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Port Clinton man dead after Findlay shooting

By Joe Gilroy

Police are investigating a shooting that killed a Port Clinton man in Findlay on May 27.

Findlay Police Department officers found J’vion Zimmerman, 18, in an alley near Howard Street sufering from at least one gunshot wound to the chest. He later died at Blanchard Valley Hospital.

Initial reports stated police had identified a 17-year-old person of interest, but were unable to locate the individual.

A later update from Findlay police states they had located the person of interest, but with the subject being a minor, no name or other information would be released at this time.

Honoring National Crime Victims’ Rights Week with an Open House and Memorial Tribute

Crime Victim Services, located at 330 N. Elizabeth St. Lima, Ohio, will be hosting an agency wide open house on April 23, 2024 from 4-6, to honor “National Crime Victims’ Rights Week” which is celebrated this year during the week of April 21–27, 2024.

Our goal is to raise awareness through educating and encouraging members of the Allen and Putnam counties’ communities to learn how to help survivors and inform about the services and support provided by Crime Victim Services. 

Following the open house, Crime Victim Services will hold a gathering at the Homicide Memorial Garden, in front of the CVS office.  This will include a brief candlelight ceremony, a “moment of silence,” and a poem reading that honors and symbolizes the power of the human voice in seeking peace and justice. 

This year’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week theme is “How would you help?” to highlight options, services, and hope for crime survivors.  The focus includes the importance of creating an environment in which victims and survivors feel safe talking about what happened to them. The theme “How would you help?” aims to ensure that everyone in a community knows where and how crime victims and survivors can find support including friends, family members, colleagues, neighbors, service providers, or other trusted members of the community.

As an agency dedicated to advocate for justice and compassion, Crime Victim Services is proud to announce its participation in Crime Victims’ Rights Awareness Week. This annual event serves as a crucial reminder of our collective responsibility to support and empower those affected by crime while championing their rights. In 2022, there were nearly 20 million crime victimizations in the United States. More than 6.6 million were the result of violent crimes, including rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault. Of that 6.6 million, only about 42% were reported to police.

Locally, Crime Victim Services (CVS) is an Ohio non-profit, United Way partner agency serving victims of unsolved, misdemeanor, felony, and juvenile crimes in Allen and Putnam Counties. In 2023, Allen and Putnam County (CVS) Advocates attended or accompanied victims and survivors of crime to Court Hearings and proceedings 4,619 times.   

Crime Victims’ Rights Awareness Week is an opportunity for our community to come together to raise awareness, educate, and advocate for the rights and needs of crime victims. It shines a spotlight on the challenges faced by victims and survivors, while also highlighting the invaluable resources and support available to them. 

For more information about our events and initiatives during Crime Victims’ Rights Awareness Week, please contact Gina Brun, Court Advocate Supervisor, at 419-222-8666 or 

Throughout the week, Crime Victim Services will be hosting a series of events and initiatives aimed at fostering understanding, compassion, and empowerment for crime victims. These activities include: 

  • Awareness Campaigns: Social media campaigns and outreach efforts to raise awareness about the impact of crime on victims and communities. 
  • How would you help?” Campaign:  Promoting community awareness by participating in “How would you help?” campaign by encouraging community members to engage in the social media photo opportunities while holding a “How would you help?” flyer.  
  • Additionally, April 21–27, 2024, the week of “National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW)”, some local businesses are supporting Crime Victim Services mission “How would you help?”  Check out the following business and individuals that will have resources available to further educate and encourage others to join in making a positive difference. 
  • Our Town Roast (Specialized beverage)  
  • Joeys 
  • Sblended Nutrition 
  • Join Crime Victim Services in commemorating National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and let us reaffirm our commitment to empowering, advocating, and supporting those affected by crime. Together, we can work towards a future where every victim’s voice is heard, their rights are respected, and their journey towards healing is supported. 

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. 

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!

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.

the Continued Operation of Hilty Preschool & Childcare Center

The Board of Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio (MHCO) is happy to announce plans for continuing operations of the Hilty Preschool and Childcare in Pandora, Ohio.

Following the January 2, 2024, announcement that the childcare would be closing on January 31, there was a groundswell of local effort to continue the operation of a childcare in Pandora. Parents reported frustration and inability to locate alternative childcare openings in Putnam County and long waiting lists at other facilities.

The Pandora Village Council heard their pleas, as voiced at the January 9 Village Council meeting. The Council had already approached MHCO, and these pleas supported their resolve to find a workable solution for everyone. The Putnam County CIC joined the Village in their efforts. Local businessmen, Zachary Buckland and Evan Schroeder, stepped forward to propose the purchase of the childcare operation. They have formed Hilty’s Faithful Foundations Preschool and Childcare, LLC, and it will remain in the current location. They plan to expand the childcare space into the adjacent space of the former Hilty Memorial Home.

In collaboration with MHCO, current operations will continue through March 31, 2024, by which time they expect to have the legal transactions and licensing processes completed. Meanwhile, the Village of Pandora submitted a purchase proposal to HUD, the loan holder for the empty facility. The Hilty Memorial Home was closed in December 2022, and the childcare was allowed to continue in the building. MHCO had attempted to find purchasers for the building and the childcare but was unsuccessful.

Pandora Mayor, Jeremy Liechty, shared these thoughts about the collaboration: “We believe that by attempting to purchase the building, Pandora will have the Hilty daycare remain in place and opportunities for other businesses to grow within our community,” Liechty said. “We appreciate how MHCO continued to maintain the Hilty facility, and we are hopeful that an offer for the building is accepted by HUD to keep moving forward in 2024.”

Once the transactions are completed, the Village will begin a strategic planning process to determine additional operations that can utilize other areas of the 60,000 square foot space. Families and staff have been informed of the plans for continuing childcare services, and the new operators are eager to move forward with their expansion plans.

Zach Buckland expressed hope that Hilty childcare families and staff will “hang in with us” as the transitions take place. “Evan and I know firsthand how difficult it is to find quality childcare close to home,” Buckland said. “This is what motivates us to take on this challenge. We are committed to making this a successful and permanent operation. And we are especially happy to have Amanda Dettrow continue as the Director, continuing her 17 years of leadership.”

MHCO Board Chair, Elizabeth Kelly, shared her enthusiasm about this turn of events: “We know that it takes a village to raise a child. We are seeing that it takes a village and a county and a group of committed parents and citizens to provide much-needed childcare in rural communities. We are thankful for the hard work that is making this possible.”

Making beautiful (stringed) music …Bluffton group plays “low key gigs”

Unbeknownst to a good number of people in the village, Bluffton actually has a “Dulcimer Musical Group.” The Rainbow Dulcimers (originally started in a home on Bluffton’s “Rainbow Dr.”) practice every Tuesday afternoon at either the Bluffton Library, or the Bluffton Senior Center.

What’s more, besides the practice sessions, they play what band member Cheri Slotter labels as “low key gigs.” That is, the group also does concerts at both the latter venues, at Maple Crest, and they played this year, for instance, at the Allen County Museum’s Christmas Tree Festival.

Some of their selections included the old German carol “Sweeter the Bells.” They also played “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem,” and “Christmas is a Coming.”

And, as practically everyone already knows (except me, of course), the word “dulcimer” originally referred to a trapezoidal zither, similar to a psaltery, whose many strings are struck by handheld “hammers.” Whatever all that means.