The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Sep. 18, 2014

Van Wert City Schools Superintendent Ken Amstutz reports on State Report Card results during Wednesday's board of education meeting. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Van Wert City Schools Superintendent Ken Amstutz reports on State Report Card results during Wednesday’s board of education meeting. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The Van Wert City Board of Education heard more information from Superintendent Ken Amstutz on this year’s State Report Card results, while it also approved a large number of supplemental contracts during its September meeting.

Amstutz said he felt he wanted to clarify results of the State Report Card, noting that the district received all As and Bs except in the value-added component of the report card, where the district earned “F”s on the overall value-added component and for progress made by gifted students. The superintendent said both failing grades were because the district’s gifted students did not make adequate progress from one year to the next. On the other hand, the district earned “B”s for progress made by handicapped students and students determined to be economically disadvantaged – higher marks than were given Crestview Local Schools, which earned an “A” overall in the value-added component, but was given “C”s for its handicapped and economically disadvantaged student populations.

Amstutz also noted that the move to the New Tech project-based learning (PBL) curriculum has not hurt Ohio Graduation Test scores in the district, with high school students matching pre-PBL OGT passage rates in math and science and exceeding them in reading, social studies and writing.

Average scores on the OGT also stayed the same or improved in all five subject areas tested: Reading, math, science, social studies and writing.

The superintendent noted that a meeting in August with parents of students in the New Tech program who had concerns about the program was very positive, with another meeting scheduled for today at 7 p.m. in the S.F. Goedde Building on West Crawford Street.


POSTED: 09/18/14 at 7:53 am

VW County Sheriff’s information

Van Wert County Sheriff Thomas M. Riggenbach announced the arrest and indictment of a southern Ohio man on a charge that he made a false report to law enforcement officials.

Donald Thacker

Donald Thacker

Donald Z. Thacker Jr., 41, of Centerville, also known as Thurman, in Gallia County, was indicted on three counts of tampering with evidence, each a felony of the third degree; one count of vandalism, a fifth-degree felony; and one count of discharging a firearm on a roadway, a felony of the third degree.

The indictment was handed down during a recent session of the Van Wert County Grand Jury and was the result of a Sheriff’s Office investigation into a report made by Thacker.

Sheriff Riggenbach said Thacker had called 9-1-1 and reported he was at Lincoln Highway and U.S. 30 when unknown individuals attempted into break into the cab of his semi tractor-trailer rig. Thacker also said he was shot and stabbed in the incident.

After a thorough investigation, county detectives determined that Thacker had falsely reported what happened. The sheriff said Thacker was arrested in Gallia County and transported back to the Van Wert County Correctional Facility. He will be arraigned on the above charges today in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court.

POSTED: 09/18/14 at 7:15 am. FILED UNDER: News

United Way of VW County information

Community members are encouraged to “Give. Advocate. Volunteer.” by helping to increase the local community’s blood supply and by participating in other charitable activities during this year’s United Way of Van Wert County Day of Caring.

The Day of Caring blood drive will take place on Friday, September 26, from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. at Trinity Friends Church, located at 605 N. Franklin St.  Blood donors will be entered into a drawing to win one of four $50 gas cards.

Day of Caring artwork 8-2014The goal for this year’s Day of Caring blood drive is 190 units, which could potentially help save up to 570 lives. United Way of Van Wert County sponsors the blood drive.

“A stable blood supply is central to ensuring patient needs are met in emergencies,” said Vince Robinson, external communications manager for the Indiana-Ohio Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross in Fort Wayne, Indiana. “By spending about an hour of your time donating blood, you have the potential to help save as many as three lives.”

In addition to the blood drive, there will also be a food drive to restock empty shelves at the Salvation Army. United Way of Van Wert County is accepting donations from local businesses, schools and organizations, with a goal of collecting 30,000 food items. Needed items include peanut butter, jelly, spaghetti sauce, spaghetti, canned vegetables, canned fruit, crackers, baby food, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, toilet paper and paper towels. Contact United Way of Van Wert County to find a convenient food donation location.

