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Contractor flies into win

Bill Ketchum holds coveted Mirror Ball Trophy and hugs professional dance partner Chloe Elstone after being named champion of the 2017 Dancing with the Gorge Stars competition Friday. Other contestants gather around to congratulate him following the show, which drew a large audience. The event was a fundraiser for the Mid-Columbia Community Concert Association.

Photo by RaeLynn Ricarte
Bill Ketchum holds coveted Mirror Ball Trophy and hugs professional dance partner Chloe Elstone after being named champion of the 2017 Dancing with the Gorge Stars competition Friday. Other contestants gather around to congratulate him following the show, which drew a large audience. The event was a fundraiser for the Mid-Columbia Community Concert Association.



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Wayne Schaffeld, left, and his partner Marina Hattan captured second place for their lively swing dance.

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Molly Polehn Ott, above, and her partner Chris Rogowski, also scored high for their energetic cha-cha.

Bill Ketchum landed a victory at Friday’s Dancing with the Gorge Stars competition by wearing his father’s United Airlines pilot uniform and soaring to the song “Come Fly with Me.”

Ketchum, operations manager for Crestline Construction, and his professional dance partner, Chloe Elstone, executed a fox trot that garnered a near-perfect score from judges Gene Parker, Steve Hudson and Addie Case.

In addition, a sizeable segment of the 400-member audience cast their ballots for the pair, or bought them points.

The annual event was a fundraiser for the Mid-Columbia Community Concert Association, which uses the revenue to bring music and dance in varied genres to the region.

“Holy Toledo, what a crowd,” said Patti Blagg, vice-president of the charitable organization that organized the event as she greeted the crowd.

Despite frigid weather and a looming winter storm, the show was as well-attended as last year’s, which raised about $10,000 for MCCCA’s mission.

Ketchum was one of six local contestants who spent a week learning moves from members of the Utah Ballroom Dance Company. Also taking the stage were: Molly Polehn Ott, owner of Riverenza Café, who directs packing at Polehn Farms; Wayne Schaffeld, an auto glazier in The Dalles and salesman for Schaeffer Manufacturing; Greg Johnson, co-owner of Renken Farms and a middle school science teacher at St. Mary’s Academy; Rena Hunley, retired real estate broker/owner; and Sherry DuFault, who sells designer jewelry and serves as president of The Dalles Rotary Club and on the chamber board.

Dance styles ranged from cha-cha to swing, tango, disco and the Nightclub Two Step.

“They worked harder for this than they did on their New Year’s resolutions,” quipped Alex Galvan, master of ceremonies and company manager for the professional team.

He said the troupe had, once again, enjoyed their visit to the “tundra” of The Dalles and the enthusiasm of local dancers, who learned their routines in less than a week.

“Someone’s life will be etched in history as the Dancing with the Gorge Stars champion,” said Galvan.

He asked Kim Koch, principal of St. Mary’s Academy, how winning the Mirror Ball Trophy in 2016 had changed her life. She said much of her time this past year had been spent signing autographs, giving media interviews and taking “selfies.”

Her advice to the contestants: “Dance your socks off and have lots of fun.”

Although he managed to keep his socks on, Schaffeld had a wardrobe malfunction when the seam of his pants split during a swing routine. He said later that, luckily, he was wearing underclothing that kept the event family friendly.

Galvan said The Dalles was the 11th of 63 stops for the dance company during a seven-month tour.



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