The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021

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

The phone rings. You see a government agency is calling. You hear a monotone voice on the other line claiming to be the IRS asking for your social security number for your stimulus check. 

By Bob Latta

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the primary consumer protection agency, has cited this as a common scam targeting American consumers during COVID-19. While we have seen Americans across communities coming together to help one another as this pandemic continues, we have also seen bad actors try to exploit these unprecedented times to take advantage of consumers through telemarketing schemes.

These culprits are targeting innocent Americans — seniors, small businesses, families, workers, and even hospitals on the front lines — to promote fake cures, therapies, preventative measures, and more. They claim to be government agencies in need of your social security, Medicare, and bank account information, and make their caller ID appear to be under an agency’s name. 

As Americans adjust their daily lives to inside their homes and are seeking everything from treatments to personal protective equipment to toilet paper, Americans need answers — not robocall scams. Luckily, a new law passed by Congress last year is already beginning to put an end to these burdensome calls and hold the culprits behind them accountable.

Last year, Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate came together to introduce the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, which the President signed into law on December 30, 2019. The bipartisan, bicameral bill gave new tools to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to stop the number of robocalls, and to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prosecute scammers and fraudsters.

Laws take time to implement, but we have seen the TRACED Act at work – and results for American consumers are already underway. There’s more work to be done for sure, but the FCC issued a rule in late March that requires all service providers to implement framework from the TRACED Act in the Internet Protocol (IP) parts of their networks by June 30, 2021. Over the next year we will be able to see providers use this framework which will in turn reduce illegal spoofing, help law enforcement catch the culprits behind these illegal scam robocalls, and allow providers to stop these calls before they reach consumers.

This week the FCC also issued a Notice of Public Rulemaking aimed at better protecting Americans from one-ring scams. One-ring scam calls occur when your phone rings just once, and then stops. This type of scam uses international toll-generating numbers that charge large fees per minute when consumers call the number back. If this happens to you, do not call the number back; if it is an important call that is not a scam, the caller will try again and call you back. The FCC also asked for comment on proposals for implementing requirements from the TRACED Act to protect consumers from these scams. 

We must be vigilant and make sure we crack down as scammers find creative ways to take advantage of consumers. Americans have stepped up to help others during this time, we have no doubt enforcement entities and the industry will do the same. The public health and safety of communities across the nation depends on it. Learn more about how to look out for these calls and stay safe by visiting fcc.gov/covid-scams.  

Editor’s note: Bob Latta is the representative for the 5th U.S. Congressional District.

POSTED: 05/05/20 at 10:39 pm. FILED UNDER: Opinions

It’s time to roll! It’s time for Ohio to start moving forward again! 

It appears as though the impact of this virus is not as dramatic as we once thought it might be just a few weeks ago. Up to this point I have agreed with the decisions that our governor has implemented for our safety and well-being. I am not playing armchair quarterback here. Hindsight vision is always 20/20. 

By Craig Riedel

I respect and appreciate the bold leadership that the Governor and Lt. Governor have provided up to this point. We have been in uncharted waters ever since this began, but the data is now showing that the virus is not as widespread or as deadly as once thought it would be. 

I understand that the social distancing and extra hygiene precautions that most of us have been adhering to has had a major positive impact on slowing its spread, but there is also reason to believe that there is a chance this virus was here long before our experts knew it was here. I am a firm believer, like our President, that “the cure cannot be worse than the disease”. 

Our economy is on the brink! If we don’t start our economic engine up now the damage could take years to repair and along with that additional death and despair due to poverty, depression, and hopelessness! Our hospitals are not seeing anything close to what was projected earlier, as far as COVID-19 patients goes, and many of them are in financial hardship. We certainly don’t want our current healthcare system to get crushed because of the decisions we’ve made as a government. Some parts of Ohio have not been as adversely impacted as others. 

Not all of the state needs to be treated the same way. For example, what is good for Paulding or Auglaize County may not be good for Franklin or Cuyahoga County. I believe our governor should delegate more authority and decision making to our county health departments. By allowing more local control, Ohio citizens will begin to feel more empowered because they, once again, will have a voice in the matter. 

In the days ahead I will continue to work with Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted, Congressman Latta, Congressman Jordan, fellow members of the General Assembly, and local government officials to help navigate a plan forward! 

I need your help as well. Please send me your thoughts and ideas to help our State and Country work through our current situation. In particular, I would like to hear from business owners for ideas to starting your business back up and open right away! 

Please send your suggestions/ideas in a bullet point format, concise and to the point, to my office email at Rep82@ohiohouse.gov. You can also call my office at 614.644.5091 with any thoughts or questions. 

I will use this information to work with my peers in the General Assembly to formulate a path forward for Ohio. 

