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Check out Havana’s “new Northside” at free event Monday

Though Havana Northside High School sat fallow, abandoned and in disrepair for years following its closure in 2004, a bright, optimistic new day has dawned at the local historical landmark, thanks to the the tireless efforts in recent years of a group of Gladiator alumni and other Northside supporters.  

The organization dedicated to breathing new life into the former school – Havana Community Development Corporation – invites the public to see what all the fuss is about at a special event this Monday, July 8. Officials with the Havana nonprofit will lead a tour of Northside’s newly revamped facilities at 5 p.m., Monday, followed by a dinner/reception, Q&A session and meet-and-greet that aims to shed light on how far the the school has come since Havana Community Development Corporation was formed, and where the group hopes to take the facility from here, officials said.

The free event will double as a special meeting and workshop of the Havana Town Council. At the council’s regular June meeting, council members called for a site visit to the up-and-coming school-turned-community-center after Havana Community Development Corporation asked the council for more than $200,000 to help pay for the proposed Northside gymnasium facelift.

Given the substantial sum of the grant request, council members said a site visit and tour may help them make a better, more informed decision over whether to hand over the money. Recognizing a unique opportunity to showcase the fruits of their labor to not just the town council, but the public at large, Havana Community Development Corporation opted to expand the scope of the visit, organizing an open house of sorts aimed especially at Havana residents. Havana Community Development Corporation officials said the event will afford Havana residents in particular a chance to see how their tax money would be spent, should the council grant the group’s funding request. 

By examining Northside’s pristine new event facilities and other community oriented spaces, and by asking questions and getting to know the people behind the Northside improvements, local residents and government officials alike can gain a better understanding of what Havana Community Development Corporation hopes to accomplish through the Northside overhaul. 

In the few years since Havana Community Development Corporation began working to revitalize the Northside campus – building-by-building, room-by-room – the auditorium, cafeteria and other renovated spaces have already hosted myriad events, from parties to reunions to concerts to civic meetings and more. 

The proposed gymnasium overhaul will allow the organization to offer even more opportunities for community projects and events, officials said.

Havana Community Development Corporation officials participants in Monday’s meet-and-greet/reception/dinner/tour to wear Gladiator gold and brown. 

“Come cheer us on,” group officials said in a statement. 

For more informational call or text Havana Community Development Corporation event coordinator Shirley Bryant at (850) 212-7019.

By Brian Dekle