Ohio Valley natives are pageant winners

Two Ohio Valley natives took the crown at the 70th Annual Miss West Virginia Pageant held Tuesday at Fairmont State University.

Moundsville native Paige Madden took the Miss West Virginia crown and will represent the state in the Miss America Pageant in September in Atlantic City, N.J.

Back home, many people who know Madden are overwhelmed with pride after Tuesday’s announcement.

“We are so excited, we can’t even stand it,” Roger Blake, Madden’s grandfather, said. “She’s just an outstanding young lady. She’s the ideal of what you want in a granddaughter. She’s just the kind of girl you’re proud of whether she’s Miss West Virginia or not.”

Blake, a Moundsville resident, said Madden has loved to sing ever since she was a little girl and had a lead role in the musical “Annie” when she was only 10 years old.

According to Tiffany Turner, director of programming at The Strand Theatre in Moundsville, Madden has starred in Strand productions for many years and continues to impress people with her stage presence and poise.

“Paige is one of the most poised, graceful young ladies I’ve ever met,” Turner said. “She’s down-to-earth, friendly and extremely compassionate. She’s extremely talented. We all believed she could do it. We are so shocked that it’s finally happened, because this is a dream come true for her. It feels good to say you saw her back when she was a child and saw that star potential.”

Madden attended John Marshall High School and is studying journalism at West Virginia University.

Wheeling Park High School senior June Braunlich, daughter of Jamie and Fritz Braunlich of Wheeling, won Miss West Virginia’s Outstanding Teen and will go on to compete at the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant in July in Orlando, Fla.

Jamie Braunlich described her daughter as vivacious with a charismatic personality who is a friend to everyone she meets.

“June just lives life to the fullest,” Jamie Braunlich said. “She’s confident, but humble and always interested in helping others. She really does see beyond herself. She wasn’t just focused on herself and winning at the pageant, but helping and encouraging other girls. My husband and I were reflecting on how proud we are of her for relating to other people and having more than herself in mind.”

Jamie Braunlich said June has been playing piano since she was 5 years old and now teaches piano lessons to students of all ages from her home. She said June is also very passionate about her platform Operation Military Awareness since June was born in an active duty military family who frequently moved.

“June is very aware of the challenges military families face,” Jamie Braunlich said.

June Braunlich plans to attend college next year to pursue a degree in orthopedic surgery.