The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2023

Top stories – No. 2-1: COVID, downtown

Editor’s note: Throughout his week, the Van Wert independent has published the Top 10 local stories of 2021. The countdown concludes today with the top two stories of the year. .

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

No. 2 – COVID-19 continues to impact Van Wert County

Just like any other county in Ohio or any area of the United States, COVID-19 continued to have an impact on Van Wert County in 2021, although perhaps not as great compared to 2020.

Renovation work in downtown Van Wert, part of Phase I, began in the fall. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

The Van Wert County Health Department continued to issue weekly updates on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. From the beginning of the pandemic in the spring of 2020 to December 30 of this year, there were 4,723 confirmed cases in Van Wert County, along with 93 confirmed deaths.

The COVID-19 vaccine became available to Van Wert County residents in the spring and masks became optional in all Van Wert County schools, including Vantage Career Center.

Performances resumed at places like the Niswonger Performing Arts Center and Van Wert Civic Center and for the most part, the Van Wert County Fair was back to normal. Some downtown Van Wert events returned this year, as did Lambert Days in Ohio City, lending to at least somewhat of a semblance of normalcy.

Confirmed cases of the virus dropped during the summer months but began to increase in the fall months into December.

With rising cases and different variants of the virus, it appears COVID-19 will continue to have an impact well into 2022.

No. 1 – Van Wert Forward project gets underway in the downtown area

After months of planning, work finally began to preserve and restore downtown Van Wert’s historic assets, infuse energy into the community, spur downtown revitalization and investment, and create new, welcoming, multi-use spaces,

A formal kickoff event was held September 25, during the Harvest Moon Festival, in front of the former Oddfellows Lodge, 101 E. Main St., one of the properties being renovated in Phase I, which includes 11 parcels and is scheduled for completion within 18 months. Phase I is expected to be an investment of more than $26 million once complete.

Work includes removal of environmental hazards, removing exterior items that aren’t native to existing buildings, and selective interior demolition to remove non-native items such as drywall interior partitions, ceilings with acoustic tiles, and other more modern interior materials.

Project manager Hall Block explained his excitement for the project’s commencement.

“The Foundation and Van Wert Forward staff are thrilled to move into this next stage of development,” Block said. “After many months of planning, designing, and then redesigning, the project is prepared to begin tangible progress. None of this would be possible without our local partners working alongside and the community supporting us the whole way.”

The massive renovation project includes several different phases.

POSTED: 12/30/21 at 11:52 pm. FILED UNDER: News