12-15-2016 Mariel Hallgren wins Miss Hartford crown; Hunter Ackerman named Mr. Hartford;

2017 MISS HARTFORD AND HER COURT… (from the left) First runner-up Makayla Robinson, Miss Hartford Mariel Hallgren, and Second runner-up and Miss Congeniality Jessica Rosales. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)


Mariel Hallgren wins Miss Hartford crown; Hunter Ackerman named Mr. Hartford

By Annette Christie

Mariel Hallgren added becoming Miss Hartford to her list of accomplishments on Sunday afternoon at Hartford High School.

Hallgren, 18, is a senior attending Hartford High School.  She is dual enrolled at Southwestern Michigan College where she will earn her associate’s degree in Communications.  Following that her future will find her attending the Kendall School of Design at Ferris State University to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Communications.

The daughter of Eric and Beth Hallgren, she is on the National Honor Society and has earned an academic letter.  In addition, she is in marching and concert bands, soccer, sideline cheer, Quiz Bowl, Science Olympiad, and The Tribe (pep club).

Hallgren volunteers with Hospice at Home, Hartford Lions Club, Picnic in the Park, Christmas in Hartford, and the Hartford Foundation Annual Christmas Bazaar.

As the new Miss Hartford, she hopes to be able to visit nursing homes with her court and organize fun activities for the residents, especially those that do not have regular visitors. As a life-long resident of Hartford, she hopes to serve and positively influence her community by being a good example for her peers and the children that might look up to her.

She will go on to represent her community in the Miss Blossomtime Pageant, being held in March of 2017.

Makayla Robinson was selected as first runner-up.  The 16 year-old is a junior attending Hartford High School.  She is the daughter of Gary Robinson and Sandy Paluch. As she approaches her senior year, she will be dual enrolled in Kalamazoo Valley Community College studying nursing.  Following that portion of her education, she will transfer to Grand Valley State University to obtain her bachelor’s in nursing.  She hopes to join the team at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo in the neonatal unit.

Robinson is one of 21 students selected to participate in the middle college program in Van Buren County whereby her tuition and college expenses will be paid for through her associate’s degree.

In school, Robinson is involved in sideline cheer, competitive cheer, The Tribe and softball.  She is also active in youth group and the praise and worship team at church.

As a part of the court, Robinson hopes to be able to volunteer with special needs children in the Van Buren Intermediate School District as well as at local elementary schools.

Jessica Rosales, 18, was selected as second runner-up and Miss Congeniality.  The title of Miss Congeniality is chosen by the fellow contestants.

Rosales is the daughter of Jesus and Maria Rosales.  She is a senior attending Hartford High School as well as early college at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.  Her future plans include transferring to Western Michigan University and obtaining a degree in culinary arts.  She hopes to be a business owner someday by operating a bakery and restaurant.

Rosales is the former first runner-up to Miss Teen Hartford 2012, 2015-2016 Spanish Club President, 2013-2014 Student Council Vice President, and is a first place Restaurant Management Award winner.  She is on the National Honor Society and is a member of the National Technical Honor Society.

2017 MISS TEEN HARTFORD AND HER COURT… (from the left) First runner-up Catera Hawley and Miss Teen Hartford Regan Sinclair. Hawley, 16, attends Hart-ford High School. In school, she is involved in track and drama. Following high school she hopes to become a forensic scientist. She is the daughter of Chad Hawley and Jessica Teeters. Sinclair, 14, is the daughter of Shanon & Laura Sinclair. She attends Hartford High School and is involved in softball, volleyball, and basketball. Following high school, she will study nursing in college with the goal of becoming a pediatric nurse. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)


Recipient of the Venessa Garcia Community Service Scholarship was contestant Ashley Kling.  She volunteers at the Van Buren County Youth Fair, for spaghetti dinners, taking elementary kids shopping, and carving pumpkins with children at the Bert Goens Learning Center.  She was involved with collecting water bottles for the residents of Flint, food drives through the SPLAT youth group at the Hartford Methodist Church, and with the church daycare at her church in Stevensville.  Kling will receive a $300 scholarship named in honor of Venessa Garcia, Miss Hartford 2005.  She was tragically killed in a car accident in 2008.

Kling also received the award for most ticket sales.  Hallgren sold the most ads in the program. Robinson won the award for the memory board competition.

Other contestants were Kaylynn Owens and Isabella Fisher.

2017 MR. HARTFORD AND HIS COURT… (from the left) Mr. Nice Guy Ricky Austin, Second runner-up Garrett Brandt, Mr. Hartford Hunter Ackerman, and First runner-up Jake Griffith. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)


Mr. Hartford

 Hunter Ackerman was named Mr. Hartford 2017.  The 17 year-old is a senior attending Hartford High School.  He is also a middle college student attending Kalamazoo Community College.  His future plans include transferring to Grand Valley State University or the University of Michigan to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science or biology.  He hopes to become a dentist.

