A Big White Mess

By Elisa Juliano

February 26, 2014

Between freezing temperatures and heavy snowfalls, this winter has kept Dominican’s Physical Plant department extremely busy.

Jeffrey Powell, building engineer for Physical Plant, explained that he was basically working nonstop on campus to take care of the accumulations of snow and other cold weather issues.

“I think I went 21 days straight here in the month of January,” Powell said.

Powell, along with Hector Melendez and Alberto Angel, operate the snow removal equipment.  Dominican’s crew is responsible for clearing and salting all the sidewalks, roads and parking lots at both Main Campus and the Priory. They also clear Harlem Avenue and Division Street, “as a courtesy to River Forest,” Powell said.

Director of Physical Plant Daniel Bulow says that while outdoor work in the winter can be exhausting, the employees do get compensated for their extra work.

“I think they like it in the beginning when they get the overtime,” Bulow said.

Amy McCormack, senior vice president for finance and administration, said overtime has been “the biggest financial impact of this winter.”

“After working 40 hours a week, you have to get paid time and a half,” McCormack said.

While the cost of paying employees overtime has impacted the budget of the university, Bulow does not believe the impact is great enough to cause worry.

“It will hurt the overall budget a little bit, but I usually come in pretty good,” Bulow said.

Along with leaving an imprint financially, the recent weather has also created problems with parking. Powell said that parking in the inclement weather has resulted in the biggest complaints from staff and students, especially on the roof of the parking garage.

Bulow explained that because of weight load limits, the fifth floor of the parking garage has to be cleared as soon as the snow and ice begin to heavily accumulate.

“We have to make sure it’s clean before we open it up for cars,” said Bulow.

In addition to parking, Bulow explained that because of the snow, work orders have also been delayed.

“We cannot do anything but snow removal because it’s safety first,” said Bulow.

Though the snow has caused setbacks for the crew, McCormack said she has received many emails about the crew effectively working to remove snow.

“All of my feedback has been incredibly positive,” said McCormack.

Temperatures did briefly rise towards the end of last week, but are expected to drop once again this week.

“It’s been a long winter for everyone. I think everyone is getting tired of it,” said Bulow.