By REID TUCKER
The city of Paxton will soon host a pageant open to participants city wide, thus giving local ladies the chance to compete at the Miss National Peanut Festival Pageant for the first time ever.
The decision to allow a pageant in the city’s name came via a unanimous vote of approval by the Paxton Town Council, which convened its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 20. Paxton School employee Marlene Andrews requested that the Council allow the city to hold such a pageant for several reasons, all of them advantageous to either the participants, the town itself or both. Andrews, who has directed the annual school-only pageant for the last five years, said the future Miss Paxton will not only be eligible to compete for the prestigious Miss National Peanut Festival title on, but she will also serve as the city’s representative at local events and those farther afield.
“It would represent our town in the highest regard,” Andrews said. “We’re a very unique little town, but nobody knows that about us unless [they] live here. If we could have a pageant system here then our girls could represent [Paxton] and people would understand why our community is so unique. I think our girls would represent us proudly.”
Competing at “Peanut,” as the pageant is called for short, teaches the girls participating critical public speaking skills and self-sufficiency, while winning the crown means “scholarship money galore,” Andrews said. Furthermore, establishing a pageant system itself will cost the city nothing, with all money needed to host the event being generated by entry fees, sponsorships and fundraisers. For instance, Andrews directed the first annual Relay for Life pageant the previous Saturday, and the event brought in $2,400 for charity alone.
After casting a 4-0 vote (Councilman Charles Cook was not in attendance at the meeting) in support, the Council directed city staff to draft a letter to the National Peanut Festival Pageant organization stating the city’s intent to allow Andrews and other pageant directors to hold a preliminary qualifying-round contest in Paxton’s name.
Andrews said the upcoming beauty competition will be open to female residents or to those attend Paxton School. Contestants for the Miss Paxton title should be between the ages of 17 and 21 and participants at the Little Miss level must be in first grade. All participants will be required to show a notarized proof of residency within the city limits.
No date for the new Miss Paxton pageant was set at the meeting, but details are forthcoming. The Miss National Peanut Festival contest will take place, as always, this fall in Dothan, Ala.
In other Town Council news, Mayor Hayward Thomas announced that a flashing caution light can likely be installed at the intersection of U.S. 331 and County Highway 147. Thomas, who spoke with Florida Department of Transportation officials regarding the project under discussion at the last several Council meetings, said additional approvals were needed before the traffic light could be installed, but he was confident that it will proceed smoothly.
The Council also unanimously approved several other measures in order, including renewing the yearly $8,050 agreement between the city, FDOT and the Walton County ARC for roadside maintenance within the city limits. The board also voted 4-0 in favor of a motion made by Councilman Travis McMillian to renew the contract with Gulf Comm Electric LLC for the maintenance of the city’s emergency generator system. Another unanimous vote went the way of a motion to have the city pay for traveling expenses for the mayor and Council Chairman Bobby Kemp to attend a Northwest Florida League of Cities get-together in Panama City Beach.
Finally, the Council approved the use of miscellaneous expenditures money from within the general operating fund to upgrade water lines on E.M. White road from 1 ¼-inch to 2-inch lines. An exact dollar figure for the project had not been calculated, but the plan was to reimburse the city’s coffers using funds generated from impact fees, which requires designation to a particular public works project. Salary, materials and equipment costs will all be factored in before the funds are transferred from the impact fee account back into the general operating fund.