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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Aug. 18, 2017

Van Wert County Economic Development Director Stacy Adam addresses the CEO class at Van Wert High School. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The high cost of a college education, coupled with the changing job market, has led school districts to rethink how they’re preparing students for future success.

At Van Wert High School, guidance counselor Kerry Koontz, with support from VWHS Principal Bob Priest, Assistant to the Superintendent Bill Clifton, and former superintendent Ken Amstutz, has made it his mission to develop a career education program that would provide workforce information, as well as internships and other job shadowing experiences, to students.

“Talking to employers, I sense there is a need for this new generation of workers,” Koontz said, noting that, with Baby Boomers retiring, more good-paying jobs are coming open locally. He noted, though, that his program is centered more on career choices, rather than on just getting a job, and companies are willing to make a financial commitment to get good employees.

“I think we, as a school, do some students a disservice,” Koontz said, noting that, formerly,

One part of the school’s new career education initiative, the CEO program, got underway on Thursday morning, with 27 of the 28 students who enrolled in the class last spring attending.

Koontz explains that the program is a class offering for high school seniors only, at this point, although he says it’s likely to expand as interest increases.


POSTED: 08/18/17 at 8:34 am

VW independent/submitted information

The youths at The Marsh Foundation recently concluded their summer equestrian program with a show for staff, trustees, families, and guests. The program, which began in May, gave the youngsters opportunities to ride at least four times per week.

For the program, The Marsh leases horses from The University of Findlay and hires on-campus riding instructors Stephanie Hall, Kathrine Singer, Abigail Neville, and Alicia Rist. In addition to riding instruction, the youths also learn how to care for, and demonstrate respect for, the horses.

The program culminated with a horse show that gave Marsh residents the opportunity to demonstrate their skills for the audience. Fun contests were also held, such as seeing if they could trot while holding an egg on a spoon in one hand. Medals were given to the top placers in the various categories. All youths also received a participation gift from the instructors.

The Marsh Foundation is a not-for-profit children’s services agency that provides behavioral treatment in a variety of settings. Services include group homes, family foster care, an intensive treatment program and independent living.

Located in Van Wert, the organization’s group homes are licensed for up to 36 children ages 7-17, offers an on-campus school for grades 2-12 and provides a variety of clinical services to group home residents, foster care children and community members.

POSTED: 08/18/17 at 8:25 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — State Representative Craig S. Riedel (R-Defiance) has announced that the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board and Capitol Square Foundation will open their online application process for school transportation grants on Tuesday, September 12, starting at 9 a.m.

The grants are available to help Ohio schools, which receive state funding, defray the cost of field trips to the Ohio Statehouse and are based on one-way mileage from the visiting school to Columbus. There are 25 grants available in each of the following mileage categories, for a total of 75 grants:

  • 1 to 50 miles — $200
  • 51 to 100 miles — $300
  • 101+ miles — $400

Limited to fourth through 12th grade trips during the 2017-2018 school year, the grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis and have been known to be awarded within a matter of minutes of the grant application process opening.

“I am excited about this grant opportunity for Ohio’s schools,” said Representative Riedel. “Understanding state government is an important part of our students’ education. This grant allows schools across the state to take their students to the statehouse and personally experience Ohio’s history and the legislative process. I encourage all schools to apply for the grant on September 12.”

More information on the application process can be found here:

POSTED: 08/18/17 at 8:19 am. FILED UNDER: News

Van Wert independent

OHIO CITY — A rural Ohio City man arrested Wednesday night on an active warrant may be in even bigger trouble after an active meth lab was also reportedly discovered at the residence where he was staying.

Chemicals allegedly used to manufacture methamphetamine were taken from a rural Ohio City residence late Wednesday night. (VWSO photos)

Van Wert County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to 3633 Harrison-Willshire Line Road at 10:45 p.m. Wednesday to serve Eric Hernandez, 36, with an arrest warrant for failure to appear. However, while at the residence, deputies also received permission to search the residence from the owner of the property.

While searching the premises, deputies reported first discovering materials commonly used to manufacture methamphetamine. At that time, deputies secured the property and a search warrant was obtained. While executing the search warrant, deputies then found an active meth lab at the residence. Personnel from the Van Wert and Allen County sheriff’s offices then disabled and removed the meth lab from the residence.

Items seized for evidentiary purposes include a moderate amount of what is suspected to be methamphetamine, hypodermic needles, a small number of unidentified pills, and several items used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

According to Van Wert County Sheriff Thomas M. Riggenbach, Hernandez was taken to the County Correctional Facility, where is being held on the failure to appear warrant. The sheriff said the meth lab investigation is continuing and that charges may be filed in connection with the lab in the future.

Eric Hernandez

Personnel from the Van Wert Police Department, West Central Ohio Crime Task Force, and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation also assisted in Wednesday’s investigation.

