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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015

Van Wert County Foundation Executive Secretary Seth Baker unveils the new Franklin Park design. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Van Wert County Foundation Executive Secretary Seth Baker unveils the new Franklin Park design. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Philanthropist and Van wert native Scott Niswonger speaks at the Franklin Park groundbreaking. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Philanthropist and Van wert native Scott Niswonger speaks at the Franklin Park groundbreaking. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

The former Franklin Elementary School site began its transformation into a multi-use public park on Friday with a groundbreaking ceremony attended by stakeholders in the project, as well as some of the children and area residents who will likely enjoy the benefits of the new facility.

Former Franklin School student Jordan Hurless officially lifted the first shovelful of dirt to mark the beginning of the multi-stage project.

The new park, the fruition of nearly two years of design and funding discussions, is the brainchild of Van Wert native and philanthropist Scott Niswonger, who attended Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony with his wife, the former Nikki Elliott, also a Van Wert native.


POSTED: 08/01/15 at 8:04 am

Convoy house fire 7-31-15Fire destroyed a Convoy home Friday afternoon and a woman was treated for smoke inhalation after escaping from the interior of the house. The fire, at 2176 Convoy Road, was called in at approximately 3:15 p.m. Friday. Convoy Fire Department was on the primary department on the scene, and requested mutual aid from Van Wert, Ohio City, Wren and Monroeville, Indiana, fire departments. Brickner Ambulance Service treated the woman victim for smoke inhalation, while the Disaster Unit of the Van Wert County American Red Cross Chapter was also at the scene. Van Wert Emergency Management Director Rick McCoy said he was driving by when he spotted the fire and called it in via 9-1-1. He then got a stepladder at the residence, broke a second-story window and coaxed a large German shepherd to safety. Another dog and a cat reportedly died in the fire. (photo by Rick McCoy for the Van Wert independent)

Updated at 6:47 a.m. Saturday, August 1

POSTED: 08/01/15 at 6:47 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

WILLSHIRE — Van Wert County Sheriff Thomas M. Riggenbach’s office is seeking information about a break-in that occurred at American Legion Post 207 in Willshire.

Sheriff Riggenbach noted that, sometime between 4 and 5 a.m. Thursday, July 30, two people entered the Legion post. Sheriff Riggenbach noted that entry was likely made through a window of the building. Once inside, the thieves took an undisclosed amount of money and property.

A security tape shows what are believed to be two men rifling through American Legion Post 207 in Willshire overnight Thursday. (submitted photo)

A security tape shows what are believed to be two men rifling through American Legion Post 207 in Willshire overnight Thursday. (submitted photo)

The two suspects are believed to be male, white and less than 6 feet tall. They are wearing blue jeans and long-sleeve shirts and tops. Their faces were also covered with what is believed to be stockings and bandanas.

In addition to the Willshire break-in, the two burglars are also believed to be involved in a break-in that occurred at Amvets Post 897 in Middle Point in May, as well as other area American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts.

Deputies processed the scene for evidence, which was sent to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation for analysis.

Sheriff Riggenbach is also asking anyone who may have seen something, or someone, suspicious in the vicinity of the Willshire American Legion post, or who may know something about the break-in, contact his office at 419.238.3866 or on the sheriff’s office website: and clicking on the “Submit a crime tip” link.

Area residents may also call Van Wert County Crime Stoppers at 419.238.STOP to provide information. Those providing information at either Crime Stoppers or the sheriff’s office can remain anonymous.

Updated at 6:45 a.m. Saturday, August 1

POSTED: 08/01/15 at 6:45 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW County DJFS information

The Van Wert County Department of Job and Family Services announces the 2015 Outerwear Program for income eligible families with dependent children.

Outerwear Income Table 7-2015Clothing items may include coats, boots, shoes, hats, gloves and scarves. There will be up to $100 voucher for each child that qualifies within the 130 percent PRC (Prevention, Retention & Contingency) program guidelines. Payment will be made directly to the merchant.

The program is set to begin now and will end September 30, subject to funding availability.

The benefit is for each child in the home that falls within the 130 percent FPL (Federal Poverty Level) PRC program guidelines (see table at right). A face-to-face interview is not necessary.

Applications may be picked up at the CDJFS Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Incomplete applications will be denied without consideration (all PRC programs are subject to availability of funding).

POSTED: 08/01/15 at 6:41 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

PAULDING — Details have now been finalized for the memorial service for Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, according to Paulding County Sheriff Keith Landers. Smith, who was a victim of the July 16 shootings at the Navy/Marine Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was originally from Paulding.

Smith, Randall Memory Cards.7.15Doors will open for the memorial service at 9:30 a.m. this Saturday, August 1. There will be two entrances to the event: one off Emerald Road and one off Water Street.

“Everyone attending this service will walk through metal detectors,” said Sheriff Landers. “Safety of the people attending this memorial is my number one concern.

Sheriff Landers also suggested that women leave handbags and large purses in their vehicles, and added that all attendees and bags will be subject to search.

