The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Jun. 21, 2018


VWCS Superintendent Vicki Brunn listens to an update on Eggerss Stadium during her first meeting as superintendent on Wednesday. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent writer

Eggerss Stadium and personnel items were at the forefront of Wednesday’s meeting of the Van Wert City Board of Education.

Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent Bill Clifton told board members that new bleachers are to be installed on the visitors’ side of Eggerss Stadium, but the project has been slowed temporarily by red tape in the permit process. He added that he expects the bleachers to be installed in time for the upcoming football season.

Replacing the visitors’ side bleachers is considered Phase I of improvements, while Phase II will cover the home side of the stadium.

“It will include both undercoating on the top and underside of the stadium, repairing the back wall at the top of the stadium, widening the aisles and installing hand rails, addressing the handicap accessibility problem, installing a completely new press box, and addressing both ticket booths,” Clifton noted.

He also said cost estimates for Phase II will be shared at a later date and he explained that permanent improvement funds will be used to cover Phase I, while donations will be needed for Phase II — and to possibly reimburse the district for the cost of the first phase of the project.

Also Wednesday, the board accepted the resignations of seventh grade science/social studies teachers Kelsey Dunn and Drew Golden, and sixth grade science/social studies teacher Craig Syphrit. Syphrit and Kent Smelser also resigned as assistant football coaches.

The board hired Kylee Bader and Katie Peterson as seventh grade science/social studies teachers, Josh Early as a fourth grade intervention specialist, Brianna Pelfrey as a third grade teacher, and reclassified Kelly Fritz as a sixth grade science/social studies teacher. Board members also approved three-year administrative contracts for Van Wert Early Childhood Center Principal Lori Bittner and VWHS Principal Bob Priest.

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POSTED: 06/21/18 at 7:04 am

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

A Van Wert man was sent to prison while a city woman was arraigned on a drug-related charge during hearings held this week in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court.

Kelly Alvarez, 23, of Van Wert, was sentenced to 16 months in prison on one count each of receiving stolen property and trespass in a habitation, both felonies of the fourth degree.

Judge Martin D. Burchfield ordered the sentences to run concurrent to each other and also gave him credit for 53 days already served. A firearm in his possession at the time the crimes were committed was forfeited to the Van Wert Police Department.

Melissa Nihiser, 32, of Van Wert, pleaded not guilty to one count of aggravated possession of drugs, a felony of the fifth degree. She was released on a personal surety bond and will appear for a pretrial conference at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 11.

Shannon Augustus, 28, of Lima, changed her plea to guilty to a prosecutor’s bill of information charging her with sexual imposition, a misdemeanor of the third degree. Sentencing was scheduled for 9 a.m. July 11.

Serena White, 26, of Van Wert, admitted to violating her probation by testing positive for drugs. A $10,000 cash/commercial surety bond was set in the case and sentencing set for Wednesday, July 25.

On Monday, Korbin Taylor, 20, of Van Wert, admitted to violating his surety bond requirements by failing a drug test. A new $50,000 cash/commercial bond was set in his case and a pretrial conference scheduled for Wednesday, June 20.

Taylor then signed a time waiver in open court on Wednesday and a change of plea was scheduled for July 11.

POSTED: 06/21/18 at 6:55 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Kids and adults alike certainly took advantage of the gorgeous day on Tuesday, June 20, with more than 575 kids and 100 or so parents showing up at the YMCA’s Camp Clay for the seventh Elks Day at Camp Clay.   This free day at Camp Clay was provided to all area youngsters Van Wert Lodge 1197, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

Those who participated enjoyed swimming, the splash pad, wall climbing, paddle boats, kayaking, canoeing, the nature trail — and especially the aqua park — from noon until 4 p.m.

Shown are some of the kids enjoying the water at the YMCA’s Aqua Park (above) and getting their free ice cream in the afternoon (below). Elks photos

The Elks also provided a free lunch from noon until 3 p.m., along with an afternoon treat of ice cream for all kids who attended.

Van Wert Lodge was able to provide the special day through both Promise and Gratitude grants it received from the Elks National Foundation.

“We were very pleased with the turnout and happy that the kids came out to enjoy the day,” said Mike Stanley lodge event chairman. “This was our seventh year at providing this type of entertainment for the youth and it is growing each year. We have members who look forward to volunteering for this event each year.”

Van Wert Lodge looks forward to being able to provide another free day at Camp Clay in 2019.

