Kent State digs out of deep mess

Samantha Laros

Classes canceled when grounds crew couldn’t keep up with snowfall

View photos taken during yesterday’s snow day.

WATCH a video about yesterday’s snow day.

At about 10 a.m. yesterday, students woke up to a FlashAlert text message saying classes were canceled after 11 a.m., rolled over and went back to sleep.

Pete Motts, a member of the Kent State grounds crew, had been shoveling sidewalks in Risman Plaza for four hours. He had four more to go.

“It gets tough on days like today,” he said. “I listen to the radio to pass the time.”

Yesterday was the first snow day of the spring semester. Equipment operators brought out salt and plows at 2 a.m. Groundskeepers started shoveling at 4 a.m.

The heaviest snow started after the rain yesterday morning, said Heather White, manager of Campus Environment and Operations. When the freezing rain combined with the initial snowfall, the crew fell behind and was unable to catch up.

“One of the things we look at in closing or canceling is to decrease the pedestrian and vehicle traffic,” White said. “That allows us to get into areas and start cleaning.”

At about 9 a.m., White met with her supervisor, Mike Pennock, and Tom Dunn, director of Campus and Environment Operations, to discuss whether the grounds crew was keeping up with the snow removal, how long it had been working and how long it was expected to be able to keep working.

Dunn presented the information in a conference call to a group of people who made the final decision to cancel classes.

White said she didn’t expect classes would be canceled today. The grounds crew will work through the night.

Simon Messerly, junior Spanish major, said he drove to campus from his house in downtown Kent to attend two morning classes. He said he did not think the roads in Kent were adequately plowed.

“I feel bad for the people who have a farther commute than I do,” he said. “But for me, it’s not that big of a deal.”

Fellow junior Spanish major Austin Chilton said he walked 15 minutes to campus from his house on Lake Street in Kent. He chose to walk to campus every day because he said he could not afford an on-campus parking pass.

“I wore two coats,” he said, “and by the time I got to class I had a pile of snow sitting on the top of my head.”

Messlery said he planned to stay on campus until work that night. Both students agreed being stranded in the basement of the Student Center was a preferred alternative to attending class.

“Even if I had to drive farther, I probably wouldn’t complain,” he said. “Not having classes, how can you complain?”

Contact building and grounds reporter Samantha Laros at [email protected].