The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Apr. 12, 2024

Board of Zoning Appeals member Greg Amstutz talks about proposed regulations for tiny houses. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

They seem to have grown in popularity and now, there appears to be more interest in them locally.

Tiny houses are defined as an architectural and social movement promoting the reduction and simplification of living spaces and in most cases, they offer a low cost alternative within the housing market.

A few tiny houses have gone up in Van Wert, leading city officials to ask city council for some guidance as far as regulations. During Wednesday’s Van Wert City Council meeting, longtime Board of Zoning Appeals member Greg Amstutz and Engineering Supervisor Bill Lawson addressed the topic.

“We have been receiving requests for tiny homes, cottage-style homes which are smaller homes on property, in some cases two on a property depending on the size of a property,” Amstutz explained to council members. “What we’re looking at is trying to establish some rules to go by that we don’t have, because there is no established code for these types of homes. What we’re trying to do it prevent just anything being put up on a property and looking really bad, so we want to try to establish some sizes and establish that they are a permanent residence.”

“We trying to avoid someone buying something on Amazon or Walmart or buying a storage shed and trying to set it on a piece of property and not look very good,” he added.

Amstutz also said there are currently five or six tiny homes in the city and he noted all of them look nice.

He said the board is seeking a requirement of a minimum of 600 square feet of living space, regardless if the home is one or two stories.


POSTED: 04/12/24 at 3:43 am

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

Some of Wednesday’s lengthy Van Wert City Council meeting was spent discussing how to best get public input about a possible community pool.

At the request of Third Ward Councilwoman Julie Moore, retired Van Wert City Schools Assistant Superintendent Bill Clifton spoke to council about a survey done by the school system prior to the renovation of Eggerss Stadium and how the city could possibly use a similar survey for a pool.

Clifton outlined the process used by the schools and noted the process took nearly a year before the survey was released to the public.

Bill Clifton addresses Van Wert City Council. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

“Our committee met every two or three weeks and we met for 11 months on this topic,” Clifton explained. “We did lots of homework, we did lots of research, we had a lot of careful strategy and we had a lot of input from the community.”

Clifton’s comments led at least one council member to ask if it would be best to not place a pool issue on the ballot this November.

“I think if we rush this through, it is not looking good and I don’t think we’re going to get the support of the people,” Councilman At-Large Jeff Kallas said. “I think Mr. Clifton made a great point that it took time to put this in place and get everything in order and then roll it out.”

More information about previous pool discussion can be found here and here.

During a brief report, Fleming thanked everyone involved in the planning process and their efforts for Monday’s solar eclipse.

“I know there was a ton of work over the last year getting ready for that and I guess preparation pays off,” he said. “Maybe not as many people came that we anticipated but it was a great event and there were virtually no problems. I have to applaud the people who came to see Van Wert and watched it here…Tuesday morning I was a little nervous when I drove to our parks about what I was going to find and I’m not kidding, there was nothing in the grass at any of our parks and even in the Walmart parking lot.”


POSTED: 04/12/24 at 3:43 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

The Van Wert Service Club’s 55th annual Pancake Day event will take place from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, May 4, in the Van Wert High School Commons Area. Meals will be available both in-person and via drive-thru.

Tickets are $10 each (under 10 are free with adult). Tickets may be purchased from any member of Van Wert Service Club or you can pay for your meal at the door.

The Service Club thanked its sponsors: Arby’s, Central Insurance, Strategence Capital – Tim Stoller, OhioHealth Van Wert Hospital, and Tenneco Powertrain.

POSTED: 04/12/24 at 3:42 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — State Representatives Roy Klopfenstein (R-Haviland) and Angie King (R-Celina) announced that the Ohio Senate passed House Bill 34, legislation to exempt nursing mothers from jury duty.

Under current law, there are only a few exemptions for mothers and jurors who are suffering from a disease or illness. House Bill 34 will create a new exemption for breastfeeding mothers to be excused from jury duty.

Roy Klopfenstein

“The motivation behind this legislation came from a young mother who reached out to me after she was summoned for jury duty not long after she gave birth,” Klopfenstein said. “She then requested to be excused and was denied, placing her in an impossible decision of complying with the law or taking care of her child.”

House Bill 34 will establish a jury duty exemption for a mother breastfeeding a child under the age of one. To be excused, all a mother would need to do is submit a signed affidavit.

