The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Jan. 15, 2021

Lonnie Nedderman, Vantage Career Center Board of Education member representing Crestview Local Schools, is sworn in to a new term on Thursday. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent writer

The new year brings no board changes to the Vantage Career Center Board of Education, which met for the first time in 2021 on Thursday evening.

Six of Vantage’s 12 board members were sworn in for new three-year terms during Thursday’s organizational meeting. Pat Baumle, Wayne Trace; Dennis Recker, Antwerp; Greg von der Embse, Kalida; Lonnie Nedderman, Crestview; Tom Lyons, Parkway, and Brian Egnor, Paulding.

Baumle was re-elected as board president, while Nedderman will again serve as vice president. Egnor was appointed as the legislative liaison and von der Embse was chosen as student achievement liaison.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of each month, except for July. That meeting will be held a week early, June 24. Board members will be paid $125 per meeting.

Laura Peters was reappointed as Vantage Career Center treasurer and chief financial officer, and the board approved membership in the Ohio School Boards Association, the Association of Career Technical Education, the Ohio Education Policy Institute, and the Ohio Association of Career Technical Superintendents.

During the regular portion of Thursday’s meeting, High School Director Mike Knott commended students and staff on a successful first semester, and noted Student Services Supervisor Tonya Temple and Community Relations Coordinator Miriam Owens have been going out to member schools to present information to sophomores.

Knott said Temple and Owens present all program offerings, CTSO and career advance placement opportunities, and go through the application process. In a normal year, students pick two programs, come visit Vantage early in February, and get a hands-on experience with those two programs.


POSTED: 01/15/21 at 12:25 am

Submitted information

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

Phase 1B vaccinations
Governor DeWine highlighted the vaccine distribution timeline for Phase 1B of Ohio’s vaccination program, which is set to begin next week for those ages 80 and up.

Mike DeWine

Week of January 18: Vaccine providers will begin receiving their first allotment of vaccines for those ages 80 and older. Vaccines will be delivered on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Each provider will begin administering vaccines the day after they receive their shipment. All vaccines must be distributed within seven days.

Week of January 25: Vaccinations are anticipated to begin for those ages 75 and up following the same process outlined above. Vaccinations will also be available to those with severe congenital, developmental, or early-onset medical disorders. Additional information on how these individuals can choose to receive their vaccines is forthcoming.

Week of February 1: Vaccinations are anticipated to begin for those ages 70 and up following the same process outlined above. 

Week of February 8: Vaccinations are anticipated to begin for those ages 65 and up following the same process outlined above. 

“When a new age range opens, that does not mean vaccinations will be complete for the previous age range,” said Governor DeWine. “Vaccinating Ohioans in Phase 1B will take a number of weeks given the limited doses available.”

Beginning Friday, Ohioans aged 80 and up can find additional information about providers administering vaccines by calling their local health department or visiting their local health department website.   


POSTED: 01/15/21 at 12:07 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

As of Thursday, the Van Wert County General Health District reports two additional deaths of county residents who tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths for county residents to 46.

The Van Wert County General Health District staff expresses deepest sympathies for the family and friends of the deceased. Those deceased were both between 60 and 69 years old.

There has been an increase of 87 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since last Thursday, January 7, for a total of 1,899 confirmed cases. There are currently five people hospitalized. General Health District staff members appreciate the continued efforts of the community to slow the spread of COVID-19.

In addition, Phase 1B distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in Van Wert County will begin the week of January 19 with those residents over the age of 80. COVID-19 vaccines continue to be a scarce resource across the United States, and it will take time to provide vaccines to everyone who wants to receive them. For the first week of Phase 1B, the Van Wert County Health Department is the only provider receiving vaccine and the department will only receive 100 doses for distribution that week. 

Those ages 65 and older or with severe congenital or developmental disorders may request to be placed on the vaccination list by calling 419.238.0808, extension 111, register at this link:, or call the Van Wert County Council on Aging at 419.238.5011.

Those who have already contacted the health department or the Council on Aging to be placed on the list need not register again. 


