‘Snow Dawgz’ brave winter weather to keep Mansfield campus open

By day, they are maintenance workers and groundskeepers at The Ohio State University at Mansfield. But when snow is in the forecast, the “Snow Dawgz” are the first, and sometimes only, employees who are required to report to work.

“They are relentless,” said Brian White, superintendent, Mansfield Campus Plant Operations and Maintenance. “They clear the snow and then are expected to take care of setting up for meetings and building maintenance and all of their normal duties. They are very proud of their ability to keep the campus open.”

Nicknamed “Snow Dawgz” by a professor a few years ago, they travel snow-packed roads from Lucas, New Washington, Crestline and Ashland, as well as from Mansfield, usually rousted by a phone call about 3 a.m., to prepare the campus by 7 a.m. for employee and student arrival. The campus rarely closes for snow events.

Tim Robinette, groundskeeper at The Ohio State University at Mansfield, prepares for an upcoming snow event by loading a salt truck at the Schuttera Service Center. The groundskeepers and maintenance crew are responsible for keeping the campus open for classes during the winter.

“We usually arrive within about a half-hour after the call,” said Tim Robinette, groundskeeper. “Some of us live in adjacent counties where it might be a higher level snow emergency than Richland County. We still try to report for duty if we can safely.”

The crew of nine is responsible for several miles of roadways on the Mansfield campus, as well as sidewalks and more than a half-dozen large parking lots that service both Ohio State Mansfield and North Central State College.

Equipment does dual duty – six pick-up trucks are retrofitted for winter with snow plows, a loader is used to fill a salt truck, and tractors are fitted with plows and sweepers to clean sidewalks. A local snow removal company is on speed-dial in case heavier equipment is needed.

Their work this season has been nearly non-stop. They have had more call-ins, as they refer to the early morning phone calls, to date than all of last year, according to Larry Stimpert, building maintenance superintendent. In a typical winter, the “Snow Dawgz” respond to about 20 to 25 call-ins. By mid-January this year, they’ve already reported for snow duty 19 times.

There’s only one shift and they sometimes work 12 to 14 hours before leaving. Crews usually bring clothes, sleeping bags and food for the rare occasion when they can’t get back home.

Every snow is different, Robinette says. Depending on the temperature and humidity, at times crews can use brushes on the tractors to clear fluffy snow, while at other times plows are needed to push the snow into large mounds at the edges of parking lots. Crews must hand-shovel several stairways.

“That sub-zero weather tore us up,” Robinette said. “The last few snows, it’s taken us two or three days to clean the parking lots and access areas. Then the snow melts, it freezes at night and we are back at it the next day to remove the ice. We really look forward to spring.”

Excellence in Service: Ginny Corso


Ginny beams after accepting the Distinguished Staff Award.

Virginia “Ginny” Corso, Academic Advisor for Education, Academy, and Seniors to Sophomores programs at The Ohio State University at Mansfield, has been named a 2013 recipient of the Ohio State Distinguished Staff Award.

“I’ve never met anyone who cared more or worked harder than Ginny,” said co-worker Rick Stewart, an academic advisor on the Mansfield Campus. “She is clearly an example of someone who keeps getting better at what she does and will continue to be a valuable resource for both the students and her colleagues.”

In her 32 years with the university, Ginny has consistently identified and helped develop innovative programs to maximize new opportunities on the Mansfield Campus. Her efforts led directly to the hiring of the first fulltime Disability Specialist on campus, creation of Mansfield Staff Advisory Council, establishment of Seniors to Sophomores program, and development of educational articulation agreements, helping North Central State College early childhood education associate degree graduates transfer more easily to Ohio State Mansfield.

In addition to building and growing internal programs, Ginny has streamlined the registration processes for flexibly scheduled courses, helping accommodate Making Math Meaningful and the Dual Credit program for local school teachers. “Ginny’s contributions to our education students are critical to their success in our programs,” shared Ohio State Mansfield Associate Dean David Tovey.  “I know when individual students have faced grave obstacles including personal illnesses and family tragedies; they have sought out Ginny first, knowing she would take the time to help them.”

