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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Aug. 29, 2016


Junior Fair Queen Macala Ashbaugh, Junior Fair King Joel Germann, and Queen Runner-up Maggie Cripe pose following the coronation ceremony held Sunday at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds. Jan Dunlap/Van Wert independent

Junior Fair Queen Macala Ashbaugh, Junior Fair King Joel Germann, and Queen Runner-up Maggie Cripe pose following the coronation ceremony held Sunday at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds. Jan Dunlap/Van Wert independent

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

It was called Celebration Sunday, but for Junior Fair representatives and 4-H members, it was an early start to the 2016 Van Wert County Fair. The day included coronation of the 2016 Junior Fair King and Queen and species princesses, the 4-H Fashion Style Review, the Cloverbud Graduation and Show and Tell Awards, and the 4-H Special Awards event.

Starting out Sunday’s events, Macala Ashbaugh was named 2016 Junior Fair queen, while Joel Germann, the only boy candidate, was named 2016 Junior Fair king. Maggie Cripe was named queen runner-up.

While he admitted it wasn’t a surprise, since he was the only candidate, Germann, the son of Doug and Marcia Germann, said he “felt blessed” to be able to serve as the 2016 Junior Fair king. “I guess I’m really excited,” he added.

Germann, who is a member of the Junior Fair Board, serving on the Awards, Barn Maintenance, and Animal Clinic committees, while also chairing the Goat and Public Relations committees, said he is also interested in being a part of all the Junior Fair events, including many he hasn’t really been involved in over his 4-H career. Germann has shown goats for four years and won several showmanship awards in the breeding market and dairy market goat classes.

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POSTED: 08/29/16 at 7:26 am

2016 4-H Fashion Style Review

In addition to the Junior Fair King and Queen coronation (see story above), several 4-H events were held during “Celebration Sunday” on the Van Wert County Fairgrounds. 4-H members are shown above modeling clothes during the 4-H Fashion Style Review, while Seth Baker (right), executive secretary of The Van Wert County Foundation, presents a Black Inc. Award to Chloee Gamble during the 4-H Special Awards event (click here for a list of 4-H awards). photos by Jan Dunlap/Van Wert independent

2016 4-H Special Awards-Baker & Gamble

POSTED: 08/29/16 at 7:21 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Severe weather created a bit of a stir on Sunday afternoon – and some minor damage just west of Van Wert. Storms that developed rapidly over northeast Indiana Sunday quickly moved southeast, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a severe thunderstorm warning for northwest Van Wert County.

Local resident Matt Saunier took this photo of a wall cloud storm that hit the county on Sunday afternoon.

Local resident Matt Saunier took this photo of a wall cloud storm that hit the county on Sunday afternoon.

Winds to 60 mph with hail and heavy rain were predicted. At 5:43 p.m., area spotter Matt Saunier reported a wall cloud at Convoy Heller and Elm Sugar roads and Van Wert County Emergency Manager Director Rick McCoy gave the report to the National Weather Service. As the storm moved south, closer to Van Wert, a new thunderstorm warning was issued for the remainder of the county. Rain from the storm was scattered, with areas of the county receiving no rain, while other areas received up to 3 inches. Half-inch hail was also reported.

The most powerful part of the storm traveled just west of Van Wert, where it produced a microburst of strong downburst winds of between 60 and 70 mph, according to McCoy. These winds created a mile and a half damage path from just northwest of Vancrest Health Care Center to approximately a mile south of Vancrest.

According to McCoy, some trees were snapped off and some very large trees were completely snapped in half along U.S. 224, north of Van Wert-Decatur Road and also along that road.

Shown is a drone photo showing barn damage at the residence of Audrey McClure on U.S. 224 caused by one of four tornadoes to hit the county last Wednesday. Rick McCoy/for the Van Wert independent)

Shown is a drone photo showing barn damage at the residence of Audrey McClure on U.S. 224 caused by one of four tornadoes to hit the county last Wednesday. Rick McCoy/for the Van Wert independent

Four telephone poles were also broken off and lines were downed across U.S. 224, prompting the closing of that highway until late in the evening. A residential property across from Vancrest also had damage to the house siding, with a number of holes gouged in the building’s exterior by flying debris from the high winds. There were also trees down at this location.

