The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, May. 29, 2020


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

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.

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.

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POSTED: 05/29/20 at 4:09 am

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.

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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 (www.crestviewknights.com) 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 coronavirus.ohio.gov 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. 

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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.”

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

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert City Council approved two pieces of financial assistance legislation needed to accept state aid related to COVID-19, adopted a measure needed to sell no longer used vehicles through Internet auction, and heard some less-than-positive economic information during its meeting on Wednesday evening.

Council, meeting two days later than normal because of the Memorial Day holiday, approved a resolution allowing the city to accept CARES financial assistance from federal and state governments, while also adopting an ordinance creating a separate fund to house state COVID-19 assistance. Both measures were adopted on first and final reading as emergency measures.

Van Wert Mayor Ken Markward reports on a Land Bank property located at the corner of Keplar and Market streets that is to be used as a Vantage house construction site. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Council also approved Ordinance 20-05-031, which authorizes Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming to advertise and sell the city’s “unused, unneeded, obsolete, or unfit” vehicles by Internet auction, as part of its consent agenda.

During his report, Fleming noted that the existing Jefferson Street Bridge should be completely gone by Thursday, and also announced that a portion of Van Wert-Decatur Road, between Burger King and Chief Supermarket, would be closed next Wednesday for eight hours for pavement repair.

Mayor Ken Markward said in his report that a property owned by the Van Wert Area Land Acquisition Corporation (Land Bank) on the southwest corner of Keplar and Market streets would be the location of the next Vantage house construction project. 

“One of the purposes of the Land Bank was to put housing back in place (of dilapidated houses demolished),” Markward said. 

During his report, Markward also noted that the tennis courts at Smiley Park and the pickleball courts at Franklin Park are now open to the public.

Van Wert Area Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Stacy Adam noted that unemployment in the county had gone from a 30-year low of 2.5 percent in April 2019 to a 30-year high of 16.2 percent this past April to underline the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the county’s economy.

“It’s a huge swing, without a doubt,” Adam said, adding that the county, which was in the top 10 percent of the state in job growth prior to the pandemic, has a strong foundation she feels is needed to make a fairly complete economic recovery.

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

VW independent/submitted information

The Optimist Club of Van Wert is grateful to community members and the Convoy Lions Club for their help with the Avenue of Flags project over the Memorial Day weekend. More than 300 American flags were displayed over the weekend, which club members would not have been possible without the help of volunteers.

The Avenue of Flags project is the Optimist Club’s largest fundraiser and service project. Members of the community subscribe to have an American flag placed in their yard to celebrate five holidays throughout the summer and fall months.

American flags are placed in front of Brumback Library prior to the Memorial Day weekend as part of the Van Wert Optimist Club’s Avenue of Flags program. photo provided

The Convoy Lions Club, led by president David Thomas, decided to lend a hand this year to the project. Their motto “We Serve” shows the personality of the club’s members, who work together with other community groups to make the county a better place to live.

A number of other community members also showed up to lend a hand with the project.

Those who would like to volunteer their time to help with the flag project in future can contact club President Trevor Webster at trevor.webster@edwardjones.com or at 419.232.2057. Volunteers need not be club members to help with this patriotic cause.

POSTED: 05/27/20 at 9:39 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent/submitted information

The 2020 edition of Old Fashioned Farmers Days has been added to the list of events canceled this year. This year’s event was to be held July 2-4. 

Next year’s event is now scheduled for July 1-3, 2021, and will feature John Deere equipment. 

POSTED: 05/27/20 at 9:31 pm. FILED UNDER: News

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Five people appeared this past week for criminal hearings in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court. 

Two of those hearings involved changes of pleas.

Tate Arnold, 38, of Van Wert, changed his plea from not guilty to guilty to four counts of aggravated possession of drugs and two counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs, each a felony of the third degree; and one count of possession of a Fentanyl-related compound, a fifth-degree felony.

Judge Martin D. Burchfield ordered a presentence investigation and scheduled sentencing for 10 a.m. Monday, June 22.

Sonny Metzger, 45, of Van Wert, admitted to violating his unsecured personal surety bond by testing positive for drugs, and then also changed his plea to guilty to one count of aggravated possession of drugs, a felony of the fifth degree. He also waived a presentence investigation and requested immediate sentencing. Judge Burchfield then sentenced him in 180 days in jail, with credit for two days already served. 

Sonny Raines III, 30, of Van Wert, admitted to violating his probation during a hearing last Thursday, and was then sentenced to 22 days in jail, which began Tuesday.

Two people also admitted to violating personal surety bonds.

Colby Black, 36, of Van Wert, admitted violating his bond by failing to report to probation since March 11 and failing to appear for court hearings. A $10,000 cash bond was set in his case and a pretrial conference scheduled for Wednesday, June 3.

Austin Schwaner, 20, of Van Wert, admitted to violating his bond by consuming alcohol. A $10,000 cash bond was also set in his case, which is scheduled for sentencing on June 3.

POSTED: 05/27/20 at 1:45 pm. FILED UNDER: News