By Meghan Creane
You’ve definitely seen them out there covered in camouflage and either wielding an industrial sized shovel or behind the wheel of a plow, working day in and day out to make our campus equally beautiful and safe. Union’s devoted grounds crew are self-admittedly “the best.”
Many students unanimously agree on this front as they raved about the job the grounds crew does on a daily basis. As Mike Sachs ‘13 notes, “the grounds crew does a great job with snow removal! It is very rare that I have to trudge through even ankle deep snow.” John Jepson ‘16 is equally as impressed and thankful, believing that “the weather is hardly any issue at all because of all their hard work.”
“I’m always impressed with work the grounds crew does, I never slip and fall on ice or snow left behind after storms,” shared Haley Welch ‘15.
The man in charge of the grounds crew and of the fleet of shovelers during a big storm is Tom Heisenger, who has been with Union since 1988 and has a clear dedication to the school and its students.
Heisenger is extremely proud of his “guys with the know how and the machinery” some of whom have been around since 1965, but all of whom are equally dedicated to Union.
If you have ever wondered how you go to sleep looking out at a blanket of snow covering campus and wake up to a maze of freshly cleared paths and salted stairs, the answers all lie in the 13 page bible to snow removal used by the Grounds Crew.
Heisenger has divided the campus and “each guy is assigned to a specific area/zone” in order to make snow removal the most efficient. He also has individual plans for minor, moderate and major storm categories as well as an “emergency parking plan” in place for certain circumstances.
Something Heisenger is most proud of is the secret weapon of snow removal, “liquid magic.” Liquid magic is a salt treatment that the crew uses to increase the lasting qualities of the ice melting salt that is spread across campus. Liquid magic is a “by-product of the vodka distilling process…and prevents re-freezing on the sidewalks and roads.” Heisenger and the crew will often “mix Liquid Magic with calcium chloride, magnesium chloride and a product called safe step” to make for ideal no-slip conditions.
The crew is also well aware of the needs of the students’ social lives. Heisenger is in contact with both Campus Safety and several students every Friday about what the weekend plans are so the crew can clear accordingly in the case of a storm.