The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, May. 22, 2024

Opinions

By Jarrod Clay

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Unclaimed Funds is currently safeguarding approximately $4 billion in unclaimed funds that is waiting to be claimed. Last year alone, Ohioans were able to put more than $139 million back into their pockets.

Unclaimed funds are lost or forgotten money that businesses and banks report to the Division of Unclaimed Funds after accounts become inactive, typically between 3-5 years. The money can come from inactive checking and savings accounts, refund/credit balances, uncashed cashier’s checks, stocks and bonds, forgotten utility deposits and final paychecks.

While this money can be claimed with just three simple steps, there are some common misconceptions when it comes to claiming Unclaimed Funds. The Division hopes to dispel these myths to encourage more Ohioans to claim what could be substantial funds.

You must pay to file a claim: False – It is 100 percent free to claim your unclaimed funds. While there are finders registered with the State of Ohio who charge fees for helping recover your funds, you can easily claim them for free on your own. In the event you need assistance, experts with the Division are available to walk you through the claims process.

Unclaimed Funds expire over time: False – unclaimed funds never expire, and the Division will continue to safeguard that money until it is claimed by the rightful owner or heir.

You’re careful with your finances so you don’t have unclaimed funds: False – One in seven Americans currently has unclaimed funds in their name. These unclaimed funds can come from a wide range of places, so even those who are on top of their finances could potentially have missing money they are unaware of.

You’ve claimed unclaimed funds in the past, so you don’t need to check again: False – Ohio businesses are required to report Unclaimed Funds on an annual basis, so even though you may have claimed missing money in the past, it’s possible that additional unclaimed funds belonging to you could be reported. That’s why it’s important to search for your missing money on a regular basis.

You should only search for your own unclaimed funds: False – The Division encourages Ohioans to search not only for their unclaimed funds, but the unclaimed funds of friends, family members and loved ones. That way, if you discover they have missing money, you can let them know. It’s also important to search for unclaimed funds that may belong to family members who are deceased so necessary steps can be taken to acquire those funds.

Securing Unclaimed Funds in Three Easy Steps

Ohioans can quickly and easily find and claim their unclaimed funds by taking three easy steps:

  • search for money at unclaimedfunds.ohio.gov
  • gather the required supporting documents
  • send the information to the Division either online or by mail.

If you need any additional help, the Division of Unclaimed Funds has a number of video resources available to watch by clicking here.

POSTED: 04/25/24 at 9:05 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions

As the Representative for Ohio’s Fifth District in Congress, I have visited and inspected our nation’s southern border four times. I take these opportunities because I believe the federal government has a duty and responsibility to protect and secure our nation’s borders.

That is why I traveled to the small southern border town of Eagle Pass, Texas, this month. What I witnessed and heard from Border Patrol agents while there was alarming and unsustainable.

In the month of December, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported apprehending a record shattering 302,000 illegal migrants crossing the southern border. And over the last year, CBP seized over 23,000 pounds of illicit fentanyl.

Bob Latta

The Del Rio sector we visited has 242 miles of border with Mexico. Due to the recent surge of illegal migrants, Border Patrol were only able to patrol a fraction of the sector. Many of these Border Patrol agents are stretched thin and are bogged down in processing paperwork, which keep them from patrolling our southern border. Even Border Patrol agents around the country are being forced to process paperwork online, which has also kept them from performing their duties on our northern border.

We also visited a facility that held illegal migrants and is intended to hold 1,000 people. However, during the recent surge, it held 6,000 people. How can the Border Patrol handle these numbers?

CBP also reported to us that Mexican cartels are raking in $32 million a week. These cartels are simply exploiting migrants. And as illegal migrants traverse their way to our southern border, cartels are committing murder, trafficking children, and raping women.

There are many who claim only southern border states and communities should be concerned about what goes on at the border – that is just flat out wrong. This is a nationwide crisis.

Look no further than New York City – of all places – to see the ramifications of misguided southern border policy. New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently cited the migrant crisis as the reason behind recent budget cuts, including freezing the hiring of New York Police Department officers.

(more…)

POSTED: 01/08/24 at 9:53 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions

Many people underestimate the impact that mental illness can have on an individual or family. It can be difficult to admit that you have a mental health problem in your life. Secondly, it can be just as difficult in getting the people you know to understand your situation without making any kinds of judgments.

As a result, here are six reasons why you should make your mental health an important priority in your life.

