The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, May. 25, 2024

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OhioHealth Van Wert Hospital is celebrating the return of its volunteer program after it was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Volunteers are vital to the hospital by helping with various tasks which could include greeting patients, helping patients and visitors navigate the hospital, wheelchair assistance, and re-stocking supplies.

“Volunteering gives people the opportunity to help make a difference in people’s lives and is a great way to give back to our community,” said Emily Lichtenberger from OhioHealth Van Wert Hospital’s volunteer services. “We’ve seen that it’s especially rewarding for our older volunteers because it provides a purpose, sense of fulfillment, and an opportunity to connect with others.”

Interested volunteers will go through training as part of an on-boarding process and can expect a time commitment of serving 2-4 hours a week.

Van Wert hospital is currently looking to add to its team of volunteers. For more information or to sign up reach out to Emily Lichtenberger by e-mail at

POSTED: 05/24/24 at 1:54 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent staff/submitted information

Central Insurance reported a year of resilience and stability in the face of industry challenges during its annual policyholder meeting held Wednesday, May 8, at the company’s headquarters in Van Wert.  

“Last year proved to be a challenging year for the insurance industry,” Chairman, CEO, and President Evan Purmort stated. “I am proud of our response to those challenges and steadfast in my belief that Central has never been better positioned to fulfill our promise to policyholders.” 

Against a backdrop of unprecedented reinsurance cost increases, record-breaking catastrophic losses, and persistent inflationary pressures, Purmort noted the company responded with incredible fortitude.

Central Insurance recently shared information about 2023. VW independent file photo

“We leveraged our financial strength and grew our surplus—outperforming our peers in underwriting profit,” he said. “We doubled down on investments in our people, technology, and specialization. Lastly, we never lost sight of taking the opportunity to invest in our community. These accomplishments reflect our collective commitment to excellence as we continue to build for the future.”   

Purmort touched on the company’s commitment to the local community through its $17 million investment in the restoration and revitalization of downtown Van Wert and $90,000 in scholarships awarded to support local students’ academic futures.

The meeting also marked the beginning of Evan Purmort’s tenure as Chairman of the Board following his election earlier this year. Evan Purmort succeeds Bill Purmort in the role, who recently stepped down as Chairman after a distinguished 45-year career at Central.

“Bill’s lifelong commitment to fulfilling our promise has laid a powerful foundation that will propel us forward,” Evan Purmort said. “As I step into the role of Chairman of the Board, I am deeply honored and committed to advancing Bill’s legacy of integrity, excellence, and service.” 


POSTED: 05/23/24 at 3:36 am. FILED UNDER: Business

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The Van Wert Area Economic Development Corporation has announced its annual meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, June 17, in the community room at Vantage Career Center. Attendees should enter through Door No. 14. This event is open to the public and will provide a comprehensive review of the past year’s activities and a preview of upcoming initiatives.

A highlight of the evening will be the membership and nomination form process for an at-large board position open to all VWAEDC members. This position carries a two-year term and is a critical role within the organization. Interested members should contact the VWAEDC office for a nomination petition. The VWAEDC board includes city and county officials, appointed positions, and two at-large positions, ensuring diverse representation and leadership.

Community members interested in attending the meeting or participating in the organization are encouraged to contact the VWAEDC. Memberships cost $5 per year, which includes voting privileges. Membership inquiries and RSVPs for the meeting can be directed to, by calling 419.238.2999, or by visiting the office at 145 E. Main St., Van Wert.

POSTED: 05/23/24 at 3:36 am. FILED UNDER: Business, News

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Van Wert Counseling Office is adding an art therapy practicum student.

Jacey Eikenbary

Jacey Eikenbary, CIT, is a practicing artist, educator, and art therapist in training. She has used art and the power of creating throughout her life as a form of self-expression and healing. She understands that art has the ability to unlock emotions, foster self-discovery, and promote growth. She is committed to helping others heal and express themselves through creativity.

Jacey has six years of experience teaching art and working with young students around the world. She is dedicated to creating a safe and nurturing environment for not only children, but also a wide population of clients. It is her mission to foster the exploration of thoughts and emotions through various artistic mediums and to offer another possible avenue of healing.

Anyone interested in scheduling an appointment with Ms. Eikenbary may call the Van Wert Counseling Office at 419.238.1000 or email her at

POSTED: 05/21/24 at 7:12 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent staff/submitted information

Citizens National Bank has been named one of the best-performing community banks in the nation by The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA).

All community banks in the U.S. were divided into categories by asset size: Less than $300 million; $300 million to less than $1 billion; and $1 billion or more. CNB just surpassed the $1 billion in assets threshold in January and was named 24th in the nation for that category.

“I’m so proud of the dedication and work ethic reflected by our inclusion in this list,” said Eric Faulkner, CNB President & CEO. “Our growth has intentionally been slow and steady, and we continue to focus on our strengths which center on small business and agricultural lending. We work closely with our customers to understand their business model and provide the right products at the right time.”

