The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Feb. 22, 2019


Van Wert High School students learn about the products and processes at Federal-Mogul Corporation’s Van Wert plant during a tour on Thursday. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Nearly 100 Van Wert High School seniors had the opportunity to learn about local businesses during tours conducted Thursday as part of the school’s Career Education Opportunity (CEO) program.

The tours were supposed to have been held on Wednesday, but inclement weather that led to school closings that day also postponed the tours until Thursday. It also decreased the number of tour businesses from six to four, since Van Wert Health and Cooper Farms, who were originally tour sites for Wednesday, were unable to conduct tours on Thursday.

VWHS seniors did have the chance to tour Central Insurance Companies, Braun Industries, Federal-Mogul Corporation’s Van Wert plant, and National Door & Trim on Wednesday.

At Federal-Mogul, Human Resources Manager Eric Amstutz, who is a VWHS graduate himself, talked to students about the Van Wert plant, which manufactures automotive and railroad oil seals and a number of other products, about the many opportunities for employment.

Amstutz is a good example of that, since he began working as an hourly employee at the plant while still earning his college degree. He later earned his way into a management position and spent time in several management roles at other Federal-Mogul plants before returning to Van Wert as HR manager.

The plant currently employees approximately 400 people, with 60 of those management jobs and the remaining 340 in a variety of production and skilled-trades positions.

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POSTED: 02/22/19 at 8:33 am

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Two people received prison terms during hearings held Thursday in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court.

Vicki Young, 64, of Van Wert, was sentenced to 17 months in prison on each of two counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs, both felonies of the fourth degree. Judge Martin D. Burchfield ordered the sentences to run concurrently with one another.

Troy Zuzalski, 34, of Pataskala, was sentenced to 13 months in prison, with credit for nine days already served, on one count of failure to register as a sex offender, a felony of the fourth degree. 

Also Wednesday, Troy Terhark, 54, of Lima, pleaded not guilty to one count of theft from a person in a protected class, a felony of the fourth degree. He was released on an unsecured personal surety bond and will appear for a pretrial conference at 8 a.m. Wednesday, February 27.

Two people were also in court for bond violation hearings.

Jennifer Wilder, 44, of Van Wert, admitted to violating her bond by testing positive for drug use. Judge Burchfield set a $10,000 cash/commercial surety bond in the case, with sentencing on her underlying charge scheduled for Wednesday, March 13.

Davin Walsh, 19, of Ohio City, denied violating his surety bond and his treatment in lieu of conviction program by failing a drug test and failing to complete treatment. A hearing was set for 10 a.m. February 27, and a $10,000 cash/commercial surety bond was set in the case.

POSTED: 02/22/19 at 8:27 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

COLUMBUS — Paulding County will be getting its fourth wind farm later this year, according to an announcement by the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) on Thursday.

The OPSB authorized Paulding Wind Farm IV LLC to construct the Timber Road IV Wind Farm near Payne.  

The Timber Road IV Wind Farm will include up to 37 wind turbines and will have a total generating capacity of up to 125.1 megawatts (MW). Underground electric collection lines will transfer electricity produced by each turbine to a collection substation that will then connect to the regional transmission grid. Approximately 17 miles of access roads will be constructed to support the facility.

Paulding Wind Farm IV aims to begin construction in the second quarter of 2019 and to place the wind farm in service during the fourth quarter of 2019.

The new wind farm is expected to bring in more than $1 million in additional revenues to the county, which is the largest producer of wind energy in the state. 

POSTED: 02/22/19 at 8:25 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Beth Stewart Bullinger

The Ohio State Highway Patrol announced the recipients of its 2018 Leadership Awards during a ceremony recognizing dozens of state and district award winners for their valuable contributions to the state and local communities.

Administrative Professional 1 Beth Stewart Bullinger of the Van Wert Post received the 2018 State Employee Recognition Award presented annually to recognize excellence by a professional employee. She was selected from 12 District professional employees across the state.

She began her state career in May 2014 as an administrative professional 1 and has been assigned to the Van Wert Post throughout her career. She earned the Findlay District Employee Recognition Award in 2015, 2016, and 2018.

Stewart Bullinger is a graduate of Ada High School and Ohio Northern University, and she and her family reside in Van Wert County. 

POSTED: 02/22/19 at 8:24 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

HAVILAND — Victims of a house fire that occurred late Thursday morning in Haviland were left homeless by the blaze.

