The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Apr. 22, 2024

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

Trial dates have been set for a Van Wert man charged with murder, voluntary manslaughter, two counts of involuntary manslaughter and strangulation. In a separate and unrelated case, a man facing charges tied to the death of his girlfriend is seeking to inspect and suppress evidence.

Larry Andrus case

Barring a plea bargain, Larry Andrus Jr. will stand trial August 12-14 in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court. The dates were established during a pretrial conference held last week. According to court records, a final pre-trial conference is scheduled for August 1.

The charges against Andrus are connected to the September 30, 2023, death of Roy D. Watts, 59, at his home in the 300 block of S. Vine St. According to a police report, Andrus and Watts were involved in a verbal argument, followed by a physical altercation. The report stated that Andrus was interviewed by Van Wert Police shortly after the incident, along with at least one other witness to the altercation. He was indicted by a grand jury on November 2, but fled the area.

He was arrested November 8 by U.S. Marshals in Bay County, Florida. According to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, he was traveling on a Greyhound bus from Pennsylvania and was scheduled to arrive at a Bay County tattoo shop for an interview. Once the bus was identified, members of the Florida Caribbean Regional Task Force, Panama City Division, pulled it over and arrested Andrus without incident.

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POSTED: 04/21/24 at 9:06 pm

Submitted information

The following work is anticipated to affect roads and highways in Van Wert County this week. All outlined work is weather permitting.

U.S. 30 rest areas between Ohio 49 and U.S. 127 in Van Wert County closed January 11 for approximately one year for complete reconstruction of the buildings.

U.S. 30 between the Indiana state line and Crawford County will have temporary shoulder closures until mid-April to replace signs.

U.S. 224 just west of Richey Road will be restricted to one lane for drainage repair.

Ohio 49 between South Street and Jackson Street (Wren-Landeck Road) in the village of Wren closed on January 29 for approximately 105 days for road reconstruction including storm, sewer, and water line installation. Traffic is being detoured along Ohio 81, and U.S. 127, 30 and 22.

Ohio 81 between Willshire Eastern Road and Harrison Willshire Road will close on Monday, April 29 for approximately 150 days to raise the roadway profile and replace two culverts. Access for local traffic to all properties will be maintained throughout construction. Traffic will be detoured along Ohio 49, U.S. 33 and Ohio 118.

Ohio 116 between the city of Van Wert and the Mercer County line will be restricted to one lane for crack sealing operations.

Ohio 709 between Ohio 118 and Ohio 116 will be restricted to one lane for crack sealing operations.

Leeson Avenue between Shannon Street (Ohio 118) and Rose Drive in the city of Van Wert closed on February 7 for 245 days for reconstruction including curb and gutter, storm sewer, and a multi-use path on the north side of the roadway.

POSTED: 04/21/24 at 9:06 pm. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

Van Wert Live has announced that the highly anticipated Molly Hatchet concert, originally scheduled for Friday, May 4, has been rescheduled due to unforeseen circumstances. The concert will now take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 22, at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

“We are committed to delivering an unforgettable concert experience with Molly Hatchet on June 22, and appreciate the understanding and support of our patrons,” Marketing Director Quincy Thompson said.

All tickets purchased for the original date will be honored for the rescheduled date. If you are unable to make the new date, please contact the box office at 419.238.6722 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, or in-person at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, 10700 Ohio 118 S. Van Wert.

POSTED: 04/21/24 at 9:05 pm. FILED UNDER: News

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

A proposed ordinance that would prohibit marijuana consumption on city property in Van Wert will be addressed Monday night, including possible changes for more clarification.

Van Wert City Council has scheduled a “Council of the Whole” meeting to discuss the ordinance, along with a separate ordinance that would ban recreational marijuana dispensaries within the city limits. The special meeting will begin at 5:45 p.m., followed by council’s regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Both meetings will be held in Council Chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building, 515 E. Main St. The public is welcome to attend the meeting and give input.

Marijuana will be the topic of discussion at Monday’s “Council of the Whole” meeting. VW independent file photo

The ordinance that would prohibit marijuana consumption on city property has already had the first of three readings, but it’s possible the legislation will be revised to be more specific to help clear up any confusion and/or misinformation about consumption and city property vs. public or private property. City property includes parks, and places such as the Municipal Building, Van Wert Municipal Court, and the water and street departments. It does not include public sidewalks.

“I certainly expect the ordinance will be revised to be more clear in terms of consumption and more specific to what property it pertains,” Council President Thad Eikenbary said. “Perhaps comments from the public will give (us) some direction on those revisions.”’

It’s a separate issue, but council members are also expected to discuss a potential ban on recreational marijuana dispensaries in the city limits. If legislation goes before council and is ultimately approved, it would likely mirror existing legislation that prohibits medical marijuana dispensaries in Van Wert. Some municipalities in Ohio have already passed legislation banning recreational marijuana dispensaries.

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POSTED: 04/19/24 at 9:25 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff/submitted information

Business Bootcamp 2024, formerly known as LAUNCH!, promised an exhilarating journey for both aspiring and established entrepreneurs. It unfolded a three-part series with opportunities to ignite business growth, share knowledge, and foster community development.

“Pitch Your Plan” marks the grand finale of Business Bootcamp’s transformative series.

“We have enjoyed engaging with community members to host this series and look forward to empowering local entrepreneurs.”, said Amanda Miller, Workforce Development Manager for Van Wert Area Economic Development.

During “Pitch Your Plan to Win,” which is slated for May, entrepreneurs can showcase their groundbreaking ideas to a distinguished panel of local judges and potential investors.

