12-19-2019 Destiny Chacon and Trey Goodson named Hartford royalty; Annual recognition and appreciati

Destiny Chacon and Trey Goodson named Hartford royalty

By Annette Christie

What started as a wonderful tribute to the Great American Farmer, ended with the crowning of the new Mr. and Miss Hartford 2020 on Sunday afternoon at Hartford High School.

Destiny Chacon was crowned Miss Hartford 2020. The 17-year-old senior at Hartford High School has also attended Van Buren Technology Center to participate in EMT and Fire Science programs. Her future plans include attending college to become a registered nurse.

2020 MISS HARTFORD and her court were crowned Sunday, December 15, 2019. The court is (from the left) Miss Congeniality Meghan Deckard; Second Runner-up Megan Nelson; Miss Hartford Destiny Chacon; and First Runner-up Ashton Vassar. The court was selected from a field of nine young ladies. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)

The daughter of Jacob Granados and Lashonda Yakel, she is a member of the volleyball team, softball team, and the Hartford Indian Emerald Vanguard Band. She is also a part of the sideline cheer and competitive cheer teams.

In her spare time, she volunteers for numerous events at Hartford High School.

Chacon has received academic all-state honorable mention in competitive cheer and first team Academic All State for volleyball.

The first runner-up honors went to Ashton Vassar, 17, a junior attending Hartford High School. She is also dual enrolled and upon completion of her high school years, she will earn her associate’s degree at the same time. Her field of study will be in medicine.

The daughter of Pete and Anne Vassar, she is involved in sideline cheer, competitive cheer, concert band, marching band, and Science Olympiad. She spends her mornings at the elementary school helping students with reading and literature.

She also volunteers for Hartford Rocket Cheer, for the Stuff a Bus event, raking for veterans, and tutoring younger students.

Second runner-up honors went to Megan Nelson. She is the daughter of Troy Nelson and Kimberly Kostrzewa. The 17-year-old is a senior at Hartford High School.

She is a member of National Honor Society, a member of the Academic All State volleyball and softball teams, and has been on honor roll. She is a four-year varsity letter winner in volleyball, basketball, and softball. Nelson has earned All Conference Honors in volleyball, basketball, and softball, and was named the MVP for volleyball.

Following high school, she will attend Kalamazoo Valley Community College to study nursing. She plans to obtain her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Western Michigan University. She will have a career in pediatric nursing.

Meghan Deckard, 16, was named Miss Congeniality from her fellow contestants. She is the daughter of Gary and Kristen Deckard, and is a junior at Hartford High School.

Her plans following high school include attending Western Michigan University to study social work. She also plans to become a foster mother in the future.

The other contestants include Tonda Daisy, Ashley Herrera, Kayla Hoy, Karla Robles (top 5), Crystal Steele (top 5).

Trey Goodson, 17, was named Mr. Hartford 2020. He is the son of Ernest and Erin Goodson. The senior attending Hartford High School is involved in football, baseball, and welding.

His plans following graduation include becoming a skilled welder through an apprenticeship in the field and eventually earning his journeyman’s card. One of his hobbies is racing and Goodson plans to continue the growth of his drag racing career and hopes to one day become a world champion.

2020 MR. HARTFORD Trey Goodson (left) was crowned on Sunday afternoon at the Hartford High School auditorium. Elijah Ledesma (right) was crowned First Runner-up. It is possible that both court members could represent the community of Hartford in the Mr. Blossomtime Pageant being held on Sunday, March 15, 2020 at the Lake Michigan College Mendel Center. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)

He has earned varsity awards in football and baseball. He was named All-Conference Honorable Mention in football and was the Press Box Player of the Week in the Tri-City Record.

First runner-up to Mr. Hartford is Elijah Ledesma. He is a 17-year-old senior attending Hartford High School. His future plans include going to college to pursue a degree in law enforcement and to work for the tribal police department.

The son of Robert and Misty Ledesma, he is involved in football, basketball, and baseball. He has played indoor soccer and studied law enforcement at Van Buren Vo-Tech for one year.

Ledesma volunteers for various sporting events in the Hartford School District.