Corso earned her Master of Education from Kent State University and Bachelor of Science in Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She earned her Mathematics Certification from The Ohio State University, and teaches college math and freshman orientation classes at Ohio State Mansfield.

The Distinguished Staff Award recognizes just 12 staff members university-wide who have had five years of continuous service, for exceptional accomplishments, leadership, and service to the university community by significantly improving or enhancing the quality of work life in ways that make a substantial difference for their colleagues; contributing to outstanding and sustained improvements in customer services; and developing creative solutions to problems that result in significantly more effective and efficient university operations. The Office of Human Resources awards honorees a $1,500 cash award and a $700 increase to their base salary.

But for Ohio State Mansfield: Mike LaCroix

SONY DSCBy Jake Furr, Stephanie Maneese, Heather Smith, and Terry Taylor

What started out as a journey of uncertainty for Mike LaCroix has turned into something truly special: serving as the Coordinator of Athletics and Recreation at The Ohio State University at Mansfield.

The Plymouth native knew that going to college was a necessity, so he enrolled in classes at OSU Mansfield to pursue a bachelor’s degree. He chose OSU Mansfield because it was close to home and he would have the support of friends and family while adjusting to the demands of college.

Like many incoming students, Mike wondered what there was to do. He soon discovered “games to attend, events to go to,” and numerous organizations and clubs to join. OSU Mansfield is also a prime location for many kinds of recreation, from skiing at Snow Trails to jumping out of airplanes with the skydiving club. Mike immediately joined the Mansfield Mavericks basketball team and helped out with freshmen orientation on behalf of the Campus Recreation Center. Sports are a big part of his life, and OSU Mansfield gave him the opportunity to live his dream of playing college basketball.

When asked about his favorite memory at OSU Mansfield, Mike declared without hesitation, “Playing basketball. Not so much the game, but the van trips to and from games. Fit twelve guys into an eleven-passenger van, and the conversations that come up are off the wall. Win or lose, that is my biggest memory from being a student.” Mike’s basketball team left a lasting impression on him, and he will always be thankful to OSU Mansfield for that.

In addition to extracurricular activities, OSU Mansfield encourages students to earn credit by completing internships. Mike gained real world work experience by interning at Plymouth High School. He dedicated over sixty hours working at numerous athletic events and has exemplified what it means to be an Ohio State Buckeye as a member of the local community.

By attending OSU Mansfield, Mike said he was able to “get a job as a student worker, find a major that suited me, develop the skills necessary to be selected as the new Coordinator, and meet my future wife, all because of the decision I made to play basketball for the Mavericks.”

Mike was unsure what he wanted to major in until his junior year when an OSU Mansfield staff member suggested he look into sports management. Mike took advantage of what OSU Mansfield offers in order to achieve his goals. The Ohio State University not only gave him the tools he needed, but also a professional opportunity to get his career started.

Being employed as the new Coordinator of Athletics and Recreation at OSU Mansfield means a lot to Mike because he has the best of both worlds; he gets to be close to his family while working at a nationally recognized university. Mike enjoys his time working with students and members of the Mansfield community through non-credit programs offered at the campus recreation center. OSU Mansfield not only gave Mike a launching pad for his future; OSU Mansfield employees also gave him advice and guided him in the right direction.

Mike’s advice to anyone who is contemplating getting their education at Ohio State Mansfield would be to absolutely go for it: it’s affordable, and it has a national reputation. OSU Mansfield is less expensive than Columbus, while offering smaller classes and more opportunities for one-on-one teaching. Mike believes the small campus atmosphere provides a better learning environment for students. He explains, “You don’t feel overwhelmed; you don’t feel like a number. At OSU Mansfield, when you have a question, you are not talking to a teaching assistant; you are speaking directly to a professor. You are able to focus more here, and there is much more of a support group.”

But for Ohio State Mansfield, Mike LaCroix would not have received the support, direction, and opportunity that landed him in Sports Management.