The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Dec. 3, 2021


Vantage Career Center Board of Education President Pat Baumle was decked out in festive attire for Thursday night’s meeting. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

The Vantage Career Center Board of Education needed less than 20 minutes to move through a light agenda Thursday night.

During his report to the board, Superintendent Rick Turner said staff absences are on the rise and he said it’s a struggle to get substitute teachers in classrooms and labs but he said Senate Bill 1, which relaxes standards for subs, should help fill the shortages.

Turner said the school continues to make preparations to move adult education medical programs to the Thomas Edison building by early January. He noted the medical lab should be finished this week and painting and carpeting should be complete within the next couple of weeks. Interior and exterior signs are being created and he said planning continues to utilize the vacated space at the main campus.

Turner also said Vantage officials have been speaking with area businesses and agencies regarding workforce needs and he said sophomore recruiting efforts will begin in early 2022.

“There continues to be tremendous opportunities for job seekers, particularly those with technical skills employers are seeking,” Turner stated.

Treasurer Laura Peters informed the board that several routine audits are underway.

The board accepted a $41,600 emergency connectivity grant to purchase laptop computers, and board members approved an agreement with Garmann Miller Architects for interior renovations at the public safety training facility.

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POSTED: 12/03/21 at 4:43 am

VW independent and submitted information

Following a statewide trend, COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Van Wert County.

As of Thursday, the Van Wert County General Health District reported an increase of 165 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since Wednesday, November 24, for a total of 4,328 confirmed cases. The latest figure is an increase of 52 from the previous reporting period.

There are seven known hospitalizations of county residents due to the virus. In addition, the health department reported four additional COVID-19 deaths of Van Wert County residents, which brings the total number of COVID-19 deaths to 84. The age ranges of the newly reported deaths include one from 50-59 years, two from 70-79 years and one between 90-99 years.

The Van Wert County General Health District will hold a walk-in clinic for COVID-19 vaccine from 12-4 p.m. Thursday, December 9, at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds EMR Room, behind the fair office. Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available for first, second, and booster doses as eligible.

The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for ages five and up and Moderna for those age 18 and older. To receive a COVID-19 booster vaccination, a person must have received Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago or Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago.

Those wishing to receive the vaccine or booster should bring photo identification and any pertintent insurance information. Those under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian present as well as proof of age such as a shot record or birth certificate. Anyone who wants to receive a booster vaccine must provide proof of a prior COVID-19 vaccination.

The health department is not making appointments at this time, as all clinics are walk-in only.

POSTED: 12/03/21 at 4:43 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff and submitted information

Van Wert Live has announced the return of the Enrich Community Concert Series at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

Since 1953, the Community Concert Series has been enriching lives in Van Wert. Joanne Wolford and Roger and Kay Okuley present the new and outrageously entertaining 2022 Enrich Community Concert Series. This series with deep roots in Van Wert history is bundled together for a value price to make entertainment accessible, affordable, and awe-inspiring, for as low as $100.

Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits will return to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on Friday May 13. Photo provided

It all begins at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 20, with The TEN Tenors. This Australian music ensemble has toured extensively nationally and internationally and released more than 20 albums. They will perform their Love Is In The Air performance that includes feel-good love songs and wedding first dance songs. Their pure vocal harmonies will mesmerize as they cover many of your favorite romantic tunes, from pop songs with a twist to classic love songs, and even a few of the most famous and touching love arias in existence. For anyone with a soft spot for acoustic vocals and a tender tune, this is an experience not to be missed.

Back by popular demand and energizing the Enrich series, Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits return to Van Wert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 13 There is no doubt that Peter Noone’s extraordinary musical talent, disarming wit, handsome features, and compelling stage presence will provide an evening of something good. Experience their hit songs including Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter, No Milk Today, End Of The World, This Door Swings Both Ways, Just A Little Bit Better, I’m Henry The VIII, I Am, There’s A Kind Of Hush All Over The World, Silhouettes, and more.

Spend a night reliving Rock N’ Roll Royalty at 7 p.m. Sunday, November 6. One Night in Memphis, created and directed by John Mueller, is the number one booked and critically acclaimed tribute to legendary Sun Records recording artists Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley performed live and starring former cast members of the Broadway smash, “Million Dollar Quartet.” Featuring over 90 minutes of authentic rockabilly, country, gospel, and 1950’s rock and roll, there is sure to be a whole lot of shaking going on.

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POSTED: 12/03/21 at 4:43 am. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

Three people were sentenced in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court this past week, while two others appeared for other hearings.

Ashley McKee, 38, of Van Wert, was sentenced to 36 months in prison for conspiracy, a felony of the third degree. She was given credit for 326 days already served and the sentence will be served concurrently with her current prison sentence. She was assessed court costs.

The charges were connected to the February, 2020 drug-related death of a woman. McKee was originally charged with involuntary manslaughter, corrupting another with drugs, trafficking in a fentanyl-related compound and conspiracy. In exchange for a guilty plea to the conspiracy charge, the remaining counts were dismissed.