The son of Gary and Tammy Ackerman, he is also the Student Council Executive President and is on the National Honor Society.  He participates in baseball, basketball, jazz band, marching band, Quiz Bowl, and Science Olympiad.

Jake Griffith, 17, was selected as first runner-up.  He is the son of Tony Griffith and Telisa Griffith.  He is currently a senior at Hartford High School.  He plans to attend college to further his education in business and management.

He is involved in soccer, basketball, and baseball.  He is the Captain of the Soccer Team.

2017 MISS JR. TEEN HARTFORD AND HER COURT… (from the left) Miss Junior Teen Hartford Lindsey Goodson and First runner-up Addison Voss. Goodson, 11, attends Hartford Middle School. She is the daughter of Lisa Goodson and David Goodson. Voss, 11, also attends Hartford Middle School. She is the daughter of Tabitha Raymond and Jonny Marcoux. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)


Garrett Brandt, 16, was named second runner-up.  He is the son of Gregg Brandt and Laura Burfield. A junior attending Hartford High School, he plans to further his education at Western Michigan University to study aerospace engineering.

He is the captain of the football team, has been named Student of the Week, and is on the Honor Roll.

Ricky Austin was named as Mr. Nice Guy by his fellow contestants.  The 17 year-old is the son of Rick Austin Sr. and Rachel Birmele.  He is a senior attending Hartford High School.  He will be attending college to study computer science.

Thomas Covington was also a contestant in the Mr. Hartford Contest.

The theme of this year’s Miss and Mr. Hartford contest was “A Bug’s Life”.  The chairpersons are Taylor Prestidge and Amanda Williamson.  The emcees for the event were Gabriella Garza and Glen Head.

Watervliet City commended on fund balance; Audit report good

By Annette Christie

A representative from the Watervliet City auditing firm was on hand at the Tuesday, December 13 City Commission to give the commission the results of their audit.  The auditor said that everything went really smooth. He said that the city received a modified opinion which is the best opinion anyone can get. He said that the City of Watervliet was really solvent which is what they should want.

The auditor reported that the fund balance the city is carrying is way above what is recommended.  Their expenditures are down and they had no big purchases in 2016.  He said the City Commission was able to add to their fund balance by about $216,000 for this year.

The new City Commissioners took their oath of office.  Duane Cobb, Luke Strunk, and Bill Whitney Jr. will take office at the beginning of the year for their four-year term.

Police Chief Tim Sutherland thanked the City Commission for the employee holiday dinner and addressed Dan Hummel and Barb Schofield as this is their last meeting.

The City Commission approved the Inspection Services Agreement, part of a shared services program with Watervliet Township. This is the final agreement with the changes that the city requested. This is to cover rental inspections within the city and spreads them out over the year.  Mayor Pro Tem Melanie Marvin said that the inspections be spread out over all months of the year to make sure that they are all done and will provide some consistency.

The city engineer brought it to their attention last month that an easement was needed with Lane Automotive due to the city having water lines on their property.  The easement gives the city the right to work on those water lines if needed.

The 2017 City Commission meeting schedule was approved reflecting two meetings a month, on the second and the fourth Tuesday.  Commissioner Hummel questioned the list, commenting that it was his impression that the addition of the second meeting back into the City Commission’s meeting schedule was temporary due to the workload and authorizations needed.  The City Commission noted that they can always cancel any meetings unnecessary.

The City Commission also authorized the expenditure that would allow the new commissioners to attend training.  Marvin said that when she became a commissioner the training was not required by it was recommended.  “It is very helpful,” Marvin said. Unfortunately the next one scheduled by the Michigan Municipal League is in Ann Arbor in the evening in January.

The City Commission also approved the placement of overdue bills on the Winter Tax Bill Assessments. Marvin described the bills as some delinquent water bills and ordinance violation fines totaling almost $3,206. Marvin explained that they were in a crunch in order to get it on this tax bill.

The City Commission could not come to a consensus as to what the treasurer wages will be.  At last month’s meeting, the commission approved placing Commissioner Deah Muth in the position on a temporary basis.  They discussed the possible salary of $8,500 which is what the previous treasurer was making. Muth has been attending the training needed to take over the role. She asked for an hourly rate for hours she puts in at $16.50 hour. The Commission was uncomfortable approving the hourly rate without any kind of cap on it.

Marvin brought up the need for the city to establish a cost for those that purchase water that are not customers.  She said she felt that it should be more than what customers are paying.  She said it would need to be placed on the master fee schedule.

Commissioner Duane Cobb did want it noted to LaGrow Consulting that they wanted to build fund balance and the graphs all show that they did that. LaGrow and the City parted ways in August of this year.  Cobb was referring to the audit report which showed a nice contribution to fund balance this year by the city.

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