Harman School being prepared for students

HARMAN — Following recent devastation created by flooding in the Harman area, Randolph County Schools officials have worked with volunteers from across the county and state to prepare Harman School for the upcoming school year.

During the Randolph County Board of Education’s most recent meeting, board president Amanda Smith offered praise to recently appointed Superintendent Debra Schmidlen, and Assistant Superintendent Joseph Arbogast.

“I want to express heartfelt appreciation, on behalf of myself and the entire board, to our new superintendent, Debbie Schmidlen, and our new assistant superintendent, Joseph Arbogast,” Smith said. “Your first official day at work was in the aftermath of the flooding in Harman. Your response that day, as well as (the response) of Kevin Chewning, maintenance supervisor, and his crew of maintenance staff and Laura Hawkins, Harman principal, was immediate and necessary.”

Arbogast said, from initial findings on July 1, the majority of damage at the school included debris in the yard and water in the basement and other areas of the school. Luckily, Arbogast reported there was no structural damage to the building.

“Initially, when we got there on the morning of 7-1, we began looking at damages. … There was debris scattered throughout (the yard),” he said.

“There was nothing major, at the time, that needed to be fixed the first day we got there; so, we went back over on 7-2 and started working again to get the basement cleaned out.

“Volunteers worked to get the mud and water out of the hallways and the computer lab,” he continued. “Fortunately, there was no major structural damage we could find or have found.”

Arbogast went on to explain flooding reached the heating, ventilation and air conditioning units on the exterior of the school. The county’s HVAC specialist examined these units following Tuesday’s meeting, noting they required minor cleaning.

Furthermore, Arbogast said flooding in the basement required water to be pumped out by the Harman Volunteer Fire Department.

“We worked to pump water out of the basement – there was approximately 36 to 40 inches of water in the basement,” he noted.

Many volunteers have assisted in the clean-up, including the Tygarts Valley High School football team, Dominion, Harman Mayor Jerry Teter and area resident Joe Harman, among numerous others.

Smith noted schools across the county have offered assistance, including elementary, middle and high school staff and students. In addition, it was also pointed out that other county school systems have also extended their support and offered assistance.

Smith emphasized both Arbogast and Schmidlen spent their first day as acting superintendent and assistant superintendent responding to the aftermath of flooding at Harman, saying they have “proven their worth.”

“While I’m pretty sure that most superintendents and assistants don’t go to work in muck boots on their first day, I’m certain that your deeds that day prove your worth and your dedication to all of Randolph County’s students and staff,” Smith said.

Arbogast met with a team from FEMA Friday to further assess damages.