TOWAMENCIN- With the friendly rays of springtime already starting to show, the numbness of winter is still felt at the bottom of our feet. With a total of two days off, two two-hour delays, and one early dismissal, our custodial support staff has been howling at every last bit of Jack Frost’s leftovers. From their 3 AM mornings to their 11 PM call ins, they will do anything to keep our school safe for everyone.
Tony D’Abbenne, Tobe Hilbert, Gene Serianni, and Jeff Wert are up early and ready to arrive at North Penn hours before Dr. Dietrich will announce any delays or cancellations. The roads are hardly plowed or salted by the time they start their drive to work but it is a sacrifice they have to make.
“Tobe is already here because he has to get up even earlier than us and open up the building. By the time we get here, our plowing vehicles are already warmed up, he has already started loading up salt into the other equipment, like the gators…..we fill them up with bagged salt and spreaders for the sidewalks…see snow, remove snow, that’s us, all hands on board,” D’Abbenne explained.
The team divides and conquers to hit every place on campus. While some take the huge plows and start on the parking lot, others will hand shovel the places the machines can’t reach such as the stairs and ramps. After the snow has mostly been removed, other smaller equipment is used to drop salt spreaders down throughout the parking lot and sidewalks. If it’s a really dense blizzard, the night shift workers are called in to help as well.
“It’s like going to the gym before your 8 hour work day, because you may have spent 4 hours humping salt bags, shoveling snow, and then you still have to put in your 8 hour shift in the high school. It’s a long day,and it’s tiring, and well, I’m old too,” said D’Abbenne.
The chief person in this whole operation is Mr. Hilbert, North Penn’s Facilities Supervisor. Along with overlooking the whole production, he also takes major steps whenever weather comes into play. Along with helping with the removal of snow, Hilbert also makes sure the inside of the building is safe and slip free.
“The biggest unsung hero at the high school is Tobe. He comes in early and stays late, keeps track of everything that is going on here, and that’s a big job within a big job…he has many other things to worry about…it is mind blowing how much stuff he has to take care of,” described co-worker D’Abbenne.
Whenever a storm is coming, the staff makes sure to clear up their schedule so they are free to help whenever and however long it takes.The snowfall, temperatures, and the timing of everything can alter their schedule vastly. With dense snowfall, the team has a hard time finding places to store the unmelted snow around the parking lots and empty space. Although our school is huge, there is limited room to place the snow without bringing in another company to help move the piles. Shoving it on every possible piece of land can cause problems once it starts to melt onto the parking lot and refreeze- making an unsafe environment.
“The main thing that the school does is teach students, and us being the support staff, we support that. We try to make it possible for people to get in and out of here as safely as possible,” commented Serianni.
If nothing was done with the weather, the end result would be many accidents. Slip and fall accidents and car accidents in the parking lot would occur every time a storm came in. The hard work that they put in prevents this from happening by being prepared for each snowflake. Everytime a snowstorm hits, the custodial staff comes together that night to discuss what needs to be fixed, replaced, and refilled for the next storm. This allows them to get right into their work so there is less rushing around so they are cleared before school starts.
Relying on the weatherman is a game to play, but with North Penn’s Snow Team, we know they will do whatever they can to keep our school safe, especially during the winter months. Thank you for all that you do for our school!