Winter weather woes


A student dresses for the cold as temperatures plunge below freezing in Kent.

Alicia Balog

Instead of professors handing out syllabi, Kent State students were welcomed back to campus Monday with cancelled morning classes.

“We had heavy snow coming in,” university spokesman Eric Mansfield said. “We also had some ice in the area…. (Monday) morning was one of those days where at least late over night into early morning, it picked up, and we couldn’t just quite keep up.”

The university sent out FlashAlerts at about 7 a.m. to inform students and staff the Kent campus was closed until noon.

Mansfield said Kent State Police Chief John Peach and Gregg Floyd, senior vice president for Finance and Administration, decide when to delay opening the campus.

“They’re the ones that really look at what are we expecting, what do we know is already on the ground, what are our resources here to combat that and can we get the sidewalks cleared and get the plows in the lots in time for the students to get through,” he said.

Grounds Manager Heather White said the groundskeepers had already changed their hours from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for the winter season, but on Sunday, they decided to start clearing snow at 5 a.m. on Monday to give them an extra hour to address the snow before students arrived.

When maintaining the campus during winter, it all depends on the snow, she said.

“The previous week, when the students weren’t here, we had high winds, not as much snow, but the winds were whipping it around and kept us moving on quite a number of locations because of the drifting that occurred,” she said. “And on top of that, with the really cold weather, salt is not as effective at all.”

White said the university uses 1,200 tons of salt for each year, which is about $67,000.

“We salt with the students in mind in the sense that we want them to carry the salt on their shoes around,” she said. “And they help spread the salt.”

The groundskeepers also use a calcium magnesium acetate on the newer sidewalks to protect their integrity and a brine on the roads and longer stretches of straight sidewalks.

“What it’s doing is helping us manage the snow by not having it adhere to the surface,” White said.

Campus is divided into different areas for groundskeepers, who salt and shovel the snow by hand, to manage.

“They’re using the garden variety shovel,” she said. “Some prefer the pusher. Some prefer a snowblower. Some will prefer a scoop shovel. Whatever it takes to clear.”

White said the hardest parts of campus to shovel are building such as Franklin or McGilvrey Halls, which have three sets of steps leading to the main doors.

“And all of those are hand shoveled and opened up fully,” she said.

After finishing the initial shoveling, the groundskeepers will move the snow to help clear fire hydrants and for other safety issues, White said.

As for if Kent State will delay again this winter, Mansfield said the university is always prepared to close if the weather is significant enough.

“Mother Nature is difficult to predict sometimes, so we do the best we can to keep up,” Mansfield said. “And when she starts winning the battle, that’s when we have to cancel, delay or close.” 

Contact Alicia Balog at [email protected].