The Kochel Center at Penn State Behrend

With the snow cleared, Behrend set to begin spring semester

The holiday break brought a snowstorm for the record books, but the college's roads, walkways and academic buildings are open.

If you were away for the semester break, the magnitude of the historic snowstorm that pummeled Erie County beginning on Christmas Eve defies description. It stopped the mail, shuttered the airport and activated the Pennsylvania National Guard, which used Humvees to transport essential personnel to hospitals and nursing homes.

The storm dumped 34 inches on Christmas Day. The next day brought 24 more inches, bumping the snowfall total for December 2017 to more than 102 inches, which is nearly four times the average for that month. It left a pile nearly a foot taller than Manute Bol or Gheorghe Muresan, the tallest men to have ever played in the NBA.

Penn State Behrend’s maintenance and operations crews worked through the holiday, including Christmas Day, to clear campus roads, walkways and parking lots.

“They stayed on top of it,” said Randy Geering, senior director of operations at the college. “We were fully staffed or 75-percent staffed nearly every day of the break.”

In a typical year, just one maintenance employee is on campus during the winter break.

Work crews shoveled snow off building roofs. They cleared fire hydrants and dug out fleet vans, which had been completely buried. They cleared the college’s 2,567 parking spots, many of which will be needed beginning Sunday, Jan. 7, when the residence halls open for the spring semester. Classes begin Jan. 8.

Much of the snow was piled at the nearby Gospel Hill Golf Course. It was carried there in nearly 100 dump trucks.

“Our maintenance and operations staff is meticulous with every aspect of the college’s day-to-day operations, even during the academic breaks,” Chancellor Ralph Ford said. “The pride they put into their work is a key reason so many of us feel so at home here.”