It’s time for action now! Our governor and his team have shown bold leadership up until this point, now it’s time for them to show strong leadership in opening Ohio back up for business! Let’s roll!”

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

POSTED: 04/14/20 at 2:48 pm. FILED UNDER: Opinions

Watching hoarders as they empty the shelves of supermarkets, grocery stores and pharmacies as COVID 19, the coronavirus pandemic, takes its toll on daily life in our communities, it is easy to assume that a crisis brings out the worst in people. But, the fact is it can bring out the best in us, as well.

Take the story of a pair of brothers in Hixson, Tennessee, who sought to corner the market for hand sanitizers, antibacterial wipes and face masks in the early days of the potentially deadly disease. The New York Times reported that during the three days after the first death was announced on February 29 one of them set out on a 1,300-mile road trip through Tennessee and Kentucky filling a U-Haul truck with the loot. The other brother stayed home listing the stuff on Amazon at exorbitant prices as high as $70.

As Times reporter Jack Nicas put it in his article: “To him, ‘it was crazy money.’ To many others, it was profiteering from a pandemic.” 

The good news is that the brothers got their comeuppance. Tennessee’s attorney general was quick to issue a cease-and-desist order and Amazon quickly shut them down, leaving the boys sitting on nearly 18,000 bottles of hand sanitizer with no way to unload them at a profit.

Meanwhile, there are heartwarming stories of kindness that have begun to emerge throughout the country about neighbors helping neighbors. Many are taking to social media to rouse the good guys to act at this time of crisis.

One woman on Facebook posted a notice offering to shop for seniors in her community and neighboring communities who are house-bound as a result of the COVID epidemic. Caring messages and posts are showing up throughout the social media world. They offer to provide caregiver services for those who might need it and necessities such as medical supplies.

One out-of-towner contacted a deli in Detroit and put up cash for a take-out order for a “worthy charity or person [all your call].”

Here are a few things that you can do to help during the COVID crisis:

  • There are plenty of elderly neighbors in your communities, individuals and couples who might, for all intents and purposes, be shut ins at a time like this. Check in on them and help them on a regular basis.  Offer to help them with chores and shopping, for example.
  • If there are neighbors who need medical attention, offer to help them get in touch with a tele-doctors via the Internet as in-person visits to medical facilities are being discouraged.
  • Schools throughout the country are shutting down in order to contain the virus, schools that were providing meals for their students. Get together with your friends and neighbors to find ways to ensure the kids get something healthy to eat. 
  • Help support local food banks and places in your community that provide shelter for the needy. You might also consider helping out neighbors whose employment has been disrupted as a result of the virus by helping them to purchase necessities.

In other words, become a good guy and come to the rescue if you are able. Don’t be a hoarder; be a helper.

–By Rebecca Weber, Association of Mature American Citizens

POSTED: 03/22/20 at 9:29 pm. FILED UNDER: Opinions

COLUMBUS — Leading business organizations across Ohio tonight praised Governor DeWine’s recent actions to curb the spread of coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. Most recently, the Governor announced his decision to close bars and restaurants to in-house patrons until further notice, in order to limit community spread of the disease.

“The Ohio Chamber of Commerce commends the Governor for making the difficult decision to close all restaurants and bars across Ohio except for carryout orders. We know this difficult decision was made in consultation with leading health experts, including Dr. Amy Acton, who are recommending actions to keep Ohioans safe during this unprecedented time. We support Governor DeWine’s decision because we believe taking steps now to confront the coronavirus will ultimately benefit our state by limiting the spread of the disease and enable Ohio to get back to normal sooner.” Read the full release.
Ohio Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Andrew E. Doehrel

“The Ohio Business Roundtable supports Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton’s order to temporarily close Ohio’s restaurants and bars to indoor service. We recognize the magnitude and impact of this measure on one of Ohio’s key industries, but believe it is necessary to slow the spread of the virus to our most vulnerable citizens. We appreciate the DeWine/Husted Administration’s coordination with leaders of Ohio’s restaurant industry and applaud Governor DeWine’s leadership in this unprecedented public health crisis. As we have seen in other parts of the world, it is critical to take these actions before the virus can spread further.” Read the full release.
–Ohio Business Roundtable (OBRT)President & CEO Pat Tiberi

“The governor’s decisive actions are buying us more time. Every day we delay the spread that we know is coming, the stronger Ohio and our nation will be in the months and years to come.” Read the full release.
–Ohio Manufacturers’ Association (OMA) President Eric Burkland

