Ex-Miss Barstow Wears New Crown

From Associated Press

Emily Arnold is royalty once again.

The former Miss Barstow, who relinquished her crown last month after a flap over a senior prank in which she wrote on a California Highway Patrol officer's personal car with chalk, has been named Miss Optimist Barstow.

The newly created title was bestowed by the Optimist Club of Barstow on Thursday. Arnold, 18, received a sash, crown and about $600, said Mal Wessel, the event organizer.

"The room was full. She got a standing ovation," he said. "She was crying."

Last month Arnold admitted using chalk to write the words "not nice" and "mean" on a car belonging to the father of a classmate. That girl's CHP officer father followed Arnold and fellow pranksters, who were arrested by other CHP officers when they returned to the home to apologize.

Prosecutors refused to file vandalism charges, but Arnold apologized for her actions and gave a resignation letter to Miss Barstow pageant organizers. The controversy put the small San Bernardino County town on the national radar.

Some Optimists and their friends decided to do something for the teenager after seeing how she conducted herself, said Wessel, a former Barstow mayor.

"We wanted to say thank you to a young lady for handling herself well in the face of adversity," he said.

"She lost her crown and she lost her sash [but] she had handled herself like a real lady," he said, and during talk show appearances, "she has always said Barstow's a great place to live."

"She fits the Optimist creed," Wessel said. "You learn by your mistakes and you never look back."

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