The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Jul. 10, 2020

VW independent/submitted information

Central Mutual Insurance Company held its annual Policyholders’ Meeting on May 13 at the Home Office in Van Wert.

Newly-elected President Evan Purmort began by addressing the unprecedented times Americans are currently experiencing. 

“There is both a health crisis and a financial crisis occurring simultaneously,” Purmort said. “We’d like to recognize the contributions made by medical professionals, first responders, and all essential workers during this time. We are safer and the communities we serve are stronger because of their selfless actions.”

Purmort noted that COVID-19 has impacted all businesses and Central is no different. The collective response by the company’s 630 employees has been led by a business continuity plan that was established nearly a decade ago and includes plans for the event of a pandemic. 

“Our plan focused on fulfilling our promise to our employees, agents, and policyholders,” Purmort said. “To do so we had to keep our people safe and our systems and service top notch. I’m thrilled to report that we succeeded on all of those fronts.”

Purmort also addressed recent financial market volatility and its impact on the company. Central entered this period in a position of great financial strength, and while the company’s policyholder surplus is not where it stood at the end of 2019, the company’s overall ability to meet its obligations to its employees, agents, and policyholders has not been affected.

“With regards to the COVID 19 pandemic we could not be more proud of how our company pulled together to serve our agents and policyholders,” Purmort said. “And we are proud that our conservative investment philosophy proved to be prudent.”


POSTED: 06/05/20 at 10:54 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent/submitted information

The Central Insurance Companies has announced the election of Cindy M. Hurless to its Board of Directors.    

Cindy Hurless

As Central’s chief operating officer (COO), Hurless is responsible for oversight of the company’s Services, Claims, Underwriting, and Loss Control operations. 

Hurless, who earned her bachelor’s degree in communications and business administration from Hope College, joined Central in 2002 as manager of the Mail/Supply and Commercial Lines Services departments and was promoted to vice president of customer services in 2004. In 2018, she was promoted to her current position as chief operating officer. 

She has earned the Associates in Insurance Services (AIS), Associates in General Insurance (AINS), and Chartered Insurance Operations Professional (CIOP) designations. She serves on the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation Board, Van Wert YWCA Board, and Van Wert County Foundation Board of Trustees. 

The Central Mutual Insurance Company was founded in Van Wert in 1876 and has evolved into the Central Insurance Companies, a successful property and casualty group providing insurance for more than 350,000 automobiles, homes, and businesses in 24 states. Central is based in Van Wert and operates regional offices in Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, and Van Wert. The Central group of companies has combined assets of over $1.7 billion. Central’s A.M. Best rating is A (Excellent).

POSTED: 05/16/20 at 2:47 am. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent/submitted information

BLUFFTON — Citizens National Bank announces that 100 percent of the loans its customers requested through the Paycheck Protection Program have been approved through the Small Business Administration. This represents 652 businesses in CNB’s 10-county service area, allowing them to continue payroll for 12,524 employees. The approved loan total is currently $97,511,807.

“While there were many uncertainties and difficulties going into this program from the SBA, our loan processors and business banking officers really pulled together to develop a system that enabled us to process the applications as smoothly as possible,” said CNB President Eric Faulkner. “I’m so proud of the assistance we were able to provide our small business customers in order to procure the funds they need to maintain payroll and keep their business afloat.”

Customers were very complimentary of the attention and service they received from CNB throughout the PPP process. 

“We very much appreciate all your efforts and help during this time. You immediately reached out to our company with your help and assistance and solidifies the reasons we currently do business with you and hope to grow in the future.” — Ed 

“I want to give a huge thank you to Citizens National Bank, particularly my loan officer, for helping me with all my paperwork during this pandemic! They truly put their customers’ needs as top priority!” — Vallace

As COVID-19 continues to impact local economies, Citizens National Bank is committed to helping its small businesses and individuals with their finances. The bank’s lenders are available by email, its drive-thrus remain open, and online and mobile banking apps allow access to accounts 24/7. Customers facing financial difficulty should contact their local branch to discuss options on an individualized basis.

Watch for updates regarding the pandemic on CNB’s Coronavirus updates page at

POSTED: 05/11/20 at 10:26 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent/submitted information

Erie Insurance has put in place a number of initiatives to help its customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company is providing financial relief, flexible payment options, community support, and more. Here’s what to know.

Customer dividends, mailed directly to policyholders in May: Most people are doing the right thing by staying home and not driving. Erie is following suit by doing the right thing, too. The company is providing $200 million in dividends directly to its personal and commercial auto insurance customers, pending regulatory approval. This immediate relief represents about 30 percent of related auto insurance premiums over a two-month period, or 5 percent of annual premiums. There’s no need to call an Erie agent or request a check — it will be mailed to policyholders. 

