April 19, 2014

Elyria
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Ridge Tool donates $200,000 toward EHS media center

ELYRIA — Elyria Schools Superintendent Paul Rigda remembers one thing that Ridge Tool President Fred Pond said just before voters approved the Elyria High School levy in May:

“When this thing passes, I want you to come back here because we’re going to give you something big,” Pond told Rigda at the time.

On Thursday — just seven months after voters approved a levy for the $68 million high school — Rigda went back to Ridge Tool and got what Pond had promised: A $200,000 donation for the new Elyria High School.

The money will be used to purchase equipment and resources to supplement a state-of-the-art media center that will be part of the new Elyria High, school officials and Pond said. 

“This facility will provide students with access to the latest in computer hardware, software applications and networking capabilities,” Pond said. “We want the students of Elyria High School to have every opportunity to excel.”

For a company like Ridge — an Elyria icon that has come a long way from its humble start manufacturing pipe wrenches —the donation for technology at the new Elyria High was the obvious choice.

Early Thursday morning, Rigda and Elyria Schools spokeswoman Amy Kren toured Ridge’s Clark Street facility, where Pond highlighted the strides the global company has made in upgrading its products to fit a technology-driven industry. 

These days, Ridge’s products are controlled more by microchip than by human muscle —the pneumatic nailers, the power drills and a smorgasbord of tools for plumbing and construction industries.  

“Because development and adaptation of technology plays such a significant role in today’s world —and has a profound impact on how Ridge Tool designs, products and distributes RIDGID band products and services — we wanted to help bring technology to the classroom in a meaningful way,” Pond said.

Pond presented Rigda and Kren with a giant check for $100,000, while a “small” check for another $100,000 was given to Rigda.

As it were, the company’s $200,000 donation struck a chord among a select group of Ridge Tool employees who are Elyria High School graduates, all of whom graduated from 1964 to 2003. 

The 35 former EHS students-turned-Ridge workers included the young and old, executive and blue-collar. They met up with Rigda and Pond on Thursday morning, unaware that the company was donating the money to their alma mater.

The group gasped collectively as Pond gathered them to unveil the giant check to Elyria Schools, some boasting that their own children will one day be students at the new Elyria High School.

Contact Shawn Foucher at 329-7197 or sfoucher@chroniclet.com.