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May 8, 2014

‘Pool’ing Together

2nd graders making waves with petition

VANOVER RIDGE — What began as a class project is turning into a social crusade for one local girl.

    Chloe Keith, 7, is a second grader in Mrs. Phoebe Wilson’s class at Whitley City Elementary School. Recently the class was asked to create a petition as a way of learning how government works. According to Wilson, the students voted to focus on getting a public pool.

    “Thirty years ago we had two pools in the county,” Wilson said, referring to the old county park and Stearns Golf Course. “I guess our kids at Whitley Elementary are not happy about it.”

    Last Wednesday, the class toured the McCreary County Courthouse and five of the 18 students presented their petitions — representing nearly 95 signatures — to Judge-Executive Doug Stephens.

    “We talked to them about the importance of citizens getting involved,” Stephens said. “It’s great for them to see the process.”

    Each hand-written petition reads: “I feel it is very important that every child learn to swim. Please sign my petition for a county swimming pool. It could be paid for with our tax dollars.”

    The logical place to build a public pool would be at the new county park. While included in the park’s original design, the projected expense has prohibited county officials from pursuing a pool thus far.

    But Chloe Keith isn’t ready to give up. Part of a water-loving family with a pool in their backyard, the petition project got Chloe excited about all McCreary County children having a place to swim. With the help of her mother and grandmother, she is trying to get countywide support for a public pool.

    “Chloe loves to swim,” grandmother Georgia Keith said, adding that she started at age two. “She just jumped right in and learned.”

     Aside from bad weather days, she’s already been swimming for about a month.

    The Keiths started with putting copies of the petition in their neighborhood stores, Ron’s Market and M&L Mini Mart, but they would like to expand to other communities as well. They are also using Facebook to get the word out. Chloe’s mother, Heather Keith, estimates they have more than 100 signatures so far.

    Chloe will also have the opportunity to share her message this coming Monday on the Truth or Politics show, which is broadcast at 6 p.m. from the McCreary County Park.

    “The support from the community has been wonderful,” Heather said. “It’d be something wonderful for the county.”

    Wilson agrees.

    “I was just teaching a class,” she said. “I never dreamed it would turn into this but I think it’s great. By Golly, we deserve a pool!”

    The question now is: Can one class inspire the county to pull together to get one?

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Brandi S. Stephens

Brandi S. Stephens

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