The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020


Superintendent Mark Bagley updates the Van Wert City Board of Education on the district’s COVID-19 situation, while District Treasurer Michelle Mawer looks on. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent writer

At least to this point, the spread of COVID-19 hasn’t happened in Van Wert City Schools. That was the word from Superintendent Mark Bagley during Wednesday’s City Board of Education meeting.

“We currently have three cases that will be coming off the books shortly and we have 42 quarantined right now,” Bagley said. “What we’re doing with our superintendent’s groups right now is we are charting (cases) and we’re at about 78 for the year and the number of those that actually had COVID is zero. So the spread … we know it’s in the community, we know it’s in the area, but it’s not happening in the school right now.”

“I’m very pleased about how our staff and how our students have worked together as a team to want to be here,” Bagley added.

Bagley informed the board that 10 percent of Van Wert students are currently doing remote learning and he said, with COVID-19 concerns in mind, discussions will begin soon on how to handle upcoming parent-teacher conferences.

“We have to find a smart way to do that and a lot of those will be virtual and we’ll also go with the phone, but some parents want to come in and meet with our teachers,” Bagley explained. “We can do it safely and we can spread out.”

During his report to the board, Assistant Superintendent Bill Clifton said the school system is currently dealing with a substitute shortage, including substitute teachers, custodians, food service workers, and paraprofessionals.

“Anybody who has an interest in working, we’re willing to interview them and potentially get them on board to help our school district out,” Clifton said.

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POSTED: 10/28/20 at 11:02 pm

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Five people who were sentenced are among those who appeared for criminal hearings over the past week in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court.

Juan Hernandez Jr., 40, of Van Wert, was sentenced to 16 months in prison, with credit for 113 days already served, on one count of gross sexual imposition, a felony of the fourth degree. Hernandez was also classified as a Tier 1 sexual offender and must register annually for the next 15 years.

Erik Seekings, 38, of Paulding, was sentenced to three years of community control, including up to six months in the Western Ohio Regional Treatment and Habilitation (WORTH) Center in Lima, on a charge of attempted burglary, a felony of the third degree. As part of his community control, he must also have no contact with the alleged victim in the case and perform 200 hours of community service.

Milo Holt Jr., 22, of Van Wert, was given three years of community control, to include up to six months in the WORTH Center, on one count of aggravated possession of drugs, a felony of the fifth degree. He must also perform 200 hours of community service and undergo substance abuse and mental health assessments and any treatment recommended.

Theresa Parks, 41, of Van Wert, was also given three years of community control, to include 200 hours of community service, having no alcohol and no drugs without a prescription, and must undergo substance abuse and mental health assessments and any treatment recommended.

Nicholas Tarbet, 25, of Lima, was sentenced to three years of community control, on one count of gross sexual imposition, a felony of the fourth degree. Tarbet was also given 120 days in jail, with credit for 88 days already served, must possess no alcohol and no drugs without a prescription, and undergo substance abuse and mental health assessments and any treatment recommended. He was also classified as a Tier 1 sexual offender and must register annually for the next 15 years.

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POSTED: 10/28/20 at 4:20 pm. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was joined by Lt. Governor Jon Husted on Wednesday to request the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) send up to $5 billion in dividends to Ohio employers to ease the continued financial impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mike DeWine

“This pandemic is unprecedented, and continues to financially impact Ohio employers and businesses,” said Governor DeWine. “Issuing these dividends is important. This is about keeping businesses open and people employed.”

If approved by BWC’s Board of Directors, it would bring the total dividend dollars for employers this year to nearly $8 billion. 

“As Ohio businesses confront the economic challenges of a COVID world, this kind of financial relief can be the difference between closing and staying open,” Lt. Governor Husted said. “We don’t want Ohio businesses and the jobs they create to be a casualty of the pandemic.”

The $5 billion dividend would be BWC’s third dividend of more than $1 billion this year, and the largest one-time dividend ever issued by the BWC. BWC distributed $1.54 billion in April and $1.34 billion in October. At $5 billion, this dividend is approximately four times the total premiums BWC collected from its employer members in policy year 2019.

“We’ve never issued three dividends in the same year, let alone any for this much, but unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud. “Even so, the State Insurance Fund is well positioned to cover our injured workers for years to come.”

