The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Dec. 5, 2022

Lincolnview will play host to county rival Van Wert in this year’s YWCA Human Trafficking Awareness doubleheader basketball game on Thursday, December 29. The twinbill will also serve as a fundraiser to fight human trafficking, and a traveling trophy will be awarded that night. Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

VW independent staff/submitted information

The Lincolnview Lancers and Van Wert Cougars boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball teams will meet up on the court on Thursday, December 29, at Lincolnview High School as part of the YWCA’s kickoff to Human Trafficking Awareness month.

“For the three seasons, the ladies’ teams played each other in January during Human Trafficking Awareness Month and we used that game provide information to the community about our services,” YWCA Outreach Coordinator Julie Schaufelberger said. “In 2021, that matchup was moved to December and it became a combined game with the boys’ and girls’ varsity teams playing. Having the boys’ teams and their fans in attendance allows us to broaden the scope of our outreach and get information to an entirely new audience.”

A traveling trophy is presented to the school that generates the most funds through a tea battle and donations. The Well Nutrition will host a Tea Battle from December 26-28 and $1 of each Lancer and Cougar tea sold will be donated toward YWCA Human Trafficking services and count toward each team’s “fundraising” efforts.

“We know coaches and players are extremely busy and don’t have time to fund raise in conjunction with this game. We approached The Well and they were on board with helping us with this project,” said Jamie Evans, Director of Survivor Services. “It will bring some friendly competition between schools and within the community as we approach game night, as well as help raise vital funds for our human trafficking services.”

In addition to the funds raised through the Tea Battle, the YWCA will take donations until the end of halftime of the ladies game. Separate donation buckets for Lancer fans and Cougar fans will be available in the Lincolnview High School lobby and Venmo will also be offered at the game. Those donations, along with the money raised from The Well, will be combined to determine the traveling trophy recipient.


POSTED: 12/05/22 at 10:24 pm

VW independent staff/submitted information

The Van Wert Health Rural Health Clinic (primary care) will be moving to a new location on Monday, December 12. Previously located at the Van Wert Health Center, formerly known as the Medical Arts Building, the Rural Health Clinic will be moving across town to the Van Wert Health North building, which is located at 214 Towne Center Blvd., Van Wert.

Wednesday, December 7, will be the last clinic day for the Rural Health Clinic at 140 Fox Road, Suite 201. The office staff will begin moving equipment to the Van Wert Health North building December 8-9 and the clinic will be closed to patients during that time. Patients needing primary care these days may utilize the walk-in clinic or may be seen at Van Wert Health’s other primary care offices in Ottoville and Rockford.

The new location of the Rural Health Clinic (primary care) is in the same building where the Van Wert Health walk-in clinic is currently located. Beginning December 12, the following primary care providers will be located at the Van Wert Rural Health Clinic:

Family Medicine

John Sharma, MD, FAAFP; Shane Gerber, APRN, CNP; Kristen Price, APRN, CNP; Kim Runser, APRN, CNP

Internal Medicine

Okey Anochie, MD; Scott Jarvis, MD, FACP; Paul A. Kalogerou, MD; Deborah Howell, APRN, CNP

The phone number will remain the same at the new location, 419.232.2077. Staff from the Rural Health Clinic will not be readily available to answer phone calls on December 8 and 9. Patients may leave a voicemail on those dates and a staff member will return messages as soon as possible, but not later than December 12. Patients may also contact the clinic by completing a form online at

The Van Wert Health North facility, located at 214 Towne Center Blvd, Van Wert, provides readily accessible care to both area residents and visitors passing through our community and will be home to the Rural Health Clinic, Walk-in Clinic, lab services, and radiology services including X-ray and open MRI.

Lab service changes

The lab located at the Van Wert Health Center, 140 Fox Road, Suite 106, Van Wert, will be closing on December 12. Patients may utilize other lab locations at the hospital or Van Wert Health North.

Patients who have questions about these changes or need additional information may reach out via email at or by calling 419.238.2390.

POSTED: 12/05/22 at 10:24 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff/submitted information

Vantage Career Center is currently accepting nominations for the Class of 2023 Vantage Alumni Hall of Fame. This is a great time to highlight a Vantage Alumni from your community that brings achievement and honor to their career field, communities and Vantage. Nomination forms can be found at

Candy Lammers (1994) and Bryon Wells (1999), both graduates of Van Wert City Schools, were nominated and inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame in 2022.

The purpose of the Alumni Hall of Fame is to recognize graduates who have through their performance and achievement, brought credit and honor to themselves and to Vantage Career Center after their graduation. Their exemplary public, personal, and career achievements will serve to inspire and provide leadership to future graduates to achieve and serve in the same distinguished manner.

