I've got at least 5 different packages en route to me right now, including a couple samples of different potentiometers to try and get this sorted out. its all so much i am really kinda lost.... there seems to be a couple possible solutions as mentioned below, but i need to get them in hand and also go see the plasticare samples to be sure, before i commit to so many more.
On a high note, i found a really great local shop that sells tons of electornics components, that no one else had suggested to date - called JB Saunders in Boulder. it was exactly what i needed and they even had some of the gear i have been seeking and bought online. definitely need to get up there if i decide on what pots to use finally.
Gave up completely on the CTS parts below - no sellers were helpful (i should note that both Arrow and Avnet Electronics, both local Denver distros never even bothered to call back with estimates/quotes), and after going direct to the manufacturer they seemed to give the run around as well, so screw them. another brand will get my business.