The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, Apr. 21, 2024

Shown are Van Wert County Junior Fair Rabbit Show winners (from the left) Grand Champion Ethan Lugabihl With his Californian, Judge Platt, Carson Lape with the Reserve Champion Dutch, Evelyn Lamb with her third place New Zealand, Judge Carr, and Peyton Evans with his fourth pace Mini Lop (all results can be found here). photo provided

POSTED: 09/12/21 at 10:42 pm. FILED UNDER: Youth

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Project Believe has once again stepped up to help students at The Marsh Foundation start school on a positive note. Last week, representatives visited campus with a delivery of backpacks and school supplies for all students. 

The organization, which originated in 2009, began by donating Christmas gifts to children in residential facilities. It now is also active on Easter, Valentine’s Day, and the start of the school year. Tammie Rafferty, the group’s founder, was initially inspired to help others by her own daughter’s circumstances.

Shown are (from the left) Marsh School teachers Kevin Longstreth and Mandy Looser, Lavoie, librarian Joy Caldwell, and Breese with this year’s donation.  Marsh photo

This year, Bob Lavoie visited the campus to present the backpacks and supplies to Marsh Foundation School Principal Robbie Breese and teachers.

“We feel very fortunate that Project Believe has chosen to continue to assist The Marsh Foundation in our mission of inspiring hope to our children,” said Breese. “Our students and teachers are very excited to accept the backpacks and supplies as we return to the classroom this school year.”

Learn more about Project Believe by visiting its website at or by contacting Rafferty directly at

POSTED: 09/01/21 at 11:55 pm. FILED UNDER: Youth

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MASON — Dancers from Kim Hohman’s DanceWorks attended Encore Talent Productions National Dance Competition in Mason at the end of June.  

Dancers in Rhythm Nation include (front row, from the left) Maisee Short, Paiten Fuerst, Janie Trejo, Rilee Conrad, and Ellie Vining; (middle row) Sayler Wise, Alanna Knebel, Chloe Nielsen, Olivia Treece, and Finley Foster; (back row) Annie Renner, Emily Lichtle, Kaden Hohman and Addyson Dowler. KHDW photo

The best dance groups from the surrounding states competed at this competition. Many of the groups also brought home top overall high scores and Special Judges Awards.  The jazz number performing to “Rhythm Nation” (at right) earned first overall in the teen large group division and was recognized in the “best of the best” and was then selected as the top winner of the entire competition, earning group members the title of National Champions 2021.  The dance was choreographed by Kim Hohman and is instructed each week by Mrs. Hohman and Kylie Hohman. 

Eight dance groups from KHDW earned a spot in the Best of the Best competition.  The studio also had individual dancers qualify for the Best of the Best from the solo competition.  Dancers in the mini division included Sydney Ross and Addy Young, with Young winning the title of Mini Miss Encore.  Teens qualifying were Chloe Nielsen, Olivia Treece, and Annie Renner.  The senior level dancers qualifying were Kaden Hohman and Ellie Vining, with Vining winning the title of Senior Miss Encore. 

The dance studio is located at 11199 Van Wert-Decatur Road. For more information, contact the studio at 419.232.6505 or come to its open house on Tuesday, August 10, from 5-8 p.m.

POSTED: 08/02/21 at 11:05 pm. FILED UNDER: Youth

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Scott Niswonger was born and grew up in Van Wert, where he learned to fly, soloing on his 16th birthday.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Aviation Technology and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Technology degree in 2004. 

In addition, Mr. Niswonger earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Tusculum University in 1986, from which he was later awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 2006. He also holds an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree from East Tennessee State University and an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree from the University of Tennessee.  

Over the last three years, the Niswongers, Scott and his wife, Nikki, have generously donated to the Operation Back to School event. With this year’s donation, the couple will have given a total of $12,500 towards this outreach. 

Last year, Operation Back to School reached over 1,000 students in the local community. The event will be held this year from 3-5 p.m. Sunday, August 1, at its original location in Fountain Park. This free event provides backpacks filled with school supplies and personal hygiene items to all county school children, preschool through eighth grade. There will also be games and food offered to all who attend. 

