DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
CONVOY — The Crestview Local Board of Education talked about school safety, as well as health insurance increases, and the district’s permanent improvement levy campaign during its October meeting on Thursday.
Crestview High School Principal Mike Biro talked about a Safe School drill at the school on October 3, noting that school officials and staff later met with Van Wert County Sheriff Tom Riggenbach and his staff to talk about what went right, and what needs to be improved.
“The biggest thing is, we can practice, but you’re not practicing for what really happens,” Biro noted. “We’re trying to plant some future seeds for teachers and students to think.”
Biro and Board President John Auld also attended a recent seminar on school safety, with Auld saying he felt the seminar provided some valuable information.
Biro also reported that all Crestview juniors will be traveling to Defiance next Tuesday to take a practice ACT test. He noted that taking the practice test would hopefully give juniors a better idea of what the actual test will be like when they take that in November.
Superintendent Mike Estes talked about a recent meeting of the Van Wert Area Schools Insurance Group (VWASIG), noting that health insurance premiums will be going up 20 percent, while dental premiums will rise 18 percent for the coming year. Deductibles were also increased, as well as out-of-pocket expenses for school health plans.
LATTY — Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel announced the launch of the Village of Latty and the Village of Scott’s online checkbooks on OhioCheckbook.com. In December 2014, Mandel launched OhioCheckbook.com, which sets a new national standard for government transparency and for the first time in Ohio history puts all state spending information on the Internet. OhioCheckbook.com recently earned Ohio the No. 1 government transparency ranking in the country for a second year in a row.
The Ohio Treasurer’s office was joined at the announcement by Village of Latty Fiscal Officer Kay Miller and Village of Scott Fiscal Officer Hilary Yoder. Latty is the first municipality in Paulding County to post its spending on OhioCheckbook.com, and Scott is the first entity in Van Wert County to post its spending on OhioCheckbook.com.
The following is a breakdown of these two local government sites:
- Latty’s online checkbook includes over 2,200 individual transactions that represent more than $409,000 of total spending over the past four years.
- Scott’s online checkbook includes over 2,300 individual transactions that represent more than $396,000 of total spending over the past three years.
“I believe the people of Paulding County and Van Wert County have a right to know how their tax money is being spent, and I applaud local leaders here for partnering with my office to post the finances on OhioCheckbook.com,” said Mandel. “By posting local government spending online, we are empowering taxpayers across Ohio to hold public officials accountable.”
“The Village of Latty is very excited to be one of the first entities in Paulding County to allow our leaders and constituents access to this very powerful tool,” said Miller. “As Fiscal Officer, I am passionate about transparency in government. OhioCheckbook.com clearly illustrates how the Village of Latty is operating and will hopefully stimulate interest and encourage participation in our local government.”
“The Village of Scott is very excited to be the first entity in Van Wert County to allow our leaders and constituents access to this very powerful tool,” said Yoder. “OhioCheckbook.com will allow our village to become more efficient and create even stronger relationships with our citizens.”
Citizens National Bank recently held its 2016-2017 United Way of Van Wert County Campaign. Participation in the campaign this year greatly increased over 2015. Employees made donations to help support local agencies currently receiving funding from United Way and participated in the Day of Caring food drive bank challenge. The Van Wert office of Citizens National Bank is a full-service branch and investment center providing all your retail or commercial financial needs. Investing in the Van Wert community by supporting local non-profits and schools through several initiatives. (United Way photo)
At its statewide conference, the Ohio Educational Library Media Association (OELMA), Ohio’s professional association for K-12 school librarians, announced the recipients of the Read On, Ohio! Award for Children and Teens.
The award celebrates avid readers nominated by school librarians in the following categories: primary (K-2); intermediate (3-5); middle (6-8); and high (9-12). This year marks the first year Read On, Ohio! was awarded to eight very deserving students from across the state.
OELMA is pleased to announce that Kayla Krites, a seventh grade student from Van Wert Middle School, is the recipient of this first-time award. In her nomination letter, school librarian Nellie Schmidt noted that “Kayla’s love and enthusiasm for reading make it exciting to discuss books with her. She is also the first to help other students by suggesting books and even taking them to the stacks to show them where to find something.”
DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
A number of district parents attended Wednesday’s meeting of the Van Wert City Board of Education to protest what they thought was the board’s decision to build a new football stadium at the current high school-middle school site. What they discovered was the board has made no decision on what to do about 80-year-old Eggerss Stadium.