“Absolutely no weapons will be allowed on the school property,” the sheriff added,

For area residents interested in riding motorcycles with the multiple support clubs, there will be a staging area at First Christian Church, 1233 Emerald Road in Paulding, beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday. The motorcycles will depart from the church at 10 that morning, while the motorcycle route will travel south from the church on Emerald Road to Caroline Street, turn west onto Water Street and then north on Water Street to the designated parking lot.

“I look forward to a large turnout from our citizens to show their respect for Petty Officer Smith and his family,” said Sheriff Landers. “Parking is going to be our biggest issue to overcome due to the construction in the immediate area.”

The media staging lot will be the northwest corner of Caroline and Water streets. Media will enter the lot off Caroline Street and will need to provide credentials at the sheriff’s command truck and receive a media pass to enter the media area in the gymnasium.  Those who do not intend to be in the designated media area in the gymnasium will not need a media pass.

POSTED: 07/31/15 at 9:42 am. FILED UNDER: News

Van Wert independent/submitted information

With good food and music, as well as plenty of other activities, area residents should make plans to attend this year’s ninth annual Van Wert Rib Fest. The 2015 event will be held Friday, August 7, and Saturday, August 8, in conjunction with the annual Highway 127 Yard Sale.

While there's a lot going on this coming weekend, ribs are still what the Van Wert Rib Fest is all about. (VW independent file photo)

While there’s a lot going on this coming weekend, ribs are still what the Van Wert Rib Fest is all about. (VW independent file photo)

There will be lots of great food, great music and great fun during this year’s edition of Rib Fest, according to Van Wert Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Larry Lee.

Admission to Rib Fest is $5 Friday evening and Saturday evening after 5 p.m. Gates will open at 5 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday (click here for a schedule of events).

While most people anticipate the food and music, there are other events taking place at Rib Fest that might be of interest to others. There will be a Wiffleball Home Run Derby on
Friday evening. Registration starts at 5 p.m. Friday on the Wiffleball Tournament field.
There is a $10 fee per entry and proceeds from the Home Run Derby will go to the
Van Wert Acme baseball team.

On Saturday at 8 a.m. a Youth Wiffleball Tournament will begin. This will be round-robin-plus tournament for teams whose members are 16 and under. Early registration is required, with the deadline being August 4. There are still open spots so get some friends together and get registered. An entry fee of $80 per team is required, with proceeds benefiting the Van Wert girls’ softball team.


POSTED: 07/31/15 at 6:58 am. FILED UNDER: News

Middle Point street project 7-2015

Van Wert County Commissioners Thad Lichtensteiger, Todd Wolfrum and Stan Owens toured the village of Middle Point on Thursday to view the recently completed $2.8 million worth of improvements, including street work and the construction of a new water plant. Shown above is street work along Adams Street in Middle Point, while (below) Commissioners Lichtensteiger (left) and Owens (center) watch as Middle Point Village Administrator Mike Wolfcale shows them instrumentation at the village’s new water plant. (photos submitted)

MP Water Plant photo 7-2015

POSTED: 07/31/15 at 6:50 am. FILED UNDER: News

Van Wert Rib Fest information

Celebrity judges for this year’s Van Wert Rib Fest have been announced. They include Andy Lynch and Mark Kunz, both sports anchors for WTLW/WOSN in Lima; Alexandria Chapin and Joe Miller from WLIO-TV in Lima; Brent Harring, senior ticket account manager for the Fort Wayne TinCaps baseball team; Garrett Martz, vice president of sales and marketing for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants basketball team; and Steve Bigelow, a swimmer who competed in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Lynch has been with TV-44 since July 2005. Before coming to Lima, he was sports director at KTVF-TV in Fairbanks, Alaska, for four years and then served as sports information director of Athletes in Action in Xenia. Lynch married his wife, Leah, in January of 2006, and they adopted Nathan in December 2009 and Anna in April 2011 and are enjoying raising two wonderful kids together.

Brent Harring

Brent Harring

Alexandra Chapin

Alexandria Chapin

After spending the last several years in “that state up north”, Kunz is thrilled to return to the Buckeye State. A native of Toledo, Kunz was most recently news and sports director at WBKB-TV 11 in Alpena, Michigan, where he won a total of seven Michigan Association of Broadcasting Excellence Awards and was recognized by the state’s Associated Press bureau with an honorable mention award.

A graduate of Ohio University, Kunz began his professional career working as an editor and producer at WBNS TV-10 in Columbus before handling similar responsibilities at the Ohio News Network. When not at work, Kunz enjoys watching, playing, reading and talking about sports.

Garrett Martz

Garrett Martz

Andy Lynch

Andy Lynch

Chapin grew up in Celina and graduated from high school there in 2009. She always knew she wanted to work in broadcast and deliver the news. She attended The Ohio State University, where she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in journalism and media production. She loves dogs, so when she’s not at the station, she’s with her 4-year-old boxer, Roy. Free time is spent time with family, shopping with her mom, decorating and watching football. In the summer, she spends her days off boating on Grand Lake St. Marys. Chapin is bringing along her cameraman, Joe Miles, for support, as this is her first opportunity to be a rib judge.

