Stephanie Ariel Williams admits that she was not a "toddler and tiara girl." But that did not stop her from winning the 2010 Miss District of Columbia pageant June 20.

Williams, 23, a lifetime Margate resident who recently completed her second year of medical school at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., will compete in the Miss America pageant on Jan. 15 with another local, Miss New Jersey Ashleigh Udalovas, of Millville.

The second time was the charm for Williams, who finished as first runner-up in last year's Miss District of Columbia contest. Her 2009 entry was her first pageant appearance ever.

"It was always in my plans since I grew up so close to Atlantic City and went to the Miss America parades and preliminaries when I was younger," Williams said. "I always wanted to do it, but I wanted to have a substantial resume first."

Williams' platform is "A Dose of Prevention: Smart Medicine for What Ails America," which encourages preventive health care. Her vocal talent also impressed the judges as she sang "A New Life" from the Broadway musical "Jekyll & Hyde." She plans to sing "This is My Life" by Jordin Sparks at the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas.

"I always wanted to be on Broadway," said Williams, whose parents, Joe and Janice Williams, live in Margate. "I can still remember one of my guidance counselors at Holy Spirit asking me what I wanted to do. And I said I wanted to be a singing obstetrician. And that's sort of what I am becoming."

Williams will take a year off from school to focus on Miss America. She already started mock interview preparation, works out with a personal trainer and is fine-tuning her platform.

"I am putting everything aside right now to focus on Miss America," said Williams, who said she is disappointed that the Miss America pageant is not in Atlantic City anymore. "When they announced that I won, I was so excited. It really is a dream come true."

Helping LBI's K-9s

Marge Remolde realizes how valuable K-9 dogs are for police departments and the communities they protect. So the 72-year-old Long Beach Township resident is making sure the dogs are protected.

Remolde, who splits her time between the Brant Beach section of the township and Media, Pa., remembers loving animals since she earned her first dog - an English springer spaniel - for getting good grades on a second-grade report card.

She has had many dogs over the years, including two black Labrador retrievers named Comet and Donner (Dasher, Dancer and Prancer all died). As a member of the Delaware County Kennel Club in Pennsylvania, she was part of a group that helped police departments and prisons in the Delaware Valley by purchasing bulletproof vests and first-aid kits for various K-9 units.

It made sense for Remolde, who has been coming to Brant Beach since her parents bought the home in 1954, to help police departments in the area where she enjoys her summers.

As a member of the Brant Beach Homeowners Association, Remolde convinced the group to donate a K-9 first-aid kit and oxygen mask to the Long Beach Township Police Department and its German shepherd Diesel. She hopes the donation will be the first of many.

"The K-9s do so much, and people really don't know about it," said Remolde, who retired from the Philadelphia Electric Co. as a customer service manager in 1991. "Once you meet the officers and the dogs, you see the strong connection and camaraderie between them. They are very important in the community."

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Jobs for vets

A Brigantine man starts a company to help his fellow veterans find employment in Monday's Everyone Has a Story.