The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020

Loyd Phillips and his first wife, Lucy, escaped slavery in Kentucky during the Civil War. They settled in Paulding County. After Lucy’s death in 1880, he married Georgiana Howard. This photo of Georgiana and Loyd Phillips was taken around 1914. photos courtesy John Paulding Historical Society. 

Editor’s note: This is one of a series of articles written to commemorate Paulding County’s 200 anniversary. This article is one of a two-article series on freed/escaped slaves who came to Paulding County.

KIM SUTTON/for the Van Wert independent

PAULDING — “History is just waiting to be discovered” was a saying the late Les Weidenhamer often used during his 22 years as president of the John Paulding Historical Society. Recently, the adage proved to be true when a discovery was made at the society’s museum. 

In a manila envelope were many scrap pieces of paper with penciled writing. This envelope had been in the George Phillips room display since the museum opened in 1984. Untouched. Unread. Waiting to be discovered. 

While cleaning the room, the envelope was found and brought to the front office to decide if it should be kept. Upon closer examination — with a magnifying glass and several people taking a shot at deciphering the writing — these scrap pieces of paper were discovered to be the narrative of Loyd Phillips, a former slave and father of George Phillips. 

As luck would have it, or perhaps by divine intervention, Sandra Phillips, a great-great-granddaughter of Abraham Phillips, Loyd’s father, happened to visit the museum and these pieces of paper were shared with her. She volunteered to help decipher the nearly illegible writings. Although she lives north of Detroit, Sandra drove to Paulding over many weeks to carry out this important project. And so the story of Abraham and his son Loyd has come to light and brings new awareness of the role Paulding County played in the lives of freed and/or escaped slaves 160 years ago. 


POSTED: 08/14/20 at 10:59 pm

VW independent/submitted information

U.S. Census takers in Ohio will begin to follow up with households that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census. 

The current self-response rate in Ohio is 67.6 percent, including 52.2 percent who have responded via the Internet. The Census Bureau will need to visit the remaining addresses to collect responses in person. 

Households can still respond now by completing and mailing back the paper questionnaire they received, by responding online at, or by phone at 844.330.2020. Households can also respond online or by phone in one of 13 languages and find assistance in many more. Those who respond will not need to be visited to obtain their census response.

The Census Bureau requires that census takers wear a mask while conducting their work, and to follow CDC and local public health guidelines when they visit.

What Households Can Expect
The Census Bureau will provide face masks to census takers and requires that census takers wear a mask while conducting their work. They will follow CDC and local public health guidelines when they visit. Census takers must complete a virtual COVID-19 training on social distancing protocols and other health and safety guidance before beginning their work in neighborhoods. 

Census takers are hired from local communities. All census takers speak English, and many are bilingual. If a census taker does not speak the householder’s language, the household may request a return visit from a census taker who does. Census takers will also have materials on hand to help identify the household’s language. 

If no one is home when the census taker visits, the census taker will leave a notice of their visit with information about how to respond online, by phone or by mail. People are encouraged to cooperate with census takers and ensure that everyone who was living in their household as of April 1, 2020, is counted. 

Census takers can be easily identified by a valid government ID badge with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date on the badge. To confirm a census taker’s identity, the public may contact the Philadelphia regional census center at 267.780.2600 to speak with a Census Bureau representative.

About the 2020 Census
The U.S. Constitution mandates a census of the population every 10 years. The goal of the 2020 Census is to count everyone who lives in the United States on April 1 (Census Day). Census statistics are used to determine the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives and informs how billions of dollars in federal funds will be allocated by state, local and federal lawmakers annually for the next 10 years.  

For more information, visit

POSTED: 08/14/20 at 10:52 pm. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent writer

In a sense, it’s back to the drawing board for Eggerss Stadium.

During Thursday night’s special meeting of the Van Wert City Board of Education, Howard Benson of National Community Development Services told board members that, based on two main factors, he currently recommends no campaign be launched for a proposed $1.3 million renovation project at the historic downtown stadium.

Various views of Eggerss Stadium proposed renovations as shown at Thursday’s special meeting of the Van Wert City Board of Education. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

The project would jump to $4.3 million if it included adding a baseball and softball complex at Van Wert High School.

Benson’s findings were included in a detailed 13-page report to the board, which was missing two members at the meeting — Scott Mull and Tom Losh.

He noted that, because the board is currently unwilling to seek a bond issue, revenue needed for the project would fall far short due to a lack of large corporate or business donors. He also said there’s currently no support to have Eggerss Stadium included in a downtown renovation plan.

“I would have liked to have brought more encouraging findings, I would have loved to have said we can do this, the time is now, let’s get it going,” Benson said via a video hookup. “The leaders who can provide the leadership funding for this, and the enthusiasm to put this campaign across, they’re just not at the table with us and that is unfortunate.”


