Fort McCoy News Jan. 27, 2017

Snow removal at McCoy: Team stays ready for winter

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Winter in Wisconsin can provide all kinds of bad weather, including freezing rain, snow, or sleet at any time or even all in one day. When that happens, the Fort McCoy snow removal team plows through whatever Mother Nature dishes out.

The team includes the Fort McCoy grounds/snow-removal contractor, Kaiyuh Services LLC of Anchorage, Alaska, as well as Directorate of Public Works, or DPW, personnel.

Contractor Oversight Representative Dennis Workman said Kaiyuh Services has done a great job keeping more than 400 miles of roads, sidewalks, and parking areas clear so the Fort McCoy workforce can operate safely.

A heavy-equipment operator with the Fort McCoy snow removal contractor, Kaiyuh Services LLC of Anchorage, Alaska, drives a plow truck to move snow Jan. 9 at Fort McCoy. Kaiyuh became the Fort McCoy grounds and snow removal contractor in September 2016.
A heavy-equipment operator with the Fort McCoy snow removal
contractor, Kaiyuh Services LLC of Anchorage, Alaska, drives a plow
truck to move snow Jan. 9 at Fort McCoy. Kaiyuh became the Fort
McCoy grounds and snow removal contractor in September 2016.

"Kaiyuh became our contractor Sept. 1, and we have a great working relationship with them," Workman said.

"They are responsible for taking care of all grounds and roadways on post. They complete mowing and lawn-care work in the summer and snow and ice removal during the winter season."

Winter weather events during December and January have been especially challenging for the team, said Jon Pauley, Kaiyuh's project manager at Fort McCoy, but they've kept up and responded effectively.

"We had one weather event where there was freezing rain, then rain, and then snow on top of that," Pauley said. "But we were here clearing roads and walkways to make sure everyone was able to get where they needed to go."

Workman said snow removal at Fort McCoy is completed in prioritized areas. For example, priority one areas typically are areas where there are higher concentrations of people, such as at the Child Development Center and School Age Center/Youth Center, Wisconsin Military Academy, Wisconsin State Patrol Academy, and areas near the Fort McCoy Exchange and Commissary.

"We have a lot of priority one areas, which are taken care of immediately during inclement weather," Workman said. Priority two and three areas are cleared immediately in succession as required.

The Kaiyuh team has approximately 30 people working year-round at Fort McCoy. Kaiyuh Program Manager Brad Knoll said everyone on the staff lives locally, and they all know the importance of what they do.

"We have experts in the field (of snow removal)," Knoll said, noting that Kaiyuh has personnel with decades of experience from working with the Monroe County Highway Department, for example. "What we do is done with a reason and a purpose. We're always out here watching the roads, and we're always preparing making sure everyone (on staff) knows our game plan."

Bob Berends, assistant program manager for Kaiyuh, said his team consistently monitors the weather to ensure they are always ready. "Eight hours before the first snowflake falls, we are getting ready," he said.

A Kaiyuh Services operator drives a grader to move snow Jan. 10 on post.
A Kaiyuh Services operator drives a grader to move snow Jan. 10
on post.

The effort is more than just watching a weather forecast, Berends said. It also includes ensuring personnel are scheduled for coverage and know their required tasks, all materials needed are available, and equipment is running and ready to go.

"When the weather is really bad, our team is stretched to the limit," Pauley said.

"But I'm really proud at how they respond and get their work done. … Everyone (on the team) takes pride in what they do. We want to make Fort McCoy not only look good, but also be a place that is safe for the entire community."

Berends added, "The hard work that gets done is a real credit to our staff. We had some people who worked every weekend in December and even on Christmas. They know that's what the job takes, and they are glad to do it."

During two different freezing rain occurrences in early and mid-January, the Kaiyuh team faced a difficult task battling ice throughout the post. Workman said DPW received a lot of requests for areas to have salt applied, but it was too cold out to be effective.

"We want people to know that we are always doing our best to meet the customer's needs," Workman said. "During those times we had the ice everywhere, we applied the salt when it was most effective — when temperatures are above 15 degrees. However, because we had a lot of slippery conditions, we sanded constantly to improve the driving and walking conditions. It's always a challenge when there's ice buildup like we saw."

Doug Stillwell, safety and quality control specialist for Kaiyuh, said when the ice was particularly bad in early January, they had a whole crew at the Child Development Center making the area safe for the children, staff, and parents who were there.

"We had several people over there chopping ice and clearing the walkway into the facility," Stillwell said. "We wanted that area as safe as we could get it even though the conditions were difficult."

The Kaiyuh team has numerous pieces of equipment available to them to clear snow and ice as well, including graders, loaders with plows, and all-terrain vehicles with plows. Stillwell advises people to stay clear for safety purposes when this equipment is at work.

"As we work to create safer conditions for the community, we also want to make sure our staff stays safe as they work," Stillwell said. "Give the operators plenty of space to complete their work, so we can prevent any possible mishaps."

People who have specific requests for snow removal can call the DPW Helpline at 608-388-4357. For more information about the snow removal team, call Workman at 608-388-6512.