Traffic was rerouted around 224 by the Van Wert Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Convoy Fire Department, Van Wert Police Department, and the Ohio Department of transportation.

McCoy also updated information on the tornadoes that hit the county last Wednesday, providing more detailed information on tornado damage.

The EMA director noted that he conducted an additional storm survey, both on the ground and with a drone, which showed that the third tornado to hit the county, in Hoaglin Township, was on the ground two separate times, while fourth tornado, which touched down in Jackson Township, was on the ground a mile longer than was first thought.

The first tornado to strike the county touched down just north of German Church Road in Harrison Township. The funnel traveled a mile before hitting the Troy Childs residence, 11650 Convoy Road, where it damaged the residence’s roof, siding, chimney, and blew out some windows, while also knocking trees down and damaging the barn.

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POSTED: 08/29/16 at 7:12 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Off Stage Productions Inc. announces the cast for its 2016-17 season opening dinner theatre show, Drinking Habits, by Tom Smith. This two-act comedy will be co-directed by Dan Bulau and Amy Shoppell.

The cast of eight actors for Drinking Habits includes four Off Stage veterans, as well as four actors making their debut on the OSP stage (Kecia Pontius, Daniel Sanderson, Matt Krol, and Kelly Smith).

Cast members are as follows:

Sister Philamena, Pontius; Sister Augusta, Mary Yackey; George, Sanderson; Mother Superior, Jewell Kurtz; Paul, Krol; Sally, Amy McConn; Sister Mary Catherine, Smith; and Father Chenille, Steve Bricker.

Accusations, mistaken identities, and romances run wild in this traditional, laugh-out-loud farce. Two nuns at the Sisters of Perpetual Sewing have been secretly making wine to keep the convent doors open, but Paul and Sally, reporters and former fiancées, are hot on their trail. They go undercover as a nun and a priest, but their presence, combined with the addition of a new nun, spurs paranoia throughout the convent that spies have been sent from Rome to shut them down.

Wine and secrets are inevitably spilled as everyone tries to preserve the convent and reconnect with lost loves.

Plan to attend one of the seven performances, which open on Saturday, October 8.  Additional show dates are Sunday, October 9; Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, October 14-16; and Friday and Saturday, October 21-22.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 12:30 p.m. for Sunday matinees at the Van Wert County Senior Center, 220 Fox Road in Van Wert. A buffet style meal provided by Romer’s Catering will be served starting at 7 p.m., and the show will begin at 8 p.m. (1 p.m. meal and 2 p.m. show on Sundays).

Reservations for members open at 10 a.m. Monday, September 19, and Wednesday, September 21, for the general public and are open daily. The box office closes at 6 p.m. each day. Off Stage Productions can be found online at http://www.offstagetheatre.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OffStageProductions, or call 419.605.6708.

Cast members for Off Stage Productions’ comedy, Drinking Habits, includes (seated) Kelly Smith and Jewell Kurtz; (standing) Kecia Pontius, Daniel Sanderson, Dan Bulau, Steve Bricker, Matt Kroll, Mary Yackey, Amy McConn, and Amy Shoppell. (photo submitted)

Cast members for Off Stage Productions’ comedy, Drinking Habits, includes (seated) Kelly Smith and Jewell Kurtz; (standing) Kecia Pontius, Daniel Sanderson, Dan Bulau, Steve Bricker, Matt Kroll, Mary Yackey, Amy McConn, and Amy Shoppell. (photo submitted)

POSTED: 08/29/16 at 7:03 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

Average retail gasoline prices in Ohio have risen 2.9 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.18 per gallon on Sunday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 5,345 gas outlets in Ohio. This compares with the national average that has increased 3.4 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.21 per gallon, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com.

Gasoline pump nozzle artwork 8-2016Including the change in gas prices in Ohio during the past week, prices yesterday were 23.2 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 8.4 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 7.4 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 28.0 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

According to GasBuddy historical data, gasoline prices on August 29 in Ohio have ranged widely over the last five years: $2.41 per gallon in 2015, $3.35 per gallon in 2014, $3.57 per gallon in 2013, $3.88 per gallon in 2012, and $3.63 per gallon in 2011.

