10/02/06 — Telethon hunts for Wayne's next 'Idol'

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Telethon hunts for Wayne's next 'Idol'

By Lee Williams
Published in News on October 2, 2006 1:53 PM

If you've been bitten by the "American Idol" love bug and you love talent shows then you won't want to miss the first ever singing contest featuring 25 homegrown musicians.

The fundraising event sponsored by Goldsboro-Wayne Crime Stoppers will present Wayne County's own version of American Idol entitled "Wayne's Most Talented," at 7 p.m. Oct. 19 at Wayne Community College. The event will be held at the college's 400-seat auditorium, said Sgt. Dot Ardes, Crime Stoppers law enforcement coordinator.

Auditions for the contest were held Sept. 9 at the auditorium. Musicians from Wayne County and other neighboring counties were invited to participate. More than 27 musicians both young and old turned out for auditions, but only 25 made the cut, Sgt. Ardes said.

She said she was surprised by what she saw at the audition. The final show will be something Wayne County residents won't want to miss, she added.

"I was shocked," Ardes said. "I didn't realize we had so much talent in Wayne County."

Participants range in age from 15 to 71. When the 71-year-old participant took center stage, Sgt. Ardes said she didn't know what to expect, but once he started to perform, the audience jumped to its feet. The audience sang and clapped right along with him.

During past fundraisers, Crime Stoppers recorded music videos featuring local residents. Citizens pledged $25 to request their favorite video that would be played during the telethon. The singer's video that received the most votes would get an Oscaresque trophy. But this year, the Crime Stoppers executive board decided to try something new, Sgt. Ardes said. Enter the "American Idol" theme

"We will have a live performance of those 25 on Oct. 19 at Wayne Community College's auditorium," she said. "The audience will vote and 20 (contestants) will go on to the telethon.

Residents who come to watch the live performances will help narrow the list of contestants to 20.

"We want people to come to the performance," she said. "It's $5. It buys you one vote and then you get a say on who goes to the telethon."

The Crime Stoppers telethon will be 1 to 11 p.m. Nov. 11 and 1 to 7 p.m. Nov. 12. The telethon will be held at Parker Advertising on Ash and Claiborne streets and the telethon will be broadcast on Time Warner Cable's local public access channel on Channel 10.

Auditions and live performances will be compiled on a DVD. All 20 performances will be played during the telethon. Viewers can call in during the telethon and request the live performance of their favorite singer by making a pledge.

A pledge of $10 will buy one vote. A pledge of $25 will buy three votes. A pledge of $50 will buy three votes and a DVD copy of the performances and a pledge of $100 will buy four votes and a DVD copy of the performances, Ardes said.

The votes will be tallied at the end of the telethon, and the winner will receive $1,000 cash and a half-day recording session, Sgt. Ardes said.

"The $1,000 is coming from an anonymous donor," she said. "It's not coming out of Crime Stoppers money."

The telethon will feature fundraising pleas from the who's who of Wayne County. Residents are encouraged to stop by Parker Advertising during the telethon and put money in the famous fundraising fish bowl. Children are welcome, too, she said.

Sgt. Ardes and the rest of the Crime Stoppers crew are hopeful that local residents will open up their hearts and their wallets to help make this year's fundraiser a success. While they haven't announced a fundraising goal, she said she is hopeful the proceeds raised will top their record fundraising total of $43,000.

Last year, the group raised $30,000. Sgt. Ardes attributed the shortage to ongoing Hurricane Katrina relief efforts and rising gas prices that put a major dent in many people's wallets.

She said Crime Stoppers has had a positive impact on the community.

As of Aug. 31, Crime Stoppers has helped Wayne County law enforcement officials solve 7,153 cases since its inception in 1982. Calls led to 5,493 arrests, the recovery of $1,949,664 in stolen property, the seizure of $9,876,253 in property and drugs, the apprehension of 1,184 fugitives, the recovery of 73 weapons and the conviction rate of those arrested remains at 99 percent, Ardes said.

Goldsboro-Wayne Crime Stoppers pays $1,000 cash to residents who provide information that leads to a felony arrest. The residents can remain anonymous. That's why their fundraising campaign is critical because it keeps the program alive, she added.

"What people need to understand is all the money we pay is donated," she said. "We are a non-profit organization. People calling Crime Stoppers is very important, but we have to be able to pay them as well. There are a lot of reasons why people call Crime Stoppers, but you can't ignore that money is one of them."

Crime Stoppers tips have helped collar a bevy of criminals, officials said.

Crime Stoppers tips aided in the arrests and recent convictions of three Southern Wayne High School students who fatally shot Billy Joe "B.J." Gregory of Dudley during a drug-related robbery Oct. 15, 2004.

Michael Omar Mozingo, 19, Donavan Ray Lofton, 19, and James Marquis Bowden, 18, all of Wayne County, were convicted in connection with Gregory's murder Sept. 7.

"Billy Joe Gregory's case was definitely cracked by a Crime Stopper tip," Sgt. Ardes said. "The three suspects arrested were not being looked at at all until we received Crime Stopper information."

Crime Stoppers is particularly attractive to minorities who often fear retaliation if they "snitch" or tell on those who committed a crime, she said.

"They don't have to be a snitch, they don't have to worry about retaliation, they don't have to go to court," Sgt. Ardes said. "I like to tell people crime doesn't pay, but Crime Stoppers does."