January 22, 2018

01-11-2018 Micah Saxe and Derek Plitt become Coloma Royalty; Coloma Township Officer becomes accident victim on “Death Trap” highway

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Micah Saxe and Derek Plitt become Coloma Royalty

By Annette Christie

The Coloma Community Pageant was held Saturday, Jan. 6 and ended with Micah Saxe being crowned Miss Coloma and Derek Plitt being crowned Mr. Coloma for 2018.

The contest rolled out the red carpet for the Glad-Peach Festival as it celebrates its 50-year anniversary, reminiscing over its history and highlighting the best attributes of this long-standing community festival.

Contestants opened with a dance followed by their introduction which included their favorite memory of the festival.

Lindsay Kay Zvonar and Matt Malone, Y97.5 radio personalities, served as the emcees for the evening. Zvonar was Miss Coloma 2008.

Judges for the Miss Coloma contest were Gina Abdelnour, Bill Lewis, and Juelz Zwolinski. Judges for the Mr. Coloma contest were Corey Knuth, Ronnie Patrick, and Kimberly Zoschke.

Miss Coloma 2018

Micah Saxe added another royal title to her resume by clinching the 2018 Miss Coloma title.  She was Miss Teen Coloma in 2014.

Saxe, 17, is a senior attending Watervliet High School. She is the daughter of David Saxe and Shelly Morlock.

The new queen 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.

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.

Asked during the final question what she has gained by the pageant experience, Saxe answered that she has gained confidence and three new sisters.

Samantha Fischer was selected as First Runner-up.  The 17-year-old is a senior attending Coloma High School.  She is the daughter of Jason and Jennifer Fischer.

In school, she is involved in band and the varsity singers. She has served as the section leader for the flutes in band.

Fischer volunteers for the book fair, at the North Berrien Senior Center, and Berrien County Animal Control.

Following high school she plans to attend Lake Michigan College to pursue a career in healthcare. She hopes to become a pediatric nurse or doctor while achieving a minor in photo journalism.

Second Runner-up honors were given to Macayla Rodgers.  She is the daughter of Steve and Jaime Fulton.  The 17-year-old junior attends Coloma High School.

In school she is involved in soccer and cheerleading.  Achieving academic excellence, she has been on the honor roll.

Rodgers volunteers for the Leo Club, school sporting events, and at the North Berrien Senior Center.

Following high school, she plans to attend Lake Michigan College to study healthcare.

Selected as Miss Congeniality was Mallory Spaulding; the 18-year-old senior attends Coloma High School.  She is the daughter of Jason and Tracy Spaulding.

Spaulding is a member of the National Honor Society and serves as the class treasurer.  She is the secretary of the Student Council and is a color guard member of the Coloma High School Marching Band.

She plans to attend college to achieve her dream of becoming a registered nurse in an emergency room.

For their sales experience the contestants sold buttons, happy ads, business ads, and tickets. Those that sold the most were honored and were as follows: Spaulding for buttons and tickets; Rodgers for happy ads; and Saxe for business ads.  Rodgers also won an award for Best Memory Board.

Mr. Coloma 2018

 Derek Plitt was crowned Mr. Coloma.  The 17-year-old is a senior at Coloma High School.  He is the son of Dave and Betty Plitt.

Throughout his high school years he has participated in track, soccer, football, marching band, concert band, National Honor Society, and the Academic Challenge team.

He has earned an academic letter for all four years of high school.  He was named All-Conference and All-State for his performance on the track team and was named Honorable Mention All-Conference and All-District for soccer.

Plitt plans to attend Adrian College where he will study exercise science/ athletic training and run track.

For his on-stage question, Plitt said the one wish he had was to make college more accessible to those who cannot afford it.

Robbie Schroeder was named First Runner-up.  He is the son of Rob Schroeder and Laura Price.  The 17-year-old senior attends Coloma High School.

He participates in football, basketball, and baseball and has received honors in football.  He is the captain of the basketball team and has attended the Western Michigan University Leadership Conference and the SAC Leadership Conference.

Following high school he plans to attend college to study engineering. He hopes to become a sales engineer.

Selected as Second Runner-up was Matthew Davis, however following the contest, he withdrew. As a result, Ryley Watson was named the Second Runner-up.

Watson is a senior attending Coloma High School.  He is the son of Andy and Mindy Watson.

In school, he is involved in football, wrestling, marching band, concert band, jazz band, Academic Challenge and with the Robotics Team.

He plans to attend Lake Michigan College upon graduation to study engineering.

Adam Hearn was named Mr. Nice Guy to round out the court.  Hearn, 17, is the son of Ty Hearn and Jeanne Hiler. He is a senior attending Coloma High School.

He has participated in football, baseball, and track.  He has earned his varsity letter in all of those sports.

Following high school, Hearn plans to attend Lake Michigan College to pursue a degree in law enforcement.

William Church was also a contestant.

Community Award

 The Coloma Community Pageant Organization (CCPO) honored the FOP Lodge #147 for their continued support of the organization.  They are host to the many meetings and practices of the organization.

 

Coloma Township Officer becomes accident victim on “Death Trap” highway

 The word was being spread last Wednesday on social media and radio to stay off of I-94 due to the treacherous conditions. The frigid temperatures and ongoing snowfall had made roads difficult to travel on despite the continuous efforts of road crews to keep them clear and dry. That difficult travel became dangerous when a police officer responded to an accident and became the crash victim.

PATROL CAR DAMAGED… This Coloma Township Police vehicle shows the damage of being struck by a semi on I-94 last week. Patrolman Wes Smi-gielski sustained injuries and was treated and released from Lakeland Hospital following the accident. Smigielski was parked off the roadway and was doing paperwork related to another accident when he was struck from a semi going too fast for conditions.

Coloma Township Police Officer Wes Smigielski responded to an accident on I-94 at 10:44 a.m. He was in his vehicle, which was off the roadway, completing paperwork associated with the accident.

He recalls seeing the glimpse of semi trailers going by his vehicle and the accident site at a high rate of speed.  It was only a matter of time, and one semi, estimated at 65 miles per hour, began to jack knife. Without any control, the semi plowed into Smigielski’s police cruiser and hit the other vehicle there as well.

Smigielski stated that most every officer he knows refers to I-94 as a death trap and has a general fear of responding to that area.  “People just don’t pay attention and we are out there trying to help people,” Smigielski said.

Following the impact the semi truck and trailer ended up in the median and into the barrier cables and wires. Smigielski can’t stress enough that people need to slow down especially when the conditions are not favorable for safe driving.

Smigielski was transported to Lakeland Hospital where he was treated and released. He was able to return to work on Monday, January 8.  He considers himself lucky. “I could have lost my life and for what, because someone was in a hurry,” Smigielski said.  It is a warranted concern that truck drivers are actually rewarded for getting to their destination in record time, something that may even provide encouragement for truck drivers to disregard their safety and others safety in order to save an hour, a minute, or even a second.

The Berrien County Sheriff Office handled the investigation into the accident involving Smigielski.  The weather pattern of extremely cold temperatures and accumulation kept many public service agencies busy for multiple days in a row.  Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Robert Boyce said that between the dates of December 25 – January 8, their department responded to 18 traffic collisions and nine motorist assists in Watervliet Township alone.

Hartford man causes police standoff

A Hartford man brandishing a weapon came to an auto mechanic shop in Hartford Township last Wednesday resulting in a day long standoff.

Frank Cotman, 27, allegedly drove to the auto mechanic shop and threatened an employee at the shop. The employee was able to get away. Cotman left the shop and returned to his residence in the 47000 block of County Road 687.  He did not, however, get out of the vehicle and engaged officers in a chase. After the chase he returned to his home where police worked the situation.

Cotman was arraigned on Thursday on charges of felonious assault, fleeing/ alluding police, assaulting/ resisting/ carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent; and possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle.

The Berrien County SWAT team and Pokagon Band of Tribal Police assisted.

Watervliet Police make warrant arrest

Watervliet Police Officer Kusmierski, while on patrol, made a traffic stop on North Main St. It was determined that the passenger of the car had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant out of the Coloma Township Police Department.

The 28-year-old male from Watervliet was unable to post bond and remains lodged at the Berrien County Jail.

Watervliet Police arrest

Watervliet Police Officer Horton, while on patrol made a traffic stop of a pickup at S. Main St. and Summit. The driver was found to have a suspended drivers license. Upon questioning the driver admitted to having a loaded gun in the vehicle, further investigation determined that the gun was found to be from a residential burglary.

The driver was arrested and was held.

Winter reminders for emergency services personnel

Watervliet Fire Chief Dan Jones would like to remind residents to keep their driveways and walkways clear in the case that emergency personnel must pay a visit to their homes.

Chief Dan Jones said there is a documented increase in incidents of fires as the temperatures drop and residents augment staying warm with alternative heat sources.

In this type of winter weather, most people are concerned about their ability to get in and out of their driveways and garages. Few give a second thought to the secondary means to egress.

With that increase in fires in mind it’s important to remember to take the time to assure that your back door or whatever your alternative escape route may be is dug out and not frozen shut. “You never know when your front door will be impassible,” Jones said.

Jones encourages everyone after assuring their own safety, to take a look around the neighborhood, especially homes with mobility issues or the elderly present.  Mobile homes are especially at risk as often times their rear door has no overhead protection and is vulnerable to freezing.

If residents have questions about any safety issues, they should reach out to their local fire department for assistance.