POSTED: 08/14/20 at 7:01 am. FILED UNDER: News

Randy Myers of Leland Smith Insurance is shown donating $5,000 to the Van Wert County Humane Society’s building campaign. Accepting the donation is Humane Society Board President Deb Sealscott. “We are so appreciative of the local support we are receiving,” Sealscott said. Plans are to construct a new shelter/adoption center on Fox Road. Pledges can be made over a three-year period by both businesses and individuals. More information can be obtained by contacting Michelle White, capital campaign chairman, at michwhite66@yahoo.comphoto provided

POSTED: 08/14/20 at 7:00 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

COLUMBUS — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted on Thursday provided the following updates on Ohio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Updated county risk levels
Governor DeWine announced on Thursday that new public health data has led the Ohio Department of Health to designate 12 counties as being in a Red Alert Level 3 Public Emergency as defined by the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.

Detailed information all of Ohio’s 88 counties can be found on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System’s website. The system was developed to provide local health departments, community leaders, and the public with data and information on the severity of the COVID-19 spread in the counties in which they live. The system consists of four levels with specific risk-level guidelines. Each level is calculated with data gathered on seven public health indicators

Improving minority health
On Thursday, Governor DeWine released the final Minority Health Strike Force report and the state’s executive response.

The Minority Health Strike Force was formed in April to examine the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on minority communities, as well as broader health disparities and racial injustices. Currently, African Americans represent 14 percent of Ohio’s population but are 24 percent of positive COVID-19 cases, 32 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations, and 19 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Ohio. Similarly, at least 6 percent of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Ohio are Latino, despite only representing 3.9 percent of Ohio’s population. 

The COVID-19 Minority Health Strike Force Blueprint lists 34 recommendations on dismantling racism, removing public health obstacles, improving the social/economic and physical environments, and strengthening data collection to better track disparities.

In response to the Strike Force’s report, Governor DeWine issued Ohio’s Executive Response: A Plan of Action to Advance Equity. The action plan outlines efforts to reinforce the DeWine Administration’s commitment to advancing health equity and establishing Ohio as a model for justice, equity, opportunity, and resilience. 

As part of his commitment to equity, Governor DeWine also announced the creation of the new Ohio Governor’s Equity Advisory Board. 


POSTED: 08/14/20 at 6:47 am. FILED UNDER: News

Early Friday morning, fire departments from Middle Point, Van Wert, Grover Hill, and Delphos were dispatched to Dog Creek Road for a fully engulfed barn fire. The Van Wert Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) also was dispatched for hydration of emergency responders. Middle Point was still on scene at 5 Friday morning. CERT photo

POSTED: 08/14/20 at 6:45 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

With the 2020 Van Wert County Fair quickly approaching, the Junior Fair Coronation Committee announces this year’s candidates for Junior Fair king, queen, and species prince or princess. 

2020 Junior Fair royalty candidates include (top row, from the left) Breena Grace, Dylann Carey, Tara Raudabaugh, Lindsey Barnes; (middle row) David May Jr., Cody Gamble, Braxton Williamson, Addie Sorgen; (bottom row) Aleigh Chesbro, Lillian Hempfling, Christina Keen, and Chloe Kroeger.

The coronation ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, August 23, in the grandstand on the Van Wert County Fairgrounds. Following the coronation will be the 4-H Awards at 5 p.m. 

Candidates are as follows:

Lillian Hempfling is the daughter of Chuck and Sue Hempfling. She is a candidate for Junior Fair queen and dairy princess. She is a senior at Delphos St. John’s High School, and her school activities include Student Council and National Honor Society. She attends St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, where she is a Eucharistic minister and a mass server. Some of her community activities include helping with Relay for Life, March for Life, and church camp. 

Hempfling is a member of the Udder Dairy 4-H Club. Her fair projects include dairy heifers, market goats, and market turkeys. She has held the club offices of reporter, secretary, vice president, and treasurer, and is also is a Junior Fair Board member. In 2019, she was the Showman of Showman grand champion. 

Dylann Carey is the daughter of Randy and Leigh Carey. She is a candidate for Junior Fair queen. Carey is a senior at Lincolnview High School and her school activities include varsity track, Beta Club, Student Council, National Honor Society, Drama Club, varsity golf, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Spanish Club, and choir. 


POSTED: 08/13/20 at 7:41 am. FILED UNDER: News

The Van Wert Area Chamber welcomed new member Bowridge Properties LLC. with a ribboncutting on Tuesday. The new business operates Bowridge Community, a mobile home park located at 9188 John Brown Road in Van Wert. “We have over 70 lots in the park and our investor group has worked to remove most of the older trailers that were in pretty rough shape to make room for newer models,” said local investor and Property Manager Darin Figel. “The new park has set new expectations regarding rules to keep the park safe, as well as guidelines regarding property appearance and maintenance.” Bowridge will be working with Straley Realty and Auctioneers to find families interested in purchasing or renting homes on the property. Those interested can contact Figel at 419.771.0969 or Warren Straley at 419.979.9308. photo provided

POSTED: 08/13/20 at 7:18 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Lincolnview Local Schools will be holding its annual open house from 6-7:30 p.m. Monday, August 17. See the Lincolnview Local Schools website for more details. 

