The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Sep. 23, 2020

Ronald Bendele Jr. of Haviland (left) receives a “Saved by the Belt” Club certificate from Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Kevin Krill on Tuesday. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

VW independent/submitted information

Haviland resident Ronald Bendele Jr., joined Ohio’s “Saved by the Belt” Club on Tuesday after his safety belt saved him from sustaining life-threatening injuries. The accident occurred August 4 on U.S. 127 in Paulding County.

Lieutenant Jonathan A. Gray, commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Van Wert Post, presented him with a “Saved by the Belt” certificate signed by Ohio Department of Public Safety Director Thomas J. Stickrath and Patrol Superintendent Colonel Richard S. Fambro.

“Ronald is a living testimony to the effectiveness of safety belts,” Lieutenant Gray said. “Everyone needs to buckle up every trip, every time.”

Provisional data from 2019 shows 457 people in Ohio were killed in traffic crashes where a safety belt was available, but not in use.

The injuries Bendele sustained have kept him off work since the accident, which also totaled his vehicle, but he noted he could have been even worse off if he had not been wearing his seat belt.

“Had I not been wearing it, I would have went through the windshield,” Bendele said, noting that he feels everyone should wear a seat belt every time they are in a vehicle.

Bendele’s vehicle was hit by a driver who was going 65 mph in a 55-mph zone. Fortunately, the driver of the other vehicle was able to swerve slightly and hit Bendele’s car behind the driver’s seat. The Haviland man had cuts and bruises, as well as injuries to his torso and received physical therapy while off work.


POSTED: 09/23/20 at 7:08 am

Submitted information

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

Demographic dashboard
Governor DeWine unveiled a new case demographics dashboard on

Mike DeWine

The new dashboard gives citizens access to COVID-19 case data by race or ethnicity. The data can be broken down by age and county and compared to the overall Ohio population.

“Improving data collection and reporting, as well as creating a publicly-available dashboard, were recommendations from the COVID-19 Minority Health Strike Force,” said Governor DeWine. “This dashboard will help better track health inequities and disparities, and we believe this data will also help put critical decisions into context for policymakers.”

Contract tracing
Governor DeWine encouraged Ohioans to answer the call if contacted by a contact tracer. 

Contact tracing slows the spread of COVID-19 by notifying people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and advising them to monitor their health for signs and symptoms; helping those who may have been exposed get tested; asking people to self-isolate or self-quarantine if appropriate; helping people identify the resources they need to safely stay at home.

Contact tracers will not disclose a person’s identity to their contacts, however, those who test positive will be encouraged to notify those they’ve been in contact with so that these individuals also respond to contract tracers and begin to isolate. 

Face mask donation
Lt. Governor Husted announced that Ford is donating 2 million medical grade face masks to the state of Ohio for healthcare providers, first responders, underserved populations, and senior living communities. The donation is part of the Ford Fund’s commitment of 100 million medical-grade face masks through 2021.


POSTED: 09/23/20 at 6:59 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The Van Wert Tailgate Tour Recking Crew’s annual golf outing scheduled for September 26 has been cancelled and will be rescheduled for a date yet to be determined in 2021. 

Each year as part of the golf outing, football players and coaches work and participate in the outing to meet and thank community members who support them. After much deliberation, it was decided that having coaches and players attend could risk exposing them to COVID-19, in turn abbreviating their season. That being said, the opportunity to meet coaches and players off the field is part of the experience for the golfers who participate in the event. 

“With all of this mind, The Recking Crew has decided to postpone this year’s event in the hopes of planning a bigger and better golf outing for 2021 where players and coaches can safely attend and participants can meet the players and coaches,” said Julie Schaufelberger, Recking Crew secretary. “The season is already shortened and the continued success of this season is dependent upon players and coaches staying healthy. We want to do our part to ensure Van Wert Cougar Football has the most successful year possible.” 

The Recking Crew’s grass roots mission is to raise funds which assist in providing equipment and improving facilities, to instill player pride and strengthen the Cougar Football program, therein promoting Cougar Pride communitywide. The Van Wert Tailgate Tour Recking Crew is a 501(c)(3) organization. 

POSTED: 09/23/20 at 6:55 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The Van Wert County Board of Elections reminds county residents that voter registration for the November 3 general election will end Monday, October 5. The board office at 1362 E. Ervin Road will be open from 8:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. that day.

Those people not registered in Van Wert County, or who have moved since the prior general election and have not changed their address with the Board of Elections, should stop by one of the following locations and update their registration. 

