Placer Hillmen set to light up new scoreboard Friday

Placer’s Hillmen Foundation funds $24,000 LeFebvre Stadium scoreboard
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer High School’s high-scoring football team will have a new scoreboard to ring up the touchdowns Friday. The Hillmen Foundation – marking its 20th year this year – provided the $24,000 in funding to replace the decades-old scoreboard with a larger one. The work took place over the past week and the scoreboard will debut at Friday’s home game at LeFebvre Stadium. Tom Johnson, who recently succeeded Jug Covich as Hillmen Foundation board executive director, said that the donation was made through the generosity of many donors, including several former students. Both Johnson and Covich are former Placer principals. Johnson said the scoreboard is the latest in a series of donations over the past few months that have included $3,125 for two welders being used by the school’s metal shop, $3,200 for new computer lab computers, $1,000 for a Breaking Down the Walls program to promote tolerance, and $750 for Sober Grad Night. Johnson said the scoreboard – which identifies the Hillmen Foundation as donor – is a sign that the foundation is going to become more visible in the community. “The foundation is bringing in a number of grads in the community, not only to sponsor an annual fundraising event each summer but also to populate the board with grads who have community visibility,” Johnson said. Serving with Johnson on the executive board are Covich as co-assistant director with retired Placer vice-principal Gary Pantaleoni and former teacher Bob Burge, secretary David Odom, treasurer Lori Heitz and alumni liaison Florence Ladeck, former Auburn city clerk. Covich, 88, was initially hired as a teacher at Placer High in 1950. He has stepped down as Hillmen Foundation executive director after 20 years but continues as Sierra Foothills League commissioner. During the past two decades, the foundation has helped finance the Stacy Dragila all-weather track, the concession stand at LeFebvre Stadium, the arched entry to the campus, and was instrumental in funding the 1997 school centennial celebration. It also maintains and awards several scholarships each year, including the $1,000 Vern McCann & Elizabeth Bale Memorial Scholarship Covich said that the sign-funding commitment was made before recent pay-to-play court decisions put more of a burden on fund-raising to underwrite many school activities. Some of the funding had been held since the centennial year, he said. “We run a tight ship and don’t want to go overboard,” Covich said. “We always balance things out to ensure people realize their donations are not just going to athletics.”