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Bluffton’s “Vigilante for Kids!”

…it was an absolute nightmare scenario!

It was an absolute nightmare scenario… A number of years ago, police were called to a room in a motel in a hardscrabble part of Lima.  When they arrived, a known area prostitute was there and high on cocaine.  She was also the mother of three young children, ages 2, 4 and 6.  They were in the room that night.  In fact, they had been living with their mother there for a while.

The children were dirty, malnourished, and frightened.  The hotel manager had called the police, explaining, among other things, that the mother would regularly “go out,” leaving these children by themselves.  It was not only the police who were called that night, but a caseworker from Allen County Children’s Services, Bluffton’s Kathleen Steiner.

Quickly assessing the situation, Ms. Steiner recommended the children immediately be removed and placed in foster care.  This, in turn, sparked the mother, again high on cocaine, to angrily start screaming, almost uncontrollably, at Ms. Steiner. 

Undaunted in the line of fire, if you will, Ms. Steiner stood firm.  The children being, as they always are for her, the main priority.   

“You could call me a ‘vigilante for kids,”’ she said.  “I’ve always been that way.”

Ms. Steiner, who has a Masters in Social Work from Ohio State University, has worked in several area social work/counseling settings.  She worked for Children’s Services for three long years, with a good number of cases being heart wrenching.

Besides the acute incidences, like the one at the motel, Ms. Steiner worked, long-term, with many troubled/dysfunctional families, maintaining a consistent caseload of 15 to 20 families.

Whether counseling/coaching families at her office, or through “home visits (including into some quite rough neighborhoods),” Ms. Steiner said she would often see degrees of success, over time.  She taught healthy parenting skills, counseled in regard to substance abuse, couples’ relationship skills… But Ms. Steiner said it was, indeed, an uphill battle.

What was also an uphill battle, was Ms. Steiner’s work with mental health patients at Blanchard Valley Hospital’s Psychiatric Unit in Findlay.  She worked there for 15 years.

She said that, more often than not, the number one, acute problem the psychiatric unit would deal with was patients coming in with chronic depressive disorder that had often led to suicide ideation, and sometimes even suicide attempts.  These patients were on continual watch in the unit, as work was done to help stabilize the person through counseling, appropriate medication, and so on.

And while the latter was the number one issue, there were no shortage of patients with bi-polar disorder, chronic high anxiety, schizophrenia…  And often, dual diagnosis was involved, said Ms. Steiner.  That is, besides the mental disorder, a number of these patients had drug and/or alcohol addiction problems as well.  Ms. Steiner said the substance abuse tremendously “exacerbated” the situation.

Substance abuse counseling (in-patient and out-patient), 12-Step groups, and the like, would be prescribed for long-term sobriety.  And in tandem, said Ms. Steiner, often appropriate medication for the mental disorder, often in combination with counseling, would be prescribed for the mental disorder.

The psychiatric unit, in regard to stabilization, short term counseling, and long-term recovery planning, was often quite successful.

Ms. Steiner added that it was, indeed, heartening to watch the “stigma” around substance abuse and mental health issues incrementally diminish in recent years in our society at large.  However, she added, the social work field, as an example, could definitely use more counselors, and more resources.

Not to mention, but I will: a lot more just plain “Vigilantes for Kids,” of the Ms. Steiner ilk.

Move Over Willy Wonka! The Bluffton News ‘Chocolate Factory’ is passing on the inside

By Joe (“I CAN’T believe I ate that many!”) Schriner

“Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory” had nothing on “The Bluffton News & The Chocolate Buckeye Factory” during the recent Bluffton Chamber of Commerce “Chocolate Walk.”

Our office on Vine (with the new “The Bluffton News” sign, in retro-typewriter font no less), was wall-to-wall chocolate/peanut butter buckeyes “…to die for.”   I, in fact, still had a sugar hangover two days after the event!

The buckeyes were provided by the new “Langan Family Finds,” also on Vine St.  Each buckeye was individually shrink wrapped.  *Not sure exactly how they did that.  But they did!

