This article by Ray Kisonas was printed in the Aug. 13, 2008 edition of The Monroe Evening News. These photos also are from our newspaper’s archives:
After years of competing in pageants, all the hard work paid off for Elizabeth Ann Wertenberger who was crowned Miss Monroe County Saturday night.
Out of a field of nine contestants, Miss Wertenberger, 19, of Dundee was chosen to represent the county in next year’s Miss Michigan pageant.
“It’s a dream come true,” she said moments after receiving her crown from Rachel McCleery, Miss Monroe County 2007. “I was just hoping to place.”
First runner-up went to Brittany Rose Jenkins of Monroe, who competed in her first-ever pageant, which was held in a packed Meyer Theater on the campus of Monroe County Community College.
Wearing a shrimp-colored sheath dress adorned with shimmering rhinestones, Brittany said back stage before the evening wear competition that she was calm and enjoying herself.
“It’s been so exciting,” she said before knowing that she would take first runner-up. “I definitely learned a lot.”
As the winner, Miss Wertenberger earned a $5,000 college scholarship. It was her second effort at Miss Monroe County after years of competing in other pageants ever since she was a little girl.
“I grew up in this organization,” she said, her face beaming. “All the experience has helped.”
Second runner-up was Natalie Louise Masserant, 20, of Newport; third runner-up went to Rachel Patricia Marlman, 19, of Monroe, and fourth runner-up was Tara Susanne Hubbard, 19, of Monroe.
During the 2½-hour competition, the audience was loud and boisterous as shouts of support filled the theater. But back stage, the young women were calm and enjoying the moment.
This was the second Miss Monroe County pageant for Rachel Marlman. She said she was thrilled to be involved with the scholarship competition and having gone through it before helped her prepare.
Before the winners were announced, Rachel said she was pleased with her performance.
“I did the best I could possibly have done,” she said. “I’m very, very happy.”
Although the contestant field was somewhat smaller than years past, Kaye Lani Rafko Wilson, who helped emcee the event, said there was no lack of effort.
“They are just an amazing group of young women,” she said. “They all worked very, very hard. They do so much and give so much back to the community.”
Emcee Dr. David E. Nixon, MCCC president, said he was excited for the group and was thrilled with the show.
“This is tremendous,” he said. “Monroe County has so much talent. This is a great way to show off that talent.”
Contestants were judged on their private interview, talent, evening wear, swimsuit and on-stage question.
Miss Wertenberger, the daughter of Bruce and MaryAnn Wertenberger, chose as her platform Volunteerism — Closing the Gap: Youth and Senior Citizen Interaction.
Wearing an aqua-colored, off-shoulder brushed taffeta gown, she was swarmed with congratulatory hugs after the announcement when the curtain dropped. Her father stood nearby, relieved and happy at the same time.
“I’m very proud of her,” he said. “She’s been doing this for 10 years.”