Locations for voter registration include the following:

Van Wert License Bureau, The Brumback and Delphos Public libraries, Van Wert County Department of Job and Family Services, Women, Infants, Children (WIC) agency, County Treasurer’s and Auditor’s offices and Title Department in the Courthouse, and the Board of Elections office.

For more information, call the Board of Elections at 419.238.4192.

POSTED: 09/23/20 at 6:54 am. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Downtown development in Van Wert just got another tool with the notification that a large portion of the downtown is now on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

This map shows the new Van Wert Historic District approved by the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

“It’s a tough process,” said Main Street Van Wert Executive Director Mitch Price of the process, adding that there aren’t a lot of Ohio downtowns on the National Register. “It kind of puts on the map a little more.”

In fact, it has taken the efforts of four MSVW directors — Seth Baker, Adam Ries, Dan Baisden, and now Price — over the past six years to get the paperwork intensive process finalized.

The current MSVW director said he learned of Van Wert’s approval on Friday morning via Zoom.

Price said a lot of effort went into getting the downtown on the National Register, noting for example that research was needed into the history of each building, the construction materials used in the buildings, and what type of façade is on each building, and praised his predecessors and the consultant who was first hired by Baisden for moving the process forward.

“Those guys did a great job,” he said.

The new historic district runs from Fountain Park on the west side to Harrison Street on the east, and from the railroad tracks on the north to Central Avenue on the south (see map at right), and is separated into contributing and non-contributing buildings.


POSTED: 09/22/20 at 6:57 am. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent writer

CONVOY — Refunds for Crestview Middle School’s annual Washington, D.C., trip should be coming soon.

The trip, originally scheduled for last spring, was canceled because of COVID-19, and during Monday night’s monthly Board of Education meeting, board members approved a cancellation agreement with K&K Tours of Celina. However, refunds won’t be for the full amount, but instead will be about half of the $1,000 paid by each family.

Crestview Curriculum Director Lindsay Breese gives a presentation to the Crestview Local Board of Education during its meeting Monday evening. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

“That’s been a hard-hit industry and they have to survive through this also,” Superintendent Kathy Mollenkopf said. “Whatever they’ve extended out (paid to vendors) is gone and that’s what they’ve come back with to us, so it looks like it’s going to be about 50 percent.”

Board members heard a presentation by Director of Curriculum and Instruction Lindsay Breese, high school English teacher Mimi Myers, and middle school math teacher Deanna Ray about the district’s Portrait of a Graduate, a program centered around five points: innovative thinking, informed citizens, interpersonal communications, integrity-driven decision making, and invested workers.

A brief video featuring former students, staff members, and others explaining the role Crestview plays in preparing students for life was shared with the board and the three, along with Mollenkopf, said the goal is to create well-rounded graduates.

In other business, Mollenkopf told board members that seven students have opted to switch from remote learning to in-person instruction, with two more pending, and high school Principal Dave Bowen informed the board that homecoming will be held this Friday.


POSTED: 09/22/20 at 6:53 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

A little after 3 a.m. Tuesday, the Van Wert Fire Department and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) were dispatched by the Van Wert Police dispatcher to a house fire on East Sycamore Street in Van Wert.

This house on East Sycamore sustained fire, water and smoke damage that make it uninhabitable at the present time due to a fire that occurred early Tuesday morning. CERT photo

Upon arrival, it was determined that a vehicle fire also caught the house on fire. Fire then reached the attic vent and spread through the home. A neighboring house also received some heat damage. 

Fire command on scene stated the home received extensive smoke and water damage, causing the home to be uninhabitable for two adults and four children. CERT members met with the family members to determine their needs for donations. 

Needed are the following:

  • Adult male: Pants size 32-32, shirt size XL, shoe size 12, coat size XL
  • Adult female: Pants size 3-5, shirt size S, shoe size 7½, coat size S
  • Minor male: Pants size 6-7, shirt size 6-7, shoe size 1, coat size SM 6-7
  • Minor female:  Pants size 12-14, shirt size youth 12-14, shoe size 5, coat size youth 12-14
  • Minor male: Pants size 30-32, shirt size XL, shoe size 11, coat size XL

All clothing donations can be dropped off at The Salvation Army Thrift Store, 1116 S. Washington St. in Van Wert, under the name “Sycamore Fire”.

Monetary donations for the family can be sent to the Van Wert County Foundation, 138 E. Main St. in Van Wert, with “Sycamore Fire” in the memo line to ensure the money goes directly to the family.

For more information, call the EMA office at 419.238.1300

POSTED: 09/22/20 at 6:44 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The Van Wert County General Health District is holding a drive-thru flu shot clinic on Thursday, October 15, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds.  

