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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Aug. 26, 2016


2016 Junior Fair queen and princess candidates include the following (top row, from the left) Nadia Pardon, Grace Richey, Macala Ashbaugh, Maggie Cripe, Ashley Dealey; (bottom row) Abbey Bradford, McKenzie Davis, Kaitlyn Hughes, Samantha  Klinger, and Laney Jones. (photos submitted)

2016 Junior Fair queen and princess candidates include the following (top row, from the left) Nadia Pardon, Grace Richey, Macala Ashbaugh, Maggie Cripe, Ashley Dealey; (bottom row) Abbey Bradford, McKenzie Davis, Kaitlyn Hughes, Samantha Klinger, and Laney Jones. photos submitted

VW independent/submitted information

With the 2016 Van Wert County Fair quickly approaching, the Junior Fair Coronation Committee is announcing this year’s candidates for king and queen, as well as species prince or princess. The coronation ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, August 28, in the Entertainment Pavilion on the north end of the fairgrounds.

Joel Germann

Joel Germann

King candidate

There is only one candidate for Junior Fair king this year.

Joel Germann is the son of Doug and Marcia Germann and attends Crestview High School, where he will be a senior this year. He is active member of the Crestview FFA, of which he is currently president. Germann is involved in many other extracurricular activities at Crestview, including Scholastic Bowl, school musical, football, Knight Vision (Crestview show choir) track, and National Honor Society. He also had the honor of representing the Convoy American Legion Post at Buckeye Boys State this summer.

Germann attends Crossbridge Community Church and is actively involved in many outreach programs.

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POSTED: 08/26/16 at 6:17 am

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The National Weather Service confirmed on Thursday that four separate tornadoes touched down in Van Wert County in what is being called one of the worst tornado outbreaks in August, according to County Emergency Management Director Rick McCoy.

McCoy met with NWS officials from the Northern Indiana Office Thursday afternoon to conduct a site survey of damage done in the county on Wednesday. Of the four confirmed tornadoes, three were rated at the lowest storm strength (EF-0), while the fourth tornado was rated as an EF-1.

This photo taken by local resident Phil Saunier shows a tornado that touched down south of Convoy in the German Church Road area.

This photo taken by local resident Phil Saunier shows one of four tornadoes that touched down in Van Wert County Wednesday evening.

On Thursday morning, McCoy was able to do a flyover of the county, compliments of Van Wert County Regional Airport and local pilot Fred Pond. Air photos and video were also used to confirm the individual tornadoes and their damage paths in the county. NWS officials confirmed that information during ground surveys on Thursday afternoon.

According to the NWS, Wednesday’s tornadoes stemmed from a supercell thunderstorm that developed near Kokomo, Indiana, producing a large, violent tornado that struck that city, doing considerable damage. The storm kept producing tornadoes as it moved east through Indiana, which prompted the Storm Prediction Center to issue a tornado watch for areas south of Van Wert County in Ohio, as well as Adams County, Indiana.

McCoy said there were no indications that a severe storm system would develop on Wednesday, but initial predictions showed the storm crossing into Ohio south of Van Wert County. McCoy activated tornado spotters from the Mendon, Chattanooga, and Rockford fire departments as the storm moved across western Adams County in Indiana, telling them that tornadoes were still expected across northern Mercer County and would continue to head east.

However, at 5:54 p.m., the NWS issued a tornado warning for southeast Adams County and the extreme southwest portion of Van Wert County. McCoy then advised Ohio City and Willshire authorities to activate their tornado sirens.

Just as two tornadoes were spotted near Monroe and Berne, Indiana, one of the storm systems moved toward Mercer County, while the other followed the path of the deadly F-4 tornado that hit Van Wert County on November 10, 2002, making a sharp left turn that brought it close to Willshire. McCoy said spotters indicated a large rotating wall cloud, but that no funnels had been spotted as the storm crossed into the county.

