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Snow Day on Campus Means No Rest for Some

The college maintains an internal “classifieds” discussion board for its employees and students, most often used for the usual small-scale exchange and barter typical among members of any working community. But a few weeks ago, the listserv broke out into a veritable chorus of hoorays and “me-too’s” after a staff member posted an appreciative note about the folks who cleared the campus roads and pathways after a blizzard hit De Pere Feb. 2.

“I want to post a HUGE “Thank You!” to the wonderful facilities crew,” began the discussion thread. “A lot of snow in a short period of time, and campus looks great this morning. Many thanks for all you all do for the rest of the community, often at times and in places most of us never see.”

A flurry of other posts followed, as other folk chimed in with comments like, “Great job!” “I'm with them – you are rockstars!!!!!!!!!!!” and “I agree! I appreciate feeling safe when walking! I am thankful! Great job!”

The clean throughways that greeted people returning to work Feb. 3 after the storm that had closed the campus at 1 p.m. the day before was a reminder of the sterling work of the college’s snow-removal team, which is responsible for the winter maintenance of:

  • 10 miles of sidewalks
  • 16 acres of parking lots/roads 
  • 112 building entrances. 

Here’s what it takes:

  • Four plow trucks are used to clear snow from parking lots and roads and three snow brooms are used to remove snow from the sidewalks. 
  • Ice melter is applied to parking lots, roads and sidewalks with specialized equipment. In addition, staff and several student employees remove snow and ice from building entrances with snow-blowers and shovels.   
  • In the event of a daytime snowfall, the snow brooms and plow trucks are sent out to try and keep the sidewalks, parking lots and roads clear of snow. This can be a challenge due to pedestrians on the sidewalks and cars filling the parking lots. Depending on the duration of the storm, this work can continue until 10 p.m. Many times, the snow brooms and plow trucks come back in at 4 a.m. the next day to finish the cleanup.
  • When the snowfall occurs at night, the snow brooms and plow trucks start work at 4 a.m. in order to have the snow cleaned up by the time students and staff are active on campus. Staff and student employees also start clearing building entrances at 4 a.m.
  • Following snow removal, ice melter is often applied to building entrances, sidewalks, parking lot and roads in order to prevent ice from forming on the exposed surfaces.
  • After freezing rain, building entrances, sidewalks, parking lots and roads are treated with ice melter to eliminate slippery spots.
  • Building entrances, sidewalks, parking lots and roads are checked at 6 a.m. daily for slippery spots and ice melter is applied if needed.

Bob Erdahl, manager of grounds and vehicles, says removing the snow and ice from such large areas requires a team effort along with many pieces of equipment. The whole campus benefits, and gratitude abounds for the dedicated service that keeps things running smoothly and safely, no matter what the weather.

March 1, 2016