“During this unprecedented health care crisis, the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants supports the Governor’s decision to help reduce community spread of the Coronavirus by closing bars and eliminating dine-in service at restaurants, many of which are our members, for an indefinite period of time. We understand the difficulty of his decision but appreciate the relief measures the Governor is putting into place for these businesses and their employees. Government and the private sector need to work together to get control of this situation for the benefit of all Ohioans.” Read the full release.
–Ohio Council of Retail Merchants President & CEO Gordon Gough

“We are thankful for the leadership of Gov. DeWine during these uncertain times. The concerns around the rapid spread of COVID-19 have already had a major impact on our daily routines. Now, with the Governor’s difficult decision to close the state’s restaurants and bars, it will impact the food service sector in ways that have never been seen before. We strongly back the Ohio Restaurant Association as they navigate this challenging situation and we encourage consumers to show their support for those in the restaurant industry and throughout the supply chain by using carryout and delivery services. One thing is certain as we all navigate short term disruptions in our lives, farmers in Ohio and across the country will continue to deliver a safe and abundant food supply. That is something we can all appreciate.” Read the full release.
–Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Adam Sharp

“This is clearly an unprecedented time in U.S. history and challenging for all Americans and Ohioans and we are thankful to have worked with Governor DeWine’s office on the next steps regarding Ohio’s restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry.  We are exploring all possible federal, state and local relief and economic stimulus options, and plan to share those as quickly as possible. Our business concerns are focused on helping owners/operators, employees and consumers. Ohio restaurants are gearing up to offer great food via pick-up windows, carryout, curbside pickup and delivery. It’s important to remember we’re all in this together so restaurants are here now and after this crisis.” Read the full release.
Ohio Restaurant Association President and CEO John Barker

“Gov. DeWine has been a national leader in responding to the growing threat of COVID. Ohio’s counties deeply appreciate his strong leadership and willingness to partner with counties in addressing this unprecedented challenge to our communities.” Read the full release.
–County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO) President Carl Davis

“The need to stop the spread of the coronavirus could not be more urgent. We commend Gov. DeWine’s difficult, but extraordinarily important decision to temporarily close Ohio’s bars and restaurants. While this will be difficult, we believe the support systems that the Governor is putting in place, such as expanding access to unemployment compensation, are critically important and will help workers and small businesses during this unprecedented crisis.” Read the full release.
–Ohio Mayors Alliance Board Members

POSTED: 03/16/20 at 6:32 am. FILED UNDER: Opinion, Opinions

As the New Year begins, I would like to reflect on the interest the state legislature has shown in reducing unnecessary rules within our state agencies and future steps that will improve the overall business environment. 

By Craig Riedel

A study from November 2019 conducted by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University placed Ohio in the top 5 category of states with the most regulatory restrictions, along with California, New York, Illinois, and Texas. These restrictive regulations hurt small businesses and stifle our state’s economic growth. With over 246,000 restrictions built up over time, Ohio is going to have to take a more in-depth look at the bureaucratic structure of accumulating these regulations. 

Last year, I voted in support of House Bill 166, our state’s main operating budget for Fiscal Years 2020-21, with preliminary steps to reduce regulatory restrictions through state agency review. Specifically, Section 701.10 in the budget bill requires designees from the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) and the Office of Budget and Management (OBM) to review the programs of state agencies in order to determine what overlap or duplicate functions exist.

As of January 1, 2020, the directors of DAS and OBM have taken the initial steps in reviewing state agencies’ functions with an emphasis on facilities utilization, laboratory testing facility consolidation and field or regional office operation consolidation. It is important to continue this review internally and maintain the goal of administrative and operational cost effectiveness. 

For this reason, Representative Bill Roemer (R-Richfield) and I introduced House Bill 115 that will further examine and reduce regulatory restrictions within certain agencies. House Bill 115 is companion legislation to Senate Bill 1 sponsored by Senators Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) and Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson). This legislation will require state agencies to reduce regulatory restrictions by 30 percent across the board by 2022. If a state agency is not able to meet this goal, then for every new regulation they propose to add, two must be removed. 

If this legislation is enacted, the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) will be responsible for gathering information from the agencies and producing a report to send to the members of the General Assembly. This report will include recommendations to the General Assembly in order to work with the agencies so they can meet their regulation reduction goals. 

It is vital to create a state that thrives on empowering our local and family businesses rather than trying to hinder them based off dated standards from state agencies adopted over a long period of time. These restrictions lead to high compliance costs that hurt business owners, including those in our rural areas within the northwest region of the state. 

Ohio is too far above the average of state regulatory restrictions and this can be rectified by implementing further reform that will increase competition with neighboring states. Ohio should be paving the way for more individuals and businesses to prosper. By reducing these burdensome regulations, Ohio will create an environment that is more business-friendly, giving more of our businesses the freedom to expand economically and create jobs within our communities. 