Pre-registration is required, which can be completed online at or by visiting the First United Methodist Church office to fill out a registration form. 

The high school event will be held at a later date. For more information, volunteering opportunities, or to donate to this event, call the church office at 419.238.0631, extension 307.   

POSTED: 06/10/21 at 11:23 pm. FILED UNDER: Church, Youth

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Two Van Wert High School seniors have been awarded Believe in Ohio STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, & Math) scholarships from The Ohio Academy of Science.

Jamie Burenga and Sophie Rutkowski were among 46 students from 41 high schools who received the $1,000 scholarships, which can be used at any Ohio college, university, post-secondary career center, or vocational school.

The scholarships, funded through the Ohio Department of Higher Education, recognize seniors for their contributions to STEM innovation and entrepreneurship through the Believe in Ohio statewide scholarship program.

“STEM and Entrepreneurship are the basis for innovation and building new business opportunities and problem solutions,” said Michael E. Woytek, executive director for The Ohio Academy of Science. “Ohio has a long tradition of innovation, and these students are the future professionals needed to propel Ohio’s innovation economy.”

Believe in Ohio is a free, comprehensive, curriculum-based STEM and Entrepreneurship program for Ohio high school students. The program is designed to create a “culture of innovation” and to prepare students to meet the demands of a rapidly changing labor market and become contributors to Ohio’s innovation economy.

POSTED: 05/19/21 at 11:09 pm. FILED UNDER: Youth

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The Van Wert County Board of Developmental Disabilities mission is “through respect and support, the VWCBDD partners with people, families, and communities to foster independence and pathways to individual success. 

VWCBDD has specific services an individual will need at the time they are approved for eligibility and are adjusted for what they need in the future. Those include school age, transition age, adult, family support, and crisis intervention services. VWCBDD’s biggest goal is inclusion and being involved in the community.

Van Wert County Board of Developmental Disabilities clients have fun during a pool party at the YMCA. photo provided

The YMCA of Van Wert County hosted a pool party for the VWCBDD on March 20 in celebration of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. The month of March highlights the many ways in which people with and without disabilities come together to form strong, diverse communities. 

Paula Miller and volunteers from the VWCBDD and the YMCA will be at Camp Clay on May 1 to help clean up for the 2021 summer season. In addition, each volunteer will receive a free swim pass for the Camp Clay Aqua Park. Anyone else interested in joining the cleanup day should contact Kevin Morrison at  

The YMCA’s mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that help healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. 

The YMCA of Van Wert County is partially funded by the Van Wert County Foundation and is a United Way agency.

POSTED: 04/22/21 at 12:52 am. FILED UNDER: Lifestyles, Youth

The York Commanders 4-H Club held its second meeting of the year on March 28 in the Lincolnview Community Center. During the meeting, members discussed any enrollment questions, had new member introductions, and also took officer pictures. Shown are club officers (from the left) Avery Zielke (historian), Destiny Breese (reporter), Lakyn Bailey (health and safety officer), Graham Kill (recreation leader), Bennett Kill (treasurer), Corbin Evans (president), Delayna Profit (vice president), and Ella Davis (secretary). The club will hold its annual track pick-up at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 25, while the next meeting will be Sunday, May 9. photo provided

POSTED: 04/21/21 at 10:50 pm. FILED UNDER: Youth

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Lincolnview National Honor Society members include (front row, from the left) Carson Fox, Avery Slusher, Brenna Case, Sadie Welker, Katrina Behrens, Madison Case, Connor Jonson; (middle row) Cole Binkley, Landon Price, Brianna Ebel, Adyson Edwards, Kendall Bollenbacher, Zadria King, Evan Bowersock; (back row) seniors Cole Gorman, Anne Mendenhall, Samantha Sellers, Dylann Carey, Elaina O’Neill, Jessica Reynolds, Madison Williams. Not pictured are inductees Owen Harris, Brook Hilleary, and Madison Case. Lincolnview photo

Seventeen students were inducted into the Lincolnview Honor Society Wednesday evening. In addition to maintaining a minimum of a 3.5 cumulative grade point average, students must demonstrate leadership, positive character, and complete at least 12 hours of volunteer service annually.

