The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Mar. 30, 2023

Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming (left) talks about angle parking on Jefferson St., while Mayor Ken Markward looks at a rendering. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

It appears a series of meetings will be scheduled to gather input on a suggestion to change the job of Van Wert mayor from full time to part time with a reduction in salary.

Mayor Ken Markward floated the idea last year and it was brought up again during Monday night’s meeting of Van Wert City Council, this time by Fourth Ward Councilman Andrew Davis. He suggested several joint council committee meetings be held to discuss the possibility.

“That way we can hear the opinions of the public more than anything, how they want us to approach that,” Davis stated. “I want to do multiple (meetings) because I want to give people who work second shift (to attend)…so we’ll try to do something during the day at some point, maybe meet on a non-meeting night.”

Davis added he’ll have a proposal schedule at the next regular meeting of council. He also said any change would need to be made before the August 9 deadline for non-partisan candidates to file petitions with the Van Wert County Board of Elections Office.

“By the time we run it through a couple of meetings and talk about it and things like that, we’re going to be right on the doorstep,” he said.


POSTED: 03/29/23 at 3:41 am

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

Seven defendants appeared for various hearings in Van Wert Common Pleas Court on Wednesday.

Plea changes

Rickey Shupe, 42, of Van Wert, changed his plea to guilty to aggravated possession of drugs, a fifth degree felony. He requested and was granted intervention in lieu of conviction and his case was stayed pending completion of the treatment program.

Malcolm Oliver, 26, of Van Wert, changed his plea to guilty to a prosecutor’s bill of information for disorderly conduct, a fourth degree misdemeanor. He was sentenced to one year of community control, one year of intensive supervision, and 30 days jail at a later date. He must undergo a mental health and substance abuse assessment and treatment, and was ordered to pay partial appointed counsel fees, monthly probation fees and court costs.

Eric Friedrich, 31, of Van Wert, changed his plea to guilty to an amended charge of receiving stolen property, a first degree misdemeanor. Sentencing was scheduled for 9 a.m. April 26.

Brendan Bergman, 28, of Van Wert, changed his plea to guilty of aggravated possession of drugs, a third degree felony. He requested and was granted intervention in lieu of conviction and his case was stayed pending completion of the treatment program.

Probation/bond violations

Juan Hernandez, 43, of Grafton, admitted to violating his probation by failing to complete the WORTH Center. He was sentenced to 180 days jail with credit for 151 days served and was ordered to pay court costs. The original charge was failure to provide notice of change of address, a fourth degree felony.


POSTED: 03/29/23 at 2:32 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff

Van Wert Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming informed city council that the city has levels of TTHM (total trihalomethanes) that are above drinking water standards (see story above). Notices will go out with April water bills. Below is what the notices will say.

Our water system recently violated the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for TTHM. The average level of TTHM over the last four quarters was 0.081 mg/L at DS201 and 0.094 mg/L at DS204. The standard for TTHM is 0.080 mg/L.

What should I do?

You do not need to use an alternative (e.g. bottled) water supply. However, if you have specific health concerns, consult your doctor.

What does this mean?

The levels detected do not pose an immediate risk to your health. Some people who drink water containing trihalomethanes in excess of the MCL over many years may experience problems with their liver, kidneys, or central nervous systems, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.

What is being done?

We are investigating and taking the following necessary steps:

The elevated water towers are being allowed to fall further, to increase turnover, to reduce water age. Van Wert has met w/a Veolia North America consultant to help Van Wert Water figure out where TTHM & HAA5 are forming & what can be done to lower them. We have sent Veolia pertinent data, sampled & resampled our system. VWW is anticipating further Veolia assistance in early 2023 w/ a recommendation. The City of Van Wert will continue to investigate options to optimize operation of the treatment plant and distribution system to lower TTHM levels to correct the problem as soon as possible.

Additional information may be obtained by contacting:
Contact Person: Donald Lippi – WS4
Phone Number: 419-238-1417
Mailing Address: 515 E. Main St. Van Wert, OH 45891

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.

POSTED: 03/29/23 at 3:40 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff

An Ohio City man charged with aggravated arson in connection with an early Sunday morning fire in Glenmore is free on bond.

Scott P. Keber, 31, posted $25,000 on Monday, after his arraignment in Van Wert Municipal Court. As a condition of bond, he is on electronic monitoring house arrest. He’s scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing on Monday, April 3.