And, okay, to be totally transparent, as any self-respecting journalist would be, there were a few complaints.  Some of the Michigan fans did chafe a bit at being offered buckeyes. But after TTUN (Michigan) won the National Championship this season, most of these fans were, oh, a bit more amiable than usual.

Serving up those buckeyes, and complimentary copies of the newspaper, besides myself (when I wasn’t eating the buckeyes, of course), was Bluffton News Publisher Joe Gilroy.  Besides being a quite affable sort, he is, indeed, a seasoned journalist.  He has worked as a reporter/editor/et. all on newspapers throughout northern Ohio (including such publications as the Sandusky Register, Norwalk Reflector, Cleveland Plain Dealer…).

And he also did a stint with the Leelanau Times near the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where he received state-wide, prestigious awards for some of his writing.

And speaking of prestigious…

We were visited this day by the likes of former Bluffton Mayor Fred Rodabaugh and his wife; by Bluffton Square Dance King Larry Armstrong, who looks absolutely great in boots and those cowboy string ties; and Village Administration Secretary Angie Essinger, who said there was absolutely no way she was sharing her office space with a beaver in a big terrarium.  *See story elsewhere in this edition.

And speaking of office space…

As is noted in some other writing on Pg. 3, our offices, while open “irregular hours” at present, are nonetheless now, again, re-established back in the village – where, indeed, they should be.

And while we can’t always offer free buckeyes, or complimentary copies of the newspaper for that matter (Have I mentioned there’s a subscription drive going on right now?), in each edition, you can count on some great stories highlighting some awful special local people, events, and news in general. 

Bluffton “Winter Farmers Market” Makes it’s Debut

…exotic breads, pea shoots, dead flowers, live music

Bluffton has it’s first Winter Farmers Market since, well, anyone can remember.  And the inaugural market was on the last Saturday of last month. 

In fact, it’s slated for the last Saturday of each month through the winter.  It’s being held at Bluffton’s rather expansive Senior Center downtown.

Harrod, Ohio’s Art Woodruff’s “Firm Roots Farm” was represented, in all it’s greenery.  Woodruff bills himself as a ‘micro-greens artist,’ if you will.  The farm grows such micro-greens young shoots as sunflowers, radish, broccoli and pea.  (*If it wasn’t for Firm Roots pea shoots, well, I might not be alive today to write this. Wink.)

Across the way was the booth “Artisan Hearth Breads by Bent Nail Bakery.”  (*That’s right, they EVERYONE here see themselves as ‘artists’!)

To say Judy’s breads are a decided touch of the exotic, would be, well, an understatement.  The types of her bread include:  Greek Olive Onion Bread; Parmesan Herb Bread; Apple Raisin Bread with a hint of (Oh, I’ll leave that as a surprise.); Samalina Bread (“Not to be confused with Salmonella Bread,” Judy laughed.)

By the way, Judy had come all the way from Ft. Jennings (Some 30 miles, one-way!), as she does each week for the summer Bluffton Farmers Market as well.

Eduardo Sguerra came east from Columbus Grove, Ohio, and from his “Wild Vine Farm.”  Wild Vine sells only the best in vegetables (in season), black walnuts, fresh market flower bouquets, dried florals…  Eduardo said he was just back from a two-week trip to the country of Columbia to visit relatives.

“How was that?”  I asked.

“Warmer,” he smiled.

And, among a good number of booths this day, there was the Bluffton Baking Co. booth.  Well, it was the ‘Bluffton’ Farmers Market after all.  They sell breads and “Gourmet Stuffed Cookies …to die for!”

And “headlining” the whole event was Bluffton’s favorite house band.  They’ve been playing for years all over this village.  And what’s more, each year, oddly enough, they actually change their band’s name – to stay relevant, I guess. 

Last year their name was: “The Usual Suspects.”  This year, it’s: “The Unusual Suspects.”  And they, most decidedly, are.

So, come one, come all… Bluffton Winter Farmers Market Mania is: ON!

