03-15-2018 Search continues for missing kayaker; Governor declares state of disaster in wake of wid

2018 MR. AND MISS BLOSSOMTIME COURT… Back row (from the left): Mr. Nice Guy Ben O’Donnell representing New Buffalo; 2nd Runner-up Daniel Okonski representing St. Joseph; Mr. Blossomtime Garrett Brandt representing Hartford; and 1st Runner-up D’Myron Guidry representing Benton Harbor. Front row (from the left): Miss Spirit Olivia Ziemer, Miss Congeniality; Miss Coloma Micah Saxe, 2nd Runner-up; Miss Stevensville Riley Ellis, Miss Blossomtime; and Miss Eau Claire/Sodus Jamie Tidey, 1st Runner-up. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)

Search continues for missing kayaker; Governor declares state of disaster in wake of widespread flooding

Efforts by multiple emergency services agencies have turned up empty as they continue to search for a kayaker who went missing in the river on February 27. Cory Wright, 35, of Niles was kayaking in the area with two other men when they hit a log and flipped over. One of the men re-surfaced but Wright did not. On Tuesday, two weeks to the day, the Michigan State Police cadaver dog was utilized again with no results. Berrien County Sheriff’s Lt. Marty Kurtz said that the river has been searched from Coloma to the area of the incident by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, Berrien County Sheriff’s Marine Division, Berrien County Sheriff’s Dive Team and the Watervliet Fire Department. Governor declares state of disaster Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has declared a state of disaster and opened the Disaster and Emergency Contingency Fund to local governments in 17 counties and two cities after heavy rainfall and snow melt on Feb. 19-21 resulted in widespread flooding damage. The affected areas include: Allegan, Arenac, Barry, Berrien, Cass, Clare, Eaton, Ingham, Ionia, Kalamazoo, Kent, Mecosta, Newaygo, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Ottawa and St. Joseph counties and the cities of Grand Rapids and Lansing.

GARRETT BRANDT of Hartford reacts after being crowned Mr. Blossomtime 2018. (Photo courtesy of K West Photography)

Garrett Brandt of Hartford named Mr. Blossomtime; Coloma and Hartford representatives make Queen’s Court

By Annette Christie Mr. Blossomtime honors were once again given to the community of Hartford as Garrett Brandt, Mr. Hartford, was named Mr. Blossomtime this past weekend. He is the 21st Mr. Blossomtime. Brandt told the crowd at the Lake Michigan College Mendel Center that he was thankful for his family, his chairpeople, and all of the amazing contestants. Brandt is the son of Gregg Brandt and Laura Burfield. The 18-year-old attending Hartford High School is a senior. Following high school, he plans to attend Western Michigan University to study engineering. He hopes to one day become an aerospace engineer for NASA. In high school Brandt is involved in football, basketball, track, and Student Council. He attends the Van Buren Technology Center for engineering. First runner-up is D’Myron Guidry of Benton Harbor. The 17-year-old is a senior attending Benton Harbor High School. He is the son of Natalie & Di’Andre Hureskin. Guidry hopes to graduate with a minimum 3.5 GPA and will go on to attend Wayne State University, where he earned a $20,000 scholarship. He plans to major in television/film production. He is involved in football, wrestling, track & field, and golf. He is the president of Kappa League, Benton Harbor Chapter. Daniel Okonski of St. Joseph was named 2nd runner-up. The 18-year-old is a senior attending St. Joseph High School. He is the son of Craig and Cherie Okonski. He is involved in tennis and track and the Interact Club. He is on the honor roll and is captain of the tennis team. Following high school, he plans to attend the University of Michigan to obtain a degree in computer science and cybersecurity. Selected as Mr. Nice Guy by his fellow contestants was Ben O’Donnell from the community of New Buffalo. The 17-year-old is a junior attending New Buffalo High School. The son of Craig and Carie  O’Donnell, he plans to continue his education post high school to pursue a law degree. O’Donnell is involved in football, basketball, baseball, and band. He is a member of the National Honor Society. Other representatives from the Tri-City area include Adam Wheeler of Hartford, Derek Plitt of Coloma, Robbie Schroeder of Coloma, and Ryley Watson of Coloma. All of the contestants took part in a communication segment shared with the queen contestants and a modeling segment where their costumes and props were to coincide with a holiday. Cody Adkins of Edwardsburg, Garrett Brandt of Hartford, and Nick Gildea of South Haven won the modeling awards. Other awards given out were as follows: Daniel Okonski of St. Joseph, $500 scholarship for selling the most good luck ads and the Interview Award; Daniel Young Jr. of Cassopolis, $150 scholarship for selling good luck ads over $1,000; and Billy Long Jr. of Three Oaks won the Kings Legacy Award, a $250 scholarship.