At 11:45 a.m. Thursday, the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) was dispatched to Haviland for a house fire that left the house a total loss and two adults and four children homeless. The family pet also died in the fire.

Responding to the fire were Scott, Grover Hill, Payne, and Paulding fire departments. The State Fire Marshal’s office was also called to investigate the cause of the fire, which has not yet been determined.

A house fire in Haviland on Thursday morning left a family of five homeless. CERT photo

CERT and the Salvation Army are teaming up to assist the family with needed clothing items.

Items needed include the following:

  • Adult male — pants size 32×32, shirt XL, shoe size 11, coat large.
  • Adult female — Pant size 16, shirt XL, shoes size 10, coat XL
  • Young adult male — Pant size 30×32, shirt large, shoe size 10, coat XL
  • Female child — Pant size 13/14, shirt size large, shoe size 10, coat large
  • Male child — Sweat pant size medium, shirt size medium, shoe size 7, coat large
  • Male child — Pant size 9/10, shirt size medium, shoe size 7, coat medium.

Clothing and other household donations may be dropped off at the Salvation Army Thrift Store, 1116 S. Washington St. in Van Wert. Use the name “Martz” to ensure the donation goes to the family. 

Monetary donations may be dropped off or sent to the Van Wert County Foundation/CERT fund, 138 E. Main St. in downtown Van Wert.

For more information, call the Van Wert County Emergency Management Office at 419.238.1300.

CERT is a United Way agency.

POSTED: 02/21/19 at 6:24 pm. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The Van Wert City Board of Education dealt with the district make-up day situation and also heard an update on the Eggerss Stadium project during its February meeting on Wednesday.

Van Wert Mayor Jerry Mazur reads a proclamation declaring the week of February 20-March 1 “City of Van Wert Education Appreciation Week” while VWCS Superintendent Vicki Brunn looks on. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Van Wert students’ school day got a bit longer after board members unanimously approved lengthening school days a half-hour between March 4 and April 30 to make up the 12 days of instructional time the district has lost to inclement weather so far this year.

Superintendent Vicki Brunn said each individual school would implement the additional 30 minutes into its school day in a way that staff members feel most benefits class instruction at that school.

Because of state testing, Brunn said staff members felt it would not benefit students to add days at the end of the school year after testing was already completed. 

“This will give us a lot more time as we’re going into testing to actually work on intervention with our kids and get them ready,” the superintendent noted.

Unfortunately, Brunn added, any additional days missed from this point on may have to be added to the end of the school year.

The board also approved an addendum to the memorandum of understanding with the Van Wert Federation of Teachers and with classified staff to handle the extended instructional time.

Assistant to the Superintendent Bill Clifton also updated the board on the Eggerss Stadium renovation project, noting that the project has been scaled back a bit, as it pertains to football locker rooms.

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POSTED: 02/21/19 at 7:54 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The United Way of Van Wert County is accepting applications for program funding for the 2019 fiscal year. Programs must demonstrate that they are able to measurably influence specific Van Wert County indicators in the following categories:

  • Education – Helping children and youths reach their potential through education
  • Income – Promoting financial stability
  • Health – Improving people’s health
  • Basic Needs – Providing basic need services

Application period is March 1-29. To be eligible, an agency must be a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, maintain an organized, auditable and accurate system of accounting (by United Way standards), offer human service programs, and have an active volunteer board. 

After application review and agency interviews, local United Way volunteers on the Admissions & Review committee will make funding recommendations to the United Way Board of Trustees in June 2019. Once approved by the board, agencies will receive notification.

Any organization wanting to fill out an application should go to the United Way of Van Wert County website at unitedwayvanwert.org, click “Resources” to download an interactive PDF application called “2019 Agency Application” or contact the United Way office at 419.238.6689. Applicants must download the application to a computer or thumb drive.  

Applications are due to the United Way office no later than Friday, March 29. Applications may be emailed to unitedway109@gmail.com, dropped off during business hours at the United Way office from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Thursday, or mailed to 136 E. Main St., Van Wert, OH 45891.  