“As the summer driving season wraps up, gasoline prices have risen for 14 consecutive days, thanks in large part due to a late-summer rally in oil markets, driven by OPEC threats,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. “While the final note may be a bit sour, the sweetness of what is still the cheapest summer gas in a decade will linger.

“While some tropical disturbances may lead gas prices to continue rising slightly ahead of Labor Day weekend, relief will be felt across every single state over the next few weeks as gasoline demand drops and cheaper winter gas begins flowing in mid-September.” DeHaan added.

POSTED: 08/29/16 at 6:58 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Local business people had to chance to learn about Ohio’s new medical marijuana law, as well as federal legislation dealing with new federal overtime guidelines, during an event sponsored by the Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce on Friday morning.

Dayna Noble of the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation talks about the state's new medical marijuana law during an event Friday sponsored by the Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Dayna Noble of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation talks about the state’s new medical marijuana law during an event Friday sponsored by the Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Dayna Noble of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation first addressed the state’s new medical marijuana law, noting that House Bill 523, which goes into effect September 8, doesn’t make medical marijuana available immediately, but merely sets up a two-year process whereby the regulatory structure needed to allow medical marijuana use.

“It really just starts the clock for putting policies and procedures in place,” she told a roomful of business people at The Kenn-Feld Group’s training center west of Van Wert.

Even after a regulatory framework is created, businesses should still have a lot of options available, she said.

Noble said passage of the new law would not affect the Drug-free Safety Program currently in place, while adding employers still have plenty of freedom in deciding how to deal with employees who use medical marijuana — especially if they have a drug-free workplace program in place. Specifically, she noted, the law:

  • Does not require that employers accommodate an employee’s use of medical marijuana.

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POSTED: 08/27/16 at 7:26 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Van Wert County voters can now access voting information on their smart phones, including what’s on the ballot and where the poll sites are, via the new free Ohio Voter Information app. The app can be found on the Play Store for Android phone users and on the App Store for iPhone owners.

All information available with the application is considered public record information and is readily available at all Board of Elections offices. But by using the app, the data is available right in the palm of one’s hand.

With the app, voters will be able to:

  • See the residence address they currently have on file (if it’s wrong, voters can update the information from the app).
  • See their voting history.
  • Check the status of their absentee ballot, if they have requested one.
  • Find polling site information, so they know where they can vote.
  • View available sample ballots for upcoming elections.

Voters can download the free app by searching for “Ohio Voter Information” in each respective app store. After installing the app, voters will need to customize it, as follows:

  • Go to “voter settings”; in “search county” scroll to select their county of residence.
  • Set push notifications to “on” and email notifications to “on” by moving the button to the right.
  • Put in their email address and phone number of the device on which they want to receive notices.
  • Once they complete those settings, voters need to select “save settings.”
  • Press the “voter lookup” icon.
  • Type in their last name and first name and then click “submit” to display some of the specific information that’s on file for them.
  • Next to “name and birth”, voters will see “set as my voter info” in green. They should press that and then press “save settings” on the next screen.

At that point, voters can click on the “My Voter Info” icon to look at the most current information on file.

POSTED: 08/27/16 at 7:18 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine sent a letter to members of law enforcement on Friday reminding them that rebates are available for law enforcement agencies that carry naloxone.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Ohio A-G Mike DeWine

When given to a person overdosing on opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil, or a prescription opioid, naloxone can limit or stop the overdose by reversing the effects of the opioid on the brain.

In March, Attorney General DeWine announced that he renewed an agreement with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc. to allow law enforcement, fire departments, emergency medical services, and others to receive a $6 rebate for each Amphastar naloxone syringe purchased until March 2017.

During the first year of the rebate agreement, 82 Ohio agencies were reimbursed a total of more than $209,000 to offset the cost of the life-saving drug.

“Heroin, fentanyl, and now carfentanil continue to take and risk the lives of many Ohioans every single day,” Attorney General DeWine said in his letter. “For those of you who are not yet carrying naloxone, I strongly encourage you to do so. Naloxone is another tool to help ensure the safety of your community members.”

According to a report released Thursday by the Ohio Department of Health, drug overdose deaths in Ohio increased from 2,531 in 2014 to 3,050 in 2015, including 1,155 fentanyl-related drug overdose deaths.

