Grounds crew works to remove snow and ice

Jinae West

First strike of winter keeps the crew busy

Snow fell hard on students walking across campus Tuesday. Shaye A. Painter | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

With November snowfall averages nearly doubled, Kent State groundskeepers haven’t had much sleep.

This week marked the first significant snowfall of the year, as well as the grounds crew’s efforts to remove it by plowing streets, shoveling sidewalks and steps and laying down salt.

Groundskeeping supervisor Mike Pennock said his crew has been working nonstop.

“We had people 24 hours around the clock,” he said. “Last night, I called my operator at 8:30 p.m., and he’s still here. And then another one at 10:30 p.m. They were both working on roads, and our others reported at 5 a.m. this morning, which is the same thing we did Monday.”

Cold temperatures led to problems with ice on the roads and sidewalks. A low salt supply meant the crew had to ration its use, using last year’s 100-ton salt reserve while waiting on a 300-ton shipment that has yet to arrive. Throughout Ohio, Pennock said, it’s been difficult to obtain salt, even for the Ohio Department of Transportation.

“I think because of the winter they had last year, they’re using the salt they had stockpiled, but now they’re hauling it out of the mines,” he said. “There could be a multitude of reasons.”

For this year’s first major snowfall, Pennock said the crew had a few issues with operating equipment.

“I think we always have shake-ups,” he said. “You never know how the equipment is going to act. So there are a few things we need to tweak, but with every snow, we always get better.”

From what Pennock has heard, this winter could be colder and with heavier snowfall than last year’s. But as long as he has salt, he said he’s not too worried.

“My only concern is that I get my salt supply,” he said. “I’ll feel more comfortable then. We’re going to continue to do the best we can. That’s our motto.”

Sophomore nursing major Emily Arney said she likes winter, but she isn’t a fan of slippery sidewalks.

“(The snow) is so pretty, but the ice just makes it bad,” she said. “I had class at 7:45 a.m., and right outside my dorm was a complete sheet of ice. By the time I got back, it was clear by then, and I saw everyone working on the roads and sidewalks, cleaning and stuff.”

Arney said she didn’t see any students fall, but “everybody was walking really, really slow.”

Junior nursing major Janet Clough said she thought the grounds crew did a good job clearing walkways in time for her early morning class. She said the biggest problem seemed to be not the snow but ice.

“Everything was plowed, and I was out on campus at 7:30 a.m.,” Clough said. “I did see some people slip, though. It was icy.”

Clough said she saw two cars get stuck on front campus going up Hilltop Drive due to slippery conditions.

“The bus had to pass to get around them,” she said.

Adrienne Goldberg, junior art education major, said she likes snow when she doesn’t have to go out in it, but it seems to be inevitable.

“I like being inside when it snows and not necessarily 10 minutes from my house to campus, but there’s nothing else I can do, so I deal with it,” Goldberg said. “That’s what happens when you go to school in Kent, Ohio.”

Contact buildings and grounds reporter Jinae West at [email protected].