The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018

Lots of food is available, including plenty of apple-themed items, at this year’s Van Wert County Apple Festival, which begins today and runs through Saturday. VW independent file photo

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Local residents now know it’s truly fall with the Van Wert County Apple Festival starting today. The annual festival features just about everything apple one can think of, as well as entertainment, children’s activities, a craft show, 5K run, and much more.

Hours for the festival, which is held on the Van Wert County Fairgrounds, are 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. today and 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday. The Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribboncutting ceremony at 11 this morning to officially open the festival.

Of course, with a name like the Apple Festival, it’s safe to assume that apples are a big feature of the event, and those thinking that would be right. The festival offers all kinds of apple-themed food and crafts. In addition to plain old apples from members of the Van Wert County Fruit Growers Association, which sponsors the festival, festival-goers can purchase apple pies, apple dumplings, fresh-made apple cider, and apple butter, just to name the main offerings.

There will also be lots of other food items available, including fresh caramel corn, chili, and sandwiches, from sloppy joes to shredded chicken.


POSTED: 10/19/18 at 7:48 am

PERRY LUHN/for the Van Wert independent

Perhaps the most famous of the many plays written by the playwright trio of Jones, Hope, and Wooten, is Dixie Swim Club. It has been produced nearly everywhere: A funny, sad, and serious story of women long past their glory years, “Dixie” has come to be the standard by which these writers are measured.

There are quite a few other hilarious shows penned by this trio that are making the rounds of the dinner theatre circuit, giving loads of stage vets lots of opportunities to participate in the laughs. I guess I didn’t realize this, but just last year, I, myself, got to participate, appearing in the romp entitled Christmas Belles. It was a blast.

In fact, every one of the JHW shows I have been able to attend has been a blast, not only for the cast, but for the audience as well. On Wednesday evening at Vantage Career Center in Van Wert, I was able to see Off Stage Productions’ presentation of Farce of Habit. This story, which is a little bit romance, a little bit thriller, and a lot comedy, is next in store for the patrons of the group, which always has ’em laughing right after dinner. The OSP crew always delivers on the laughs, and I was primed to go.

The story revolves around an inn that is run by a couple with their own problems, but who somehow manage to accumulate more woes. But, hey, it wouldn’t be funny if they solved their problems too soon, right? The couple’s son is, God forbid, an actor in community theatre, to the dismay of his wife, who is unaware of his hobby and thinks he is cheating on her.  

The inn owners, Wannelle and Gene Wilburn (Kelly Smith and John Vining), each have their own cross to bear. She can’t give up caffeine and he can’t stop scratching. Everywhere. The two actors are a match for each other in parts which must be over the top. Some of Kelly’s facial expressions are precious and tortuous at the same time. Mr. Vining’s scratching is appropriately annoying. He really wants to fish, not help his wife out with the inn tasks. These two must carry much of the first act and they make it work.

Son, Ty, the theatre nerd, is hilarious, not just because of the incredible costumes he carries off, but because of the deadpan expressions he can manifest when the others are making fun of his attire. A fun role for Jonathan Denny. He did a great job in the five-inch heels. Ty’s wife (or is she?), Jenna, is played with verve by Rachael Dettrow. She is going to make her hubby pay for his “indiscretion” and plays him like a fiddle. She gets her chance to play dress-up as well later on.

In fact, if I had to characterize this script, I would call it a “comedy costume piece”. It seems like everyone gets to try something outrageous on, and director Matthew Krol and his staff have found some pretty outrageous clothes. They were colorful, appropriate, and well-constructed. I was always wondering what kind of crazy thing would appear on stage next. 


POSTED: 10/19/18 at 7:38 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs, and Van Wert Health is hoping patients and visitors carefully watch the signs placed on the hospital’s main campus l in order to navigate safety around construction zones. The campus is now marked with red arrows to route patients directly to the main entrance of the Emergency Room. Additionally, blue arrows painted on the pavement and on signs around the campus are being used to direct outpatients, visitors, and vendors to an alternate parking lot during the first phase of construction for the Van Wert Health Surgery and Inpatient Expansion Project. The project includes a new two-story, 84,000 square-foot facility that will help further address the health care needs of area residents and visitors. photo provided

POSTED: 10/19/18 at 7:35 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

CONVOY — Crestview High School will be performing the musical Into the Woods at 7 p.m. Friday, November 2, and 3 p.m. Sunday, November 4.

