8, 2001, Gazette)
Armed for the
by Chris Hammond
Clear pathways greet walkers around Memorials St. Johns
By Mary MacGillivray
Recently, a St. Johns man called the police, as he was
alarmed to look outside and find that his car had vanished. When
the police arrived, they discovered that his car was not missing
after all. The car was simply covered in snow.
It has been said that this winter has been the roughest of its
kind in 60 years. By mid-January, over 100,000 pounds of snow
already had been dumped into St. Johns harbour in an effort
to keep up with clearing away record snowfalls. As a perfectly
white blanket on trees, houses, and simply everything, a prolonged
supply of snow can be stunning. As an icy barricade that prevents
the opening of front doors in the morning without an industrial
sized blowtorch, snow can be a little pesky.
Keeping up with snow removal in marathon mode is hard work. Have
you ever noticed the excellent job that is being done here at
Memorial in terms of carving the buildings out of their snowy
beds and dusting off the campus each and every day?
Aidan Kiernan, associate director of Facilities Management, is
very proud of the quality of work undertaken by a team of 24
men and women who are striving to keep up with the amazing amount
of snow that has fallen this winter. Working at such a pace makes
it hard to get enough rest. These people have been working overtime
and they are tired. Heavy snowfall is not something that Mr.
Kiernan and his team take lightly.
When the weather outside is frightful, Memorial has the assistance
of a team of unsung heroes. On the St. Johns campus, 20
dedicated men and women work to provide safe passageways for
us all. During snowstorms that relentlessly dump more and more
of the white stuff, these folks are working essentially around
the clock. The clearing of footpaths alone begins on campus at
4 a.m. during stormy weather. The after-hours clearing of parking
lots usually begins at midnight.
One result of working through the night and on weekends for nearly
a month is that Hatcher Field, by Paton College, is full of snow
and the team is worn out. Lately they have been dumping excess
snow behind the Aquarena. Already this winter, a whopping $70,000
worth of salt has been distributed about the St. Johns
campus, including the area surrounding the Health Sciences Centre.
This is usually enough to last the whole winter. Salt is chosen
instead of sand because salt creates a lot less mess. There is
less clean up in the spring and less dirt to be tracked into
Using mainly heavy equipment such as loaders, plows, graders,
and salt trucks, these employees carefully set about widening
back campus roads. Every door has to be dug out, and other entranceways
and sidewalks cleared. Memorial owns little snow blowers and
little plows, but hires a contractor each winter for the use
of heavy equipment, to avoid wasting a lot of money by having
such expensive equipment sitting around all year until winter.
In accordance with fire safety regulations, each and every fire
hydrant on campus must be clear from the obstruction of snow
also. When, as they certainly have been this winter, they are
completely buried by snow, a marking system helps to locate them.
A watchful eye is also kept on any roofs that may cause problems
as they are given more than a dollop of snow. Mr. Kiernan is
happy to report that there have not been any major troubles with
campus roofing to date. The beautiful and sometimes frightening
stalactites that dangle precariously from eaves are also not
to be ignored. These giant icicles look enough like lightning
bolts to suggest that they could provide quite a headache.
When April and May come along, Mr. Kiernan and his team will
be turning their efforts towards perking up the grounds so that
the spring can work its magic, trading icy snowballs for fiery