  • Your situation will improve if you get help: Your anxieties and fears can be challenging to manage and more than likely you will need some help. Just as you talk to your doctor about your regular health, you should not be hesitant in seeking help for your mental health. If left untreated, your anxieties and fears may not go away.
  • Drugs and alcohol are not the answer: Drugs and alcohol can make your problems more complicated. Many people have said that drugs and alcohol will only add more problems to your situation. Be smart and learn how to cope with your mental health issues by talking to a qualified professional. There are many health professionals in your area that can give you some ideas on where you can go for assistance.
  • You will save time and money: Eventually, you will have to confront your fears and mental health issues. Save yourself the time and heartache and confront your problems now rather than later. You will save months of struggling by getting help right away. The sooner you get assistance the faster you will start getting some relief.
  • You are not alone: Everyone deals with fear, stress, and anxiety in one’s life whether your friends and others care to admit it. In addition, do not be embarrassed that you are getting help. We all learn new things from others on a daily basis and learning how to manage your anxieties is no different. In addition, your goal is to get your life back on track and not to get everyone’s approval. If people start asking you questions, just say your dealing with stress. Most people can relate to dealing with stress and anxiety.
  • Do not make the mistake of doing nothing: There are many people who struggled with anxiety and other mental health related issues, and they tried to ignore their problems. As a result, some of these people struggled on a daily basis and eventually things became more difficult. It can be scary asking for assistance, but the key is to take things one day at a time.
  • You have a variety of options: There are many mental health support groups, organizations, and counselors in your area that can help get your life back on track. Talk to your doctor to get more details on where you can go for some assistance. Help is available but you must be willing to make the choice of getting better. Remember that every problem has a solution. You just have to make the effort to find the answers.

Editor’s note: Popovich is the author of “A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear” which covers a variety of techniques that can drastically improve your mental health.

POSTED: 12/18/23 at 1:40 pm. FILED UNDER: Opinions

Your home is one of the most important financial – and emotional – investments you’ll make. It provides shelter, security, and a sense of stability. Now, thanks to the creativity of fraudsters, it also comes with the risk of a relatively new type of scam called deed or mortgage fraud. Scammers are forging deeds to homes and then taking out home equity loans, putting homeowners at risk.

Lane Montz

This scam is on the rise. According to the FBI, deed fraud and mortgage fraud are among the fastest-growing white-collar crimes in the United States. Fraudulent transfers of property can be devastating to homeowners, causing them to lose their homes, their credit ratings, and their peace of mind.

Here’s how it works: a fraudster will scour public records on the internet for your signature, digitally copy it, and forge a fake deed transferring ownership of your home to themselves or an accomplice. Then they take out a home equity loan using your home as collateral. This can potentially leave you on the hook for the loan and fixing the situation can be a legal nightmare. In some cases, homeowners may not even be aware the scam has occurred until they receive a notice of default or foreclosure from their lender.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to safeguard your property:

  1. Keep a close eye on your home’s title and deed. You can obtain a copy of your deed from your local county recorder’s office.
  2. Be wary of unsolicited offers to purchase or refinance your home, especially high-pressure ones.
  3. Protect your personal information. Shred all documents that contain sensitive information, such as your Social Security number or bank account details. Don’t share this information with anyone unless you are certain that they are trustworthy.

You might wonder if the title insurance you paid for at closing protects you. The short answer is probably not. Title insurance typically only protects against title problems prior to closing. Most deed fraud occurs later. However, some title insurers are now offering supplemental insurance to help with deed fraud, but coverage and offerings are spotty. The best course of action is to call your title carrier and get legal advice.

Finally, if you do receive a notice of default or foreclosure, act quickly. Time is of the essence and a swift response can make all the difference in protecting your home and your financial future.

If you believe that you have been a victim of this or any other scam, it’s important to report it immediately. Contact your local law enforcement agency and the FTC to file a complaint. Remember, by being vigilant and proactive, you can help protect yourself and your home from this and other types of scams.

Lane Montz
President and CEO
Toledo Better Business Bureau

POSTED: 04/17/23 at 10:21 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions

Earlier this month, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 288, which prohibits the use of electronic wireless communication devices (EWCDs) while operating a vehicle. I applaud Gov. DeWine and the Ohio Legislature for taking a necessary stand against a deadly issue for our state: distracted driving.

The new law goes into effect in April. Currently, Ohio is one of only four U.S. states that does not consider use of an EWCD while driving to be a primary offense for adults. That means adults can not be pulled over for using devices but could be cited if pulled over for a different reason. However, it has been a primary offense for teenagers under the age of 18 since 2012.

Steve Stivers

With this existing stipulation for teenage drivers, we are admitting that distracted driving is a problem. We were just pretending that this temptation disappears with adulthood— despite evidence showing otherwise.

Traffic fatalities in Ohio have been on the rise for years. In fact, 1,068 were recorded in 2018. After steady increases of nearly 10 percent in each successive year, they reached 1,351 in 2021. We cannot deny the use of EWCDs has contributed: 11,910 crashes in 2021 were attributed to distracted driving, up 8.2 percent from 11,006 in 2020.

Public Opinion Strategies recently conducted a poll of 1,000 licensed drivers in Ohio. Their top concern on the roadways, regardless of age, political ideology or region, was distracted driving. More than 50 percent of respondents said they see another driver using handheld phones either “nearly every time they go out” or “most times they go out.” With this, 61 percent of interviewed drivers believed a ban on EWCD use while driving would decrease accidents in Ohio.

Many of our state’s roadway crashes and fatalities are preventable. You are always taking a risk when you get behind the wheel; Operating a two-ton motorized vehicle may be an everyday occurrence for many, but that does not make it any less dangerous. Still, there are things that can be done at a legislative level to lessen these risks. SB 288 is an important first step in changing our culture of normalizing distracted driving.

