The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Dec. 5, 2022

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

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First Financial Bank (Nasdaq: FFBC) will join the global call to action for World Food Day 2022 by launching a local food drive at its financial center in Van Wert at 1163 S. Shannon St. Nonperishable food items can be dropped off at all First Financial locations in the region during normal business hours from October 11-21.

“Food insecurity is an issue for people worldwide, and the problem became more severe because of the pandemic,” said Roddell McCullough, chief corporate responsibility officer for First Financial Bank. “First Financial and our associates are eager to begin this local food drive and help our neighbors who do not have enough to eat.”

After the food drive concludes on Friday, Octobert 21, all food will be delivered to local organizations selected by associates at each financial center.

World Food Day, on October 16, highlights the collective work around the world to promote awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger. Coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the day also calls attention to the need to ensure healthy diets for everyone, with no one left behind.

All First Financial locations throughout its four-state footprint of Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois will participate. An interactive list of financial centers is available at

The food drive is First Financial’s second major community-focused initiative in 2022. To celebrate National Financial Literacy Month in April, First Financial Bank, its associates and clients collected more than 20,000 books to be donated to local schools, libraries, churches and other community-focused organizations.

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

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VWF Bancorp, Inc. (OTCQB: VWFB), the holding company for Van Wert Federal Savings Bank, has announced that Michael D. Cahill, CPA has become a consultant to the Van Wert Federal Savings Bank effective October 1, 2022. He will serve as a consultant for the remainder of the year and the holding Company and the Bank expect to appoint him to serve as President and Chief Executive Officer effective January 1, 2023. He is also expected to be appointed as a director of the bank and holding company effective January 1, 2023.

Mr. Cahill, a certified public accountant, has extensive experience in the financial services industry, and related industries, including having served as past President and Chief Executive Officer of Tower Financial Corporation and Tower Bank & Trust Company, its bank subsidiary, Ft. Wayne, Indiana. He also served as a board member and Vice Chairman of Centier Bank, Whiting, Indiana, and as a board member of the Indiana Bankers Association. He serves on the faculty of the Graduate School of Banking at Colorado.

“We are very pleased to welcome Michael Cahill to Van Wert Federal Savings Bank,” said Gary L. Clay, Executive Chairman of the Board of the Company and the Bank. “Our board believes that Michael will bring a wealth of banking experience and knowledge to Van Wert Federal that will allow our bank to grow and offer more services to our current and future customers.”

Originally chartered in 1889, Van Wert Federal Savings Bank is a federally-chartered stock savings bank that operates from its sole office in Van Wert.

POSTED: 10/05/22 at 1:07 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent staff/submitted information

Area residents and businesses are invited to the Customer Appreciation Day celebration from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, September 30, at the Van Wert office at 1199 Westwood Drive. Free pulled pork or brat sandwiches, chips and ice cream will be served. Attendees may enter to win a variety of door prizes.

Due to office renovations and the pandemic, the Van Wert office hasn’t held this event since 2018.

“We’re really looking forward to bringing back this event. It’s a great opportunity for us to mingle with our customers in person and show our appreciation for the trust they place in us,” Pat Ryan, SVP Van Wert City President said.

Citizens National Bank is a community bank with a special focus on small business and agriculture.

POSTED: 09/24/22 at 12:21 am. FILED UNDER: Business, News

Van Wert Federal Savings Bank recently donated $3,500 to the Lincolnview and Crestview High School Athletic Departments. The annual donation is used to help pay for department needs such as purchasing new uniforms and equipment. Van Wert Federal takes pride in giving back to athletes and their schools within the community. Lincolnview (top picture, from left to right): Kohen Cox, Dane Ebel, Evan Miller, Kylee Moody, Morgan Blankemeyer, MaKayla Jackman, Carsyn Looser, Ashlyn Price, Grace Brickner. Crestview (bottom picture from left to right): Dave Bowen, Katelyn Castle, Macy Kulwicki, Austin Fleming, Mark Schumm, Nathan Lichtle, Carson Hunter, Trent Kreischer. Photos submitted

POSTED: 08/30/22 at 3:38 am. FILED UNDER: Business, News

Submitted information

Van Wert’s newest event venue, THE 1898, has announced that they are now open for bookings. This new and sophisticated event venue was created to offer an elegant and intimate experience for an unforgettable wedding or special event. While the event venue is located in the heart of Van Wert, it brings in guests from all over the country who are looking for a unique and eloquent venue.

Built in 1898 during the height of the Gilded Age, the mansion is an architectural masterpiece. Featuring incredible detailing and ornate designs, the venue offers its guests a unique and memorable event setting – no matter the occasion. The mansion evokes a sense of vintage charm that lovers of old-world design will surely appreciate. Its elegant architecture and welcoming atmosphere are bound to win over guests looking for a unique space to host their next wedding or special event.

THE 1898 in Van Wert is now available for bookings. Photos courtesy of Brand It Marketing Communications

Historic castle home turned event venue

THE 1898 event venue, locally known as the “Castle”, embodies 4,300 square feet of timeless grandeur, complete with a modern kitchen, dining room featuring a hand painted sky ceiling, library, music room and three full bathrooms. THE 1898 includes five formal entertainment rooms which showcase the numerous curated antiques that captivate the attention of any guest. Finding their way to the elegant bar, guests can drink and mingle throughout the evening for cocktail hours or celebrations. THE 1898 event venue features a Glam Room for hair and makeup needs, along with two spacious dressing/bedrooms. One of the suites overlooks the newly added Wedding Garden, which is set to be complete in the early fall of 2022.

For couples looking for the perfect setting to capture their love, the Grand Staircase with an elevated “courting bench” proves ideal for an interior wedding stage. If guests prefer to enjoy their cocktails outside, the mansion’s exterior has sufficient spaces dedicated to outdoor relaxation. Although small, intimate gatherings are ideal for some, others prefer larger celebrations. For large events, a meticulously groomed outdoor Wedding Garden will be ready for use in the fall of 2022. The garden features seating capacity for 248 guests, a lawn area for flexible entertaining, and a dining and dance plaza.


POSTED: 08/26/22 at 1:27 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

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