The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, May. 25, 2024

Hometown Heroes banners like this one proudly hang in the downtown Van Wert area and beyond. Scott Truxell/VW independent

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

It’s a fitting description and it’s now on full display.

The Hometown Heroes Program is a tribute created for the community to honor Van Wert residents and their family members who are serving, veterans who have served in the United States Armed Forces, and retired firefighters, paramedics and police officers. Two-foot by three-foot banners in their honor are on display on street lamps in the downtown Van Wert area and beyond and will remain up through Veterans Day. The effort is spearheaded by Main Street Van Wert.

“It’s a way for the community to come together and honor local veterans and active duty military personnel,” Main Street Van Wert Executive Director Mitch Price said. “It’s a visual reminder of their service and sacrifice and it really brings people together. Main Street is the heart of our town, and having these banners displayed there is a powerful way to show our appreciation.”

“We really appreciate all of our veterans and we hit a record number of hometown hero banners this year,” Price added.

116 banners are up, mainly along N. Washington St., S. Washington St., E. Main St., W. Main St., and E. Central Ave.

To be eligible for the Hometown Heroes Program, an individual must reside or have resided in the City of Van Wert and call Van Wert their hometown and must have served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, Coast Guard or Space Guard, or be a retired firefighter, paramedic or police officer. In addition, an individual must meet one of the following conditions: be an active service member, be an honorably discharged veteran or have died in the line of duty.


POSTED: 05/24/24 at 9:29 pm

VW independent staff

The Ohio Department of Transportation District 1 Office has announced that the right lane of U.S. 30 eastbound at Stripe Road and at Converse Roselm Road will be closed on Tuesday, May 28 for bridge inspections.

As a precaution, Stripe Road and Converse Roselm Road overpasses over U.S. 30 have been closed for approximately three weeks due to bridge strikes by an over-height vehicle.

POSTED: 05/24/24 at 9:28 pm. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

PAULDING — John Paulding Historical Museum will join the national Purple Heart Trail with a proclamation and presentation at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 1. The public is invited to attend the ceremony at the museum at 600 Fairground Drive in Paulding. Purple Heart recipients or their family members are especially welcome.

Following the ceremony, a new Purple Heart exhibit will be unveiled. The museum is only the second museum in Ohio to join the Purple Heart Trail. Currently, 73 cities, 12 counties, five schools and one VFW Post (#587 of Paulding) in Ohio are listed on the Purple Heart Trail website.

Visit the museum any time between 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday to take part in other activities. Admission and parking are free.

June 1 marks the anniversary of the museum’s grand opening and dedication in 1984. Help celebrate 40 years of “Preserving the Past For Future Generations” with a slice of birthday cake and a stroll through 30,000 square feet of local artifacts. Visitors also can view the annual “Celebration of Arts & Artists of Paulding County” exhibit, which this year focuses on drawings and pastels. The display includes 56 works by 22 adult and students artists. Several of the works are available for sale.

A vintage clothing exhibit features stunning ladies’ fashions from the 1880s to 1970s, along with hats, gloves, purses and other accessories. Both exhibits opened earlier in May and will continue through June 25.

Look for the museum to be open special hours June 10-15 during the Paulding County Fair.

POSTED: 05/24/24 at 9:27 pm. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — As Ohioans kick off the unofficial start to the summer grilling season, the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of State Fire Marshal (SFM) reminds grill masters of all skill levels to practice caution during upcoming outdoor cookouts.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, each year, approximately 9,500 people are burned from grill fires or hot grills. In addition, an average of 10,600 home fires are caused by grills annually.

“Grilling safely is not just about preventing fires; it’s about protecting our families, friends, and neighbors from avoidable accidents,” said Anita Metheny, SFM Fire Prevention Bureau Chief. “By following a few safety tips, we’re not only focused on having great summer, but also protecting what matters.”

To ensure a safe grilling season and prevent potential fire hazards, the State Fire Marshal emphasizes the importance of following specific grill safety tips.