Lower auto insurance rates for long-term relief: In addition to the dividends mentioned above, Erie is lowering auto insurance rates for personal and commercial customers for long-term, steady, and stable relief. Pending regulatory approval, rate reductions will vary by state and will be based on individually purchased policies and coverage options. Once approved, premium adjustments will take effect at the time of renewal and the estimated total will provide an additional $200 million in financial relief to Erie customers.  Flexible payment and billing options: Your local agent can help you with updating coverages. Agents and ERIE’s Customer Care teams may also be able to assist with delaying payment dates, adjusting installments, changing pay plans and waiving penalties and fees. In addition, some billing requests including deferring payments and non-pay cancellations can also be requested through or through ERIE Online Account.

Contact-free life insurance coverage: For a limited time, Erie Family Life is offering applicants a path to life insurance coverage without the requirement of a paramedical exam. The option to waive the exam is aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to maintain social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19. The waiver provides Erie Insurance customers the ability to obtain life insurance without in-person interaction. The offer is available for applicants up to age 55 and policy face amounts up to $500,000.

Expanding identity recovery services to extended family members: Social distancing directives result in many people staying connected virtually, which may result in increased exposure to cybercrime. ERIE offers identity recovery coverage with all ErieSecure Home® bundles and as an add-on to our Home Protector policies. Through August 2020, we’re extending support services to assist in recovering from a possible identity theft at no additional cost to include our customers’ extended family members. This includes:

  • Adult children (26 or older), their spouse and their children
  • Parents, including stepparents and legally adoptive parents
  • Siblings, including stepsiblings and adoptive siblings

Gift card reimbursement coverage: From a favorite lunch spot to that funky art gallery, local small businesses make hometowns feel like home. People rely on them daily — and now, they need their communities. So go ahead and stock up on gift cards, worry-free. Pending regulatory approval in several states, Erie Insurance is adding gift card and gift certificate reimbursement coverage to the company’s ErieSecure Home® policies. The additional feature, included at no additional cost, would reimburse customers for remaining balances on gift cards that can no longer be used at independently owned and operated local businesses due to business closures.


POSTED: 05/05/20 at 10:12 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

Submitted information

OAKWOOD –As so many face unforeseen challenges across America, Cooper Farms is working to provide food and resources to their fellow Ohioans. The farm and food company, located in western Ohio, has made several donations over the past month, providing over 21,000 protein-rich meals, and so much more. 

Nearly 6,000 pounds of turkey, as well as two truckloads of eggs, about 27,000 dozen eggs, were donated to the Ohio Association of Foodbanks in a series of deliveries from the turkey, pork, and egg company. An additional 1,100 pounds of turkey burgers were donated to area groups providing socially distanced serving of hot lunches for children and meals after virtual church services.

Eggs were just one food item Cooper Farms donated to the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. photo provided

“Egg and turkey farmers have always been and remain committed to supporting their neighbors in need and ensuring that all families have access to wholesome, affordable foods,” said Jim Chakeres, executive vice president of the Ohio Poultry Association. “Eggs and turkey are high-protein foods that provide nutritional benefits to people of all ages and play an important role in a healthy diet.”

Foodbanks across the state and nation are seeing double-digit percentage increases in visitors. The Ohio Association of Food Banks is providing 2.2 million more pounds of food than this week last year. Further, one in three visitors had not previously sought help from a foodbank prior to COVID-19 pandemic.  

Cooper Farms also wanted to thank the area hospital staff for all that they are doing in this unprecedented time. To do this, they purchased $10,000 in gift cards from local restaurants and delivered them to the hospitals serving each of the company’s four main communities. 

“We talk about giving back to the community, but there’s nobody doing that more than these hospitals right now,” said Gary Cooper, COO of Cooper Farms. “They go to work every day and put their health on the line to treat members of the community, so this is the least we could do to show our gratitude toward them.” 


POSTED: 05/02/20 at 6:32 am. FILED UNDER: Business

Submitted information

CINCINNATI — The First Financial Foundation has announced donations totaling $25,500 to organizations serving Allen and Van Wert counties as part of its $1 million pledge to fund COVID-19 relief efforts for communities throughout its footprint that have been impacted economically by the Coronavirus.

“First Financial is committed to helping those who are struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Archie Brown, president and CEO. “We are eager to support the outstanding community organizations and nonprofits in our area who are demonstrating tremendous resilience by delivering critical assistance during such a difficult time.”

Donation recipients in the area include the United Way of Greater Lima, the West Ohio Food Bank, and the Salvation Army of Van Wert.

“Thanks to First Financial for its support of the community through the COVID-19 Community Response and Relief Fund,” said Derek Stemen, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Lima. “By working collaboratively, we have brought together over 30 community organizations to start addressing the most pressing needs in our community. Through our efforts we are collectively meeting needs, while avoiding potential duplication of services. While these are definitely challenging times, we are proving that we can accomplish anything together.”

