By: Lauren Wolters
Major snowfall in Findlay cancels classes and creates work for UF’s Physical Plant
The University of Findlay saw record breaking snowfall on Monday, Feb. 15. Hancock County went under a Level Three Road Alert Tuesday morning. UF canceled all in-person classes for Tuesday after the alert went out. Remote classes continued as scheduled. The covered sidewalks and parking lots made everyday tasks harder for the Physical Plant, Campus Safety and Security, and students.
Orion Jones, the Director of UF’s Physical Plant, explained some of the division’s problems this time of year via email.
“The hardest problem to solve is plowing parking lots with cars in them,” Jones said. “We have also had some bad conditions that created additional hazards. There was one night [where] the temps increased enough to make it rain, then dropped back down into the ‘teens’ which froze everything up. There is sometimes only so much we can do and are at the mercy of Mother Nature.”
Resident students at UF were asked to move their cars out of resident parking so that the Physical Plant could more effectively plow these areas. Freshman Amanda Schwartz gave her take on this.
“With the most recent snowfall, I think they should’ve provided more assistance in moving our cars out of the residence lot into the commuter/staff lot for plowing because a lot of people struggled and didn’t have access to shovels,” Schwartz said. “I feel that the security/physical plant should’ve been better equipped and prepared to help students dig out their cars to move them, so they could plow, instead of making us do it ourselves with very little notice.”
William Spraw, the Chief of Police and Director of Security, stated how Safety and Security helps the Physical Plant deal with snow.
“Since we are around campus constantly during the day and night, we try to find areas that need attention for snow and ice removal and contact Physical Plant to remove,” Spraw stated. “Also, overnight if a winter storm hits the campus, we contact someone from the Physical Plant, so they can be prepared in a timely manner.”
Chief Spraw explained how the snow and cold temperatures can hinder travel and slow security’s response times to calls. Like everyone else on campus, they walk and drive more carefully.
As of now Safety and Security has received no reports of falls on the sidewalks, but they have been jumpstarting more vehicles.
“Students who live on campus and don’t drive their vehicle for long periods should start their vehicles once in a while to keep their battery charged,” Spraw advised.
UF’s Physical Plant partners with Alvada Trucking to clear snow and ice from UF’s parking lots and sidewalks.
“They help with the large parking lot areas such as the FRC, Davis, & many others, which allows us to focus on the main campus,” Jones said.
Partnering with Alvada Trucking saves the Physical Plant a lot of time. Physical Plant employees have more time to focus on repairs and maintaining campus when an outside source helps clear the snow. Alvada Trucking also has equipment like dump trucks to move snow and salt in massive quantities. Orion’s crew is also less likely to get worn down by the constant snow clearing when they have help from an outside source.
A downside to subletting the work to an outside company is that it is expensive, and the quality of the clearing is harder to control. Even so, Jones is pleased with Alvada Trucking’s work.
“Alvada does an amazing job,” Jones said. “They have been partners with the University for years. They know what to do, and they get the job done.”
Jones acknowledged that there can always be improvements to the clearing process.
“There will be two changes in the future: better snow equipment; our current machines have seen better days and the ergonomic of how we do business needs to improve and incorporating brine liquid instead of just salt; this will help with the distribution and hopefully help with what salt does to our building, rotting away our concrete, doorways, and floors,” Jones said.
The Physical Plant, Safety and Security, and UF students will continue to adapt as the winter season persists.