I believe that House Bill 115 and Senate Bill 1 reform is necessary to bring Ohio’s over 246,000 regulatory restrictions down to a level that positively helps the businesses within the state. I will continue to advocate for common sense initiatives that will limit governmental overreach into our lives. 

Editor’s note: Craig Riedel represents Ohio’s 82nd House District.

POSTED: 01/10/20 at 12:11 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions

As Sheriff of Van Wert County, I would like to discuss an issue very close to each of us — crime prevention.  My Office is committed to making neighborhoods safer places to live. By doing so, we will improve the quality of life for individuals and families … both young and old.

Sheriff Thomas Riggenbach

It is imperative that we seek progress to reduce the negative influences that crime has on our children and to help safeguard the elderly.

In the past year, this office has worked extremely hard to make significant improvements in our county.  Through community-based programs and an emphasis on professionalism, we hope to reduce the number of thefts and property crimes, incidents of domestic violence, drug offenses, and other disturbances.  An example of our plans and objectives include:

  • Provide deputies with the resources necessary to improve preparedness and response capabilities.
  • Continue our initiatives in specialized technical training and the latest crime-prevention measures.
  • Protect our senior citizens from acts of violence, neglect, and fraud.
  • Increased drug awareness through educational programs and services that will give individuals information to help others have a fighting chance to lead more productive lives.
  • We hope to see fewer incidents of spousal and child abuse by further developing opportunities for law enforcement to work more closely with shelters and local organizations to provide counseling and support.
  • Maintain our goal to improve our correctional facility, incorporating the latest security measures for the purpose of removing more criminals from the streets.

I personally want to thank all of you for supporting the Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office and for the support of these initiatives – those in place now as well as those in keeping with our objectives.

In addition, I would like to share another unique initiative with you, the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association’s Associate Membership Program, supported by citizens committed to making our communities a safer place to live.  This important program enables citizens to make a real difference toward the aforementioned objectives.  The Associate Membership program is based on the premise that citizens and law enforcement officers can collaborate to have a direct impact in our communities. Through membership, citizens can help in a very practical way.

I invite all individuals to support our efforts by becoming a member.  Through your participation in this program, we can continue to provide the resources necessary to make a difference. Anyone interested in knowing more about this very important program may call: 800.589.2772, or write to: 1103 Schrock Road, Suite 401, Columbus, OH 43229. We will be glad to mail additional information to interested parties.

I strongly urge the residents of Van Wert County to consider participating in this honorable program — not only for its monetary support of law enforcement, but also for the moral support that unites us in building a safer community.

–Van Wert County Sheriff Thomas M. Riggenbach

POSTED: 03/12/19 at 7:03 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions

As the school year winds down to an end, I find myself reflecting on the tragic events that took place over the past year within our schools. It is high time that we come together as a state and as a nation with creative solutions to better protect our schools, which seem to have become top targets.

None of us want to live in a world where parents fear letting their children go to class each day. Our school boards already have the ability to permit armed staffers in schools, which schools in northwest Ohio are already taking advantage of.

By State Rep. Craig Riedel

In order to focus more on this issue locally, the Ohio House is making school safety a top priority. We must give our districts more options for security and safety plans, allowing them to decide what works best for their schools and community. We recently passed legislation that includes a provision giving educational service centers (ESCs) the ability to levy a property tax that will specifically fund school security and mental health services. This permissive bill upholds local control and allows the community to come together to decide if it needs more funding for school safety.

Additionally, we approved House Bill 318, appropriating $10 million in fiscal year 2019 for grants to public and chartered nonpublic schools for school safety programs and training for school resource officers (SROs). Many districts already employ SROs, but current law doesn’t define their role, the duties that accompany it, or training requirements for the position.

The legislation would institute certain training obligations and better prepare SROs for emergency situations that may occur on school grounds and their responsibility to address such events. Specifically, the legislation would require an SRO to complete 40 hours of training that has been approved by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy within their first year on the job.

House Bill 318 not only creates necessary standards, but it encourages schools to utilize school resource officers. Their role will be clearly outlined, and districts will have more confidence in the ability for a hired SRO to manage emergency scenarios on school grounds. The bill also requires the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to conduct a study of SRO services and security upgrades in existing school district-operated buildings and to submit a copy of the study to the Governor and General Assembly by February 1, 2019, to ensure their roles are being fulfilled. The results of this study may potentially spur additional legislation as to how to better fortify our school buildings.

Another bill currently in the committee process is House Bill 526, which would allow current or retired law enforcement officers to act as volunteer patrols in our schools to help deter a mass casualty event. There would be no cost to school districts that participate in the program. Each individual must go through a screening process and be firearm certified. Once approved, the names of the volunteers would be distributed to local school districts for the purpose of scheduling. Under the bill, the officers who volunteer in the program would be eligible for a tax credit in return for their professional services and time given.