The evening’s keynote speaker was girls’ varsity basketball coach Kyle Williams, who reminded students that “you can do anything as long as you have the passion, the drive, the focus, and the support.” 

Senior Chapter officers include President Dylann Carey, Vice President Jessica Reynolds, Secretary Elaina O’Neill, and Treasurer Samantha Sellers. Service Champions for the class of 2021 are Jessica Reynolds and Kaitlynn McIntyre. 

Additional senior members include Carson Bowen, Jake Bowersock, Aaron Cavinder, Elizabeth Eaton, Cole Gorman, Ashley Hertel, Creed Jessee, Madison Langdon, Clayton Leeth, Kaitlynn McIntyre, Peter McMaster, Anne Mendenhall, Ambrion Merriman, Collin Overholt, Christapher PIiske, Ariel Pruden, Brice Pruden, Alxander Rosbaugh, Kacey Stewart, Arin Williams, Madison Williams, and Hanna Young. 

POSTED: 11/18/20 at 10:56 pm. FILED UNDER: Youth

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Crestview Local Board of Education member John Auld will receive the Ohio School Boards Association’s Veteran Board Member Award at the association’s 65th annual Capital Conference and Trade Show on Sunday, November 8.

John Auld

The event is being held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Veteran Board Member Award is given to school board members in recognition of 25 years of service and leadership to Crestview. 

Of the nearly 3,500 board members in the state of Ohio, only 33 will receive the honor in 2020. Mr. Auld’s dedication to the students and staff speak to his longevity as a board member. 

In its 65th year, the Ohio School Boards Association leads the way to educational excellence by serving Ohio’s public school board members and the diverse districts they represent through superior service, unwavering advocacy and creative solutions.

POSTED: 11/03/20 at 11:26 pm. FILED UNDER: Youth

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A cool October evening. Eggerss Stadium. Halftime. The Cougar Pride Marching Band. Trash cans. And 22 hobos, ready to take the field. 

Van Wert High School music instructor Tina Decker recently looked back on one of the highlights of her career at VWHS.

VWHS band percussionists who performed “Stinkin’ Garbage” include (front row, from the left) Amanda (Schumm) Cline, Jena (Martin) Wierwille; (back row) Nick Baird, Mandy Kirkendall, Kelly (Matthews) Avalos, Kim (McGrath) Wolford, Lisa (Ries) Riffe-Ries, Ryan Fortney, and Ella (Manken) Stoller. VWHS photo

“Stinkin’ Garbage”, written by Ed Argenziano and intended to be played on — you guessed it — garbage cans, was the percussion section feature played on October 6, 2000. At that time, it was tradition for the percussion section to perform some sort of feature at one of the home halftimes during the season. 

Decker, Van Wert City Schools’ percussion teacher, chose “Stinkin’ Garbage” as the 2000 feature after seeing it performed during a convention. 

“I could envision the whole thing with my students, which is really hard to do sometimes,” Decker explained. “I knew we had the talent and commitment. We had so many students at that time, and that’s what made it so amazing.” 

The group, consisting of four seniors, two juniors, eight sophomores, and eight freshmen, practiced an hour and a half two evenings a week for six weeks to prepare for the performance. 

The first performance was greeted with a standing ovation from both the home and away crowds. It was such a hit with fans, the group took it on the road and played it at the following away game where the host team’s crowd also offered a standing ovation. 

After a total of five performances, including the state send-off for the 2000 VWHS football team, the annual marching band concert, and a home basketball game, the gang retired its trash cans for good. 

“The rehearsals and performance of Stinkin’ Garbage still remain as a highlight in my teaching career,” Decker said. “When I reminisce about that moment in time and the students involved, I smile every time!”

POSTED: 10/16/20 at 6:29 am. FILED UNDER: Youth