Into the Woods is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. The musical intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault fairy tales, exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests.

The main characters are taken from “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Jack and the Beanstalk”, “Rapunzel”, and “Cinderella”, as well as several others. The musical is tied together by a story involving a childless baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family (the original beginning of The Grimm Brothers’ “Rapunzel”), their interaction with a witch who has placed a curse on them, and their interaction with other storybook characters during their journey.

Tickets are $7 apiece and will go on sale Monday, October 22, in the high school office. Into the Woods is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI (see more at

POSTED: 10/19/18 at 7:29 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Four people were arraigned, one person was sentenced, and five defendants changed their pleas to guilty during hearings held in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court this past week.

Christopher Stemen, 34, of Van Wert, entered not guilty pleas to one count each of grand theft-motor vehicle and failure to register as a sex offender, both felonies of the fourth degree. A $10,000 cash/commercial surety bond was set in the case and Stemen will appear for a pretrial conference at 8 a.m. Wednesday, October 31.

Benjamin Holmes, 33, of Bronson, Michigan, pleaded not guilty to one count each of aggravated possession of drugs, possession of heroin, and receiving stolen property, all felonies of the fifth degree. He was released on an unsecured personal surety bond and will appear for a pretrial conference at 9 a.m. Wednesday, November 7.

Anthony Bonifas, 20, of Delphos, entered not guilty pleas to one count each of domestic violence, a felony of the fourth degree, and resisting arrest, a second-degree misdemeanor. He was released on a surety bond, with the condition that he report twice a week to the probation department. A pretrial conference was scheduled for 8 a.m. Wednesday, November 14.

Alisha Elder, 39, of Columbus, pleaded not guilty to one count each of forgery, a felony of the fifth degree, and theft, a first-degree misdemeanor. She was released on a surety bond, on the condition she have no contact with the alleged victim in the case, and will appear for a pretrial conference at 8 a.m. November 14.


POSTED: 10/18/18 at 7:34 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

On the morning of Saturday, November 3, Wee Care Learning Center will host a coin auction to directly benefit the center.

Wee Care, with the aid of Central Mutual Insurance, is in the middle of a campaign to build a capital trust fund that will be managed by the Van Wert County Foundation. The capital trust fund will provide money annually for a variety of needs, including upgrades to HVAC, the kitchen, playground, carpeting, and other needs. Central Insurance will match all funds raised within the community, including this event.

Wee Care is in its 39th year of operation as a not-for-profit childcare organization. It has been housed at its current location for the past 13 years following the construction of a new center in 2005.

Wee Care is partnering with Kramer’s Homestead Auction LLC and its founder, Warren Kramer, for the event. There will be coins of all types, including gold pieces, silver, Carson City Morgans, Indian heads, first strike coins, slabbed coins, and others.

The auction will be held at Wee Care Learning Center, 10485 Van Wert-Decatur Road in Van Wert. There is no buyer’s premium and no sales tax for this event. Free doughnuts and coffee will be available as well.  A preview of the coins to be sold will be available beginning at 8 a.m., with the auction getting underway at 9:30 that morning. Watch AUCTIOZIP for a complete listing.

All proceeds benefit Wee Care Learning Center. For more information, contact Warren Kramer at 419.733.0055.

POSTED: 10/18/18 at 7:30 am. FILED UNDER: News

Van Wert Lodge 1197, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, recently made a donation to the Van Wert Fire Department to help sponsor the Firefighter Phil Program, which is presented to all Van Wert city and county elementary school children. This year, the program will reach 1,552 students in Grades K-4. The program, which is presented each October in conjunction with Fire Prevention Week, teaches the school children the importance of fire safety. Van Wert Elks Lodge is proud to help sponsor this important program and has been a sponsor each year since the program was started in Van Wert County. Shown are Van Wert Fire Chief Jon Jones and Elks Lodge Secretary Michael C. Stanley. Elks photo

POSTED: 10/18/18 at 7:29 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Mark Spieles, LISW-S, executive director of Westwood Behavioral Health Center, and Van Wert County Prosecutor Eva Yarger will be presenting information regarding Issue 1 from 6-7:30 p.m. Monday, October 22, at Westwood Behavioral Health Center, 1158 Westwood Drive in Van Wert.