Are we all living in East Palestine, Ohio?

The beginning of this month marked the one-year anniversary of the catastrophic East Palestine, Ohio train derailment.  And in this decidedly ongoing toxic chemical release saga, there’s a tremendously salient question that no national reporter, or local reporter for that matter, has yet to ask.  And I’ll get to that momentarily.  But first, a recap…

On February 3, 2023, just before 9 p.m., a Norfolk Southern train derailed near East Palestine.  Some of the train cars contained extremely hazardous/toxic chemicals.

The chemicals included: benzene; ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexy acrylate…  I mean, even trying to pronounce the names of these could kill you.  (Not to mention, most are carcinogenic.)

The latter chemicals are used in making all sorts of products.

Oh, and there was also phosgene gas, which was used as a highly lethal “poisonous gas” during World War I.  Phosgene gas is now used in making organic chemicals, dyestuff (paints, etc.), polyurethane resins…

During one of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s press conferences at the time, he said that, yes, the Norfolk Southern “manifest” listed these chemicals.  And yes, there was somewhat of a fire with some of the derailed train cars at the scene.

A reporter asked if it was prudent to do the subsequent “controlled burn” with the chemicals (to prevent a possible explosion)?  Or should the company have simply tried to cool the cars down?

Another reporter asked if it was, indeed, safe for East Palestine residents to return to their homes so soon after the accident? Yet another reporter wondered why states aren’t alerted prior to these kinds of toxic chemicals being shipped through them?  And on, and on…

All extremely valid questions.


I mean, think about it.

We have the tremendously advanced technological smarts to develop a spacecraft to take us to Mars, but we can’t come up with a paint without these toxic chemicals?

For instance, many of our current paints “…cause cancer in rats in California,” according to some of the labels.  And if the lab experiments were done elsewhere, it wouldn’t take Einstein to figure out the paints probably “…cause cancer in rats in Kentucky, Alabama and Montana, too.”

Now, I’m not a physiology professor at Dartmouth, but aren’t rats kinda/sorta, physiologically, especially with their respiratory system, pretty much the same as us.  I mean, they have a nose and breath stuff into their lungs. 

If the stuff they’re breathing (paint fumes in this case) have carcinogens in the vapors, um, wouldn’t it stand to reason some are going to get cancer – even rats in Alaska!  And by extension, um, we have noses and lungs too.

The chemicals in those train cars are, again, in our paints, our cleaning fluids, our plastics, our… 

Statistics show that one in three Americans will now get cancer in a lifetime.  And those odds are probably a bit higher in East Palestine, Ohio right now.

But frankly, shouldn’t we ALL be looking at this?  In fact, the rapid-release, voluminous vapors in East Palestine at the time, could merely be a microcosm of what’s happening to us all nationwide.  Only it’s just happening slower. 

And what’s more, shouldn’t we, ALL of us, be lobbying for legislation to ban these toxic chemicals?  Well of course we should.

“Billy the Beaver” SEES HIS SHADOW!

After giving this some deep, considered thought (for at least a couple minutes, or so), I’ve decided Bluffton needs a — drum roll…: “village pet!”  And not just any pet. But rather, a “signature pet,” if you will.  One that is not only cute, endearing, all that; but one that will bring in A LOT of money!

And, frankly, if the following wouldn’t be an absolute ‘Bluffton business boon’ around more tourism, I, frankly, don’t know what would be!  But first, a preface…

As noted in an article last edition, “Punxsutawney Phil the Groundhog,” year in and year out, gets a lion’s, ‘er rather a hog’s share of the attention on Feb. 2 for that ‘…seeing his shadow, or not, deal.’

But Phil isn’t the only groundhog in town (read: the nation), so to speak.  Ohio, unbeknownst to many, has its own groundhog, which is trotted out to see his shadow, or not, on Feb. 2 as well.  He’s called: “Buckeye Chuck.”  I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP!