Sheriff Riggenbach asks that anyone who has information on drug activity notify his office at 419.238.3866 or use the sheriff’s office website: and click on the “submit a crime tip” link. Those reporting information can remain anonymous, while the sheriff noted that his office would aggressively investigate all tips his office receives.

Area residents can also report information on other crimes through the above options or by calling Van Wert County Crime Stoppers at 419.238.STOP. Those using Crime Stoppers may also remain anonymous. The sheriff asks those submitting tips to provide as many details as possible, especially when choosing to remain anonymous.

POSTED: 08/17/17 at 9:47 pm. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

This Friday, local residents will get to explore some downtown areas that have not been seen by the public for decades during Main Street Van Wert’s Hidden Spaces tour.

The third story of the Corner Treasures building was formerly a storage area for a dry goods store, and was even used as a roller skating arena at one time. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

While some of the tour sites are not in the best of condition, others are almost breathtaking in the amount of space some downtown buildings contain.

Buildings on this year’s tour include the Humphrey-Hughes building at the corner of Market and Main streets that currently houses Corner Treasures, the East Main Street building that houses Schrader Realty, the old Western Auto building on East Main Street, the building housing Ink Again on West Main Street, The Bachwell Center in the 100 block of North Washington Street, and a building in the 200 block of South Washington Street that formerly housed Humble Bumble (which moved to the former TAG Menswear store on North Washington).

Dan Baisden, MSVW project manager, said new buildings are selected each year for the tour, which is in its fourth year. This year’s tour runs from 4:30 until 7:30 p.m. Friday, and is self-guided, which means tour-goers can start and end at any building on the tour — or even skip one or two, if they choose.


POSTED: 08/17/17 at 8:00 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Interim Superintendent Staci Kaufman attended her first Van Wert City Board of Education meeting in that capacity on Wednesday, while the board learned that a survey that would help decide the fate of Eggerss Stadium is nearly ready to go.

Interim Superintendent Staci Kaufman gave her first report during Wednesday’s Van Wert City Board of Education meeting. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Kaufman, who retired from Vantage Career Center at the end of the school year, but agreed to become interim superintendent at Van Wert, said she was pleased to be in her new position.

“It feels good to be in a district that is doing the right things and going in the right direction, and has an interest in doing the best for the kids,” Kaufman said.

Kaufman noted in her first report to the board that the S.F. Goedde Building will be the site of a new alternative school, Synergy, which replaces the former LifeLinks Community School.

Kaufman said keeping the new alternative school, which is being operated by the Western Buckeye Educational Service Center,

Bill Clifton, assistant to the superintendent, reported that a community survey being compiled to give district residents a chance to comment on Eggerss Stadium is nearly done. Clifton said a committee that is working on the project has the survey nearly completed, with media releases that would accompany the rollout of the survey also nearly done.

“We’re working on it,” he said, adding that efforts to decide what to do with the historic football stadium have been time-consuming. “I know people are starting to wonder where we are in the process.”

Clifton said that, while the committee is focusing solely on Eggerss Stadium, the district administration is also looking at an athletic complex that would include new softball and baseball fields. The athletic complex could be part of a stadium project at the new high school-middle school complex, if district residents support that option, or a stand-alone facility at the new school site if Eggerss Stadium is renovated.


POSTED: 08/17/17 at 7:45 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

One person was arraigned and four others appeared for criminal hearings Wednesday in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court.

Percy Huffman, 35, of Van Wert, entered a not guilty plea to one count of theft, a felony of the fifth degree. He was released in a personal surety bond and a pretrial conference was scheduled for 8 a.m. Wednesday, August 30.

Two people were also sentenced on Wednesday.

Alexandra Whisman, 23, of Van Wert, had her sentence modified to treatment at the Nova House after she was terminated for medical reasons from the Western Ohio Regional Treatment and Habilitation (WORTH) Center in Lima. Following treatment, she will be evaluated for drug court.

Brian Sprangler, 30, of Delphos, was given three years of community control, including 90 days of electronically monitored house arrest or jail, on a charge of aggravated assault a fourth-degree felony offense. Sprangler must also undergo substance abuse and mental health evaluations and any treatmen recommended, and pay restitution of $10,403048 to Chad Williams, plus a monthly probation fee.

Two people also entered changes of plea Wednesday in Common Pleas Court.

Ian Taylor, 33, of Van Wert, changed his plea to guilty to aggravated trafficking in drugs, a felony of the fourth degree, and escape, a third-degree felony. A presentence investigation was ordered in the case and sentencing set for 9 a.m. Wednesday, September 27.

Christopher Gile, 35, of Scott, changed his plea to guilty to a charge of gross sexual imposition, a third-degree felony; two counts of sexual battery, both felonies of the third degree; and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, a fourth-degree felony offense. Three other similar counts were dismissed in exchange for his guilty plea to the above charges.

Judge Martin D. Burchfield ordered a presentence investigation and scheduled sentencing for 9 a.m. September 27.