This bill will protect the safety of more than just motorists, too: pedestrians and road construction workers face danger daily at the hands of distracted driving. It is crucial that we all work to make our roads safer for everyone. SB 288 will assist with that effort in April, but until then, remember that any text message, phone call, email or cat video can wait until you are safely in park. Your life and the lives of your fellow Ohioans matter most.

Steve Stivers
President & CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce

POSTED: 01/31/23 at 12:07 pm. FILED UNDER: Opinions

It’s hard to believe that six years have gone by so quickly as I finish these last few weeks as State Representative. It’s been an honor to represent so many wonderful Ohioans at the Statehouse over my three terms. My wife Danette and I have met so many great people along the way who have been so kind and welcoming. We have always felt so humbled having this God-given opportunity. We are incredibly blessed to live in northwest Ohio and it’s been a privilege to serve the people living in Defiance, Paulding, Van Wert and Auglaize Counties during my tenure.

Craig Riedel

Some of my fondest memories were when Danette and I knocked on doors, meeting people for the first time. We’ll never forget the kindness that nearly everyone displayed. Many times people would quite literally pull us into their homes and offer us coffee or something to eat. Many times, people would want to either pray with us or for us. The parades, festivals and fairs in each county were always a fun way to personally connect with more people throughout the district.

As a lawmaker I’ve always believed in three core principles: limited government, fiscal responsibility, and free market concepts. My proudest day as a legislator was the day we passed the “Heartbeat Bill,” Senate Bill 23 in the spring of 2019. That was a victorious day for the unborn across the State of Ohio and a day I will never forget for the rest of my life. Additionally, passing legislation honoring the legacy of Neil Armstrong was a highlight of my career along with helping pass Senate Bill 9 to reduce burdensome rules and regulations on businesses and our way of life. Another law I had a significant part in helping to pass was Senate Bill 52, giving local control to the people when it comes to wind and solar development. I’m also proud to say that in all three of my General Assemblies we were able to reduce Ohioans’ personal income taxes by 12 percent.

We’re not sure what the future holds for us but we’re confident that God has a plan and will provide and show us the way forward. We hope and pray to have more opportunities in the future to be public servants. It’s something that I feel both blessed to do and enjoy doing. Proverbs 16-9 says that “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Danette and I have faith in that and know it is true. We will always believe in America and we know that our country’s greatest days still lay out ahead. Thank you and God bless you all and God bless America. It’s been an honor!

POSTED: 12/08/22 at 2:44 pm. FILED UNDER: Opinions

My time as a state representative has been rife with legislation geared at providing increased public safety for the people of Ohio. I have voted in favor of over 30 pieces of legislation to help fight crime in this state and it all stems from unyielding respect for law and order.

I grew up in a household where law enforcement was held in the highest esteem and since my childhood, have held a steadfast commitment and respect for the execution of the law. Many of these values have been learned from my father. He was a military man, serving in the U.S. Army from 1958-1964 as a military policeman and touring for one year in Korea. Following his service in the armed forces, he began a career as an Ohio State Highway Patrolman for five years. His service to our country and the great State of Ohio has been fundamental in my role as a lawmaker.

Craig Riedel

As a state legislator, I have taken these ideals with me to the Statehouse where I have tried to impart these same values in every vote, co-sponsorship or piece of legislation that I have authored.

I have been a part of countless pieces of legislation derived to keep Ohioans safe from criminals. One of the most critical pieces of legislation I have co-sponsored this General Assembly is bail reform through House Joint Resolution 2. Our current system does not require courts to consider the safety of the public when determining bail. This has allowed repeat offenders charged with violent crimes to be given minimal conditions of bail and return to the public. HJR2 will be included on the November 8 ballot as Issue No. 1 for all Ohioans to vote on. It’s important that the citizens of Ohio help implement public safety as a mandatory consideration in the determination of bail and it’s my hope that Ohioans will vote to pass
Issue No. 1.

When discussing crime, the recidivism rates of offenders must also be considered which is why I cosponsored the Reagan Tokes Law, legislation that will expand GPS monitoring of offenders released on probation. Reagan was an Ohio State University student who was murdered by an offender on probation for robbery and attempted rape. This is just one among many examples of why closely monitoring released offenders is a vital step in protecting the public.

While these two pieces of legislation are crucial in keeping those that have either been charged or convicted of serious violent crimes accounted for, I have also voted in favor of legislation that gives law enforcement officers the tools they need to perform their duties and ensure public safety.

I have shown my support for legislation such as the Ohio Law and Order Act, which creates new laws for rioting offenses and allows peace officers to file civil suits against individuals participating in a riot. I voted to expand the offense of Obstruction of Justice, which includes failure to comply with a lawful order from law enforcement. I voted in favor of providing township police jurisdiction on interstates by authorizing them to make arrests for certain traffic offenses and I support legislation that will revise the Failure to Comply law when a motor vehicle is used to commit an offense. Additionally, I voted to increase the penalty for drug offenses in the vicinity of addiction treatment centers for recovering addicts.

Currently, Representative Phil Plummer and I sponsored HB 337. Named the “Hero Award,” it would provide a one-time $1000 bonus award to eligible first responders through the use of ARPA funds. I hope to get this passed by the end of the year to further show my appreciation for the men and women that protect us.

