Songwriter Sheryl Crow to help build Kennett pool

Monday, September 29, 2003

Daily Dunklin Democrat

KENNETT, Mo. -- Nine-time Grammy winner Sheryl Crow has announced plans to assist in building a municipal swimming pool in her Southeast Missouri hometown.

Plans call for the pool to be built on the former Barton's property along the 200 block of South Main Street, just south of the city's square.

"I grew up really enjoying that part of my childhood," said Crow, "being able to go and swim in the city pool and being able to be a part of the swim team. I was disappointed to see the various ballot proposals meet with defeat over the past few years, both because the concepts were good and because a lot of people donated their time to trying to help the community. I hated to see the idea just disappear."

Crow mentioned the idea to one of her father's law partners, Matt Shetley, who also serves as president of the Kennett Chamber of Commerce. Shetley and Chamber of Commerce director Jan McElwrath set into motion an idea that would not only provide for a public pool, but also create a catalyst for downtown revitalization.

The singer-songwriter, who visits her hometown regularly, said that the location of the center in the heart of what was once a thriving business community could bring new life to the city square. Not only will the facility and the traffic it generates provide an incentive for property owners to make improvements to their businesses, she said, but it will hopefully attract new stores and restaurants.

Keith and Brian Mitchell, who currently own the land on which the facility will be built, immediately agreed to donate the property for the cause.

"When this idea was first mentioned, I was overwhelmed that any native of Kennett would do such a great thing that would help the city and the surrounding area," said Keith Mitchell, who, along with son Brian, operates a pharmacy on the city square. "Maybe this will instill in other people to do just a small something for this wonderful city."

While the project has not progressed to the point of formally contracting for a design, McElwrath envisions a facility that could start off on a more conservative scale, allowing for expansion as other monies become available. The chamber will coordinate the project development.

"It is important to note, though," she added, "that this facility, in whatever form it takes, will be built through private donations and hopefully some matching economic development funds."

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