“We are also committed to offering the technology necessary to be as efficient as possible,” he added. “Reaching the $1 billion in assets milestone was a tremendous accomplishment, but it doesn’t change our focus. We remain dedicated to serving our customers and markets and are honored to see our hard work has paid off with this recognition.”

To view the list and learn more about the ICBA list of best-performing banks, visit

How the rankings were compiled

ICBA compiled this year’s rankings with the aim of recognizing community banks that are consistently high performers. Using FDIC data, they took into account pretax return-on-assets (ROA) figures from the past three years, with the most recent year weighted at 3x, second most recent year at 2x and third most recent year at 1x. They then divided the community banks into three broad segments based on asset size and ranked each segment based on a three-year weighted average ROA. A bank must have a rating of C or higher by Kroll Bond Ratings (formerly LACE) to be considered for ranking.

About ICBA

The Independent Community Bankers of America creates and promotes an environment where community banks flourish. ICBA is dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the community banking industry and its membership through effective advocacy, best-in-class education, and high-quality products and services.

With nearly 50,000 locations nationwide, community banks constitute roughly 99 percent of all banks, employ nearly 700,000 Americans and are the only physical banking presence in one in three U.S. counties. Holding more than $5.8 trillion in assets, over $4.9 trillion in deposits, and more than $3.5 trillion in loans to consumers, small businesses and the agricultural community, community banks channel local deposits into the Main Streets and neighborhoods they serve, spurring job creation, fostering innovation and fueling their customers’ dreams in communities throughout America.

POSTED: 05/19/24 at 8:00 am. FILED UNDER: Business

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Attorneys Aaron Baker and Keri McClure have announced that Keister & Baker LLC has been re-named Baker McClure Law & Title LLC. This name changes follows the retirement of Stephen Keister and it recognizes Keri McClure’s contributions to the practice after becoming a partner in the firm in 2020. Keri McClure is married to Todd Akom.

Aaron Baker joined Steve Keister in practice in 2010 and later formed Keister & Baker. The firm now consists of four attorneys: Aaron Baker, Keri McClure, Collette Carcione, and Maryam Rezayat.

Pictured from left to right are Maryam Rezayat, Collette Carcione, Aaron Baker, and Keri McClure. Photo submitted

The firm provides sophisticated estate planning, probate and trust administration, and business succession planning. Both Aaron and Keri were raised on farms in Van Wert County and have unique insight to assist farm families with estate planning and asset protection. The focus on asset protection for farm families and businesses has translated well to assist any individual or family that requires asset protection or long-term care planning.

Collette, a sole practitioner before joining Aaron and Keri in 2021, continues to serve estate planning and business clients as well. She has been a particular asset to the firm because of her years of specialized knowledge and experience in probate administration. Collette is married to Steve Carcione.

The name change also reflects the firm’s continued specialization in real estate transactions, including providing title and closing services for agricultural, commercial, and residential properties. Baker McClure Law & Title LLC is underwritten by First American Title Insurance Company.

After Keri McClure joined the firm in 2016, she expanded the office’s real estate practice. With the addition of Maryam Rezayat in 2022, the firm has further expanded its title services. Maryam is a graduate of The Ohio State Moritz College of Law and received a degree in Communication from Wittenberg University. Maryam was raised in Cincinnati and joined the Van Wert community in April of 2019, joining the firm in 2022. Maryam is married to Tyler Turnwald.

Baker McClure Law & Title is located in “The Old Post Office” building located at 124 South Market Street in Van Wert.

POSTED: 05/08/24 at 3:27 am. FILED UNDER: Business

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Superior Credit Union recently opened a location in Van Wert and they have jumped right in to supporting the Van Wert Community and the YMCA of Van Wert County.

Superior opened their first location in Lima in 1954 and since then they have expanded into cities and counties across western Ohio. The leadership at Superior Credit Union met with Hugh Kocab, CEO of the YMCA of Van Wert County, and through this collaboration, Superior Credit Union made a generous donation in support of Youth Programs at the YMCA.

A lot of smiles went with Superior Credit Union’s donation to the YMCA. Photo submitted

A portion of the funds will directly support our After School Program to provide free youth memberships to ASP participants. Superior also purchased an annual banner in support of the YMCA’s youth sports and youth aquatics programs.

For more information about YMCA programs, contact the Van Wert YMCA at 419.238.0443, visit, or email The YMCA in Van Wert County is partially funded by the Van Wert County Foundation and United Way.

POSTED: 05/07/24 at 7:48 am. FILED UNDER: Business

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The Board of Directors of First Federal of Van Wert has announced the promotions of Diana Cearns, Lisa Lawson, Terra Bonifas, and Thad Eikenbary.

“We believe a key to our success are the talented people that work here.” says Brian Renner, President/CEO of First Federal. “We’re proud to announce these promotions, as these four individuals exemplify the dedication and service to not only First Federal, but our customers and our community.”

