The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, May. 30, 2020

Masked Community Health Professionals counselors are shown with materials for the virtual Rays of Hope bereavement program being held this summer for youths grieving over the loss of the loved one. CHP photo

VW independent/submitted information

Community Health Professionals’ Home Care & Hospice is offering support for children and youths dealing with issues related to the loss of a special person in their lives.

“Summer survival bags” and Rays of Hope Zoom group meetings are available through CHP Hospice each month this summer.

Survival bags will include activities and lessons for kids to complete with their families. They will also have crafts and other goodies with the purpose of providing meaningful ways for kids and their families to cope with grief and loss during this time of social distancing.

Zoom group meetings will provide youths with the opportunity to meet with others their age who are dealing with similar loss-related feelings and issues. The meetings will be led by CHP Hospice social workers and are generally appropriate for ages 9-17. Groups may be subdivided by age, depending on registration.

Bag pick-up is offered on scheduled dates at CHP offices in AdaArchboldBryanCelinaDefianceDelphosPauldingVan Wert, and Wapakoneta.

Families must RSVP to receive bags and participate in Zoom meetings. Dates for CHP summer bereavement support for kids are as follows:

  • Bag Pick-up: June 12, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Deadline to RSVP — June 8
  • Zoom Group: June 15, 2 p.m.
  • Bag Pick-up: July 10, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Deadline to RSVP — July 6
  • Zoom Group: July 13, 2 p.m.
  • Bag Pick-up: August 7, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Deadline to RSVP — August 3
  • Zoom Group: August 10, 2 p.m.

For questions or to register for Summer Survival bags and/or Zoom group meetings, contact Laurie Hockenberry at 419.782.4131.

POSTED: 05/29/20 at 11:30 pm

VW independent/submitted information

COLUMBUS — State Rep. Craig Riedel (R-Defiance) announced that House Bill 606, known as the Good Samaritan Expansion Bill, passed out of the Ohio House of Representatives this week. The legislation protects individuals, healthcare professionals, and businesses from unforeseen liability as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This bill gives Ohio businesses greater confidence by protecting them from costly and unnecessary civil suits,” said Rep. Riedel, a cosponsor of H.B. 606. “I’m grateful to support legislation that provides our healthcare workers and businesses with a sense of stability as we move our economy forward.”

The Good Samaritan Expansion Bill ensures civil immunity to the healthcare community, businesses, schools, nonprofits, and individuals from lawsuits arising out of the pandemic. Healthcare providers are immune for the actions, omissions, decisions, or compliance with government orders, unless it constitutes reckless disregard for life or health of the patient. 

Businesses, individuals, and families receive immunity for the transmission, contraction, or exposure to SARS, MERS, COVID-19, or any mutation unless they are reckless, participate in willful and wanton, or intentional misconduct.

The immunity is set to last from March 9, the date of the emergency declaration, through December 31.

A variety of organizations have voiced their support for the legislation, including the Ohio Healthcare Association, Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, Ohio Association of Civil Justice, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Athletic Trainers Association, National Federation of Independent Business, Ohio Salon Association, Ohio Manufacturers Association, Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association, Ohio Automobile Dealers Association, Ohio Dental Association, Ohio Hospital Association, and many others.

H.B. 606 received a vote of 83-9 on the House floor. The bill now awaits further action in the Senate.

POSTED: 05/29/20 at 11:23 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

To aid in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, Eaton Corporation in Van Wert leveraged the corporation’s Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence in Southfield, Michigan, to design hands-free door openers. The openers are being produced using nylon material in Eaton’s Technical Center in Maumee.

Hayley Cochard of Eaton Corporation (left) and Craig Bracken of Central Insurance Companies (center) are shown with Chamber President/CEO Mark Verville. photo provided

Eaton has produced more than 2,000 door openers for employees in its Van Wert and Maumee facilities, as well as for Lucas County healthcare workers and police officers. The company also recently donated several hundred door openers to Central Insurance Companies for their employees.

In exchange for this donation, Eaton challenged Central to pay it forward. Central was able to procure thousands of three-ply face masks and donated 14,000 of these masks to the Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce. In turn, the Chamber has distributed the masks to its business members for use by their employees and customers. 

“It is especially difficult for smaller businesses to obtain items like door openers and masks, and it is gratifying to be able to help,” said Chamber President/CEO Mark Verville. “We applaud Eaton and Central for their dedication to our community, and for their spirit of giving. We will continue to work together to keep each other safe.”

POSTED: 05/29/20 at 11:21 pm. FILED UNDER: News


VW independent/submitted information

CONVOY — Buckeyeman will be at the Convoy Opera House on Sunday, June 14, from 1-4 p.m. Stop in and chat a bit and have a photo taken with this Ohio State Buckeyes superfan.