Attorney General DeWine recently warned law enforcement about the risks faced by officers who field test potent opioids like fentanyl. Alerts sent out by the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) in June and July warned that law enforcement should collect drug evidence with caution.

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POSTED: 08/27/16 at 7:16 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

With the 2016 Van Wert County Fair quickly approaching, the Junior Fair Coronation Committee is announcing this year’s candidates for king and queen, as well as species prince or princess. The coronation ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, August 28, in the Entertainment Pavilion on the north end of the fairgrounds.

2016 Junior Fair queen and princess candidates include the following (top row, from the left) Nadia Pardon, Grace Richey, Macala Ashbaugh, Maggie Cripe, Ashley Dealey; (bottom row) Abbey Bradford, McKenzie Davis, Kaitlyn Hughes, Samantha  Klinger, and Laney Jones. (photos submitted)

2016 Junior Fair queen and princess candidates include the following (top row, from the left) Nadia Pardon, Grace Richey, Macala Ashbaugh, Maggie Cripe, Ashley Dealey; (bottom row) Abbey Bradford, McKenzie Davis, Kaitlyn Hughes, Samantha Klinger, and Laney Jones. (photos submitted)

King candidate

There is only one candidate for Junior Fair king this year.

Joel Germann is the son of Doug and Marcia Germann and attends Crestview High School, where he will be a senior this year. He is active member of the Crestview FFA, of which he is currently president. Germann is involved in many other extracurricular activities at Crestview, including Scholastic Bowl, school musical, football, Knight Vision (Crestview show choir) track, and National Honor Society. He also had the honor of representing the Convoy American Legion Post at Buckeye Boys State this summer.

Germann attends Crossbridge Community Church and is actively involved in many outreach programs.

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POSTED: 08/26/16 at 6:17 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The National Weather Service confirmed on Thursday that four separate tornadoes touched down in Van Wert County in what is being called one of the worst tornado outbreaks in August, according to County Emergency Management Director Rick McCoy.

McCoy met with NWS officials from the Northern Indiana Office Thursday afternoon to conduct a site survey of damage done in the county on Wednesday. Of the four confirmed tornadoes, three were rated at the lowest storm strength (EF-0), while the fourth tornado was rated as an EF-1.

This photo taken by local resident Phil Saunier shows a tornado that touched down south of Convoy in the German Church Road area.

This photo taken by local resident Phil Saunier shows one of four tornadoes that touched down in Van Wert County Wednesday evening.

On Thursday morning, McCoy was able to do a flyover of the county, compliments of Van Wert County Regional Airport and local pilot Fred Pond. Air photos and video were also used to confirm the individual tornadoes and their damage paths in the county. NWS officials confirmed that information during ground surveys on Thursday afternoon.

According to the NWS, Wednesday’s tornadoes stemmed from a supercell thunderstorm that developed near Kokomo, Indiana, producing a large, violent tornado that struck that city, doing considerable damage. The storm kept producing tornadoes as it moved east through Indiana, which prompted the Storm Prediction Center to issue a tornado watch for areas south of Van Wert County in Ohio, as well as Adams County, Indiana.

McCoy said there were no indications that a severe storm system would develop on Wednesday, but initial predictions showed the storm crossing into Ohio south of Van Wert County. McCoy activated tornado spotters from the Mendon, Chattanooga, and Rockford fire departments as the storm moved across western Adams County in Indiana, telling them that tornadoes were still expected across northern Mercer County and would continue to head east.

However, at 5:54 p.m., the NWS issued a tornado warning for southeast Adams County and the extreme southwest portion of Van Wert County. McCoy then advised Ohio City and Willshire authorities to activate their tornado sirens.

Just as two tornadoes were spotted near Monroe and Berne, Indiana, one of the storm systems moved toward Mercer County, while the other followed the path of the deadly F-4 tornado that hit Van Wert County on November 10, 2002, making a sharp left turn that brought it close to Willshire. McCoy said spotters indicated a large rotating wall cloud, but that no funnels had been spotted as the storm crossed into the county.

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POSTED: 08/26/16 at 6:05 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The Van Wert Civil Service Commission will meet at noon Wednesday, August 31, to authorize an entry-level examination for the Van Wert Fire Department.

POSTED: 08/26/16 at 5:50 am. FILED UNDER: News