Looking down South Street, past the parking lot known as “Africa,” one can see the vivid red boldness of the new Physical Plant barn against the typical green Vermont scenery. This new building has replaced the dingy, dusty and decrepit Physical Plant building located near the Spartan Stadium.
The aromas of new paint and fresh wood blend together as soon as you walk in the door and explain why the facilities workers are smiling. This new, clean building provides the crews with more storage and much more space to work separate from each other. They love it, and a tour with a giddy Christine Kwolek, the custodial supervisor, was proof.
“I love it,” Kwolek said beaming. “The other place was so depressing and this is much brighter and open.”
Kwolek shows off the guys’ new break room complete with new Apple computers, air conditioning and a large window allowing light to shine in on their smiling faces. It creates a feel of an upbeat atmosphere, something different from the old place, workers say.
“It’s designed as a maintenance facility better. Everything was jumbled together before and we all walked around squinting,” said Rick Wareing, the assistant facilities director. “I don’t have a favorite thing. It’s all wonderful.”
The college’s first fleet vehicle, a huge wooden sleigh, sits in the front lobby. Its chipped paint and discoloration contrasts the neutral walls and shiny new floor.
Around the corner in the conference room are yet more blueprints and designs for more improvements to the college.
All the shops have more storage space and open work space. Boxes upon boxes of tools and supplies line the walls of the shops leaving the middle open for larger equipment such as the auto shop’s new lift.
The ground-keeping shop has tools hanging all over the walls and the plumbing shop has nuts and bolts in every corner.
Laurie Provin and Kevin Treadway, two ground-keepers see it as a fresh start.
“The old one was just there. This one was made for us and it’s something we can take pride in,” Provin said. “It makes it seem like we’re not at the bottom of the food chain anymore.”
The carpentry shop is bursting with piles of wood to be cut. The soon to be conference table made of recycled wood from campus is the current project.
Bill Bunker, the carpenter, is excited about his new digs. It allows for more working area and better organization.
“It’s like buying a new car. It’s got that new shop smell,” Bunker said taking a deep breath.
Across from the carpentry shop is the new loading dock with an adjustable lift ramp for trucks to back right into.
“It makes things easier because all the shipments were man-handled at the old place,” Wareing said.
At the back of the barn is even more storage space and the most random thing in the whole barn, a popcorn machine that has been sitting around campus for years. Wareing says they aren’t too sure what to do with it yet, but someone has cleaned it up in case anyone wants to take it home.
Outside, in the barnyard, is the trash compactor and recycling bins along with sheds to house all of the fleet vans, mowers, plows, tractors, salt and sand and any other things you can think of.
Wareing, who’s been working at Facilities for nearly 15 years, looks around at all of the equipment and his new work home and smiles.
“I love it,” Wareing said. “If anyone doesn’t, they can leave,” he said chuckling.