A lot separates Western from other campuses. The NC Promise Plan, the smaller, more manageable student-faculty ratio, the resources offered, and our beautiful campus. All are instrumental in distinguishing WCU from other universities.
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains and sitting on Cherokee ancestral land, the location is a huge characteristic in Western’s beauty. So is the invaluable work largely done by Facilities Management and Housekeeping to keep Western’s campus clean and beautiful.
Facilities Management carries out repairs, replaces lights and locks, cleans up trash and common spaces, plants flowers, and helps keep WCU as functional and beautiful as possible. They also help with sustainability planning on campus.
Walking around campus, you may notice facilities, landscaping, or housekeeping workers on the prowl. Day and night, they patrol campus, looking for any eyesores to remedy. There they are, keeping the area pristine from behind the scenes.
If you walked around campus in the past few months, hopefully you noticed incredibly
vibrant and colorfully painted petals and flowers decorating campus. This is thanks to the landscaping branch of Facilities Management.
Landscaping staff does it all. They mow, weed, trim limbs and prune shrubs, plant flowers, tend to indoor plants, collect trash, compost leaves, and help with snow and ice removal in winter. They may also help with road or sidewalk repairs, like potholes or cracks.
Andy Pedonti, landscape services superintendent, oversees the work that landscaping workers do, basically all the work outside buildings.
Landscaping can also be considered the plant care part of WCU. Pedonti explained that facilities rotates seasonal plants in and out and waters office and building plants. They also grow and arrange the plants that will be present at key events on campus, such as commencement. Yes, Western grows their own flowers and decorative plants.
Western owns a few greenhouses that are operated by Facilities Management. The greenhouses grow thousands of plants, including tulips, pansies, sunflowers, seasonal flowers, and the green stage plants that may be present at speaking events.
Western gets all the seeds from a ‘seed broker’ and then gets to work growing them into saplings. The greenhouses help the budding sprouts grow by keeping a regulated climate. Some plants are grown outside or in cold frames, which aren’t as humid as greenhouses but protect plants from frost.
The greenhouses can cause plants to dry up quickly, so they are watered frequently. Once the flowers and plants reach a certain size, they are planted around campus so they can add beautiful colors to Western’s scenery.
Plants also need to get rotated out as some age or season out or adverse weather causes them to wilt. Different flowers do well in different conditions. Some may grow better in colder conditions, some may grow better in warmer conditions, so the flowers are usually rotated around October and May, Pedonti said.
Greenhouse operations are successful with the help of Tom Roche, greenhouse manager. Roche has an extensive background in plant care and greenhouse work.
Pedonti wanted to give acknowledgement and all credit to the many workers on the ground who get their pants and boots dirty. To him, it is an honor and privilege and he’s proud to support them.
The landscaping crew also picks up trash and recycling in the mornings. Trash is disposed, cardboard goes to the baler to be compressed before being sent to Jackson Paper Manufacturing, and bottles and cans are sorted. They work to prevent overflowing waste, although with the volume of students, it can be difficult.
Recycling can be beneficial, but it must be done correctly. For instance, if a piece of pizza is thrown into the recycling, that batch will need to be thrown away. The chemicals used to break down the cardboard may not be great for the environment, and we should opt for reusable options instead of just recyclable as much as possible.
Western has a few different housekeeping departments. The largest is under Facilities Management, although the University Center, Ramsey Center, and Campus Recreation Center all have their own respective crews. The housekeeping crew under facilities is primarily in charge of ensuring academic and administrative areas are clean and safe.
Day shift housekeeping is headed by Jonathan Farmer, lead supervisor. Night shift is headed by Gabe Williams. Farmer and Williams have both been at WCU for over 16 years. Their crews unlock and lock buildings, reset classrooms, and keep areas clean. Both day and night shift crews give each building the care it needs, cleaning accordingly.
Farmer said anything they can do to make campus a little better, housekeeping will try to do it. He enjoys seeing kids smile knowing they don’t have to worry about cleanliness. He has enjoyed getting to know some of the community members who appreciate the work his team does.
Williams said he is only one part of the operation and issued similar statements to Pedonti. He wanted to give credit to the ones who do the work to keep Western clean. It can be therapeutic for him to clean. It’s a quiet time when he can just be with his own thoughts.
Housekeeping can seem repetitive and their services can be overlooked, but thankfully the services continue. When you trudge into your 8 a.m. class or your late afternoon class, nowhere near as caffeinated as you should be, and take your unassigned-assigned seat, you can thank housekeeping for your seat being in its same spot as the previous day.
Would you use a bathroom that was disgusting and had stains everywhere? Once again, housekeeping is behind the scenes, keeping it clean. It is the same case with cleaning the entrances and doors, even some windows.
Entering a building sets a tone and standards. You would have low expectations of a building if the door glass was streaked and the floor was dirty.
Our housekeeping and landscaping crews stay busy keeping campus as visually pleasing as possible, and The Carolinian would like to thank them for their services. The Carolinian would also like to encourage students to help do their part by disposing of trash and recyclables accordingly.