01/09/11 — Stars get set for county's dance battle

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Stars get set for county's dance battle

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 9, 2011 1:50 AM

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Joanna Helms, of Wayne County Development Alliance, takes a dance lesson from Top Hat Studio instructor Norman Hooker in preparation for the Dancing with Wayne County Stars event.

Twenty-six "stars" from the community have signed on for the "Dancing With Wayne County Stars" spring fundraiser to benefit local education programs, organizers said Friday.

"Right now, we're doing actually quite well," said Dr. Charles Zwerling of Top Hat Studio, executive producer of the upcoming show. "Everyone from Mount Olive and LaGrange to Goldsboro, we tried to get a large generalized selection from the county so it's not just Goldsboro. We have everything from Seymour Johnson to Wayne Community College, some of the major businesses. ....

"We'll have live performances, live music and singing, and try to highlight some of the singers as well as the dancers. Really, it's just going to be an incredible evening."

Zwerling, along with wife, Melissa Zwerling, co-producer and head judge, have spent recent weeks pairing dancers from Top Hat with the amateurs and lining up practice schedules.

"All but maybe three or four of the stars have come into the studio," Zwerling said. "About one-third of them are well into their training."

The roster of local "stars" is made up of 13 men and 13 women.

It includes: Tyler Barwick, president of Mount Olive Chamber of Commerce; Julie Beck, director of student activities at Mount Olive College; Christopher Bitzenhofer, Mount Olive Parks and Recreation director; Will Bland, an attorney with Bland, Heekin, Smith, Strickland and Stanley; Julie Daniels, financial adviser with Sterne Agee and Leach Inc.; DeeDee Doherty, wife of 4th Fighter Wing commander Col. Patrick Doherty; Lori DuBose, membership director at Goldsboro Family Y; Jimmie Ford, former legislator and county commissioner; Jeff Godbey, general manager of Sam's Club; Dr. Anthony Hamm, owner of Hamm Chiropractic; Shirley Harkey, vice president patient services at Wayne Memorial Hospital; Joanna Helms, president of Wayne County Economic Develop-ment Alliance; Brenda Holliday, nurse at Mount Olive Family Medical Center; Joe Huffman, Goldsboro city manager; Debbie Jones, customer service manager at Mt. Olive Pickle Co.; Steve Keen, county commissioner; Tommy King, vice president of Crown Screening; Patti Mitchell, regional employment specialist at Vocational Rehabilitation; Dr. Gina Pittard, physician at Cherry Hospital; John Seegars of Seegars Fence Co.; Curtis Stackhouse, assistant district attorney; Lou Stubbs, teacher at O'Berry Neuro-Medical Treatment Center; Dr. Steve Taylor, superintendent of Wayne County Public Schools; Dr. Michael Willman, eye surgeon with Waynesborough Ophthal-mology; Sue Hood Hill, a teacher at Grantham School; and Dr. Ed Wilson, retired president at Wayne Community College.

"We are thrilled about the list, very excited about the prospect of all the people that we have got involved in this," said Janet Brock of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, which will sponsor the event along with the Wayne Education Network. "They seem excited about it also, and we want to keep that momentum up. We are looking forward to working with everyone and think we will have a great event."

The gala will take place on Saturday evening, March 26, from 6 to 11 p.m. at Walnut Creek Country Club. Tickets are currently on sale, for $100 each, which includes dinner and entitles the bearer to one vote in the contest. They can be purchased at the chamber or from any participant.

The fundraiser is to support Wayne Education Network projects including scholarships for prospective teachers and Wayne County students, the seventh-grade career fair, Junior Leadership program, teacher recruitment and retention efforts, teacher mini-grants and other educational programs.

In addition to ticket sales, advance efforts are centering around drawing monetary support from businesses in the community.

"We have to start selling tickets and advertising for the program and we have opportunities for companies to do sponsorships," explained Dr. Debbie Grady, chairwoman of the event. "My focus will be on selling tickets and selling ads for the next couple of months."

Over the same time frame, participants will be practicing with their Top Hat partners to get ready for not only the actual dance-off, but online voting portion.

"We will have a website available in the next two weeks, for people to go online and vote and look at the stars," Ms. Brock said. "We hope to do video and put it online so people will look at that, too."

Votes supporting favorite performers can be purchased online, as well as the night of the event. Judges at the event will also weigh in with their choice. In addition to Mrs. Zwerling, other judges include retired District Court Judge Joe Setzer and Wayne County District Attorney Branny Vickory.

Zwerling said it promises to be a most enjoyable evening, not only with the debut of the novice dancers but the added entertainment, including a bonus program of singers and international contest winners.

"One of the performing groups I can confirm is Encore Entertainment, a vocal group in Goldsboro that does Broadway-type music," he said.

"The theme I'm trying to get is that each dance that's going to be performed by the stars is going to be like a little production number -- show music, Broadway, things that will be identifiable. Every dance will have like an internal story to it so it will make it a little more interesting."