The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Mar. 30, 2023

VW independent staff/submitted information

OAKWOOD — This year, Cooper Farms is celebrating 85 years as a family owned and operated farm and food company. It has grown from a small turkey hatchery started in 1938 to a diversified, vertically integrated turkey, hog and egg company that has stood the test of time in an ever-changing industry.

Cooper Farms prides itself on forming lasting customer relationships and producing the highest quality meat and egg products for private label retail and food service companies.

“Our company was founded on a handshake mentality, with a focus on doing the right thing all the time,” CEO Jim Cooper said. “It’s humbling to see the growth of Cooper Farms and all that we’ve accomplished, with the help of great partners, leaders and team members. I am pleased to see these next generations, both Cooper family and team members, stepping up to leadership roles and seeing us through these next phases of growth.”

Cooper Farms started in 1938 with 300 turkeys in Oakwood when Virgil Cooper took over the farm, after his mother’s passing. By 1948, a hatchery had been built where the Cooper Farms Corporate Office now resides. In 1974, Virgil and Virginia Cooper’s sons, Jim and Gary Cooper returned to the farm to work with their dad full-time.

“When I came back we had maybe 30 team members,” Cooper said. “Today we have about 2,400 team members, plus the 375 family farmers who help us raise our turkeys, hogs and chickens.”

The Cooper family recognizes they have advanced as a company thanks to team members who make up Cooper Farms and the communities all around them.

“We’re proud to maintain a culture rooted in family values where every team member is treated like family,” Corporate Secretary Dianne Cooper said. “My parents always made sure to treat their team right and give back to the community.”


POSTED: 03/05/23 at 10:01 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent staff/submitted information

Officials with the Van Wert campus of Northwest State Community College have announced a partnership with the design firm of Fanning Howey to begin the renovation of its Sycamore St. campus. Fanning Howey is an integrated architecture, interiors and engineering firm specializing in learning environments.

Tim Lehman of Fanning Howey is pictured with Dr. Jon Tomlinson at the NSCC Van Wert Campus. Photo submitted

Located just 23 miles away from Van Wert in Celina, Fanning Howey focuses exclusively on designing learning facilities for the next generation of students. Their team of experts has over 61 years of experience in education design, have worked with 41 colleges and universities on more than 189 projects, and have received more than 180 awards for designs that impact education.

“I couldn’t be happier with the selection of Fanning Howey to design Van Wert’s campus, Van Wert Dean Jon Tomlinson said. The ideas the team presented to us were spectacular and will help Northwest State Community College build a first-rate campus for our future students. The Van Wert campus will certainly further our mission of providing access to excellent and affordable education, training, and services that improve the lives of individuals and strengthen the communities in Paulding and Van Wert county.”

“The adaptive reuse of the former office and manufacturing building is an amazing opportunity,” says Tim Lehman, PE, Chief Executive Officer of Fanning Howey. “We look forward to collaborating with Northwest State to reimagine the 20th century facility for use as a 21st century learning environment.”

For more information about the Van Wert campus of Northwest State Community College and to follow the upcoming renovation process, visit

Northwest State Community College is an accredited two-year, state-assisted institution of higher education that has served northwest Ohio since 1969. NSCC offers associate degrees with numerous transfer options, short-term certificate programs, and workforce training programs designed to meet the needs of local businesses and industries.

POSTED: 03/01/23 at 4:47 am. FILED UNDER: Business, News

VW independent staff/submitted information

ST MARYS — Midwest Electric recently donated $14,700 to 17 west central Ohio charities and community projects through the cooperative’s Community Connection Fund. Entities in Van Wert and Delphos were among the recipients.

Thanks to the 90 percent of members who round up their electric bill and donate to this fund, Midwest Electric has provided $1,302,169 to 1,090 local charitable causes since 1998.

