Haven Help On The Way

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A wall has been torn down and there’s a gaping hole in the frontof the Haven theater, and the building’s caretakers couldn’t bemore happy about it.

Phase Two of Brookhaven Little Theatre’s multi-year theaterrenovation project – which will see the entire front of thebuilding rebuilt anew to historical standards – began this week.The project’s completion date later this fall is scheduled tocoincide with the completed renovation and reinstallation of thetheater’s tower sign, which was removed and shipped to Meridian forrefurbishment two weeks ago.

Brookhaven Little Theatre Vice President Sha Walker said thedemolition is going as planned – despite contractor Paul Jacksonand Son Inc. encountering more damage than expected – and should becompleted by mid-October.

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“They ran into a little more deterioration than expected, butthey’re dealing with it and doing a good job,” he said. “They’vebeen able to work through all the weather we’ve had lately.”

Walker said the company would complete demolition on the westside of the fa├žade and enclose it with a temporary face beforemoving on to the east side. Once both sides have been removed, thedemolition will shift back to construction, and the new andimproved Haven will begin to take shape.

Walker said his and BLT’s focus is now shifting to fundraisingfor Phase Three, which is scheduled to begin with grant seeking inthe spring of 2009.

“We really can’t write another grant until we have funds tomatch it,” he said. “Funds are short, and we need to do all we canto raise what we can, even in these hard economic times. There’s somuch that needs to be done, but we’ve committed all the funds wehave.”

The goal of fundraising is being seen through by the newlyrevived Save the Haven Committee, which met for the first timeTuesday night. Committee chairwoman JoAnna Sproles said 12 membersjoined the reborn committee despite the “torrential downpour,” andabout five others plan to join but we were unable to attend themeeting.

“I’m pretty close to my goal of having 20 committee members whoare willing to jump in with both feet,” she said.

During its initial meeting, Sproles said the committee outlinedthe next three major fundraisers planned for this fall. The goal ofthe three fundraisers it to raise between $30,000 and $35,000 byChristmas to be offered up as matching money for the grant-writingprocess next spring.

“Our match money we’ve saved in the last couple of years isdwindling pretty fast,” Sproles said. “We need to replenish it aswe go – if we don’t, the only new thing is going to be the front ofthe building.”

Beginning on Thursday, Sept. 18, the committee will beginselling tickets in a draw down for a chance to win $10,000. Modeledon similar drawings held in Brookhaven by different organizationsin the past, Sproles said 300 tickets would be sold at $100 each,allowing the committee to award the $10,000 prize total whilekeeping $20,000 for grant matching.

The draw down will take place at the committee’s membershipparty on Saturday, Oct. 25. Sproles encouraged people interested attrying their luck at the draw down not to be discouraged by the$100 price tag.

“If someone can’t afford the ticket, this is a great thing to goin with someone else and split the winnings,” she said.

The second fundraiser planned for this fall will be theBrookstock at the Haven concert, which will be held on Saturday,Oct. 18 as an encore, so to speak, of June’s Brookstock VIII. TheBrookhaven High School class of 1968 will host the concert, whichis open to the public. Admission to the concert is $10, andT-shirts, posters and other memorabilia will be for sale at theevent.

The final fall fundraiser – a pre-Thanksgiving bake sale – willbe held on Tuesday, Nov. 25. Sproles said the committee hopes tosell around 50 cakes and pies for $20 each, aiming to collect$1,000.

Sproles said all of the fundraisers are aiming high to ensurethat quality work will be done inside in the Haven.

“We don’t want to just slap on a coat of paint and call it aday, we want to replace things with quality, attractive,long-living materials, and there’s a price tag that comes withthat,” she said. “There’s a lot of square footage on the inside andalmost everything needs to be replaced.”