The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Jul. 10, 2020


This is an artist’s conception of what a proposed Van Wert County Humane Society shelter that would be located on Fox Road would look like when completed. Garmann Miller & Associates

VW independent/submitted information

The Van Wert County Humane Society is ready to launch its $600,000 capital campaign to fund the construction of a new facility to replace its existing building on Bonnewitz Avenue. 

“Our campaign initiative started well before the challenges presented by covid-19. Problems with the current facility persist,” said Board President Deb Sealscott. “We are moving forward with our campaign and are asking the community to support this worthy project.”

Humane Society board members envision a new animal shelter/adoption center on Fox Road where they purchased 1.76 acres in 2019. The building would feature indoor/outdoor kennel runs for dogs, free roam cat rooms for felines, and a state-of-the-art HVAC and air return system. 

“We need to get the animals out of our Bonnewitz facility,” says Sealscott. “Our aging facility is inadequate to fulfill the needs of our community. 

“It is noisy, challenging to keep clean and control odor, and does not allow for segregation of healthy and sick animals,” she added. “Our cats share the same space as our dogs and we have no space for potential adopters to meet with animals. But we need the community’s help to make our vision a reality.” 

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POSTED: 07/09/20 at 10:31 pm

VW independent/submitted information

The Van Wert County General Health District is asking that local residents be respectful of each other — especially to community members mourning the loss of a loved one. The statement was made in connection with the report of the first county Covid-19 death on Wednesday.  

County health officials noted that their office received a troubling report Thursday from an individual stating that the person’s family member had recently passed and individuals were contacting them to ask questions about the death and whether it was from Covid-19.  

The health department would like to clarify that the date of the release may or may not coincide with the date of the confirmed person’s passing. As with reporting of confirmed cases, the health department works to ensure that it is releasing accurate information to the community, and this may cause a slight lag in when reporting occurs as to when the person passed.  

Also, out of respect for the family, the health department will not share personal details of an individual who died from Covid-19. and we ask that our community members be respectful of each other, especially those mourning the loss of a loved one.  

Today, health officials added a 42 confirmed case in the county, with this case said to be between 30 and 39 years old.

POSTED: 07/09/20 at 10:30 pm. FILED UNDER: News

“Pop-up” storms have affected areas of the county and surrounding counties since July 4. Some of those storms have provided very beneficial rains across Van Wert County, while some areas of the county have received no rain and remain very dry. Thursday afternoon, storms produced damage and winds over the south central and southeastern corner of the county, from the city of Van Wert south to Ohio 709 and to the east of that entire area, with multiple properties reporting trees down and limbs broken. There were also reports of power lines down in that area of the county. One barn roof was torn off on the edge of Jonestown, while one of the movie theater screens at the Van-Del Drive-In was heavily damaged. photos by Rick McCoy

POSTED: 07/09/20 at 10:21 pm. FILED UNDER: News

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. 

Updated county risk levels
Governor DeWine announced 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.

Three Red Alert Level 3 counties marked with a star (*) are on Ohio’s Watch List as they are approaching Purple Alert Level 4. Franklin County was removed from the Watch List due to a decrease in hospital admissions.

Mask mandates for the new counties upgraded to Red Alert Level 3 will be mandated to begin wearing masks in public beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, July 10. Residents in Huron County are no longer required to wear a mask in public, however, they are strongly encouraged to do so.

Governor DeWine announced the creation of the Ohio Public Health Advisory System last week 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

Higher education guidance
The Ohio Department of Higher Education, in consultation with Ohio colleges, universities, the Ohio Department of Health, and health experts across the state have developed guidance to help campuses safely reopen.