“As a mother, I was surprised to learn this was a problem,” King said. “Current law already includes exemptions for reasons such as age and illness. It seems to me that this is a simple issue that may have been overlooked when the original exemptions were created. We want to make sure this problem is corrected.”

House Bill 34 now heads to Governor Mike DeWine for his signature.

POSTED: 04/12/24 at 3:41 am. FILED UNDER: News

One person was transported to OhioHealth Van Wert Hospital for treatment after a single vehicle accident on U.S. 127, just north of Convoy Road just after 7:30 this morning. The vehicle left the right side of U.S. 127 and crossed Convoy Road before striking a telephone pole. The car continued into the front yard of a home on 127, just missing a tree. The Van Wert County Sheriff’s Department investigated the scene. Bob Barnes/VWFD photographer

POSTED: 04/11/24 at 1:59 pm. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

A discussion about prohibiting marijuana consumption on city owned property quickly became animated during Wednesday night’s meeting of Van Wert City Council.

During a vote on the first reading of an ordinance that would ban the consumption of marijuana on all city owned properties, such as parks and the Municipal Building, Third Ward Councilwoman Julie Moore asked for more discussion on the matter and Second Ward Councilman Jordan Dettrow suggested a special “Council of the Whole” meeting to gather public input on the proposed ban, along with a possible ban of recreational marijuana dispensaries within the city limits.

Councilwoman At-Large Judy Bowers talks about gathering public input on a proposed ordinance. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

“The people I’ve talked to have supported the ban at parks,” Councilman At-Large Jeff Kallas stated.

“I don’t want my granddaughter out there playing softball and a guy sitting in the stands smoking dope,” First Ward Councilman Jeff Agler said. “It’s not the place.”

Agler also objected to the idea of the special meeting.

“Let me understand – we’re actually thinking about letting them smoke dope (in city owned parks)?” Agler questioned. “So if we get five people come up here at the next meeting and tell you ‘I want to smoke dope there’ you’re going to say ‘okay then?’”

Council eventually agreed to continue the discussion and hear public input on the city property marijuana ban and a proposed ban on dispensaries at 5:45 p.m. Monday, April 22, before the regular 6:30 p.m. meeting. The special meeting and regular meeting will both be held in Council Chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building, 515 E. Main St.

After the discussion, council members successfully heard the first reading of the ordinance that would prohibit marijuana consumption on city-owned property. The second of three required readings is expected on April 22, after the special meeting.

Before the discussion, Kallas and Law Director John Hatcher tried to eliminate confusion by stressing the proposed ban would only apply to city owned properties and not public areas.


POSTED: 04/11/24 at 3:53 am. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

16 defendants appeared for various criminal hearings in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court between Friday, April 5 and Wednesday, April 10. 11 of the hearings were arraignments. Judge Martin Burchfield presided over each of the hearings.


Chad Ratliff, 46, of Van Wert, entered a not guilty plea to strangulation, a third degree felony and domestic violence, a fourth degree felony. Bond was set at $25,000 cash or commercial surety, with electronically monitored house arrest if released, and a no contact order. A pre-trial conference was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. May 1.

Christina Lyons, 38, of Payne, entered a not guilty plea to theft of drugs, a fourth degree felony. She was released on a surety bond and a pre-trial conference was scheduled for 8 a.m. May 1.

Ryan Acosta, 30, of Delphos, pleaded not guilty to two counts of endangering children, second degree felonies, and two separate counts of endangering children, both third degree felonies. Bond was set at $50,000 cash or commercial surety with electronically monitored house arrest if released and a no contact order. A pre-trial conference was set for 8 a.m. May 1.

Zachariah Williams, 39, of Van Wert, entered a not guilty plea to aggravated possession of drugs, and possession of a fentanyl-related compound, both fifth degree felonies. He was released on a surety bond and a pre-trial conference was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. May 1.

Skylar Imler, 20, of Van Wert, entered a not guilty plea to possession of a fentanyl-related compound, a fifth degree felony. She was released on a surety bond and a pre-trial conference was set for 8:30 a.m. May 1.

Jesse Stemen, 35, of Van Wert, entered a not guilty plea to domestic violence, a fourth degree felony. He was released on a surety bond and a pre-trial conference was scheduled for 9 a.m. April 24.

Lindsay Pavlides, 29, of Van Wert, pleaded not guilty to aggravated possession of drugs and possession of a fentanyl-related compound, both fifth degree felonies. She was released on a surety bond and a pre-trial conference was set for 9 a.m. May 8.


