Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Facilities cleans up winter mess

Lauren Mainz/Observer Staff After more than 11 inches of snow covered campus on Sunday, facilities services employees worked diligently to clear the way for students and faculty to walk to class. Joe Scifo, director of facilities, says facilities services’s goal when it snows is to have all roads, walkways, stairs and loading docks cleared within 24 hours.

With winter weather in full swing, the facilities services department is busy working to keep campus safe and snow free. As unpredictable as winter weather may be, Joe Scifo, director of facilities, said efficient snow removal is a main priority.
Workers in the department monitor all incoming severe weather and aim to have the campus cleared as soon as possible.
“(Facilities) staff monitors any approaching winter storm conditions: freezing rain, sleet, heavy snow, sustained high winds, wind chill conditions and expected forecast or time of arrival,” Scifo said. “Our goal is to have all campus roads, walkways, handicap ramps, stairs and loading docks cleared 24 hours following the end of any winter storm event.”
Scifo says that plowing is generally prioritized in the following manner: campus main drives followed by all major sidewalks from campus residence halls leading to the academic buildings, residential and faculty/staff parking lots and adjacent sidewalks, then secondary walks and services followed by campus houses. The schedule may change depending on conditions and scheduling, though.
Snow removal around campus is divided among different sections of facilities services. The grounds crew has the primary responsibility for snow removal of roads, walkways and parking lots, while the custodial crew has the task of snow removal at the building entrances.
In regards to efforts made to keep walkways and bridges cleared, Scifo explains that $18,000 alone was budgeted this year specifically for salt additives and sand, not including the cost of labor as it varies with the amount of snowfall. The school also keeps the environment in mind when preparing for winter storms.
“The college uses both sand and salt with a beet juice additive,” Scifo said. “The beet juice is an environmentally friendly way to make rock salt work better by keeping it on the roads longer and melting ice at lower
Slippery walkways and paths are often of concern to students and staff as winter weather approaches. Specific areas of concern are the Swanson and Sorensen bridges.
“They are a bit slow on removing the snow and salting,” said junior Megan McGregor.
Sophomore Taylor Wey agreed, “it would be beneficial to clear sidewalks early in the morning as opposed to making the parking lots a priority.”
Snow removal around campus is a taxing process that takes a great deal of effort and manpower, Scifo said.
“While I can’t expect our students to necessarily be aware of or appreciate the amount of work and the long hours our crews put in each year trying to keep up with the winter season,” Scifo said, “I would ask for everyone’s patience in coping with it.”

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Facilities cleans up winter mess