POSTED: 06/21/18 at 6:53 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced increased efforts by the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) and Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) to aid educators and law enforcement in preparing for and reacting to a potentially violent school incident.

Mike DeWine

“Schools should be safe, nurturing places for children to learn and grow. Ensuring that students and teachers are protected during the school day is an important responsibility for all Ohio communities,” said Ohio Attorney General DeWine. “Although the Attorney General’s Office does not have oversight or authority over Ohio schools, I have always believed that it is important to use the resources of this office in any way we can to help Ohio’s kids.”

Emergency Management Plan Aerial Photographs

BCI currently has six drones that are used primarily to document crime scenes and assist in missing persons’ cases. BCI is now offering the use of the drones to take free aerial photographs of school buildings for inclusion in school safety plans.

Ohio law requires that each school in Ohio have a school safety plan on file for law enforcement to aid authorities in responding to an emergency.

“When law enforcement responds to a school emergency, they must have as much information about the school as possible,” said Attorney General DeWine. “Right now, school safety plans must include floor plans, but I believe that aerial photos will be an effective tool to help law enforcement plan for and respond to a violent incident.”

The addition of aerial photographs to school safety plans is encouraged, but not required for schools. Local law enforcement, in coordination with school administrators, can request that BCI agents take aerial photographs of schools in their area by calling 855.224.6446. BCI will upload the photos to the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG) to be included with school safety plans.

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POSTED: 06/21/18 at 6:47 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Eric Hurless, an Edward Jones financial advisor in Van Wert, is supporting Operation Back to School by using his office as a drop-off location for a school supplies drive.

Local residents may help support this effort by bringing in items to his Edward Jones branch office, 1119 Westwood Drive, Suite C (across from Sycamore Ice Cream), during regular business hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“We’re asking Van Wert residents to donate school supplies or volunteer their time,” Hurless said. “These donations can add value as one more student will be provided with the appropriate tools to begin or continue his or her learning and development.”

Edward Jones, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, provides financial services in the U.S. and, through its affiliate, in Canada. Every aspect of the firm’s business, from the investments its financial advisors offer to the location of its branch offices, caters to individual investors.

The firm’s 16,000-plus financial advisors serve more than 7 million clients and care for $1 trillion in assets under management. Visit the firm’s website at www.edwardjones.com and its recruiting website at www.careers.edwardjones.com. Member SIPC.

POSTED: 06/21/18 at 6:45 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Unemployment was mixed across Ohio, with Van Wert County and most neighboring counties seeing a slight uptick in joblessness in May, according to estimates released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Here in Van Wert County, unemployment increased a tenth of a percent, from 3.1 percent in April to 3.2 percent last month. According to labor statistics compiled by the ODJFS, in conjunction with the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the county’s workforce increased an estimated 200 people, from 14,700 two months ago to 14,900 in May. The number of people employed also increased from 14,200 in April to 14,400 last month, while those unemployed stayed the same at 500.

Overall, Van Wert County was among the 10 counties with the lowest unemployment in Ohio, according to the ODJFS.

Mercer County again led the state in unemployment at 2.5 percent, up two-tenths of a percent from April’s 2.3 percent. Putnam County, the only neighboring county whose jobless rate went down in May, was third in the state at 2.9 percent, down from 3.0 percent in April, while Auglaize County fifth among Ohio’s 88 counties at 3.0 percent, up two-tenths of a percent from April’s 2.8 percent unemployment rate. Behind Van Wert County were Paulding County at 3.7 percent, up two-tenths of a percent, and Allen County, which saw its jobless rate increase a tenth of a percent, from 4.0 percent to 4.1 percent.

Statewide, five counties had unemployment rates at or below 3.0 percent. In addition to Mercer, Putnam, and Auglaize counties, Holmes and Wyandot counties had unemployment rates of 2.9 percent in May.

Eight counties had unemployment rates at or above 5.5 percent last month.

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POSTED: 06/20/18 at 7:12 am. FILED UNDER: News

Wallace Heating and Plumbing is sponsoring a Business Day at the YMCA’s Camp Clay Aqua Center on Monday, July 2. Because of the sponsorship, those using the Aqua Center that day will pay only a $3 admission charge. Shown with Camp Clay Director Kevin Morrison are Chad Wallace and Frank Stemen of Wallace Heating and Plumbing. YMCA photo

POSTED: 06/20/18 at 7:06 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — Ohio farmers could lose more than half of their annual net income if the threatened 25 percent tariff is imposed on U.S. soybeans and corn in China, a study from The Ohio State University has found.