Showcase of Queens Olivia Ziemer of Hartford, Miss Spirit, won in all three categories awarded Sunday night: Modeling, Photogenic, and Communications.  Other winners were as follows: Jamie Tidey of Eau Claire/Sodus and Olivia Pate of Berrien Springs also won modeling; Kimberly West of Niles and Riley Ellis of Stevensville also won photogenic; and Glenda Poole of Benton Harbor, Amber Barnosky of Edwardsburg, and Hailey Wellman of Cassopolis also won in communications.  Miss Blossomtime Riley Ellis of Stevensville became the 86th Miss Blossomtime. The 17-year-old attends Lakeshore High School as a senior. She is the daughter of Greg and Michelle Ellis. Ellis plans to study physical therapy at Grand Valley State University following high school. She is involved in track, golf, Key Club and Interact Club. Miss Eau Claire/Sodus, Jamie Tidey was named 1st runner-up. She is a 17-year-old senior attending Lake Michigan Catholic High School. The daughter of Curtis and Katherine Tidey; she is involved in tennis, basketball, and National Honor Society. Her future plans are to attend Michigan State University to study elementary education. Coloma’s own Micah Saxe was named 2nd runner-up to Miss Blossomtime. Miss Coloma, Micah Saxe, is a 17-year-old senior attending Watervliet High School. She is the daughter of David Saxe and Shelly Morlock. Saxe has been on the honor roll throughout school and earned her varsity letter in soccer and in choir. She is a member of the Watervliet Dance Team, yearbook staff, choir, and plays soccer for the Lady Panthers. She has volunteered for the Midway Baptist Church Soccer Camp, Glad-Peach 5K Run/Walk, and the Peer to Peer Program where she works with elementary students in the district. Saxe was Miss Teen Coloma in 2014. Her future plans include attending Ferris State University to study criminal justice. She further plans to attend the Detroit Policy Academy on her way to achieving her dream of becoming a police officer. Named as Miss Congeniality by her fellow sister queens is Olivia Ziemer. She is 1st runner-up to Miss Hartford and went on to claim the Miss Spirit award which allowed her to participate in the Miss Blossomtime Pageant. The 18-year-old senior attending Hartford High School is the daughter of Robert and Michelle Ziemer. Ziemer was accepted to the University of Michigan and Grand Valley State University but has not decided which school she will attend. Either way, she plans to study the medical field to fulfill her hope of becoming a physician’s assistant. In school she is involved in Student Council, National Honor Society, leadership training, soccer, volleyball, Science Olympiad, Spanish Club, Pep Club, and is the student representative on the Hartford school board. Ziemer is ranked number one in her class with a 4.0 GPA and has received numerous Academic Excellence Awards. She has received the DAR Good Citizen Award and was selected as the 2017 Homecoming Queen. Ziemer has been involved in a mission trip to Ecuador and she hopes for more mission trips in her future. She has volunteered as a camp counselor and as a tutor in Spanish. She has 60 hours of community service which includes food drives, blood drives, fund-raisers for children in need, and assisting with Awana. Ellie Troyer of Watervliet and Angela Saldana of Hartford also represented their communities and made it to the Top 10 for the evening. The two-night event was hosted by Phil McDonald and Lainie Lu Von Behren. McDonald is the sports director for Sports Radio 1400 WSJM and Mid-West Family Broadcasting. Von Behren is a former Miss Blossomtime and has pursued an acting and modeling career. This is the 112th year of Blossomtime. In all, over the two-night event there were 56 of Southwest Michigan’s finest young people representing their communities.