A Hidden Art

Originally published Dec. 17, 2014

Final project for CMJ 351: Multimedia Production

It’s often said that there is no such thing like a true Maine winter — harsh, cold and with plenty of snow. When it comes to winter at the University of Maine, tensions often ride high when campus residents and commuters find themselves snowed-in or snowed-off campus.

While many students contest the university’s Facilities Management department lags in cleaning parking lots and sidewalks of snow, further investigation reveals that there is more to campus winter management than meets the eye.

Geremy Chubbuck, director of Facilities Management maintenance and operations for the university, detailed these efforts in an interview and early morning ride-around in a plow truck. Although he did not wish for his likeness — face, voice or other identifying features — to be used in the video, he revealed the staggering numbers and costs associated with winter cleanup.

There are over 16 miles of sidewalks on campus and seven-and-a-half miles of roads. The university must haul away the snow to an off-campus dump, per Environmental Protection Agency regulations, and must then restore this dump to its original condition at the end of the season. Over 600 cubic yards of rock salt are used annually, and most of it is laid on the university’s over 2.8 million square feet of parking lots.

They only receive $550,000 to do all of this, and it’s all done before most people wake up.

Chubbuck described his job as much more than pushing snow. Between coordinating vehicles and staff members, planning for the storm using doppler radar and creating plow routes and paying for all of it, it’s an involved process that requires time, patience and skill.

“It’s an art,” he said.

Featured image courtesy of Geremy Chubbuck

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