Criteria for selection and eligibility:

  • Honorees must be a graduate of Vantage Career Center.
  • A period of 10 years must have elapsed between graduation and eligibility for induction into the Hall of Fame.
  • Honorees should represent a broad range of talents, achievements, and/or community service.
  • Nominees will be considered based on professional careers and community involvement.
  • A person may be nominated more than once, and a person may be nominated and inducted posthumously. A candidate is nominated by an individual choosing to complete this form.

The Hall of Fame Committee will conduct a preliminary screening of candidates. Qualifying candidates will then be requested to complete a questionnaire. All nominations should be returned by 11:59 p.m. January 6, to Stacie Peters, Vantage Career Center, 818 N. Franklin St., Van Wert.

All nominees are eligible for four years of consideration.

POSTED: 12/05/22 at 10:22 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff/submitted information

First Federal of Van Wert helped kicked off fundraising efforts for the planned American Legion Post 178 “Walk of Honor” with a generous donation of $10,000. The donation was presented during a brief ceremony held Saturday morning.

The “Walk of Honor” will be a memorial walkway and monuments designed to honor all veterans and first responders in Van Wert County.

Pictured from left to right are: Tom Burenga First Federal board member; Ciara Thomas; Ken Myers, trustee/ Project Chairman; Brian Renner President/CEO; Bill Marshall, Commander; Suzie Grimes, and Kindall Maxson. Photo submitted

“With First Federal being a community minded business that thrives to support the local community, the American Legion choose to approach them and asked if they would like to kick off the fund raising,” First Federal Brian Renner President/CEO said. “First Federal is honored to be part of the Walk of Honor project. We owe our gratitude to veterans and first responders for everything they have done for this country and this county. As a local community business, what better way to show our appreciation than to be part of this terrific project that the American Legion is undertaking.”

The Walk of Honor will add additional monuments to the American Legion’s Memorial Park located next door to the post on Main St., as well as a walkway of engraved bricks and pavers honoring those that have served not only in the military, but also first responders.

It will also contain monuments for veterans that served in non-conflicts, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan as well as law enforcement, and fire and EMS for all of Van Wert County. The Walk of Honor will show the support of the community countywide, of all those men and women that have chosen to sacrifice for the good of the communities and our country.


POSTED: 12/04/22 at 10:18 pm. FILED UNDER: News

This rendering shows plans for American Legion Post 178’s planned Walk of Honor, next to the Legion Hall on S. Shannon St. Fundraising efforts kicked off on Saturday. For more details, check the story above. Photo submitted

POSTED: 12/04/22 at 10:17 pm. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

WAPAKONETA — Following an investigation led by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Auglaize County Prosecutor Edwin A. Pierce jointly announced that a grand jury has indicted Christine Ann Steinke on 15 felony charges related to the theft of more than $150,000 from the city of Wapakoneta. The announcement was made on Friday.

“There’s no clearer example of abuse of power than stealing from those she serves for her own personal gain,” Yost said. “The people of Auglaize County deserve better, and we want to ensure that justice prevails.”

Christine Steinke

Steinke, a former utility clerk in Wapakoneta’s Utilities Department, was indicted last Thursday on 13 felony counts of tampering with records and two felony counts of theft in office. The indictment alleges that, while serving as utility clerk from 2009 to 2021, Steinke took portions of customer payments to the department for her own personal use.

BCI was asked to investigate after a software upgrade by the Utilities Department revealed discrepancies and local police were alerted to the alleged thefts. Upon completion of its investigation, BCI referred the findings to the Auglaize County Prosecutor’s Office.

“The yearlong investigation initiated by the Wapakoneta Police Department and continued by Ohio BCI involved the gathering and review of thousands of pages of records, which resulted in the indictment against Steinke,” Prosecuting Attorney Pierce said. “While numerous businesses and government utility customers payments were involved, those customers did not suffer any direct loss.”

Steinke was taken into custody Thursday evening and released Friday on her own recognizance after a bond hearing in the Auglaize County Common Pleas Court.

She had been placed on paid leave in September 2021; two months later, she resigned her position.

POSTED: 12/04/22 at 10:17 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff/submitted information

Van Wert Live has announced America’s Got Talent sensation Chapel Hart will make a stop at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on their first headlining Glory Days Tour at 7:31 p.m. Friday, March 31.

Sisters Danica and Devynn Hart and cousin Trea Swindle won the hearts of America’s Got Talent viewers earlier this year but have been steadily making their mark on country music for years. Over the past few months, the Poplarville, Mississippi natives have earned praise from greats like Dolly Parton and Tanya Tucker. Their talents also drew the attention of Darius Rucker, who recruited them for the stellar collaboration, “Ol’ Church Hymn.”

The Country Music Trio Chapel Hart will perform at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on Friday, March 31. Photo submitted

As they continue to ride this much-deserved wave of success, Chapel Hart has plotted an extensive tour that kicks off January 26 in Wichita, Kansas, and continues across the U.S. through mid-July, including the March 31 performance in Van Wert.

