The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2023

Superintendent Kathy Mollenkopf said Crestview students will have time off for the Van Wert County Fair. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

CONVOY — Parents of Crestview students involved in 4-H and other Van Wert County Fair activities can breathe easy – school will not be in session during the 2024 fair.

During Monday night’s monthly school board meeting, board members approved an amended calendar for the 2024-2025 school year, one that includes four days off for the annual fair, August 29-30 and September 2-3. The previously proposed calendar allowed for just two days off at fair time – Labor Day Monday, which is the traditional final day of the fair, and the day after.

“It matches previous calendars,” Superintendent Kathy Mollenkopf said. “It will be offered as professional development days for teachers and staff and we have some plans in place if those employees have conflicts on those days with their own fair obligations.”

“It maintains the fidelity of the calendar as the start date for district staff is August 16, students would still be done on the same date, May 23…it allows for the request of two weeks at Christmas,” she added.

A calendar committee, made up of two representatives each from the Early Childhood Center, Crestview Elementary, Crestview Middle School and Crestview High School created two calendar options that were taken to all employees to vote on. Board member Andy Perrott suggested the board have a representative on the committee, but that may require approval by the Crestview Education Association.

Board President John Auld thanked district parents for their input and concerns about the proposed calendar.

During a brief report, Treasurer Ashley Whetsel noted in light of recent bank failures, the district’s investments are safe.

“None of our investments have been affected by either one of those banks and just to reiterate, we do not hold multiple securities with the same bank and we are well below the $250,000 FDIC requirement,” she explained. “That allows for the cost of the CD as well as any interest growth. Of course, Ohio revised code doesn’t allow us to invest in anything that would be risky. All is well with our investments.”

Two personnel moves were given approval – a one-year contract for Allison Morrow as an elementary teacher for the 2023-2024 school year and accepting the resignation of Amy Nidiffer as a cook after serving 19 years with the district.


POSTED: 03/21/23 at 3:41 am

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

The staff and board of YMCA Hickory Sticks Golf and ACMYHS staff and their board, have been hard at work preparing for the opening of the 2023 golf season.

The golf course was impacted by a February 22 maintenance barn fire and in the aftermath there have been questions about whether or not Hickory Sticks would be able to open on time. Staff members and leadership at Hickory Sticks are assuring members, guests, and local organizations that the golf course will be indeed be open this season. The planned date for opening is Monday, April 17, weather dependent.

“It is important for the YMCA to get accurate information out to members, visiting golfers and supporters,” YMCA CEO Hugh Kocab. “If you have questions regarding the fire, our rebuild plans, equipment etc. please contact Corey Clifton or me. The support from the community has been overwhelming.”

Weather permitting, Hickory Sticks will open for the season on April 17. Photo submitted

Leland Smith Insurance and Erie Insurance have been working closely with us with claims, cleanup,equipment purchases, and walking the YMCA through the process of recovery, and Alexander & Bebout is in the process of drafting new building plans. Delphos awning and tents will be providing a large tent to store equipment, chemicals and miscellaneous course related tools and equipment. New Toro and John Deere equipment is up to two years back ordered and has been ordered or is being ordered. Kennedy Kuhn and Toro are working to help resupply some of the lost equipment immediate needs with used equipment, and golf courses across the country have been working with the YMCA to meet opening needs as well.

Local supporters and businesses that collaborate with the golf course began a GoFundMe to assist in getting the word out about the fire and our needs, and the response has been positive.

“It’s amazing that the YMCA has such great supporters in Van Wert as well as throughout the state,” Kocab said. “We are deeply thankful for those who acted quickly to assist the Y during this time. We are looking forward to serving all of our golf members, YMCA families, and local organizations who host their golf outings at Hickory Sticks Golf Club.”

All planned tournaments and outings will be taking place as scheduled.

The YMCA of Van Wert County is partially funded by the Van Wert County Foundation and United Way.

POSTED: 03/21/23 at 3:40 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff/submitted information

A Van Wert native has been tabbed as the new executive director of the Wassenberg Art Center.

Brooke Fuerst was appointed by the Van County County Foundation and will start on Monday, March 27. She will manage, develop, and evaluate programs, promotions, operational workflow, financial reporting and budgeting to fulfill the vision, mission, and values of the Wassenberg Art Center.

