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Junior Miss program Saturday

By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER-Managing editor
The Escambia County Junior Miss contestants will be live and on stage this Saturday at Jefferson Davis Community College beginning at 7 p.m.
The girls will kick off the program with its "Ease on Down the Road" program. Drexel Gilbert, anchor for NBC 15 News at 5 and 6 p.m. will be the emcee for the program. The girls have been practicing long and hard for this year's program and even had their last practice following the July 4 weekend - showing their dedication to the program.
Lynn Robinson is the stage director and choreographer for the program. She is the owner of Robinson School of Dance in Saraland and Jackson, Ala. Robinson has been choreographer of the Miss Mobile College Pageant and she has judged Junior Miss and Young Woman of the Year Programs in Baldwin, Choctaw and Madison counties.
The contestants have several options to win scholarship money through preliminaries-self expression, fitness, spirit, scholastic achievement and presence and composure. The girls have a variety of talents for this year's program ranging from piano to dance routines.
The 2006 ECJM will receive $2,000 in cash tuition sponsored by the ECJM Inc., a $200 cash award from the Brewton Civic League and a gift certificate from Merle Norman Cosmetics.
First alternate will receive a $1,500 tuition scholarship and second alternate will receive a $1,00 scholarship. The five preliminary winners will each receive a $500 tuition scholarship.
America's Junior Miss headquarters announced earlier this year it would shut down the program after financial difficulties arose, the inability to attract a major television network and national sponsors quickly began to drop out.
However, several program coordinators, local and abroad, have been working hard to maintain the Junior Miss program.
He said he believed things would work out to continue with the program in Mobile, but there are other options.
After the national finals, a group of people including current AJM board members, former AJM board presidents, three AJMs and about six state chairmen met to acquire ideas on how to maintain the AJM program.
According to an email from Becky Jo Peterson, California state chairman, members of the current AJM executive committee stated that closing Junior Miss was not a decision they wanted to make, but that the financial status of the organization would have forced the program to go into bankruptcy within the next several months.
She added that some ideas came out of the meeting and a group they have called the "Steering Committee" will make a presentation at the Board meeting on July 12. Several options will be introduced, including the option to move the program to Chattanooga, Tenn., a highly interested city and according to Peterson, there is a lot of support in that area.
However, if Chattanooga is cut out of the equation, Board members will consider several other options including removing the program from television, acquire an operating budget on a much larger state scale, or reorganize the program in a bottom up fashion, which would mean the resources would go to the grassroots of the organization.
The ECJM program originally began as a project with the Jaycees, a civic group, and eventually became incorporated in 1977. Miller, along with Beverly Wade and her husband Paul became the backbone of the program that year. Everyone involved with the program is very excited and is highly anticipating this year's county program.