while also providing board members with district testing results, as well as an article from The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer about the report card program.


POSTED: 09/28/16 at 8:04 am. FILED UNDER: News


Local fourth-graders learned about agriculture on Tuesday as the Cows and Plows event was held at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds. Students learned about various aspects of agriculture, including livestock production, machinery, soil and water, as well as ag history, during the annual event. Here, livestock farmer Mike Schumm talks about how what is needed for this young calf to grow into a beef-producing animal. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 09/28/16 at 7:49 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The Van Wert County Democratic Party held its annual Fall Banquet on Tuesday at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5803 in Van Wert.

Van Wert County Central Committee Chair Al Arnold emceed the event, which included a presentation by State School Board candidate Tanyce Addison, as well as a keynote address by Jennifer Brunner.

Former Ohio secretary of state Jennifer Brunner, now an appellate court judge, talks about the presidential election during the local Democratic Party's annual Fall Banquet. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Former Ohio secretary of state Jennifer Brunner, now an appellate court judge, talks about the presidential election during the local Democratic Party’s annual Fall Banquet. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Brunner, the first woman elected as Ohio secretary of state (2007-2011), also made an unsuccessful run for the United States Senate. Today, she is a judge on the 10th Ohio District Court of Appeals.

Brunner talked about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, sharing information from personal meetings she has had with Clinton, and her opinion that the Democratic candidate is well qualified to be the next president.

“I can say that she was prepared,” Brunner said. “For the times that we face ahead, I want a president who is prepared.”

She also commended the local Democrats for recognizing Central Committee members, noting that the local party apparatus is where grassroots politics begins. Brunner, who also practiced law for 17 years, cited Clinton’s campaign slogan, “Stronger Together,” noting that defeating Republican Donald Trump will only happen if Democrats at the local level work together.

“We will be, as a group here, as Democrats, stronger together, and we will show the rest of the country, starting right here in Van Wert County, how it’s done,” Brunner said.

Brunner was a last-minute replacement for Supreme Court candidate Judge Cynthia Rice, who had to cancel because of a candidate’s debate also scheduled for Tuesday.

Addison, a music teacher for more than 30 years, said she feels the State School Board needs members who will speak out on what she feels is the over testing of Ohio students.

“We test more in grades K-12 than they do in medical school,” Addison told local Democrats. “We need a strong voice that won’t cave in.

“That is why I am running,” she added. “We need to elect those leaders all across the state that value children, that value people… .”

POSTED: 09/28/16 at 7:37 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Those who have attended events at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center know a trip to the Niswonger is more than a show, it is an experience. On Saturday, October 8, at 3 p.m., all ages will experience the jungle when “Jack Hanna: Into the Wild Live!” comes to the NPAC stage.

Beginning at 2 that afternoon, an hour prior to “Jungle Jack” Hanna’s stage time, kids and their families can enjoy a jungle pre-show party sponsored by The Animal Clinic of Van Wert (Tom and Leslie Wilkin) and Gary Taylor of Taylor Auto Sales Inc.

This jungle-themed pre-show party will be packed with engaging fun. The ukulele-playing Atomic Sharks are back for more. Kids love them and can’t get enough of the fun and energy they produce from two wild and crazy guys, two ukuleles, and some silly songs.

Join them as they liven up the pre-show party in the Niswonger’s Van Wert Federal Grand Lobby. Also featured at the pre-show party will be face painting by some savvy local artists, as well as balloon art provided by local entertainer Aaron Roehm. It all begins at 2 at the Niswonger.

The Niswonger is offering a rare pre-release ticket buying opportunity for “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live!” for all patrons who purchase tickets to Jack Hanna’s “Into the Wild Live!” show.

atomic-sharks-promo-photo-9-2016Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is another family show that is wildly popular and comes to the Niswonger on Saturday, February 25, 2017, for two showtimes at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Ticket buyers for Jack Hanna can access pre-sale tickets and choice seats prior to the November 23 release date. Contact the Box Office for more information.

“Jack Hanna: Into the Wild Live!” is presented by committed sponsor Belna Petroleum of Rockford. Supporting Sponsors are Betsey’s Boutique Shop and Dr. Jon Romer Optometrist.

Tickets for “Jack Hanna: Into The Wild Live!” as low as $15 can be purchased online at NPACVW.ORG and through the Box Office from noon-4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 419.238.6722.

The Niswonger Performing Arts Center is located at 10700 Ohio 118 on the south edge of Van Wert.

POSTED: 09/28/16 at 7:30 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

Food collections are underway in preparation for the United Way’s Day of Caring this Friday, September 30.

During the day on Friday, barrels will be collected and items will be sorted at the Vantage Career Center bus garage. Those wanting to help sort should arrive between 8-8:30 a.m. that day.

United Way logo 9-2013Drop-off locations open to the public through Thursday include: Brewed Expressions, Citizens National Bank, Dollar General, First Bank of Berne, First Federal Savings & Loan, First Financial offices, Marsh Supermarket, Quick Lane, Save-A-Lot Foods, State Farm Insurance agent Tisha Fast’s office, Taylor’s Auto, US Bank, Van Wert Bedrooms, Van Wert Federal Savings Bank, the United Way office, Wells Fargo Bank and Walmart.

For more information on the United Way Day of Caring or to volunteer with the food drive, contact the United Way of Van Wert County at 419.238.6689, email, visit the United Way website at or check the organization out on Facebook.

POSTED: 09/28/16 at 7:16 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Van Wert Lodge 1197, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, would like to remind everyone of its upcoming “all-you-can-eat” Fish and Tenderloin Dinner to be held at the lodge building this Saturday, October 1, from 5-7 p.m. or until the food is gone.

Cost is $7 for adults; $4 for kids 5-8, while kids under 5 are free.

The event is open to the public and all are invited to attend.

POSTED: 09/28/16 at 7:14 am. FILED UNDER: News

Van Wert independent news

GROVER HILL — A motorcyclist injured in a crash that occurred near Grover Hill on September 22 has died.

The Van Wert Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol reported that George Hammons, 67, of Cloverdale, died Monday from injuries suffered in a crash at the intersection of Paulding County Road 187 and County Road 12.

According to troopers, Hammons was injured when a 2012 Chevrolet Cruze driven south on County Road 187 by Jill Bauer, 61, of Gosplogorover Hill failed to yield the right of way to Hammons’ 2003 Harley Davidson motorcycle, which was westbound on Paulding County Road 12.
Hammons and his wife, Vicky, 64, also of Cloverdale, were both injured in the crash and taken to Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana by Samaritan medical transport helicopter. Mr. Hammons was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. His wife, who was wearing a helmet, is listed in stable condition at the hospital.

Alcohol is not believed to a factor in the crash, which remains under investigation.

The Patrol was also assisted at the scene by Grover Hill Fire and EMS and R and O Towing.

The OSHP reminds motorist to use caution at intersections, allowing ample time for vehicles that have the right-of-way.

POSTED: 09/27/16 at 9:35 pm. FILED UNDER: News