Snow can mean a lot of different things on a college campus.
Some feel joy because winter has finally come, some feel rage and despair because winter has finally come.
But on a college campus, the most common feeling is hope: hope that classes will be canceled.
Much to the chagrin of KSC students, the Keene State College Grounds Department will help keep classes going this winter, thanks to their Snow and Ice Response Plan.
The first thing a visitor sees when they enter the Physical Plant/Grounds meeting room in the Whitcomb Building is a flat screen TV projecting a Doppler radar.
“Everyone on the crew is addicted to the weather,” said Assistant Director of Physical Plant/Grounds Bud Winsor.
Winsor helps formulate a plan to maintain the parking lots and sidewalks on campus each time a snowstorm rears its head over Keene.
Winsor said KSC Grounds receives its weather information from the Doppler radar and New England-based Precision Weather Services.
The radar shows large green blobs drifting over the eastern hemisphere of the United States.
Grounds can see storms coming in from literally miles away.
“We don’t get many surprises like we used to in the old days,” Winsor said.
Winsor said when Grounds thinks a snow storm is coming in, his crew will go out and pre-treat campus’ sidewalks with a special spray.
The spray is called “Magic-0.” It is made up of recycled brewery items and potassium chloride.
Winsor said Grounds likes to use Magic-0 because it is less corrosive on his equipment and campus sidewalks.
Campus Gardener and Grounds crew member Joe Britton said spraying the sidewalks used to be a good omen for students.
“The students would see us spraying that out and they’d automatically think that school was cancelled the next day. It was the funniest thing.”
Winsor and Britton said Grounds uses Magic-0 to mitigate the first few inches of snow and stop it from turning into ice.
“It becomes slush, not ice,” Winsor said.
According to KSC Snow and Ice Response Plan [S&IRP], the first step Grounds takes after or during a snowstorm is opening up the campus for daily operations.
This starts at four in the morning and goes to nine a.m..
Grounds opens up and clears all of KSC’s main roads and parking lots.
Grounds also clears all the main sidewalks and entrances to all campus buildings.
Grounds then continues to clean up, salt and plow throughout the storm.
According to the S&IRP, there are 17 pieces of snow removal equipment that help with the process.
These range from push-operated snow blowers to sidewalk plows equipped with rotary brooms to 1-Ton stake body trucks with 8’ plows.
Winsor said the last step is trucking the snow away.
Students may be happier if Grounds just let the snow come down to facilitate a snow day, but to Winsor and Britton, this is a matter of public safety.
KSC Senior and commuter student Dylan Rychlik said he thinks Grounds does a good job cleaning up.
“I’ve never had any issues,” he said.
Winsor and Britton said Grounds’ worst nightmare is an ice storm.
“If I can go through the winter without one of those, I’d be happy,” Winsor said.
Britton said these are especially dangerous because once ice forms, it is really hard to get rid of the ice when it is raining.
“If you have ice and you’re trying to put salt on it, it sits there. It really isn’t as effective,” Britton said.
Winsor said some ice storms make it impossible for Grounds to work fast enough.
“Sometimes I see people fall and slip and I feel sick about it,” he said.
“We really do put a lot of thought into [snow removal] and we do want students to be safe,” Winsor said.
Alex Fleming can be contacted at email@example.com