POSTED: 01/15/21 at 12:01 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Ashley Shepherd, director of gifted services for the Western Buckeye Educational Service Center, announces that the 2021 Journal Gazette Van Wert County Spelling Bee will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, January 31, in the Lincolnview High School gym. 

Immediate family members and grandparents of each speller are welcome to attend this event. Masks are required for all that enter, and while seated during the bee. Spectators are also asked to socially distance themselves from other families. 

Twelve contestants representing seven Van Wert County schools, grades 5-8, will compete for the honor of representing the county in the Journal Gazette Regional Spelling Bee presented by STAR Financial Bank on March 6. The Regional Spelling Bee will be held in the Purdue University Fort Wayne Rhinehart Recital Hall at 10 a.m. that day. The winner of the Regional contest will go on to compete in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. 

Individual school champions are:

  • Crestview Elementary — Lucas Sawmiller, grade 5
  • Crestview Middle School — To be announced
  • Lincolnview Elementary — Zavier Kemler, grade 5, and Josie Miller, grade 6.
  • Lincolnview Junior High — Gabby Thomas, grade 7, and Lindsey Hatcher, grade 8.
  • St. Mary of the Assumption School — Jazzlyn Florence, grade 6
  • Van Wert Elementary — Isabelle Murphy, grade 5
  • Van Wert Middle School — Harrison Sloan, grade 6, and Peyton Hoffman, grade 7 

Doug Grooms, special services coordinator for Van Wert City Schools, will be the pronouncer. Judges for the Spelling Bee are Van Wert Middle School Principal Darla Dunlap, St. Mary’s School sixth grade teacher Dustin Hesseling, and Crestview Elementary Principal Jessica Schuette. Lincolnview Junior High-High School Principal Brad Mendenhall is in charge of the physical arrangements. 

Van Wert Federal Savings Bank is sponsoring the awards for the event, which include cash awards and plaques for the top three finishers and certificates for all the contestants. The plaques are provided by Northwest Ohio Trophy. 

Contestants are reminded to report to the Lincolnview High School Lecture Hall at 2:30 p.m. January 31. 

For additional information, contact Ashley Shepherd at the Western Buckeye ESC at 419.399.4711, or by email at

POSTED: 01/14/21 at 11:53 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Lauren Black, a sophomore at Van Wert High School and owner of “Lauren’s Culinary Confections,” has donated $500 from her business to the Van Wert County Humane Society’s capital campaign. 

“Lauren generously wanted to support our project, as well as give back to the community that has supported her,” said Campaign Chairperson Michelle White. 

Shown are (from the left) Michelle White, Lauren Black, and Deb Sealscott. Humane Society photo

Black’s business started as a booth at the Market at the Wass at Wassenberg Art Center and has expanded to social media on Facebook, where people place orders. 

“This is such a privilege to partner with Lauren and we wish her and her baking business tremendous success,” said Humane Society Board President Deb Sealscott. “With young individuals like Lauren who already have a passion for our mission of caring for homeless, neglected, and abused animals, the humane society’s future is in good hands.” 

POSTED: 01/14/21 at 11:52 pm. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The Van Wert City Board of Education members took care of a number of housekeeping items during their reorganizational meeting, including electing new officers and setting meeting dates and times, while also being honored by the district administration and various schools as part of School Board Recognition Month.

Van Wert City Board of Education member Greg Blackmore tries on the “superhero” mask he received in honor of School Board Recognition Month. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Board President Anthony Adams was re-elected to that position, while Dr. Rachel White was selected as board vice president. Board meeting times remained the fourth Wednesday of the month, starting at 5 p.m., in the First Federal Lecture Hall of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

The board also approved the 2022 tax budget, following a public hearing, and re-authorized the treasurer, superintendent, athletic director, and food services director to perform a list of functions needed to operate the district when the board was not in session.

Superintendent Mark Bagley and the various building principals also provided recognition — and some even brought gifts, including “superhero” masks — to honor board members during their special month.