“Is that a done deal?” asked district resident Rebecca Adams, noting that she and other parents of city football players feel they have a direct link to the current stadium through their children.
Several of the approximately 15 district residents who attended the meeting spoke about the special ambiance of football played at Eggerss Stadium, including the proximity of fans to the field — something that would be lost if a design by Beilharz Architects of Findlay was put in place with a track inside the stadium.
One resident spoke of Eggerss Stadium’s importance to Van Wert’s downtown district.
District parent Erika Wise said the stadium, like the new Wassenberg Art Center building, is important to the downtown area, and the community as a whole.
Van Wert independent news
It’s official: The Van Wert County Land Reutilization Corporation (land bank) will receive $500,000 in Neighborhood Initiative Program (NIP) grant money from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA), according to information released on Wednesday.
While the amount is the minimum grant award for the program, it would still provide significant funding to demolish dilapidated structures in the county.
“We estimate we will be able to demolish about 20 to 30 abandoned homes with this funding, which will make an impact throughout the county,” said Sue Gerker, county interim economic development director. “It’s a great start for the Van Wert County Land Reutilization Corporation.”
The OHFA awarded a portion of $54.2 million in funding available through the fifth round of the Hardest Hit Fund Program. In total, $238 million has been allocated to this program. Sixteen counties received first-time awards, while 19 counties received an increase in funding through NIP.
In addition to Van Wert County, Ottawa, Ross, and Williams counties also received the minimum amount of $500,000, while the largest grant went to Allen County Reutilization Corporation ($4.5 million).
“Studies indicate having a blighted and vacant structure within 500 feet of an owner-occupied residence negatively affects property values, thus increasing the risk of foreclosure,” said Doug Garver, OHFA executive director. “As our land bank partners continue to eliminate those properties in neighborhoods, communities are experiencing the direct positive impact as a whole by providing safe spaces for children to play, community gardens, and redevelopment.”
As with previous rounds, the maximum amount of assistance per property is $25,000, with an estimated average of assistance of $14,000. Nearly 4,000 blighted structures have already been removed under the program.
OHFA is partnering with 37 land banks across the state to focus blight elimination efforts in target areas where the demolition and greening of vacant homes will assist in preventing a further reduction in property values and the foreclosure of neighboring occupied residential homes.
Awardees are responsible for all aspects of the property acquisition and removal, as well as plans for greening and ongoing maintenance of the property.
In addition to the NIP grants, applications were also accepted in late September from homeowners who have struggled to keep up with their mortgage payments, due to unemployment. A total of $25 million has been allocated to assist homeowners with bringing, and keeping, their mortgages current.
DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
Western Buckeye Educational Service Center received praise from the state, its Governing Board learned during the board’s October meeting on Wednesday.
Superintendent Brian Gerber told the board that the Western Buckeye ESC earned the “highly performing ESC” designation from the Ohio Department of Education. Gerber added that the WBESC saved school districts in Van Wert and Paulding counties $801,886 in five primary service categories: speech, physical, and occupational therapy, superintendent/treasurer searches, and school psychology services.
“This is only part of the total savings provided each year,” the superintendent noted. “For example, some agencies charge $8,000 to $10,000 for superintendent/treasurer searches and WBESC charges nothing for this service.”
Gerber said that, statewide, school districts using ESC services saved more than $54 million.
“We are proud of the services ESCs provide our local school districts,” the superintendent added. “We are the leader in the shared services delivery model.”
Gerber noted, though, that, while earning the designation is gratifying, the frustrating part is that Ohio Governor John Kasich, who has been advocating using shared services to reduce costs, has also proposed cutting funds for ESCs, which the superintendent noted do exactly that.
“It becomes a confusing issue when the governor continues to propose funding cuts for ESCs when ESCs are doing exactly what he wants us to do, and that is reduce costs by sharing services and employees,” Gerber told his board.
Van Wert independent news
Five people appeared for criminal hearings this week in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court, with two people making plea changes in front of Judge Martin Burchfield.
Kevin Davies, 27, of Va Wert, changed his plea to guilty to a charge of possession of heroin, a felony of the fifth degree. He then requested, and was granted, treatment in lieu of conviction and his case was stayed pending successful completion of a substance abuse treatment program.
James Ramirez, 26, of Van Wert, changed his plea to guilty to one count of breaking and entering, a fifth-degree felony offense. Judge Burchfield ordered a presentence investigation and scheduled sentencing for 9 a.m. Wednesday, November 30.
