The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Dec. 3, 2021

Independent staff and submitted information

Straley Realty & Auctioneers Inc. announces that six of its affiliated real estate professionals have earned the 2020-2021 Presidents Sales Club awards presented by the Ohio Realtors.

Straley real estate professionals earning sales awards include (top row, from the left) Jane Germann, Warren Straley, Cassie Bell; (bottom row) Joe Bagley, Anne Hecht, and Chester Straley.

Realtor Chester Straley was awarded the Award of Excellence for having in excess of $5 million in sales between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021. This is a very rare award to receive in Van Wert County.

Realtors Warren Straley and Joe Bagley were awarded the Award of Distinction for each having in excess of $2.5 million in sales during this timeframe.

Receiving the Award of Achievement for $1 million to $2.5 million in sales were Jane Germann, Anne Brecht, and Cassie Bell.

Ohio Realtors officially award qualifying members the “President’s Sales Club Award” designation in four recognition levels for outstanding sales performance in the real estate industry. Ohio Realtors is the largest professional trade association in Ohio.  Just over 10 percent of Ohio’s real estate professionals have attained this honor.  All OAR members in good standing were eligible for the award.

POSTED: 09/24/21 at 10:29 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

Independent staff and submitted information

Shultz Huber & Associates Inc. announces several recent promotions. Whitney Flora, Cameron Messman, and Logan Petersen have been promoted to in-charge accountants. Caleb Brinegar, Nan Grace, and Tricia Schuette have been promoted to supervisors. 

Flora is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) who joined the firm in 2020. She works in the St. Marys office and holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Northwestern Ohio. Flora is also a member of the Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants.


Messman is a CPA who joined the firm in 2018. He works in the Van Wert office and holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Purdue University. Messman is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Petersen has been with the firm since 2018 and works in the Defiance office. He holds an associate’s degree in accounting from Northwest State Community College, a bachelor’s in accounting from Defiance College, and a master’s degree in accountancy from Ohio University.


Brinegar is a CPA who joined the firm in 2014. He works in the Archbold office and has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Ohio University. Outside of work, he donates his time as treasurer of the Fayette Athletic Boosters, is a board member of the Archbold Rotary Club, a board member of the Archbold Chamber of Commerce, and treasurer of the Free Clinic of Fulton County Board.

Grace, a CPA, has been with the firm since 2015 and works in the Van Wert office. She earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and master’s degree in business administration from Indiana Institute of Technology. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants. She also is a member of the Ohio School Boards Association and serves on the Crestview Local Board of Education.

Schuette is a CPA and has been in the firm’s Van Wert office since 2017. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Indiana University at Fort Wayne. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Supervisors work directly with clients while taking a leadership role in coordinating and managing projects. They also oversee in-charge accountants, staff accountants, and accounting assistants. In-charge accountants work directly with clients and oversee staff accountants and accounting assistants.

The firm is hiring for a variety of public accounting positions in Archbold, Bryan, Defiance, St. Marys, and Van Wert. All experience levels are welcome, including recent graduates with accounting-related degrees. To learn more or to submit a resume, visit

Shultz Huber & Associates Inc. is a full-service accounting, tax, and business consulting CPA firm specializing in helping businesses and their owners plan for their future and achieve their goals in an ever-changing financial and regulatory environment. Offices are located in Archbold, Bryan, Defiance, St. Marys, and Van Wert, with seven shareholders and 60 employees.

POSTED: 09/22/21 at 10:30 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

Independent staff and submitted information

LANSING, Michigan — Van Wert native Larry A. Mengerink, a financial planner and investment planner with Park Lake Advisors, has been authorized by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP® Board) to use the Certified Financial Planner™ and CFP® certification marks in accordance with CFP Board certification and renewal requirements.

Larry Mengerink

The CFP® marks identify those individuals who have met the rigorous experience and ethical requirements of the CFP Board, have successfully completed financial planning coursework and have passed the CFP® certification examination covering the following areas: the financial planning process, risk management, investments, tax planning and management, retirement and employee benefits, and estate planning.

CFP® professionals also agree to meet ongoing continuing education requirements and to uphold CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Rules of Conduct and Financial Planning Practice Standards.

“This accomplishment is significant for me as well as for each of my clients,” Mengerink said. “The financial planning process is very personalized and takes a long-term approach that increasingly demands an acute understanding of the complex and ever-changing investment and financial landscape.”

Mengerink, 46, has been a professional in the financial services industry for over 20 years, and works with clients in many states through offices in Okemos and Lansing, Michigan, as well as utilizing virtual meetings.