  • Grill Exclusively Outdoors: Always use propane, gas, and charcoal grills outdoors to avoid fire hazards. Ensure the area above and around your grill is clear from any combustible materials.
  • Distance Your Grill from Structures: Keep grills at least 10 feet away from your home or any wooden structures to prevent fire risks.
  • Stable Surfaces are Key: Place your grill on a flat, level surface like a concrete pad to avoid tipping and potential fires.
  • Inspect for Leaks: Before the grilling season kicks off, check your grill for any gas leaks that could lead to dangerous buildup when the lid is closed.
  • Regular Cleaning: Clean your grill after each use. Grease buildup can act as fuel and catch fire the next time you use your grill.
  • Never Leave Your Grill Unattended: Always monitor your grill when in use. Unattended grills pose a significant fire hazard.
  • Dress Appropriately: Avoid wearing loose clothing that can easily catch fire.
  • Keep a Spray Bottle Handy: A spray bottle filled with water can be used to manage flare-ups safely without spreading the fire.
  • Have a Fire Extinguisher Nearby: For unforeseen emergencies, always have a fire extinguisher within reach when grilling.

POSTED: 05/24/24 at 9:26 pm. FILED UNDER: News

Van Wert Lodge No. 1197, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks recently participated in the Eagle Scout Court of Honor for Clayton Priest, who is a member of Boy Scout Troop #32, sponsored by the Middle Point United Methodist Church. He was presented an American Flag and an Eagle Scout Certificate from the Van Wert Elks Lodge. He also received a letter of commendation and a special citation from Randy P. Shook, Grand Exalted Ruler/National President. For Priest’s Eagle Scout project, he installed a new flagpole and pavers at the Grover Hill Fire Department. Pictured with Priest is Michael C. Stanley, Lodge Scouting Liaison. Photo submitted

POSTED: 05/24/24 at 9:26 pm. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

BELLEFONTAINE — The former superintendent of the Spencerville Local Schools will remain free on his own recognizance, pending court proceedings against him.

Dennis Fuge, 66, of Spencerville, was arraigned in Logan County Common Pleas Court on Thursday. He entered a not guilty plea to charges of gross sexual imposition and attempted sexual battery, both fourth degree felonies. Judge Kevin Braig ordered a recognizance bond and scheduled a status conference for July 28, a final pretrial hearing for October 28, and a two-day jury trial for November 18-19.

Dennis Fuge

According to the Bellefontaine Examiner, an alleged incident between Fuge and a Spencerville student occurred in mid-March in Fuge’s RV in Lakeview.

Fuge served as Spencerville superintendent for several years until retiring in 2019. He previously served in other roles in the district, including elementary principal, athletic director and various coaching jobs. Most recently, he served as a substitute teacher in the Spencerville Local Schools.

“The district was first notified about this matter in late March, shortly after the incident allegedly took place,” Superintendent Brian Woods said in a statement last week. “We have been fully cooperating with law enforcement since then and immediately took other actions to protect our students, including removing Mr. Fuge from our roster of substitute teachers.”

Woods also said the district is unaware of any other incidents involving Fuge that law enforcement may be investigating.

POSTED: 05/24/24 at 9:56 am. FILED UNDER: News

The Ohio City Fire Department was called to U.S. 127 and Ohio 709 just before 1 p.m. Thursday, after a semi-truck went off the roadway. The truck took off the stop sign and other road marker signs, crossed the intersection and took out several hundred feet of wire fence before rolling on its side. A slow diesel leak was quickly contained, and three heavy wreckers from Hague Towing pulled the rig back onto its wheels. Traffic was detoured around the accident area by CERT as both lanes of travel were closed. Bob Barnes photo

POSTED: 05/24/24 at 7:31 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff/submitted information

COLUMBUS — Governor Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine hosted a wreath-laying ceremony on Thursday to honor Ohio service members who sacrificed their lives while serving their country.

The annual ceremony takes place each year ahead of Memorial Day. This year’s event was held at the Veterans Plaza on the grounds of the Ohio Statehouse.

“There is a powerful message in the expression, ‘freedom is not free.’ The families of the fallen – our Gold Star families – understand this on a level the rest of us can only imagine,” Governor DeWine said. “The Ohio military men and women whom we remember and celebrate at this event were sons and daughters, mothers and fathers. They believed in freedom, took an oath to defend it, and gave their lives doing just that. We owe them a debt we can never repay.”

A wreath was laid during Thursday’s solemn event. Photo submitted

Following the wreath-laying, a rifle salute was conducted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Honor Guard, “Taps” was played by a bugler from the 122nd Ohio Army National Guard Band, and a flyover was performed by the Ohio Air Force Reserve 445th Airlift Wing.