While Phil draws over, say, 10,000, or more, tourists that day, and nationwide media.  Chuck draws at least several thousand tourists to Marion, Ohio each Feb. 2 for the groundhog festivities there.

Now, who says only groundhogs can see, or not see, their shadows on this day?  NO ONE!  So…

What if we in Bluffton tell the world that BEAVERS can see their shadows, or not, as well.  And we could call our beaver (Wait for it…) “Billy the Beaver.”  I mean, it’s got the same consonance-sounding thing going on as Punxsutawney Phil.  And both are, basically, categorized as big hairy rodents. 

If this is marketed right, the Bluffton downtown merchants could, again, experience a BLUFFTON BEAVER BUSINESS BONANZA, with an exponent!  Stay with me on this.

Punxsutawney, for instance, sells “Punxsutawney Phillsner” in their taverns.  Well, the taverns here could sell “Billy Beer.”  Oops. I forgot Jimmy Carter’s brother has the market cornered on “Billy Beer.”  So, uh, how about: “Billy’s Beaver Brew”?

Punxsutawney really plays up the groundhog thing, with colorful groundhog sculptures on some downtown corners, groundhog souvenirs in the shops…  Well, I mean, we could do that with beavers!

What’s more, ‘ole Phil really doesn’t live in a small cave on top of Gobbler’s Knob.  That’s just a one morning thing. He actually lives in a tricked-out, temperature-controlled big terrarium in Punxsutawney’s Town Hall – with his wife, “Phyllis.” Seriously!

This, needless to say, brings tourists to Punxsutawney year-round — just to get selfies with Phil, then buy some Phil souvenirs, get a mug (or two) of Punxsutawney Philsner, and so on.

Has anyone noticed how big the foyer area is in Bluffton’s Town Hall?  That’s right, “Billy,” and his wife, “Bertha,” could live in a nice, tricked out, temperature-controlled terrarium there. And, for instance, this newspaper’s nature columnist, “Mr. B,” could regularly check in on both of them.

If this all works out, all I’m asking is, like, a cut on the Beaver Brew sales.  LOL.  Lots Of Lager!

Punxsutawney Phil ‘Phorecast’

*TBN special investigation uncovers “groundhog graft”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) uses advanced climate monitoring devices, such as Doppler radar, satellite imaging, advanced computerized barometers, hygrometers, and anemometers, to not only forecast the weather from day to day but also to analyze data for long-term forecasting in regard to, for example, the length and severity of a given winter.

Then again, there’s a groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, that’s usually more accurate. And he was at it again earlier this week (Feb. 2nd, to be exact). Reports are that if he sees his shadow on a given Feb. 2, there will be six more weeks of winter.

And while most people just take this at face value, being the type of journalist I am, I decided to do an in-depth, investigative piece on this whole thing.

The Groundhog Day Celebration was first recorded in 1886 at Gobbler’s Knob, just outside of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. And Phil has “… reportedly seen his shadow 106 times, and not seen it only 20 times.” Not to be a killjoy, but… This would leave any self-respecting journalist, worth his salt, with, again: a few questions. Number one: Can a groundhog live to be 124 years old? And number two: How, exactly, does anyone know the groundhog sees its shadow, or not? I mean, what does it excitedly say? “Oh look, there’s my shadow!”

I needed eye witnesses. But try as I might, I couldn’t find any in Bluffton.

However, I was informed that a group from Ada had gone to Gobbler’s Knob for a recent Groundhog’s Day. In fact, some of the group go every year to Punxsutawney (pop. 5,778 + Phil). “Groundhog groupies!”

One of the group members is Ada High School math teacher Josh Klein. He said on that recent trip, the group had gotten to Punxsutawney the night of Feb. 1. They had gotten a motel room (which wasn’t easy), and arose at (Are you ready for this?) 3:30 a.m.! They got dressed, drove to a Punxsutawney shopping plaza parking lot, and were then picked up in a school bus. (The kids get the day off from school there this day.)

They were then driven up to Gobbler’s Knob. Josh said there were already a good number of people atop Gobbler’s Knob when they arrived at 5:15, some had even stayed in tents overnight. There was a stage with music. “Phil Phireworks” followed.