Entrepreneurs are invited to submit their business plans by 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 8, to the Van Wert Area Economic Development Office, 145 E. Main St., or via email to info@vanwerted.com. Entries will undergo a thorough review, and selected participants will receive an invitation to present their plans to the panel of local judges on the evening of Tuesday, May 21.

The rewards are substantial:

First place: $7,000 towards business start-up or expansion
Second place: $5,000 towards business start-up or expansion
Third place: $3,000 towards business start-up or expansion

Additionally, the top three winners will have the exclusive opportunity to secure a discounted downtown Van Wert space and receive a one-year Chamber membership, a one-year VWAEDC membership, and 250 business cards.

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POSTED: 04/19/24 at 9:23 pm. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

COLUMBUS — Following his announcement in the 2024 State of the State Address, Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Children and Youth provided additional details of Ohio’s new $85 million Child Care Access Grant program to increase the availability of licensed child care.

The Child Care Access Grants are designed to do the following:

Mike DeWine
  • Increase capacity by creating new programs or expanding existing programs.
  • Complete building repairs.
  • Provide additional training to staff and families to support children with special needs.

“To better prepare our youngest Ohioans for school, and in order to ensure Ohio’s economy can continue to grow and thrive we need to ensure our working families have access to quality early care and education,” Governor DeWine said. “Quality child care helps prepare children for kindergarten and encourages them to develop the skills they will need to succeed.”

“This competitive grant opportunity will help us ensure parents have access and a choice to where they send their child when they are working or going to school,” said Department of Children and Youth Director Kara Wente. “Awards will be granted in five categories to ensure more providers have opportunities for funding. Applications will be reviewed based on the number of families that will be impacted by age group; the star-rating level of the provider; providing non-traditional care (including evenings and weekends); providing infant and toddler care; and programs with Inclusive Child Care Program designations.”

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POSTED: 04/19/24 at 9:22 pm. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff/submitted information

FINDLAY – Flag City Honor Flight is preparing for its 26th mission and the first of 2024. The flight will take 91 Veterans to Washington D.C. on Tuesday, April 23, to visit memorials built in their honor.

Departing from Toledo Express Airport in the morning, Veterans will embark on a one-day trip to the nation’s capital. The itinerary includes visits to the Iwo Jima Memorial, Korean Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, WWII Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery. Veterans do not pay to fly.

Flag City Honor Flight will make its first 2024 trip to Washington D.C. on Tuesday. Photo submitted

Veterans will arrive at Grand Air Hangar at Toledo Express Airport at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The flight is due back at 7:30 p.m. that night.

The Veteran breakdown includes one World War II Veteran, eight from the Korean War and 82 from the Vietnam War. A World War II nurse will be on the flight, along with two sets of siblings, eight Veterans with Bronze Stars, including one Veteran with two Bronze Stars, and four Purple Hearts.

“We are honored to announce our 2024 flight schedule,” Flag City Honor Flight President Steve Schult said earlier this year. “Our veterans have given so much to our nation and it is our duty to ensure they have the opportunity to visit the memorials that stand in their honor. Flight sponsorships, financial contributions, and dedicated guardians (volunteers) are increasingly crucial as we prepare for four flights this season.”

Tuesday’s Honor Flight is the first of four such flights this year. The remaining flights are scheduled for June 11, September 10 and November 12.

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POSTED: 04/19/24 at 3:44 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

CONVOY — The Crestview Jr/Sr Prom, sponsored by the Class of 2025, will be held from 7:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27, in the Ray Etzler Gymnasium. This year’s theme is “May the Force Be with Us.”

A community open house will be held from 6-7 p.m. and the promenade will be immediately following in the high school auditeria from 7-8 p.m. The community is invited to attend the open house and promenade events.

POSTED: 04/19/24 at 3:44 am. FILED UNDER: News

One person was taken to the hospital after a rollover crash on John Brown Rd. Thursday evening. The crash cccurred at approximately 6:30 p.m. when the northbound vehicle went off the left side of the road before going airborne and eventually flipping on its top. Convoy Fire and Rescue units responded to the scene. The driver of the vehicle refused any treatment from the Convoy EMTs, but a minor was transported to OhioHealth Van Wert Hospital for observation. The Van Wert Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol investigated the accident, and deputies from the Van Wert Sheriff’s Office assisted with traffic control. The vehicle was removed from the scene by Superior Towing. Bob Barnes photos

POSTED: 04/19/24 at 3:44 am. FILED UNDER: News

VW independent staff

It’s a rather dubious and unwanted distinction – Ohio is first in the nation in terms of number of tornadoes so far this year.

Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows, Ohio has had 43 confirmed tornado touchdowns, including EF-1 twisters in Crawford, Portage and Clark counties, and EF-0 tornadoes in Trumbull and Champaign counties on Wednesday. That number tops Florida (34), Illinois (30), Kentucky (24) and Indiana (22).

In Ohio, tornado season peaks between April and June, although they can happen any month of the year.

POSTED: 04/19/24 at 3:44 am. FILED UNDER: News

Submitted information

The YWCA of Van Wert County will host “Drawn Together” at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday April 24, at Van Wert YWCA. This event is a night to let your creativity come to life through music, poetry, and painting.

The YWCA uses advocacy through the arts to promote their mission of eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. The YWCA hopes that through this night, attendees will be able to share and hear a collection of uplifting and motivational words that help push the Y’s mission forward. There will be an acknowledgment of “Denim Day” where everyone will learn the history as well as paint denim squares. This event is open to anyone who would like to participate or just come and enjoy.

A participation form can be found at www.ywcavanwert.org or by emailing ywcaceostudent@ywcavanwertcounty.org.

YWCA of Van Wert County is partially funded by the United Way of Van Wert County.

POSTED: 04/19/24 at 3:43 am. FILED UNDER: News