In these difficult economic times, it is refreshing to see small businesses succeeding and the owners enjoying their work.
Case in point. I talked to two happy business owners last Sunday night at the Parkersburg Country Club: Gel Tracewell and Chris Wilson.
Tracewell, owner of Gel's Dance Centre, put on a swimming pool party for her 75 competitive dancers and their parents from 7-10 p.m. Attendees enjoyed the food, games, music and friendships.
Helping to bring excitement to Sunday's pool party was Wilson of Parkersburg, co-owner of Premier Productions LLC with Mike Bishman.
Tracewell of Vienna started teaching at the former Kelly's School of Dance in 1983 and bought the growing business from Kelly Coulson in 2006. Gel's has dance centers in Vienna, Marietta, Harrisville and West Union that offer jazz, lyrical ballet, hip hop, tap and preschool classes to 375 students.
Katrina Ray, a recent graduate of Ohio Valley University with a degree in accounting, is directing Gel's newest dance studio in Doddridge County, which opened in January. Ray said she has been dancing since she was 3 years old.
"It's rewarding to see how the kids grow and develop as dancers," Ray said.
Tracewell started dancing when she was 6 years old and still has a passion for dance. She said she not only enjoys teaching dance to youngsters but also life lessons, such as striving to be the best you can and getting along with others.
"I do it for the kids," Tracewell said.
Wilson said he recently quit a full-time job to devote his full attention to Premier Productions, an entertainment company that brings music, games, dance, photo booths and other elements to dances, parties, company picnics and weddings, besides renting sound and video equipment.
Wilson, who had worked in banking, said his company "is not a jukebox for hire. We are entertainers that use music as a medium."
Bookings are strong for the rest of this year and requests for wedding entertainment are arriving for next year, according to Wilson.
"We are passionate about what we do," Wilson said. "We don't do it just for the money."
As the economy rebounds, Tracewell expects to see more children enter her dance centers.
The second annual West Virginia University tailgate party to raise money for a low-cost spay/neuter clinic in Parkersburg will be 5-11 p.m. Aug. 25 at Dils Riverfront Park in Vienna. The SPOT (Stop Pet Overpopulation Today) Committee will be offering a reverse drawing, dinner, beverages, disc jockey, live auction of WVU items and other merchandise and a 50/50 drawing. The benefit needs sponsors and items for the live and silent auctions. Contact Karen Katchur, SPOT Committee chair and event organizer, if you can help. Tickets will be available at the Humane Society of Parkersburg shelter. SPOT has raised nearly $300,000 and may need about $100,000 more to open a clinic, officials said.
Excitement is building for the Parkersburg High School multi-class reunion from 7-11:30 p.m. July 21 at Worthington Golf Club. Admission covers a buffet, entertainment and beverages. The reunion has a golf scramble at Worthington at 9 a.m. Proceeds will benefit a PHS graduate who is battling cancer or another disease, said Steve Mullen of Lynchburg, Va., from the Class of 1981.
Contact Paul LaPann at firstname.lastname@example.org