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Union Local, Chick fil A partner for scoreboard

T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK Stacy Austin, left, owner/operator operator of the St. Clairsville Chick fil A, speaks with Zac Shutler, acting superintendent of the Union Local School District, about upcoming plans. Chick fil A is the official sandwich of UL winter sports, and the associated advertising money will fund the purchase of a Daktronics electronic scoreboard for the gym.

BELMONT — Union Local High School will host some exciting games in its gym in the future with high-resolution graphics and highlights from the floor featured on a Daktronics electronic scoreboard, purchased through a partnership with Chick fil A of St. Clairsville.

On Wednesday, the school district and business announced the partnership, with the first monthly donation of $1,200 from Stacey Austin, owner/operator of the restaurant.

“It’s an advertising partnership where Chick fil A will be the official sandwich of Union Local winter sports and we’ll advertise for Chick fil A during our winter sports season,” Zac Shutler, acting school superintendent, said when he accepted the check.

He added that the district will contract with Chick fil A for three years, which will cover the majority of the cost for the 10-foot by 6-foot scoreboard. The monthly $1,200 donations will be received year-round.

“We’ve placed the order last month. It will probably take conservatively late March or April to arrive,” Shutler said. “The supply chain with the pandemic is slower than normal. We’re hoping to have it by spring, and it would be really nice to break it out during our graduation ceremony and use it for that.”

Other possibilities for the new technology include video advertising to help generate revenue for athletic programs.

Austin said the restaurant has been working with Union Local for close to a year.

“We’ve had a chance to be here and do some leadership training on leading the Chick fil A way,” he said. “We’ve had a chance to sell our product at their events. … We just saw this as a way to come alongside the school, what they were trying to accomplish, and work out a partnership where it was mutually beneficial for us and we could invest in the school.”

Austin added the restaurant has worked with other area school districts, such as sponsoring the St. Clairsville-Richland City School District’s band.

He said many of his employees are also Union Local students.

“Every store has its own vision statement, and our statement is to bring hope by being the best,” Austin said. “The best place to eat, the best place to work, and the best neighbor.”

Shutler said the eatery has fulfilled that vision.

“They’ve been great partners, not only for Union Local School District but also for the community at large. They really live up to the mission statement of Chick fil A of giving back, of service, and this is another aspect of a win-win situation,” Shutler said. “It’s going to provide advertising, but it’s also a huge gift to Union Local School District to be able to increase the facility, to really modernize it and to allow our students to be part of that as they create content for the Daktronics video board.

“That would be a real priority, to have our students be part of it and create content that we could show during our games and our events,” Shutler said, adding the board could show highlight packages, movies and closeups of players and the crowd in the stands. “Our audio-visual classes, I think, would be a key component of that.”

Shutler said student clubs could meet to discuss options.

“Our basketball programs, they have people that come and video the games. Some of that content could be spliced into highlight reels before the games. With a high-def, high-res video board, really it’s limited to your creativity.”

Students involved with the Jets basketball program are excited about the new scoreboard.

“I think it’ll bring better character to our gym, ‘the Hangar,'” junior Bryley Jennewein, the boys’ basketball team manager, said. “Having videos playing as we go out onto the gym floor, having replays playing, get the fans involved. I think it’s a great addition to our gym.”

D.J. Butts, a junior basketball player, agreed.

“I think it’ll help get people out here more,” he said.

The coaches are pleased about the new development as well.

“It’s a big deal to have something of that magnitude in our gym,” head boys’ basketball coach Zach Delman said. “It’s exciting to not only our kids and our players, but also the fans and community.”

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