At the end of the day, we all want our children to be able to learn in a safe environment free of distractions. The Ohio House has put forward reasonable solutions to better protect our school buildings and grounds, and I believe cities and towns across the state can get behind these measures. We must work together to offer more resources to our students in the event of sudden, unexpected emergencies.

POSTED: 05/26/18 at 7:16 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions

The Van Wert City School Board believes its community should know the importance of potential wind farm revenue to the school district. Wind revenue would make a substantial difference to operating funds.

VWCS is the largest school district in Van Wert County, serving 2,100 preschool through 12th grade students. Approximately 50 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch, based on family income. The district is one of the largest employers in the county, with more than 400 full and part-time employees. Three revenue sources make up over 90 percent of the operating budget: state school funding (55 percent), local taxpayer-generated school income tax and property taxes equal 35.8 percent. The school district has no control over increases or decreases in the state’s 55 percent state revenue. This funding stream is currently flatlined in the state biennial budget, and future state education budgets remain unpredictable.

The other main sources of revenue are voted levies for school district income tax and property tax. These are not easily influenced by the school district, as district tax payer approval is required for any increase of the school district’s income tax rate or operating funds. The school district doesn’t have the final decision affecting these revenue sources.

VWCS offers the best educational services possible, utilizing current funding. The district hasn’t gone to the voters for additional operating revenue since 2003, as inflationary impact on goods and services has been addressed without going on the ballot.

Why is wind revenue important to VWCS? It would generate additional revenue without increasing taxes for voters. Wind revenue could be a very significant revenue stream, for more than 20 years.

Should wind farms develop further, and depending on the number of turbines located in the VWCS district, VWCS could see up to $672,000 annually in wind revenue. One mil voted in the VWCS district collects $250,000 annually. The impact of wind revenue is clear. Added revenue means a reduced chance of increasing local school taxes.

Included in a proposed amendment changing turbine setbacksby Senator Rob McColley, about 700 voters in the VWCS district would make a decision affecting over 7,000 registered voters in our entire school district. An up or down decision would affect all stakeholders across VWCS.

A telltale sign of a thriving community is its schools. The number of children requiring additional and individualized assistance is growing. School quality is a factor in attracting new business and industry. As the county’s largest school system, VWCS must continue to offer high quality education as well as meet individual student needs.

School safety is foremost in the minds of educators — employment of even one school resource officer would be difficult in the current VWCS operating budget. There are four buildings which could be served by an SRO, making the effectiveness of employing one SRO questionable. When budgets are tight, should safety needs come before basic instructional needs for all students?

Wind revenue is important to VWCS because it would allow the district to continue to meet prudent student and facility needs for a longer period, without going to the voters.

–Van Wert City Board of Education

POSTED: 05/03/18 at 6:57 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions

Kay-toons

POSTED: 12/03/21 at 10:44 pm. FILED UNDER: Kay-toons

Letters

To the Editor:

On Tuesday, November 2, registered voters in the city of Van Wert will once again have the opportunity to consider whether to establish a Charter Commission (NOTE: early voting begins October 6). The ballots can currently be found on the Van Wert County Board of Elections website under Election Info. Last year, the Charter Commission vote failed by 160 votes (2,249-2,089). 

The failure of the Charter Commission vote, I believe, was mostly due to confusion regarding the issue. Many citizens believed the vote last November was to establish Van Wert as a charter government, when in fact the first vote is simply to establish an “exploratory committee” known as the Charter Commission. Please stay with me here…

Anytime someone is attempting to determine whether or not he/she should run for an elected office, they establish an exploratory committee. The exploratory committee is charged with “testing the waters” to determine the feasibility of the candidate’s chances in the upcoming election. If the feasibility is positive, the candidate runs; if not, he or she chooses not to run. This in effect is the purpose of the Charter Commission that is being put before Van Wert voters this year. A YES vote to establish the Charter Commission this November IN NO WAY changes the governing structure of Van Wert – it is simply an exploratory committee to see if the members (of which you will be able to select) can determine a better, more efficient way to govern the city of Van Wert. If the vote this November is positive for establishing the exploratory committee, the 15 elected members of the Charter Commission are tasked with developing a formal charter for the governance of Van Wert. Then, prior to the November 2022 election, each registered voter in the city will be physically mailed the proposed Charter to review in whole. At this point, we don’t know what that charter will actually look like, but in truth there are numerous benefits to Van Wert becoming a charter city without actually changing anything in the way city government is run. 