Adams returned the admiration: “You make us feel special all year long with the wonderful job you do,” he told the school representatives.


POSTED: 01/14/21 at 12:58 am. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent writer

Lincolnview teachers and support staff will be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, February 5, and the follow-up vaccinations on Friday, March 5.

New Lincolnview Local Board of Education President Lori Snyder presides over Wednesday’s meeting. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

That was the word from Lincolnview Superintendent Jeff Snyder during Wednesday night’s Board of Education meeting. He also said paperwork has been distributed to employees and he added it’s up to each individual to decide if they want the vaccine.

Teachers and staff members will learn more during a meeting scheduled for this Friday afternoon. Classes will dismiss two hours early that day.

In related news, Snyder praised the passage of House Bill 409, which allows the district to hire substitute teachers without a college degree for the remainder of the current school year, if necessary, due to COVID-19. Those with a high school diploma or GED will be able to sub, along with current student-teachers. Those interested will need to pass a background check and obtain licensing.

Snyder also talked about a new COVID-19 rule that says students no longer have to quarantine at home if they were exposed to the virus in the classroom, as long as masks and social distancing measures are in place.

“The only ones that will be staying home are the students who actually have been diagnosed as having COVID, or if the doctor says they have COVID,” Snyder explained. “The contact tracing in the classroom is no longer needed at this point and time.”


POSTED: 01/14/21 at 12:47 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Bob Latta (R-5th District) provided the following statement:

“On January 6, I watched with horror as mob violence overtook the United States Capitol and American lives were lost. It was the darkest day during my time in Congress; there isn’t a close second. We mourn the loss of Capitol Police officers Sicknick and Liebengood and pray for the dozens of other officers who were injured during the breach of the Capitol.

Bob Latta

“The President’s reprehensible rhetoric leading up to January 6 and on that morning were a moral failure. There were many instances, one of which occurred during a speech on the National Mall before the mob broke into the Capitol, where the President again pressured Vice President Pence to exceed his constitutional duty during the certification of the election.  I condemned the violence when it took place, and again, reiterate that I strongly denounce and in no way condone the President’s language prior to the outbreak of mob violence.

“There is no doubt that there should be accountability for these actions. The question faced today, is impeachment the correct course of action? 

“As I said last week, the United States Constitution is the greatest document in self-government the world has ever known. Even after great debate between the Framers when drafting the document that would guide our Republic for generations to come, there are many unanswered questions the Constitution leaves up for interpretation. The impeachment process contains many of these unanswered questions. 

“House Democrats have chosen to embark upon a historically unprecedented impeachment process, with only seven days remaining in the President’s term. Today, the House of Representatives impeached a sitting President without calling witnesses, without committee consideration, and it all took place with only hours of debate. 

“In previous presidential impeachments in the House, the shortest was 10 days in 1868, and the longest was three months in 1974. Due to the realities of the timeline before us, it would be difficult to remove President Trump from office before the end of his term, which is ultimately the reason for filing impeachment articles. Moving forward with a Senate trial for a President who is already out of office will prevent the Senate from working on the issues facing our country. The Senate would not be able to fulfill their necessary legislative duties, such as providing the American people the relief they need from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are better as a nation when we work together and engage in respectful civil discourse with one another. If a motion of censure had come to the floor, I would have strongly considered it to ensure accountability for the horrific events of last week. A snap impeachment process is not consistent with the Constitution and has never been done before in American history. For these reasons, I cannot support this impeachment effort.”

POSTED: 01/14/21 at 12:38 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

A total of 11 people were arraigned on grand jury indictments handed down on Friday in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court.

Sonny Metzger, 46, of Van Wert, pleaded not guilty to one count each of involuntary manslaughter, a felony of the first degree; corrupting another with drugs and complicity, each a felony of the second degree; conspiracy, a third-degree felony; and trafficking in a Fentanyl compound, a felony of the fifth degree. Metzger was ordered held on a $100,000 cash bond and will appear for a pretrial conference at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, January 28. A jury trial has been scheduled for April 5.

