Severe winter means longer hours for workers

The Oswego State grounds crew worked 16-hour shifts since Wednesday to clear roads and parking lots for students and staff. Mary DePentu, the Director of Facilities Operations, said that even though this winter has been severe, they are always staffed to handle the snow.

On a typical day, five Operations employees are staffed during, while 12 cover the midnight shift. DePentu said this is because snow removal is difficult during the day when the grounds are busy.

"Of course, [Thursday] morning, it was unusual because the storm hit at 4 a.m. It’s impossible to have everything cleared by the time classes start," she said.

The staff was expected to continue clearing out student lots Thursday night, but had to cancel so they could focus on clearing the roads and paths on campus in lieu of the storm. New equipment has also been valuable in making roads usable.

"I’ve seen a vast improvement in the snow ways and parkways," she said. "The wonderful thing now is that we have new equipment."

Among the new equipment are three Tool Cats, which are six-foot snow blowers, DePentu said. There are also other large snow blowers that attach to the Payloaders. With these tools, the Operations staff has been able to clear sidewalks down to the pavement, though they may still be slushy, she added.

The staff also has a tow truck on site for clearing student lots.

"We’re out there; we’ve got the lights going. Usually just having the equipment out there, students see it and come running," DePentu said.

Students are warned ahead of time when lots are going to be plowed. DePentu said that the head ground supervisor and the lieutenant of the University Police drive to see the student lots. The lots that are worse than others get priority, she said. Then they contact the Residence Life and Housing staff, who inform the students which lots are going to be cleared and when.

In addition to flyers around the dorms and notices on the display screens in the dining halls, students are also e-mailed the information. They are e-mailed in the morning and expected to move their cars out by 6 p.m. Students who do not move their cars by the deadline are contacted. Any remaining cars are then towed. Snowplow drivers can help any students who are stuck. They have jumper cables and battery packs on hand, DePentu said.

Students then move their cars back to their original lots before 7 a.m. afternoon the next morning.