Area residents can come and enjoy some pie and learn what Issue 1 would mean for Ohioans so they can make an informed decision at the polls. The session is free and open to the public, while there will be pumpkin and apple pie and apple cider served.

No need to register. All are welcome.

Organizers of the informational sessions also thanked the 46 people who attended the last learning series session.

POSTED: 10/18/18 at 7:26 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

U.S. Representative Bob Latta was in Van Wert on Tuesday, where he visited Vantage Career Center, spoke to Van Wert Rotary Club, and met with media representatives.

U.S. Representative Bob Latta (second from left) poses with instructors of Vantage’s CDL/truck driving program during a tour of the center on Tuesday. Vantage photo

Latta said his tour of Vantage was the fourth visit to career centers in his district recently, with visits also to Penta Career Center in Perrysburg, Penta Career Center in Archbold, and Millstream Career Center in Findlay, and he has been impressed with what he has seen.

“When people are saying there’s no good news out there, you know what, you need to go to one of these career centers and see what these kids are doing,” Latta noted. “It is absolutely amazing!”

While at Vantage, the congressman toured several programs, and said he also got the chance to drive a semi tractor-trailer truck Vantage obtained for its CDL and truck driving course. Latta said it was the first time he had driving a 10-speed manual transmission, but said he did pretty well.

“I did not knock over a cone,” he said what a smile, although he added that he didn’t have to turn too much.

Latta, who has toured Vantage in the past, said he has been very impressed with the career centers in his district, and noted the important role they have in today’s booming economy in providing career education for high school students, as well as retraining opportunities for those already in the workforce.


POSTED: 10/17/18 at 7:55 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Scott and Nikki Niswonger are presenting Dailey & Vincent at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert on Saturday, October 27, at 7:30 p.m. Get to know these Grand Ole Opry members and five-time Grammy Award winners.

More than 10 years ago, on December 29, 2007, Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent had their first paid gig as a duo with a performance at the Grand Ole Opry. The duo became official Opry members last spring, capping a remarkable decade of building an award-winning career that now encompasses an eclectic mix of country, folk, gospel, and bluegrass music, along with television and comedy.

Dailey & Vincent will perform at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio later this month. photo provided

Dailey & Vincent occupy a unique space in popular music by forging a sound that honors their traditional music pedigrees, yet is edgy enough to appeal to more progressive audiences. That evolution has been both organic and a little calculated, borne out of trying to shake up their own routine.

“The first year or so we went out and did pretty much all traditional bluegrass and the second year we thought we had to come up with something different, so we went wireless with the vocal mics so we would walk around and sing,” Dailey told Rolling Stone Country over a plate of beans and cornbread before a Tuesday night performance on the Opry. “We were trying to make it more interesting.

“About two years later we hired a bass singer,” he continues. “When we did that, that got us into doing lots of variety — real gospel to quartet-style singing in both secular and gospel.”

Before they teamed up to become Dailey & Vincent, both men were already seasoned musicians with stellar reputations in the bluegrass and country communities. Dailey had spent nine years performing with legendary bluegrass outfit Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, while Vincent logged 11 years with Ricky Skaggs’ famed band Kentucky Thunder, as well as contributing to albums by Dolly Parton and others.

Vincent first met Dailey in 2001 at the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards in Louisville, Kentucky.


POSTED: 10/17/18 at 7:40 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

Local entrepreneurship is getting a boost from the US Bank Foundation. Krista Somerton (second from right) and Stacy Adam (right) from the Van Wert Area Economic Development Corporation, received a $500 check Wednesday from Terra Bonifas, assistant branch manager for US Bank (left), and Van Wert Branch Manager Natalie Gibson. The US Bank Foundation’s Community Possible Grant supports organizations that assists small businesses and programs that enhance workforce skills and provide education in financial literacy. The funds will go to the winners of the annual Business Plan Challenge developed by VWAEDC. Participants in the challenge are also eligible for six weeks of free business classes provided by Wright State University-Lake Campus’ Business Enterprise Center at the VWAEDC office. The next Van Wert Entrepreneurial Fair, which kicks off the Business Plan Challenge, will be February 2, 2019.

POSTED: 10/17/18 at 7:35 am. FILED UNDER: News