The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Aug. 15, 2022

VW independent staff  

CHARLOTTE, NC — Brightspeed has announced plans to build a substantial portion of its planned fiber optics network in Ohio, where it expects to deliver, by end of 2023, over 170,000 new fiber passings in portions of a dozen counties in the first phase of construction in the state.  

Brightspeed’s 2022-2023 build plan for Ohio will bring faster, more reliable Internet and wi-fi initially to over 170,000 residential and commercial locations in markets within Van Wert, Allen, Crawford, Darke, Defiance, Henry, Logan, Lorain, Richland, Trumbull, Union and Wayne counties. 

Brightspeed is also planning an additional 210,000 fiber passings in the state in subsequent years of its build plan, for a total of over 380,000 fiber-enabled locations across its Ohio operating territory.  

Brightspeed will invest at least $2 billion in its fiber optics transformation, which is expected to reach up to 3 million homes and businesses over the next five years, including in many rural and suburban locations where fiber and advanced technology have not historically been deployed. The company will initially be comprised of the incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) assets and associated operations of Lumen Technologies (NYSE: LUMN), which are the subject of a pending acquisition by Apollo-managed funds (NYSE: APO). The parties expect to obtain regulatory approvals in the third quarter of this year, and to close the transaction in early fourth quarter.  

Brightspeed has been ramping its network design and construction preparations across its multi-state territory as it continues progress toward day one operations.  

“We are thrilled to share details about our network transformation plans for our Ohio footprint,” said Chris Creager, Chief Administration Officer of Brightspeed. “Access to ultra-fast, ultra-reliable broadband is simply a necessity across all aspects of daily life for today’s households and businesses. There’s no better, more proven technology than fiber-to-the-prem (FTTP) to meet this need, now and for the foreseeable future. We believe Ohioans will welcome a new competitive choice for internet and Wi-Fi, and we can’t wait to introduce our high-quality products and our simple, straightforward approach to doing business.”  

“In addition to our own significant build in Ohio, we are looking forward to the opportunity to work with key stakeholders like BroadbandOhio at state and local levels to expand the reach of our advanced fiber network to even more communities,” he added. 

Brightspeed plans to announce its other state-specific network build plans over the coming weeks. 

POSTED: 07/11/22 at 8:32 am. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent staff/submitted information

Central Insurance, a leading property and casualty carrier, recently announced a new company-wide benefits package aimed at creating an unparalleled employee experience that reflects the company’s commitment to relationships.

Leveraging benchmarking data from the technology industry which is known for pioneering forward-thinking flexible time off policies, the competitive package is designed to maximize flexibility, better support its over 700 employees and their families and foster a culture that prioritizes the care of its people. The expanded policy went into effect on June 13.

“At Central Insurance, we invest in our people and treat each of our employees as owners. When we heard from our team that paid leave was an area for improvement, we acted,” said Evan Purmort, CEO & President. “The insurance industry is rapidly evolving, and our benefits package needed to reflect a workplace built for the future. That’s why we developed our policy to be better than 75 percent of what top technology companies currently offer. This announcement marks a crucial step forward for not only our company, but the industry as a whole.”

Central Insurance is offering enhanced benefits, including additional paid time off. VW independent file photo

The revamped benefits package includes the following:

  • Additional paid time off: Every new hire will receive 20 days of vacation time at the start of their hire date. Additionally, employees with 10-24 years of service will receive 25 days and those with 25 or more years of service will receive 30 days.
  • Expanded paid parental leave: To fully support growing families, Central Insurance is significantly adding to its parental leave policy. Both parents will receive 100 percent paid leave for births, adoptions and placement of a child in foster care for 12 weeks.
  • Increased bereavement leave: In unfortunate circumstances such as death, Central Insurance wants to be a true companion and make sure employees take care of themselves by taking the time needed to grieve. Employees will now receive eight weeks of 100 percent paid leave for the death of a spouse or child.
  • Added paid caregiver leave: To further support employees and their families, Central Insurance is increasing caregiver leave from zero to eight weeks with 100% pay to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
  • Paid sick days: Since minor illnesses for employees and their children are unpredictable, Central Insurance employees will receive 10 new sick days a year.

The 146-year-old organization recently appointed Jena Wierwille as the vice president of human resources, with a goal to execute the organization’s revitalized vision for a modern and scalable HR structure.

“The ability to offer forward-thinking, cutting-edge employee benefits in our industry is a top priority. Our employees should never have to choose between their work and taking care of themselves and their families,” Wierwille said. “We believe this is the right move for Central Insurance and its people, and directly aligns with our vision for the future of the organization.”

In addition to the newly added paid leave, the company continues to provide a competitive, comprehensive benefits package designed to meet evolving needs and assist in building financial security for the future.

POSTED: 06/27/22 at 12:42 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

Submitted information 

AgCredit has announced that Jessica Beck has been promoted to the position of account officer and Trisha Bentz has joined the AgCredit team as a loan specialist.  