And then Phil himself, or rather itself, emerged. He emerges every year at 6:42 a.m. on the dot, or rather on the knob. If he sees his shadow, well, as mentioned earlier, it means it’s six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, it means it’s cloudy. LOL.

But seriously…

Josh, being a math teacher and an analytical type in general, wasn’t so sure about all this. This, incidentally, had been Josh’s first trip with the group.

He told me that he had been doing some checking, and the average lifespan of a groundhog, whether it’s a groundhog-shadow-seer or not, is 12 years – sans, of course, coming across a groundhog predator prior to the end of those 12 years.

When Josh broached this with one of the Punxsutawneyites, he was told that this Phil is given “…a secret potion that makes him live forever.”


Josh’s second question, as was mine as you recall, was: “How, exactly, does Phil communicate that he has, indeed, seen his shadow, or not?”

Easy, Josh was told.

The president of the Punxsutawney “Inner Circle” (think: “Groundhog Illuminati”) is able to not only speak but actually understand the language of Groundhogese (okay, not a word according to my spell check) — through his/her possession of an ancient acacia wood cane.

Uh… well, okay maybe.

Bottom line, said Josh, is that “Phil’s faithful followers” (not to mention the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce): BELIEVE!

While many (including myself) ‘believed’ that Phil lived in that hole in a tree on Gobbler’s Knob year-round – Spoiler Alert! – he and his wife Phyllis (I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP!) actually live the other 364 days in a pretty tricked out, temperature-controlled, big glass terrarium at the Town Hall. It’s called: “Phil’s Burrow.”

Josh & Co. from Ada saw this on the town tour after the event.

Josh, who was wearing a groundhog

ceremonial black top hat (“Yeah, I thought it was pretty silly until I saw everyone else wearing these things too,” he smiled), said Punxsutawney is literally “…all things groundhog.”

Josh said that like Lexington, Kentucky has “painted horse” sculptures on many downtown corners, and Cincinnati has “flying pigs,” Punxsutawney has BIG groundhog sculptures on practically every downtown corner. (*There’s even a “Golden Groundhog” on the Town Square!) And you can’t go into a downtown shop without coming across A LOT of Phil souvenirs.

And if all THAT isn’t enough, there is even a beer at the “Punxsutawney Pub” with the name “Punxsutawney Philsner.”

Which, apparently, many in Punxsutawney are drinking, oh, a LITTLE too much of!

Village of Bluffton Administration News

The Village of Bluffton Administration Office located at 154 N. Main St. Bluffton will be closed on Monday, Feb 19, 2024 in observance of Presidents Day. However, the lobby is open 24 hrs. per day, 365 days per year to drop off payments and to pick-up forms.

Village of Bluffton Mayor

On behalf of our administration, safety services, and elected officials, welcome to the Village of Bluffton. These pages provide access and information for visitors, residents, and businesses in our community.

You’ll find excellent civic and community resources available to you in Bluffton, Ohio. We provide essential services including police, fire, EMS, income tax filing, and utilities. The village is also responsible for maintaining our beautiful and welcoming streets and parks, and takes an active role in cultural and community events.

Your support and participation in all of these aspects of village life is important to us. Please join us in celebrating the traditions that contribute to Bluffton’s charm and help us respond to the growing needs of all who spend time in our community.


Richard Johnson,

Mayor of Bluffton

The Massive EF3 Tornado was Approaching! … and a Bluffton man was left “speechless’

Bluffton’s Clyde Wireman, while on a Disaster Relief Mission to Tennessee last month, heard a story that left him so astonished that he was literally speechless after hearing it. On December 10, 2023, a fast-moving weather system was bearing down on Tennessee. Forecasts were for severe weather, maybe even some tornadoes. As the day progressed, the weather got worse and worse. Concern grew exponentially. Then, suddenly, a spate of tornadoes broke out.

