Harlan County School Board honors exiting member

Published 4:48 pm Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Special to the Enterprise

During its recent meeting, the Harlan County Board of Education honored outgoing District 5 Board of Education Member John “Wes” Sheffield.

Sheffield did not seek reelection, turning the seat over to Scott Sherman, a resident of the Tri-Cities and a local businessman. Sherman faced no opposition for the position in the November General Election.

Superintendent Brent Roark thanked Sheffield for “the trust you consistently exhibited toward me as an individual and as the superintendent of our district. Each time I informed you of some event or asked your opinion, you would begin and end the conversation by telling me that you trusted me and that you knew I would make the right decision.”

Roark noted that “very seldom did you weigh in with a strong opinion one way or the other. You would simply tell me that I knew what was right and to do it. I placed tremendous value on your trust, as I never want to disappoint anyone who trusts me that much.”

Roark said that on numerous occasions, he called upon Sheffield to assist and advise him on mechanical and engineering-related projects.

“Thank you for the support and advice you gave me on so many projects, from the Harlan County High School boiler, the cooling towers, and the districtwide Ameresco project, to the entire demolition and addition project at Wallins Elementary School,” said Roark.

“Your experience from years of working as an engineer in the coal mines was more than useful as we worked hard to improve our facilities,” said Roark. “Your knowledge, reassurance, and willingness to help me understand some of the more technical aspects of these projects was invaluable in making sure we ended up with quality work. “

Roark said Sheffield frequently sent him inspirational texts and ended conversations with positive thoughts to reassure him to always strive to improve and “never waver from doing what is right.”

“I saw you as a model, always striving to be a better person and to help others find the same sense of purpose and peace that resonates so vividly from you. You are a huge part of the success we have seen in our school district as we moved forward through so many obstacles over your time on our board. Our facilities and resources for both teachers and students are the best they have been in my 30 years in this district. Our district offers students the building blocks to be successful if they simply choose to take the opportunities presented to them,” Roark said.

Board Member Myra Mosley said, “We are sure going to miss him. His humor. He was always positive, His Christian influence. I know he has put the kids first. That is what it is all about.”

Fellow Board Member Wallace Napier said, “Once a coal miner, then coming in the school business, I think he has been a real boost to this system.”

Board Member Hiram fields said he only served with Sheffield for the past two years but noted it was an honor to “sit next to you. I learned a lot from you. We hate to see you go.”

Chairman Gary Farmer commented that “You have been a valuable board member for the entire Harlan County School District.”

Sheffield, who took over the seat four years ago when his wife, Pam Sherman Sheffield, did not seek reelection, thanked the board for their support and offered best wishes for continued success to the school district.

Scott Sherman officially became a board of education member in January.

Sheffield said he is confident Sherman will do an excellent job serving the residents of the school district.

“I don’t know of anybody I’d rather turn it over to than Scott Sherman,” said Sheffield. “He is a fine young man will do an excellent job.”

Sheffield noted that during his tenure, he only recalls two no votes from the panel. “It just doesn’t get any better than this,” he said. “This is the top of the line.”

Roark presented a PowerPoint presentation, highlighting numerous upgrades and improvements to the Cumberland Elementary School facility and grounds under Sheffield’s tenure. He also highlighted district projects for which Sheffield provided guidance and technical support.

Following the meeting, Fourth District Board of Education Member Wallace Napier and the new Fifth District Board of Education Member Scott Sherman were administered the oath of office by Harlan County Judge Executive Dan Mosley.