The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Apr. 19, 2018

VW independent/submitted information

The Central Insurance Companies has announced the promotion of Matt Korteto vice president of information technology for both Central Mutual Insurance Company and All America Insurance Company, effective this past Monday. Korte will replace John White, who retired April 6.

Matt Korte

Korte began his career at Central as a programmer intern in the summer of 1998 and started full-time in December of that same year. A 2000 graduate of Rhodes State College, Korte was promoted to IT Group manager in 2004 overseeing the development of Central’s Commercial Lines IT systems.

In 2016, he took on the additional responsibility of overseeing the development of the Personal Lines IT systems. Korte was promoted to information technology director in August 2017 and has held that position until his recent promotion to vice president of information technology.

Korte and his wife, Jen, have two daughters and reside in Celina.

The Central Mutual Insurance Company was founded in Van Wert in 1876 and has evolved into the Central Insurance Companies, a successful property and casualty group providing insurance for more than 350,000 automobiles, homes, and businessesin 23 states. Central is based in Van Wert and operates regional offices in Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, and Van Wert. The Central group of companies has combined assets of over $1 billion. Central’s A.M. Best rating is A (Excellent).

POSTED: 04/14/18 at 6:34 am. FILED UNDER: Business

The Van Wert Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, 745 Fox Road, celebrated its grand reopening with a Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce ribboncutting event on Wednesday. New owner Jared Tomlinson (shown cutting the ribbon above), a lifelong local resident, recently purchased the store and plans to do some renovations at the Fox Road facility, while also using local experts to provide services to customers. Tomlinson also noted that, in honor of the reopening of the store, all items in the store are 10 percent off the listed price through this weekend. Tomlinson said he also plans to give away a grill as part of the grand reopening event. Hours are 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon-5 p.m. on Sunday. Call 419.232.4900 for more information. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 04/05/18 at 7:24 am. FILED UNDER: Business, News

VW independent/submitted information

The local Sears Hometown store, 745, Fox Road in Van Wert, is celebrating its grand re-opening this Friday and Saturday, April 6-7. The store welcomes the Van Wert community, and will feature an additional discount of 10 percent off nearly everything in the store, including sale prices.

Unlike most retail concepts, Sears Hometown Stores combine the value, selection, and services associated with larger retail stores but are owned and operated by a member of the local community. The Van Wert Sears Hometown Store is owned and operated by Jared Tomlinson.

“I am thrilled to be able to continue the Sears Hometown tradition in Van Wert,” said Tomlinson, a lifelong Van Wert resident. “Sears has been a staple in the local community for over 20 years, and our biggest draw is we price match every in-store item, making it unnecessary to take your hard-earned money out of the local community.”

The Van Wert team is excited to provide customers with professional advice, exceptional service, and real-time price checks to make sure they receive the guaranteed lowest price. This unique store format allows customers in small communities to have access to the great products and brands usually found only in Sears stores.

For instance, the Van Wert Sears Hometown Store is the only place in town where customers can find an incredible selection of the top appliance brands, such as Kenmore®, Maytag®, KitchenAid®, Whirlpool®, Bosch®, Frigidaire®, and GE®, plus a large assortment of lawn and garden equipment, Craftsman® tools, fitness equipment, electronics, mattresses, and more.

If a product is not available in-store, Sears Hometown Store associates can order customers any product from the entire merchandise selection offered by Sears, including apparel, footwear, jewelry, and more. Customers also have the option to order products online and pick them up in the store without a shipping charge. The Van Wert Sears Hometown Store also offers Sears nationwide service, parts, and installation.

Tomlinson and his Sears team can be reached at 419.232.4900. The store is open Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. until 7 p.m., and on Sunday from noon-5 p.m.

To learn more about Sears Hometown Stores, visit

POSTED: 04/03/18 at 8:07 am. FILED UNDER: Business

Van Wert independent

The Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce held a ribboncutting on Thursday to celebrate the grand opening of Spherion Staffing Services, 147 E. Main St., Suite H, in Van Wert.

Spherion is a franchise company that offers employment services to companies in northwest Ohio, noted CEO Karen Grothouse, adding that the area franchise placed approximately 7,000 people at 250 different businesses in 2017.