POSTED: 04/11/24 at 3:52 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff/submitted information

COLUMBUS — Governor Mike DeWine delivered his 2024 State of the State address on Wednesday and highlighted some of the work his administration and the General Assembly have accomplished together, as well as outlined new initiatives intended to help Ohio’s Children thrive.

“This is our time to meet the moment. Our time to do the hard things that matter and will make a lasting difference for our children and their future,” DeWine said.

The following are major accomplishments and new initiatives highlighted in the speech.

Science of Reading

Accomplishment: With the help of $64 million state investment, Ohio’s schools are implementing literacy curricula aligned with the Science of Reading, a method of literacy education based on decades of research that teaches reading in the way that brains learn best.

Mike DeWine

Next Steps: Governor DeWine called on every president, provost, and dean of a college of education at all of Ohio’s colleges and universities to align their teacher preparation programs to the science of reading.

Let Every Ohio Child See/Vision Testing Plan

Next Steps: Governor DeWine announced the Children’s Vision Strike Force, led by Ohio Department of Health Director Bruce Vanderhoff, M.D., MBA, to scale local efforts to ensure every student who fails a vision screening has a follow up comprehensive eye exam and is able to receive glasses if they need them.

School-Based Health Clinics

Accomplishment: As part of the General Assembly’s historic investment in Appalachia, Governor DeWine recently announced the Appalachian Children’s Health Initiative, which is helping 20 Ohio counties create or expand community- and school-based health clinics to serve at least 61,000 students and 375,000 residents.

Next Steps: Governor DeWine today asked the Ohio Departments of Health and Education and Workforce to work together to provide technical assistance to any school district that wants to create their own school-based health clinic.

Early Childhood Education

Next Steps: Governor DeWine announced a revision to the child care quality rating system to simplify and reduce paperwork, focus on better outcomes for kids, and, for the first time ever, provide quality-rated programs with access to curriculum aligned with the Science of Reading.


POSTED: 04/11/24 at 3:51 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

The Van Wert County Board of Health will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 15, in the health department conference room, 1179 Westwood Drive, Suite 300, in Van Wert.

POSTED: 04/11/24 at 3:50 am. FILED UNDER: News

Congratulations to the Van Wert Elementary Word of the Week Winners! This week, the following students were chosen as representatives of the word, truthfulness: Grade 1, Cole; Grade 2, Ethan; Grade 3, Raphael; Grade 4, Grayson; Grade 5, Scarlett. Each child received a free Mighty Kids Meal from McDonald’s in Van Wert and a certificate from WERT radio. Photo submitted

POSTED: 04/11/24 at 3:49 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff/submitted information

REYNOLDSBURG — Ohio’s movement to promote urban and rural gardening is back and bigger than ever. The Ohio Department of Agriculture and Ohio State University Extension are partnering once again to encourage Ohioans to cultivate their own produce.

The popular Ohio Victory Gardens program is back for its fifth year and due to high demand, the program is expanding to include 64 counties, including Van Wert, Paulding, Mercer, Allen, Putman and Auglaize counties. OSU Extension offices in those counties will hand out the free seed sample kits to the public to get people planting. Specific days and times for each office are available on the Ohio Victory Gardens website, as well as planting resources and information.

The Victory Gardens program is designed to get people growing. ODA photo

“We want all Ohioans to experience the pride of growing their own food,” said ODA Director Brian Baldridge. “Planting those seeds, watching that produce grow, and being able to provide those nutritious foods for your family is a wonderful opportunity to be involved in agriculture. We encourage all folks to plant their own victory garden.”

This year’s program will benefit up to 19,200 Ohioans. Each of the participating counties have received 300 sample seed kits that contain carrot, cucumber, lettuce, and sunflower seeds.

“Our partnership with ODA on the Ohio Victory Garden program allows Ohioans to learn about agriculture and where their food comes from,” said Dr. Cathann A. Kress, vice president of agricultural administration and dean of The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). “It provides a glimpse into the science and dedication involved by those who work in the food system every day to bring fresh produce into grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and restaurants.”

OSU Extension is the community-based outreach arm of CFAES, with programming that addresses agriculture and natural resources, community development, family and consumer sciences, and 4-H youth development. Extension professionals throughout the state bring people and ideas together to help CFAES sustain life.


POSTED: 04/11/24 at 3:49 am. FILED UNDER: News