Facilities Department Ready for Winter
Winter is coming and the Bad River Facilities Department wants to make sure you're as ready as possible, and Scott Vaughan and Don Neveaux are working hard to make sure Winter's visit is as pleasant as possible. That's part of their jobs as the leaders of the Facilities Department.
Scott, the Tribe's Facilities Maintenance Supervisor, and Don, the Facilities Manager, are the team leaders of a workforce that is tasked annually with the job of keeping things running during Winter. When the temperature plummets, the wind blows hard and the snow flies, Scott, Don and their staff will turn a warm shoulder to the chill of Mother Nature.
"Right now, we have a total of 15 staff," Don said. "Out of that 15, we have one woman in the maintenance department."
The Facilities Department works in concert with, but apart from, the Bad River Tribal Roads Department. Each has important jobs to do. "We pretty much stay on Tribal property," Don said. "We take care of all the Tribal buildings. They (the Roads Department) are responsible for the main roads, and they also do driveways. We have to have all these buildings open by 8:00 am - all the buildings, the parking lots, everything."
Don and Scott believe they have enough equipment and plenty of sand-salt to do the job but, of course, would welcome more. "You never have enough equipment," Don said, laughing. "You've got to have more. But this year we should have four plow trucks, a skid steer, and we have a snowblower and a box blade for the skid-steer. That makes moving snow a lot easier."
Winter storms, of course, follow no schedule, so Don and Scott, try to anticipate and react to the weather. "We adjust the workforce, the time," said Don, who has served the Facilities Department for almost two years. "We also look ahead to see if there is another storm coming and then we make plans. We've got more people now than we've ever had here in this department, which is nice, because now we can get more work done in one day."
Scott said five staff members are qualified snow-plow drivers. And they have limited-term employees who pitch in. "We have to make sure we have staff on hand to do it, and we have to have everything opened up by the time work starts."
But ultimately, Mother Nature holds the trump card. "A lot depends on the weather," said Scott, who has served the facilities department for 20 years. "That's the easiest way to say it - it depends on the weather."
Scott said the workload in Wintertime isn't any heavier than warm weather seasons. It's just different. "No, we just shift from doing lawn care to snow removal," Scott said. "There is never a shortage of stuff to do."
But Winter presents daily, unpredictable issues. "You've got to take it day-by-day," Scott said. "Because on days when you're not plowing snow, you're pushing the banks back. You're cleaning it up so that you have room for the next time it comes. So, you're constantly on the go."
Or as Don might tell you, when Mother Nature howls, it's best to come running. "When it comes to snowplowing, I like to do it as all hands on deck and get 'er done right away, as soon as you can."