The following article is from The Monroe Evening News archives and was published on Feb. 14, 2008.

Three members of the Miss Monroe County Scholarship Program royalty will be on stage during festivities welcoming Miss America Kristen Haglund back to her home state of Michigan.

A total of 40 local title holders, relatives and volunteers also are among the official delegation to the events.

The public is invited to the Miss America Homecoming Show at 7 p.m Feb. 29 at the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts in Muskegon.

Miss Haglund, along with several current and former Miss America state and local-level winners, will give talent perfomances at this event.

Those performances will include Miss Spirit of the State 2007 Melissa Kaye Cousino (Miss Monroe County 2006) and Miss Michigan’s Little Miss Cassidy B. Nugent (Junior Miss Monroe County 2006).

The program includes the crowning of Gina Valo, who was the first runner-up in the state pageant, as Miss Haglund’s replacement as Miss Michigan.

Tickets are $30. Seating is limited to the first 1,725 people and a sold-out audience is expected.

For tickets, call (800) 585-3737 or (616) 222-4000.

An invitation-only gala dinner to honor Miss America 2008 will be held March 1 at Holiday Inn Muskegon-Harbor in Muskegon.

Kaye Lani Rafko Wilson of Monroe, who served as Miss America 1988, is the mistress of ceremonies for the gala.

Mrs. Wilson, who is executive director of the Miss Monroe County program, was the most recent Miss Michigan title holder to win Miss America before Miss Haglund won her title on Jan. 26.

In addition to Miss Cousino, Miss Nugent and Mrs. Wilson, the Monroe County delegation will include:

• Dione Oerther (co-executive director of Miss Monroe County).

• Jennifer Bellestri (vice president of Miss Monroe County).

• Amber Reau (recording secretary of Miss Monroe County).

• Connie and Randy Cousino (Miss Cousino’s parents).

• Rachel McCleery (Miss Monroe County 2007).

• Mary McCleery (Miss McCleery’s mother).

• Traci Heath (Cassidy’s mother).

• Tara Althaus (Miss Monroe County Outstanding Teen 2007).

• Laurie Althaus (Tara’s mother).

• Kassidy Krimmel (Junior Miss Monroe County 2007).

• Kammy Krimmel (Kassidy’s mother).

• Madison McElvany (Tiny Miss Monroe County 2007).

• Jayme McElvany (Madison’s mother).

• Nichole Hall (first runner-up Miss Monroe County 2007).

Elizabeth Wertenberger (second runner-up Miss Monroe County 2007).

• Maryann Wertenberger (Miss Wertenberger’s mother).

• Shirley Wertenberger (Miss Wertenberger’s grandmother).

• Jordyn Collino (Little Miss Monroe County 2005).

• Christy Collino (Jordyn’s mother).

• Sara VanAken (third runner-up Miss Monroe County Outstanding Teen 2007).

• Tammi VanAken (Sara’s mother).

• Allen Russell (volunteer Miss Monroe County Pageant).

• Heidi Linsenmeyer (volunteer Miss Monnroe County Pageant).

• Kevin Hotary (volunteer Miss Monroe County Pageant).

• Tara Hubbard (contestant for Miss Monroe County 2008)

Additional information about the MIss America homecoming events is available online at or by e-mailing

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