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Doane Facilities work to remove snow on campus

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Snow pic

The grounds crew uses a variety of tools to aid them in clearing pathways on campus.

Ice scrapers, snow plows, snow shovels and salt. Winter has made its way to Doane, forcing students and staff to break out these seasonal tools. However, it’s the university’s Facilities Department and Public Safety Office that do the brunt of the work for the Doane community when winter conditions bear their teeth.

Doane has endured two significant snowfalls over the course of the past three weeks. This left streets and sidewalks on campus somewhat treacherous for students and staff.

Mike Hatfield, manager of Grounds and Fleet Services, said that grounds crews were sent out every time there was enough snow to cover the ground. This happens no matter the severity.

“Every time there’s accumulating snow that covers the majority of walks, or even if it’s a skiff of snow that collects on the edges (of walks), we’ll go out and at least check,” Hatfield said.

The amount of snow during any given snowfall determines how many staff members Hatfield will need to address issues around campus. During the last major snowfall, Hatfield said that the department used 12 staff members. They used three plow trucks, one Bobcat, one John Deere machine and one Tool Cat. These machines scooped snow. Six staff members shoveled and salted walks around campus. Hatfield also employs 10 student grounds workers to help when they can.

Parking lot clearings are also a big part of snow removal at Doane. Public Safety Director Russ Hewitt said that timing is the key factor when considering closing campus parking lots. During holiday breaks, staff can clear the lots since few to no students are on campus.

Hewitt said the Safety Office sends out a campus-wide email 24 hours before snow removal when students are on campus. The email will inform students and staff that their cars would need to be moved. In each of these emails, the office is very strategic in which lots it picks to clear first. Often, safety officers will block off lots first that have fewer cars parked in them or are empty. Staff will clear these lots first and then open them up again for students to move their cars. Then the other lots are cleared. Sporting events and other campus activities take priority for which lots are cleared.

Students sometimes leave their parks in the lots that need to be cleared. Hewitt said the Safety Office would make many attempts to contact the student through email, texts or phone calls. If the office can not reach the student after many attempts, their car could be subject to towing.

“If it’s a registered vehicle, what we’ve done in the past is we’ll move the vehicle to an on-campus spot and then they (the students) are charged for the cost of the tow,” Hewitt said. “Because the (other) option is, we just let the towing company take it, so we try and work with them and we keep it on campus so they can get to it when they come back, but they have to pay for their own personal tow.”

Hewitt said the prices for towing vary, but usually average around $50 to $75. He said that more often than not, towing occurs because students leave campus, but leave their car in a residential lot during a snowfall.

Ashley Zaeske, a senior from Denver, says that her home city is heavy with traffic. The city expects crews to be ready for snowfall at all times during the winter season. She said that Denver crews would already be out and starting the snow removal process if it were only starting to snow. As far as snow removal at Doane, Zaeske said she’s seen improvement throughout her time here.

“I think Doane has improved their snow removal tactics. When I think back to my freshman year, there were many times that I would slip walking to class due to how much ice is still on the sidewalks,” Zaeske said. “I have noticed Doane has become more proactive in terms of putting salt down and are quick to getting the snow removed on the sidewalks.”

Hewitt said that Doane does many things to take care of snow accumulation, but students should still be careful.

“We really encourage students to do as much as they can to look at their schedules, consider environmental factors like weather and make a plan,” Hewitt said.