Thursday, February 2

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Winter weather causes damage

A 12-inch, 15-pound stone fell from the northwest side of Edwards Hall on Friday, nearly striking a building services employee who was shoveling snow outside the dorm, according to Crime Prevention Specialist Barry Weiser.

"[The custodian] heard a rumbling and looked up and saw a stone falling off the roof," Weiser said. "It appeared that water seeped into the joints and froze, causing the ice to expand and loosen stones."

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The University has closed off the potentially hazardous area and boarded the northwest door of Edwards, Weiser said, adding that repairs on the building were begun shortly after the incident. Students were asked to use an alternate door when entering the building in an e-mail from the undergraduate housing office.

According to Lou Dursi, associate director of maintenance, University roof maintenance and masonry crews checked and approved the stability of Edwards Hall in September as part of an ongoing building maintenance program.

Despite these precautions, "water finds its way into cracks and into the ornate features in buildings with this architectural style," Dursi said. "We go around and make sure that the buildings are tight and stable, but stone buildings are sensitive to water ingress, and these things can happen."

Chronic cold

The incident at Edwards Hall has been one of several problems on campus related to the bitterly cold weather and snowfall of the past month.

Frozen dorm room windows have been shattered by thrown snowballs. A burst fire sprinkler system caused flooding in the Princeton University Stadium. East Pyne suffered a steam leak, and water pipes froze in the staff parking garage near Washington Road and in the University sprinkler system.

When not enough snow covers the ground to act as an insulating blanket against the cold temperatures, the weather penetrates the ground, causing water mains to crack, according to Dursi. "Elizabethtown [Water Co.] has been out here repairing primarily domestic pipe cracking."

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Accumulating ice also has proved dangerous for some University students, according to Weiser. "About half a dozen people have injured themselves by slipping on iced-over walkways and have been taken to McCosh or to the hospital," he said, adding that icy roads have caused several recent motor vehicle accidents.

Townspeople and students have ignored flags warning them to stay off the thin ice of Lake Carnegie. "That lake doesn't freeze over too well," said Weiser.

Snow and ice removal after this season's three snowstorms has cost the University more than $60,000, according to Jim Consolloy, University grounds manager. He added that the full financial effect of the storms will not be apparent until spring when snow and ice melt to reveal damage done to walkways and buildings during the winter.

Maintenance managers will be meeting over the next two weeks to pinpoint "known ongoing problem areas" on campus — areas that will be carefully monitored and maintained year-round in order to prevent recurring difficulties, according to Dursi. "We have to be alert and cautious and plan for the future in order to remedy problems," he said.

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"The community should appreciate groups like Public Safety that are out trying to make the campus as safe as possible in hazardous conditions. They respond to calls even in the middle of the night, and they work very hard," Weiser said.

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