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POSTED: 08/26/16 at 6:05 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The Van Wert Civil Service Commission will meet at noon Wednesday, August 31, to authorize an entry-level examination for the Van Wert Fire Department.

POSTED: 08/26/16 at 5:50 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

What was called an “unpredictable” storm saw several tornadoes touch down in Van Wert County and other parts of Ohio and Indiana — including tornadoes that caused significant damage in Kokomo and Indianapolis, Indiana, and power outages in Convoy and Ohio City.

This photo taken by local resident Phil Saunier shows a tornado that touched down south of Convoy in the German Church Road area.

This still photo was also taken by local resident Phil Saunier of a tornado that touched down south of Convoy in the German Church Road area.

Van Wert County Emergency Management Director Rick McCoy noted that no timeline has been given by AEP on when power will be restored in either Convoy or Ohio City, adding, though, that it might Thursday afternoon or later when power is back up in those county villages.

McCoy said AEP would try to backfeed power from Dayton Power & Light into Ohio City, but cannot guarantee being able to do so for Convoy.

Three American Red Cross damage assessment teams area also in the county looking at damage in the Schumm/Glenmore area, in an area west of Van Wert, and in the Wetzel area.

“At least two tornadoes have been confirmed that were up and down on the ground at different locations,” he said, adding that at least one tornado carved a damage path nearly 17 miles long before exiting the county near Wetzel.

McCoy said no injuries were reported in the county, but houses, barns and other outbuildings, trees, and utility poles were damaged by the storms. The storms also did damage in Paulding, Putnam, Henry and Defiance counties.

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POSTED: 08/25/16 at 7:12 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Two people were given prison terms for violating probation, while three others also appeared in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday for sentencing and to change pleas.

Austin Zuber, 20, of Grover Hill, admitted to violating his probation by being convicted in Paulding County of failing to register as a sex offender. Judge Martin D. Burchfield then sentenced him to serve his previously deferred 16-month prison sentence, consecutive to the Paulding County sentence, with credit for 252 days already served.

Courthouse statue 5-2012Ethan Mezuk, 25, of Convoy, admitted to violating his probation by testing positive for marijuana and cocaine. County Probate-Juvenile Judge Kevin Taylor sentenced him to serve a previously deferred nine-month prison term in the Van Wert County Jail, while also giving him credit for 188 days already served.

Judge Burchfield also presided over a change of plea hearing on Wednesday and two sentencings.

Deanna Lugabihl, 55, of Willshire, was given two years of community control on a charge of attempted identity theft, a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Janet St. John, 33, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, was sentenced to five years of community control on a charge of possession of heroin, a felony of the fifth degree.

She also had her driver’s license suspended for six months.

Joaquin Estrada, 41, of Van Wert, changed his plea to guilty to a charge of aggravated possession of drugs, a felony of the fifth degree. He then requested, and was granted, treatment in lieu of conviction and his case was stayed pending the successful completion of a substance abuse treatment program.

POSTED: 08/25/16 at 7:08 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The Western Buckeye Educational Service Center Governing Board heard some concerns about health insurance costs, especially with the pullout of United Health Care, the nation’s largest health care provider, and Aetna have pulled out of several states’ Affordable Care Act exchanges.

Unlike Van Wert City Schools, which has seen relatively small increases of the past nine years, Superintendent Brian Gerber noted insurance premiums overall have skyrocketed — especially with businesses with more than 50 employees, such as WBESC.

WBESC logo 7-2015“In order to align insurance cost that is similar to our partner school districts, it was necessary to make adjustments,” Gerber told the board, noting that it was necessary to revised an outdated 2009 policy and replace it with a new policy that requires employees to become responsible for a portion of their Health Savings Account premiums, as well as pay the difference in premium costs if they choose to add dependent children to their health insurance.

