The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Jul. 23, 2024

Law Director John Hatcher, Council President Thad Eikenbary and Council Clerk Stephanie Phillips as they appeared on a live stream of Monday night’s Van Wert City Council meeting. Scott Truxell/VW independent

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

Compared to the previous few meetings, Monday’s meeting of Van Wert City Council was rather quiet, with council members handling mostly routine agenda items.

As expected, council members unanimously approved an ordinance that prohibits anyone under 21 from purchasing, transporting or using cannabis in the city. State law currently has the same ban, but it doesn’t include a penalty for anyone who violates the law. The local law makes it a fourth degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine. A similar ordinance, one that prohibits anyone under 21 who uses, consumes or possesses tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices and/or vapor products also gained unanimous approval. It carries the same penalty, up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.

An ordinance allowing the city to post public and legal notices on the city’s website, vanwert.org, instead of in print was also approved, along with legislation concerning the city’s tax budget.

Legislation banning parking on the east side of S. Tyler St. near Cavett St. will be prepared for the next meeting. It was addressed by Mayor Ken Markward, who was speaking for Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming, who was absent from the meeting.

“This is at the very southern end of Tyler St. – it dead ends when you get south of Cavett. Through the years, occasionally people would park there and now more people are parking there and it has caused some difficulty with recycling trucks, garbage trucks and with our guys doing brush pickup,” Markward said. “Fortunately we haven’t had to get a fire truck down there.”

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POSTED: 07/23/24 at 3:35 am

The newly refurbished National Bank Clock on E. Main St. in downtown Van Wert will be unveiled this Thursday morning. Main St. Van Wert has scheduled a ribbon-cutting ceremony for 11:30 a.m. to showcase the clock, which was disassembled and removed just over a year ago for repairs and restoration. $60,000 was raised via private donations to restore the iconic clock, which has been in the same spot since 1923. OhioHealth donated the final $6,000 needed to complete fundraising activities. VW independent file photo

POSTED: 07/23/24 at 3:34 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

The Van Wert County Council on Aging will host an informational meeting regarding the potential to start a local Parkinson’s Disease Support Group at the Van Wert County Council on Aging. The meeting is scheduled from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Thursday, August 15, at the Van Wert Senior Center, 220 Fox Rd., Van Wert.  All ages and those residing outside of Van Wert are welcome to attend the meeting. 

The purpose of a Parkinson’s Disease support group is to have an informal, self-managed group of persons with Parkinson’s Disease. Occasionally the support group may involve their family members and caregivers. The group will be able to offer education about the disease, a forum to share information with each other, and a means to offer mutual support to members of the group.

The meeting will be to discuss the need for a Parkinson’s Disease support group, a discussion as to what a support group is, the structure of the group, as well as feedback about an ongoing meeting day and time.

POSTED: 07/23/24 at 3:33 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff/submitted information

Average gasoline prices in Ohio have risen a whopping 18.3 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $3.47 per gallon on Monday, according to GasBuddy’s survey of 5,345 stations in Ohio. The increase mid-last week, when pump prices soared 40 cents or more per gallon at area gas stations.

Prices in Ohio are 12 cents per gallon higher than a month ago and stand 21.9 cents per gallon higher than a year ago, but 47 per gallon lower than 2022. The current national average price of diesel has fallen four cents in the last week and stands at $3.79 per gallon.

According to GasBuddy price reports, the cheapest station in Ohio was priced at $2.87 per gallon while the most expensive was $3.99 per gallon, a difference of $1.12 per gallon. In Van Wert, pump prices as of early Tuesday morning ranged from $3.39 at Murphy USA to $3.52 at Brookside Marathon.

The national average price of gasoline has fallen 1.9 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $3.47 per gallon on Monday. The national average is up 3.5 cents per gallon from a month ago and stands 9.9 cents per gallon lower than a year ago, according to GasBuddy data compiled from more than 11 million weekly price reports covering over 150,000 gas stations across the country.