The clinic is for ages 4 and up. Call 419.238.0808, extension 103 or 107, to pre-register. Those participating should enter through Gate 5 at the fairgrounds and remember to bring an insurance card.

POSTED: 09/22/20 at 6:39 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

It is fair to say that 2020 has been met with many challenges and hardships due to the impact of the Covid-19 global pandemic. It is important, now more than ever, to bring as much joy and wonderment to our community.

Organizations involved in a holiday lighting project in Fountain Park are seeking donations to continue the event this year. VW independent file photo

The Van Wert Service Club, Optimist Club of Van Wert, Main Street Van Wert and the Van Wert Parks Department are all working together to fill Fountain Park with the Christmas Spirit this holiday season. The organizations are unsure what holiday experience will look like, but the groups continue to follow guidance from the Van Wert County Health Department to provide a safe holiday experience. The anticipated special opening night ceremony will be November 25 and the groups are optimistic that Christmas at Fountain Park will delight those of all ages and will serve as a family-friendly and fanciful experience.

Last year’s Christmas at Fountain Park, while enjoyable and beautiful, experienced tragedy due to high winds and bad weather. The organizations involved must replace a lot of damaged decorations, in addition to filling the whole park with holiday wonderment.

To continue bringing this event to the community each holiday season, these organizations are looking for partner donors and are diligently working to raise funds to continue upkeep on decorations, lighted displays, and support opening night expenses. 

Any business, club, organization, or community member interested in making a financial donation can expect to be recognized on social media throughout the season as well as being represented on a printed banner hung in the park, in appreciation of your donation.


POSTED: 09/21/20 at 7:09 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The Haven of Hope homeless shelter in Van Wert announces that it has been selected as a top finalist in the State Farm Neighborhood Assist grant program. 

The State Farm Neighborhood grant was applied for this past summer and only 1,000 applications were accepted. Haven of Hope made it into the first round, during which State Farm evaluated those applications and determined which programs were worthy to make the top 200 list. Haven of Hope was notified on September 15 that it was in the top 200. 

What does that mean now? It means Haven of Hope needs to make it to the top 40 to receive a $25,000 grant for its new men’s homeless shelter. The shelter’s board is requesting that community members and friends help it make it to the top 40 by voting online for its cause. 

State Farm has set up a link for Haven of Hope so area residents need to just go online and vote. Voting will open Wednesday, September 23, and close Wednesday, October 2. Voters have 10 votes to allocate to their cause of choice. Area residents can allocate all 10 votes each day to Haven of Hope. 

Haven of Hope is asking community residents to use the following website and apply their 10 votes per day, every day, through October 2:

For more information on Haven of Hope go to Local residents can also help Haven of Hope by liking and sharing its Facebook page, where the voting link will also be provided. 

Haven of Hope is operated by a community of local Christians who have come together to help displaced individuals and families in Van Wert County by providing a place to stay and ongoing guidance to obtain the resources necessary to embrace the next chapter of their lives.

POSTED: 09/21/20 at 7:03 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The U.S. Census Bureau will begin special operations to count people experiencing homelessness in communities across the country on Tuesday, September 22. 

Specially trained census takers will count people September 22-24 at shelters, soup kitchens, and mobile food van stops in an operation called Service-Based Enumeration (SBE). Census takers will count people who live outdoors, in transit stations, and at other locations where people are known to sleep in an operation called Targeted Non-Sheltered Outdoor Locations (TNSOL).

“The Census Bureau is committed to counting everyone once, only once, and in the right place,” said Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham. “To reach everyone living in the United States, our census takers are conducting special operations to count people experiencing homelessness to ensure we have a complete and accurate 2020 count.”

Counting people experiencing homelessness is part of the Group Quarters (GQ) operation, a special process to count people in unique living situations. The GQ operation also counts people living in nursing homes, prisons, missions and dormitories. A complete and accurate 2020 Census can ultimately help organizations provide better services, food distribution capability, and improved shelter options to those in need.

“We are committed to taking every step necessary to make sure we count everyone,” said Dillingham. “Even if you have someone staying with you who doesn’t have another place to live, be sure to include them when you respond.”

In preparation for counting people experiencing homelessness, the Census Bureau is coordinating with local service providers and has consulted with advocacy groups and other stakeholders throughout the country to adjust this work in response to COVID-19. The Census Bureau is also working with service provider administrators to identify locations where people experiencing homelessness are living to ensure a complete count of this population.


POSTED: 09/21/20 at 6:59 am. FILED UNDER: News