The latest recipients of grants include:

  • Van Wert County Park District, $1,000 for maintenance of the Van Wert County Trail and the Warrior Trail in Ohio City.
  • Delphos Baseball and Softball Association, $800 to purchase netting for a batting cage.
  • Parkway FFA, $2,000 to build a new greenhouse at the school for the students.
  • Village of Chickasaw, $1,000 to install a generator at the new village hall.
  • Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics, $250 to purchase a new color printer.
  • North Valley CYO, $500 to purchase t-shirts and water bottles for the athletes at the state CYO basketball tournament.
  • Erastus Church and Community Hall, $1,000 towards the purchase of a new furnace and insulation.
  • Foundations Behavioral Health Services, $750 for the Mercer County Youth to Youth retreat.
  • VentureLINX, $300 to purchase a time clock and document destruction box locks.
  • Auglaize County Sheriff Department, $1,000 towards the purchase of a drone equipped with a thermal camera for the Special Population Operation Team.
  • St. Marys Middle School, $1,000 to purchase books for a school-wide reading project.
  • JTD Hospital Foundation, $700 to support activities associated with the Grand Lake Health Challenge.
  • SAFY Lima Behavioral Health, $1,000 to purchase sensory-based materials to use with their clients.
  • Spencerville Educational Foundation, $1,000 to promote, improve, enrich, and supplement programs and activities beyond what is possible with public funds.
  • Allen County Sheriff’s Posse, $1,500 to purchase needed safety equipment for the horses and deputies.
  • Crime Victim Services, $750 to provide programs and support to victims of violence and crime in Allen and Putnam Counties.
  • Blake Rodgers Memorial Fund, $150 donation to a memorial fund for a Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative apprentice lineman who lost his life in an electrical contact accident while restoring power during a winter storm in December.

The Midwest Electric Community Connection Fund is a voluntary charitable program. Participating members’ monthly electric bills are rounded up to the next dollar, with the additional pennies deposited in the Fund. A Board of Trustees, composed of cooperative members and separate from the Midwest Electric Board of Trustees, oversees the application and allocation process.

Individuals or organizations can obtain an application by contacting Midwest Electric at 1.800.962.3830 or visiting

Based in St. Marys, Midwest Electric is the not-for-profit, customer-owned electric cooperative serving 11,000 homes, farms, and businesses in Allen, Auglaize, Mercer, Van Wert, Shelby, Putnam, and Darke counties.

POSTED: 02/24/23 at 4:47 am. FILED UNDER: Business, News

VW independent staff/submitted information

KALIDA — Kalida-based Unverferth Manufacturing Co., Inc. has announced the purchase of Orthman Manufacturing’s agricultural product lineup and the two manufacturing locations based in Lexington, Nebraska. Manufacturing personnel and various support people will be offered employment with the new ownership.

Unverferth Manufacturing has a well-known reputation for building upon the several businesses it has acquired over the last 75 years. With that growth comes a commitment to the employees through industry-leading wages, health care and other benefits along with positive impacts on local communities. Unverferth Manufacturing saw a natural fit with the culture, the people and the innovative, well-built products at Orthman Manufacturing. Major equipment and facility investments have been made at the Lexington locations over the past several years that present great opportunities for increased production.

“I have the utmost confidence that Unverferth Manufacturing will continue growing the Orthman name and most importantly take care of the respective employees,” said John McCoy, Orthman owner and company president. “The culture and innovative drive at Orthman is very similar to that of Unverferth Manufacturing”.

McCoy is retaining ownership of the Orthman Conveying Systems business and said he is excited about the prospect of expanding that venture in the years to come.


POSTED: 02/01/23 at 7:46 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent staff/submitted information

Have you ever thought about starting your own business? Do you already operate your own business? Who can I ask for help and support? If you have some of these questions or others, plan on attending the launch event presented by the Van Wert Economic Development Corporation, Main Street Van Wert, and the Van Wert Chamber of Commerce from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday. February 4, at Kenn-Feld Group Training Center, 10305 Liberty-Union Road, Van Wert.

Be prepared to interact with a panel of local experts and learn how using their services can support a business or help build a business plan.

Scheduled to appear are Stacey Baer, CPA, Shultz Huber & Associates; Bob Gamble, realtor, Bee Gee Realty; Mitch Price, lender, Citizens National Bank; Shaun Putnam, attorney, Putnam Law Offices; Marie Miller, owner, The Marketing Junkie, and Adam Anspach, owner/agent, Advanced Insurance Group. Also scheduled to appear are local business owners Brad Greve, VP/Owner from Statewide Ford Lincoln, and Val Hunt, owner, Shine Auto Detailing who will share their entrepreneurial journeys as well as the hard lessons that helped shape their businesses.