“Most of the country has seen a reprieve from rising gasoline prices, thanks to weaker-than-expected gasoline demand, building supplies and a quiet period in the tropics,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “While a good portion of the nation saw average gas prices decline, severe weather completely knocked out power to a major refinery outside Chicago early last week, immediately impacting gasoline supplies to Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan, and pushing prices up considerably. We’ve often said how critical refineries are and with a long power outage we’re seeing the impact very quickly, but relief will eventually arrive. For now, as we approach the end of summer vacations, I’m hopeful gas prices will continue to edge slightly lower in the week ahead.”
 
Historical gasoline prices in Ohio and the national average going back ten years:

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POSTED: 07/23/24 at 3:33 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

BEREA — The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission is reminding toll customers everywhere to be aware of a resurgence in fraudulent texts from scammers requesting payment for unpaid tolls through fraudulent websites.

The Ohio Turnpike does no5 request its E-ZPass customers to make payments by text. Collections of unpaid tolls and/or toll violations do not occur by text either. The only website links associated with the Ohio Turnpike’s E-ZPass accounts are ezpassoh.com and ohioturnpike.org.

Turnpike officials encourage all customers to stay alert to these “smishing” and “phishing” scams by text and email, respectively.

POSTED: 07/23/24 at 3:30 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff/submitted information

CELINA – A Mercer County resident has been indicted on 96 criminal counts for allegedly defrauding Ohioans out of more than $1 million. The counts against Christopher T. Wendel, 58, of Celina range from first to fifth degree felonies and include securities fraud, unlicensed securities activity, misrepresentation in the sale of a security, sale of unregistered securities, theft, and telecommunications fraud.

Wendel was arrested on Sunday and it was announced on Monday by the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Securities.

Christopher Wendel

The indictment alleges that from 2019 through 2021, Wendel solicited 10 Ohio residents, some of whom are elderly, to invest over $1.2 million in his company, Buckeye Income Fund, LLC, through material misrepresentations and fraud.

“This case highlights our unwavering commitment to protect Ohio investors and maintain the integrity of our investment market,” said Ohio Securities Commissioner Andrea Seidt. “Before making any investment decisions, we strongly urge individuals to verify the credentials of the financial advisor with whom they’re working and investment opportunity being presented to them, and to report any instances of suspected fraud immediately to the Ohio Division of Securities.”

According to a press release from the Division of Securities, in May of 2018, Wendel entered into an Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent agreement with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which barred Wendel from associating with FINRA members in any capacity based on findings that he engaged in private transactions without the approval of his firm and provided false responses during FINRA’s investigation.

In August 2019, the Ohio Division of Securities issued a cease-and-desist order with consent in order number 19-018 based on findings that Wendel engaged in the unlicensed sale of unregistered securities.

Wendel is currently incarcerated in the Mercer County Jail awaiting his arraignment and bond hearing. The case was presented by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.

POSTED: 07/22/24 at 12:03 pm. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

Model railroad enthusiasts of all ages are expected to gather at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds for this weekend’s Railroad Heritage Weekend Model Railroad Show and Swap. The show, sponsored by the Van Wert County Historical Society, will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 27, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, July 28.

The annual show has become wildly popular and has expanded to four buildings at the fairgrounds.

“For the first time we’re going to put vendors in the Ag Building, which was previously just layouts,” show coordinator Chuck White said. “We’re still going to have layouts in there and one of them is going to be bigger and better.”

The 2024 Railroad Heritage Weekend Model Railroad Show and Swap will be held this weekend. VW independent file photo

In all, the show will feature 55 different vendors with as many as 270 tables, making it the biggest-ever show. The vendors will be offering everything ranging from model engines and cars of varying sizes to tracks and layout scenery, plus train memorabilia.