About Park Lake Advisors

Founded in Lansing, Michigan in 2015, Park Lake Advisors today has offices in both Lansing and Okemos, Michigan. Being independent, our advisors offer a wide array of investment products and services, as well as a variety of insurance products through arrangements with outside insurance companies. For more information about Park Lake Advisors, or about financial services in general, contact Mengerink at 517.887.9905 or visit the Park Lake website at

POSTED: 08/27/21 at 10:49 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

Independent staff and submitted information

OAKWOOD — Sixteen summer interns from various colleges and universities recently completed summer internship opportunities at Cooper Farms, providing a fresh new perspective to multiple areas of the company.

COO Gary Cooper said he believes the interns are able to provide a fresh outlook on many processes and approaches. 

These college students had the opportunity to intern this summer at Cooper Farms’ various facilities to learn more about the food industry. Cooper Farms photo

“These internships are a great thing for not just the students, but also our management group,” said Cooper. “A large portion of our management team has been with the company for a long time, which is wonderful. The presence of these interns really helps us get a fresh and young view on things.”

Terry Wehrkamp, director of live production at Cooper Farms, noted internship opportunities are the perfect scenario to allow students first-hand learning experiences as they prepare to enter the workforce.

“One of the most important things a student can do during his education is to network with people and companies that afford opportunities in key interest areas,” he said. “Getting a foothold in a real production setting allows our interns to get to know the people and companies we work with.  It’s invaluable to them as they enter the workforce.”

Interns were assigned to all areas of the company, such as live animal, food safety, technology, and process improvement. 


POSTED: 08/27/21 at 10:42 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

Independent staff and submitted information

Jag Sandhu and Andy Li have successfully completed the Ohio Division of Real Estate licensing exam and Bee Gee Realty & Auction Company announces that they are now licensed real estate agents.

Jag Sandhu
Andrew Li

Sandhu completed his real estate education at Davis College.  He and his wife and two children reside in Van Wert and call The Landing at Dickinson Farm subdivision their home.  Sandhu and his family have the distinction of being the very first residents of the new subdivision.  He is from Toronto, Canada, and decided to move to Van Wert after visiting relatives and experiencing small town life.  

His passion is to assist those with a need to buy or sell a home.  He welcomes phone calls and can be reached at 419.513.9704 or 419.238.5555.  

Li is a 2021 graduate of Van Wert High School.  He participated in the CEO (Career Employment Opportunity) program during his senior year.  Bee Gee Realty & Auction Company is a sponsor of the CEO program and was happy to have Li spend part of each school day with staff members learning the real estate business.  

He has been a Van Wert resident his entire life and helps his family at Peking Restaurant, which is owned by his parents.  Li is also attending Ohio Northern University and pursuing a degree in business finance.  He can be reached at 419.513.1332 or 419.238.5555.  

POSTED: 08/06/21 at 11:21 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

Independent staff and submitted information

OAKWOOD –Cooper Farms announces new, higher pay scale, paid-time-off (PTO) at hire, and a new option for flexible part-time work. The current job market is like nothing most Americans have ever seen, so Cooper Farms’ recently announced changes with the hope they will attract new team members and show appreciation to the team already on board. 

Full-time production team members at the egg and turkey processing locations are now starting out at a competitive wage of $15.25 or higher per hour, with PTO immediately at hire. Farm positions may vary, based on the skill and labor involved, but now start at $14.25 and increase from there.

“Looking at our competition, we think this $15 range is really what people are searching for when they’re exploring new opportunities,” said Gary Cooper, COO of Cooper Farms. “And the lack of paid time off during the first year at many new jobs is always a frustration, so we believe that will be attractive to people as well.” 

With flexibility being such a high demand, especially with the younger crowd, the company is introducing a new Flexible Part-Time position at their St. Henry and Van Wert plants, in which new team members can work whenever they are able on a part-time basis. While the program comes with a lower starting wage and minimal benefits, it will be ideal for many people out there. 

“There are a number of people out there that can’t work a consistent 40-plus hour work week because of many different reasons,” said Cooper. “For example, maybe they’re only available Tuesdays and Fridays, or maybe they want to be home when their kids get on or off the bus for school, but they do want to work. Those are the people we hope to bring in to fill these roles.” 

Cooper believes it’s important to embrace the opportunity for change, rather than attempt to combat it. 

“The market is extremely unique right now,” said Cooper. “We hope by choosing to adapt to the current situation instead of fighting against it, we can really bring in a new, large group of team members to join our team.” 

On top of these new changes, Cooper Farms is also offering new-hire bonuses to CDL drivers and maintenance team members, and a higher referral bonus program. To explore open opportunities, visit

POSTED: 07/21/21 at 9:47 pm. FILED UNDER: Business, News

Staff and submitted information

Terry Simson

Gordon Law Office announces the hiring of Terry Simson as an attorney in the office.