Clockwise from top left: Diana Cearns, Lisa Lawson, Terra Bonafis and Thad Eikenbary. Photos submitted

Diana Cearns was promoted to Vice President of Operations. She also continues to serve as the BSA Officer. Diana joined First Federal in 2011 and has over 30 years of banking experience. She is a graduate of Van Wert High School and received a bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting from The Ohio State University. Diana is a member of the Van Wert Optimist Club and Calvary Evangelical Church. She has also been involved in various community activities including Relay for Life. Diana and her husband, Paul, reside in rural Convoy and have two children, Courtney, and Cameron.

Lisa Lawson was promoted to Vice President of Customer Experience. Lisa joined First Federal in 2013 and has over 35 years of banking experience. Lisa is a member of St. Mary’s of the Assumption Catholic Church and serves on the board of Crisis Care. She is also involved in various community activities including United Way Day of Caring. Lisa and her husband, Bill, reside in Van Wert and are the parents of Megan, Holly, and Abby.

Terra Bonifas was promoted to Administrative Officer. Terra began her career with First Federal in 2020 and has 10 years of banking experience. She is a graduate of Lincolnview High School and Ohio University. She serves as the board secretary for the YWCA, volunteers for the Chamber of Commerce Leadership council, and is the Treasurer of the Van Wert Rotary Club. She also volunteers for Career Connections and serves as a mentor for the Van Wert County Foundation Learn and Return program. Terra and her husband, Kirk, are the parents of two sons, Brooks, and Madden.

Thad Eikenbary was promoted to Vice President of Commercial Lending. Thad joined First Federal in 2021 after a lengthy career at Central Mutual Insurance. He is a graduate of Van Wert High School and Ohio Northern University. Thad has served on many community boards, and he is the current Van Wert City Council President. In addition, he also serves on the boards of the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) and Youth for Christ. Thad and his wife, Laura, reside in Van Wert and are the parents of Jacey, Lauren, and Carter.

POSTED: 04/16/24 at 9:52 am. FILED UNDER: Business

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Lisa Straley (right), owner/operator of 3B Designs, joined by Eric Hurless (left), financial advisor with Edward Jones, recently presented a donation to Van Wert Elementary School therapists Janine Warneke and Jaime Gardner. Straley organized a benefit during March in support of Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, allocating a portion of the proceeds to raise funds for the Van Wert Elementary School therapy department.

Hurless, whose daughter Bella (center) lives with cerebral palsy, generously agreed to match the amount raised by 3B Designs during the sale. Together, they raised $232, which will be used to purchase additional equipment for the children of Van Wert Elementary.

A recent fundraiser to benefit the Van Wert Elementary therapy department was successful. Photo submitted

“We hope this small donation can make a large impact on kids needing additional help at school,” Hurless said. “We thank Lisa for thinking of Bella and for organizing this wonderful opportunity”

3B Designs is a small, mom-owned business in Van Wert offering diffuser/gemstone/heist bracelets for adults and children, silicone necklaces for kids, keychains, wristlet keychains, lanyards, and beaded pens.

More info can be found at or find her on Facebook and Instagram.

POSTED: 04/15/24 at 1:31 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent/submitted information

Traditionally, the month of April is recognized as National Community Banking Month. It focuses on the many contributions community banks make to the areas they serve through local lending, employee volunteerism and personal service. 

During the month, Citizens National Bank will include a focus on fraud education as part of its 2024 campaign. According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers reported losing more than $10 billion to fraud in 2023 and banks continue to see increased cases among their own customer base. It’s CNB’s responsibility as a community bank to provide awareness of this growing problem and practical tips for customers to prevent it.

Every customer that comes in will be provided with a free gel pen that helps to prevent checks from being altered, along with tips for preventing fraud. CNB will highlight some of these tips on its in-branch TVs, as well as social media posts throughout the month.

Additionally, the bank will once again host Community Shred Day on Friday, April 26, offering the public an opportunity to safely shred personal information. Items to be shredded will be accepted during normal business hours of each office. There is a limit of three standard office size boxes or grocery bags per household. Items to be shredded could include: 

  • Financial statements
  • Canceled and blank checks
  • Paycheck stubs
  • Credit card and account numbers 
  • Personal records and tax records
  • Medical records
  • Any items containing a person’s social security number or signature.
  • Any mail or magazines that have personal identifiers
  • No need to remove staples or paper clips

**No electronic items will be accepted. All paper material will be destroyed by Allshred Services, a NAID certified company. 

CNB offices will also have sweet treats available that day in celebration of Community Banking Month. The bank  branches are also once again giving away community gift baskets at each office, highlighting unique items from each of the CNB markets. The baskets are valued at more than $150. 

Entries can also be made online at the CNB website:

A drawing for the baskets will be held Friday, April 26. 

POSTED: 04/05/24 at 3:29 pm. FILED UNDER: Business