OSU superfan “Buckeyeman,” known for his scarlet-and-gray wig, face paint, strings of buckeye necklaces, and jersey, is almost as famous as mascot Brutus. Little concerning the Buckeyes football team gets by Larry Lokai, 78, of Urbana, an OSU grad, former Urbana city councilman, and retired educator. This ordinary guy has lots of Buckeye pride and enthusiasm.

For the last 17 years, the 1967 Ohio State alumnus has been plastering face paint on, hanging buckeyes around his neck, and cheering for The Ohio State Buckeyes. Come meet this Buckeyes fan on June 14.

POSTED: 05/29/20 at 11:14 pm. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

As Van Wert’s downtown begins to move forward again, with a number of stores cautiously reopening following the easing of state COVID-19 restrictions, a downtown development project — appropriately named Van Wert Forward — is also increasing its visibility.

Who is this masked group? The members of Platte Architecture + Design’s building investigation team pose in downtown Van Wert this week. photo provided

Platte Architecture + Design, a Cincinnati firm that specializes in renovating historic buildings, has had 12 architects and project managers evaluating approximately 22 buildings in the downtown area this week.

Those buildings are approximately half of the 40 downtown properties owned by The Van Wert County Foundation (VWCF), which is working with Pago USA, a group comprised of experienced development professionals, on an ambitious project to revive the downtown area. Pago development projects include the Over the Rhine historic section in Cincinnati, as well as The Landing project in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Kurt Platte, founder of the Cincinnati architectural firm, said his firm’s excellent relationship with The Model Group, a Pago USA development firm, was the reason they became involved in the project. 

“We have come to specialize in the preservation and revival of historic buildings,” Platte said. “We’re really big at bringing these things back to life.”

The Cincinnati architect added it is especially exciting to be working with The Model Group again, because of the firm’s wizardry in finding funding sources for development projects.


POSTED: 05/29/20 at 4:09 am. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent writer

Teachers and other staff members in the Lincolnview Local Schools will receive a 1 percent raise during the 2020-2021 school year.

During Thursday night’s monthly meeting, the Board of Education approved one-year contracts, instead of the usual three-year deals, with the Lincolnview Local Education Association and Lincolnview Classified Education Association.

Lincolnview Treasurer Troy Bowersock gives his report while sitting under a student body photo at the end of the high school gymnasium. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

“Based on the uncertainty going forward, we felt ‘let’s just do a one-year rollover of the contract and pick this up again in the spring with the hopes that we’re back in school and everything is back to being normal’,” Superintendent Jeff Snyder said. “It also gives both sides the opportunity to look on the financial end to see what that looks like in Ohio.”

Earlier in the meeting, Treasurer Troy Bowersock explained the district suffered a state budget cut of nearly $186,000 for the current school year. He also noted Lincolnview Local Schools will get some of the money back from the federal CARES Act.

He also provided an updated five-year financial forecast, which includes projected future cuts at the state level, no expected growth in local property, and lower interest rates, all caused by COVID-19.

Bowersock noted that expenses are projected to increase, due to inflation and additional protocols tied directly to the coronavirus.

“It’s a fluid document and it’s changed drastically within the last two months, not so much in the current year, but what we’re honing in on is next year — we took about a $300,000 hit for next year,” Bowersock stated.

He added he expects expenses will exceed revenue next year. The board approved the forecast and will revisit it in the fall.

Budget cuts could delay the planned elementary addition project.


POSTED: 05/29/20 at 3:52 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Vantage Career Center Health Technology juniors Jordan Buerkle (Antwerp), Rylyn Lengacher (Antwerp), and Selena Yates (Paulding) competed in the virtual Future Health Professionals state competition, formally known as Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA), held April 20-23. 

All three Vantage students competed in the Healthcare Issues Exam, which consisted of 50 questions testing student knowledge of current health-related issues in national media headlines. Vantage staff honored Jordan Buerkle for placing third out of the 92 competitors in the state competition. 

Shown are Vantage Health Technology juniors (from the left) Jordan Buerkle, (Antwerp), Rylyn Lengacher (Antwerp), and Selena Yates (Paulding). Vantage photo

“It was a great accomplishment and honor knowing the fact that I got third place out of about 90 students. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without all of the help and dedication from my lab teacher, Mrs. Carey,” said Buerkle.

All 92 competitors, including the three Vantage juniors, will be given the chance to test again at the international leadership conference, originally to be held in Houston, Texas, but now held virtually June 24-27.