I have been a member of Van Wert’s City Council in varying capacities for 10 of the last 12 years. Personally, I believe there are many benefits in Van Wert becoming a charter city (rather than a statutory city, but that is not the purpose of this letter. I would implore every eligible voter to educate yourself on the benefits and drawbacks of both the charter and statutory forms of government (a key research topic is the concept of municipal home rule). 

You can also watch an educational video on charter governments on the city’s website, vanwert.org, under city council videos. And there is an informational meeting for the public on Wednesday, September 29, in the First Federal Lecture Hall of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. 

Over the past year, I have seen a few very vocal individuals diminishing this constitutionally protected process. Most of them, I would argue, are either uninformed or perpetually negative, and most have not physically addressed their concerns or asked clarifying questions in the public forum that is a City Council meeting. But the one thing everyone has in common right now is none of us know what the members of the Charter Commission will create; any speculation to date is simply that: uninformed speculation. 

I would respectfully ask the citizens of Van Wert to at least give the members of the Charter Commission the opportunity to see if your local government can be run more efficiently. Not doing so, especially when this is simply an exploratory committee, is shortsighted and akin to one of the worst arguments against change: ”because we’ve always done it this way.”

Sincerely,

Jon C. Tomlinson, Ph.D.,
President of Van Wert City Council

POSTED: 09/27/21 at 10:45 am. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

This week Van Wert Health joins thousands of hospitals across the country in celebrating National Hospital Week (May 9-15), which is an annual opportunity to recognize the incredible contributions of everyone who works in our hospital, physicians’ offices, and clinics. We have nearly 600 employees — from technology specialists, administrators, social workers, and registrars to physicians, nurses, therapists, environmental services, and food and nutrition — who work 24/7 to provide the best possible care for patients.  

As I reflect on the past 14 months, one thing is for certain: there is no way we could have navigated our COVID journey without the dedication of our hard-working employees. They showed up each and every day and I couldn’t be more proud of them. It’s amazing that even at the height of the COVID pandemic, we were able to move into the new inpatient and surgical facilities on-time and under budget. 

On a regular basis, I receive letters from our patients or hear stories about how one of our staff members treated a patient like they were their own family member or took extra time to be a listening ear to a person who needed comforted.  These stories make me grateful to be part of a team with so much compassion and commitment.  

To all of the staff at Van Wert Health who have heard the call and followed your heart to work in health care, I honor you. May God bless you.

With sincere gratitude,

Jim Pope
President and CEO
Van Wert Health 
via email

POSTED: 05/12/21 at 10:54 pm. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Council on Aging, our Board of Directors, and the senior citizens of Van Wert County, I wanted to take a second and thank the residents of Van Wert County for their support of the CoA levies that were on the May 4 ballot.  

I also wanted to thank those that helped with monetary contributions to the campaign, those that helped with the other facets of the campaign, and the Van Wert Independent for their timely coverage of our levy campaign.  

We had such a great group of people that really put forth a lot of time and effort in helping to organize the campaign and spread the good word regarding the services we offer at the Council on Aging and the Senior Center. As well, we really appreciate the support and guidance our volunteer Board of Directors provides, along with the great team of employees that provide the day-to-day services. These great volunteers and dedicated employees are the groups that really make the difference in the work we do. 

For those that may still be unfamiliar with the services we offer, we would be happy to talk to you about it or provide you with a tour of the Senior Center. If interested, feel free to contact myself or our outreach worker at 419.238.5011.  

Respectfully,
Kevin Matthews
Director
Council on Aging

POSTED: 05/06/21 at 12:34 am. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

Americans are problem-solvers. When we are confronted with a challenge, we figure out how to overcome it or when we see that something isn’t working, we rethink our approach. Replacing outdated practices with new, smarter ways of doing things is the key to our nation’s economy and overcoming recent and historical public health challenges. Over the last year we have learned how vitally important it is for Ohioans to be able to stay safe at home and have the option to receive quality healthcare in their own home. 

For over 30 years, Area Agencies on Aging have been a leader in helping those who choose safe, dignified, independent living at home. These services have been essential to providing care to those who need it before and during the pandemic and will continue to grow in importance as we move into the future. 

With the pandemic, now more than ever, older Ohioans are looking for every opportunity to avoid congregate settings in fear of contracting COVID-19. Families are struggling to care for their loved ones and provide a safe environment. Area Agencies on Aging are the local resource for home and community-based services, such as personal care, transportation, and meals. 

The home and community-based system helps keep care local and people living in their homes where they are most comfortable, but providers who deliver in-home care are struggling to stay operational. Medicaid reimbursement rates for our partners in the home care industry have failed to keep up with the cost of doing business. This has created a situation where providers are considering closing their doors or moving to a neighboring state where there is a more favorable business environment. This leaves our most vulnerable Ohioans at-risk of losing access to services that help keep them safe at home. 