POSTED: 09/18/14 at 7:11 am. FILED UNDER: News

VWHS Robotics Team donations 9-2014-First Federal

Two local financial institutions, Van Wert Federal Savings Bank (below) and First Federal Savings & Loan of Van Wert (above), have each committed to sponsoring the Van Wert High School Robotics Team at $1,000 per year. “The outpouring of support from Gary Clay, Brian Renner and their staff and board of directors at our local banks is going to allow us to purchase the competition fields needed for the Northwest Ohio Robotics Competition to be held here at Van Wert High School on January 17,” said VWHS Robotics Team Coach Bob Spath. “We are so thankful for all of the donations in order to sustain this academic team for the future.” (submitted photos)

VWHS Robotics Team donations 9-2014-VW Federal

POSTED: 09/18/14 at 7:09 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) announced Wednesday that the Payne Volunteer Fire Department has been awarded $26,068 for operations and safety by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) program.

“Firefighters and first responders keep our communities safe in times of crisis,” Brown said. “These new federal resources will help ensure that Payne’s skilled responders have the updated resources they need to safely do their jobs.”

Payne Volunteer Fire Department was awarded the funding as part of the Round 22 competitive Fiscal Year 2013 AFG program announcements.

The AFG program helps firefighters and other first responders improve their ability to protect the public and themselves. Projects funded in the Operations and Safety category include training, facility upgrades and modifications, and supplies such as protective equipment.

More information about the AFG program can be found here. Interested first responder or fire departments can contact Brown’s Grant Coordinator to receive information about federal grant opportunities by clicking here.

POSTED: 09/18/14 at 7:04 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

A Van Wert County native is hoping to bring a charter air passenger service to the Van Wert County Regional Airport.

AvAir CEO Cathy Woodyard makes a presentation Tuesday to the Van Wert County commissioners on her proposed charter air passenger company. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

AvAir CEO Cathy Woodyard makes a presentation Tuesday to the Van Wert County commissioners on her proposed charter air passenger company. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Cathy Woodyard, a Lincolnview High School graduate whose mother also taught in the district, is also CEO of AvAir, an incorporated company that plans to offer charter passenger flights to area businesses and individuals.

Woodyard gave the commissioners and Economic Development Director Sarah Smith a PowerPoint presentation on the company, and its future plans, on Tuesday.

Woodyard, who has a master’s degree in aeronautical science, as well as a private pilot’s license, said the company is currently in the final stages of receiving certification from the Federal Aviation Administration to provide charger passenger flights. Woodyard said she estimates the company would receive the certification in the next month or so.

Woodyard also touted the benefits to businesses of having a private air charter company based in Van Wert County, noting that AvAir plans to keep costs competitive with major airlines’ first-class fares, while offering the benefit of direct flights, with no lengthy layovers or involved security check-ins.

The company will also offer some charter flights to private individuals as well, noting that a trip to Columbus for an Ohio State football game would take about 20 minutes from Van Wert. AvAir would also provide transportation to and from the airport for its business and private customers, Woodyard noted.


POSTED: 09/17/14 at 7:34 am. FILED UNDER: News

Niswonger PAC information

The Holiday Ice Spectacular will be coming to the NPAC this Christmas. (photo submitted)

The Holiday Ice Spectacular will be coming to the NPAC this Christmas. (photo submitted)

Two very extraordinary Christmas shows have just released for sale at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. Sponsor Partner Celina Moving and Storage, along with the Niswonger, presents “The Holiday Ice Spectacular” on Monday, December 15, at 7:30 p.m.

Families and guests of all ages will be treated to an original theatrical ice production that combines the beauty, excitement and athleticism of figure skating with a warm and humorous holiday storyline narrated by Santa’s elves.

The stage at the NPAC will be transformed into a miniature ice skating rink using a state-of-the-art synthetic ice product that will create the perfect setting for the show’s world-class cast. Note: By utilizing this synthetic ice surface the show will leave a minimal carbon footprint — making the show earth friendly too!

The show is created, produced and directed by well-known international ice and theatre producer Jeb K. Rand, president and executive producer of Rand Enterprises & Productions. Rand’s entertainment career spans more than 30 years — first as a nationally ranked professional figure skater, and now as the creative force behind international productions worldwide.

“I am thrilled to be producing the show for a sixth season, and taking the show out on a multi-city tour in 2014,” Rand said. “It is truly a very fun and unique holiday family experience.”

“Think of the show as a ‘snow globe come to life’, where there is a little something special for audience members of all ages — and the fact that it’s performed on ice gives the show a special thrilling edge,” he added.

Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis. (photo submitted)

Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis. (photo submitted)

Tickets are on sale now and are “family friendly”, with prices beginning as low as $15. Box office tip: Tickets are selling fast and less than 300 remain. Act fast to ensure seat availability.