Kitti Johnson, 30, of Convoy, entered not guilty pleas to one count each of complicity, a felony of the second degree, and conspiracy, a third-degree felony. She was released on an unsecured personal surety bond and will appear for a pretrial conference at 1:30 p.m. Monday, January 25. A jury trial will be held April 5.

Donald O’Day, 44, of Convoy, pleaded not guilty to one count each of failure to comply with an order of a police officer (fleeing), a felony of the third degree, and vandalism, a fifth-degree felony. A $10,000 cash bond is set in the case and a pretrial conference scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, January 20.

Jeffrey Buckner, 45, of Monroeville, Indiana, entered not guilty pleas to one count each of burglary and grand theft of a firearm, each a third-degree felony. He was released on a personal surety bond and a telephone pretrial conference was set for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, February 3. He is also prohibited from being at 6226 Wren Landeck Road.

Andrew Thomas, 39, of Ohio City, pleaded not guilty to one count each of domestic violence, a felony of the third degree, and aggravated possession of drugs, a fifth-degree felony. He also admitted to violating a bond set in a previous case by failing to report to probation. He was released on a surety bond, with an order to have no contact with the alleged victims in the case. A pretrial conference will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday, January 26.

James Jewell, 38, of Middle Point, entered a not guilty plea to one count of domestic violence, a felony of the fourth degree. A $10,000 cash bond was set in the case, plus electronically monitored house arrest. A pretrial conference will be held at 1:30 p.m. Friday, January 15.


POSTED: 01/13/21 at 1:22 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. 

Phase 1B timeline
Governor DeWine reemphasized the vaccine distribution timeline for Phase 1B of Ohio’s vaccination program which is set to begin next week with those ages 80 and older.

This week: On Tuesday, the Ohio Department of Health was to receive information from the federal government on Ohio’s vaccine allotment for the upcoming week. This information, including which providers will receive vaccines and how many, will be communicated to local health departments Tuesday evening. Each county health department, in partnership with their local emergency management agency and vaccine providers, will communicate vaccine distribution plans with the media and the public on Wednesday and Thursday. The process to vaccinate those in each county will vary depending on the provider. Some are expected to hold walk-up clinics, others may take appointments, etc.

On Thursday, the Ohio Department of Health will launch a tool on to assist citizens looking for a provider that has been allotted vaccines. The tool will be searchable by zip code or county, but it will not be updated in real-time. It is critical that those eligible to receive a vaccine consult local sources to determine up-to-date vaccine availability. 


POSTED: 01/12/21 at 11:12 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

OAKWOOD — In 2020, Cooper Farms donated nearly 170,000 pounds of cooked or ready-to-cook turkey, ham and chicken, as well as more than 92,000 dozen eggs, helping to fulfill an especially high need for protein at area food banks.

Cooper Farms donates 170,000 pounds of turkey, ham, and chicken (above) to area foodbanks. Cooper photo

With so many Americans losing their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio food banks saw double digit increases in usage in 2020.

“We donated over 30,000 pounds more meat products this year than we did last year, and three times as many eggs, so while the circumstances are unfortunate, we’re glad we were able to make that happen for these organizations,” said Cooper Farms COO Gary Cooper.

As a food and agriculture company, Cooper Farms was considered critical infrastructure by the U.S. Government, meaning production continued throughout the COIVD-19 pandemic, to help ensure a stable food supply.

Cooper saw this as an opportunity to help those in need, while upholding the tradition Cooper Farms has for giving back to the local communities.

“We were lucky enough as a company to continue working through the pandemic, while many around us were not as lucky,” said Cooper. “Nobody was immune to this pandemic, even those in our own backyard. We’re happy to be able to provide a glimmer of hope to those that need it.”

Some of the top recipients of donations included the West Ohio Foodbank, which received more than 106,000 pounds, and the CALL Food Pantry in Celina, which received over 24,000 pounds of protein.

POSTED: 01/12/21 at 11:09 pm. FILED UNDER: News