Spherion CEO Karen Grothouse (in red jacket) and Ashley Merricle, local office manager, cut the ribbon on the Van Wert office at 147 E. Main St., Suite H, while staff members and Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce staff and board members look on. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

“We’re just extremely excited about the opportunity to be here in Van Wert,” Grothouse said, adding that the company has had a number of placement opportunities in the community over the past few years, but Eaton Corporation’s current employment needs helped fuel the decision to locate an office here.

The local office will be managed by Ashley Merricle, former manager of the company’s St. Marys office, who said it was more convenient to locate an office here than have prospective employees drive to St. Marys for an interview.

“Eaton has a lot of openings, and with my office in St. Marys, it was really hard to get someone to drive 35 minutes to come over and do the orientation,” Merricle said. “I think we can really grow, and we have some other clients over here that are going to do better with having us (in Van Wert).”

Spherion is a full-service employment office that provides services to employers and prospective employees. Currently, the company has contracts with Honda Motors to provide workers to its Ohio-based plants and suppliers.

POSTED: 03/16/18 at 8:30 am. FILED UNDER: Business, News

VW independent/submitted information

David L. Phlipot, CPCU, CIC, AU, joins Merkle Insurance Agency as its new commercial senior account manager.

A native of northwest Ohio, Phlipot and his wife, Cathy, moved to Van Wert in 1976. He attended Ball State University and has been serving the insurance needs of Van Wert area businesses and families for the past 42 years.

Dave Phlipot

Over that time, Phlipot has developed experience in the commercial property and casualty, professional liability, governmental entities, and other specialty insurance markets. He has a passion for serving his clients and values the professional personal relationships he has developed over the years.

Phlipot has earned, and maintained, his Certified Insurance Counselor, Associate in Commercial Underwriting, and Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters designations.

“You must always continue to educate yourself on the new trends in the industry, and stay current on new coverages, to be of added value to your clients,” Phlipot said.

Family is always of utmost importance, and Phlipot and his wife have three children and four grandchildren. He is active in the Van Wert community, having served on the YMCA Board of Directors and the Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and was a former member of Van Wert Rotary Club. He is a member of Van Wert Elks Lodge 1197, the Centurions Club, Willow Bend Country Club, Van Wert City Schools Booster Club, the Ball State University Football Lettermen’s Club, and he attends St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church in Van Wert.

“We appreciate Dave and the expertise he brings with him to lead our commercial department,” Kevin Merkle said.

Area residents with commercial insurance needs should call Phlipot at Merkle Insurance, 419.238.1976.

Merkle Insurance is a family-owned and operated insurance agency serving the Van Wert community for the past 42 years.

POSTED: 03/16/18 at 7:20 am. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent/submitted information

Leland Smith Insurance Services announces the addition of Jason Bohyer as its commercial accounts manager, with a license in property and casualty insurance.

Jason Bohyer

Born and raised in Lima, Bohyer is a graduate of Lima Central Catholic High School. From there, he began working for MetoKote Corporation. His 22-year career in manufacturing gave him experience in process and production management, quality assurance, sales, and safety.

In 1995, he married his wife, Jayme, and in 1997 moved to Van Wert, where they currently reside with their two children: Blake, 12, and Karly, 10.  Bohyer enjoys coaching and watching his kids’ sporting activities. If time allows, people can also find him on the golf course.

After commuting to Lima for 25 years, Bohyer said he is excited to be working with a local establishment within miles from his home. He looks forward to working within the community and representing the Leland Smith Insurance name.

Stop by to welcome Bohyer and see if he can help with commercial insurance needs. He will provide service at all six office Leland Smith locations.

Leland Smith Insurance Services is an independent insurance agency representing multiple insurance companies, offering home, auto, business, life, and health insurance. Office locations are in Van Wert and Antwerp, the Shisler Insurance Agency in Paulding, the Kulwicki-Hilton Insurance Agency in Convoy and Ottoville, and the Hickey-Morris Insurance Agency in Delphos.

POSTED: 03/10/18 at 9:23 am. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent/submitted information

Sean Sauer, CFSP, funeral director and partner in Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home & Crematory in Van Wert, Gearhart & Jurczyk Funeral Home in Convoy, and Ketcham-Ripley Funeral Home in Rockford, has recently qualified for recertification of the designation of Certified Funeral Service Practitioner (CFSP), by the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice.

Sean Sauer

A number of professions grant special recognition to members upon completion of specified academic and professional programs and “CFSP” is the funeral service’s national individual recognition.

A select few have distinguished themselves among their peers within the funeral service profession as they continue their education to exceed the highest standards of care. This achievement is especially notable because Sauer has voluntarily elected to participate in quality educational and service opportunities that far surpass what the funeral service licensing board in Ohio requires. He has committed to a program of lifelong learning to serve families in the community with the level of excellence expected of a CFSP.

Since its 1976 founding, the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice, has had as its goals: 1) to recognize practitioners who have voluntarily entered into a program of personal and professional growth, 2) to raise and improve the standards of funeral service and 3) to encourage practitioners to make continuing education a lifelong process in their own self-interest, the interest of the families they serve, and the community in which they serve.

To initially receive this award, a practitioner must complete a 180-hour program of continuing education activities and events. In addition, the practitioner is required to accumulate 20 hours per year to recertify. Credits are awarded by the Academy for work leading to personal and/or professional growth in four areas:

  • Academic activities
  • Professional activities
  • Career review (for retroactive credit)
  • Community and civic activities

Sauer lives in Van Wert with his wife, Heather, and their 4-year-old triplets, Hadley, Holden, and Hudson. He has been a licensed funeral director and embalmer since 1996 and came to Van Wert in 2016. In 2017, he became a partner in the funeral homes.

POSTED: 03/05/18 at 9:31 am. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent/submitted information

The Tractor Supply Company (TSC) store in Van Wert is donating 125 bags of food and 105 cans of pet food to feed dogs and cats in need of adoption.

“More often than not, animal shelters and rescues depend greatly on food donations to support the pets they take in that await adoption,” said Peter Owsley, manager of the Van Wert Tractor Supply store. “Our goal at Tractor Supply is to do our part in helping adoption efforts in our community because we know that pets are more than just dogs and cats, they are family.”

Tractor Supply presented the pet food donation to the Van Wert County Humane Society and ARF (Animal Resource Foundation).

In addition to the pet food donation, Van Wert Tractor Supply hosts pet adoption events throughout the year. Visit or call the store at 419.232.4862 to learn more about working with Tractor Supply for pet adoption events.

For information and tips on adopting an animal and raising pets, visit

POSTED: 03/05/18 at 9:27 am. FILED UNDER: Business

Submitted information

OAKWOOD — In 2017, Cooper Farms donated a total of more than 267,000 pounds of cooked and ready-to- cook meat products to local churches, programs, and organizations.

“Cooper Farms prides itself on giving back to the local community,” said COO Gary Cooper. “We know there are a lot of people in need in our surrounding area. Being able to help those people by providing them with a healthy protein is the least we can do, and we’re more than happy to do it.”

Some top recipients of these donations were the West Ohio Foodbank, receiving over 95,000 pounds; St. Mary’s Catholic Food Pantry, receiving nearly 26,000 pounds; and Northwest Ohio Foodbank, receiving nearly 23,000 pounds throughout the year. Cooper Farms has established very close relationships with these various organizations through these donations over the years.

“Being able to provide these families with food is great, but getting to know the people involved in these various groups and programs has been just as rewarding,” said Heather Cooper, Cooper Farms stockholder. “Their mission is something to be admired, so we’re glad to be a part of it.”

POSTED: 03/05/18 at 9:25 am. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent/submitted information

Warren J. Straley has recently been informed by the Ohio Department of Licensing that he has completed all educational and performance requirements, plus successfully passed all testing requirements, and has been awarded his Ohio real estate broker’s license from the Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Real Estate.

Straley is a 2005 graduate of Paulding High School and a 2009 graduate of Bowling Green State University in the College of Liberal Arts. He is also presently scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 35 in Van Wert, is a member of Van Wert City Council, and a past member of the Van Wert County Council on Aging board.

He and his wife, the former Kelly Saam, reside in Van Wert and are members of LifeHouse Church and St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church.

Straley, who also holds an Ohio auctioneer’s license, is part owner and officer of Straley Realty & Auctioneers Inc., with offices in Van Wert and Paulding.

POSTED: 03/05/18 at 9:23 am. FILED UNDER: Business