Keber was arrested after deputies received a report of someone being seen lighting a fire at a residence in Glenmore at approximately 12:30 a.m. Sunday. Van Wert County Sheriff Tom Riggenbach said the arrest was related only to the incident that occurred Sunday morning, and he said the State Fire Marshal’s Office continues to investigate several other fires in Van Wert County.

POSTED: 03/29/23 at 3:40 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

The Leadership Van Wert County program was founded in 1994 and is a nine-month leadership development program for a diverse group of local professionals. They are chosen based on a demonstrated ability to achieve personal goals and exhibit a strong commitment to the community and county as a whole.

This year’s class, sponsored by Northwest State Community College, includes Zach Army, Nikki Baer, Morgan Blankemeyer, Joe Dray, Delaney Eyanson, Angie Fahy, Dylan Gilbert, Paige Hemmert, Jennifer Klinker, Jennifer Longstreth, Jeff McIntosh, Whitney Rollins, Lauren Strick, Layne Callow, Shae Wortman, Brandi Eller, and Jessica Armstrong.

The Leadership Van Wert County Class of 2023 will reconstruct the Jr. Fair Horse Arena fence. Photo submitted

One of the largest expectations of the program is to complete a community project. The 17 members of Leadership Van Wert County Class of 2023 have decided to dedicate their time and efforts to reconstructing the Jr. Fair Horse Arena Fence at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds. They plan to volunteer their time to do so, and are requesting local donations to help fund the project.

Their monetary goal is set at $8,000, and any additional funds will go towards repaving the paths around the fairgrounds. Donors will be recognized on signage next to the Arena, and names will vary in size depending on the level. Reach out to a leadership member for additional details.

Donations can be made online by visiting or by reaching out to a leadership class member, or by dropping off to Delaney Eyanson at Citizens National Bank.

POSTED: 03/29/23 at 3:39 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff/submitted information

Seven contestants from area schools will vie for the title of Queen Jubilee XLVIII during the Van Wert Peony Pageant this Friday, March 31, at LifeHouse Church in Van Wert. Tickets will be available at the door starting at 6:30 p.m. and the pageant will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are also available at Laudick’s Jewelry in Van Wert.

Contestants were chosen by their individual high schools, including any school that is a member of Vantage Career Center. Mark Bagley will serve as master of ceremonies. The pageant committee includes Director Kim Ousley and committee members, Hilary Coil, Jill Gemmer, Jon Ousley and Andrea Shaffer.

Here are the seven contestants seeking to become Queen Jubilee XLVIII. Front row, left to right: Emma Hatcher, Kimberly Sites and Kiara Bahena. Back row, left to right: Mackenzie Jones, Caydence Rue, Nevaeh Seals and Riona Workman. The pageant is this Friday at Lifehouse Church. Photo courtesy of Ally Buzard Photography

In addition to the title of Queen Jubilee, the contestants will be competing for over $5,000 in scholarships. They will be scored on preliminary interview, talent, evening, gown, and on-stage questions. They have also submitted an essay with their application that will factor into scoring.

Crestview: Kimberly Sites

Kimberly Sites is the daughter of Jamie and Candi Sites. She is very active in the FCCLA, FFA, as well as marching and concert band. Kimberly is very involved in her school choir and is a member of “Knight Vision,” Crestview’s competition show choir. She has had several roles in school musicals and Van Wert Civic Theater. In addition to her school activities, she enjoys volunteering as a 4-H Camp Counselor and with the Civic Theater. Kimberly is currently employed at Maurice’s in Van Wert, and was recently accepted to Miami University in Oxford to follow her dreams and obtain a degree in music education.

Lincolnview: Emma Hatcher

Emma Hatcher is the daughter of John Hatcher and Heather Torlina. She is president of the Spanish Club, Lincolnview Service Club, and National Honor Society, vice president of the drama club and choir, as well as captain of the scholastic bowl team. Emma is a junior Rotarian and member of the Lincolnview cross country and track teams. She has also volunteered with Random Acts of Kindness and at the YWCA. Emma has been involved in the OMA District 3 honors choir and at the church choir at St. Mark’s. She is employed at Truly Devine in Van Wert. Emma plans to attend the Ohio State University to pursue a degree in psychology and one day attend law school.