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POSTED: 10/28/20 at 4:18 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The Van Wert Police Department announced Wednesday that two Marsh Foundation runaways have been located in Van Wert

Harmony Bender
Jordan Isham

The VWPD had sought assistance in locating the runaways, who were among five juveniles who had run away from the Marsh.

On Monday, city police received a report from the Marsh Foundation stating that five juveniles had left the campus without permission. To date, three of the juveniles have returned, but two are still listed as runaways.

The two juveniles found Wednesday include:

Jordan Isham, 17, a male from Miami County, and Harmony Bender, 16, a female from Paulding County.

POSTED: 10/28/20 at 3:58 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

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

Updated county risk levels
Governor DeWine today announced that 82 of Ohio’s 88 counties are now considered high incidence counties as defined by the federal government. This means those counties have seen more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents in the last two weeks.

In the past few weeks, Van Wert County has gone from having one of the lowest per-capita COVID-19 rates, to having the 10th highest rate in the state. In fact, more than half of all county cases have come in the past three weeks.

Van Wert joins Putnam (No. 1), Auglaize (No. 2), Mercer (No. 3), and Allen (No. 5) as being among the top 10 counties per-capita in confirmed COVID-19 cases this past week.

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POSTED: 10/28/20 at 7:11 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

PAULDING — Paulding officials welcomed The Union Bank Company’s new village branch on Tuesday with a ribboncutting ceremony at the bank’s temporary offices on the village square.

Stacy Cox, executive vice president and CFO of the Allen County-based bank, expressed her pleasure at having a branch in the Paulding County seat.

The Union Bank Company officials cut the ribbon Tuesday on the bank’s newest location on the square in Paulding. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

“We’re excited to be a part of the Paulding community,” Cox said, calling the partnership between the bank and community “a natural fit”.

She also added that the bank has received a warm welcome from Paulding officials and community members since they began working to open a branch office some months ago.

Cox noted that the current office is a temporary one, with the bank looking to make a final decision soon the location of the bank’s permanent branch office in Paulding.

Paulding Mayor Greg White said he was also pleased with having the Putnam County-based bank in the community.

“We appreciate your coming and we look forward to working with you,” the mayor noted.

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POSTED: 10/28/20 at 7:02 am. FILED UNDER: News

Main Street Van Wert is working with volunteers from a number of groups, including Van Wert High School and its Beta Club, the Van Wert County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and the Van Wert Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, to ensure that the downtown Trick or Treat event is as safe as can be, with people following the COVID-19 guidelines. Main Street, from Jefferson to Washington and from Washington to Walnut, will be shut down during downtown Trick or Treat hours (10 a.m.-noon) this Saturday, October 31. There will be maps on each street corner showing businesses involved in Trick or Treat, with volunteers directing people to each location and to maintain a traffic flow in the downtown area. Above is the map showing those businesses participating this year.

POSTED: 10/28/20 at 6:59 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert City Council adopted some mostly housekeeping financial measures and also approved an annexation request agreement for property along John Brown Road during its meeting on Monday.

Van Wert Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming makes his report during Monday’s Van Wert City Council meeting. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

City Council adopted an emergency ordinance that would make a number of supplemental appropriations, as well as an emergency resolution setting 2021 employee contributions to the city’s healthcare plan, which Auditor Martha Balyeat said didn’t change from this year.

Council also prepared legislation providing for a fund transfer for a 27th pay period, a transfer to meet the city’s retirement liability, and a transfer to the sewer maintenance fund.

Balyeat also told Council that she should all the figures in for next year’s budget discussion by the end of the week, with First Ward Councilman Jeff Agler saying he would like to see the addition of a code enforcement officer position.

The auditor noted that, because the city is using a portion of the .22-Safety Capital Tax for police and fire salaries and fringe benefits, the city may not create any new positions while using money from that tax.

“Our hands are tied,” Balyeat said.

Agler did question why a police officer position that is currently open could not be designated as a code enforcement position, and he agreed to meet with Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming and Police Chief Joel Hammond to discuss the matter.

“It’s a problem for you, it’s a problem for everyone,” Fleming said of the .22 tax hiring moratorium.

