The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

The second of two men facing serious felony charges tied to an early May, 2022 armed burglary and assault in Van Wert has changed his plea.

Kaiden Gilbert

During a hearing held Thursday morning in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court, Kaiden Gilbert, 20, of Van Wert, entered a guilty plea to aggravated burglary, a felony of the first degree; felonious assault, a second degree felony, and theft, a fifth degree felony. In exchange, two counts of kidnapping and a second count of felonious assault were dismissed. Judge Martin Burchfield ordered a pre-sentence investigation and scheduled sentencing for 9:30 a.m., February 9.

Gilbert was arrested June 30, nearly eight weeks after he and co-defendant Johnathon Miller, 19, of Van Wert, entered a home in the 300 block of S. Tyler St. Two people were in the home and one was brutally beaten with a gun. When the Van Wert Police Department went to Gilbert’s home to arrest him he fled on foot but was caught a short time later.

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POSTED: 01/27/23 at 4:40 am

VW independent staff/submitted information

Family entertainment will get wild at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center this spring, as Jeffery Mohr Family Dentistry presents The Wild World of Animals featuring Grant Kemmerer and Friends at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 30.

Grant Kemmerer has three decades of experience working with and caring for wild animals and specializes in educational and entertaining wildlife shows. He cares for over 200 animals including big cats, wolves, other large carnivores, primates, birds of prey, parrots, non-venomous snakes, crocodiles, and various reptiles, small mammals, and amphibians.

Grant Kemmerer and his pals are coming to the NPAC on April 30. Photo submitted

Grant and his team travel the entire country educating and sharing their passion for animals. Now, they are bringing their exotic animals directly to wildlife fans in the northwest Ohio region.

Kemmerer has been a guest animal expert on nationally televised shows such as Anderson Cooper, CBS Early Show, Fox and Friends, Martha Stewart, and the Meredith Vieira Show. The Wild World Of Animals show teaches the importance of all animals, the jobs they perform in nature, adaptations, some of the misconceptions surrounding certain species, and that wild animals are not pets. The animals are trained ambassadors that will put on a show to educate and excite the animal lover in everyone.

Ticket prices are family-friendly from $15-39 and are available now to Van Wert Live Members. General sales will begin on Friday, February 10. Van Wert Live memberships begin as low as $100 and provide 365 days of early buying opportunities and a 10 percent discount for Van Wert Live events. Memberships and tickets can be purchased at vanwertlive.com or through the box office Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 419.238.6722.

The Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation presenting Van Wert Live events is powered by the Van Wert County Foundation. 2023 Annual sponsors helping keep ticket prices low are Central Insurance, Statewide Ford, and First Federal Bank of Van Wert. The Box Office is located within the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, 10700 Ohio 118 S., Van Wert.

POSTED: 01/27/23 at 4:40 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

The College Credit Plus meeting that was scheduled for January 25, then canceled due to inclement weather has been rescheduled from 6:15-7:45 p.m. Wednesday, February 1. The meeting will be held in the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

It’s open to high school students and their parents from all county schools. Any students who are interested in earning college credit during high school should plan to attend.

Anyone with questions should contact Van Wert High School at 419.238.3350 or 419.238.2180.

POSTED: 01/27/23 at 4:40 am. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

Wednesday’s weather forecast called for 6-10 inches of snow and for the most part, it was accurate.

According to Van Wert County Emergency Management Agency Director Rick McCoy, the official snowfall measurement in Van Wert was 7.0 inches, with the bulk of it coming down between 5 a.m. and 2 p.m. Temperatures were around the freezing mark which led to a heavy, wet snow and slushy conditions. In Convoy, the official snowfall measurement was 5 1/2 inches.

This was a common site in Van Wert and throughout the county on Wednesday. Crews were able to keep up with the snow and by afternoon, many roads were just wet. VW independent file photo

“Because of the heavy wet nature of the snow, it compacted significantly, making it look like much less,” McCoy explained. “The warm temperatures of 32 or 33 degrees kept the snow ratio down. Had we been sitting at 25 degrees or less, our snow accumulation would have been around nine inches, so the National Weather Service projections were pretty much on the mark.”

One thing that didn’t seem to materialize – winds that were projected to reach 25 miles per hour, which would have created blowing and drifting snow along with a whole new set of challenges. There were reports of a rare phenomenon – thunder snow, which occurred during the late morning hours near Convoy and Van Wert.

Local schools began the day on a two-hour delay but later made the decision to close, as did some local businesses and government offices.

Roads during the morning hours were snow covered in many spots with slush on more heavily traveled roads and streets. City, village, township and ODOT crews spent the morning clearing roads and by early to mid afternoon, the majority of roads and streets were just wet.

Snow showers are expected today along with gusty winds up to 25 miles per hour.

POSTED: 01/26/23 at 4:40 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff/submitted information

The Marsh Foundation is constantly exploring new methods of therapy and educating its clinicians on ways in which they can better serve their clients. Many of these clients have unique needs that require more innovative approaches to treatment.

Recently, clinician Elspeth McCoy and her dog became certified in Animal Assisted Therapy. Already a counselor with a master’s degree in social work and an LISW license, McCoy felt that incorporating dogs into her work might be an effective way to reach some of the boys she was working with.

Counselor Elspeth McCoy is pictured with her dog, Getty, who works with her at The Marsh Foundation providing Animal Assisted Therapy. Photo submitted

Working with traumatized youth can be intense and overwhelming. The goal McCoy has when incorporating animals, is to calm and comfort the youth.