After approving those changes, as well as a move to make employees hired after January 1, 2017, only eligible for a Health Savings Account, the WBESC Governing Board also took a number of personnel actions, as follows:

Accepted the following resignations: Candice Elliot, health coordinator at Lincolnview Local Schools, due to retirement, effective June 1 (she was later rehired as a substitute health coordinator at the lower rate); Angie Zartman, effective August 2; Kerry Shelton, effective July 1; and Kim Barnhart, effective August 2.

Approved the following contracts: a one-year supplemental contract to Harry Florence as a custodian at the Van Wert Resource Center for the current school year; a one-year non-teaching contract to Kathryn Long, a paraprofessional at Lincolnview; a one-year non-teaching contract to Maddison Moore, a one-on-one aide at Wayne Trace Local Schools for the current school year; a one-year non-teaching contract to Brenda Zern, paraprofessionals at Wayne Trace, for the current school year; a 120-day administrative contract to Ken Markward, gifted coordinator for the current school year; a one-year certified contract to Ashley Shepherd, interim part-time gifted teacher for the 2016-17 school year; and a one-year non-teaching contract to Zach Hermiller as truancy officer for the current school year.

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POSTED: 08/25/16 at 7:06 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The Lincolnview Local Board of Education welcomed six new staff members, heard enrollment figures for the current school year, approved a policy to add new school sports, and heard a presentation on a summer ACT prep course offered in the district during its August meeting on Tuesday.

New Lincolnview staff members include (from the left) Matt Evans, Marla Kemler, Deb Miller, Lindsay Breese, Teresa Dunlap, and Tara Linton. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

New Lincolnview staff members include (from the left) Matt Evans, Marla Kemler, Deb Miller, Lindsay Breese, Teresa Dunlap, and Tara Linton. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Lincolnview Superintendent Jeff Snyder introduced the six new staff members who attended the meeting, and they then provided a little personal information about themselves. New staff members who attended include Deb Miller, food service supervisor; cook Teresa Dunlap; fourth-grade teacher Marla Kemler; third-grade teacher Matt Evans (a Lincolnview graduate); intervention specialist Lindsay Breese; and cook Tara Linton.

Of the new teachers, Kemler and Evans were formally hired during the July board meeting, while Breese is an employee of the Western Buckeye Educational Service Center, but will work in the Lincolnview district.

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POSTED: 08/24/16 at 8:09 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Although unemployment rose in most Ohio counties, the jobless rate in Van Wert County remained steady in July, according to figures released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

A great majority of Ohio counties — 67 out of 88 — saw unemployment decrease in July, although Van Wert County’s jobless rate remained the same as in June: 4.0 percent. Eight counties saw an increase in unemployment, while the jobless rate did not change in 13 counties, including Van Wert.

Jobless Rate Map 7-2016According to labor force estimates compiled by the ODJFS, with assistance from the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, Van Wert County showed a decrease in its labor force of 100 people, from 14,700 in June to 14,600 last month. Those employed also declined 100 people, from 14,100 to 14,000, while the number of unemployed county residents stayed the same at 600.

Among neighboring counties, Mercer County again had the lowest unemployment estimate at 3.1 percent for July, although that was a tenth of a percent higher than the month prior. Putnam County remained the same as it was in June, at 3.5 percent, while Auglaize County’s unemployment rate increased a tenth of a percent, from 3.6 percent in June to 3.7 percent last month.

Paulding County was the only neighboring county to see a decrease in unemployment, lowering its jobless rate three-tenths of a percent, from 4.6 percent in June to 4.3 percent in July. Allen County saw the biggest increase in unemployment, moving upward a half percent, from June’s 4.8 percent to 5.3 percent last month.

Mercer County again had the lowest unemployment rate in the state, while Delaware was second at 3.4 percent, and Hancock, Holmes, and Putnam counties were all at 3.5 percent.