The trek marks a significant milestone for the hard-working trio, who have been performing together since 2014.

“It feels really amazing to be going out on our first-ever headlining tour,” Devynn Hart explained. “God has truly had his hands on us and our careers. We are forever grateful for every opportunity.”

In 2021 Chapel Hart was inducted into CMT’s Next Women of Country, the institution that has been known to help up-and-coming female country artists such as Kelsea Ballerini, Ashley McBride, and Gabby Barrett, just to name a few.

This Mississippi trio’s music has reached fans around the globe earning them the title of “International Group of the Year” as well as “International Song of the Year” for the single “You Can Have Him Jolene” in Scotland. They were also nominated in multiple categories by the British CMAs including “Group of the Year” and “Album of the Year” for their sophomore release “The Girls Are Back In Town”.


POSTED: 12/02/22 at 11:23 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff

Formal charges have been served in connection with a mid-November fire at Comfort Inn on N. Washington St. in Van Wert.

Van Wert County deputies served Christopher Aaron Tinsley Jr., 26, of Van Wert, with a warrant charging him with aggravated arson, a first degree felony, escape, a felony of the second degree and assault, a fourth degree felony. The warrant, which stemmed from a grand jury indictment, was served Thursday at the Van Wert County Correctional Facility.

Witnesses say Tinsley set a decorative bale of straw on fire in the lobby of Comfort Inn at approximately 3 a.m. Sunday, November 13. The fire was put out by an employee who confronted Tinsley. He left and was located by officers and while investigating the lobby fire, officers noticed the Comfort Inn’s shed was on fire (see pictures in a related story below). The Van Wert Fire Department was dispatched to extinguish the blaze.

After fighting with police officers and Van Wert County deputies, he was taken to jail.

POSTED: 12/02/22 at 11:21 pm. FILED UNDER: News

Carson Hunter (10) leads the break for Crestview in the first home game of the season. The Knights started fast and went on to beat Shawnee 68-55 on Friday. A game story can be found on the Sports page. Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 12/02/22 at 11:21 pm. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

The Van Wert Area Retired Teachers Association (VWARTA) will meet for a holiday luncheon and program at 12 p.m. Friday, December 9, at Willow Bend Country Club.

Holiday music will fill the air in the lovely dining room. The festive meal menu includes lasagna, tossed salad, dinner roll, rosy applesauce, and assorted cheesecakes, plus coffee and tea. The meal cost is $11 per person with a reservation requested by 6 p.m. Wednesday, December 7, to Jean Minnig at 419.203.0642, or via email,

Kevin Morrison and staff of the Van Wert County YMCA will speak on the new after school mentoring program to begin in 2023 as they continue the Y’s mission of assisting today’s youth with various life needs.

A business session will follow the speakers’ presentation. An election for new officers for 2023 will be held. VWARTA local dues for 2023 of $10 may also be paid at this meeting. Pension updates and STRS news will be shared. Invite other retired educators or persons interested in public education to join you for this holiday gathering.

For more information about the Van Wert Area Retired Teachers Association (VWARTA) or the Ohio Retired Teachers Association (ORTA), please contact VWARTA President Deb Kleinhenz at 419.203.2283.

POSTED: 12/02/22 at 11:20 pm. FILED UNDER: Lifestyles, News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independnt editor

Thursday night’s meeting of the Vantage Career Center Board of Education almost didn’t happen. Of the 12 board members, five were out due to illness, leaving just seven, the minimum needed for a quorum.

After the meeting got underway, the board approved a resolution for a new three-year contract for Superintendent Rick Turner. It begins with the start of the next school year, August 1, 2023 and runs through July 31, 2026.

Vantage Career Center Superintendent Rick Turner has a new three year contract that runs through July of 2026. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

Turner, a 1979 Crestview and Vantage graduate, was hired to replace then-retiring Superintendent Staci Kaufman in 2017, and earned a another three year contract in 2020. Prior to Vantage, Turner had spent 32 years at Apollo Career Center, including 11 as director of adult programs.

“I feel privileged to be able to lead the district for another three years,” Turner said after the meeting. “It’s a very effective district that does a lot of good things for high school and adult students. We have an amazing staff and to be able to lead them – I’m very excited about the next three years. I’m a full believer in the potential of Vantage Career Center and we will keep moving forward in a positive way.”

Board President Pat Baumle was complimentary of Turner and said he provides strong leadership and a firm understanding of vocational education.

“In Rick not only have we found that leadership but we found an alumnus with that leadership who really has a passion for career education and Vantage in particular,” Baumle said. “We feel blessed.”


POSTED: 12/02/22 at 4:42 am. FILED UNDER: News