Marissa Kreischer, 35, of Van Wert, was sentenced to 18 months in prison with zero credit for time served for conspiracy, a fourth degree felony. The sentence will be served concurrently with her current prison sentence and she was assessed court costs.

James Nunemaker, 31, of Van Wert, was sentenced to three years of community control, 30 days in jail at a later date and 200 hours of community service for attempted safecracking, a fifth degree felony. In addition, Nunemaker must undergo substance abuse assessment and treatment, serve two years intensive probation and must pay partial appointed counsel fees, a monthly probation fee and court costs.

One person entered a change of plea during a hearing held this past week.

Michael Speakman, 29, of Van Wert, changed his plea to guilty to possession of cocaine, a fifth degree felony. He then requested and was granted Intervention in lieu of conviction and his case was stayed pending completion of the treatment program.

In addition, Kasey Schisler, 33, of Van Wert, signed a time waiver in open court and requested additional time for his case. A pretrial conference was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Monday, December 20.

POSTED: 12/03/21 at 4:42 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

The Van Wert Area Retired Teachers Association will meet for a holiday luncheon program at 12 p.m. Friday, December 10 at Willow Bend Country Club.

The Van Wert High School Select Choir, under the direction of Melissa Bloomfield, will share holiday music with attendees to begin the gathering. The festive luncheon menu includes beef tips in burgundy sauce, mashed potatoes, broccoli vegetable blend, dinner roll, a special Christmas dessert, and coffee and tea. The meal cost is $11 with a reservation required by December 8 to Jean Minnig at 419.203.0642.

VWARTA member Rita Hurless, also a Salvation Army Board member, will be “ringing the bell” for donations to the Kettle Campaign, which helps local families in need.

VWARTA dues of $10 for 2022 will be accepted at this meeting and volunteer hours for time given to local non-profit groups in the Van Wert area communities will be collected. VWARTA members will also hold an election for new officers for 2022.

For more information on membership in ORTA or in the Van Wert Area Retired Teachers Association, please contact President Deb Kleinhenz at 419.203.2283.

POSTED: 12/03/21 at 4:42 am. FILED UNDER: Lifestyles, News

Jon Jones/special to the VW independent

The Van Wert Fire Department is celebrating its 50th Anniversary as an Advanced Life Support (ALS) Ambulance with Paramedics.

In 1971, the Van Wert Fire Department was the second department in the State of Ohio to have personnel trained as EMT-Paramedics, second only to Columbus Fire Department. Van Wert Fire Department was the first rural department in the nation to provide this service for its community.

These pictures provide a look back in time to two of the emergency vehicles used by the Van Wert Fire Department. Photos provided

Paramedic is a combination of two terms, “para” meaning alongside of and “medic” meaning doctor. The paramedic’s role is to provide life-saving treatment for someone until they can get to a doctor. They may not physically work next to the physician but they can communicate via phone, radio, or pre-written orders.

The first paramedics were trained by two local doctors, Dr. Alford C. Diller and Dr. Wayne Ayers, along with the assistance of RN Diane Grothaus. The training was held at the Van Wert County Hospital. Original requirements for these 10 paramedics included 80 hours of training. Today paramedics complete nearly two years of rigorous schooling involving over 550 hours of classroom work and over 550 hours of clinical time.

Paramedics have extensive pre-hospital skills including administering medications for drug overdose or poisoning, CPR, interpreting electrocardiograms (EKGs), pacing the heart, using a defibrillator, performing a tracheotomy, starting an IV (intravenous) or IO (intraosseous) line, performing basic medical tests and advanced airway skills.

Paramedics possess strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills allowing them to react in stressful situations.

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POSTED: 12/02/21 at 9:47 am. FILED UNDER: News

Van Wert independent staff

Anyone living in Van Wert or Van Wert County, past residents and those who visit the City of Van Wert on a regular basis are being encouraged to take part in a brief online survey to help shape the future of the downtown area.

A brief online survey will be used to help shape the future of downtown Van Wert, including spaces occupied many years ago by businesses like the Van Wert Bootery and Brady’s. VW independent file photo

The city is participating in the 2021 Cohort of the Reimagining Rural Regions (R3) Initiative through a competitive application process submitted by the Van Wert County Foundation.

With many of the buildings in downtown Van Wert under the ownership of the Van Wert County Foundation, the R3 Initiative in Van Wert is seeking to reimagine the specific amenities available to residents and visitors in the downtown core, including what types of businesses, services and other amenities are most wanted by residents as well as visitors.

The information will be used to help improve the quality of live and help attract and retain a highly skilled workforce.

The survey should be filled out anyone 18 or older who is a current resident of Van Wert or Van Wert County, former residents (past 10 years), or anyone who regularly visits Van Wert for employment or recreational activities.