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POSTED: 10/27/20 at 7:02 am. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent writer

COVID-19 and related topics were the main focus of Monday’s meeting of the Lincolnview Board of Education.

While acknowledging the numbers could change drastically at any time, Superintendent Jeff Snyder said Monday saw the fewest amount of students quarantined (13) within the last month.

Lincolnview Board President Michelle Gorman reads an agenda item during Monday’s meeting. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

“The hard part is looking at the crystal ball and not knowing what’s going to happen,” Snyder said. “I keep hearing the winter is going to be a challenge with the flu and things, but I’m hoping it’s just the opposite because of what we do in the building.”

Snyder told the board that he and the principals keep a Google document so they can see how many people are quarantined at any point in the day and when they’re due to return. He also said the school website has current information about COVID-19.

Because of the coronavirus, the upcoming winter sports season could look much different, with limits on spectators at all basketball and wrestling events.

“We all had high hopes that this thing would stop, but until that happens the only people coming to our games will be parents of our basketball players, our cheerleaders, and our pep band, because by the time we give all the vouchers out to the families there won’t be tickets left for our season ticket holders,” Snyder explained.

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POSTED: 10/27/20 at 6:56 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Vantage Network Systems senior Christapher Piske (Lincolnview) has earned six TestOut certifications, so far.

Why is this impressive? According to TestOut, an online lab simulation testing program for academia and IT professionals, in a typical school year, most Network Systems students obtain one or two, and in rare circumstances three or four certifications during their two years in the program, but Christapher obtained six TestOut certifications before his senior year. 

Vantage Senior Network Systems students Riley Boroff (left) and Christapher Piske, both of Lincolnview, are pictured holding their National Technical Honor Society packets. Vantage photo

That’s not all. Christapher earned high test scores on his Switching Pro and Routing Pro certifications, both scores being hundreds of points above the average test takers in Ohio and in the United States; this includes high school students, college students, and industry professionals.

So what exactly is Chistapher’s motivation? 

“To catch up with Gage,” Piske said with a smirk. 

Gage Smith (Paulding) was a 2020 graduate of the Vantage Network Systems program and was in the program for only one year. During Smith’s time in the program, he earned an impressive five certifications, and, similar to Christapher, scored in the top 10-30 percentile nationwide. He also received national recognition on the TestOut Facebook page. Christopher has now passed Gage in the number of certification earned while at Vantage, and continues to earn more. 

“Obviously, I want to improve my knowledge base,” Piske admitted, “I plan to keep earning more certifications this year and learn skills that are associated with certifications. It just seems like a really good opportunity to be able to conquer this number of topics so quickly and get such a steady foundation going into college.” 

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POSTED: 10/27/20 at 6:54 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Area musicians will be performing in a community concert titled “Between the Notes: Remembering Our Heroes Through Music, Song & Spoken Word, which will be held in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church in Van Wert at 7 p.m. Saturday, November 7. 

The patriotic concert will include instrumental and vocal music that will pay tribute to this great nation and its veterans, active duty military, first responders, and even the heroes in people’s own personal lives.

The piano quartet of Marilyn Alessandrini, Annette Hoverman, Scott Turner, and  David Van Tilburg will be performing an exciting two piano and eight hand Mack Wilberg arrangement of “The Stars and Stripes Forever”. Also, Ms. Alessandrini, Mr. Turner, and Mr. Van Tilburg will be performing organ and piano selections from composers Barber, Gottschalk, and Hayes. 

Musical husband-and-wife team Paul and Annette Hoverman will join together to present the 9/11 inspired and very moving selection “A Hymn for the Lost and the Living” for trumpet and piano by contemporary composer Eric Ewazen. 

Vocal selections from Adam Ries, Stacie Korte, Joel Trisel, and Sheila Chilcote-Collins will include the songs, “His Eye is On the Sparrow”, “The Star-Spangled Banner”, and several other well-known selections. Additionally, the ensemble “in Spiritu”, with Beth Conn, Melinda Farmer, Paula LaRue, Sandra Stemen, Kristina Welker, Ms. Korte, and Ms. Collins, will be presenting the popular hymn tune turned American folk song, “How Can I Keep from Singing”, with Annette Hoverman accompanying the group. 

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POSTED: 10/27/20 at 6:49 am. FILED UNDER: News