Researchers with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) have projected a 59 percent loss in annual net farm income based on historical trends in yields on corn and soybeans and projections for price drops in both commodities.

For the study, the researchers compiled data from six Ohio corn and soybean farms of similar size and created a representative Ohio farm comprised of 1,100 acres split evenly between corn and soybeans. They used the representative farm to determine the financial toll a tariff could take on an Ohio farm.

Net annual income on that representative Ohio farm was projected to drop from $63,577 to $26,107 under the proposed tariff, according to the study performed by Ben Brown, manager of CFAES’s farm management program, and Ian Sheldon, an agricultural economist who serves as the Andersons Chair in Agricultural Marketing, Trade, and Policy in CFAES.

Across Ohio, the loss of soybean exports to China would be an estimated $241 million annually.

The study is the first to show the financial impact a 25 percent tariff on China’s imports of U.S. soybeans and corn could have on an Ohio farmer and on the entire state.

“There are farmers who are struggling across the state,” Brown said. “If the proposed tariffs go into effect, we’re going to have farmers who will have to exit the industry.”

The financial losses stem from an expected drop in Chinese demand for U.S. soybeans and corn and in the world price for both crops.

“The biggest impact will be on profits from soybeans, however corn is affected too,” Brown said.

Soybeans are Ohio’s largest crop and the state’s top agricultural export. In April, China announced it would impose a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans, corn and over 100 other American products. That was in response to the tariffs that the administration proposed on a range of Chinese imports valued at $50 billion.

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POSTED: 06/20/18 at 7:01 am. FILED UNDER: Farm, News

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine warned consumers to beware of seasonal scams, including home improvement fraud and travel-related schemes.

“Scams don’t take a break in the summer,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We encourage people to be careful. Make sure you know who you’re dealing with. Ask for references. Take your time before making a decision.”

Last year, the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section logged more home improvement complaints in the summer (about 600 complaints) than in any other season. While some involved billing disputes, others alleged services were never provided.

Consumers also reported travel-related complaints, such as “free” vacations that were not truly free and timeshare resellers who failed to deliver promised services.

During summer months, consumers should beware of scams including:

  • Storm-chaser scams. Following severe weather, some con artists travel to storm-damaged neighborhoods and offer to repair roofs or clear downed trees. They offer prompt work and take immediate payment, but ultimately they do little or no work.
  • Rental scams. A con artist advertises a rental property that is not actually available to rent. The scammer tells prospective renters to wire a deposit before they’ve seen the property, but after they send the money, they receive nothing in return.

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POSTED: 06/20/18 at 6:58 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

For the second time in six years, a Delphos man is accused of molesting a young girl in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court — this time for incidents that occurred nearly 20 years ago.

Delphos resident Michael Closson (right) with then-attorney Dillon Staas during a hearing held in 2012 on gross sexual imposition charges. VW independent file photo

Michael D. Closson, 68, was arraigned last Wednesday on four counts of gross sexual imposition, each a felony of the third degree. The indictments state that, on or about July 7, 1998, through January 1, 2001, he “had sexual contact with (molested) a girl who was under 13 years” of age. According to the indictment, the girl was between the age of 7 and 10 years old when the alleged incidents occurred.

Van Wert County Prosecutor Eva Yarger said the alleged victim in the case, who is now in her 20s, recently came forward with the charges, which were investigated by the Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office and then turned over to her office for further action.

Yarger’s office then took the case to the June session of the Van Wert County Grand Jury, which handed down felony indictments in the case.

Closson, who denied the charges, is currently free on a personal surety bond, with orders to have no contact with the alleged victim. He will appear for a pretrial conference in connection with the case at 8 a.m. Monday, June 25.

The Delphos man was convicted in 2012 of gross sexual imposition in July 2012 and was given five years of community control, which included serving six months in the Van Wert County Correctional Facility, for molesting a 3-year-old girl under similar circumstances.

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POSTED: 06/19/18 at 7:34 am. FILED UNDER: News

Van Wert Federal Savings Bank is sponsoring a Business Day at the YMCA’s Camp Clay Aqua Center on Tuesday, June 28. Because of the sponsorship, those using the Aqua Center that day will pay only a $3 admission charge. Shown with Camp Clay Director Kevin Morrison is Kylee Moody of Van Wert Federal Savings Bank. YMCA photo

POSTED: 06/19/18 at 7:26 am. FILED UNDER: News