“I’m thankful for their positive representation of Vantage Career Center, even in the midst of the confusion and competition change,” said Health Technology Instructor Leigh Carey. “They’ve all been great sports and I truly appreciate it.” 

Many Vantage students experienced a tremendously successful competition season, including Health Information Management junior Halie Davis (Antwerp), who placed fifth in Behavioral Health, and senior Rachel Breese (Parkway), who placed ninth in Medical Law and Ethics at the virtual HOSA state competition. 

HOSA competitive events are designed to provide a system for recognizing the competencies developed by members through Health and Biomedical Science class instruction, related to training and activities. Competitors are evaluated according to set standards of performance by professionals from the health care community appropriate to each event. Best wishes to our Vantage students who will be competing in the international competition!

POSTED: 05/29/20 at 3:52 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Area residents who would like to be a part of the Niswonger Performing Arts family can volunteer to join TeamLive! 

As a member of the team, those volunteering have a chance to serve in three separate areas of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center: front of house, box office, and backstage. Those applying should specify which areas interest them. 

“Show nights could not go on without our faithful volunteer team,” said NPAC Executive Director Tafi Stober. “They are the ones who welcome our guests with a smile and a bright attitude at every show.”

To apply, visit the Niswonger website at NPACVW.ORG and click on the link “Become A Volunteer Today”. Those interested can also access through posts on the Niswonger Performing Arts Center Facebook page.

For more information on being a volunteer or for help filling out the application, call the Niswonger Box Office at 419.238.6722 and ask for Kylie Owens.

POSTED: 05/29/20 at 3:44 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

CONVOY — Crestview High School will be recognizing its graduating class of 2020 with a virtual graduation ceremony, to be aired at 6 p.m. this Saturday, May 30. The event will stream on YouTube and WOSN (channel 44.2) at that time. 

A link to the YouTube version will be posted on the website ( at 6 p.m. Saturday to provide the public with access to the graduation ceremony.

POSTED: 05/29/20 at 3:41 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

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

Mike DeWine

Pharmacy testing
Governor DeWine announced Thursday that the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy has clarified rules that allow pharmacists to order and administer tests for COVID-19. 

“As frontline health care providers, pharmacies are critical in our state’s response to this pandemic,” said Governor DeWine. “I have asked the Ohio Board of Pharmacy to make sure that Ohio pharmacies have what they need to test for COVID-19.”

To help Ohioans find testing locations, a map has been added to that lists COVID-19 testing centers in Ohio. The map includes links to community health centers and pharmacy sites to assist citizens in finding information about how to get a test referral or schedule an appointment.

Updated priority testing
Ohio has utilized COVID-19 testing priorities to manage limited testing capacity.  Under the guidance of clinical experts, Governor DeWine announced that Ohio has modified these groups in light of changes in testing availability and evolving knowledge of COVID-19 and its impact on Ohioans.

Testing must be first available to individuals described in Priority Groups 1, 2 and 3, but Ohio is expanding to allow partners and communities to test Ohioans in Priority Group 4 which includes testing “Individuals in the community to decrease community spread, including individuals with symptoms who do not meet any of the above categories.”

“Expanded test availability will allow individuals in lower-risk tiers to be tested and to help further contain and respond to COVID-19 in Ohio,” said Governor DeWine. 


POSTED: 05/28/20 at 3:54 pm. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent writer

The 2020-2021 school year may have a different look compared to previous school years, but no one is exactly sure what to expect.

This financial graph shows Van Wert City School District revenues could end in the red by the end of the 2020-21 school year. photos by Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

During Wednesday’s Van Wert City Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Vicki Brunn said she’s had Zoom meetings with other superintendents, Ohio school board members, and attorneys about possibilities involving the upcoming school year because of COVID-19.

“Some possible scenarios would be to stay with virtual education, keep doing what we’re doing, and continue to improve education that way,” Brunn said. “Another would be a blended model where half of our students would attend at a time and there would be a staggered start in two shifts per day, or it could be students attending half Monday and Wednesday and the other half Tuesday and Thursday, then Friday everyone would have virtual learning.”

Brunn added there could be big logistical challenges, especially in terms of busing, meals, and student movement within the schools.

“I don’t think it would even be possible for our district — we would be running buses all day and still not getting students where they needed to be unless we doubled our fleet, and no district has the financial wherewithal to do that, so that’s not even an option,” Brunn stated. “Students might be eating in classrooms and not together in the cafeteria and we’ve also talked about students staying in a room and having teachers moving, instead of students changing classes every period.”


POSTED: 05/27/20 at 10:03 pm. FILED UNDER: News