Sheryl Crow Aquatic Center

Kennett, Missouri hasn’t had a public swimming pool since they demolished the ancient, aboveground monster that people my age grew up with. But thanks to the generosity of hometown-girl-turned-superstar Sheryl Crow (and others), they now have the Sheryl Crow Aquatic Center. The nine-time Grammy winner came to take part in the dedication ceremonies on Saturday and Barb and I were there for the big splash.

I don’t know Sheryl Crow (I don’t know any big stars) but she seems like one very classy, very smart, very down-to-earth lady. She still sees herself as a Kennett girl. That’s home. And she’s concerned that the little town has fallen upon hard times, economically. So she wrote ’em a check for a million bucks to build a municipal swimming pool just off the downtown “square.” Which is slowly dying. Some would say dead.

But Ms. Crow is giving more than her money to help revitalize the town. She’s giving her time and her name and a little of her wonderful talent. She performed a few songs with a local band, The Usual Suspects. Her daddy, Wendell, plays guitar in the band when he’s not lawyer’ing.

I’m terrible at estimating crowds because I avoid them like the plague, but I’d guess there were three or four hundred [The DDD reports 4,000] folks on hand and it was a beautiful morning. I got to see a lot of old friends, many of whom I had not seen in 20 years. I took a bunch of photos while Barb manned the camcorder. We’ll get some video posted as soon as I have time to edit.

Following the performance, Sheryl held a little pool-side news conference [5 min] for the half dozen TV and radio stations on hand.

AUDIO: News conference 5 min MP3

(Rumor: A crew from ABC’s 20/20 was following Sheryl around for some upcoming segment) When no one could come up with a coherent question, Sheryl took over and explained why she got involved in the project. Not sure if you’ll be able to hear it, but I thought the best question came from Barb, who wanted to know Sheryl’s best stroke when she was on the high school swim team (breast stroke).

I don’t know that a new swimming pool will save my old home town but I’m proud of all those folks for trying.

Special thanks to Kennett correspondent Charles Jolliff for link to photos of Kennett’s old municipal pool. UPI Super Photog Bill Greenblatt for the photo above and others. And Jan McElwrath and Randy Morgan with the Kennett Chamber of Commerce for organizing a great a event making us feel so welcome.

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