Natrona County High School will receive new digital scoreboards at Cheney Alumni Field and in its new gymnasium thanks to a $500,000 donation from the new owners of the former Wonder Bar.
The scoreboards will feature video playback for football, volleyball and basketball. The donation also will help improve the non-digital scoreboard for indoor track.
The donation, which comes from the Cercy family, was announced Friday during a school-wide assembly in the auditorium at Natrona County High School.
Preliminary construction has already begun on the new scoreboard at the north end of Cheney Alumni Field by Collins Drive.
“It’s better than any college scoreboard you’ve seen in this state, except maybe the one at (University of Wyoming),” Natrona principal Shannon Harris said in the opening address of the assembly. She went on to say that the new additions will be “the best high school scoreboards in the state.”
Plans for updating the scoreboards had been floated in previous years but funding at a state or federal level became less likely over that period of time. According to Natrona athletics and activities director Larry Meeboer a donation was the only way funding for such a project could happen.
Officials estimate that Wyoming faces a $700 million education shortfall in the next two-year budget cycle. Budget cuts have already begun and more could be on the way.
“The economy has been tough in Casper, especially the last couple of years,” Tony Cercy said. “We’re happy and proud to be able to give back to the community that got us to where we are today.”
Officially, the donation was made by the Cercy Family Adviser Donor Fund. Tony and Caryl Cercy presented the school with a check during the assembly. Their three children could not attend due to the inclement weather.
The giving spirit
The donation comes only a few months after the family gave $1 million to the David Street Station project. The Cercys also made recent donations to the University of Wyoming as well as the Casper YMCA.
Tony and his son, Cole, purchased Casper’s iconic Wonder Bar this fall. They plan to reopen the establishment with a restaurant downstairs and an upstairs sports bar. The popular bar will be renamed “C-85 at The Wonder Bar.”
“It’s special because all five of us — my wife and I and our three children — all graduated from (Natrona),” Tony Cercy said. “Hopefully we’ll have our name on the scoreboard and it will be a legacy that we’ll be able to enjoy for a long, long time to come.”
Tony Cercy owned Power Service Inc. until earlier this year. He sold the Casper equipment maker to NOW Inc., a publicly traded company worth $1.79 billion, in April.
“My family and I have been fortunate enough this year to have sold our business,” Tony Cercy said. “And we’re trying to give back to the community and to the state of Wyoming.
“So we, as a family, have got together to talk about how we could help give back, and a lot of it has to do with our legacy.”
The initial idea came from a conversation between Tony and his sons, who had a conversation with Natrona football coach Steve Harshman on how they could contribute to the football facilities. Those initial talks set up a meeting with principal Harris and Meeboer to discuss costs of new facilities.
After a cost amount had been determined, the Cercys discussed it as a family before making a decision to donate the full cost of the additions so the new scoreboards would be operational as soon as possible.
Ahead of schedule
The new scoreboards, which will be operated by NCTV class participants, join the pre-existing construction on the campus of NCHS. Due to moderate weather, construction on the future home to music and technical education classrooms, in addition to the new gym, is ahead of schedule.
Meeboer stated that the classrooms, gymnasium and scoreboards will all be functional and ready by the beginning of the 2017-18 school year.
He also cited the charitable history of the Cercys as a source of pride for Natrona, the city of Casper and the state of Wyoming.
“It’s not just us at Natrona County High School that gets to enjoy this gift, it’s the whole community,” he said. “(The Cercys) are out helping the University of Wyoming, they’re out helping Casper in the downtown area and so it’s amazing that we’re able to have those kind of folks that are so generous.”