Choosing in-home care and living independently shouldn’t mean isolation.  We work with a network of healthcare providers to deliver vital services that keep our neighbors safe at home and healthy, at a fraction of the cost when compared to other alternatives. 

The state of Ohio needs to provide adequate reimbursement for these services or our local partners won’t be able to provide the essential services that so many of our fellow Ohioans depend on.

Jacqi Lucke-Bradley 
CEO, Area Agency on Aging 3 
via email

POSTED: 02/17/21 at 11:26 pm. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

We represent a group of concerned citizens of the Grover Hill community in Paulding County. Starwood Energy Group is in the process of trying to construct a wind turbine project (called Grover Hill Wind) of approximately 37 turbines in two townships in and around the community. The project is currently in the “Pre-application” phase (Case Number: 20-0417-EL-BGN), according to the Ohio Power Siting Board, which regulates the construction of wind projects. 

This company has actually started constructing access roads and installing turbine bases at this time. How can construction begin on a project that has not been issued the proper certificate from the Ohio Power Siting Board?  Something about this entire situation is not correct. To see picture evidence of these construction activities click on this link:

http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/DocumentRecord.aspx?DocID=aec4e4b9-a6ea-45c5-a3a4-ce3427bf1b29.

The Ohio Power Siting Board has been notified and will be contacting the company and scheduling a site visit. Has this company blatantly overstepped its authority and begun construction on a project that has not been approved by our state regulatory agencies? It appears to be that way. What does that say about the reputation of their company?

Ironically, this week a bill will be introduced in the Ohio Senate that will give township residents the right to referendum to vote in favor or opposed to a wind project. This bill will be fiercely rejected by the wind industry. But our specific situation proves exactly why this bill is essential to rural Ohio residents. 

Wind companies have repeatedly trampled the rights and the will of the people when developing these projects. It is their claim that the Ohio Power Siting Board has an extensive process to allow citizens input in the development of these projects. Clearly that process is not remotely sufficient in our community’s case. 

If wind companies start construction whenever they want without the Ohio Power Siting Board’s full approval it’s time for this bill to become law. This gives citizens a direct voice in something that will impact our communities for decades to come. It’s time for Ohio residents that will be impacted by the development of these types of community altering projects to have a direct say on whether they are wanted or not.  

With respect,

Jeremy Kitson
Citizens for Clear Skies
Citizens Against the Grover Hill Wind Project 
via email

POSTED: 02/05/21 at 12:01 am. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

I would like to extend a sincere thank you to all of the kind friends and family who sent me birthday cards, called me on the phone, and those who sent the social media messages on my birthday.  

Thank you also to those who came through on my drive-thru birthday celebration at Vancrest Health Care Center in Delphos.  

You all made my 100th birthday celebration extra special!

Sincerely,

Maryilynn J. McCracken
via email

POSTED: 12/24/20 at 7:30 am. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

Hi, this is Phil Farris at P&R Medical Connection. 2020 has been tough and, like many of you, we have faced the challenges Covid-19 has brought to our lives. 

The P&R family has been touched by quarantines, illness, and even loss of loved ones throughout this year. We pray that this will end soon. With the vaccines on the horizon, I urge you to consider taking this vaccine when available to you and helping us to end this period of isolation and dying.  If we don’t do this in large numbers, we’ll fight pockets of this virus for years, causing more isolation, loss of jobs, and more deaths.  

It’s time to trust in the process despite the rumors that abound.  For years we have said: “When You are sick, there is no place like home.”  That is true today more than ever, but believe me, for your sake and mine, I would rather not have your Covid business.  

Please consider the vaccine.

Phillip M Farris R.Ph.
President
P&R Home IV Service, Inc
via email

POSTED: 12/09/20 at 7:57 am. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

Originally scheduled as a live event on May 7, the presentation of Leadercast: “Positive Disruption:” was shifted to a three-session series that took place over the last six weeks. 

It became apparent in the spring, and again towards the fall of 2020, that we wouldn’t be able to host the live event, or a re-broadcast event in person at Lifehouse Church. We connected with the teams of our lead sponsors, with Van Wert Health, Central Insurance Companies, Kenn-Feld Group, and Lifehouse Church, to shift the event into a virtual series format. 

The series sessions were primarily led by a small team from each lead sponsor, which culminated in three one-hour live LeaderChat sessions utilizing Zoom.

The Chamber would like to thank following members for sponsoring Leadercast “Positive Disruption” series: Central Insurance Companies, Kenn-Feld Group, Van Wert Health, Lifehouse Church, Van Wert Manor, Vantage Career Center, TSC, Tenneco Inc. and Overholt Moorman Electric. 

