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Miss Colo. Pageant Directors Leave

November 3, 1998

DENVER (AP) _ Ugly battles between the Miss Colorado organization and its beauty queens has caused the departure of its board of directors.

A statement released by the board Monday said its directors had decided not to reapply for the Miss Colorado franchise ``and the Miss America Organization has honored this request.″

But reigning Miss Colorado Keely Gaston said they were fired.

``It makes me so angry when people can’t belly up to the bar and accept responsibility,″ Miss Gaston said.

The departing directors said they were weary of the adverse publicity. Last year, they unsuccessfully tried to dethrone 1997 Miss Colorado Regina Flores. Then, her successor, Miss Gaston, accused the pageant of failing to support her. Allegations of financial mismanagement also surfaced.

``I didn’t want to continue hitting my head against the wall,″ said Debbie Helfrich, a leader of the outgoing board.

But Miss Gaston and Miss Flores said the board was ousted by the Miss America program, which also was tired of the controversy. The group could not be reached for comment.

The troubles began last December when the directors abruptly fired Miss Flores, the first Hispanic Miss Colorado, accusing her of violating her contract by taking a temporary job without permission. It ordered her to return her crown, jewelry, car and Miss Colorado clothes.

But Miss Flores argued in court that she was forced her to give up her education and employment for a year, then given nothing to do by the pageant.

She won in arbitration court just in time to crown Miss Gaston.

Miss Flores called the board’s departure ``too little, too late.″

``But it’s the only way the franchise can get back on its feet,″ she added.

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