The West Ohio Food Bank will use the funds to help families who are struggling with food insecurity.


POSTED: 04/26/20 at 10:14 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent/submitted information

American Family Insurance is returning $200 million to its auto insurance customers following a decrease in driving and accident-claims from the COVID-19 pandemic. The premium relief plan was recently approved by state insurance regulators. Customers will receive payments in the form of a check they can use as they wish.

Devin Sheets

“As part of the Van Wert community, I know how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting our customers and others,” said Devin Sheets, an American Family Insurance agency owner in Van Wert.  “I’m proud to be able to assist customers, who are at the center of everything we do.”

The premium relief will come as a one-time full payment of $50 per vehicle covered by an American Family personal auto policy. The typical American Family household with auto coverage has two vehicles, meaning the average relief check will be $100. 
Payments will be mailed to Ohio and Indiana customers in the near future and American Family expects to complete the printing and distribution of all checks within 60 days.

Relief payments are based on personal auto policies in force as of March 11, 2020, the date the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. 

Support for communities 
In addition, the American Family Insurance group, the American Family Dreams Foundation and the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation will provide more than $6.8 million to COVID-19 relief and other non-profits, including through a 2-to-1 match for charitable donations given by its agency owners and employees in their local communities.

Customers with questions about this payment can go to or contact the Devin Sheets Agency at 419.238.1600.                                       

Devin Sheets has been an American Family Insurance agency owner since 2000. His office is located at 118 S. Washington St, Van Wert. Devin can be contacted at 419.238.1600 or at  

About American Family Insurance
Based in Madison, Wis., American Family Insurance is a Fortune 500 company and leading insurer, offering auto, homeowners, life, commercial and farm/ranch insurance. Web:; Facebook:; and Twitter:

POSTED: 04/24/20 at 8:51 am. FILED UNDER: Business

ST. MARYS — Midwest Electric Director Kathy Brake of Ohio City recently earned the Board Leadership Certificate (BLC) from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. 

The BLC recognizes individuals who continue their professional development after becoming a credentialed cooperative director. To achieve certification, directors attend courses on the electric industry, director duties and liabilities, board operations and process, strategic planning, and financial decision making.

Midwest Electric applauds Brake’s efforts and dedication to continuing her director education on behalf of the members of the cooperative. 

POSTED: 04/22/20 at 12:45 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent/submitted information

The Central Insurance Companies’ Board of Directors has elected Evan P. Purmort as president, succeeding outgoing President F.W. “Bill” Purmort III, effective May 13. The senior Purmort is retiring after 43 years with the company, but will remain chairman of the Board of Directors. 

Evan Purmort
Bill Purmort

Evan Purmort is currently Central’s chief marketing officer and is responsible for regional operations, agency partner and industry relationships, and business development strategy. He began his career with Central Insurance immediately after graduating from Miami University and has held the positions of commercial underwriter, marketing manager, commercial underwriting supervisor, personal underwriting manager, and vice president of the Northeast Regional Office. He has served Central in its Atlanta, Dallas, Boston, and Van Wert offices.

Additionally, he has served on Central’s Board of Directors since 2017 and has recently joined the Trusted Choice Board of Directors. 

Bill Purmort began his career at Central in 1979 and held positions in underwriting, marketing, and management before becoming president and chairman of the Board in 1994. He is a trustee for the Property & Liability Resource Bureau, a past board member for Trusted Choice and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, and past trustee for the Ohio Insurance Institute and the Griffith Foundation. 

The Central Mutual Insurance Company was founded in Van Wert in 1876 and has evolved into the Central Insurance Companies, a successful property and casualty group providing insurance for more than 350,000 automobiles, homes, and businesses in 24 states. Central is based in Van Wert and operates regional offices in Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, and Van Wert. The Central group of companies has combined assets of over $1.7 billion. Central’s A.M. Best rating is A (Excellent).

POSTED: 04/17/20 at 9:35 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent/submitted information

Eric Hurless, local Edward Jones financial advisor, will host a roundtable discussion club at 7 p.m. every Thursday, starting March 26, through an online forum.

At the upcoming roundtable discussion club, Hurless will discuss current market conditions.

“The roundtable discussion club offers us an opportunity to learn from one another and receive market updates,” Hurless said. “I look forward to keeping individual investors informed about the current market and economy, as well as have fun and get to know some of my neighbors.”
To reserve a seat, call Cassondra at 419.232.2058.

Edward Jones, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in St. Louis, provides financial services in the U.S. and, through its affiliate, in Canada. Every aspect of the firm’s business, from the investments its financial advisors offer to the location of its branch offices, caters to individual investors. The firm’s 18,000-plus financial advisors serve more than 7 million clients and care for $1 trillion in assets under management. Visit the company website at and recruiting website at

POSTED: 03/25/20 at 8:46 am. FILED UNDER: Business