To learn more about the Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce, find it on the web at vanwertchamber.com, on Facebook and Instagram, by calling at 419.238.4390, or by email at chamber@vanwertchamber.com.     

Mark Verville
Chamber President/CEO
via email

POSTED: 11/23/20 at 12:22 am. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

I wish to extend my very special thanks to all who supported the recent passage of the much needed Brumback Library renewal levy. I gratefully appreciate the funding that the property owners/voters have made possible with this passage.  

The following individuals, volunteers, organizations, local officials, and businesses were a great help in the campaign itself, I thank them most sincerely: The Brumback Library Board of Trustees, Mrs. Sally Snyder, president; Mrs. Robert Stripe, vice president; Mrs. Ron Bagley, secretary; and trustees Mr. Michael Cross, Mrs. David L. Brumback, Mr. David L. Brumback IV, and Mr. Gary Taylor;  the Trustees of the Library Enrichment Foundation of the Brumback Library, The Citizens for the Brumback Library Levy Committee, Mr. Gary Taylor, chairman; Kim Carr, Brendan Carr, Marcia and Stan Weldy, Tom Wise,  Larry Oechsle, The Marsh Foundation, Rebecca Harlan, Linda Agler Evans, Nancy Dixon, Sara Lape, and Pam Henderson; Van Wert County Board of Elections, The Van Wert County Commissioners, The Van Wert Independent, David Mosier, editor and publisher; Chris Roberts and Dave Roach; The Times Bulletin, Kirsten Barnhart, editor; Sherry Missler and Nikki Swaney; Judy Bunner and staff of The Photo Star; Deb Kleinhenz; Harrison Frech; Adam and Steve Long; Karen Hoverman; Cindy Money; and Rose Mowery.  

Special thanks are also extended to everyone who hosted signs, wrote letters to the editor, recorded radio ads, and to the more than 300 volunteers who generously donated their time, financial resources, service, and efforts to the Citizens for the Brumback Library Campaign.

I encourage Van Wert County residents of all ages to avail themselves to the resources, services, and programming efforts that the Brumback Library offers to one and all. We strive to meet the educational, informational, and recreational reading needs of all patrons. Thank you for your patronage and continued interest and support.

With sincere gratitude,

John J. Carr, director,
The Brumback Library

POSTED: 11/09/20 at 3:52 pm. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the editor:

Many Van Wert residents are not aware that the Gaylord Leslie Wellness Center has remained closed since the pandemic. We have been told that they wanted to keep everyone safe, that Governor DeWine closed these facilities, and that the physical therapy was in need of the room. Since I have needed to use the physical therapy facilities, I see firsthand that the room is not used by this group. Yes, they may use the conference room, but the machines are just sitting there, idle.

The governor’s ban has been lifted. There have been many excuses as to why the wellness center has not opened. Why can the wellness center in St. Marys, which is connected with the hospital, be open when ours cannot? Take our temperatures, schedule and restrict the number of people allowed in at one time, have sanitizer available throughout the facility, follow social distancing guidelines — these restrictions could be done by employees of the facility. 

Yes, there are two other facilities that are available in Van Wert — Total Fitness and the YMCA. However, these two gyms are basically for the person who is physically fit, even though they offer Silver Sneakers.  With the older population of Van Wert, there are many who need to use equipment that is geared for those who need to keep moving. There are those who have physical handicaps that came to the wellness center because they felt safe and had supervision to assist them. What is happening to these people — they have probably stopped exercising.  

Have all the board members been in the wellness center to see what is being offered to the members? I hope they all have made a journey over to the center. How can you vote on keeping it closed when you don’t know what the facility offers? Many of the former members of the wellness center enjoy walking. The weather is turning cold and there sits a marvelous walking track — unused.  

Medical specialists state that “without exercise the heart and lungs won’t function efficiently. And your joints will be stiff and easily injured. Inactivity is as much of a health risk as smoking! Exercise helps prevent diseases. Our bodies were meant to move — they actually crave exercise.”  healthdiscovery.net. Also, studies show that exercise helps with decreasing depression and anxiety.

Quoting from Van Wert Health-Home/Facebook, it states “Van Wert County Hospital remains committed to the region’s heathcare needs for generations to come. Van Wert County Hospital is committed to today, focused on tomorrow.” Think about this: Without taking care of our physical health, especially those mature adults, there won’t be much of a tomorrow for them!

Fellow Van Wert area residents: Many of you are upset about the wellness center remaining closed. Let the power of your written word be heard. Open the health center!

Linda Stanley
a concerned former wellness client
Van Wert

POSTED: 10/29/20 at 10:42 pm. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor