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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, Jun. 26, 2016

Beginnings concert in Fountain Park 6-2016

The weather was nearly perfect Friday evening as the tribute group Beginnings entertained a large crowd of area residents in Fountain Park with the music of classic rock group Chicago. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

POSTED: 06/25/16 at 7:53 am

VW independent/submitted information

Community cats (also known as feral cats), as well as domestic cats, are a growing concern for Van Wert and the country in general, says Van Wert Mayor Jerry Mazur. However, a group of local residents has implemented the “Trap-Neuter-Return” (or “Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return”) program to reduce the cat population over time.

Community (feral) cats can create a number of problems for a community.

Community (feral) cats can create a number of problems for a community.

TNR program volunteers cite compelling reasons why feral cats should remain in local neighbor-hoods. For example, cats help to control rodents, including mice and rats, and also help to control rabbits and moles that damage vegetable and flower gardens, as well as lawns.

Community cats are usually not socialized to people and, as a result, are not adoptable. The TNR program has proven to be an effective tool in reducing the cat population, and is a humane solution that ensures the cats being released back into the community are not only “fixed,” but vaccinated against rabies. Rabies shots can last for up to seven years.

Anyone considering a pet kitten should have the animal spayed or neutered and vaccinated. Kittens can be safely spayed or neutered at 4 months of age.

“Caring for pets and preventing them from reproducing is responsible pet ownership, and this is the kind of behavior we want to model to our children,” said Mayor Mazur. “Spaying or neutering cats is the key to reducing the cat population.”

Local residents who would like to become involved in, or learn more about, the TNR program, can contact Brenda Hoffman at the Van Wert County Humane Society (419.203.4997) for additional details. Financial donations are always greatly appreciated and prudently invested in promoting the TNR program.

POSTED: 06/25/16 at 7:49 am. FILED UNDER: News

Taylor donates to LifeLinks yearbooks 6-2016

For the second year in a row, Gary Taylor of Taylor Auto Sales underwrote the cost of yearbooks for the students of LifeLinks Community School. Because of Taylor’s generosity, students were able to purchase 2015-2016 yearbooks at a fraction of the original price. Shown presenting Taylor with a copy of the yearbook is Zach Smith, while the following yearbook members look on (front row, from the left) Destiny Brooks and Justice Glossett; (back row) Megan Slusser and James West. (photo submitted)

POSTED: 06/25/16 at 7:35 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Only a month after the 2016-17 Community Concert Series package was announced, individual tickets are now available for the first event in the series.

The Niswonger will welcome Guy & Ralna to its stage, presented by Okuley Unverferth Dentistry, at 2 p.m. Sunday, September 18.

Guy & Ralna

Guy & Ralna

Since their days on “The Lawrence Welk Show” from 1970-82, Guy & Ralna have become one of the most endearing couples still touring and spreading good, wholesome music throughout the United States.

Guy & Ralna became an instant sensation as the most popular husband-and-wife team ever to appear on “The Lawrence Welk Show”. Both continue to perform as solo acts when they’re not touring together and have been featured on PBS, as well as regularly perform in major entertainment venues in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Reno, Lake Tahoe, and Branson, Missouri.

Their fans love them on television and now everyone can enjoy them live at the Niswonger.

Supporting sponsors for the Community Concert Series include Central Insurance Companies, E & R Trailer, Eaton Corp., First Financial Bancorp, Taylor Auto Sales, and State Farm agent Tisha Fast.

Tickets for Guy and Ralna, along with the entire Community Concert Series, can be purchased online at NPACVW.ORG and through the Box Office from noon-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at 419.238.6722. The Niswonger Performing Arts Center is located at 10700 State Route 118 on the south edge of Van Wert.

POSTED: 06/25/16 at 7:31 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

Central Insurance recently held its inaugural summer Tech Camp for students entering grades 7-8.

The weeklong camp included interactive, hands-on projects to give the students a glimpse into future career possibilities in computer programming and multimedia design. Students designed and built their own video games using block code, created commercials using green screen technology, explored the ins and outs of a computer, and improved their creative problem-solving skills.

The Central Insurance Companies Educational & Charitable Foundation and the Van Wert County Foundation sponsor the camps. Visit Central’s Facebook page ( for more photos from the camp.

Central Tech Camp 2016-first week group

First week camp attendees include (front row, from the left) Kaygen Bogle, Erik Falk, Joshua Haines, Cole Gorman, Evan Mongold, Kaden Baer; (middle row) JW Taylor, Madison DeAmicis, Hanna Say, Zadria King, Miah Miller, Jesse Gunsett; (back row) Evan Sroufe, Kayla Krites, Kaden Thomas, Bregen Boaz, and Gannon Boyd. (Central photos)

Central Tech Camp 2016-second week group

Second week camp attendees include (front row, from the left) Owen Harris, Anna Partin, Dan Miller, Connor Johnson; (middle row) Christian Adams, Anna Wasson, Sam Moonshower, Caleb Price, and Sam Wolfrum; (back row) Rachel Spath, Jacob Wasson, Bobby Spath, KeAndre Blythe, Ethan White, and Nathan Evans.
Not pictured: Taylor Springer.

POSTED: 06/25/16 at 7:27 am. FILED UNDER: Business, News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The Vantage Career Center Board of Education said good-bye to Vantage Director Ben Winans and hired his replacement, while also learning about a new program for the upcoming school year during its July meeting held Thursday.

Vantage Career Center Career Technical Supervisor Ted Verhoff presents information on the school's new Construction Equipment Technologies Program. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Vantage Career Center Career Technical Supervisor Ted Verhoff presents information on the school’s new Construction Equipment Technologies Program. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Winans thanked the board for its support over the past three years he has been director, while also saying he has learned a lot during his decade of service to the school.

“I’m not sure there is a means to measure the experience I have gained over the course of my time here the last 10 years,” Winans noted. “I certainly know I cannot find enough words to thank all of you.”

Later in the meeting, the board formally accepted Winans’ resignation and approved a three-year administrative contract for his replacement, Tony Unverferth, who is currently a social studies teacher at Vantage.

Superintendent Staci Kaufman said the search committee had good response to the position, adding that the committee felt Unverferth was the best fit for the job.

Ted Verhoff also provided a presentation on a new program at Vantage: Construction Equipment Technologies. The new program will cover four semesters, with instruction as follows: first semester, core and sustainable construction; second semester, carpentry and masonry technology skills; third semester, heavy equipment operation; and fourth semester, construction site preparation.

Verhoff said the program, which already has its 13-student quota for the first year, is one of only four or five such programs in Ohio, including one at Apollo Career Center that currently has 40 students enrolled.


POSTED: 06/24/16 at 8:16 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent news

Van Wert Fire Equipment owners Jenni and Brandon Bowen cut the ribbon Thursday on their renovated and expanded facilities.

After purchasing a county-owned building across the street from their main facility at 134 E. Crawford St., the Bowens moved their hydro-testing and fire extinguisher recharging operations to that building and renovated their main facility to provide an expanded showroom for the company’s wide selection of firefighting equipment.

In addition to fire extinguishers, generators, and smoke detectors for home and business, Van Wert Fire Equipment provides turnout gear for professional firefighters, including firefighting suits, escape ladders, axes, Jaws of Life equipment, and much more.

Van Wert Fire Equipment is also a distributor for fire equipment, providing customers with a direct link to the companies it represents.

“If something goes wrong with something, we have that direct link because we’re distributors,” Jenni Bowen said.

In addition to equipment, Van Wert Fire Equipment provides 24/7 on-call services to northwest Ohio fire departments to replace non-functioning equipment, sometimes even taking the items to a fire scene.

Jenni Bowen noted that, with several members of her staff — including her — being members of area fire departments, the company is not just another business to them.

To celebrate its renovated and expanded facilities, Van Wert Fire Equipment will be having an open house from 1-5 this Saturday. The open house will include food and drink and door prizes.

Jenni and Brandon Bowen cut the ribbon on their renovated showroom while Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce board members and company employees look on. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Jenni and Brandon Bowen cut the ribbon on their renovated showroom while Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce board members and company employees look on. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

POSTED: 06/24/16 at 8:12 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The Holiday at Home Committee is preparing for its annual Fourth of July celebration, and that includes a fireworks display behind the Van Wert High School-Middle School complex.

This year, a number of organizations and businesses donated funds to ensure there will be a fireworks display for this year’s celebration. Those organizations include The Van Wert County Foundation, First Bank of Berne, Lee Kinstle’s GM Sales & Service, American Car Rental, Federal-Mogul Corporation, First Family Broadcasting (WERT/WKSD Radio), the Van Wert independent, Van Wert Federal Savings Bank, Wallace Plumbing, Citizens National Bank, First Federal Savings & Loan, Lee’s Ace Hardware, Leland Smith Insurance, The Kenn-Feld Group, Superior Collision, Cooper Farms, Purmort Bros. Insurance, Northwest Ohio Screen Printing/Welch Trophy, Elks Lodge 1197, Braun Industries, Quality Paint & Roofing, Tisha Fast/State Farm Insurance, Star Rentals/Ron Dull Building, Choice One Engineering, Alexander & Bebout, and Shultz, Huber & Associates.

“The Holiday at Home Committee would like to thank all of the 2016 fireworks sponsors for making this year’s celebration possible,” said Sue Heppeard, committee member.

While a large number of donors have come forth to give money for the fireworks display, Heppeard said the committee is just shy of its goal for this year. Those wanting to donate and be a sponsor can call Heppeard at 419.238.9121 or Linda Stutz at 419.238.4192.

2016 Holiday at Home fireworks donors

Shown with Van Wert Parks Director Sue Heppeard are some of the 2016 fireworks sponsors for the Holiday at Home Fourth of July celebration in Van Wert. Shown are (front row, from the left) Heppeard, Cindy Young of Federal-Mogul Corporation, Brooke Meyer and April Korte of Leland Smith Insurance, Kylee Moody of Van Wert Federal Savings Bank, Amelia Wiseman of Superior Collision; (back row) Dave Roach of WERT/WKSD Radio, Michael Seeger of Choice One Engineering, Seth Baker of the Van Wert County Foundation, Ty Shingledecker of Citizens National Bank, Jim Bonifas of The Kenn-Feld Group, and Chris Roberts of the Van Wert independent. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

POSTED: 06/24/16 at 8:10 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Just a reminder that Van Wert Manor, 160 Fox Road in Van Wert, will host a community open house celebration from 1-6 p.m. Wednesday, June 29, to show off its newly renovated facility.

Van Wert Manor logo 6-2016Van Wert Manor is inviting the entire community to attend the open house event. Guided tours, snacks, and refreshments will all be provided, while Kim Hohman’s DanceWorks will provide entertainment from 4-5 p.m.

Van Wert Manor has been part of the community since 1970 through its tradition of caring.

For more information about Van Wert Manor, contact Janel Schulte, community marketing coordinator, at 419.238.6655.

POSTED: 06/24/16 at 8:02 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Nine people appeared in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday, with six of those sentenced on a variety of charges.

Court artwork 12-2013 copyAron Lichtenberger, 37, of Lima, was sentenced to 11 months in prison on a charge of attempted failure to register as a sex offender, a felony of the fourth degree. Judge Martin Burchfield gave Lichtenberger 32 days credit for time already served.

The Lima man was classified as a Tier 2 sex offender who must register with the sheriff’s office every 180 days for 25 years.

Dustin Garrett, 32, of Grover Hill, was sentenced to five years of community control on eight sex-related charges. Garrett must also complete all programs ordered by Judge Burchfield and the probation department, including a psycho-sexual assessment and related treatment. He must also not use the Internet without permission of his probation officer, and agree to have his computer searched by the probation department or a designee. He was also classified as a Tier 2 sex offender, and must also comply with the above requirements.

Candice Huffman, 30, of Van Wert, was given five years of community control on one count each of trespass in a habitation, a fourth-degree felony, and attempted deception to obtain a dangerous drug, a felony of the fifth degree. As part of her probation, she must spend up to six months at the Western Ohio Regional Treatment and Habilitation (WORTH) Center in Lima, and pay $1,000 restitution to a victim in the case.


POSTED: 06/23/16 at 7:46 am. FILED UNDER: News

Convoy Historical Society-opera house donation 6-2016

A check for $1,500 was presented to the Convoy Historical Society by members of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Convoy. Charitable outreach funds from Thrivent Financial made this gift possible. The historical society has reorganized and is working on the restoration of the Convoy Opera House in downtown Convoy. Memberships and donations for this project may be made at US Bank or by mailing to US Bank, P.O. Box 8, Convoy, OH 45832. Shown are (from the left) Raymond Hertz, Jan McIntosh, and Jane Jones of the Convoy Historical Society; Shelly Miller and Dennis McCoy of Redeemer Lutheran Church; and Fran Neiswander of the historical society. (photo submitted)

POSTED: 06/23/16 at 7:41 am. FILED UNDER: News