“I hear from buddies of mine, hardcore guys, that they find stuff at the Van Wert show that they never find anywhere else or rarely see anywhere else,” White said. “It seems like we attract vendors who have unique stuff to sell that you don’t see at other swaps. We are unique – we were the only summertime swap, now there’s one over in Franklin, Indiana in August – but we’ve blazed a trail.”

This year, two gates will be used for admission to the show – Gate 3, south of the main gate on S. Washington St., and Gate No. 1, off of Balyeat Ave. Fairgrounds personnel will man both entrances and will have maps and favorite layout ballots.

White also praises local businesses for giving donations to the show, along with the historical society for provided help preparing for the show and on show days.

The show will once again feature “Jr. Engineer” certificates that will be passed out to youngsters and he said getting younger people involved in model railroading is one of the goals of the show. In addition, there will be free stuff for the kids and a children’s play area with wooden trains.

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POSTED: 07/21/24 at 9:01 pm. FILED UNDER: News

Multiple fire departments were dispatched to a structure fire along State Line Road in western Van Wert County at approximately 2 a.m. Saturday morning. The Wren Fire Department was first at the scene and mutual aid was provided by Willshire, Convoy, Ohio City, Decatur (IN) and the Preble (IN) Fire Department. Van Wert County CERT also provided assistance at the scene. The fire was contained to a metal shop and the attached house sustained only smoke damage. There were no injuries and the cause of the fire is undetermined. Photo submitted

POSTED: 07/21/24 at 9:00 pm. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

With the long-discussed marijuana dispensary issue already decided, Van Wert City Council will see just one piece of marijuana-related legislation on tonight’s agenda.

Council members will hear the third and final reading of a proposed ordinance that would prohibit anyone under 21 from purchasing, transporting or using cannabis in the city. Ohio Revised Code already has a such a ban, however, it doesn’t include a penalty for anyone who violates the law. If approved tonight, it would make it a fourth degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.

During city council’s July 8 meeting, council members voted to officially rescind a ban on medical marijuana facilities within the city limits, while enacting legislation that bans recreational, or “adult use” dispensaries in the city. The decision on both issues came after discussions that went back to early spring.

Tonight’s agenda also includes the third reading of proposed legislation that calls for up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $250 for anyone under 21 who uses, consumes or possesses tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices and/or vapor products. State law prohibits anyone under 21 from buying and using those products, but the law doesn’t specify the punishment.

Another piece of legislation is expected to have its third and final reading tonight and if approved, it will allow the city to post public and legal notices on the city’s website, instead of in print.

An ordinance concerning Van Wert’s newest tax budget is also on tonight’s agenda.

Tonight’s meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building, 515 E. Main St. The public is welcome to attend. All meetings are streamed live (click here), then archived for on-demand viewing.

POSTED: 07/21/24 at 9:00 pm. FILED UNDER: News

This plate of pickles was no match for Emilio DeLeon of Convoy. DeLeon polished off 9.5 pickles in 10 minutes and took first place in the pickle eating contest at the 28th annual St. Joe Pickle Festival in St. Joe, Indiana, Saturday afternoon. That wasn’t the only title DeLeon won. Late that morning, he also won the festival’s pickle juice drinking contest. Photo submitted

POSTED: 07/21/24 at 8:59 pm. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

The Van Wert Soil and Water Conservation District will host a Conservation Poker Run from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, August 9, at the Farm Bureau Building at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds.

Morning pastries and the rules for the contest will be presented before  heading out to tour three different agricultural facilities. The group will look at and learn about wetlands, wind breaks, forestry management, cover crops, and visit Truland Equipment for precision ag/best practices. Once the tours are complete, the group will meet back at the Farm Bureau Building for lunch. The winner will be announced after lunch. The prize, a Black Stone Grill, will be awarded to the person with the best poker hand.

Anyone wishing to attend this free event, should RSVP by July 31 by calling the SWCD Office at 419.238.9591 or emailing Becky Dowler at becky@vanwertswcd.com.

POSTED: 07/21/24 at 8:58 pm. FILED UNDER: News