The Tuesday morning news conference was attended by local officials and business people as well as kids from Wheatley Elementary. | Photo by Sara Havens

At a news conference held Tuesday morning outside the California Community Center in west Louisville, 10 children from the nearby Wheatley Elementary showed off their chess-playing skills to local officials, media and business people.

The event was held to announce a recent partnership between Heaven Hill Brands and Louisville Parks & Recreation that will help fund an outdoor recreation space — which will include life-size chess sets and corn hole boards — and revitalize the park and center.

It was attended by Mayor Greg Fischer, Heaven Hill CEO Allan Latts, Metro Council members David James and Barbara Sexton Smith, and Ben Johnson, assistant director of Louisville Parks, among others.

The park is located at 1600 St. Catherine St. | Photo by Sara Havens

“This partnership is just one component of a larger program we are undertaking to help beautify and improve the California neighborhood for residents and our employees who work and live here,” said Latts.

While the Heaven Hill headquarters is located in Bardstown, the company has had roots in Louisville dating back more than 70 years. It purchased the former Bernheim Distillery, at 1701 W. Breckenridge, in 1999. That distillery is located just a few blocks from the California Community Center and has made bourbon since 1871.

“As stewards of this long-standing facility, and as a family-owned and operated company, Heaven Hill recognizes the responsibility to the community that has been built around Bernheim, the community we have become a part of,” Latts continued. “We are thrilled to continue this commitment to the California neighborhood through a new outdoor recreation space for adults and children alike to enjoy.”

Mayor Fischer thanked the Heaven Hill team for doing their part to help improve the neighborhood where they reside.

“This is what you’re seeing when a company continues to invest in the neighborhood where they’re at and building partnerships with the various entities,” he said. “We appreciate the work that you’re doing with our Parks & Rec system and various schools as well.”

Construction on the new outdoor space will begin later this summer.

Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith takes a photo of the Wheatley Elementary chess team. | Photo by Sara Havens

“We are really excited about expanding this area as we continue to do new and different programming,” added Ben Johnson of Louisville Parks. He also pointed out that a mural currently is being painted on the outside of the building to help add to the aesthetics.

The California Park and Community Center is located at 1600 St. Catherine St.

Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville. She's known around town as the Bar Belle and updates her blog (barbelleblog.com) daily. She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."


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