On the other end of the spectrum, four counties had jobless rates at or above 7.5 percent in July. Monroe County was the highest in the state at 9.9 percent, while Meigs County had a 7.9 percent unemployment rate in July, Jefferson County was at 7.8 percent, and Noble County’s jobless rate was 7.5 percent last month.

Ohio’s comparable unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in July.

POSTED: 08/24/16 at 8:02 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The Van Wert Police Department has passed along a public health warning from Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson noting that the drug carfentanil is now among drugs being abused in the state.

Carfentanil, a large animal sedative, is 100 times more deadly than fentanyl and 2,500 times more dangerous than heroin, and is deemed unsafe for human use. Detection of carfentanil comes at a time when deaths due to heroin and fentanyl are continuing to accelerate out of control.

Carfentanil powder 8-2016“Fentanyl and heroin have already killed 300 people this year, and we are headed for double the number of fatalities as 2015,” said Dr. Gilson. “The detection of carfentanil here is a very disturbing development in the ongoing illegal opiate crisis. This drug is intended for use as an anesthetic in large animals, and veterinarians take special precautions just handling it. Small amounts are rapidly fatal.”

Even more troubling, the reversal drug naloxone may also prove ineffective or require multiple doses to counteract the effects of carfentanil, Dr. Gilson noted.

Lt. Douglas Weigle of the Van Wert Police Department noted that, while carfentanil has not been confirmed in Van Wert County, he feels public safety personnel and the public need to be aware of the dangers of the drug — which can be transmitted through the skin or inhaled — because of the risk that accident exposure could be deadly.

As with any other unknown powders, area residents should not come into direct contact or close proximity with suspected carfentanil (shown above right in powder form), and should alert authorities immediately.

POSTED: 08/24/16 at 8:00 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Van Wert Firefighter Dalton Yenser has recently completed his one-year probationary period and has received his permanent appointment to the Fire Department.

Van Wert Fire Chief Jim Steele (left) welcomes new Firefighter Dalton Yenser to the city fire department. (photo submitted)

Van Wert Fire Chief Jim Steele (left) welcomes new Firefighter Dalton Yenser to the city fire department. photo submitted

Firefighter Yenser is a 2010 graduate of Continental High School and Vantage Career Center. Upon completion of high school, he continued his education at the University of Northwestern Ohio, where he earned an associate’s degree in diesel technology. Yenser completed his Firefighter 2 certification and Emergency Medical Technician basic certification at Apollo Career Center.

Since being hired by the city, Yenser has completed his paramedic certification at Rhodes State College and his heavy rescue training at Bowling Green State Fire School. In his probationary year, he completed 315 hours of inservice training and responded to 290 incidents.

Chief Steele noted that Firefighter Yenser has demonstrated above average skills, knowledge and abilities, and under pressure has performed well.

“He is quick to engage in conversation, and exercises good common sense,” Chief Steele noted.

Yenser is the son of David and Sis Stauffer of Continental and remains active on the family farm.

POSTED: 08/24/16 at 7:58 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

ROCKFORD — The Van Wert Soil & Water Conservation District hosted a Field Day on Tuesday to highlight the installation of a blind inlet and a waterway on land belonging to Darrell Ricketts at 8847 Van Wert Mercer County Line Road near Rockford.

The blind inlet, being installed through the Lake Erie Nutrient Reduction Program, is being used to improve water quality and agricultural production by reducing nutrient runoff and controlling water levels in fields after harvest and during the growing season, ultimately enhancing production.

Blind inlets are placed in the lowest point of farmed depressions to minimize the amount of sediment and potentially other contaminants that would be transported to receiving ditches or streams.

Another benefit to the farmer using a blind inlet is the ability to drive equipment over the inlet, as opposed to having to drive around a standard tile riser.

Several people also spoke at the field day, including Mark Segar, Ohio Department of Agriculture, engineer; Craig Higbie, SWCD technician, and Ricketts.

POSTED: 08/24/16 at 7:53 am. FILED UNDER: Farm, News