Beck and Bentz

A member of the AgCredit team for nearly three years, Beck was previously a loan specialist at the Van Wert branch before her promotion. In her new account officer role, Beck will work directly with local farm business owners to secure financing for their operations in both the Van Wert and Paulding branches.  

“I look forward to serving the Van Wert agricultural community and helping to provide sound credit to the farm businesses in our area,” she said.  

Bentz, who began working at the Van Wert branch in March, comes to AgCredit with a wealth of knowledge in legal documentation and credit, thanks to 20 years of experience as a paralegal. She will support Beck and the branch’s other account officers with loan origination, underwriting and loan servicing.  

AgCredit is a cooperative lender and proud member of the Farm Credit System, which was created over 100 years ago to provide a reliable source of credit for the nation’s farmers and ranchers. AgCredit supports rural communities and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services. 

POSTED: 06/23/22 at 8:30 am. FILED UNDER: Business

The Van Wert Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday morning for Corner Deli by Catering at it’s Best. Corner Deli is located at 732 W. Main Street, Van Wert. Photo submitted

POSTED: 06/12/22 at 5:22 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

The Van Wert Chamber of Commerce is excited to welcome its newest member, Laing Family Dentistry. Dr. Robert Laing is happy to be back home as he looks forward to being engaged in the community and supporting area events and programs. As a fourth generation small business owner, he joined the Chamber to be involved with networking and community events and to support the business community. Pictured are Dr. Laing and Mark Verville, President/CEO of the Van Wert Chamber of Commerce. Photo submitted

POSTED: 05/12/22 at 2:24 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

Submitted information 

Daniel Roebuck, an actor best known for roles including Deputy Marshal Robert Biggs in The Fugitive and its spinoff film U.S. Marshals, plus television roles in Lost, Matlock and more, is coming to Van Wert Sunday, March 13 for a special showing of a 2017 film he wrote, directed, and starred in called, “Getting Grace.” 

Daniel Roebuck

Donna Saunders, owner of the Van Wert Cinemas, befriended Roebuck at a cinema convention last year. Roebuck offered to come to her theaters in Bryan and Van Wert to present Getting Grace and to meet patrons, take photos, and sign autographs. 

Roebuck will be at Van Wert Cinemas for a “Red Carpet Event” during all showings on March 13 – 12 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 9 p.m. 

Getting Grace is about a teen dying of cancer who crashes a funeral home to find out what will happen to her after she dies, but ends up teaching an awkward funeral director how to celebrate life. The film is rated PG-13 and was the winner of five awards at the Northeast Film Festival. 

“The film deals with the subject of the end-of-life and dying in an honest and humorous manner,” Saunders said. “We partnered with our local hospice agency here in Van Wert, CHP Home Care & Hospice, to make this a community event.” 

Hospice staff from CHP will attend showings on March 13 to answer questions about the services it provides locally for people facing a terminal illness. All of the admissions proceeds from the film’s showings from March 11 – 17 are being donated to CHP Home Care & Hospice, a nonprofit, 501c3 organization.

POSTED: 03/02/22 at 9:31 am. FILED UNDER: Business

Submitted information and VW independent staff

Community Health Professionals (CHP) began delivering in-home hospice services in northwest Ohio in 1985 and hat same year, Phil and Robin Farris founded P&R Home IV Service in their home in rural Van Wert County.

The relationship between the home health and hospice agency and the home infusion service was the start of a business relationship lasting 36 years. CHP Home Care & Hospice relied upon P&R to deliver hospice medications and medical equipment with a 24-hour, local, emergency delivery response.

At the end of 2021, P&R closed its pharmacy but its medical equipment business and locations – P&R Medical Connection – remain in operation. For pharmacy coverage for its hospice program, CHP is now partnering with two local, family-owned pharmacies.

Kaup Pharmacy, based in Fort Recovery, supplies medications for patients served by CHP offices in Ada-Hardin County, Celina, Lima, Van Wert, and Wapakoneta. Okuley’s Pharmacy, based in Defiance, supplies the Archbold, Bryan, Defiance, Delphos, Paulding, and Ada-Hancock County areas. Rite Aid stores in the region are contracted for backup coverage.

Kaup Pharmacy (L-R): Jason Andrews, Business Manager, Jill Andrews, Vice President, Lorri, and Jerry Kaup, founders.

“We have a lot of respect for Phil and Robin Farris and for CHP and we’re honored to be working with CHP now and carry on the tradition of fast, reliable, and local services to hospice patients and families,” Jerry Kaup, RPh, said.

Kaup Pharmacy was founded in 1980 by pharmacists Jerry and Lorri Kaup. They have worked with local hospice agencies for nearly 40 years. Hospice care is what led them into making specific medications prepared for a patient’s individual needs – a process known as compounding.

“We work with physicians to make medicines that are better for patients,” Kaup said. “In hospice, we can’t stop the cycle of life and death but if we can make it easier and help patients to pass with dignity, we’ve done our jobs.”

Okuley’s Pharmacy is a family-owned business established in 1950 by Blaine Okuley in Continental. In 1995, it was purchased by Blaine and Anita Okuley’s son, Travis, and his wife, Kieu.