POSTED: 03/28/23 at 3:47 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff

Could the job of mayor of Van Wert become a part-time job with a reduced salary? The topic briefly came up during Monday night’s meeting of Van Wert Council and is expected to be discussed further at future special meetings.

Check Wednesday’s News page for more information and other details from Monday’s meeting.

POSTED: 03/28/23 at 3:45 am. FILED UNDER: News

The Crestview High School senior government class recently traveled to the state capitol for a two-day field trip which concluded by meeting up with Ohio Governor Mike DeWine at his residence. The group departed for Columbus on March 21, and enjoyed activities such as shopping, an Ohio Stadium tour and a tour of the Veterans Memorial & Museum. The next day included a viewing of court proceedings of an active trial and a tour of the governor’s mansion before heading home. While on the tour of the mansion, Governor DeWine arrived at the residence and greeted the students, talked with them, and posed for photos. Photo submitted

POSTED: 03/28/23 at 3:44 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff/submitted information

The Van Wert County Agricultural Society has announced a list of continued improvements for the 2023 calendar year. One of the most notable projects is the complete renovation of the roadways throughout the Van Wert County fairgrounds.

“The Ag Society is appreciative of the $200,000 made available by the Van Wert County Commissioners office through the COVID assistance fund for this project,” Fair Manager Mike Poling said. “These funds will help us repave some of our roads that lead traffic around the perimeter of the grounds. For us to repave everything in Phase I, we will need to raise an additional $100,000.”

The “Pave The Way” campaign has been established to enable individuals, groups/organizations and area businesses of all sizes to make a tax-deductible donation, which will directly fund the remaining roadways on the grounds. The renovation will be broken down into three phases:

  • Phase I: includes the perimeter and the most frequented gate entrances.
  • Phase II: includes some other high traffic areas.
  • Phase III: will include repaving around the north side of the grandstand track.

Any additional funds raised over the $100,000 will go towards the future phases of the roadway improvement project.

Donors wishing to give to the Van Wert County Agricultural Society are encouraged to donate in increments of $250. For every $250 donation, the donor will be entered into a drawing for two (2) lifetime season passes to the Van Wert County Fair. Checks should be made payable to the Van Wert County Agricultural Society with “Pave the Way” in the memo line.

The first phase of the project has an anticipated start date of early May, with a completion date in early June. Those wishing to see the color coded map and plan can visit

“These projects and renovations are critical to our success in bringing enjoyable family-friendly events to the fairgrounds all year long,” Poling said. “We are grateful for those donors and community organizations who continually support our improvements.”

POSTED: 03/28/23 at 3:44 am. FILED UNDER: News

The Van Wert Parks Department’s annual Easter egg hunt will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 8, at Smiley Park. Children will be divided into four different age categories – two and under, 3-4, 5-7 and 8-10. Children should bring their own bags or baskets to collect eggs. The Easter Bunny will hop in to say hello and pose for pictures with the children. VW independent file photo

POSTED: 03/28/23 at 3:43 am. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

A pair of fires Friday night and early Saturday morning kept Van Wert County firefighters busy for hours, while a third weekend fire led to an arrest early Sunday morning.

The first fire, which was part of a string of Van Wert County fires dating back to January, broke out at an abandoned house in the 7000 block of Richey Road, near U.S. 30.

Firefighters battled a blaze at this abandoned Richey Road house Friday night and Saturday morning. Bob Barnes/VWFD photographer

According to Convoy Fire Chief Gary Kreischer, the initial call came in at 9:54 p.m. Friday. Along with Convoy, Ohio City provided a full response and Van Wert, Wren and Scott fire departments provided mutual aid in the form of tankers.

“The structure was a total loss and there were no injuries,” Kreischer said. “The cause is undetermined and under investigation. The incident has been turned over to the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office.”

Convoy Fire & EMS went back in service at 3 a.m. Saturday.

While that fire was winding down, an alarm went out for a barn fire near the intersection of Glenmore Road and Ohio City-Willshire Road. Wren Fire Chief Mike Marchek said the call came in at 1:33 a.m. Saturday. Willshire, Ohio City and Rockford fire departments assisted at the scene.

“The fire is still under investigation and the State Fire Marshal (was) also on scene,” Marchek said.


POSTED: 03/27/23 at 3:39 am. FILED UNDER: News