First Impressions Matter For Campus Grounds Crew

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A professor walks by a bench on the main Fairmont State University campus where Jamie Colanero is taking a rare time-out. She says, “This place looks like an estate!” Colanero says that compliments like that keep him and his crew in the Physical Plant and Road and Grounds Department motivated. “We want our visitors’ first impression to be ‘Wow, this is nice,’ ” he says. 

The Physical Plant staff members are often the first to arrive on campus and the last to leave each day. It is no small feat to maintain the 120-acre main campus and off-campus facilities. “When they pull off of Locust Avenue onto the main campus, I want visitors to see that campus is clean and well-manicured,” Colanero says. 

There is just one rule to help reach Colanero’s high standards. “Do it right first,” he says. 

Five full-time, skilled craft landscapers work with Colanero, the Director of Road and Grounds and Special Events Coordinator, to maintain the FSU campus in Fairmont and off-campus facilities. 

“We go around the clock. We never stop. It’s crazy,” says the former coal miner who isn’t afraid of hard work. 

As Colanero shares the details of the work load, he has a favorite detail to show off for each season: “In the spring the dogwoods are in bloom. In the summer the roses are in bloom. The maple trees show the beauty of their leaves in the fall.” 

Winter is about safety and efficiency. “Snow removal is a huge event around here. All we are doing is constantly plowing,” he says. “We do whatever it takes to get kids to classes and faculty and staff to work. All the steps around here have to be open. If we can’t get students to the cafeteria for breakfast and to class, we aren’t doing our job.” 

Colanero has been on the job at FSU for more than six years. “Our work is season after season after season. We have no slow time. We set daily goals to accomplish things, and we get them done,” he explains.  

Pruning is followed by mulching. Planting is followed by watering, mowing and manicuring.  The next order of business is maintaining the athletic grounds for the fall and cleaning up fallen leaves.   

“We try to have color on this campus spring, summer and fall. We want something to grab your eye as soon as you pull in,” says the Monongah High School graduate. 

The Physical Plant’s hard work is noticed. It’s not uncommon for Colanero’s department to receive e-mails from parents, faculty or staff noting the fruits of their labor. Colanero says occasionally he will hear that FSU’s campus is more beautiful than any campus nationwide. 

Colanero says, “Sometimes the compliments give me goose bumps. They’re phenomenal. It makes us feel great that we are helping.”

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