Some say that repairs are too slow

Robert Landis, Contributing Writer

With so many people now on campus in the fifth week of the fall semester, things around the Pitt-Johnstown campus are bound to break. 

Those charged with providing needed repairs make up the Pitt-Johnstown maintenance crew, zipping around in small motor carts on narrow campus sidewalks. 

Sometimes, the repairs seem to take too long.

Senior nursing student Elizabeth Wilkey said that it seemed like it took forever for maintenance workers to fix the Hawthorn laundry in January last semester, causing inconvenience for many residents.

“We already don’t have laundry rooms for the amount of students on campus. You have to be opportunistic whenever you can with your laundry. 

“Our laundry room was out for over a month, and, oftentimes it didn’t seem like maintenance (employees were) working on it most of the time.” 

Senior surgical technology student Angel Walters said she has similar experiences with maintenance workers during her time working at the Pitt-Johnstown Living/Learning Center over the summer. 

 “On July 4 we had a rainstorm. Some of the halls got some water but Hawthorn in particular (had) the entire ground floor covered in water.

“Being a holiday, maintenance (workers were) given the day off. However, (conference center staff) still had to work because there was a conference being held, and we usually have a crew just in case anything happens.” 

Walters explained that when conferences happen, there are many guests staying inside.

“When something goes wrong, which it often does with so many people, maintenance is necessary so we can maintain a good environment for guests. 

“However without maintenance help, we struggled to move guests around and moved a lot of them that were staying in Hawthorn to Briar.” 

Facilities Management Director Walter Kalista did not respond for comment in time of publication. 

Housing Services Executive Director Robert Knipple came to the defense of maintenance workers, saying they have a lot to work on and cannot always control the unexpected.

“We experienced a serious plumbing issue in Hawthorn this past January, which required extensive repairs. Part of that project required us to take the laundry room offline. 

 “Unfortunately, issues sometimes arise that require time-consuming repairs. This was one of those unavoidable situations. The laundry room was offline for 34 days.” 

Knipple said they had a similar problem with a Foxfire lodge shower that needed it’s handle replaced. The part was shipped to a distributor instead of staff which greatly delayed the process.

“(However), I’d like to commend our facilities team for developing a short-term solution that allowed the shower to remain in operation,” Knipple said in response to maintenance using a pair of pliers that acted as a makeshift handle for the shower. 

Knipple also said that he works closely with the maintenance staff and said that they work their hardest.

“(I) meet bi-weekly with the leadership team (of facilities management). A great deal of effort and commitment are involved in maintaining our residence halls, and much of that is behind the scenes.

“I think the members of the custodial, maintenance, and grounds crews do an outstanding job. They are a dedicated group of hard workers.”