The first day of school is scheduled for Monday, August 24. Those students who are new to the Lincolnview School District and have not yet registered for this school year should come to the District Office at 15945 Middle Point Road or call 419.968.2226 for more information.

The K-6 elementary school supply lists are posted on the schools website:  Click “Elementary”, then click “Elementary Documents and Forms”, and then “2020-21 Supply List.”

Some other information of note:

Elementary School

  • August 17-21 — Return all Chrome books/charging cords, classroom textbooks (hardcover), and all library books to the elementary office.
  • August 24-26 — Kindergarten stagger start sign up is on the website under “Elementary Parent Teacher Scheduler”
  • August 27 — First day school for kindergarten

High School

  • Those who have textbooks (hard covers, non-consumable) that are school owned are asked to drop them off between August 18-21 from 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. in the high school office. This includes College Credit Plus books. Likewise, those who will be freshmen (Class of 2024) are asked to drop off Chromebooks at this time. All other students with issued Chromebooks will keep them for this school year. Classes of 2024, 2026, and new students to the district will be issued Chromebooks within the first few days of school.
  • Students should receive schedules in the mail by August 11. If there is an issue with a schedule, call the office at 419.968.2214 or see Counselor Brenda Leeth in her office beginning August 11. She will be available from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. to speak to students about their schedules.
  • The fall preseason athletic meeting for parents’ student-athletes is scheduled for Wednesday, August 12. The link for the online fall sports pre-season OHSAA meeting for parents and student-athletes will be available on the athletics web site at starting on Wednesday, August 12. The video presentation will remain on the web site until August 24 and it can be viewed at any time. All parents and fall sport athletes are encouraged to view the video.  

Other info:

  • Lunch prices for the 2020/21 school year: $1.90 – Elementary Lunch; $1.95 – Jr. High & High School; or Lunch “B” at $2.35.
  • Please have all completed vaccinations before the first day of school.  For more information, access the Lincolnview website and click on the link “Nurse’s Corner.”

POSTED: 08/13/20 at 7:10 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Due to the ever-changing mandates of Governor Mike DeWine, the Van Wert County Agricultural Society (Fair Board) has had to make drastic changes to the 2020 Fair line-up. The governor’s orders have cut fairs to Junior Fairs only, resulting in the cancellation of Senior Fair events. 

Even though this year looks different, the Fair Board is working hard to create the best possible environment for Junior Fair exhibitors, their families, and those who come to support them. 

Food vendors are open to the public and will be located at the south end of the fairgrounds for those who need their fair food fix. Entry on Thursday will be free. Friday-Monday there will be a $5 per car parking fee. 

Van Wert County Agricultural Society members will receive free parking all weekend, as well as voting rights on Monday, September 7, from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. 

There will be a virtual Junior Fair Livestock Auction held Tuesday, September 8. More details on the auction are coming soon.

POSTED: 08/13/20 at 6:56 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Six people entered pleas to grand jury indictments this week in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court.

Jose Melgar Revolorio, 39, of Van Wert, pleaded not guilty to one count each of rape, a felony of the first degree, and sexual battery, a third-degree felony. He was ordered held on a $100,000 cash bond and a pretrial conference scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday, September 8.

Eunice Bernhardt, 56, of Ohio City, entered not guilty pleas to 10 counts of pandering obscenity, each a felony of the second degree, and two counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor, each a fourth-degree felony offense. She was released on an unsecured personal surety bond, but is to have no Internet access and no cell service with a data plan. A pretrial conference was set for 10:30 a.m. Monday, August 24.

Juan Hernandez Jr., 40, of Van Wert, pleaded not guilty to one count each of gross sexual imposition, a felony of the fourth degree; assault, a first-degree misdemeanor; and obstructing official business, a misdemeanor of the second degree. He was ordered held on a $25,000 cash bond and he will appear for a pretrial conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday, September 9.

Ryan Homier, 40, of Van Wert, entered not guilty pleas to one count each of possession of drugs and possession of cocaine, each a felony of the fifth degree. He was released on a surety bond and will appear for a pretrial conference at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday, August 26.

Joshua Weaver, 39, of Lima, pleaded not guilty to one count of vandalism, a felony of the fifth degree. He was released on a surety bond, with an order to have no contact with Andrea Neiford, and a telephone pretrial conference was set for 8 a.m. Tuesday, September 1.


POSTED: 08/12/20 at 2:57 pm. FILED UNDER: News