Melanie Alm is as comfortable mucking around with pigs and sheep as she is dressed up and singing before a crowd.
These dual talents - and a commitment to stop gangs - recently helped the 20-year-old win the first-ever Miss Taylorsville pageant.To compete, contestants had the loose requirements to live, work or attend school in the new city's boundaries. But Alm, a fourth-generation Taylorsville resident whose great-grandfather built one of the area's first pioneer homes out of adobe, says she's Taylorsville through and through.
Alm has lived on a farm her whole life, and the property at 898 W. 4800 South is surrounded by homes full of Alm's extended family members. For years, she's raised 4-H project animals there. Now that she's too old for 4-H programs, Alm is passing on her talents to younger cousins.
"I'm real excited," she said. "I've heard people talk about how neat it is to be the first queen for the new city, and I'm really happy for the opportunity."
She's proud of her earthy heritage, but Alm, a customer service representative for Jackson Insurance, said she wanted to show the softer side of herself in the contest with 15 other young women. So she selected "The Rose," a song made popular by Bette Midler, as her demonstration of talent.
This was Alm's fourth pageant. The young women were judged on traditional pageant fodder; for example, she had to model a swimsuit in four-inch heels and answer current-events questions.
Should Rep. Enid Greene, R-Utah, have known more about her finances, they asked? Yes, said Alm. Was it appropriate for Greene to say she wouldn't run again? Yes again, she said.
And who is Theodore Kaczynski? Two months of closely watching local, regional and national news meant Alm knew Kazinski is suspected, although not charged, in a series of bombings attributed to the Una-bomb-er.
During the pageant, the women performed an opening number, a modern-dance-styled routine to the city's song, "Taylorsville-Bennion," written by resident Jeannie Perrington.
Alm will spend much of the next several months in the community and schools giving talks about gang prevention and positive youth programs. She'll attend ribbon cuttings and City Council meeting. During this time, she'll also prepare herself for the Miss Utah pageant, which takes place a year from June.
She looks forward to upcoming months but doesn't necessarily consider herself a "pageant person."
"I've seen a lot of girls who get too involved in the whole pageant scene. They take it way farther than I want to take it."
Taylorsville Mayor LaVelle Prince helped judge the event and said he's excited for the pageant to become a community tradition.
It's refreshing to have a young woman representing the city along with the mayor and council, he said.
He also found it interesting that without knowing it, Alm designed a platform to deal with an issue that a community survey showed is of greatest worry to residents: gang and graffiti prevention.
"To have that be a concern without knowing how the community responded, that shows some insight on her part."