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POSTED: 07/09/20 at 10:02 pm. FILED UNDER: News

Jordan Chacon, owner of JC’s Delivery, cuts the ribbon on his new business on Thursday morning. Chacon noted that his service will deliver food from any restaurant within 15 miles of the post office in Van Wert (Rockford would the farthest south). Those wanting to use the service can go to Facebook or call 419.771.3553 to make an appointment or reserve a delivery slot. The company will then pick up the food and deliver it to a person’s doorstep. Hours are 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Fees are based on the distance to the delivery site and range from $4-14, Chacon said. With Chacon are JC’s Delivery staff, Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce staff members, and Economic Development Director Stacy Adam. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 07/09/20 at 10:00 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

A local fundraiser has been organized for Ohio Supreme Court Justices Judi French and Sharon Kennedy, who are both running for re-election to the state’s highest court.

Organizers Bill Purmort, Mark White, Aaron Baker, and Andy Czajkowski have scheduled a fundraising breakfast for 8-9:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 28, at Willow Bend Country Club, 579 Hospital Drive in Van Wert.

Several donor levels are available for the fundraiser, including Host $1,000 ($500 per candidate), Sponsor $500 ($250 per candidate), and Attendee $100 ($50 per candidate).

The maximum contribution is $3,800 per individual or $7,000 per PAC or law firm (corporate contributions are prohibited).

Two checks should be made to the two separate PACs: “French for Justice” and “Kennedy for Ohio”. Both checks can be mailed to 211 S. Fifth St., Columbus, OH 43215.

For more information, contact Jennifer Hutchinson at 724.664. 3873 or Jennifer@rb-strategies.com or Samantha Pollock at 614.456.2045 or Samantha@rb-strategies.com.

POSTED: 07/09/20 at 9:58 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The Northwest Ohio Soil & Water Conservation Districts offers a free at-home “Do-It-Yourself” Junior Conservationist summer program. The program’s hands-on activities and registration can be found online at www.lucasswcd.org/jrcc.html

The soon-to-be Junior Conservationist will have fun learning about soil, water, plants, animals, community, and nature exploration by completing the required number of activities in each category and submitting photos of yourself doing the activities or photos of the completed projects by Friday, August 28. Photos will be sent to the Van Wert County SWCD contact: Tammy Campbell 419.238.9591, extension 4273, or tammy.campbell@oh.nacdnet.net.  

Upon completion of the program and received photos, participants will be sent a certificate, and, if wanted, a Junior Conservationist t-shirt for $10. Van Wert SWCD will purchase the shirts for the first five Junior Conservationists that sign up. The shirts will be available for pick up at the local SWCD office. 

Those who don’t want to register or receive a t-shirt and certificate can still enjoy the activities on their own. The Van Wert SWCD will sponsor t-shirts for the first five Junior Conservationists to complete the program. Those interested should contact Campbell at the above phone number or email address, or visit www.lucasswcd.org/jrcc.html to register online. 

POSTED: 07/09/20 at 6:06 am. FILED UNDER: News, Youth

VW independent/submitted information

On Wednesday, the Van Wert County General Health District reported the death of a hospitalized Van Wert County resident who had tested positive for COVID-19. 

“The Van Wert County General Health District would like to express our deepest sympathies for the family and friends of the patient,” said a health department representative. “The patient was in the age range of 70-79.” 

At this time there have been no new confirmed cases reported. On Tuesday, Van Wert County reported 41 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in county residents. 16 of the confirmed cases are still active. 24 cases have recovered. 1 person is currently hospitalized and 1 death is now being reported. 

The Van Wert County General Health District does not release the number of county residents tested because we are unable to obtain an accurate number. For example, the Van Wert County Hospital (Van Wert Health) reported on July 7, that they have tested 553 individuals with the PCR test (nasal swab). However, all of these tests may not have been conducted on county residents. Van Wert County residents also travel to other areas to obtain tests, and the health department does not receive reports of the tests conducted at other labs, unless the tests are positive. Van Wert Health has performed 114 antibody tests to date. If the antibody tests are positive, they are not included in the count of confirmed cases, they are put into the probable case count. 

