The dance charity, patterned after the television show on ABC and related versions in other countries, helps to fund the Putnam County Youth Development Commission (PCYDC). Linda Merkel, the executive director of the PCYDC, said that she's been trying to get as many contestants for the event as possible.
"I've been one of those people that have been calling on you Putnam County Stars begging you to participate," Merkel said to the assembled participants. "Begging is probably not a great word, but basically I've been begging."
Merkel's lighthearted tone carried throughout the meeting. Jason Sims, one of this year's stars who will be dancing, was mocked in a good-natured way for being a bachelor. Charlene Shrewsbury said that she was one of the people who probably required begging because of her reluctance to dance.
Merkel mentioned that the Dancing With the Stars event will be held at the DePauw University Indoor Tennis & Track center this year.
"The last few years we've been to Dixie Chopper, and it's a fabulous location that has worked wonderfully for us," Merkel said. "However our fundraiser has been so well received that we just have huge waiting lists and we've been so jam-packed and crammed in there that we've had no alternative but to move."
Merkel said that they were expecting somewhere between 500 and 600 people to attend this year's event.
Merkel said the commission helps young people to redirect their lives with programs that teach anger management and altering how aware young people are of themselves and others.
"We're very dependent on grants and government funding," Merkel said. "With the economy so down, our grants and funding had been cut so we need to find an alternative source of funding...That's why we started Dancing with the Stars."
Merkel explained that the area where Dancing With the Putnam County Stars helps the most is with court-mandated programs that the PCYDC is able to provide free.
"All the kids we see are on probation," Merkel said. "Between being on probation and going before Judge Headley, that already costs between $400 to $500, so we feel very blessed to bring these programs to the community free of charge."
Matt Headley, one of the event judges as well as a Putnam County Circuit Court Judge said that he has seen the work the PCYDC does.
"They have about a 50 percent success rate, which is very good for a program like this," Headley said.
The other two judges for the event, Putnam County Senior Judge Diana LaViolette and Putnam County Superior Court Judge Denny Bridges asked people to not take a loss personal.
"It's very hard to come up with these small distinctions," LaViolette said.
Bridges agreed saying that Police Chief Tom Sutherlin still throws verbal jabs at him for not winning.
The dancers in this year's Dancing With the Putnam County Stars include Jamie Barrand, editor of the Banner Graphic, Mary Ann Birt, culinary instructor at Area 30 Career Center, Cindy Hennette, a local dental hygienist, Mary Miller, guidance counselor at Cloverdale Middle School, Natalie Pritchard, the vice president of First National Bank in Cloverdale, Charlene Shrewsbury, a DePauw public safety officer, Brad Hayes, the principal of Fillmore Elementary, Bobby Hopper, the manager of the Greencastle McDonald's and a PCYDC board member, Steve Michael, a sales manager at York GMC, Jeff Rich, who owns Jeff Rich Auction Service in Cloverdale, Jason Sims, the athletic director at North Putnam High School and Ron Spencer, a service manager at Dixie Chopper.
Dancing with the Putnam County Stars will be at the DePauw Track and Tennis Center with Doors opening at 5:45 p.m., April 9. Tickets go on sale Feb. 18 at the Putnam County Youth Development Commission Office at 10 ½ N Jackson St. in Greencastle.