Nathan Egly, 30, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, denied violating both his bond and his treatment in lieu programs by consuming alcohol and by failing to report a drunk driving arrest to the probation office.
A hearing was scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday, November 9. Bond was set at $1,000 cash or commercial surety.
Robert Galloway Jr., 33, of Van Wert, had his bond modified to a personal surety bond, with the condition he have no contact with Angela Galloway. A pretrial conference was scheduled for 8 a.m. Wednesday, November 2.
Daniel Phinney, 21, of Delphos, waived his right to a speedy trial after requesting a postponement in his trial date so he could hire a new attorney.
VW independent/submitted information
The Van Wert County fire chiefs gave out smoke detectors to 351 kindergarten students this year during Fire Prevention Week in nine different schools districts as part of the “No Child Sleeps Unprotected” program. The program is administered through the assistance of the Van Wert County Foundation. The National Fire Protection Association Fire Prevention theme this year was “Don’t Wait – Check the Date.”
No Child Sleeps Unprotected has been in existence the past three years, and in that time funds have been raised to distribute 4,452 smoke detectors to students in grades kindergarten through ninth grade. The program continues to be funded entirely through local donations.
“The program was initiated after our county saw an increase in fires that had fire injuries and, unfortunately, fire deaths in homes without working smoke detectors,” said Van Wert Fire Chief Jim Steele.
Each year there have been fire incidents where one of these detectors did alert a family to a fire in their home, which lead them to escape the structure and safely call the local fire department. Since the program’s inception there has not been a fire death in the county.
The smoke detectors have a 10-year battery life and are purchased through Van Wert Fire Equipment and the assistance of owner Jenni Bowen, who has been an ardent support of the program.
VW independent/submitted information
The Marsh Foundation has hired Melissa Gearhart, LSW, as the agency’s new supervisor of its foster care division. Gearhart will oversee consultation, recruitment, licensing and maintenance of The Marsh’s foster care program.
Gearhart holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Defiance College and is a Licensed Social Worker. After beginning her career at The Marsh as a family teacher in the residential group home program, she went on to serve as a foster care consultant at Adriel for nearly five years.
“Over the past several years, foster care has been my passion. I love connecting kids to families as well as connecting these families to kids,” Gearhart said. “I am so excited to be able to do this back in my hometown.”
She also said that she is looking forward to her new position.
“My goal here at The Marsh Foundation is to grow our foster program to not only be able to help a wider variety of kids, but also to be able to offer our foster families a bigger network of support and services,” Gearhart added. “We already have many exciting things in the works for the foster program and I can’t wait to see them take shape.”
Originally from the Van Wert area, Gearhart is a Lincolnview High School graduate. She enjoys spending her time away from work with her 2-year-old daughter, Elliot.
The Marsh Foundation is a not-for-profit children’s services agency that provides behavioral treatment in a variety of settings. Services include group homes, family foster care for children 0-18, an intensive treatment program and independent living.
The mission of The Marsh Foundation is to inspire hope, to teach and to care for children and families. For more information about The Marsh, visit www.marshfoundation.org.
The Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce has announced nominees for this year’s 2016 Salute to Small Business Awards Luncheon, to be held at noon Friday, November 4, at Willow Bend Country Club in Van Wert.
The nominees are divided into seven separate categories, as follows:
Spirit of Entrepreneurship — Alliance Automation, KAM Manufacturing, McCoy’s Flowers, M&M RV Electronics, Times Bulletin Media
Charitable Non-Profit — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer, Auglaize & Van Wert County, First United Methodist Church, United Way of Van Wert County, Van Wert Humane Society
Service Industry Showcase — Laurie’s Naturescapes, Moore Insurance Service, Wallace Plumbing & Underground, Westwood Car Wash
Retail Excellence — BHS Gunshop, Chuck & Deb’s Bait Shop, MOD Boutique, The Bridge
Palate Pleaser — K & K Country Meats, Ohio City Express Carryout, Truly D’vine Bread Company, Wild Hare BBQ, Willow Bend Country Club
Community Champion — Hair to Stay, Lee Kinstle GM Sales & Service, L & S House of Pastries, Purmort Brothers, Quality Painting & Roofing
Enterprise Recognition — Anytime Fitness, Apex Clean Energy, Eberle Photography, Gen-X Training Studio, Kitchens & Bath Plus, Schrader Realty LLC, TAG Menswear.
Tickets for the luncheon are $18 for an individual and $135 for a table for eight. Deadline to register at the Chamber office, 419.238.4390, is Tuesday, November 1.