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Donations light up new Crusader scoreboard

Community businesses and residents donated funds to purchase this new scoreboard, one of two recently installed at the Van Buren Secondary School gymnasium. A larger scoreboard, sponsored by NorState Federal Credit Union, was installed at the other end of the Crusaders' gym. (Don Eno | SJVT/FhF)

Community businesses and residents donated funds to purchase this new scoreboard, one of two recently installed at the Van Buren Secondary School gymnasium. A larger scoreboard, sponsored by NorState Federal Credit Union, was installed at the other end of the Crusaders’ gym. (Don Eno | SJVT/FhF)

VAN BUREN, Maine — Members of NorState Federal Credit Union’s board of directors and members of the Van Buren Fire Department had a sneak preview of two new scoreboards, Monday, March 13, which were recently installed at the Van Buren District Secondary School gymnasium.

NorState is the sponsor of the new larger scoreboard and fire department personnel helped with fundraising for the project.

The previous scoreboard was nearly unusable following approximately 30 years of regular use.

Van Buren Fire Chief Brian Caron said he was inspired to do something about the aging scoreboard this fall, during one of his daughter’s middle school basketball games.

“The scoreboard glitched twice during the game,” and had to be rest, Caron said. “It was embarrassing.”

Following the game, Caron approached the school’s athletic director, Jay Edgecomb, about what could be done to replace the board.

“He said that money for replacing it was cut from the budget for the last two years,” Caron said.

Edgecomb said Monday that the school’s staff had done what it could to keep the old equipment going the past several years, but that money was simply not available to purchase a new one.

Caron proposed getting some of his firefighters involved to help seek donations in an effort to raise the money needed to replace the old analog scoreboard system.

When credit union representatives were approached, they offered to become the main sponsor, Caron said. That enabled organizers to utilize additional fundraising to purchase a complete system, including a second scoreboard and new board management tools, that can be used to update the board from the sidelines during games.

“We like to work as often as we can with all the communities we serve,”  said NorState CEO Susan Whitehead. “As a credit union, that’s what we are all about.”

As someone who grew up in St. Agatha, Whitehead said it feels good to be in a position to help.

“I remember, as a high school student, how hard it was to do fundraising,” she said.

NorState directors approved request within three days, according to Whitehead. The credit union contributed $8,000 to the project and is the sponsor of the large scoreboard. Organizers will also be installing a thank-you plaque listing the other local businesses and residents who contributed to the entire project.

In all, organizers raised approximately $11,000 since fundraising began in October, Caron said. Gilman Electric of Presque Isle also donated materials needed to rewire and set up the new digital boards, according to Caron.

“Our volunteer board of directors saw great opportunity to support our Van Buren members and their families,” Whitehead said. “A display such as this new scoreboard, would bring forth a sense of pride for the students and their families.”

In today’s financial climate, with school districts facing state cutbacks in education and feeling pressure to keep local taxes down, Van Buren’s School Superintendent Timothy Kane said community fundraising efforts are vital.

“We are so thankful for the community support,” said Kane. “We were unable to find replacement parts” for the old board, Kane said. “Our maintenance staff continued to work their magic to hold it together.”

Kane also has some personal stake in seeing a new scoreboard installed on the basketball court, being a former girls basketball coach at both the high school and collegiate levels. As coach at Dirigo High School, Kane’s team won 12 regional titles and six state championships.

“Basketball has a place near and dear to my heart,” Kane said.

Edgecomb said the new boards were also needed to stay in compliance with Maine Principal’s Association guidelines. MPA is the body that oversees much of high school sports in the state.

Previously, Van Buren had just one scoreboard, located at one end of the gymnasium. MPA requires a gym to have two, because the team shooting at the basket without a  scoreboard and clock is at a disadvantage not being able to see how much time is left in the game.

The new scoreboards will be officially unveiled at a special fundraiser basketball game between the Van Buren Fire Department and NorState Federal Credit Union, Friday evening, March 17. That game will tip off at 7 p.m. in the Crusaders’ gymnasium.

All proceeds from the charity game will go toward local efforts to end hunger. Tickets are available from any Van Buren firefighter, the high school or at any NorState location. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for students, and small children and seniors are free. Tickets will also be available at the door. Doors open at 6 p.m.

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