Pinney Pool fundraiser is Saturday

Donations coming in, city involvement still unknown

Pinney Pool fundraiser is SaturdayMembers of Zeddicus (from left) Jeff Welsh, Nichole O’Connor and Aaron Lee will be the headlining act at this weekend’s fund-raiser for Pinney Pool. — Courtesy photo

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By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

A fundraiser to restore Pinney Pool kicks off Saturday, July 21, at the Desert Empire Fairgrounds with live music, a chili cookoff, free food and more activities for the community. The free event is hosted by Ridgecrest Shoutouts and the Ridgecrest Lions Club, which have been collecting donations for the restoration.

Event sponsors include Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, McDonald’s, Rotary Club of Ridgecrest, the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, the Daily Independent and the Chief Petty Officers Assoc.

“We’ve had an amazing outpouring of support to get this pool open again,” said Event Coordinator Scott Miller when he promoted the fundraiser at Wednesday’s Ridgecrest City Council meeting.

Gates open for the event at 10 a.m. with an opening ceremony at noon. Free food for the first 1,500 guests will be provided by Pita Fresh and Casey’s Steaks & Barbecue and will be available at 1 p.m.

Local music acts including Lisa Skrabar, John Ritchie, Britney Brown and Rayband will perform all day. Making its debut is local band Zeddicus, headlining at 10 p.m.

Fronted by local guitarist, music teacher and sound engineer Jeff Welsh, Zeddicus plays self-described “swaggering desert rock blues jam boogie” music. Joining Welsh is songwriter-vocalist-guitarist Aaron Lee, drummer Michelle Leslie, vocalist Nichole O’Connor and “Amazing Anonymous” on bass. The band will host a multi-musician group jam after its main set.

Vendors will be set up in the two main halls, giving attendees respite from the summer sun

While the community has been eager to raise the necessary funds to get Pinney Pool operational, breaking ground may be more complicated. Local contractors, spearheaded by Cordell Construction, are attempting a joint effort with the city to restore the pool.The pool was closed in 2017 after a lawsuit about Americans With Disabilities Act compliance problems when the city couldn’t afford the necessary maintenance. After putting the restoration project out to bid, the city was looking at spending more than $1 million for the restoration.

But local contractors believe they can get the project done for closer to $500,000 with community support. The city has set aside $380,000 for the pool, but isn’t now in a position to back the project.

Councilmembers have declined to comment in detail because the city’s involvement hinges on pending arrangements with local contractors and contributors. If the restoration moves forward with the city as a partner, any and all contributions made must be voted on and approved by the city council.

It has been noted that since the city is in negotiations with the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe (one of the event’s primary financial sponsors) regarding a proposed casino project, it could be seen as unethical for the city to receive a monetary donation.

Additionally, there will be no public accounting of the funds at City Hall other than the city’s explicit contribution, if there is one.

City representatives and members of the community have been universally behind the restoration of the pool. But some are hesitant to move forward with monetary contributions before details between the city and contractors are settled.

“This is about the community pool, nothing else,” said Miller, who has acknowledged the controversy. “It’s not about our sponsors or any individual person.”

“This money will not be just blindly given to the city. A public accounting by Ridgecrest Lions Club and Ridgecrest Shoutouts group will be given and updated anytime there is need,” said Coordinator Mike Birdwell in an email to council.

Miller and Birdwell were both recently sworn in as members of the Ridgecrest Lions Club.

Fundraiser coordinators are aiming to raise at least $60,000 to contribute to the project.

Admission is free, but donations will be accepted with checks payable to the Ridgecrest Lions Charity Foundation, Inc., with “Pinney Pool Foundation” on the memo line.

Story First Published: 2018-07-20