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Snow brings myriad maintenance concerns

December 4, 2008

Snow arrives annually in Wisconsin and brings with it a technical problem: how best to remove it, and what areas to clear first. UW-River Falls has its own Grounds Maintenance crew that has five full-time employees in snow and ice control.

If an inch or more of snow is on the ground, or whenever it gets icy, the UWRF snow and ice control team take action, Manny Kenney, assistant director of Grounds Maintenance, said.

The snow and ice control has a list of priorities for what areas they address first: emergency vehicle access, main/east walks from residence halls to the University Center, main entries of academic buildings, parking lots, secondary walks, connecting routes and university farms.

Kenney sent out this priority list to 1,000 affected people, and only one responded with a concern. The concern was about handicap safety, and Kenney agreed this needed to be taken into consideration.

“Unanimously, people agreed that the first priority was emergency vehicle access,” Kenney said.

Students who live on campus are most affected by snow removal since they rely on the sidewalks to get them to the University Center.

“The snow removal is decent. Not the best that it could be, but decent. They remove the top layer of snow, but there is the bottom layer that is icy and they leave, until several students have fallen,” junior theater major Ben Tatro said.

History major Drew Buehler holds the opposite opinion.

“The snow removal seems to be pretty good.  At least as long as I’ve been here it’s been good,” he said.

The other people who are most affected by the snow removal would be the faculty and UWRF employees as they rely on the safety of the sidewalks to get them to their daily jobs.

“On-campus is fine, but off-campus on the streets is another story,” UWRF theater costumer Denise Baker said.

There are 10 miles of sidewalks on the UWRF campus.

“At times you may not be able to take a secondary walk, but there will be a safe route from one end of campus to the other. Please take the safer route,” Kenney said.

Another concern is whether or not students are dressing safely for winter walking. High heels and sandals are not safe. Many students have to wear high heels for job interviews or speeches but a suggestion would be to bring the high heels along in a backpack and wear the winter boots while walking on the snow and ice.