POSTED: 08/17/17 at 7:39 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has joined 49 other state and territorial attorneys general in a bipartisan coalition urging Congress to affirm the authority of state, local, and territorial law enforcement to investigate and prosecute companies that profit from the promotion and facilitation of sex trafficking.

Mike DeWine

In a letter to Congress, the attorneys general ask representatives to amend the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 to clarify that states, localities, and territories have the authority to investigate and prosecute facilitators of child sex trafficking wherever they operate, including online.

“The proposed amended language to the Communications Decency Act will help to ensure that citizens and children are effectively protected throughout the entire country, in all courts,” said Attorney General DeWine. “The intention of the Communications Decency Act is to protect children from indecent material online. It was never intended to place facilitators of child sex trafficking outside the reach of law enforcement.”

Some courts have interpreted the current language in the CDA to only allow federal law enforcement – not state, local, or territorial authorities –  the ability to take action against companies, such as online classified ad services, that actively profit from the promotion and facilitation of sex trafficking and crimes against children.

“Federal enforcement alone has proved insufficient to stem the growth in online promotion of child sex trafficking. Those on the front lines of the battle against the sexual exploitation of children – state and local law enforcement – must have clear authority to investigate and prosecute facilitators of these and other horrible crimes,” the attorneys general wrote. “It is both ironic and tragic that the CDA, which was intended to protect children from indecent material on the internet, is now used as a shield by those who profit from prostitution and crimes against children.”

The full letter is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.


POSTED: 08/17/17 at 7:37 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

With a career spanning more than five decades, Olivia Newton-John brings her star power and dazzling stage presence to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio. Presented by US Bank, tickets for Olivia Newton-John’s concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, November 19, are on sale now.

Tickets are now on sale for Olivia Newton-John’s November concert at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio. photo By Denise Truscello

Newton-John’s appeal seems to be timeless. With a 50-plus year career, she is still a vibrant, creative individual adored by fans around the globe. She is a four-time Grammy award winner who has amassed five No. 1 and 10 other Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 singles, and two No. 1 Billboard 200 solo albums. Eleven of her singles (including two platinum) and 14 of her albums (including two platinum and four double platinum) have been certified gold by the RIAA. She has sold an estimated 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time.

She also starred in Grease, which featured one of the most successful soundtracks in Hollywood history. Her top 10 singles include “Physical”, “Magic”, “You’re the One That I Want”, “A Little More Love”, “Please, Mr. Please”, “Have You Never Been Mellow”, “I Honestly Love You”. “Let Me Be There”, “Hopelessly Devoted to You”, and “Heart Attack”.

Newton-John has been a long-time activist for environmental and animal rights issues. Since surviving breast cancer in 1992, she has been an advocate for health awareness, becoming involved with various charities, health products, and fundraising efforts.


POSTED: 08/16/17 at 7:13 am. FILED UNDER: News

Precision Tool & Grinding, Inc. (PHD) has announced it will be expanding its business. The company moved its operation to Van Wert in 2014 and will soon be offering fabrication and welding services to customers.  PHD took advantage of the Van Wert County Revolving Loan Fund, in partnership with Citizens National Bank, to fund the project. Shown (from the left) are RLF Program Manager Krista Somerton, Matt Heier, Sarah Heier, Economic Development Director Stacy Adam, Shelly Dunno, and Shawn Dunno. (photo submitted)

POSTED: 08/16/17 at 7:07 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Summer vacation is drawing to a close, kids and parents are preparing for school to resume, and the Van Wert Civic Theatre is kicking off its annual membership drive.

Enthusiastic volunteers met recently to gather information and have begun the daunting task of contacting former season ticket holders, as well as recruiting prospective members, in an effort to invite folks to be a part of this year’s season at VWCT.

Though the theatre has been in existence for 58 years, it remains a hidden gem in the heart of Van Wert producing award-winning shows and entertaining audiences year after year. This season’s lineup includes the hit musical Gypsy, which has been cast and is set to open September 21.

VWCT’s Christmas offering, It’s a Wonderful Life, promises to bring hope and joy to the holiday season.  The theater group will warm up the winter blues with a haunting thriller, Death Trap, in January followed by a knee slapping feel good musical, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, in March. The season ends with a farcical comedy, Love, Sex and the IRS, in May.

The mission at VWCT is to provide quality live theatre at affordable prices. Cost for a musical is $15 and all other shows are just $13. In today’s world, area residents won’t find a better bargain for live theatre … unless they purchase a season membership. The total cost of one ticket per show for the season is $69 if purchased at the door. The total cost of one coupon per show using a season membership is $50 — a savings of $19.

And it gets better. VWCT coupons can be used in any combination, so season ticket holders can choose to use all five coupons for one show.

Those who have purchased a membership in the last two years should already have received information in the mail. If a brochure didn’t arrive, it’s been misplaced, or people want more information, give Jan Miller a call at 419.204.7246.

POSTED: 08/16/17 at 7:06 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News