Brooke Fuerst

A ceramic artist, Fuerst was born and raised in Van Wert and was a 2013 graduate of Van Wert High School. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics at Indiana-Purdue University Fort Wayne in 2018. After graduating, she encouraged art opportunities in the Fort Wayne community by teaching local pottery workshops and managing a pottery studio in Kendallville. Her mission includes creating and engaging art opportunities that are accessible for everyone.

“Brooke is inspiring, Wassenberg Board President Sticky Rammel said. “She is a risk-taker, embraces new adventures, and is a continuous learner. A true artist in every sense of the word, she has wonderful energy and I am excited to see her lead the Wassenberg.”

“We are excited to have Brooke return to our community,” Van Wert County Foundation CEO Seth Baker said. “Brooke has a unique background that helps us fulfill our vision by creating a well-resourced and thriving quality of life in our community. We look forward to supporting her in this new role as she upholds the Wassenberg Art Center vision to be a catalyst for creative expansion through art.”

There will be an introduction for Fuerst from 6-9 p.m. Thursday, March 30, during the High School Art Show open-house event at the Wassenberg Art Center. The show is open to the public and all are welcome to attend and support the youth and arts in our community.

For details on programs, news and upcoming events, visit

POSTED: 03/21/23 at 3:39 am. FILED UNDER: News

The Step Crew brought plenty of Celtic flare to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Dance groups from around the area were among those who enjoyed the performance. Sunday’s matinee show kicked off the 2023 Enrich Community Concert Series. Photos courtesy of James Leighner

POSTED: 03/21/23 at 3:37 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff/submitted information

West Ohio Food Bank, a United Way of Van Wert County agency, will be distributing shelf stable food and produce at Trinity Friends Church, 605 N. Franklin St., Van Wert, Tuesday, March 28, from 12-2 p.m. or until food is gone. This mobile food drive will be a drive-thru only event.

You must have valid photo identification in order to receive food, only two households per vehicle, and must be at least 18 years of age.

Anyone with questions should call the United Way of Van Wert County office at 419.238.6689.

POSTED: 03/21/23 at 3:36 am. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

DAYTON — One game does not define the season.

The 2022-2023 season didn’t end as hoped for Crestview, but it was a memorable and very special season nonetheless.

The Knights, ranked No. 5 in the final Associated Press poll, fell to No. 1 Richmond Heights in the Division IV state championship game 70-26 at the University of Dayton Arena Sunday afternoon. Crestview trailed by nine at halftime but fell to a team It was the 49th consecutive win by the Spartans (29-0), while Crestview finished 25-4. A full game story can be found on the Sports page.

The Knights hold up the runner-up trophy at the University of Dayton. Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

The Spartans are considered by many to be the best high school basketball team in Ohio, regardless of division.

For Crestview fans, no doubt there are at least several moments that will live on for years – rallying from a 14-point deficit late in the third quarter and defeating Ottoville 63-61 in two overtimes in the district finals at Elida; rallying from a 13-0 first quarter hole and a Mitch Temple free throw with a half second left that gave the Knights a 41-40 regional championship win over Marion Local at Bowling Green State University. Head coach Doug Etzler noted that was one of his favorite memories this season. Then were was a 26 point third quarter outburst that sparked Crestview to a 69-63 win over Hiland in the state semifinals.

Seven seniors were the heart and soul of this team – Gavin Etzler, Dru Nielsen, Mitch Temple, Carson Hunter, Nate Lichtle, Nasir Easterling and Wesyn Ludwig. Their leadership was a big factor in the team’s run to the state finals.

POSTED: 03/19/23 at 9:49 pm. FILED UNDER: News

A Saturday morning snow squall led to some fender benders (and a little worse) in and around Van Wert. Roads became very slippery and visibility in some spots was extremely limited. Among the accidents: U.S. 30 westbound near the Middle Point exit (above), S. Washington St. and Ervin Rd. (bottom left) and Leeson Ave. and S. Shannon St. (below right). The driver in the Leeson Ave. accident was taken by ambulance to OhioHealth Van Wert Hospital. Bob Barnes/VWFD photographer

POSTED: 03/19/23 at 9:48 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff/submitted information

Calling local young artists in kindergarten through 12th grade – it’s time to break out the paint, crayon, colored pencil, charcoal, stickers and paper for the Van Wert Soil and Water Conservation District poster contest.