In the 133rd General Assembly, I voted to increase the penalty for theft in the workplace with added restitution through Senate Bill 10. I also supported various legislation to curtail sexual exploitation including the creation of a sexual exploitation database.

In the 132nd General Assembly, I supported Senate Bill 158 to protect the elderly by increasing penalties for fraud. I helped to increase the penalty for sexual imposition if an offender has three or more sexual offenses through House Bill 96. I also furthered my support for first responders and military service members through House Bill 38, which implements a protected class that expands the offense of aggravated murder if an offender knowingly targets them. Through Senate Bill 1, I helped crack down on
drug offenses by increasing the penalty against drug traffickers and dealers when fentanyl is involved.

I have spent my career as a state representative making Ohio a better place to live through public safety legislation and criminal justice reform. It has been paramount that I also help protect the lives of those who serve. As I continue my role as a state legislator, I will continue to fight for our state and country to bring criminals to justice by being tough on crime.

POSTED: 10/06/22 at 9:19 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions

America is in a recession – a recession caused by overspending from the Biden Administration and the highest inflation rates in 40 years.

Despite what Congressional Democrats and the Biden Administration may be telling you, we are, by definition, in a recession. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters with negative GDP growth. This year GDP growth decreased 1.6 percent in the first quarter and 0.9 percent in the second quarter. President Biden and his team have remained consistent in their denial of a recession no matter what the data says. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said that “even if the [second-quarter GDP growth] is negative, we are not in a recession.”

Craig Riedel

Avoiding the concern for a recession, Congressional Democrats have created and passed a budget reconciliation bill. This bill raises taxes on America’s middle class, despite President Biden’s campaign promise not to increase taxes for Americans making less than $400,000. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), half of the new tax burden created by this “reconciliation bill” will fall on those making less than $200,000.

This bill will also drastically hurt businesses. The so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” implements a new minimum tax rate of 15 percent on businesses that make more than $1 billion a year. I spent 27 years working in the steel business. I have seen firsthand the impacts new or increased taxes can have on a business. It will be extremely difficult for any business to thrive in this economic environment.

The solution to a recession is not raising taxes. Americans just cannot afford to live like this and businesses will struggle to thrive with the addition of the new tax. Democrats have dug themselves into a hole by increasing spending on energy and healthcare, but failed to pay attention to the dramatic effects this would have on hardworking Americans.

While these misguided decisions continue to happen at the federal level, I owe it to Ohioans to help combat the measures taken by Congress. Throughout my tenure as a state representative, I have been a firm advocate in reducing income taxes for Ohioans. In 2021, I supported HB 110, the operating budget for FY 2022-2023, which reduced income tax rates for Ohioans by three percent. In 2019, I supported House Bill 166, the operating budget for FY 2020-2021, which reduced income tax rates by four percent.

As past co-chair of the Business-First Caucus, I understand the importance of prioritizing economic prosperity moving forward and we must put business first in Ohio. This will trickle down and give Ohioans an opportunity to prosper in spite of the chaos coming out of Washington.

Over the last year, I have worked on a variety of legislation to put business first and keep Ohioans from economic despair. Along with Representative Jim Hoops, I sponsored House Bill 515, which was signed by the Governor in June. This bill allows for Ohio residents to receive a business income deduction, incentivizing Ohioans to stay in Ohio before and after they sell their business. Additionally, Representative Bill Roemer and I introduced House Bill 115 in the 133rd General Assembly, a companion bill to Senate Bill 1, introduced by Senator Rob McColley and Senator Kristina Roegner. It was ultimately passed as Senate Bill 9 in the 134th General Assembly. The bill requires each state agency to reduce the regulatory restrictions contained in its rules by 30 percent by June 30, 2025. Beginning July 1, 2025, this bill also requires that an agency that does not achieve a reduction in regulatory restrictions, according to the required schedule, to eliminate two restrictions before enacting a new rule containing a restriction. These are just some of the steps that I have taken to ensure Ohioans will continue to prosper despite the state of the economy in the country.

It is extremely disappointing that the Biden Administration has led us down this path. We’ve been dealt a tough hand, but I will do everything in my power to ensure that Ohio, especially northwest Ohio, does not suffer because of the negligence of Democrats in Washington. I encourage my colleagues to take a long, hard look at the future of our country and our state. Now is the time to put business first. Now is the time to fight for our economy.

Editor’s note: Craig Riedel is the representative for Ohio’s 82nd district, which includes Van Wert County.

POSTED: 08/19/22 at 9:54 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions

The COVID-19 virus is once again hitting our county and it’s hitting it hard.  

Our hospital has several hospitalizations with patients with the COVID-19 virus, our hospital staff and system are being challenged, and people, young and old, are dying from the virus.  The COVID-19 virus infection has become a disease of the unvaccinated.  What can we all do to beat this virus, stop its spread, and save people’s lives?

Be sensible.  Use all the methods we know to mitigate (make less severe) this virus:

  • Mask in situations that will protect you and those around you.  
  • Distance yourself from others when necessary, especially with indoor gatherings.
  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Vaccinate to teach your immune system to build proteins (antibodies) to disarm the virus.

