Thanks to a little help from its friends, the Williamsburg Independent School District now has a new LED sign, which is located in front of the school.
The $13,000 sign was paid for via donations from Forcht Bank, the Williamsburg Tourism Commission, the Williamsburg Independent School Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) and Griffith Services.
No school district tax funds were used to pay for the sign, which was dedicated Monday morning.
“This is how things work in Williamsburg. When a need arises you put the call out and people rally to do that,” noted Superintendent Dr. Amon Couch. “I have worked a lot of places and this kind of support is not everywhere.”
Couch said that when the district decided it wanted to install a new sign, his first calls were to Forcht Bank Williamsburg Market President Michael Sharpe and Loan Officer Donnie Patrick, who told him, “We will see what we can do.”
Then Couch spoke with the Williamsburg PTO, which had money set aside for a special project, and they quickly got on board.
After this he approached the Williamsburg Tourism Commission, which was considering purchasing its own sign, but instead decided to assist the school and partner with it.
Even after all this, the school district was still about $1,500 short on the amount needed for the new sign.
At that point, Couch said that his secretary, Connie Griffith, whose husband, Ronnie Griffith, owns Griffith Services, informed him that they too wanted to help out with the last leg of the project.
“Not one dime of school money was used,” Couch said. “Now, because of the generosity of the Forchts, our PTO, Williamsburg Tourism and Griffith Services, the life expectancy of this sign will outlast me here.”
Couch added that the sign is important to help the school district get the word out about all the good things happening at the school.
“There are a lot of people in this town, who don’t have kids who go to Williamsburg but yet they pay taxes every year,” he said. “They are stakeholders of ours and I want them to know what is happening in this building. We know that for years to come, because of the generosity of our partners, we are going to be able to get the word out of that vision of what this school is about, Jacket Pride, for a long, long time.”
While the brick edifice around the sign has been in place for several years, the new LED sign was installed over Christmas break to replace the old sign.
“This particular piece of real estate is probably one of the most visible pieces of real estate in Williamsburg,” Couch noted. “People come to this light and they sit and wait and they are not occupied. They are just sitting and waiting. Now we have given them something to do. They can read and learn about things that are happening here at Williamsburg.”
Couch added that the school district is still trying to figure out all the features on its new high tech sign, which Couch can program from the computer on his office desk.
The sign is so bright that the district actually had to turn down the brightness at night.
Tammi Bird, who served as PTO president last year, said that the organization knew the old sign was pretty inefficient with the staff having to go outside to change the very limited amount of information it could feature.
Forcht Bank was happy to partner with the district for the project, Sharpe added.
“We are in communities across the state. Being involved in the communities and being involved in the schools especially is kind of who we are,” Sharpe said.
“This is another instance where we can kind of put our money where our mouth is. We want to be involved. We want to help make the community a better place. We have a lot of Williamsburg graduates at Forcht Bank and I think we are the local bank. I am glad we can help any way we can.”
Couch added that the school district plans to add plaques on the side of the sign commemorating the four entities, which donated to it.