by Jason W. Selby
Last summer at the Prairie Trails Family Aquatic Center, the pool in Corydon was helped along by beautiful weather and the construction of a new facility in Centerville.
Since Cheri Nessen passed on the torch to Desiré Grismore, a few things have changed in PTFAC’s 12th season, which began May 31.
The weather was not the only advantage on the pool’s side in 2016.
“Last year we had a great year,” Grismore said. “We are an Ellis & Associates facility, which means our lifeguards are Ellis trained. Last year we passed all of our audits when they came and audited our facility.
“We received a gold, which is a very high accomplishment from Ellis. The year before, we received silver.”
The new pool in Corydon opened in 2005. The old, pale-blue version had been around since the 1960s. After 50 years, maintaining an aquatic center is still an important part of a small town’s vitality.
Grismore worked as a lifeguard at the old pool. She graduated from Wayne Community High School in 2002, and she is now the head cheerleading coach at her alma mater, as well as a special education paraprofessional.
After attending Northwest Missouri State University her first two semesters, she received an associate’s degree from Richland College in Dallas, Texas. Grismore stayed with her great-aunt the summer after her freshman year in Maryville, and ended up staying in Texas for six years.
Her home called her back to Iowa. This is Grismore’s second year as head manager of PTFAC.
“When I lifeguarded at the old pool, I loved it,” Grismore said—this past experience was one of the reasons Nessen convinced her to take on the added responsibility. “I work at the school, so I have my summers open. It just made sense.”
Last year, the pool raised their prices for the first time in a decade, by 50 cents per pass.
“In a very long time,” Grismore said of the increase. “This year, we’re changing little things—some prices of family passes, just so it’s not a shellshock to people.
“This year, we got a new umbrella thanks to the tornado. We’ve got new guard umbrellas. It damaged our slide, but Rod Parham, our nice mayor, does fiberglass work, so he fixed that for us free of charge.”
Grismore’s desk is currently overflowing with swimming lesson signup sheets.
“I love seeing the kids,” Grismore said. “The pool’s just been part of my life all my life. It seems natural.
“And it’s something the community needs. Small communities seem to lose a lot of things as the years go by. I don’t want to see them lose their community pool. We serve Seymour during swimming lessons, they bring a bus, and we see a lot of them during the season just coming to swim. And then [we serve] all of the surrounding area.
“Last year, Centerville didn’t have a pool, so we saw a lot of Centerville people. They commented on how vigilant our lifeguards are, thanks to the Ellis training—we continue to train during the year—how nice our facility is, we really try to keep it clean and functioning really nicely.”
Even though Centerville’s new pool is now open, Corydon still sees the same families coming back from Appanoose County.
“Our concession stand is really well-run,” Grismore said. “Jocelyn Roe is our concession manager. We have a good variety—it’s come a long way since the old pool days of Laffy Taffy and Chick-O-Sticks. You can pretty much get a meal.
“Our heater—we like to keep the water nice so our kids aren’t turning blue. That’s a very nice thing.
“We offer tennis rackets for the kids to play during breaks.
“I hope we have a nice swim season. Last year was a great summer for the pool—it was hot, it was sunny, there wasn’t a lot of rain.”
It was a welcome departure from the Floods of 2015.
For more information, please see Prairie Trails Family Aquatic Center’s Facebook page, or call the pool at 641-872-2322.
“Or they can call here in the mornings,” Grismore said. “We always have an announcement [on voicemail] of what day it is and what our opening times are.
“We’re going to start lap swim next week. Anybody can come between noon and 1 p.m. and swim laps, and it’s two dollars.
“We’re going to start water aerobics the next week. It’s usually women, but it could be anybody. We have inflatable weights—it’s nice for people who have joint issues. Slow impact—it’s nice to just get some strength back.”
Water aerobics is renowned as a safe way to recover and rehabilitate from injury. The classes are on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. for two dollars a session.
The pool also helps local athletes with cardiovascular training.
“We try to help out,” Grismore said. “The sports teams come in for conditioning practices. Cross country comes in later in summer to start conditioning for running. Football comes in a few times.”
Over the years, the pool in Corydon has seen several generations pass through its gates. Grismore would like to see that annual procession continue, ensuring the community does not lose another asset essential to its survival.