Millions of Americans have received the COVID-19 vaccination without ill after effects.

The vaccination is designed to help minimize the impact the virus will have on you.  People may get infected with the virus after the vaccination but get a milder form of the illness, are not developing lung failure requiring ventilators, and are not dying from the aggressive virus.  

We are advising you to become well-informed, knowledgeable, and empowered to make healthy responsible decisions in controlling the spread and ultimately defeating the COVID-19 virus so we can soon return to a safer community. 

Please do your part to help yourself and each other! 

-Van Wert County Health Commissioner Paul A. Kalogerou, MD

POSTED: 09/23/21 at 5:37 pm. FILED UNDER: Opinions

As we begin a new year, citizens, workers, and small businesses in Ohio still need relief from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Small businesses in Ohio’s Fifth Congressional District have faced many challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. After speaking with restaurant owners, health care professionals, and others in Findlay, Cygnet, Stryker, Elmore, Maumee, Paulding, Napoleon, Van Wert, Genoa, and Wauseon, I learned that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was enacted through the CARES Act, has been a lifeline to small businesses and their employees in Ohio and across the country.

By Bob Latta

In the Fifth District alone, the PPP was used by more than 6,000 businesses and supported more than 122,000 jobs. Without PPP funding, many of these businesses would not have survived the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Specifically, businesses like Bates Recycling in Cygnet. In August, owner and founder Chris Bates shared with me how the PPP allowed employees to keep their paychecks, health insurance and retirement plans, as well as the other benefits the company offers. Because they were able to keep their operations going through the pandemic, it created a ripple effect. Individuals and scrap dealers who supply Bates Recycling with scape metal, copper, brass, and aluminum cans had a place to sell their material.  Companies who rely on these materials continued to get what they needed. 

Thankfully, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, has opened the Paycheck Protection Program loan portal so even more businesses can access relief.  The portal is currently accepting First and Second Draw PPP loan applications from participating Community Financial Institutions (CFIs), which include Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs) and Microloan Intermediaries.

Eligible applicants for First Draw Loans that did not receive a PPP loan prior to August 8, 2020, now have the ability to apply for a PPP First Draw Loan on or before March 31. First Draw PPP Loans can be used to help fund payroll costs, including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay for mortgage interest, rent, utilities, worker protection costs related to COVID-19, uninsured property damage costs caused by looting or vandalism during 2020, and certain supplier costs and expenses for operations. 

A Second Draw PPP loan is for certain eligible borrowers that previously received a PPP loan, generally have 300 employees or less, and have suffered a 25 percent reduction in gross receipts. At least $15 billion is set aside for additional PPP lending by CFIs. Eligible borrowers that previously received a PPP First Draw Loan may apply for a PPP Second Draw Loan of up to $2 million with the same general loan terms as their PPP First Draw Loans. 

The opening of the SBA loan system is designed to ensure increased access to the PPP for minority-, underserved-, veteran- and women-owned small business concerns. The SBA released a report looking at the numbers through February 7. They found that nationally, 6,438,379 PPP loans totaling more than $623 billion have been approved by 5,468 lenders. Since PPP re-opened on January 11, SBA has already approved over 1.2 million PPP loans totaling $100,924,718,302. In Ohio alone, 36,523 PPP loans have been approved totaling $3,065,444,670. 

As your representative, I will work to ensure small businesses and their employees have the funding and resources they need to make it through this difficult time. 

POSTED: 02/10/21 at 11:28 pm. FILED UNDER: Opinions

Kay-toons

POSTED: 05/16/24 at 9:11 pm. FILED UNDER: Kay-toons

Letters

The VW independent welcomes the opinions of readers in the form of letters to the editor, provided the submissions are in good taste and refrain from attacking individuals. The VW independent has the right to decide whether or not any reader submission will be published. Letters may be subject to editing and may not be published in their entirety.

Letters should be emailed to editor@thevwindependent.com and must include your full name, complete address and telephone number. Your address and telephone number will not be published, but will be used for verification. Unsigned letters and letters containing personal attacks will not be published.

Columns and letters on the Opinion page are the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the VW independent.

POSTED: 02/08/24 at 7:48 pm. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of the people of Van Wert, Operation Christmas Child had a successful season in your area. Across the U.S., the Samaritan’s Purse project collected 10 million shoebox gifts in 2023. Combined with those collected from partnering countries in 2023, the ministry is now sending over 11.3 million shoebox gifts to children worldwide.

Through shoeboxes—packed with fun toys, school supplies, and personal care items—Van Wert-area volunteers brought joy to children in need around the world. Each gift-filled shoebox is a tangible expression of God’s love, and it is often the first gift these children have ever received. Through the continued generosity of donors since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 220 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 170 countries and territories.

Across Ohio, shoebox packers often shop for deals on shoebox items throughout the year, and many serve at a deeper level by becoming a year-round volunteer. Information about ways area participants can get involved year-round can also be found at samaritanspurse.org/occ.

Although local Van Wert drop-off locations for shoebox gifts are closed until November 18-25, anyone can still be a part of this life-changing project by conveniently packing a shoebox gift online in just a few simple clicks at samaritanspurse.org/buildonline.

