Visiting Old Fort

Touring the campus & talking with teams

Visiting Old Fort

Construction on the new Old Fort Elementary School began in 2018, and while the finishing touches are still being completed, the school first opened for students this school year. This week, current North Carolina Representative and candidate for Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson, a western-NC native who helped secure funding to make the project possible, toured the campus alongside his wife, Valerie, and leaders from McDowell County Schools as well as NC-based Beam Construction.

“Of all the projects I’ve been a part of over the last ten years, this is one of the projects I’m most proud of,” Dobson said, standing in the brightly-lit foyer of the building. “Public education helped shape me into who I am today, and I’m so excited to see these McDowell County students learning and growing in this new space. They are tomorrow’s workforce, tomorrow’s leaders, and it all starts right here.”

McDowell County Schools Superintendent Mark Garrett and Old Fort Elementary Principal Jill Ward led the tour, showcasing the building’s amenities, as well as specially-designed maintenance areas that will make upkeep of the building easier and safer.

“Many people don’t realize it, but the Department of Labor is responsible for inspecting a lot of this behind-the-scenes equipment, like boiler rooms in the schools,” Dobson said while viewing an equipment room at the school. “Elevators are just one part of the inspection aspect of the Labor Commissioner job.”

Dobson saw different types of classrooms, the new gym, cafeteria, library, outdoor spaces, and the unfinished multi-purpose room, which boasts high-quality acoustics and plenty of space for future events at the school. He talked with Andrew Murray, foreman for Beam Construction who has led the building project, about the structure and additional features of the building.

While on his tour, Dobson also had the opportunity to interact with several young students while maintaining a safe social distance.

“It’s great to see these kids and their teachers here enjoying the new school,” Dobson said after visiting a kindergarten class doing an activity in the new gym. “I know it’s a different kind of school year for those working in education and for the students, adapting to new virtual tools and schedules, but I’m proud to see so many bright, young faces on this campus.”

McDowell County Schools Board Member Patrick Ellis, who was also in attendance for Dobson’s visit, expressed his appreciation for Dobson not only for his role in securing funding for the project, but also for following through to see the project become reality.

“We can’t thank you enough,” Ellis said. “This school was so needed here in this area, and it’s such a great thing for our community.”

For more information or contact Dobson, visit or follow Josh Dobson for Labor on Facebook.