(Editor’s Note: This is the second article in a three-part Mingo Board of Education series)
WILLIAMSON - During the Mingo County Board of Education (B.O.E.) meeting held on Tuesday evening, the Interim Director of the B.O.E. Maintenance Department was, as one board member put it, in the “hot seat” as numerous questions were directed his way about the lack of routine maintenance that should have been performed throughout the summer on football and baseball fields at various school facilities.
Ken Hughart inherited a lot of problems and issues when he was placed in the position as the director, and began addressing the board by telling them he had been looking into these complaints and trying to pinpoint the reason the problems had occurred. According to the director, several lawn mowers belonging to the school board had not been serviced appropriately in the past, and were now in a state of disrepair while others had been out of service for repairs.
“When I began checking on this, we had 5 mowers and only one of them was operable,” said Hughart. “I instructed the workers to get the others fixed. At one point, we were actually down to zero mowers…we had none working.”
“One had been out of operation for 1 ½ years and another is still currently in the shop, but we have received a loaner to use until we get that one back. During another time period, we had mowers, but no laborers, since everyone was tied up with the moving of equipment, etc. from school buildings and into other facilities in preparation for the upcoming school year.”
Several of the school board members expressed great concern over these matters, and remarked that they wanted to take what had been learned from the problems that plagued the B.O.E. this year and develop a working plan to stay ahead of the game next summer and prevent these issues from getting out of hand.
Hughart also spoke about several other problems that had been alleviated by himself and his staff members such as the drainage problem at the Lenore K-8 School that affected the playground area each time hard rains occurred. A large number of trees had to be cut down at the Dingess Elementary and the director told the board that the limbs had been cut into shorter pieces and had been offered to the public as firewood. The smaller pieces would be put through a chipper and would be turned into mulch to cover the hillside.
Hughart spoke of attempts to cut the school utility costs during the summer months by only leaving electric power to essential equipment and by adjusting the thermostats. He relayed to the board members that he would have numbers to present to them during the next regular meeting that would come from comparing the next set of bills that are received against those from previous months. He also spoke of replacing garbage dumpsters on school property that had been damaged with refurbished ones that have locking lids and doors.
A sewer odor that had raised complaints by workers in the office of the Gilbert Elementary School was corrected after its origin was tracked down. Mold that was discovered underneath a large freezer in the cafeteria of the Burch Elementary School was alleviated after being found when the appliance was moved and replaced by a new one.
Hughart spoke of his plans to adjust the work time for some of the maintenance department employees from the 6 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. shift they all currently work, to accommodate needs that arise after quit time.
“We need more employees in our department, there’s no getting around it,” said Hughart. “And there’s been a lack of supervision and direction in the past also, and we are working diligently to change that.”
Sunday’s edition of the Williamson Daily News will contain the third and final part of the Mingo County School Board series.