Tornado sirens were blaring throughout middle Tennessee, including in Clarksville. A mother, with three young children in that town, not only heard the sirens but started to hear an almost deafening train-like roar approaching. She hurriedly gathered the children and rushed them into the bathroom in the middle of the trailer. The mother positioned the children lying down in the bathtub, then she lay over the top of them with her arms outstretched.

It hit.

A large tree fell on the trailer, splitting it in two. The trailer’s siding metal contorted every which way, and virtually all the house belongings, beds, other furniture, and everything, for that matter, was sucked out of the home and scattered for miles.

It stopped.

The only thing left totally intact in the trailer? The bathroom. No one had been harmed. Although the rash of tornadoes that day in Tennessee had claimed six lives and sent another 100 people to the hospital.

Mr. Wireman, who is a member of Bluffton’s Ebenezer Church, said the family in the trailer were “strong Christians,” and had crosses mounted on walls throughout the trailer, including several in the bathroom. He said when he heard the story, “…I was moved to profound tears.”

Incidentally, as the mother and children gathered themselves, one of the children asked if his mother had seen “the man”? “Who?” The mother asked. “I saw a man lying over the top of you, mom—with his arms outstretched too.”

Mr. Wireman said he still can’t get through telling the story without crying, even now.

This neighborhood in Clarksville had been decimated. Houses were destroyed everywhere, many big trees uprooted… It had been an EF3 tornado that hit Clarksville, with 150 mph peak wind speeds. (There had been seven tornadoes that touched down in middle Tennessee that day. And the tornado in Clarksville had been the deadliest, killing three and injuring 62.)

As part of a Samaritan’s Purse Mission, 10 people from Ebenezer had gone to Clarksville to help with the cleanup, and this group helped rehab some of the trailer homes (new roof, new siding…) that were only partially damaged.

Besides this trip, Mr. Wireman has been on other service-work, mission trips to Alaska and Kentucky (multiple times) in the past two years. That’s how long Mr. Wireman has been retired as an over-the-road truck driver – who had logged a phenomenal 6 million miles over 40 years.

But even though he’s retired from trucking, he said he has no intention of ‘retiring’ from God’s employ. He said he has always had a “…heart for (God’s) service,” and will continue on with this until he physically can’t do it anymore.

‘For Whom the Bell Toll!’

.. act of supreme WWII bravery will be remembered at St. Mary’s Sunday

A bell will ring, and a candle will be snuffed out four times. This will happen during the 10:30 Mass at Bluffton St. Mary’s this Sunday, Feb. 4. All are invited. Sponsored by the Bluffton American Legion, this will be part of a Memorial Service to commemorate a tremendously spiritual act of WWII heroism regarding the famous “Four Chaplains.”

It was the early morning hours of Feb. 3, 1943, in the North Atlantic. There were 904 men aboard the USS Dorchester (an American troop transport ship). The ship was coming out of St. John’s Newfoundland. In silence, an enemy submarine slid in behind the Dorchester. It fired.

A torpedo exploded into the engine room. The sea rushed in. The men ran to their stations, but it was too late. It shortly became apparent that the massive ship was going down in frigid arctic waters. Certain death.

Amidst the panic and terror, reports indicated some of the men remained steadfast, purposely moving through the ship trying to calm the others. They helped some put on life jackets, and moved them toward the limited number of lifeboats.

Some of those men wearing life jackets were four chaplains: a Methodist minister, a Reformed Dutch minister, a Rabbi, and a Catholic priest. The chaplains moved about the men, praying for them, consoling them, trying to instill in them a sense of God’s peace amidst the extreme turmoil.

At one point, a young man, eyes wide with panic, approached one of the chaplains and cried out, “Padre, I’ve lost my life jacket. And I can’t swim!” This chaplain, never hesitating, tore off his life jacket and gave it to the frightened young man. The other chaplains, in turn, took off their life jackets and gave them away as well. When the lifeboats were all away, and the ship was majorly listing and about to go down, these chaplains linked arms and prayed out loud forcefully, amidst the gathering.