Anyone attending this kickoff event will be eligible to enroll in complimentary business plan class sessions presented by Kathy Keller, Director of the Rhodes State Small Business Development Center.

For more information about this event, contact Carly Bebout with Van Wert Economic Development at, or 419.238.2999.

POSTED: 01/18/23 at 4:41 am. FILED UNDER: Business, News

VW independent staff/submitted information

Applications are now available for Central’s Educational and Charitable Foundation Scholarship Program until March 31. This program rewards and supports graduates seeking careers in the property and casualty insurance industry.

“Central’s company culture is shaped by its shared commitment to excellence and guided by its core values of integrity, relationships and excellence,” said Cindy Hurless, Central’s Chief Operating Officer. “Investing in our industry and the skills needed for tomorrow will help us build the future we envision.”

The scholarship provides up to $5,000 per student for tuition, books, room and board, and other related school fees. It is renewable for up to three additional years. Students also have the opportunity for mentorship from an experienced individual in their area of interest.

The scholarship is available to graduating seniors from one of the Van Wert County school districts, including Crestview, Lincolnview, and Van Wert High School, or Vantage Career Center with a home school association to one of these schools. Dependent children of a current Central Insurance employee or retiree are also eligible. Students must plan to attend an accredited two or four-year post-secondary educational institution on a full-time basis by the end of 2023, majoring in a degree with a specific use towards a career position within the insurance industry.

Applications and additional information are available on the Central Insurance Companies Educational and Charitable Foundation website at or through their high school guidance counselor. Completed applications and required materials should be submitted through the applicant’s high school guidance office. Deadline for entry is March 31, 2023.


POSTED: 01/17/23 at 4:46 am. FILED UNDER: Business, News

Submitted information

Eric Hurless, an Edward Jones financial advisor in Van Wert, and Senior Branch Office Administrator, Cassondra Clark, have accepted invitations to become limited partners in The Jones Financial Companies, L.L.L.P., the holding company for the St. Louis-based financial services firm.

“I am honored to be invited to become a limited partner in the firm,” Hurless said. “I value working at a firm with such a strong sense of purpose — to make a positive difference for our clients, colleagues and community.”

Hurless and Clark

“I couldn’t agree more,” Clark said. “I’ve always enjoyed my job and the Edward Jones culture that promotes personal relationships, teamwork and doing what’s right for our clients. So, being an owner in this firm is really exciting.”

Edward Jones currently employs 50,000 associates throughout the United States and through its affiliate in Canada. This is the firm’s 18th limited partnership offering in its 100-year history.

The Jones Financial Companies, L.L.L.P. was created in 1987 to enable the firm to expand into new business areas while allowing it to remain a partnership. The Jones Financial Companies, L.L.L.P. owns Edward D. Jones & Companies, L.L.L.P., which operates under the trade name Edward Jones, as well as other affiliates including the Edward Jones Trust Company, Olive Street Investment Advisors, LLC, Edward Jones SBL, LLC, and an international financial services subsidiary in Canada, Edward Jones (an Ontario limited partnership).

Edward Jones is a leading financial services firm in the U.S. and through its affiliate in Canada. The firm’s nearly 19,000 financial advisors serve more than 8 million clients with a total of $1.5 trillion in client assets under care, as of 3Q 2022.

POSTED: 01/05/23 at 3:01 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent staff/submitted information

Central Insurance has announced plans to partner with Westwood Behavioral Health Center to offer its Van Wert employees free outpatient therapy from local mental health providers as a way to better support their personal and professional well-being.

“We believe mental health is as important as physical health, but is often overlooked by employers,” Jena Wierwille, Vice President of Human Resources said. “Health, social, and economic impacts have serious and far-reaching repercussions on our mental health and the demand for mental support services continues to grow. We place the health and well-being of our employees above all else, and are taking big steps to ensure they have access to the support they need.”