Simson, a 2009 graduate of Van Wert High School, earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in international affairs from Eastern Michigan University and her law degree from Ohio Northern University’s Pettit College of Law. She was admitted to the Ohio Bar in December 2020. 

Simson is looking forward to providing legal representation in Van Wert, where she grew up.

Gordon Law Office provides legal representation in criminal defense, domestic and juvenile matters, personal injury, bankruptcy, and other matters. 

“We look forward to expanding the practice and welcome Terry to the firm,” said Scott Gordon principal attorney.

POSTED: 05/08/21 at 12:43 am. FILED UNDER: Business

Staff and submitted information

Local attorney John E. Hatcher announces the relocation of his private legal practice to 120 W. Main St. in Van Wert. 

John Hatcher

The new office is located on the first floor, with the entrance on the Jefferson Street side of the building. Hatcher’s areas of practice include family law, business law, estate planning, personal injury, and civil litigation. He is currently accepting new clients; appointments can be made by calling 419.771.1280, and either he or his assistant, Ashley, will assist callers.

Hatcher is a 1991 graduate of Wayne Trace High School, a 1996 graduate of The Ohio State University, and a 1999 graduate of Petit College of Law at Ohio Northern University. He was a partner in the Hatcher and Hatcher law firm from 2004 until this year, with offices here in Van Wert. Since 2012, Hatcher has also served as the Van Wert city law director. 

POSTED: 04/23/21 at 10:51 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent/submitted information

First Federal of Van Wert announces the election of Patrick J. Jackson to its Board of Directors. Jackson was elected at the annual meeting on January 20, and will join other directors, including Michael T. Cross, Paul Svabik, J. Andrew Czajkowski, Brian Renner, and Randy Myers.

Pat Jackson

Jackson is currently chief operations officer at National Door & Trim. Prior to that, he had worked at Central Mutual Insurance Company for nearly 20 years, holding various management positions including vice president and regional manager.

Jackson is a Van Wert High School graduate and a graduate of Bowling Green State University, with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, as well as a Master of Business Administration degree.

Jackson and his wife, Shanann, have four children, Allyson, Abbygaile, Tyson, and Nathan.  He and his family attend First United Methodist Church in Van Wert.  

Jackson has been active in the community, which includes being a board member and classroom consultant for Junior Achievement of Van Wert County for over 20 years. 

“The Board and I are excited for Pat to join our organization. He adds a lot of expertise and business experience to First Federal. Pat is a community-minded person that understands our mission to help the Van Wert community thrive,” said First Federal President Brian Renner. “We are proud of our service and commitment to Van Wert and Pat only strengthens that mission.” 

First Federal of Van Wert is a locally owned and operated institution that has been serving the Van Wert community since 1893. First Federal has been ranked as a 5-star financial institution for more than seven years. First Federal was also honored in 2020 as one of the top 200 Healthiest Banks by (a subsidiary of Lending Tree).  

POSTED: 02/12/21 at 10:55 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent/submitted information

ROCKFORD — Ohio marketing agency Brand It Marketing has received another first-place award for Best of Region VI through the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA). The Region VI first-place award is for the work the firm produced for its client, Advanced Biological Marketing (ABM), in the category of three‐dimensional direct mail for dealers, distributors, sales reps, or others serving agribusiness category. 

The award‐winning “Party in a Box” direct mail piece was developed — from concept to production to distribution — by the creative team at Brand It Marketing for client ABM, which was celebrating its 20th anniversary of being in business when the COVID‐19 pandemic hit. 

Due to COVID regulations, ABM was unable to celebrate its 20th anniversary in‐person with employees, customers, and friends, so the Brand It Marketing team developed the unique and exciting concept of a “Party in a Box” filled with all things fun and relevant to help celebrate ABM’s milestone anniversary. 

The boxes included everything from branded hats to confetti poppers to peanuts straight from Georgia using ABM’s own highly-sought‐after product. Paired with each item in the box was a handwritten message from ABM’s CEO, which had significant and heartfelt meaning, aiding in the celebrating of 20 years. 

“This project gave us the opportunity to help a client of ours connect and bring extra joy to their own clients in 2020 — which felt like quite the blessing, given the circumstances,” said Twyla Hayes, co-founder and creative director for Brand It Marketing.

The “Best of NAMA” honors and awards the best of the best in agricultural marketing communications. All submissions to NAMA are evaluated for agricultural marketing effectiveness and creativity and are hand‐selected by a panel of roughly 50 industry experts. The Best of NAMA competition originated in 1988 to honor outstanding work by NAMA members, while educating members of the agriculture industry and featuring top‐of‐the‐line advertising. These awards have helped to raise the quality of the agricultural industry’s overall communication efforts throughout the years. 

POSTED: 02/12/21 at 12:07 am. FILED UNDER: Business