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POSTED: 12/02/21 at 4:39 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff and submitted information

2022 Van Wert County dog licenses are now on sale. All dogs three months or older are required to have a license.

Dog tags can be purchased by mail, online or at one of the following locations:

  • Van Wert County Auditor’s Office Room 205, Van Wert County Courthouse
  • Animal Clinic of Van Wert, 13995 Lincoln Highway
  • Emme Lu’s, 7079 U.S. Route 127, Van Wert
  • Ohio City Express, 511 W. Carmean St., Ohio City
  • Secret Garden Floral & Gifts, 109 W. Tully St., Convoy
  • The Bear’s Den, 18191 A Lincoln Highway, Middle Point
  • Willshire RoadDog 603 Rockford Rd., Willshire

Dog tags may also be purchased online at www.doglicenses.us/OH/VanWert/. A convenience fee will apply.

The Van Wert County Auditor’s Office encourages dog owners to purchase by mail or online when possible. If purchasing by mail, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope along with the proper fee. If purchasing a tag at one of the above locations, please take an application if you received one by mail.

The license cost is $17.00 per tag.

A penalty of $17.00 per one-year tag must be paid in addition to license cost and fee for licenses purchased for dogs three months of age or older after January 31.

A three-year tag for $51 and lifetime dog tags for $170 are available only in the Auditor’s Office. Kennel licenses are $85 for five tags. Extra tags are $1 each. Penalty for kennel license is $85 if purchased after January 31.

Anyone with questions should contact the Real Estate Department at the Van Wert County Auditor’s Office at 419.238.0843.

POSTED: 12/02/21 at 4:38 am. FILED UNDER: News

Van Wert independent staff

The Van Wert Convention and Visitors Bureau is making a name change.

Visit Van Wert is the new name for the local visitor’s office at 145 E. Main St. in downtown Van Wert. The organization’s logo, website, Facebook and Instragram pages will soon reflect the change.

“In the past all our social media and communication outlets used several names at the same time and it could be confusing,” Director Kim Fleming said. “The need for streamlining them into a one name umbrella was much needed. After looking into other areas in Ohio, we really felt like Visit Van Wert was an inviting name and we certainly hope that people will take advantage of our current events for December as well as upcoming for 2022 and visit Van Wert.”

Fleming also wanted to pay respect to two people who had made the mission of visiting Van Wert a foundation.

“Larry Lee, the past director, recently passed away,” Fleming said. “Larry served for 15 years in his capacity as a leader and started the office to extend Van Wert’s name to all those around Ohio as a place to visit.”

“Main Street Van Wert Executive Director Mitch Price, Main Street Director, will be leaving his position to venture into another business position. Mitch has been so gracious and helpful the past two months helping catch me up in all the details of our Main Street activities and answering many questions. His service to our community and behind the scenes work will be hard to replace.”

More information on the changes will be released in the coming weeks.

POSTED: 12/02/21 at 4:38 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent news

An unspecified threat directed toward Van Wert Middle School is under investigation by the Van Wert Police Department.

A notice signed by Van Wert Middle School Principal Darla Dunlap and Assistant Principal Ben Collins was sent out to parents and guardians earlier today.

“Today, Wednesday December 1, 2021, Van Wert Middle School, in conjunction with the Van Wert Police Department investigated a threat report in relation to our school,” the notice said. “At no time today were staff and students in immediate danger. The student has been removed from the building while the investigation continues. Although we know there will be questions, we can not answer specific questions at this time because of an ongoing investigation.”

POSTED: 12/01/21 at 4:03 pm. FILED UNDER: News

Editor’s note: This is the fifth and final in a series of articles detailing the plans to renovate Eggerss Stadium.

John White/special to the VW independent

Recently I visited Eggerss Stadium on a crisp and breezy fall day. Being the only one in the stadium, I took a seat on the fifty-yard line and used the opportunity to reflect on Van Wert Cougar Football that only could be accomplished with vivid imagination.

The current view of the visitors locker room at Eggerss Stadium. The home locker room is in the Goedde Building. Photo provided

I closed my eyes and saw Gilbert “Gil” Smith coaching on the sideline with his low-key flair along with thousands of cheering fans. Smith, the winningest coach in Cougar history, amassed a record of 130-30-10 during the 40s and 50s. I imagined Willie Hernandez zigging and zagging as he took the ball 80 yards to the house in the 1950s.

I imagined other Cougar standouts such as Jim Young on the field who went on to become a HOF college coach as well as players like Pat Jackson in the 1980s, Joel Penton in the 2000s, and Owen Treece in 2020. The Van Wert community has enjoyed a long and memorable Cougar football experience spanning decades which includes our most recent successes with a state championship in 2020 and a WBL Championship in 2021.

So too has Eggerss Stadium had a successful run. The first game at Eggerss was played on September 18, 1936. To quote the Excalibur published in 1937, it reads “The 1937 Graduating Class of Van Wert High School will long be remembered as the class that graduated in the first year of the new Stadium Era.” Don’t you just love that? It’s so easy to simply take the stadium for granted. But now our community can enjoy a new and improved Stadium Era going forward.

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POSTED: 12/01/21 at 4:43 am. FILED UNDER: News