“We’ve partnered with Westwood to help eliminate barriers to mental health options—from therapy to group workshops—so our employees can live their best, most balanced lives,” Wierwille added.

Each week, five mental health providers employed by Westwood Behavioral Health Center will offer a combined total of 30 therapy hours to Central employees. Located close to Central’s campus, the Center ensures convenient access to in-person therapy and acute 24/7 services. The company can also host on-site sessions focused on a range of topics to improve quality of life, such as managing day-to-day anxiety, parenting, and healthy social development.

“Westwood is proud to partner with a local company like Central Insurance,” said Mark Spieles, CEO of Westwood Behavioral Health Center. “Their investment to ensure access to mental health support and services is an example of their strong commitment to their employees and is a model for others to follow.”

The partnership with Westwood is described as the newest addition to Central’s comprehensive benefits package designed to meet evolving needs and foster a company culture that prioritizes the care of its people.

POSTED: 12/27/22 at 4:45 am. FILED UNDER: Business, News

Submitted information

BRSW CPAs, with offices in Van Wert, Columbus Grove and Paulding, has announced the promotion of three new owners to the firm: Andrew Bashore, CPA, Todd Meyer, CPA, and Andy Manz, CPA, CITP.

Andrew Bashore, CPA – Van Wert Office

Andrew graduated from Ohio Northern University with a bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 2012 and joined BRSW that same year. While working at BRSW, he earned his Masters in Business Administration from the University of Northwest Ohio. Andrew earned his CPA designation in January 2015 and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants as well as the Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Andrew Bayshore, Todd Meyer and Andy Manz are three new owners of BRSW CPAs. Photos submitted

Andrew works with large and small business clients in a variety of different industries preparing income tax returns and financial statements. He also works with individual clients on income tax preparation and is involved in audit and attestation services for clients as well as a variety of business strategy and planning. You can contact Andrew at or by phone at 419.238.0658.

Todd Meyer, CPA – Columbus Grove Office

Todd joined the firm in 2012, beginning in the Paulding office. He helped spearhead the opening of an office in Columbus Grove, Ohio in 2016 which has grown into an office with five employees. He grew up in Columbus Grove on a family farm and continues to be actively involved in farming and ag-business. Todd was a 2010 cum laude graduate of The Ohio State University, Fisher College of Business, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with specializations in Accounting and Entrepreneurship in 2010 and obtained his CPA designation in 2014.

Being an active farmer, Todd has strong expertise in ag taxation and excels in helping his ag clients with their tax and accounting needs. Todd also works with individuals and businesses in a variety of other industries with accounting and auditing, taxation, agribusiness, and small business consulting. You can contact Todd at or by phone at 419.659.2647.

Andy Manz, CPA, CITP – Paulding Office


POSTED: 10/12/22 at 9:51 am. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent staff/submitted information

The ownership of Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home & Crematory is pleased to announce the completion of multiple upgrades and renovations to its Van Wert location.

The ownership of Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home & Crematory had identified the need for more meeting space and updated amenities to best meet the memorial and funeral needs of the community it serves. The addition of a new kitchenette and community space for family use will enable guests to host meals at the funeral home with catering options available. This addition will make it easier for families who are looking to honor loved ones after the ceremony has been completed and has a capacity of nearly 100 people.

Other upgrades include a private hospitality space, modern amenities, new paint, furniture, and décor as well as updated lighting throughout the facility.

A November 20 open house will be held at Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home & Creamatory in Van Wert. Photo submitted

“Adding these new amenities will help reduce the stress and coordination on grieving families by allowing them to celebrate their loved one in one space,” Andrew Gearhart said. “These new rooms and services, alongside the modernization of our space will help bring comfort to those grieving by reducing the amount of coordination and event planning during an already difficult time.”

The funeral home will also open its doors to the public from 12:30-3:30 p.m. Sunday, November 20 to see upgrades firsthand. The public is invited to tour the renovated facility and learn more about the services available.

Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home and Crematory has served the community’s pre-arrangement, funeral service, memorial service, burial, and cremation needs for over five generations, providing comfort and care since 1903.

POSTED: 10/10/22 at 3:40 am. FILED UNDER: Business