Article Written by Kevin Bloemberg. Photo by Kevin Bloemberg.

As leaves are starting to fall from the trees, Facilities Management on campus is ramping up efforts to clear them. They have a lot of tools at their disposal, and they need them.

Barron Nixon is the maintenance supervisor for the Facilities Management department, making sure that the falling leaves won’t cause any problems.

“We want to be proactive instead of reactive,” he said. “We have a crew of three groundskeepers and a mechanic that can help out every now and then. We also have students helping us, but they can only work 20 hours a week during the semester.”

The biggest problem with the leaves, Nixon said, is the way it looks when they are all on the ground. That is why he and his crew work hard to remove them.

“I think it just looks better, from an aesthetic point of view,” he said. “The beautification of campus is definitely high on our priority. We don’t want them getting into buildings, or piling up in corners.”

A student, Carter Hunter, is overall pleased with the job Facilities Management is doing.

“Some areas are better than others,” he said as he was walking around campus. “Sidewalks are pretty alright for the most part. Overall I think it looks alright.”

Even though he also admits that there is always room for improvement.

“Some spots seem pretty clear and others have a few,” he said.

It is important to get rid of the leaves as soon as possible, before they start creating other issues as well. One of the main concerns with falling leaves, is that they can clog up the water drainage on campus. For example near the different drywalls on campus, a major concern for Nixon’s crew.

“That’s where a lot of our water runoff goes,” he explained. “We don’t want the leaves to go in there, because then we have to vacuum them all out.”

“If we do get a storm, we want to make sure that water can get off of campus and won’t be pooling out there,” Nixon continued.

When leaves end up in the drainage system, that is a major concern, with water not able to drain away. That could create some serious issues that will take a long time to solve.

“That’s another expense we don’t want to have to worry about,” Nixon said.

Luckily, Nixon and his team are well prepared, and ready to take care of the 100 acres of campus grounds.

“We are going to have a whole swath of equipment that will help us pick up those leaves,” he said.

For this, they use their heavy machinery like mowers, but also vacuum systems, and trailers to haul the leaves out.

And they take preventive measures as well. For example, with the drywalls.

“We do pump them out,” Nixon said. “So if leaves do get in there, we can vacuum them out, preventing the drains from backing up.”

Once the leaves are all picked up, they are taken to a facility just outside of St. Cloud, leaving campus looking sharp again, and without any drainage issues. And once these jobs are done, new ones are looming, especially with winter approaching.

“Winter is a whole other beast,” Nixon smiled when asked about the change of seasons. “That is always a very busy time as well.”

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