Harring joined the TinCaps staff in October 2007 and loves living, working and playing in downtown Fort Wayne. He is the ticket manager responsible for several counties south and east of Fort Wayne, as well as several areas in that city. Outside of those duties, he will help out at Parkview Field during games, including the Kids’ Zone, batting cages, picnic areas, and promotions. Harring is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a 2007 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where he was a sports management major. Prior to joining the TinCaps, Harring completed two internships in baseball, spending the summer of 2006 with the La Crosse Loggers of the collegiate Northwoods League and 2007 with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds of the Pacific Coast League.

Martz has lived his entire life in Indiana in Fort Wayne and nearby Angola, Indiana, and graduated from Trine University. His love of the NBA led him to a career with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. He is currently vice president of sales & marketing for the Mad Ants and has just completed his eighth season with the team.

Bigelow, a former Big Ten champion and all-American at Michigan, finished 10th in the 200-meter backstroke at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. He tried to return to the Olympics in 1992, but lost out in the trials, despite swimming a faster time than the one he had in 1988.


POSTED: 07/31/15 at 6:40 am. FILED UNDER: News

Ohio Dept. of Transportation information

LIMA — The Ohio Department of Transportation’s District 1 recently listed area highway construction projects currently underway in the district. Those in the Van Wert County area include the following:

Van Wert County

Ohio 49, between Ohio 81 and U.S. 224, will be restricted to one lane through the work zone for berm work. Work will be performed by the Van Wert County ODOT maintenance garage.

Ohio 697, west of Middle Point Wetzel Road, approximately five miles west of the city of Delphos, is now open following a bridge replacement.

Paulding County

Ohio 637, from south of Ohio 111 to County Road 111, will be restricted to one lane for drainage work. Work is being performed by the Paulding County ODOT maintenance garage.

ODOT Logo (.jpg)U.S. 127, between Garfield Avenue and Jackson Street in the village of Paulding, closed April 13 for approximately eight months for a sewer separation project. Traffic is detoured onto Ohio 111, Ohio 637 and Ohio 114 back onto U.S. 127. Work is being performed by VTF Excavation, Celina.

Putnam County

Ohio 12, east of Pandora, just east of Road 4, will be closed for five days beginning on August 17 for a culvert replacement. Traffic will be detoured onto Ohio 235, Interstate 75 and Ohio 696 back to Ohio 12. Work is being performed by the Putnam County ODOT maintenance garage.

Ohio 114, between Cloverdale and the north corporation limit of Kalida, will be restricted to one lane through the work zone for resurfacing beginning August 3. Work is expected to continue until mid-September. Work is being performed by Bluffton Paving, Bluffton.

U.S. 224, between Ohio 634 and Ohio 190, which was originally scheduled to close on August 3 for 30 days for a culvert replacement has been postponed until August 10. Traffic will be detoured onto Ohio 634 and Ohio 190 back to U.S. 224. Vernon Nagel, Napoleon.

Ohio 189, at the east edge of Ottoville, closed May 27 for an emergency culvert repair. The road is closed for an indefinite amount of time. Traffic is being detoured onto Ohio 190, Ohio 634 and U.S. 224 back to Ohio 189.

POSTED: 07/31/15 at 6:24 am. FILED UNDER: News

Van Wert High School information

Van Wert High School students can pick up class schedules as follows:

  • Seniors – Monday, August 10
  • Juniors – Tuesday, August 11
  • Sophomores – Wednesday, August 12
  • Freshmen – Thursday, August 13 (freshman orientation will be held from 9-11 a.m. that day in the VWHS Commons).

Schedules are available in the Student Services office from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information, call the Student Services office at 419.238.2180.

POSTED: 07/31/15 at 6:20 am. FILED UNDER: News, Youth

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Six people appeared before Judge Martin Burchfield in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday, while Probate-Juvenile Judge Kevin Taylor also heard one case on Wednesday.

Court artwork 12-2013 copyFaith Busbey, 33, of Lima, pleaded not guilty to a charge of possession of heroin, a fifth-degree felony, during an arraignment hearing held Wednesday. She was released on a personal surety bond and a pretrial conference was scheduled for 8 a.m. Wednesday, August 5.

Two people also entered changes of plea during hearings held Wednesday.

Carl Elston, 36, of Van Wert, changed his plea to guilty to a charge of domestic violence, a first-degree misdemeanor (reduced from a fourth-degree felony). A presentence investigation was ordered in the case and sentencing scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday, September 9.

Ryan Shields, 29, of Van Wert, changed his plea to guilty to one count of failure to register as a sex offender, a felony of the fourth degree. A presentence investigation was also ordered in Shields’ case and he will appear for sentencing at 9 a.m. September 9.

Drew Kenny, 22, of Van Wert, admitted to violating his probation by failing to take drug test when requested. A pretrial conference was scheduled for 8 a.m. August 5.


POSTED: 07/30/15 at 6:48 am. FILED UNDER: News