“The overall goal is assist kids with becoming more comfortable sharing difficult thoughts and feelings and there has been a lot of research that shows that animals can really aid in this process,” McCoy said. “Many of my clients have experienced traumatic events and I have seen how the dogs can be very calming to the kids when processing these things.”

Both McCoy and her dogs had to go through classes and a certification process. After multiple training classes, a therapy dog test was administered by Pet Partners to officially certify them.

“I also had to do a lot of work with them out in the community to prepare to pass the test,” McCoy said.

Another counselor on campus is certified in Equine Assisted Learning and facilitated a therapy program throughout the summer using horses. The clinicians are seeing positive results from the new programming options.

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POSTED: 01/26/23 at 4:39 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff

The search for a new Lincolnview treasurer will continue next week.

The Lincolnview Local Schools Board of Education will meet on at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, February 1, in Room 222 (science lab) for the purpose of conducting the treasurer search.

The opening and adjournment will be in public session, otherwise the remainder of the meeting will be in executive session.

POSTED: 01/26/23 at 4:38 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

Mackenzie Jones, a four-year member of the Van Wert High School Vocal Music Department, has been selected to perform in Columbus on Friday, February 3, as a member of the Ohio Music Education Association’s 2023 All-State Choir.

Mackenzie Jones

Jones, the daughter of Major Jim and Laura Jones, is a senior at Van Wert High School. She sings soprano in Concert Choir and the Select Acapella Choir. She also serves as Concert Choir President. She participated in the 2022 OMEA District III Honors Choir and has received superior vocal ratings at OMEA Solo and Ensemble contests.

Mackenzie is also a member of the Van Wert High School band program serving as field commander and first chair alto saxophone. She actively participates in the Van Wert High School Theatre program, National Honor Society, FCA, Service Pack, Beta Club, and German Club. She is a Junior Rotarian, Van Wert High School’s 2023 Peony pageant representative, attends and volunteers at Lifehouse Church, and is a honor roll student and academic award winner.

Approximately 150 of the best high school vocalists from across Ohio will perform at the OMEA State Convention held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center at 8 p.m. Friday, February 3. The 2023 All-State Choir will be directed by Dr. Julie Yu, Professor of Music and Co-Director of Choral Studies at Kansas State University.

POSTED: 01/26/23 at 4:37 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

PAULDING — The John Paulding Historical Society will hold its annual wine & cheese tasting fundraiser Saturday, February 25.

Museum doors will open at 6 p.m. for the Vegas casino-themed event and the fun will begin at 7 p.m. with a selection of delicious wines and cheeses, plus door prizes, silent and Chinese auction, 50/50 drawing, and more. Scott Strahley and Jay Dachenhaus return as emcees.

Lois Beamer is leading the event committee as she did for last year’s successful event. The wine and cheese tasting is a major fundraiser for the historical society.

Tickets must be purchased in advance. Guests must be age 21 or older to attend. Tickets are $25 per person or $285 for a table of 12 and may be purchased at Kauser Trucking in Paulding, 419.399.4856, from Lois Beamer at 419.769.0661, or leave a message with John Paulding Historical Society at 419.399.3667.

The historical society is located at 600 Fairground Drive, across from the fairgrounds in Paulding.

For updates and additional information, check the historical society’s Facebook page.

POSTED: 01/26/23 at 4:37 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff

WASHINGTON D.C. — Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH5) has been named Chair of the Energy and Commerce (E&C) Subcommittee on Communications and Technology for the 118th Congress by E&C Committee Chair, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA05).

“I look forward to building on the advancements we have made in recent years, including increasing access to reliable internet via rural broadband, cracking down on illegal robocalls, and unleashing more spectrum for improved consumer connectivity,” Latta said. “As chairman of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, I am prepared to work with Chair Rodgers, and members of the committee, to spur innovation, streamline federal regulations, grow our economy, and close the digital divide.”

Latta previously served as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology for the 116th and 117th Congresses.

POSTED: 01/26/23 at 4:36 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff

The Van Wert County Courthouse and the Annex are closed today (Wednesday) due to the inclement weather.

In addition, the Van Wert County Health Department is closed today. In case of an emergency involving the health department, contact the Van Wert County Sheriff’s Department at 419.238.3866 and they will contact health department staff.

Van Wert Municipal Court is closing at noon today.

POSTED: 01/25/23 at 11:31 am. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

The cause of a massive weekend fire at a storage barn in Liberty Township remains unknown.

“The State Fire Marshal’s Office was called, so it’s an ongoing investigation,” Ohio City Volunteer Fire and EMS Chief Brandon Bowen said on Tuesday.

A storage barn at Gina Dairy LCC was engulfed in flames Saturday night and early Sunday morning. Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

As first reported on Monday, Ohio City firefighters were dispatched to Gina Dairy LLC in the 14000 block of Richey Road, near Wren Landeck Road shortly before 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Rockford, Willshire and Wren fire departments were called to provide mutual aid. More than two dozen firefighters were on the scene well into early Sunday morning.

Bowen noted the fire posed two major challenges to firefighters.

“The sheer volume of material in the building (mainly hay and straw) would be one and also the location of the building on-site and the accessibility to it, because it was surrounded on three sides by mud,” Bowen explained.

He also noted it took firefighters approximately nine hours and 1.5 million gallons of water, including water from a nearby pond, to bring the blaze under control, but it continues to smolder and will likely continue to do so for several days.

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POSTED: 01/25/23 at 4:46 am. FILED UNDER: News