The Van Wert County General Health District is investigating an outbreak at Greve Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. There are currently five confirmed Van Wert County residents who are employed by Greve in Van Wert. Of the five employees, three are still active cases, the other two have recovered. The Van Wert County Health Department is working with Greve Chrysler to prevent further spread of the virus. 

There have been a total of nine confirmed cases in county residents who are employed by Cooper Farms. Seven of those cases have recovered. 

If you have questions about Covid-19, contact the Van Wert County General Health District at 419.238.0808. For information on Covid-19 including ways you can prepare and help protect the health of yourself and others, go to www.coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 833.427.5634. Information and resources are also available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.coronavirus.gov.  

POSTED: 07/08/20 at 4:15 pm. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

An Illinois man charged with attempted murder and felonious assault was among 11 people arraigned this week on indictments handed down last week by the Van Wert County Grand Jury.

David Hecox

David Hecox, 24, of Pittsfield, Illinois, pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempted murder, each a felony of the first degree, and one count of felonious assault, a second-degree felony offense. Jude Martin D. Burchfield set a $500,000 cash bond in the case and scheduled a telephone pretrial conference for 9 a.m. Friday, August 7.

Hecox was indicted in connection with a stabbing incident that occurred the morning of June 23 at a residence in the 400 block of North Washington Street. 

Others appearing for arraignment include the following:

Derek Pontius, 35, of Van Wert, entered not guilty pleas to one count each of aggravated burglary, a felony of the first degree, with firearms specification; burglary, a second-degree felony, with firearms specification; having weapons under disability, a felony of the third degree. A $100,000 cash bond was set in the case, with Pontius to have no contact with alleged victims in the case that reside at 511 N. Race St. He will appear for a pretrial conference at 8:45 a.m. Thursday, July 23.

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POSTED: 07/08/20 at 2:02 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

COLUMBUS — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Tuesday that, effective at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 8, a new Ohio Department of Health order will mandate face coverings in public in all counties that are designated as a Red Alert Level 3 Public Health Emergency or a Purple Alert Level 4 Public Health Emergency. 

Currently, seven counties in Ohio are designated at Red Alert Level 3, which indicates that those in these counties have a very high risk of exposure and spread. Those counties are as follows: 

  • Butler County
  • Cuyahoga County
  • Franklin County
  • Hamilton County
  • Huron County
  • Montgomery County
  • Trumbull County
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POSTED: 07/07/20 at 10:26 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

Britt Menchhofer, environmental health director for the Van Wert County Health District, notes that the more than 10-fold increase in confirmed county Covid-19 cases over the past two months is due to at least a couple of factors, with the two main factors as follows:

More testing available. In the beginning of the pandemic, only those who were severely ill were being tested due to a shortage of testing supplies. Now, anyone can be tested, including those with mild symptoms or those who are not exhibiting symptoms (asymptomatic). Many people are being tested, especially if they know they have been exposed to someone who is positive.  

The state is opening back up and people are gathering more. Families and friends are gathering and people are not taking precautions, such as social distancing and wearing masks, to prevent the spread, Menchhofer said.  

Since May 11, the county has gone from three confirmed cases of Covid-19 to 41 cases as of Tuesday. Of those cases, 21 people have recovered, while two are currently hospitalized. So far, there have been no confirmed deaths in the county from the virus.

While several of the cases have been among those in more vulnerable populations, those age 70 and older, many of the recent cases have also been among young people, including several people in their 20s, and at least two in the birth-19 years old category.

In fact, the four most recent confirmed cases were all under the age of 30, according to the county health department.

Because the virus spreads through respiratory droplets from people in close contact with each other, health officials note that people should maintain social distancing, wear cloth masks when in public and at times when social distancing is not possible, sanitize surfaces often, and should wash their hands frequently — especially before eating or preparing food; before touching one’s face; after using the restroom; after leaving a public place; after blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing; after handling one’s cloth face covering; after changing a diaper; after caring for someone sick; and after touching animals or pets.

POSTED: 07/07/20 at 10:20 pm. FILED UNDER: News