North Texas Daily

Bad weather does minimal damage

Bad weather does minimal damage

Bad weather does minimal damage
March 24
00:48 2015

Steven James / Senior Staff Writer

Although the several days of inclement weather UNT experienced caused the cancellation of classes and events, the long period UNT experienced did little to affect campus.

Vice president for finance and administration Bob Brown said UNT does not generally extend the semester schedule for inclement weather, and will not do so this semester.

Brown said little money was lost for inclement weather, and that some finalizing still needs to be done on the reporting of work hours.

He said calculations for the last two closings are not yet complete.

Brown said with inclement weather, one of the ways money can be lost is if tickets for cancelled events get refunded.  He said some money also goes to overtime for the groundskeepers in UNT Facilities who have to clear paths for students.

He said the biggest concerns include lost time and opportunities for extracurriculars, impacts on public events and the impact on opportunities for performing and creative arts.

“Ultimately, the safety of our students, staff and the public trumps other concerns,” Brown said.

To start the campus closing process, chief of UNT Police Richard Deter evaluates information from the National Weather Service to see how badly the weather might affect campus. Brown said Deter also checks the safety of surrounding roads and common commuter routes used by staff and students.

After Deter consults with other emergency teams, including Texas Woman’s University and Denton ISD, he then makes a recommendation to UNT president Neal Smatresk, who makes the ultimate decision on campus closure.

“We are proud of how students have reacted,” Brown said. “There will always be differences of opinions of whether or not campus should have been closed, and about the timing of those decisions.” 

Students first received an Eagle Alert a little before 7 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 22 to inform them campus would be closed all day. Normal business hours were expected to resume Tuesday afternoon with buses running at 10:30 a.m., but then another Eagle Alert was issued that morning, with campus closing all day. UNT was open for only part of the day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Deputy chief of police Ed Reynolds said the city of Denton had some accidents, but very few occurred around campus.

“One of the things that we always tell people is to check the weather conditions,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said people can check the weather on certain websites, such as the Texas Department of Transportation, to see if traffic is backed up or if the weather is bad for driving.

“Keep supplies in your car,” he said. “We all get in a hurry sometimes and don’t think those things through.”

Grounds maintenance manager Lanse Fullinwider said the groundskeepers cannot start doing work for inclement weather until the snow and ice settles on the ground.

“Here in Texas, what usually happens, even if it falls in snow, typically the ground is too warm, so snow melts and then as the sidewalks become cold enough they freeze, therefore creating a layer of ice,” Fullinwider said.

Fullinwider also said when campus is closed, the groundskeepers help clear the sidewalks, steps and ramps on campus.

Fullinwider said the groundskeepers make at least one entrance open from a safe walkway, most of the time the handicap entrance.

He said once a main path to most of the buildings has been cleared, they go back and start making second and third paths to the buildings. Groundskeepers then pour salt mix and sand mix wherever they need, trying to not run out of salt mix.

“We’ve got to try to make it safe for [the students] to get there,” Fullinwider said. “They, like everyone else, are responsible for their own safety. We just got to try to make it as safe as possible as we can with the restrictions we have.”

Featured Image: A car drives through the slush and ice on the Square after the first snowfall in late February. Photo by Edward Balusek – Visuals Editor

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