The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

NPAC looking to improve VW community

Much of my day today has been talking about and planning for two speakers who will be presenting at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. On Tuesday, September 20, Sam Quinones, a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist and author will be speaking about the opium epidemic that has affected, not only our area, but the entire country.

We are teaming with Westwood Behavioral Health Center in Van Wert to put this community awareness event together. We think it does not affect us because many of us don’t really know someone who deals with this addiction. In speaking with Mark Spieles, director of Westwood Behavioral Health Center, he informed me that, just last year, we had three people in our community die from heroin overdose (the drug heroin is a derivative of opium). Many more are dealing with the addiction and have a very difficult time overcoming it.

Mark went on to explain how heroin actually changes your mental state and completely changes one’s behavior.  Those of us who have not been affected by this, don’t really have the compassion, let alone the understanding we should.

Sam Quinones basically went to the Mexican border and lived among the trafficking activity and gangs most responsible for bringing this terrible drug to small-town America, as well as the large cities.  During his 10 years of living in and writing about this epidemic, he gained knowledge and exposure none of us have or really care to have. But we cannot ignore this any longer.

Because Westwood fights with this on a regular basis, the Niswonger has teamed with them to bring Quinones to Van Wert to draw awareness to everyone in the area who wants to learn more about the subject.  Like I said before, it could just be a matter of time before someone you know is affected.  It’s good to have knowledge and understanding so we can attempt to fight this terrible epidemic.  And Mark mentioned that it’s not just kids being affected. He said they have seen 65-year-old men trapped by heroin addiction.

This Tuesday, September 20 event is completely free to everyone.  We will plan on holding it in the First Federal Lecture Hall unless the response is such that we need to move it to the Saltzgaber Music Hall.  It will start at 7:30 p.m.  Here’s hoping we move into the Music Hall!

Following Quinones talk, selected local law enforcement officers, medical doctors, treatment professionals, judges, and possibly state representatives will serve on a panel to discuss their perspectives and take questions from the audience.  It should be a very informative and eye-opening evening.  I’m glad our Speaker Committee suggested this subject and that Westwood Behavioral Center has been so cooperative and excited to team with us.

A second speaker event will be Sunday, October 2, at 7 p.m., with extremely popular author and motivational speaker Jon Gordon. Gordon is so amazing that our sponsor, Central Insurance, is having him speak to all their employees the next morning!  Two of Gordon’s books: The Energy Bus, and Training Camp, were chosen by our speaker committee as a community read. The Brumback Library in Van Wert has several copies you can check out and read.  They are fast and easy reads, but also very inspiring.

Gordon has spoken to Fortune 500 Companies as well as collegiate and professional sports teams.  He will speak about team work and inspiration in our lives.  He also has a strong faith component that helps direct his life. This will be a Sunday evening event and tickets may be purchased at the Niswonger Box Office. We have businesses, school staffs, school sports teams, and individuals already attending from all over. Don’t miss Jon Gordon!

We are getting ready to kick off our Tenth Anniversary Season at the Niswonger. It all starts with Guy & Ralna, a popular singing couple who gained notoriety from their 12 years on the Lawrence Welk Show.  Tickets for this season opener on September 18 are currently available too.  Ten Years of Wow in entertainment, inspiration and awareness education are just around the corner.  Get ready!

Oh yes …  and dare I say, “Go Falcons!” as my alma mater tries to knock off the giant of Ohio this Saturday in Columbus at the “Big House.”


POSTED: 08/30/16 at 3:15 pm. FILED UNDER: News