“Memorial Day is a reminder to us all of the price that has been paid for the freedoms we enjoy. We must never forget the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our great nation, and we honor the family members they left behind,” said Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., Ohio Adjutant General.

“It is important on Memorial Day that we take time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms and to recognize the sacrifices of their families. I’m grateful that the Governor holds this ceremony every year to ensure that we never forget,” said Maj. Gen. (U.S. Army, retired) Deborah Ashenhurst, Director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services.

POSTED: 05/24/24 at 7:30 am. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

All K-12 classrooms in the Lincolnview Local Schools will soon be equipped with new smart interactive flat panels, commonly referred to as smart boards.

During Thursday night’s monthly meeting, the board approved a quote of $178,182 from Schoolhouse Electronics to purchase and install the new 75-inch smart boards and accessories in time for the 2024-2025 school year. Technology Director Josh McElroy made the pitch during last month’s meeting. Currently, less than half of Lincolnview classrooms have smart boards and most of the ones in use are nearly 10 years old.

Fourth graders teach board members Michelle Gorman and Lori Snyder about Jacqueline Kennedy, the Wright Brothers and the Colosseum. Scott Truxell/VW independent

The board approval a long list of varsity head coaches for the 2024-2025 school year, including Robert Balyeat, wrestling; Briana Geiger, girls golf; JaNahn Evans, volleyball; Eric Schwab, softball; Matt Hernandez, soccer; Neil Korte, bowling; Brett Hammons, boys golf and boys basketball; Kyle Williams, girls basketball; Eric Fishpaw, baseball, and Matt Langdon, cross country and track.

The board also approved a list of dozens of assistant coaches, junior high coaches, volunteer coaches, advisors and others, along with a long list of certified and classified staff contracts.

Drew Bittner was approved as a junior high/high school math teacher, Tatum Temple was hired as a junior high english teacher and Allison Youtsey was approved as bus transportation secretary.

Several resignations were accepted by the board, including Sabrina Frey, elementary secretary; Lindi Coil, latchkey coordinator, and bus drivers Alan Breece and Harold Smith.

During his monthly report, Superintendent Jeff Snyder said the elementary renovation and addition project is in its final stages. An open house will be held closer to the new school year. He also said work will begin soon on a district cell phone policy as required by House Bill 250.


POSTED: 05/23/24 at 10:05 pm. FILED UNDER: News

Scott Etzler, a trustee for the Convoy Community foundation distributed 18 scholarships for a total of $15,000 to 17 Crestview seniors during the Senior Convocation earlier in May. The Convoy Community Foundation is a non-profit organization which originated in 1979, and the trustees oversee the Memorial Endowment Fund. The fund generated the money used for these scholarships, and the foundation is grateful to those donors who made the scholarships possible. Photo submitted

POSTED: 05/23/24 at 10:05 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff/submitted information

COLUMBUS – During the Memorial Day weekend, the Ohio State Highway Patrol will be highly visible on Ohio’s roadways promoting traffic safety. As motorists travel this weekend, troopers are reminding drivers to utilize their safety belts and to be responsible by designating a sober driver. The effort is officially underway and will continue through 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 27.

Last year in Ohio, 24 fatal crashes killed 26 people during the Memorial Day weekend. Of those fatalities, 18 crashes and 19 fatalities were OVI-related. In the fatalities where a safety belt was available, 11 of the 13 were unbelted. Seven of the 10 motorcyclists killed were not wearing a helmet.

Also, during last year’s Memorial Day weekend, the Patrol made 399 impaired driving arrests.  

“Memorial Day weekend marks the start of summer and we encourage everyone to make responsible choices behind the wheel,” said Colonel Charles A. Jones, Patrol Superintendent. “Whether you’re traveling to visit loved ones or enjoying a local getaway, remember to buckle up, avoid distractions and never drive under the influence.”

In addition to the Memorial Day reporting period, the Patrol is continuing the 6-State Trooper Project focusing on the use of safety belts. This high-visibility effort includes the Indiana State Police, Kentucky State Police, Michigan State Police, Pennsylvania State Police, West Virginia State Police and the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The initiative began May 20 and will continue through May 27.

The Patrol is also taking part in the Click It or Ticket campaign, which is also began on May 20 and will run through June 2.

You can help contribute to a safer Ohio by calling #677 to report drug activity and dangerous or impaired driving on Ohio roadways.

POSTED: 05/23/24 at 10:04 pm. FILED UNDER: News