The emcees for the event were Hunter Ackerman and Ally Sinclair, both with previous Hartford royalty titles.

The Great American Farmer follows Blossomtime’s overall theme of The Greatest Show and can include a greatest thing about the local community. With its diverse agricultural offerings, celebrating the Great American Farmer was perfect for the community of Hartford.

The king and queen candidates had two formal appearances and a dance number.

Hartford Royalty will go on to represent their community as they seek a Blossomtime title in March 2020.

Hometown Holiday Happenings

Santa visits Coloma today

The Coloma Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce has a busy day planned for Thursday, Dec. 19. Santa will be at Coloma Township Hall from 6:00–8:00 p.m. and there will be cookie decorating, barrel train rides, cocoa, and candy canes.

Christmas Bake, Candy & Craft Sale Friday hosted by hospital auxiliary

Lakeland Hospital, Watervliet Auxiliary will hold their Annual Christmas Bake, Candy and Craft Sale Friday, Dec. 20 from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in classroom C in the Hospital Lobby.

Homemade candies and baked goods will be featured. All proceeds will be used for Auxiliary projects at the Hospital.

Hospital gift shop open Saturday for holiday shopping

Park Bench Gift Shop located in the lobby of Lakeland Hospital, Watervliet will be open Saturday, December 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. All profits are used for Lakeland Hospital, Watervliet Auxiliary projects.

Sarett Nature Center offers Scavenger Hunt for winter break fun

Head out to Sarett Nature Center, 2300 Benton Center Rd, Benton Harbor for a Winter Break Scavenger Hunt with your family from December 21 – January 5 during regular business hours. Enjoy Sarett’s trails while completing a fun outdoor scavenger hunt looking for and collecting animal tracks! Stop at the front desk for details.

Vincent J. Jewelers chip in to help their neighbors

Jim Frazier of Vincent J. Jewelers in downtown Coloma and Dowagiac has found a creative way to help families in need this Christmas. On December 1, Vincent J. Jewelers began selling sterling silver ball earrings for $10, and donating the entire amount raised, not just the proceeds, to Living Water Food Pantry at Watervliet Free Methodist Church and A.C.T.I.O.N. Ministries in Dowagiac.

“My family and I are very grateful to our communities, which have allowed us to stay in business so long,” says Jim Frazier. “This is just a small way for us to be able to help local families during this holiday season. Every $1 donated to the pantry buys about $7.50 in food. It feels good to be able to help make a difference.”

Vincent J. Jewelers is located at 228 N. Paw Paw Street in Coloma and 118 S. Front Street in Dowagiac. You may contact the Coloma store at 269-468-4400 and the Dowagiac store at 269-782-2000.

VFW Post 1137 annual Needy Family Christmas Drive

Watervliet VFW Post 1137 located at 8777 Red Arrow Hwy. in Watervliet is accepting donations to their annual Needy Family program to assist families in the Coloma, Hartford and Watervliet area for the Christmas season. Items needed are canned goods, non-perishable food items and monetary gifts. For any questions, please call Corky Openneer at 269-944-9501.

Collections are needed in time for a December 22 delivery. Any assistance is greatly appreciated.

Watervliet’s Best Lighted House Contest ends Saturday

Watervliet’s Best Lighted House contest is sponsored by the City of Watervliet. It runs through December 21, 2019. Residents in both the city and township of Watervliet may enter to win!

To enter, participants must make ONE post with photo and/or video of their Christmas display on the Watervliet’s Best Lighted House Facebook event page. Then send the street address via Facebook Messenger to Katie Ann Muth so authenticity can be verified. Please do NOT post the address with the photo.

Entries can be made anytime up to Saturday, Dec. 21.

Once the entry has been posted, share the event and post with all your Facebook friends. Be sure to “invite” friends and ask them to vote for your house on the event page. The posts with the most “likes” will be eligible to win.

At noon on Dec. 21, “Likes” will be counted on the event page ONLY. Prizes for this contest are 1st place: $100 cash; 2nd place: $50 gift card; and 3rd place: $25 cash.

To see more information about the prizes and to view the other contestants’ entries, be sure to RSVP on the event page as “going”.

Watervliet Free Methodist Christmas programs

On Sunday, December 22 during morning worship beginning at 10:30 a.m. the Childrens Department of Watervliet Free Methodist Church is presenting a Christmas program titled Simple Words, Amazing Story with a performance by the Children’s Bell Choir. Everyone is welcome.

Capping the Christmas season, on Tuesday, Dec. 24 at 6:00 p.m., the public is invited for Christmas Eve Candle Light Communion. A short message will be delivered and special music performed along with the serving of communion to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the reason for the season.

Watervliet Free Methodist Church is located 7734 Paw Paw Avenue.

Christmas at Hope Lutheran Church Hartford

Everyone is invited to worship with the congregation of Hope Lutheran Church in Hartford at any or all four times during the week of Christmas.

On Sunday, Dec. 22 at 10:30 a.m. they worship our Lord for sending his Son, born of Mary and Joseph here on earth. Christmas Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 24 at 6 p.m. their youth tell the Christmas story and sing for the congregation with some special music played by three older youth members.

Wednesday, Christmas Day, at 10:30 a.m. is their Christmas worship service, hymn singing, and again the telling of the birth of Jesus.

On Sunday, Dec. 29 at 10:30 a.m. they have worship and give thanks to the Lord our God for the birth of Jesus, our Savior.

Hope Lutheran Church Hartford is located at 205 Bennett Avenue.

Christmas Eve Service at

Plymouth Congregational

The public is invited to participate in a Candlelight Christmas Eve service on December 24, at 6:00 p.m., at Plymouth Congregational Church in Watervliet. There will be singing of Advent songs and a short devotional about the true meaning of the Christmas celebration. Everyone is welcome to come. The service usually ends with the singing of the traditional “Silent Night”, a cappella by candlelight.

Christmas Masses at St. Joseph Catholic

St. Joseph Catholic Parish at 157 Lucinda Lane in Watervliet is holding a Christmas Eve Vigil Mass on Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. with Caroling beginning at 4:30.

A Christmas Midnight Mass on Dec. 25 is at 12:00 a.m. with a Morning Mass at 9:00 a.m.

ANNUAL AWARDS & RECOGNITION… The great turnout at the Business Recognition and Community Appreciation Tribute on Dec. 12 witnessed deserving people get rewarded for their good work in the Coloma and Watervliet communities. Awardees and organization members include (from the left): Chamber Vice President Rochelle Ulleg, Community Service recipient Sieg Freitag, Coordinator Chana Kniebes, Chamber President Tom Gear, Sidetrack Café II Owner Michelle Edmonds, Community Service recipient Bob Howell, and State Rep. Pauline Wendzel. (TCR photo by Karl Bayer)

Annual recognition and appreciation tribute honors local

businesses & community members

The North Berrien Community Development and the Coloma Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce saw great attendance for their Annual Business Recognition and Community Appreciation Tribute event on Thursday, Dec. 12. There was a record turnout of 82 people in attendance and for the first time, the event was held at Blackbird Waterhouse in Coloma. With delicious food, festive holiday atmosphere and wonderful service, the organizers send out a big thank you to owners January and Trip Immer and the staff at the Blackbird. Each year businesses and individuals are awarded in our community and the support and encouragement of others as they attend the event and help to acknowledge and encourage these business and community service award recipients is appreciated. The Chamber this year presented DiMaggio’s Pizza with a Community Commitment Award, Sidetrack Café II with Community Impact Award and The River with Community Spirit Award. The North Berrien Community Development awarded three individuals with awards for Community Service, Bob Howell, Sieg Freitag and Fire Chief Dan Jones. State Representative Pauline Wendzel also presented framed tributes signed by herself, Governor Gretchen Witmer, Senator Kim LaSata and Congressman Fred Upton. Community Coordinator Chana Kniebes was thrilled to see a packed house at this event and appreciated the heartfelt remarks by the recipients during this very special evening.

TRIBUTE EVENT… Also recognized at the Dec. 12 event were (from the left): Community Service recipient Chief Dan Jones, Pastors Doyle and Linda Jackson from The River, Chamber Board Member Karla Smothers and Arlene DiMaggio from DiMaggio’s Pizza. (TCR photo by Karl Bayer)