POSTED: 02/21/19 at 7:44 am. FILED UNDER: News

The Van Wert County YMCA held a Teddy Bear Drive February 13 to collect teddy bears for children in crisis situations. The YMCA exceeded its expectations by bringing in more than 150 stuffed animals. All collected bears will be given to the Van Wert Fire & EMS (above) and Police departments. The YM staff thanked the community for donations and support of the YMCA mission. For more information about this and any other programs available through the Van Wert YMCA, contact YMCA Membership Director Nicole Benson at nicole@vwymca.org, 419.238.0443 or visiting www.vwymca.org

POSTED: 02/21/19 at 7:41 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Because of the partial federal government shutdown that concluded January 25, Ohio SNAP households will be issued 50 percent of their March benefits on Friday, February 22. The remainder of March benefits will be issued on the regular assigned March issuance date.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service instructed states to make February SNAP benefits available to recipients by January 20, since it was unknown during the shutdown whether funds would be available in February. In Ohio, February SNAP benefits were issued January 16.

Because of the early February issuance, Ohio plans to provide half of families’ March benefit amounts this month and the rest in March. Ohio expects to return to the standard cycle of benefits issuance in April, barring another shutdown.

ODJFS administers SNAP in partnership with the county JFS offices.  Households may qualify for benefits if their income is at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. In Ohio, recipients use an electronic benefit transfer card, known as the Ohio Direction Card, to buy unprepared food and food products. Recipients with questions should contact the Van Wert County Deaprtment of Job and Family Services office at 419.238.5430.

POSTED: 02/21/19 at 7:38 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

With the Ohio Department of Transportation set to run out of money for new projects by July 1, Ohioans will likely see their first gasoline tax increase in 14 years.

“Beginning July 1, there is no revenue available for any new highway improvement projects of any kind in any place in our system,” said ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks recently.

Photos included in the a report from ODOT’s Advisory Committee on Transportation Infrastructure shows deteriorating Ohio highways.

According to a recently-released report from ODOT’s Advisory Committee on Transportation Infrastructure, two factors have played into ODOT’s decreasing infrastructure revenues.

First, the $1.5 billion raised for highway projects through the sale or bonds backed by future toll revenue from the Ohio Turnpike, which paid for 13 major highway projects and also allowed the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission to make improvements along the turnpike corridor, won’t provide additional funds until the commission pays off the bond debt in 2048.

In addition, Ohio’s gasoline tax, currently at 28 cents a gallon, hasn’t been raised since 2005, after increasing 2 cents a year from 2003 until 2005. Since then, construction and other costs have risen dramatically, so that the value of a construction dollar in 2003 is now only 58 cents today.

The 28-cent motor fuel user fee ranks Ohio 29th among all U.S. states. Meanwhile, every state surrounding Ohio has increased motor fuel user fees since 2014, and all but one of Ohio’s neighbors (Kentucky) have significantly higher fees. 

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POSTED: 02/20/19 at 8:52 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

COLUMBUS — State Representatives Craig S. Riedel (R-Defiance) and Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) recently introduced House Bill 78 in the Ohio House of Representatives.

State Representative Craig Riedel speaks on a new prevailing wage bill, while State Representative Susan Manchester looks on. photo provided

The legislation would allow political subdivisions, special districts, and state institutions of higher education the choice to apply the prevailing wage law to public improvement projects. While prevailing wage law — the requirement to pay labor workers the wage and benefits of the area in which they are working — benefits many parties, it often drives up the cost of local capital projects.

“Representative Manchester and I introduced this bill because we believe in free and open competitive markets,” Representative Riedel said. “This bill does not eliminate prevailing wage, but rather makes it permissive. It gives local government entities the ability to decide for themselves whether they want to use prevailing wage on a job by job basis.”

House Bill 78 allows local decision-makers the option of whether or not to participate in prevailing wage. Under current law, prevailing wage mandates begin at $250,000 for local capital projects. In many cases, this causes communities to suffer from additional costs to either the taxpayer or failure of project completions due to these increased costs. HB 78 increases the threshold for new construction projects from $250,000 to $500,000, with the intent to capture many new construction projects and eliminate these restrictions.

“This common-sense piece of legislation restores local control by freeing local governments from the burden of a state mandated wage. HB 78 will provide them the flexibility they need to get the greatest return for every tax dollar,” Representative Riedel added.

 “I am proud to sponsor this bill with Rep. Riedel. House Bill 78 empowers local governments to make the best decisions for their communities while protecting taxpayer dollars and pursuing free markets.” Representative Manchester stated. “Local control is a hallmark of good government and I am glad to support this legislation.”

HB 78 now awaits a committee designation.

POSTED: 02/20/19 at 8:44 am. FILED UNDER: News