These simple gifts, packed with love, send a message to children worldwide that they are loved and not forgotten.

Sincerely,

Tiffany Fishbaugh
Samaritan’s Purse/Operation Christmas Child

POSTED: 02/08/24 at 7:46 pm. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

A letter to Dr. John Eversman, his family, and his patients, 

For 93 years and over four generations, my family has provided dental care for community. And alongside of us, for 53 of those years, was the service and skill of Dr. John Eversman. 

I knew my whole life I wanted to be a dentist. I explored other careers- being a lawyer or a teacher, but I could never shake my drive to desire to be the fourth generation of my family to own and operate a business that’s dedicated to caring for a community. 

In order to apply for dental school, prospective students must spend at minimum, 200 hours shadowing a dentist. I spent over 100 hours over the span of three summers shadowing Dr. Eversman at his practice. He was the first dentist I ever saw practice, outside of my own father. 

Dr. Eversman was the first and greatest example to me of a dentist that knows that in order to be a good doctor, you have to be a dedicated scientist and a lifelong learner. 

Dr. Eversman had stacks of dental journals and textbooks from the floor to almost the ceiling of his private office. I remember asking him, “You’re not in school anymore. Why do you still have textbooks?” And he truly impressed upon me that in order to be a good doctor, learning can’t stop once you’re out of school. 

During my time spent shadowing Dr. Eversman, I got to see firsthand how an effective dental office runs. It was inspiring to see the efficiency and dedication to patients of Dr. Eversman and his staff, especially Karla. Karla was an unstoppable and inspiring force who worked with Dr. John for over 50 years! Even when she was forced to use a wheelchair, she still came in everyday to help patients! Getting to watch their teamwork was inspiring. 

Dr. Eversman had a truly impressive and amazing career as a clinician and a servant to the Van Wert community. As a dentist, he provided services that most general dentists don’t have the confidence or knowledge to provide including comprehensive orthodontics/braces, dental implants, and complex endodontic/root canal procedures. 

Over the past three years, I have spent months away from home and my practice and tens of thousands of dollars buying textbooks and attending continuing education courses on root canals, on Invisalign orthodontics, and on dental implants. Dr. Eversman was my inspiration to do this, showing me that it is possible for a small town dentist to provide patients with these much needed and high level specialty procedures. I am so glad I got to share with Dr. John over the phone a few times how much he inspired me to be committed to growing my clinical skills. 

He once walked me through step by step how to help one of his patients over the phone on Christmas Eve a couple years ago when I was able to go in but he couldn’t. He was a wonderful mentor. 

The stereotypical dentist can’t wait to work three days a week, own a boat, and golf in the afternoon. Dr. Eversman taught me that that isn’t what a dentist is. A dentist is a scientist, a lifelong learner, and an expert in their field. Dr. Eversman personified the quote, “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” 

I’m so sorry to see Dr. Eversman’s life and practice end so suddenly. Today I dedicate myself anew to honoring those principles of that he exhibited during his great career. Dedication to lifelong learning, excellence in dentistry, and service to staff, community, and patients. 

I can only hope that I shared that with him enough in the few times I got to speak with him over the past few years. 

Thank you to Dr. Eversman, to his family, and to his staff what you’ve done for me, for this community, and for your patients. He is, and will always be, an inspiration to me. 

Sincerely, 

Dr. Robert W. Laing

POSTED: 01/11/24 at 7:43 am. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor:

As we enter the winter season, we are delighted to share some unique things that are happening at The Marsh Foundation. This season, we are incredibly proud of our students and staff and their unwavering commitment to making The Marsh a place for growth, opportunity, and innovation.

Student Council: Paving the Way for Excellence in the School

Last year, teachers Mandy Looser and Joy Caldwell revamped our student council to form a group of student leaders who were willing to step up and address school issues, promote positive change and enhance school spirit. Since then, Kevin Longstreth and Lauren Calvert joined their colleagues to help foster this change, attending weekly meetings and assisting in student led activities. This year, the council has successfully executed multiple coffee bars, a fall spirit week and a building-wide door decorating competition. “Watching our students walk around with a strong sense of pride and seeing that pride turn into positive results has been rewarding for our team,” says Looser. “The difference this group of young men are making in the school right now is truly incredible.” For their efforts, this group was rewarded in October with a field trip to the zoo. We are looking forward to watching the continued growth of the student council for the remainder of the school year.

Classroom: Engaging Activities

The beginning of the school year has had some challenges. Despite those challenges our teachers show up every day with new and fun activities for our students to engage them in learning. A few highlights have been research on the Black Swamp, Candy Corn Catapults, a Game Feed, Math Scavenger Hunts, Greedy Probability, Fitness Friday Competitions and of course our creative art projects. Another area of pride is our Title 1 program. We utilize this time daily to meet the individual needs of our students through remediation, credit recovery and goal setting. We continue to see improved reading and math scores as a result of this program.

