At the beginning of each spring semester, students see grounds crews with plows and shovels battling the snow that covers the campus of Lorain County Community College. The Physical Plant handles the day-to-day operations of the entire campus, including utilities, landscaping, custodial duties, and, of course, snow removal.
The crew consists of 21 staff members, according to the Director of Physical Plant Operations, Dale Lucas. “We have full time, part time, student helpers, [and] contracted staff,” Lucas said.
Winter is the crew’s busiest season, and with that comes a lot of planning. “For winter the biggest plan is getting all our people coordinated and on board with their tasks. It takes a lot of manpower to staff snow removal for this site,” Lucas stated.
Plans like these began to take shape towards the end of fall semester, which is when Lucas said his staff started to take a slightly different approach than in previous years.
“This year, we did something a little bit different,” Lucas said. “Prior to winter, [in] late fall, we commandeered parking lot 7 and we turned it into a training ground for all of our snow equipment.”
This extra training will allow Lucas and his staff some flexibility during the winter months.
“This way we have more diversity in who can operate what type of equipment,” Lucas explained. “It’s kind of like cross-training.”
The crew uses about 300 tons of rock salt in an average year, but thanks to a mild winter and a new chemical technique, that hasn’t been the case this year.
“The mild winter, it helped us out immensely,” Lucas commented. “We’re saving money on rock salt and deicer. Snow removal activities require a lot of overtime, so we’re saving funding on overtime. Plus, our guys aren’t stressed out like they would [normally] be.”
According to grounds and custodial group leader and crew trainer, Tim Gadomski, crews will be utilizing a new chemical treatment called Aqua Salina, which is a liquid deicer. Gadomski said the same formula is used by the Ohio Department of Transportation on highways in the area.
Lucas said that crews had to be trained on new spraying equipment, but is hopeful this new process will cut costs.
“It’s a pre-application and post-application,” Gadomski said of the liquid deicer. “It’s supposed to create a barrier for the ice, so it should just plow away.”
“If it works well this year, we’re going to expand on it next year,” Lucas added. “We’re hoping this makes the site safer and prevent slips and falls.”