By Ed Heptig, Director of Building Maintenance
‘Summer break’ can mean a lot of different things to different people. For many, it is a time for fun and vacations. Elementary students may look forward to time at the swimming pool, ball games and family trips. High School students envision summer jobs, hanging out with friends, and maybe sleeping in. Internships or ‘study abroad programs’ might be on the agenda for college students. However, the Division of Facilities has a different concept of ‘Summer break’. For our team, it is an opportunity to reach areas of campus that are not easily accessible when classes are in session.
Working during the summer months, with fewer classes occurring, allows us to complete campus updates as well as perform routine and preventative maintenance more efficiently and safely than during the school year. The construction crew, led by Don Engelken, will be busy this summer renovating classrooms for the next group of students. This includes needed repairs, new HVAC systems, electrical, plumbing, flooring and painting of classrooms and lecture halls as well as labs, office space and other study and work areas. Our Grounds & Landscape Crew, led by Darrin Dohrmann, will mow, plant flower beds, mulch and remove a number of damaged or diseased trees. There are light poles, walk lights, bike parking pads, and street signs that will be installed across campus during the next few months. These are just a few of the projects to be completed this summer.
While warmer weather means an increase in planned maintenance, the winter months are not a time of inactivity. The Division of Facilities is responsible for the upkeep of 10 miles of roadway, 26 miles of sidewalk as well as the maintenance of more than ninety buildings. Weather conditions add to the challenge. All of our crews must deal with Mother Nature and the fury of the seasons whether it is excessive rain, extreme heat, or an abundance of snow and cold temperatures. This last winter, almost every weekend brought additional snowfall that kept our staff busy. Construction Crew members stayed occupied clearing streets and loading-docks. Grounds & Landscaping Crew were just as busy clearing sidewalks and steps while our Custodial Crew shoveled and swept snow to make sure building entrances were clear. Building Maintenance Zone Crews inspected areas around their assigned buildings and helped Custodial staff in keeping areas accessible for students, employees and campus visitors. In addition to snow, the freeze and thaw cycle caused damage to many of the campus streets. We spent several hours packing patch material into potholes only to see it pop out a few weeks (or even days) later due to temperature changes. We continue to repair potholes daily.
I want to extend a big “Thank You” to our Facilities Team for all the hard work and long hours they put in to get us through a rough winter. Several key people were vital to the process running smoothly. Paul Woodyard was my first phone call. He contacted construction crew members James (Skip) Davis, Kurt Norris, Dan Plummer and John Silva who composed the main staff working nights, early mornings, and weekends. The Day Crew – Larry Booker, Tom Cook, Dan Engelbert and Larry Melton would continue clean-up efforts through-out the day. Mark Fronce and Joe Meyers coordinated the Grounds & Landscape crew to clean 26 miles of sidewalks while Custodial supervisors Patrick Lancaster and Quentin Rawlings directed Custodial crews to clear building entrances. Building Maintenance Zone supervisors Troy Bronaugh, Galen Hageman, Shelly Hauck, Travis Homeier and Mike Paph led their teams in checking building entrances, handicap ramps, and curb cuts to support the Custodial Crew efforts. It was a long winter, but our crews did a great job clearing snow and making it possible to keep the campus open.
Our summer schedule has started! We plan to accomplish a lot over the next few months. Like every year, we will adjust our day-to-day workload as necessary to deal with unexpected events but we plan to have campus in good shape when the weather changes again. Before we know it, we will be welcoming students back to campus for another great school year.
Have a great summer!