The contest is open to all Van Wert County students. The creation may not be traced from other artists’ work or from photographs. Each entry must have the completed form signed by the parent or guardian attached to the back of the poster. This form can be downloaded from the SWCD website at: on the education page. The topic “One Water” must appear on the front of the poster. The deadline to turn in posters to the Van Wert SWCD is 4 p.m. Thursday, May 4.

Posters will be judged on grade divisions: K-1, 2-3, 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12. First place entries from each level will receive a certificate from the Van Wert SWCD. Those first place entries will be submitted to the state poster contest which will be held this summer. Posters selected from the state contest will be forwarded to the national poster contest. Posters at this level will be judged on: conservation message (50 percent), visual effectiveness (30 percent), originality (10 percent) and universal appeal (10 percent).

Additional information can be found here or by calling the SWCD Office at 419.238.9591.

POSTED: 03/19/23 at 9:48 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff/submitted information

COLUMBUS — Severe weather can occur at any time of the year and Spring Severe Weather Awareness Week allows Ohioans the opportunity to learn the best ways to be prepared and stay safe during inclement weather.

“Severe weather can impact Ohio at any time of year, so it’s important that residents are prepared for the possibility of a weather emergency,” Governor Mike DeWine said. “Spring Severe Weather Awareness Week allows Ohioans the opportunity to learn more about severe weather and be prepared before, during, and after a storm.”

Tornadoes are very possible during the spring months. VW independent file photo

In a coordinated effort with the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness (OCSWA), the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, and the National Weather Service, Governor DeWine has proclaimed March 19-25 as Spring Severe Weather Awareness Week and is encouraging all Ohioans to prepare themselves for spring and summer weather hazards and home emergencies.

“Ohio’s weather can often be unpredictable, especially in the spring when temperatures fluctuate between warm and cold which can be a recipe for severe weather, or even tornadoes,” said Ohio Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Sima Merick. “We encourage all Ohioans to make or review an existing emergency plan and be prepared.”

At 9:50 a.m. on Wednesday, March 22, local communities can participate in a statewide tornado drill and test their emergency and sheltering plans. Ohio counties may use this time to sound and test their outdoor warning sirens and mass notification systems. Businesses, schools, and households are also encouraged to practice their tornado drills and emergency plans at this time.


POSTED: 03/17/23 at 10:45 pm. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

The YMCA of Van Wert County will be hosting their annual Good Friday Prayer Breakfast on from 7-8 a.m. April 7,Willow Bend Country Club in Van Wert. Breakfast will be provided by Willow Bend and the 2023 program speakers will be staff and students from LifeWise Academy.

POSTED: 03/17/23 at 10:44 pm. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

COLUMBUS — Unemployment in Van Wert County in January was lower than the statewide average, according to figures released this week by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services on Tuesday.

The county’s jobless rate was 3.3 percent, tied for eighth lowest in Ohio with Warren and Putnam counties. ODJFS said Van Wert County had a labor force of 14,000 in January, with just 400 unemployed. The latest figure was higher than December’s rate of 2.6 percent, but lower than the January, 2022 unemployment rate of 4.0 percent.

Three other neighboring counties had lower jobless rates than Van Wert County in January. In fact, Mercer County had Ohio’s lowest unemployment rate, 2.6 percent, while Auglaize County had the second lowest rate, 2.8 percent. Paulding County had the state’s sixth lowest jobless rate, 3.2 percent.

Allen County’s January unemployment rate was 4.2 percent, just over the statewide average of 4.0 percent, while Hardin County was at 4.3 percent. To the north, Defiance County was a 3.9 percent while Henry County was a 5.9 percent.

The counties with Ohio’s highest jobless rate to start 2023 were Guernsey County (6.1 percent), Vinton and Highland counties (6.4 percent), Noble and Huron counties (7.1 percent), Ottawa and Morgan counties (7.4 percent), Adams County (7.5 percent), Meigs County (7.8 percent) and Monroe County, 8.5 percent.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services that unemployment rates increased in all 88 counties.

February, 2023 unemployment rates will be released by ODJFS on Friday, March 24, and unemployment rates for counties, cities, and metropolitan areas will be available on Tuesday, March 28.

POSTED: 03/16/23 at 8:25 pm. FILED UNDER: News