After watching the ISD 728 grounds crew perform back-breaking work, clearing nearly 20 inches of snow at the end of February, Salk Middle School custodian Todd Johnson had a thought:
“They,” he wrote, putting those thoughts to an email, “deserve to be recognized for all of their hard work this winter.”
Indeed, ISD 728’s grounds crew has gone above and beyond, Districtwide. The Feb. 23 and 24 storm alone dropped 16 to 19 inches of snow across much of ISD 728, a record-setting amount for February. That’s on top of a foot that fell over two days in December. And some 80 inches that have fallen this historic winter – which ranks (currently) among the Top 8 in Minnesota history for this region.
“Some of the grounds crew have had to sleep at the District Service Center,” Todd wrote. “Just to get up and start plowing again so we can get the school district ready each day.”
The night of Feb. 23, for example, crews plowed at Prairie View Middle and Elementary buildings twice – as winds created huge drifts around the parking lot and entrances.
“Without them, we literally wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” said Cory Franson, ISD 728 Community Engagement Director. “The best word I can think of is relentless. As much as the weather has dished out, they’ve been relentless in cleaning it up.”
The ice created by rain mixed with the snow has been a particular challenge on walkways and parking lots.
“We’re really hopeful there’s some sunshine in our future,” said Superintendent Dan Bittman. “They deserve it. They’ve done a tremendous job, along with our custodians, to keep our schools safe and our buildings warm.”
Hopefully, in a few short weeks, the focus will turn to fertilizing, weeding and mowing as winter finally gives way to spring. Until then, the shoveling, salting and scraping will continue, with hopes of warmer days to come.
“If you see Joe Stich or Gary Ebner or any of the crew, tell them thank you,” Franson said. “They are truly appreciated.”
The ISD 728 Grounds Crew: Pictured from left to right are team members Joe Stich, Scott Falls, Gary Ebner, Jeff Flanagan, and Jeremy Rahn. Not pictured, Dan Schlicht.