They expanded the store’s services, including a compounding business that works closely with local hospices to help provide solutions for patients with issues that aren’t being addressed through traditional medications.

“We’re proud to carry on our family’s business with the third generation,” Kieu Okuley,” RPh said. “Our son Konnor joined the team full time. We’re looking forward to caring for our local communities for years to come.”

Okuley’s Pharmacy (L-R): Lauren Bosch, Head Pharmacist-Defiance, Konnor Okuley, Medical Equipment Manager, Travis, and Kieu Okuley, owners.

Okuley’s recently hired an additional pharmacist to focus specifically on hospice.

“Hospice fits naturally into our business,” Okuley said. “Easing pain, providing comfort to patients, keeping people at home with medical equipment; it’s what we’ve been about from the beginning.”

The new relationship between CHP, Kaup, and Okuley’s brings together the strengths of three well-established, local businesses.

“We had a great relationship with P&R for so many years and we wish them well as they continue offering quality DME services,” Brent Tow, CHP President/CEO said. “They provided our hospice patients and families with personal, prompt, and compassionate service. It’s a blessing to find partners, with impeccable reputations, who will continue those standards.”

With both Kaup and Okuley’s, Tow said patients will get medications when they need them, delivered personally within hours, not shipped overnight and delivered by a UPS or FedEx driver or left by a mailbox.

“In hospice, problems can be myriad, complicated, and change quickly,” Kaup said. “When a family is dealing with the frightening unknowns of end-of-life care, it helps when you reach out for help and get a familiar voice and a quick response.”

POSTED: 02/15/22 at 10:39 am. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent staff and submitted information

The Van Wert Cinemas has been under new ownership since June, 2020 and during that time, improvements have been made to make going to the movies the best experience possible, with the most notable improvement being new luxury seating.

Van Wert Cinemas is currently in the beginning stages of installing laser projectors and ATMOS sound systems in Cinemas 1 and 2. Laser projectors will offer a picture that is crisp and clear while the ATMOS sound will make moviegoers feel like they are in the middle of the action.

The updates should be completed during the first or second week of March.

POSTED: 02/15/22 at 10:28 am. FILED UNDER: Business

Submitted information

Van Wert Live is honored to present First Federal of Van Wert as a 2022 annual sponsor. First Federal is committed to the Van Wert Live mission to provide entertainment that is so good it demands a return. This $10,000 partnership goes directly to bringing the shows and keeping ticket prices low.

First Federal of Van Wert has been a valued partner of The Niswonger since its inception. The First Federal Lecture Hall of The Niswonger, located off of the lobby, welcomes thousands of guests each year through business meetings, school functions, and special events.

Pictured left to right are: Thad Eikenbary, Diana Cearns, Tafi Stober, Quincy Thompson, Susie Grimes and Brian Renner. Photo submitted

“First Federal is proud to be an Annual Sponsor for 2022,” Brian Renner, CEO of First Federal of Van Wert said. “We are excited about the terrific entertainment options that the Niswonger Performing Arts Center provides for the Van Wert community. It’s incredible to have so many wonderful concerts, Broadway plays and children’s shows right here in Van Wert, and First Federal is thrilled to be able to be a part of this excitement.”

Van Wert Live is located at 10700 State Rt 118 South, Van Wert, and presents entertainment at the Niswonger Peforming Arts Center, the grandstand at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds, and at Fountain Park in downtown Van Wert.

Find out more information at

POSTED: 02/07/22 at 9:38 am. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent staff and submitted information

Local residents looking for a chance to start their own business will want to consider attending the annual Entrepreneurship Fair, scheduled for Saturday, February 5, in the training room at The Kenn-Feld Group, 10305 Liberty Union Road, Van Wert.

Organizers include representatives from the Van Wert Area Economic Development Office, Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Van Wert, and Rhodes State Small Business Development Center.

Anyone who dreams of starting a business is encouraged to attend this free event. Registration will begin at 8:45 a.m. that day, with a panel of local entrepreneurs scheduled to share their journey at 9 a.m. This event will also serve as the kick-off to the Business Plan Challenge.

A free Entrepreneurship Fair is scheduled for Saturday, February 5, at the Kenn-Feld Group in Van Wert. Photo provided

The free Entrepreneurship Fair offers a wide variety of assistance, counseling and information to promising entrepreneurs and emerging new businesses. There will be speakers on a number of business-related topics, including “Starting Right: What’s First”, “Financing and Incentives”, and an “Ask the Experts” session where area professionals will answer questions from those participating in the event.

A special element to the fair is the announcement of the Business Plan Challenge, where individuals looking to begin a business in Van Wert County can create, submit, and present a business plan to a panel of judges for the chance to win business development funds.

Preparing a business plan allows individuals the time to put thought on paper, do the necessary research, and attend business counseling sessions offered locally by the Rhodes State Small Business Development Center.

For more information, call the Van Wert Area Economic Development Corporation at 419.238.2999.

POSTED: 01/11/22 at 4:38 am. FILED UNDER: Business, News