Equine Assisted Learning

The Marsh Foundation has used horses as part of our summer program for many years. This program has always consisted of learning about horses, caring for them, and practicing horsemanship skills. Throughout these years, it was evident that many of our students were connecting to our horses on a deeper level. Seeing this connection led us to research equine therapy and the positive effects on children that have experienced trauma. Currently, we have a team of employees conducting a feasibility study for a Marsh Foundation equine assisted learning program. The team is optimistic about the possibilities of building this program to better meet the needs of our students and other children in our community. We hope to share more exciting news about this venture in the near future.

In closing, we are excited to see continued growth and look forward to sharing successes along the way. Thank you for being supportive as we strive to fulfill our mission. On behalf of The Marsh Foundation, we would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Sincerely,

Robbie Breese, Jeff Grothouse and Kim Mullins

POSTED: 12/11/23 at 9:56 pm. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

I offer these observations as an open letter to our locally elected officials and their teams. Recently, Van Wert County performed their legally obligated revaluation of real estate in the county. Many of us had heard on the news the increases in values would be substantial, which frankly isn’t surprising given recent real estate markets.

In my instance, my property valuation increased approximately 31.5%, meaning that our local governments will be receiving nearly a third more money from my wife and I than they have in the past. We all know costs have gone up, and certainly costs associated with county, township, schools, municipalities and other governments have also increased.

However, I seriously doubt the costs of operating these government entities has risen 31.5 percent since the last reappraisal.

Here’s my question for our government officials: What are you going to do with all that additional money?

I write to encourage our officials to strongly resist the temptation to increase their spending, to add new equipment, programs and services, to add employees.

Rather, I encourage you to pay down debt, thereby relieving taxpayers of tax levies early. For example, a newly passed five-year levy to fund an improvement can now be paid off in under four years! I encourage you to save these new found funds for future needs. And, lastly, I encourage you to listen to your taxpayers particularly before you add to your expenditures. Let’s make sure the new found money doesn’t burn a hole in our pockets.

Sincerely,
D. J. Muse, CPA (inactive)

POSTED: 09/21/23 at 8:07 pm. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

November 3-11 are the dates for John Paulding Historical Society’s upcoming Festival of Trees. The theme chosen this year is “A Story Book Christmas.”

Use your creativity to decorate a tree or room. Do you have a favorite holiday storybook? Maybe you have special memories about a Christmas tale read to you by your grandparents? Or perhaps you would like to share your vision of a perfect “storybook” Christmas in your imagination?

The Festival committee, chaired by Elizabeth Miller, is working on plans for this very popular annual event. About 1,500 people visited us last year. By far, it is the museum’s largest and most important fundraiser of the year. We always try to make it bigger and better than before.

Many have asked for more live entertainment during the Festival. We’re looking for soloists or groups who would be willing to share their musical talents with an appreciative audience.

Do you play piano, violin, guitar or other instrument? Are you a vocalist either as a soloist or part of a duo or choir? Do you have a band? Do you lead a youth group through 4-H, church, Scouts or at school? We would love to schedule you for half an hour or more. Several days and times are available. Please contact us for more information.

The museum wouldn’t exist without volunteers, and the Festival of Trees is no exception. Would you like to be a greeter, help serve a meal or help decorate the museum? Perhaps you would be interested in adopting an exhibit room to decorate, such as the Parlor, Kitchen or Music Room? What about sharing a special Christmas collection that you might have?

We also are looking for groups, individuals and businesses who want to decorate one of the dozens of Christmas Trees that fill our three buildings.

Consider donating items for our Silent Auction. We would greatly appreciate gift baskets, gift certificates, holiday decor, handcrafted items, antiques, event tickets, or a monetary donation to help defray expenses.

If you’re interested in volunteering, decorating a tree, performing or sponsoring a meal, there are several ways to contact the committee. Phone Elizabeth at 419.551.1545, Eileen at 419.769.0643 or leave a message at 419.399.3667. Also, you can email us at jphs45879@yahoo.com, or stop by the museum on Tuesdays. We hope to hear from you. Each of you is important to the museum’s continuing success and its mission of “Preserving the Past for Future Generations.” We thank you for your ongoing generosity and support.

Melinda Krick, President
John Paulding Historical Society
Paulding, Ohio

POSTED: 09/21/23 at 9:54 am. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

The institutions in our country have gradually fallen apart, slowly, then rapidly these last three years. You can see it when you call a bank. The business model has fallen apart. 20-year-olds who are beginning management careers for banks don’t introduce themselves. They don’t seem to be trained. They don’t know who they are let alone where to send you “in the system” to be helped. It’s also become the case in Van Wert city government.

Since 2020 people from Van Wert have called me in Tucson, emailed me in New York City when I was directing my musical, taken me aside at social events when I return to Van Wert. They say in rotation, “Come back to Van Wert, it’s all falling apart.” Others say, “Your dad is turning in his grave. Linda, you have to do something.”

I do look at the city council meetings these days. In the 1980s when I was elected chair of the Cable TV Commission for Van Wert and I went door-to- door telling people what was coming. Ironically, then, video standards and results were higher than now. How can that be?

Communication was supposed to get better over the years as technology advanced. But as far as communication from the City of Van Wert City Council Chambers: in technology, substance and leadership, when I watched the meeting of June 12, 2023, I simply could not believe what I saw! How far have we fallen, people?