The Christmas season culminates in a soulful way with a “Solid Gold Christmas” featuring Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. on Friday, December 19, at 7:30 p.m. This dynamic musical duo has enjoyed monumental success through the years as recording artists, performers and authors. Receiving seven Grammy awards and earning 15 gold and three platinum records, Marilyn and Billy have also enjoyed starring roles on television and stage and have performed to sold-out crowds around the world. Combining the hits from their 40 years in the entertainment industry with harmonized Christmas classics that set hearts on the meaning of the season, Christmas is complete. “How Sweet It Is” to let the Christmas spirit soar “Up, Up and Away” with Marilyn and Billy.

Tickets for Solid Gold Christmas are on sale now and begin at just $20. The Box Office is open Monday – Friday, noon-4 p.m. Purchase online anytime at WWW.NPACVW.ORG. As always, patrons can save 10-15 percent by bundling three or more events. This also provides advanced ticketing to shows that are selling out fast, like The Temptations.

The Niswonger is located at 10700 Ohio 118, in Van Wert.

POSTED: 09/17/14 at 7:25 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

Van Wert independent

In response to a lawsuit filed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that claimed Ohio’s voting hours discriminate against minorities, Ohio Secretary of State John Husted has directed that local Election Boards adopt the following hours as their business hours for early in-person absentee voting.

Hours are as follows:

  • 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, September 30, through Friday, October 3.
  • 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday, October 6.
  • 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, October 7, to Friday, October 10.
  • 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, October 14, to Friday, October 17.
  • 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday, October 20, through Friday, October 24.
  • 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, October 25.
  • 1-5 p.m. Sunday, October 26.
  • 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday, October 27, through Friday, October 31.
  • 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, November 1.
  • 1-5 p.m. Sunday, November 2.
  • 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday, November 3.

Any county voter may request and vote an absent voter’s ballot (or a provisional ballot, beginning October 7) in person during these regular business hours. Any voters in line at the end of these regular business hours must be permitted to make their applications and vote.

POSTED: 09/17/14 at 7:20 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

For a little over a month, the Van Wert County Fair Board has been working with Shelter Pets of Van Wert to find homes for the many cats abandoned to the fairgrounds. Just last week, a mother and her five kittens were removed from the grounds and a loving home is being sought for them.

Unfortunately, the fairgrounds has become a dumping site for unwanted animals and the situation has resulted in overpopulation and poor health of cats living on the fairgrounds.

Local residents who believe they are helping by feeding the feral cats actually prevent them from being caught and properly treated for many conditions, including worms and fleas, or placed into homes where they can be cared for and loved.

The fair board is asking area residents to not encourage or participate in the dumping of, or feeding of, cats at the fairgrounds, but asks that they contact Shelter Pets of Van Wert if they are interested in opening their homes to a new friend.

POSTED: 09/17/14 at 7:19 am. FILED UNDER: News

Willshire Sportsman’s Club information

WILLSHIRE — The Willshire Sportsman’s Club will be holding a turkey shoot on Sunday, October 12, starting at noon on the club grounds, two miles east of Willshire on Ohio 81.

Only 12-gauge shotguns will be permitted for the adult shoot and shells will be furnished. Youth shoots for children ages 16 and under will also be held. Only 20-gauge shotguns are permitted for youth shoots and shells will be furnished.

A lunch stand will be available and the public is welcome.

POSTED: 09/17/14 at 6:24 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert County school district officials had several comments to make on the recent State Report Card results released late last Friday.

Crestview State Report Card 2014Trent Kreischer, director of curriculum and instruction at Crestview Local Schools, which had the best marks of the three county districts, said a highlight for him was that Crestview improved in the gap-closing (AMO) portion of the report card.

“Because many small districts, including ours, do not have enough students to create all the possible subgroups, receiving an A on the AMO measure tougher to achieve,” Kreischer said. “We worked very diligently to identify subgroups in AMO and remediate those students to the level of proficient and beyond. We did the same in targeting the value-added subgroups to provide additional intervention and enrichment for gifted (students).”

The only areas where Crestview did not ace the report card was in the subgroupings on the value-added portion of the test, where the district received Cs, and the Performance component, where the district earned a B.

“While we received an A in overall progress (district value-added), we are already looking a methods to improve our Cs in that group,” Kreischer noted. “Statistically speaking, a C represents an average of nearly ‘one year’s growth’ for students; however, our goal is to excel to more significant growth that will push our students.”


POSTED: 09/16/14 at 7:55 am. FILED UNDER: News