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Altha residents saddened by controversial decision

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ALTHA, Fla. — It’s a small town with a lot of history, and Altha residents say the White Building at Altha Public School is a landmark.

“This is a symbol of our heritage,” said one resident, Kelly King.

Another resident, Scott Korhnak, said, “anybody that comes to Altha, this is the first thing we bring up. You look for the white building.”

Even though it’s no longer in use, it’s been a part of Altha’s community for decades, standing since 1929; but that’s about to change. 

Calhoun County Schools has voted to demolish the building. 

“It’s heartbreaking to see it in a broken condition,” said Superintendent Darryl Taylor. “But even in that if we can realize some insurance out of that and put that to good use in some of the other facilities and move forward then even though the building may be gone it’s still adding to this community.” 

The controversy started after Hurricane Michael. Residents say extensive damage to the White Building was made worse by neglect.

“If it had been tarped it would not be in the shape it’s in today,” said Korhnak. “It’s been rained on to the point where you see it’s collapsing.”

Altha resident Kelly King is also a former Calhoun County School Board member. She says former Superintendent Ralph Yoder said that no money would be spent to recover the White Building. 

“One school board member let me know that Mr. Yoder had said they weren’t going to tarp the building,” she said. 

Former Superintendent Yoder resigned back in March. New Superintendent Darryl Taylor says he is only aware of the decisions made after he took over.

“Best use would be to take what money we can receive from insurance which would not be enough to remodel or repair to put it back into condition,” said Taylor. “Use that on the campus to enhance some of the other facilities that we already have.”

Some residents agree.

“I’ve heard some people say that they think that it’s beyond saving,” said King. 

Many others are saddened by the decision. 

“Honestly, it’s heartbreaking,” said Korhnak. “This is the centerpiece of our community, and we love it.”

As of now the demolition papers are ready for contractors to bid on, but residents like Korhnak say they’ll fight until the end.

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