Not the mayor, not the president of council stood in defense of its own elected member of city council who was treated with such disrespect, that yes, the unfolding event would make “any former mayor turn in his grave.” Doesn’t our own city leadership “know who they are?” Doesn’t today’s mayor know who he is? Doesn’t president of council know his role?

My experience on the Pima County Redistricting Committee to reset the boundaries for the new legislative districts in Arizona was probably my best teacher. You had to go in there with full confidence knowing your role, knowing how you could make change, and at the same time gain the respect from your colleagues. I trained leaders under me on how to affectively give testimony in front of hundreds of people. They were prepared for success.

The very morning I took out candidate papers from the Van Wert election board to run for mayor of Van Wert, ironically, I saw the June 12 city council video that night.

I will restore confidence with voters. Council Chambers will belong to you again. I’m known as ‘“door to door” Linda in Tucson, having personally walked and talked to over 3,300 people resulting in winning the Republican primary, August 2, 2022, for State House of Representatives LD 18 in Arizona.

I will communicate, respectfully, with you all today in Van Wert as I did years ago going door-to-door in all wards asking your thoughts, your ideas as I did back then for the Van Wert Cable TV Commission. We need to incorporate success into the fabric of Van Wert, as we go forward to 2026; 250 years after the founding of our great United States of America in 1776. TOGETHER in ALL WARDS: 1st Ward, 2nd Ward, 3rd and 4th Wards. We can do it.

I love this city. It’s my hometown.

Linda Agler Evans
Candidate for Mayor, City of Van Wert

POSTED: 06/15/23 at 3:41 am. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

As a caregiver, I know the importance of diagnosing cancer early. Unfortunately, many cancers lack screening, leading them to be detected at later stages when there may be fewer treatment options depending on the type of cancer.

Thanks to innovative new technology, companies are rolling out new blood tests that can detect multiple cancers earlier. Screening for multiple cancers at once could improve treatment outcomes and save lives. Once these tests are FDA-approved and clinical benefit is shown, it’s critical that Medicare be given the authority to decide to cover these tests so more people can benefit from this new technology. That’s why the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network supports the Nancy Gardner Sewell Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act in Congress that would create a pathway for Medicare coverage of these tests following FDA approval and once clinical benefit has been shown.

I’m calling on Congressman Bob Latta to support these efforts so Medicare recipients can access new, innovative screening options.

We know that the risk of cancer increases with age. People with Medicare coverage comprise a majority of the roughly 74,140 people in Ohio who will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Another 609,820 will die from it. Many of these cancer deaths could be prevented with early detection, and I hope Congressman Bob Latta makes it a priority.

Pam Niese
ACS Cancer Action Network
State Lead Ambassador (SLA) Ohio

POSTED: 05/17/23 at 5:57 pm. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

As a third generation egg farmer and a proud member of this community, I understand the importance of nutritious food, giving back and being a good neighbor. I would like to thank West Ohio Food Bank in Lima, Ohio, for being a vital resource for food insecure families in west Ohio and for assisting in distributing 54,000 eggs from my family’s farm to residents who need them most.

As food providers, America’s egg farmers have a responsibility to ensure that those who may not have the means or ability to put a meal on the table have access to fresh, wholesome and nutritious eggs. I am humbled and honored to join fellow egg farmers across the country in donating 5.5 million eggs to hunger relief organizations that serve our local communities.

We know that eggs are one of the most nutritious, wholesome sources of protein available, and protein has great value to those who are hungry – and to the hunger relief organizations who serve them.

On behalf of America’s egg farmers, I would like to thank everyone who works in and supports hunger relief for your dedication and vital service. I am pleased to ensure through this donation that food insecure families here in our community will enjoy nutritious, locally produced eggs this spring.

Cole Cooper
Facility Maintenance Manager
Cooper Farms

POSTED: 04/05/23 at 6:14 pm. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor,

We need strong leadership to represent all of the people. That is exactly what commissioner candidate Kyle Gehres’ platform says, yet Mr. Gehres is completely ignoring a large part of our county’s voter base.

He chose to speak at a Meet the Candidates event for the Van Wert County Democratic Party. He asked the leadership of the Heartland Patriots for the same opportunity last Tuesday, October 11. He was simply a no show. There were 16 people attending that meeting. He knew that I, among several others, had some very important questions we felt needed to be answered. He clearly acknowledged he voted for President Biden in a county that strongly supported President Trump.

Someone from his campaign placed a sign on a state by way at the exit ramp of US 30 West and 224 which is illegal. His campaign signs are in violation of campaign laws because they do not include a disclaimer. He needs to explain to the primarily Republican electorate of this county why he thinks he deserves our vote when he got what he wanted with the current administration. Is he just ignorant of campaign law or did he willingly place a sign on taxpayer funded ground?

Why was he a no show to a meeting in which he requested to speak where he certainly knew he would be pressed to answer these questions? Either way that is not someone that is ready for the responsibility to run a county of almost 29,000 people. We need leaders that are not afraid and follow or know the law. That man is Thad Lichtensteiger, who has been a humble community servant for many years.

Jeremy Kitson
Wren, Ohio

POSTED: 10/14/22 at 8:38 am. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor