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July 15, 2014 • Headlines

Fishing restrictions are lifted at Milan Lake as the water is lowered for future dam repairs.
The girls pose in their evening gowns. From left are Carly Buchanan, Savannah Kern,
Emily Cumberworth, Kendra Franklin, Kiersten Abel, Marisa Combs, Andrea Grossman, and Rachel Bush.

The contestants did an opening dance number and wore vintage style Hollywood outfits.
Front from left, Kendra Franklin, Emily Cumberworth, and Savannah Kern.

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South Ripley senior takes honors
Miss Ripley County Queen crowned

Mary Mattingly

Ashley Moore

Pictured left, Ashley Moore is crowned by 2013 Ripley County Queen Katie Huffman Sunday at the 56th annual pageant.

Ashley Moore likes the stage, and it shows. With a strong stage presence and a smile that never quit, the South Ripley senior was named 2014 Miss Ripley County Queen Sunday night. Moore, 17, said she tried to keep smiling when her name was called, despite wanting to cry tears of joy. “I love being on stage,” she said afterwards, mentioning being involved in Young Confederates show choir at South Ripley. Her royal court is made up of: first runner up Andrea Grossman, a senior at South Ripley High School; second runner up, Brooke Hartman, a 2014 Batesville High School graduate; third runner up, Erin Moll, a junior at Franklin College; and fourth runner up, Emily Cumberworth, a 2014 South Ripley graduate. Miss Congeniality was Savannah Kern, a Milan High School junior, and is also part of the court. Over 300 friends, family, classmates and supporters packed the Osgood Damm Theater to support the 16 contestants in the 56th annual pageant.

With a red carpet Hollywood theme, the girls appeared on stage in vintage Hollywood dress, dancing to “Jailhouse Rock.” The girls were then showcased in their professional wear, and introduced by emcees Jacob Boles and 2013 Ripley County Queen Katie Huffman. Profiles of the contestants were read as they walked and pivoted on stage, showing the judges their poise and confidence. Andrea Grossman won the professional wear category. The category was worth 25 points. Moore, dressed in a strapless black and sequined gown, won the evening gown portion, also worth 25 points, and Marisa Combs, a senior at Milan High School, won the opening number vintage dress attire.

Ripley County Fair Queen's Court

Pictured right, the queen's 2014 court: Miss Congeniality Savannah Kern, 4th runner up Emily Cumberworth, 2nd runner up Brooke Hartman, 2014 Queen Ashley Moore, 1st runner up Andrea Grossman, and 3rd runner up Erin Moll. The queen and her court will reside over the Ripley County 4-H Fair next week.

The contestants agreed that the most stressful part of the pageant was the questions, onstage and back stage during the judge’s interviews. Dressed in glittering and colorful evening gowns, each girl modeled on stage, and then picked a random question to answer on the spot to the judges and audience. They were coached to repeat the question, answer in complete sentences without words “like or “um.” All 16 did a good job, with no one obviously stumbling for an answer.

As pageant co-coordinator Amanda Kunz explained, the random questions don’t count toward their overall point total, but it’s a good way for the judges to see personality, quick thinking and poise. It’s not always the highest score that dictates who is chosen as queen. It’s ultimately the judges’ discretion for court and queen. The interviews with the judges prior to the stage presentation were worth 50 points.

The first question was to Carly Buchanan, a SRHS senior, and she was asked who possesses more confidence, men or women? She didn’t hesitate and said “Women!” Kendra Franklin, a senior at SRHS, was asked if she had to choose between intelligence and common sense, what would she choose, and she replied, “Common sense” because that’s the sort of thing you need to have for everyday things such as change a tire! Marisa Combs was asked where she would take a foreign teen if they came to visit Ripley County, and she replied, “The fairgrounds” as it represents Indiana and is enjoyable. Erin Moll was asked who she would like to bring back to spend a day with, and she replied, “Elvis! Otherwise my mom would disown me!” And everyone laughed when Grossman was asked what can men learn from women and she replied to ”ask for directions!” Emcee Jacob Boles couldn’t resist, “I resent that answer!” Random drug testing, the necessity of college education, and school issues were also some of the questions asked of the 16.

While the judges, Sara Alford, a former Indiana State Fair queen, Laura Hicks, a student at Northern Kentucky University, and Kelly Gentry, a former Montgomery County queen, went behind stage to tabulate and choose a queen and her court, Huffman chatted onstage with Michaela Grunkemeyer, 2012 Queen, who had crowned Huffman last year, about her experience as queen. She then gave a heart-warming, inspiring speech about her special year, explaining she was very ill when she was onstage a year ago, and the week following at the 4-H fair, and was diagnosed with Lupus. She ended up dropping out of college at Indiana State University after she had lost her hair and developed rashes, joint problems and more. She decided to not let the disease beat her, and encouraged the contestants earlier to embrace their insecurities, as she did. She plans to study at Purdue University and use her past tumultuous year to motivate others. The petite blonde was given a standing ovation, and several wiped tears as she thanked her parents, Scott and Renee Huffman.

It didn’t take the judges too long to determine the winners. Moore, who described herself as outgoing, determined and loyal during her bio that was read out loud, is excited about her upcoming royal duties. “I’m really looking forward to bonding with these girls,” she said, still all smiles. She did let her emotions waver just a bit, when her parents, Christy and Tracy Moore, came onstage to congratulate her, and saw her mom choke up. “I am super proud!” her mom said.
Marisa Combs won the People’s Choice award for raising the most money through the Dazzling for Divas collection. By dollar voting from guests that day, the contestants raised $404 which will be distributed to the local food pantries in the county.

Milan Youth Football League treasurer sentenced

A former treasurer for the Milan Youth Football League was sentenced in Ripley County Superior Court. Margaret J. West, 41, received five years probation and ordered to pay $7,000 in restitution to the league. Initially, she was arrested and charged with 19 counts of theft, all related to her work with the organization from early 2009 to August 2012. She was terminated by the board in 2012.

The charges were classified as Class D felonies, but the negotiated plea reduced it to a lesser offense, a Class A misdemeanor for conversion. She was then charged with five counts.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Ryan King said he was satisfied with the sentence. “Restitution is always the goal,” he said, and felt reducing it from a felony gave her a better chance at employment. So then she could make payments to the nonprofit group. She made a payment within three days of sentencing of $2,500 and will make $150 monthly payments. According to the probation terms, if she misses four payments she will be in violation and probation would be revoked. One-hundred hours of community service was also included in the judgment, but only if she is not fully employed. West is not allowed to be on any other board or fiduciary position at any non profit organization.

League officials discovered inconsistencies in bookkeeping with checks and ATM withdrawals for personal use in 2012, and contacted the state police for an investigation. She was apprehended January 9.

King said he and about three staff members spent a lot of time reviewing the board minutes and documents for the investigation. “We pulled bank records and did in house investigation…It was a more hands-on case than any other investigation I can recall because there were so many outstanding documents.” Because it was a nonprofit, they had to rely on board minutes and bank statements for records. King thanked two football board members, Chris Kelly and Bill Schmitt, for their assistance. “It is an eye-opener on how important it is to document nonprofit board meetings,” King added. “It’s up to the board to be vigilant.” West has had no criminal history.

The Milan Youth Football League has since rebounded, and had 113 players last year, double the numbers from the previous year. Also, the league board currently has two people sign off on all checks.

Pick up this week's edition of the Osgood Journal for the stories below and more local news. Subscribe by clicking the subscribe link or call 812-689-6364.

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