School system, Citizens Bank sign $500k gift agreement

Published 9:07 am Friday, November 21, 2014

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Putting pen to paper, representatives for the Citizens Bank Foundation and the Elizabethton City School system signed a gift agreement Thursday that says the foundation will donate $500,000 toward construction of a new high school stadium.
School board chairwoman Rita Booher and Citizens Bank Chairman and CEO Joe LaPorte III signed the agreement during a special ceremony Thursday afternoon. The donation is the largest private donation to the school system.
“On behalf of the school system, we are grateful for this donation,” Booher said. “This is a great day for the students and the town, and we thank Mr. LaPorte for believing in us.”
The school system received $100,000 of the $500,000 donation upon execution of the gift agreement. Of that $100,000, $30,000 will be used for the sign for Citizens Bank Stadium. The remaining $400,000 will be distributed to the school system in $100,000 increments when 40 percent, 60 percent, 80 percent and 100 percent of the project is complete.
LaPorte said he was happy to be a part of the stadium project process and to be able to give the gift to the school system.
“We have always believed in supporting the community,” LaPorte said. “It is a tradition with Citizens Bank to step up and support the community when it is needed.”
The amount of the donation was decided on after it became clear how much the school system would need to complete the new stadium. The system received a $5 million bond from the city of Elizabethton, and of that bond, $3.5 million is designated for the stadium. The Citizens Bank donation, combined with other donations and the system’s fund balance, will help make up the difference in the $4.3 million budget.
“This is what they needed,” LaPorte said. “That is how the amount came about.”
Assistant Superintendent Richard VanHuss said LaPorte had been instrumental in the stadium project beyond the financial contribution.
“When we started with this idea, he worked with us to find ways to fund this project,” VanHuss said. “He was instrumental in his work with City Council. His gift to the stadium goes beyond the gift that was given today.”
The groundbreaking for the new stadium is scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 2.

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